One of my best friends was whisked off in marriage to the great wild west several years ago. I resent that slightly. We always dreamed of being neighbors, okay, we still dream of being neighbors. I think we probably would have shared the responsibility of cooking for our families and just traded nights. Chances are a giant clothes line would have stretched from my home to hers. We would probably have spent mornings over coffee sharing out hearts as only truly close friends can.
One of the greatest dreams we had was to be able to watch our children play together. We have always laughed about how our children will get along effortlessly because we do. We would casually grin as we wipe their runny noses and discuss the troubles of sleep deprevation and stretch marks.
How would we have known?
It's so easy to make plans. It's so easy to dream. It's so easy to think that the "worst case scenerio" would include the imaginary tunnel we'd need to dig since I would be in NC and she'd be in Nebraska. We hoped this tunnel would make everything okay.
We just didn't know...
Several years ago, we let go of our first dream. The first baby. The one who would be the wisest, the oldest, the leader of the pack. This one would start what we thought was an inevitable gift.
But before we even had a chance to say hello, we had to say goodbye.
Baby loss is the most mysterious of losses. Although the pain is deep, and wounds us shockingly more than we'd ever imagine as women, it's still mysterious. Instead of our daily lives being deeply effected and changed by the loss of our child, it mysteriously goes back to how it was before. Some might expect that makes it easier, but actually, it's just another reminder of what we never got to know...what was never a daily reality.
But like so many others who suffer the pain of baby loss, my friend was blessed with another baby...a redheaded, redemption baby, if you will. What joy!
Several months later, I was shocked to learn I was pregnant! And who was the first person I called?? No, it wasn't my husband, it was a call to Nebraska to let my friend know that it was happening. "Get out the shuvels, a tunnel needs to be underway soon. There's a baby coming on this end of the country!"
You wouldn't believe the screaming...
It wasn't but a few weeks later that I learned, not only was I pregnant, but so was she. Could life be better? I think that being pregnant together is the ultimate bonding moment for friends or sisters. How do you have unending conversations?? Have the ability to take equally, adorable bump pictures, of course! Conversations went from facebook gossip to the best maternity clothes, sleep methods, and how to ease morning sickness.
Our dream of being moms together was coming true. We may have been seperated by a dozen or so states, but we had faith. We did, after all, have the tunnel. We had seen hurt and we had struggled; we knew we weren't immune to pain, but it just never crossed our minds.
Within weeks of each other, our babies were taken to Heaven. Five weeks apart! I cried when I learned that her baby was with Jesus. I didn't know from experience what she was going through, but the fear alone of knowing that Elias' life was so fragile due to his own physical struggles, and that the shadow of death could cross over us at any moment, was crippling.
I desperately didn't want to walk with her down that road. I prayed, please don't let us share this journey together. Not death, please not death. My heart broke for her pain. Each day gave me a clearer glimpse of what she might be experiencing as Elias' condition grew worse and worse.
In the days, and now weeks since Elias went to Heaven, I can say, sharing this road, has been a gift. Baby loss is just so lonely. People expect you to move on much quicker than a lot of people are ready to do. Typically the mother is the only one who really grieves the death of the baby because her bond was by far, the strongest. Many women don't even get to visually see their babies, making it an even more mysterious pain to go through. Not to mention the guilt involved. Did I do something? Could I have prevented this? So many unanswered questions.
There have been moments when I've felt rushed to grieve quickly and move on. Having a friend, now eight weeks out from her own baby loss experience has helped me realize, you don't just get over it. In fact, I don't think we were meant to get over it. We learn to live with it and through it. It becomes a part of us.
Many researchers would say that the pain and loss I experienced with Elias is the same for my friend who experienced a late, first trimester loss. I certainly don't agree with everything I've read concerning the grieving process of pregnancy loss, I think what I do agree with is this, the loss of life is significant, no matter how long its existence.
Although I believe God is sovereign, I would never say that He necessarily caused one of our babies to die just to give the other comfort. But I will say, I'm thankful that if we each had to experience this awful road, that we are experiencing it together.
One of the most comforting thoughts we've shared is that, although we can't see it, our children are playing together! We can trust that all three of them are in Heaven, living the fullest life we could ever imagine or desire for them.
And as her aunt so sweetly put it...
"and they don't even need a tunnel!"