Her bright blue eyes look up at me. I smile at her as I reach for my mascara. Her pudgy baby hands reach up to me and I can’t resist. I pick her up and settle her little bottom on top of my pregnant belly. I rest my forehead on hers and then kiss the soft skin under her ear. She has been my baby for 17 months. I am in awe of her innocence and her personality which is emerging more and more each day.
A flood of emotion washes over me as I consider how her little life will change in the next few weeks. A new baby brother is on the way. It will change her—it will change all of us—forever. As I hold her here, in my bathroom, I let the tears come.
What is this emotion? It’s vaguely familiar and slightly unwelcome. It’s sad and overwhelming and all-consuming. I can’t hold it back. Why do I feel this sadness at the end of this pregnancy? Why does this unwelcome lump rise in my throat as I hold my beautiful toddler in the bathroom while putting my make-up on?
I put her down and wipe the tears, grateful I haven’t yet applied mascara. I finish the make-up tasks and she busies herself with the bath toys close by.
We are a family of 6. We will become a family of 7. I imagined this transition would be a joyous one. I thought the prospect of having a newborn in the house again would bring that blissful, tired-but-so-happy deliriousness I have experienced in waiting for the arrival of some of my other babies.
Something that morning was brewing under the surface—something which I only began processing at that moment during my cry-fest, toddler kissing, makeup routine.
It seems like a non sequitur to write that word and associate it with the impending birth of a new baby. Grief? Isn’t grief reserved for funeral homes and cemeteries? I don’t think so. I am grieving the loss of who we have been as a family up to this point, who I’ve been as a mother and a wife, and what all of my children have been like in this beautiful space before welcoming a new baby.
Perhaps we have reached a coasting season as a family. We’ve had our routines, we’ve known what to expect from the days and from each other. This new baby is about to change everything. Perhaps having babies 18 months apart is just too much for us to navigate gracefully. Maybe this baby is a tipping point and I have reached a critical threshold of what I can handle as a mother. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that adding another person to our family changes the dynamics of our family as we move forward. We will be different.
As I reflect on other transitions in our history, I see a similar pattern: I grieve for the loss of who I have believed myself to be and what our lives have looked like, but the reality is God is inviting me to embrace something new. It is uncomfortable and scary. It doesn’t come naturally to me and it is not easy. However, the future that God has for us–has for me–is what I want more than any self-achieved future I can create.
Even when it’s hard.
Even when it’s scary.
Even when my 10-year-old daughter cries to me and says, “you’re so grumpy all the time.” Even when my 7-year old son has a massive tantrum, the likes of which I’ve not seen from him in years. Even when my 5-year old son’s behavior makes me despair or my sweet toddler’s pudgy hands reach for me and I can’t pick her up.
I hold on to the hope–as redemption from this grief–that each baby I’ve birthed has made my heart more tender, more moldable, more teachable, and more resilient. My current reality is infinitely richer than I could have ever dreamed 10 years ago. Redemption will come and the grief will pass. There will be a day when embracing our 7-person family isn’t even a question. There will be a time when I behold and whole-heartedly love the family God has made us despite any hardship or stretching I feel acutely in this present moment.
I sit in the morning light with my 3-week old son resting on the boppy, observing the curve of his ear and how tiny wisps of hair are gathered on his earlobe. He is a beautiful new person; no longer merely an extension of me, but a fully-functioning, whole being in his own body. The thought stills my anxious, postpartum thought stream.
He’s here. He’s a part of our family, and he is a treasured gift. There is no longer a reason to grieve. Now, there’s only space for joy.
Lynne Patti is a stay at home, homeschooling mama of 5 vibrant children. A member of the editorial team, Kindred Mom serves as a fulfilling break for Lynne from the every day mom-tasks of Cheerio pouring and fixing “funny socks.” In her adulthood, she has found that God is real, gracious, and abounding in love. She lives in Los Angeles with her family where, after 16 years, big city living has become their jam. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.
For March 2018, Kindred Mom is hosting a series about Becoming a Resilient Mom.
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Episode 36 of the Kindred Mom Podcast on Dealing with Big Feelings as a Mom is now available!