Lifestyle, Parenthood

When It Has Been Awhile

November 16, 2016
Photo Credit: Alexandra Marie Photography

Photo Credit: Alexandra Marie Photography

Oh hey there. It’s been awhile since I posted here.

You know when it’s been awhile since you’ve talked to an old friend and instead of calling her when you have a minute, you wait until you have a whole hour to spare, since now the two of you have a deep pit of missed information to catch up on? Yeah, that’s what it feels like to step away from and then try to catch up on the blog. I kept waiting for the moment I had a huge expanse of time to draft a beautiful re-entry essay. But shocker, that moment has not come, especially since the headcount of children in my house has recently doubled.

Our son Conrad was born in the middle of September, four days after my due date, at exactly the moment I thought I would remain pregnant forever.

Photo Credit: Alexandra Marie Photography

Photo Credit: Alexandra Marie Photography

He turned two months old over the weekend and I stood on a stool next to the bed trying to take adorable commemorative photos since I promised myself I would be more sentimental this time around. (See the evidence over on my Instagram)

Speaking of our eldest child, she loves her little brother so much that I fear she might literally smother him with affection.

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I regularly find her trying to lie on top of him, squeeze him around the neck, or otherwise show love in ways that could lead to strangulation, suffocation, or at the very least, deep rooted feelings of resentment that Conrad will have to sort through in adulthood.

Photo Credit: Alexandra Marie Photography

Photo Credit: Alexandra Marie Photography

As you can imagine, neither Mike nor I are sleeping much. Our newborn is the sort that wants to sleep inconsistently, preferably during daylight hours, and also be held constantly. Our two-year-old is the sort that has begun waking up at night again as a form of resistance to all the change that’s swirling around the house.

So in what may be the most sophisticated and systematic practical joke ever, the DiFelice minions have been waking up at night but in alternating hours, as if they have a baton of wakefulness that they pass back and forth until about four o’clock in the morning, at which time they both agree it’s time to start another fruitful day.

Last week, I had to go in for an overdue eye exam. And as expected, I read the large letters on the wall, one eye at a time. But to my surprise, that test was followed by another one. The lovely assistant handed me a laminated paper to read from and said, “just read the smallest paragraph you can see.” I panicked for a moment, going cross eyed while looking at the paragraphs of content. Then, with a grave tone, I told her that the results of these tests may not be entirely reliable since my level of sleeplessness not only threatens the quality of my vision, but my actual ability to read.

She smiled sympathetically, which I appreciated.

My new, stronger eyeglasses arrive in the mail tomorrow.

The point is, here I am reentering, not with the perfect words, but with a few words nonetheless. In fact, most of these words were texted into my phone during nursing sessions, then revisited a few hours later during naptime from a laptop smeared with cookie crumbs. The crumbs aren’t even from my two year old. They’re from me. Because this season of motherhood means I rarely eat sitting down, but rather standing up, over my computer while one of my children is crying in a noticeable, but non-urgent tone.

I am reentering here because I miss writing. I miss narrating my life in a way that no one benefits from more than me. I told my friend April the other day that every time I have a baby I feel estranged from myself in the newborn months. I get sort of lost in the immediacy of changing diapers and nursing a baby and loading/unloading the dishwasher into infinitum. And writing is my own form of resistance, I suppose. It’s a declaration of self that is time consuming and inconvenient, but important to me in ways I can’t fully describe.

I’m in the last stretch of editing my book now (more on that later) and the work window couldn’t have come at a better time. Because although it’s terribly inconvenient to edit a book with a two-month-old and a two-year old at home, the editing deadline is causing me to fight for the work that matters to me.

Most of all, it’s reminding me that writing is work that I truly love.

You know I’ve never been the world’s most consistent blogger, and I doubt that now is the era in which I will reach peak prolificacy.

But I just wanted to pick up the phone, so to speak, and say:

Hi.

I’m still here.

And I just have a minute, but I thought I’d use it to start the conversation again.

//

PS: If you don’t want to miss one of my heartfelt, but inconsistent posts, click here to get them delivered to your email inbox.

 

Faith, Military Life, Pregnancy

The Longest Days

August 18, 2016

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The longest days are the ones spent waiting for something

We’ve had a heat wave in San Diego this week. Ninety-degree days and cloudless skies. Every time the temperature dips below eighty, Mike says, “I’m calling it! That’s it! Summer’s over!”

He says this as a joke. Because it is ridiculous.

It will be hot well into October in Southern California, despite the fact that every major clothing retailer is already selling scarves, sweaters, and boots to San Diegans that quite literally shop for them in barely-disguised bathing suits.

The season hasn’t changed yet. But we keep wanting it to.

//

Here at the DiFelice house we are waiting for our baby boy to arrive. I’m 37 weeks pregnant, so he can arrive any day from now until a month from now, and the uncertainty of that statement drives me a little wild.

The other day at the library, I joked with a young desk clerk that I was ready to have this baby yesterday. She responded somberly that every week of gestation is crucial to a child’s neurological development. Though she had never been pregnant, she said she knew “all about this” because she had learned about pregnancy in her high school health class.

“Every time you wish the baby to come sooner,” she told me, “just think about how high you want his IQ to be.”

I smiled at her blankly politely and waddled my actively-contracting belly out of the library, into the oppressive summer heat, while holding the hand of a two-year-old who was screaming “I don’t want to go home!! I want a TREAAAAT!”

For the record, I wasn’t even checking books out at the library. I was checking out two movies for my daughter to watch so the afternoon would pass more quickly without my active participation in it.

Waiting seems so much easier when you’re not the one caught in the discomfort of it.

//

Mike is due for military orders this fall. Next summer we will move, which means we are waiting for baby and waiting for our future address at the same time. It’s annoyingly poetic isn’t it?

After nearly a decade of navigating the military life, it seems as though we should know more about how it all works. This is our fourth time waiting for orders. Our fourth time talking about what Mike would like to do next, where we would like to live, and if there’s a way we can secure an ideal scenario in one area or both.

A life in the military often feels like living at the end of a tedious row of dominoes. There are infinite contingencies that lean one upon the other: “If this, then that. If this, then he deploys. If that, then he doesn’t. If he gets this set of orders, we will stay in the military. If he doesn’t, we will get out. ”

I try not to get too wrapped up in Mike’s career identity, which is a tough thing to do as a military spouse since his work life radically influences every detail of our home life. I try to be engaged but not controlling, knowledgeable but not overbearing. I have to pray about this a lot, because I’m naturally quite bad at it, especially when we’re waiting.

Also, the whole pregnancy thing doesn’t help.

Because it makes me hot and winded, so that when I ask Mike pointed questions about our future it sounds like I’m begging answers from him with my last dying breath.

//

Though I’m not good at waiting, I have learned that to put hope in the process is to misplace it.

Two years ago, we expected to move to the East Coast. The guy who places Marines in jobs told Mike there was “no way” we would stay in San Diego. So we planned our lives around a cross-country move. I started looking at rental properties in North Carolina and Washington D.C. And you know what happened?

We got orders to stay.

Three years ago, I was pregnant with Molly planning for a natural childbirth. I had experienced a healthy, easy pregnancy and watched the entire first season of Call the Midwife along with several staggeringly descriptive childbirth documentaries. I wrote a birth plan that was two pages long and spontaneously quizzed Mike on his enforcement role. And you know what happened?

At 37 weeks I found out Molly was breech. Two weeks later I had a c-section.

We didn’t want to stay in San Diego. I really didn’t want to have a c-section.

But I remember talking to my mentor Tammy around this time and she said to me, “Bekah, this not a crisis for God. It’s just a change of plans for you.”

And this is what I have to tell myself often still, every time we wait.

This is not a crisis.

This is just a changing plan.

My God is stable, still.

My God is stable, still.

//

I have been walking every morning, pushing a new double stroller that’s so wide it evicts other pedestrians from the sidewalk. With each step, my belly contracts in practice rhythms. It’s like being gripped by a preview of what is to come, always noticeable, occasionally painful.

I told my sister this over the phone, about the walking and all the contractions, and she said, “Yes, but all of the contracting is productive, Bekah. Your body is preparing. It’s not work wasted.”

And I have to preach the same message to myself these longs days— that waiting is not work wasted. It’s a masterful tool God uses to unhinge my fingers from facades of control; one that productively dismantles my hope in anything other than Christ Himself; and one that trains me in the necessity of prayer if only to shift my eyes off the dominoes and onto the One orchestrating them into a meaningful row.

And in the meantime, all I know to do is to keep moving, to walk the sidewalks with a stroller only half-full, to wash newborn clothes and fold them in tiny stacks, to hang a baby mobile from the ceiling as if such a thing is necessary.

There is not much left to prepare for and yet I fill days with tasks that diffuse the restlessness of waiting. They call this nesting, I think—the menial tasks we invent to make these long days of waiting pass more quickly. They are not wasted, but neither are they as short as we’d like them to be.