Monday, January 28, 2013

One step enough for me.

We are done having kids.

In black and white, with that final period, with no prepositional phrase or hesitant adjective to modify it, it seems so final. It is, of course, unless there is some sort of heavenly intervention which does not seem forthcoming in my ponderings. You would think I would have prayed mightily about this, to reach such a decision. I didn't. That sounds faithless, doesn't it? No, I've always been a believer that Heavenly Father is always talking to me about what is on my mind and so I just need to pay attention to the feelings that I have. It feels like those ponderings are the mighty prayers.

When I had Tessa, things went pear shaped. I didn't  write about it here, because I wrote about it on the other blog, but she was breech, I had a c section, I had placenta accreta (which is when your placenta embeds itself too far into the uterine wall and won't come out on its own), had to have another emergency d&c, and lots more blood than I did with Maggie. I ended up having three units of blood and having a doctor tell me in the midst of it that I should never get pregnant again and that if I did, I hold be ready to lose half my blood volume and my uterus.

I'm not really sure what I was supposed to do with that at the time. I was just focused on what they told me after, which was that if I had had the birth that I wanted,  I would have been in the ICU. I just focused on the fact that stubborn, comfortable Tessa saved my life.

But it's been five months now, and I've been thinking about where to go from here for all of them. I think I have gone through the stages of grief, to a certain degree. I first was in denial--what's the big deal? So I lose my uterus. Big deal. Then I think there was some anger about them unfairness of it all. Then I think there was some desperate reaching heavenward to try to have Him say that, yes, we wee supposed to have another baby, as if somehow I could cajole Heavenly Father into overcoming this for me. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the truth crept into my heart. We are done.

Jut writing it makes me cry, and feel guilty all at the same time. I don't feel guilt for being done. No, I don't feel any personal mandate to repopulate the earth, and I effectively doubled my mom's childbearing, so that's pretty good. No, I feel guilt for wanting to mourn the idea of what I could have had when the two healthy, strong, beautiful, amazing children I have already been blessed with ply t my feet. I feel guilty for feeling robbed when I have been given so much. I feel guilty that I feel robbed of the dream that I had for our family when those dreams have already come true.

Because the reality of this is that I don't feel like I chose it, but I am in some sense relieved. I am tired. My body is thrashed. I miss the sass, spunk, and vitality that comes with consistent sleep. I miss the brain function that makes me witty. I posted something about challenging toddler behavior on Facebook last week, and someone told me that these are the best years of my life.

I know that, and it hurts so much sometimes, in these small fragments of moments, to know that I will never have another newborn. I will never feel the wonder of a first smile again. Sometimes I feel bad for just holding Tessa so tight, for kissing her cheeks so much, for reveling in her babyness...the chubby rolls of thighs, the cheeks that are so round, the sweet sleeping sighs. I see Maggie watching me, and I feel bad, because I don't want her to think that I am any less entranced by her. But I will never get those things again. Already I see Tessa changing into the older baby she is on the cusp of becoming. Already I see her fascinated by her sister, entranced by the action and activity of the house, and literally turning away from me to be a part of it. This is how it was meant to be, this is life, this is what we want for our children. Thrilling independence and the confidence to pursue life and hard things is the badge of honor for a parent.


My heart still hurts to see it, to know that soon they won't need me as much as they do now. And part of me is thrilled by that idea, because the weight of that need can sometimes be crushing. But mostly I find myself wondering what that means for me. Who will I be then, when they don't need me like they did? Who will I be to the world? Who will I be to myself?

I know that there is a time for every purpose under heaven, and that just as He helped me learn how to be a mother, He will help me change and grow into the different stages of my life as a mother. But I also know there is a time to mourn, and I think this is my time.

These have been the hardest six months of my life. I use no hyperbole in that statement. I hope I never have to deal with anything harder, though I feel certain I will.

My mourning is quiet, but it is real. So if you see me, every once in a while, hug my baby very tight with a far off look in y eye, it is my heart taking a picture. Because this time won't come again, and I don't want to forget any of it. I know I will. I know I will forget most of it.

But I hope I never forget how much Tessa loves to smile. I'd hope I never forget how sweet Maggie is to her siste, wanting so much to hug her that she practically smothers her. I hope I never forget how, before she kisses me good night, she always kisses Tessa's head. I hope I remember the sweet way they play on the floor together, Maggie briangrqing Tessa another book. I hope I don't get so wrapped up in Tessa's babyhood that i  forget that these moments with Maggie are fleeting too.

There is so much deception in mortality, that it lasts forever and that the moments are just something to get through on the way to something else, like so many airport terminals. We rush and rush and rush, pushing past people and times and moments, to try to achieve something or be something or get something gone, not realizing tht those people and times and moments are the point. Perhaps this will help me not do that so much. Perhaps knowing that the baby clothes and the maternity dresses are going to goodwill will help me walk a bit more slowly.

These moments are eternal, but not in the way I think.

We are  done having kids.

Deep breath, because we are just beginning to raise the ones we have got.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

sometimes i miss my old life.

i probably shouldn't say that, and i rarely do, but it's true. and when the sleep debt gets so big that it becomes physically sickening (as in, i'm so tired i'm nauseated) and when both of my kids decide to go through some sort of developmental nonsense at the same time and when i don't pray enough, i miss my old life.

i don't think there's anything wrong with that, because it's the same self-deception that tells us that our neighbor must be so much better of a person because of x/y/z that isn't at all informed by reality, but instead by the grass is only greener philosophy. the reality is that my old life sucked big time sometimes too. i was stressed, i was tired, i was pushed to my limit.

my limits are just bigger now.

i often feel smaller, strange as that may seem. motherhood has a way of shining a bright beaming spotlight on all of your idiosyncratic flaws and faults, making them seem as if they are the only thing there. i yell too much. i get frustrated really easily. certain things (like toddler screeching or ignoring what i say) make me INSANE.

so somedays i envy the days when i was only responsible for myself, and then for my husband. i see now, as i'm writing this, how Heavenly Father has prepared me for this time of Great Pressing Need. i am surrounded by it, and i am responsible for it, and i see how He has allowed me to learn how to take care of myself, then how to take care of myself plus another person, and now how to take care of a family.

but it's hard and anyone who says it isn't is either much better equipped for sleep deprivation than i am or a big fat hairy liar.

(i'm betting on the second.)

do you know that i didn't realize that sleep deprivation causes you to be more stressed and to deal with emotions less ably? i just read that. i thought i was just a jerk.  turns out i'm just tired. heh.

i don't know what i wanted to say, really, except to say that though i think i'm probably doing an okay job at this parenting thing, i don't think i will ever feel like i am. i feel small, most days, though the work is mighty. i feel weak most days, though i think what i do indicates great strength. i feel unable to meet the challenge of raising two girls to be mighty and faithful and kind and obedient, because i don't know how to do it. but i also don't know how my kid learned how to say "no, thank you." so i think we're probably doing something right.

i absolutely know that having children is a divine way of improving yourself, of coming closer to Him. there's no way on this earth we could do it alone. i'm still not sure we're really doing anything. there's a lot of grace in this gig, thank heavens.

i'm still tired. it's still hard. that doesn't mean there isn't joy. on my good days, i am filled with it and i see it in every toddler footfall and infant smile. on my other days, i have faith that tomorrow will be better and i will be better because of today.

and so it goes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

enjoying the journey.

this time, with tessa, i am just not as stressed out as i was with maggie.

i remember being so fretful about every little thing. why wasn't she sleeping better at naps? why would she only sleep long stretches when she was laying on my chest? how could i get her to eat more easily--and did it mean something bad? why wasn't she rolling?

the list goes on and on.

this time, i hardly think about those things. i can't know what the difference really is, though i really imagine it has much to do with our 4 or 5 week early start when she was honestly attached to me 24-7.  but i think there are equal parts in there of knowing she's likely our last baby, because of my uterus's abnormal desire to hold on to the placenta, as well as this not being my first rodeo.

we're still nursing, and i nurse her almost exclusively at night.  so if she has an off night, she's usually attached to me for most of it. and those nights are exhausting.

but i don't stress out about it as some sort of abnormal indicator.

she's not sleeping through the night, and i don't expect her to. she's doing great and while i would like to get more sleep, that's really not tessa's fault. she sleeps a good 3 to 4 hour stretch before i even think about sleeping myself, so it's not fair to be upset at her for waking up to eat.  she's supposed to. i get it.

i am not stressed out about her development. she's not rolling from back to belly yet, but i'm sure much of that has to do with the fact that she doesn't get as much floor time as her sister did because...she has a sister who doesn't really understand the idea of little fingers that can be crushed or being completely gentle with tender heads.

i think i don't want tessa to grow up much. she's in a wonderful stage, so expressive and delightful. she wakes up happy, even when she's starving.  she's happy and she's healthy and i don't remember what our family was like without her in it. 

this time, i am trying to enjoy it as it comes. i trust myself. i trust my instincts. i trust that i will know when the time is right to do new things, if those times come.  i am much more interested in those moments, when i remember that i may not get to experience this again, when i hug her tight or when i feel her sweet baby face melt into my neck as i rock and bounce her to sleep.

these moments move too fast. i think i moved too fast through them with maggie. i was always waiting for her to get to the next stage.

i'm not in such a hurry, with either of them, any more.

slow down, sweet girls.  mama can't move that fast.