We Don’t Get to Pick
Yesterday was hard.
I just need to stick a stake in the cold, hard ground and mark that from the start.
Not so much because of what happened, as much as how it wrecked me.
From the time Avery was born, when I saw that fleshly little girl and took her in with majestic awe and wonder, I’ve braced myself for the potential moment that I’d have to face what I did to her.
And I knew that I wouldn’t be able to bear it.
Sure enough, sitting in the pediatrician’s office yesterday, I thought, “I absolutely cannot do this. I don’t deserve the oxygen I’m breathing.”
But at the same time, it took everything within me not to look the doctor in the eye and say, “Tell me, tell me what I did to her. How did this happen?”
From the moment I figured out the lines on the stick as I was standing in the doctor’s office parking lot talking to my mom on the phone, I wanted few things in this world like I wanted to love Avery well.
But having struggled with miscarriage and infertility for years, prior, it seemed highly unlikely I’d ever see her sweet face or kiss her little piggies, especially in such a season of turmoil for my body. In fact, I thought it must be a mistake. Ten or so more positive pregnancy tests and calls to various doctor’s offices confirmed it was not. Well, surprise, surprise.
If this was going to be the only time I ever got to tell Ryan I was pregnant, if we were only going to have days with our little, I wanted to enjoy them. So I went to the store and purchased some balloons and cute baby items and then texted Ryan, telling him to come home from work right this very minute. I was still scheduled for an MRI with contrast the next morning, and we had lots of talking and researching to do.
By the time Ryan drove the two hours home, he’d already figured it out (I guess that’s what you get when you marry a NASA superstar). But I’ll never forget his smile or the tears he cried.
By the end of that week, we were in the ER, certain we were losing her. It turned out to be a severe UTI and a false alarm. Every day I told her how much her Mommy and Daddy loved her, how much we wanted to see her and kiss her face. I won’t lie. I begged her to stay with me. I prayed over her, that every cell in her body would function as it was designed and that she would be strong and healthy all the days of her life.
As my belly swelled, I enjoyed getting to know her. I could tell she was a girl who knew what she wanted. It never felt like a given to me that others would meet her face to face, or that I would. I just enjoyed each day that I had with her.
I remember asking the midwife very early on, “What do you think my body is doing to her?” (I called the baby a “her” from the moment I saw positive lines and ordered pink bedding at 11 weeks) The midwife’s response was quite frank, one of the many things I loved about her. She said, “Stacey, we don’t know what your body is doing to you, so it would be difficult to say what it would do to someone else. But we’ll monitor things closely and if things get too complicated or high-risk, we’ll send you to a specialist who can handle it.” And she did monitor things closely, answer each and every one of my never-ending questions, answer all of my late night phone calls, and eventually help me usher a healthy, eight-pound, eleven-ounce baby girl into this world.
And once she was here, then I was on to the next fight, fighting to take care of her and fighting my body to not rob me of that.
But I always knew this day might come.
And there have been glimpses of it along the way.
And yesterday, as the doctor talked about sending my baby girl to the kidney specialist and possibly doing a kidney biopsy, my insides scoffed and thought, “Sure, my child who is terrified of the blood pressure cuff should be fine with that. Right.”
And again, that thought. “Just say it. What part of what’s wrong with me, did this to her? Say that this is happening because she lived inside of me. Say it.”
I couldn’t even make my mouth form the words to my husband to assure me that no matter what it is I’ve done to her, he’ll still love me.
But he says that whatever it is, whatever is happening with our sweet girl—we’ll face it.
He says I haven’t done anything to her, that I’ve given her life.
That doesn’t feel true.
Because what she’s saying sounds too familiar.
It sounds too much like me.
And I would never ever wish it upon her.
My heart is shredded.
So my body is a little lame. Meh.
This cannot happen to her.
But I don’t get to pick.
I only get to equip.
On dark days, I can only remind her that the sun will shine again.
I can only show her where to find shelter, where to run in times of trouble.
I can only teach her where her help comes from.
I can only show her how to fight, how to find strength when you have none.
We don’t get to pick.
We only get to equip.
Let’s do the job well, shall we?
And then I watched this:
And as Pastor Tim so beautifully shared about letting go of the “why’s”, of how we don’t need answers; we need peace, I knew his words were for me.
And as he sang, “I surrender all”, I surrendered her. I remembered that the same one who’s been faithful to me will be faithful to Avery.
Just as I made a choice to trust God with all of my days, I made a choice to trust God with all of Avery’s days.
I thought that forgiving myself, letting go would be a long process, unfolding bit by bit. But it turned out to be a fairly brief exchange- my guilt, my sorrow, my questions for his peace. And while I’m sure this is an exchange I’ll have to make again and again, there’s such joy in remembering that the very same God who has ordered each of my steps is ordering each of hers.
After all, he’s a good good father, that’s who he is.
So what about you? What do you need to surrender today? What questions, what guilt would you like to exchange for his peace?
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