My niece will be born today. There is a world of words fighting for expression, but that’s all I can think of immediately when I look at the otherwise blank page: my niece will be born today. Today, I will meet the little girl we’ve been waiting for, and I will fall in love with her tiny face, her fingers and toes, her every wiggly move. Today, my heart will break wide open at the sight of one tiny, little girl; all the things I’ve managed to keep at bay for the last few months won’t have anywhere else to go in the face of this precious little one. Today, I will have to find feet for my faith when they only want to run the other way and cry.
This being the first grandchild in our immediate family brings a host of things to mind: we should have already done this two and a half years ago; I should have at least heard our last baby’s heartbeat by now if she weren’t gone; I’m so happy for my in-laws that they get a granddaughter to spoil; I’m going to be the best aunt ever (unless my sister ever has the opportunity); the timing couldn’t be more hurtful. Why God saw fit to let us get pregnant and lose it just before my sister-in-law’s due date is so far beyond me, Hubble has a better chance of finding a clue. Why couldn’t we wait another month or two (or six) to repeat the process? Why couldn’t the process end happily just once?
I don’t want to ever greet my niece with all of the turmoil her presence stirs in me; it’s not her fault, and I know I will never really associate her with anything other than her own personhood. It’s just hard right now to see that side of grace. Her birth is just too wrapped up in all the fresh feelings of inadequacy I’m still fighting right now: fear that we will never have an answer, pain that we might never experience the birth of our own children, embarrassment that I failed yet again to carry to term, anger that I am at such a loss to control anything, and the list goes on. All of those things are just too close in the rearview mirror not have a foothold in my thought pattern. They are getting easier to vanquish, but maybe not today when faced with such a contrast of new life being born against the backdrop of my too recent loss. It is not a simple thing to defeat the knowledge that I have brought nothing but death from my womb in spite of my biological purpose in being a woman and my spiritual calling to evidence life; I don’t feel like a life-giver. I don’t feel like the Grim Reaper either. I feel – I don’t know exactly what I feel – maybe jealous that I don’t yet know what my sister-in-law is experiencing today. I know it’s not so simple as jealousy, but there are too many things swirling around it to identify, and the desire to compare our situations is overwhelming. I certainly feel like I’ve failed my family. Even though there is absolutely nothing I could have done to change things, that feeling is inescapable when viewing the pride and joy on my in-laws’ faces. That’s how we all should have looked so many times by now that my head splits open when I think of the sheer volume. How many times do we have to be disappointed before my parents, my siblings, my husband and I can share that kind of joy?
I am afraid that I will lose it at the hospital today, and I don’t know how to handle that. I can’t not be there (I know, it’s a horrible double-negative, may the English fanatics forgive me), but I can’t be there either, not completely, not emotionally; some part of me will have to be hibernating to make it through the day at the hospital, to even be in the hospital’s maternity ward at all. My last visit there was for a d&c, and I can still describe in intimate detail the wreath on the door of the neighboring room with blue ribbons and two doves signifying newly arrived twins. The truly dumb thing on my part is that I am dreading dealing with the entire scenario, even though I know that God will get me through it. I’m just not looking forward to facing it with God, and facing it without God would be unimaginably horrible. I know he’s with me, but I don’t completely trust him enough to see today from his perspective. I trust him enough not to hide from today, but it’s already hurting my heart.
For those of you who go to church with me, this may look familiar (and to whoever wrote the prayer guide, God had his hand on today’s message for me at least). Two Sundays ago, everyone was given a 28 day prayer guide. Today’s message:
“Pray to keep your eyes on Him today. Pray that every challenge and every difficulty will pass through His tender hands and that you will be at peace knowing He is in control.”
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Psalm 46: 1-3, 7
So, to my dear niece: I have loved you since I knew you were on your way to the world, and I promise to love you always with the deep and abiding love of Christ. I cannot protect you from the trials we must all endure, but I promise to be a voice of love and reason when you do face them. I will not spoil you the way your grandparents will, but I will spoil you with the fiercest love any aunt has ever known. And today, for a few minutes, I will wish for all the world that you were mine.