yet to say mama & other heart aches

When the doctor placed her innocent, helpless body in my arms I didn’t realize how blue she was. Everything was happening so fast. It felt like that feature of snap chat where you can fast forward and everything sounds like Calvin & The Chipmunks (what am I saying, I don’t even have snap chat).

It wasn’t until I watched footage of her birth (thanks mom!) where I was able to piece together what was really going on. She was so blue. I mean, shockingly blue! But no one seemed to be worried. I guess I would be pretty blue, too, had I jut squeezed through the tiniest hole of my life.

After a quick rub down by a nurse, there I was taking the baby–my baby–with my trembling hands like I knew what I was doing. Actually, I hear myself saying “What do I do? I don’t know what to do.”

And thus we have the last nine months.

We have survived on pure instinct.

This is the part where I should say “we haven’t just survived…we’ve thrived” and be all cheesy and positive and talk about the joys of motherhood. If that’s what you thought this would be I will just spare you now (oh! the horror!) You can go elsewhere for that, but this post is not that.

A few months ago, my feeds were blowing up with friends who have daughters around Hadley’s age.

Videos and pictures galore telling of their baby girls’ recent developments: saying mama.

Every single mom longs to hear this. Even if it’s only but a babble. Those two syllables mean so much to our ovaries and rollercoaster-ing hormones.

It’s been four months since those videos and pictures. I’ve been waiting. Yearning. Hoping in expectation.

Maybe today?

What I do not want is for people to tell me “her time will come, be patient.”

First of all, you don’t know that. Something could happen. Maybe she’ll never say mama. Second of all, am I allowed to have feelings? Am I allowed to voice my concerns?

Society has been telling us for hundreds of years how to parent. Do this, don’t do that. Of course there are basic things that we really should and should not do.

When it comes to breast vs. bottle, co-sleeping vs. crib, venting vs. not be heard, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

As mamas, we’re shamed for breastfeeding in public, then we’re shamed when we can’t produce anymore and it’s time for formula.

We’re shamed for letting our baby cry it out so we can get some sleep, and we’re shamed for co-sleeping because our babe will grow up needy and spoiled.

We’re shamed from posting too many pictures of our kid on Facebook, then looked down upon for not being social enough and never getting out of the house.

This is my life. Hadley is literally my every-single-day-life. Look down on it all you want, but she is my heart beat. Maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe it’s a good thing.

I had a dream and plan and goals the summer of 2014 before I got pregnant. I have had to make some huge adjustments and changes to make room for her. Because being a parent is a sacrifice. Do you have to give up on your dreams? No no no! But it may take a little longer to get there.

And it’s ok because she is worth it. I never knew how it would feel to love a child. It’s heartbreaking.

It really does feel like living in constant heartache.

My own flesh and blood–my heart–is living and breathing outside of my body. And eighteen months after conceiving this miracle I couldn’t imagine life being any other way.

So yes, when she hasn’t yet said mama, it hurts.

Yes, when she started army crawling towards the sparkly confetti on the floor while I was changing her at my parents last week, it hurts–my heart aches.

My eyes well up with tears when she gets hurt. They well up when she does anything new.

So sometimes at night when she’s sleeping perfectly fine I sneak into her room, scoop her up from her crib and bring her into bed with me and snuggle all night long.

No, I don’t sleep well, but I do not care. No, she doesn’t need to breastfeed at night anymore, but I’ll let her anyway.

Because we aren’t promised tomorrow.

Because I don’t know if she’ll ever say mama.

But I do know this: that is who I am–her mama–and as long as I am living, my baby she’ll be.

Advertisements

choosing to love

“But do you LOVE her? I want to hear how much you love her!!

These words came out of my mother’s mouth with desperation, almost begging David to prove that he did truly love me.

When we came to my parents to let them in on our big secret last Labor Day, this was the one thing my mom wanted to be sure of.

“Melissa, you do not have to marry him.” She said this over and over again drilling it into my skull.

At the time, I was offended. If I’m honest with myself. But now I understand that marriage is not the answer (more on that in the previous post).

I mean of course she was pissed off and had there been any blunt objects within her reach, David could have very well been in for it.

But there hadn’t and I also believe The Holy Spirit was more than present in that room that day. The whole conversation could have gone worse in so many ways.

And yet all I can remember from that day last September is Grace.

We came to my parents with a plan.

Marriage.

Because that fixes everything right? Because this baby needs stability. Because her mom and dad need to be together and present in her life.

BUT DO YOU LOVE EACH OTHER,” my mom pleaded.

While I was offended that she continued to revert back to those words again and again, now I am thankful. You will never know how hard marriage is until you enter into one. It’s not a promise waiting to be broken, even though many people treat it that way. It’s not a conditional statement although it’s treated as such.

Marriage is a covenant. The strongest vow anyone could possibly take in their life. It is quite literally comparable to taking a bullet for someone. When you step into marriage, you step into laying your life down, recognizing someone above yourself and letting go of your “ME ME ME” mentality.

My mom wanted to make sure we were ready for this. She didn’t want it to be an answer to our predicament. She didn’t want it to be an obligation. She wanted it to be our choice. Our joy. Our undying love for one another that made it so we just couldn’t not choose marriage.

While you won’t know the depths and the breadths and the caverns and tiniest nooks of what marriage will look like until you enter it, it is obviously a good thing to know that it will not be easy. And everyone knows it isn’t easy, right? But what does that really mean? What does true love even look like?

We knew we had a choice. We loved each other. And we wanted to continue to choose love.

It’s the scariest thing to realize how much someone means to you. When it hits you, all of these thoughts start running through your head. Someone who once was a stranger now is the only person you know like the back of your hand. Someone who you once had no emotion for now has the power to break your heart. Someone you once lived without you now wish to hold on to forever…

I am so thankful, so excited that David is my someone. Yes, we have made our handful of mistakes but who hasn’t. I have known since the beginning of our relationship that this was deeper than anything I had previously experienced, that this was–that he was someone I wanted around for awhile, if not forever.

The only way I will ever be able to truly love David is through Jesus. But that is how I know I will be able to love him forever. Christ does not love us based on what is on the outside or on the inside.

He has chosen to love us.

He has chosen to love me. ME! And oh how I do not deserve it!

Oh how I continue to fail him time and time again, despite him choosing to lay down his life for me.

And yet he continues…to choose to love me.

Love is a choice. A commitment. The choice to pursue a covenant relationship with only one other. Saying yes to that one and no to all others.

I chose David December 28, 2014. We chose each other.

And oh how there have been so many times this past year where we have failed each other, where we have let each other down, where it would have been easier to just give up.

But we’ve chosen to love like Jesus loves us.

The love of Christ is unconditional. It knows no reservations. No ifs, ands, or buts. When we said our vows in front of our closest family and friends we were committing to love each other without conditions.

Is it easy? Heck no. But is it worth it? One thousand times, yes.

And I am so excited to continue to make that choice the rest of my life.

Because this love, this unconditional undeserved agape love is the kind of love you can run home to, no questions asked, no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve come from.

This is the love of Christ.

This is the kind of love that lasts.

 

not the answer

A lot of people crave being in a relationship.

They dream about marriage because they they are looking for something to satisfy them. I used to be that girl. Wishing someone would treat me like a princess, love me, serve me.

Then I decided I didn’t need a man. Actually when I transferred to Washington State University I swore to myself I wouldn’t get seriously involved with anyone.

And then in December of 2013 I met David.

I have never known anyone who has loved me so selflessly, mercifully and faithfully than him. He doesn’t let me give up. He pushes me daily. And sometimes it hurts.

—Okay, let’s be real, it really hurts.

Marriage sucks.

I wonder what would happen if I started answering the question “How’s married life?” just like that… “It sucks.”

I’d probably catch a lot of people of guard and maybe make people shake their heads, roll their eyes. That is the real answer, though, isn’t it? YES. It is!

Marriage is hard. It is not the fairy tale all the Disney and Hallmark movies made it out to be. It is not the daydream that kept reoccurring over and over in my head when I was a little girl.

This relationship has not been easy.  We have had so many difficult conversations and I have realized a lot about myself that I am not particularly proud of.

And there is one factor that has not changed at all in going from single to married…

Me.

I’m still here.

I’m still me full of all the crap I was full of while I was single.

And David is still David.

This didn’t change when we exchanged vows a year ago.

We’re just two people that sometimes show each other the worst side of themselves, sometimes snap a little too quickly or say something a little too bitter.

Marriage is not the answer.

But it does point us to who is. And it does expose the parts of ourselves that need a little more love and a lot more grace.

Despite the difficulty, I am thankful. So thankful for the realness of this. Because we know how much we suck and how much we need Jesus and how little we deserve. There’s no façade, no covering up.

There’s just two people totally and completely raw and exposed to one another, pushing each other to be better every day, to chase harder and faster towards Christ.

Timothy Keller wrote “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

So while it hurts to be humbled, it hurts when harsh words are spoken and it sometimes hurts to be vulnerable, we are fully and completely known. David knows me. He knows my weakest parts and he still loves me.

More importantly he helps me see those parts and points me towards Christ who is the answer and will continue to work in me until I meet him face to face.

the cost of christ: no fear in love

The refugees.

Boy, is this a heated issue.

And boy is my heart breaking for them.

I have been wrapping my mind around it, well at least attempting to wrap my mind around the way our Lord sees them.

About His heart for them.

After all, they are his children.

I recently spoke out about this subject on my Facebook page, and naturally it was met by a debate. By people saying we have to look out for our own, protect our children and maybe I should invite terrorists into my home, then.

It’s one thing to be knowingly foolish. It’s another thing to be putting fear before compassion and love.

This subject is a tough one. It’s one people will continue to get heated about while they look through their own eyes.

And now with the San Bernadino shootings, my broken heart continues to break. And what can I do? I’m not in politics. I cannot force gun control, and I am not against it. I cannot look into the lives and homes of every one and determine who needs mental help.

I can choose to love more.

And I believe that no matter right or left, we will all agree that the world needs more love.

Love is more powerful. There is no fear in love. In love people can be safe, know their worth, be deeply rooted and have a chance.

When Jesus said to pick up our crosses and follow him, he did not promise a life free of hardships. He did, however, promise a life abounding with love and light and joy.

I am promised he is with me and that he will never give up on me.

I am promised he will never give up on his children.

America is not his only children.

So many choices and decisions can be made out of fear. As his child, however, he tells me that I am  no longer a slave to it.

Choosing love will move mountains.

Choosing love will change lives and hopefully save them.

The love of Christ is more powerful than any evil in this world. More powerful than the shootings, more powerful than the terrorists.

I am continuing to find comfort in this love and hope that in knowing Him I can continue choose a life of compassion over fear.

If that means laying down my life, I pray that I have the boldness to do so.

on thankfulness

Thankfulness does not come naturally for me.

Now that the whole world is at the tip of our fingers it seems popular to publicly display our thankfulness, amongst other things.

Are we trying to prove to ourselves that we are truly thankful? If we don’t write lists accompanied by a photo, does that mean we aren’t?

And isn’t it ironic that on these same media platforms where we are displaying these lists, we’re coveting, wishing, comparing ourselves, our lives and our possessions to other people and their feeds? Anyone…? No? Just me?

My dear friend from Montana came over yesterday. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in June. We ate grilled cheese and butternut squash soup, drank tea and talked about marriage, babies and other “adulty” things. It’s hard to believe we’re even in this stage of life. It seems like we were just in high school, dreaming about when and if we would get a boyfriend, exploring our faith and shopping way too often at Buffalo Exchange.

And now here we are–here I am– in a tiny two bedroom apartment wishing away to the future, where we’ll have the perfect house on big piece of land. But for now I’m constantly excusing my messy kitchen, our junk area, our hand-me-down furniture, lack of television, and clothes that I will sometimes wear three days in a row if I’m not seeing the same people and I actually like my outfit.

Boy, do I have trouble being thankful. 

And I know it. I’m really wrestling with this right now. I mean, let’s be real, I’ve been wrestling it my whole life.

Of course there are things I could ‘come up with’ to be thankful for.

But you know what I would do? Pick apart my life to find the little glimpses of the good, the glitter, the gold. And I would sift through all of the negative, all of the bad.

Our church had a Thanksgiving Eve service last night, where people stood up and shared things they were thankful for and at the end we all ate pie.

Pretty straightforward.

As I sat there and listened to the testimonies of all of the good things going on in people’s lives, the little blessings, I noticed something. Everyone who spoke shared only that–good things.

Not one person shared that they were struggling or going through a terrible season.

Of course they didn’t. That’s not pleasing to our ears. That’s not how we want to be viewed.

Life is not just a highlight reel. Life is not just full of good thing after good thing.

Can we be thankful in seasons of waiting? Can I be thankful when my grandparents are both battling cancer? Or when my grandfather passes away?

Can I be thankful when our car breaks down and I’m stuck at home?

Can I be thankful for the thousands of dollars in student loans we have to pay off?

C.S. Lewis is one of my all time favorite authors. He writes, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.

There are always glimmers of hope and little blessings in our daily lives, and those are easy to list. They’re easy to grasp and cling to and say “here! this is why I am thankful!”

Today and for the rest of this holiday season though, during the hurt and during trials and during seasons of tight budgets, loads of debt and sickness and dying, I want to be thankful in all things.

Not only does it work in us patience and humility. Without the downs of life, the ups wouldn’t be so hopeful, it wouldn’t bring as much joy.

The really low points aren’t fun. They’re hard. They suck.

But the next time I find myself complaining about these so-called negative aspects of my life, I am going to try my hardest to pause, breath deeply, take in the moment and accept it and even shoot up a little “thank you”. Because without that darkness, I wouldn’t be able to see the light as brightly.

escaping the fog

It’s so easy to write when there is inspiration. When a light bulb goes off or I feel like I’ve found the answer to a question or a solution to something that I have been wrestling with.

Likewise, it’s just as easy to share myself with others, to be open and honest once I have stepped outside of a situation. I would rather be open once I have felt the relief. Once I am on the other side.

But what about when I’m still going through it? What about when I am in the midst of the fog, going through gloomy day after gloomy day? What shall I do then? Isolate myself?

There’s too much negativity in the worldThe world needs more positive people.

I’ve heard this often. People complaining about the pessimists, negative comments, mopey attitudes.

While it’s true that good spirits and smiles can be contagious, I think we are missing something, and I’m afraid it’s significant.

Our society, our culture, is constantly trying to sell us this belief that life is a party. Our community is so so quick to jump on the party bus. Life’s a party. Our Instagram and Facebook feeds tell us so. Life is too short to be serious.

Get over yourself, they tell you.  Have fun.

Be happy.

I mean come on, one of the most famous movie quotes is:

Why so serious?

Sometimes it’s just not that easy.

Some days for no reason at all, it takes everything inside of a person to get out of bed. Once they do, it’s as if they’ve stepped foot in molasses, trudging throughout the day, only to find comfort in the fact that once the day is over they’ll be in bed again. Sleep is a safe haven.

This isn’t “laziness”.

This person will try and will themselves to be productive, to the point of obsessive compulsive lists. Lists that contains a bullet to make other lists. A bullet to take a shower, because crossing that off would be the greatest accomplishment. Even eating breakfast.

Going to the grocery store is a feat in itself. The anxiety of walking out the door is crippling, and yet they know it could do them some good.

Depression is a very real, very present “state” of being, if I may. It’s not something that has just come about, developing over night. It’s not something that can be willed or wished away.

I’m absolutely tired of people telling others to choose to be happy.

“Sad people” have a stigma, and it isn’t a good one.

I’m tired of this stigma.

Yes, you can choose to be thankful, yes you can choose to rejoice and be glad. But happy? You cannot force someone to be happy.

You cannot force someone to snap out of it when they’re in a funk–an episode.

For six years I have been wrestling with depression, anxiety, fatigue and other things. And it’s hard on my body. Mentally. Physically.

I say these in the present tense because it has not gone away. I don’t deal with it chronically. It ebbs and flows, but it’s always there. And when it comes… Man, I have to muster everything in me to be a homemaker and a mother and a wife.

It can be covered up, camouflaged, masked with a smile, an epic night with friends or a comedic movie to the point where people don’t even realize it’s part of your life.

Here’s my question though? Why are we trying to cover it up? Why does society try to convince the hurting that they should hide a part of themselves that is so real and so present and to rather not be open about it?

David is probably my absolute favorite and most relatable character in the Bible. He is real. He is joyful, he laments. And oh boy does he lament.

Here’s Psalm 13:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Are you reading what I’m reading? David experienced some really low lows. Go through all of Psalms and you’ll see this over and over and over.

Guess what.

The Lord did not ask him to get happy, to calm down or check his attitude before anointing him and crowning him King.

Our God is the God of “come as you are” and I think we’re forgetting this.

At least I am.

There is beauty in exercising your true emotions. In speaking your feelings. In ripping open your ribcage and exposing your heart just as it is.

Feelings are meant to be felt, not overlooked. You don’t need to suit up and force a smile every time you walk out the door.

It’s time we stop being uncomfortable with true emotion. It’s time we embrace it.

Because we are not all ok. And that is ok.

 

six months of Hadley Grace

Every single woman I talked to in the weeks leading up to Hadley’s birth told me that absolutely nothing would prepare me for labor.

I was constantly asked if I was going to go natural.

My answer would either be met with encouragement and praise or cynicism, a roll of the eyes and a snarky “Good luck.”

20-20150501-20

Six months ago today I was in labor for ten hours after being induced. And while I had never experienced anything like it I knew what I was in for. For ten hours I labored naturally, and felt the most pain I have ever experienced in my life. (Read Hadley’s full birth story will be on the blog at a later date)

And guess what? I was prepared. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. And I knew I would feel like giving up. I had mentally drilled that into my head. And the entire time I was praying. Prayer and knowing the end goal was my mantra. Ultimately I knew that it would be rewarding.

I had no idea just how rewarding it would be, though.


Absolutely nothing could prepare me for the past six months.

Full of grace, laughter and Netflix, these past six months have been some of the best, most influential and hardest months of my life.

Nothing could prepare me for the first time my body produced breastmilk. The inexplicable, incredible enchantment I felt toward my crazy amazing body. The awe I felt toward God for creating women so intricately, that we could carry our mini-me’s for nine whole months and then continue to give life for the first year. The closeness I felt with Hadley each time she would latch on.

Nothing could prepare me for the months of all nighters. That I would willingly choose to stare at this sleepy, beautiful baby girl instead of grabbing as much sleep as I could. Those times spent awake peering over the side of her cradle, leaning my ear as close as possible without disturbing her to make sure she was still breathing, looking over at David fast asleep and having no desire to join him. I was a mad man. But I was in love. And coffee was my best friend.

hg4

Nothing could prepare me for my reaction when David first held her. Remember that scene where the Grinch’s heart physically grows three sizes when he realizes the “true” meaning of Christmas? That on steroids is how I felt the first time he held her and every time he holds her for that matter.

Nothing could prepare me for how clueless we would be. I read so many books, so many blogs, asked so many questions. It didn’t matter. We both had no clue what we were doing. If we were holding her right, how often we needed to change her diaper, if she was getting enough food each time she nursed, if it was normal for her to sleep so long at night as a newborn…

hg5

Nothing could prepare me for the giddiness that wells up in the deepest caverns of my being when I hear the noises and babbling she makes each time she wakes up. The look on her face when I walk in the room. I used to say to David, “I wonder if she loves me.” My wondering has ended and it is absolutely wonderful.

Nothing could prepare me for the feeling of guilt the first time she fell off the bed. And the second time. And the third time. No one told me I would sleep walk like a mombie (zombie mom, get it?) into her bedroom and take her back to our bed, only to wake up to a thud and scream in the wee hours of the morning realizing what I had done. (Don’t worry she’s a trooper)

hg6

Nothing could prepare me for what she has taught me about Jesus. I love her more than words could even begin to express. She has done absolutely nothing to deserve it. She was born out of our sin. She is cute, cuddly and a profound undeserved grace. She forgives quicker than any full-sized human I know.

Being a parent has its difficulties, and I know we have many years ahead, but I would never call parenthood hard. I would never call parenthood an inconvenience or too much to handle.

What I would call it?

The best thing that has ever happened to us.

Being a parent has taught me think outside of myself, to quit relying on myself and it has tamed my crazy.

God always has been and always will be the perfect author of Creation and it is no accident that we were brought into this chapter of our lives quicker than we had imagined. His plan is far greater and ultimately brings more awe inspired joy than we could ever imagine.

And it’s only been six months…

hg7