As I write, Kate and William are sitting side by side on the floor. Kate has a pen and is circling hidden pictures. William is looking at his Waldo book. Soon they’ll trade. Next, William will say he’s going to color. And Kate will agree. They’re best buddies, never far from one another’s side.
Every day at naptime, Kate asks if she can sleep with William. I say No, and remind them of the times I’ve said yes. It never ends well. Quite a few times, she’ll sneak in there anyway.
So their response wasn’t a surprise when we told them we were having another baby. “We’ve been praying for this,” they said, like they’d been expecting it. I marvel at their intuition and the truths that come from their little lips.
. . . . . . .
I was four months along when we told them in the Doctor’s office. We were going to wait until later, but my doctor happened to be delivering a baby at my appointment time. I ended up waiting for awhile, while Peter kept the kids entertained in the car (we thought it was only going to take a few minutes). Finally they wandered in to check on me. William got this look of recognition on his face and I said, “Do you remember why you’ve come here before?” He immediately associated it with when I was pregnant with Annie. “Are we going to have another baby!?” he asked. And so we told them.
As time wore on, they became impatient and a little unruly, so Peter eventually decided to take them to the grocery store until I was done.
Twenty minutes later my Doctor arrived and began the routine heartbeat check. She couldn’t pick it up.
So she brought in an old ultrasound machine. It was silent.
The next thing I knew, she was hugging me, telling me she was sorry. My brain struggled to sort out what she was trying to tell me. My thoughts went wild. We had JUST told the kids, moments before. How could I break their hearts again!? Out loud I just kept repeating, “Jesus has brought me through more than I imagined I could go through. He will be faithful to me still.” In my heart, I prayed Jesus would give me the strength to believe the words I had just uttered.
I felt so alone.
The Ultrasound Tech happened to be in that day and was able to squeeze me in between her appointments. Immediately, she picked up a normal and healthy heartbeat. The baby had been tucked down low, making it hard to hear a heartbeat.
It sounds great, she said.
But I was left with emotions too deep to put words to. After burying a daughter, the reality of death . . . well, it’s a reality that I deal with each day. And for those few minutes of uncertainty, I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with it again.
. . . . . . . . .
I don’t know if I can fully explain it, but losing Annie has made me aware every moment of the day that I am not immune to tragedy. Just because we’ve gone through it once doesn’t mean we’re “safe” now. In fact, it seems hard to believe that we could actually give birth to a normal, healthy baby that lives a full life. Or that something else equally horrible will someday happen to any number of people I love dearly. Grief doesn’t have a quota that can be filled.
And so, it goes without saying that this baby is different than all the rest. This pregnancy is different than all the rest. Each moment of my life is different than all the rest.
The month after that appointment was difficult. I was starting to show and had to “make the announcement” to everyone. People have been so kind, so excited for us. But, honestly, it was quite hard. Harder than I’ve anticipated. My apologies to you if you’ve been one of the people who’ve shown sincere excitement and have felt brushed off by me. It hasn’t been my intention. I’m just sorting out how to feel this time around.
As I feel this baby kick stronger and stronger, I know that God has a plan. He has promised to never leave us and as I cling to Him each moment, I realize just how frail I am. My strength is His. And He is faithful.
And so we find ourselves on this journey of welcoming another sweet girly into our family in just three months. She is perfectly healthy and beautiful according the the ultrasound. I’ve reminded myself over and over that there was really nothing wrong that day they couldn’t find a heartbeat. Nevertheless, we take nothing for granted.
Yesterday I received an impromptu hug from Kate. “I’m SO GLAD we’re having another baby!” she said. William quickly agreed as he whispered a secret message to my belly. I can’t fully explain how this decision to bring another life into the world is just . . . just right . . . for our family.
A wise friend told me, “You don’t move on, but you do move forward.” Annie will always be the pause in our family. We’ll always be aware that she is missing, no matter how many months and years go by. There are many days when our grief is raw and overwhelming. This sweet girl will never, ever be a replacement to Annie. We realize that we will not be magically “healed” with her arrival. But we are choosing to move forward, to not become stuck in this process of grief.
Grow, baby girl, grow. We can’t wait to experience the renewed joy you will bring to us.