A Repost of “The Colors”

Lately I am short on time, inspiration and emotional resources.  So, today, I will share again a post I made around Easter last year.  Last year, before we knew all that was to come!  I hope that you enjoy reading it- again, for some of you and for the first time for some of my new readers.

Be blessed on this Good Friday, beloved ones.

Just click here:  The Colors

And here is a song just for you on Good Friday.

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The Lord is Gracious and Compassionate

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Because sometimes, that’s just how it is.

Post partum days can be rough.  There’s so much to think about because here is our newborn.  A new life in the world that is filled with promise that WE have been entrusted with.  A gift, really, a scary, terrifying, beautiful gift.  We hold it in our hands.  We decide the best way to love and nurture this tiny, amazing, beautiful little bundle into a well adjusted adult who makes the world better.  We take this tiny little person of eternal significance and what we do has a huge impact on who they are going to be.  This little world changer…asleep on my chest, oblivious to all that is ahead.

Add all that responsibility to sleep deprivation and exhaustion and hormones gone wild and you wind up with some version of the post partum crazies.  Sometimes, it’s worse than other times.  Especially after a scary birth or after failed attempts at nursing or after, perhaps, placenta accreta and a near death day.

I say to God, as these thoughts swirl and rise, “That’s kind of messed up, to give us these crazy hormones right at the name when we need the most strength.”

And God says, “Do you think so?”

I say I do.

He says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

And I had one of those moments where things click.  When do we reach for him the most?  When things are glorious and life is easy?  No, when it’s hard and we need help.

New mommas need help.

That hormone drop, that ushering in of post partum vulnerability and emotions right there on the surface is not a curse but a blessing.  He is able to help most those who surrender fullest.  At rock bottom, we surrender fully.

And what other time in life do we feel this raw, naked, intense love and fierce devotion than in those days of wonder, the newborn days. The days when we stare at our little world-changer and marvel at her fingernails, trace the swirl of hair on the back of his head, breathe in her scent, glory in his warm weight….so small but so vital now to our life.  The fullness of those emotions come from that same place of weakness, of vulnerability.

So maybe it’s not necessarily a bad thing but just a good, part of life thing that we become raw, overly emotional, vulnerable right here at the time when our lives are forever changed.  Maybe it’s not a bad thing at all.

My perspective on Big Life Things has changed since November 18th.  I still don’t like going through the hard stuff, but I am seeing value in it in a way I never have before.  Before, I may have thought, “Why, God, why?”  but now I think, “God, don’t let me miss what you’re doing.”

Because what I know is this:

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

Psalm 145 8-9

And what I know is this:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

What I know about God is that He restores.  I’ve seen it in my own life, non stop for forty years.  Any time anything has been taken for me or an offense has come against me, God has restored the broken places.  He has given new things, new mercies, new days.  He has redeemed things that were meant for my harm.

I have to stand on that.

So, as John and I talked last night about how God has been equipping us both…equipping us for who knows what, but equipping us just the same…I realized that I’m in the process of refinement.  Ever since my table fell down in January 2012, God has been working on my heart extra hard, removing things that have plagued me since forever.

I’m hoping to give Anxiety the old heave ho, once and for all.

He means good for me, not harm.

In the Now

Anxiety pushes her way to the front of the line.

She shoves Discouragement, Poor Me, even Faith and Obedience back and she steps up close and demands to be heard.  Her voice is so loud and she hands me a cocktail she mixed with Circumstances.  She and Circumstances have been conspiring, they’ve been working on this for a while.

And I’m having a really hard time with all of this.

Because Anxiety will not be ignored.

In my usual fashion, I am dealing with what happened now that all is said and done.  My health is mostly stable, my baby is doing well, I’m on payment plans with around 15 different health care providers.  Things are settling down.  Life is settling down.  My Present Circumstances are steady, calm and good.  And my heart and soul are kind of in pieces.

And usually, I don’t like to write to you guys until I’ve figured it all out and am on the road to okay.  But I keep waiting and it’s not happening and I’m thinking it might be a little bit.  So, here I am.  Telling the truth.  The truth of the now.

This is hard.

I am thankful.

And trying to reconcile the two is the hardest part of all.

I almost died and I lay in my bed at night and replay the moments before surgery and the memories after.  I feel sick with fear and grief when I ruminate on the events of life since June when I was six weeks pregnant and began to hemorrhage for the first time.  I feel such a void where Nora’s twin should be.  I feel cheated when I think about that other baby, the last trimester, when I think about those days I was too sick to visit Nora in the NICU, when I think about how I can’t even breastfeed my baby.  I can’t even give her that.  The blood loss made it so.

And it feels surreal.  Because this experience was crazy.  I had never even heard of accreta or percreta before all of this happened.  Kid number six was my first preemie and it is a whole new world that is counterintuitive in many ways.  

Yesterday, I sat on the floor with Nora’s first two months of life spread out all around me.  Sorting pictures for her album.  There, the ultrasound showing baby A and baby B.  Words typed out- “Doing fine, Mom and Dad.”

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Photos of bed rest.  Claire eating Chinese food in my bed.  Toys and books strewn around, because this was the only place I could be.  I stayed in that bed almost the whole summer and the bleeding never did stop.

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Pictures of my first hospital room where I hunkered down and prepared to spend five weeks that ended up being only eight days.  Where I first learned about accreta.  Where I prayed and cried and felt I might die of homesickness.  I had no idea the gravity of placenta percreta.  No idea what was to come.

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That day that the hemorrhage got so much worse, right after my family left from visiting me.  How close to my heart I hold that visit, because it could’ve been the last.

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The magnesium drip, the heavy bleeding, the nervous doctors and nurses bustling around getting me ready for this surgery.  My husband said, “I love you.” and it could’ve easily been the last thing he ever said to me.  I remember the operating room and even as I type, my stomach rolls and twists.  I woke to the wrong time of day (1pm, not 1am) and scared faces and more nervous medical professionals.  I want to know about Nora but can’t speak because of the tube in my throat.  John shows me her picture,  this picture.

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Those hard days in the hospital, when I felt so battered and my heart was taking a beating too because a tiny baby that wasn’t finished growing was in the world.  Doctors said, over and over again, “We are so glad you’re here.  We didn’t think you were going to make it.”

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Nora was three days old when we finally met.  A far cry from a squalling infant placed on your chest to nurse immediately after birth.

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A week at home where I cry often and easily, where my heart is bursting with love for these ones I almost left behind, where my heart longs for Nora and for normalcy.  Pain, painkillers, exhaustion, that blessed breast pump yielding almost nothing.  We put up our Christmas tree and we laughed and loved each other and it was hard but I was thankful.  Always thankful.

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I’d been home eight days and then the fever came, the vomiting came, the erratic heartbeat.  John ferries me quickly to the local emergency room because I am so sick.  They run test after test and conclude that I have an inflamed uterus.  Since I have no uterus at all, we request that I be returned to Norfolk Sentara.  And that’s where I go.  Just down the hall from Nora…but since I am so ill, I can not see her.  John shares pictures and stays by my side.  I have never felt so sick in my life.

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Finally, after a week, the heavy duty antibiotics begin to work.  My battle bruised body is putting up a fight and I am on the mend.  Nora and I are together again.  She is so small against my chest and as I always do during kangaroo care, I cry as I hold her.

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Home again and I hold everyone close and cry often and easily…again.  I take it very slow because I am afraid of getting sick again but weeks pass and Christmas comes and goes and I keep getting a little bit better.   January 14th comes and we bring that sweet baby home at last.

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And now the challenges are different.  I have to keep her healthy and well and that is hard to do in our active and bustling household.  Kids coming and going, bringing in new germs.  Some of us get sick with a stomach thing, some get sick with fevers, some get sick with respiratory stuff.  And every time, I fear we will end up in the hospital again.  Nora is strong but she is still fragile.

I am strong but I am fragile.  My stomach is a mess from that week of antibiotics.  My heart and soul are fragile and raw.  I am feeling cooped up and locked in because you have to protect preemies through quarantine during flu and RSV season.

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And all of these things  are what weigh on me now.

All of it.

And I give myself the grace to realize that all of these things can weigh on me and I can be having a really hard time but that does not mean I am not thankful.  Because I am so thankful and I am counting my blessings and I am praising God for my life and Nora’s and for all of those that I love.  I am thankful for so much from the past months.

That can be true and this can be true too:  This is hard.  This has been hard.  This will be hard.

I want to laugh with no fear of the future like that Proverbs 31 lady but I am just not there yet.

This is where I am.  Thankful to the point of tears.  Struggling to the point of tears.  And my hopes are in the One who saved me, not just from death on November 19th, but from weight of my sin.  My hopes are in the One who stands with me and holds my arms up.  I can be thankful, have hope and still struggle.

It was hard to give myself permission to feel it all.  The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the blessings and the trials.  They all coexist together.

So bear with me, friends as I work through this stuff.  Pray for me.  I think it’s going to be a long road.