After last year, my prayer for 2013 was that it would be boring. Uneventful. Nothing to report.
That wasn't to be the case at all - in wonderful (and not so wonderful) ways.
As I rounded the corner in my post-race recovery and fended off the flu, Bradley and I got a pretty big surprise: two pink lines. A very unexpected, wholly undeserved blessing.
Mary Brooks was only 11 months old at the time; after running the numbers we realized our third (third!) baby would be born just eight months later. Whew.
The day before MB turned one, we heard a gorgeous, perfect, super fast heartbeat and confirmed we'd be meeting the third baby Smith in late September.
By then Mac would have been a week or two shy of four years old; for a brief moment we'd have three under four this coming fall. We were overwhelmed, overcome with gratitude and excited beyond words.
It felt like getting away with a bank heist, like winning the lottery. We got something wonderful for nothing! My heart had healed just in time, and we were wide open to the joy a new life would bring.
We celebrated Mary Brooksie's first birthday knowing she'd be a big sister this time next year. We giggled and dreamed and joked.
I went back nearly a month ago, at 11 weeks, to hear that tiny heartbeat again and be reassured it was safe to tell the world. A veil of cautious optimism lifted, and it felt safe to set things in stone.
There were plans for an SUV, as our Altima couldn't squeeze in another car seat if it tried. There was talk of sharing rooms.
A date the week of Mother's Day was circled, and we hoped to know this baby's gender by then. What an unforeseen gift.
This morning I got a peek at my tiniest baby, just shy of 15 weeks along, and saw that it no longer had a heartbeat. Our little bean, our third child, was gone.
There will be no baby in September.
There will be no SUV for now, no moving Mary Brooks into her big brother's room as he has fervently requested for months.
Tomorrow morning I will go into the hospital for a procedure to do what my body has not yet done itself.
I'm sad. I feel guilty for being embarrassed at first about our tremendous blessing, at how close our babies would be in age. For putting off telling clients and the "world." For worrying about insurance and paperwork and the lack of sleep to come.
I'd do anything to give this baby a heartbeat back, to fill that empty third car seat in my mind.
The moment we found out, almost two and a half months ago, we added a fifth member to our family. We planned names, we envisioned three Smiths growing up, we laughed at how we never saw this coming - the unanticipated joy of a new baby so soon.
I never saw this coming either, but I'm thankful all the same. Thankful for the time we had dreaming about this baby and the blessing it was to us. For a life that now turns our hearts heavenward; we know that's where this child is.
I know there's a plan here, that a God who works miracles (and we are living proof) didn't create this child - the one we didn't even think to pray for - for no reason.
We are sad and shocked, but we are held.
This morning, amidst the flood of emotions, I was terrified - my heart had just mended. I didn't want to spend another year as a zombie, muddling through a field of heartache to get to the other side.
The post I had written for today was about Joel 2:25, how the Lord had restored my wasted year. How He had healed me, brought beauty from ashes. I'll post it another day, and I'll add a new chapter.
I know the Lord will do that again, that He'll heal us and make something glorious out of what we're living. Out of what feels wretched and aching and awful this minute.
I'm asking for His peace in the meantime - and your prayers.
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