When I realized I was pregnant with my middle child, I kept the news secret for a time. Honestly, at first I was in denial. Surely the test isn’t accurate. It’s a Walmart brand pregnancy test. I finally mustered the courage to take a second, more reliable, name-brand test to prove the first test a fluke.
I was pregnant. Again. My first born child was eight weeks old.
So I kept her a secret, my secret, blaming my exhaustion on late night feedings and returning to work full time, blaming my waistline on baby belly – the one I’d just had, not the one I was unexpectedly expecting – blaming my appetite on nursing. One night a few weeks later my husband asked, Do you think you could be pregnant? I like to believe his look was concern, but I think there was a trace of incredulous fear in his eyes too.
I took a third pregnancy test, telling him I’d leave the stick in the bathroom. He could read the results – plus for positive, minus for negative. Two minutes later I heard him call, “What does an X mean?”
Turn the stick, sweetie. We’re having a baby.
I went into labor the night before my scheduled C-section, eight days before my first-born would turn one, less than two weeks before the sudden death of my father.
We didn’t plan our precious middle child, in fact, given a choice beforehand, we likely would have said No. Let’s wait. Let’s choose another time, a better time. What I know now is we needed Bailey exactly when we received her. She is the child born to comfort our sorrow.We needed Bailey exactly when we received her. She is the child born to comfort our sorrow.Click To Tweet
As often as I use words to create a picture, I have none which express the depth of our sorrow that Christmas season, my gift-giving father’s favorite time of year. I wept as I wrapped every present he purchased for my Mom but wasn’t there to see her open. Grief was deep, tender and raw, for us all…all except sweet Bailey whose mere being was the anchor which held us.
My pictures of Christmas that year are of the laughing face of my one year old, and of every member of my family holding, and often sleeping with my newborn child. The weight of her, warm and solid, the scent of her, fresh and milky sweet crept into our souls, bringing the first tiny glimpses of healing and joy, even as we waded through our sorrow.
My favorite part of the Christmas story is one sentence, Mary treasured up these things and pondered them in her heart.
I imagine her with the Christ child nestled close to her breast, staring with hope and sorrow into his fathomless, wondering eyes. I imagine her questions and her amazement at the fragile nearness of God. I imagine the peace and comfort of glory wrapped in swaddling clothes, passed lovingly from hand to hand. I imagine her, because I have lived her deep, abiding silence, while sorrow and joy twine through my marrow.As we enter into this Christmas season, may we celebrate with joy for birth and sorrow for loss.Click To Tweet
I’m not Mary, and obviously my baby girl, now turning seventeen, is no Savior, but for a time she bore our sorrow. She was our comfort and healing in a way nothing else could be. Even though I will always feel the ache of missing my father, I too have treasured up those moments and ponder them in my heart, still.
As we enter into this Christmas season, may we celebrate with joy for birth and sorrow for loss. May we hold each other close for comfort and pass peace to all we encounter. It’s the season when the glory of heaven sweeps down and kisses earth and all creation dances and sings for the birth of a child, the fullness of eternity wrapped in fragile, human skin.
Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10)
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