Am I excited to have a girl? Is our family now complete?
These questions give me pause every time. The askers nearest to my heart get some version of the honest answer, the complicated one.
On June 10th of 2017 we got the blood results that confirmed what I’d known deep inside: our February-due baby had no viable life on this earth. We grieved and prayed and my hurting heart promised to let that baby’s eternal soul continue to write a story for all the days of my life and into forever beyond. It wasn’t coping; it was pressing into what is most true.
So as June 9th of 2018 quickly approaches and people ask if I’m excited to have the girl who is due on that day, just one year after we knew we’d lose her older sibling, the one whose life would have prevented her own, what do I say?
On the one hand, there’s a thing about the gender of a child that only the parent of the child can appreciate. Because before James was my son, he was simply my child, and that was enough. He is mine and that is the cause of my excitement over him. I expect much the same of my experience of this little girl, her identity as mine superseding any other identity marker she will bear.
And on another hand, I am deeply excited to mother a daughter. The fullness of those feelings are meant for later days, but it suffices to say, yes, there is a deep sweetness to holding both boy heart and girl heart in our hands as stewards of God’s varied grace.
And yet, when I think about the baby we lost, the one we’ll only know once we’ve seen Jesus face to face, I cannot grasp too tightly to baby girl’s girlness. Tender as the pink is, delightful as I find the bows and headbands, much as I love how much she will love the lovies she’s already been gifted, her girlness simply cannot be the height of my excitement for her life.
What if the babe whose death gave way to her life was a brother? To place my excitement on her gender feels as if I more readily embrace loss because it made way for variety, something I cannot do and do not feel.
The truth is, this daughter’s life was made possible by death. And I cannot escape this defining reality of her existence.
Nor do I want to, really. In a greater way, this is the reality that all our parenting aims to communicate, whether to sons or daughters.
Your life was made possible by death, and this is your deepest identity -- one who lives by the very breath of the God who died for you, quickened both in body and soul by His all-sustaining grace alone.
This is the truth I cannot and want not to get around. This is the foundation of all the goodness that comes from a life, male or female, healthy or ill, however else we might identify ourselves and our people.
So, daughter of mine, while your womanhood will be a resounding gift to the world and one which I am humbled to uncover alongside you, I am most deeply glad not only that you are mine, but that you were dreamed of and destined for this time and place by the God who died for you.
May the weight of His death and the precious impossibility of your conception and subsequent womb-woven life make every earth-bound day you’re given heavy with hope and wonder and unparalleled purpose. You will be here for a reason both intrinsically marked by your gender and wonderfully, infinitely more grand than even womanhood can hold.
The world is ready for you, my precious child, and we cannot wait to find out who you are.