It's interesting me that we passed by the 28th of September again. Three years. We made our family visit to Nathaniel's gravesite, but Hazel fell asleep in her carseat. It was a tough few days, with unexpected bouts of emotion that had a tendency to spring without much intro.
I didn't take our usual picture of the gravestone. How many times does it change once it's laid in the ground? The grass might be different but that's it.
I did take pictures of the family, though. Is it weird to say we celebrated our life as a family as we visited Nathaniel at his gravesite? Piper was pretty new to our little unit and we felt so blessed by her health and very presence in our lives.
Whenever we visit the cemetery, we think back on our birth experiences and what each has meant to us/how it has impacted our lives and our marriage. Nathaniel's sucked but it has an incredible, God-given glow around it when I think about it; Hazel's just sucked and following it I had two bad birth experiences I had to grieve through before Piper was born. Piper's delivery was very planned, but that didn't cut the anxiety I experienced over the unknown.
When we returned from the hospital following Nathaniel's birth, we were covered in love. I'll never, ever forget that. We were enveloped in love from so many friends and family who rallied around us. Meals were delivered, flowers were sent, out-of-town family flew in or drove to be with us for the funeral. Nate and I were cocooned in our home, swimming in cards of sympathy, humor, and love. I've just used the word "love" an incredible number of times in a very short paragraph, but that's definitely the defining emotion attached to our hilltop experience with Nathaniel's death and birth.
And then I became pregnant with Hazel a few months later. I was put on bedrest at 27 weeks. Again family and friends rallied. We were covered in prayer and Hazel was delivered a day after her due date via c-section after a ridiculous labor. I felt like a failure twice over.
But here she is! My healthy, happy kiddo! As Piper's delivery crept closer and closer I realized I had to seriously deal with some of my wayward thinking regarding my previous two deliveries.
By the time Piper made her appearance (planned as it was), I had recovered my focus and right-thinking. And I knew it. All along I knew it: When we found out we were pregnant with her, we were just entering the most difficult period of our lives. I had this sneaking suspicion that by the time I finally had her, God would be doing something very different in our lives.
That's part of the reason why I picked her name. Piper refers to piping, and that made me think of music and celebration and worshiping and thanking God for...well, everything. And I feel so right about that. I feel like so much has changed since Piper's birth. I feel like some sort of corner has been turned. Not that we're clear of the woods quite yet, but I feel like God is so clear in front of me. He has this incredible plan and I have the privilege of seeing it unfolding right before my very eyes. Maybe His gift (couple with a health Piper being born) was to bring some clarity to my eyes. I feel as though I can see so much more when I examine my surroundings.
My kids are all gifts. They blow my mind. It's mind-blowing how much the girls have changed since these pictures were taken. I felt as though it took for.ev.er for Hazel to hit six months, but time is flying with Piper Sue.
So this last year, as we revisited our experience with Nathaniel, Nate and I couldn't help but feel lucky. And so very blessed.