Friday, February 16, 2018

Preparing for Stafford: The Hard Stuff

Preparing for Stafford: The Hard Stuff

Preparing for Stafford has been a joy and a challenge. It has been filled with laughter and tears and prayers. We don’t know what lies ahead, but based on what we know of my health from the past 19 years, the months ahead will be exceptionally hard. Over the past eight months we haven’t just been preparing for a baby; we have been preparing for a health crash.

If you have been reading here for many years, you may remember that I crashed badly after Adelaide was born. My health slowly deteriorated until I was bedridden for 20-23 hours a day for a few months. Recovery from that crash took three years, and despite all of my efforts to exercise and rebuild strength, I have never been able to recover to the level of health I had before Adelaide was born. And anytime I push myself too hard, my energy levels plummet again.

Currently I can be out of bed for 5 hours on a good day. After that, I have to borrow spoons from the next day to stay up longer. If I borrow spoons too many days in a row, then I crash, and it can take months, or even a year, to recover. Because I am starting off with less physical strength and endurance than I had when I was pregnant with Adelaide, it is likely that recovery from delivery will be harder this time around, and it is likely that a crash will come sooner than it did before.

Preparing for Stafford: The Hard Stuff
Stafford at his 19 week ultrasound

One of my most debilitating symptoms is post-exertional malaise. This means that it takes my body much longer to recover from exertion than it should. If I go to church on a Sunday morning, it can take a week for me to recover from the noise and physical exertion. If I do a lot of walking around the house one day, I will have to spend the next day in bed. Pushing myself too hard with exercise doesn’t increase my strength, it only takes away my energy in the long run. Something is wrong at the cellular level, and my body doesn’t recover as it should when I rest and sleep, but, of course, not resting and sleeping only makes things worse!

On Monday I shared about some of the things I would be stepping away from after Stafford is born. And yet, even with all I am cutting out in order to have more energy to give to Stafford, I am well aware that apart from a miracle, I will not be able to take care of Stafford on my own. This has been my biggest grief during pregnancy. 

Preparing for Stafford: The Hard Stuff
A glimpse of Stafford's face at his 33 week ultrasound.

For right now I am able to take care of Stafford. When I eat, he receives nourishment too. Simply by being pregnant I can keep Stafford warm and safe and protected. For 9 months I get to have him with me all the time, and I love that. Pregnancy is very easy for me compared to taking care of a newborn or a toddler. I do look forward to meeting Stafford, but I wish pregnancy could last longer because I am not ready to let my baby go. It is hard to hand a newborn over to someone else to take care of. 

Even with all that is hard, there is so much gratitude as well. I have lost babies through miscarriage, and I am thankful that Stafford is still with us. My heart aches for my friends who have had to say goodbye to their children too soon. My heart hurts for those who want a child, but have not been able to have one. I know that I am very blessed to have a baby on the way. Stafford is a wonderful gift from God. I am grateful for this precious child, and I definitely want him to be part of our family! There is grief, but I am trying to keep it all in perspective. I know there will be joy and happy days in the midst of the challenges.

Preparing for Stafford: The Hard Stuff
Little Feet

Some days I am sad about the struggles and losses that are likely soon to come. Some days I don’t think about it at all, and I just enjoy being pregnant. I pray often for help and peace and strength. I pray for the ability to take care of Stafford, and I pray for humility and contentment if that is not to be.

I am trying not to worry. Most days I succeed; some days I don’t. I am trusting that tomorrow there will be grace. I’m not scared of the future. I’m just not looking forward to the physical deterioration. The increase in muscle weakness and brain fog and frailty will be unpleasant. But mostly I’m just sad about not being able to take care of my baby and my family in the ways I wish I could. 

Preparing for Stafford: The Hard Stuff

Will you please pray for my family and for me? Please pray that:
  • We all stay healthy and do not catch the flu or some other virus.
  • Stafford’s birth would go smoothly and safely.
  • My recovery from delivery would go well.
  • The Lord would strengthen Will for all He has called him to as a husband, father, paralegal, and law student.
  • William and Adelaide would be at peace no matter what happens with my health.
  • The Lord would give me strength to take care of my newborn son.
  • I would be humble and content if He chooses not to increase my strength.
  • The Lord would provide the practical in-home help we will need.
  • The Lord would give strength and endurance to those who choose to walk through the coming months and years with us.
  • I would keep my heart and mind focused on Christ.
  • I would trust God no matter what comes.
  • The joy of the Lord would be my strength.
  • I would rest in today's grace and mercy with no fear of the future.
  • I would glorify the Lord in this life to which He has called me.

I know that the Lord is good and that His plans for me are for my ultimate good, even when life seems overwhelmingly hard. And I know that I can trust Him with all of this, but it is still hard. Thank you for your prayers.

"Jesus willingly entered into this world of suffering and took on the worst for our sake. He's earned my trust even for what I can't understand." - Randy Alcorn

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