This lesson is the longest in coming.
Once upon a time, I was 26 weeks pregnant with a tiny ninja baby. All day, and especially at night, he kicked, kicked, and kicked a little more. I felt pretty well, I was still fairly cute, my basketball belly was growing by the hour it seemed, and I was figuring out this whole “pregnancy/I’m a going to be a new mom” thing SWIMMINGLY. Soon-to-be Daddy, Ninja Baby, and me? We had it all together.
And then 27 weeks.
And 1 centimeter, 70% effaced.
A diagnosis of preterm labor.
I was terrified. All of my expectations of pregnancy, of a healthy baby; all my worries about things that could go wrong, complications; all of the weight of inadequacy–of failure as mother carrying a child–shattered my pregnancy experience. I was so scared and helpless, gasping for control like a clean breath while drowning in confusion and questions and absolute FEAR.
And yet I had no control. For the first time in my life, something–someone–that meant so much to me was completely outside my reach.
I guess you could say it was my first lesson in what it means to be a mama, this holding our children with open hands.
So, I did what I could. If being on bedrest was going to keep this little peanut growing inside, I was going to be the best at it. Type A all the way! I set up my command station beside my spot on the sofa, loaded with remote controls, books, magazines, hand sanitizer (hello, fellow germaphobes!), books, notepads, water, my phone. I watched SO MUCH Dr. Quinn (and the weather channel, oddly enough). I read books. I took naps. I only got up to go to the bathroom or to take a quick shower. I didn’t do my hair or put on makeup. I shifted from sore hip to sore hip and snuggled with the best chocolate lab on this earth. I hooked myself up to uterine monitors twice a day for an hour each to measure contractions and waited anxiously by the phone for a report. I sweated the results like I did in algebra class when my teacher passed back the tests. When I had zero, I was so comforted and satisfied with how I was doing as a mama. When I had four, I was alarmed but also ashamed.
I never went up the stairs.
I never cleaned a toilet or vacuumed a rug.
I never went inside a grocery store.
I never drove a car.
All day, I lay recumbent on reclining sofa (which, sadly, is so indented from my body weight that it will never be the same) and then went to my bed at night.
My outings consisted of trips less than a mile from my house to the doctor’s office, and I can remember marveling at the tallness of trees and the blue of the sky. LIFE happening outside my doors. Anything other than my ceiling.
I watched as other people cooked in my kitchen. Folded my laundry. Put together my baby’s crib. Painted my baby’s nursery. Brought me meals. Unloaded my dishwasher. Cleaned my home.
It sounds like I had it really easy, all perched there on my sofa spot, calm and cozy.
And I did. And the help we had from family and church members and friends? It was overwhelming. We were overwhelmingly blessed.
But it was a prison for me.
Not a bedrest prison. A prison of pride.
A prison of self.
My anger, my fear, my resentment toward everyone who could enjoy life in the way I couldn’t in those days–they kept me wound so tight that I was a ticking time bomb of hormones and emotions just waiting to explode.
WHY was this happening to me? What did I do wrong?
WHY COULDN’T I FIX IT?
I was at the end of myself.
But the Builder wasn’t finished with me.
The hardest and most “brutiful” lesson of my time on bedrest? Trusting that this baby–even this hardship–was all in God’s hands.
Not the doctors’.
Not my husband’s.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” -Ephesians 2:10
God may have shattered my hopes of a perfect pregnancy and all my visions of nesting in my Pottery Barn-esque nursery and doing ALL THE THINGS, but He didn’t shatter me.
He held me.
And grace upon grace, He held that precious baby inside me. For 11 more weeks.
At 38 weeks, at just his right time, God brought that little ninja baby into the world, healthy and thriving and with the deepest, most knowing eyes I have ever looked into.
On the day we took him home, riding across the bridge over the intercoastal in the backseat and wondering at this blessing of beautiful baby, I wept. Sure, you can call it hormones and exhaustion and new mommy love, but it was GRACE. I wept for grace and in gratitude for God’s faithfulness. My sin, my pride, my “I-can-do-it-by-self”ishness were overcome by God’s great love for me. God is FAITHFUL. Even when no other promises hold, His promises will. I will hold on to that moment–to that promise–for the rest of my life.
It changed me.
God changed me.
He tore down walls in my heart, and it was painful. But He put me back together with nails and wood and a little baby boy.
He gave and gave and gave and continues to give LIFE to me.
And the son He gave me? That perfect peanut ninja baby?
His name is Nehemiah, after the one who rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, and the one who rebuilt my heart.
But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted them to every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess.–Nehemiah 9:17-23