The week that I spent with my friends, I painted the nursery. I did a lot of deep cleaning for them too. My best friend was 8 months pregnant and was still working full time. By the time she got home, getting her home ridiculously clean and in order was the last thing on her mind. I felt so badly seeing her swollen feet and how uncomfortable she was. Her back would get very sore and even just walking around the store would exhaust her. I wanted to be as much help as I could.
During the wait to become parents, Mitch and I had a lot of time to talk and think about the kind of parents we wanted to be and the kinds of values we wanted to instill in our children. I wanted so much to be a mom. I longed to raise children in our home and disciple them and teach them to love and obey God. As I prepared to share with the women at this shower, all those feelings poured into all that I said. I worried that people may disregard what I had to share because I wasn't a mom.
As Ashley opened each gift I sat in a chair beside her a wrote down what each gift was and who it was from so she could write out all her Thank You Cards accordingly. Every little onesie she held up filled me with an aching joy. It's hard to explain. I was so excited for this baby girl my best friend was carrying... but I ached with the longing for my own children. I wanted to be as happy as everyone in that room, but I felt like I couldn't be, and I hated that. I was her best friend! I should have been the happiest person in the room besides Ashley! But I was heartbroken and sorrowful.
I can't remember if it was before or after the gifts (I think after) Ashley's husband's Aunt (its not as confusing as it sounds) came up to me. The strange thing is, she had no idea about my story. But she talked to me about how she and her husband were never able to have children and how difficult it was for her. But they were blessed to adopt both of their sons and how wonderful it was. I felt like she was opening up to me in a way that I had longed to open up. I wanted to share more with her, but it had been such an emotional day, I didn't think I could get through it. So I wrote her address down from the gift list and planned to write her a letter when I got home (which I did).
After all the gifts had been opened and "clean up" had begun, I stood at the edge of the room looking at the pile of gifts I knew we needed to start loading into the Jeep. I was the only person standing at that side of the room. I just stared at everything and I felt emotion coming up so quickly I couldn't stifle it. Ashley came over. I can't remember if she said, "are you ok?" I don't know if she said anything. We have the kind of relationship where we don't really need to say anything. We just feel what the other is thinking or wanting to say. I remember shaking my head and saying, "not now... not now. Let's just take care of this stuff." She said, "ok." She knew I couldn't be pushed at that point, not even a little bit, without completely losing it.
That entire week I spent with Ashley was an emotional roller coaster. I don't think I ever cried so much in my life. Also, we didn't sleep. (Sometimes when you only have a short time to visit, sleep is overrated). I remember finding myself glancing at her belly often, then quickly looking away. I had never noticed how flat my tummy was before. I was so excited for this baby girl to be born, but I was also terrified.
I think that night stands out to me so much for many reasons. But one reason is because a few years later, we sat at night in my room on my bed talking over such different things. That was the night I told her I was going to be a mom. Contrasting the two nights amazes me. That night in 2013, I knew God was working and was doing something beautiful, but I struggled so much to believe and to see. I just kept telling myself, "He is still Good. He is still on the Throne. He still sees me. He still hears me." Sometimes I said those things purely out of belief. Sometimes I repeated them to myself as a reminder that they were true.