“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18
I haven’t written in quite a while. In fact, I haven’t even written about the birth of our little Jack. There’s a reason for that.
Jack is a happy, pleasant baby. He lights up the room with his toothy grin. His favorite word is “mama.” (Swoon.) He gets still and sweetly quiet when I sing “Baby Mine.” He is usually content as long as Joey or I are in view. If we are not, he can be appeased with anything that has a steering wheel and propels forward. He loves to go outside and sit in the grass. He rocks back and forth and grunts and laughs when he sees a yellow school bus slide to a stop at our house, dropping off his brother and sister. He is loving, gives big, wet kisses, and seems to be practically perfect in most ways.
He’s a dream. And it’s a good thing. Because at least I get a dream during the waking hours. I’m definitely not finishing any at night.
Jack is one of those babies. You’ve heard of them. You blame it on bad parenting. You blame it on a mother’s inability to sleep train. You assume the parents are doing something wrong. The truth is, we probably are. Yes, Jack doesn’t sleep. We feel incredibly refreshed if he sleeps four hours straight, but that is a rare, rare occasion. Most nights, I am up every two hours or so.
I am very, very tired. My eyes are always bloodshot. I’ve started drinking (coffee) again. I am reliant on caffeine to get me through the day. I am sleep deprived. I often agree to things and have conversations that I later do not recollect. People will talk to me and I try to focus but find myself looking just beyond them. I am often forgetful or inconsiderate and I honest-to-goodness don’t mean to be either.
But I know this, too, shall pass. Our Abby was not a good sleeper. She’s 10 now and does not require any attention between 8:30 PM and 7:00 AM. She, in fact, learned to sleep through the night on her own. Josiah has always been a good sleeper. I now realize what a blessing that is. Before I know it, Jack will be 2 or 3–no longer breastfeeding–and he won’t need me at night. So I’ll keep lifting Jack from his little baby-jail crib, rocking him, bringing him to our bed. This stage will soon be over. Most days, I don’t want to rush it. But sometimes, well, you know. You’re just too tired to remember that the days are long but the years are short.
So that’s one of the reasons I haven’t written. The idea of putting my thoughts to
paper screen seemed a daunting task, just a little too much to ask of a person who hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in well over a year. And honestly, the emotions I’ve felt have been all over the map. I haven’t felt up to putting all my jumbled thoughts out there. But I found myself craving some writing time this morning. So I made a second cup of coffee, told my husband I needed just a couple of hours (thank you, thank you, thank you), and sat down to organize my muddled, half-witted thoughts. Maybe someone’s still reading.
Most people who have stumbled upon my blog know me personally. Many of you are my friends in real life or at least my friends on social media. You know what my life looks like now because we are connected in some way. But I realize there are some reading this who have never met me. They only know of my life through the lens of this blog.
There are mothers who read Anna’s story while living through their own painful stories. Mothers reached out to me, sharing how they got through the darkest nights of their lives. Some mothers had just gotten diagnoses. One unexpectedly lost her infant while following my blog. Some had dealt with loss years before. They read about Anna and broke the bread of life with me, sharing with me a taste of their fears, joys, mourning, gladness. Their honesty was soothing to my soul. What incredible blessings they were to me! I prayed for them, and I know they prayed for me. I wept for them; they wept for me. They made me feel that I was among a group of special people. Indeed, I was.
So for them–for you–I write this. It’s really just an update of sorts. I would love to hear how you are doing.
I’m in a good place. My Jackson Glen has brought laughter and happiness to our home. Sure, I’m exhausted, but I’m delightfully so. My house is messy, suppers are good enough but nothing spectacular, my van always needs cleaning out, and my laundry room is an embarrassment to our family. Life is good.
But you don’t get over it, you know? God carries you through it, but you don’t really get over it.
We still deal with behavioral issues with our older two that I know are related to losing Anna. My children are getting older and I don’t feel free to go into details. They are healthy, well-adjusted kids, and they are wiser and more empathetic because of what they went through. But the loss still leaves a mark. To say otherwise would be disingenuous. I remind myself that we all have trials to persevere, this is one of theirs, and God saw it coming before I did. It’s part of His plan for their lives. He will use it to better them and to bring glory to His name. That’s a good thing for everyone. If their trial can bring glory to Him, more people will have the opportunity to receive the free gift of salvation. I’m all for having a crowded Heaven.
How has losing Anna impacted my marriage? This is hard to tackle. Many sweet ladies who walked similar paths to mine did not have the kind of husband I do. I will never stop thanking God for my Joey. I know I have been blessed with the best of the best. I don’t ever take that for granted. But. No two people experience loss–or their recovery from it–the same way. Losing a child affects your marital relationship. There are days when I feel closer to Joey because we’ve had to walk this path together. There are days when I am flabbergasted that he does not mourn Anna the same way I do. And if I’m honest, there are times when I am angry, disappointed, or lonely, as a result. He’s not doing anything wrong, and I know this, but sometimes it feels that way. In those times, I have to remind myself that Joey is not my stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 says, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” My husband is a blessing from God, but he is not God. I’ve found that it’s very important to me to keep that in perspective.
As for my relationship with my little Jack, I can honestly say God has given me peace in a way that I never expected. During my pregnancy, I was very nervous. I had nightmares, panic attacks, and some longwinded one-sided prayers. I just could not imagine how I was going to get through the delivery without losing my mind with grief. That hospital, those rooms, the monitors hooked up to you–all reminders of another day, however beautiful, when we did not get to take our baby home. But I need not have worried. I was able to enjoy Jack’s birth and the days that followed perhaps more than I had any of my previous deliveries. I didn’t worry about my sagging belly or my messy house. I sat and held Jack like a grandmother would. I cuddled and enjoyed him, soaking up the sweetness of a newborn. Sure, I still had to deal with all the not-so-fun tasks of having a newborn, but Joey and I both agree that we worried less about doing it all “right.” We just did it. And we enjoyed it for the most part.
God did not give us what we asked for. We did not get to keep our Anna. And Jack did not replace her. But nurturing Jack has allowed our arms to hold, our lips to kiss, our home to embrace all the sunshine that comes with a little one. Our love for him has brought spring to our hearts, and there is a sense that we are on the precipice of something new and amazing.
Our love for Abby and Josiah kept us going after we lost Anna. Their childhoods hung in the balance. God redeemed those, and our babies are becoming amazing little people. We had to help them carry their loss. We still do. They help us, too. For them, Jack has brought the opportunity for them to pour all of that adoration, cuddling, protection, and wonder into a tangible sibling. They can hold, rock, feed, and snuggle with their baby brother. Jack has never known the bitter taste of death. He will, undoubtedly, have his own trials to face. It’s part of being human. But this season is one of untouched innocence, untethered happiness, and unrehearsed harmony.
It’s a time to dance. It’s not a jump-up-and-put-on-your-legwarmers 1980s-big-hair kind of dance. It’s a little slower. Touch of melancholy. It’s introspective. But it’s a dance our family knows well. And it’s one I’m very thankful–even privileged–to have learned.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” -Psalm 30:11