I lied again.
Walking into church, a woman stopped Emelia and I to say hello. She oohed and ahed over Emi’s dress and abundance of hair. Then she looked up at me and asked matter-of-factly, “Where is the second one?”
I looked at her, confused, and smiled to be polite.
“You know, number two. Don’t you want another?”
I looked away quickly and said, “Oh, well Emelia is keeping us so busy!”
She laughed, and thankfully Emelia was wandering away.
“I better go after her,” I said.
It was a lie because I was cheerful and calm even though my anxiety went from 0-10 in a second.
Do you want another baby?
This question floats around with me, ever-present. I don’t blame anyone for asking. She’s 19 months old, and it’s about that time…everyone is wondering. People raise their eyebrows really high when they ask when we are going to have a second child, and then they frown when I skip a beat. It always catches me off guard. I’m never really ready for it, but I’ve become a pro at changing the subject.
I’ve finally come to a place emotionally where I can think about what happened. I can mentally go there, which I think is a big step. I can remember tidbits of what happened in triage – the overwhelming fear, the dozens of nursing telling me to stay calm, the oxygen mask shoved tight over my nose and mouth, the sound of my daughter’s heart rate dipping dangerously low – and even what happened in the operating room without completely crumbling.
But when I begin to think about the future, when I see a beautiful, round pregnant belly, when I see a momma cradling a brand new baby, when friends give birth and we visit them in the hospital, when Emelia points at pictures in her books and says “beebee,” when I have a bad night full of flashbacks and tears, I become paralyzed emotionally. And it reminds me of my actual paralysis in the OR – the not being able to move, breathe, or witness my daughter’s birth.
So I sit there, with the wound that begins to open up and hurt again and sometimes it feels like forever before I’m able to get up and walk away and keep moving again.
The thing is, I know that my God is here, right here with me, even if I’m not entirely trusting Him or leaning on Him. Even if I don’t welcome Him to weep with me, I have the knowledge that He is at a near distance, quietly sharing in this grief that takes a hold of me sometimes. I feel like maybe He’s been giving me some space so I can be angry and lament. Maybe it’s because He knows it’s what I need. Some distance so I can turn back to Him.
And I know that I didn’t lose Emelia and I didn’t lose my life. But we almost did. And the ALMOST is so real and so big. In the shadow of death – when the anesthesiologist repeatedly told me I only FELT like I wasn’t breathing, when my eyes rolled back into my head, when I heard everyone panicking and calling for help, when I felt my heartbeat slow down – I told God I was coming. I told Him I’d see Him soon and begged Him to save Emelia’s life and to give Mgo strength. In those few moments of darkness, I grieved over my loss of motherhood – for not ever meeting my daughter or being there to comfort her and be her momma.
The ALMOST is still with me, and some days, it feels so fresh and scary and heavy. And the repeated “well, all that matters is that she’s here and healthy” makes me want to scream. Not because the person telling me that is upsetting me, but because, truthfully, that’s not all that matters to me, because I’m still healing.
And so I have decided to carefully get on my knees and just stay there for a while. Quiet. Listening. Hoping that I’ll have the courage to extend my hands and place my ALMOST in His hands.