Saturday, July 27, 2013

Waiting with Pregnant Expectation



The past few days have been an exercise in waiting...with pregnant expectancy. Contractions that come and go have me thinking one minute that its time, only to be doubting myself the next. The days and weeks before you meet your baby are absolutely full of an array of emotions. I find myself vacilating between  excitement and nervous anticipation (of labor). I lay here and see my belly rolling like waves on a sea, and I know that my baby is living and fully formed, ready to greet this place we call life. There are pictures to be taken, stories to be told, eyes to be met, tears to shed, smiles to glisten. And it could happen anytime. Anticipating a first child is an experience unlike any other. But so is anticipating future children...because you know the magic that is about to happen. You know the pain, you know the depths to which you are about to go to bring this child into the world. You know the smell of the beautiful newborn. You know the feeling the first time you meet his eyes. You know the feel of that tiny body scrunched up on yours, fully dependent on the one who carried him for nine months, only now in a more tangible way. You know. You know that infant so quickly changes into a smiling baby. And that baby into a crawling, walking, running toddler. And that toddler into a boy who like tractors and trains and says the silliest things. You know that boy turns into a middle schooler who still, on occasion flashes you that same look you saw in the delivery room, the first time your eyes met. You know. You know to treasure those moments. You know to let criticism roll of your back, and you know to trust your instincts. You know its ok to spend a little extra on that bottle of Dreft, and that its ok to open and close the drawer containing the baby clothes at least 400 times in the week preceding birth,  just to drink in the smell of impending baby. You know the miracle about to happen.

And when it is your last...I have found...you want it to happen so badly. You cannot wait to greet those eyes, and to write those stories, to take those pictures, to live that life, to meet that baby. But part of you, a tiny part is almost afraid for it to happen. Because you know that once it happens, its fleeting. Its so magical that you want it to last forever. I already want to savor each and every moment with this new child. I have given all I had to bring him to this point, and once he is born, every moment is a step of independence on his part. And a process of letting go for me. I know that. I have been through this three times prior. And even the letting go, is a beautiful story, an amazing process of hope and fear, success and failure, a blending together of life and love and grace, the continued process of the creation of a life. We as parents have that amazing responsibility. Its not just the carrying of the baby...it is the raising of the child, the creation of the adult. God gives us a part in it all. Its sobering and scary, but beautiful and redemptive. Just like birth.

It is a crazy feeling to be on the cusp of meeting a person who is going to change your life and family forever. And to know it is coming...any moment. It is as though life is literally pregnant with expectation...every moment of every day. Watching my children anticipate this event is magical too. Their eyes light up. They are each preparing in their own ways, and while I know they each grasp a little of what is about to happen to them, I know the truth. That they are about to gain a friend for life. A sibling who will share their experiences and secrets, who will laugh with them and cry with them. I know the gift they are about to receive. I know the sacrifices it will cost them, but I also know the gift. Because I have siblings. And for all the bad we may have endured (JASON ;-) ), when I look back now I can see the incredible value of the fact that we had each other. That our histories are intertwined in a way that no one else can understand. That Brenn and I can commiserate because of our shared life, and that Kelly and I have a lifetime of memories and Jen taught me all I know about the important things in life from all of our basement bedroom discussions, and that Jason and I had each other when life was tumultous and uncertain. My children are about to gain a sibling. Its an incredible gift.

And so I wait. With pregnant anticipation. Six days or less and the story begins. A new story. And oh how we can use this new beginning with all of its ups and downs. I am pregnant with anticipation at the joy and wonder I know is a breath away. Literally, a first breath away.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Search for Redemption

Its July 23, 2013.  It was close to this date last summer that the beginning of the end began. The signs that inevitably led me where I had no idea I would end up. The beginning of the end of a plot line that I had no idea I was taking part in. A story with an ending that didn't exist. Will never exist.

When I started this new blog I mentioned that I felt I would forever hate August because of the association it had with what happened. But that this baby was due in August. And that felt redemptive. And it is. And I have hope for that. Because so much has gone wrong since August. What I thought was the end, was really just the beginning of more. I remember running every evening last August and September to the tune of Tenth Avenue North's song, Worn.
I would try to pound out on the pavement what was haunting me throughout my day.  Its July 23 of the following year...I am still looking for that redemption. Still waiting for life's circumstances to get better, not worse. Someone asked me today if the hardest things I have been through in my life make sense to me in the now. I am close enough to this person to be honest and I had to say that no, most of them, certainly everything from the the past 365 days have yet to be redeemed. I am so glad that I didn't know then what I know now. I wouldn't have wanted to know that life would make less sense now, a year later, than it did in the thick of it. That August was just the beginning of a whole series of unrelated and yet life altering events. There isn't one area of my life left untouched. I feel like this year was meant to crush me. To change me. To attack the core of who God made me to be. And it has, at times. And I have changed. But I don't know how it will end. The story is still being written.

I told my friend today that I am weak. She told me that I am strong because I am not hiding or dulling the pain. I don't feel strong. Its not just what happened, it is the emotional wreckage that has been left behind. The fact that these things were fashioned with pointed tips, specifically for my heart. The fact that try as I might to sift through it all, I can't find a place to land. I am not fully confident what the ramifications should be for my faith, my life, my calling, my relationships, my heart.

I know most of you who read this don't know what has happened, and very few know all that has transpired. I can't share most of it, for various reasons. Its not about the details anyway. I hate when people "vague post" and it is clear that they are really just hooking us making us wonder on so many levels what in the world happened. I promise I am not trying to do that. I ask that you don't ask me what happened. That you respect the fact that I will share what I can with whom I can, when I am ready.
I guess as I listen to Worn now, a year later, I am also reminded that we are not promised that all will be redeemed (make sense) this side of Heaven, nor that we can tie difficult things up with a neat little bow. I think Christians (humans) are so quick to look for meaning and "the lesson to be learned" that when we can't figure it out, or when we are unable to name the silver lining, we panic a bit. As though our trials are worth nothing. They are never worth nothing. But sometimes, sometimes, you just have to hunker down and cling. As I teach my Stress students, there are times that you don't have to keep swinging to stay in a match...you just have to stay upright. You just have to keep that tiny seed of hope so that you don't give up. And as tempted as I have been, I think I have learned that times like these are NOT the best time to give up on all you have always believed in, lived for, stood for. Those things may have been taken, I may have handed some over, but I am clinging to what is left for dear life. Choosing with my mind, when my heart fails me. Do I know that God will redeem all of this? Yes. But I am not certain it will be this side of Heaven.

Nine months ago I said that God redeemed the month of August by choosing that as the month of birth for our new baby. I think there is some measure of truth to that, but it doesn't take the flashbacks away. The questions still come. The tears still spring up. I am distracted by the waiting...the beautiful expectancy of a new life. That helps tremendously. But to think that this whole year (or really almost 2 if I go back to the start of the unravelling) will make sense is perhaps a bit unrealistic. I think perhaps the redemption comes in the laughter of my two year old, the sense of adventure I see in my almost 10 year olds eyes when he tries something new and exciting, and the endless zest for life that exudes from my 6 year old. The glimpse of a setting sun, the rising of a new one, the timely encouragement from a friend, the promises of Truth that I am choosing to believe in the face of trial.
So I face August with an aire of expectancy. The pregnant expectancy of the new life moving within me. But not with the expectancy that this month will be easy. Or the one to follow. I will take a day at a time. If I have learned anything this year, that is it. If nothing else, as this baby enters the world I will gain back my physical strength and I have a sense that hope will come with that. I will labor this child into the world, as a symbol of the fight I have for life, as it was meant to be. What that looks like, I am unsure. But I will fight. I will stand. I will hope.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Perspective

Last night I had an awful dream. I dreamed that we were at a pool and Everett was a the bottom of the pool, struggling, but unable to get up. I jumped in immediately and swam down to get him. He was crying audibly in the water (not possible) but in my dream, it struck me how odd it was that he could cry under water. Anyway...I got him up and out and he was crying really hard and saying over and over, "Mama, save me?" Questioning me and longing for the right answer. And I kept telling him, "Yes, Mommy saved you. Mommy got you out, its ok!" I woke up and everything in me wanted to go get him out of his crib and just feel the warmth of his body and feel the rhythmic breathing of his little body. I literally ached for him. And then I thought of what it would be like if that happened and I didn't get there fast enough. It happens to millions of parents every year. And if it isn't drowning, its something else. Some tragedy that flies in unexpected...always unexpected...and changes every part of life as you know it.

So today was one of those days where I cherished moments instead of hurrying through them. The terrible mess of corn on the cob and baked beans and turkey burger crumbs strewn all over the kitchen didn't look like an hour long mess to clean up, but instead it looked like my kids ate well and enjoyed themselves. I savored watching Everett shove the corn in his mouth by the fist fulls. Even the poopy underpants...I can't say I savored cleaning them out... but I thanked God for the boy who could soil them. When I found Landon's "potion" concoction under the sink, instead of thinking of all the ways it could spill or cause a mess, I thanked God for the ten year old creative brain that concocted the science experiment. When I went to vacuum Landon and Noah's room and found it full of army men strewn about every flat surface...I felt a sense of contentment that my boys could create this play world in the safety of their own home, flexing the muscles of their creativity. When Noah dumped an entire bucket of leaves on my kitchen counter declaring that they were salmon that he caught "fishing off the deck"I left them there all day...telling him I would "cook them up" and "oh how good they would taste." These little "inconveniences" that we often bemoan as parents because they make our jobs that much more difficult are actually the gathering of beautiful memories. It is all in the perspective.

And oh how I have lost perspective lately. I am just done with pregnancy. Done. All I can see is that I have another day, another night (those are long too due to pregnancy insomnia), another week. I want to feel healthy, have energy, not fight constant nausea, not be a slave to food, be able to bend over, have mental and emotional energy for my existing children. I want my life back.

But that perspective thing. My body, although it hates pregnancy and causes me great problems with nausea and vomitting, has housed and nurtured and birthed (almost) 4 human beings. Four beautiful souls. And I am about to meet this one. I am on the cusp of receiving the fruit of my labor. I have lived every one of these ten months in agony, but it all becomes worth it in an instant. When I see that face. And meet those eyes. And feel the quick little breaths as that new baby sleeps on my chest. I would do it all a thousand times over for the children I have, and this one is no different.

Anyone who has a child knows how difficult it is. The relentless work, the bickering, the monotony, the snot and poop and puke that we clean up and clean up again. But in an instant, truly a fleeting second, my children can make it all worth it. A smile. An eyebrow raise. An extra cuddle. Watching them learn, create, imagine, make right decisions, be kind, care about another soul, love. They exhaust me, regularly. But they fill my life with everything that means the most to me. And I thank God that for this moment, I have three sleeping children in the safety of their beds and one in the safety of my womb, my uncomfortableness a daily reminder that the child is growing and healthy. Perspective. I will lose it again...possibly even tonight. But my quest is to keep it ever before me. To be thankful more and critical less. To enjoy more than complain. To love more than judge. And to seize the moments that make up the days...because this life is ever so short and none of us know anything beyond this very moment.