Tonight Jakob and Lily are sleeping near me. They are both so much easier than the three I had last night. My charging phone hit Lily in the head and she cried.
I was there to comfort her back to sleep. I watched her suck her thumb and rub her fingers through her silky blanket. (it has been months since I've comforted a night time child) I wanted to scoop her up and cuddle her into bed with me- but she feel back asleep so quickly and baby number eight was pushing on my bladder.
Laying here in the dark, I can't sleep. My mind is spinning with the past couple of days and thoughts of the next few days.
My prayer floats to the heavens-- Dear God, make me enough. Help me grow. Help me have more to give. Curb my vision to see that which I should do and feel peace about those things I cannot control yet... Make me enough!!
Despite the best care at home, I feel the large weight of family pressing on me. After long days of focusing on keeping my water-bottle cold, keeping myself entertained, and counting stitches on my sampler-- my children come and my life fills quickly.
They want to touch me and lay right by me in my bed. I feel their need for closeness. I feel it as much from the child always squishing beside me as I do from the one who doesn't naturally touch me.
My soul yearns for their closeness- I have spent many days without touch- aside from the every four hour blood pressure/baby heartbeat monitoring. I crave touch, but my pregnant body is used to space, comfort and solitude. My life is avoiding physical stress and limiting movement. Having them on my lap or squished beside me, concerns me sometimes. I feel tender and timid when I want to feel abundant. Oh God, make me enough!
My children are well cared for. They are probably cared for better than they were when I was caring for them. But, when they show up at the hospital, I see them through different eyes.
I notice their clothes that are too small or mismatched. I notice their need for haircuts. I worry about small coughs and everyday ailments that were probably common place to me before my isolation.
I want to bring them to the pediatrician and go shopping for things I see they need. I see their half-painted nails and need to clip and clean. I feel their emotional tenderness and want to hold each of them in my arms- for a day. I want to laugh with them, talk with them, play with them, and take away the weight that I feel in their eyes.
Maybe their needs were there before. Maybe part of having a large family is never having enough for everyone- so a mother must learn to meet the needs of the one that needs most. Maybe I was used to runny noses and mismatched clothes. Rest and absence has refined my vision and I feel drastically inadequate for the needs I feel swirling around me.
I'm tired. No surgery, no new baby, no scars... Just two days of being wheeled to the cafeteria for food by excited active children. Spending time alone with a mere fraction of my children lets me see how inactive I have become. Noise and activity are foreign to me. I love, love, love the hustle and bustle around me. This is what I do!!! I miss them, I crave them, and I'm afraid of them. I don't know if I can do what I did- with more need and less ability. Oh God- make me enough!
My husband is tired. These months are pushing down his strong shoulders. He has parented and organized and stretched like few men ever have. He has carried our home and worked full-time to provide for our family. He has grocery shopped, car pooled, made almost every other day 3 hour round trips to the hospital. He's helped with homework, tucked kids into bed, signed field trip permission slips, balanced our budget, coordinated orthodontist and dentist appointments. He's done school and church and scheduling and sports and 4h (guinea pigs and sheep), father-son camp outs and eagle projects, braces, runny noses and even a lovely case of ringworm from a child who loved on sick barn kittens.
Todd has felt the deepest weight of my fears and also carried the deepest fears of his own. He's spent months resolving the conflicts at home of children handling normal life with a heavy burden. He is tired. I feel it as I am near him. His need is heavy to me as I need him strong. He's sick. Part from stress, part from exhaustion, part from allergies and Benadryl. His need hurt my soul-- oh God, bless him and make him enough.
If I'm not careful, I can feel angry at the need I see. It's weird. Wishing I were stronger so easily transfers to wishing they were less needy. When I'm tired or overwhelmed, I don't want them to be active or needy. I feel mad Todd isn't stronger because I need him more- and he sometimes feels mad I'm hours away instead of helping him at home. I feel frustrated with busy, bored kids, because I crave a quiet nap.
How you can be angry at struggling people, or normal needy children, is something that still makes me stop and think. The best thing I can do when I'm tired and overwhelmed is recognize it is me- not them. I can love them even as I am not able to meet all the needs I see. I can smile when I'm tired and empathize even when I'm needy. (It is a skill I've learned with nurses who struggle to start my IVs or flush my central line- be kind and empathetic... they will find a vein soon.)
I feel the pressure of change. I've ordered nursing bras, pants to cover my catheter and shirts to cover my healing belly. I think about shoes for my kids, summer clothes, baby boy clothes, car seats small enough for a 5lb baby, etc... I love so many who are having babies and getting married or having birthdays or who are more needy than we are. My mind swirls with thoughts of thank you cards, Father's Day, end of the school year gifts... Simple fun things I love to be able to do for my own kids. Summer fun ideas? Geez Louise!! The never-ending list of one who nurtures... And don't even get me started on the smoking, addicted, young mothers of high-risk babies that rip my heart out in these hallways. I can't even go there.
Todd spends his free-time looking up houses and vans. I worry about school districts and neighborhoods. I want a good place to raise a family-- not too rich, not too poor, not too big, not too small, not too close to Syracuse, not too far from Todd's work. Blah! How the heck can I tell about an area without being there?? Will I be we'll enough to make a house hunting trip?! I know God has a place prepared for us... I just hope we don't miss it in our business.
I feel the ultimate test of priorities-- how big, how fancy, how rural, how many rooms, mother-in-law suite?, pool?, barn?... What is our price range-- do we stretch our budget and easily house our family or leave extra room in the bank and less in our home? Or, can we find that perfect gem of a house that has everything for a comfortable price? I am too tired for renovating and potential-- I need to move into functional. But, I won't always be tired.
Oh God, help me to discern, help me to know, help me to feel and see what will be best for my children. It is painful to move your family from an area so ideal- to an unknown. We need guidance as we transition.
We are looking for a van to carry us. I feel urgency about being able to carry our family without Jakob sitting in the trunk. Todd feels urgency about keeping our accounts large so we qualify for a mortgage and can supply our down payment. He is tightening while I'm trying to nest and nurture. I feel the pull of finances and I hate that feeling. I pray that my desires will be for that which is wise and prudent...
My burden is heavy and I haven't even touched on the weight I borrow from others carrying their own heavy load. Extended family members, friends, lived ones I've adopted as my own... I feel your load and I'm shouting encouragement to you! You are a pull on my mother heart as I try to trust and walk forward.
I have learned how to let go and let God, these past six months. Nothing is changing as I gradually make my way back into my life. Today, I will take one step at a time. I will try to feel the calm and peace amidst the tempest of life. Master, the tempest is raging... But even as the waves swirl around all of us, there is peace and stillness. I can't zap everything better-- but I can do the next right thing with His grace. Together we can do one thing at a time.
My nurse asked me if I've ever struggled with post-partum depression. She asked how I was coping with my upcoming surgery. Usually, birth is the end of my depression. Usually, my pregnancies are so hard that I can't even comprehend depression as they end... We'll see...
How do I cope? I'm honest about my fears here on this blog and to those I talk to... And, I accept that there isn't much I can do to take away the hard. This is just plain hard sometimes-- but often the big picture is worse than the daily walk. While I feel the burden of the big picture, I feel the grace in every footstep. Hard things pass quickly.
My silly MRI was painful, but it ended. Steroid shots hurt- for a moment. Pain is something you cannot wish away, only endure it one moment at a time. I believe that God gives you what you need, when you need it-- but not always as you ate worry about it. He will strengthen me as I endure-- I need to control my fears before then.
My surgery is scary... But Thursday will come and in a few hours I will be past the worst parts. I will have a baby to see and touch and be filled with love for. I may struggle for a few days, a few months, my normal may change forever... And still normal will return.
When it is too much to handle and I'm afraid, I just keep walking. I try to keep a smile on my face. I try to respond with kindness to the people nearest to me. I pray. I listen to inspiring music. I rest. I shower and dress as nice as I can, and put on a little make-up. I remember the things I am grateful for- and I hand my worries over to God (and Todd, ha!). I often ask myself-- what can I do to change my situation? Then I accept the fact that there isn't much- aside from enduring gracefully. I try to think about those who have made it through harder things before me and the many I know who are carrying their own burdens right beside me. Perspective keeps me grounded and hopeful. This isn't too bad!! We can do this!!
We will get through this summer, we will welcome in a beautiful fall, we will be thankful at Thanksgiving and laugh as we write our Christmas letter. I will be frazzled and fat in our family picture, but there will be goodness in our faces and joy in our eyes. In the midst of our hard, there will be a fullness of humility and gratitude. This year- we will feel Him and know Him more.
Someday soon, I will look back at this time with pride! I will look at our Christmas letter and see the mismatched clothes and feel the weight of a young family growing and I will want to shout to myself-- hold on! This is a hard year, but it gets better! This year is transition but next year will be new friends, learning to ski and roller coasters! Hold on! Keep walking! Your family is doing well!! You can do this!! You're stronger than you think you are... His grace is abundant. (Yes, I do talk to myself often. Especially when I need a pep talk!)
I have just written and rewritten from 3:30am to almost 6am. (I hope it doesn't take that long to read my ramblings). My baby is kicking-- only two more days of ever feeling that miraculous, beautiful good morning! Sun is shining through my window and two of my favorites are breathing and mumbling in their sleep. My silly leg warmer things are beeping because the line is kinked (just turned them off so it doesn't wake my kids). My nurse and CNA will be in to take my vitals, check the baby, give me a cupful of meds, refresh my water bottle and draw blood for a CBC that will lead to another transfusion before my surgery.
A friend is coming up today to visit with her children and my baby. Her visit will be fun and active and then she will take my kids home. I will enjoy and cope through my last day and a half of bed rest before surgery and a baby harder to care for than he is inside my womb.
Sigh... Life IS good. This will be a good day.
Thank you for listening to my brain process... Now, I think we could all use a good nap. :)