Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Perfect Love

So, here are a few things I've been thinking about lately.

When I was pregnant with Leah, it really took a long time for the reality of it to set in. I mean, here was this precious, amazing miracle growing inside of me, something we had longed for, prayed for, cried over. And now that it was an almost-tangible thing, I couldn't quite get my mind around it.

And somewhere, deep in the recesses of my soul, I pulled back. I didn't want to get to close, too attached, didn't want to love too deeply. Not yet. Because, after all, nothing is promised, right? What if something happened? The very thought of loving and being crushed seemed overwhelming to me.

Isn't it so very silly how we fret and worry, borrowing trouble for tomorrow that might never appear?

But a mother's heart is a strange, wonderful thing, and no matter the fear, you cannot help but love. And so I did - I cautiously loved that little being inside of me. And when she was born, healthy and plump and pink, there was no going back.

So in love. 

I think I had a little bout with hormones/depression/what have you right afterward, which I know is not terribly unusual, but still, I hated not feeling like myself. Right around her two week checkup, I had just started leveling off and feeling somewhat normal.

At that checkup, I watched as the doctor passed his stethoscope slowly across her chest, listening, moving it again, listening.  For waaaay too long. My eyes were glued to his face, and I knew something was not right.

She had a heart murmur, which he was quick to tell me was not in and of itself a horrible diagnosis - he figured it to be a hole in her heart which would possibly close up on its own. But to be on the safe side, he wanted us to see a pediatric cardiologist. 

We went the next day, and found out that she had pulmonary valve stenosis - her little valve had not formed correctly, and the extra work it had to do to pump blood through was causing the heart murmur. He ran through the different scenarios, which ran the gamut of her leading a perfectly normal life to her needing heart surgery.

My world kinda came crashing down on me. It was one of those weird things - you never expect to hear something like that about one of your own kids. I had a whole myriad of feelings to process - a bit of numbness over the situation, sadness that my little girl had to go through anything like this at all, and then some good old fashioned guilt that said I had no business feeling anything like that when so many other little ones had it worse.

And then of course, fear.

I was afraid of the unknown. Afraid that she would be taken from me in the middle of the night. I was afraid  that her life would somehow be terribly altered by this diagnosis, and there was nothing I could do about it. I hated that even though you couldn't tell from the outside, something was wrong on the inside.

But here is what I have slowly found out - love is way, way bigger than that fear. Than any fear.  Even if some dark little place inside of me says that the worst might happen, and then tries to protect itself by pulling back and saying that loving is not worth it - oh, it SO is.

And that whole thing about perfect love casting out fear - well, that's true too. I guess I would like it if it was a one time thing - bam! - I love, and so the fear is gone. HE loves me - loves us - and so the fear is gone.

But it's more like a daily thing. I get up and look at her sweet face, and start to worry. Sometimes when I lie awake in bed, those what-ifs hit me so hard. And because my own heart only knows how to love imperfectly, the fear is always there, waiting to pounce on my every weakness.

But the love always rises up to overcome it. He reminds me that no matter what, He is perfect love. No matter the outcome, He loves my Leah far more than I ever could.

And because I have no other option, and because I don't WANT any other option, I choose to rest in that.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The best gift

One year ago, give or take a few days, we were taking down our Christmas decorations. My job is to take down the tree, the lights, the stockings, the village. My long-suffering husband has the delightful job of hauling out the ladder and hefting huge boxes and bins into the attic.

In the midst of all the holiday dismantling, I stopped in the doorway of Savannah's room, and forced myself to take a look around.

This is what I had to admit; it still looked like a nursery.

Sure, we had moved her to a big bed, and given her a dresser, a beautiful old antique thing that used to be mine when I was her age.  And big girl toys were scattered everywhere - dolls, a tea set, an explosion of pony tail holders and barrettes.

But right inside the doorway, the changing table still stood. Across the room, the crib took up half the wall. And inside the drawers, baby things galore awaited. There were piles of bibs and blankets and boppy pillows.

It was still a nursery, still waiting for a precious new bundle of joy, one for which we had been praying and waiting for almost three years now.

But since my husband only hauls out that ladder once or twice a year, I knew it was time. And so, along with the Christmas decorations, those baby things finally made their way out of the drawers, into big plastic bins, and up into the attic.

My heart sighed, but truly, I wasn't really sad. My heart still longed with everything in me for another little one, but somehow during the past year, I had come to a place of surrender. I wasn't fighting any more. It wasn't an act of giving up, but rather a way of saying, It's in Your hands.

Which, of course, it had been all along. But sometimes in my struggle I failed to see it. 

Three weeks later, on February 2, I rolled out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. For some reason, my groggy mind remembered that I had one last pregnancy test still stashed under the cabinet. I have no idea what made me think of it; I had no symptoms, didn't feel extra tired, nothing. But for some reason I reached for that test. I put it on the floor for 2 minutes like I had 50 other times in the past 3 years, and expected to see one lonely line.

There were two.

There were two.

I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I actually started to hyperventilate a little bit, I think, and in the midst of my little meltdown, I grabbed the phone and called my husband.

I was sobbing by that point. I blurted, "I just took a test and it was p-p-positive!" Sniff. Sob. Blubber.

And my poor husband, shocked and understandably concerned at this news, said, "Hon, what do you mean? What kind of test?"

Well. Not the best way to make this kind of earth-shattering announcement, I suppose, since he probably thought for a second I had some incurable disease.

But I explained, and oh, did we ever rejoice.

And eight and half months later, we rejoiced again, when this precious little one came into our lives at 2:30 in the morning.

(Those cheeks!)

I have no words to describe the joy we feel when we look at her. For the first few weeks, I held her, and thought, She's mine. And I still couldn't quite believe it.

She is amazing, and delightful, and smells so good - that heavenly baby scent. And she had the loudest, maddest sounding cry you've ever heard, which frankly just makes me laugh. She is a good sleeper, and an excellent eater, and is already wearing clothes that Savannah didn't even dream of wearing until she was about nine months old.

She is an answer to prayer, and that answer went exceedingly, abundantly above what we could have ever asked or thought.

Welcome, sweet Leah Caroline.
To Him be the glory.