I found them today as I tackled the long overdue project of cleaning out the closet. There, still in the gift bag, long forgotten, were the perfect little bunny rabbit booties my best friend had knitted for our baby.
She made them and gave them to me immediately after I told her we had finally gotten pregnant with our third child. Wrapped up in those little booties were hopes and dreams and the promise we held for my family. I believed that in seven short months, we would be able to put them on him or her as we “oohed” and “ahhed” at how cute he or she was. I would then proudly pack up my things in the perfect little diaper bag and tote it and my gorgeous newborn out of the hospital to begin a perfect (and wonderfully chaotic) life as a family of five.
Those dreams never became a reality.
Over the course of the next few weeks, after test results came back abnormal and an ultrasound showed the worst, my family went from making plans for a new baby to wondering if we would ever meet our baby alive. The diagnosis was bi-lateral renal agenesis. In common terms, it meant my baby had no kidneys, and therefore would not be able to live outside the womb. My world crashed in around me. My heart was broken.
In the midst of the brokenness and pain, however, something else began to arise. Excitement.
At first it didn’t even make sense to me, and I waited days before voicing it to my husband, for fear he might think me a lunatic. But the reality is that God was opening up doors. He was doing something huge in our lives and the lives around us, and He asked us to be a part of His plans. He chose us to be parents to a child whose life here on Earth was miniscule, but whose impact will be felt for eternity.
Never before had I felt more fully His peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Never before had I known beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was asking me to endure pain for His purposes. Never before had I begged Him to use me so completely and allow His will to be done in me and through me. It was exciting!
Over the course of the next 14 weeks, I loved Elijah fiercely. I talked to him more and included him in everything we did, knowing it would be our only time with him. I grappled with grief, marveled at the small miracles I experienced, felt amazing joy, and endured overwhelming pain. I was gently brought through the process of accepting that my plans are not always God’s plans … but that God’s plans are always better, even if they are painful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
As the Lord carried me through the heartache of watching my belly grow with a child whom I would not be allowed to hold in my arms for more than a few hours, His sweet presence was so real and so true. I was constantly reminded that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I will never be the same. I never want to be the same. As my heart, mind, and body continue to heal after the birth and death of my sweet Elijah, I can only be thankful to God that He allowed me to be his mommy. And that Elijah’s short life with us was exceptional.
My last moments alone with my baby were ones of holding him, loving him, and dressing him before laying him in his tiny resting place. He was beautiful, dressed in a white outfit made by my mom. He was snuggled in a baby blue sweater made by my best friend, and on his tiny feet I placed tiny blue booties … not what I envisioned when my journey began, but perfect, nonetheless.