My baby Hannah Grace is two years old. And the second verse of Amazing Grace just keeps playing on repeat in my head.
T’was grace that taught
My heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Hannah Grace, each phrase is true. Your presence in my life has taught my heart to fear. The moment I first learned you were on your way, I was terrified. I didn’t think I could handle having another baby so soon after your brother. Your earliest existence made obvious to me that my control over my life was just smoke and mirrors. I had a perfect plan, and this wasn’t it. I was not in control, and I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, wouldn’t be able to love you well, wouldn’t be able to love your brother well, wouldn’t be able to take care of our home and all my responsibilities. I was scared to be a mom of “two under two.”
But two years ago, you began to prove me wrong. After nearly 42 weeks of pregnancy, you made me a mom of two under two. You showed me that I could do this thing that I had feared – if I trusted God and relied on Him for everything that I lacked. This life that He’s given me with you hasn’t been easy, but each day, He relieves my fears by another degree. And now, I understand that this began before I even met you.
Hannah Grace, I wasn’t “cute pregnant” with you. Starting around the fifth month, I had people telling me that I was “about to pop.” So many strangers asked if I was having twins that I started unkindly responding, “No, are you?” I was uncomfortable and heavy and exhausted. My feet hurt and my hips hurt and my knees hurt and it was summer in New York City, which meant walking everywhere and sweating a lot. I outgrew my maternity clothes. Twice. And I was sure that you were going to arrive a week before my due date. I told our pastor – the head of a big church in Manhattan – that you were going to be born on Father’s Day (June 15th, for those of you keeping track). You didn’t come until July.
The first week of waiting I was anxious and impatient. God, please make today be the day! I pleaded. Each morning I would wake up around five and lie in bed, willing the contractions to start. Each day I felt more and more disappointed when I realized that I felt just exactly the same as the day before.
My due date came and then passed. Eventually, I stopped begging for a contraction. I just prayed that God would help me to trust in His timing. I prayed that He would help me accept that you weren’t coming yet. I prayed that I could let go of my own agenda, my own personal favorite due date (which was now long gone), my own control of your birth.
And the following ten days were almost magical. My husband was off work (since we had thought you’d be born by then – ahem), and he and our son and I had new adventures every day. A New York City vacation, free of all obligations. It was such a beautiful, precious time. It was our swan song as a trio, a family of three, and every day felt like a gift. An undeserved, unexpected, beautiful gift.
My heart shifted during that time. I was no longer preoccupied with when you would come. Some days I was so content that it was hard to believe that you were ever going to show up.
But show up you did, and how precious did you appear! Your sweet face – already so feminine, even one minute old – the way you turned towards me and slept so contentedly with one hand snuggled up by your face. How precious.
I had been so worried about loving you, but my heart overflowed. The timing of your birth (and, as I’ve come to learn, your conception) was just right for our family. Each day you have grown even more beautiful in my eyes, even more precious in my heart. Your 365 x 2 days here with me and in our family have been a treasure. And grace my fears relieved.
I didn’t trust God when it came to your timing. But I’ve seen such tremendous spiritual growth come from the struggle and the challenge of precious YOU, coming at just the time that you did. Your presence in my every day is teaching me to trust more fully, to believe in what God has planned and what He can do. To believe that I don’t always know best.
You are two, and I am learning — more fully every day — to believe in His faithfulness, in His promises. I am learning to believe that struggle doesn’t equal bad, and can bring good. I am learning to believe that God isn’t going to desert me or let me down. I am learning to believe that He makes good on His promises – His promises to prosper me and not harm me, to give me a hope and a future, to anoint my head with oil and make my cup to overflow – even though I often don’t understand the why’s or the how’s. I am learning to believe that God’s grace is bigger than my mistakes and that His forgiveness is sweeter than honey. Your life, Hannah Grace, is teaching me to believe.
The hour I first believed.
Happy Birthday, my sweet and feisty and precious Hannah Grace.