Over the last couple days, I've really been thinking about how this whole journey with Carter has such high highs and low lows. Let me tell you what I mean:
Bitter: Knowing Carter will likely never play trucks with his older brother or discover music, sports, or art. It's really hard for us to think of all the things we imagined doing with Carter and Cohen together. We were so excited for our kids to be so close in age and become good playmates.
Sweet: Being able to appreciate all the little nuances of pregnancy and bonding with Carter now the only way we know how. We spend a lot more time talking to him, touching my belly, responding to his movements, and just trying to include him into our everyday adventures (everything from watching TV to enjoying the worship music at church). I tell him about his daddy and older brother, but most of all, we tell Carter how much we love him and the blessing that he is.
Bitter: Having to tell people that our little boy's prognosis from the doctors is terminal. We don't tell every Joe we meet on the street, but even then, we have to give a lot of grace to strangers and their typical pregnancy questions: "What are you having?" "When are you due?" "Is this your first?" We don't spill everything in these situations, but kindly answer their questions: "A boy. His name is Carter Benjamin, and he's our second son. The due date is early March." Behind our short, simple answers lies the sting of reality.
Sweet: One of the most amazing things has been how real our relationship with Jesus has been since finding out about Carter's condition. We don't mean to come across as fanatics, and we hope none of our friends think that our talking about God's peace and grace so often is an effort to proselytize. The fact of the matter is that we talk about Jesus and ask for prayer in all this because it truly is the only way we know how to survive. It's only through Jesus that we find peace in the midst of such crappy circumstances. It's only through Jesus that we can get out of bed every day knowing what is to come. We've certainly asked Him our questions (and told Him what we think), but we cling to Him nonetheless. I really wish I could describe how real God has been to us.
Sweet: I want to end on another sweet note. This week has been particularly tough for us as I began to show some early labor signs. No major contractions or anything yet, but these early signs do indicate that things may be happening sooner than we had planned. It's been a tough reality to handle. We want more time with our Carter, but we are also really excited to meet him. However, the sweetness in all this is how we've seen God gently care for us through other people. We've had family members allow Ben and myself some much-needed time alone. We've had unexpected financial gifts given to us, knowing of the medical and burial/funeral expenses we have ahead. Numerous people have brought us delicious meals and even offered to watch Cohen when we need some "time off." So in the midst of such fear and uncertainty, we are gently being reminded that God is taking care of us. Even an early delivery may be a blessing if it means being able to have time with Carter while he's still alive.
All this to say that although the bitter can often outweigh the sweet, we are not without some sweet, sweet moments with Carter, with God, with our family, and with our extended church family and friends. We know this situation is bleak and our hearts grieve daily, but we know God is faithful and He WILL redeem this pain. The sweet WILL outweigh the bitter at some point.