Labor Memories

A woman I’ve known since my youth group years is having her second baby today. It made me think about my labor with Isaac, and how I really haven’t just sat down and remembered it.

My water broke around 8pm on March 9th. We had just gotten home from staying at my aunt’s house, because out power was out from a snow storm. I started feeling contractions around 8:30, and I remember just sitting on the sofa (on a bunch of towels, because amniotic fluid,) trying to be as relaxed as possible.

Back in college, a group of us went to our friend’s house for a visitor’s weekend. Her mom gave birth to a -lot- of kids, and while talking to her about it, she said the best thing to do it be relaxed. It helps the baby come out more easily. I’ve kept that tucked away in my mind ever since.

We left for the hospital around 2am, and while we were getting ready, I remember getting hit with a wave of guilt about having a second baby. Thinking that I was somehow rejecting my daughter by having another person to need my attention, care, and love. I had many nights rocking her to sleep, and ending up in tears from thinking about how much I loved her, and not knowing if I could really love another baby the same way. (Spoiler alert, I do.)

When we got to the hospital, I remember feeling like I was in a movie – sitting in the intake room, trying to fill out a form, and answer questions, while feeling intense waves of pain. I remember getting to my room, feeling silly about wearing a hospital gown (vanity, vanity.)

During my first labor with Lucy, my midwives made me move around as much as possible. Walking, squatting, kneeling, you name it. My favorite thing was just soaking in the warm bath, and letting my body do it’s thing, but NoOoOoOo, gotta move move move. Well, not the case with my second labor. We tried walking around once, I hated it, and decided I was staying in bed. The idea of doing what we did last time just was a huge, stressful turn off to me, so I decided – it’s my labor. I’m gonna do what I want.

And I did. I stayed in bed, I breathed deeply (sometimes VERY deeply, when the pain was really bad,) and fell asleep between contractions. Every once in a while Tim would rub my back, or mom would ask if I needed anything, and there just came a point where I didn’t want anyone to touch me, talk to me, I just wanted to be left alone. I don’t really like using the word zen, but that’s really what it was like, It wasn’t peaceful, really, because pain, and it wasn’t blissful, because pain, but it was very zen. Very cool, calm, collected. And that’s how I labored. In my own little world, letting contractions come and go as they pleased. I did get pitocin, but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it from Lucy.

The only times I ever felt really stressed out was when they had to lower my head, and check my cervix. That was the worst.

When he started coming, he started coming. I pushed for about five minutes. My OB was awesome. He had a gross job, let’s be real.

Overall, my experience at Lawrence General was amazing. They let me do my own thing, they didn’t bother me more than they had to, and honestly, it was a better experience than Exeter, and Exeter was great.

I hate to brag, but I’m going to – I’m two for two with labors/births that impressed my doctors and nurses. Plus size natural birth for the win!

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It’s a sound bite.

If Christians are good at anything, we are really good at turning Biblical truths into soundbites, or make them seem like quippy sayings.

“The truth will set you free.” “Jesus died for your sins.” “It rains on the just and the unjust.” Don’t act like you haven’t heard one, I’m sure you could parrot a few, yourself.

This talent of ours is truly unfortunate, because we tend to just spout this stuff, without anything to back it up. “Um, Hannah, it’s the BIBLE, it speaks for itself.” Yeah, that’s true. But a lot of people find the Bible kind of lofty, and a great way to bring it down to earth for them is by pairing a bite of Truth with a testimony. The phrase “I’ll believe it when I see it,” sort of comes into play, here. When you’ve experienced the reality of truth in your own life, first-hand, it can be very encouraging to others who may be in a more doubtful place.

On that note, one of the “Christianese” truth soundbites I use a lot is that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Sometimes it feels like this isn’t true, but in our 20/20 hindsight, we usually are able to see that it was true.

Let’s start with where it actually says this in the Bible (because a LOT of what Christians, and non-Christians alike will spout as the Word of God are actually just good-hearted words from someone who is definitely not God.)

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) – “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

So, there we see it’s a Biblical truth – not just a nice idea.

Again, I say this a lot – it’s probably one of the few things that I could muster to believe throughout 2017 that made me not go completely mad. Even during the deepest part of my depression, this would ring in the back of my mind and provide comfort. At this point, you’re probsbly wondering why I’m talking about this, anyway.

Well, I had an OB appointment today. If you’ve been following my life via Facebook, you know that this pregnancy has ultimately been a very smooth ride. Hardly any red flags, very low stress. It’s completely different from my pregnancy with Lucy – and I thought things went well! Recently, I realized the faithfulness of God during this pregnancy.

I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was about 3 months along – pretty earth-shaking for me, and not necessarily exciting, but it didn’t knock me out. HOWEVER, had I found out any sooner, I don’t know how I would have handled it. Poor Isaac’s first three months in the womb were very stressful. I had a lousy summer, man. The following weeks after finding out I was pregnant weren’t great either, but the fog lifted not too long afterwards. Probably because the Lord spoke to me about what a blessing, and priviledge it is to be able to carry a baby, when so many struggle, or even lose the children that they do conceive. And then I felt guilty for not wanting another baby so soon, and got a more godly mindset.

My entire pregnancy, things have been easy as pie. I was diagnosed with mild anemia, and some weird blood issue, but after being tested, it didn’t end up being a problem for the baby. I had one super high blood pressure, but testing showed to evidence of preeclampsia. Other than that one, my blood pressures have been totally fine, which is NIGHT AND DAY from my first go around. I’ve only started dealing with swelling in my ankles towards the end (maybe cuz I’m hecka pregnant,) unlike last time where it was a serious problem the whole time. My weight gain hasn’t been insane, or a cause of worry for the doctors. No gestational diabetes, again, thank God. I just found out that I tested negative for group B strep, which I was positive for last time. That means I can labor at home for a while! All of these things are miraculous, and incredible blessings from God. The amount of gratitude I feel is inexpressible. And what my mother said to me today is what insoired this post – He knew what I could handle.

I don’t think that after last year, I could handle another pregnancy like my first, no matter how well I thought it went. I haven’t had to worry about anything longer than a week, and even then I’ve barely worried. I’ve been able to just be pregnant, and live life, and deal with everything else without anything concerning Isaac being at the forefront of my mind, adding to stress. I’m so thankful.

But that’s why I say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it. I was a wreck for the first few months (mostly internally.) But as I look back, God has carried Isaac and through this pregnancy so easily. He carried Lucy and I through every trial of my pregnancy with her (and subsequently, her first year,) and He laid out a smooth path for me, and my healing heart to waddle down with Isaac. There’s still a part of me that’s expecting a shoe of some kind to drop, but I know that’s the wrong attitude to have.

So here’s trusting for a great delivery, with natural labor, where I’m hopefully not super exhausted by the time contractions kick in. God is faithful. Even when it looks like too much in the moment, and in the moments following, He knows how much we are capable of carrying. He will never make it too hard for us.

We have only to trust Him.

“I’m not saying you are…but you are.”

I can already feel my blood pressure rising, and I’ve only just written the title.

I like resolution. I don’t like to leave situations without tying a nice, fat knot at the end of them.

So what do you do when you decide it’s better to leave a situation unresolved, because you know that the other party will never understand your perspective, no matter how much you try to explain it? When the other party will never understand how deep the cut really goes, no matter how much you show them that the wound hasn’t healed?

Simply put, I don’t know.

It’s not in the forefront of my mind the way that it used to be, but when my mind goes back to it, I get just as angry. Just as hurt.

When I think about how my daughter was dying, when we didn’t know if she was going to come home with us…and the poisonous words would ring in my head. When I explained the severity of what was going on, and they still didn’t get it.

I don’t know.

My mental health is better when they aren’t in the picture. And I know that I can have boundaries, and only let them so close…but even just seeing them in the peripheral of my mind’s eye stresses me out.

I’m just writing to write. What I WANT is for someone – me, or someone else – to get in their face and scream “YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE DAMAGE YOU HAVE DONE.” “I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN.” “YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND WHAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH, AND HOW YOU MADE IT WORSE.”

Maybe that’s what I need – just a chance to do something cathartic, like destroy something. I don’t know. Vengeance is the Lord’s, but I wish it was mine. I wish I didn’t have to wait until heaven to feel justice be done.

Month Two

This is the third time I’ve started this blog post -eye roll-

The big sport game is today, and I could not care less. I hope the patriots lose, tbh. People worship that team too much. It’s unsettling.

It’s February, now. My birthday is in ten days. I’ll be 27 – I hear 27 is a good year. I’ll be a mom of two not long after my birthday, which is still wild to me. I know millions of women have done it, but geez. How? I’m three years away from 30, which is pretty neat. I’ve never been one to suffer from Peter Pan syndrome – never wanting to grow up. I’ve always been excited to get older, and be an adult.

I came into the new year feeling completely different from the last. It was like a switch got flipped somewhere, and out of the blue, I felt like I could get a handle on my life again. It’s not secret that last year I felt any combination of depressed, stressed, out of control, hurt, and angry most of the year. But when 2018 rolled around, I felt different. I started using grocery circulars, and planning meals. I started reading my Bible, and taking a shower every night. I started to make an effort to keep my daughter’s room tidy, and to get my dishes washed.

Frankly, I started to care. I stopped feeling like everything was out of my control. I stopped being a victim of myself. I let the Lord back into my life, and made a stronger effort to keep Him in His proper place in my life, and there’s been a change.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t do it all, and there have been a few very late nights that I didn’t shower, and I didn’t read my Bible, but I haven’t given up. So far, I haven’t allowed life to defeat me. I haven’t let the enemy take up space in my head. I feel like my confidence is returning. I feel like I’ll be able to take care of myself. I’m doing better at not completely beating myself to the floor when I’m faced with the reality of my failures, or missteps.

Something that has made the biggest difference, is training my ear to listen to the Holy Spirit, again. Frequently, I would maybe hear Him, and just not bother to listen, but even with small things, I’m trying to be aware, and obey in those small things, which will help me learn to obey in the bigger things.

Something that I did not do well last year was take care of myself. How could I? I spent February through April unknowingly, but desperately, trying to keep my daughter alive by nursing for probably 12 hours a day. Honestly, you can confirm with my family, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration. I was living off of granola bars and water. I was lucky to take a shower. I don’t remember a night going by that I didn’t end up just falling asleep sitting up in bed all night because Lucy and I fell asleep nursing, and if I moved, she would wake up, and I’d have to start all over again.

From there, I just became depressed, and hated myself with a new intensity that I hadn’t experienced before, so why would I take care of someone that I hated?

And yet, when the new year began, I didn’t feel any of that. It began to dissipate eventually last year, but not really. I think I know when I had a breakthrough, but that’s not really important. What matters is that I actively WANT to take care of myself. I don’t loathe my being. I’m not satisfied with everything, but I don’t look at myself and just see a fat failure at life, anymore. I see someone who is getting better, and will continue to do so. Thank God.

I don’t know how I’m going to handle having two kids. The idea of balancing two sleep schedules freaks me out. I know it’s not impossible, but OY, it’s still intimidating. Am I still nervous about Isaac having health problems like Lucy? Kind of. But I remind myself that God is who kept Lucy and didn’t let her die. He is the true reason she is alive today, and if I can trust the Lord during her dark time, I can trust Him with the next. Which, hopefully, won’t exist.

I’m genuinely looking forward to this year. I want to keep growing, and learning, and getting to know my kids, and branch out to expand their lives. I want to keep learning how to be the Proverbs 31 woman God has called me to be for my family – and I actually believe I can do it, again! For a long time the idea of being a Proverbs 31 woman seemed like a unicorn of a fantasy. Completely unreal, and unattainable. But it’s not. It will take time, but it’s not impossible.

Here’s to February – let’s see what it holds in store.

 

2018

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

I just finished reading Joshua last night, and when I started reading it about a week ago, there were a lot of little “signs” I saw that confirmed to my spirit that it’s what I was supposed to be reading.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a portion of the book that is pretty dull, but when the more spiritually mature people I know, and trust, say there’s something to be found in even the boring parts, it’s true. I could see the message of God’s provision and faithfulness to the Israelites in the slow bits.

Being told to be strong and courageous can be sort of intimidating – what’s coming down the pike for me, or for my family? That’s the word that I feel the Lord has spoken to me this week, and I mean, after last year, I can’t help but feel sort of worried. “Will something go wrong with Isaac? Will he get sick, too? What if, what if…”

But even as I write this, the Holy Spirit reminds me of another promise: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:8

As intimidating as something may look, we only have to remember that Jesus Christ is perfect love, and there is no fear in Christ. I am in Christ – no matter how many times in the past year I’ve stumbled, and strayed, and trembled, I’m in Him, and I don’t need to worry about whatever may be coming down the pike.

Jesus told me to be strong, and to be courageous. He’s gone before me, before Tim, before Lucy & Isaac, and we have only to trust Him, and rest in His love.

It’s harder to do than it sounds, but it is so very worth it.

Hi, I’m Hannah.

Wife, mother of two, failed Usborne consultant, former barista, former Psychology student, etc. I’m a Christian, an Aquarius, and an optimistic realist (that’s another way of saying I’m someone who has given up all hope in this world, but still feels good about some things.) I have middling-to-conservative political views, I have what some may consider “legalistic religious” views on drinking, and I really couldn’t tell you one way or another if the Bible is against tattoos or not. I believe we have a free will, and whether or not my decisions or yours, ruin our respective lives are between us and God. Even if you don’t believe He’s real. You have the right to believe that, but unfortunately for you, it IS the one thing that I will assuredly tell you that you’re wrong about ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Oh, also that abortion takes away human life. You will never convince me of a scenario where that is okay. Sorry.

I like documentaries about serial killers, but fictional horror is almost too much for me (I can handle Hitchcock, but that’s about it.) I can’t stand most kids shows these days, and electronic toys make me cringe. I mostly feel like essential oils are a ruse, but I’m willing to give them a fair trial. So far they seem to be helping my daughter’s teething pain. I hate taking medicine, and typically would rather suffer than do anything about my pain. It’s a family trait.

I like to think of myself as someone who likes to read, but the reality is I need to teach myself to like reading again. I have shelves of books that I’ve never read, and would really like to, but the Millenial curse has taken me over, and frankly it’s just not in my wheelhouse these days.

I hate pornography, and I hate that the church isn’t more open about the fact that it’s a problem. I hate that we have to wait for secular studies to show that it deteriorates marriages for people to think it’s a problem.

I love seeing my daughter’s smiling face every morning, and throughout the day. I love making her laugh, and seeing her point out dogs, and cats, and anything else she finds interesting. I love holding her as she falls asleep, and rubbing my cheeks on her soft baby hair.

I’m really excited about Christmas this year, for some reason. I think it’s because this year has been so hard, and so terrible in so many ways, that I’m just want to bask in the peace, and quiet, and love of the holiday season. The world is generally a nicer place during the holidays. I want to be a part of that.

It’s been a pretty weird year, in many different aspects of life. On my birthday, I wrote on Instagram that I thought it was going to be a peaceful year. I was wrong. It’s been a very stressful year. Parental trials, marriage trials, relationship trials, personal trials, unexpected pregnancy…And each item in that list contains hefty stuff.

So, not a peaceful year. But that’s why I want to embrace, and enjoy the holiday season this year. It’s a blessing to have the chance to end the year with gratitude, generosity, and the hope of a fresh start.

And I’ve changed a lot this year. I think that’s why I felt like sort of outlining pieces of myself, because when I look at myself, there’s a person there that I’m not very familiar with. She looks familiar, sounds familiar, but there’s something…different. And I’m trying to figure out who she is.

How many times in our lives do we go through this process? Do we get better at it, so it goes by faster? I feel like it took me so many years to really get a handle on who I was, and it was great. I was confident, and felt secure. Then suddenly things have changed and I need to find some sense of personal stability again. Figure out what I like again.

So, there’s my latest blog post. I want to keep writing, it’s a good process for me.

 

 

I don’t want to remember.

I don’t want to remember March through May. I don’t want to remember her first pediatrician. I felt a hunger pang at 3:45 in the morning, and minutes later was weeping from the memories of breastfeeding. Sitting in bed all night, my back slumped to the side to find a place to rest, while my daughter was cradled by my side. Her red, weepy face sticking to my shirt, or my belly. Rocking her head back and forth periodically, to itch, before settling back into sleep. Feeling the hunger pang, because my body was working so hard, but not being taken care of. My husband got into the habit of bringing me a granola bar before he left, or leaving it beside me if I happened to be asleep. I’d eat it. Sometimes I’d eat another, kicking myself for having two granola bars, but nothing with protein. But what could I have? Eggs? I couldn’t make myself eggs. I couldn’t eat yogurt, or peanut butter. So, I’ll have the second granola bar, tell myself that oats are good for milk production, maybe they’ll help.

I’m shaking as I write this because it hurts so much to remember. A gaping hole of pain in the pit of my stomach, that I can cry, and cry into, but it never fills up. The pain feels bottomless.

I don’t want to remember March through May. I know there were better days, and good moments, but looking for them is like searching for gold buried under shards of glass, and nothing but your bare hands to dig with.

It hurts. Hopefully, one day, I’ll find a shovel.