The scorching heat of summer
I stepped outside into the heat and it hit me like brick wall. Yes physically, but especially emotionally. My breath was sucked out of me for a moment and I blinked back a tear. No one around me noticed. On the outside I was completely unaffected, but in my heart I was immediately taken there.
I've been surprised at how connected I've felt with the seasons. Autumn knocked me to my knees. The trees cried as they were stripped completely bare, their leaves falling like tears. I found comfort in the way the changing of the season seemed to reflect the feelings of my heart. Winter shook me. Questions, anger and defeat swirled around me like harsh winds, threatening to knock me to the ground as I struggled to stand. The spring brought hope. Healing. Comfort. I felt like I could finally see through the rain and wind.
And now here I was. The memories, sights, and the feelings in the pit of my stomach all flooded my mind so vividly. It was like I was there again.
Discussing baby names on the way to the beach, while Ethan danced in my belly.
Feeling so nauseous and hot, but being so overjoyed about it.
Excitedly going in for an ultrasound, blissfully unaware of the tidal wave lurking just beyond the horizon.
Going to Party City to buy blue confetti for a surprise gender reveal.
Traveling 4 hours away from home for a family reunion.
Getting the call from the doctor. The distress. The fear. The lack of details.
Driving home so that we could meet with the doctor the next morning, as recommended.
Sitting in a daze as the genetic counselor explained that our precious baby had several serious health concerns.
Sitting in a daze as the genetic counselor discussed our options for moving forward.
Realizing that I'm sobbing. Not remembering how long, or how I started.
"Are you sure you want this baby?"
Speechless tears. Being able to barely whisper, through tears and snot, "He kicks me every day."
Meeting with the perinatologist. Trying so hard to understand every single word. At first, only hearing the words "heart defect", "missing piece of brain", "possible chromosomal disorder", "possibly fatal".
Crying the entire 4-hour drive back to the family reunion. Praying. Screaming at the heavens.
Making it through the week in a fog.
Listening to the audio Bible in a Year, every morning on the way to work. Talking to Ethan about what I was learning. Knowing he could hear every word, with every kick.
Meeting with the perinatologist every other week.
Waiting for the scorching heat to subside and taking evening walks. Talking to Ethan about the birds, the bunnies, the views.
The drive to Los Angeles to meet with the specialists. Confirming the complexity of the heart defect. The brain defect. The blocked airway. The delayed growth.
"Are you sure you want this baby?"
Answering with an unwavering "yes" for what felt like the hundredth time.
Talking about open heart surgeries. Setting up an extensive birth plan. Touring the NICU.
Standing on Sunset Boulevard in the scorching sun, as cars honked and rushed by, crying, not only for Ethan, but for all of the sick children and babies that filled hospitals that lined the street. That filled the city. The state. The nation. The world.
Hearing the words "heart defect", "blocked airway", "no cerebellar vermis", "extreme physical and/or mental complications", "termination", "possibly fatal" over and over again from medical professionals.
Hearing "I just know it's going to be okay" spoken so calmly from the public over and over again, and feeling like no words would make them understand that it just wasn't okay.
Growing bigger. Feeling hotter.
Water breaking. Rushing to the hospital on that warm, summer night.
The overwhelming joy of that precious first glimpse.
The overwhelming sorrow of that precious last goodbye.
Gasping through sobs, as the nurse wheeled me out of the hospital. Back into the scorching heat.
The memories quickly flashed through my mind, as I stepped outside into the first hot day of the year. I allowed myself to go back to that bittersweet summer, just for a moment.
Here I am, standing at the start of another summer. The season filled with wonder, determination, unwavering love, loss, pain, and joy. The season I wouldn't skip for a million springs.
Bring on the sunshine.