2016: A Call to Arms

call-to-arms

2016 had a great start. But then, I guess that’s why they call it the calm before the storm.

January 2016 was the beginning of a new chapter in my life: deciding to pursue my dreams of being a cosmetologist and take on more opportunities as they came to me, which meant finding the emotional strength to leave college and make a completely new path for myself.

March brought my 22nd birthday and a lot of personal growth.

In April, I took the scariest jump of my life and I started my very own consulting business.

Ryan and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary in May and took an amazing vacation in honor of it!

June and July brought tons of awesome concerts, a trip to Cape Cod a for a National dance competition, a visit from my sister who lives in Florida, camping, babysitting my nieces every Friday, and going to three weddings in three different states in three consecutive weekends! PHEW!

Throughout most of the year, I found myself growing in so many ways. I felt closest to God as I’ve ever felt; I was eating healthy and exercising regularly; I was investing so much time and energy in my relationships and rekindling friendships that had needed a little more work; I was working hard and living comfortably; I was happy. I thought 2016 was going to be my year! Marking each and every good thing that happened down on the calendar so that, come December, I could look back and say “wow… could it get any better than this?”

Then everything changed…

On August 13th, my grandfather passed away. Losing him is a wound that has yet to heal. He was the only grandparent I’d ever known. My grandma died when I was in preschool so I don’t remember her, and my dad’s parents disowned my sister and I after my dad died, so they haven’t been in my life in over a decade. Considering all of that, my grandpa was everything I’ve ever known about what a grandparent is and what they’re supposed to be, and I loved him.

We found out early on in the summer that he was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years back, but he never told any of us. Maybe he didn’t tell us because he didn’t want us to worry. Maybe he didn’t tell us because he had faith in God’s plan for his life any which way it turned out and telling us wouldn’t make much of a difference in that. Whatever the reason, I don’t think that knowing of his diagnosis any sooner would have made me miss him any less, or made his passing any easier to take.

It still doesn’t feel like he’s really gone. It hits me at the most random, unexpected times. Like when Ryan and I were Christmas shopping and I touched a jacket that felt just like my grandpa’s jacket. There I was in the middle of Target, Starbucks in hand, buying Nerf guns for my nephew, and it hit me. And on Christmas, I picked up my phone and said to Ryan “I better text my grandpa before we…”

 It’s always like that.

gramps

After the funeral and everything was said and done, I did the only thing I knew how to do: keep on living life as God had intended. I missed him, sure, but it never felt like he was gone entirely. Things went on: I went to an awesome church retreat, I got a promotion at work, my husband got a new job that would provide for us and allow us to start saving for a house. More weddings, more traveling, more living. It seemed like things were starting to look up — and they were!

The first week of November, Ryan and I found out we were expecting a baby. That day, I was the most excited I had ever been in my entire life. This is difficult for some people to understand, but the only thing I have ever felt called to do in life is to be a wife and a mother (and kick butt at it)! We didn’t know how far along I was, so I scheduled an appointment with my doctor for the following Friday. We would get a sonogram done and see the baby that was growing in my very own body with our own eyes. Truly magical… truly a miracle. I felt so blessed, and so in awe of the whole thing. My body was created for this… to create another life, and here I was doing just that! Here was my life’s purpose in a living, tangible existence. The entire week before my first doctor’s appointment was spent creating Pinterest boards dedicated to “Baby D,” making to-do lists consisting of everything we wanted to accomplish before the baby was born, and reminding each other to keep it a secret from everyone until we came up with the perfect way to announce our pregnancy to our families.

After much anticipation, the morning of my first appointment finally came. November 11th – 11:30am. I sprung out of bed bright and early, made breakfast, took a shower, picked out my outfit, and…

I started bleeding.

I cried out in fear and pain as I bled life right out of me.

We spent the day in the E.R. I was poked and prodded and spoken to in whispers for eight hours while the doctors and nurses tried to find the answer that I already knew: I had a miscarriage.

Call it a mother’s intuition, call it whatever you want… I knew. My baby was alive one minute, and gone the next. I rolled around on the hospital bed in unbearable pain while the only purpose in life I ever knew slowly drained out of me. Ryan held my hand the entire time. In the dull moments, we would look each other in the eyes and through tears, tell each other “We will be okay,” which we wanted to believe so desperately.

I still have so many questions, so many fears, and so much pain. I’m a different person since I lost my baby. I tried not to be angry at God but how could I not be, at least a little? People have babies all the time. Women and teenagers who don’t even want babies get pregnant and give birth to beautiful, healthy babies all the time. Why me? Why us? What did I do wrong? What aren’t we ready to be parents? What could we have done better? Drowning in unanswered questions, I didn’t just lose my baby – I lost myself, too.

November and December were filled with tears, relapsing depression and anxiety, and emotional eating. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, or tell anyone what was going on. And I didn’t. I felt like saying it out loud would make it all too real. It’s a pain that I can never understand or forget. I still blame myself, even though doctors and friends tell me I did nothing wrong. I still lay at night and cry, cradling my now empty stomach.

As weeks went by, the world seemed to go on as if nothing had happened and I tried my best to go right along with it. Christmas was coming up, but it didn’t feel much like Christmastime. When Christmas day came, Ryan and I were both still grieving – grieving the loss of my grandfather and grieving the loss of our Baby D. We couldn’t help but constantly wonder how different the holidays would have been if our baby hadn’t died.

baby d 2.jpg

On Thanksgiving, we would have announced our pregnancy to our families. Christmas surely would have been filled with tons of pictures of us plus my growing belly and gifts from our loved ones for our unborn baby. But it was just us, and no more baby. That night, we went home and cried again and talked through it again, just as we had many times before, but we were different this time… stronger somehow. God breaks you down and tears you apart just to rebuild you on a completely new foundation, and I still can’t decide if I find that clever, ironic, or just plain sad. There we were: broken and shattered, then put back together in a new way. With glue still dripping and the cracks still visible, we were stronger than before.

I dedicated the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to coming up with a list — a master plan — of my goals for 2017.

I came up with a way to use my now stronger self for the better… for the best. I will truly deal with the losses I suffered in 2016. I will reclaim my relationship with God, and I will put my faith in His plan for my life. I will make my body healthier, stronger, and ready for the day when God decides that we are ready to be parents. I will push myself past my comfort zone and do the things I’ve always been afraid to do. I will love harder, work harder, and get stronger. I will live 2017 for Baby D and for my grandfather. I will remember them and I will grieve them and I will love them more than ever before, and I will use their losses to propel myself forward into 2017 with a new momentum.

Here is my new motivation; here is my new purpose:

I will make my grandfather proud that I am his granddaughter.

I will make my Baby D proud that I was his or her mother… even if it was only for a little while.

 

2017: A year of new beginnings, new life, and new dreams.

 

So to 2016 I say “nice try.”

 

It’s time to run. It’s time to fight.