October 1, 2013

On the Other Side

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
-The Great Gatsby
(source)

There have been so many balls in the air chez Smith - family, work, pregnancy, staying semi-sane, attempting to keep my children clothed despite their desires to the contrary - that I've neglected this little online scrapbook in an effort to keep juggling.

I've been touched and taken aback by the response to our experiences in the last year and a half, though. People pull me aside at tailgates, after church services, by email or Facebook message and talk to me about transparency in the face of struggle. It's inspired me, loudmouth that I am, to keep talking. And to thank each of you who've shared your story with me.

If you've landed here because you love us or you're curious about how we are, I'm happy to give you a peek into our lives besides, "We're great; how are y'all?" If you're reading because you've walked a similar path and want a window into how we're dealing with it, well, here it is.

Last Friday, September 27th, was our due date for the baby we lost in April. As it approached and friends who had been expecting alongside us began to deliver, the reality of what was missing felt weightier.

When I stay in motion, I can glide through life without processing it; sometimes that's a valuable skill. There are times, though, when you've got to face facts, and last week was one of those times.

Leading up to the due date that wasn't, I felt oddly empty - as if my arms should be holding something, someone. I don't know if it's biology, hormones or the fact that I've never carried a baby past 39 weeks, but my body knew it was time. I was waiting on a baby that wouldn't arrive; that made my heart ache.

Thankfully, as with many things in life, anticipation was worst than reality. The days before I had flashes of what would have been, of a happy ending; on the due date itself I felt peace. I'd certainly never have chosen to lose our baby, but we see the Lord's hand in the way our lives are coming together in the wake of our loss.
Happy Tiger fans

Bradley and I spent the remainder of the weekend celebrating Clemson's Homecoming and eating far too much of his mom's fabulous cooking. I tried to focus on all I'm thankful for - our little family, the incredible support we've gotten, the opportunity to help others who are hurting.

I can't ignore the fact that, unlike many friends of mine who've lost babies, I am expecting another. It made the day bittersweet, realizing our future valentine wouldn't be on the way if we hadn't lost our third child.

Knowing I can't control the timing of any of this, the fact that it happened, the way it did - it could be paralyzing, but it's actually quite freeing. I have no hand in this; I'm along for the ride. I didn't create these lives, I can't control them and I believe the One who did has a plan far better than my own. (Even if there are spots that feel like nothing could be worse, in all honesty.)

I'm praying the Lord uses all of this for His glory, that He lets our family be a testament to His faithfulness, to the power of hope. I don't take for granted the promise of a new life, the fact that we can dare again to love a little person we haven't met yet.

I'm thankful we'll meet our third baby one day, that someone who is a part of us is already in heaven; it brings me great joy to imagine meeting the child we didn't get to hold here.

I'd dreamed of late September for months, and dreaded it since I saw our still baby on an ultrasound screen. September 27th came and went, and we're still here. We're thankful, hopeful, moving on.

We'll never forget this baby; I'll never wish I wasn't holding it, never stop imagining its face.

The pain of the due date is behind me, though, even if the whole experience may never quite be. I'm on the other side, and it's not as scary as I imagined.

If you're not on the other side - if you're right dab smack in the middle of the not peaceful, not healing, not putting one foot in front of the other, flat out wretched and absolutely not okay part - my prayers are with you. These verses were shared by a wise friend who's been there, too:

"Though the fig tree does not bud,
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord. 
I will be joyful in God my Savior."
-Habakkuk 3:17-18

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