the year of surrender

I don’t always create resolutions or “find my word” when the new year comes around. Some years I’ll feel drawn toward a specific theme or prayer but it’s not something I’m particularly diligent about. Especially this year — in the midst of baby prep and my toddler’s third birthday happening right around my due date — I’ve got a lot on my mind and lists of to do’s written e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e., so the new year came and went without much of a signal on my radar.

The funny thing is, I didn’t set out to find my theme for the year, but I’m pretty certain it found me.

When I think back, it actually began pursuing me at the last bit of 2016. I’m currently expecting baby #2 and things are altogether different this go-around. Nothing major, so please don’t hear me complaining, just different.

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From the beginning of my pregnancy, I kept feeling like the Lord was asking me to surrender myself to this pregnancy. Now, let’s be real a second and acknowledge that surrender is an inherent part of pregnancy – we give over our actual bodies for nearly a year’s time, so there’s that. But this calling was deeper; more toward a yielding in my spirit rather than just my physical body.

 

So, surrender.

 

Even from the start, this pregnancy has been much more draining and taxing on me than my first ever was – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

 

At 35 weeks along, my doctor began my check-up with me laying flat on my back and her hands pressing into my belly feeling for my little boy’s position. She thought out loud, “where is his head??” as she searched and pressed.  I had been taking some peeks of him at work (I’m a sonographer), so I knew he had been breech for at least the past few weeks.

I hadn’t been concerned about it. Like, at all.
Until that moment.

Having a breech baby wasn’t something I had ever considered or expected, and I had no idea how much it affected, from a medical standpoint. My doctor briefly discussed some options if he stayed in that position, and none of them sounded especially appealing to me. A couple of them even scared me, if I’m being honest.

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With this news, I began to pray that he would turn, along with some of our friends and family. A coworker even said a prayer with me right in the middle of the hospital cafe one day. I also went to see a chiropractor who specializes in Webster’s technique – a way to open up the mom’s pelvis hopefully enough for the baby to switch positions.

After all of that, I knew I needed to accept the fact that if this baby stayed breech, there was a reason for it. A plan. A purpose. And I would just have to get over my personal preferences and fears.

 

Again, surrender.

 

I would like to tell you that I had complete trust and zero anxiety about the outcome from that point forward. But that would be a total lie.

As my next OB appointment crept closer, I started to notice my stress level rising. Questions swirled in my head, fear of the unknown settled in my heart, and lots of opinions began flying my way. I was feeling for his head all throughout the day, and I had been researching natural ways to help the baby turn. Did you know there are entire websites devoted to “flipping techniques”? It was all becoming too much.

I reminded myself that I had a healthy baby inside of me – something so many long for – and however he needed to be brought earthside would be just fine.

My prayer changed from please, Lord, let this baby turn, to me asking Him for a surrendered spirit again.

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When I signed in at the doctor’s office for my 36 week check-up, I was still convinced he was breech (although I purposely hadn’t felt of him to confirm that), and I was becoming resolved to the fact that he would likely stay that way. 

I came prepared with a list of questions for my OB regarding external cephalic versions, c-sections, risks and statistics – except these questions weren’t coming from a place of fear so much as they were to help me mentally prepare. I was ready to start firing them off when my doctor basically told me to hold my horses and let her check his position first. 

Oh, right. That is actually a brilliant idea.

I laid back on the table and she began to feel around my belly. First up high, she said slowly, “I think that’s a butt…..,” and then feeling down lower in my pelvis, “….and pretty sure that’s a head.” My mouth dropped open.

What? Had he really turned?

I was positive he was still breech. So sure.

But no, an ultrasound confirmed that I was so wrong, and I’ve probably never been happier to be wrong.

I did a happy dance with my doctor, tucked away my list of questions I’d prepared, and as I stepped onto that creaky old elevator down to the parking lot, I felt lighter. I just kept thanking the Lord for this sweet change, this sweet unexpected answer to prayer.

My Father didn’t have to do that. But he did. (And let me just say, even if he hadn’t, he would still be good and faithful.)

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee anything. This baby could shock us all by turning back around, or my labor could still end in a c-section due to a variety of reasons. But we have a shot at a natural delivery, and that was my hope all along.

So, surrender. Here we are again, old friend.

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I think it’s important that you know this surrender I’m talking about wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t quick or painless, and it wasn’t seamless. Much like motherhood, I do not have this completely figured out. (Um, not even close.) It’s a process. Even as I write this, I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I’m having to surrender my ideal timeline, because quite honestly, I want this baby out. Like, yesterday. I’m slowly and hesitantly handing over my questions, worries, anxiety, and stress to the Lord – one piece at a time. And many times, out of fear or habit or who knows what else, I still find myself reaching back for a piece I had already given over. (Feeling very grateful for a patient Father). The decision to surrender is just the first step in a long walk of following through and letting go. And then letting go again. And again. 

I’ve seen such clear evidence that the Lord is using this to draw me in closer to Him, however small it might actually be in the grand scheme of things. Because, no doubt, there are much bigger things happening in other people’s worlds than upside-down babies or pregnancy timelines. But I’m appreciative that the Lord is faithful to use what’s relevant to us – right now – to bring us close, test us, and teach us.

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Maybe your “right now” is something completely different. Maybe it seems too big and scary or too small and insignificant to submit to Him. But I promise, He can use it. And you know what?  You can surrender scared. In fact, that’s kind of the point. It gives our trust room to grow and mature. 

Our family pastor at church often says it like this in prayer, “Lord, we agree with you for the plans you have.” And I think that’s really what it comes down to: acknowledging that His plans are greater and that we want to be part of the story, not in opposition to it.

So, my answer is yes, Lord. I agree with you for the plans you have  – for me, this baby, and our story. 

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Tell me: what are you being called to surrender to right now? Or what is your word/theme for 2017?

 

 

the phrase that got me through my first year as a parent

I know a lot of moms really love having a newborn, so I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I’m gonna go ahead and say I don’t think I’m cut out for the newborn phase. 

Maybe I’ll feel differently if/when I have a second newborn….maybe it’ll come to me a little easier…a little more naturally. But when I think back on life with Aven up to about 8 weeks old, I mostly feel happy to have made it through to the other side. Not that she was a particularly difficult baby….she just wasn’t a particularly easy one either. 

There are certainly things I miss about a brand new baby…like her soft fuzzy head and countless little rolls. I miss her all curled up in a ball on my chest and the way she stretched with her whole body for a full 30 seconds every time she was awakened. But now that she’s older, I feel like I’m actually enjoying motherhood rather than just trying to survive it. She’s becoming super interactive, can actually communicate some, and is just plain hysterical. 

Being only a couple weeks out from her first birthday, it got me thinking about what words of advice were most helpful to me in navigating not only the newborn days, but my entire first year as a mom. There is one phrase that has been my go-to, my mantra, my life-saver, from day one to now.





TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY.

Simple, right?

Funny how it’s not even specific to motherhood. It’s pretty universal. But as a new mom, it spoke hope to me.



What it meant to me was that it didn’t matter if she or I had cried multiple times the day before.

It didn’t matter if I had to sleep cramped up in the crib with her because it was THE ONLY THING that made my sick baby feel better.

Ultimately, it didn’t even matter if I had made all the right decisions in parenting her over the last 24 hours.

Because every.single.morning when I hear her stirring around in her crib I am sweetly greeted with the thought that I get to try again. We get to start fresh. Even though every day holds new challenges, it also holds new opportunities. What I didn’t get right the day before can be tossed aside. And that new trick I learned for soothing my baby or making her laugh? ON REPEAT. At least until it doesn’t work anymore. With every mistake and every victory, there is a lesson about who your child is, and who you are as a parent. 

Tomorrow is NEW.



This mindset has also helped me learn to start again in the middle of my day, if needed. A bad moment doesn’t equal a bad mom, just like a bad moment doesn’t equal a bad child.  One minute she can be completely losing her little baby mind over the tragedy of her Puffs being “gone gone,” and the next she’s playing patty cake with a big grin and a scrunched up nose. I could learn something from her in that sense. She doesn’t get bogged down carrying the junk of the day with her. She knows how to shake it off (also one of her favorite songs, by the way.)  She’s teaching me a lot, this girl. I hope I always take the time for the lesson.

The STEADFAST LOVE of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23 


What about you? What words of encouragement have gotten you through the toughest days of being a mom?