To My Husband on His First Father’s Day

I know this is kind of private, but I wanted to share anyway.

To My Husband on His First Father’s Day:

Matthew, thank you for being truly filled with joy (with a healthy touch of anxiety) about our pregnancy news even though we had only been married for three weeks.  Thank you for being courteous and selfless throughout my pregnancy.  Thank you for spending hours staring at the Excel budget spreadsheet making sure we were wise with our money.  Thank you for holding my hand, praying, and reading Scripture over me during the difficult, painful hours of my labor.  Thank you for holding our daughter with love in your eyes as we became a family of three for the first time.  Thank you for being kind.

Thank you for waking up with me those first sleepy nights when Nora and I were both crying, and for staying patient.  Thank you also for graciously accepting all of my apologies when I was mean to you in the middle of the night…we have discovered that Mommy really needs her sleep in order to show Christ’s love.

Thank you for picking up baby girl every day after work and saying, “Your Mommy dressed you so cute today,” even if she’s just got on a onesie and a dirty diaper.

Thank you for watching The Fault in Our Stars with glassy eyes during the scene when Hazel’s dad carries her into the hospital.

Thank you for leaving the audiologist with a grin saying, “That went so much better than expected- she’ll be able to hear!” And meaning it from the bottom of your heart.

Thank you for kissing me in front of Nora and saying, “Your mommy and daddy love each other so much.”  Thank you for coming home for lunch as often as possible so you can be with us for one extra hour a day.

Thank you for bringing laughter into our home.  You laugh at me, and it makes me feel like I’m funny.  I can’t wait for you to make Nora laugh for the first time- I hope she has your sense of humor.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful all the time.  You can’t possibly know what peace I have knowing that you will make Nora feel beautiful, too.  She will grow up believing herself lovely because her dad says so.

Thank you for our family date night.  You knocked on the door instead of just coming in, and you had flowers, and you said, “Is Mallory Harris here?” Thank you for worrying that we don’t have enough date nights.

Thank you for making our home a happy, peaceful place.  Though others from different walks may disagree with our politics and faith, if we invited them over for dinner they would not be able to deny the love they see here.  They would notice that even though I am a young wife and a stay-at-home-mom, I am far from being trapped or unfulfilled.  I am like a “well-watered vine.”  People flourish when they are loved unconditionally.  Your tenderness and kindness have made my life sweet.  And they will make Nora’s life sweet.

Thank you for your dreams and prayers for Nora.  You pray great things for her.  But you don’t pray for her to be wealthy, you pray for her to be satisfied by the treasure that is Christ.  You don’t pray for her to be physically beautiful, you pray for her to be gentle and kind.  You don’t pray for her to be successful, you pray for her to be willing to give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom.  You don’t pray for her to be well-liked, you pray for her to stand on the Gospel of Truth in the face of great adversity.  Yes, you pray great things for her.

Your love for Nora has shown my heart new things about how God looks at me.  He looks at me with gentle patience, even when I’m making a fuss.  He looks at me with everlasting love that has nothing to do with how good or pretty or smart or obedient I am.  He looks at me with rejoicing.

Thank you for that gift, my love.  I am so thankful that you are the father of my child.  I look forward to the years of new babies, science projects, vacations, family game nights, Sundays at church, basketball practice, and all the adventures that are ahead of us.

Love, Me

Belly Kiss
We were so excited to meet our Nora!
At the Hospital
Daddy and newborn Eleanor
Chilling
Chillin’ on the couch with Dad
Sleepy
Sleepy
Day at the Park
Day at the park with Daddy
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Different

First of all, thank you (*note: this is not a polite “thanks,” this is a deep, teary, scratchy “thank you“) for all of the kind comments and prayers.  They have meant the world to a scared new mommy who believes in the power of prayer.  I believe that God listens and answers, and He did.

We took Eleanor to the audiologist last Thursday for the second time, and she had an Auditory Brain Stem Response test (ABR) to gauge the severity of her hearing loss.  She sat in my arms for an hour with electrodes taped to her little head and ear monitors stuffed inside her tiny ears while the technician graphed her brain’s response to sound.  After the test, we were told truly amazing news: Nora has only moderate hearing loss, which means that she will be able to hear normally with the help of hearing aids.  My initial response was: “HOORAY! My daughter will hear!” But then we were escorted to a smaller office and for the next hour were given more information than I could handle.  We were shown hearing aid models, given packets of info, warned of the possibility of progressive hearing loss, and provided a run-down of the seemingly endless audiologist appointments in our near future.

After we left the doctor’s office, (I basically ran out) I took a deep breath of fresh air and the let the tears flow.  Part of me was so grateful that God answered our prayers in the form of tiny pieces of technology, but the other part of me was asking questions a mile-a-minute, Will she notice she’s different? Will she be made fun of in her classes at school? Will she be self-conscious of her hearing aids?  

Guys, middle school sucks.  Kids are mean.  I was made fun of in middle school and I didn’t even have hearing aids (although I did have huge hair and knobby knees).  Sadly, all my ungrateful heart could think about was how terrible middle school would be for Nora.

Then this morning as I was drinking my coffee and praying for the Lord to give me comfort about Nora’s hearing aids, I felt the Lord whisper to my soul, Darling, didn’t you pray for ‘different?’ 

I had to laugh.  It’s true– how many times have I laid hands on my pregnant tummy and on my sleeping baby girl praying for the Lord to make her “different?”  I have prayed for God to make Nora wiser than her peers, more modest and gentle than the woman of today, strong enough to stand for Truth in a society that hates it, brave enough to fight for those who are bullied, more passionate about Jesus than I am…indeed, very “different” from the rest of the world.  Physically, yes, she will be ever-so-slightly different from the other kids; but my dream for her is that spiritually and emotionally she will be much more noticeably so.

As her parents, we will do everything we can to teach her to be polite and obedient and compassionate and kind.  But only Christ can give her “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4)– that’s not something we are born with, folks.  My prayer is that she will always carry with her joy in the Lord, compassion for others, and confidence in herself…and that the other middle school kids (I’m clearly really fixated on middle school) will see those qualities that are slowly but surely disappearing from our society and say, “What makes you different?” and that my daughter will not answer, “Well, ya see, I’ve got this hearing impairment…” but rather she will gently say, “I’m different because of Jesus.  Let me tell you about Him.”

I realize now that God is preparing us for the fact that Nora may never fit in.  But will it be because of her hearing impairment? Nope.

I have prayed it, and God has been so faithful to answer my prayers.

Nora didn't like those pesky electrodes!
Nora didn’t like those pesky electrodes!
Mommy holding Nora, getting comfy for the long ABR test
Mommy holding Nora, getting comfy for the long ABR test
Daddy and Nora at the audiologist
Daddy and Nora at the audiologist

In the Quiet

Having just entered the exciting (yet somewhat excruciatingly mundane) world of stay-at-home-momhood, I now understand exactly why there are so many mommyblogs out there.  I was so judgy towards those moms that sat at home and wrote blogs, grumpily muttering to myself, “What makes you think your perspective on life is so interesting?”

Now I realize that the majority of moms don’t write blogs to dole out wisdom or to show the world how totally with-it they are, they are probably writing blogs for themselves in order to share their thoughts and feelings with people that aren’t tiny and needy and spit up all the time.   If blogs were only allowed to be written by people with lots of life experience and interesting stories, I definitely would be last on the list.  I’ve only been a mama for six weeks- doesn’t exactly make me a fount of wisdom.  Heck, most of the time I feel like a little girl playing house with a really cute boy and an adorable baby doll.

Which is why it doesn’t seem fair that Nora might be deaf.  My husband and I are so happy right now–like, deliriously happy.  I wake up every day praising Jesus that Matt and I are healthy and in love and have a sweet baby girl.  Nora and I anxiously wait for Daddy to come home from work every day and give us kisses and make us laugh.  So when our little Eleanor Lane failed her first hearing tests in the hospital we thought that surely it must be a mistake; indeed, my doctor told us that we “had nothing to worry about, lots of newborns fail their hearing tests.”  Last week I breezily took her to the audiologist for a follow-up and left ugly crying when they told me that they were pretty certain she had some hearing loss.  The doctors’ somber faces and pushy questions of “Are you sure there isn’t a history of hearing impairment in your family?” left me devastated.

Had I been ignoring the fact that when the dryer beeped loudly or a door slammed she never woke up from her sleep?  Had I been blind to her constant need to be held and touched because she couldn’t hear me telling her “Mama’s here, don’t cry”?  Apparently so.  After I got home that day, Matt left work to come and be with his girls.  Since that fateful Tuesday at the audiologist, we have done some at-home tests on our own, and have yet to witness her react to a loud sound.  So.  She might be deaf.  Or at least extremely hard of hearing.  There is a chance that maybe she’ll grow out of it– we have heard stories of babies one day growing out of their hearing loss.

Either way, it still doesn’t seem fair…you might say…it’s “hard to hear.” Pun intended.  On the outside, she is perfect.  She has little tiny precious ears and her Daddy’s kissable mouth and my eyes…why does this one thing not work right?  As a first-time mom I felt so completely shaken that I almost forgot to seek comfort from He who is Unshakeable.  My husband reminded me recently of advice he got from his own wise mother, that “the difference between us as parents and God as a Father is that we do not love our children enough to wish upon them suffering that might be beneficial in the long run.”  Chew on that a moment and swallow it.

How could I possibly be okay with my child never recognizing my voice or hearing music or having clear speech?  Well right now, I am not.  I want those things desperately for her, so desperately that my eyes are filling with tears even as I type this.  So desperately that I will seek out the best hearing specialists and pay for the most expensive hearing technology if it means my baby will be able to hear.

But perhaps down the road…if our family learned sign language together and became involved in the deaf community and grew to a fuller understanding of worship that was more than just music…perhaps then I would be thankful.  Now I don’t know if that is God’s plan for her life, but I can joyfully rest that God’s plan for Nora is better than mine.  Even if it means she never hears my voice.

Because I know that even in the quiet, God is present.  If she never heard a sound in her life, she would most certainly recognize the voice of her Shepherd (John 10:27).  And what an extraordinary gift the angels’ singing in heaven would be to someone who had been deaf on earth!  Yes, there are beautiful silver linings provided by the light of the Lamb.  And yes, she may grow out of this hearing thing and her life will go down a totally different but equally beautiful and hard-in-its-own-way route.  I’m excited to see.  He is quite an Artist, and my girl is His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).

Thanks for letting me get my thoughts out- and try not to judge me too hard for this blog.  You may find yourself therapeutically writing one someday.  I am still an emotional, hormonal wreck from giving birth and pushing through that monstrous second week of breastfeeding, and it feels great to have an outlet.  And here I am: still exuberantly happy and crazy thankful for this life that is mine.  I will keep you updated!

In Him,

Mallory

“In the quiet, in the stillness

I know that you are God.”

– Hillsong United, None but Jesus

 Sweetness Me and My Girl