It's 3:44 in the morning and I am still awake . It's a long story and this probably won't make much sense when I read it later- but I have to write or I'll lose my mind .
At the beginning of my pregnancy I wrote you a letter and told you that I needed a rope ... because we had just found out you have Down syndrome and I knew there would be moments - maybe even nights - like these . Spaces of time when my thoughts were running too wildly and my emotions were getting out of control , and somehow I would need a rope to pull me back to the shores of safety and sanity. And I decided that writing was going to be for me that rope - the thing that would get me through it all. Not because I feared Down syndrome ... having walked through that diagnosis and raising your big sister for almost six years now, I feel confident about your future . But because of your diagnosis there are other concerns that can trigger fear - mainly health issues and things that can go along with that "magical extra chromosome" ... and I knew that at some point I was going to need a rope.
And up until this point I haven't needed that rope so much ... Up until now it's been pretty smooth sailing, and my letters to you have just been updates on how my pregnancy is progressing (wonderfully !) and what we have seen of you on ultrasounds (you're beautiful !). Up until this moment I haven't needed that rope to pull me back to safety, which is why I haven't written near as many letters to you as I did to your sister. Honestly, Bunny, up until now this pregnancy has been for the most part, fear free .
But right now I need my rope .
Right now I need something to hold on to, something to bring me back to the shores of safety, something to pull me out of the waters ... because RIGHT NOW ... I feel like I'm going to drown .
So it's 3:58 in the morning and I've been up all night for probably the 30th night in a row. At least . Give or take a few nights when sleep was not elusive and the only time I woke up was to use the bathroom. (Five or six trips to the bathroom in one night is not unusual for this mom of many at the end of her pregnancy - so I don't count those nights as "lost sleep.")
But pregnancy insomnia is not something I've had to deal with at this level in any of my pregnancies . I had some nights at the end of my pregnancy with Hayden that were like this . But nothing that came close to the intensity of what I'm going through both physically and emotionally , and nothing that didn't resolve itself after a few nights of exhaustion .
I've written about this in my letters to Lily in the past, but I'm writing about it again right now - so I can remind myself that this is what I do when I'm facing fear... I internalize it. I think it would probably be healthier to deal with things on the outside of my body - maybe cry more or scream when I'm overwhelmed with anxiety ?? Anything other than pushing down thoughts of worry or fear inside of me until they manifest eventually in physical symptoms ... which is clearly what is happening right now . Maybe it's pride that holds me back from admitting or demonstrating that I'm struggling ? Maybe it's guilt ? Because I know that as a Christian I'm supposed to just trust God and pray and not battle these emotions .. and letting people see that sometimes I do struggle with that would be a bad testimony to anyone watching my life ?
Whatever the reason, dearest Bunny , I am weary of pretending to be someone I'm not, and if nothing else, writing everything down is my way of dealing with whatever demons are assaulting my soul right now. Writing is my rope.
And if writing and exposing those anxieties means letting people know I'm not Super Mom and I don't always handle my fears perfectly or in a way that is healthy or helpful ... then so be it. I'm human . My faith isn't always perfect, and sometimes - like this moment at 4:11 a.m. - it is as small as a mustard seed indeed . It's there, but it's fragile, and I need God to take what little faith I have and help me get through this moment.
I need a rope.
So here it goes, dearest bunny . Here's what is lying tucked away, down deep in my heart, until this moment when it is obviously manifesting itself in a host of symptoms - insomnia, loss of appetite, and a plethora of other physical symptoms as well. Here are the dirty little secrets that I've been pushing to the back of my mind this month, hoping that by not talking about them I can make them go away .
I'm afraid you're going to die.
I'm afraid that because Lily was so healthy and because she had so few of the health concerns related to Down syndrome, somehow that means you are going to have them all .
It makes no sense, but I'm afraid that somehow I have to "pay my dues" and have a baby with all the issues Lily hasn't had .
I'm afraid that all the ultrasounds we've had to check your heart for defects - I've lost count there have been so many - are wrong. I'm afraid that I'm going to be like the mom I randomly met at my doctor's appointment last month, who had multiple scans during her pregnancy that never revealed a major defect on her baby's heart . I'm afraid that because 50% of babies with Down syndrome have heart defects and because Lily had none, that somehow you have to make that statistic come true in our family ... even though I know we don't and shouldn't live by "odds." Rationally I know that doesn't make sense, but at four in the morning after a month of little or no sleep ... I'm not being very rational .
I'm afraid of labor, sweet Bunny. Me, the mama who LIVES for labor and the whole birth experience - I get high in labor for crying out loud, bunny. I have told everyone for years how much I love that special time, and how I feel closer to God than ever when I'm in labor - because I DO.
But I'm afraid . Afraid that somehow this time it will all be too much, I'm too old or my body is too fragile or that I just won't be able to enjoy everything like I normally do - I'm afraid of the unknown and what I may go through during your birth ... I am afraid that something will go terribly wrong and I'll lose you .
I am afraid that I love you too much and I that I am too happy and thrilled to be carrying another baby with Down syndrome - and somehow that joy and anticipation is going to be destroyed . I'm afraid that if something happens to you I'm not going to be strong enough to handle it, and that somehow I'll lose that mustard seed of faith I'm clinging to right now . I'm worried that if something happens to you I won't be like the strong moms I know who have walked through the loss of a baby and been shining examples to everyone of what true trust and faith and confidence in God looks like in the midst of incredible suffering and pain .
I'm afraid I wouldn't pass that test .
I'm afraid of thinking I have this whole Down syndrome thing figured out, I'm afraid of falsely believing we have walked through all the emotions of it already , and that there is some unknown "thing" I haven't gone through when it comes to parenting a child with special needs.
I'm afraid that somehow my confidence and joy in the fact that you share Lily's diagnosis is going to be shattered when I get to that unknown .
And isn't that the essence of true anxiety anyway ?
It doesn't have to have something solid to hold onto, it doesn't require facts or proof that a problem does indeed exist - it is fear of the unknown . It's an overwhelming sense of impending doom, and even when I have months of good doctor visits amd healthy ultrasounds and all the reassuring words of our team of doctors to call to memory at four o'clock in the morning ... It doesn't matter because anxiety is not rational . It goes beyond what is known and reaches into the unknown , it takes every "what if"
imaginable and turns it into a certainty in my brain.
It robs me of reason and joy and a sound mind , and in their place it leaves a gaping hole of worry and doubt and unbelief . It is the thief that wants to steal my happiness over YOU little Bunny, and it is threatening to drown me if I let it.
I prayed before I started this letter, Baby Madison.
I prayed that somehow God would get me through this moment, that somehow He would put me on someone's heart and they would call or text me in the middle of this seemingly endless night to encourage me, and that somehow that would be an anchor to my soul.
I prayed for God to reach down from Heaven and help me.
And you know what He did ?
He gave me a rope .
So here I am , writing this letter to you and pouring out my heart and hopes and fears and somehow, in the middle of my exhausted ramblings, I feel myself being pulled back to the shore of sanity .
Somehow God has taken that tiny mustard seed of faith ... and moved this mountain of fear in my mind.
Somehow through getting all of this crud out of my troubled heart and mind and putting it into words - somehow I've exposed the lies that were threatening to drown me ... and I'm not drowning anymore .
I have my rope .
And my mustard seed of faith .
And my beautiful Bunny tucked away inside of me .
And no matter what demons of fear and doubt and worry and unbelief have been plaguing me until now, I am suddenly reminded of this truth.
God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of a sound mind.
No matter what I am feeling, and no matter what the future holds, I need to recognize that God is in control .
Whatever I'm "feeling" is not from the Lord. It may be from pregnancy hormones or lack of sleep or all the physical things I've gone through lately (kidney stones, endless contractions, heartburn, backaches, and carrying my 12th baby at age 47 to name just a few !) but whatever the cause - God is not the author of it all . He doesn't want me living in emotional torment over things I can't control anyway . He doesn't promise me a perfect future without any shred of heartache or pain, but He does promise me He will never leave me or forsake me through anything I go through . He will be there.
And he doesn't expect me to handle it all perfectly anyway .
He knows my weaknesses , He knows I am fragile and weary and HUMAN and ....
He loves me anyway.
In my weakness "His strength is made perfect".
That means I can stop trying to be this Super Mom I think I'm supposed to be at all times. I never was her anyway, and I never will be. I'm just me, and even if that means I am prone to hiding my fears and worries until they all come boiling to the surface in an ugly way ... that's okay with Him. My hope and trust and faith is in Jesus and HIS ability to carry me through. It was never supposed to be about me anyway . It's the grace of God that will bring me through the unknown - not the perfect faith of Patti .
And now my sweet little Bunny, I am feeling drowsy and comforted and ready to rest in God - both spiritually and emotionally and (miraculously !) physically as well. I'm fading fast so I will post just one picture of you safely sleeping inside of me before I drift into dreamland myself ...
I love you to the moon and back, Madison Faith.
And until we meet face to face , I am ..