Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taking Stock

James is nine months old this week. I feel I have lived more in the last year than I have my whole life. And now, nine months after giving birth, I am longing for the keen awareness I felt there at the beginning of this journey. like most voyagers, I started off strong and have found now that my heart is tired. I think I was running on adrenaline for the first 6 months of motherhood and in the last 3 months it’s become obvious that the adrenaline has run out and I’m in need of some recharging.

looking back

There is no room for numbness during pregnancy. Pancakes tasted like heaven, an orange was not just an orange, it was juice sent down directly from God. Sleep was deeper and dreams more vivid. Pain and stretching was felt from every corner of my body. My feet felt the grass underneath more sharply than any previous spring. My husband breathing next to me at 3 am was cause to stay awake and wonder if our son would look like him. Every star in the black sky was shining as a reminder that God had his hands on all things, including the tiny soul being woven into a baby in my womb. Nothing went unnoticed it seemed, everything was felt during those nine months. I am not romanticizing pregnancy. My first trimester was miserable, and I really thought I might just fall apart by the very end, but looking back I think even the aching was a kiss from life itself.

The day James was born was preceded by several days of labor. I stubbornly wanted to give birth naturally and it was that stubborn determination that got me through the worst pain of my life.

There is nothing that could have prepared me for the panic I felt during those hard contractions. I knew it would hurt, but I did not know it would feel so....wrong! Everything in my body wanted to run from the pain, wanted to avoid it, ignore it, hide from it. I did not feel strong, I did not feel determined. I felt about six years old and wanted to curl up in a ball and weep. (which is sort of what I did)

By the end of labor the moments in between contractions seemed shorter and shorter so that just when I thought I could take a calming breath another pain would start up again. I was a small boat in a great storm, helpless to the intensity of the waves swelling around me.

And it was the most alive I’ve ever been.

I can say that, I suppose, because there was an end. Because the minute James appeared, the waves calmed immediately. It was as if Jesus himself had said “Quiet, be still!”

My sweet boy was 8 days late so he did not require much cleaning once he emerged. They gave him to me right away and there we were. Mother and child, for the first time. I do not remember certain things about those moments after birth. I don’t remember, for example, the nurse giving me instructions (on God knows what), or the clammer of tools and the bustle of hospital personal in and out of the room. I don’t remember the pain of stitches or the shame of being exposed to a room full of strangers. The things I do remember center around James. His ears, his lips, his warmth. I was alert to all things James. 

Days later as I looked at myself in the mirror I knew that his birth would be my proudest moment. I felt like it was my initiation into womanhood, into adulthood, and in those first weeks I was living moment to moment like I never had before. (With a newborn, you don’t really have a choice). It was that forced change that has saved me I think. Saved me from the numbness.

two thousand and nine was quite a year for me.

But now, in a new year and a new season of motherhood I am...fading a bit. I'm starting to feel a slow drip of anesthetic creep back in to my heart, and it’s obviously time to take some action. So action is what I will take. If we become what we worship, than I suppose I should worship the God of life, of light, the God who makes the sun rise in the morning and the waves crash onto a rocky shore. Now that I know what it is to really live, I can not settle for just getting by. Even if pain is involved, I will be thankful for the pain- that my heart might beat stronger and my feet might walk with more conviction.

O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray Thee make it so, for I am heartily weary of living at a distance from Thee.
-Charles Spurgeon

signing off for a little while to do some “house cleaning”...


Linds said...


What a beautiful and touching post. As we prepare to bring a third child into our family in the spring-only this time from Africa-I feel as though I'm in the last trimester. My experience 'expecting' this time around has obviousely been different than physically bearing our first two children but it's still exhilarating, painful and awe inspiring. Thank you for your post encouraging me to revel in the now and the greatness of the moments He makes. A little difficult lately as we are in these seemingly endless moments of waiting.

A little "house cleaning" is always good...hope you enjoy your break!


lori bunk said...

so beautiful... thank you

オテモヤン said...


Greg LaFollette said...

thanks alli. i'm sharing this with my best friend who became a new dad this year as well.