Saturday, March 4, 2017

march fourth.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My mom and I had just finished loading up Raelynn and Selah in their carseats to head to IKEA. As we climbed up in the car, my mom spotted a pile of garage sale stuff, which included a baby bath seat, and she casually asked, "Are you sure you guys want to get rid of that?"

The second she said was like one zillion moments of realization all clicked into place in an instant: I was pregnant.

That explained everything.

You see, I spent the first 6 weeks of 2016 as sick as a dog. It would ebb and flow, but it included everything imaginable. I could not get well. In fact, it was the whole reason my mom had come to town at all. In a moment of desperation and sheer exhaustion, I called her sobbing and begged her to get in the car to come care for me and my family.

A day later, she pulled in my driveway, jaw dropped at the severity of the situation. The FaceTimes and photos couldn't fully convey just how awful my hives were, how nasty Raelynn's cough was, how high Selah's fever was. I was beside myself.

Amidst it all, I hadn't even stopped to think of the root cause preventing me from getting well...the fact that my body's immune system intentionally lowered itself so as not to kill the growing baby inside of me.

As the words escaped her mouth, I didn't need a pregnancy test to tell me what I already knew in the depths of my soul: I was pregnant.

We continued to IKEA to pick out the necessary items to organize our play room (heck, if my mom was coming in town, I may as well let her loose doing what she loves to do...organize!). I honestly can't even remember the drive or the conversation because my mind was swirling with so many thoughts.

Later that night, we decided to move Selah out of her cradle and into a crib. As my mom and Matt moved things around in her nursery, I escaped to the bathroom. The instant the test was activated, the two pink lines appeared. My suspicion was confirmed: I was pregnant.

I walked back in to the nursery just as Matt and my mom were trying to decide where the cradle should go and blurted out, "You better not move that cradle too far away.....I'm pregnant." 

I would love to tell you those words were uttered with excitement and joy. They were not. They were met with excitement and joy on the part of my mom who shrieked and squealed in excitement...and I think Matt whispered a few choice words under his breath. The three of us stood in that nursery for a long time trying to digest all that had just transpired.

Our lives were forever changed.

I laid awake in bed that night. Dumbfounded. Overwhelmed. Shocked.

So many thoughts flooded my mind. Very few, if any, of them were happy. And it takes a lot of courage for me to admit that outside of my trusted group of friends and family. Because when you're married with two kids, the expectation of another child should be thrilling, happy, even joyous. But this baby was not planned. We prayed for our first two babies and intentionally tried to have them close together.

And we thought we were done.

I wish I could tell you that the days and weeks that followed brought about that expected joy and happiness. But it didn't. I only became more and more weary, overwhelmed, and confused about this little life growing inside of me. I would cry very frequently. And a huge feeling of guilt flooded over me. I met with several different friends and mentors over coffee in hopes of finding peace with my reality.

I found myself in a bible study group of several women who struggled with infertility. They would cry during our time together that their wombs remained barren. And I cried tears...because mine wasn't. Again, I hesitate to share that because I do not want to sound insensitive to women who struggle with infertility. My heart and soul pours out for you and my prayers go up to God Almighty on your behalf. I pray God draws near to you and reveals Himself to you in such Intimate, tangible ways.

But I don't want to minimize the emotion I felt in those lowest of low moments. Because it was real. And it was my heart. But very few people actually know any of this. They just saw a swollen belly, a pregnancy announcement, bump photos. I was shamed by a lot of strangers as I walked in stores with my two girls, 2 and under and a pregnant belly. "Don't you know what causes that?!" "You sure have your hands full!" 

Man, people are ignorant when they make comments to strangers. (Please think twice before uttering words like that to any mama you come across!)

At 39 weeks, 4 days pregnant, my mom and I sat in Eisley's nursery sorting through newborn clothing. She sat on my nursing chair, and I on the exercise ball. She looked me in the eye and asked how I was doing. I broke down sobbing to her. I was able to express exactly where my heart was. Like I was supposed to be brimming with excitement and anticipation of this third little girl. But I wasn't. I was sad. I was scared. I was unsure I could actually love this little, unplanned girl. It felt good to be able to verbalize my unfiltered emotions.

Monday, November 7th, I went to bed with so much anxiety and uncertainty coursing through my veins. I was scheduled for an induction the following morning at 7:30am. I awoke the next morning, my mom had prepared a breakfast of hot oatmeal. As I sat eating my breakfast, I just prayed and prayed that the day would be filled with Jesus. I felt oddly numb and void of too much emotion. It felt other-worldly.

We drove to the hospital, checked in, and got situated in our room. I had a mild induction form that was given me in small doses so as to allow things to happen as naturally as possible. I was given one round and instructed to walk around the hospital for an hour before returning for the second dose. We walked and walked, praying the entire time.

As I recount the day, it was nothing short of a miracle. A dream of sorts. We diffused peace & calming in our room, had the lights dimmed, and played Hillsong's Of Dirt & Grace album on repeat. The day progressed, slowly but surely. My mom came to join us in the hospital room when we knew I was admitted, and not being sent home without a baby.

As the all-too-familiar feeling of contractions ramped up and flooded over me, I did something that caused me to swallow a lot of pride: I asked for an epidural. It went in such stark contrast to my first two labors but it was something I wanted. Matt was actually so taken aback by my request that he spent a solid 15 minutes grilling our nurse about them (all while I was contracting away mind you). That epidural did exactly what I hoped it would do: it allowed me time to peacefully labor and continue to digest what was happening, slowly but surely.

The second the words, "You are cleared to push" uttered my midwife's mouth...I began to sob. Like deep, belly sobs from the depths of my soul. So much so that the nurse asked me if I was okay. I couldn't compose myself but just kept uttering the words, "I LOVE HER! I LOVE HER!!! I LOVE HER!!!!"

In an instant, I pulled Eisley Caroline up on to my chest and God did what only He can do: He melted my heart. He showered me with so much love for this tiny person I just met but somehow my life wasn't complete without. And I just sobbed and sobbed.

A few weeks later, at my best friend's baby shower, I found myself talking to an old friend I hadn't seen since before we were both married. She made a small comment, something to the effect, "Your life just appears to be so great! Your girls are all so cute and you just seem so happy!"

Let me be clear: I am so happy. I am so grateful. I wouldn't change a second of my life for anything.

But my heart sunk. Because our lives are all so beautiful and happy and squeaky clean in the snapshot of social media. And I don't want anyone to think for a second that my life is met without hardship. The second she said that, I knew I had to write this post. Because I want to give voice to the hurts of my heart in hopes that it allows someone else the freedom to feel the hurt of their heart. And know that they're not alone.

These last few months I have clung to this tiny girl in disbelief that there was ever a day I didn't love her. I look down at her in tears all the time at the guilt I feel and will probably battle it for awhile.

This morning, Eisley vomited all over me. Like ALL over me. So I had to strip her down and give her a that bath seat that started it all. And I was overwhelmed with the journey of the last 365 days.

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