The sharpied sign pointed around the corner and around the ramp. The back entrance to the church gymnasium was propped open with a crib mattress. The room was lined with rows of tables, littered with baby gear, and streaming with mommas. I walked behind a very pregnant lady, and fought the urge to justify my presence.
(This is a thing I fought mentally all the time - no... I wasn't pregnant, but yes...I was really expecting, yes...I should still prepare. No one challenges me on these things, it's just the internal dialogue for many people who build their family through adoption.)
I zoomed past the tables that were exploding with pink and purple and gravitated towards the one with a little bit of blue, but mostly whites and greens. I inspected some baby gear as I considered the cash in my wallet.
The year was 2016, and we had just been matched for the second time, with an expecant mom who was planning to make an adoption plan. In the year prior, when we were waiting for Addison, our first match, I hardly bought a thing that was specific for her. One purple cloth diaper cover, one pink shag rug (from a yard sale), four watercolor print storage bins, and a pink bottle. Everything else that was in preparation for her was gender neutral...or not purchased.
Like a car seat.
Levi's infant seat had expired and for whatever reason, I just COULD NOT bring myself to purchase a new one for Addison. I KNEW we were going to need it, but I just couldn't cross that bridge. And in hindsight, what a blessing that we didn't. If you know our story, you know why - because it would have been a pink car seat in my car waiting for a little girl who was not coming home in it. A little girl who did not even exist.
So there I was, at the baby sale, willing myself to make a purchase. Tears stung my eyes and a lump swelled in my throat.
"Oh please God," I thought, "not a melt down here. Not now. I am happy to be here. I am grateful to being in baby prep mode. I am relieved that You are in the business of fulfilling hopes and redeeming loss."
Spending money on a baby that's not in my belly was admitting my vulnerability. Buying the bassinet would be showing that I was expecting a baby again, and would make my heart break that much worse if it did not come to pass, again.
I left the sale nearly empty handed. save for 3 clothing items. At the time, I felt sorry. Sorry for the reservation I held when it came to falling in love. Sorry that the minute that I knew of his beating heart, I couldn't give him all of mine. After all, my heart was still a little broken, and in the process of repair. I was sorry that he wasn't be celebrated like he deserved.
But the tears fell that fall day because of him - were they happy tears or sad tears, or a little bit of both?
This snapshot is etched in my memory. A mental photo of a time I clearly remember deciding my only option was to lean on the One who would author our story - and pray that His will was for our lives to not only intertwine.
And yet, it wasn't meant to be. The little guy that would have been name Micah was born and we discovered his arrival on Facebook, seeing his first picture in a bathroom at a pizza shop while my friends waited outside to pick up the pieces. His mom forewent her adoption plans, but very soon afterwards, he was placed in foster care.
Ironically, she had gifted me carseat just weeks before her delivery, which I kept, and use currently with our rainbow baby.
I share this story for two reasons.
I have spent the last year trying to find other people who experienced loss, whether adoption disruptions or miscarriage or marriage struggles, and tried to understand how long I would hurt, longing to know that I was normal for grieving so hard.
Our story has a happy ending now, grief is behind me, and it's time to start talking and filling the silence that I have left in the wake of the hard moments. I want to keep record of the broken road and be able to share this journey with Baby J someday. Because guess what, I didn't get to celebrate him either, because he came so suddenly. But you can be sure, we are spending the rest of our lives making up for lost time.