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It is past 1 am on Christmas Day, and I have a 7 am service in the morning.

I should be sleeping. 
Instead, I am thinking of how different this Christmas is from the last several. 
Yes, I miss our babies that aren’t here with us. But the miss isn’t as strong, isn’t as overwhelming as it once was. 
I remember that first year, “celebrating ” Christmas 5 days after we lost Olivia. I should clarify … It was more like enduring.

Plastering on a hollow smile for the benefit of others. To fool a camera to take a picture of a happy couple … A lie in picture form that I never would believe. I remember trying to stuff my swollen abdomen inside my dress pants … Only to give in with tears and grab my maternity ones. 
Oh dear friends, the memories are really never so far away. They are always right behind the next thought occupying my mind at the moment. Just peel back that layer a little, and the tears will come. 
You should know that I remember.
And even as I remember, I can see that I am not today where I was.
 
This is the first year in many that I was not hoping to have a pregnancy announcement to make. The first year where my hands and heart feel like they are caring for all the babies I can. The first time that being able celebrate with those who are here is enough for me.
I am not the same grieving woman who started this blog 3 years ago. 
I’m changed, evolving. Maybe you could say growing. 
But I am different. Perhaps the greatest gift loss has given me is the ability to be grateful for the small things. And the big things we sometimes mistake for small things.
Today, Maddy talked me into baking cookies. I did it more for the memories — her memories — than I did for the cookies. 
But the thought was not lost on me. That this day, this moment, has never been guaranteed. 
“Maddy,” I asked her. “Do you know what I’m thankful for?”
“What?”” she wonders. 
 “I’m thankful I get to spend this Christmas with you.”
And I am. Ever so grateful for all my kids. Even when Leyla let’s her personality show in full force … I am reminded. You asked for her. You actually begged God for her. And here she is.

The truth is, 3 kids to take care of and to hope you are not permanently screwing up can be a challenge. But living as a bereaved mom, with a desperate ache in your soul that nothing can touch, is also a challenge. 
I’m not sure where you are tonight. Are you a few years out from your loss, like me? Is grief still playing a part of your holiday … Just maybe not taking over your holiday?
Or are you new to your loss? Are you crying because you are wearing maternity jeans and you’re no longer pregnant? Are you having to face empty stockings, or baby’s first Christmas ornaments, and family get togethers with one precious little one missing — your child? 
Where are you tonight?
My hope for you, and my hope even for me, is that we can somehow focus on Christ tomorrow. Whether in joy or sadness, we can recognize that all gifts, save the amazing gift of Jesus, won’t last. I hope that our hearts can cling to the good news of great joy. I hope we can celebrate in our own way, knowing that the baby who was born this day so many years ago, is the one gift that makes life, and even loss, worth it. 
May you find comfort, gentleness, and some hope tomorrow as you celebrate. 
Merry Christmas to you and to your little ones celebrating in Jesus’ arms tonight.
<3 
Rachel
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