My weekend has felt a bit like a trip back in time. Back to days marked in 3 hour increments, involving a lot of spit-up and even more laundry. Back to the days of being quite homebound, sleep-deprived and trying to make out what "that" cry likely meant. I had forgotten how to swaddle, the best burping techniques and how good it felt to cradle a tiny baby in your arms or let them sleep on your chest, nuzzled up to your neck.
Helping Randi wash and re-wash Dr. Brown's bottles reminded me of how we once made formula in huge Pampered Chef pitchers, then filled a day's supply of bottles (24) at a time. The notebooks which held our weight charts, feeding and sleeping schedules. The MOUNDS of laundry. All these things that once dominated my waking thoughts now seem such a distant memory.
I am thoroughly enjoying my sweet time with Randi & her boys, but interestingly, the Lord has used this time to confirm to me something my heart has been afraid to admit for some time: we are done with the baby business.
I was only 3 days postpartum when my doctors told me that I was forbidden to get pregnant again. Each specialist that rounded on me once I was stable in the Intermediate ICU gave me "the talk." The single greatest risk factor for my heart at this point is another pregnancy. I would only have a 50% chance of survival. I will never forget my perinatologist saying, "If you show up in our office pregnant, we will not see you."
I was too sick and overwhelmed by the reality of 3 premature newborns to immediately deal with that fact. Several months later, as I underwent surgery to insure my sterility I felt the pain of that loss. I had come full circle from being diagnosed as infertile, to undergoing surgery to insure it. I mourned the loss of my fairy tale: An effortless, surprise pregnancy followed by a textbook gestation and a normal delivery without surgery. A healthy newborn who accompanied me home from the hospital without bulky apnea & bradycardia monitors.
Honestly, I resented the fact that the door to another child of our own had been closed. Then I considered that God may very well have a different plan for how another child might come into our family. As we prayed about adoption or foster care, and even took the step of starting the foster parenting training process, my husband asked me a very insightful question: "Does your heart long for another baby or another member of our family?" I did not know the answer to that. Truly, I couldn't see us as more than the family of 5 we are. My husband could not either. As I reflected on it, I realized that my heart was not longing. We are at peace with our family. It feels complete.
As I was on the plane here I wondered how this visit...this time loving on sweet little ones might impact my peace about the completeness of our family. I felt sure this time with babies would tug at my heart strings and likely make me question the near certainty I felt. Interestingly, it has reinforced it. I love these babies, their sounds, their smells. I don't have a longing for another to mother.
I am confused by this place a bit because I truly have a willingness to serve. I have been quite open to the thought of a larger family. I like the idea of another child, yet the it rings a bit hollow in my heart. I fear this decision will be viewed as selfish. We have love to give and resources to provide for additional children, yet I do not feel the call. Why wouldn't God call us if we are willing and able? Who knows. Perhaps this will change. Maybe this is just not the season. Time will tell.