Parenting

I've Carried You For Years, And I'll Keep Carrying You

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I indulge in the luxury of carrying my babies. Abby is 17 months old, still compact enough to pop into the Lillebaby three-way carrier — and cart around on my back.

As we strolled the sidewalks yesterday, every pound of her 28 wrapped around my spine, snuggled firmly into my knotted traps, I savored the brief, intertwined chunk of our life together. This won’t last much longer, the heart-to-spine carrying, when she scrunches a bunch of my t-shirt together to hold on behind and lays her sweaty little bobbling head on my back while we make our way towards the car.

And yet, I know I will carry her — and him — forever in and on this earthly shell I’ve been given to roam the planet with.

The carrying, in some sense, begins with merely the hope of their existence. Even as a little girl, my heart warmed at the thought of becoming a mother. Their souls lay dormant, even then awaiting the moment God would purpose them into the temporal forms they would inhabit — the ones that were miraculously fashioned inside my womb.

The weight became heavier still as I dreamed of them, unable to find the formula that would unlock their souls for flight into the world. Struggling to get pregnant meant I knew my babies were waiting there just on the other side of heaven, for a way to join me here. It meant hidden tears in the aisle of Target as I felt the weight of my hope for motherhood dissipate into despair watching what felt like dozens of pregnant women pass me by.

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I carried their ethereal value with the pennies saved and stacked for the medical miracle that might liberate them into existence. I carried the hope of their lives on my heart and in my mind more confidently with every piece of paperwork signed and shot injected as the hormones raced through my body to begin the immense and heavenly privilege of carrying God’s greatest creation in my own flesh.

Two months of 24-hour nausea and fatigue quickly anchored me into the physical realities of weight-bearing to come. Google searches for morning sickness remedies triggered ads for cribs, diapers, baby bags, wipes, pacifiers and daycares to surface across my digital life.

When Jacob was born, one song became my anthem for new motherhood. The words felt scooped directly from my heart. They synced to a melody that, in my post-partum haze, sounded straight from heaven when I peered into the earth-wonder eyes of the marvelous being placed freshly in my care.

“I have died everyday, waiting for you

Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years I’ll love you for a thousand more.”

The weight of his life, which had been centuries in the making — set apart and anticipated by our Creator — were effortlessly heavier to carry in the days after his birth. The idea that I had loved him any less than 1,000 years was preposterous. This was a life I’d been destined to carry for all of time and I felt it deeply in my spirit as the words played and tears welled on cue.

I was a baby-wearer from the start, relishing that I could fit this petite package of life right on my chest, inches away from their first homes. Though at 40 weeks pregnant, newborns don’t feel so light, shifting the weight from inside to outside the body creates a new paradigm. Suddenly, they are nearly buoyant — so fragile you think might break them before those spindly legs and sleepy eyes have a chance to gain necessary, life-sustaining pounds.

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We carried them in our hearts before conception, in our bodies before birth, on our chests and hips after that. I know from watching older children that we’ll carry them on our backs and in our arms even as they creep towards pre-teenage-dom. And one day, we’ll never physically carry them again.

And yet, just as the weight of my hope for them existed before, I know I’ll always figuratively be carrying my babies. Their personal burdens will outweigh my own, their heartbreaks naturally migrating to mine. I will want to relieve their burdens, though I know there will be things they have to do alone. Even in knowing that, I will carry them in prayer, love, hope and heart.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was terrified of every doctor’s appointment, thinking they would tell me his heart had stopped beating or something was wrong. I couldn’t wait to achieve every new milestone, in order to feel more secure about his life. I didn’t know it then, but the weight of that worry was part of the lifelong journey in carrying him through.

The moment you become a parent, your heart expands to make room for the weight you are privileged to carry forevermore. I waited for them for a thousand years. I’ll carry them with me a million more.

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