Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anxious joy.

It's bedtime.  I stand next to Asher's crib, holding him as he snuggles against my shoulder and hugs me.  I slowly rub his back, and drink in his smell before laying him down.  The moment is pure joy.
The two littles are napping.  Abigail curls up against me on the couch.  We sit together watching something on television, or reading together.  I kiss her forehead and tell her how much I love being her mama.  The moment is pure joy.
Shilo crawls away from me, giggling, turns, and signs again.  I tickle her, and blow on her belly.  She laughs uncontrollably causing me to laugh just as hard.  Then, we start over again. The moment is pure joy.

And, in each of these moments the joy is mixed with an intense amount of anxiety.  It's simultaneously life giving, and panic inducing.  All of the things that can go wrong flow through my head at the same time, bidding me not to love so much.  To protect myself.  Think of all the things in the world that could possibly go wrong, taking away these sort of moments.

I fight it.  I'm allowed to feel joy.  I don't have to pair it with anxiety.  I can just love the moment.  If something did happen, I would want to remember these moments.  I would want them to be imbedded so deeply that I can feel them.  The weight of Asher on my shoulder, Abigail curved against my side, Shilo's little body shaking as she giggles. 

I'm learning to love the moments, and quietly shush the fears that want to drown out the joy.  There are days where the fears will win.  Days filled with appointments, or bad news, that I allow myself to research, lament, and grieve.  But, I don't want these things to win.  I want joy to win in the moment to moment things each day. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

c-sections or, when your child had been cut out of you.

in just a few days, 18 months will have passed since the day a doctor cut open my abdomen and uterus to pull my son out.  the act saved my son's life.  while his heart rate had started to drop with contractions, more importantly, we had no idea that his two vessel cord had very small amounts of Wharton's jelly around it.  this is the substance that keeps the umbilical cord from collapsing, twisting, etc. so that it stays open supplying oxygen and nutrients.  if Asher had been born vaginally, it's very likely that he would have suffered brain damage and possibly even have died as a result of this. it's the reason his heart rate was dropping during contractions.  as it is, we're pretty thankful he didn't pass away in utero.

but, that's not entirely what i'm here to talk about it.  C-sections are often seen as the easy way out.  no work. no pushing.  you get a spinal block so you don't feel the contractions.  it's like you didn't even really experience birth.
there are reason upon reason people have a C-section.  some are medically necessary.  some are by choice.  not a single one of them gets my vote of disapproval.  i'm learning that the best thing we can do is support other people's decisions, even if they're different from ours. even if from the outside, they make absolutely no sense, at all.
i'm not sad, at this point, that I had a C-section.  it was necessary.  it happened.  my son is alive, and doing great. 
but, let me tell you a few things about my experience so those who think that delivering vaginally is somehow better, can possibly empathize.
some people have to be put completely under for a C-section.  my epidural, and then spinal block only worked on half of my body.  I missed my son's first cries.  I don't even have a video of it because things happened in an emergency fashion.  I didn't get to see him at all until 8 hours after he was born.  then, I was wheeled to the nicu where I got to look at him and touch him for a few minutes before going back to my room, because one of the many meds I was on made me unable to walk, stand, or stay awake for long periods of time..
I woke up from surgery, on my abdomen, to someone pushing on my abdomen.  it's probably the closest I've ever come to punching someone.  for me, I couldn't have Tylenol because my liver was failing, narcotics because I had, had a spinal block (that didn't work), and ibuprofen because of one of the other meds I was on.  I woke up from abdominal surgery with NO pain control on board, and someone pushing on me. 
getting in and out of my hospital bed, literally, required me to sit the bed up, and still took me at least five minutes because of the pain.  coughing required holding myself, and bending over.  and, when you've been intubated, you cough. 
I couldn't lift anything over ten pounds for six weeks.  at this time, I had a 25 pound three year old who couldn't walk, or climb, and a two story house.  so for the next six weeks, I had to have someone home with me at all times to help me care for little.  while i'm SO thankful to the friends who stepped up and sat with us, it was hard on the days that I wanted to just spend time figuring out breast feeding, and being a mother of three all by myself.
there is not a day that goes by that i don't see my scar.  when i go to the bathroom.  when i shower.  when i change clothes.  there it is.  the reminder that my son was cut out of me.  i can physically run my fingers over the place, and feel where the scalpel was.

but, the real kicker, for me, is that almost every day, for eighteen months, I've continued to have pain.  I've had growing issues, and am amidst appointments and imaging.  i likely have adhesions-a type of scar tissue that can happen with abdominal surgeries, and it's likely bad enough that i'll have to have something done.  sometimes, when i cough or sneeze, i still have to put counter pressure on my scar to keep the pain at bay.

i'm not looking for a badge of courage for the way my son came into the world.  i'm not looking for sympathy because of everything that went wrong.  what i'm looking for is people to just walk along side and encourage others on their journey.  everyone's journey can be different, and still good.  it can be different, and still right.  it can be different and still beautiful.
also, C-sections aren't an easy way out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I sat on the porch swing, reading Brene Brown, listening to crickets, seeing the fireflies light up around me, and smelling my neighbor's joint.  I put the book down, leaned back, swinging ever so gently, and closed my eyes.  I tried to turn my thoughts into coherent prayers.  All I could come up with is, 'Please show up.  Here.  In the tragedies.  In people's pain.  In me.'
And, in the days where all I read about is tragedies, and it's followed by everyone's memes about guns, and violence, and religions, and parents, I wonder how to be the person who stands on the side of love.  So I sit down and type something, hit post, and feel like it doesn't even come close to what I'm feeling.  The words are limiting.
Then, today, I wake up to another tragedy.  It plagues me all day long.  It ends with a family that will have to prepare a funeral for a little boy not much older than my own.  And, already the judgments start.  There are conversations about the parents,  and choices, and how much better we all are because nothing like that could ever happen to us.
I want to scream.  'BULL SHIT!'  Instead, I decide to rock my son before bed.  I cover him in kisses, and probably a few of my tears.  I lay him down, and watch him rubbing the tag of his blanket as his eyes droop.  And, I think of that other mom. 

I have decided that in tragedies, I'm going to take my example from Job's friends in chapter two.  They came, they sat, and they quietly grieved with him.  It was a beautiful thing.  They were literally just there.  When they started talking, offering their suggestions, telling him what he should be doing, that's when things started going poorly.  But, when they were there, it was beautiful.
I can't get to Orlando tonight to be with that mother.  Or the other mothers and fathers there preparing for funerals.  I can't go to the hospitals to be with the victims.  I'm not even sure how to be with some of the people who live in my city and are experiencing tragedies. 
But, I want to figure this out.  I want to put on my sackcloth, sit down, and just be there.  I want to mourn with all those who are mourning.  And, there are a lot right now.  Even if they'll never know some lady hundreds of miles away is sitting in her house, quietly joining in the mourning, I want to do this. 
Tonight, I will light a candle, and I will sit.  My one small flame may not make much difference.  But, then again, maybe some others will read this and choose to join me. Light a candle.  Sit.  Mourn.