Thursday, May 11, 2017

As A Mother.....

Over 17 years ago, I become a mother.  The road was long and quite an arduous journey.  Months turned to years, and at one point, I felt certain God was not calling my super hero hubs and I to even consider parenthood.  I was devastated.  Why would God put this almost uncontrollable desire in my heart, if after two years, I still wasn't able to conceive a child?

Perhaps it was to prepare me.  Cause me to abandon my own wants and desires.  Push my heart deeper into a dependence on things not of this world, but of things to come beyond this world.  I grew in my faith in those two years.  My relationship with my husband grew exponentially, I had lots of time to pray.  LOTS.OF.TIME.  My prayer grew.  I went from selfishly telling God what  I "needed" to surrendering to what God wanted.  I learned that it wasn't just telling Him what I wanted, but sitting before Him and listening to Him.  My prayer went from infancy, to toddler hood, to teenager, to adulthood in those two very long, very grueling years.

Why we became pregnant and so many of my friends struggled (and still struggle)and remained infertile?  I have no idea.  I have learned over the course of the almost 21 years since beginning this journey to motherhood, not to always question and ask why, but to pray more and accept things and be more compassionate.

That's not to say the motherhood journey has been all bliss.  Getting pregnant after two years of struggling came very easy the next two pregnancies.  But then my confidence in having children and my "I'm a pro at this" mentality came crashing down when at 9 weeks pregnant with our fourth child we had just seen two weeks prior, we lost our first baby.  Of many.

Miscarriage is probably equally if not more painful than infertility.  Mostly because people just didn't talk about it.  Just a few friends even knew about John Matthew.  One in particular was extremely instrumental in my healing by even getting us a garden stone for where his body was buried in the small Catholic cemetery behind our church.

Baby five and six came with relative ease and I quickly realized that being a mother of five was more than enough for my plate and I quit teaching indefinitely.  My hands were "full" as I was constantly being told.

We moved about a year and a half after baby five came along and once again, started over in a new town, and now, a new state in a totally new geographical area.  It was daunting.  Registering three in two different schools (I laugh now because at times we have had 5 in 4 different schools), and trying to "fit in" a place where we were definitely not familiar with, was overwhelming at times.

It seemed that once we became comfortable with our new home, the desire for another baby came back.  My husband and I practice NFP and despite what all the grandmas in the world believe, it is a tad more advanced than the calendar method.  In fact, if practiced correctly and efficiently, can either space your babies, postpone babies, or even help detect physical issues that could need further review by an OBGYN.  Our bodies, as I've stated before, are simply AMAZING.   The actual window of getting pregnant is so small and short you sometimes wonder how these people continue to become pregnant with unwanted babies.... :(

So we decided to try and almost immediately became pregnant.  Once again though, at 9 weeks, I miscarried.  Actually, according to my superhero hubs, I tried to pull an Elvis, by dying on the toilet.  No one truly prepares a mother for miscarriage.  Perhaps it's the taboo fear that we don't want to spoil her joy of knowing this happens in 1 in 4 or 5 pregnancies.....but I hemorrhaged and passed out in my bathroom.  Fortunately for me, I didn't realize how I scared everyone in my home at the time. Gemma Rose was honored at a ceremony through our hospital at a local cemetery.  It was the hardest and most emotional event of my life.

After that, I had two more positive home pregnancy tests that once again, a week or two later, resulted in starting my period.   Most in the medical field wouldn't even recognize them as pregnancies, but to my family, they were and are bambamboo boo and bambambino (We have named them Michael and Maria-but the youngest have always called them those names since we first announced the pregnancies.)

Those two miscarriages followed my Gemma's miscarriage, so once again, I began to question the desire in my heart.  Was it selfish?  I was actually told once that I was using up my 'permitted carbon print' by having so many children.  Shouldn't I adopt if I really wanted another baby?  Question after question swirled through my head.....I began to doubt my understanding of what God wanted and once again, abandoned my prayer life that had become so much more mature to the childish- 'why God?' whine I was very good.  (somebody throw me an Oscar- I can nail it...)

We semi-abandoned the idea of another child when we decided that for my 40th birthday we would go to Rome with our very dear priest friend.   God has such an amazing sense of humor.  We found ourselves pregnant just a few months before the trip and even decided on an Italian name while there visiting the beautiful city of Rome and all it's amazing history.

Number ten didn't come without her issues during my pregnancy as well.  In fact, the last three pregnancies have caused me more worry and gray hair than the first nine combined.  I bled with each one, some heavily enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.  One putting me on a bed rest for weeks until it subsided.

'Why do you keep doing this,' a friend once posed when I had my second miscarriage.  It wasn't said in a mean way, but it did make me wonder at the time, why do I do this?
But honestly, I've read so many books on saints and holy people in my faith and around the world, that it doesn't seem too odd to me at all to open my heart to what God is asking of me. Society and culture have a way of sometimes seeping into our deepest thoughts and casting doubts so easily.

No where in the bible, or in tradition, or in history has it ever been 'easy.'  I've taught my sixth grader this year history from before Jesus' time and frankly, life has never really been 'easy' for anyone in this world!  So to say I needed to "stop" to make my life easy is, well, a rather ridiculous and selfish statement.  But the desire in my heart would still be there.  Just because I decide I'm done with something, doesn't mean God is finished with me and what He wants of me.

There are all kinds of fears the older I get and the more children I have.  Children with disabilities, more miscarriages, and potentially hemorrhaging to the point of death are just a few of the concerns that have literally plagued my brain.... (I haven't even thought about what happened after Lucia's birth, two years ago, yet, but I've got 15 weeks, give or take a week or so, to let my overactive imagination lose control).

Why do I do all of this?  Why do I subject myself to the delightful comments, the stares, the neighbor who declared in Panera a baby ago, "OMG-YOU'RE PREGNANT....." to all the customers around us........Why?

Because both my husband and I feel in our hearts that this is what God has called us to do.  We don't do it lightheartedly, we don't do it as though we are the only capable people of it, but we do it with obedient hearts and minds.  Knowing that nothing in this world will reward us for our sorrow, pain, heartache, joys, celebrations, or anything....Only God will give us that fullness.  We truly believe that.  We've had too many un-explainable moments, I call them God moments, to not believe in that. Most especially, when you've lost someone(s), God gives you those moments to reassure you that one day you will be reunited.  I believe that with my whole heart.

So as a mother, it's hard for me to explain the why.  People will make their own assumptions, and that's ok.  What matters is that, as a mother, I have had the privilege and honor of birthing some of the most amazing kiddos.  I have witnessed the face of God in people who came in with one way of thought and after 'dealing with the crazy big family' left with another.  I have seen friends leave because I am so family focused and busy with them, but I have had the friends I have grow deeper in our relationships.  I have dealt with heartache that will only one day be filled when I am reunited with my babies in Heaven.

Today?  Today I am 'just a mom.'  A mom who gave up her career as a teacher years ago.  A mom who struggles daily with a lack of sleep for a myriad of reasons- teenage drivers, teenage workers, babies, husband's who have scary jobs, you name it, and that is a struggle for the one who is the sleep queen of the universe.  I have given up dressing stylish at times to afford hair cuts, shoes, sports.  I have spent countless hours on Pinterest looking for new and exciting recipes that only about 1/3 of my kids will actually even taste, let alone consume.... I have given up lots, but in that sacrifice, received more than I could have ever dreamed.  Ever.

Take today for instance- I love my kids.  I mean, LOVE THEM.  Their favorite food is this's THE.MOST.PAINFUL meal I make for them simply because I have to not only put my hand in this raw meat, but I actually have to squeeze it, mix it, urp-almost makes me throw up writing this- but meatloaf.  Their favorite.  Blech.

Raw meat...not my thang...
But I love them.  I love to hear them come home and smell it cooking in the oven and know immediately what it is.  I LOVE how they eat it ALL.GONE.  No leftovers. That is one small reward I get to see.  Not everyone sees this and thinks, 'oh wow!  You are CRAZY blessed....'  But I do...

It's the little a mother.  God bless.........

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