Before calling the company, I allowed my mind to consider what life would be like if Mia were still alive. It was so normal to handle the details of the boys' health care; their regular check-ups helped mark the passage of their early stages. Besides her time in the hospital at birth and at death, I took her to two well-baby checks. Both times, someone watched the boys so I could be focused on Mia. I would undress her down to her diaper while she screamed because of the cold office air. During one of these exams, her Kaiser pediatrician remarked that he didn't feel that he needed to tell me everything he tells his other moms because, "You're a veteran mom now." Of course, I relayed that statement to Derrick and felt so proud that I no longer had the anxiety that comes with your first, and maybe second child. Oh, I had never imagined the overwhelming trial I would experience just a few weeks later.
Oh, I have encountered difficulties before... I've reflected on the smaller mountains God seemed to ask me to climb before asking me to scale the lifelong mountain of losing my daughter. First was Noah's need for dental work at two years-old. We had faithfully brushed his teeth from early on but could still not control that he eventually needed to be anesthetized at the pediatric dentist. He was so tiny, and I was so scared for him. I hated standing helplessly while his system tried to get rid of the anesthesia. Next, and more traumatic, was the day his finger was severed with the exception of a millimeter of skin supplying the tip with blood. We experienced a long ambulance ride, a grueling wait to have it sewn back on, another scary surgery weeks later, and a painful recovery. I am so thankful he was not under my care when the accident occurred but I still suffered vivid flashbacks afterwards. Through those times, God was faithful.
Today, I took Noah for a dental exam. The new dentist informed me again that he, "Is just one of those children that has weak enamel. She spoke tentatively, "It's nothing to feel badly about or for which you need to be scared." I assured her that I was okay and that I would like to know the course she would like to follow to best care for his teeth. What I felt like saying was, "Lady, this is nothing. I enjoy my being able to do something about his teeth problems!" Mia's death has ironically freed me from the worries that used to penetrate my thoughts. I wish this was my greatest worry again. However, many worries have lost their power over me. I know that God will be enough regardless of what happens.
The hole of not having your child is dark and empty. It can feel like a vortex, threatening to suck the life out of me. I still have moments where I "space out" or feel exhausted because of the emotional weight. Why does it continue to bother me so much that my eight-week-old daughter died? Mia will always be my daughter; that parent-child bond is impossible to erase. And I will never again get to spend a moment on earth with her. I think about her every day. This is why I had to call the health insurance company. It felt like breaking up with someone because you are afraid that they will "lead you on". I needed to end it for my sake.
No matter how much we try, there are things we cannot control as mothers. I certainly couldn't control receiving Mia's health card in the mail. Well, I called the company's member service line. After I confirmed information for the person on the other end she cheerfully asked, "Well, what can I do for you today?" I explained the mail I received and asked her to check her notes. Did they tell her anything about Mia? Somehow, their office had not received the final information I was about to give her. "Well, what is the problem?"
"Well, you see, my daughter is deceased."
I never know how to break the news. It pierces my heart every time. I don't mind talking about Mia or processing what happened with friends. It's not like I don't always live with this reality, but there's just something about informing someone for the first time. It feels like I'm experiencing it all over again. I wonder if even a minutely similar reaction to mine will happen in this person's heart.
She told me how sorry she was and that she would figure out how to fix this mistake. Apparently, they had somehow assumed that life would continue for Mia. Well, so did I.
Today I received an explanation of health benefits for Mia. As the hole she left continues to gape in my life, the vortex threatens to pull me away from living- from the good tasks God has for me. Missing her and the tragedy of her death weigh heavily on me. I wouldn't say I'm in the slimy pit I once was in, but the outskirts of its darkness still threaten to overtake me. I say that I am not strong because I am desperately holding onto God's strong hand to support me. Far worse than losing Mia would be to have a great distance separating me from my Savior. I crave His presence in my life. It is invigorating when I find any small victory because I know that there is no way I have strength to resist the darkness without Him. One major victory is that I am so grateful that God has given me the strength and endurance to provide a stable environment for my sons while we miss their sister.
I read the following quotes in A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. I hope they inspire you, like they did me, to develop strong roots:
"Without a well-developed root system, we become top heavy-- lots of leafy, heavy foliage appears above ground but nothing supports it from underneath. Without a network of strong roots, sooner or later we have to be staked up, tied up, propped up, straightened up-- until the next wind comes along and we fall over again. But with firm, healthy roots, no wind can blow us down.
Yes, the support of a healthy root system is vital for standing strong in the Lord! I'm reminded of the process used in bygone days for growing the trees that became the main masts for military and merchant ships. The great shipbuilders first selected a tree located on the top of a high hill as a potential mast. Then they cut away all of the surrounding trees that would shield the chosen one from the force of the wind. As the years went by and the winds blew fiercely against the tree, the tree grew strong and finally it was strong enough to be the foremast of a ship. When we have a solid root system, we too can gain the strength needed for standing firm in spite of the pressures of life!"
and, "God will take you as far as you want to go, as fast as you want to go."
I don't know if I'm the special tree at the top of that hill chosen to grow stronger by withstanding the winds, but I do feel that I'm being strengthened. I invite God to dwell more richly within me. Remove the barriers that lie between us, Lord. Cleanse my heart. Help me to desire You and to yearn for eternity with You. Give me strength to "take up my cross" daily- especially when I don't feel I have the emotional energy to press on. Give me deep roots. I know that "Your grace is sufficient for me."
Missing Mia continues to be very hard. Reminders of her will likely trickle in throughout the years. As Noah and I went shopping after his dental appointment today, I reminded him that I am throwing a baby shower for a good friend. "She's having a baby, Noah. Isn't that exciting?"
He casually asked, "Is her baby going to die, too?"
Oh, Lord, we're not done with this yet. Help our hurting hearts.