Lately, being on the same time frame as Rachel's pregnancy has been at the forefront of my mind and heart in so many ways. Going for the ultrasound at Maine Med, the Wednesday after my birthday, just like I did for Rachel's 2nd opinion... Being in the 'easy' part of pregnancy at the most perfect time of the year... having two boys ages 3 and 1 - literally the same exact age difference as Rachel, Isaiah and Sam were - to the month with Isaiah and Asa and only off by just 3 months with Sam and Ezra... And a big girl who is aching for a little sister... having what feels like an easy pregnancy physically, mentally and emotionally (at least so far...)... Back to a place where Matt is working two jobs, which hasn't happened since he quit his 2nd job while I was pregnant with Rachel... even the way my body and face look are similar to my pregnancy with Rachel, which is in part I'm sure to the time of year I'm in my 2nd trimester.
The list goes on and on and on.... I feel like I'm on repeat. There are days where I almost feel like the last 5 years didn't happen and I'm still pregnant with her. :( There are days when I think ahead to having this baby and all I can picture is Rachel. There are days when that really excites me - the idea that God is giving me another chance to live her experience with only joy and no sorrow... and then there are days when it scares the crap out of me because lets face it, up until August 4, 2010, it was all just as it is for me right now - Minus the fact that I now know what it's like to lose a child that I carried, felt kick, delivered and buried after waiting on that for 4 months. And minus the fact that I have not had my ultrasound yet and don't have any idea if I get to keep this baby or not. And minus the fact that this isn't Rachel.... and will not bring her back. Her story was not just joy. It involved a lot of sorrow too.
I have been thinking about the possibility of having to have a c-section with this baby... what it would feel like to be in an operating room, possibly Rachel's OR room... in December to have a c-section. The thought overwhelms me. What overwhelms me even more is the thought that I have a long ways to go before it's safe to deliver and so much can happen between now and then... if my blood pressure doesn't stay down, I could find myself in another situation where I have to make a life and death decision for my baby and myself again. These are not thoughts that are far fetched, but I often don't share them with people because I am ALWAYS, without fail, countered with some silver lining about it all or some correction about how I should only 'think positive' and not go there... well, let me just say that I am human and if it were you, you'd think all these things too - but even more importantly, I'm not a Joel Osteen follower and I don't believe I can think my way into the future I want. I believe and trust that the Lord knows every detail, they are in His control, not mine, and they might not be what I want or like or pain free... but I know they will be for my good and His glory and that He will carry me through any trial I face - and that's enough for me. That's not being negative, it's having faith and trust in God and being willing to be honest that while my faith is strong, I'm still only human.
I heard myself tell my friend Denise the other night over ice cream that a lot has gone wrong in this pregnancy, and yet I have had peace.... and hearing the words scared me... because I didn't know it was true until I said it - and I said the EXACT words in my pregnancy journal at around this stage in Rachel's pregnancy. Everything was going 'wrong' in her pregnancy and I was convinced something was wrong with her, but I was told repeatedly that I was "just paranoid because I had a miscarriage before." Well, turns out God was preparing me for my little girl's death - and while I'm so glad He does that, it makes me wonder if I'm being prepared for another trial.
With all this emotion... all these unknowns... all these similarities that bring up so much in memories I love and also in memories I wish were not real, I could easily allow fear to take over. And while I have definitely had *moments* like that, it has not been my overall feeling or even one I sit in for long when it comes. I can't take credit for that. It's not like I'm some kind of specialist in taking thoughts captive or that I make a choice to focus only on truth. It's just something God is doing for me.
I have no doubt that God knew that all of these details would line up. He knew what my mind and heart would do with it all. But the one amazing difference - since the first day I knew I was pregnant with Rachel, I couldn't shake that something was wrong. I said it over and over. I dreamed it 3 times. I thought it was going to be Downs Syndrome and was okay with that as long as she didn't die like in my dreams. I still had peace, but it seemed my peace was in spite of the reality so obvious, but not yet confirmed. I was not surprised by it when something was wrong at the ultrasound. I saw it coming.
This time, I have had a peace about this baby since BEFORE I ever even got a positive test! And it doesn't feel like it's in spite of reality, but instead because of it... Of course I could always be proven wrong with time, but I have just felt like everything is okay. This doesn't mean that I don't still have all the fears and emotions that a woman who has buried a child has though or that it isn't really hard when I do. They just don't take over in me.
This morning in church we sang the song "Sing to the King".
This is the song that I had playing on my blog's background music (back when they let us do that!) for a while early on. It was playing the day that we saw an article about Rachel in the newspaper for the first time. I remember going to pick up the paper and just being overwhelmed with emotion. I had no idea the article was coming. It was a total surprise. I was still pregnant with Rachel, it was October 2010. I watched people come one after another out of the store carrying the paper with our photo on it and I couldn't get myself to stop crying long enough to get out of the car. When I finally went in, I put it on the counter to pay and the girl recognized us. It was the first time I experienced a "You're her Mama?" look. And I was immediately hooked... I was Rachel's Mama and it was a reason to be proud... but I wasn't proud because of me or her - I was proud because her & I got the name of Jesus on the front page of the Foster's Daily Democrat! A few times! I came home and watched my blog count go up and up that day - 1000+ people read my blog and heard the song "Sing to the King!!" They saw a 'sad story' with hands raised to the One True God. And I just knew that people would be confused... how could she still praise her God at a time like this? A God that would allow her baby to die?? And I just knew that He was going to use it for more than I ever imagined. And He has.
Today as I sang, with my 2nd Christmas baby swaying within me to the music - thinking of when we sang this song on December 9, 2010 at Rachel's funeral - I lifted my hands and had the biggest, dumbest smile on my face while tears just streamed down.... So thankful for what God did with Rachel's life - and hopefully will continue to do with her life. I'm so honored to have been part of it and to continue to be part of it. I've learned what it means to suffer for the Lord's sake and it is amazingly beautiful and completely worth it. I would have never imagined it could ever feel so beautiful to suffer in the countless ways I did and still do - and with all the added ways that being in the public eye for this journey has caused. But He has rewarded me many times over as I have journeyed down this road and it has come in the form of a closer walk with Him.
On Rachel's pregnancy announcements, I wrote a little poem I made up. I wrote the words "Boy or girl, either way we'll be blessed, we only wish to make just one request; That this little gift from God above, be filled with His redeeming love."
The lyrics today spoke to my heart yet again... my one request with Rachel was met - long before she ever felt the sting of this world, she was filled with His redeeming love. She knows it fully. Amazing.
This verse... this verse is the one that makes me smile.... In Christ, death has no victory! One day I will join all the redeemed, including my Rachel, and I will celebrate the victory of Jesus. I'm ready... so ready... any day now Lord, come!! Until then, I celebrate in hopeful expectation that this world is not my home and You are coming back for us. I celebrate and sing with all the redeemed now - here and in heaven. I imagine the day that Satan is vanquished and EVERY knee will bow to the Lord - and between that and the fact that I KNOW that day will come, I can't help but sing with joy - even through the sorrow.
"For His returning we watch and we prayWe will be ready the dawn of that dayWe'll join in singing with all the redeemed'Cause Satan is vanquished and my Jesus is King!"
So far, this Christmas baby has only come with joy. Like with Rachel, I will willingly take any sorrow that may follow, but for now, I'm thankful for two things... that it has only been joy - and that I've had enough sorrow to recognize that so fully and completely while knowing that this joy pales in comparison to how completely Rachel knows joy now and I the joy I will know when I get see the Lord face to face with her.