It’s been quite a year.
And every year my birthday lands close to or on Thanksgiving day – forcing a double dose of reflectivity. A double dose of giving thanks. Even if the term ‘late twenties’ is now a part of my vernacular.
This is going to be a difficult post to put into words. I know what I want to say. Just not how to say it in a way that accurately reflects my soul’s perspective.
I started this year out very pregnant. Third trimester pregnant. Right along friends who were also pregnant. Beaming in their baby glow, excitedly decorating nurseries, taking baby moons…posting and texting and chatting…anticipation mounting.
I tried very hard to NOT complain during my pregnancy because I was also surrounded by friends who were having trouble with fertility. What they would’ve given for morning sickness, baby-induced back pain, clothes not fitting over their growing belly. I was blessed. I knew it, even on the days that were long, difficult and even painful.
Then the day came. Benton Oakes was here. It was a delirious feeling and a whirlwind of an event.
My mama emotions were already through the roof and late night feedings paired with sleep deprivation made Benton’s level of need difficult to meet. I cried every day at some point during the day for what seemed like weeks. Sometimes out of the pure love that was flooding my body. The weight of responsibility that coarsed through my veins. Other days it was out of frustration from the pain of recovery, the slow progress of nursing and the lack of ability to sleep on my stomach like I had so looked forward to. Yes – in retrospect, some things may have not been tear-worthy.
But even in the things that were justifiably emotional, I was decided.
No complaining. And this why.
Both before and after delivery day, my friends were also experiencing their own delirious, whirlwind days.
But not all of them had the same story as mine.
I have lost count of friends who lost their babies. During pregnancy. After birth.
Never to be held. Never to be touched. Never to come home.
I have lost count of friends who delivered a bundle of joy only to have him or her whisked away to NICU. Emergency surgeries. Unforeseen medical conditions.
Unable to be held. Unable to be touched. Unable to come home.
Every time I heard news of loss, heartache, a new medical diagnosis… my heart broke.
And my heart found a new kind of thanksgiving.
Every time my baby cried, I whispered a thanks for the breath in his lungs.
Every time I longed for sleep, I thanked God for the curious, wide eyes staring back at me.
Every time I was frustrated with my body, it was quickly quelled in the comfort of the small human now nestled against it.
It continues to this day.
Every time he’s not feeling well, I’m thankful that snuggles are the remedy I can offer.
Every time he wakes up too early for my liking, I look ahead knowing the day is spent with him and I’m grateful for another chance to be his mom.
Every time I think I’ve had a long day with Benton, things didn’t go as planned, I couldn’t do what I wanted because of the baby…My heart is pricked and my gratitude rises.
And every mother will tell you – there are trying days. I’m only 8 months in and I understand very little about motherhood as a whole…but I do know, there are trying days.
I refuse to complain.
That’s the thing about thanks. You can’t pair it with a complaint or it loses its very essence. It must stand alone.
Maybe your situation is different than mine.
Whatever you find to be difficult, I encourage you to find the thanks in it.
The laundry means your family is active.
The dirty dishes means your family is fed.
The toys strewn across the floor means your family is growing.
Books that never seem to be on the shelf mean your little ones are learning.
Shoes that are never on the rack mean your little ones are exploring.
Messy faces. Sticky hands. Crumbs beneath the table. Holes in pants. Carpool. PTA.
Find the thanks. And leave it at that.
*This post is dedicated to my sisters (far and wide) who have experienced loss, trauma and trial through pregnancy, delivery and motherhood.
Maybe you’re the one with empty arms after loss.
Maybe you’re the one with a child battling a medical diagnosis.
Digging deep to be grateful this holiday season might bring more pain than you can think you can bear.
I encourage you to help other moms who are enduring similar burdens – I encourage you to be like-minded. Unite. Reach out. Don’t judge another’s loss, tragedy, blessing or triumph as better or worse.
Look through the lens of a loving Father and see what God has done through each situation. He never plans harm or hurt for His children – but as it comes, His arms are open and provide the healing your heart needs in this hour.