the day our daughter arrived and all the things I said to God

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We are 6 weeks into her newborn life so obviously these time stamps are ballparks. Also, my thoughts and prayers were a lot more repetitive, animated and desperate in the presence of the Lord (which is how He and I roll, me being honest and Him being wonderful).

11:30am – I realized the occasional back pain I was feeling might be real contractions. Went about my business.

12:00pm – Called John and asked him to hurry home because I was definitely having real contractions.

12:30pm – Waiting for John, timing said contractions. 2:30 minutes apart. Walking around the house grabbing all the things I thought we might need, stopping every few minutes to wait out the contraction.

Me to God: Okay, this is intense. I’m freaking out a little. How long will it be like this? Help, Lord. Please provide what I need.

God to me: You aren’t alone. Trust me. Trust my care and love for you.

1:00pm – En route to University Hospital. John encouraging me. Me counting trees, road signs, my breaths, whatever I could do to occupy my mind.

Me to God: This is insane. I don’t think I can do this.

God to me: I’m with you, you have nothing to be afraid of. Do this with me.

1:15pm – Walk into the hospital in spite of the quick and painful contractions. Many people were staring. (My mindset was: the faster I get inside the faster we can get this show on the road. Ha!) Also, I was real saucy with John at this point, and those of you who know me know I am usually a pretty gracious + chill person. No no. I apologized after basically throwing my purse at him when the nurse asked for my ID and he responded with “You can’t hurt my feelings today.” Bless. Him.

1:30pm – Triage nurse tells me I’m EIGHT CENTIMETERS DILATED, and marveled that I walked myself into the hospital. She asked if I wanted an epidural (in the weeks prior, I had many conversations with friends and John and my doctor about the epidural.. I went in open to either possibility: with or without). When another contraction hit, I quickly and confidently said yes, I want it.

Me to God: 8 centimeters! I wonder if the epidural will even take! I don’t know how long I can sustain this pain. But I trust you.

God to me: You are not alone. I’ll help you. Nothing is impossible for me! Breathe with me.

2:00pm – Wheeled to the room to meet other nurses and the anesthesiologist who performs the epidural.

Me to God: Please let this epidural work. I don’t know if I’m strong enough for this. And I don’t know what is ahead but you do. You’ll take care of us.

2:30pm – John and I have about an hour together, with various family members in and out of the room. The epidural did work marvelously and “put a smile back on my face,” as John said later. I am super thankful it worked well because we had a chance to talk, pray together, relax and marvel at our current reality.

Me to God: Anything could happen. I can’t believe I’m about to have a baby! I have no idea what I’m doing.

God to me: I am with you. Focus on me. I’m caring for you and for her. I love you. Rest with me.

3:30pm – Nurse comes in to help me learn and practice laboring and delivery with the epidural. John and I thought the contractions had stopped because I wasn’t feeling them. We thought it had slowed my labor down. Far from it. Our wonderful nurse reassured us they were in fact still happening, and close together! She checked, taught me things that would be helpful and kept an eye on the screens monitoring me and baby.

3:50pm – Doc comes in.

4:08pm – Anna is born! (Obviously many other details could go here but are unnecessary for a public space. If you’re curious and we’re friends, feel free to ask.)

Me to God: Wow, we did it. You did it. She’s beautiful. I can’t believe it. Wow, I’m a mom. She’s healthy and whole and crying and wow. So much love! Is this how you feel about us?

God to me, smiling (in my imagination): Rest in my love. It’s bigger than even this. I’m here.

As always, His presence was the difference maker. It was a gift of a day, and I’ll look back in gratitude and wonder for His watchful, merciful, kind care of us.

15 observations from a first-time parent

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  1. You eat meals however you can because you never know how long it will be until both your hands are free again (i.e. in the car on the way home when your baby has fallen asleep in the car seat).
  2. You are challenged with how well you function under the duress of sustained noise (i.e. persistent crying). Sometimes I remain calm, other times a few huff and puffs escape me.
  3. You see a new side of your spouse that is sweet and fun and inspiring.
  4. The day you finally feel confident about a particular aspect of taking care of your baby, it changes. They change, grow or just downright decide to be different than yesterday. Bless ’em.
  5. Even being an imperfect parent, you begin to see glimpses of God, the perfect Parent.
  6. You begin to pray fervently about things you probably never thought you would (i.e. Lord, PLEASE calm this baby’s mind and body because it’s been 2 hours of crying and I might start crying soon and nothing is impossible with you! or God, please show us your favor in Anna being content while I grocery shop).
  7. You begin to understand what your friends meant when they said parts of parenthood would come instinctively. I disbelieved this because of my lack of baby experience or knowledge, but you get a month in, look back and think ‘Hey, I’m doing it!’
  8. You acknowledge God’s fascinating design that you and your spouse offer unique things to meet your child’s needs. (Example: John handles confusing + uncertain moments with Anna better than I do so he does a marvelous job of encouraging me when I get overwhelmed.)
  9. It’s a healthy practice not to pitch your mental + emotional tent in the way a few hours go, because the next few could be vastly different! (Anna has a morning with no rest and lots of fussiness and I want to collapse inward in discouragement, thinking the day will be a long one. But then she finally enjoys a good nap and the day turns up!)
  10. You realize just how vital it is to read Scripture whenever and however you can because it refreshes and recharges you unlike anything else.
  11. You catch yourself daydreaming about his/her future days. What books and sports will they enjoy? Will they be outgoing or quiet? Will they be the jokester or the academic in the room? What of your traits will they have? what of your husband’s?
  12. You’ll find a balance between enjoying the current moments, the beautiful and the overwhelming, and looking forward to what 6 months, 2 years, 5 years holds and marveling she/he is yours to raise!
  13. You become bffs with the nurse at your pediatrician’s office. Karen and I are getting to know each other because I would rather get our doctor’s opinion than Google’s.
  14. You come face to face with your desire for control, because a newborn is not a robot and is entirely unpredictable. I catch myself thinking, Man, I wish she would go down for a nap so I could do X, Y and Z. And then I remember, This, Chelsea, is what you get to focus on right now. These early maternity leave days with Anna are a gift. Ignore the temptation of anxiety and pressure that says you should be doing more than meeting her right where she is.
  15. Like many before me have said, parenthood is sanctifying. One month in, I also believe it’s super fun, if you can trust God with every detail no matter how small and if you can choose to parent from a place of abundance in Christ instead of scarcity in yourself. I’m trying to practice both every minute of every day.

One Month With Anna

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Height + Weight: She is currently weighing in at 8 pounds and 9 ounces, almost two pounds grown from her birth weight! Looking at pictures from our hospital stay, it’s amazing how much she has filled out and changed.

Clothes: Most of the newborn onesies still fit a little big on her, the shoulders looking more like box sleeves than a cozy shirt. But she’s getting there!

Sleeping: Week 3 held some long stretches during the day without any good sleep, and we learned the term ‘witching hour’ after a few nights of major fussiness. But, at the one month mark, we are settling in to more of a rhythm, with varying daytime nap lengths and some longer stretches at night.

Eating: Milk, milk and more milk.

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