I remember the excitement I felt as a kid when a piece of mail would show up in the black box that sat at the end of our windy driveway. I would pull the metal flap down in great anticipation that maybe, just maybe, one piece would be addressed to “Miss Amy Leyrer.” It didn’t happen very often, but when it did… giddiness overcame me. These days I kind of dread the mail, sifting through all the junk, only to end up with a stack of bills. Yuck. BUT… when a package arrives… Now that’s a different story. My heart goes pitty pat in anticipation!
About a month ago, one such package arrived. I wasn’t expecting anything. As I extracted it from the mailbox and carried it back to the house. I was filled with wonder. What could it be? As the boys unloaded their backpacks, I plopped the box on the counter and proceeded to peel back the tape. I pulled out the contents and read a note. My heart dropped and I could feel anger, hurt and brokenness rising up in my flesh. The words staring back at me included, “Congratulations!” “The Joy of Parenthood,” “As a new mom…” and “The excitement of welcoming a new…” Signed, Your friendly baby formula brand, gift-giving-committee, welcoming the baby you are no longer having… Similac. Or something along those lines. My emotions may have inserted a few extra words. To be honest, I wanted to pick up that brick of powdered nourishment and smash it into the wall. Note to Similac: Your auto-generated gift to new moms based on a baby’s due date entered in 9 months prior may need some tweaking.
This might not be the most believable moment to share this, but, for the most part, I have processed the loss quite well. It has been seven months since we learned the pregnancy was ectopic and that I needed surgery. Seven months to know that my sweet baby is up in heaven and will never know pain. I know someday I will get to hold her in my arms and kiss her little head and I will spend eternity doing so. Until that day, I am here and unlike our baby, I do feel pain. Not all the time, but when it’s real, it hurts. Just like with any loss, grief comes in waves. Any given day, it can appear to be the calmest waters, but when the wind blows, it stirs up a wave. Often they take me by surprise, as if my back was to the wind. I don’t see the waves coming until they hit. That’s grief. It passes, often as quickly as it came. Other times wave after wave keeps crashing and the storm must be waited out.
Back in April, I looked forward to this fall, anticipating the moment I would get to count ten little fingers and ten little toes. This would have been the time little Harper Joy was to be welcomed into the world. We named her and I was pleasantly surprised at how much peace this has brought. After the loss, I took the due date off my calendar. GoogleCal deleted it and dumped it into cyberspace. I honestly couldn’t tell you the exact date, but it would have been in the last two weeks of November. Overall, this has been a time of keen awareness for me. The waves of sadness have come and gone, but minus the delivered package, mostly there is just an awareness of what could have been and what is. The what could have been’s float into my head and are often met with a few moments of sadness. Sometimes those moments linger longer. but as quickly as I can muster, these thoughts are dusted out to make room for the “What Is.”
Choosing to focus on the “What is” in my life puts into perspective just how grateful and thankful I truly am. One of the hardest times and yet positive moments that happened after the loss of Harper Joy was, oddly enough a second loss. The first loss being an ectopic pregnancy, I not only lost a baby, but the fallopian tube she had resided in as well. You can read more about that and His blanket of Peace by clicking here. After that unfolded in April, we spun around 3 times fast and voila! We were pregnant again! There is definitely another story for another day here, but for now, the relative piece of information is that we were indeed pregnant again.
When it came time for the eight week ultrasound, we knew something wasn’t right. Following the scan, we were sent to the midwife’s office to wait patiently in silence as we tried to wrap our head around what might be to come. I fought back the tears and refused the words that spun in my head. The midwife came in and her face confirmed those floating words to be true. They dropped like rocks, landing in the pit of my stomach. There was no heartbeat. Another loss. The midwife continued to speak her medical mumbo jumbo and was met with an unexpected question. Mine. “But was it in the uterus??” She looked at me confused and replied, “Um..yes..” trailing off in more of the form of a question than a statement. What I said next nearly knocked her off her chair, “Well! Then that’s the good news! It was where it was supposed to be!” She smiled. I was heartbroken and at peace all at once. We were losing another child and yet in that same moment, I felt God was showing me confirmation that my body can, in fact, get pregnant again and in the right place. Medically speaking, the bottom line, I was told, was that I “happened to have two very unlucky flukes happen. And they happened back to back.” Frustrating, heartbreaking and reassuring all at once.
We chose to miscarry naturally in lieu of a D&C. Without going into detail, a D&C is when they go in and clean everything out in one full swoop. With the natural miscarriage, I didn’t realize I was signing up for the long haul. It took months for everything to unfold and for my body to return to a healed state. On one hand, it was a marvel to watch all that God designed our bodies to do, to purge, to cleanse, to heal. On the other hand, it was months of dragging on the emotions, the hormones, the healing. To say it has been a tough year would be an understatement. Two pregnancies, two first trimesters, two losses, one surgical and one natural miscarriage, two post-pregnancy adjustments, and now my first “due date”. I’m taking notes because I will be doing this again in February.
Today, with Thanksgiving laid out behind us, Christmas and a new year just in front of us, I choose to focus on my list of “What is”. This grows and changes daily, but the steadfast highlights include:
-A God that covers me in His blanket of Peace
-A God that loves me, no matter, and waits patiently for me to return when I stray
-A husband who loves me unconditionally, warts and all
-Two boys who truly fill me with joy every day and stretch me in the most humbling ways
-Family and friends who support me, love me and laugh with me
-The heart, mind and soul that God gave me and the reminder to use them fully
-A passion for the creative that fuels me
-Our tranquil, life-giving-to-the-soul piece of Texas soil
-A home filled with food, clothes, and more than we could ever need
-A God who sees me through the darkest hours, then paints the colors in the sky and shines the brightest sun to guide my path forward
-A God who is no respecter of persons, who loves us equally and shines the same bright light for every single one of us
Recently, I was teaching my seven year old son something that rings so true. As I spoke the words, I realized I needed them just as much, if not more, for myself:
If we focus on what we don’t have (or what others have that we think we want), it will only lead to misery and frustration. However, if we focus on what we have and choose to count our blessings and that which we are most thankful for, this leads to a full heart and overwhelming gratitude and joy.
Today I choose to focus on “What Is.”
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1
What does your “What Is” list include?