A Place to Sleep

We’re staring down the home stretch of this pregnancy to a due date.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve finally let myself do some of the things.  We organized some closets.  We ordered some size one diapers (I grow big babies).  My mom graciously washed newborn clothes and bottles and we put them in their place.  I’m starting to believe this may actually happen.  This baby may be born healthy and strong.  It may even come home.

FDED7223-92A4-4B24-989B-40B209C6C3F0We’re more minimalist than I thought I would be as a parent.  No perfectly decorated nursery for Emerson or this next child.  Our plan for this one is a pack and play in the office till sleeping through the night is a thing.  Then, both children will share.  I’ve gone back and forth feeling guilty about this.  Should my children have perfectly decorated rooms?  Shouldn’t I have a picture to post of that?

I’ve started to think about some of the newborn things.  Schedules.  Breast feeding.  Pumping.  How to juggle two children.  Laundry.  Bottle washing.  All the things.  I’ve started to ask a few questions of others about what the next few months may look like.  I’m in a few mom Facebook groups that I’ve started to pay more attention to recently as I watch discussions about naps and feedings.  I’ve read about the exhaustion and frustration.

We had set aside today to have some fun with Emerson and to do some good cleaning of our house.  Nothing says I’m 38 weeks pregnant with an object the size of a watermelon in my belly like scrubbing a toilet.  Well we had set aside today to only focus on some cleaning.

F8AAA42C-46F4-4DB2-AE64-B6C600CD25D0Late yesterday I received a message from a pregnant teenager saying she needed a place to live, 11 weeks pregnant and very unsure of what her future holds.  Then Donte needed our help today too.  He’s been out of a 3-month-jail-stay for a probation violation (maybe more about that in the future) for less than 48 hours and is already running out of options.  Smith and Smith Social Services was open for business.  I was researching pregnancy housing one minute and editing our list of resources for Donte to call the next.  JR was on the phone with him planning a route on public transportation for them to meet so Donte could borrow a computer to do some research.

IMG_2159I think about these three people – my “first” boy Donte, this pregnant teenager, and her unborn child – they aren’t sure where they are going to sleep in the near future.  While we were a little distracted at times today, I explained to Emerson that we were helping Donte find a bed in which to sleep.

“A big bed?” She asked.  She’s very fascinated with the idea of a big bed right now.  She had one for three days in June and then was demoted for bad behavior on my birthday.

“Yes, honey a very big bed.  Donte is taller than the door.  He used to sleep in the bed in your room.”

Then we prayed for Donte to find a safe bed.

It’s easy to fall into the middle-class motherhood trap, where the things matter so much.  I’ve caught myself being tempted by those things in recent days.  But today my heart broke for three people who are worried about something much more basic – where to sleep, what to eat, where to live.

When JR went back to pick up our computer from Donte, I sent him with a packed dinner of anything I could find in our fridge.  Our 6-foot-8-man-boy had only eaten once in 48 hours.

Being a parent is not an easy task, I’m very aware of that.  I’m also aware that its a tremendous gift.    I’m writing tonight to remind myself in a few weeks that when I’m tempted to be overwhelmed by the daily things (the laundry, the spit up, the crying, the lack of sleep) and when I’m tempted to focus on complaining about how hard it is, that all this baby really needs is a safe place to sleep, some food to eat, and some love.  With Jesus in me, I can do all of that.

It’s a broken world we’re bringing a child into.  Today was a painful reminder of that. There are so many “kids” out there who haven’t been given what we hope to give our children.  It’s not as it should be.

One of our favorite children books is “God made light.”  The line that currently makes me teary says, “And on the day you were born God said ‘Let there be light.'” 

With that truth, I hope to bring our next child into the world.  Baby, we want you to be the kind of person that will work to push back darkness in the world.  The kind of person that will love Jesus and be light to those living in brokenness.  We want you to grow up to be an adult who will care for women in crisis pregnancy situations and minority men who have fallen into the broken criminal justice cycle and other people like them.  In the meantime, your mama is going to try her hardest to not sweat the less important stuff (your appearance, your performance, your nursery, nor your schedule).  Hope to see you soon.  If you want to come tonight, that’d be great because the house is perfectly clean and that like never happens.

#3

Tomorrow I have my mid-pregnancy anatomy scan.  Yes, we’re pregnant again and have made it to the 19-week mark.

As I think about this appointment, the same four words keep running through my head.  “There is no heartbeat.”

It was six months ago I was in this exact same position.  Halfway through a pregnancy.  4 months of puking my brains out.  Visible bump.  A healthy sonogram at 8 weeks.  Two appointments with an audible heartbeat.  Everything looking great on the outside.

Yet last time everything was actually a mess on the inside.  We had no idea.

Over the past four months, I’ve battled more fear and anxiety than at any other point in my life.  We’re so thankful to be pregnant again.  Thankful to have spent 19-weeks with our third little love.  We’re hopeful for a future with this child.  At the same time, we’re scared to experience loss again.

People want to say things like, “Have faith it will all be fine” or “I’m sure everything will be fine this time, keep believing.”  But I don’t want to put my faith and trust in things that will fail.  It may not be fine.  This baby may not be healthy.  We may not hold this third child either.  If my faith had only been in these things last time, my entire foundation would have been dismantled.

What I do know is that what God has done over the past six months He is capable of doing again.  I want to put my faith in what won’t fail and what won’t let me down.  My situation may get worse, but my God will not.  God will be near.  God will pour love and grace out on me.  God will heal any broken part.  God will make all things new.  God will give me life eternal.  God will always work for the eternal good of those who love Him.

I am not owed a healthy baby this time.  I am not guaranteed a smooth sailing pregnancy.  I do not get to miss out suffering this go around simply because I took my turn last time.  I wish it worked that way.

I am hopeful that it will look different.  Yet at the same time, I am all too aware that it may not.

God has been asking me each day to simply trust Him.  To be with Him and to remember who He is.  I’ve been reminded to love Him for who He is and not just for what He can do for me.  He can give me a perfectly healthy baby.  He also cannot.

One of the things we are most thankful for with Maizie is that we had no idea something was wrong until after her life had ended.  I went through 21-weeks of pregnancy rejoicing in the miracle of a life inside my womb.  We opted to not perform any early genetic testing this time for the same reason.  We want to be truly thankful for each healthy day we have with this child.  The biggest difference this time is we feel afraid to have much hope for the future or to dream about days to come.

We held off on telling people for a number of reasons.  We needed to hold it close to our own hearts for awhile and to really wrestle some with God.  One of my biggest fears in beginning to share this news was to hear the word congratulations or to see other people only feel excitement for us.  I haven’t been able to get to excited or really joyful.  I have deeply tasted thankfulness though.  I was worried that I would feel like a bad mother if other people were more excited than me.  What kind of mom isn’t the most excited person about her child?  However as we’ve slowly released this news over the past couple weeks, I’ve ended up being thankful for people who can be excited for this child.  They are doing something for me that I can’t quite do for myself right now.  I think that’s ok.  It’s ok that they only taste the excitement, because they don’t know the pain.  It’s also ok that I’m not excited yet, because I am too deeply aware of what loss in this area may cost me.  My favorite response though is from people who acknowledge the tension of what we must be feeling.

I’m hopeful that tomorrow will look completely different than December 6th.  I’m desperate for it to look different.  But even if doesn’t, I know God will be with me.

Smith baby #3, We all love you and we really want to hold you.

family

 

 

 

Rejoice and Mourn

This week at Central Market we ran into our summer pool-time friends. I only know the first names of the cute mom and two toddler boys with about an age difference of plus or minus six-months with Emerson.  We were members at the same pool club this summer and we spent about three mornings a week together.  She could chase a toddler while I watched her crawler in the splash pad.  We both shared snacks and toys.  In August I had shared with her about our pregnancy and told her I was taking notes on how she tackled the pool with two.Poolside toodler

We started catching up about her boys and my Emerson. I mentioned we were doing swim lessons. She asked a few questions about that and shared that she is pregnant with her third due in June. I had noticed that little bump in her tummy and had thought it was a baby. She hopes to get the other two swimming better by summer so they can make it to the pool in July and August. I said that was our motivation for lessons too.

“Oh yeah! When are you due?” She recalled me sharing in the past that we were pregnant.
“We found out 3 weeks ago at our 21 week appointment that our baby had died”
“21 weeks. That’s so late. Was it a traumatic event?” Probably referring to the baby experiencing trauma.
“Yes it is (I said referring to me). They think it was chromosomal”
“Did you not do the early testing?”
“No, we don’t do it because it wouldn’t change how we carry a pregnancy and would just add worry. Even with this happening, we won’t do it in the future.”
“That must have made the holidays terrible”
“Yes”

A few more minutes chatting about other things and then I was ready to finish shopping and get out of there.  She really was kind and compassionate.

I cried the whole way home. Every time I say it out loud the reality starts to sink in.

We love these summer time friends. As I drove, I pictured how fun it would have been to wrangle our three toddlers together and be figuring out infants by the pool. I won’t have an infant by the pool this summer.

I love you social media because you told most people in my extended network that our baby had passed away. You saved me from the majority of these conversations I would have had to have.  I can’t thank you enough for helping me avoid hundreds of conversations like this.

I hate you social media because you are telling me about every single person who is announcing a pregnancy this December. You are reminding me of who else is pregnant and has a growing belly the size mine should be. You are showing me the Christmas parties I didn’t feel up to attending. You show me the groups of my friends getting together without me, which normally wouldn’t send me into sadness but today feels unbearable. Anything that feels like missing out feels terribly isolating.

I’ve heard people talk in the past about how social media can feel hard for people; but I’ve never experienced it sending me into unhealthy places. An occasional thought of “I want those shoes” or “I want to decorate my home like that,” but nothing that strikes a terrible chord deep in my soul. Now I understand the want, the desire and the longing that other people’s good things can stir up in someone else.

Friends, I apologize for the way I never considered you before when I posted about my romance. I never really thought about the way that would make you aware of your loneliness. I apologize for the way I post wedding pics candidly and do not think about the way they stir up your dreams for that day. I apologize for the way I have posted pregnancy announcements and newborn photos without ever considering your longing or your years of toiling for these same things.

I don’t think we have to quit sharing the good things; however as we do, maybe we should all say some prayers for the people who may start hurting when they wonder why the good things don’t seem to come their way.

The little acts of care and thoughtfulness mean so much. I have a friend who announced she was pregnant for the first time on her Christmas Card. Enclosed in my envelope was a small note where she shared that she hesitated to send the card, that she hurt and cried with me and that she was praying for our family. This small act, this small acknowledgement that this announcement may be difficult for me, helped me in so many ways. It gave me the freedom to recognize my hurt and longing. It told me she mourned with me as a mourned.  Lastly, it helped me to rejoice with her as her family rejoiced, instead of being bitter and jealous.

Romans 12:15 has baffled me forever how these two things go together in one sentence. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

How do we do one of those when we are deeply feeling the other?

We recognize where we currently are. We acknowledge where the other person may be. We give people freedom to experience the emotion they are currently experiencing. We trust that the Lord is writing a beautiful story for each of us that works for His Glory and our good. We believe in the things that are unseen because those are the eternal things.  We look forward towards the redemption of this world at the second coming of Christ when all of our light and momentary affliction won’t feel so massive anymore.

My friend shared her rejoicing while acknowledging my mourning. Her kindness to me enabled my soul to truly rejoice in her good news, while continually mourning mine.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Mourn with those who mourn.

They can go together. Jesus makes it so.