My fears of Childbirth

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Fear. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot today. I didn’t think I was afraid of childbirth. And I guess I’m not in the traditional sense of what one might think about in terms of fearing the pain of giving birth. I don’t fear the pain.

I am actually looking forward to the sensations that my body will experience during this incredible process. I look forward to feeling the surges roll through my body and I look forward to using the skills I have been practicing for months to help me breathe through those surges in a way that embraces their coming instead of fighting against it. I look forward to the sensation of the baby moving further down in the birth canal and that pathway opening up to accommodate him. I look forward to breathing my baby down, feeling his head, knowing that any moment a new life will begin, a new person will enter this world.

I look forward to those moments when the sensations, the adrenaline, the oxytocin and all the other hormones that my body will be producing will overwhelm my senses and leave me with no other option than to completely surrender to the experience. I look forward to feeling the baby pass from my body into this world.

I can’t wait to hold him, to cuddle him in my arms, to see Joseph in him and a bit of myself as well. I can’t wait to see his skin color, his eyes, his fat little legs, his fingers and toes. I look forward to so much!

So why do I feel fear as this time approaches? I’ve been thinking through this a lot today because I feel that my fear can keep my body from functioning in the best, most effective way. Those things that i am holding on to can potentially keep me holding on to this baby longer than I need to. Tomorrow marks 40 weeks and my body is aching and tired and heavy. It’s time Preston joined the rest of the outside world.

I have a very strong belief in my body. I believe that it knows how to birth this baby. It was designed and prepared to birth this baby. But there is always the what if. What if my body fails me. What if when I depend on it the most it doesn’t function as it should. What if the dreams, beliefs and anticipations that I have looked forward to in regards to birth don’t happen for me?

The answer to that question is that it might. And I might go to a hospital and have interventions, perhaps even a C-section like thousands and perhaps even millions of other women have had. And the world won’t end. Those things that I believe will still be true it just will have not worked out that way for me…this time. And I will be ok. The only way to ever know is to try.

Another fear, and perhaps my biggest is Joseph. I know he won’t be here for the birth. Even if I could wait several more weeks, he still wouldn’t make it in time for the birth of our baby, and it wouldn’t be healthy or a good thing for any of us to try to wait. I thought I had resigned myself to that reality. We have plans to Skype him in for the birth, plans for how he can help and be a part of the process. But by having this baby now I have to give up on hope. As irrational as I know it is I was hoping that miracles would come through and that Joseph would be here to give me a hug, to comfort me when things get hard and to remind me of what I know when I am tempted to forget. I had hoped that he would surround me and our baby in his arms when Preston was born and our little family would experience that joy together in those precious first moments of life. I had hoped to see the tears in his eyes when he first became a father, to see his trembling hands as he cut the cord. 10168927_10153984629515344_1116563071_n

I wanted to watch him hold our baby and marvel at his perfect features I wanted to watch him fall asleep with the baby on his chest. I wanted him to be here for all of those first moments. The moment I give in to birth the hope of all those things is gone. How will I look him in the face so far away with no way to change his circumstances and know that he has been robbed of those precious moments that will never come again? How can I enjoy them knowing he is in Uganda alone? How can I be ok with that?

I guess its important to know that fear or not, losing hope or not, it’s still going to happen. Sooner or later, it’s going to happen. This baby is going to be born, Joseph still won’t be here no matter how long I try to wait. False hope is no better than no hope. It’s also important to know (and I do) that Heavenly Father has a plan, he hasn’t forgotten us, he knows what we are facing and he doesn’t feel that this is too much or too hard for us. He will be here with us as he has been all along. I know that’s true.

And that’s all there is to say about that one.

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One final fear that I sense in myself is a fear of how this baby will change my life. Because I know it will. I will be a mother and with that title comes an eternity of overwhelming love and responsibility like I have never known. I think I am ready for it but how does when ever REALLY get ready for that.

I guess this is just another moment in life when you step over an edge, and trust that the Father who brought you this far will finish what he started. I’ve been strong, I’ve been patient, I have been faithful. I have also cried, and questioned, doubted and worried. I guess all that is left is to move forward one step in front of the other and see what this grand adventure we call life has in store for me and for my family.

I love you Joseph, I love you Preston, soon both of the important men in my life will be together in the same room and I will be able to put my arms around them both and introduce them to each other. It will be a great day.10168382_10153984682860344_1292442757_n

 

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God and Grief

the-five-stages-of-griefI was walking tonight down the streets of Los Angeles and I felt something I haven’t felt in a while. The wind was blowing and it was dark and the air was crisp. I was crossing the street and I suddenly felt a little bit of a skip to my step. I felt myself smelling the coolness of the air and I started questioning what this feeling was. Then it came to me…I think its hope. I think its hope that there is still a future out there for me that I can be happy with. I think there is still joy to be had and I think I am on my way back to feeling it.

I’ve always had this idea of heaven, that it was a place where you would feel no sadness, no grief, no disappointment. And I’ve wondered, if that is the case than it would have to follow that God doesn’t feel those things either.

So, if God doesn’t feel sadness, what does he feel when he looks at the sorry situation that so many of his children are in. How does he feel when he sees a gunman shoot down children in a school in Connecticut. If he doesn’t feel disappointment what does he feel when he sees his children making poor choices. How does he feel when he sees us throw away the talents he gave us. If he doesn’t feel grief, what did he feel when he watched his son die on the cross for each of us.

I was over thinking this today and I think I came up with an answer.

I was thinking about the five stages of grief. Which I believe are inappropriately labeled. I think that they are not stages so much as a cycle. Everyone who experiences grief knows that you often experience each “stage” several times. Since Ryan and I broke up i have watched myself repeatedly go through these steps.

The first is denial. This one is suddenly no longer a problem for me. Since he got married there is no way to convince myself that there is any hope for us anymore. Not that I really believed there was, but in moments of weakness I wondered. I imagined him coming back to me on bended knee telling me he had made the biggest mistake of his life. I had to stop there since I couldn’t see us actually getting back together but that’s beside the point. There is no way to hide my feelings behind the shock and helplessness that I felt. Its staring me right in the face. And it’s ok. Denial served its purpose, which was to help me pace my grief in a way that I could deal with it.

The second stage is anger. This has been an interesting one for me. When Ryan and I first started getting serious we had a talk one day about how we handle difficult things. I told him as an example that if we ever broke up I would hate him and that hate would help me move on. He seemed upset by that and told me that he just couldn’t stand the thought of me hating him. He asked me to promise him that if we ever broke up I wouldn’t hate him. The odd thing is that in all of the times that I have cycled through the various stages I have pretty consistently skipped this one. I can’t be mad at him. I have felt a little frustration at isolated incidents or little things that he did or did not do. I have felt an intense sadness at times that he just couldn’t love me enough. But through it all I have never been angry with him. I have always wanted his happiness, remembered his soul the way I saw it in tender moments when he let me in to have a look and I just can’t feel anger towards him.

The third stage is bargaining. This one has also stopped since he got married. I used to find myself thinking, “If I could just find the right thing to say to him to fix this…If I could just be in the right place at the right time…” somehow I was always searching for a way around the situation instead of through it. Until recently. His getting married had a lot to do with it but that wasn’t all. Even before he got engaged I found myself countering those things by other realities of how and way I don’t really want that to happen.

The fourth stage is depression. This one has gotten me the worst. Except it doesn’t really seem fair to call it depression to me. I have dealt with depression. True, deep, clinical depression and this wasn’t it. This was hurt, loss, hopelessness, lack of energy or enthusiasm, and a desire to do nothing but sleep and cry. But it wasn’t the same as depression. At least not for me. This stage is the one I still struggle with the most. It’s the one that wakes me in the night to stare me in the face, it’s the one that makes it hard to swallow sometimes, and its the one that can make me cry for absolutely no reason while I am stuck in traffic in the middle of the afternoon.

The final stage is acceptance. Each time I cycle through all the stages there is a deeper and deeper acceptance of what is. This is the stage where I believe the most healing takes place. It’s the stage that allows a little rest.

As I was thinking about these stages and about my reactions to them I realized that whenever I have a true, deep and I would even say perfect understanding of an issue related to one of these stages I get to skip that stage.

For example, I had a dear friend who died years ago. She was old, she wanted to go, she had lived a good life, and she had many people on the other side she was looking forward to seeing. I experienced grief when she died but only a couple of steps. I experienced Depression and Acceptance. I did not experience, denial, anger, or bargaining. I believe that the reason why was because I knew it was time, I knew it needed to happen, I could see it coming, I knew she wanted it. I knew it was the way it should be. I knew it was perfectly right. And because of that there was no need to experience anger, denial or bargaining.

That’s what led to my epiphany. As I grow through each situation and gain a deeper understanding my experience with grief is different. It doesn’t change the situation. It changes me so that my response to the situation is different. And I thought about God. I thought about his all-knowing, perfect understanding and perfect love of us, of the world, of eternity and I thought He is our father, his heart functions in much the same way that ours does only his is perfect and with that perfection comes answers that we just don’t have.

So I think when God watched his son die for us, or watched suffering throughout the world, when he saw my dear friend lose several children, when he saw grief beyond what we can comprehend I think it is not that he doesn’t feel those things but that he feels them perfectly and with that perfect understanding each of those stages dissolves leaving only absolute truth behind.

Is spring really coming?

When I was a teen, I remember feeling so lost and alone, and while I believed in a God who loved me I often imagined him watching me as I floundered and struggled to breathe under a sheet of ice in the frozen river that represented my life. I felt as though I were going to suffocate and die and I couldn’t understand why he sat there watching and waiting to see if I could indeed survive for a few more minutes. In time I came to realize that he wasnt sitting back watching me struggle, but he was drawing as close to me as he can to be there with me through my struggles. He isn’t laughing at my pain but crying with me through it. I saw this picture on another blog. It was full of beautiful winter photo’s but this one above all others spoke to me. (You can see them all at http://thelonelywalkers.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/winter-enchantment/ 

Anyway, that tree grown up there all alone at the water’s edge, barren of leaves and looking lifeless, feels like me. I know there is hope for me. I know that when spring comes out, my branches will burst with new life, the ice will melt and I will feel warmth, and comfort, and newness surrounding me. I know all of this and yet it doesn’t help the lonely ache that fills my soul and leaves me feeling lost and alone. This week has been hard, hopes have died, I have found that I am not who I once thought I was. I can’t seem to see a way ahead and the hill I am climbing seems too tall to ever reach the top. I wish there were words that I could tell myself to make it better, to help me to feel more at peace, and to lessen the pain of the self-betrayal that I feel. I found this clip. Its inspiring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIrGKB5nRKE&feature=relmfu

My brain knows all the right answers. I know I will go on, I know it will get better, I know I will laugh again and that life holds promise, I know I have to just keep going and keep a stiff upper lip so to speak. I know, I know, I know.

But it hurts.

And knowing won’t take the hurt away.