The Race

It’s been a weird journey, and recovery in The Post Emergency C-Section Tunnel is the latest pit stop. My marriage, my motherhood, and my investment as a friend – every aspect of relationship – is in that dark place, the tunnel.

Sometimes I forget that I’m not all the way back. Not by a long shot… But I also cry a lot. Because it’s hard.

I feel like a million bucks in the morning and a million years old by early afternoon; and it’s hard, even though I prayed for this baby and wanted her for all these 7 years. Even when I resigned myself to the possibility that the motherhood part of my womanhood might be a memory and deeply mourned that change, I wanted this baby. But it’s hard, and I cry a lot.

Partially because of something I heard in a sermon recently: Experience reveals our weaknesses. And Hubby and I have never had a baby in our forties…7 years later, like starting over again. It is, in a lot of ways, like being first time parents again. Except, of course, in the ways that it isn’t, like in our being the parents of 3 other kids who’d settled into the reality of a family…of individuals – all with their own significant measure of independence.

Babies don’t want to leave you. This baby didn’t want to leave my womb, ostensibly. Babies want you and want to know you deeply, trust you instinctively, and need you for everything. Every day after birth, this baby will (as all babies do) grow away from her parents. From me. She’ll grow into her own significant measure of independence.

But today, she watched me do everything, and she wasn’t just happy to watch me…as I watched my phone or the tv; No, she wanted to stare into my eyes and imprint everything about me into her soul – my skin with its blotches, and my hair. Today it (the hair) was too messy to be seen pushing her in her stroller, even for the shortest walk. Today there are gray curls where they weren’t when we took the pregnancy test that confirmed she was coming.

Today, Experience has made me afraid of the very things of which I once dreamed, made me doubt the things that I felt anchored me.

But the thing about being at this pit stop of life, about being in the darkness of the tunnel…is you don’t know exactly where you are or, when you’re almost out. You don’t know til the light starts to blind you.

This is one of those pit stops along the race – one with the table full of cups of water and surrounded by the litter of all the people who made it there before you (SEE ALSO, II Timothy 4:7.) And just like in the race you’re envisioning – your 5k or, my half-marathon, you have to realize: It doesn’t matter who or how many made it there before you. It doesn’t matter who’s running beside you, who’s out in front, or who might be drafting you (in the unlikely event that that is even happening)… The race is yours. It’s personal. And the race I’m talking about is the one with a finish line in heaven, where Jesus Christ is Himself the light and there is no darkness, ever.

And this pit stop, no matter how tough a place to abide, has to be viewed in that light…so we keep looking up up toward and, listening for God.

How God Heals Us

I just thanked God. For all the “delivery systems” of His grace and love in my life… Even in the midst of the changes that scare me, and the doubts… As I watch the child who was the “baby” for 7 years seemingly come unanchored from all the certainty that made her the John in the parable of our relationship – the one who rested assured of the love of Jesus Christ for him… Loved ones who have observed us have asked aloud whether the former “baby” will become a “Lost Child.” Which is a nightmare, it should go without saying…

I have to listen, my heart breaking, to my children as they call out for me…before they remember that it’s Daddy whom they want now; because, he is the one who tends to their needs now. He’s the one who makes the lunches, as I recuperate from my Emergency C-section, hobbling around with my 3-5 month “pregnant,” deflating belly 2 weeks later. He waits outside with them for the bus and makes their meals and answers their incessant demands – the ones I miss now that they have been detoured away from me to my partner.

And my partner is tired of being primary caregiver to 4 children and a nagging, sickly wife. Even though I do blame him, in all honesty… Also, in all honesty, if it were the other way around after 2 weeks, I would go outside somewhere and leave my cell phone behind. Just so I could breathe and get a good whiff of freedom… I’d have to get away and pretend for a little while that things were normal, too.

Because we have not achieved that new normal yet. We’ve barely managed to keep our heads above water on this part of the water ride, y’all. But there is a glimpse of hope on the horizon that we follow doggedly, almost against our will. Christ in us must be pulling us toward that light the same way the new baby’s cries convince me to feed her again – through the pain.

And people bring us meals. They bring us gifts. They spend time with us and take the kids on fun missions that don’t focus on the new baby. They agree to take The Littles to activities that they otherwise would have missed. These acts of generosity and friendship and family represent the system by which God delivers His grace. His love… And they staple our transition wounds back together. They tape the openings closed where infection could otherwise seep in. These people that God has given to love and to care for us are one way that God heals us.

14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. 15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13 (New American Standard Bible.) That’s what came to mind as I thought about how, even as I doubt and fear for the future, I thank God – sacrifice of praise. I always feel like the speaking of what I know about God – even when it doesn’t feel good – changes my reality. So, I praise. I worship. I pray.

Messy Miracles

With no judgment – none from me in my postpartum messy soul and, none from anyone else… Because no one else knew… Well, in that condition 🤦🏽‍♀️ I drove during my c-section prohibition.

Only God got me home safe.

I went to church, arriving 5 minutes after the first service ended; that’s how I chose to rebel against Doctor’s orders.

Single moms “rebel,” because they have no partners to help.

Moms with other kids “rebel,” because there are needs beyond New Baby’s. Bedrest isn’t an option, and the helpful nurses and helpful drugs don’t come home with her from the hospital. Let me be clear ☝🏾 Mom Rebels are not 🙅🏽‍♀️the people rifling through Medela pump 🤱🏽kits for their nipple tops for personal use or financial gain 🤦🏽‍♀️🙍🏽‍♀️

I became a Mom Rebel, because I had a deadline to wellness: Hubby had ✌🏾 weeks before he had to return to work. The span between the end of Hubby’s parental leave and my due date was an incubation period during which I decided: You must force yourself from larva to full butterfly 🦋 . Your wings can be a little wet, but you have to be ready.

And that resignation meant to me: Straddle. A healing person shouldn’t straddle – that is, between Healing and Business As Usual. But I couldn’t be needy of anything when he returned to work for our family either, could I?

This thinking made me refuse to push nurse call lights so I would have to do…whatever…alone. I refused to use the bars in the powder room to leverage my weight… Because there are no such bars in our bath; I wouldn’t have that help, and I didn’t want to teach myself to rely on temporary help.

But…I’m a milky, sweaty mess. My emotions are mercury, racing through me without boundaries or alarms. I slide from one to another without warning. And I can’t make my family and friends into appendages of my actual body; so, what I want to get done and will to be done…are just frustrating dreams drowning in the impotence that comes with physical limitations.

As I said, I’m a mess. My family dynamics are a mess. It’s falling apart. But I believe it will grow back up – into a New Order of Family.

Here, too – between what my eyes tell me and the future for which faith gives me hope – is another painful straddle.

Now faith is the conviction concerning those things that are in hope, as if it were these things in action, and the revelation of those things that are unseen…

Hebrews 11:1 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English.)

 

 

Thought for a Cloudy Day

Someone close to me said she thought – in the wake of my Emergency C-section – I was probably feeling very reflective, which was true; but, being reflective is not situational for me. That is, unless that means: I’m reflective about every situation.

Yes, the C-section makes me see things through the fog of gratitude: When we’re driving down the middle of the city, I don’t see individual stores and wonder what groceries we need… Or note the movie theater and think about seeing the most recent movie. 

Nope. I’m just rolling down the window and breathing in the warm, late summer air. The buildings are a pleasantly familiar blur against the blue sky horizon. Because situations have forced everything into focus and filled my hands with the actually important things. All the other things have been forced out of focus by hardship, gratitude, and the realization that God has indeed been answering our prayers – even as the sun was hidden behind the clouds. As our expectations proved to be useless and fantastic…

The older I get, the more I see and fear death. That song keeps playing in my head – the one about looking back and realizing 🎵 these are the good old days 🎶 ..? Have you heard it?

Even if you haven’t, people are getting old. They’re getting sick. Their beautiful expectations are being bulldozed down to a pile of scary prognoses and prescription drugs. Nevertheless, the best is not in the rear view for me and mine – as Believers in the name of Jesus Christ, who have been made spiritually alive and free by God’s grace.

No, the future is where heaven and unadulterated connection with God on every level exists.

If this right here was As Good As It Gets…what a sad joke that would be. No amount of living for the moment and hedonism would be able to stand against the fallen and broken nature of this part of life, of this side of heaven.

In the midst of big emotions and fallen reality… Where you find yourself at the edge of dark, thunderous water and your fears feel like fate, God will meet you and be your refuge. As the devil stabs down toward you like rare meat on a plate, he will miss…as you are hidden.

Our souls tell us that we’re going down when we’re up against it – when we look around and see wreckage with our eyes. But our spirits know: God is everything, the only real thing. It’s not that what our souls see and what we know in the Spirit share space within us peacefully. No, there’s very real conflict. And God is okay with the earthquakes this dissonance causes inside us, where doubt and anger and depression and regret rise up through the fault lines.

But like that line out of Mission Impossible, God is the storm – not the cause of the rain, but the only One with authority to still it.