What Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed about having a family of my own.  A handsome husband, a small gaggle of children running around, white picket fence, yadda yadda yadda.  I daydreamed what my life would look like, and I’m here to confess today that it’s not really what I had pictured.

I’m really not sure what I thought it would look like – perhaps lots of cuddling, hours upon hours of reading together, doing loads of laundry and prepping dinner during naptimes.  Well, these days my 9-month old son only cuddles me when we’re in new situations and the “stranger danger” phenomenon kicks in.  If I had known how quickly his newborn phase would pass, I would have spent all my time, every single day, with him in my arms.  We no longer co-sleep (he sleeps like a little champ in his own crib in his own room), so I don’t even get that warm little body next to mine each night.  I’m praying that when he gets a little older, he’ll come back for some Mama Snuggles.  Can anyone verify that this is actually a thing that happens, or am I being naive here?

My husband and I aren’t very good about bedtime routines – Stephen gets a bath a couple times a week at best.  Hey – he’s not exactly out digging in the mud, and I know frequent bathing is so rough on his skin in this dry climate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  But the bookworm in me laments over the fact that we’ve yet to successfully establish reading before bed with him.  Each time we try, he just grabs or hits the book, or tries to eat it.  Forget turning pages – he’s a little book-ravaging monster.  How will he ever grow to appreciate the written word when I can’t read him a 5-page board book before he goes to sleep at night?

As far as all of those homemaker tasks that I thought I’d be able to get accomplished each day, well …. I’m failing miserably, y’all.  Ever since I had Stephen, my depression has come back pretty full-force.  It’s a struggle to check off the most basic tasks on my to-do list each day.  Am I still in yoga pants and the sweater I’ve worn at least half a dozen times since it was last washed?  You betcha.  Now I don’t know if it’s my hormones, the lack of sleep, or the constant attending to my baby’s needs that has me so flummoxed over keeping my house in order.  But I do know this – it stinks!  My poor husband comes home to a house in shambles most days – dinner not even started, topped off with a grouchy mama and crying baby.  He is my God-send, though.  He takes over caring for Stephen immediately and lets me have some Mommy-time in the kitchen preparing our dinner.  A huge part of me wants to defend myself here and give a disclaimer that I do, in fact, love my son more than words could ever imagine.  But sometimes, I just NEED.A.BREAK.  Even if that break comes in the form of chopping onions and sauteeing chicken.

I sometimes wonder what I got myself into.  Is the wake-diaperchange-feed-play-diaperchange-nap routine just going to play itself a million times over?  It’s then that I realize that these are the little things God talks about in Luke 16:10:

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much…

God has blessed me with a million little ways to serve Him each day.  Every diaper change, every feeding, every time I pick up my crying little boy, I am proving faithful to God’s calling on my life.  This is a season of mundane routines, to be sure.  But it is also a season of wonder and excitement.  Stephen has gone from rolling over, to crawling, to sitting up, to pulling himself up on anything he can get his hands on – all in less than 6 month’s time.  He smiles at me whenever I enter the room, and that’s no little thing, folks.  While I do look forward to the future and all it has to offer, I try to maintain a practical view on it.  My expectations may not line up with the reality of how things will actually go, and that’s okay.  I know that God is training me for bigger and better things each day.  For in truth, there is no greater gift than the opportunity to raise up a child for our Lord.

One Sweet Day

We went in for our first appointment.  Showed up early enough to fill out all the paperwork.  Met with the midwife, answered all the requisite questions.  Then it came time to see our little bean.  Three times they tried with different ultrasound machines, different people at the screen.  No heartbeat, nothing to indicate I was even pregnant.

This began a whirlwind of blood work followed by ultrasounds in radiology, never getting conclusive results.  Hcg levels indicated that yes, I was pregnant.  The next ultrasound ruled out an ectopic pregnancy and showed a gestational sac measuring 3 weeks behind, but nothing more.  Hcg levels rose, but very little – nowhere near the doubling we were looking for.  Each time we met with a doctor or tech, the answers were never great, but still we had hope.  Finally, 10 days after our first appointment, we got the call back from our midwife.  My hcg levels were dropping – I was miscarrying.

God’s ways are a mystery to us.  I know deep inside that He is good, all the time.  But that doesn’t change the fact that we’ll never hold this baby this side of heaven.  That she’ll never get to meet her big brother in this life.  But what I do know is that God wanted her up with Him more than we needed her here.  This is so humbling – this reminder that our children are not our own, not truly.  They all belong to God, we are just the blessed who are given a certain number of days with them here on Earth.  We’re not promised tomorrow, no matter how much our hearts ache for it.

It was too early on to determine our baby’s gender – but my husband and I know in our hearts that our little baby was a girl.  We named her Isabelle Marie – “God’s promise” and “Wished-for child.”  Yesterday, in a small private service about an hour from our home, we buried our little Izzy Girl.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, but my husband was, as always, my rock.  We survived, and we are assured of her place in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Getting to heaven one day just got a whole lot sweeter.  We can’t wait to meet you there, little one.

30 in Thirty

On the eve of my thirtieth birthday, my thoughts wander and I reminisce.  Here’s my list of 30 things I’ve learned in my thirty years here on Earth.  And here’s praying God is gracious enough to bless me with another thirty!

1.  Put God first and the rest falls into place.

2.  Family doesn’t always mean blood relatives.

3.  There are very few things in life that can’t be fixed with chocolate.

4.  Marrying your best friend is, hands down, the best decision you’ll ever make.

5.  Learning to laugh at yourself is so much better than the alternative.

6.  Be real with people who love you.

7.  Guard your heart from all that is ugly in this world.

8.  Smile at passersby.

9.  A warm bath and a good book are pretty close to heaven.

10.  The sound of your baby’s laugh is even closer.

11.  Dancing around in the kitchen like a fool should be mandatory in the mornings.

12.  Coffee tastes so much better when shared with a friend.

13.  Distance will either wreck a weak relationship or strengthen a true one.

14.  Don’t ever hang up without saying “I love you.”

15.  Snuggle all the little people in your life as often as they’ll allow.  They grow up too quickly.

16.  God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation is one of the most beautiful gifts we have here on earth.

17.  Our parents are real people with struggles and successes of their own.

18.  Proofreading is much more fun done on paper with a green pen.

19.  When you move to a new state, get your library card first, then worry about your driver’s license and all that other stuff later.

20.  Your siblings are the ones who will live your life with you – from beginning to end.  Be nice to them.

21.  Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in your heart.

22.  Choose joy.

23.  Snow tickles your nose as it falls.

24.  Hearts do break, but the Lord heals us in His good time.

25.  Getting connected to a community of like-minded women is vital for your sanity.

26.  Record all the moments – both big and small.

27.  But know when to put the camera down and just live in the moment.

28.  Listen more and talk less.

29.  Love your family ferociously.

30.  Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.