Saturday, August 2, 2008

What else, God?

It's been an emotional day, for me and my firstborn. Let me introduce Olivia....she is four. She's an affectionate girl, who adores her little sister, swimming, and anything Disney princess. Generally, she is very easy-going (like her Dad); so much so that it can be hard to motivate her to do what we want because she's really laid back. Don't get me wrong, much of her life this has been a blessing. As in, "Olivia, do you really want that obnoxious hot pink Character helmet? What if we bought this stylish denim helmet instead? That's fine? Great!" A "slow" speaker at first, we now affectionately refer to her as Care Bear Talk-y-Lot. And boy did she have a lot to say today...

Olivia had the honor of being invited to our dear friend's baby shower, Dr. Crystal, who will be having her first boy next month. The favorite part of my friendship with Crystal is that, long before we knew each other, she named her 4 year old twin girls Faith and Olivia - and my Olivia's middle name is Faith. As 3 year olds, the twins referred to my Olivia as "Two Wawa" and she referred to them corporately as "Two Wawa," often sounding hilariously like chihuahua. So "Two Wawa" had the choice of inviting one friend to the baby shower, and who better than their counterpart, Two Wawa.

Before I continue, let me rewind for just a moment. Troy and I agree that one of the hardest parts about losing our Baby Boy was having to tell Olivia. We just simply didn't know what to say. It actually took us 3 days. There's no chapter on this in any of the numerous parenting books I own (and I looked). But that Sunday, when she came in and laid next to me on the bed where I was crying and lifted up my shirt to "see if my belly was getting big yet" and wanted to talk to the baby through my bellybutton, where she would often point out that she could "see him head peaking out," I had had enough. The words came whether we were ready or not, and we most definitely weren't.

We were as honest as we could be, on a level we thought she could understand. We told her that the baby was not in my belly anymore. That the baby had died and was living with God and Jesus in heaven. I'm often asked how she responded. Usually much to the questioners surprise, I say she was mad at me. And she let it be known with a long, frustrated and accusing, "Ooooh Mom!" I told her I didn't like it either and I didn't choose it to be like this. Then she related it to the only other death she knew, our family goldfish, T-Roy. "Like T-Roy." Yes, I said, just like that. She asked why. I told her something wasn't right inside, but we didn't know what (little did I know). She promptly ended the conversation with the determined declaration, "Well I still have a baby in my belly." (She had believed all along that she was going to hatch a little sibling or two of her own.) This about broke my heart, but from somewhere deep inside I pulled out, "I'm glad there is a baby in your belly still."

Fast forward a couple weeks, where I'm seeking the advice of a godly counselor about Olivia's strange change in behavior. She had become defiant, disobedient and had started using some unfamiliar ugly words and tones of voice. Time outs, Bible verses and every other creative form of discipline did not deter her behavior one bit. In fact, I would venture to say it may have even fueled the fire. Looking back I would say she was obviously angry, but at the time I just thought she was out to show us who was boss. The counsel was that her behavior was more than likely her response to the baby's death and we needed to talk to her about it more. This surprised me, since she often mentioned the baby and heaven. And on more than one occasion, had burst into spontaneous song that went something like, "Mommy's baby is in heaven.....with God." (A budding lyricist she's not.) But I kept an open mind and waited for an occasion where she would respond to me, gently prodding into her feelings.

Back to today. We rush ourselves out to the car (do we get in any other way?) and I am explaining what a baby shower is and why she is going, and how LUCKY she was to be invited and that's why she should be on her best behavior, etc, etc. We're backing out of the driveway and Olivia says, "My babies died. They went to heaven with your baby." I caught my breath, as I had been waiting for this moment with her. "When did that happen?" She replies, "When I was happy. Now I'm sad." I told her I was sad too. She said, "We are sad together." I told her at least the babies could be together in heaven. "Yeah, you had a Madelina and I had an Owen and a Caden." (Interpretation: Madelina is a girl like her sister, and Owen and Caden mean boys, like her cousins.) This had been her theory all along and I decided to tell her what we hadn't yet. "Olivia, remember when I went to the Dr. with Daddy? The Dr. told us we had a boy. That the baby in heaven with God is a boy!" She digested that for a minute and then announced that she had a new baby in her belly. I told her that was wonderful and I was praying that God would do that for me one day, but for now the Dr. told me to wait a couple months so my belly could heal. She accepted that.

We get to the baby shower and for the most part, I did better than I thought I would. Olivia, not so much. She started very uncharacteristicly complaining about getting her own plate of food, wanting orange juice in its bottle, not a cup, and not getting to open presents like her friends were. And she wasn't discreet with the expression of her feelings. I was embarassed, to say the least. Whose child is this anyways? I distracted her during the opening of gifts by making princess barrettes that came in the goodie bag they had thoughtfully given her, and in the process kept my mind off the adorable argyle outfits, chocolate blankets and little blue shoes that were being opened. I started thinking about Olivia, does it bother her that her friends are having a baby brother and she's not? Oh if I could only protect her from the reality of this world, but I cannot.

On the ride home I decided to stop for a well-deserved Starbucks. As we wait in the Drive-thru, I strike up a conversation. Let me recount the interaction for you. It began when I asked Olivia how her tummy was feeling today, as she had awoke last night with stomach issues.

"My tummy is getting big. The Dr. told me to sleep, so my tummy could get big. Like your tummy is getting big with your baby."

I decided to try the direct approach, "Olivia, I don't have a baby in my belly. It will be a long time before that can happen. And that is why I ask God to do that someday."

"OK," she says matter of factly, and looks up at the ceiling of the car. "God, will you put a new baby in my mommy's belly, pleeeeeeeeeease?" Pause. "Ok, He will put a new Owen in your belly. And He will not share."

Instantly something in my heart said, this is important, pay attention! I tried to clarify (meaning correct her) and I asked, "Oh, God said He will share?"

"No. God said He will not share. He said He will give you a new Owen in your belly. Not what the Dr.s say, what He said."

She looks up at the ceiling, "What else God?" Long pause. "And God said the babies are dancing together."

I gasp, tears streaming down my face. Olivia did not know we lost another baby earlier this year and one of my biggest comforts is that they are together in heaven. Olivia did not know that the Dr. has not given us a good chance of having another baby.

I didn't know what to say. This conversation between her and God has blown me away. So I asked, "Does God speak to you a lot?"

She answers, "Only sometimes."

So my comfort today is from my daughter, who is struggling through her own journey of grief. She let me know that God will not share this baby boy with us here on earth, that He will give us a new baby to hold in spite of what the Dr.s say, and that my babies are dancing together in heaven.


Jenileigh said...

You have some special children. God is so good.

Julie said...

I have been reading through your blog and I had to comment on this post. We struggled with infertility for 7 years and I had 4 (or more) miscarriages before we conceived Claire. I only carried Claire full term because they discovered when I was 4 weeks pregnant(the day I found out) that my horomones were to low to carry a baby much less conceive! However, God had other plans and not only did we have Claire but I carried Lily even though I had pancreatitis/jaundice complications with gallbladder surgery at 5 months pregnant!!! We had no help conceiving Claire, Lily or this baby even though my horomones were so insufficient. The only explanation for that is that God is so good and HE is awesome and able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Hence, the title of my blog!)

I wrote all of that to give you hope. We have been so immeasurably blessed by our God and although the miscarriages were the most devestating thing I have ever known, I would not take back the pain or the privilege of carrying those babies for anything.

I hope you don't mind me writing this. I just felt led to share with you.

We will continue to pray for you and your beautiful family. Your story has touched me so much. Thank you for sharing your journey.

Love and Prayers,