When Life Gives You Lemons but You Kinda Hate Lemonade.
Do you ever have those days/weeks/months/seasons/years where you just want to find a dark closet to hide in and just play pretend that the world and all it’s problems don’t exist?
If I’m honest, I’ve had more than a few days of this feeling in the past few weeks. And the best way for me to process is to write.
So this may be long but I need to write it out, for myself mostly but maybe for you too… so if you’re with me, will you grab and snack and cross your legs and sit here with me while I speak about my life lately?
Two weeks ago I was shopping with my mother and having a great weekend while Eric was serving in Haiti with our home church. We had traversed the whole of Jacksonville and Little Rock, completing various errands, working around my mom’s schedule as she was on call. We were having a great day together, shopping for cheap sales and cute items for Edison’s new big-boy room.
Later in the day, Edison was napping in the car with my mom while I ran into a bookstore to find a Bible for Nicole’s baby-shower.
There was this young girl inside looking at the Bibles too and she came and sat down next to me in the floor. We chatted for 5-10 minutes and she helped me pick out the perfect one – who knew there were all these things to think about when it comes to choosing a journaling Bible? Not me! I was so thankful for her and found myself smiling at the perks of living in the South, where a stranger sits down in the floor next to you and helps you pick out a Bible for your friend.
And as she left however, my smile quickly vanished as I started to pee my pants. Like literally, not figuratively. And I thought,
“uhhhhhhhhh… this is new?”
As I stood up and my entire pants became soaked, down to my knees with what I still thought was maybe urine? … I had this mild panic attack of “oh my goodness, I am peeing my pants in the middle of a Christian Bookstore and I’m just standing here frozen – what am I doing?” Haha, it was such a surreal moment that I look back on now as kind of hilarious. I remember even thinking “wait, did my water just break – hold on, no… that’s not possible right now.” Ha!
Side note: if you’ve never had this experience, I can attest, it is bizarre to say the least. I couldn’t process what was happening… like my brain just failed to understand that it wasn’t a matrix dream or something.
While I walked to the bathroom, I realized my worst fear was probably the truth, it wasn’t urine, it was blood…. a lot of blood.
As I sat there looking at the extent of my bleeding, my stomach and soul and heart and body fell into a level of despair I never want to re-visit.
My mother was my hero. She and an incredible team of workers at the bookstore took great care of me until the paramedics arrived. As I saw Edison enter the bathroom with my mom, I knew I had to calm down – his little eyes were so scared of me, of the situation, he was dazed and confused from being woken up and plopped into that scene. I’ll never forget how he wouldn’t come to me when I called for him. It was such a bizarre moment for me as his mom, seeing him just stand still and stare into my eyes. He wasn’t trying to climb the walls or swim in the toilets or eat the trash in the trash cans. He was just looking at me. And my attention went to him and helped me calm down my breathing. (that and my mom telling me over and over to slow my breathing, thanks mom for being amazing).
And I’ll never forget when an amazing woman from the bookstore propped him up on her hip and carried him out of that bathroom. I want to thank her so much for that.
They say that when you go into shock, you simply feel nothing. That is the truth. But I think it was also a profound calm that the Lord placed over me, a sense of peace that could have only come from Him. Having 100% lack of control of the situation at first left me hysterical, but as I grasped the fullness of what was happening, I found that lack of control was freeing somehow. I didn’t know if our little one was alive in my belly any longer, but I just tried to send all the love left in my being to him/her and that became my sole focus. As if I could somehow just let them know that I was there and I loved them, breathing or not, with my whole being. They were a treasure and a gift and their life was not ended out of lack of want.
I remember that my only prayer to the Lord during that time was to usher this baby into the next life in the smoothest and calmest of ways He was capable. That He would be the one to hold her/him upon their first night of eternity with Him. That His first words to our little one would be of His vast affection for them and that they were finally safe. And that maybe, just maybe, if He wanted, He could tell them of their mother’s love as well… how pure and true it is, and how I will carry them in my heart forever.
But 3 hours later, the ultrasound tech finally uttered the words I was certain I couldn’t possibly hear,
“there is a strong heartbeat.”
I don’t know if it makes sense, but those hours we waited seemed to stretch on and on. Maybe it was self-preservation or self-defense, but I had all but convinced myself that the baby was gone and we would just have to accept it. I even began to grieve the loss of that precious life, moving from denial into some sort of acceptance, in a way.
So when she said those words, I just gaped at her, staring into her eyes and I remember no joy in that moment. I was certain it was a dream or a cruel joke… I just tried to breathe. Looking at the ceiling was my only solace. It expected no response from me, it couldn’t lie to me or bring me false hope.
She took my hand and asked me, “are you okay? did you hear me?”
I remember just breathing deep and mumbling something about “I just wasn’t prepared for that outcome I guess. I’m just didn’t think that could possibly be the outcome.”
I remember being worried after I said those words that she would think I was sad about the good news, that I didn’t want the baby. That she might see all kinds of people in her line of work, people who are relieved when there isn’t a heartbeat. But I just needed her to know that I wasn’t that person. That I wanted to hear those beautiful words more than I even knew could be possible, that I felt my sanity was hanging on every second passing between us, that this baby would somehow be okay. But she understood all of me in my grief. She gently broke all protocol and turned the screen to me, showing me every nook and cranny of our baby. From it’s perfect little spine to it’s perfect little hands and it’s perfect little heart beating away like a hummingbird.
“Look momma, everything is just fine.”
And we cried together at that perfect little life.
And it’s been three weeks since then. Three weeks and four days to be exact. And I am still bleeding some and still in pain but mostly, still overwhelmed with joy that my little one is alive and well inside my belly.
It was a subchorionic hemorrhage, which actually is more common than you’d think. I still have another hematoma of the same kind in my uterus, but as of now, it isn’t growing with the baby and is hopefully just going to be absorbed.
And while I feel blessed and thankful and so happy that this was my outcome. I am saddened and burdened and heartbroken for the thousands of women who were losing their precious little ones in that same moment around the world.
Why was my baby okay and so many others are not?
Why was my baby okay and so many women I know have had to deal with the crushing heartache of losing a baby or two or three or not being able to conceive in the first place?
Why am I walking around today with a full-womb when other women are having to say goodbye to their babies?
No one tells you that you can lose that much blood and your baby still be breathing.
No one tells you that you may not experience a flood of joy immediately after finding out about those precious breaths they are taking. It may take a minute.
No one tells you about the overwhelming emotion you feel when that joy does come, when hope shows up and pushes you through, when you feel like the air is made out of oxygen again and you can finally breathe.
No one tells you that in the midst of joy, there can be a lot of guilt.
No one tells you that the guilt you feel can be crippling at times.
That it can make you want to hide away from the world, to pretend it isn’t spinning around and around without you, because you can’t answer the timeless question “Why? why are we okay? Why are we intact? Why are we laughing in the floor of Edison’s room? Why are we still okay?”
And no one will ever tell you that your guilt is warranted. Because it isn’t. I know it isn’t.
But it’s still there, like a bad pimple you try to cover up with makeup so no one will notice.
And for me, the best cure is speaking about it instead of hiding it away.
Life can just be a lot to handle sometimes.
But what I know is this, I am here. My baby is here for now, unless God-forbid, something were to happen. But I am learning that I don’t have to take the lemons that life gives and make lemonade each morning. I never really enjoy lemonade anyway, I am a two or three-sip kinda gal when it comes down to it. It’s too sweet and too thick to ever quench my thirst.
And so I don’t think God expects us to take lemons of this life and create marvelous, pinterest-worthy lemonade themed brunches out of them. I think He does desire us to take our lemons and present them in open palms to the Heavens, leaving the brunch planning up to Him.
And maybe He doesn’t create lemonade, maybe it’s a lemon chiffon cheesecake or a lemon-coconut cake bar… or maybe he comes back with a root beer float, I don’t know. Or maybe He stays silent and you don’t receive anything from Him in response for some time, but no matter what, those lemons are out of your hands and into the hands of the one who is fully capable of carrying them. And that is all you can do, give it to Him and trust Him.
When I try to carry the weight of what could have happened in our case or what does happen to so many women and men everyday around the world, I falter. I end up hiding away from the world and sinking into a dark place, having to fight my way back into the light.
So take these lemons from me Lord. (and coconut pie is my favorite, you know, if that’s what you want to whip up for me instead)
My prayer is that Lord, You would be my sustainer in times of weakness, when I forget Your sovereignty. That you would momma-smack me upside the head when I try to carry all the burdens of this life on my own. And that You would forgive me, for continually falling into this trap again, it seems like I always end up here, trying to do my own thing and carry my own burdens, when I know I should be giving them to You.
I trust You with this life inside my womb. I trust that You are near to the broken hearted and that Your heart does not rejoice in our pain. When my words fail, I will speak Your name as the salve upon my heart. And when I cannot comprehend or understand the lemons of this life, I will do my best to bring You all of my anger, my rage, my confusion, my suffering, my brokenness and my sin and I will allow You to be my healer. I pray that I will not keep myself from You in those moments when I need You most.
Be near me. You are my Alpha and Omega. My lion-hearted champion who never quits. My King who sits upon the Throne whom I worship while laying face first upon the ground. You are my kind Father, whose strong presence is soothing.
You are my forgiver, who in spite of my continual sin, loves me and chooses me.
I want to honor You.
PS. And yes, I know a lot of wonderful friends have asked…we stable and doing well, but just not quite out of the woods yet. I still have another hematoma to be passed and there is a big risk of pre-term labor, which is what we are trying our best to avoid. Please pray for my blood pressure to stay down, my bleeding to stop, no labor to begin and for our little baby to stay strong. 16 weeks yesterday!