Thursday, April 23, 2015

Moving Forward

"Godly fear is loving and trusting in Him. As we fear God more completely, we love Him more perfectly."
—David A. Bednar, "Therefore They Hushed Their Fears"

The app on my phone sent me a reminder this morning, 12 weeks. I'm still trying to figure out how to shut it off. About a week ago, and just days after telling family and a few close friends, the heart beat and the tiny squirmy body that was once growing inside of mine suddenly wasn't. At first I was numb, rationally telling myself I had seen this coming all along. But the wave of emotion didn't take long before it engulfed any defensive walls I'd put up.

Almost exactly two years ago, I held Lydia for the first time. It was a moment of instant love and adoration for this perfect baby who I finally got to meet after an uncomfortable nine months. But that moment was quickly followed by an overwhelming feeling that we weren't done. It was terrifying. Terrifying enough that I never mentioned that feeling to Paul for a few months. I remember his expression of shock, because he had had those impressions too, but would NEVER had brought it up if I hadn't. It was a scary moment for us, but we just sort of tucked that fear away for a later date. Right now we had four kids. We were adjusting our lives to care for four tiny human beings, and that was enough.

There's a popular thread that's been going around Facebook for a while now about so-called "good samaritans" calling the cops on "bad mothers" who leave their kids unattended for brief periods of time. As outlandish and far-removed as these reports sound, part of me wonders how long it will be before I'm brought in and questioned for seeming neglect. You see, I let my kids play outside, by themselves. I let the older boys wander off and play in the nearby woods where I can't see them. I often leave Lydia in her crib while I walk across the street to the bus stop. Obviously, I physically can't helicopter my kids like our culture seems to demand, but don't intend to either. Adding one more child to our circus still scares me, but for even more reasons than it once did. I'm sure we are already being scrutinized for our bare feet, dirty faces and lack of constant supervision. The attack on the family really is starting to feel crushing, and I sometimes have to remind myself why I'm in the fight.

When we found out we were pregnant, it was a bit of a shock, but only because it came so fast. It felt like I'd just jumped into a rushing river, blindfolded, trusting that God had my back and that I would somehow make it to the other side with His help. I trusted His timing, and felt comforted in knowing that He knew what I needed more than I did. I kept waiting to feel pregnant, but never did. I was a little tired, but the morning sickness never came. I didn't want to complain about not feeling sick, but still, this was a little unsettling to me. At my first appointment, I requested an ultrasound just to see it for myself. When I saw the wiggling legs and arms and the regular heartbeat, those fears seemed to subside for a moment. That day, with some hesitation, I told our kids. Then I began to tell others, with that same unexplainable reticence. But for whatever reason, it never felt real the same way our other kids did.

So it really didn't come as a huge surprise when I first knew that I was miscarrying. I scheduled a doctor's appointment for the next day, and came in to face the music. When it was confirmed that the baby was no longer alive, it finally hit me. I was a mess.

Even in those really tough moments, it was obvious to me that this was an experience I was meant to have. I suddenly had much clearer eyes and deeper empathy for the many women in my life who I knew had also gone through this. That pain is real, and until that point, I had mostly taken pregnancy for granted. I was grateful for the simple reminder that God is in control, that He is the author of life - not me.

I've come to understand my stewardship a little better. As much as I love my kids (and I really, really do!), I know that God's love for them is even more than I can comprehend. They are His, and I am entrusted with them for such a short, but vital time. I will be accountable to Him for any neglect or abuse. Kind of makes the societal pressures seem silly when I really think about it. It is amazing to know that He trusts me to care for another one of His children, whenever that might be. As for today, I am ok. I'm perhaps even a little relieved to have a moment to pause and reflect on why I'm crazy enough to want five children. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Baby Girl is TWO!

It's funny how much a child can change you in such a short period of time. Two years ago, I was the contended mother of three, wondering how on earth I was going to handle ANOTHER baby. Lydia came, that miraculous love instantly flowed, and our family has never been the same since. 
Lydia has so much personality. She came to this earth ready to DO stuff. She is undeterred by her bigger brothers and sister, and generally rules the roost around here. 
 Lydia is a huge fan of her older brothers, but mostly she wants to be with Nora all day. Nora is usually only bothered by this when she's trying to clean her room and Lydia is getting in the way, or when Lydia is demanding whatever it is that Nora is wearing or holding. But for the most part, these two cuddle muffins were made for each other. Lydia has the imagination and playfulness that Nora has missed out on, being the only 'big girl' in the family for so long.
 Lydia also adores her Daddy, and gives the best hugs, accompanied by an enthusiastic "DADDYYYYY!!!" when she sees him walk through the door after work. She is really sensitive to who might be missing whenever we go places. Like if Paul is driving separately and she thinks we've left him, she'll wail for a good five minutes. Same with her siblings.
 This isn't a common thing (yet!) but Lydia has started refusing naps, and then usually takes them anyways when I'm not looking. When this happens, she's most often in her big reading chair with a giant pile of books scattered around her. That's her spot most mornings too. Her routine when she wakes up is very particular- Ben gets her out of her crib and leaves, she shuts her door behind him, then she goes to town "reading" her books for about a half hour. After that, she's ready to be social. But you don't mess with her before she's had that reading time! Seriously.
 Lydia is a builder. She loves her Duplos, so we got her a big set for her birthday. She was pretty excited to have more to work with!
 The day of her birthday, I was also teaching Joy School here at our house. Lydia is usually pretty chill about this, and her birthday was no exception. (The last time we had it here was a different story...lots of drama)
I love how easy to please two year olds are in the present department. 
 She was so excited about all her presents.
 For her cake, I used one of her presents (some Frozen figurines) to decorate it. The frosting wasn't much to look at, but it is a REALLY good recipe I recently got from a friend. Usually I'm not a fan of frosting, but this stuff kicks a 'meh' cake up a notch. Anyways. Back to Lydia... :)
 When she saw the cake for the first time, she kept saying "Olas!" over and over. She had been talking about birthday cake for weeks and weeks, and was thrilled when she finally had one!
 She even blew out her own candles.
 This is what happens when I try to take a picture with all the kids. Peter and Lydia. Sheesh.
Lydia loves animals of all kinds. It's fun taking her to the zoo (but only if you bring enough snacks, I've wisely learned).
 We also recently went to Purina Farms to pet the bunnies and baby animals. She still talks about the "Doggy Show" that she insisted on watching twice while we were there.
 Lydia is my fearless girl who will climb up the playground steps and go down big slides all by herself with no one at the bottom to catch her. And if you even try to hold her hand in a parking lot or carry her, you'd better watch out. She walks BY HERSELF thank you very much. And she climbs into the car and into her car seat by herself too. Thankfully she lets me "help" with the buckles.
 Lydia still loves boots of any kind, and is really good at getting them on by herself.
Lydia is comfortable in her own skin. I love her confidence and creativity and her fierce devotion. I'm excited to watch who she becomes as the "toddler" wears off and the girl emerges. Love this girl.