We had done the baby shower for the other local family awaiting the arrival of their daughter Aerilyn who has anencephaly and was due on Rachel's birthday. And although I invited my friends and family as a way of remembering Rachel as well, I honestly felt like it wasn't for her. I think when I did the shower last year for the girl who was getting to keep her baby, I felt ok about making the day equally about Rachel - including a cake for Rachel and things of that sort. But this shower was different. They don't get to keep their little girl and I really just wanted the day to be all about her and them. And in my heart, it was completely. So, after it was over, I didn't feel like I had done my usual birthday for Rachel. And since we also didn't deliver anything to the hospital this year, her birthday felt more like just another day - and that's the first time I've ever experienced that since she's been gone. I know the people closest to me were thinking of her though and I'm *almost* to the place where that is enough for my heart - just not quite there.
I did a few things to represent Rachel there - I bought Rolos candy to put out, used the same basket for cards that we used at Rachel's shower (still decorated for her fall themed shower) and I bought 12 pink balloons and 3 star shaped balloons to symbolize the date that our girls share.
On the 3rd, I had SO much to do to get the decorating we usually do on her day accomplished that I felt like I ran around working my butt off all day long and being 9 months pregnant, I was exhausted half way through, but couldn't not finish it. The older two were in school as well so we had to pick them up mid day and then deal with the usual homework and stuff. I went to her PO Box and it was empty for the first time ever. Our families don't acknowledge she was here or the pain I feel that she is gone except for my mom and sister (and that would be why they were the ones who got to meet her...) Des made cupcakes that afternoon and we did sing to Rachel and put our Christmas tree up, but as night closed in, I got really sad.
I was starving to just sit down and *feel* all day long and I didn't have time. The day before I had cried most of the day pretty heavily, so it's not like I hadn't shed a tear - so I don't know what I was hoping for or needing and that is the hardest part - often *I* don't even know what I want or need. I just know it hurts and I just want relief from it and it seems like something should help that and if I figure out what it is, then the pain will let up... but it doesn't.
Because I was such a wreck on the 2nd, Matt offered to take the day off for her birthday, which meant the world to me. He was planning to work and I had planned to go it alone, but knowing he was willing to stay home and wanted to be with me for it was so good for my heart. Plus, after doing all the work to get her grave set up and our yard decorated, I realized I would have never gotten it accomplished if I didn't have his help with the 3 little boys! Being so pregnant really makes me much less capable of doing things I want to do and that's hard too...
So after everyone was in bed, I sat down and looked at my new arrangements in my living room... we have been moving stuff, selling stuff, changing things up to make room for the baby - and now the Christmas tree - and so my view from the couch was much different that night. And I realized as I sat there, just how symbolic the entire scene in front of me was of how complicated my life is...
I have Rachel's hope chest - where I usually put out all her ornaments and can't because we don't have the piano so I had to consolidate what I could display. Also, the boys managed to break one of my very first ornaments ever sent to me for Rachel and also one of my favorites before I even had them out of the box so they feel safer in her chest. It looks pretty, it's just different.
Then we have our Christmas tree... it's time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior... it's time for gift giving, spending time with family, bringing joy to my kids and watching their faces light up with each gift they open... it used to be my absolute favorite time of year and filled with peace and joy and love and all the amazing things that come along with knowing the God is with us and He is so good.... And although I still know and BELIEVE that... my Christmases feel different. They carry a little bit of sting that she isn't here - no matter which part of all the awesomeness I'm experiencing, it's there and I've come to accept it's just the way it's going to be. It's still beautiful, it's just different.
And then we have the little dresser that I found on the side of the road back in the very beginning of my pregnancy that I finally recently painted and fixed up for our new Little E. We have no room upstairs for this baby and so we have made space in a corner of our living room for his/her stuff and I'm doing my best to make it cute so I can feel good about it. I do like it, it's just different.
|Little E's "nursery" ♥|
|My friend Elisha showed up at Rachel's grave while we were there decorating on her birthday and gave me this Joy sign. It matches the dresser perfectly and, of course, she didn't know that.|
But I looked at the three of these things together and I seriously sat there thinking about how crazy it is to have those three things all happening at the same time. It was overload for my mind and heart to see memorial items for one baby, a evergreen tree symbolizing the eternal nature of our Lord who came as a baby, and then a little dresser full of baby clothes in hopes of bringing home another baby soon. How does one person do all of this at the same time? Polar opposites speaking loud and clear from both sides of my Christmas tree... emotions from every direction. One minute I was answering someones message about Rachel and in the next minute, talking to someone else about a name or something they wanted to do for the new baby...
That night, it just overwhelmed me, but since then as I have walked past them daily, I think that in a way it's a good reminder of the hope I can have for both of my babies because of Jesus. On one side I have the uncertain... will I bring this baby home? And on the other, I have the certain... she is gone, but truly home... And in the middle, I have the reminder that He is with me and He is enough for anything I go through.
Preparing for this Christmas has been hard - in every way you can imagine. Financially, mentally, emotionally and physically. The kids being in school has turned an already busy time into a complete marathon of events and extras and I hate it. There has been SO much change in our lives this past year, it's crazy. New job, complicated and often scary pregnancy, the kids starting school outside our home, losing both my grandfathers, changes in the nonprofit... and I don't like change... I don't like different.
I could get disappointed that Christmas doesn't feel the way it used to - that I'm not capable of changing my emotions to fit the picture in my mind of how I like Christmas to be - or how so many expect people to be/feel/act at Christmas... or I can accept that God has given me a hard journey, a heavy cross, and a ton of blessings mixed in between - and that yes, it's hard and yes, it hurts, and no, most people cannot comprehend and many will not acknowledge or even recognize any of that as they interact with me this Christmas - and I can thank Him for all of it because honestly, I know God in a deeper more personal way than I did when things were prettier, lighter, felt better... but my life wasn't better. It wasn't more meaningful. It was just different. And as much as I miss the simpler days, I am glad things are different. It's okay that different doesn't mean easier.
|Taking care of her the only way I can for now...|
|Are they cute, or what?!|
|Missing my school kids|
|Me & Elisha|