Grace Josephine Graham, aka Gracie Jo, entered the world on 11/30/2022 at a whopping 8lbs 11 oz, in about 3 contractions in under 15 minutes.
I never dreamed I would carry my second child for 41 weeks, let alone an 8-pound baby.... but here we are.
My newborn daughter has been home for approximately 72 hours, and I already feel both success and failure in so many profound ways.
I'm going to split a few blogs into several parts to talk about these really BIG emotions running through me. Perhaps, some of you mommies out there feel the same way and will relate to the emotions that I am presently experiencing.
Here are at least three categories I can't wait to tackle in the next few weeks:
41 weeks of Pregnancy: When Baby Just Won't Come Out
From Euphoria to Sadness: Three Phases of Coming Home with the Newborn
Mom Guilt: Introducing a Second Child to the First
*Warning* - If you aren't comfortable reading about a few mild "details" regarding childbirth, I encourage you to hit the "x" in the top right-hand corner or the back button on your browser. Otherwise, do continue.
This time two years ago, I was navigating life as a new mom fresh out of a pandemic and working through postpartum anxiety that was absolutely debilitating at times. I would look at my son and then run to the bathroom to be sick. His birth experience was not the best for a "first-time" mama. A planner by nature, I had no birth plan, and I knew I wanted Wes to enter this world however God intended him to. Well..... Wesley actually got "stuck" in my birth canal. Vacuums were used, there was a possible vaginal cesarean mentioned, and a gruesome episiotomy was performed. In the end, Wesley was born in perfect condition with the most gorgeous cone head you've ever seen, and things turned out "ok". However, the entire experience was a whole thing, and healing was traumatic. I remember standing naked in front of the mirror and looking at my saggy and now empty belly and feeling chapters of emotions I can't even mention here. I stopped breastfeeding a week and a half in, and I couldn't look at my breast pump for an entire year without feeling like a massive failure. I was blindsided by this experience and felt an odd sadness that my body didn't perform as I had expected it to.
In December 2020, I had just started Wesley James Co. and had no idea the route my life was about to take in terms of parenthood, my identity, what I stood for, and who I wanted to be. The last time I remembered feeling that way, I had just graduated high school and was pondering my future. Having a baby brings all of those feelings of uncertainty back. Only, there's this responsibility you have for a living being and every choice you make determines whether they live or die. Yes, that sounds dramatic but it's ultimately true when you think about it. The imperial weight of caring for another human being is immense, and it begs you to reconsider a lot of your choices and ideals about life. After all, you're not the only one in the car anymore. Yet, somehow by the grace of God, you do get through it.
You turn around, and your first baby is two.
Flash forward to 2022, and we added ANOTHER living being to the mix like crazy people, but, very HAPPY and overjoyed crazy people. This time, I feel like I have a better grasp on the looming shadow of postpartum anxiety. When it peeks its ugly face around the corner, I know exactly what it wants, and I recognize what is happening to me. The word for this experience is grace. I'm learning to give myself GRACE.
What, is exactly happening to me, you ask?
I'll share Grace's birth story another time (it was perfect).....but mostly, the emotions I am experiencing are an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and a fear of dying. I look at my babies and this tsunami wave of fear permeates through my body and my mind causing me to have nauseating physical reactions. It is an absolute mind trip! These feelings then highlight inadequacies within me, and I start carrying around these proverbial bricks of disdain for myself and the job I'm doing as a mother and a woman. With Grace entering the world, I have struggled with feeling like I've replaced my son, I'm terrible at breastfeeding, and I'll never be able to fully manage two children to the best of my ability ......even though I'm KILLING the breastfeeding game and I have the best husband in the world. I'm not alone in this journey AT ALL, whatsoever.
Still, the postpartum mind is an absolute BEAST.
Here's where grace comes in again. Not my daughter Grace, but cliche enough, grace in the sense of what God deems sufficient for my peace.
According to 2 Corinthians 12:9:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
These past seven days have taught me so much about having patience with myself and the overwhelming feelings that arise when big changes happen in my life. I've especially leaned into the part in this Scripture that says, "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses...."
Oof! If you know anything about me, being WEAK is not in my vocabulary. Weakness is not a part of my language in any sense of the word. It takes A LOT for me to cry and show vulnerability as I am a hypermotivated and sometimes.... abrasive personality type. I'm the take no [bleep] from anyone kind of gal. So, admitting that I'm tired or I can't do something is bone-crushing. Perfection is what I persistently strive for. It's a gift and a curse.
What can I say? I am a former professional dancer and a Virgo! It just comes naturally to me to be this way (if you know you know).
I guess the moral of the story here is, that with God's grace, I am reminded that I can fail, be imperfect, feel what I'm feeling, and stop trying to control every single thing that comes my way in this life. Sometimes, we need to rest in Christ's power and let Him do the work. It's about surrendering, friends. Surrendering control and the persistent need to be in charge of every single thing that comes down the pipe.
I am so happy that we chose the name Grace for our daughter. Every day that I look at her, I am persistently reminded of the beauty that I grew and continue to grow within me, the GRACE that I have both inside and outside of me, and how leaning into my weakness is a chance to let God's power do the dirty work.
To let it be sufficient for me......to feel that God-given peace....