Sunday, June 11, 2017

31 Weeks: Walking Weather (part 1)

Last week baby must've had a growth spurt because I was hungry at night again. But this week was pretty good, and I actually felt great physically. Noah and I got to talk a "wake-up walk" every day, and we took family bedtime walks most days, too. Noah turned three last Sunday! And he and I had a really sweet day on Monday, but the week went downhill from there, sleep and attitude-wise (for both of us, to be honest! What a long week.)

It's like I hit 31 weeks in this pregnancy and suddenly went from feeling really peaceful and excited to all-out panicked. The countdown is in the single digits and frankly, while I'm all about nesting and organizing and tangibly preparing for our new arrival, I'm terrified about the emotional aspects that I just can't prepare for. I know that I don't know what I don't know about having two kids. I don't know if I will ever be pregnant again after the next few weeks. I don't know if I'm mom enough to do the newborn phase WITH a toddler and be a good mom to both.

I'm also starting to panic about my days with Noah being numbered. I was so sick this winter that I feel like we lost a huge chunk of time together while I just survived. Are we over-scheduled? Have I spent enough intentional time with him in the past three years? Is fall preschool a bad idea? Am I a good mom? Will he still know I love him when I have to attend to an infant? Does he know we are adding to the family and not replacing him? Nothing like an existential crisis in the third trimester!

Then there's the pre-emptive mourning of time and sleep that will simply be lost. Some never to return again. Noah is thisclose to phasing out naps, and while his night sleep has been less than stellar during this pregnancy, it's still better than the first year of his life. Have I taken full advantage of nap times? Of the times he did go to bed at 7pm and stay in bed asleep (although that seems to be lost forever, at least while it's still light out at that hour)? That year between 18-36 months when he DID sleep in until 6:30am, why DIDN'T I wake up earlier to form a consistent habit of quiet time again? Agh!

Thankfully, with the morning walks and nap times I did get last week, I was able to *start* sorting through some of this anxiety that seemed to come out of nowhere. Possibly the biggest thing I'm currently regretting is never having formed a good habit of quiet time after Noah was born. I KNOW that peace is a person and that the presence of Christ will anchor me in the season ahead. Why am I not seeking it out now? For a long time after having my first baby, I was just surviving. Once I could kind of form a coherent thought, I went through a phase of beating myself up for not being able to focus when I did sit down, not "getting something out of it" like I used to, etc. So I would have "on" phases and "off" phases, always somehow trying to replicate the habit I was in before we moved around this time in my pregnancy with Noah. Which mostly looked like me waking up at 5:30am and taking 30-45 minutes to read a devotional, read my Bible, AND journal. Longer than that on the days I didn't work. Let's just say that magical morning quiet time has yet to make a re-appearance, and my discipline and capacity to maintain such an intense regimen at nap time has been lacking, to say the least.

And then... I have so many parenting books I still want to read. So many things I meant to do. What have I been doing with my spare time the past three years?! That's a rhetorical question, by the way. I know that by and large I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I think about the (albeit part-time) work, the job changes, the hours and hours of studying for a new license, starting a new business or two... But I also think about the physical recovery. Coordinating all the appointments for a sick mama and a baby with some special needs. The postpartum anxiety. And heck, the normal, tumultuous, emotional adjustment to the role of motherhood!

Sure, I regret all the wasted hours on Facebook or Instagram, and I'm trying to replace that time with something slightly more beneficial, like reading a book for fun, listening to a podcast, or doing a 10 minute workout. Putting music on and dancing with Noah when we are both desperate for Papa to be home. Looking Noah in the eye and engaging when I most want to tune out. But in the grand scheme of things, I feel like I've done what I could do with my capacity in any given season over the past three years. And I'm currently reminding myself that there are so many seasons, even within this bigger (but still oh-so-short) season of the little years. Roughly every three months, things shift. I need to keep remembering that! And a lot of the time, it's okay for me to physically, mentally, and emotionally rest when I need to, to be able to get through the rest of the day. As long as I'm not looking at that physical rest as my inalienable right, and throwing a tantrum of my own when I don't get it.

I always tell people, Jesus is happy to meet you when you're at the end of the rope. I feel like motherhood is a constant battle between giving yourself grace, taking care of yourself so you're fit to take care of others, AND realizing any given day could go downhill in an instant for a million little reasons, and holding THAT with an open hand. It's about where my heart is much more than about where my time is spent. Although when my heart is in the right place, my time will be spent in the right place, too.

Anyway. All that to say, 'tis the season for morning walks and podcasts. My VERY favorite time of the year! Sunshine and encouragement before 9am. Walks have been SO GREAT this week as I muddle through this weird heart stuff.

Noah has not been sleeping a whole lot the past 25 weeks or so, so Ross and I haven't either. On Tuesday, I was in tears by the end of the day-- physically and emotionally exhausted. I expected this after baby, but not before! If I feel like this with one kid, how on earth am I going to make it through the day with two? Add to that the financial stress, the healthcare costs (our insurance changed pretty drastically since the last pregnancy), and the threat of the routine changing again (I thrive on routine), and I feel like I'm on very shaky ground.

Which is funny, because this morning one of the podcasts I listened to was a short devotional on Luke 6:46-49. Verses 46-48, in particular, struck me: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words AND puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who DUG DOWN DEEP and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built."

WHEN the flood came, the torrent struck the house but COULD NOT SHAKE IT.

I hear God, and I know him as Lord, but I have NOT been putting his words into practice. I have not been digging down deep. This solidified what I've been sensing for the past two weeks: more than the freezer meals, more than the tidy house, more than the baby registry, what I need is to secure my foundation in Christ, because the storm is coming (let's all pray that it's like a passing afternoon thunderstorm in the Florida Keys and not the perma-mist of the Midwestern winter or the destruction of a hurricane). I've gotten my feet back under me since having Noah, and I've learned some deep truths along the way, but really ever since last fall, I've been surviving. And that's catching up to me. When I'm not drinking from the wellspring of life, I'm coming up empty, daily. As David Wilcox says, "We cannot trade empty for empty/We must go to the waterfall/For there's a break in the cup that holds love/Inside us all."

On the same note, a few weeks ago, I was listening to this hymn over and over again:

All my life long I had panted for a drink from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longing, through his blood I now am saved.

[...]Well of water ever springing, Bread of Life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longing, through his blood I now am saved.

THEN because God really wants to hammer this into me, the point was reiterated in this podcast: Hello Mornings Episode 4: How to Begin and Build a Brilliant Morning. Heather and Kat talk a bit about a "three minute morning" routine, with God, Plan, and Move time. Basically, it's getting yourself moving in the direction you want to go. Action over perfection. Start with literally three minutes. One in which you meditate on a Bible verse like Psalm 143:8. One in which you glance at your calendar and pray about what you can and should do in your day with the schedule you have. And one minute to drink a glass of water. This is starting a routine. A bare minimum. It doesn't feel like a lot, but when the alternative is nothing, it's moving in the right direction! It doesn't matter if three years ago I was starting my day with 45 minutes of prayer, journaling, and Bible reading!

They also talk about other ways to build some momentum for change in your routine when your current routine, or lack thereof, isn't working and you're burnt out and not sure where to start (track, trade, and try, for example). But what really got me is when Heather said, "If you have a mentality that you're a pitcher of water, and you're having your quiet time in the morning to be filled up to pour out, you will have the idea that it has to be hours and hours and hours, because I know how much I pour out in my day. But if you view it as that time in the morning as me being reminded of my position in Christ, Christ in me, He is a River of Life, Flowing Water, Never-ending Source, and I'm getting plugged in there, so that His love can pour THROUGH me (not from me) to those in my environment, then it doesn't matter if it's a minute, an hour, two hours... you're never going to get filled up enough for the amount that you are getting poured out in your day, wherever you are. You will run out if it's all dependent on you being the source." Starting my day in communion with God will remind me where I stand, and whose I am, so I don't spend my day bemoaning what I lack externally or internally.

I want to write about two more podcast episodes that I found really encouraging this week, but the above ones really reminded me again that I can do the mom thing THROUGH Christ, who gives me strength. The newborn months are just going to give me some really sweet opportunities to rely heavily on that truth again. And in the meantime, I'm praying that God will help me enjoy the next few weeks of Mama and Noah time, and the quiet moments of kicks and hiccups with this sweet baby inside me.

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