This Year Has Been a Gift
I never knew if I'd get to have this year again. I'd just been given the green light to quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom. With the loss of income, I resigned myself to the idea that we were done. I'd weighed the pros and cons, the idea of have having a 4th child versus staying home with the ones that we already had. The latter won out.
I spent a lot of time that week cuddling 15-month-old Reagan, wondering if I'd really savored and relished the last pregnancy, the last of our baby days. It was an extremely bittersweet time. Mourning, yet celebrating a dream come true at the same time.
Little did I know that God had already given me a gift. And two days after I'd put my notice in at work, two pink lines appeared. I'd been so caught up in our decision for me to be home, I was completely oblivious to the miracle taking place in my own body. And while I wish we could say we were nothing but happy, but I'd be lying. We'd lost income and gained another mouth to feed in a matter of days. The stress levels were high.
But as time passed, and we grew into the idea of becoming a family of six, I was able to see this baby for what it was.
A precious gift.
It was the first time I didn't work through a pregnancy. There was no stress trying to schedule doctor appointments in-between lunch breaks and meetings. There was no need to find a temporary substitute to train and fill my shoes during maternity leave. It was a gift of stopping, savoring, and committing to memory the moments that make a pregnancy. Even the last days of feeling swollen, huge, exhausted, and done. It was an experience unlike any pregnancy I'd had before.
It was a treasured gift.
During those first months of my babies' lives, my time off was always marred by the knowledge that I only had 12 short weeks. And then it was back to reality. Three babies. Three times I cried the week before it was time to go back to work.
But not this time. There was no sense that I was running a race against the clock. There was no dread as she turned another week older. It seemed as though with each milky smile, it eased the heartache of months of sitting and pumping in the bathroom. With each smile, coo, and nap, I forgot about the times I missed first steps, first words, so many firsts.
It was a redeeming gift.
This year hasn't been easy. I feel like I'm still figuring out the best stride for me as a stay-at-home mom. But this girl, this precious babe has smoothed some of the harder, sharper points of this year. She has brought so much delight and love into this family. She has fit in seamlessly, filling a piece of the puzzle we didn't even know was missing. Her silly and sweet ways help balance the strong-wills and have brought laughter in moments when we needed it the most.
She is the gift that we don't deserve, and now we can't imagine living without.
Happy birthday, our dear Ashlynn Rose. You are more precious to us than I could possibly put into words. Thank you for the light you bring with your smile, the affection you demonstrate with your head butts, and the giggles you instigate with your lopsided walk, the head shaking, and your dance moves. You are a treasure and joy, my love!