Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Facing the Facts

At 23 months old, the experts say that a child should be able to name pictures in a book, use three to four word sentences, get dressed alone, interact socially, and figure out age appropriate puzzles. This is what the experts tell me, but my child can't do any of these things.

She can't show off the new words she has learned, or ask "why". She can't copy the behaviors of others, or interact with her friends. Though I wish with all my heart that she could, my child can't do any of these things, and I have to face the facts - that even as these many months without her tick by, and even as her 2nd birthday looms just around the corner, Peyton is no closer to making any of these milestones than she was the day she died, and wish for her as I might, she never will be.

At 8 weeks pregnant, the experts say that my twins are developing eyelids. Their ears, upper lips, and the tips of their noses are forming. By this week, my twins' hearts have each split into four distinct chambers, and beat at more than twice the resting heart rate of their parents. These babies are sprouting webbed fingers and toes. They are making milestones just as they should be, and doing all that is expected of them, and I have to face the facts - that even though we have only known parenting to involve panic and pain, that does not define what will be with these babies. 

Even though I am scared out of my mind. Even though I have been living in this universe of loss for two years and know first hand that nothing in life is a guarantee, that does not erase the possibility that these twins CAN be born healthy.  

I am facing the facts - my past does not define their future.

Every day I find myself struggling for balance as I straddle these two worlds.
I am a grieving mother. I am an expectant mother.
I am paralyzed by fear. I am encouraged by hope.
I carry the heavy weight of loss. I gladly carry the weight of my twins.

I wish I could have more grace in this. I don't know if it is my own weaknesses, or the situation, but I find pregnancy after losing Peyton to cancer, something that no doctor has ever been able to give us any reasons for how or why this happened to our baby, to be like walking through a dark tunnel filled with broken glass, and praying with every step not to be hurt again. We live in a world where we are told that EVERYTHING can cause cancer, and the weight that comes with being vigilant about avoiding, well, everything, is exhausting. 

There are days when my fears push me to the edge, and I wonder how I am going to get through this pregnancy with my sanity in-tact, and then I remember another fact that I have come to face - that though Peyton is not here with me, though she is not walking down the stairs on her own, or banging on pots in the kitchen, she is always with me watching over her parents and her little siblings, and I find peace in that.

I find peace in knowing that when my worrying makes me stumble, she is there, whispering words of encouragement in the wind. Whether it be a butterfly at the perfect moment, chancing upon her name in a book, or just "feeling" her around me, she is always at my side.

I miss the physical connection that I had with her. I miss hugging her, holding her, and stroking her hair, but not once since she left this world, have I felt absent of her spirit, and for that I am so very grateful.

On the days when I question myself the most, I think of Peyton.

I think of all that she faced and the strength that she exhibited in her tiny little self right to the very end, and I feel inspired to pull myself up by the bootstraps and face the facts - that while there are no guarantees in this life, and while the risk of enduring more pain and heartache is ever present - even the possibility that these twins can come into this world healthy makes fighting on through the fear necessary.


  1. Abiding with you and hoping the facts bear witness to beautiful healthy babies. Keep on being.

  2. how beautiful. every story i hear of rainbow babies gives me hope for my own, but i hate the fact that you are not allowed to simply enjoy your pregnancy with your twins - and that when i get pregnant again (assuming i do), that i will be terrified for 9 months. just keep reminding yourself of what you said - your past does not determine THEIR future.

  3. I wrote this on my post and felt like sharing it here with a grieving mother expecting another baby after the death of a child.

    "Pregnancy after loss is like walking a tightrope over hell. You desperately try and find your balance in the present ~ the real world of now ~ all the while you are terrified that you are going to fall into hell again!"

    I hope that we all can find our balance and keep our eyes ahead and not look down any more than necessary.

  4. Still praying for you everyday. I just want to tell you I love your pictures of Peyton. She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen!

  5. I love the description of the broken glass in a dark tunnel, just hoping the next step doesn't hurt. It is so true. We must fight every step.

  6. I think you do not give yourself enough credit...the grace you exhibit is beautiful and light of all you have been through and are going through now, I don't know what anyone else could possibly expect of you.

    This was a beautiful post.

  7. I love this post. The facts have changed me forever and it leaves me terrified and hopeful as well. You have read my mind.

  8. Oh, honey. Pregnancy after loss is a royal mind freak. It really is. You're risking basically everything to experience that love again and you are hoping like hell your heart isn't ripped from your body again.

    We are taking foster/adopt classes and as the possibility/probability of more loss is discussed I feel my heart start to really want to guard itself.

    It is just hard.

    We're here, walking the tunnel with you, and we'll cheer you on when you feel you can't take another step.

  9. Just amazing. You have just perfectly described the feelings of being pregnant after a loss. The conflicting joy and sadness. The fear and hope. Trying to to dwell on the worst but still almost expecting it.

    Thank you.

  10. "I am a grieving mother. I am an expectant mother.
    I am paralyzed by fear. I am encouraged by hope."

    This was me, totally, this time 12 months ago. You have captured the experience perfectly.

    And my goodness, I don't often look up what Hope would be doing now (though I have enough friends with kids her age). Just knocks the wind out of you, doesn't it?


  11. You have come a long way and are leading the way for others to follow... Like all BLM's we just keep on going no matter what...

  12. Wow. I imagine that your stress is almost unthinkable. I do agree. Peyton is with you. She already knows those sweet babies. I believe that she has a hand in sending them to you. Hand picked from heaven. One foot in front of another and lots of prayers. I am praying right along with you.

  13. Thinking of you! I remember feeling the exact way with all of my pregnancies! I lost my Andrew in that first pregnancy and have four healthy, breathing, sleeping children in this house right now. Pregnancy after loss is so very scary, terrifying really- but tomorrow go out and look around you! Each walking breathing human being started out the size of those darlings inside of you- made it through years one... two... etc... Look at them- look at you- and remember that- Hold on to that hope! Thinking of you!

  14. Hello, I am (very very) new to your blog and this is the first entry of yours that I have read (came via Ah the Possibilities' - blog). What you write here is close to my heart, I recall the looong months of our subsequent pregnancy all too well. Much of it spent terrified. Lots of it spent trying to comprehend and meld the two worlds together: that of, being a childless mother and wondering if I would in fact end up with a "take home" baby this time. And making the same amazing connections as you during that time - that I vowed I would not let my past overshadow our next child's future at all. It hasn't. It won't. You're facing it and aware of it. And it won't. Much strength to you, it is hellish and hard. But oh so incredible to journey through. Good luck.