Friday, February 7, 2014

Nine Months

I write today once again dumbfounded that our sweet Peyton went to be with the Lord nine months ago this week.  Three quarters of a year has passed since I held her sweet little hand.  Soon, it will be a year.  The "firsts" of everything will soon be behind us.  It is all at once a relief and heartbreaking.  Those moments of anticipation leading up to the first birthday or holiday without a loved one can be terribly difficult.  In actuality, I am feeling more anxious over the second birthday without Peyton.  She passed away May 4, 2013 and would have been 7 years old on May 15.  Her passing was still so fresh and raw when we faced that day.  In a sense, it is this coming May 15 that truly seems like the first because we will have had barely over a year to process everything when we flip that page on the calendar.

Nine months is an interesting place to be when you are grieving the loss of a small child.  I don't use the word "interesting" in a way that conveys that I'm just sitting back curiously observing this moment in time without emotion.  Not at all.  It is interesting but in a difficult way.  Perhaps it is because I am a woman and a mother.  Perhaps it is because I have had the privilege of becoming pregnant four times in my life, though one pregnancy resulted in an early miscarriage and another a later stillbirth.  Nine months is that chunk of time we associate with the length of a pregnancy.  Though I never actually carried any of my babies to nine months, it is somehow interesting and a little unsettling to reach the nine month mark on the journey of grief.

Why does this thought even occur to me??  I am forty-one years old.  Studies suggest that the prime child-bearing years are between ages 20-35.  I'm no expert, but being six years greater than the "old" end of that spectrum doesn't seem right.  I do remember working with someone once who had two children, both of whom were born to this woman after she was 40, so there's nothing to say it's impossible.  Even Sarah would give birth to Isaac in her old age {Genesis 21:1-7}.  But let's suppose getting pregnant were even a good idea at forty-one.  Pregnancy is not something that agrees with me.  My first pregnancy in 2001 resulted in me developing pre-eclampsia so severely that it would cause our first baby, Jeffrey, to be stillborn.  It also nearly took my own life.  Two weeks post-partum, I would develop a massive pulmonary embolism {that is, seriously large blood clots in both lungs and in the area which spans from one lung to the other}.  That nearly took my life.  Then in 2003 I miscarried.  Then in 2004, while pregnant with Moira, I developed pre-eclampsia again which could have been life-threatening to both of us.  It was, however, caught much earlier and it caused me to be hospitalized immediately.  The end result was that Moira was born 5 weeks early because that could have taken my life.  Then Peyton.  Once again on blood thinners for the duration of my pregnancy, I was a high risk OB patient.  Oddly enough, the pregnancy was uneventful outside of being watched like a hawk because of my past history.  Two weeks post-partum, I was back in the ER with yet another massive pulmonary embolism which, you guessed it, could have taken my life.  Here I sit in 2014 recovering from a non-pregnancy related massive pulmonary embolism which occurred at the end of September 2013.  Once again, I am lucky to be here telling you about this.  To say that pregnancy and my body don't play well together is an understatement.  I am fully and completely aware that it is only by God's grace and healing hand that I am here.

But here I sit nine months down the road of grief and healing, considering the fact that one could have a baby in the amount of time that has passed since Peyton died.  "One" being "me".  Um.  Really??  One of the very difficult things for me to process on this journey has been the fact that we are a family of 3.  Not 4.  Not 5.  And certainly not 6.  We are three.  In those childhood years of mine, I dreamed of having a large family.  I wanted 3 or 4 children.  I guess it didn't occur to me to specify that I wanted them to be here with me on Earth.  Oh, I completely believe that I do have 4 children.  I just never anticipated having our family here on Earth be stripped down to 3 before I even hit 41.  By God's mercy and grace, it is not a family of two right now.

Yet the thoughts rattle around my brain and there are moments where I do wish that we had multiple children filling our home.  Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely in love with Moira and I certainly do not question God's plan for our family.  Yet there are moments where I see other larger families and think how amazing it would be to still be four and not three.  You know when you get a new car how all of a sudden you start seeing your car everywhere?  It's been that way for me in that since Peyton passed away, it seems like everyone and their mother have gotten pregnant.  It's probably no more than normal, but in my mind it's like this baby boom has happened and it's something we can't be a part of.  I'm not unhappy for other people.  I just wish sometimes that that part of our life could be different.  Short of adoption, we will continue to be three.  I don't know what God's plans are for our future.  Who knows what could happen down the road.  God is full of surprises.

Nine months out, there is still much sadness.  There isn't hopelessness.  I don't know that I've encountered that feeling at any point along this journey, even before Peyton passed away.  I have always felt God's presence along this journey.  I know He has been with us every step of the way and He has carried us and sustained us when we couldn't do it ourselves.  Truth is, we can't do it ourselves.  The reality is, we've never had to.  We've never been alone.  We aren't alone.  In a world that has been, for me, exceptionally isolating and lonely at times, I know that I've never been truly alone.

I struggle in many ways.  That isolation I mentioned - that's the biggest thing I struggle with.  I've been recovering from illness and injury in the past 5 months.  Those things have caused me to feel even more isolated.  If it weren't for that, I think I'd still have some sense of isolation and loneliness.  Those are things which existed before Peyton's passing.  Our situation with her put us in this state where no one could possibly comprehend what we were dealing with.  Our encounters with other people outside our family were few and far between.  I think people are very well intentioned, but just don't know what to do or what they can do.  It's the same in her passing as it was in her life.  How many people do you know who have lost a young child??  There aren't very many people who can relate to what we're going through.  Perhaps loss, in general, but most people cannot relate to our experience in any way.  It can be very isolating.

So, the big thing I'm dealing with nine months into this journey is the concept of what is next.  I feel like there is more, but I don't have any idea what it is supposed to be or what it is supposed to look like.  It's very frustrating to know there is more, but to not have a clear vision of what that is and how you're supposed to go after it.  I continue to pray that God will make His plan clear for me so that I know the path He's already laid out for me.  I pray that He will clear out the fog, the haze, and the clutter from my mind so I can be as open as I can possibly be to hear from Him.  Until that is made clear to me, I wait expectantly because I know He has a life of promises ahead for me.  I don't want to miss them because I can't see clearly!

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