In just a few minutes it will be Annabelle's 5 month birthday. I woke up thinking about her this morning and how just 5 short months ago I was sitting on an operating table getting my spinal tap put in and being asked over and over "are you okay?". I answered "yes" many times but I was so afraid. I knew what she faced as soon as she was born. The medical team was ready in the next room to begin inserting her lines and I would be lucky to see her that day. I cried on the way to the hospital and told Scott that I was glad he was driving. I would have turned the car around and headed back. I didn't want to face that day. More than that, I didn't want Annabelle to face that day and the days ahead. She was so happy in the womb. She kicked all the time and we knew that it was her way of telling us that she is a fighter. She knew the moment that Wyatt layed on her which began even before I knew that I was pregnant because he kept telling us that he wanted a girl because she would have her own toys. Scott could be sitting clear across the room and watch her move in me. She was already so much a part of our family and it didn't seem fair to me to change the comfort and love that she felt. Ultimately, I knew that this day, her birthday, was coming and we had to go through with it.
God had given us a daughter with half a heart. We had prayed for a miracle in utero but it wasn't His plan. We had prayed for a miracle upon her birth but it wasn't His plan. We had prayed for a miracle on the day of her surgery but it wasn't His plan either. I sobbed many times begging God to spare her from all that she faced and make her heart whole. I prayed that her left ventricle miraculously grow and function and that she be proof of His power and complete faith in Him. He answered the prayers that we had, just not the way that we thought He would. Her little heart just couldn't do it any longer and He chose to answer our prayers to make her heart whole.
Annabelle's 5 month birthday had always meant her second heart surgery to us. We knew to expect it around 4-6 months and my goal was to have it in June and be home by the 4th of July to celebrate. I saw a baby the other day who was about the same age as Annabelle and that baby was just starting to eat rice cereal. I told Scott that it never dawned on me that she may be trying solid foods now. Her timeline represented so many different milestones. The one thing that I never imagined 5 months would hold for her is the delivery of her plaque on her special place. I never wanted for her to have a special place. It never crossed my mind, even with all that she faced. Her plaque was hung this week and as I went out to see it I couldn't help but feel anger. As I stood back and observed it among the others I felt my chest grow heavy. Annabelle shouldn't have the newest and shiniest plaque. She should have other new and shiny things. Not a plaque.
I struggle every day with learning to live with and without her. If you've lost a child or a close loved one, you understand. I will always hold my daughter in my heart and in my mind but I know that she is no longer with me physically. The balance between those two is impossible at times and, at other times, impossibly simple. She is and will always be an integral part of our family. Wyatt talks about her all the time and told my sister just yesterday that only he, Annabelle and Daddy can curl their tongues. (Yes, in only 8 weeks we learned that about her, too.) Apparently, our children take that ability from their father.
The finality of her receiving her plaque scared me the most. The truth is that it is beautiful. We chose to have a picture of Jesus holding little children put on there and an inscription below her name of "Our Angel Baby". It turned out perfectly for our perfect baby girl.
Thank you for continuing to pray for us and letting us know of your visit to our daugther's blog by leaving comments. Scott and I still check it daily and love to see how God is working in your lives. I have wondered time and time again if I should continue to keep it up or just put posts for the Annabelle Baskets. After speaking with a few people, I truly believe that God is still using us to bring Him glory by sharing our story with you. Thank you for listening and may you be as blessed as we are!