#Parentinnae Baby: the First Month

“Do you feel that overwhelming sense of love for your baby girl?”

I always thought I’d feel it on first glance, on first touch, on first smell. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and I just KNEW that I would have no trouble bonding with my baby when she was born.

However, I didn’t anticipate the uncontrollable full-body spasms, taste of vomit from throwing up during the C-section, and an inability to keep my eyes open post-surgery when my daughter entered the world. I could hear the delight in my husband’s voice – “She’s so beautiful. She’s SO beautiful, Innae!” – but I could see and feel nothing.

In the days that followed, I continued to have little control over my body. I swelled to the point of looking like the Michelin Man, and my eyes were barely able to close due to the regular feedings and attention the little human needed. Every time she woke up to feed, I dutifully satisfied her hunger while wincing at the many trials and pains that come with breastfeeding, and then immediately looked to hand her off to other doting family members who could not stop gushing about how perfect she was. What I looked forward to most was when I could catch a few minutes of sleep, and that would only happen if the baby was not in my vicinity. Relatives came and went, and I mustered up the joy and excitement necessary to reflect the image of a glowing new mother.

Friends had shared that the ‘bonding’ with the baby took time, but I assumed that it wouldn’t be an issue for me. I assumed so much and knew so little.

At one month, the moments of connection come and go. In a dark room for a late night feeding, I feel connected. 3 hours later for the next feeding, though? The moment is gone and the new mother is disgrunted and frustrated.

Yet of all the trials of this month (which include, but are not limited to the following breastfeeding woes: painful nursing, clogged ducts, cracked nipples, milk blisters, vasospasms and painful letdowns at least 10 times a day), the hardest has been my own self-shame.

Until now, I had heard many a mother friend admit that she felt like a failure. As her single friend, I emphatically reassured her she was not. Now I became the one in need of reassurance because amidst my crying fits in the dark, I realized that this role requires a selflessness that I could not possess. My shame came from coming face-to-face with my own selfishness and I hated that I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be.

But it’s been 30 days of realizing that I can’t be the mother I want to be, and in those low moments, I am given one comfort: I am the mother I am capable of being.

The mother Iwanted to be doesn’t exist; she is an ideal based on a supernatural selflessness. This I will only find in the Savior I believe in.

Instead, I am called to be me: broken, imperfect, selfish – and still a mother trying to love her daughter the way that Christ loves me. I’ll fail, but He won’t.

What will month two bring?

Quote

Calling: Let Your Life Speak

Here’s the promised post. However, I won’t do the book justice so please just read it..

 

As I’ve been traveling, I’ve been hoping that suddenly, epiphany will hit. A voice will pierce through the separating clouds. An owl will carry a message from who-knows-where (yes, I love Harry Potter). That’s the hope. Is it reality? Not… yet. Perhaps, not at all.

 

Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God. 

 

These are the words of Parker J. Palmer, the author of “Let Your Life Speak.”  It’s quite the contrary view of what a ‘calling’ truly is. Instead of waiting for the outside to resonate within, why am I not being called by my own heart? My own gifts? My own talents?

 

Interestingly enough, the primary reason I began to work in broadcast journalism in 2006 was that I felt that this profession suited me. My talents and abilities fit into the job search puzzle. I was never a news junkie, never dreamed of seeing myself behind the anchor desk as a young girl. Since I began this career though, I’ve developed an earnest desire to understand the business and give it my all. Does that signify passion? Or calling?

 

What a tricky concept.

 

Palmer urges the reader to listen. Not to others, not to self-help books, not even for a celestial voice to boom down from the heavens. Instead he asks you to see where your dreams head. To linger among what your heart longs for. To note the itchiness in your fingers when you’re given a task that captivates you.

 

So a few things that have come to my heart in the past few weeks — and these may not be the final landing place:

– I have a heart. An organ that hurts, empathizes, and has compassion for those who are in need. Who exactly might I serve? That’s yet to come.

– I love to listen. I love to share, but more importantly, I desire to draw someone out of their shell, discover the person beyond the name tag.

– There’s a standard I want for myself. That’s about all I’ve got there; within that lies an element of pride. I’ll be the first to admit that despite the confidence I show, there’s a very insecure woman underneath, daunted by the challenges that lie ahead. Yet I can’t deny there’s an innate reason as to why I am resistant to taking just any job.

 

There’s more peeling to do.

 

 

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.

Status Report: 6 Weeks

It’s been exactly six weeks since I walked out of YNN (still in the habit, dang it. I mean Time Warner Cable News). As I recount my thought process anew to friends I haven’t seen in years, others are checking back in.

 

“What are you learning?”

“Any clarity on where God is leading you?”

“Did you find your spirit animal yet?”

 

Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is still: ____________________.

Well, perhaps not the latter. That’s just a “no.”

 

Or is it…?

I'd like to think mine is either a dolphin, giraffe, or koala. The latter a new addition because of my recent stint in Australia.

I’d like to think mine is either a dolphin, giraffe, or koala. The latter a new addition because of my recent visit to Australia.

 

As exhilarating and exciting as these six weeks have been, there have been moments of anxiety, even agony. Looking ahead also means looking back, and tearfests have made their way into my life more often than brainstorming sessions.

 

Truth serum. Better known as some crazy concoction of alcohol my recent college grad of a niece decided to order for us.

Truth serum, or some crazy concoction of alcohol my recent college grad of a niece decided to order for us?

 

 

I knew it was going to be difficult. I didn’t realize how difficult.

 

For example: the balancing of time.

If you know me, you know I’m delighted by people. I’m also a chronic people-pleaser. This manifests itself in a packed schedule, day-in, day-out, with friends/family/strangers (?!) lined up in my calendar. As I meet with them, I have to look ahead to also plan which activities will be on my agenda in the rest of the Pacific Northwest, then on the East Coast, then across the Atlantic, and oh wait, Texas too?

 

*breathe*

 

It may not sound like a task to you, but for an über-organizer like myself, it’s been overwhelming. And there have been more moments of helplessness.

 

Yet, even in that simpler of examples, it becomes clear. This period is not just about who I will be, but who I already am.* Who I am not. And most importantly, who God is.

 

In which case, falling apart is acceptable.

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*TEASER: Expect a post ahead about a truly insightful book called “Let Your Life Speak.”