Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Birth Story: Polly Jane - Part One

Psalm 92:4
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

If you have seen me sometime over these last (almost!) six months, you have probably met Polly Jane. I have probably turned so you could see her sweet face. I have probably told you how wonderful she is. ("She is WONderful!") I may have kissed her in front of you. I may have even told you how amazingly squishy her plump cheeks are, and how I love to kiss them. Polly Jane has probably been wearing a cute bow, tights, and a darling little dress. You, too, have probably thought she is wonderful.

I probably did not tell you how carrying her inside me was the hardest thing that ever happened. I did not mention that the nine month gestation grew one child's flesh together and separated what is to be one flesh. I did not tell you that I could not name this child until her birth was imminent. I did not tell you that I felt little joy at her squirms and kicks. I did not tell you how I cried in the dark and alone, feeling like a terrible mother. I was. I am.

So, this birth story must be told two ways. First, I must tell you about the gestation, the forming, the warring inside me. Then, I can tell you of the delivery, the absence of warring, and the holding. Both stories scream of God's goodness.

Just a few years ago, I worried that I would never get pregnant. I pleaded with God for a child. This gift he gave - Elijah! I wondered if pregnancy and childbirth would heal me. Would things be normal now? Could I have another baby? Or was Elijah just a miraculous fluke? All my other friends got their periods. I waited for mine. I weaned Elijah at one year old. I waited. I grew fearful. I pleaded again with God for another child. Would He, the one who opens wombs, give me another most-valuable gift? God heard my prayers and gave me Haven. Loud, exuberant, a bit tireless. I was tired.

I did not pray for another baby. Certainly I wanted another, but I wasn't to the point of asking God for that yet. And God should wait until I let Him know my timetable, no?

We were looking for a new house on a strict deadline. I was anxious. I was flustered (how can you make such a huge decision?). I was pregnant. I wasn't ready. I was tired. I was not a good Mom. Things were not under control - in the home, in my body, in my children's hearts. I refused to take a pregnancy test. I didn't acknowledge the life inside me.

My friend called, crying. She was pregnant with her 3rd. Unexpected. I cried with her. I said nothing. We moved. I moved boxes, cleaned like crazy, held my belly in. I cried. "God, there is no way I can do this! I'm so bad at this already!"

The worst part was not being excited. What kind of mother finds out about her baby and doesn't care? Doesn't glow? Doesn't shout her joy aloud?

I listened to other Moms tell me why they must have an abortion. I couldn't exclaim with joy to them that I had a tiny baby in my belly too. I couldn't convey wonder and awe to them...because I did not have it. My counsel was personal. ("Yes, your life will be totally disrupted. Yes, it will be super-duper hard. I'm in this with you! I have to do this too! I am hunting for the joy in this as well!") I (finally!) saw myself as not unlike these mothers. Abortion was not an option for me, but it might as well have been. My child grew, but my love for this baby did not.

When I finally told of this 3rd child's presence, Eric's reaction was perfectly wonderful - excitement. My short, faltering attempt to convey to him that this was hard for me failed. "Well, don't you love Haven? I mean, don't you think you'll love the new baby?" No, Eric, that isn't it. No...I don't already love the baby. Can't you see that I am of the wickedest sort? The kind of mother who can't bond with her child? What kind of person am I?

I shut down. I did not communicate with him any more. His one unintended cutting remark had thrown up iron bars around my heart and my mouth. We talked. We went on an anniversary trip. We discussed where the baby would sleep and other planning-type details. We did not discuss my heart. My hard, hard heart. Our relationship felt like that between businessmen - cordial, short, just enough to make things run smoothly.

Elijah, Haven, and I talked about the baby. We prayed that we would love the baby. Elijah and Haven were asking God to make them kind and gentle with the baby. I was asking for love.

{Part two coming tomorrow...}


Maggie said...

Wow, how amazing that you have put this all into words. I know that little Polly will someday be able to read this and see God's goodness and be thankful she has a Momma that is chasing after God! What a great example for your little ones:) Can't wait to read Part Two, because I know how much you love your babies, and I know that God is good! .

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Love you Lydia! Thanks for sharing.

Katie J said...

Speechless Lydia, just speechless. I never would have guessed your struggle- I can't wait to read part 2! I can empathize in a sense knowing the feelings you were having as my feelings after Caleb's birth were so complex and inconsistent with what I wanted them to be and what I knew they should be. I loved my baby, but I was lost at loving what it was to be his mother. I couldn't recognize the fleeting time of his babyhood, in fact, I couldn't wait until he grew out of it. I just really struggled with what I think were unreaslistic expectations, sleep deprivation, feelings of loneliness and depression. My friends all seemed to adjust to their newborns rather well- or at least by the time their new born was a couple of months old. I wondered what was wrong with me all the time. Alas, God has been faithful and good, sooo sooo, good. As he has ever been faithful to Israel, he has been faithful to me. It is my prayer that my relationship with Caleb is and has been restored- I am so thankful for everyday that I have to love him and to be his mother. He is indeed a precious, precious gift from God. Sweetest belssings to you and your family!