We lost a baby on Thanksgiving weekend five years ago.
When we got back from the hospital that day, Ben and I tried to choke down the meal some kind friends brought over for us, but food seemed so unimportant. And I didn’t feel very thankful that Thanksgiving.
It was a horrible time. I did not deal well with everything. I kept crying, and Ben kept asking, “Isn’t Anika enough? Can you be happy for the one that we already have?”
But my arms ached for that baby we would never hold, and I desperately wanted a sibling for Anika.
It took many, many months for me to pull out of that dark time. And even once I was able to go on with life, and stopped crying every night, I still had such an all-consuming desire for a baby. I would sit in church and watch all the other families with two or three kids, all sitting together, and there we sat, our tiny family of three.
I felt so guilty, because it should have been enough. I already had a wonderful little girl. But it still felt like our family was barely a family. I wasn’t enough of a mom yet. I wanted to be busy with my children, and I wanted to know what it felt like to have many little people climbing on me and cuddling up close to me. I had never pictured us having the quiet, controlled little life that we had with only one child.
I knew that for lots of people who couldn’t have any children, what we had would seem like a dream come true. And I was thankful. But I still wanted more.
And I kept wanting, and wanting, and there was so much anger and bitterness towards God, and so much jealously towards anyone who had multiple children, or who had babies so easily that they believed it was completely in their power to choose the size of their family, with their perfectly-spaced, two-years-apart-each-one, row of children.
We lost one more baby before God gave Kaylia to us. And I don’t know exactly when my heart healed. Some of it happened before I ever knew that we would finally have our miracle baby. I was learning to accept things the way that they were, and I was ready to trust that God would do what was best for our family.
But a lot of the healing happened after she was born. And I don’t know if I would have been fully able to accept things the way they were if she had never come. I would like to think that I would finally have been at peace, even without another baby, but I will never know.
I do know that I wouldn’t change a thing. As I sit here now on a quiet Thanksgiving morning, while my beautiful, wonderful family still sleeps peacefully, I know that God is good. He redeems anything. He takes the mess of our lives and does good things with it.
How is it possible that I can look back on all those years of pain, and be thankful for it? It made our family what it is today, it made me what I am today. What I suffered and what I learned was what God knew I needed to go through.
When I think about what our home would be like with four children instead of two, or I think about those babies in heaven I’ve never met, I feel sadness and regret, but I know that those things are not for me to long for. God has chosen the very best for my life, and I would much rather spend it being thankful for His blessings, than wanting what will never be.
And when Anika takes Kaylia by the hand, and Kaylia toddles after her big sister, my heart could burst. How could I want anything more?
Sometimes Thanksgiving is hard. Sometimes we don’t feel very thankful. But thank goodness that God redeems anything, and keeps giving us another chance to surrender everything over to Him.
Trust Him with the hard thanksgivings.