I am tired….oh so tired. I can barely think straight. Functioning is difficult. My recovery is slow and long and I have not had over an hour and a half’s sleep (combined) in any night since I’ve been home. My body is older, slower, weaker. I am literally up all night nursing this precious new child of mine. I am still up the next day tending to the others. There is no sleep when the baby sleeps time. There are needs all across the board. I let things go…dishes, laundry, clutter, fingerprints. They bother me but I release them in the name of my sanity. I pray all night long…just one uninterrupted hour, Lord. Surely He understands that I half to have sleep to function. But no relief comes. I offer up Psalms of “Lord, hear my prayer.” All is quiet.
I struggle with the question that has been bombarding me from all sides ~ friends, family, those I thought understood ~ how are you going to handle this? Isn’t it too much? Isn’t enough enough with this whole giving God control of your womb thing? Is it too much? Should I stop? I, too, feel overwhelmed…especially now. But I also feel the call of obedience. That call feels right, at peace in my soul. To die to oneself ~ to sacrifice as Christ sacrificed ~ that was never promised as easy. And looking at the faces of my children…which would I give up? How could I possibly choose who should stay and who should go? Who am I in my earthly wisdom to make such a call?
In this morning’s light as kids pile in and I protectively cover the baby snuggled next to me, tempers start to flare. A grumpy husband who graciously helped as much as he could the night before. Kids who want breakfast and attention. I say a kind word to them, softly remind him to be nicer to them this morning. He says he is awed by my patience. I ponder that as I lay in bed at 7ish after finally rolling into bed at 6ish. Normally my temper would be flaring too. Normally it is my voice fighting for self-control with the kids and discipline issues. And it hits me that another prayer is being answered. An unexpected grace of patience with my children has washed over me. My voice is softer, gentler, more willing to listen first.
And I realize that despite the weariness, despite the headaches and the muscle pain and the unexpected swelling of postpartum edema, there are other unexpected graces. I don’t have the baby blues. I don’t have that wash of depression that threatens to suck you in. I should have. In the physical state I am in I should have the blues. But I am really happy. I like talking with the kids and preparing for Advent. I love running my lips over the soft tender head of a newborn. I like showering Ivy with extra attention and assuring her that she is still my baby. I love the taste of that first cup of hot coffee in the morning. I love seeing the kids dive into the Christmas toys and books that are finally allowed out after Thanksgiving. I love listening to Pandora’s Christmas Jazz. It mellows my soul.
So I may still have to walk this road of weariness. I may still feel utterly overwhelmed for weeks to come. But I am not alone. He is gracing me in other ways, not to distract me from this call or lift the burden but to allow me to carry the burden. To remind me that He wants me to walk it. He unexpectedly graced me with others words at exactly the time I needed them to remind me that this is the path He chose for me to walk with Him. Reading an article from the Mater et Magistra by Jenn at Wildflowers and Marbles on Mary and the nesting instinct reminded me that this baby is a call from Him. There is purpose and molding and shaping that will come from what seems like such a heavy load to bear right now.
There would be no interior struggle trying to decide what to clean, order, list, craft, read, or do first in order to prepare. There was quiet adoration. Stillness. Trust…Full of grace, she [Mary] nested according to her calling…Her preparation, her nesting, was in her heart, and from this quiet stillness and knowing there came joyful hope and life…and as we ready our hearts and our homes to receive Him, let us ponder with the heart of Mary. Let our nesting be as hers was: in our hearts. There may be chaos all around us, a grueling physical or emotionally uncomfortable journey may be before us, but we wait with Our Lady this Advent in awe of the great mystery she shelters within her womb. (Available for download here.)
And reading a back-Advent post by Elizabeth Foss about expecting her sixth child made me think of where she is now at child number nine and how she continued in obedience to the only One who truly knows her ~ weakenesses and all. I relate as she says:
I spend my moonless nights with a toddler who cannot sleep and wants to nurse and I sing the song to him, tears rolling down my face, wondering how I will meet the needs of two babies when my Christmas miracle is born. I am cold in the darkness, despite the comfortable home that envelopes us. I hardly notice the weariness; it has been so long since I was without it. The load I bear: is it my burden or God’s? (Read the rest here.)
Reflecting on words of encouragement and the struggles of others during the Advent season will sustain me and remind me that He does hear my cry. And I will spend this season with Mary and her load heavy on my heart. I will strive to take it all and ponder it in my heart as treasure for this season of life.