The smell of roasting hot dogs and smokey BBQ drifts through my open window; a dusky twilight the flavour of summer. This is July. It’s a month marked by blue skies and slow drifting clouds, of flip flops and short shorts and fingers stained with fresh fruit juice. Lazy days are scented in coconut sunscreen, and punctuated with road trip tunes and tanning sessions by the lake.
But this month no longer looks the way I remember it as a child. It’s grown and shifted in its memories. It’s fuller. It’s more intricate in its complexities.
It’s more beautiful.
Now, when I think of July, I think of a tiny baby lying in a NICU incubator. I see little lungs heaving beneath fragile skin, and desperate prayers lifted high from a tear-stained hospital bed. I think of a child lying still in my arms, a tiny body swaddled in love. I think of blood, and hospital visits, and pregnancies that never made it past the first trimester. It’s a month of birthdays, and anniversaries, missed due dates, and death dates.
Alistair. Landon. Kära. Björn. My four July babies.
They weren’t all supposed to be July babies. We had expected our first children to be born amidst the last rays and cooling heat of summer. Much to our surprise, the twins arrived two months early and a few minutes too late. Mostly, though, they were right on time.
With the suddenness of a swift summer storm, July had become a month of extremes. We rejoiced with the life of one and mourned the death of another. Highs and lows simultaneously weaved their way through days of frosted birthday cakes and quiet graveside visits, and we quickly learned that sorrow and joy were not mutually exclusive.
And then, a year ago, amidst the hustle and bustle of birthday celebration plans, we miscarried. A week before our son’s second birthday and a week before the anniversary of our firstborn’s death, a heartbeat disappeared and July changed once more. Another babe arrived early, and another July birthday appeared unexpectedly on our calendar: our Kära.
A few months later, we found ourselves pregnant again. Our due date coincided closely with the anniversary of our first miscarriage, and I felt as if we had come full circle. Surely this was a sign? Surely this time things would be different? But it wasn’t. My third pregnancy and fourth child slipped away just before Christmas, leaving another hollowed out summer due date for me to mourn.
I feel that ache echo just a little bit stronger this month. As the dates circle closer, this month of tears weighs down on me. The grief ebbs and flows, stronger some days than others; but through it all, I remain in awe of the beauty that God has graced our ever-growing family with. I mourn the little ones I never knew, but mostly I celebrate the lives that I have been beyond privileged to carry. These four babies have left July feeling a little bit heavier, but also, a whole lot more full.
We may only hold one child in our arms but oh, what a joy it is to be counted as the parents of five. As we wait for a heavenly reunion, we remember and we mourn, but above all, we celebrate the gift of life granted to all of our sweet babes. Each of these lives were created with such intricate design, woven purposefully into our family to the Glory of God. I can only say that we have been so very blessed.
“My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
Psalm 139:15-16 ESV
So to all my July babies, this one’s for you. Mamma loves you.