Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Joyful Anticipation...

So here's our family... and it's who defines me, who orders my days, who fulfills me, who challenges me, and who brings me greater joy than I could ask for or imagine. So what happens when we begin to add new people to this dynamic?

I remember when it was just John Paul...
... it was a hard, beautiful, transitional, life-altering, self-redefining time for David and I. It was not a hard decision (I say that now, but David would laugh at me for saying that) to decide to open ourselves to another child when John Paul was around 10 months old. It's no surprise to anyone that David and I want a large family, so in most cases, number 2 comes relatively soon after number 1. (As my sweet friend Britney is chuckling- she went from 1 to 3 with her twin boys).  Well, I remember that when I realized that I was definitely in labor for "the baby" (because we didn't find out Therese's gender) I began to cry of sadness: Our family definition was changing. We would no longer be David, Kate, and John Paul, and I was scared to journey into the unknown to welcome a new baby. And when I heard David say, "It's a girl," it changed everything! It seemed so perfect that God would give us a precious little girl- our Therese Marie.

The adjustment from 1 to 2 was not near as difficult for me as from 0 to 1. And as Therese grew in that first year, her little personality came out very quickly. She was/is curious, opportunistic, independent, self-assured. A fantastic and fun addition to our family. We quickly became pregnant with another baby, who's story I have shared before. We named him Andrew Thomas, and I quickly learned that fertility is a gift, and that life is precious - whether it is planned/expected/feared or not. This experience brought David and I close as no experience had done. God was so close to us through this loss, and we continued to remain open to life... which brought us a pregnancy 3 months later. Enter Jacob.
Jacob has been a huge gift to our family in so many ways. His first 6 months were extremely difficult for me, mostly because he enjoyed nursing every 2 hours 'round the clock, and sleeping was not his top priority. But is was such a joy to see how much/quickly John Paul and Therese loved him. And as I've described before, Jacob's compassion, affection, sense of humor, and love for people has brought us joy that we continue to be surprised by and grateful for.

We also experienced another loss of a child. This one was different because it happened so quickly. We knew that we were pregnant less than 48 hours before miscarrying. Agnes Karolina was gone almost as soon as she came. This pregnancy taught me to be grateful. As you can imagine, Jacob was 6 months old, and though we knew God was asking us to be open to His will, I was emotionally flustered because of Jacob's sleeping habits. So my telling David that we were pregnant was less than enthusiastic. I realized after her loss how much it must have CRUSHED him to hear his wife say that we had created life as if it were a burden. I will always carry regret for feeling/thinking/reacting this way. Another 3 months passed and we discovered (after about 120 pregnancy tests b/c I was so irritable and weepy all the time) that we were pregnant. Praise God for another chance to be grateful for life!

And so as of today I am full term for Micah Philip Dawson. I've had contractions, Braxton Hicks, pressure, heartburn, and digestive trouble since about 30 weeks. I am seeing a pattern that somewhere between 30 and 35 weeks I hit a place of despair because I just think I can't handle being pregnant any more. I start bargaining with God, saying things like, "Hmm, well God if we have a baby at 32 weeks, it won't be so bad. A 4 lb baby is ok, and a few weeks in the NICU won't be so bad." (Forgive me, Lord, and forgive me Mama's who have had to go through such a nightmare). It takes so much grace and dying to self to stay/get back on track in remember that what's best for the BABY is time and growth and weight even if it's not easy for ME (imagine that). I come out of this stupor at around 35 weeks, probably because I can see that light at the end of the tunnel... what's another 5 weeks?

The fear of redefining our family, as I experienced when moving from one to two, is pretty much gone, other than attempting to picture what life will look like (which is not productive because it cannot be pictured), and I also must admit that the thought of 4 children is more exciting than frightening (as I tended to feel when moving from 2 to 3). I kind of feel like I've already reached that, "Well what's one more?" kind of mentality. It's already a fantastic little circus over here... so the more the merrier seems to be the idea around here.

I am seeing signs that my body may be ready to get this party started... and though I have prayed for an early baby (like a little 5 year old who asks God for a new bike), David and I are facilitating a married couples retreat starting tomorrow and ending Sunday. So my more specific prayer is to have Micah soon... just after Sunday (thanks Fr Huckaby for telling that I can be specific in prayer). So the name of the game is waiting. But the gift of a  a handful of children already means that waiting isn't really what happens. We are NOT bored over here.

All this to say that joyful anticipation is the new name of the game. Praise God for a wonderful example: the Blessed Mother!

And so I wait... "my soul proclaims that greatness of the Lord... for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant."

See you soon, Micah, you precious gift from God!

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