My baby is growing up too fast. This last week she started rolling over on purpose and she is getting her first two teeth. WHAT THE HECK?! She is not suppose to be getting teeth yet. Hopefully they will take their time breaking through because nursing her with teeth makes me a little nervous. I'm trying so hard to enjoy her phases while they are occurring. But they are passing so quickly. What do I do? I take pictures and videos and then I hold in my arms as I rock her every evening and marvel at what she's becoming.
When we play on her blanket during her play times I talk to her and she talks back. It's like these little conversations that neither of us really understand but we both enjoy having. She's two and a half months going on twelve. I'm afraid if I blink I'll find myself driving her to kindergarten then sending her off to college.
But she's still not sleeping as well as I'd like. We had three nights last week where she gave me a good eight hours, but she's not consistent. This week we have struggled with some sleepless nights and days and I'm wearing down again. I've spent so many tense moments putting her to bed only to have her awake and crying ten minutes later. As worn out as becoming a mom has been physically, its spiritual toll has been my most difficult and personal battle.
I've always believed in God. I have never doubted that He is real and involved in the lives of His children. Since Andrea has joined our family I've spent many a night laying her down for the eleventeenth time and then pleading with my Heavenly Father to help her sleep. I could see how tired she was and I could feel her struggling to adjust to this new world. Unable to fix her I turned to my divine resource. When five minutes lapsed and the familiar precursor cries began to sound from the nightstand monitor I knew my answer. It was another no.
The weeks passed by and I counted them. One, two, three, four. . . eight, nine, ten. And my nights drug on. At about eight o'clock dread would creep into my soul with anticipation for another night of insomnia in my rocking chair. And I started wondering if God was listening to me. Because as millions of prayers for sleep ascended to heaven, millions of no's rained down and pounded my spirit with discouragement and a little doubt. And I fought it, clinging to the testimony that had got me through so many other trails.
On Tuesday night I went to a Relief Society meeting and heard the following quote: "As the forces around us increase in intensity, whatever spiritual strength was once sufficient will not be enough." (Henry B. Eyring)
The moment I heard those words, the puzzle pieces came together and I could finally see the picture. God answers all sincere prayers in one of two ways: our way or a better way. I thought about the cumulative hours I'd spent in the last couple months asking for this cup to just pass from me. I knew it would. . . Eventually, Andrea would learn how to sleep, but I wanted it to happen fast so I wouldn't have to experience the slow agony of passing this kidney stone of a trial. But then I remembered my Savior asking for his cup to pass and receiving the same answer as me. All along God wasn't saying "no." He was saying, "That won't be the best thing for you."
And He is right. I think about how much I've learned about Andrea in those long nights. Watching and soothing and snuggling and swaddling and pacing and rocking and crying. I know what she likes and doesn't like. I can spot her subtle cues that others can't, and I understand her. She came to me as a stranger and is now familiar.
However, I don't think it had to be so hard. That's where the quote comes in. As my life has become more complicated and my trials have increased, I haven't increased my spiritual training. I was training for the 200 meter while being prepared for a marathon. Heavenly Father was answering my prayers and I wasn't receiving the answer because I hadn't done my part. My glazed-over midnight scripture study and rather disjointed and incoherent prayers couldn't give the greater spiritual results I sought. My habits that use to be sufficient to sustain and maintain my faith and understanding were not equal to the new intensity of motherhood.
So, I'm trying to do better and I've stopped praying for her to sleep, but rather I'm asking for the strength I need to live through the experience. And you know what? I think I will.