Wow! What a whirlwind these last 4.5 months have been. So many times while on maternity leave I thought to myself, "Self, you should really write a blog post."
I probably started about 30 posts in my mind, but never quite brought myself to sit down at the computer and share them with you.
I wonder now if that was intentional. The post before my last one, Glass Belly, indicated to you that I was feeling a bit guarded during this last pregnancy. It was almost as though I was trying to protect this baby in a way I hadn't been able to protect Olive. And while I recognize that I am the one who started the blog, and I am the one who chose to be so vulnerable from the start - I also recognize that there are moments when I need to be guarded - to hold onto these feelings and emotions until my heart tells me it's OK to let go of them.
Abner (Abe) Oliver Smith joined our family the evening of Monday, December 7th. His birth was quick and it was healing. I'm working on his birth story to share with all of you, and that will be released soon. It has been an emotional and beautiful journey as we welcomed him into this family.
My first thoughts of Olive actually came on his third day of life. I should say that I thought of her before that, but memories of her flooded my heart and my mind when I recognized that he had outlived her. I remember nursing him to sleep that night - still struggling with his latch, wondering what on earth I was doing, feeling very frustrated - and then I stopped.
In my sleep-deprived state I realized he was older than his older sister. My heart sank.
Here I was - tired, frustrated and sad. The bond of breastfeeding that I never got to share with her, but I had this moment with him. All the hormonal feels hit me at once and I broke down and sobbed.
Memories of her usually come in those quiet moments with him. For awhile I would keep her to myself, but then I began using those moments to share her with him. Telling him all about his big sister and praying over him that prayer I've shared with you in posts before, "Lord, I trust you with my life and death, and with the lives and deaths of my babies."
Now that Abner is older, and breastfeeding doesn't take nearly as long as it used to, I find those moments don't hit me as hard. To be honest, thoughts of her come and go and some days I have to dig really, really deep to find her. I'm certain it's my brain's way of protecting me, protecting him, right now. After all, he is the one that is here with me. He is the one that I need to be aware of and tuned into. There is still room for both - both live in my mind and are loved in my heart, but right now he is who I'm focused on.
I've accepted that.
It took awhile, but I'm ok with that right now. There were many moments throughout his first 12 weeks of life that I would tell my husband, "I can't wait until these moments pass - until he's older and it's easier." Those were hard things to admit, but they were true. A year ago I was begging for the hard days, the sleepless nights and the challenges of motherhood. Yet, when they arrived, there were days I felt as though I would never get it right - add on top of that the guilt for feeling that way when I so desperately wanted those feelings just months prior - and I was a hot mess.
He assured me I was allowed to have bad days. I was still human and just because I longed for those days when I didn't have them, didn't negate the fact that they were HARD days and I was not a bad person for wishing that time to pass. It's funny because I think back to those moments now and they feel like an eternity ago - much like she does.
Just yesterday Abe and I were out for a walk, and I was telling him all about the walks I took when he and sissy were in my belly. The way that walking helped me to process my thoughts and feelings. I told him of the days I would contemplate motherhood, especially after Olive died, wondering how on earth I was going to love him as much as I loved her. It's funny, they say that your heart expands when you have more children. I definitely have love in my heart for them both, but I love them differently. I have to. He's here and she's not. There are parts of me that he will always have available to him, and parts of me that will be reserved for her and her alone.
Right now we are doing well. Our journey is taking us into a new season of life - one that will require much more of me, but will allow me to focus all of my energy into these parts of motherhood that I've waited so long for. More to come on all of that!
Thank you for your patience (and continued support when you thought I had played the worst trick in the world and left you hanging.....) as I got my bearings and finally found it in me to sit back down and continue the story. All of you have played a role in this journey, and Abner and I pray for you every night during our bedtime prayers "....God bless all of my friends and everyone who loves me and prays for me"
God bless you, friends and thank you for your love!