One of the hardest parts of sharing my grief journey with all of you is knowing how to put the constant myriad of thoughts swirling around my brain into words. Sometimes I can easily come up with the words, but I think they need to be filtered for the sake of people reading. Sometimes the words are there but the timing seems wrong. Sometimes I feel like the words are right there but they just don't sound right when I write them. Sometimes I just can't find the words period. This post is a case in point to that. I actually started it months ago, feeling it was something that I was being strongly called to in my faith walk through this, but I couldn't put my finger on the written expression of my jumbled thoughts.
During Lent, I've been meditating on surrender. When I think of surrender I think of actively giving something over 100%. Not sharing responsibility for an outcome, not trying to control the outcome, but leaving it to God his His own time and place to reveal His divine will. Not assuming that you know what that outcome or will might be.
That type of total surrender is much easier said than done.
I think in many ways there are stages to surrendering something. From knowing that you need to surrender something, to accepting that the outcome is out of your hands, to fully embracing God's outcome (which may or may not align with what you want!).
At the beginning of Lent, I was solidly in stage 1.
Knowing I needed to surrender several things (but not really wanting to).
Mostly the things I knew I needed to work on fall under the umbrella of accepting God's design for our family. I started Lent severely frustrated with my own body and where things were with my fertility. I knew that my body had gotten out of whack during my pregnancy with Lucie and then the miscarriage and then Siena. I was just frustrated! To top it off, I was getting inconsistent information about it all. I was feeling like we have been so open to life and that I was watching all our friends have babies and wanting that so much for our family. It is a huge struggle to recognize that we have been gifted with life too, without also feeling like it's been taken away from me again and again.
Honestly at points I have felt it would be easier if I had just said yes to the hysterectomy Mayo wanted to do so badly but knew they didn't have a medical reason for. I'm not particularly proud of those thoughts, but it is true. I've felt it would be easier to just take a pill and regulate these crazy cycles than take the route of going through lab work and testing and trying other medications and supplements to fix the problem rather than just avoid it. I'm 34 not 44...I shouldn't *have* to deal with this stuff, right?!?!?!?!
It is spiritually challenging to surrender control to God of something that our society says is perfectly acceptable to control for yourself. Something, in fact, that most people think I am crazy for not trying to control.
I (thankfully) have faith and know that it is spiritually fruitful to surrender this area of my life.
I resolved early in Lent to take this to prayer, specifically during my adoration times. I have learned that my most fruitful prayers are usually when I ask for clarity in a particular area rather than a specific request. For example, instead of praying for another baby or praying that my body would be healed of whatever is causing this hormonal craziness, I prayed that God simply make something clear. In this case, during a period of prayer for this intention, some very specific hormonal issues have been identified and I am working with a provider (two actually) who have a plan for addressing the issues. While I obviously still don't know what the outcome will be for our family size and my fertility, instead of the place of extreme uncertainty and frustration at the beginning of Lent, I have been able to move forward to a state of a little more action. While the outcome remains out of our hands, I feel like I have moved to a place of at least there being an outcome instead of only more waiting and uncertainty.
One thing I've noticed is that whenever I pray for clarity regarding our family size going forward, specifically noting that if it is not God's will that we have more biological children I accept that, all of the opportunities to clearly close that door don't come to pass. Even the roadblocks appear superficial. God could have allowed me to medically need a hysterectomy...but He didn't. I could have been surrounded with medical naysayers and doom and gloomers...but instead my doctors have all been extremely supportive of us continuing to have children of our own. My lab work could have indicated an early shut down of fertility or another problem that can't be overcome....but it didn't. I pray about adoption...and I hear yes, but don't give up on another biological child either. Not a full answer to my clarity prayers, but a lot of really strong indicators!
Clarity is what I prayed for throughout my pregnancy with Siena and while I never seemed to be granted that request during pregnancy for whatever reason, clarity is EXACTLY what we got when it came to delivery day. No uncertainty about my health during surgery. No uncertainty about if we should or shouldn't transfer her. Step by step, things unfolded very clearly as they needed to- in expected and unexpected ways. If you've never tried praying for clarity in a situation rather than a specific intention, I highly recommend it.
The reason for all this clarity and surrender thought and talk is probably a little obvious: it has only been a couple short months since Siena died.
While things were so clear that day, it wasn't the clarity that I wanted. While that clarity brought a great amount of peace for me, it didn't answer all of my questions. My questions of "Well maybe if we had done this..." or "Maybe I should have tried this..." The internet is a big old sink hole of not helpful on this one with the content stream of miraculous stories that are out there that leave me wondering what they did that I didn't. My brain knows the answer is nothing, but the rest of me needed catch up with that.
I knew reaching that third stage of surrender (full embrace of God's will over mine) required me to accept that fact. I stewed and I prayed...and I read more articles about the miracles of skin to skin or this baby or that baby that has defied all medical predictions. And I felt worse and I felt more and more like there must have been something else we could have done or tried.... my faith must not have been as strong as theirs.... something in my life or heart must have blocked our miracle..... And I prayed.
And one day I woke up and I realized that I was totally ok with it.
I accept it.
I don't even know what changed or what happened, but one day that burden of questioning was just gone.
I'm still dealing with the same grief I always was, unpredictable and relentless that it is, but I'm OK with what happened to her. I'm able to accept that this was her path without feeling like if some magic criteria of a stronger faith or a different health care provider or so on and so on and so on....that things would have really been different.
If God wanted this to have turned out differently....it would have.
That's the end of the story.
Of course it's not really the end of her story (or mine), but reaching that level of acceptance was something that was really important for me to do. I instinctively knew it early in Lent when I started writing this post and I functionally know it now that something has changed in my heart to actually achieve it.
I'm not even sure why it is important, only that it is important.
I guess the why might be a part of the next great step in this wild adventure. From the beginning of Siena's journey, my spiritual understanding and faith have been pulling the rest of me along. What I knew spiritually and believed in faith carried me when my emotions and my brain didn't know what I was supposed to do next. My faith has been steady when the rest of me has not.
And in many (ok most) ways is still not.
In all honesty, I'm still an emotional and unpredictable mess (just ask the tiny people who I spend my day with). I just feel a new step of peace in surrendering to God's plan for Siena and seeking His path for the continued growth of our family. In seeing the fruit of my prayers for this area of our life.