Category Archives: Writings

Messy

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I wrote this entry about a month ago and meant to come back and finish and post it.  Yeah, that didn’t happen. ha! So I just logged on today and saw it and figured that even though I never “finished” it, maybe it was still worth sharing.  Mostly because the head/heart space I was in when i wrote it feels so long ago.  The feelings of sadness and regret I had are now just memories in my journal.  Not to say the situation has been fixed or everything is perfect, but rather that God has been faithful and has not let go of me, and that His presence has changed everything.  It always does.  But anyways.  Here’s what I was going through (and sometimes still am).  And here’s to a New Year with the same, unchanging, ever-present, faithful God!

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These last couple of weeks have been a little rough for me.  15 days ago we moved into a new house, a house that I have been building some dreams on.  Tired of moving every couple of years, I dreamed this house would be one we could settle into for the long haul.  And by long haul, I mean a good 5-10 years……that’s long for us!  And to say my expectations were high is a huge understatement.  In my head I had visions and ideas and plans for what this house would be.  And they all involved words like “perfect” and “beautiful” and “cozy”.

And then we moved in.

And no, it’s not like the roof caved in or the basement flooded.  But instead my expectations collided with reality and the dreams turned out not to be as prettily crafted as they were in my head and a deep sense of sadness and disappointment set in.  One I couldn’t shake.  One I couldn’t seem to pray away.  One I couldn’t forget about or talk it out with a friend about.  One that just buried itself deep in my heart and took root.  And let me tell you – that disappointment, that feeling of regret…….it’s very ugly.  And in all honesty I am so ashamed of it.  Of myself for allowing my JOY to be stolen by something as silly and temporary and materialistic as a house.  Because in my soul I know where my home lies, and it is no where near this spinning blue and white planet.  But my attitude and my actions were not lining up with that knowledge.

And this all caused a new wave of shame to roll in – shame for feeling the way I was feeling……my disappointment, my ungratefulness, my materialism.  Now shame is not something to mess with because, at least for me, it puts up a wall, a barrier between me and God.  I allow my sin, my embarrassment, my shame to cause me to run and hide from God.  Feelings of unworthiness creep in and I know all too well that I don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness and grace…….not me- the girl who is complaining about a beautiful new home, which keeps my family warm and safe,  but is just “not perfect”.

But thankfully, even in the midst all these negative feelings, my heart has been able to mumble out a cry or two to God – a weak little cry – but a cry He hears nonetheless.  And over the past two days He has reminded me of HIS glory, of WHO He really is, and WHO I really am in HIS presence.  And in God’s presence, at the throne of the Creator of this universe, the Holiest of the Holies, the only One who is sinless and pure……in His eyes He sees no sin.  In front of my God, shame has NO place.  Sure, I am still a sinful person who will continue to mess up and be ungrateful and bratty and selfish at times, but since I have claimed the blood of Christ as a gift of grace, God does not see my sin.  He only sees the REDEMPTION of the cross and I have no reason to feel anything other than freedom.  Freedom to mess up, freedom to just be myself – not who I think I should be – , freedom to go to God even when I fail.

And this makes me fall in love all over again with the beautiful Gospel of Christianity.  I know it’s a faith that often raises lots of questions for people, and believe me, I’ve been there too.  But the deeper I get into it and the longer I walk this path, the harder I fall for the story of Christ.  One of my absolute favorite things about Christianity is the fact that God does not expect us to be perfect – just the opposite – He expects us to be a mess (which of course we always live up to that expectation- ha ha!),  and He happily walks right into that mess with nothing but open arms, love, and forgiveness.

I often still get caught up in this world and I think I have to get myself together before I come to God……think my mistakes are too dirty for His presence. And of course they are without Christ.  But with what Christ has done for me, I need to never fear.  I can come to God in all my mess, in all my sin, in all my shame and He will love me, remind me of who I am, and redeem me.  So thankful for a Creator who walks in the midst of our mess and sees only love.

Stretched

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Scrounging around my computer for a document to send to a friend and I stumbled on some old writings from a couple years back.  Love how God puts things in our path for us to hear in a seemingly random, yet I know it’s not-so-random, way.  This is what I found.  And honestly, I think I need to be reminded of this truth more now than when I originally wrote it.  Anyways.  Thought I’d share.  Especially in case there is anyone out there who needs to be reminded of who you really are.  Because it can be easy to lose sight of in this crazy, crazy, not-my-home world.

 

Stretched

There are days when I feel as though I am stretched out as far as I can go without completely breaking. Like that rubbery piece of cheese that strings out between your lips and the hot pizza slice – growing ever so thin and wispy the further you pull it, until it finally breaks in two. Sometimes the day feels as though it is always on the verge of that split.

 I am a mother, which means I am everything to everyone. The snack provider, the laundry cleaner, the spill picker-upper, the story time teller, the milk giver, the time-out punisher, the grocery list maker, the nursery song singer, the scraped knee kisser…..I am it all. And this is just for the babes. I am also a wife and a daughter and a friend and a sister and a granddaughter and a neighbor and a stranger. And of course those titles come with their own list of chores.

 But truly, in the end, amidst all the chaos and stretching, I am just me. Because the truth is this – I really am not everything to everyone. Never have been, never want to be. Or pretend to be.

 At the end of the day I am His. I am just a sinner. A redeemed sinner. A white-as-snow sinner. I am a daughter to the King. A treasure to my Savior. He nourishes me when I am tired of nourishing everyone else. He cleans my spirit when I am tired of dealing with all the messes. He loves me when I am tired of loving the world.

 It is His relentless love that keeps me from breaking on those days I feel so stretched. And for this I am thankful.

Vulgar Grace

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For whatever reason, last night I decided to clean up all the websites I had bookmarked on my computer.  A technological version of spring cleaning perhaps??? Anyways – while I found mostly old junk I didn’t need anymore, I did stumble upon this really great article from a while back.  It sums up the life, faith, and written works of Brennan Manning.  Even though I’ve never read any of his books, I really, really want to!!  The article is good and you can read it here, but what I love, love, LOVED was an excerpt from Manning himself:

My life is a witness to vulgar grace — a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wage as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party, no ifs, ands, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request — “Please, remember me” — and assures him, “You bet!”…This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough

Sin and forgiveness and falling and getting back up and losing the pearl of great price in the couch cushions but then finding it again, and again, and again. Those are the stumbling steps to becoming Real, the only script that’s really worth following in this world or the one that’s coming. Some may be offended by this ragamuffin memoir, a tale told by quite possibly the repeat of all repeat prodigals. Some might even go so far as to call it ugly. But you see that doesn’t matter, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand…that yes, all is grace. It is enough. And it’s beautiful.

Dang!  Does that not make you fall just a bit more in love with our heavenly Father??  I love how he says God’s grace is one that offends…..for the worker in the field all day, maybe it does; but for the dying sinner on the cross, it’s nothing short of amazing.  To me this is one of the biggest doctrines of Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions  – the fact that God demands no works or good behavior as payment for the gift of His grace.  It’s given completely freely and without discrimination.  The pious nun who is virtually sin free in the world’s eyes is loved just as much as the heroine addict convicted of murder.  And both are offered the same gift.  And no amount of their good work gets them any closer to that gift, nor their bad behavior any further away.  It makes no sense and can offend our humanistic “earn-and-get-what-you-deserve” mentality.  Seriously – what kind of god does that??!! Only one who is completely holy, fully compassionate, and unconditionally loving. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.  Oh I love that! To have a God, a creator, I can’t fully understand.  But what tiny part I do understand is that His grace is good and I’m desperate for it and I’m going to take it and claim my place as his fully forgiven, fully loved daughter.  In all my mess and ugliness I am loved by the King of Kings and His grace IS enough!

Hope you have a good weekend and that you know and accept and experience the beautifully vulgar grace that is freely offered to you!

Ramblings on the fat guy in the red suit….

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I apologize in advance if this post seems a bit “Grinchy”, but here goes……

Lately I’ve been feeling sort of heavy about Christmas.  Now I’m not talking about the real Christmas…..not at all! That one makes my heart swell – in joy, anticipation, gratitude.  That one makes my mind race – “what can I do? where can I help? how can I share?……”

No.  The Christmas I’m talking about is the one where people camp out for days before Thanksgiving under parking lot lights, all in hopes of saving some bucks on the newest gotta-have gadget.  The one where coupons and advertisements for more “stuff” bombard my mailbox daily, making me go on a scavenger hunt for Christmas cards from loved ones.  It’s the Christmas where I hear pop singers belt out a beautiful verse of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and I wonder if they really believe the words they are singing – Remember Christ our Saviour was born upon this day –  or are they just trying to get airtime during the holiday months?

Honestly I never thought about a lot of this stuff before these last couple of years.  I just “did” Christmas like I always had.  Gave lots of gifts to family and friends.  Shopped too much.  Spent too much.  Stayed too busy.  Squeezed in a church service here and there…..you know, so I could remember what it was really all about.

But then I read this book, and my heart shifted a bit.

And then I started attending this church.  And they’re all about service.  How can I serve my community? How can I help my neighbors? How can I not just talk about God’s love, but act on it?  Geez! It was like they actually wanted me to do the things this guy always talked about.

And then I became good friends with this girl.  And she’s all about coming up with new ideas for doing less for ourselves and more for others.  For getting the spotlight off of our selfish desires and putting it where it belongs…..on the King of Kings.  And she’s real about it – never high and mighty……a soapbox nowhere in sight.  Kind of humble actually.  The kind of humility that pulls you in and wants you to get in on whatever she’s doing. Which isn’t really about her of course.  It’s all about Him.

And ahhhh yes…..Him.  Jesus.  The one who owns my heart.  The one who continually draws me near, no matter what I’ve done.  The one who generously gives an endless supply of joy, forgiveness, peace, and grace.  All those words that seem so weak when I type them, and yet the power they have over my life is so strong.  I know no other way to describe Him.  But He is mine and I claim him as my savior.  And the celebration of his birth is the reason I get excited for Christmas.

And now I find myself questioning something I never thought in a million years I would ever think twice about (don’t want to be one of those people, ya know?) –  Santa Clause.  You see, I have a sweet little 4 year old girl.  My beautiful Bailey girl.  And she’s got this inquisitive little brain that soaks up most everything thrown its way from the annoying Calliou theme song to the way I discipline her younger sister. (Which yes, she likes to think she’s a mama sometimes and tell her little sis, “No throwing your food! You go to time-out!”).  And now it’s Christmas time and the Santa stuff is starting…..the questions and the explaining.

And please, PLEASE, do not think I have anything against the big fat jolly guy in the red suit. I don’t!  And please, PLEASE, don’t think I’m judgmental about families who fully support the Santa stuff. I’m not!  And like I said, never thought I’d be questioning it myself, but here I am.  Questioning the whole point and validity of Santa.

For one thing, I really, really don’t want my girls to grow up and get all caught up in the materialism of the world.  Thinking they need certain “things” to be happy or fulfilled.  Thinking they must have what everyone else around them has.  Thinking it’s all about them and they’re entitled to more stuff, stuff, stuff.  Ugh!  All that makes my stomach turn.  And it’s not that we don’t give them gifts- we do at the right times and for special occasions of course- but it’s not one of the main ways we show them our love.  Not at all.

So if I don’t want to materially spoil them, then why have the Santa story?  I mean, here’s a guy who comes down the chimney to shower you with presents just because?  And sure, I know I could do the whole “but you have to be good, he’s watching you….” thing to ensure they act good to get presents.  But doesn’t that message entirely go against the belief system I want to instill in their hearts?  Here- be good and you can “earn” good things….all about works and merit.  And Santa’s always watching.  But that’s not what I believe.  I believe the only one always watching is Christ.  And He gives NOT based on works and good deeds, but entirely on free and undeserved grace.

And listen, I know I am delving WAY too deep into all this and thinking WAY too much about it.  I know.  But these thoughts are here in my heart and head and I can’t quite shake them.

And I also know that Santa is just for fun and a good story and why take that excitement away from the girls.  And I hear that argument in my head and it logically makes sense.  But then I think “But isn’t the real story just as exciting?  Even more so???  Is the birth of our Savior so dull that we need another invented one just to make the holidays fun and full of meaning??”  To me, Santa just seems to be another method of plugging the “me-me-me” mentality of America and its materialism.  And another way to pull the attention off of what really matters.  Or rather, who really matters.  And Bailey is at the age of taking it all in and forming her opinions of the world and of herself.  If that’s the case, why not feed her just the truth?  Why cloud her little mind with a lie that does nothing to promote any of the values or beliefs that we hope she one day takes as her own?

Again- probably over-thinking it.  I know.  But here are some of the facts…..a sort of comparison in my feelings about things that center over the “Santa” Christmas, versus the real Christmas:

  • On the same day my mom asked for a Christmas wish list from us, we got this in the mail.  Gotta admit- coming up with things we wanted was much less exciting than choosing between a pig or a cow.  And the stark contrast between our list of toys and books and their list of medical supplies and clean water……yeah, that cut me right to the core.
  • Starting this year we’ve set a limit of 3 gifts per girl for Christmas.  It’s what Jesus got, so why should they get more??  And honestly, it’s been way more fun shopping for those 3 gifts than for the 10ish or so gifts I got each of them last year. (We are also getting them 3 little stocking stuffers, so i guess it’s more like 6).
  • I’ve been spending less time in the stores this year and more time planning a party to benefit this place.  And though I’m a typical girl who loves to shop (really, i do!) –  coming up with party ideas to help out these girls has been way more fun!
  • Getting excited to put my love for baking (with Bailey!) to use and hand out some cookies to some of our neighbors.  A lot of them are elderly and live alone, so I hope seeing our munchkins and eating some homemade goodies will make their day.  I’m sure it’ll make mine! (and my hips will thank me for not hoarding all the sweets like i usually do) 🙂

I’m really not sharing all this to show what amazing things I am doing in the world.  Ha – hardly! Number one- nothing I’m doing is really all that amazing.  And number two – if anything, it’s really sad that after calling myself a Christian for almost 2 decades, I’m just now beginning to truly understand what that means in regards to serving and being obedient to His will.  But praises to Him, that He never gives up and is constantly teaching and leading and giving us chance after chance.

But all this to say, I think it’s easy for Christmas to become an overly-busy, overly-materialized, overly-stressed out time of the year where our focus is taken off Him and totally put in the wrong place- us!  And I’m just now starting to find ways to really enjoy the true joy of the holiday- of celebrating the Christ King.  The one who comes, not to give us more “stuff” because we’re good or because we deserve it, but rather to give us Life Abundant!  And just because He loves us!  And where Santa fits into all that…..I don’t know yet.  Steve and I are still talking about it and trying to figure it out.  I’m thinking maybe I’ll do some research on the real St. Nicholas and we’ll put that slant on it for the girls.  Maybe.  Or maybe we’ll just hardly bring it up at all, like we’ve been doing this year, and instead just focus on baby Jesus in the manager and share that story with her in any way we can.  Or maybe we’ll just give up on Santa completely.  We’ll see…..

So what are your thoughts on all this?  How do you celebrate Christmas?   How do you keep the holidays from getting off focus and overwhelming?  What sort of traditions do you have?  What do you do with the whole Santa thing, if you’re a Christian?  I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say……

P.S. – my friend Melanie shared this link that expresses what i was trying to say in this post. just way more concisely and elegantly! 🙂 – read if you get a chance! Christmas vs. Christmastime

You can be free right where you’re at

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Today I attended the most beautiful wedding.

There was no white gown.  No bridesmaids.  No five-course meal. No extravagant flower arrangements.

Just a simple blue dress and a small white bouquet.  An altar.  A minister.  A man and a woman.

He was an ex-convict who spent 23 year behind bars.  Ran away from home at the age of 8.  Started living on the streets with a bag lady who taught him how to dig in dumpsters for food, break into cars for shelter.  It only went downhill from there.  Drugs, stealing, vandalism.  In prison he was nicknamed “Chaos”. Living up to that title got him solitary confinement for most of his days.  His head swarmed with anger, pain, resentment, and apathy.

One day while pacing among the cinder blocks, he heard there was an open invite to a prison chaplin.  He decided to go.  Not to hear any message, but to get away from his 23 hours-a-day loneliness.  The chaplin played his guitar.  The song was “Purple Haze”.  He wished he had some drugs with him so he could enjoy the experience more.   At the end of the music, the chaplin came up to him and said, “You can be free right where you’re at.”

“Free” and “prison” and “solitary confinement” are words that don’t really go together.  The chaplin’s proclamation puzzled him.

Days later he found a scrap of paper with a church address on it.  He decided to write.  Two weeks later and an elderly pastor walked through the prison gates.  For the first time, he had a visitor.  The pastor had no idea how his church’s address ended up within those prison walls.  No one in his church had ever written to an inmate there.  The pastor shared his faith.  “Chaos” listened.  And for the first time, his heart was pricked.  Tears, confession, an invitation into his dark soul.

“Chaos” was no longer.  He was free.  Right where he was.

Prayers and the Word change everything.  The prison guards whom he use to fight against started turning to him, asking for guidance.  The old was made new, the broken restored.

8 years later and he was released from prison.

She, dark curls and a big, warm smile, was a lost wanderer with nowhere to go.

They soon met and realities set in.  No jobs. No place to live.  No money.  They lived out of their car bouncing around through 17 states trying to find hope.

In the fall of 2010, if found them.

Their car finally broke down in the Asheville Walmart.  There they lived for weeks.  Then they came to New Life.  They were welcomed.  They were accepted for who they were.  They were helped.  They were loved.

A year passes and now they are living in an apartment, starting a new life together.  The past is truly in the past.

And today they joined their lives together through the divine union of marriage. The ceremony was short, the decorations were simple, the hearts were humble.  And it was the most beautiful wedding.  Because in it, His grace, His forgiveness, His freedom outshone any love that a man and a woman can have for one another.  And that was beautiful.

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Want to hear the prisoner’s journey to freedom through his own words?

New mommy confessions

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My sister-in-law just had her first baby.  A beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL!) baby boy named Hunter.  I’ve only been able to see him via cyberspace, but I am already in love.  Big dark eyes, chubby cheeks, full fluffy brown hair.  Perfect.  And being the older sister, I am already relishing my role as an Aunt.  He will be loved and spoiled and cared for to pieces by me.  And not only that, but my heart also bursts when I think of all the joy and fun and craziness that is in store for my brother and sister-in-law.  I love them both so much, and knowing they are experiencing and will continue to experience the unfathomable love of a parent/child relationship……it just brings me so much happiness.

But with all those mushy, lovey-dovey, cuddly feeling going on, there are also the feelings of being new parents.

I’ve talked to my sister-in-law a few times since little Hunter has been born.  And while much of the conversation consists of describing his perfect features and his sweet sounds and her desire to just sit and stare and soak him all in for the rest of eternity, there have also been a few moments of, “Wow!  This. Is. Hard.”

And yes.  Yes, it is.

When she described all her completely normal “I’m-taking-care-of-a-brand-new-8-day-old-human-being-and-I-have-NO-idea-what-I’m-doing”experiences, I just comforted her as best as could saying, “Oh yes! I have been there!” (and still am sometimes!).

She responded saying something to the effect of “Oh but you make it look so easy!”

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! (in case you don’t know, that’s the resounding manical laugh that went on in my head when she said that. and  in some small corner of my brain that little laughter is still cackling.)

Now for me, I try not to use this blog as a space for complaining or being negative or anything like that.  Not because I am perfect or because life is always so grand and wonderful and nothing bad ever goes on, but just because for me, I would rather focus on the positives here in cyberworld.  But that doesn’t mean I want to be fake or ignore the sad/difficult/stressful times.  It’s just that when I have those thoughts and moments and situations, I usually call up friends or family to vent and talk it out.  If your name is Amy, Mandy, Mom, Tomi, and a few others, you can probably attest to the fact that I’m not always so “sunshiney”. ha!  But I want to be real.

And according to most Mommyblogs and Facebook albums, parenthood can look like a perfect breeze.  Kids are always smiling, their outfits are always so cute and polished, and everything they do is perfect and adorable.  Heck, looking through my own blog/FB pictures, if I were a stranger, I might think that about my own life! (blogs and FB are so weird i think…..but that’s another post for another time!) But while the good stuff may be true some of the time, that is definitely NOT reality!  In reality there are many tears.  Many emotional breakdowns.  Many messes.  And some yelling.  And I’m just talking about the moms here. 🙂

Seriously though- being a parent is SO difficult.  I mean it’s good and wonderful and very much worth it.  But it is hard too!  And in the very beginning, it is extra, extra hard!  At least for me it was.  Both of my girls were extremely fussy babies the first few months.  They cried A LOT.  And slept very little.  Bailey had awful colic and there were some moments when all I could do was place her in her crib, shut the door, and go to my bed and lie down for a few minutes and cry.  Just to get away from the nonstop screaming.

And as much as we love our little ones the second they arrive, there is still a huge “getting to know you” period.  How they like to be held.  What kind of diaper cream works for them.  The best way to lull them sleep.  What types of food you can/can’t eat so your breastmilk doesn’t make them gassy.  Which way to swaddle them so they sleep longer at night.  The list goes on and on. And just like any relationship, that getting to know you period is an adjustment.  And it can be a steep learning curve fill with lots of mistakes and questions and doubts.

And in the midst of all this learning and trial and error and figuring your new little baby out, you are also immensely exhausted.  Not just tired, like I need to go take a little 30 minute snoozer.  But rather “I could sleep into the next decade and still not be refreshed” kind of tired.  Never underestimate the power of sleep deprivation! It makes the baby’s cries seem louder, your body feel more sore, and any little comment from anyone sound more harsh and critical than it was ever intended to be.

Finally, on top of all the crying and fun little getting-t0-know-you games and exhaustion, is also the hormones.  Oh yes, the hormones.  They truly can make you feel like you’ve got the emotional stability of a house of cards.  One little breeze can make your sanity all fall down. 🙂

Of course the good news is that it does usually get better.  It just takes lots of time and lots of help from family and friends.  And knowing that you are not alone in your new mom experiences helps.  Knowing that you aren’t a bad mom because you can’t stop your baby from crying.  Or just because the crying can snap that last exhausted nerve you’ve got left at 2:15 a.m, doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby.  It all just means you are normal and human and worn out and that you’re a new mom!

Of course I’m sure there are those moms out there who had perfect little babies from day one who never made a sound and who slept though the night the second they left the hospital.  And for those moms, I’m extremely jealous happy.  hee hee! Every kid is different and doing the “let’s compare myself to this mom” routine is never a good idea! 🙂

Anyways- if you’ve managed to read through this super long post, and if you’re a mom, would you answer this question for me: What was your beginning, new-mom experiences like?  I mean the very, very beginning- first month of baby’s life.  If you don’t mind, share it with me- the good, the bad, the ugly!  I think the more honest we are about it all- the struggles and the triumphs – the easier it is to relate and not feel so alone in the world of parenting.  And is there anything you wish you knew ahead of time that might have made those beginning weeks a little easier? On the baby and on yourself? Anything you share would be great……i love hearing others’ stories- they are such an encouragement!

Georgia’s Birth Story- Part 3

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If you have read this never-ending story, then congratulations! You have FINALLY made it to the end! 🙂  You deserve about 18 gold stars! ha!  Like I said, I never meant to make it so long, but I just started writing and couldn’t stop.  Thank-you for reading it and for the encouraging words……they mean a lot!  I love to write, but I’m always afraid when others read my stuff, they’ll just hear Charlie Brown’s teacher “wha, wha, wha-ing….” in their head.  (sorry if you did happen to hear that! 🙂 ) And sorry it took me so long to finish posting it.  I really wasn’t trying to be all dramatic and leave you hanging (not quite that clever!), but I just recently got 2 new part-time jobs and have seriously had zero free minutes to do much blogging.  But training period is almost over and I’m hoping things will settle down soon so I can come up for air.  But anyways.  Here’s the very last of my little Georgia’s birth story.  After this I plan on doing a post of her birthday party we had last week.  It was so much fun and she devoured her cake- so many messy pics to come! 🙂

Georgia’s Birth Story- Part 3 

The operating room it is.

And it’s ok. After hearing “3 centimeters” for most of the day, I’m not surprised. At this point I just want my baby in my arms. I have no energy left and can tolerate no more pain. Pain with progress, maybe. Pain like this? No. And to drink some water……to drench this sandpaper tongue!

But just because the decision for a c-section has been made, it doesn’t mean it’s happening right then. I expect that because my quest for a natural birth has come to an end, so will the pain. Not true. Dr. Q. must be paged, paper work must be signed, clothes changed, the nitty-gritty. And in the midst of all that, the contractions continue, the tightening as strong as ever. Before I had a goal, my mind made-up, an ounce of determination to help get me through it all. But now? Now I’m defeated. Who knew how much that iron will bore each contraction? Kept me somewhat centered and together. Now I am truly loose at every end. Unraveled from the hurt of this baby trying to come out through a body that won’t budge.

I resort to crying and whining. Tears to deal with the hurt, pleads to anyone who will listen to hurry up this procedure.

“When will I get the shot?” I ask over and over again. “How much longer?” The shot that I remember from Bailey’s birth. The one that comes out of a long needle and goes in my back and makes everything from my stomach down numb. The one I have to sign a release paper for that acknowledges the chance of paralysis if it goes wrong. Or worse. Before I was so scared of signing that paper, so scared of feeling numb. Or worse. But now I can’t get a pen in my hand fast enough.

After what feels like forever, but in reality is more like 45 minutes, a new face walks through the door and I am rescued! It’s the anesthesiologist! The shot-giver! My savior from all this pain!! And what??!! It’s also the dude from that show “The Doctors”! No seriously! The good-looking one who looks more like he belongs on a daytime soap opera rather than a panel of degree-ed professionals who answer questions about immunizations and cholesterol. It really is him! At least I think so? But when I whisper to my mom and ask for her opinion, she just laughs and says, “Yeah, he kind of looks like him.” The pain must be messing with my head more than I realize, because I swear it’s the guy from T.V.

He introduces himself and explains the process of the anesthesia. For the life of me I can’t remember his name. But I do know that somewhere in his little speech I catch the word “intern”.

“What?!” I ask, suddenly perking up out of the pain-induced blur I’ve been in for the past hour. “You mean you’re not a real doctor?”

I am never one to be so blunt or forward or to question authority in such a manner. I don’t Google my sicknesses or try to self-diagnose myself on WebMD; I don’t even pay that much attention to all those scary 20/20 shows that try to convince everyone they’ve contracted some rare, tropical disease. I generally trust my doctors and all the zillions of years of schooling they’ve had. But all of a sudden I am on edge with this Doctor Look-alike Intern.

“What do you mean you’re just an intern? Have you ever done this before??!!”, I ask, not hiding my panic very well. This is so not like me.

He explains that he is an intern, but he’s done this procedure many, many times, and then assures me that a fully certified doctor will be there the whole time observing and helping out.

I listen and accept that this is how things are going to be, but my worry doesn’t subside.

It’s about 8:30 now and Kristen informs me that Dr. Q is ready for me. Time to make the trek to the O.R.

I’m more than ready to go and am about to jump off the bed and into the wheel chair they have prepared for me, when all of a sudden Mom says, “Wait! Can we have a minute to pray?”

Thank goodness for Mom! I had been so out of it the last hour, so ready to just have this baby, that I hadn’t thought much about what a sacred experience we’re about to have.

The room empties and it’s just me, Steve, Mom, and Kristen. The lights are dim, we hold hold hands, close eyes, and Mom leads us in a prayer. Thanking God for his protection, asking for peace, asking for a safe delivery, praising him for the gift of our baby. Amen. It’s impossible to hold back the tears now. But these are different. Not coming from pain, but coming from joy and gratitude.

I give Mom one last hug as I climb into the wheelchair, ready for Kristen to lead the way for me and Steve. Mom is the only one we have waiting for us at the hospital- Grandmom is at the apartment with Bailey, Dad will be up from Georgia the next day, and Steve’s parents are flying in from Colorado in a few days. As Kristen pushes us down the hallway I worry for Mom. Wonder how tough it must be for her to be the only one in the waiting room hoping to hear good news. I pray the time passes quickly for her and that she doesn’t worry too much.

We finally get to the end of the hall and those double doors are waiting for me. I kiss Steve goodbye, knowing he has to wait outside the O.R. while I get the anesthesia. I know it’s only for a few minutes, but I can’t wait till he’s beside me again, holding my hand….. my lifeline in the midst of all the strange nurses and sterile hospital equipment.

The doors open and immediately I jolt upright as all the bright, fluorescent lights hit me. I had been used to the quiet, dim setting of the labor room, and now here I am again, the place I had been hoping to avoid ever since I found out I was pregnant all those months ago: the operating room. Everything feels harsh and cold, metallic and white, noises clicking and echoing off the bare walls , half a dozen strangers mulling about their medical duties. I feel so alone and so scared and I begin to cry again. The weight of the past 18 hours pulls me down. My hopes were raised and now I feel like a failure. Like I gave up. All that time, all that pain, and it’s just wasted. Here I am again, back on the operating table. Drugs, so many strangers around, and who knows how long before I get to hold my baby. I just let all the emotions out and cry, not caring who sees or what anyone thinks. No one seems to mind.

I somehow manage to get seated on top of the operating table and the Intern comes over. Dr. Q is there, and so is Kristen. It’s time for the shot. I am instructed to hunch over, and push into Kristen as the Intern injects the numbing medicine into my spine. It only hurts for a second, just a little pinch, and then I am laid down flat onto the table as everyone starts getting me prepped for the surgery.

I try to zone out, let the anesthesia sink into my body, and pray to God that everything will be all right. The pain from the contractions ends quickly and for the first time in 18 hours, I feel I can somewhat relax and breath. Everything is going to be ok.

Dr. Q’s face is there, hovering over my body, and he’s being so gentle and nice. He knows what a rough day it’s been . I can’t remember what we talk about, but somehow he calms me down. Kristen is there too, offering her continual support. I worry about her, hoping she’s not too tired from being with me all day. I mean, she is pregnant herself.

About 15 minutes pass and Dr. Q. tells me they are almost ready. He just needs to check me over and make sure the anesthesia is working well. Good idea! Don’t really want to feel my stomach being cut in two!

He prods my belly here and there and asks if I feel anything.

“No……no…….no…….still nothing.”

More prodding.

“Oh wait! I do feel you there. On my right side. Now you’re moving up…….yes, still feel you”.

Uh-oh. This can’t be good.

“Ok, let’s lift the table and give her another 10 minutes to let the anesthesia go into effect,” instructs Dr. Q.

“What’s going on? Is everything ok?” I ask, feeling the tears crawl up my throat.

“We just want to make sure you can’t feel anything. So we’re going to give the anesthesia more time to work. Just to make sure.” Kristen is trying to be reassuring, but it’s not working.

The lower end of the table, where my legs are, begins to lift upwards. Kristen explains this will help the drug flow more quickly over my body. Time passes slowly and everyone just goes about their business, all busy with one thing or another. I feel so helpless and stuck. Nothing to do, no where to go. What’s wrong with me? With my body? First I don’t contract enough to get my baby out, now I’m not handling the anesthesia like I’m suppose to. I’m just messing everyone’s day up. I just want everything to be ok. God, please let this be over soon.

I guess it’s been 10 minutes because they begin to lower the table.

“Ok, that should do it,” says Dr. Q. “Let’s check one more time just to be sure.”

Here we go again.

Prodding…..prodding……

“Nope……no……still don’t feel you…….

Oh no! I think I feel something now. Yes, I do. On my right side. He’s poking me and I feel every bit of it! What is wrong with me??!!!

I begin to cry, scared to say something and mess up everyone’s schedule- again! – but more scared to not say anything and feel everything. Now some of those haunting 20/20 episode are coming back to me! People who are awake, but immobile during a surgery and end up feeling every ounce of it, but can’t speak out!

Kristen must see the emotions on my face. “Renee, if you feel something, you have to tell us. Don’t worry about it. Just tell us.”

“Yes…..sniff, sniff…..I do feel you. I feel every poke you’re giving me.” More tears. I must be the most frustrating patient they’ve ever had.

“Ok, get her up. Let’s give her another shot,” instructs Dr. Q. I think I can detect a hint of annoyance in his voice. Probably not; I’m sure I’m just being sensitive.

The team jumps into action and starts lifting me up off the table. Because I am mostly numb, I can’t move myself at all. Helpless. The Intern comes back over. Oh no! Not him again! I knew he wasn’t a real doctor! He must not have done the shot right! No wonder I was so worried!

I don’t say I word, but I silently pray that they get it right this time and that I don’t feel a thing and that I get to see Steve soon. It’s been SO long!

The Intern steps to the side and I hear him and a woman discuss the shot – the placement of it, the amount. She must be the certified one who guides him. Please let her be the one to give me this second shot. I don’t want to go through this ordeal again.

My prayer is answered and this time the “real” anesthesiologist gives me the shot. I’m laid back down and another 10 minutes pass. At this point I just close my eyes and try to shut everyone and everything out.

Finally Dr. Q is back and there’s more prodding. This time I don’t feel a thing. Not one poke or pinch or touch. Hallelujah! I allow myself to smile and to think about the fact that hopefully, in about 20 minutes or so, I will get to hear my baby’s cry. After this roller coaster day, I’m almost there! Oh my baby! You still feel so far away! I just can’t wait to hold you in my arms, to see your beautiful scrunched up face!

Steve is brought back into the room and I can see the question on his face, wanting to know why he had to wait so long. “I’ll tell you later,” I explain, not wanting to relive the last half hour.

Now it is time.

The surgery begins and I just look at Steve and try to get my head in the right place. Try to not think about all the blood and the scalpel. The staples and the needles. The half dozen people who are circling me, names I don’t know, yet people who are seeing all of my insides. Try to not think about throwing up, like I did during Bailey’s c-section. Try to not feel so exposed and helpless and like a failure. Try to not focus on those bright lights, the ones that feel like they’re burning holes in my eyes. We’ll be in a quiet, darker room soon hopefully. Well, not too quiet. A baby’s cry would be ok…..

The baby! The baby! I can’t believe after all these months the baby is coming. My baby. My girl. My beautiful daughter. I just know it’s a girl! She has put me through the ringer and I love her even more for it. She is going to be spunky. Going to be spirited and full of life. I can’t wait to meet her! Oh God, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you…….praises to the King of Kings! Thank-you, thank-you…..

I look at Steve and try to hold his focus. I know last time it was hard for him to see all the blood, to see his wife laid up and open like that. He brushes my hair and we talk. Quiet talk about nothing really. Just between him and me. He has been the best partner through this all. He is my partner and I feel so lucky, so blessed. How did I end up so lucky? I thank God again.

The moments pass and then finally, at 9:15, almost 12 hours exactly after my original scheduled c-section, I feel some pressure and a pull, and Dr. Q loudly proclaims, “It’s time! Here’s your baby!”

And like we had planned, Steve gets to call the sex.

“It’s a GIRL!” he shouts. Joy-filled pride. The purest of smiles. “Another GIRL!!!”

Ah! Of course it is. It’s you! Closed eyes, deep, satisfied smile. You are finally here. My Georgia is here.

And I breathe and I never stop smiling.

Immediately they thrust her tiny purple head over the curtain and I see the most beautiful, perfect baby, with the fullest, prettiest lips I’ve ever seen. She’s crying so loudly and I love every note.

Where have you been? What took you so long? And all I want to do is hold her.

They take her about 10 feet away to be weighed and measured and cleaned-up, all while Dr. Q is sewing me back together. But this hospital is different than where Bailey was born. They have a camera on her the entire time, with the image displayed on a 42 inch screen only a foot from my head. I turn and never stop watching her. Though I can’t touch her yet, or be right next to her, I see every little thing she does and what they do to her.

And I am captured. She has captured my heart, my being, and I love her totally and completely. I am unaware of everyone else in the room. Of what’s happening to my body. Of the fact that I had another “dreaded” surgery, that I can’t hold her instantly. None of it matters one little bit. All that I care about is that gorgeous 7 pound, 3 ounce gift that I see squirming and crying on the screen. I don’t care one drop how she got here; I’m just so thankful she’s here.

The next half hour consists of nothing but me staring at that screen, whispering over and over again to Steve how beautiful she is, how lucky we are. He agrees and we are in awe. My neck begins to get a crick in it and my cheeks are actually sore from smiling, but I can’t help it. I just want to stare forever, be lost in this little girl The events of the day, the changes in plans, the hopes I had, the pain I went through, the failed dreams……it all melts away into some blurry, distant past, into a time that in comparison to the moment at hand, means absolutely nothing. Nothing matters except our little Georgia Wren. Thank-you God, thank-you God, thank-you God…….all the Glory is Yours…..

After they get her ready and I’m all stitched up, we head to the recovery room. It’s quiet here – no one around but me, Steve, and a new nurse. An occasional beep of a machine, soft lights. Georgia is quietly swaddled. It’s only been about 45 minutes since our world forever changed, and the moment we get settled a nurse comes over and asks if I want to hold my little baby.

“You mean I can hold her now? Already??? Yes, yes, yes!!!” Heart beats fast.

The nurse props me up, and I am giddy with anticipation. She hands me the sweetest, wrapped-up bundle of life, and my heart breaks and fills all at the same time. I kiss her, breath her in, hold her tight, and I just can’t stop smiling.

_______________________________________________________________

Update –  After writing GA’s birthstory I was talking to my parents about babies and having kids and things like that.  When talking about my desire to have more kids, my dad acted shocked, saying something to the effect of “Wow! after reading Georgia’s story, I’m surprised you’d ever want to have more kids! I didn’t know it was so rough having her!”.

Well let me say that in hindsight it wasn’t so rough.  Sorry if I made it sound dramatic and crazy.  I mean, at the time it did feel that way and it was rough while I was going through it.  But heck, it’s LABOR! You’re bringing a human into the world and I think that pain and heightened emotions are just part of the process.  But honestly, the second Georgia was born, I was so happy and elated that any pain or drama just disappeared and meant nothing.  And whatever it did mean, it was all worth it! And like any mom will tell you- I’d do it all over again and again if it mean getting GA.  And I know the same will be true for future babies.

Now I will say that not getting the type of natural birth that I wanted did make me feel a little sad/disappointed.  But those feelings didn’t come for weeks later…..after my body began to heal and the reality of her birth settled in.  For a while I felt a lot of guilt and disappointment in myself.  Like I gave up too quickly, like I wasn’t strong enough, like there was something wrong w/my body for not being able to dilate more.  And to be honest, I sometimes do still struggle with those feelings.  But 99% of the time I feel just so thankful and happy to have her, that I really don’t care how she got her.  There are so many women out there who long for children, so for me to be sad or upset over the way mine entered into the world, just makes me feel silly and ungrateful.

Also, the whole situation has just taught me to trust in God more and more.  When they did pull her out via c-section, the doctor found that she had been effaced, which means while she was head down, she was face-up (or sunny-side up like my friend Melanie says 🙂 ).  They said that when babies are in that position, they can have trouble coming out even when fully dilated.  I had been praying and turning to God through the whole laboring process, asking for His will to rule the day, not my own plan or dreams. And I believe He is faithful and NEVER lets you down! Even though I wanted her to come out a certain way, I trust He was guiding it all and got her out the way He intended for her to come- safe and sound!  Though I sometimes still have questions, I trust in His perfect plan and know it is all for His glory.  The words are simple, but oh-so-true….He is good!

“Now we only see a dim likeness of things.  It is as if we are seeing them in a mirror.  But someday we will see clearly.  We will see face to face.  What I know now is not complete.  But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.”  1 Corinthians 13:12