Unexpected Grace

These early days of Katie’s life outside the womb have been days of rest, of peace, of joy. No pain or sorrow or stress, just the quiet and natural transition to being a family of three once again, the settling into this routine, this new normal.

This is all unexpected, really. I did not anticipate that these weeks would be as easy as they have been. I thought they would be stressful, challenging, fraught with emotion. I worried they would be bittersweet, that small things – changing a diaper, singing a lullaby, buckling a car seat – would bring back memories, and with the memories, sorrow. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to be fully here, to fully enjoy this daughter for missing another, but that has not been the case. These six weeks, aside from the normal exhaustion and hormones and adjustment, have been sweet with none of the bitter.

This isn’t to say I don’t think of our first daughter; I think of her often, wonder how she is, pray for her heart and her mind and her soul. This morning, I put Katie in the baby swing during my shower, and as I closed my eyes to lather the shampoo, I had a vision of A in that same swing, shouting her laughter as Jonathan tickled her feet. There was no grief, however, no tears, just a kind of nostalgia, a regret for what might have been.

I don’t know why this is. Katie is a different person, and this is a new experience in so many ways, and maybe that is a part of it. Perhaps it is the months and the miles playing their part; after all, they say that time is the great healer. But more and more, I am wondering if it is grace, pure and simple.

When we first lost A, I remember conversations with Jonathan about the crushing grief, the heavy sadness that seemed to overwhelm us at times. We wanted relief, we wanted to be out from underneath it, but at the same time, there were parts of us that hoped it never eased, because it felt as though we would then be forgetting. Letting go seemed heartless, as though the joy and love and pain we experienced with our daughter was nothing, as though it didn’t matter. It felt like betrayal. Months later, I still wrestle with this, wondering if the ease of this transition shows some lack of emotion or true connection, unveils some shallowness to the love I have for A. Shouldn’t this be harder?

But then I look at this sweet baby girl snuggled in my arms, and I am so, so grateful that I can be fully present for her, that I can experience the joy of being her mom without also feeling the pang of loss. It is as though He has comforted the hurt (though certainly, it is still there, underneath it all), calmed the grief so that this season would be one of peace.

I do not know why I have been shown this unexpected grace, and I do not know how long it will last. But it is here, and it is real, and that is enough for today.

Family and Parenting

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