936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
For one, I’ve been busy and exhausted from frantically finishing up last minute projects as our third son’s due date approached. But I’ve also been avoiding writing because I have been afraid.
I have been afraid to do the beauty of life an injustice by trying to bound it by words.
There’s just too much awe. Too much opportunity. Too much in this life that we never deserve yet God gives anyways—and how do I dare try to stick that in a cage barred by vocabulary and imagery? What could ever depict such beauty except the experience of the beauty itself?
I have been disappointed by the insufficiency of words.
This is how I feel today, more so than ever before, after a whirlwind three days of facing head on great shock, fear, emotion, and beauty.
It began on Thursday morning. My husband’s family is in town visiting this week, and I invited his mom along to my weekly ultrasound.
Although I have never had any issues with my pregnancies or deliveries, because of my Addison’s Disease I am treated as a high-risk pregnancy patient. This time around the doctor decided weekly ultrasounds would be best, to keep an eye on baby’s “practice breathing”, fluids, and other essential functions and developments.
We had only had monthly ultrasounds with our other boys, and this seemed as a bit of an inconvenience. When you already have an almost-four year old and almost-two-year-old at home, it’s difficult to adjust home and work schedules to accommodate yet another weekly appointment.
Within just a minute of the ultrasound technician placing the warm gel and ultrasound wand onto my swollen belly, I knew something did not look right. “Have you been leaking fluid?” She asked me. Every tech had asked me this same question for the past 6 ultrasounds. I was used to it.
“I don’t think so. I’ve been paying close attention, but haven’t noticed anything.” My fluid had been low for 6 weeks. It was still in the average range, but on the low end at 9cm. Anything below 8cm was dangerous.
The technician did not divert her gaze from the screen as she spoke, “I can only find 4 centimeters of fluid. I’m calling your doctor.”
With that she walked out of the dark ultrasound room. I held my hand out to my mother-in-law who grabbed it and said one of the most wonderful prayers for me and my baby, a prayer I’ll never forget.
Within two hours I was admitted to labor and delivery. Within another two hours I was induced. Having never experienced labor like this, I had no idea what to expect, or how long it might take. Never would I have guessed that 32 hours of labor spanned between that moment and when I would finally hold my son.
My body was simply not yet ready to deliver this baby, and so things moved slowly. Very slowly. The morning after they induced I was still only at 1cm dilation, and contractions were very mild. It just goes to show that nature does not want to be forced.
I undressed myself in the bathroom to shower and glanced at my pregnant body in the mirror. For months I had seen this body as huge. As unattractive. As something needing to be quickly fixed once this baby boy was out.
But today I looked small. Very small. Too small to be delivering a baby into the world.
I lathered and rinsed and returned to the hospital bed to wait. And wait. And wait.
Every time a new nurse would come in she would comment on how small my belly was, and that this was going to be a “tiny one”.
They would explain to me the risks and possible complications of delivering a baby pre-term. Possible respiratory issues. Possible blood sugar problems. Possible feeding troubles. And always the possibility of him needing to stay in the NICU. Away from me.
He wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. But he had to come out.
He likely would not have made it another three weeks. And had my doctor not been tracking him week by week on ultrasound, we would not have known that he was no longer producing amniotic fluid, or that he needed to be evacuated.
And here is where I cannot do justice to the beauty of life with words. Because God and His mercy is far bigger than anything I could ever type out on a laptop or pen on paper. Through 32 hours of unexpected pre-term labor, I have come to see beauty in a whole new way. Beauty by way of mercy. Beauty most undeserved.
It took 31 brutally slow hours from induction until I progressed to 5cm of dilation. It then took one hour to progress from 5cm to 10cm.
For 31 hours I had tried my best to convince this little boy that he needed to come out. And now with him pushing ever so urgently against my body, it was all I could do to convince him to stay put for 20 more minutes until the doctor could arrive to deliver him.
I breathed hard into each contraction, doing all I could to focus on NOT letting him out. I told myself I could last five more contractions. The doctor walked through the door with one to spare.
With only a few minutes of pushing, my son entered the world. He cried beautifully as he came out. They placed him directly onto my bare chest, waiting a blissful minute to cut his chord, allowing it to pulse just an extra moment of life from my body to his. He was a perfect mess of birth and shock. I was a perfect mess of relief and hope.
They measured his tiny body—5 pounds and 9 ounces of perfection, and handed him back to me. He fed. And I entered again back into that blissful and unspeakably beautiful phase of life that is being a nursing mother.
I stared down at him, and I still can’t stop even now, a day after. I can’t stop staring. And I can’t stop thanking God—for all that I don’t deserve, for all that I can never explain, for all of the beauty of life that I can only ever butcher with the attempts of putting it to words.
I know my words have done little to express the beauty I have witness in the past 72 hours. But that’s ok. They are a story told by a mother running off four hours of sleep in the past three days, with no energy or conviction to make them perfect—because it’s not about the words.
These words are simply the raw reflections of a mother who just witnessed a very big God bring her son safely into the world.
They are the unfiltered and imperfect words typed out first draft and without edit—a simple story of beauty that could never be held by story. As I stare over at my precious sleeping son not even a day old–the words fade to nothing–completely insufficient is all they are.
However, as insufficient as they are–these words are what I know. They are what I have to sort through my thoughts, emotions, and experience of these past 3 days; to dig a little deeper into the beauty God has graced me with. And so they are what I will continue to use. Because we should never cease to at least try to share the beauty God allows us to be a part of.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!