Tonight in this household, we go to bed with heavy hearts and a lump in our throats.
A year ago, I woke the following morning and everything changed; Halloween 2014 was the epitome of everything can change in an instant - because it did. The situation changed. Our lives changed. The course of the life we pictured changed. My faith changed. Everything in my head changed.
Reliving the fear of that moment and that day doesn't get easier. It continues to be the most chilling, terrifying moment of my life up to that point. Within seconds of waking up, and going about my morning the same way I had for the past several weeks, I was screaming in fear. It felt like a gallon of fluid left my body and was now a puddle on my bathroom floor. I was helpless. Desperate for it to be a dream. I was certain I was hours, even minutes, away from losing my twins. As a woman, a mother, a soon to be mother... when your water breaks at 16 weeks 5 days you immediately think the worse. We hadn't even had time within this pregnancy to come up with a game plan in case of an emergency. What was next? Do I wait and see my doctor morning? Do I rush to the hospital? Am I in labor? Call an ambulance? Accept that at this point in the pregnancy that the babies may already be gone? There was no emergency plan for 16 weeks gestation. There were no pre-packed bags to grab on the way out. There was no calm moment to take in our home one last time, just the two of us. There was only panic and fear. Complete chaos dancing in my mind.
In some ways this day was more frightening than the day I delivered at just 23 weeks. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because there was no warning. There was no mental preparation or plan for this moment. When you enter into a situation that wasn't planned and poses great tragedy, there's almost no recovering from the initial shock. In this particular moment, my fear was bigger than my faith. I could not remove my eyes or thoughts from what had happened and what it meant for the future of our daughters.
In these tough, scary, and challenging situations, people are quick to advise you that God will never give you more than you can handle. It sounds nice, but this is not true. There is no verse in the Bible that says this. It's merely an attempt to psychologically encourage someone that they can do it, but by falsely using God's intentions. Why would we ever need God if all situations could be handled independently?
Shortly after being admitted to Labor and Delivery and learning that if my girls had any chance of surviving I needed to first, not go into labor and second, to be on bed rest at least until 24 weeks gestation. At 16 weeks, 24 weeks sounds like it's years away. Just making it through the weekend was already going to be the biggest challenge of my life and now the best case scenario was laying there for the next eight weeks. This realization quickly taught me that I could not do this on my own. I needed God every day and every second of the day for the next eight weeks minimum. He was faithful to be there and provide. Through nurses, doctors, out of town family continuously there, friends that visited and brought food, family, friends, and strangers that prayed, keeping contractions away, keeping infection away, and keeping the girls in place while helping them to grow daily. It was a tough seven weeks being on hospital bed rest, but a lot of beauty was also revealed through God's help.
Waking up on Halloween 2014, a year later wasn't even comprehendible. But here we are. We're living. We're smiling. We're laughing. We're moving forward. Our hearts are always a bit broken and empty from the pain of the loss of our Mary Elliott, but our hearts are also overflowing with love, happiness, and gratitude as we watch Sadie Ann grow and thrive. This is not the picture of my family I imagined a year ago, but I'm also not perfect at writing life's stories. God is. And our story is beautiful.
Every Halloween from this point forward will remind me of the emotions and pain that I never could have predicted. It will always be a hard day as it was the start of an incredibly difficult journey. Tomorrow we face our first Halloween that will always trigger these memories. But tomorrow we also wake up thankful. For lessons learned. Faith that has grown. Thankful for the past year behind us. Thankful for the upcoming year ahead of us.