Should. Shouldnâ€™t. These are loaded words, borne of disappointed expectations. We shouldnâ€™t be living in a world marred by sin, disease and death, but we do. No mother should have to bury her child â€“ much less three â€“ but I have.
I was sitting with several of my mommy friends at church, watching them nurse and entertain their infants, when I was suddenly struck with the realization that I should be nursing a two-month-old right now. But Iâ€™m not, because sheâ€™s buried under our maple tree. And suddenly I couldnâ€™t breathe.
Iâ€™m a tummy sleeper. One of the things I hated most about being pregnant was how difficult it was to get comfortable when I couldnâ€™t sleep on my tummy. But lately, as I curl up comfortably in bed, I weep. My belly should be getting in my way right now, but itâ€™s not, because my babies are gone.
I keep getting maternity junk mail from companies who probably got my address when I registered to track my babiesâ€™ development online. Those accounts are deleted now, but the cheerful baby coupons keep coming to torture me, because an automated mailing list doesnâ€™t know when a motherâ€™s hope has turned to grief. My heart shouldnâ€™t sink when I open my mailbox, but it does.
With my confused body trying to adjust to the loss of two pregnancies in nine months, I once again pack away my maternity clothes with the awareness that I still look pregnant, and will until I can muster the energy to lose the baby weight. I shouldnâ€™t dread the innocent congratulations of strangers who look at my belly and wonder whether weâ€™re having a boy this time, but I do.
There are days when Iâ€™m able to forget for awhile. When I can laugh with friends, enjoy a movie or get through my to-do list as if nothing happened. But Iâ€™m continually nagged by the feeling that Iâ€™m forgetting something, like when you walk into a room for a purpose and then canâ€™t remember why. Itâ€™s as if Iâ€™m constantly looking for something, but donâ€™t know what it is or where to find it. I shouldnâ€™t be haunted by this aimless emptiness. But I am.
My moods unexpectedly swing from numbness to overwhelming sorrow, from frustration to anger, but I never know which wave Iâ€™ll have to ride next, when it will hit or what will trigger it. Some days Iâ€™m resigned, and others I rage, â€œWhy offer me a precious gift and then yank it back, Lord? Why raise my hopes only to see them dashed? I donâ€™t want promises or comforting words. I want my babies here in my arms! Thatâ€™s how it SHOULD be!â€
But in the end, I know that when I say â€œshould,â€ what Iâ€™m really saying is, â€œIf I were Godâ€¦â€ But Iâ€™m not. And the truth is, my children ultimately arenâ€™t mine. Theyâ€™re His. Even the three tucked safely in their beds are just on loan for awhile. He is ultimately their Heavenly Father, who loves them even more than Iâ€™m capable of.
The three precious babies He took home were only here for a few weeks, and they were born immediately to a place where theyâ€™ll never have known suffering, fear or grief. That must be an extraordinary experience. Their mommy isnâ€™t so lucky, but God knows that our sufferings here are temporary, and eternity is a long, long time to enjoy the healing and restoration of what was lost. It doesnâ€™t feel brief or temporary right now, but in comparison with eternity, it is.
In the meantime, I just have to remember that Iâ€™m not alone, and make it through another dayâ€¦