Saturday, December 24, 2011

The First Christmas

Eve's first ornament

Today should have been our last Christmas.  Our last Christmas before a lifetime of Christmases with our soon-to-be-here daughter, our first child.  This was supposed to be our last Christmas without children.  It was to be the last milestone before her birth.  I should have been rubbing my humongous belly and happily bemoaning swollen ankles and a squashed bladder and baby kicks keeping me up nights.

Instead, our child is dead, stillborn.  This Christmas is still a marker, a milestone, but not in the way that I expected.  Instead of being the last date of joyful expectancy before our two grew into three, it is the first in a lifetime of anniversaries and milestones that remind us that we are missing a much-loved part of our family.  It is the first Christmas in a life forever changed by the first-hand knowledge of how wrong things can go.  It is my first Christmas with an amputated heart.

This is made all the more difficult by the fact that on Christmas we celebrate birth.  We celebrate a pregnancy that was even more God-breathed than most, and we celebrate the Savior-Child that was born.  Everywhere I go I hear songs of the coming baby, of Mary's joy, of arms cradling life.

It is hard.

But then I remember -- this Child came to die.  His one purpose on this earth was to die, and to save us by His death.  What's more, His Father let Him go to this death, a death marked by horror and inhumanity and betrayal.  I can't imagine, can't imagine the screaming pain of choosing that for your child.  The hurt of my own child's loss is so deep, so pervasive, and she was only taken from me.  If I had chosen to let her die . . . the pain of that choice is unfathomable to me.

But God willingly chose His precious Son's death.  And Jesus willingly accepted it.  So even though the bounding Christmas festivities rub salt against my raw and wounded heart, I can't help but remember -- this Child whose birth we celebrate, He was born to die.  And so are we -- born to die to ourselves that we might have the Life that is offered and, in turning our faces toward the sun, turn others with us.

This does not take away the nightmare of Eve's death, but it makes it feel less meaningless.  I wonder if she, in her short life, lived a mircocosmic version of what all our lives should be -- born dead, but received into the arms of the Life-Giver.  Born that her death might change the hearts of others.  Born dead to turn us -- to turn me -- toward Home.

This does not make Eve's absence hurt less, but it is something.  It is something real and good and worthy.  I am grateful to have this, even if I can't have her.


  1. big hugs Beth.. I have often thought that these tiny babies that are gone too soon, do so much more than most people do in a lifetime. Eve's short life has impacted me, through reading your posts and story, and I know she must be making a difference in the life of others. You're right, it doesn't take the pain away, but it is comforting to find purpose in all of this.

    Prayers & love to you xoxox

  2. Oh that warms my heart to hear! <3 I hope that you have a peaceful, love-filled Christmas.

  3. Beth it hurts so much to read you that I almost stop halfway through your posts...but I KNOW you always turn the pain, the hurt, the grief around into something God breathed. God always turns it around doesn't He? I'm so glad you allow Him to.

    And I'm so sorry you are hurting. So sorry for your loss. And so thankful that you share it here. For yourself, for your readers, for your babygirl.

  4. Oh Clare, I'm sorry I hurt you! Sometimes I feel guilty for vomiting the blackness of my pain in such a public venue...but it's my blog, so I guess people will go away if it gets too whiny. It's interesting...I always thought that perhaps I forced the "positive spin" (for lack of a better term) that my posts seem to often end with. But then I wrote a post or two this week in which I forced myself NOT to do this, NOT to reflect on God...and it was hard. So I think you're right...for the most part, it IS God working it around. He really does work all things for good. It's amazing that He cares enough to do so. <3

  5. OMG no Beth please don't take it like that! You didn't hurt me. It just hurts to know you are hurting, because I love you. I would know whether I read you or know. I don't feel that you are whiny or negative at all.

    I just want you to know how moving your writing is, how important it is, and how much you touch others. Please keep it public! :)

  6. Thanks, lovely friend. I'm looking forward to hearing how your Christmas was!

  7. [...] Read The First Christmas, Part One . . . Splendidly Similar:The First Christmas Today should have been our last Christmas.  Our last Christmas ...Living the Paradox "I see now that my faith was becoming an ally ...Two Weeks Later Two weeks ago, my husband and I were preparing to ...Honesty God, I love you. I hate that Eve is dead, that ...Tangled Faith “Oh God, God, why did you take such trouble to ... [...]

  8. your writing is amazingly honest! don't apologize for such honesty!! it is YOUR space.....

    but where oh where did that ornament come from? I LOVE it!!!!!

  9. Thanks, Penny. After I told a friend that we wouldn't be putting up a Christmas tree until we had a child/children to enjoy it with, she made us a miniature Christmas tree and gave me that little angel ornament in honor of Eve. I had read that other babylost mamas bought a new ornament in memory of their lost children every year, but since we didn't have a tree, and because I didn't have the heart to go shopping amidst all the Christmas hubbub, I figured I wouldn't do it. For my friend to do this, to fill this unspoken need in such a beautiful was so moving, and straight from the hand of God.

  10. it was just what you needed!

    we also didn't put up our usual big christmas tree....just a small one that we decorate for our son with an angel ornament i was lucky to find, on top of the cabinet where I have his memory items .....we'll put Wilber's tree up every year now but hopefully next year will be happier and we'll put the big one up too.

    if you could check with your friend some time, i would LOVE to add one or a lot of those to Wilber's tree....hopefully it's something I could order online?


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King