When you lose a baby (or babies), you are not automatically ushered into a life where your current or future children always behave angelically. Where your pregnancy goes by quickly and without pesky symptoms. Where your life is perfect.
Bereaved parents are not immune to the humanness of this life.
When we first attempted to navigate through life after Hannah's death, I remember being really angry with people who complained about their perfect, healthy babies. Or their children who had the ability to cry and scream and throw tantrums. And honestly, sometimes I still get angry. Some people are clueless.
But mostly, I've been forced to walk a very thin line between the bereaved mother who misses her babies and knows what a gift her children are, and a frustrated mother who just wants her kids to stop fighting, dang it! And she'd also like this heartburn to let up. And to sleep uninterrupted by bathroom breaks and hip pain.
Last week I had to stop at Michaels for one item. As I tried to complete my transaction with the cashier, Jack and Leah were arguing over who got to carry the one item out of the store. After handing the woman my check card, I turned to them and said, "You guys. It is not a big deal. Please stop." The cashier finished and the woman in line behind me drummed up her snottiest voice, looked past me at my fighting children, glanced back at my belly and said, "And you want to have another?" No, it wasn't even a question. Imagine it more as, "And you want to have another," almost with a disapproving shake of her head.
I wasn't sure what to say. I think I just looked at her blankly, gave a small chuckle, and left the store. I wanted to say, "Oh, if you only knew what we've been through to 'have another.' Then maybe you'd keep your disgusting mouth shut!" But I didn't.
As I've sat with this experience for a week now, I have a kinder answer for this lovely woman.
Yes, I do want to have another. I want to have another because I understand the beauty that comes with new life. And I appreciate that beauty even more now that I've had to give two of those precious lives to the Lord.
I want to have another because I understand that these sibling arguments will cease and I will long for the day when I can watch them fight again.
I want to have another because I know that these annoying pregnancy maladies will end and I'll be left staring into the eyes of a baby I've longed for for over two years. Eyes I didn't get to stare into when I delivered Hannah or miscarried Charlie.
I want to have another, even though he may scream and cry and cause us all to lose a little sleep, because I'll remember that I would have given my right arm to hear my stillborn daughter make a sound.
So as much as I was taken aback by the rudeness of this woman, she has made me aware of something. That I know both sides. And that knowing and living both sides is a gift. One of those gifts that you wish you hadn't had to accept, but one of life's curve balls had other plans.
It's having perspective and having grace. And remembering that I'm human.
And not immune.