How I dreaded this day during many of the years past when I would sit in church while other mamas stood and were applauded for their sacrifice and love. It’s not that I desired to steal their glory, but rather that I ached for a child of my own. I grieved the babies I had lost.
For those of you still in the throes of this journey, I understand. Friday night I still shed tears over my little ones in Heaven. They are held by arms not my own, cradled by my Heavenly Father. And, one day, I will begin the IVF cycle all over again – stronger this time in some ways and weaker in others. My story – like all of ours – is not completely written.
For those sweet friends of mine mourning this year, I’m so sorry. There are not words.
But, this year, I’m in a different place. I can’t take the credit for it, and I can’t succumb to the guilt that I feel when I remember all of the women in my life who hurt right now.
Today, I celebrated with my one-year-old. My miraculous one-year-old. Other than the amazing fact that I was able to travel to Houston to be with my mama, this day didn’t look much different than other days. Life with a toddler is…well…predictable in its unpredictability. Wake-up. Nursing. Giggles. Diaper change. Breakfast eaten in bites “on-the-go” around the table with my family. Playtime. Nap time. Snack. Injuries. Popcyles with Yaya. Dinner. Bath. Bed.
Life is good. Mother’s Day was good.
I miss David, who is currently camping in western Colorado on a geology field session with Mines University. I wish I could justify eating more dessert. My hair is frizzy in the Houston mugginess. I fantasize about sleeping through the night.
But, it only seemed appropriate today of all days to share on this blog Abby’s one-year-old photos and my guest blog that I wrote for my dear friend and photographer Rachael MacPhee with Rachael Hope Photography and Haven Blog. So, without more ado…
I taste the word. Turn it around and over and swirl it about in the deep places of my heart.
How I yearned for the little arms that wrap themselves around my neck in the morning and the little toes that play with my face in a haphazard sort of way while rosebud lips nurse and smile a milky, impish grin. Oh, how my heart throbbed for the very same miracle that is currently sleeping just a room away from where I now sit in bed, reminiscing…
During the years I was not conceiving and then losing babies early in pregnancy, I would wrap my own arms tightly around my flat belly and imagine a tender life growing there. Imagine what it would be like to snuggle my own baby. Imagine being called, “Mama.”
I clung desperately to a quote by 1800s missionary Amy Carmichael: “It is a safe thing to trust Him [God] to fulfill the desires which He creates.” Well, my hope didn’t feel safe when pain seared scars dark and dreadful, but Hope did not disappoint.
Today, I twirled and danced in the early morning sunshine with my one-year-old. Today, I fell even more in love with the little girl who simultaneously dressed herself in my jewelry AND made a determined beeline for the yellow dump truck and muddy mulch in the corner of the yard.
When I asked my dear friend Rachael to photograph a motherhood session, I used words like whimsical, dreamy, ethereal, and vintage. Not because I don’t walk around barefoot like every good Texan girl (because I do most of the time), but because I knew that Rach could capture my motherhood story. She’s the friend that has been there since my husband and I first moved to Colorado and began pouring our lives into middle and high school students. She shared her home and heart with me when she was pregnant with Henry (my favorite little man). She cried with me when I couldn’t get pregnant. Brought me bakery treats, more cups of coffee than one can count, and handwritten notes. When I finally saw two pink lines on a little white test, I called Rachael right after my own mama. And, she rejoiced. Took photos of my belly. Encouraged me even during days when we were both pregnant and whiny.
So, when I requested “dreamy,” she knew that I meant more than lace. When I asked her for “whimsical,” she knew I needed more than flowers and ruffled tutus. She knew I was asking her for the impossible: capture the joy and heartache and beauty and pain of the past many years all in a single hour of dancing with my daughter in front of her camera. And, she did it. With her sweet Hazel strapped on her back no less.
Becoming a mother this year has tilted my world on its axis and thrown my well-organized plans into chaos. Birth empowered me to see my body as strong and capable. Postpartum depression allowed me to unearth, unlock, and release many burdens that just have no place in God’s plan for me. Returning to work full-time allowed me to see the incredible need for healthy boundaries. Resigning and then pursuing my dream of becoming a doula and stay-at-home mama began the sometimes brutal, sometimes gentle process of reshaping a woman.
This woman. Me. Into a more honest friend. Into a sleepier wife. Into a new mom who had no idea what “cry-it-out” entailed (which is probably why I am just this week getting to sleep through the night for the first time in over 12 months).
Yet, in the midst of all the collateral damage (sleep, personal hygiene, romance, etc.), there has remained a steady stream of God’s goodness. Given freely. By my incredible husband. My family. Sweet friends. All who dared to join me on this adventure.
Today, as I held my baby girl close and allowed the wind to rustle our hair, I dreamt an even bigger dream of grace. A dream that is no longer a yearning in my heart, but a tangible, active toddler with dirt on her toes and marshmallows in her mouth (how else do you keep a one-year-old happy?!?). A dream with eyes turning hazel like her Grandpa Bill’s. A dream that squeals in delight when her belly is kissed or she is given more blueberries or the cat tickles her fancy.
I dream of making her smile, exploring this big beautiful world with her, teaching her truth that she might find wisdom and courage and joy.
I dream of Abby.