Three years ago on October 1, I was happily pregnant with my third child. I had just announced our pregnancy, or was getting close to it, I can't remember the dates exactly. Old age, I guess. :)
The boys were thrilled to be big brothers. Alex and I wondered if we might have a little girl this time, but we felt that our sweet baby was probably a boy. I was shopping for a cute shirt to wear to my Tri Sigma Homecoming Event. I hadn't been back in years and looked forward to seeing all of my sisters again. The weather was just starting to turn--leaves, temperatures--yes, everything was lining up to be a beautiful fall.
And then came my 12.5 week in-depth ultrasound on October 21 where we learned of Jacob's "fatal diagnosis". He was diagnosed with Trisomy 13. And then the horrific news that no parent wants to hear hit us on October 25, 2010. Our baby's heart had stopped beating. Our son, whom we named Jacob Alexander, had died at exactly 13 weeks. It was a Monday.
What followed was a whirlwind of emotions. I felt tossed about in a storm that had taken me completely by surprise. Eventually and thankfully, the light shown again and I moved towards healing.
Three years later as I find myself drawn towards my Jacob and reflecting on what happened back then, I'm caught up in another storm. The weather is starting to turn. We can't wait to take the boys' outdoor fall photo shoot as I have every year since they were babies. We are lining up fall festivals to attend--one of our favorite pastimes in the fall! The boys can't wait for Halloween and keep changing their minds about what costumes they'll wear. And with October kicking off the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I'm excited to take this time to remember my sweet babies and to reach out to so many women who've lost too...through cards, supportive posts on facebook and prayer.
But there is this storm that I mentioned...this storm's winds are blurring everything that had been lining up to be yet another beautiful fall. I'm already fighting tears. And this one doesn't just affect me, it affects countless Americans. It is the Government Shutdown that just happened today.
Instead of seeing the colors of fall, right now the color I'm focused on mainly green...that is, cash. We have no idea if this shutdown, i.e. my husband's furlough, will last for several days, weeks, months? Will we get a paycheck next Friday? How much? Will he be paid retroactively? We don't know. No one knows.
So many unanswered questions remind me of how I felt three years ago...while these two storms are very different, in many ways they are the same. You are left struggling. You are left with so many questions---why? why did this have to happen? why me??? I remember asking the same thing when I lost Jacob. Why did we get pregnant if my eggs were so "old" that we were simply going to lose our precious child? How will I get through this? What do I do next?
Wow, I had no idea I'd be facing the same feelings three years later. I'm left wondering why our government can't "play nice"...why they continue to sacrifice us and so many families to prove their points...I'm left asking every "how" question in the book. How on EARTH will we get through this? How will we survive if money doesn't start coming back in? We just came off of the summer furlough...I mean, literally, we JUST CAME OFF of it. And now, this??
And lastly, what do I do next? My planning self wants to revamp our budget...trouble is, what do I budget? If there is potentially no money coming in, what do I budget? What? How? Why?
My friends, I wish so much that I had answers. I wish that I had them for me and for any one of you who are in a similar boat being tossed about right now. These storms suck. Yes, they just suck. I hate them.
But as I think back to the storm three years ago, I find myself holding on to one thing. I survived. I made it through. Somehow, with God's help, with His Steady Hand on my heart, I made it through. I found hope. I found joy. I found peace. I love remembering my Jacob. I love thinking about him. I love helping other baby loss moms now as they find themselves stumbling through this journey of loss.
I know God is with me. He is with my family during this storm. While I'm struggling with my planning self who desperately wants to find answers--to prepare for every 'what if' under the sun--I know I have to just give this all to God. I have to give Him every last piece of it.
Do I know how to do that? No. I will be honest. I don't. But I know it's what I am to do...somehow. I will keep praying. I will cry. I will know that my Father hears every pain in my heart. And that's enough. Somehow I know that's enough. I don't have to be perfect in my prayers. I don't have to quote the best Bible verses. I know He takes me as I am with all of my flaws and worried and with my over-dependency on myself...He takes me with all of my "what ifs" and panicking moments.
So tonight on Day 1 of the Government Shutdown I go to bed with those feelings on my heart. I want to close my eyes and drift into a peaceful sleep that only God can bring. I know He will guide our family through this storm. And, yes. October and all of the beautiful things in it aren't going anywhere. It is still a beautiful season that our family will enjoy as much as possible. It still will be full of candy corn, Kit Kats and Reese Cups. It will still be a chance for me to write about Jacob, to share his story and to remember all of those precious babies lost.
Tonight I pray for my blurry and weary eyes to be cleared so that I may see only the beauty this month. I want to see red and gold leaves. I want to see my children's faces erupt in laughter as they act out their Halloween costumed character (whoever they pick). I want to see Jacob's balloon launch high into the sky on his anniversary. And I trust God for the rest.
With much love for you my friends, however this month finds you...