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!


  1. My prayer for you, brave Elizabeth, is that when you hold your Chickadee the first time God will show you how love can only grow. Love for one child will never ever diminish love for another. I pray that when you pick up this cross, this new strange cross, you'll feel our Lord carrying it with you. You are a beautiful mother and Samuel and Chickadee are blessed to have you.

  2. "my joy and grief can coincide" that sums it up very well I think. And not only coincide, but the grief will exemplify the joy. Your love will only grow, and you will have a little cutie to share Samuel with, to remember him with, and for Samuel to love. God will always make sure you have enough love to go around. It may be a balancing act at times, and that cross will be quite heavy; but He will always be with you all. We are here and praying for you all too!

    During labor, if you could pray for us to get pregnant - and have the grace to handle what that entails - I would appreciate it!
    FYI-this is Mel :)

    1. Thank you, Mel ♥ I will definitely be praying for you and Steve!!