The Beauty in Loss of Expectation
There’s nothing that can compare to the moment you become a parent. The rush of emotions, the sounds, the sight of your new baby, the overwhelming increase in love you never understood until
that split second. It doesn’t matter the avenues that brought you to that moment; pregnancy, adoption, IVF, everything that led you to that point was wiped clean and in its place sits unending, unconditional love and amazement at the new life in front of you. There truly is nothing you wouldn’t do for that child. Those moments still live so fresh in my mind. Even as I’m writing this, I can get emotional thinking of the three babies I have been fortunate enough to bring earthside and the one beautiful life I get to meet when I enter eternity.
Parenthood for me came with a lot more twists and turns than my husband, Taylor, and I could have ever imagined. I was newly 24 years old when we decided to try for our first baby. After only
a few weeks we both were feeling led to begin our family through adoption rather than having
a biological child first. Within a few months we were steadily taking classes to get our foster care license and then work towards adoption. During that time, I got news from my doctor that my reproductive system would need some extra help if I ever wanted to get pregnant. This news was slightly surprising but ultimately, I trusted that if I was meant to carry children, I would.
The next year was spent getting all things foster care and adoption ready. The day after we were approved by the county, we got a call for an adoption placement of a 10-year-old girl. We were shocked it happened so fast, but were so excited it was finally happening! Our excitement was turned to confusion as unforeseen situations meant she wouldn’t become part of our family. We obviously knew this was a possibility, as any foster parent is told, but it was still strange to be in it. Again, we knew that we served a loving God, and He was writing our story. We took a deep breath, moved past the disappointment, and continued on. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant with our oldest son. The turn of events was so strange to us at the time. James was born in 2015, a short twenty-one months later we had our second son, William, in 2017 and our sweet Sadie arrived in 2020.
Taylor and I took to parenting pretty well in my opinion, which is completely unbiased, of course.
I loved being a mother, it felt so natural and easy. The challenge from one to two kids hit me hard. I dealt with postpartum anxiety after both my boys and had zero energy to do anything besides what was necessary. As I felt like I was finally getting mental clarity I began noticing behavior in Willie that just didn’t seem right. At first, I wondered if it was just a personality difference between my boys, but by 3 months old I knew it was more than that.
Over the next 14 months we went from specialist to specialist, received two diagnoses that explained some, but not all his issues. He had way too many blood draws, procedures, and tests for any child that age. It all culminated in emergency surgery to fix a congenital kidney issue in December of 2018; he was 17 months old. Life until that point was so busy and such a blur. I spent my days carting my two kids to appointments, researching every ounce of medical literature and studies, taking Willie to therapy six times a week, self-diagnosing, over analyzing, worrying. I allowed the very real circumstance we were living and breathing to become the dictator of not only my mental and physical life, but of our family’s life. I lived in a mixture of fear, shame, and confusion.
I couldn’t bear to go on social media and see other people’s kids more than a year younger than Willie doing things that were so far from his abilities, I couldn’t even dream of him doing. I hid behind the mask of “busy mom life,” which don’t get me wrong, we had a very full schedule, but it was a coping mechanism for me so I wouldn’t have to deal with people asking questions that I didn’t have the answers to and didn’t want to face myself. I thought that after his surgery we would see a huge shift, but it was honestly just an incredible amount of work, both for him and myself.
I never imagined I would be in the place we were. The pain of having to watch your child suffer and not be able to do things his peers were able to do was gut wrenching.
Over the next two years I lived in such a torn mental state. I was so thankful for this little boy growing and developing in front of me, but still mourning the life I wished we had; the story I wanted to be ours. I truly believe there is nothing that can prepare you to be a parent of a child with special needs. The tension of living in the now and not the future, of being mentally and physically present and to be able to love the life you have and not wish or daydream it away. I clung to the loss of expectation because I felt if I didn’t,there would be nothing else left of what I wanted for my son; how could I possibly have anything to look forward to when each day just brought me so much pain and discomfort?
It seemed like at every turn the life I wanted and planned for was slipping farther and farther away. And it wasn’t like I was planning some extravagant life filled with incredible vacations, a huge house on the beach and all the luxuries life could offer. All I wanted was a healthy son who was able to use his body and mind as effortlessly as a typical child his age. I wanted his big brother to be able to live carefree and not have to constantly wait and quiet down because he’s a 2-year-old stuck in yet another doctor’s office for his brother. I wanted to not have to work a job just to pay for medical expenses, I wanted to have one pediatrician and not 11 specialists.
My list went on and on and at some point, I just broke. My life revolved around my kids and their happiness, but my mind revolved around all the “why us” and “what if’s.” I completely lost sight of my very loving God who had gifted me with two incredible boys to steward through this life. It was a sobering night when God met me on the floor of my bedroom. I had been given these boys be- cause God knew I was equipped to be their mom, no matter how underqualified I felt. I realized I had been living as if we would one day be at a place where “special needs” would get left behind and everything would be “normal.”
After Willie was fitted for his first hearing aid, I realized that this is my life, and its richness is being lost in my inability to let go of what I wanted for myself, but also for Willie. I was so stuck in my loss of expectation for my life I wasn’t able to see the beauty right in front of me.
True worship requires sacrifice. This phrase sat in my mind for a good year before I truly grasped what it actually meant for me to live a life worthy of my most loving God. There were never any requirements or goals God wanted me to hit. He wasn’t waiting for me to do or be anything. He was waiting for me to see that all He wanted was me. But not just my heart, I had given that to Him and never looked back; even during the first few years of Willie’s life, I never fell apart like I thought I would. That is solely because my heart knew my loving God and that He was in control, it was just waiting for my head to catch up and stop lingering on my pain and fear. God desired all of me and that meant I had to truly set aside my wandering mind and give it to Him.
My biggest act of worship was changing the way I viewed my life, days, moments, and allowed the Holy Spirit to truly guide my mind.
As I learned to lay down my life in worship to God; my wants, desires, hopes and dreams, my inner world started to open. I took time to look back over the last five years and instead of seeing the pain and disap- pointment I experienced during that time I could see God’s faithful hand all over our lives. His love has guided us through the disappointment of changing course with our adoption, it held our hearts through our miscarriage, and it was ever present through each step we took with Willie’s health. I began to reframe those memories for what they truly were, seeing God’s steadfast love in every moment I thought was the deepest pit. As I let go of the fear and disappointment that had controlled my mind and robbed me of so many joys, I found God’s perfect peace waiting for me. Just as I felt when I saw each of my kids as they entered this world; the unending, unconditional love of my Father.
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