Big Family Chaos, Letting Go and Letting God

Two days to my due date with our 5th baby, and after weeks of trying to keep our home clean and organized…it’s all falling apart. The holidays, the contractions, the chaos of four little ones who are inside most of the time lately; it is just impossible to maintain for very long.

Then, the sudden death of my aunt. While mourning her loss, it also means less help from my mother and other close family members as they (understandably) move their focus to the immediate needs of preparing to say goodbye to her. Not to mention the emotional pain they are coping with.

My husband is stressed over his job, and what his options are. He has worked his whole life, including military service, but he has also battled bipolar disorder for most of his adulthood. This has lead to difficulty in getting gainful employment and keeping it. He has been in solid recovery for the last few years, but it takes time. He knows that we need him, and he is worried. I am worried that he is worried! Not a good cycle.

Then, my oldest daughter goes from slightly sick to throwing up all over the couch today. I’m helping her get cleaned up and praying to God “Please, please do not let me get sick too!” I can’t imagine having to give birth while ill. And how long before the other kids get it and start throwing up too?

So there I am. Big and pregnant. Cleaning puke. Chasing my all-maniac-boy toddler. Managing arguments between the middle two girls. Squeezing my son onto my lap to nurse for the millionth time. The floors I meticulously swept, mopped, and vacuumed are a mess again. The bathroom that I scrubbed on my hands and knees has to be cleaned again. The toys I put away are on the floor, again.

And so, I started thinking, “how do I let go?”

How do I accept that no matter how much I clean, it will once again be a mess?

How do I accept that germs do not care that I am pregnant, and my kids still need me to help them when they are sick?

How do I let go of worrying over my husband so much, and allow him to figure things out?

How do I accept death, in the midst of bringing new life?

How do I really accept that I cannot decide when this baby is born?

It all reminds me that I really am not in control of much. Life is MESSY. Especially with a big family. But, it is a beautiful mess.

This verse comes to mind for me;
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ” Matt 6:33

Seek first the Kingdom. Seek after His righteousness. All these things (our needs) will be given to us. In other words, LET GO. STOP worrying so much! The Father already KNOWS what we need, and he is a GOOD father who takes care of His children.

Shalom.

Advertisements

Grieving My Aunts Sudden Death, Right Before Giving Birth

I received a text message from my mother before I had gotten out of bed, “Call me when you’re up. It’s important.”

I immediately got out of bed, my heart beating faster. I knew something very bad had happened, because there is no way she should ever text me like that otherwise. I tried to prepare my still sleepy mind for terrible news. Somebody I love must be badly hurt, or dead. I just didn’t know who. Part of me did not want to know, but delaying the phone call would not change anything.

I went into the bathroom and quietly called her. There were no typical pleasantries. We both knew there was only one reason for this phone call. There was no way to sugar coat the news, “Aunt Cookie is dead”.

Then, silence on my end. My head swimming with the abrupt finality of those words. Injured, or sick leaves room for hope. Death is unforgiving, leaving no space for second chances.

How? When? What on earth happened?

Not so many details yet. She was at a friend’s house. She overdosed on her medications. No one knows if it was intentional, or accidental.

She was hospitalized recently for suicidal depression. She had battled depression her entire life, but she had lost over 100lbs in recent years and seemed to be doing better. Did she do it intentionally? Then again, she was known to occasionally abuse her medications. In an attempt to get relief from her mental stress, she would take too many benzos or opiates. That is an easy way to accidentally overdose, and given her age and health status, it would be even easier.

Either situation leaves us in sudden grief. A poor decision made in haste, clouded by depression. She is gone. There is no way to bring her back to us. My cousins, and second cousins have lost their mother and grandmother. My mother and aunts have lost their sister. I have lost my aunt.

And I am nearly 40 weeks pregnant.

How do I manage death and new life simultaneously? How does my family embrace, and celebrate a new addition; while saying goodbye to another loved one?

And then, the practical concerns that plague those coping with death. The Funeral. The wake. What if I go into labor at the same time as the funeral service? How could I possibly miss it? How could I ask my mother to help me, support me, watch my children during labor if she is supposed to be saying goodbye to her sister?

All of this is sitting inside of me, eating me up.

We describe deep sadness as our “heart breaking”, or “soul crushing”. It is a not just a figure of speech, it literally feels as if my heart is breaking and my soul is being crushed. There is a physical element to emotional pain that is undeniable, and it is with me all day today. I am carrying that heaviness, just as real as my toddler on my hip and heavy baby in my womb.

I didn’t have a way to prepare for this. Life is often interrupted by a series of uncontrollable events. We are really not in control of many things, despite pretending otherwise.

As a believer, this is a time for me to get grounded in the Word. To remember that He is in control, and knows all things. He is our comforter, our healer, and our refuge in times of need. I have to trust in Him, to continue to guide this pregnancy until birth. I have to trust him, even in the face of death and loss. I am reminded of my mortality as well. We are not promised tomorrow, so let’s make the best of today. And remember to tell our loved ones how much we value them in our lives, because you may not have another chance.

Shalom.

Nesting, Nesting, Nesting- 39 Weeks Pregnant

I kind of overdid it today. I had to sit down, and drink some orange juice. Nesting is the phenomenon many pregnant women experience towards the end of their pregnancies, where they feel the need to clean and organize everything before the baby comes. I always get this sudden urge to scrub, vacuum, wash, and organize everything in sight. After the holidays this week, my apartment was a disaster zone so I went a little crazy cleaning up. It does feel good, those 5 minutes of a clean home, before the four kids destroy it again!

Actually, my girls have been generally very good and helpful with cleaning up when I ask them to. My son, that 2 yr old terror, is another story. Don’t let his adorable face fool you, he can cause more mayhem than a feral cat.

I am trying hard not to focus on my “due date” which is only 4 days away. I swore I would “go early” this pregnancy, yet here I am still pregnant. I do this to myself every time! I should know better by now.

Anyway, I am ready to meet this baby! Come baby, before I have to go another cleaning spree…

Momma, When You Feel “Touched Out”

This is a picture my 6yr old daughter snapped of me breastfeeding my 2yr old son, while heavily pregnant. I love what this picture captures, his smile at me and my joy in him. I also love that my daughter decided to take the photo. But breastfeeding through my 5th pregnancy has been challenging in many ways, especially when it comes to feeling “touched out”.IMG_E0307

 

Sometimes, all I want is for the little ones to not need me so much! 

Sometimes, I have to tell my son “not now” when he asks to nurse (and that is okay too).

Sometimes, I need half an hour to myself without the children on me, before I can relax with my husband.

All of this is true, but I want to remind you touched out mommas (and myself) of some very important things…

  • You are so very important to these little people in your life! Your babies, toddlers, and children need you. There will never be another time when simply being with YOU is so incredibly calming for them. Your touch, your kisses, your milk, your lap; you are giving them the love they need. The world may not recognize the work you are doing, but it is so important. Don’t lose sight of that.
  • The older children are watching you, and your love is a gift to them too. Those of you with children of multiple ages, you are giving them an incredible living example of what loving sacrifice looks like. Every time you rock a crying baby, sooth an upset 3yr old, and nurse a tired toddler. Every time you scoop them into your lap and read them a story. Every time you forget about that tea you had to heat up for the third time, because you were too busy giving. Every time momma, they see it. It matters.
  • It really does not last forever. They will grow taller, leaner, and more self reliant. They won’t wake you up at night to cuddle. They won’t beg you for one more story. They won’t cry for you to carry them on your tired hips. They won’t need your presence the same way they do now. But, these days will have built a solid foundation within them. They will still know and rely on your love, and your strength will become their own. They won’t always need you like this, but your sacrifices will always matter.

It may not seem like much more than a whirlwind of tasks some days. Running from mess to mess, child to child, meeting the needs all around you all the time. You finally fall into some sort of sleep, tired and TOUCHED OUT.

But momma, it IS sacred work. Raising these beautiful babies is a higher calling. It is something pure, wonderful, and holy. Often the most holy moments are caught in the most mundane and routine tasks of care-giving. It is humbling work. It changes you daily, in ways you may not realize just yet.

So, yes, put those feet up when you can. Give yourself time, and rest.

But remember what an important, and fleeting time this is.

Shalom.

 

 

Nearing Birth, 37 Weeks Unassisted

Lately, there has been a major shift; physically and emotionally. I frequently wake up in the middle of the night, and the very early morning. I carefully move my legs out of bed, trying not to cause my hips more pain. I limp over to the kitchen and get something to drink and snack on. I empty my bladder for the hundredth time. I sit in my recliner and enjoy the silent darkness, before my toddler wakes and comes running sleepily to find me and nurse in my heavy, burdened lap.

I need more rest, and more time to think. I’m less interested in what it going on outside and around me. My focus draws inward, to the life that moves so strongly inside of me. I am startled awake sometimes by the strength of this little ones kicking.

Most of the time I feel joyful anticipation over the upcoming birth, but there are moments of panic when I consider the task ahead of me. It is the hardest thing to do. It takes physical and mental strength like nothing else I have done. I draw deep from within myself to have the courage, I lean on my husband physically and emotionally, and I pray to my Savior for His strength to come to me when I lose mine. I hold in my minds eye the image of my newborn, and I remind myself of the joy to come.

My contractions have become more intense since yesterday. Still sporadic, like the casual tossing of a sea. Yet, stronger. Filled with the sensation of my babies head pressing down, helping to soften and open me up to their birth. At times it feels like a powerful hug, almost enjoyable. At other times, it wakes me up and I cringe in pain.

My toddler still needs me so much physically. It is very difficult to handle his demands against my own needs at the end of pregnancy. I have committed myself to nursing him until he self-weans, esp because of his concerning lack of weight gain (a subject for another day). But it is hard!

My due date is still two weeks away, but I don’t think the baby is waiting that long. Time will tell.

I never had a winter baby before. It is kind of fitting, as the earth goes into itself that I would also go inward. It feels right, in some spiritual sense.

Shalom.