birthday

Hand-picked, yet overlooked.

1 Corinthians 15:58b, “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” (MSG)

IMG_3348.JPG I love this verse. It definitely resonates in my soul. It's an awesome verse for any mother as we too often experience the monotony and drudgery that daily motherhood brings.

wash, rinse, repeat.

We've all heard the following:

"Motherhood is a calling."

"You were handpicked by God to mother the children He has so graciously given."

"When you feel overwhelmed and swallowed deep by motherhood, just count your blessings and it'll get all better. Etc."

Despite those truths, there always will come a time, or multiple times, when you simply feel overlooked.

We don't get paid for what we do. We typically don't get a thank you for the thousands of meals made, the clean clothing that magically appears in the closets and drawers, the countless hours of schooling, the story-telling, and errand-running, etc.,etc., etc.

There are only a few special days per year where mothers are typically openly acknowledged and celebrated: Mother's Day and birthdays.

I usually am always disappointed on these days. Why? Not because I'm hard to please. Not because I expect lavish gifts or time spent away doing as I please (and when that happens, I usually feel completely lost at what to do), but because I just want to be noticed. Simply noticed. And to feel special.

Last year, on my birthday, I turned the big 3-0. We had given a surprise party to my husband on his thirtieth just three months prior. It was awesome and was just really a collection of people that love him, his favorite foods, and his favorite activity: fishing. It wasn't fancy. We met at in indoor air conditioned building space at a local park. I love throwing parties, so it was an absolute JOY to me to be able to do this for him. I loved how our moms pitched in and how the secret of the whole day united us. It was a joyful day celebrating his life. He definitely deserved it. He's a pretty incredible person.

So when I turned thirty, I thought maybe something similar would occur. There was this cake that I really wanted for months. There was only one gift I really had in mind. (I got neither) And I honestly expected, after years of feeling overlooked in this cave of motherhood, that maybe, just maybe, that day I could feel celebrated.

It almost was like a HUGE sign to me flashing with lights that said "YOU'RE JUST A MOM".

Moms don't get "days off", and they typically don't get all dolled up everyday and interact with other adults much. So it was almost a reminder that I fail miserably at keeping up with life outside of these walls filled with children. The only ones that really CAN appreciate me are the ones that take from me everyday.

So I guess there was no party, no cake, and no gift because I am the party planner, the cake orderer, and the gift giver in my family. But what mom wants to do that for themselves?! That would just be plain awkward.

It may all seem petty, but I think I speak for all of us when I honestly express how much motherhood can make us crave feelings of being appreciated, noticed, and cared about.

That was just one example. I'm sure there's been times that you could speak of feeling completely overlooked. It happens to us all.

There's so much giving going on when you mother. You give and give and when you have nothing else to give, you still must give.

I know instead of seeking worldly acknowledgement, I should always remember how much God notices me. How much He wanted me to exist. He noticed me enough to die for me. He noticed me enough to give me my dream of a husband and large family. He noticed me enough and hand-picked me to mother so many of His precious gifts.

As another birthday approaches, I'm praying for a heart that doesn't care to be recognized so much by those who surround me, but by a God who is crazy for me.

I think I'll always struggle with this part of me. {I'm being completely honest.}And for anyone reading this that feels overlooked, you're so not alone. Here's to finding our joy, purpose, light, hope, fulfillment, and absolutely everything in The One. And may it be in those moments, and in those days that we never think the word overlooked.

A Birth Story: Baby Number Five

It would seem that the more children one has, the less the miracle of life and birth would leave a significant mark. But this is not the case. Each time, I am more in awe, more humbled, and more changed than before. This time, it changed me forever.

“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.” ~ Jane Weideman

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Early Saturday morning, around 2am, I awoke to, what I assumed, was another worthless pain. But they kept coming....I didn't keep track, as I was more concerned about actually tuning it out and getting some semblance of sleep. Sleep had evaded me for almost 3 weeks straight, at this point. No position was comfortable. Every day at 4pm was like a virus attacking my body and I was attacked each night for hours and hours leaving me confused, and sore.

It wasn't all worthless, I would soon find out. Turns out those many weeks of utter annoyance did do something. They brought me to 5cms and 90% by the time my appointment came around last Wednesday. The appointment that I literally laughed at first scheduling seeing as how it fell after my due date. Two days after, in fact. I knew I wouldn't make it to that appointment.

God and baby had other plans. And I found myself at that appointment afterall.

My entire outlook on this pregnancy was to do a complete 180. To essentially abandon the method I had come so accustomed to. The method most of us choose: hospital. OB. Epidural. IV. Our pregnancies being treated more like diseases that we need "cured" of rather than just gently supported through.

Birth is natural.

I've had four previous births that weren't treated that way. Two of those births ended up being preemie births. Two more were inductions. One occurred because I was naive, the other was done to me because to them, I was broken when I couldn't get past 5cms after already being admitted.

I wanted to see if a change in care=a change in outcome. I wanted to see if I was "broken" when it came to labor and birth. I wanted to experience birth the way women for multiple millennia have experienced it: raw, peaceful, and without intervention.

I doubted myself after three weeks of prodromal labor. I doubted myself even more with two false alarms and I quickly saw my hope of a natural birth fading. I thought for sure I'd end up with a pitocin drip once again after failing to make it past 5 cms...once again. I still held out hope and prayed with every contraction, that God would allow the birth I'd dreamed of and had tried to achieve since after that very first birth. [The birth I had absolutely everything done to me. The birth I had to be woken up for in order to push. The birth, whose labor I completely missed as I was drugged to sleep through the entire thing. ]

The contractions that woke me at 2am on Saturday, became 10 minutes apart at 7:30. I thought nothing of it except for that these really hurt and I just wished I had slept more. I took a bath. I had a handful that were 7 mins apart afterwards. Didn't think anything of it again. Except after two of those, I had two that were 5 mins. And within just one full hour, by 8:30 they were stronger and every 3-4 mins.

After a few attempts, Mike got ahold of my parents and they came to watch the kids while we headed to the birth center in Statesville. I couldn't barely get out of the back door when I had two contractions a minute apart that left me screaming.

I pretty much screamed the entire 55 minute ride there. Some have always wondered what It would be like to race the clock against birth and barely make it to the hospital with just seconds or minutes to spare. We were that couple and we didn't even know it. (Yes, at this point, I was still doubting that these contractions were doing anything but just putting me in a bad mood again...really didn't think I'd have the baby.) I got there and couldn't even struggle out of the van before another contraction from hell began. After nearly ripping both Mikes and my midwife's shirts off from squeezing so hard, we went inside to be checked, once again. I never expected her to say anything but "you're still at 5", but what she actually said was "you're 8, you can get in the pool."

What?! Wait.

"I can't do this!", I said to her.

"yes, you can. And you already are. It'll be over soon."

And it was.

Just 10 contractions and five or six pushes later, our baby was born. In the water. Amidst a symphony of screams coming from my throat. My baby was here.

And I wasn't broken after all.

The gender remained a mystery for a few minutes more as I barely could process what had just occurred.

I peeked.

A girl.

I knew it.

Mike was wrong.

And we named her Emma Bellamy. She was is perfection. And she picked her own birthday. And I don't think anyone could've picked any better.

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