I realized a few weeks ago that I wasn't ready. The normal things that people think about when welcoming a baby I had all but neglected in our last three deliveries here at home. One thing loomed large to me: packing a hospital bag. I had completely forgotten about that! So used to having everything I need or want right at my finger tips in my very own home, the thought of figuring out what to pack without either going overboard or over simplifying was daunting.
So I did what one does these days and took to facebook with the question. What do you pack in a hospital bag? The responses were as varied as the respondents and it really was fun to read them all, to think about what matters most to me and would bring me the most comfort while I'm away.
I drafted my own list and gathered a few supplies. Kneeling on the floor of my room in front of the open suitcase, I got to thinking about those first moments. Those first few days. What is the most important thing that I know I'll need? The one thing that will make or break my time there, the one thing I want to be sure not to forget?
Thinking about my anxieties of this different venue for delivery, it dawned on me: The most important thing you pack for the hospital is grace. Grace for however this turns out. Grace for how you manage your labor and delivery. Grace for the people who attend you. Mostly, grace for yourself.
There's grace for epidurals and c sections and letting go of what you thought you wanted in exchange for what you need. There's grace for not feeling immediately bonded to your baby. For missing your other children. For looking down at this tiny stranger and wondering what on earth happens next.
Grace the first time you look in the mirror after having a baby. And the 100+ times after that. Grace for the tears you don't understand that just keep coming for no apparent reason. Grace for how the house is going to look post partum, how lack of sleep makes your bones ache, how love can be an exhausting exercise in giving everything you've got and getting nothing back. Grace for your husband who is doing his very best to support you even when he gets it wrong.
Now is the time to hold your chin up and ignore the term "supermom." Now is the time to set aside striving of any kind beyond taking care of yourself and that wonderful new person you brought into the world. There is no badge for taking the baby on his first outing at 4 days old. Or fitting in pre pregnancy jeans in those first weeks. There is no shame for accepting any and all help offered - or even asking for it. It's a grace to give others the opportunity to serve. There's grace for not wanting visitors - and if ever a time existed where saying "no" is appropriate, it is now.
If I forget chapstick or hair ties, J can run out and get them. Even if I leave my cell phone charger at home, it can be easily brought up later on. There is really nothing material that will make or break, but grace? Grace is a non negotiable.
This letting go takes courage. It takes humility. But the most important thing is grace for how it goes.
I zip up my suitcase and set it by the bedroom door, knowing I've got everything, everything that I need.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.