Today is my baby's first birthday. It is not about me. It's about the healthy, passionate, vivacious child that I got to carry for ten months, give birth to, and enjoy for 365 days. I would be lying if I said that I didn't write today partially because I just want you all to understand, to empathize, and not wonder why I may shed tears behind my smile, or forget to smile altogether over the next few weeks. Yet I know, even I as write this, that you still won't really understand all the painful moments that occurred over the last year... And you shouldn't! Just as I cannot possibly understand what you may have, are, or will endure in this life. Yet it is still okay to not be okay. We're called to be honest. In Colossians 3:9, it reads "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices." I want to have washed my old self away. I want to reflect a new creation: strong, deeply rooted in Jesus, but changed. So please don't be offended if you've asked me if I'm excited about her first birthday and my answer has been "yes," followed quickly by "But..." I've struggled to explain, except to my closest people, what I am reliving, because no matter what I say it seems as if I have forgotten the gift of a beautiful healthy child, and a wonderful life that I have been given. Forgive me for grimacing if you've said the all too common, "it goes so very fast!" You're right, the first year of raising a child does go by so fast in the long run, but if I'm telling the truth- those first few months of what felt like constant doctors appointments, fears, a great deal of pain and always operating under the haze and regimen of medication sometimes seemed to creep on so slowly that I would pray that time would accelerate- even so knowing I was wishing away precious time with my baby. Trust me, I recognize that I am blessed, deeply, widely, and so immensely that it is humbling. Yet if you can, try to understand, or think of a time when your greatest triumph and joy came in tandem with your deepest fears coming true. My daughter's birthday and the days that follow are days of joy, and I will celebrate life, but I am human. So you see for me the two will forever be entwined.
Most women don't leave the hospital unable to really walk or sit down in a wheel chair, in nearly as much excruciating pain as the labor they experienced mere days before. They don't look back at the photos of the very first time they held their child, knowing that that moment of heaven was the very same moment a terrible infection entered their body. They don't ride home, and then back a few more times to the hospital in so much pain that they aren't really attending to their child. They don't have to send their newborn home without them for weeks each night, saying good bye to their most cherished people, including the tiny soul they just got to meet a few days prior-- trying not to wonder if those moments might be their last meeting on earth. I could go on and on, but I won't. These memories hurt, and I have lots of them. I am also haunted by the fact that there is so much I don't remember about the first few weeks, and months of my daughter's life as I lived in a foggy, drug and pain influenced state. I won't go on because you get the idea, and that's not what this is about.
My baby girl, now a big one year old girl, and the trials of the last twelve months, have helped me really grasp the Father's love for us. Thank you to all of you who have contributed to this understanding. Many of you have reached out to me today and in the days past, and will be praying over the next few weeks as the first anniversary of my hospital stay runs its course. Thank you so much for your courage, strength, and willingness to listen and respond with love and remembrance. The Holy Spirit is truly at work, and today when I woke up on Zoe's birthday I really felt joy. I didn't have to pretend or stuff anxiety down, I really felt it. I attribute that to your prayer and persistence in loving me even when it's not easy. I am so thankful for my parents, my grandparents, my in laws, and extended family, my closest friends, and my wonderfully patient and unconditionally loving husband. For you all stick with me, in my imperfection, and you take care of me anyway.
If you are in the middle of your worst fears coming true right now, I am so sorry. Suffering, on whatever level, just sucks. Like me you will see that the light returns and that God is good. But that doesn't mean it doesn't really hurt, or that a resurgence of your pain in anxiety or in flooding memories that you feel you can't overcome with music, mantras, and prayer, makes you less courageous, or less worthy of God's grace. I am still learning this, but I am hopeful. I have decided to post this today, and use nap time to get it all down, because I hope it helps us all get a little more real, understand God more deeply, and have compassion for one another in our troubles.