When You're Starting All Over Again: Honest Confessions From My Second Pregnancy
I'm just going to come right out and say it. I've been a terrified mess lately as I've entered into this last month of my pregnancy.
I look at my eighteen month old daughter and just want to weep because I know her life is about to turn upside down and she, in her innocence and lack of understanding, has no idea. I look at my husband who I have finally started to feel a romantic connection with again and I'm overwhelmed with sorrow because I know the hormonal ups and downs that are coming and the way we will struggle as we did before. I look at my body that I've just recently been able to reclaim for myself and I lament the freedom I'll be losing as I start on a breastfeeding journey again. I look at my routine and this sweet, steady rhythm of my life as of late and dread the loss of all that's become comfortable and predictable.
This week I finally confessed aloud the words I've been thinking but have felt too ashamed to say.
I'm not ready to meet this baby.
Last year I wanted this more than anything. When I got that positive pregnancy test on the morning of my twenty-third birthday, it felt like all of my wishes had come true. I was so excited to see our family grow once more.
But that was before I tasted my freedom again. That was before I had time to be selfish and to want for myself. Before my daughter was sleeping through the night. Before I rediscovered my passion for writing. Before I felt renewed desire for my husband. Before I found this nice, easy rhythm of life.
Now the rose-colored glasses have come off and the thought of meeting this baby has me more shaken and afraid than I ever was with my first. Because I'm not that naive first-time mom anymore. I know what I'm getting myself into this time.
I remember the demands of a newborn -- the screams from a gassy tummy and the round-the-clock nursing. I both loved and loathed how much I was needed, and there were some days when I though I might collapse under the weight of it all.
I remember the way my marriage suffered -- how I couldn't stand being touched for those first months of her life, the emptiness I felt when I looked at my husband. I knew I should feel love there, but for a while my heart was just too occupied by her.
I remember the postpartum rage I experienced -- the times I exploded in inexplicable anger, wanting to punch somebody and break everything in sight. I felt like I was losing my mind, unable to control my emotions or predict my next move.
I remember the weariness I felt -- not because of lack of sleep, but because of the heaviness of loving and caring for a baby with every fiber of my being.
How do I start all over again? And just when things were starting to feel so simple?
A part of me still can't fathom it. I can actually see my due date on the calendar, the double stroller sitting in the garage, the birth kit lying in a corner of the room, and the crib waiting to be assembled in our still empty nursery, and yet a part of me feels like none of this is real.
This baby rolling around inside of me can't possibly be my son or daughter because I have a daughter and she's my whole world. How can two babies take up equal room in my heart?
I can't bear the thought of it or make sense of what lies up ahead, and so I fall onto my knees in prayer, hoping for clarity as I cry out these questions to the Lord.
Can I trust you to get me through this again? Will you give me the patience and strength to love this baby? Will you hold my marriage together? Will you remind me of who I am when I feel lost?
His answer, of course, is always yes, and with this answer comes his question for me:
My daughter, have you forgotten all I've already done?
I'm beginning to remember now. I'm remembering how the Lord's faithfulness in my motherhood journey has been so evident and how he's always been more than enough. I'm remembering the discovery that I am weaker than I ever thought and yet, because of him, stronger than I ever knew. I'm remembering the moments when I wondered if he had left my side and how I learned to see him in the middle of the mess and mundane. I'm remembering the things I had to let go of, the sacrifices I had to make, and how my soul was well-cared for in my surrender.
Lately I've been so consumed by this attitude of self-preservation, fighting to hold onto the simple and familiar, that I have forgotten that it was because of motherhood I have come to this place of joy and freedom, not despite of it.
I wish I could say I'm no longer afraid, but I don't want to lie. I'm still wrestling with my desires, fears, and denials. And yet I have hope that in calling the Lord's faithfulness to mind -- "raising my Ebenezer" so to speak -- my fears will somehow make way for more faith. And maybe, just maybe, there will be made room in my heart for this baby after all.