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Narratives of Grace

    Tired

     

    The exhaustion is like nothing I’ve known…

    I’m convinced you have a special kind of adrenaline with your first baby, a magic chemical mixed in with your swirling hormones that makes waking up in the dead of night feasible. With Zianne, I would power through 3am wake-ups, intent on a “full feeding on both sides” just like all the books advised. I remember ordering a shirt on my phone in the middle of the night because I was alert and in the mood for some online shopping. I was adamantly against co-sleeping, so I would never dare doze off with the baby in our bed. Instead, I remember walking around the room with determination, patting Zianne to sleep before slipping her back into her crib. I was so energetic, it was as if I  was sneaking in a workout before my six-week visit with my OB.

    Talitha had the wonderful trait of being the best sleeper of any baby I’ve known. She started sleeping 4 hour stretches at night our first week home from the hospital. Had she been my first, I would have diligently set my alarm to wake and feed her every three hours, but I was tired and she was gaining weight. Her four hour stretches grew to five and then six hours in just a few weeks. There were a few times we would both fall asleep in my bed mid-nursing session, because my tiredness overcame my caution about co-sleeping, but for the most part Talitha was a dream of a sleeper. I felt more rested than a mom of a newborn should.

    And then you came along, my sweet third daughter, and I am tired. Oh so tired. I have no adrenaline for middle of the night feedings. None at all. I fall asleep with you in my arms or hanging off my breast every night. You are a more typical newborn, waking up every 2 to 3 hours to fill your growing little belly. And I stumble around the room in the semi-darkness, trying to feed you and change you and settle you with my eyes half open. I pray every night that you will sleep for three or more hours at a time, because I am desperate for rest.

    During the day, my eyes ache with lack of sleep. I sit on the couch holding you, as I watch your older sisters play and fight and toss their toys around the living room. My body grows even more weary as I consider disciplining them or cleaning yet another mess.

    You lie on my chest, breathing steadily, your whole body rising and falling to the motion of your baby lungs. You give me a half-smile as you sleep. They say it isn’t a real smile until you are six weeks old, but I’m convinced there must be something genuine about it. You must sense that I don’t sleep at all on your behalf. Your eyelids flutter and your lips break into a small grin as if to say, “thanks mom.”

    And in that moment, with my tired, stinging eyes, my aching back, and my exhausted mind, I can only piece together one thought…

    “I get to be your mother.”

    The privilege overwhelms me.

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    Three Poops

    There is was again. The tiny, squirting sound of newborn poop. The third time in five minutes. I kid you not.

    Another diaper filled with yellow, liquid breastmilk poop. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.

    (I realize this is the grossest introduction to a blog post ever. I’m sure in a year I’ll look back and be completed revolted, but when you are in the thick of it with newborn fluids and sounds, you lose a bit of your decency for a few months.)

    This little girl poops with the best of them, but three times in five minutes was a new record.

    It was almost as if I had wished it upon myself.

    Micah had taken the girls on a bike ride to give me some “alone time” on a Sunday afternoon, but instead of being grateful, I was a postpartum, bitter mess. He said he would take them much earlier in the morning, but he got distracted by an NBA playoff game. The girls were destroying the house. I had served breakfast, cleaned breakfast, and got the girls dressed, huffing and puffing my way through Eisley’s solid morning nap instead of doing anything remotely restful. By the time they left, I was irate. “Now the baby is going to wake up and I’m going to spend my ALONE hour nursing,” I hissed at Micah as he walked out the door.

    And it was true. I nursed the whole hour, I dealt with a record-setting number of poopy diapers, and I was just patting Eisley back to sleep when the older girls walked into the house after their hour-long bike ride.

    But somewhere beneath the exhaustion, the resentment, and the tornado of postpartum hormones, I mustered a half-smile. I signed up for this. When I became a mother, I entered into a covenant with my children. I promised them, “I will lay down my life for you like Jesus laid down his life for me.” Maybe I never said those words out loud, but I agreed to them in my heart.

    So even when my husband gets distracted by the NBA playoffs. Even when my preschooler uses a sassy tone for the tenth time that day. Even when my toddler is throwing a tantrum. Even when I’m hungry and tired and just want ten minutes alone…

    None of it really matters. Sure, it would be nice if my older children didn’t fight over who gets the pink water bottle and if my husband were a little more sensitive to my fragile, postpartum state, but it doesn’t change my role. It doesn’t change the truth that I must live out the Gospel every day for my children.

    Three poops or ten poops… I will change your diaper.

    Second tantrum or fifth… I will discipline you with all the wisdom and grace and patience I can muster.

    Bumped head or skinned knee caused by slightly erratic behavior as you learn to adjust to a new sibling… I will give you a hug and a band-aid too.

    Just like my Savior, I lay my life down. I may give up my alone time with tears. I  may struggle against my flesh as I seek to serve my children with a smile and a gentle tone. I will surrender my body to breastfeeding a baby while a toddler climbs on my back, even when I long for no one to touch me.

    Jesus surrendered his body on a cross for me. That truth will get me through the next tantrum, the next nursing session, the next poopy diaper. I count it all joy to die to myself as I worship the One who died for me.

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

    Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

    || John 15:12-13 ||

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    Waiting…

    We are officially in the waiting stage.

    Every morning I wake up and think, “Okay, if I went into labor today, what would that look like?” I assess childcare, what my plans are for the day, how far from the hospital I might be, and whether or not Micah is at work. I make a logistical outline in my head and then go about with the day’s activities.

    And then I counter my preparation thoughts by reminding myself that it could easily be another week or two until this baby arrives.

    And although most pregnant moms wouldn’t mind their baby coming a week early, I think most of us also have a specific “after date” in mind. That hope that the baby will come after we get that one final thing completed, usually in the 38th or 39th week of pregnancy.

    It would be great if the baby could come…

    after the floors get installed downstairs.

    after we move our stuff into the new house.

    after I get that report filed for work.

    after my last class of the semester.

    For me, my last day of teaching was yesterday, but I am hoping to come in tomorrow to wrap up a few things at work. And then I will be grading and emailing from home until this baby arrives. My “after” day is Wednesday, April 12th, but we’ll see what God has in store.

    These final weeks of pregnancy are reminding me of being pregnant with Zianne.

    With Z, I caught the WORST head cold two days after my due date, and I actually prayed she would be at least a week late, so I could recover my health before going into labor. She was, thankfully, nine days late, and even then the nurses offered me a humidifier in my hospital room because I still had a lingering cough and congestion after delivery. Likewise, I caught a weird cold and cough last week. It’s not as bad as the one I had with Zianne, but I still break into coughing fits a few times a day. I would love to have this symptom pass by before I go into labor. With Talitha, I was perfectly healthy during labor.

    With Zianne, I was teaching two college classes. I found out at the last minute (literally the week of her due date), I would get a paid maternity leave and a substitute instructor for six weeks after she was born, but the whole semester was a scramble of emails and logistics regarding teaching. This time around I am ending my classes early and trying to finish my grading before the baby arrives. With Talitha, I was on summer break and had zero teaching responsibilities.

    And there is something that feels a bit novel about this pregnancy… like it did with my first. We are in a new state with a new doctor and a new hospital and without a huge network of friends and family around us. Even though it’s my third pregnancy, it’s my first California pregnancy and that feels a bit unknown. I have all those feelings of expectation and mystery right now, since I can’t really imagine what this labor will be like. With Talitha, we were at the same hospital with the same doctors and had tons of friends and family around to help us out before and after delivery.

    I have NO idea what the gender of this baby is… just like with Zianne. Part of me thinks it’s a girl. Part of me thinks it might be a boy. But, honestly, I really don’t know. With Talitha, we had an inkling she was a girl because the doctor’s found a pelvic cyst at the baby’s 20 week ultrasound. They didn’t divulge too many details to preserve our surprise, but we knew there was high chance it was an ovarian cyst and, therefore, she was a girl. I am thrilled to have no clue this time around!

    This is me. Just waiting… eager, intrigued, tired, filled with joy.

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