I remember when we brought Zoe home from the hospital at 3 days old. It didn’t seem like we should be allowed to just walk out with this tiny human, fully responsible for her life. I put her bassinet next to my bed and woke up several times each night, frantically feeling to make sure she was still breathing.
I remember feeling like if I was a good enough mom she’d be ok. If I did everything right, I’d get to keep her. I figuratively grasped her life as tightly as I could as if it was in my power.
With Eli it was much the same.
When I laid on a hospital bed as a doctor told me that one of my babies no longer had a heartbeat, I crumbled. The control I thought I had was gone. Just a few months later a different doctor called to tell me that our survivor twin had Down syndrome. In those months I blamed myself a million different ways for losing Willow and a million more for Ivy’s diagnosis. If only I had slept more, found ways to get better nutrition despite the hyperemesis, prayed harder…
My heart grew three sizes the first time I got to hold my precious Ivy. Our eyes locked and I was changed. I loved her so desperately and put her life tightly in my fist with her sister and brother. I would do enough, be enough for her.
Then came the medical hurdles. They started slowly, but ramped up quick. Failure to thrive, reflux, a diaphragmatic hernia, possible seizures… Somehow as tight as I held her, it wasn’t enough.
The night before her first surgery I didn’t sleep. I held her and I prayed. It started with bargaining. “God, if you keep her safe and bring her back to me I will…” insert all the things I would do or change in order to keep her. But I slowly felt God whispering to me “She’s not yours, she is mine. As desperately as you love her, I love her more.”
And slowly my fist began to loosen.
It was the moment I realized that nothing I did or didn’t do would ultimately change whether or not I’d get to keep her in my arms. That as much as I loved my children, there was somebody who loved them more. That I could trust the one who made them to be there holding them through every moment whether they were with me on Earth or already in His arms in heaven.
It was the moment that I began to hold her with open hands.
I kissed her, laid her on the hospital crib and watched as they wheeled her away. I was still terrified, but there was a freedom and peace in realizing that I was not the one in control.
I still have my moments when I want to clutch them all tightly. When I convince myself yet again that I am the one responsible for whether they live or die, thrive or fail. When I have to remind myself to loosen my grip.
Because it’s not my hands that matter.