Monday, February 10, 2014

Lessons From The First Month

During our long wait for this adoption to become reality, there was always one large fear I had- getting through the infant months again. The first time around, I was a sleep-deprived, raving lunatic. I really was. You can ask my students. I give them full permission to totally trash my ability to be creative, sympathetic or even mildly intelligent when on campus. I was a hot mess.

Consequently, as we've prepared for everything, I worried about doing this part again. The sleepless nights, the crying, the being touched by someone ALL. DAY. LONG. I am 7 years older this time around and I wondered if I could hack it. Could I even haul myself out of my beloved (and, frankly, warm) bed 3 times in one night? Would my kidneys start to shut down if I didn't take in the appropriate caffeine:water ratio each day? Would I be as emotionally insane as I was the first time? Would I feel like a failure when I couldn't give my older son what he needed because of time and personal limitations during this phase? Oh, the list goes on. My perfectionist side collides with my ability to retain guilt for long periods of time and what comes out is pure ugly. Worry, apprehension, fear, self-doubt. All the things that really aren't particularly helpful in life, let alone when a new baby is a part of that life.

And so it's been one month. One month since he came home. A month filled with fantastically terrifying diapers(this kid can clear a room), little sleep and the remembrance that no, you never go outside without spit-up or feces somewhere on your body. It's actually physically impossible to smell nice during this phase.

But here's the thing. At some point during the 30 days of our final wait, I told myself to calm down. To trust. To remember what the Lord has done in me since Josh was a baby. To take things in a laid back fashion (and yes, I can hear any and all friends who have ever known me well falling out of their chairs laughing at the thought of that). I decided to go into it with a strong attempt to lean into God and leave the worry, apprehension, fear and self-doubt in the past. To treat this as a new thing. To not expect this child and the experience raising him to be the same. After all, I AM 7 years older and while my body may object to the routine, I've grown up a lot in that time. I hope.

So what have I learned in this one month?

(1) There is a time and place for being caffeine free. Here and now is not it.

(2) Not all babies scream all day long. Also, not all babies need to be held all day long. Also, not all babies take 2 hours to fall back to sleep every time they eat at night. Who knew?

(3) I can actually spend midnight feedings in a state of expectation, rather than despair. I can pray for other friends who are probably awake with their own babies all around the country (and that number is not small) rather than mentally computing how many hours total I am actually getting that night. It turns out if you don't know the actual number, you are more alert anyway.

(4) My 7-year-old is exactly the kind of big brother I thought he'd be, thoughtful, helpful and patient, and that fact has filled me with more joy than I even anticipated. His first questions when he walks in from school every day? "Where is Nate and can I hold him?" We should've hired a first grader the first time around to help out around here.

(5) The amount of grey hair I am growing is directly correlated with the number of hours I have slept in any given night. I swear to you, I can SEE IT growing. But it's ok. Grey-haired mamas are cool, too.

(6) If I remind myself every morning that if I only accomplish feeding, burping and changing that little guy - if the laundry stays dirty and the dishes undone, if I can't even manage a shower- then I still will have done enough and am able to stay surprisingly sane.

(7) The only foolproof way to lull this baby to sleep is to sing him Lauryn Hill's version of "His Eye is on the Sparrow" from Sister Act II. I am not kidding. Halfway through the first line, he visibly relaxes.

(8) Middle of the night spousal communications have reached insanity levels around here. Apparently we are both delusional and are taking turns shouting, jumping and careening into unseen objects in the dark.

(9) When you only own one pair of flannel sheets and live in an arctic tundra, there is no good time to wash them with a baby in the house. You need full adult nap preparedness at all times and you may as well burn your cotton sheets for all the warmth they provide.

(10) I will fail. My husband will fail. My son will fail. WE WILL FAIL. And Nate will still love us. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or family. God in us is good enough.

(11) It turns out that I actually DID grow up some over the last 7 years. I can see the comedy in this phase, the grace I need each day. I can lean on God for help as I attempt it a lot better than I did the first time. Phew.

(12) What everyone said is true and I'm glad I didn't doubt it. This was worth the wait. And this is beautiful- adopting a baby, bringing this little guy into our life, feels just as full, just as difficult, just as overwhelmingly heart-achy as did having a biological baby 7 years ago. There may be a difference in their needs and their personalities and a difference in how I handle the chaos, but he is as fully mine as is my firstborn and has been from day one.

That, my friends, is a crazy, mind-boggling thing, a thing that makes me even more amazed at what God has done in adopting us as His very own, and yet it seems the most natural miracle in the world.

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