Yesterday I was feeling a lot of anxiety. I hadn’t packed my bag for the hospital, I still needed to buy some odds and ends to prepare for Zoe’s first weeks, and all of this just added up to me missing you and resenting that 26 days after Zoe is born, she will be older than you. I’m so excited to meet her, but I wish it was under different circumstances. I wish you were still here.
I was expressing my feelings to your dad and he, in his oh so subtle manner (insert sarcasm here), grabbed my hand, pulled me out of the rocking chair, grabbed my purse, told your sisters to tell me “mom, we don’t need you, we want you. We will be okay without you”, and sent me out the door alone to go shopping for the odds and ends I needed. I was amused and thankful to have some time alone to shop and get myself ready for labor and post-partum care.
It wasn’t until I was about 5 minutes down the road that the amusement wore off and turned into realization. I began to realize that I hadn’t once stepped foot in babies r us this entire pregnancy. In fact, every single thing I had gotten for Zoe was off the internet. I had been avoiding going to the same shops where I prepared for you. I had been avoiding seeing baby boy clothes, newborns, carefree pregnant ladies, and everything that comes along with these types of stores. I began to cry as I was driving down the road. I cried tears of sadness, guilt, loneliness, and grief. I stopped in my tracks when the song “Lead me to the Cross” came on. I felt like your grandpa Augie was with me and was reminding me to include God in this journey. I was physically going to Babies R Us, but in my heart, I needed to place Jesus in the center and remember what a blessing this whole experience really is.
I arrived at the store armed with renewed strength and hope. I began shopping for some nursing supplies, carefully avoiding eye contact with anything blue. I did really well, until I got to the bedding section. I felt myself becoming unglued. I quickly went into the receiving blanket section and focused on the girl section. I made the grave mistake of turning around only to notice that they still sold the same blanket you died in. It was time to finish shopping but my brain was getting mushy. I had forgotten what I was there for. I went to the infant clothes section to buy some newborn size pants for Zoe. I noticed the infant gowns which sent a chill down my spine. I turned away only to be faced with racks of boy clothes; clothes I would have bought for you if you had lived long enough. And then, there it was, the thing I had no idea I would be afraid of…the gown that you died in. It was there, hanging on the rack, waiting for some nice mom, dad, or grandma to buy it for their son or grandson, the same way yours had been purchased. We never thought you would die in any of these clothes because we never thought you’d die! For a split second, I wondered which outfit Zoe would die in. I almost lost it completely. The people at the store probably thought I was very strange.
I wandered my way through the rest of the shopping trip, my head in the clouds, my heart in my stomach, my mind on you and Zoe. How in the world am I going to reconcile doing things for her when I was robbed of the chance to do them for you? How am I going to be able to look her in the eyes while she’s nursing the way that we used to? How am I going to kiss her warm little feet without wishing they were yours? It’s not fair…for me or for Zoe.
I had a bible verse in my heart at that moment, which is strange for me because I’m not one of those scripture people who answer questions with answers like ” well, remember what John 14 says!” I actually despise that just a little bit, but that’s another post for another blog for another day. My heart was singing lyrics from another song, “If God’s with us we know that Nothing’s gonna stop us. No height, no depth, Could ever keep us from the love of God, I know, I know; No life, no death could ever separate us from the love of God, I’m sure”. Again, I’m not a big scripture person, but I knew it was a Sidewalk Prophets song derived from Romans 8:38.
I paid for my merchandise and sat in the safety of my car, isolated from the baby land-mines that checkered the floors of Babies R Us and I began to recite a mantra that had just come to me.
I am strong.
I am capable.
I can do this.
I’m not alone.
My story isn’t over.
I am everything that Jesus says I am.
I am a unique expression of Christ and I will be happy, not by might but by grace.
I have been so filled with self doubt and fear which leaves my heart vulnerable to attack. But if God is with me, who could be against me? I finally feel ready to bring Zoe into this world. I know I’m strong enough to face any challenge as long as I keep God in the center of my heart. In fact, he is the only one that can fill the Leo shaped hole in my heart, and for that ( and so much more), I will remember to rejoice always.
I love you son.