I am letting my baby go. As I write that sentence, I can’t stop the tears. Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears because I am tired and hopeful and scared. Tears because I don’t know what else really to feel.
From the moment Teagan came home from the hospital there has never been a moment of “settled.” In a weird way, that is good. It’s great, actually. And it’s exhausting. We prepared for one thing only to be pleasantly surprised by something else, only to be caught off guard by a setback, only to rally. And, so forth and so on. She couldn’t see, then she could, she couldn’t move much, then she rolled over, she was biting and in pain, we fixed her hip, she wasn’t eating, then she was. I sit and watch in awe at every sound she makes, and interaction we have, knowing on a large scale the magnitude of what a gift she is. Watching as her brother and sisters have learned to love her on different levels. Listening to the debate and disappointment over who gets to sit with her on a Saturday morning. How funny they find her. Life with her is nothing like we planned.
There will never be words for the days in the hospital sitting beside an incubator taking in every moment of her. Watching her lifeless body being run by machines, loving her through a plastic barrier. Praying that she would get to have a moment, even a few seconds alive to wear the outfit Adaline picked out for her. And that if we couldn’t get it on her in time, would I bury her in it? Would I find something else? As I write this I all too aware of the weight of the fact that we got to bring her home. That I am not the mom regularly visiting her graveside. I grieve for those moms and cherish the lives of their little ones. There will never be words adequate for knowing the privilege I have getting to hold my girl on this side of eternity.
And, with each passing season in her life, the expected has quickly given way to something not anticipated. Sometimes the unexpected has brought greater joy than I can describe and others it has come with the weight of the reality of her life. That it will never look like we had hoped and prayed all those months of pregnancy. Instead, sweet T’s life has brought new hopes and prayers that I didn’t fully know how to grasp 4 years ago.
And, so we have moved into another new unexpected, and once again I am reminded of something I so often preach, and that is how to love our children with an open hand. Love our children knowing we are only their temporary guardians and warriors. Love them well knowing they are only entrusted to us for a season by their maker and it is our privilege to use that time to the best of our ability.
Love our children knowing we are only their temporary guardians and warriors. Love them well knowing they are only entrusted to us for a season by their maker and it is our privilege to use that time to the best of our ability.
Ghostdad and I have talked for years about what the future might look like for Teagan. What will we do when she moves out of the “baby” phase and into school age? I know many of you are thinking, “but she can just go to school.” And, while that is a wonderful idea, the probability of that has been questionable. With the level of function she has had for a long time, while we could send her to “school” she has not always been at a place or shown evidence that it would be beneficial for her. So for the last several years she has gotten to join and be apart of the dare care and preschool where I teach and her siblings attend. I was there to administer meds, direct feeds, observe health concerns, etc. For a long time she was content to just be. Then she was content to just be talked to. We are not at a special needs school, but we have gotten the opportunity to watch her get loved on, from teacher, peers, and friends. We knew her time in that environment would be short lived, because as she got bigger her physical needs were going to grow with her. Changing a 20lb 2 year old is vastly different than changing an over 40lb almost 5 year old. What we really didn’t expect based on her trajectory she had been following was that her social, emotional, and academic needs were going to take a drastic shift. Again, just when we thought we were settled and just needing to begin to think about the future for her, the future hit us square between the eyes.
We started asking all the questions, do I keep her home? Do we bring a nurse into the equation? What do we do? What does she need? Oh, and did I mention the number of times I have said what we will never do? And, yet, sitting in a friend’s office I came to a terrifying realization: she was ready for more. She needed more. I knew she was loved where she was, I knew I was close, I knew I could make sure to keep an eye on what was going on, on how she was being cared for. I knew she had friends, but I also knew that if I kept her with me I would not being caring for her the best way I knew how. I was no longer going to be loving her well if I didn’t once again let her go.
I will never forget sitting on the side on my hospital bed with Ghostdad by my side. We sat, we held hands, and amidst sobs, we prayed. We prayed the hardest prayer I have ever prayed. “Lord we give her back to you. We surrender her to you, knowing the time we may get to love her on earth could be a few more hours at best.” We committed to loving what had been entrusted to us to the best of our ability and committed her back to the One who loved her first.
Lord we give her back to you. We surrender her to you.
And, here I am four years later once again, sitting in surrender and letting my baby go. And by no means does this decision come with the grief of our first, nor the same fear. But it has come with the same sweet reminder that loving someone means we often have to do hard things. It means trust, and more than that, it means relinquishing control. Being in control feels easier, trust feels so hard. But I know it’s time. With the joys of each step forward has also come the responsibility of directing those steps down the best path possible. A path I didn’t think we would ever be ready to walk down and a path that was so not in the plan. And, yet here we go. A new school, new friends, new teacher, and no me. And, we will walk that path the best way we know how. We will ask for help when we don’t know the way, we will walk over rocks and trip and fall and get back up. And, we’ll pick flowers. Because if I have learned one thing in letting go of control, while it can often feel unbearable along the way, there are the most beautiful reminders that while you may not know the next step there is One who does. And, who better to direct the plan than the One who designed it in the first place?
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