There is so much filling all the spaces in my heart right now.
First, there is joy. This will be Z’s first Christmas, and we get to be the ones to share it with him. We’re taking a mini staycation with Ryan’s family soon, and it will hopefully be a nice time of getting away. My business is going great, and I’m so excited for both the upcoming cruise and the team building that’s going on.
There is gratitude. I don’t have a due date lingering over me. It’s coming close to a full year without a loss. I am thankful for the abundance of food we have, the warmth in our home, the kids that sleep/eat/fight/cry/play/laugh/dance/sing here. I am looking forward to giving each of them their gifts, small though they may be. I’m thankful for the opportunity to mother them and know them.
There is expectation. As I finish out this year, I start a new one renewed in my writing, in my purpose, and in my message. I’m excited (albeit nervous) to be a doing a radio interview this week. I’m looking forward to the strides I will make in my business. I’m looking forward to growth in Ryan’s job.
And there is also more.
There is shame. I’m not always a great mom. Ok, no one parent ever is perfect, but I must admit there are times that I struggle. And this is one of them. Mostly with Leyla. Sweet, spunky Leyla and I are at odds most of the day. She doesn’t nothing half-hearted, and usually that means her fits (which occur often) are all out. There is only so much screaming I feel I can handle. Add to that Maddy and Lelya bickering, or Leyla trying to feed the baby food, or smother him, or carry him, and I just feel worn out. Before the day has hardly begun. For as much work and effort as it has taken for Leyla to be ours — for as much as I view her as a gift — I’m feeling so ashamed at how I resent her at times for being, well . . . being Leyla.
There is distraction. The older I get, the more responsibilities I juggle, the harder I find it to tune in to the “reason for the season.” The easier I find it to look forward to the gifts, and tree, and family time, and vacations instead of focusing in on Jesus Christ, my Savior, who came as a baby to die for me. Without him, what is the point? And yet the eyes of my heart keep darting away to the shining lights, and Christmas carols, and traditions, and yes, even shopping. I desperately need to tune my heart into Christ.
There is grief. Time, they say, heals all wounds. Or maybe, time just complicates it. Christmas in 2011 was about missing the baby that had died just a few days before in my tube. Christmas was complicated. And I simply wasn’t in the mood.
Christmas 2012 brought with it memories of the loss of Olivia, then Caleb, then my Grandma. And finally, the foster baby we were ready to take in, but “lost” to a different family. The grief remained fresh.
Christmas 2013 brought memories of Olivia, Caleb, Grandma, foster baby we hoped for, Elliott (whose due date would have been just after Christmas.) But then we had Leyla. It was our first Christmas together. And in that way, it was also beautiful.
Christmas 2014 brings memories of Olivia, Caleb, Grandma, Foster baby, Elliott, and Sophie. This is the first Christmas without Grandpa Fred. This is the first Christmas with Leyla as officially a Lewis. It brings with it the fact that I am trying to move on from loss and trying to conceive. As I wrestle with the desire to have a womb that works . . . the desire to keep a baby . . . but learning all the same to let that go. To try my best to say, OK. That’s not in the cards for me. And then move on.
This year also brings Baby Z. And with him, some healing. And yet, not a day goes by that I don’t think at some point of the time in the future that we will have to say goodbye. When I won’t have him to wake up to at night, or cuddle with, or tickle, or sing to. Perhaps this is our only Christmas with him. And that makes me oh-so-sad.
And then, there is fatigue. The one thing I’m learning about adding a 3rd child to our home is that I need help. I have spent much of the last 3 years ignoring mommy things. Ignoring play groups or MOPS or mommy blogs or mommy/baby anything. And yet. I can’t escape the fact that I am a mom. And while I do have fertility issues, and I do have babies in heaven, that isn’t all my mothering journey is wrapped up in. And I can’t isolate myself anymore the way I did before. I’m making strides to reach out, to connect, to allow myself to read blogs about mothering without somehow judging myself for it (ie, “How could I possibly feel so awful about blank-blank-blank, when I have just finished adopting. I should just be so thankful and happy!”)
I’m trying to build a community, and not just one that is completely around loss. I’m opening myself up to moms who are quite fertile, and friends who have never had a loss, and people that I have to relate to OUTSIDE of grief. It’s stretching me in a way. I’m growing. I’m learning to move forward. But in some sense, even as I’m so focused on new relationships — I still feel so lonely inside. Is it just me, or do you feel lonely too?
And so that is me, on this cold December Monday. Tomorrow, no doubt, my heart will spend some time remembering the day we “miscarried” Olivia. The day my grief started. Tomorrow, we’ll also decorate the tree with my kids and husband while singing and laughing and having a gay old time.
Tomorrow there will be both joy and sorrow and laughing and sadness and hope and guilt and shame and pride and love — lots of love — all vying for space in my heart.
Just like there was today.