Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enter With Thanksgiving

I always regret the times that something comes to me and I don't write it immediately. It always leaves.  So clever, or thoughtful, I'm sure it will stay, but it doesn't.  So I guess I should write this while it's in my head.  A touchy subject in some ways, but write I must.

Before Jonah turned two, I miscarried a baby.  It was the hardest and most heartbreaking thing I had been through in my life thus far.  Yes, I am young, and no doubt have far worse ahead in store for me (a morbid thought, for sure, but one that I can never get far from), but up to that point, that was the worst.  After three months of pregnancy, I was quite joyfully attached and so glad that my two-year-old would have a sibling.  I, myself, have 6 siblings, and just can't imagine life without them.  I've always loved being in a big family, and have always wanted to have a big family myself.

I know miscarriage is very common, though often un-discussed.  It happens to most child-bearing women, as I was often reminded, but that didn't make it easier for me.  I was just so very, very sad.  I grieved.  Sadness and grief come too easily to me, and are hard to shake.  I tend to feel the pain of this broken world acutely. I had lots of comfort, but the sadness stayed for quite a while.  I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant again right away and have a baby in my arms.  But there was nothing.  No new baby.

Over the years that followed, I had much to mull over and pray about.  (Aside:  yes, granted, in the long scheme of things, those few years wasn't really that long a time, but I'm a very efficient whiner.)  "What if I never have another baby? What if I don't have that big family?  What if this one little boy and the baby in heaven are all I get?"  Maybe that seems silly-- I'm still young and as Nathan reminded me, "There's still time for us to have 11 more."  I laughed and said I wasn't sure I wanted quite that many, and he just shook his head, bemused at how hard to please I am.

I had to accept the idea.  The idea of having an "only child."  I adjusted my expectations, slowly and painfully.  Contentment eventually followed, but it was a long, hard road.  But I did accept it.  I learned to be thankful.  I changed the mental picture of my family-- "Daddy and Mommy and Jonah."  We were so blessed and our life was good and I really had nothing to complain about and God was providing for us and in complete control of our lives.  I could breathe again, content.

And then, in complete surprise, came Evan.  Our cup ran over.  My contentment stretched even bigger to contain the joy I had let go of hoping for.  I admit that it was a hard adjustment, paradoxically.  It had been quite a while since I'd had a baby, and so much had happened in my mind in that time.  It's funny how our minds and bodies internalize events and emotions and turn them into things we don't expect.  While I was pregnant with Evan, I had a hard time with not feeling very attached and committed.  It was almost eerie... it just really wasn't the same as my previous pregnancies.  I think I had somehow turned some switch to "off" and then couldn't find it to toggle back on.  In learning to be content with no new baby, I made it hard to accept one when he was given to me.  Of course, I was in love with him when he was born, and my joy and contentment have grown ever since.

In the months since Evan was born, I've become so absorbed in my sweet little family dynamic.  The joys and challenges consume my days; sleep deprivation, my nights.  But I've never known contentment so rich.  I thought back on the lessons I had learned before and interpreted it in my mind in this way: if I never have another baby now, I am so very content and thankful.  I'll be fine.

Oddly, the, um, alternative to that didn't actually occur to me.

One of the things I had thought of after the miscarriage was, "I'd rather have babies 'too close together' than not at all."  Oh, sweet irony, how quickly we forget the lessons we learn.

You'll imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that Evan will be a big brother much sooner than I had ever planned.

So absorbed was I in my daily life that I didn't even know about it for the first two months.  Denial, it ain't just a river.  And when I finally had to face the facts?  I am ashamed to admit that joy was not the first emotion that surfaced.  It was not my finest hour.  Thankfully, I have wonderful people in my life who can set me straight-- remind me of the things I learned before, share similar experiences, reassure me and point me in the right direction.   Nathan is nothing but sweet-- happy and thankful with no reservations.

It's been an adjustment in my thinking.  I'm just so overwhelmed by the very recent memory of just having done this. (That "amnesia" thing?  Takes a while to set in, I think.)  It wasn't very long ago.  I just did this.  I have a baby, right now, who consumes all I have, by my human estimation.   There is certainly joy there, but it's all mired in so many other things that it's hard to sort it all out.

This is just a classic case of, as my Dad likes to say, "Man proposes and God disposes."  In every instance I've related here, and many I haven't, I've had my plans, and God had others.  A dear friend pointed out to me that it's all about my learning this one lesson, and I'm just not getting it-- I am not in control.

Would I rather have this baby now, or no more?  Not to say I have to make that choice, but maybe "later" is not an option.  How am I to know?  Am I God?  Does He not know what is best for me, He who made me?  Did I have any control at all, those years of longing for a baby?  (Oh believe me, I tried.)  Why should I have it now?

And why, oh, why, is it so easy for me to forget this most basic and all-encompassing lesson:  children are a blessing.  "The heritage of the Lord."  When did I loose sight of that, of all things? Because it's true.  God sent me this baby and will give me the strength I need.  And joy, too.  Babies bring a lot of joy just by default.  Think of how fun this will all be a year, two years, ten years from now.  It'll be amazing.

And really, despite all my complaining, all my grousing about how hard and unfair life is and how "nothing ever goes my way", the truth is that I have gotten my way.  What have I always wanted to be? (Well, aside from planning to be a veterinarian which... phew.  So glad that didn't work out.)  A wife and mother.  And what am I?  Yeah.  Me?  Really?  It's actually amazing when I think about it. I'm such an ungrateful wretch that I often take these things for granted.  I should complain less and praise more!

I've been slow to talk and write about this because I'm still praying and sorting it through in my own mind.  The shock is taking a extra time for digestion.  But it comes over me, more and more each day: I am so very blessed.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, 
and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: 
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; 
and his truth endureth to all generations.
Psalm 100


  1. This is a good post. Insiteful, and...true. I think I'm going through the opposite, though. I'm ready to do what God wants (I think), but His plan is.... hiding... Or something. Well, regardless, I am given a choice, and I don't want to have to be the one to make the choice. sigh.

    Humans can never get it right, can't they?

  2. Congratulations to you and your beautiful family!
    What amazing big brothers they will be!
    I know about the control thing. I know of the infertility struggles. We had 4 years of nothing, then two babies 2 1/2 years apart. We were ready for the next and nothing again...for 10 1/2 years. Gods plans are wonderfully unpredicatable.

  3. Congratulations!
    After having 4 children and being "done" we gave away all the baby stuff; and 5 years later God surprised us with one more sweetie. It has been a struggle to find the 'give over control' attitude, but what a great blessing when I do.

  4. Your are right I missed this post. This is one of your most beautiful posts too. Transparency doesn't come easy does it. You will have a full plate. Full plate or empty plate the point is WE don't have control. So young to be getting it already. I hear you on the amnesia thing. You haven't told Evan's birth story, you hinted about it. Sounds like it was very very hard. So you will wrestle with some fear too, more fears. You and I are a lot alike.
    As different as our circumstances are the obstacles we face are so similar.
    It is all about trust.
    It will also be wonderful if your family, like mother first and then sisters would plan nice long visits to help out.
    Hopefully spring will come soon and the noses will dry up.
    Congratulations on another member to your family. Kind of explains why you have been SO tired!!