Sunday, February 8, 2015

Halfway

Somehow, tomorrow I will be twenty weeks pregnant– halfway (ish) done. Just typing those words sends off little warning rockets, like distress flares from a ship, in my head– you don't know that for sure. You thought that last time. You're only halfway if everything stays normal. Several people have asked me if once I get past twenty-three weeks– the point at which we lost Livia and Lucy– I will feel "safe". And I've had to tell them: no, I won't. I know too much now and I've read too many stories. There is no point in this pregnancy where I will be able to think, "Now we're safe. Now there is nothing to fear." Whenever people try to reassure me by saying, "I'm sure everything will be fine," I grit my teeth. Life is fragile and fleeting, and God has not promised that losing two babies means I will never lose another. I do not, cannot, put any faith in well-meaning but empty reassurances. My faith, as feeble as it is, rests only in what I know God has promised– that whatever happens, He will be with me, with us, with our little Tadpole.

The Tadpole, this week, has started prodding and kicking me– or rather, he or she has finally reached the size where I can feel the movements. I never felt Livia or Lucy kicking– because of the TTTS Livia had too much amniotic fluid for me to feel her and Lucy didn't have enough to really move. So the antics of their younger sibling are new sensations to my belly. Tadpole is generally quiet during the day, though after meals– especially if there is dessert involved– I'll usually feel a few prods, as if a tiny hand is high-fiving the inside of my uterus to signify approbation of the meal. But at night, after I rub my favorite blend of essential oils on my tummy and settle into the pillows, I can usually feel the Tadpole limbering up. The other night there was definitely kick-boxing practice going on in there, reminding me that while these first early movements are fun to feel but easily ignorable, as the Tadpole grows the fists and feet will get steadily more demanding of my attention.

I've been in Colorado Springs, visiting my family, for the past two weeks, as Nate is on a TDY and I preferred the matchless blue of Colorado winter skies to the dreary gray of South Carolina. I got to have a midwife appointment at my older sister's office, and a long, delightful ultrasound where we cooed over Tadpole sucking his/her thumb (must have got that from Daddy!). For women who have never experienced anything but sterile, impersonal doctors' offices, all I can say is that you've never quite experienced luxury during a pregnancy check-up until you've stretched out on a comfy twin bed to have your belly measured, and been propped up on fluffy pillows during your ultrasound, in an office that is hung with brightly-colored birth art and full of toys for the children of clients to amuse themselves with during their mothers' appointments. And if your sister is the one conducting the ultrasound, there's no being stingy with the ultrasound pictures– I have a dozen in a long strand waiting to be shown to Nate.

My mom and I went to visit Livia and Lucy's grave yesterday– the first time I've been there since the headstone was finished. It has been beautiful weather all this weekend, the kind of days that only Colorado can produce in February– balmy, breezy, with sunshine so intense that 65 degrees feels like 75 and you can almost sense the Vitamin D being soaked up by your skin. I found two perfect roses to bring for the girls– beginning to bloom, and that delicate shade of peachy-pink that seems to be a color just for little girls. Visiting their grave is always an emotional paradox for me– to honor my daughters' earthly bodies while knowing that their realest selves are whole and joyful in Heaven; to long for the Resurrection Day when our broken bodies will be made perfect, like Christ's, as was God's design all along, and yet to know that if Jesus tarries I will be reunited with my little girls in Heaven to await that Day together there. My heart weeps for the bitterness of their lost lives here, and yet my soul clings in sweet confidence to the shortness of the separation from them. I kneel and trace the beauty of their names in the rose granite– Livia Rose, Lucy Eleanor, beloved daughters– while cradling in my body their younger brother or sister to whom we will teach those names, teach the hope of the redemption and restoration that Jesus brings.




It is that hope that carries us through these hard days. We love our Tadpole and we fight to hold onto joy for the arrival of our third child, but our hope is not in the Tadpole's birth. This morning in the church I grew up in worship was closed with this hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus' name.

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
His anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before His throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand!
All other ground is sinking sand.




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