Zaqarah Grace Gahagan is my second born. She’s 4 and a half going on 12, and a pure firecracker. I remember, like it was yesterday, double and triple checking that pregnancy test.  Surely I wasn’t pregnant!! Elasia (my first born) was still nursing all. the. time.  What’s a “period” anyway?!  But after the second test I swallowed the fact – we were having ANOTHER baby.
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I felt like I was drowning in the crushing expectations of motherhood already, barely catching my breath in the mornings to charge head-long into days of the tedious demands of mothering an 8 month old. I didn’t think I was doing anything right. Anything. And here I was going to have another one.  Most of what I was feeling (which now I know was Postpartum Depression) was chemical. Things went wacky in my brain and caused me to distort reality.
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Reality: I was a pretty good first-time mom. I was tenacious with breastfeeding, even though I had to really work on that latch and Elasia had reflux. I was meticulous at filtering through all the propaganda information out there and deciding what would benefit our little family. I wasn’t a germaphobe, but kept things relatively clean and safe. Elasia seemed like she had the potential to be a happy person despite the eternal bouts of colic.
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But I didn’t see this. I would whisper prayers through tears during late night feedings, “Oh God help. Oh God help.”  Nothing theologically complicated, just the plea of a young mom whose mind had turned on her.
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Adam (my husband), who was struggling with his own expectations of what parenthood would be like versus our reality, was really amazing during this time. But that’s a whole other post in itself. He saw my deer-in-the-headlights look when we talked about this second pregnancy and did what any dreamily hot, God-fearing guy would do. He prayed. And a few days later he came to me a said something like, “Babe, I know it seems like life is crazy, but I feel like this baby is a gift. Not generically, but specifically. I feel like this baby is a reward. God sees all the details of our lives here in NYC and is telling us He’s proud of us.”
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Okay.
Thanks.
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It was a cold, hard choice to believe that. We searched and searched for the perfect name and when we found out, around 27 weeks or so, that it was a girl, we knew she would be called Zaqarah Grace – which means “God’s Gracious Reward.”
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On August 24, 2007 – from that first breath at 9:40 PM on a Friday night, she was (and continues to be) exactly that. Now, I know there are actually medical explanations for this and here’s my I’m-not-a-doctor-but-googled-it-enough-to-say-it-with-authority explanation: The post-partum hormones I experienced after Qara actually kicked my brain back in gear rather than compounding my PPD.  I felt like I snapped out of it. I had “space” for Elasia’s tantrums (as she was 17 months old then) while nursing a newborn with one hand and sweeping the floors with the other.  I still (even now) have days when I feel like a thick dark fog is threatening to swallow me, but they are so few and far between compared to what I thought was normal motherhood before Qara came.
I feel able to truly enjoy the complex creature that Elasia is. I look at her and see a phenomenal world-changing girl who kids will read about in their history books one day…probably. Instead of seeing a tornado of chaos, I (usually) see two sisters enjoying each other and discovering the world together.
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Besides the science, I can’t help but see Divine fingerprints in this. It’s like He heard my midnight cries and saw all those tears and gave me a “life-saver”: a baby who would nurse/gain weight just fine. Who would grow to be a toddler with PERFECT comedic timing and lots of hugs to spare. Who liked to smush her face on my cheek just because.  Who had an infectious belly-laugh and a spritely little nature.
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…Who would cause me to have a heart attack at LEAST once a week because of her fearlessness at the playground… who might not revolutionize nations in the same way her sister would, but will, nonetheless, with her own uniquely endearing charm.
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I was given “grace” in the form of an unexpected/unplanned baby.
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Dictionary definition says it so well – each definition seems so specific to what her birth brought into my life:
grace (grs)
n.
1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
3. A sense of fitness or propriety.
4. a. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
b. Mercy; clemency.
5. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
7. a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
c. An excellence or power granted by God
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I was also given grace on that Sunday morning in 1996, when my eyes were opened to the fact that, even though I was an enemy of God’s, Christ gave himself sacrificially to pay my ransom, and to give me the credit for his perfect life, even though my life was in shambles. I shook my fist at God. He reached into my rebellious heart and transformed me. I only desired things that would ruin me, yet the Monday after that transforming day, I had an inexplicable desire to learn how to talk to God and to read His word. Grace.
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Accordingly to this definition of grace above (so rich!), I’m actually given this gift daily. It’s easy to notice it in the positive: every breath, smile, giggle, sticky kiss. But it’s a present that comes in painful wrapping paper sometimes too. Every tear-streaked story I pour out to my husband at the end of a mommy “fail” day, ends up leaving me with the quiet realization that God is more committed to my children than I am and He can/will use my mistakes just as much as what I think are my “right choices” to mold them into the women He’s created them to become.  Grace.
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When I lose my way, when I don’t recognize the grace I’m given – even in the moment – I’m thankful for my curly-haired, bright-eyed little reminder. I was helpless and needed to be rescued. I thought my problem was only getting worse with an unplanned pregnancy. But it was God’s beautiful rescue plan. And it was only a shadow of his ultimate rescue plan: through death and resurrection of Christ, we can truly live.
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I’m enjoying a fast paced life with my two beauties (who are now almost 6 and 4.5), and because we are weeks away from meeting our third princess (due April 2nd), all of life seems to be revolving around preparation for our newest addition. But I still need to be reminded:  I don’t have to drown in this thing called “motherhood”. There is a gift of Grace just waiting to be unwrapped right in front of me.
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