Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Different Kind of Beautiful

There is an azalea garden in Raleigh that my family and I like to visit multiple times each April when the azaleas are blooming beautifully and vibrantly.

This garden is a popular spot for photography sessions. A few weeks ago when we went, I saw a young couple there for a maternity photo shoot. As we walked past them, I noticed that one of the props they had for their photos was a lily... my heart sank. Was this because they were having a baby girl named Lily? Her name is one of the only things I have that's hers. One of the only things I have left of her. And it stings hearing other children with that name.

As we walked through the garden, I kept thinking of this young couple and how I wished I could go back in time and have a professional photo shoot with a lily, especially since I won't get all the pictures that most parents get of/with their child.

I was also thinking about how this couple (though I don't know their story and am assuming this) is probably blissfully pregnant and unaware of what can go wrong. I hope they never have to know this ache.

I can never go back to who I was before losing Lily. To be honest with you, before Lily was born still, I had no idea that perfectly healthy babies died at full term for no reason. I don't even remember knowing the words stillbirth or stillborn. Truly, I don't. I was naive. And sometimes I think it's better to be that way.

Never again will I go into a pregnancy completely carefree, excited, and naive. Well, truth be told, I never had that pregnancy to begin with. I have been pregnant twice and both pregnancies have ended completely differently, however, both were unplanned and full of fears, anxiety, and questions. Now, when I hopefully have more children in the future, the pregnancies will be prayed and hoped for within marriage, so that aspect will be different, however I won't have the belief that pregnancy inevitably ends with a healthy baby that you get to take home.

Never in my life will I experience a completely happy pregnancy. And that makes me very sad.

I think about future pregnancies and get a knot in my stomach as I think of all that can go wrong. I feel that I simply could not go through losing another baby. I know there is no "safe zone," as so many people believe. Babies die at 40 weeks gestation... for no reason. Will I be on edge for the duration of any future pregnancy I have? Will I be able to enjoy pregnancy at all ever again? Or will I always wonder between appointments whether I will go in and see the precious flicker of life on the ultrasound screen has ceased? Like Lily's perfect little heart just stopped. For no reason. I am afraid of seeing life and death, all before birth. And even after birth, there are no guarantees. Will I always be a hypochondriac, worry wart, "helicopter-mom"?

I don't know what the future holds, nor do I know what future pregnancies will be like for me. What I do know is that the Lord holds the world in His hands. He holds all of my children in His hands and has a good plan. Maybe that seems like an oversimplified belief, but the Bible tells us that we are to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). I think adults make things much more complicated than they should be.

God will give me what I need the moment I need it. I don't think pregnancy will ever be what it could have been had I not lost Lily. But I know it will be a different kind of beautiful. Because I serve a God who delights to redeem and restore. He gives grace when there is none and strength where there's weakness. He gives peace that passes all understanding. Even though I am not married and don't know if or when I will ever be pregnant again, He is giving me the gentle assurance that everything is going to be alright. I am to trust Him like a little child.

Because He has shown me the value and sanctity of each life in a way that I never would have understood had I not had an abortion, or lost Lily, I believe that pregnancy for me will be a treasured time... a time more precious than any words could begin to describe. I will cherish whatever time I am given with my future children and will rejoice over the gift of being able to carry a life at all. I will love my children more deeply than I ever could have if I'd walked a different path. The Lord is using all the things I've been through to shape me into the person He is calling me to be in Him. I am not meant to be someone else. I am not meant to have someone else's life or experiences. He has a unique plan and purpose for my life and it's okay if it doesn't look like everyone else's.

I will trust that His strength, His grace, and His peace will meet me wherever I am... just as it always has.


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