November 14, 2014

Am I ready to meet Baby??

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I have been trying to find the courage to share a bit more of the reality that is preparing for our second child after having experienced the death of our first. A second child who has thus far proven to be huge, healthy, and genetic-abnormality-free. The pregnancy has been full of ups and downs, most of which I've kept very private while I try to comprehend this next chapter in my life. It has been especially difficult for me to organize such complex emotions into words. My reality is painful. On many levels, it absolutely sucks. But most of all, my reality as it stands today goes against all my previous expectations of what it is to be a mom.  

Now, less than one week away from Chickadee's due date, my expectations of motherhood are seriously being challenged. Challenged because there's a change a-brewin' and I can't slow that change-train down. Any day now I will be bringing my second child into the world, and I have to ask myself: am I ready for this next chapter of motherhood, to birth my second baby? Am I really ready to meet my second child?

Three and a half weeks ago my midwife told me I could deliver this baby "any day now." I was not particularly thrilled by that idea because I still had SO MUCH TO DO around the house in preparation. Well, as I shared on Wednesday, I have accomplished much of my to-do list and then some. I am logistically ready for our baby to come home. I excitedly shared this with my midwife earlier this week, who--in her usual way that I very much appreciate--bluntly shoved aside this little fact and cut to the chase: was I mentally prepared to deliver this baby? 

Oh sure, I replied. I mean, I'm a little nervous about facing the pain of labor again. That's no cake walk. But I know I can do it and I'm looking forward to tackling the challenge head on. 

This answer seemed to satisfy her so we moved on. But the answer did not satisfy my heart. I didn't feel like the answer was complete, or completely honest for that matter.

Throughout this pregnancy, I haven't wanted to address the possibility of having any thoughts or feelings that were anything but happy, grateful, hopeful, excited for this new baby. Those emotions are the approved emotions for someone who so badly wants to bring new life into the world, the approved emotions for someone who desires to be an example of "openness to life." Should I feel anything but these aforementioned emotions I am automatically a bad mother, a bad representation of openness to life. Of course, these standards are imaginary and were [subconsciously] set by me, myself and I. But I would never admit that out loud and I certainly wasn't going to entertain the possibility that I was avoiding my own life story, my own normal, my own reality. 

My midwife's question was a bit of a slap. Not a full-palm across the face kind of slap. Just a thwack across the back of the head. HEY! Pay attention. With a mind more focused, I suddenly saw the consequences of my subconscious-expectation-setting. And I fell into a bit of a panic. not ready.

Any day now this child is going to decide it's time to enter the world and I, his/her mother, am not ready. NOT. GOOD.

Of course, logically I'm ready to meet baby. I'm ready to mother. To soothe. To feed. To change. To care for, read to, sing to. I even am prepared to undergo the intensity of labor and delivery again. So what makes me think I'm not ready??

I'm not ready to face the harsh reality that I will be actively caring for my second baby and my first is no where to be seen. To face the harsh reality once again that my son, my Samuel, isn't here. That I had to let go, that I had to give him to God. Over and over again I am reminded of this reality, and I really don't want to be reminded right now. Meeting my second baby is supposed to be a moment of tremendous joy and gratitude. These feelings of longing for the son I lost very well may impede on those feelings of joy and gratitude when I meet my second baby. My second baby deserves the unadulterated love, joy and gratitude that I was able to offer Samuel. Not any of this tarnished-with-grief-love. I started to realize all the worries that have been lingering in the back of my mind. 

What if I focus too much on loving my little Chickadee that I start to forget my love for Samuel, simply because I feel afraid and/or guilty to long for him?  

What if I forget to include Samuel in my heart because I am so focused on what I have here on earth?

What if I love this baby more than I love Samuel just because I get to hold this baby in my arms, tightly not having to let go before I want to?

What if I resist loving this baby? Out of guilt because loving this baby might somehow imply I love Samuel less? Out of fear because I may one day lose him or her? Out of selfishness because raising this child to be worthy for Heaven could be a much longer and therefore harder road?

What if my grief consumes me and I cannot be present and love this second baby with all that I am? 

Fortunately I have tangible life experience proving that none of these worries will end up being true. I can firmly hold onto the knowledge that in the months leading up to Samuel's birth I worried constantly about being able to love Samuel enough. Was I really capable of loving a baby enough? As soon as he was born, everything fell into place. And I learned...yes. A hundred times over, YES, I could love my baby enough, even with all his quirks and complications. That is the beauty of God's grace. He will always provide us enough grace to love no matter the circumstances if we are open to it. 

But that comforting knowledge does not make the grief any less painful. And let me tell you, I am so flipping tired of grieving. I really wish it could end. I know this sort of suffering is something that will never go away. It will ALWAYS be my cross to bear. I will always be taking small steps or big leaps to the next stepping stone on my path toward Heaven. It can just be so heavy sometimes.

I suppose that's where I am right now. Preparing to shoulder that cross. Staring at it. Reluctant to pick it up for fear that it will hinder my ability to be present with Chickadee, to mother Chickadee, to love Chickadee with all that I am. Fear that the cross will trigger memories of Samuel that make me miss him more than I can handle. Fear that missing Samuel will make labor pains more intense. Fear that this cross will cast a negative light on the memories I will have of birthing Chickadee.

Why must this cross be so scary? I just want to kick it, throw dirt on it, run away from it.

But I cannot move forward without this cross. It is part of me. It is part of the path God has set forth for me, a tool for the road ahead perhaps? Ohhhhh, more worries to flood the brain. Let's not think about that right now...

I will think about the grace God has given me to carry this cross for the last 19 months. I am in total awe of His mercy and grace that He's given me through my loved ones, through strangers, through long-lost acquaintances. All of YOU praying for me and David. All of YOU offering shoulders to cry on, hearts to help hold the hurt, ears to listen to the same story, the same pains over and over again.

All of YOU who are the hands and feet of Jesus helping me carry this massive weight through life. 

Remembering all of you now as I write this, I feel stronger. I feel like I can pick up this cross and walk toward the joy that awaits me in meeting our second baby. This cross that is my grief does not prevent the joy, just as the joy I will feel does not remove the grief. Rather, my joy and grief can coincide.

By the grace of God, I heave this cross back on my shoulders and am still able look ahead with excitement. There are so many things I am looking forward to! I'm looking forward to seeing my baby's face. To learning if we have another son or a daughter. I can't wait to see if my second baby has a thick head of hair like his/her brother. How massive is this baby, really? I am excited to look into my baby's eyes, even though I will likely cry remembering that I never got to see Samuel's eyes. I am excited to drive baby home in the car seat we purchased for Samuel almost two years ago. I am excited to lay my living, breathing baby in the co-sleeper his/her great-grandpa built. I am excited to snuggle. To nuzzle my nose into baby's hair, smothering him/her with kisses, again likely reminding me of my time with Samuel. I am excited to try feeding at breast rather than pumping!! A baby will be far more enticing in the wee morning hours than a milking machine. 

There are things I am ready for when it comes to delivering baby. The fears, the grief, the pain do not necessarily indicate that I'm not ready. Rather, they are part of my path. I pray that God gives me the grace to accept those fears and worries so that I can focus on the blessings. I pray that through God's grace I can open my heart and fully place my trust in Him for whenever the time comes to meet Chickadee.

And I would like to extend my prayers to include all of you reading this. I will be offering intentions throughout my labor with little Chickadee, helping my mind focus on God's love through the intensity of each contraction. If you would like me to add any of your intentions to my prayers please, please, please comment below!! I would love to pray for you, for something specific, or for someone else you think of!

May God bless you with His abundant grace today!

November 12, 2014

Waiting Game - it's almost time!

After months and months of preparation (one reason I took a break from the bloggin' world), our nest is ready to bring Chickadee home! Since we are at the point of twiddling our thumbs, just waiting for the "Go!" moment I took some time to empty my brain. And camera.

Tomorrow, I will be 39 weeks pregnant.

Though lil' Chickadee is measuring 41 weeks (oy vey).

This pregnancy has been nothing like my pregnancy with Samuel.

With Samuel...I was "high risk" at 36 weeks. Blood pressure was going up and up. Induction was definitely an impending doom. I spent the last three days before going into natural labor (yay!) on strict bed rest to keep that blood pressure from increasing even more.

This pregnancy is still low risk! Hooray! My blood pressure is normal. Baby is growing huge. Baby's heart rate is strong. My body is showing signs of labor.

I am horrible at this waiting game. I find if I don't keep my hands busy I start worrying. And worrying. And worrying some more. I also am quite prone to boredom. Wow, is it like this for every woman at the end of her pregnancy?

The crib in which I was raised! Yes, that's a drop-down side. No I'm not worried.
Mechanical engineer inspected and approved. 

I'm particularly impressed with my ability to let go this time around. My initial to-do list (created last spring) is FAR from complete. In fact, I scratched many things off the list not because they were done but because I decided they weren't a priority. The baseboards, trim and main house will be painted at a later date! Laundry room update, maybe next spring! Sewing window valances, give me another year. :)

But I still have accomplished quite a bit in preparing for this little one.

Yard is (well...was, before the weeds came back, and the wind blew more branches and leaves around) prepped for winter. Not to mention we built a fence, removed seven trees, thinned dozens of overgrown shrubs, and removed some invasive blackberries!

Freezer is packed with a month's worth of prepared meals or partially-prepped meals. David is particularly grateful for that accomplishment.

Nursery is clean and organized (for now).

Our co-sleeper (more like porta-crib) that my grandpa built is ready to go.

More importantly, I have officially (finally!) finished sewing the bumper for this co-sleeper. That I had started a month before Samuel was born. And hadn't touched since until about a month ago. I love how it turned out, don't you?

The bathrooms are clean, floors are vacuumed and swept...for now.

The washing machine is deep cleaned. The fridge is cleaned. The oven and microwave are cleaned.

Don't look behind my appliances might find that I have yet to clean back there. :)

House is dusted. Most of the windows are washed.

Air ducts have been professionally cleaned. Furnace was serviced.

Smoke and CO detectors have been installed. Fire extinguishers are in place.

We have a new retractable drying rack, and an auto-on light switch in our mud room so I am not fumbling with the baby, groceries and shoe removal all in the dark. So nice!

Our hospital bags are packed.

The car seat (so adorable!!) is ready to bring home a baby.

Wow. We're going to be bringing home a baby.... another strange concept. This may be my second pregnancy, my second child, but these last few weeks and anticipating the weeks ahead...nothing like the first. It's like this is my first baby all over again. And you know, I guess I've been saying that all along. But now it's real. Now I'm really going to experience the firsts in the way I had always planned, hoped and prayed for.

Other than the giant baby part. The giant baby is a little alarming, though not surprising considering the daddy's contribution ;-)

While the To-Do list is pretty much done (save making an adorable mobile, finish sewing my last four receiving blankets, and finishing some art work for the nursery...all of which may not get done until after Chickadee is born), I am still working on preparing myself for meeting this little one. I would love to find to the courage to share more with you about how I have been coping with the upcoming change. How I've been managing my grief...I wish I didn't have to include grieving on my to-do list.