I woke up at 5 am this morning with the stomach flu and all the loveliness that stomach flu entails.
My kids have been sick for the past 2 weeks, I have been up nights with coughing children, fevers, aches and pains, and long days of tired, sick kids.
I have been utterly exhausted, but I thought I had escaped the sickness myself.
But I had to get the stomach flu.
And I took dinner last night to friends who just had a baby.
And we had other friends staying with us.
And if I get every one of them sick, including my family, I am going to feel so, so bad.
So, I thought this was not going to get written and I felt bad about that too. Because I wanted to remember that little life that was a part of mine for such a short time.
And even though I am achy and tired, it feels good to be sitting up, so here I am.
It was a year ago since I visited the dr. and learned my 4th child had died. Only 11 weeks old, but already such a part of me and our family.
A few days later I wrote this post and was awed by the outpouring of love showered on me.
People I didn't even know sent me cards and notes. I saved them all.
I'd wake from a nap to find flowers or baked goods on my front porch. People brought dinner. They came and sat with me and let me cry.
I was blessed and humbled and felt less alone.
But as the months passed, it became lonely again.
I couldn't talk to Aaron about it because he was still sorting through his own grief. The subject was so loaded with hurt and sadness that we almost stopped speaking of it.
I felt self indulgent discussing it with anyone else even though I wanted to so badly.
I'd mention it on occasion here, but eventually even felt that it was too much.
Then I got pregnant again and there was so much joy in my heart.
Everything went just as it should, we saw the baby's heartbeat at just 6 weeks and there was weeping afresh, but a new kind.
There was a scare at my 12 week check up. The dr. couldn't hear the heartbeat and although she was very cool, as she searched my belly, she began to ask those questions again.
"Have you had any spotting? Any cramping of any sort? Everything seems normal?"
She gave up and said we needed to do an ultrasound.
It was just like the last time. Except Aaron was there with me and that helped.
I could see in his face that he was scared.
She found that baby right away and she let us watch it move and kick and jump around.
It was a relief unimaginable.
As I began to show, people started to ask, "wow! so how many do you have?"
That is when I discovered a new part of this journey that I was still on.
Despite my deep and abiding joy at the new life growing in me, I was still mourning the life that was lost. It hadn't even been a year and I was, am, still sad.
So I wanted to answer every time, "5. This is my 5th baby."
But when I had all my kids with me, except the 4th, they'd ask where the other one was.
And that was awkward.
But I felt disloyal somehow to say this is my 4th baby. Because it isn't.
My 4th baby lived such a short time, but that baby was real, and a part of our life.
Grief is such a difficult thing.
Especially in the face of a new happiness.
I felt sad for the one thing and happy for the other.
But my happiness didn't take away the sadness that the other happened.
I wasn't sure how to sort through all of it.
A couple of months ago, a friend at church shared something with me that helped me more than she could have imagined.
We hadn't seen them in a while and they were asking about our pregnancy.
"Was this planned or a surprise?" she wanted to know.
I explained that we had gotten a surprise pregnancy and lost it and afterward discovered we did indeed want another one--it just took some of us longer to discover that!
When I spoke about losing the baby, I couldn't keep the tears from coming to my eyes.
She looked at me and said, " I lost a baby between my 1st and 3rd pregnancy and even though it's been 20 years, I still feel the loss. And I still mourn for that baby."
It was so liberating.
I felt like she was giving me permission to grieve still.
And I am so grateful to her.
We never know how sharing a little piece of our heart will encourage and lift someone up.
In the past few months, I have read the story of Lazarus several times.
I have taken great comfort in that little verse found in the story:
"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
He knew Lazarus would not stay dead. He knew the miracle and the joy that was waiting before Him.
But it did not take away the horrible sadness of that moment.
Because death is sad.
It doesn't matter if it is an unborn baby, a grandma, a pet or a teenager.
It doesn't matter if it is someone who will be alive again shortly, like Lazarus.
Death is a tragedy.
And we are supposed to weep and mourn when it comes.
So here I am, feeling joy with every kick from my sweet 5th baby.
But still mourning the loss of a tiny one that I never got to feel kick.
And that is OK.
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
Your love and support have been a comfort and a blessing.
I have learned a lot.
It is my hope that I have a softer heart to others in pain.
It is the way I honor my tiny babe.
Daffodils. I received many bouquets of daffodils last spring.
I love then now and have been waiting for them this spring.
They are a sweet reminder for me of my little one and the love showered upon me.
Thank you for caring for me.