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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Ten Years of Pain Has Opened the Door for Ten Years of Joy

Ten years ago, I lay in a hospital bed having just been induced for labor. Ten years ago this afternoon, I learned that the sweet baby girl I carried inside of me had died just shy of six months being alive. Ten years ago, I suffered the hardest physical and emotional pain I have ever endured. Because ten years ago, I held the hand of my sweet, two-year-old Peyton, while my obstetrician looked for a heartbeat for our sweet baby Abby. Ten years ago, I lay in denial as I stared at the ultrasound screen while the absence of her pulsing heartbeat changed my world forever. Ten years ago, my soul teetered on the brink of death as I screamed at God for stealing my little girl from me before I'd even met her.

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of Abby's birth/death: January 10, 2003. Every year, I pull out my "Abby box." It holds our only pictures of her in the hospital nursery. Her tiny footprints on her birth certificate--evidence of her time with us. The solemn death certificate. The map of Pebble Beach with a heart on the spot where we scattered her ashes. Photographs of the bench we carved her name into at Pebble Beach to mark her grave.

As the years have passed, the anniversary of her birthday has affected me in different ways. For the first few years, waking and realizing what day it was caused a searing pain like ripping a Band-aid off an open wound. I would cradle the remnants and cry. Then, there were the years where I mourned not her death but where she would have been in her life: starting Kindergarten, losing her first teeth, taking her to Disney.

Over the past several days, I've been thinking of her. The beginning of January is always tough in certain ways. My little brother died January 3, 2004, just one week before the first anniversary of Abby's death. At the time, the pain seemed unbearable. Yet, today, I look back at that time and remember that I was pregnant with Ty...our miracle boy, who was born in April of 2004. And as I sit in 2013 and look back over the last decade, I see so much happiness that has risen above the sorrow of the years. I've experienced Tyler starting Kindergarten, losing his first teeth, and going to Orlando. As much as I loved my Abby--and the two babies we miscarried before her-- I know that Tyler was the miracle we were meant to embrace. He is kind, empathetic, wicked smart, and funny. I love him so much I can't express it. For reasons I can't begin to comprehend or want to question, he is here instead of her.

So on her 10th birthday, I will think of her. Love her. Mourn her. And embrace the gift of her little brother. Because an important lesson I've learned in the last decade is that focusing on sadness instead of the immense joy that lies directly in front of us causes us to miss out on the blessings we've been given.

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