Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Diary of Captain Obvious: Why This Pregnancy Is Different

The husband and I did the math last night as I was slowly walking up the stairs. There will be almost four years between Jude and the Sweet Pea. Four years since I have gone down this path. Four years since I have nursed, done night feedings, recovered from the wounds of pregnancy. Four years.

Truth be told, because it has been so long between pregnancies, we kind of thought we were done. Let me explain. We were never done being open to another child or children. We just thought that perhaps God’s plan for our family had seen its fruition. That was a long time of being open with no babies to show for it. Call it secondary infertility. Call it exhaustion. Call it what you will. We were neither happy nor sad about it. While we talked about wanting a large family before being married, we were more committed to whatever size family God was leading us to have. Plus, having two children not quite two years apart brings a new appreciation of what it might realistically mean to have a large family. Either way, we have always remained open to the will of God in the situation.

When we were first married, the first baby was like another milestone we raced to cross, especially since we married a little later in life. Both grandmas were slightly disappointed there was no honeymoon baby, but I didn’t want to talk cycles with them at the time. Truthfully I was still learning all that myself! Then after our first came along, I distinctly remember a night sitting on her nursery floor rocking her back to sleep when I heard very clearly the whisper of God tell me I would have a son. So when the second pregnancy came along right after she turned one, I already knew he would be a boy. Sure enough, he is three now.

Since then God has been kind of quiet. No more middle of the night whispers. No aching in my heart for someone else to complete our family. Every now and then, there would be a sense that we should have another girl. Along with that sense came also the thought of adoption - from China to be exact. That door never quite opened though. God’s voice of recent had not been a clear whisper.

Now here we are expecting our third, and while neither of us heard the booming voice of God, neither of us were surprised. We both had a sense upon seeing that pregnancy test that this was the plan all along. We would begin to dream about never having to buy diapers again, and God would laugh and offer us a chance to try cloth one more time.

Things are different this time around. (Captain Obvious, am I!) I am forty, and while that isn’t knocking on death’s door, my body is definitely different. I don’t remember being so constantly exhausted with the first two pregnancies. (The husband might have a different memory, of course.) I didn’t have any trepidation overall about childbirth. After experiencing complications with my last delivery, now I am anxious about whether there will be a repeat performance. While with my first I had a dream she was actually a cat in a buggy stroller, this time my dreams more vividly reveal my fears of miscarriage because as my support network has grown, so has the number of women I know who have suffered the loss of a child. Enter in also a little guilt knowing the growing number of women who are heartbroken that God has not answered their aching desire for more children.

That’s the thing, though. Light and shadow play together, always. The beautiful part of this pregnancy that was missing for my last two is the large number of women who make up my village. Some of them I know in person, and many of them are a name on a screen. That makes little difference in the connections and friendships that have been formed with my sisters in Christ, my sisters in motherhood. There are now more women I can turn to without fear of judgment whenever I have these crazy dreams which may or may not involve birthing a baby at 27 weeks that looked slightly like a cross between Simcha’s youngest and a manatee with two bottom teeth. (This is NO reflection on your children, Simcha – I promise!)

This baby will be prayed for in a way that the other two did not ever experience (but reap now, of course). These mamas I know will pray me through every fear, will lavish my family with God’s immense and abundant love. I know, because they lavish ME with that love. I have an army of faithful mamas at my side who all choose to parent differently, who have birthed their babies at home and via c-sections like me, who have known grief and felt great joy, who are breastfeeding champions and who mix a mean bottle of formula, who stay at home and who work out of the home, all of whom love their vocation and are struggling through just like me, desperately trying to find joy in the ordinary to make our families’ lives extraordinary.

While the shadow side of this community includes knowing more of the tragedies that continue to pierce a mother’s heart, there is the overwhelming comfort of having beside me women who have walked the road before me and continue to walk it with me. These women offer their joy, their wisdom, their patience, their encouragement, their laughter, and their tough love when it is needed. I have been able to share my crazy to the tune of, “What? You too?,” in ways that befuddle my husband, because he only knows crazy through my eyes. (Sorry dear, there is a whole cadre of crazy out there – you might want to find their husbands and grab a beer.) I have more confidence that I can do this, over the hill or not. 

There is something beautiful that happens when women drop their facades and defenses. We become sisters. The mommy wars fade out to the understanding that each mom faces her own battle, because there’s nothing the devil wants more than for us to fail in our vocation. I know that it is his voice that continues to feed my fears in an effort to place distance between my heart and the joy of a new child. I know it is his voice that continues to whisper to me all my failings as a wife and mother to keep me from embracing my vocation with confidence. Sadly for that dastardly devil, I have more voices around me now that continue to remind me of the One Voice that matters. The One who tells me that I am never alone, that He will be with me until the end of the age, that He has come to give me life in abundance, that with Him all things are possible, the One who reminds me that His mercy is new every morning – every. single. morning.

So while it is sobering to realize we haven't done this in almost four years, I am also looking forward to this pregnancy in a new way - with an even larger family of sisters to share in my joys and sorrows, come what may. Because these women have shared with me their ups, downs, and in betweens, I know now that there is no shame, no judgement in reaching out for help, for making the best decisions I know how to make for the good of my family. The struggle is real, but many hands and hearts make light the burden . . . and keep me focused on the joy that each life brings.

Until next time, let's keep our hearts open and love the world like Jesus!

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