Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sacrifice in Motherhood

All through my pregnancy, Steven and I prayed a weekly rosary for couples dealing with subfertility and infertility, keeping a (sadly) ever-growing list of names, but also joyfully marking them off when they would become pregnant. I had a romantic notion of praying the rosary during my labor for these couples, so that I could unite my sufferings with something bigger than me. It's one of my favorite parts of Catholicism- redemptive suffering; the idea that suffering is never pointless and always fruitful, whether we can see the fruits now, or ever, or not. I have a group of women who set beautiful examples of this for me by often mentioning something they're going through and then asking what they can offer it up for. To give suffering, pain, and struggles a purpose and to be able to focus on something outside of yourself can be so fulfilling, and a blessing to both you and the person/situation you're praying for. So I thought what better time to do that than during labor, in the throes of contractions? A little birdie (or a big Birdie?) put the idea in my head the night before Felicity's birth, while I was laying in the hospital bed attempting to sleep and Steven was sawing z's beside me, that maybe, just maybe I wouldn't be able to pray the rosary during labor. So I decided to do it then. I didn't want to wake Steven to get the rosary out of our bag, and I didn't want to call the nurse to disconnect me from the fetal monitor, so I just used my fingers and prayed the rosary for the couples on our list. It's a good thing, too, because my labor was insanely fast and I never did pray the rosary during it. Anyway, I thought later about how my sufferings brought me closer to Christ, how praying the rosary as I laid there helped me to do something besides just focus on me. What I didn't know, and didn't realize for a few months later, is that the coming months of motherhood would unite me to Christ way more than a rosary I prayed laying in a hospital bed. 

Now that I've been a parent of an ex-utero baby for 7 months now, I say to Steven very often how much I feel like parenthood has brought me closer to Christ. I have never in my life experienced sacrifice to this degree. I spent the first 25 years of my life (before I met Steven) largely doing what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted... you get the idea. When I met him and we got serious, I had to sacrifice in order to involve another person in that. That was hard in a way, but I would say generally I fell into it pretty easily. Well, it's not been that easy with motherhood. The late nights, early mornings, never ending middle of the night nursing sessions, whining, crying, poopsplosions, messes, more crying, all the things my fellow mom friends experience day in and day out with their babies, too. As much as I love that little bundle of pudge, there are days, many days, where I feel like I've sacrificed just about everything I have. By the time Steven gets home, there is nothing left. I'm spent and need a good 15 or 20 minutes to myself to put myself back together again. My story is not unique or unusual; I know many moms feel this and the experience is somewhat universal. But it's given me a chance to think about how much was sacrificed for me because I am loved so much. And what better way to reflect on that than by sacrificing myself for another person, a person who, at this point, is nothing without me? Jesus literally gave His life for me, and I'm asked, not in words, to give mine for this sweet baby (and of course any others that may follow!)... to give up my sleep, what I want to do, my days of lounging on the couch watching tv, when I want to eat, time with my husband... to give that life I once knew up for my sweet girl. 

Felicity has brought me many experiences and emotions in her short (and fast!) 7 months, but I will always be grateful- as tired as I am, as worn out as I get :)- for her teaching me to put myself aside for the good of another. I recognize my selfishness every single day and I have countless opportunities to improve upon it, and to revamp who I am to who I want to be, who I wish I was, and who God wants me to be. And to realize the beauty, even a midst the struggle, that comes when you put another person and their needs completely above your own. Thank you, baby girl. I'm a different person because of you. 

Those knees. I die!


  1. And this is why we have to agree to disagree on when one is a parent - I definitely don't feel like a mother yet! My lifestyle has changed very little, and I can go much of the day without even thinking about it. That is all going to be turned upside down once I give birth and something small and vulnerable is constantly demanding my energy and attention!

    1. I think one is a parent at conception because that's when the new person is formed but, that aside, maybe it depends on the pregnancy? I immediately made SO many decisions on behalf of Felicity.... to quit scooping pans, to cut out caffeine, to up my protein for blood pressure, to start progesterone, etc. Even if some of the stuff was small, they were decisions Steven and I were making as parents. Sure, it's totally different now that she's here, but I'm still making decisions on her behalf as to what I think is best for her.... it just looks different.

    2. Of course I'm making decisions now with my baby in mind. But nothing that feels like much of a sacrifice! I can sleep as much as I want, spend my free time how I want, only worry about feeding myself! I still feel quite selfish compared to how I'm going to feel in less than 8 months! (OMG LESS THAN 8 MONTHS)

    3. Touche but you are still a parent already ;).

    4. lol agree to disagree!! I want to enjoy "mother-to-be" status for a while.

  2. Awww - this is beautiful (on so many levels).

    You guys make me so happy - bless all of you!!!

    And for the record, I'm in agreement with you, Stacy. From the moment of conception, you're a parent! :) Love this!