Leaving the Hospital & Returning Home, Day 2

A new morning brought new mercies. Leslee’s best friend, Aaron, called and took our coffee order. He arrived shortly after and entertained us with hilarious stories revolving around his job as a firefighter. Even amidst sitting there in a hospital bed, I was distracted and it was nice. Laughing felt good. My mom arrived later and we all simply sat around and visited, continuing to laugh at Aaron’s stories.

After he left, I got into the shower, preparing to leave. A hot shower was another mercy…although seeing my naked, post-pregnancy body brought more tears, reminding me of what I didn’t have.  I stepped out of the shower, had the courage to look in the mirror, and immediately regretted that decision. I had never looked so awful. I slowly put my clothes on, threw my hair on top of my head, and exited the bathroom.

“She’s a new womaaannn!” my mom sang operatically. I gave her a generous smirk as she grinned. We bustled around the room trying to get our things together. I was ready to go home, but I wasn’t. How was I going to do this?

Our sweet nurse, Mary, had come in earlier that morning and Leslee told her he had made the arrangements for Leif to be picked up. She hesitantly asked, “So, are you ready for me to take him?” No, never. We nodded our heads.

***

Leaving the hospital was tough. Although I could have walked out of there on my own two legs, it’s hospital procedure to wheel you out.

As Mary was lifting the breaks on the wheelchair, she softly said, “I hate this part. Let me just say before we open this door that there are people out there laughing, smiling, going on with daily life that have no idea what you’re going through right now. And it’s hard to see that.”

She came around in front of me. “But, I’m right here with you and we got this. I’m going to make this as fast as I can and Leslee’s going to meet you at the other end of the hall.” Mary and I were leaving through nurse access. Leslee and my mom had to exit a different way.

“You ready?” she asked.  I nodded.  I quickly found out what she meant about hating this part. She wheeled me out with my 3-d mold of Leif’s feet in my lap and I immediately felt like a spectacle because that’s all I was carrying. No baby. No bundle of joy. Just a light blue mold of precious little feet. At that moment, I realized what a gut-wrenching scene I was. I could see it like a movie. I kept my head down. For a reason I couldn’t comprehend, I felt shame. I felt conspicuous. I looked up once as a nurse moved aside and heartbreak was all over her face. Note to self: Don’t look at anyone. I couldn’t get to Leslee and Mom fast enough. And I couldn’t get out of this wheelchair fast enough, either. It was ripping any semblance of dignity I wanted to maintain to shreds.

Before I knew it, Leslee and Mom were walking beside us and we moved toward the entrance to the hospital where people were bustling around getting coffee and pastries from the little coffeeshop, talking and laughing around tables. A woman was carrying what looked like a newborn and I had to remind myself–again– not to look at anyone. Put your blinders on, Breauna. Just look straight ahead. If only people would stay out of my line of vision…

Leslee pulled around with the car and we loaded our things–and me– into the car. Mary gave me a hug and stood at my window.

“You’re at the top of my prayer list, Breauna. It was so nice meeting you and your family even though I wish with all my heart the circumstances had been different. You seem to have a wonderful support system. And maybe I’ll see you again someday. Something tells me I will. I really hope a rainbow baby is in your future.”

She had no way of knowing how much that was on my mind and how much guilt that brought me at the same time. There was no way anything or anyone could replace Leif, but my momma heart longed for something tangible. Longed for the fruits of the labor I had gone through and loved for the last 9 months.

As we drove away, I watched Mary get smaller with the distance. She stood there and watched us drive away, holding her arms, until I couldn’t see her anymore. I turned to Leslee. “I can’t help but think about nurses and how much I admire them right now. We know we weren’t Mary’s only patients. She was going into other rooms with parents that were joyful and then coming into our room where there was only grief…and she does that as part of her job all the time. That’s a lot of compartmentalization!”

He blew out a breath. “Yeah…”

“And then she wheels a grieving mother out to her car and says goodbye with no closure,” I continued. “She has no idea if she’s ever going to see that woman again. That woman she connected with and grieved with. Cried with. She has no idea if that couple will ever have a happy ending.”

He shook his head. “It’s hard to wrap your mind around how they do it. It definitely takes a special kind of person,” he replied.

We determined then that Mary deserved to know that we saw her amidst what we were going through. Although I didn’t know her last name, I wrote her a special note and delivered it to labor and delivery weeks later. I walked up to the receptionist, an older, somewhat cranky-looking lady, and told her I had something for a nurse named Mary, but I didn’t know her last name. She looked at me, puzzled.

“You probably have several nurses named Mary, don’t you?” I asked.

“No…” she replied. “I’m just trying to place Mary, but I have it. ‘Mary, Mary, quite contrary.'”

It was as if she couldn’t understand why Mary would be getting a thank you note. It was my turn to be a little puzzled. I had seen her bark at another nurse right after my labor, but I didn’t realize she had a nickname.

My experience of her had only been empathy, love, and care…so I was especially glad I had written that note in that moment. Even “contrary” people are used by the Lord–and Mary had been a part of His hands and feet during our stay. Maybe my card would make her day.

God bless Mary, Mary, quite contrary.

***

I was dreading the drive home because I didn’t want to go there. Anywhere but there. Anywhere but where his sweetly decorated room was. Anywhere other than the place where life returned to normal. I didn’t want normal. I wanted my son.

We drove home in virtual silence—the only connection being our hands. And our grief. Before we had left the city, Leslee stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up some very tight sports bras for me. I had been told by the hospital staff that this would be the best thing for me in the days to come when my milk came in. Just another painful reminder that I had no baby to feed. He offered to run in there and look for them himself, intuitively knowing that I wouldn’t be able to handle a cashier asking me when my baby was due. I still looked pregnant and it would be an innocent question that I couldn’t handle. I let him—all the while knowing shopping for the right sports bra might be a smidge uncomfortable for him, but being so thankful for his sensitivity and understanding.

We decided to grab a bite to eat on our way out of town. My best friend, Maddi, met us at the restaurant. She had texted  me earlier saying she had something for me. She arrived and handed me a Helzberg Diamonds box. I opened the lid and couldn’t hold back the tears. I had never looked up the August birthstone. I had always fully believed he would be here in September. There lay a bright, beautiful lime-green jewel surrounded by a border of sparkling diamonds.

Amidst tears, I turned to her and said, “Maddi, I don’t know what to say. I love it. It’s perfect. Thank you so much…I’ll treasure this forever.” I asked her to help me put it on and remembered a quote I had read somewhere: The most precious jewels a mother can wear around her neck are the arms of her children.  Even though I wouldn’t get to experience that with Leif, this beautiful necklace felt like the next best thing. It brought me comfort. And I thanked God for my friend’s thoughtful heart.

As we got closer to home, feelings of dread grew heavier. I wanted to see my girls, but… I couldn’t imagine going on. Normal was never going to be normal again. Didn’t “normal” know I had a huge hole in me now?

We pulled up to the house and no one was there. I breathed a little sigh of relief. In that moment, I wasn’t ready to face anyone. Facing my house was hard enough. It was full of all things Leif. And I was empty.

I walked in the door to a tidier house than I had left. But, not too tidy. Leslee’s mother and my dad’s wife, Mandy, had straightened up a little. The door to Leif’s room was shut and there were piles of laundry next to the washer. Never in my life had I been so thankful for laundry or little messes to clean up. It gave me something to do. Something to distract me for a little bit while I subconsciously processed that even this small act of loading the washer was doing something normal.

As I stood there sorting clothes, I couldn’t help but notice the light shining from the bottom of Leif’s bedroom door. Even though I wanted no part of that room, I kept feeling compelled to look at that door. That door wouldn’t leave me alone. It refused to let me ignore it. Conversations with myself ran rampant in my mind.

Go in there.

No, no, no, I can’t. It’s too hard.

Go in there.

This is crazy talk. That room will set me over the edge.

Go in there.

 It’s too soon.

Go in there. You can do it. Face that pain head on. You’re not afraid to feel it.

I don’t have to push myself today. Maybe tomorrow.

Go in there.

Leslee continued to bring things in from the car and I tried to focus on other things.  Our bedroom felt like a safe place. We lay on the bed and just held each other…something we couldn’t do easily in a hospital bed. We talked—processing out loud how we were both feeling about returning home. Going backwards to the day prior. Thinking forward to what lie ahead. Trying to pick up the pieces one word at a time. And we cried while we comforted each other.

Leslee glanced at the necklace Maddi had given me and said, “What was that jewel called again?”

“I think she said peridot,” I replied.

“I’m going to look it up. I’ve never heard of that before…see where it comes from and what it’s made of.”

A short time later, I was crying again. The peridot gem is a jewel of strength and protection. Not only were those things I had prayed over my baby son, but I needed them now. It felt like tangible validation that—yes, God had heard my prayers for Leif—and yes, he was strong in Heaven now. Protected while being a protector himself. Leif’s jewel was a jewel around my neck. A hug from my son. A sign that he was everything I had ever prayed for him. And I fully believed that God had used Maddi’s thoughtfulness as an instrument to give me a gift from Himself, as well. A promise that His strength would be with me. A token to show His protection covered my family.

We went to get the girls from my dad’s house up the road a little later. As we walked down the hallway, there that door stood, Leif’s door,  looming. Leslee turned to me and asked, “Do you want to go in there together?” “No…not yet,” I said.

Later that evening, I went to change Luxe’s diaper and realized all her diapers were in Leif’s room. Leslee offered to go in there …he said he could do it. But,  I just couldn’t let myself watch him go in there alone, so we opened the door together and walked in. It’s interesting how the Lord forces you to make  moves in life–dares you to at first, and then orchestrates details that leave no other choice. I stood in his room and I didn’t cry at all. I had done something hard. And all I felt was peace, comfort, and love.

I turned to Leslee. “Do you feel that?”

He lips curved gently into almost a smile. Eyes sparkled. “Yeah,” he said.

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Leif’s Story, Day 1, Part 4

Shortly before the girls arrived in a quiet moment in my room, I received a message from my friend, L.A. In it were words sent straight from Heaven. I couldn’t have been more appreciative of the vessel she allowed herself to be when I read:

Baby Bird (The Gift It Is To Be)

Baby bird lays in a tree

Warm and safe ‘neath mother’s wing

Knowing not a world of sin

 Or pain or suffering of man.

He knows of only joy and love

Protections by his God above,

The care his parents give and of

The gift it is to be.

In his egg, he stays untainted

Blue and white and speckle-painted

Content to live unchanged

From his fetal state of life.

For to live a life so short as

Straight heaven-bound from unhatched

Is having not such things as

The devil and his strife.

He’ll know of only joy and love

Protection by his God above

The care his parents gave and of

The gift it is to be.

 

I cried as I finished it and thought to myself, Oh, yes…what a gift it truly is to simply be. I read it to Leslee and said, “Those last 4 lines…they have to go on his headstone.” Leslee agreed.

I had a moment to myself later. No one was in the room. Leslee had gone to get our things and see the girls off. I was alone. Alone with Him. A moment I had been waiting all day for. I looked over at my baby in the crib, sweetly “sleeping.” I started sobbing. Desperate pain and sorrow overtook me. Oh, Father, please give me strength! Give me comfort!  I don’t know how I’m going to do this! I love him so much! I can’t bear this burden, God. I need You! I need You to take this! I don’t know what you’re thinking. I don’t know what path you have me on, but I want you to know I trust you. Please give me peace.

And then the poem came to mind and even amidst the deepest sorrow I’ve ever felt, I felt gratitude, which only brought more tears. Thank you for letting him “be” with me. Thank you for keeping my little treasure. I told You I wanted to raise him to be Yours…This isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I’m grateful, Father. I’m so thankful I got to be his mommy.

 

Leslee

The girls arrived and ran to me. I soaked them up—sight, smell, and sound. Taegan’s little face was tear-stained. Oh, how I wish she could have been spared the pain of this. And oh, how I hoped this didn’t shake her faith or ruin the burgeoning little relationship we saw our daughter enjoying with the Lord. I prayed about that– and sensed it was up to us to model what unshakeable faith looked like for her. I walked them to our room and Taegan was the first to enter. She went straight to Breauna and held on. I had watery eyes. They held onto each other like a lifeline. Taegan saw Breauna’s mom holding Leif and averted her eyes.

“Do you want to hold him or see him?” Breauna gently asked her.

She shook her head.

“That’s ok. You don’t have to,” she said. As mothers do, I knew Breauna could sense every question Taegan wasn’t asking. Every thought she wasn’t speaking. Several family members had arrived with the girls. They hugged each other, offered mutual condolences, and looked at Leif for the first time. Breauna took that moment to quietly tell Taegan through tears of her own, “Baby, you don’t have to be strong right now. It’s ok to cry. Daddy and I are so, so sad and it’s ok for you to be, too. But I want you to know this: God didn’t do this because He’s mad…or because He’s punishing us…or because He doesn’t love us. He is still good and still faithful. I believe that with my whole heart and I want you to believe that, too. Ok? He’s going to get all of us through this.”

Taegan was fighting back tears, but she nodded her head.

She never did look at Leif. Never did ask to hold him. But, when the nurses brought the memory box in with sweet little pictures they had taken of him, a locket of his hair, a special blanket they had wrapped him in, and other little keepsakes they thought our family might like, Taegan untied the green string, looked at every photo, gently touched and inspected each item, and neatly placed it all back in there, tying the bow neatly as if it were something precious. She sat there in a tall chair by Breauna’s bed faithfully for an hour and a half being a little rock. And I can’t number the times she picked that memory box back up and gently, lovingly caressed each item in there while a tear or two would roll down her cheeks. I couldn’t help shedding a tear or two myself as I thought about what she was going through. How much love this little girl had for a baby boy that wasn’t able to feel it. How she had longed to feed him. Longed to hold him. Longed to love him. And in that moment, I did feel a little sorry for Leif. Even though I knew he was in a much better place than I…because he was missing out on Taegan.

 

Breauna

That night was the worst night of my life. Shock was wearing off. Each time I would go in the bathroom, I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t. Everything about me was a reminder of him. I already knew what this felt like. I didn’t need to see it. Everyone had gone home for the evening which left Leslee and I in some much-needed, but very painful silence. Although we were completely exhausted, we didn’t really want to go to sleep.

The nurses were supposed to come take Leif some time in the night so the funeral home could come get him. Leslee had taken it upon himself to make all the arrangements and I was grateful.

I fell asleep some time around 11 and woke back up at 1. I immediately looked over where Leif had been to find him still there. I don’t know why, but this wrecked me. If he had been gone, it would have wrecked me. Everything wrecked me. I was wrecked. If daylight had been unimaginable, the night was beyond comprehension. I let the sobs rock my body. I tried to be quiet because Leslee had fallen asleep, too. We need him to get some sleep, I thought to myself. He’s got a lot on his shoulders right now and I’m too weak to carry anything but this. I reflected on our conversation before bed. As we stood over the crib and looked at our sweet baby boy, I turned to my husband and broke down.

“Will I ever be ok again?” I clung to him and cried my eyes out. “Will this gaping, gut-wrenching hole ever be filled? Because I don’t want to feel like I’ll never recover from this! I don’t want to feel this hole forever!”

All the while, I was wrought with guilt for feeling this way. Salty, guilty tears for having the opportunity to carry on without my baby boy. And wanting to do it without feeling the weight of this misery. People had told me this hole would never be filled, but that time would make it better. That offered me no comfort. It left me feeling like a comeback was impossible. So I turned to the only person that might have an answer for me. The one I trusted most with predicting my outcome. These were uncharted waters for me…but they were not for Leslee. Amidst this present grief, he had been here before. He had walked out of a hospital without his child…and without a wife. He had navigated the unimaginable.

He put his finger under my chin, lifted my face up, and in answer to my question said, “Although I don’t want to say it, you’re not through the worst part yet. But, let me tell you this…you will be ok again, baby girl. We’ll get through this. And just speaking from my own experience, holes can be filled. And it doesn’t mean you love the ones you lost less…it just means you found joy again…and that’s ok. We have two beautiful girls and I love you. I can carry us. We have much to find joy in. We can fill holes, baby. Don’t feel guilty using a shovel.”

He lay sleeping and his words continued to run through my mind. Holes and shovels. I got out of bed and walked over to Leif’s crib. My heart implodes while new tears burst forth. I walked back over to my bed, but decided to sit in the chair next to it. I grabbed my phone and clicked on Pinterest. I wanted distraction. But, as I scrolled, I found no satisfaction. Distraction wasn’t a luxury awarded me. So, I decided to look up comforting Bible verses. I knew them all, but felt led to look again.

“Code blue! Code blue!” an automated voice declared over the intercom system in the hallway. I didn’t know what that meant, but knew it couldn’t be good. I went on scrolling and read verses like Psalm 14:73, “He heals the wounds of every shattered heart.” Isaiah 43:2, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” I continued to seek His word for comfort in this as I continued to cry. And then, as I do when anything affects me positively or negatively, I decided to write. I sobbed as I wrote, but yet I didn’t want to forget the moment.

“Code blue! Code blue!” the automated voice again sounded the alarm. It had been about an hour and I wanted to know what that meant. Cardiac arrest was Google’s answer. A patient requiring immediate resuscitation. I inhaled slowly. Oh, please let that baby be ok.

My tears had started to dry up. It was 4:30 in the morning. My eyes were getting heavy and I crawled back into bed. As I drifted off, I was awakened by a screaming sob in one of the rooms down the hall. Leslee stirred. He heard it, too. I wanted to run out of my room to her, but all I could do was squeeze my eyes shut and grit my teeth knowing there was nothing I could do to ease her pain. I knew that all too well.

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Be YOUR Beautiful

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What if being confident and seeing the beauty in yourself isn’t about you at all? What if it allows you to better see the beauty in others? What if it allows you to be free of insecurity? And what if being free of insecurity gives you the freedom to acknowledge another’s beauty without taking anything away from your own? To lift up someone who’s looking for their special, unique kind of beautiful? What if being confident and seeing the beauty in yourself allows you to freely give praise and encouragement simply to see someone smile? To live without comparison…which makes the world a more beautiful place?

My Girl

…she’s a farmgirl. A tomboy. A daddy’s girl.

…she’s a little shy at first, but then she’ll talk your ear off.

…she’s got a tough exterior, but her heart is easy to reach.

…she has a depth only those closest to her see.

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…she’s capable. Motivated. Responsible.

…she’ll injure herself almost to the point of stitches, try to take care of it herself, and not shed a tear, but a scrape involves wailing and the need for an immediate band-aid.

…she enjoys getting filthy, but is a big help when things need cleaning.

…she’s young, but she’s older than her number.

…she’s got a gifted eye for design.

…she likes to sit by her great-grandmother in church.

…she loves the Bible.

…she hates to shop.

…she is not a fan of frills.

…she likes to be comfortable.

…she marches to the beat of her own drum.

…she’s got a strong stomach.

…she’s got a weakness for chocolate.

…she’s thoughtful.

…she’s wild.

…she’s loud.

…she’s soft.

…she’s talented.

…she’s poetic.

…she’s creative.

…she’s loyal.

…she’s beautiful.

…she’s God’s girl.

…and she’s mine.

The Current Happenings: Doctor’s Visits, Blood Tests,and Birthday Gifts

If you’ve been following my blog, I have been writing about the hours after we had Leif of late,  but today I’m flashing forward to around the 3 week mark of our journey and how it corresponds with some news I received yesterday.

 Leslee and I sat there in the waiting area of my OB’s office. It had been a little over 3 weeks since we had lost Leif and I had been doing better, but this was tough. I sat there staring a hole into the wall, quiet. I couldn’t talk. I had to focus on the wall or I might think too much about how HGTV was on…just like it had been every time I’d been here with Leif. How the chair felt underneath me…just like it had felt every time I’d been here with Leif. How the receptionist looked at me. I was a lot skinnier this time…but they didn’t ask about my baby. Did they know? I sat there and stared a hole in the wall because if I didn’t, this scene and the memories would unravel what resembled a weak amount of composure.

Leslee was quiet, but intuitive. “You doing ok?” I didn’t look at him. I just shook my head as tears welled up in my eyes. I didn’t have to explain myself. He knew. His arm came around me and he softly said, “I’m having a little trouble myself.”

We were here to see my doctor. At the hospital, she had told me it wasn’t necessary for her to see me this soon after, but she wanted to. Women who have a stillborn are at a high risk for postpartum depression and she wanted to check me over emotionally, physically, and mentally. She also thought she might have a few more answers for us by that time regarding what went wrong with Leif. I can honestly say I didn’t care to know. I felt like a scientific explanation would somehow alter the closure I’d already come to: For reasons unknown to me, God gave me a baby boy and then decided to go ahead and welcome him into Heaven early. I didn’t need to know anything other than that. Didn’t want to.

The door opened and the nurse called us back. Leslee and I chatted about other things. He made me laugh so when my doctor walked in, I was smiling. There was a bit of small talk involved before she got down to business.

“So, we knew there was an abnormal amount of clotting in the umbilical cord when we last talked at the hospital. We sent your placenta off after that to see if they could detect what caused that. What they found were lots of infarcts. Simply put, your placenta had a stroke and that’s what killed him.”

My placenta had a stroke? I had never heard of such a thing.

“Would I have had any indication of that? I mean, I felt fine! Would something like that have had any effect on me or my body? Should there have been any tell-tale signs I just wasn’t aware to look for?” I asked.

She solemnly shook her head. “It happened on a microvascular level over time. The blood clots slowly caused your placenta to not be as effective. The easiest way I can explain it is—a diabetic and their eyesight. That macular degeneration doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process and so blindness happens over time going mostly undetected until it’s too late. In the last month, your placenta was having to work so hard to sustain him and his needs at the time he needed it most. Beforehand, he could still survive because his needs weren’t as great, but at that point, the blood supply to your placenta was so small that it gave out.”

I was in shock. All I could think was, My body killed my baby. My body killed my baby. It got worse.

“All of that being said, I have several tests I want to run on you,” she said. Words like “lupus” came into the conversation. Autoimmune issues. Bloodclotting disorder. She was concerned about me having an underlying issue that caused this.

My mind was reeling. “But, I’ve already been tested for a bloodclotting disorder.” It was a family issue. My mom had Factor V Lieden and it had landed her in the hospital for 2 weeks when I was in high school. A few people in my family had actually died from blood clots. “They said I didn’t have it.”

“Well, that was then,” she explained. “I do have those results in your file. And yes, it was not detected in your blood, but a disorder like that can actually develop over time. Kind of like rheumatoid arthritis. A child shows no symptoms or sign, but it’s there. By the time someone reaches their 40s and 50s, it’s making its presence known. You’re in your 30s now and it’s possible it has developed.”

I was ready to discuss some “what ifs” then in regards to “What if I have one of the things you’re testing for? What does my future look like? Will I be able to have more children? Will I have to be on medication for the rest of my life? What will my quality of life be like if, for instance, I have lupus? Or something else? Ignorance would be bliss. Do I want to know? If I know, will I live my life in fear? Would knowing what was once unknown alter the steps I have taken in faith thus far?” So many questions, so little peace. She answered all of my questions one by one and said, “Breauna, it’s also possible that none of this is the problem. It’s possible each of the tests are going to come back perfectly fine. It’s possible that we won’t know what exactly caused this. That happens.”

“Was this bloodclotting something we could have seen in an ultrasound?”

Her mouth turned into a grim line as she nodded. “We simply didn’t know to look. You had gone through 2 healthy, normal, uneventful pregnancies. You’re in excellent shape. Your blood pressure was always great. His heart beat was within normal range every time you were here.  On the outside, there were no indicators that we should have been worried.” Her honesty with no defensiveness or excuses endeared her to me even more. I didn’t blame her at all for any of this. We were all flying blind.

I remembered how she had met with us at the hospital before we left. She sat with us. She cried with us. She advised us. She told us we were at the very top of her prayer list. I wholeheartedly believed this particular doctor—this woman—was special. I had been nervous upon switching networks when our insurance changed  and being blessed with one of the most beloved doctors in our city was no coincidence. It was God’s handiwork…for such a time as this.

We all talked more about my physical healing and my emotional healing. She asked me about my grief and was so pleased to know that we were leaning on God and leaning into each other. She wanted to know about our children. How was I doing with our friends, Taylor and Mallory, who were having a baby boy right at the same time? Mallory and I had talked so much about how excited we were that our boys were going to grow up together. Big, exciting, fun plans. My doctor knew about this situation. At that point, I was still really struggling. We had just gone back to our home congregation the Sunday prior to this visit. We knew our friends would certainly be feeling as uncomfortable about their joy as we were feeling about our grief when we were around each other. I was ready to be back. I thought I was strong enough. But, I was wrong. Our whole church family was happy and heartbroken at the same time. Such a confusing mess of emotion…how Leslee and I were truly happy for our friends in our grief and their hearts were truly broken for us in their joy. I couldn’t bring myself to go up to Mallory and congratulate her on the arrival of Tyce. I didn’t want my tears to make her uncomfortable.  It was way, way too much. All I could think about was Leif. So, I hid in the basement. Mallory came and found me, pulled me into a hug, and we cried. No words were necessary. Hearts understood.

In hindsight, there was nothing that would have made that easier. Sometimes when things are hard, you simply have to force yourself through it. That’s what starts the journey back to good. And I was so grateful for the gift of her empathy and understanding. I’m blessed to have sweet friends.  And as I write this, I’ll have you know that I can now hold and love on little Tyce with only joy. He does make me think of Leif—a constant reminder, really, but not with sadness or loss, which is a gift from God. I enjoy holding him because he’s tangible. And my heart swells with some displaced love that needed a baby boy to pour into.

My doctor continued on with our appointment. “I still need to wait a couple weeks for your body to rid itself of some pregnancy hormones. I know everything I need to know about your pregnant body. What I’m wondering about has to do with your normal, not pregnant state because pregnancy tends to exacerbate issues. So, we’ll get that labwork ordered and compare. It’s going to take at least 2 weeks for those results to come back. So, I’m going to have you come see me again before Thanksgiving to go over the results and discuss what our next plan of action will be.”

We finished up our appointment and I walked out of there feeling a mess. My labwork was scheduled for October 17th and my visit with my doctor was another month after that. Two months felt like two years. I prayed. I prayed so hard about those blood tests coming up. I prayed for weeks. I cried. I begged. I spent a lot of time in self-reflection. Leslee and I had this little hope amidst everything we’d been through. This one little hope that might be as much of a happy ending to this chapter of our lives that we could think of. These test results might dash our hope to smithereens. I took a setback. My grief took a little jaunt backwards. It was all I could think about. All I could talk about. I talked to God so much about it that I worried he would get sick of me. And then just a week ago, I finally reached a point where I wasn’t sure if my fervency had led to peace or whether I had just become complacent, but I wasn’t praying for that quite as much. I simply felt, “It will be what it will be. And no matter what, I’m ok with it…for the most part. And I’ll do my best to live my life fully whether my diagnosis is bad or good. If my hope is lost here, it’s not lost in Heaven. Nothing is ever really lost when God has it.”

So yesterday, on my birthday, as I sat at a corner table in an alcove at the mall with my coffee at my left, a notebook on the table, a pen in my hand, and a good book in front of me, my reading was interrupted by a phone call.

“Hello?” I said.

“Yes, is this Breauna?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Hi, Breauna, this is _________. I’m Dr. _______’s nurse.” I can’t remember her name because I knew the number. My heart was racing. My palms were sweaty. Nerves were already prepared. There could only be one reason they were calling me so much in advance. Doctors only call when there’s something wrong.

“Yes?”

“Dr. _______ wanted me to call you because she has your lab results back. She wanted you to know that everything came back within the normal range. You’re just fine, Breauna. Everything is completely fine. She still does want to see you in November so she can explain to you why she ordered the specific tests she did and to discuss your next move, but she didn’t want you fretting about it until then, so here we are.”

I was borderline speechless.  What a sweet, sweet woman my doctor was, but what a GOOD, GOOD God my Lord was. He gave me the most special birthday gift. The magnitude of that little detail was not lost on me. I cried. I cried happy, happy tears. I cried because He loves me that much—to orchestrate that particular phone call on that particular day…of all days. I’m still blown away. How in this HUGE world with all its demands, God remembered my 32nd birthday and gave me the gift of peace, more hope, and even more validation of His goodness and love. I’m still uncertain of the path He has me on, but He continues to guide me. And even when I feel like He’s backed off and watching me try to walk on my own two feet, He still lets me know He’s right there. Even in the smallest of details. And that gives me hope, as well. No matter what my 33rd year holds, He’s right there. And maybe…just maybe things are about to get good.