Why It's Hard to Celebrate My Son's First Birthday
My baby turns a year old today. I should be looking back at pictures reminiscing the memories, the good times. I should be smiling because the year was filled with joyful baby snuggles, baby-wearing, rocking, breastfeeding, and so many other parts of motherhood that I adored and dreamed of. But unfortunately, that's not the case for us.
Instead of looking back remembering, I look back feeling a sense of bittersweet sorrow. A deep sadness fills the void of fond memories with my babes. Breastfeeding cut short due to illness. Rocking made impossible due to pelvic pain. Baby-wearing limited by an oversensitive bladder. Baby snuggles stolen by an inability to sit or even stand comfortably.
Bitterness tries to consume me--I should have gotten those things. I should have gotten the experiences I'd planned on--the extended breastfeeding, the cosleeping, the playing airplane on the floor, long walks around the park. It doesn't feel fair.
I feel robbed. I feel robbed of time, robbed of precious moments, robbed of an ability to fully mother my baby.
I feel inadequate. My baby deserved better. He deserved a mom who didn't have to leave him time after time for physical therapy and doctor appointments. He deserved a mom who didn't lay next to the crib in pain while he screamed for her to rock him. He deserved a mom who was focused on him more than her own pain and illness. I wasn't the only one robbed, but my poor baby was robbed.
THE TRUTH: WHAT I KNOW
But yet, God grips my heart and speaks different words to me--you did have joy, you were blessed, you were more than enough.
Praise God that His truth counteracts the lies that are so viciously trying to steal the joy of this precious first birthday. What I feel and what I know seem to contradict eachother.
I know that there were many times of joy:
- I was able to stay home with my babies and still afford babysitters when I had to attend appointments.
- I was who he was looking at the first time he smiled.
- I was the first person he rolled towards.
- I was the one he chose to crawl to first.
- I was who he took his first attempted steps towards.
- I was who he cried for, who brought him comfort.
- "Mama" was his first word.
- His first hug belonged to me.
- He loved the carrier so when I was feeling up to baby-wearing, he snuggled up and slept on my chest--an experience I longed for but rarely got due to pain.
- He followed me around like a little puppy in love.
- He showed me love, devoted love, even when I felt like the biggest failure of a mom.
Yes, God's right, there was in fact joy. And I was in fact more than enough.
There were blessings--money made available when medical expenses grew, friends and family volunteering to help with the boys, a community of MOPS moms to help me cook meals for my family, a church that showered my family in prayer. An incredible physical therapist. Patient doctors. A super intelligent functional medicine doctor. New relationships made through the pain. A blog born. Confidence restored. Faith greater than ever in life. Marriage made stronger. Hope revived. Anxiety and depression demolished.
Oh, my goodness, the blessings were great, I know.
THE BATTLE WITHIN
Yet what I know versus what I feel still remains a challenge. I still feel a little sad, yet I am thankful as I begin to recognize the blessings and the joys of this past year.
I still feel robbed, yet I realize I wasn't robbed of joy and memories, rather "expectations" I had for what my life would look like. That's not so bad when I consider that life rarely ever goes exactly how we plan and God's ways are higher than my own.
I still feel a little inadequate, but I realize that is a lie from the Enemy, a product of my pride. My baby never once thought me inadequate, so it's time I start owning just how "enough" I am.
My baby turns a year old today, and I had a grand expectation about what I should be doing in this moment--but I guess life isn't lived out in "should be doings," it's lived out in reality, in "what is." And what exists today is a year of conquering pain, a year of determination, a year of hope, a year of sacrifice, a year of serving my family despite my pain.
Today marks a year of refusing to give up, of teaching my boys about strength, faith, and courage. Today marks a year of loving and being loved by one of the sweetest boys you could ever meet. Today marks a year of life led by God, held by God, and blessed by God.
And for those reasons, I choose to smile and find joy in this day, relying on what I know to be true; allowing myself to feel the grief, but refusing to let it define the past or the future. My baby is a year old today, he's been blessed with a year of life. And that, my friends, is a reason to praise God and celebrate!