Tag Archives: birth

His Strength Is Mine

2 Mar

It’s funny how life comes back around in cycles. I often find myself in the same place, learning the same lessons over again which I thought I had conquered years ago.

I guess your own history repeats itself. Nothing really changes, but everything does. The universe is more circular than we realize.

And our inner selves are in a continual cycle of growth. Death to self and rebirth. Everything comes back around.

I find myself on the other side of constantly questioning my faith, back into some kind of simplicity of what it means to be a Christian.

I rejected that title for so many years. Not because I ever stopped believing or loving Jesus, but mostly because of the people, the hurt, the reputation.

I spent years rejecting the religious side of church in order to get free. And I did. But it left a void. Jesus was still there, calling me into grace, but often I let the my own cynical voice drown him out.

Now, I feel like I am kind of starting all over. These are the days of simple songs and words. I can’t stomach another blog post on what’s wrong with the church, the same words I used to feed on and write.

I find myself going back to words I used to reject because of the memories connected to them.

Basics, that I come to see aren’t so basic after all.

Love God, Love People. 

Another freeing mantra that became a cliche. (Like all things do eventually.)

And this one, often:

Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. 

It roams in the back of my head, always, leaving tire tracks in the mud of my understanding.

I say it over and over until I believe it and even then, it’s like I can’t fully comprehend it.

But I know I am so weak. 

I feel this lately. Emotionally and physically exhausted. Just tired of feeling life isn’t going the way I thought it would.

I am so ready for a huge shift, a breakthrough, a big change. Something. 

I feel like I am drifting with no focus or direction. I grasp on to something familiar because that’s all I have.

Jesus. 

(Maybe this is the point.)

I think about how in less than 3 months my body will release my son, and we’ll get to meet him for the first time.

I am excited, terrified, in awe, unprepared.

My mind goes back to those scattered moments of my daughter’s birth nearly three years ago.

The intensity and prayer. The feelings so weak and so strong all at once.

Reaching the point of knowing there is no possible way I can do what I have to do, and then doing it. 

And my daughter suddenly being in my arms.

Knowing I don’t think I could have done it without my husband being there as my comfort and my coach.

He never once doubted my ability or our decision to birth naturally free of any interventions.

I think of his words, his love, the pressure of his hands, and how suddenly,  in the middle of my greatest weakness,

His strength became mine.

Then I remember a few days later in the lowest, darkest moment of our lives sitting on a bench outside of Cook’s Children’s hospital, our perfect, brand-new daughter hooked up to so many machines, drugs running through her body trying to help her breathe.

I remember my husband, this pillar of strength and faith in my life being so broken that it was like a physical punch in the face.

I wasn’t sure how I could hold him up in that moment, but somehow I did.

Somehow God’s strength never left me, and in the middle of a crisis,

I was able to lend him my strength. 

And suddenly, I know this truth and it warms and heals me deep down in a place that’s been left bruised and vulnerable:

When one with someone, you borrow each other’s strength

 

strength

Only I am one with the creator of the universe. One who is yesterday and tomorrow, light and love, power and strength.

And I know, all those words I memorized and whispered as a child that became cliche to me over the years are true.

True enough to shake the foundations of the universe and steady my crazy emotions and become real in every moment of my life.

With God, Nothing Is Impossible.

The Same Power That Defeated Death Lives In Me.

I Can Move Mountains.

His strength is mine. 

 

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All the Right Reasons- Thoughts on Pregnancy, Love & Staying Fit

14 Feb

I’ve always had a disdain for exercise. Maybe because I am not athletic, or because when I was younger  I didn’t think I needed it because I had a super high metabolism and could eat whatever I wanted and stayed skinny. Maybe it’s because it was forced on me when I attended a strict Christian program after High School that equated staying fit with spirituality.  Or maybe I am just lazy. I’d rather sit passively and observe. But I am not 19 anymore. And (thankfully) life isn’t just about me.

Today, on this rainy Valentine’s Day,  I was at the gym  and I had a sort of epiphany. I’ve been dragging myself there because I know I need it, because my husband is a personal trainer and encourages me to go, and honestly, because of the cheap childcare. I know it’s good for me, but it’s not really something I enjoy. In the past I made it a necessary evil, but a selfish one.  I thought maybe I could get my body back, feel good about myself, feel thin. But then I got pregnant again.

I realize Motherhood changes the shape and size of your body. It’s difficult at first. I catch my reflection in a full-length mirror or see the number on a scale and suddenly I don’t even recognize myself anymore. But then I remember that growing and sustaining life is a privilege and a miracle. And I know deep down, I don’t want to be skinny. I want to be strong. 

And today as I was on one of the leg machines, looking down at my belly, swollen with life, I realized I wanted to be there.

I want to be there because I don’t want labor just to happen to me, I want to prepare for it, like a marathon runner trains months in advance for the big day. I continue to try to exercise because I believe very strongly in natural childbirth. I believe it can be not only bearable but beautiful. I believe my son can come out my body smoothly, that it doesn’t have to be traumatic or something to dread.

Yes, I acknowledge that sometimes no matter how much we prepare, things happen.  I learned the painful lesson when my daughter was put in an ambulance and sent to the NICU 30 minutes after she was born— some things in life you just have no control over.

But I can prepare. I can pray. I can hope for the best. I can get my mind, spirit and body ready as much as I can.

I don’t have to just let and birth happen to me.

I have a choice the way my child comes into the world. I can be at peace. I can be strong. (I am strong.) I can make myself stronger. I can take captive every thought and fill my mind with beauty, peace and strength.

I think a large part of maturity means you realize you are in charge of your own life. But the conundrum lies in the realization that as much as you’re in charge, you’re not necessarily in control. It’s a grasping hard and letting go all at the same time. A pushing forward and a finally closing your eyes and resting. It’s a striving for the goal, yet understanding everything worth anything is a gift you can’t pay for.

It’s all about motivation really. I think that being strong is a much better motivation than trying to avoid weakness. Love always moves you farther than fear. It’s all the right reasons.

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“Because I want to,” always goes father than, “because I have to.”

So I’ll stay awake and active. I’ll let self-discipline not be something forced on me by some inner dark voice, but a light within me motivating me to never give up. Always keep moving forward. I’ll let it be fruit in my life that comes automatically from healthy roots, water and sun.

Because that’s what love looks like. It looks primarily like work, with emotions blindsiding us as an extra reward when we put the effort in. It looks like sweat, blood and tears. For all the right reasons.

The Three Births of Aurelia Claire

24 Jul

It’s close to four in the morning and I am awakened by the sound of my daughter crying. I slowly emerge out of a sleepy haze, rolling over to get out of bed. I pick my baby up out of her bassinet and try to comfort her. Her cry is loud now, reverberating across a silent house, her pink mouth wide open, waiting for me to feed her. For a moment I just want to drift back to sleep. Sweet, blissful sleep. I am then reminded of how just two weeks ago I longed so badly to hear her cry, and I would have traded every night of sound sleep just to hear her voice.

1.

It’s the sound we all hold our own breaths to hear, as a new baby enters our world and takes their first breath. My daughter struggled with hers, even after she let out her first glorious cry. For some reason we still don’t understand, her lungs never fully expelled the fluid inside them. She was born gasping for breath and we didn’t realize it at first. Everything about her looked alert and perfect, I couldn’t believe how flawless she was, not a wrinkle or imperfection.

I caught her myself after 10 hours of labor, 30 hours of water being broken, and 48 hours of no sleep. I pushed her out with a strength I didn’t think I had left, while on my hands and knees. I had already tried the relaxing birthing tub and every other position in the book, but her head was stuck, until that final, raw and real moment.  My midwife and birth team rushed to cover the beautiful wood floors with towels as Aurelia slipped into this world and into my arms.

I held her for an earth-shattering hour or so, the last time I would hold her until a week later.

The events after her birth were a gut-wrenching blur. Pure joy followed by overwhelming panic. She wouldn’t nurse, and showed signs of distress. She was given oxygen and a phone call was made. I got stitches. I rested in bed in the next room while medics wheeled in with the proper equipment to give my daughter the breath that she needed. It was storming hard outside, dark and foreboding. I couldn’t go with the ambulance, I wasn’t strong enough yet, I could barely stand. So my husband went. They rolled her into my room to say goodbye. I stood on shaky legs, holding onto the bed post, my vision blurring and blacking. I saw my precious baby hooked up like a science experiment, a pure, precious child inside of a machine with wires and tubes everywhere. I collapsed back on the bed sobbing.

No. This wasn’t our story.

I had just birthed a nearly nine pound baby with nothing to slow down the pain but my breathing. I have avoided hospitals my whole life, always gone “the natural way,” always assuming my body was fine and that it would fix itself. I believe very deeply God heals and protects. I rejected medical advise when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and opted to keep it in check myself through diet and exercise, which worked brilliantly. There were no complications and I was once again considered low-risk.

This NICU, this wasn’t our story.

I felt like I was in a bad dream when I finally arrived at the hospital. My father-in-law pushed my wheelchair through the endless maze of hospital corridors. I watched several cops run by us to a group of people standing at the end of a hall watching a man who was broken to pieces, yelling through his tears, “They told me he was alive!”

No. We didn’t belong here.

I was supposed to be enjoying the suite-like relaxing birth center, taking an herbal bath with Aurelia, eating a pancake breakfast in bed with my new, complete family.

We arrived to the hospital room with Louvier on the door, and there she was, hooked up to so many machines, sedated and far away from me like she never left my womb in the first place.

—————————————————–

the constant mechanical beeping reminds us

of these fragile lives

who came to earth to soon

hanging in the balance

a few numbers

determining survival

but the will to live is strong

it echoes through halls

if you tune out the dark

and choose to hear it

—————————————————

 

Everyone we met in the hospital had far worse stories than ours. Most couples had preemies who had been there for months. They had been traveling a long, hard road, and there seemed like no end to it. My heart broke every time I walked down the hall and heard the cries of those tiny infants, who often had no one to hold them besides busy nurses and an occasional emotionally frail parent who drove from a long distance away and could barely keep up with their lives back home.

I was humbled, every time I began to feel bad for myself. I know you can’t really downgrade your own pain by comparing your circumstances to others, it is still the most difficult thing I’ve ever been though. But I quickly saw the stark black and white difference my attitude and perspective made in my mood and my overall sanity.

Gratefulness became my lifeline, and as days passed there was more and more to be thankful for.

My baby got better every day. Every single thing they tested her for came back negative. There was no bigger issue, no abnormal development or defect. She was indeed perfect, she just had a rough start.

strong

The nurses changed every 12 hours. Most were excellent, a few were mediocre. One in particular, a cheery, round woman who had been working in the NICU for 25 years, was our own Mary Poppins, our angel. She came right in the middle of our stay and saw Aurelia as healthy and whole, and treated her so. She pushed the doctor to eliminate machines and slow down sedation drips. She even bent the rules so that I could hold my baby, even though I wasn’t supposed to because she still had an IV in.

2.

I walked into the room after one of my long, painful bathroom trips, and Mary Poppins was standing over Aurelia’s bed grinning. She had produced a festive red bow from her magic bag, and placed it on my baby’s sweet head. I stopped, choked up, staring at my baby who finally looked like a little girl, not just a sick child. I got situated in the oversized hospital recliner and the nurse placed Aurelia in my arms. That day was my “due date” and even though she came into the world the week before, I felt like she was being born all over again.

holding

Soon they removed the ventilator which had been keeping Aurelia silent. I waited for her cry, thinking it would happen immediately, but her poor voice box was all scratched from the tubes. A faint, hoarse noise slowly turned to a strong proclamation of life over the next 24 hours.

3.

Her “third birthday” happened a week later when the doctor finally declared her well and signed our discharge papers. We went home, exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion, knowing Aurelia had no medication, condition or even a diagnosis.

“Some babies just have a hard time transitioning,” our pediatrician who I nicknamed “the baby whisperer” explained when we went to our follow-up appointment. Aurelia screamed her lungs out to prove they worked, then calmed down immediately when he put her in a different position.

At home, we quickly fell into a routine and relaxed knowing that whatever normal, hard things we went through with adjusting to having a newborn, at least it wasn’t magnified in the hospital.

We were finally home.

———————————-

Hallelujah 

Every breath is a second chance

(Switchfoot)

———————————–

I don’t claim to know why things happen. I can’t justify the fact innocent babies suffer, and that while we have our happy ending, some in the NICU do not.

I do know that life is so unpredictable, no matter how well you plan and prepare you just never know what road you’ll have to walk down.

I know that you never know how strong you are until you are brought to your very weakest point.

I know that there is a transition that happens in that moment of utter brokeness:

His strength is made perfect in your weakness. 

I know that Grace and Comfort are there in that moment, and He is more real and tangible than the tears in your eyes and the pain in your heart.

I know that sometimes the smallest, more fragile looking things in life often carry the most strength.

And I know my girl has found her voice, and one day, the world will hear it.

 

 

Jean-Thomas wrote Aurelia this song when I was pregnant and sang it for her in the hospital. This was our Fourth of July celebration.

 

Beautiful girl in a beautiful world

Do you know just how much your worth?

Your dreams are already changing this earth

There is so much more you’re destined for 

There are those who’ll tell you you’re wrong

They will try to silence your song

But right here is where you belong

Take your dreams, sail away

 

You’re the dawn of a new day that’s breaking

A masterpiece still in the making

Blue in the ocean of grey

The birth of a star that sends darkness away

Be the hoper of hope far out of reach

Be the dreamer of dreams and impossible things

 

Though this world may try to define you

They can’t take the light that’s inside you

So don’t you dare try to hide

Let your fears fade away

 

You’re the dawn of a new day that’s breaking

A masterpiece still in the making

Blue in the ocean of grey

The birth of a star that sends darkness away

Be the hoper of hope far out of reach

Be the dreamer of dreams and impossible things

and impossible things

As the World Explodes with Love

21 May

 

I keep anticipating that moment

outside time

when my body releases yours

after it has held you so tight

and you become your own

 

but how can I anticipate

a bright star coming into existence

across a galaxy

 

how do I anticipate

seeing you

an oh-so-familiar stranger

part me

part the love of my life

part stardust

and fully you

 

and I’ll finally wake up

knowing fully well

that despite these fantastic

and extraordinary experiences

 

(backwards roads

upward waterfalls

circular emotion

upside-down love

infinite beauty)

 

they are faintly drawn lines

memories of someone else’s existence

when I think of participating

in giving life to you

 

and I’ll show you the light shining through the trees

and you’ll show me the endless skies you traveled from

we’ll be each other’s guides

across seas

beyond lands and galaxies

 

and I’ll teach you how to put words to these feelings

and you’ll remind me what it’s like to see the face of God

 

you’ll grow

and I’ll try my best to slow down time

and suddenly the universe will seem so small and wonderful

as the world explodes with love

 

 

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