Thursday, April 2, 2009

Miracle, Gift, and Peace

I went from mama to mommy this week. Kanah must have sensed a shift in change in our home because right around our son Salem's birth she made the transition from saying Mama to Mommy. It's perfectly appropriate - because now I am a mother to both a newborn and also toddlers. And simultaneously is symbolically sad because as I held my precious newborn Salem Chandler this week, I saw just how big the girls were. I am now a mama to our littlest and a mommy to our big girls and it all hit me this week as my daughter herself declared that I had a new name.

Monday morning was very special. The moments I know my love for Jason the best are in the heights of moments like my surgery that day because he is so stable and loving and able. There were a number of times during the surgery when I got sick or needed him and I was so glad he was there, right by me, and not shaken by anything. I love that he is so interested in watching every bit of the surgery and was so attentive to our son from the moment he was taken from me. He told me every play by play in the room of bright lights as I lay protected by a sheet. So I just kept my head to the left so I could see him and call to him if I needed to.

And then I heard Salem cry. And I immediately teared up just the way I did when I heard Kanah, then Grace, crying out of my womb. I was fine. I wasn't emotional. I wasn't worried about anything, even being in major surgery. But when I heard him, I instantly, instinctively, with a huge grateful heart, cried with him. I loved him ;).

It was so fun for us to tell everyone Salem's name since we had withheld it and teased everyone for so long. I am absolutely in love with all of our children's names. Kanah's name is after the city of Cana in Israel where Jesus did his first miracle, which reminded us of having children because through our journey we realized that we do not create life, God does, and it is a miracle by his hand. Grace's name was easy to choose. The word grace means "undeserved gift" and what a beautiful meaning for our daughter and again gives God the glory for what he has given us in her. And finally Salem is derived from the Hebrew word "shalom" which means "peace". It is also the original name of the city of Jerusalem, which means "heritage of peace."

When the girls came in to meet Salem on Monday, I was holding him in my bed. I was very sick and drugged and yet I struggled because I wanted to capture this moment in my mind. Salem's little body was sweetly craddled in bed with me as I enjoyed him in those first hours of his life. The girls rounded the corner cautiously and with much confusion. Mommy was in bed, there were wires and machines everywhere, and this little thing was up in the bed with her. It wasn't the ideal fireworks I had expected and I was internally thankful I had canceled having someone come to take pictures of our "family moment" since I was so sick and the girls stayed as far away as possible.

Our days in the hospital from Monday to Wednesday were a combination of sweet and overwhelming and I was thrilled to be discharged from a life of nurses pouring in at all hours in party voices and official paperwork. We needed Salem at home and we needed to be with the girls and they needed to bond with the three of us. When we picked them up from Nani and Poppi's at the end of the day Wednesday, they greeted us with "baby!" shouts at the door and my heart had it's delight, finally. They just oooohed over Salem, wanting to rock his carseat and touch his hair and feet. I wish we had taken that moment to get the video camera out of the car - you know those moments where you say "the camera's in the car...oh well" but we should have moved our lazies and gotten it out. it was priceless but we did get pictures with karla's camera. my heart was so glad, so complete, so elated to see them enjoy him, accept him...welcome him.

We're a family of five now. Jason and I were standing in the kitchen the other day while Kanah and Grace sat in their booster seats and Salem settled into his boppy seat. I said to him, "Look at all those kids over there." I can't explain the strange sensation to see three children across the room, who look like us, and to grasp with a jolting soberness that they are ours. All three of them.

Having Jason at home this week to treasure all of this has been more than a gift to me. One of my greatest memories of the week was just laughing with him and having to hunch over to protect my incision since it hurt so bad to laugh. I had to even create a "new" hyenna sounding laugh which for some reason put less pressure on me when I couldn't control my giggles ;). I told Jason, "I feel like Santa when I laugh" because my belly jiggles and I grab my "after-baby-belly". Oh me ;). Just to give a picture of what a great daddy to our little ones he is, you have to fast forward with me to a trip to Target later in the week. With twin toddlers in the cart and a newborn in a sling on his front, we headed inside. My back has been in a lot of pain, so when we braved getting out of the house to ease our cabin fever and go for a quick trip to Target, I got to about the middle of the store and just couldn't do it anymore. I looked at Jason, who encouraged me to just go to the car and relax while he and all three kids finished up shopping and met me later at the car. He is too cool. I really don't want him to go back to work ;).

I definitely have a new life ahead of me as another Monday approaches tomorrow. I have two daughters and now a son. And it will take a while to understand how to handle all of the changes and responsiblities and honestly right now it all feels very impossible! But I know I will learn to find my strength in Jesus as I go from mama to mommy, I know I will find even more joy in the wonder of the season ahead. I remember a while back thinking that when the day came that the girls learned to call me mommy that it would be really hard for me to accept that they had come so far and had grown so old. And it is true that suddenly they seem so tall, their little minds seem so full of understanding and their bodies so heavy on me. And hearing "mommy" on Kanah's lips has not made me sad. It has absolutely made my heart sing every time I hear it, and I hear it quite a bit for sure from those little repetitive toddler lips. And I just can't stop smiling. I am so thankful to go from Mama to Mommy and love the joy in having three children fill our home. Thank you Jesus.