Four days after my son was born, I bawled like a baby as I heard the little cry start again. It was 3 am, I was utterly exhausted, and this was the fourth time I had tried to lay my new son down and slip into bed. Thirty minutes later, I fell asleep with him draped across my chest…something I vowed to never do…something the pediatrician who had checked him out in the hospital had told me to never, ever do. As I slipped into sleep I cried again, feeling like a failure as a mom.
I’d always wanted to be a mother. I was pretty sure that, when the time came, I would know exactly what I was doing and that motherhood would come naturally to me. I was so wrong.
Sure, I had those amazing feelings of love you always hear about. Changing dirty diapers didn’t make me cringe a bit. Once the struggle of the first tough month was over, I even enjoyed nursing. What I wasn’t prepared for were the feelings of inadequacy and uselessness. My filthy house, dirty dishes stacked high, and inability to get one decent meal on the table made me feel completely incapable as a house wife. The fact that my son was not a “typical” newborn (as I thought he should be) made me feel out-of-control. My exhausted frustration at my son when he would scream for hours every night from colic made me feel like a terrible mom. Most of all, though, I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything all day. I struggled with feeling a sense of purpose.
I knew that taking care of my son was my purpose for this season of life, but there was a disconnect between knowing that and feeling it in my heart. I knew I was doing something very worthwhile and purposeful, but most days I felt like I was just treading water. The problem was that, deep down, I wasn’t just a milk-producing, diaper changing, baby holding robot…there was a very real and individual person just dying to be let out! The challenge in any change of seasons is finding the balance between who you are as a person and the tasks God has put before you for today.
For me, finding this balance meant two things. The first was that I had to change. I had to let go of my need for control and desire to do things the “right” way and instead be flexible and learn to be the mom my son needed…not the mom I wanted to be. Anytime God refines us, the process is far from easy and painless. There were days that I despised the new mom posting on Facebook asking for ideas of things to do because her baby was so easy and she was bored. Yet, I have come to realize that God gave me Miles with all of his out-of-the-boxness so that He could mold me and force me to let go of my controlling tendencies. He gave me a very real little individual so that He could change my individual self.
Finding the balance for me also meant fusing who I was as a person with the role of mother. Again, this isn’t an easy process. I have come to believe that, in any season or role we find ourselves in, our personality should still shine and show through. I don’t parent the same as any other mom because I am not any other mom. I am a tea-drinking, outdoor-loving, greenthumb-wannabe who loves traveling and good food. Consequently, my son spends a lot of time outdoors, is well acquainted with garden tools, has traveled more than most people will in a lifetime, and will eat just about anything…including spicy food or strong-flavored ethnic cuisine. He is his own person, but his daily life is the way it is mostly because of who I am as a person. God placed Miles in my care because He knew that the mama I am is the mama Miles needed.
As I approach my two-year anniversary of being a mother, I’ve gotten into a better groove. I have a system down for at least keeping the house manageably clean. We do eat a home-cooked meal most nights, even if it was something I stuck in the freezer two weeks ago and just dumped in the crockpot that morning. I already have long lists of freezer meals to assemble and preparations to make for whenever Baby Baker #2 decides to enter our home, knowing very keenly how needed those will be. I feel very purposeful as I order our home, chase my toddler around, and reach out to other moms in our community.
I am not the same person I was before my son was born. And yet, I am more than just a mother. I am Caitlin Baker, wife, mom, homemaker, and very real person…something that brings me very great joy.
Yep, still waiting.
Monday at the doctor’s I was finally dilated to about 1 cm. So, I guess all these weeks of prodromal labor haven’t been for naught! For a while, I felt like I would be pregnant forever. You know, I would just keep having contractions and baby would never come. Honestly, I don’t think my doctor even believed that I was having contractions as frequently as I said I was. Monday, though, when then nurse practitioner went to check Baby B’s heartbeat, she asked me if I was having a contraction because my belly was pretty tight. After a bit it loosened up, and she was pretty sure I had had one. Only thing is, I didn’t feel a thing.
Apparently this surprised her enough to put me on the fetal monitor for a bit, and, sure enough, I was having frequent, albeit varying and sporadic, contractions! Baby didn’t seem to be showing any signs of distress, though, even when I had a really long hard contraction. He was bouncing all over while I lounged in a big, comfy recliner, drinking a Mountain Dew they gave me to wake Baby B up. How many times in your life do you get to do that at a doctor’s office?
The other good news is that he’s all down in position! His head is wedged down as far as it can go, which is pretty remarkable since he’s still kicking me in the ribs. Yeah, in case you had any doubts about this baby being tall! The nurse practitioner thought it could be any day now. My doctor doesn’t get back until Monday, but at this point I really don’t care that much. I am ready!
So, anyway, here I am…waiting for baby to come. All my out-of-the-house work has pretty much ended since I had to train someone to fill my place, so I’m finding some pretty boring days on my hands. If it wasn’t so stinking hot outside, or if we lived anywhere remotely close to a mall, I’d probably be walking all the time. Here I am, though, stuck in the middle of cow country during one of the hottest summers on record. Thank the Lord for air conditioning. In my house at least.
I have learned something very important about myself: I don’t just “chill” very well. I thought I would enjoy these last few days, having the free time to relax, watch the Olympics, or read a good book. Really, though, sitting on the couch just makes me feel like I’m sick. I don’t like being sick. Therefore, lounging on the couch is not working for me. Also, you can only clean your house so many times. Last week I even vacuumed the walls in our bedroom. I think it was more out of sheer boredom than compulsive nesting.
So, anyway, hopefully the next time you hear from me it will be with a birth announcement. That, or another whiny post about waiting. Oh, but scratch that…in all my bored free time I’ve been contemplating some pretty deep things about life and God. So, be looking for a post tomorrow that is totally, mind-bogglingly philosophical. If you don’t find it thus, please disregard it as the random ramblings of a emotional pregnant woman, two days away from her due date.
I’m now 37 weeks (38 tomorrow!) along in my pregnancy. It’s hard to believe that, at any time now, our sweet little man could make his entrance. Each day it seems like there are more signs that my body is preparing for labor. My Braxton-Hicks are really picking up and intensifying, and I can feel him pressing down farther-and-farther. My joints seem to get looser by the day. Monday at my doctor’s appointment, I had started to efface a little, although there was still no dilation. That night, however, I lost a little bit of my mucous plug.
It’s easy to get uptight or anxious or impatient for his arrival, especially when you don’t know the exact day he’ll come (or how he’ll come). I know that most babies from first-time moms don’t come until around 41 weeks. I know, too, that not too long after that my doctor will be pushing for an induction. With an induction, a lot of my hopes of as natural a birth as possible go out the window.
Then there’s the fact that my doctor will be gone the week leading up to (and, in fact on my due date), leaving me to the fate of whatever doctor is on call. But I guess I’ll be left to a random doctor should this baby choose to come on the weekend, as well.
There’s the possibility of baby coming earlier. On Sunday one of my friends told me she thought the baby was coming this Thursday. Honestly, as much as I’m ready for him to come at any time, that does seem a bit early. Now throw in all the “unknowns” about how labor will happen and progress, or if something will go wrong, and I could easily be a nervous wreck.
Surprisingly, though, I’m not. I really feel at peace about everything, even with all the questions and “play-it-by-ear”-ness of the next couple of weeks. The fact of the matter is, I don’t have control nor can I ever have it. There’s no way I can know when he’ll come, or how, or what will happen.
But God knows. He’s known from the beginning, and all is in His hands. For the last nine months, He’s taken the tiniest life and formed it, carefully and meticulously, into the precious little man we now eagerly await. He’s kept him safe for that long, so can’t He be trusted to bring him into this world in His perfect timing and way?
Yes, the next few weeks are kind of up in the air. I never know how many meals ahead to plan, or if I should obsess about keeping the floor and sink clean. I don’t know how to form my to-do lists for the week, or what I should plan on getting done before baby is born. Yet, two things I do know: First, that at the end of this, sweet Baby Baker will be in my arms. Second, that God is faithful and good, and that His plan is perfect.
As my sister says, “Every baby should get to choose their own birthday.” Thankfully, God knows when that birthday is.
I mentioned last week that some good friends of ours, Kevin and Laura Thomas, were so kind as to take some maternity pictures for us. Well, here’s some more of them!
If you like Kevin’s work, be sure to check him out on Facebook at Kevin Thomas Photography. He’s incredibly talented (and, as I mentioned before, he and his wife make a great team). If you’re looking for a photographer in the Conway/Little Rock area, be sure to check him out!