The Slow Ache: Moving On In Motherhood

 

Being a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes catch myself seeing other couples my age with nice cars and big houses and thinking, “How in a mother’s uterus can they afford that?!  Oh yeah, two incomes.”  I forget that some households have double the take in when the paychecks come.  Nevertheless, I love our one income life and family and consider myself insanely blessed.  Nice home, cute kids, good clothes, food, two cars….all of what we “think” we need to be “taken care of”.  Still, having one income makes me REALLY hardcore love some extra money on the side.  Because of that, in the past year or so, I’ve taken a liking to selling off stuff from our home in groups on Facebook.  It’s sort of addictive, really. My life is sort of like a virtual yard sale.   It’s easy money and no matter what amount it comes in…money is money is money and cha cha cha ching!

As of late, I have been selling off baby items since we are done having kids.  A co-sleeper here, bath tub there and money all around, y’all  Even better?  Sweet SPACE!  One thing they don’t tell you when you have kids is that half of your house will be overtaken with large plastic, multi-colored baby gear.

It wasn’t until two months ago that I sold my first tote of baby clothes….the clothes all of my precious daughters have worn season by season.  Again tonight, eager to get things sorted, cleared out, and some more money on hand for the next thing, I began going through another season of clothes.  And just like the first time, a feeling of vunerability swept over me.  It’s the reoccuring feeling of a mother letting go…moving on.   My mother once said that motherhood is a long act of letting go.  She is right.  And while it is such a joy to see your kids grow and a blessing to have them grow older, letting go is a slow ache.  It hits you in moments, not in long drawn out weeks or months…in subtle moments standing over small clothes, thumbing down collars and pressing worn ruffles.

I pulled some shirts out of the tote and felt tears sting my eyes as they welled behind the surface.

“Aw, my firstborn worn this dress the first time I heard her laugh.  I was having such a hard time then that that laugh was like rescue to my tired heart.”

“THIS oufit!!!! I remember each of my little ones wore this on Christmas and that stain on the collar was surely from my last born.  She spit up as if she was getting paid to do so.”

I moved on to the next piece and just like the outfit before, I contemplated whether or not I should sell them.  Should I keep them for my grandchildren?  Should I save some things just in case?  Sometimes it’s not even letting go of the children that gets you.  It’s letting go of the symbols of when they were your babies.  I know I’m only a season or so away of clothes where the feet of footed pajamas, no longer fit in the palm of my hand.

I continue to fold each piece, recall the little people who wore them and the pictures in my mind of them all in that certain dress or those cozy fleece pajamas worn on late night runs to the grocery store.  I smooth the sleeves, fluff out cotton flowers and press down crinkled ribbons and I do so thinking of the mom who bought the clothes from me. I imagine that when she pulls them out, she will picture another little girl, her own, who will wear this outfit to her first Sunday at church and that outfit when summer hits and she smiles seeing her baby’s chubby white thighs.  For me, there was a lot of love held in those clothes and as I pass them on, I’m happy knowing that another mother will find her daughters just as sweet in them.

It’s hard for me to believe that I’m passing these precious tokens of my memory on already.  I’m moving on to a stage that another mother is just beginning. “It can’t be that this has come and gone so quickly,” I think to myself as my almost five year old runs through the nursery.

“Eden,” I call out.

“Yes, mom?”

“My heart is sad folding up all of these clothes.”

“Why, momma?”

“Because we are done having babies and all of my sweet girls wore these tiny clothes and I have a lot of memories of you guys in them.  I’m really going to miss them. I’m going to miss having babies.”

“I’m going to miss you being a mommy,too, ” she says.

“Well, I’m still your mommy.  All of my children’s mommy.  I always will be.”

“I mean, ” and she paused.  “I’m going to miss watching you being a mommy.  I’m going to miss watching you help someone grow.”

With tears in my eyes and a baby shirt in my hands I say, “Aw, baby thank you.  Me, too.  Me, too.” It was priceless validation that she thinks I’m a good mother and not only that, she has enjoyed watching me parent.

It’s a beautiful thing having a gift so precious that handfuls of Gymboree and Old Navy clothes in a hot pink tote can drudge up a slew full of memories and joy with bittersweet fierceness. Even though I still have a 10 month old as we speak, the baby years, the babiest of babies is on her way to growing up.  Trust me, in the middle of the night I still pray that happens sooner rather than later but when you get a minute to stop, which milestones always cause you to do, it comes earlier than you thought it would, faster than you imagined, and pulls at even the heart that on most days, knows shes had her last.

As I went through the last few shirts, skirts, and tiny shoes, I went back to look at the closet one last time.  Tucked in the back on a hanger, I see a dated, color faded and stained romper.  “Huh,” I said thoughtfully to myself as pulled it off the hanger.  It was one of my baby outfits, my mother’s last baby, that she had saved standing in a nursery some 31 years ago.  It was a full circle moment when I found myself doing and feeling the same things my own mother did in 1980-something packing up things for the last time and keeping one thing that she just couldn’t part with. Motherhood, it’s moments, and emotions are all very timeless.  I’m reminded of that all of the time.

Today my precious middle child turned three.  Next week, my firstborn turns 5 and in 8 weeks, my baby turns 1.  As a mom, I’m forever in the middle of moving forward with excitement and tenderly looking over my shoulder as I see the phase we left behind.  I’m stuck somewhere in between ready to move forward and holding on tightly, both literally and figuratively, to a well-loved Onesie.  I know in my heart that my next babies will be my children’s children and that all too soon, they will be sorting through baby clothes remembering what it is was like to live through the chaotic bliss of having babies.

Having all three of my children in 4 years has been and continues to be a wild and exhausting joy.  One of my children will start kindergarten in the fall and another pre-school.  During those days, my baby and I will have those precious one-on-one times that my older two both had.  I will laugh on field trips, smile at the new art projects of my pre-schooler, be in awe as they learn, and watch my baby unfold into that toddler that is sassy and spirited like her sisters.

I will savor it.

I will wallow in it.

I will live in it and I will breath them in.

And when that time comes so unexpectedly like it always does where I realize we are on the precipice of another phase, I will let go.  I’ll look back.  I’ll feel the slow ache.  And just like every stage, as my 4 year old said tonight, I’ll think of how I will really miss being their mommy just as it was in that moment…in that season.  As my role changes and slips in to new seasons, I too, sweet child, will really miss helping my children grow in that specific way….just like every mother before me.  I will look forward with hope, glance behind me and long earnestly, and in quite moments like tonight, cling to a small shirt in silence in dim lamp light and honor those tugging feelings that this thing called motherhood, was more than I ever hoped it could be.

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Photo Credit:  Joel Ham Photography

The Half Goodbye

 

Well, I’m back after two weeks and I’m ready to talk! After a few months of struggling/toying with the idea, I have decided that my time here at the1sthundred as we all have known it for years, is ready for a new phase…a lesser one. 5 years ago this July, I started a wordpress.com blog originally named “thefirsthundred” after some friends of mine liked reading my posts on Facebook.  I decided to start blogging and since I’ve always loved writing, it just seemed natural. Two years ago, I moved to this site with the slightly different name and started running ads.  It’s when I considered to have “gotten serious” about making a go of blogging.

I’ve had my share of ups: a syndication, a viral post, featured writer spots, over 16,000 viewers in a day, and a post for Shutterfly.  I’ve had my frustrations, my joys, and a fire in my belly that I could really do this as a career.   I’ve loved writing here and the people I’ve met and I feel honored to have shared my life and all it entails to relate to and encourage others, and make you laugh about your marriages and parenting stages.  And maybe, just maybe, a few of you learned about Big Foot and Pilgrims along the way.  There’s not much else I could ask for…

Perhaps it’s been all of the Shark Tank episodes lately (I kid…sort of), but in the last few months I began getting really honest with myself and I started to feel like the time and expense I was putting in, wasn’t proportional to what I was getting out.  I looked at how long I have been at this versus where I am and what it takes away from my daily life and I felt like I couldn’t keep up anymore…I couldn’t justify my investments.  For the first time, I grew really tired of the grind.  I know I will miss the pace and purpose behind regularly posting but for now, I think this is the best choice.

So what’s to come?

This site?  It’s not going anywhere.  Are you crazy??? I’ve written 900 posts that I’m not about to have deleted by site destruction into the web-o-sphere abyss.  This blog will remain up for a lonnnnng time.  I will have it made into books for each of my girls so they will be able to have it someday and really get to know, feel, see, and experience who I was/am and what it was like for me to navigate life, marriage, parenting, and what wisdom and humor I had on life.  I’ve planned to give all of these writings to my children from the beginning and until that’s been done, this blog shall never die! NEVERRRRRRRRRR! It’s been way to much work for that.  It will always be special to me.

I will even post on here as I desire, but the 3 posts a week days are gone for now for as far as I can see.  I will maybe post twice in a month or twice in 9 months.  I’m not really sure but it will happen when the words move me.  That, or something really dumb happens that I have to share via sarcasm with the world.

If you scroll through my archives ever or remember a post, please still share and pass it on.  I never wrote these words for only myself.  Not hardly.  Whenever I run into someone in public and they say, “I don’t mean to be creepy but…I read your blog…”  I’m like, “Please do!  I’m not writing this just for my momma!  Please, be creepy!  Invite others!” I still hope it exists to make others think, be encouraged, be moved, or just laugh.

In other big news, I’m pregnant.

And, no I’m not.  Just keeping you on your toes.

But seriously, I am looking into another venture of my own creation which would be another blog but very different from this one.  It would be one with creative juices coupled with five years of “I wish I would have done that 900 posts ago” changes. It’s been hard to try to correct and re-do everything I had wanted/needed to do to push this blog further. I have been looking into that new site but for now, I’m enjoying a long needed break.  I will announce that new site here and on my Facebook fan page upon it’s birth, if I decide to officially to push it out.  I’ve been in talks…

So this is sort of goodbye, but only to how you have known this site to be with it’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday postings with all of the randomness that is me.  When they strike, I’ll add any new posts to my Facebook accounts and I hope you will still come by to these stomping grounds for some reads.  Thank you for all of the encouragement, shares, comments, participation, inspirations,  and honest moments that have helped me keep on keeping on at the past pace I was running. I will miss being here so often all too soon.  Until the next time some words hold me hostage until I release them on paper, I’ll be seeing you.  Thanks to my husband who I’ve coined “the eternal good sport” and my ridiculously crazy children for all of the stellar content.  And thanks to you guys for all of the years of love and support.

Sincerely Your never embarrassed, over sharing, little white big black woman, laugh giver, cry maker, dance video making, check memo slangin’, truth seeking, party throwing, wisdom nugget baker, mother loving, relateable, rap loving, honest machine who appreciates all that God, little people, life and Pilgrims have to teach us….

With Love,

Rebecca

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Stop, Break Time

 

I am taking a two week vacation from my blog, the first real vacation I’ve taken in years. I’m taking two weeks off starting today.  I need a little time to clear my head while I’m tossing around different thoughts about my future as a blogger.  I will see you soon!

15 Signs You Aren’t A Morning Person Mom

 

1.  If you’ve ever gotten up and turned on the t.v. so that it would be on when they woke up…  Surely if they see Doc McStuffins, they won’t come into your room for a good 30 minutes.

2.  If you have to be somewhere to be at 9 a.m. and while looking at the alarm rationalize  that you can get all three kids fed, dressed and out the door in under thirty minutes.  “Well, I’m convinced,” you say as you roll back over at 8:15.

3.  When it’s 8 in the morning and you are already planning for a nap.  Yours…not theirs.

4.  If you have ever let your kids go to bed in the clothes you plan on them wearing the next day.  Don’t judge me. The girl likes sleeping in dresses and dresses are clothes and you can wear clothes in public.  I win.

5.  If the first person up in your house gets death threats if they wake the others, you are not a morning person.

6.  You might not be a morning person mom if you call to make a last minute appointment at the doctor and they say, “We can see you at 8.” And you think, “Heck no, you can’t!”

7.  If the first word you say in the morning is crap when you hear a kid wake up.

8.  When you read someone’s Facebook status and see that they have “watched a show, made breakfast, and done laundry” all before 8 o’clock and instead of feeling impressed, you are really glad you aren’t them.

9.  When you know if you don’t get up, you won’t have enough time to eat breakfast but starving sounds more delicious.

10.  If you feel put out by having to put on sweatpants and consider that “having to get ready”, you might not be a morning person mom.

11.   If someone calls you from a doctor’s office, family member, or friend before 9 in the morning and your first thought is, “It’s early!  Why are they calling me?”  Oh…because most moms have been up for two hours by then.

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12.  When you spend the night at your in-laws and send your kids to their room in the morning, you might not be a morning person….or your in-laws favorite.  This is real life.  Except my in-laws love me anyways.  That’s good because I hadn’t planned on stopping the whole send my kids upstairs thing.

13.  Every morning you lay in bed and have a moment where you consider cancelling all appointments and educational experiences for your kids for the day.  Let’s just lay around and not have to be anywhere and give ourselves sweet time to wake up gently.  In all seriousness, I don’t have a kid in school yet but thought while doing my make-up yesterday that one day a year I think I will just keep them home for fun.  Don’t push me on this because I already went through all the imaginary conversations I’m going to have to have with staff for why they weren’t at school that day.  I’m ready.

14.  When you hear your first child wake up and pray with all seriousness that they will go back to sleep.  It’s a real prayer and you pray it daily and you have no shame to pray it over and over again.  “Dear God, I’m still serious today like yesterday at 7:30.  Please, if there is anyway they can go back to sleep….”

15.   If your face lights up when you find a morning show for them on On Demand that is a double or triple episode.  Oh, thank you sweet, sweet Disney for combining too many shows continuously.

 

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Jobs I Couldn’t Do

 

Body Diver

My dad has a friend or client or some person he talked to at some point in his life, who was a body diver in bodies of water for dead people.  Usually this is done in dark lake waters and you can’t see things until it’s right up on you.  If I saw a large fish unexpectedly in my face, I would be terrified.  That lets me know that I could not be a body diver.

911 Dispatcher

If someone called me and said, “AAAAHHHHHHH, my house is on fire!”  I would just say, “AHHHHHHHHHHH what are you going to do?!!!!  I’m so scared!”

Disqualified.

A Lawyer, Judge, or Officer

I choose jobs like bakers or candlestick makers where you don’t deal with ticking off criminals.  I feel like I would be like, “Hey, guys, he says he’s real sorry…” or after sentencing someone to life, “We’re still friends though, right?”

A Funeral Home Director

Although I’m really good at being compassionate,  I’m also really good at being moved and crying.  I would probably make the families feel uncomfortable with all of my sobbing.  Who knows, maybe they would be strong for me and it would help them pull through.

Construction Worker/Carpenter

“Rebecca, how long does this board need to be?”

“Uh, like three small slashes past the 4 on the tape measure.”

Animal Cop

I would do very good at the animal protection part minus the distraction of crying.  However, I would do a very bad job at the human protecting part due to the amount of times I would pull my gun on animal offenders.

“How dare you chain your  dog without water!! Bam!  Bam!”

Ironically, I would probably be a very good animal control dispatcher. Wait, make that animal body guard…a really underestimated and respectable profession.

Personal Trainer

“Hey, you did a good job today.  Let’s go get some ice cream.  Also, it will be too hot outside tomorrow so we will need to cancel.”

Tattoo Artist

I like a good craft or art project.  I can even hold my own with some art things, but I’m also very easily frustrated and a perfectionist.  I have a strong suspicion that I would get real mad and scribble over the tattoo with the ink and ask if we could start over.

Taxi Cab Driver

I’m pretty sure I would be too chicken to drive unknown humans around town all day long.

“Where do you want me to come?  That side of town?  Oh, sorry.  I only take people from the mall to Target.”

“You need me to pick you up right now?  When the sun is down?  Sorry.  I only transport puppies and kittens after 7 p.m.  They don’t kill people.”

Ultrasound Technician

There are few things that excite me more than finding out what sex of a baby someone is going to have.  I really have no self-control in this area.  If a couple came in and didn’t want to know what they were having, I would be like Kristen Wigg on SNL when she plays the character that can’t handle the suspense of a surprise.

“Heyyyy, don’t you think that color on the screen is looking really BLUE?  You don’t?  Oh….”

“Well, I have a new kitten that’s bottle fed and I think I’m going to WEINER soon.”  (big smile, dramatic pause)

The family gets mad and walks out.

I throw confetti on them.  I’m thrilled.

 

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Things To Do With Your Kids When There Is NOTHING To Do

 

If you have a small airport in town that flies in small planes, call and get the schedules, pack a lunch, park, and watch the planes zoom down overhead as they land.  I had this idea last summer and can’t wait to do it this year!

Take a trip to a local bakery, look around, and grab a simple treat

Feed ducks, fish, birds at a park

Take a trip to the public library.  Most people forget this little gem that is full of activities, events, play groups, movies to rent, educational computer games, and all things free!

Go to a friend’s house with chalk and decorate their driveway.  I came up with this idea in 7th grade and we would go at night with a parent driving and bomb someone’s driveway with art and messages.  I called it chalking.  You’re welcome.  You couldn’t be friends with me in 7th grade but yet, you will reap the benefits. It’s an innocent, fun “don’t get caught” thing like toilet papering but with zero clean up for anyone involved.

Do things at the mall other than shop:  ride the escalators, the carousel, visit the candy shop or kiosk , play on the quarter ride-a-longs, or for five dollars, get 10-15 tokens at Chuckie Cheese.

Rent free kids movies at rental chains like Family Video.  Always make sure they clean them for you there first to ensure it will play for you later.

In warmer months, go blueberry/strawberry/apple picking with your kids and family.  Blueberry picking is my most favorite thing to do every summer.

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Dollar store trips are the cheapest of the cheap and your kids will like exploring and finding little cheap thrills.  Give each child one or two dollars and let them grab something to take home with them. It’s entertainment to get them out of the house and entertainment for when they get back.

Go to a place in town that you know is there but just never seem to go to like a local painting place for kids, a new playground on another side of town, museum, putt putt, planetarium, etc.

Go look around a pet store.  Sometimes you can watch them wash and groom the dogs at places like Pet Smart.  The little ones think it’s fun/funny/who cares, it’s free.  One of our local places has a big pond in the back where you can feed the Koi fish.  If you start digging around your hometown, little things like that to do will always pop up.

Visit your local humane society.  They always take volunteers and one job is walking the dogs on the grounds.  They will match the size of dog to the child.  I know because they wouldn’t let me walk a Great Dane when I was 19 because I only weighed 100 pounds, haha.

Make a list of things for kids to find outside: a rock, a bird, a dandelion, an ant, something pink, etc. You can make it a scavenger hunt, a race, or just something to give them a goal to meet to see if they can find everything.  This is also fun to do on a long drive.

A personal favorite that I do with my kids is go to a Pet Co/Pet Smart type of store and let your kids fill up doggie treat bags.  WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A DOG and do this on a monthly basis.  We make treat bags for when we visit our friends and families with pets.  It’s so cheap and they feel like they are at a candy store, but you can pass on the cavity and junk and do something out of the box.  Both of my girls can get a bag of dog “Oreos”, animal cracker looking cookies, toothbrush dog bones, and so on and I can get BOTH bags for 2-4 dollars.  They love doing this!

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Fill up the kitchen sink with bubbles and toys…after you have sanitized the mess out of it.

Go bowling and check out http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/.  This site tells you which bowling lanes in your city offer daily to weekly free bowling for kids.  (If you are local to me, sorry to disappoint that there are no participating lanes here.)

Fly a kite

Go to the grocery and pick out a recipe and cook together

Go to grocery and have your kids each pick three new or exotic foods they haven’t tried and go home and have a taste test.  It’s cheap, easy and they may just find something they like.  Have you ever tried a starfruit?  This “activity” is how we did.

Visit a story hour at Barnes and Noble or your public library

Search Pinterest for DIY things to do with kids at home.  It won’t disappoint.

Walk around a toy store and look at all their goodies.  Mine like to go to Toys R Us and “play” in the power wheels they have out.  They don’t move but those kids can fake drive for a good thirty minutes.

Check out your local gymnastics facilities and see if they offer open gym play time during the weeks.

Make cards for friends and family far away and mail them

Go to a restaurant where kids eat free

Check in to your local Home Depot/Lowes etc. and see when the offer the days where kids can come and build things/plant something etc., all for free!

Make something to eat at home and deliver it to your neighbors

Call a mom friend and do a toy swap.  You each gather up three or four toys from your house, meet up with them, and swap a few toys for a few days.  Free and sure to keep your kids busy for a while.

Build a fort

Go to Sam’s Club on a Saturday and go taste all the free foods they offer.  It’s fun not knowing what will be there and it sure beats staring at the walls.

Let your kids tear into your make-up and do your make-up or their own

Buy a 2 dollar bag of birdseed and let them loose in the yard

Doughnut shop runs will get you out of the house and everyone can get something to eat for typically 5 dollars or less.

Go to a park with a ball, book, blanket, kite, toys, etc. and enjoy the outdoors together playing, but not on the playground.  Have a change of scenery from your own backyard.

Check out books on Cd and cuddle together in a bed or in the living room and listen to stories. I love doing this because it involves NO screen time.  It really gets their minds working and encourages good listening skills.

 

 

 

 

 

The Straws That Break Momma’s Back

 

Poop in the bathtub.  Most of the time, it’s very likely you put your children in the bathtub for entertainment or confinement rather than cleanliness.  Thus, when they have the nerve to poop in it, you think of running away.  It’s one of the grossest mom clean-ups you do, next only to barf.  That is why I clean up by leaving it for my husband.

When you are about to walk out the door and you notice, your child had the nerve to undress themselves.

Walking through the house ticked off and then stepping on a painful toy like a lego, tiny figure, etc. or having food crush under your feet while you walk on your dirty kitchen floor.  It’s the bravest Cheerio I’ve ever seen to be there in that moment.

Making it through the whole grocery store, getting finished at the checkout and realizing in slow motion, you left your wallet in the car.  It’s painful even typing that.

Getting everyone ready after what felt like experiencing a natural disaster and having one of your kids spill something all over themselves seconds before leaving.

Any moment you think of how any pictures you need to have printed.  When a mother realizes she is three years behind of pictures on two children, it’s cause for despair and hopelessness.

When you have had a long and exhausting day at 5 p.m. and remember you forgot to put the food in the Crock Pot or even worse, remembered to put it in but didn’t to turn it on.

Going to get your kids out of the car and realizing they took off their shoes and socks. Convenient.

The pace at which you watch your kids get out of the van while you are standing in the rain/wind/cold/heat in the parking lot.  Sloths would evacuate faster.

When you have heard whining all day and that one last bold confrontation between siblings that pushes you into the spirits of a prison warden.  You tell them they are never allowed to speak to each other again.  For a moment, it sounds logical.

Needing desperately to get your hair done, doctor’s appointment, etc. and forgetting your appointment.  Oh well, I guess I’ll grow out this matted mane for 4 more weeks until you can actually get into your stylist again.

After three days quarantined at home because your child is sick and then another one of your kids comes up to you and says the dreaded words, “I don’t feel good.” Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

On day when you are really exhausted and short on patience and your children are whiny about major issues such as:

My socks itch.

I don’t like pb&j. (All of the sudden).

Sissy is looking at me.

I don’t want this cup.

She has my toy!  (Oh, you mean the one you don’t want to play with EVER.)

Finally making it to getting yourself ready for church, party, wedding, etc with little time to spare and standing in front of the closet with NOTHING to wear.  I hope that rhyme didn’t distract you from how frustrating that really is.  It makes you feel crummy and stinks so hard.  Everyone else in the family will look like a model and you will look like a low end consignment store commercial.

Scrambling to get dinner together, mixing everything up and going to get the last ingredient…you don’t have.

When anything in the animal kingdom or human world wakes up the baby you desperately need to sleep.

Your children attacking you like a verbal paparazzi when you are talking on the phone.

Unsolicited parenting advice.

Your child going noodle body in a store when you try to pick them up.

Having a bad or hard day and walking back into your house that is an utter disaster.

Leaving any store without the one thing you needed…which hits you ONLY once you have loaded the kids back in the car.  We will use napkins for toilet paper.  It’s fine.

 

What drives you batty?

 

 

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What?  What did you say?  This animal in this image isn’t a camel to play off of the straw that broke the camel’s back?  Did you ever stop to think that you aren’t a camel?  (Shakes her head…)

Up Springs Hope

Guest Post: Cristen Powers

It was the Friday before Mother’s Day. It was also the two-year anniversary of my and Jared’s struggle to grow our family. It had been twenty-four failed attempts for a baby, dozens of blank pregnancy tests, and month after month of hope destroyed with a period. I was lying down on the couch, watching real housewives (I know, I know), when my phone began to buzz with texts. It was my little sister, Sarah. The conversation began with small talk, but my heart began to race because I could feel this conversation heading in a totally new direction. I looked down at my phone and a paragraph had been typed, and I knew. I knew before I read it. My little sister was fixing to tell me she was pregnant. My throat began to swell and tears began to fill my eyes. I read it at least five times. Surely this isn’t true. Surely my sister, who is two and a half years younger than I am and who I had no idea was even trying to get pregnant, is not going to be a mom…before ME. She and her husband were planning on announcing it to the whole family on Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day, but she graciously chose to tell me first. She knew our struggle. She knew I wanted to desperately to be a mom. I immediately ran outside and called my dear friend, Kim. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember I could barely say it. I was sobbing uncontrollably. I love my sister. I really was happy for her, and I had no doubts that she would be a great mom. I knew I would love her baby, but my heart was broken. It was my turn. I was supposed to be first. I don’t remember what Kim said either, but I remember silence on the phone. What could she say to help? It wouldn’t have mattered what words she chose.

I walked back inside my house, trying to catch my breath, and my husband, Jared, came walking down the hall.

“What’s wrong?!?” He anxiously asked as my cheeks were red and eyes swollen.

Very simply I said, “Sarah’s pregnant.”

In the most gracious and compassionate response, he sweetly said, “Awe… That’s awesome for them!”

Awesome?!? Really?!? That’s the best you can come up with, I thought. Why on earth is he not upset about this?!? How does this news not affect him the way it has me? Am I crazy for feeling this way? I’m going to spend the next nine months watching her belly grow, being present when finding out if it’s a girl or boy, and participating in choosing a name for her baby. How am I going to get through it? That was almost a year ago. Needless to say, that Mother’s Day was the worst day in our now three-year battle with infertility. I have the most precious, beautiful two-month-old niece that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world…even my own baby.

But every time I look at her, hold her, and kiss her adorable chubby cheeks, a piece of my heart aches. The following July, my mom, older sister Beth, and my niece and nephew were all at my house. My mom and I were going to begin a fun day of canning fresh veggies from my garden. I walked out of the kitchen with my niece for a few minutes, and when we walked back in, I found Beth and mom huddled over the sink…both bawling their eyes out. I immediately began to panic.

“What is wrong?!?” I asked.

No response.

My voice rose. “Someone tell me what is going on.”

After a long pause, Beth looked up at me with tears streaming down her cheeks. “I think I’m pregnant.”

“What?!? Pregnant? Were you late?”

“No. ”

“Well why on earth do you think you’re pregnant?”

“Because I had three positive tests.”

My world began to spin. God thinks He’s funny now. Both of my sisters are pregnant. Beth will be the first to tell you that this was a crazy, very unplanned surprise. If you know her, she probably has told you. Lol.

We all three stood in the kitchen and cried. I cried for the weight of unfairness of it all and for the idea that Beth has her third miracle coming, and all she could do was cry. I love Beth. We are very different, but she is one of the best mothers I know. She has the patience of Job with her children, and they are two of my favorite human beings on the planet. Maybe, I began to hope, all three of us will be pregnant together! How amazing would that be?!? Well, that didn’t happen. Beth is due any day, and my womb is still empty. Every time I log onto Facebook, a new pregnancy or delivery is announced. I have friends who have had two children in the timeframe that we have never gotten pregnant. In one day, I had two clients announce pregnancies to me. I have several very close friends who are pregnant right now. It’s always hard to hear the news that brings them so much joy…but that reminds me of my empty arms and aching heart.

This past fall, after two and a half years of going in circles with my local OB, I went to a specialist in Nashville. I finally had a laparoscopic procedure done to check for endometriosis and to see if I had any blockages in my fallopian tubes. By this point, we knew something was wrong. I had horrible ovulation pain, and we hadn’t gotten pregnant after what felt like years and years. I prayed for answers. I prayed for direction. I prayed for God to reveal causes for our infertility. The thought of not knowing our unexplained infertility was too great to bear. He answered me. LOUD and CLEAR. I still feel nauseous when I think back to the moment my mom shared the news with me…

Stage 4 endometriosis (the worst).

One fully blocked tube.

Severe damage from an infection years ago.

Hysterectomy in five years.

I’m 32. I’m healthy. I’ve always taken care of doctor’s appointments and my annual exams. How could my local OB roll her eyes six months prior, telling me that I did not have endometriosis? How could she have missed this after tons of blood work and ultra sounds in three years?!? How could I have wasted so much precious time? How could I have to have a hysterectomy? Every woman in my family has great reproductive genes. Why God, why?

Well, the truth is, God may never answer my “whys.” He may never bless my womb with children. I may never get to experience pregnancy, breast feeding, crying at two a.m., or Mother’s Day. I may never get to use the boy and girl names I have had tucked in my heart since my husband and I were dating. But what God has shown me through these last three years is something I would have never learned without going through this extremely difficult journey. In a recent sermon, my pastor said, “There are just some things God can only do with you when you’re broken.” Wow. Truth.

He is teaching me to trust. He is teaching me patience…to wait on His time. He is showing me that I am not in control. I can plan all day long, and I can paint this perfect picture of what my life should be, but it’s not the picture He’s painting. During this trial,

there have been days my faith was failing and my heart couldn’t stand any more hurt. Almost always on those days, I have received random acts of kindness by other women who have once stood in my shoes. Women I barely know promising to pray for me. Women who know the heartache and pain of barrenness. I have received random texts and emails from our church family with encouraging scripture. I have received precious words from my husband. After my surgery, we received meals from our dear friends and family. I even have had a client pray over me on the spot after sharing with her my story.

What God has shown me through all of this is His love. He has broken me to remold me. He has taken my messy mistakes, my bad choices (that have in part led to our infertility), my sinful past… and He nailed it to the cross. He is my redemption. My sweet friend, Rebecca, who also has gone down the infertility road, listened to me after crying and saying, “Is this punishment for the person I used to be? Is this God saying, ‘Cristen, you should’ve listened. But you deliberately chose to rebel against Me when you knew better?’”

And Rebecca so sweetly answered, “Of course not. That sin is forgiven. And forgotten. As far as the east is from the west. God is working all of this for the good of those who love him… So if He says all things are worked together for good… That’s including your sin.”

Jesus has already written my story. It’s a story filled with heartache (that scripture promises us we will face), but it’s also filled with sweet, sweet music. My song He’s written for me. I have five…almost six…beautiful, healthy, happy nieces and nephews who I adore. I have a husband, who may hurt differently, but who is still right here beside me. I get to walk through this struggle with him. I have parents who are pretty much the best in the world. I have wonderful friends who have prayed for us and who have cried with me. Brokenness is so hard, but it is so good. God has brought me so close to Him in the hardest time of my life. He has shown His love for me through new mercies that come in the morning and grace that fills my broken heart. I praise God for my brokenness. I praise God for the work He has done in my life, and I pray I am able to help others the way I have been helped. I pray for all the women I know and have never met struggling with infertility. It’s a club I hope you don’t ever have to be a part of, but if you have become a member, I love you. You are not forgotten. You are not alone. God loves you so much, and He holds your future in the palm of His righteous hand. No blocked tube or stage 4 endometriosis or past mistakes are surprising to Him. He already knows what life is going to bring. He knew me in my mother’s womb. He knew two months ago, my world would be rocked when I heard all the things wrong with me… but it was no surprise to Him. We have a hope that is so much greater than pink positive tests… His name is Jesus. In Him, we always have hope. A sweet family friend, who went through this struggle years ago and now has 3 beautiful kids, said to me, “I got to a point where I stopped begging God… And I started BELIEVING him.”

I got a sparrow tattoo on my foot this summer from Matthew 10:29…as a reminder that on the worst of days, God loves me. He knows the number of hairs on my head. If He is present for every sparrow that falls, then how much more is His love for me? I believe He has so much in store for my life. I believe He has a wonderful, rich love story written for me.

I also believe this promise for all of my fellow club members.

Isaiah 54:1

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD.

About the Author Cristen Powers is married to her favorite beef cake husband of four years, Jared. Their roots are planted on a Kentucky farm where they live with their 4 beloved dogs.  She is a hair stylist, space decorator and Jesus lover with an infectious laugh.  She loves gardening, crafting, and all things DIY.  Current remodel:  uterus. Current craft:  fashioning human babies.  Up Springs Hope is a piece of that journey and she hopes you have been encouraged to persevere, rejoice, and above all, trust.  We will hear from her again as God turns her whys into answers and heartache into redemption. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

 

Read more on infertility in my category here.

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Photo Credit:  Joel Ham Photography

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