/> Raising Angels: Baby Days

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Baby Days

Babies – oh how sweet they are. They are cuddly and squishy and funny and loveable in so many ways. That’s how they look from the outside. That’s how the outside sees them.

Babies are also demanding and exhausting and challenging. That’s how we see them. The we, that is, who are in charge of their feeding and changing and care.

God makes them cute so we don’t kill them. Seriously. And interestingly enough, He endears them to us so that as they grow out of that innocent cuteness, they grow into a kind of beautiful maturity. This saves the older ones from extinction as well.

I recently read something a mother wrote about how she understood how a mom could shake her baby. I thought, finally, someone is speaking the truth. Then I read the hundreds of scathing comments about how dare she.

I have held screaming babies in the middle of the night and thought the same thing. Therefore but by the grace of God go I.

Now before you begin firing off your “how dare you” comments to me, understand that I am not saying that it is in anyway okay, under any circumstance, to shake your baby. I am saying, however, that I’ve been in that moment of sleep deprived desperation where I’ve had to put that screaming baby back in the crib and take a breath for a moment or two.  I’m not proud of it.

The combination of raging hormones, a recovering body, long-term sleep deprivation, and a screaming ten-pound kid can make you crazy.

Somehow, in the light of day, I stare at that same kid the very next morning and think how amazing this tiny human is. I gush over the cuteness (See? Saved.).

God brings me to the edge and then lets me step into His hands.

This has been a long, hard season preceded by a long, hard pregnancy. This baby has brought me to my knees crying out to God on many, many nights. It’s been so bad that I’ve wept in front of people other than my mom and husband. It’s been obvious enough that a few of my friends offered to take the baby and all the kids so I could get away (that’s when I kind of knew that I was not holding up the façade as well as I hoped).

I don’t write this for sympathy. I’m okay – really I am. I write this for all you moms out there. Especially for the moms of many, the moms who had babies in their “later” years, the moms who have big gaps between their babies.

If you follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, what you’ve seen is the sweetest, happiest baby on the planet. My goodness, the rolls, dimples, AND red hair – total strangers stop me to gush. I post the good pictures for goodness sakes.

What I need you to know is that those first six to seven months were some of the hardest of my life. I went to more doctor’s appointments than I care to remember because she was so fussy, I just knew there had to be something wrong, only to leave the office disappointed that she was perfectly healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for a healthy child, she was just so incredibly fussy that I didn’t want to admit that there might be nothing wrong and I simply had a baby who cried…a lot…for no apparent reason. 

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I set myself up for disaster.

Let me explain:
I had an unexpected pregnancy. I felt that would be rewarded with a dream pregnancy. It was anything but.

I had the worst of my five pregnancies. I kid you not when I say, if it could go wrong it did. I suffered the entire time. I thought because of this suffering, I would have the perfect, peaceful baby as a reward. Not so.

I complain about this current generation’s entitlement disease and yet, I have the same attitude with God. I deserve an easy pregnancy. I deserve an angel baby.

Goodness gracious, thank God He doesn’t give me what I truly deserve.

God didn’t promise me a rose garden. This is not the end. This is the means to our end, whatever that end may be. Some days I wonder if “raising angels” is going to get me to Heaven or send me to Hell. Depends on the day. The point is that this world is not Heaven. It’s not perfect. It’s meant to be a trial to help us get there.

I know all these things. I’ve known them all my life. I knew them that glorious moment I became a mother for the first time just like I knew them as I held this screaming baby for months. Don’t think I haven’t asked God…begged Him in fact, to show me what I’m supposed to be learning from all of this. Don’t think for one moment I haven’t consistently asked Him to let this cup pass me by. I have…many…many…many times.

The writing is not on the wall. I’ve heard no trumpets, seen no flashes of light. I have no idea what the point is – yet. But today, as I put Felicity down for her nap, and she looked at me, rolled over, grabbed her elephant, and went to sleep, I stared in disbelief. I was absolutely overwhelmed with gratefulness for this incredible gift. I felt blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to be given this wonderful responsibility. This baby is mine, part of me. I stood there, stroked her chubby cheek and thanked God once again for allowing me to share in His creation.

Felicity turned eight months old on the 18th of July. Sometime, over the last two months, she has changed. Her eczema has disappeared. Her reflux is under control. Her sleeping has finally become peaceful. Those smiling pictures are now a reflection of who she is rather than glimpses of who I hope she’ll be. When I realized this, I also realized that those last six or seven months are quickly fading away. I am telling people what a good baby she is instead of convincing myself I won’t jinx it if I say she’s had a good day.

But before that happened, I wanted to share it with you in hopes that this will help other mothers out there. I want you to know that I never, for one second, stopped loving Felicity. However, there were moments, even days, when I didn’t like her very much at all. And perhaps, I love her even more because I had to work so hard at it in the beginning.

You are not alone. You are not crazy. You will get through this. You will be better for it. You are a mother. You are amazing.

And that sweet little one of yours, he or she is amazing too!


Blogger Shannon said...

Thank you for this ! So lovely !

6:42 AM  
Blogger Kelly@http:/inthesheepfold.blogspot.com said...

Amen, amen, amen.

My first ensured that I would spend very little time judging other mothers who can't get their babies to sleep, who appear on the ragged edge. It is difficult and scary and humbling on that edge and I am healthy, have a good husband, am not poor, have lots of support. I have read reports of shaken babies and cried. There but for the grace of God. Even closer to home for me are parents who leave a baby in car. I have never done it, but I can so easily understand how it happens.

So glad you've turned a corner.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Amy, I had a similar situation with Daelyn. Following a pregnancy with blood clots and a blood infection in addition to my usual "1% of women have this illness" sickness, it was a terrible pregnancy. Then, because of an error by the Anesthesiologist, I felt them cutting into me during the C-Section, but was told I just had to "get through it"!! The night nurse refused me pain meds after my trauma because of a mix-up in the doctor's orders, then, when I did get them, I got really sick and began vomiting. Daelyn had respiratory problems, then seriously low blood sugar requiring him to be hospitalized an extra two days. At one month old, he had a barium swallow and was diagnosed with severe reflux, which made sense since he vomited constantly. I know what you mean. However, my mother gave me some great advice - your baby will not be hurt by being put in his/her crib. If you can't take it any longer, lay the baby safely in the crib, close the bedroom door, walk outside, and collect yourself. Once you are peaceful, return to tend to your baby. Better the baby fuss alone for a few minutes than the Mom lose control. I had to follow that advice a time or two. Blessings to you and thank you for your honesty. Patti

1:06 PM  
Blogger Keri sullivan ninness said...

Hi Amy, Father Tim (McKeown) sent me this post. I'm a new mama to 3 under 4, one with some special needs. This post just made my day. You put in to words things I've felt for a long time. Our 3rd, 15 months younger than his brother, was a big ole surprise. My second pregnancy was spent on bedrest so I too thought "okay Lord, I'm open to life here. Surely this pregnancy will be easier." And as he so often does, God laughed. ANyway, it's been a hard, hard season but Timothy (Father Tim is his namesake :) is 8 months old and I am finally crawling out of my hole. I soooo want to be that mama who cherishes the early days of tiny babies but that's hard to do with older kids on your hip and in your face :) Anyway- this post was simply balm today. Thank you!! Blessings to you and your family!

3:12 PM  
Blogger Amy Parris said...

Thanks so much ladies.

Keri, so glad you stopped by. I love Fr. Tim too! Please feel free to email me if you ever want to talk more. Hang in there. My first three were that close. My oldest was 4 when I had my third, who was 15 months younger than his brother. Those were HARD years.

Hang in there. It gets easier. It takes awhile, but it really will.

12:29 AM  

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