Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sorting it All Out

After Isaac's birth, I found myself in a whole new world full of nursing (it was SO hard!), caring for an infant, keeping a house (remember I had few domestic skills), supporting a husband in his new job and living in a completely new place where I didn't know ANYONE! I can't tell you how many times I begged my husband to take me home. I'm sure it wasn't easy for him to deal with an emotional wife, a new baby and a new job but somehow, he remained as solid as a rock and I did my best to merely get through the day for a long time. We did have family nearby though and that helped pull us through for quite awhile.

Time heals and soon enough, I did feel a bit better--especially as I got more sleep. However, there were some lagging things in the back of my mind that I just couldn't quite express or explain to anyone regarding Isaac's birth. I just didn't feel right about it. I felt like it hadn't gone naturally or something, and I always felt the need to explain to people who learned I'd had a c-section, why I'd had one. When the women around me shared their birth stories, I immediately felt left out and isolated because I had no idea what they were talking about. I hadn't gone into labor. I hadn't physically delivered a baby. I hadn't been given the chance. I showed up at the hospital timid and scared and an hour later, my baby was born. Not only did I feel left out, but I felt like I was somehow less of a woman.

Over the months I began to see how these feelings really took root right after Isaac was born. The disappointment was very real right from the beginning even though I tried to brush it off. I remember a very insensitive male who came to visit us in the hospital recounting in all his glory the birth of his first child and how his wife had been "So amazing and had no drugs or anything." Then he looked at me with a smirk and said, "At least you didn't have to go through all of THAT!" If I could've gotten up at that point I think I would've decked him. But somehow I kept my hands to myself and tried to let his comments walk out the door with him. I know now that he didn't know he was being insensitive or that his comments would haunt me for a long time. He didn't know how important the birth process is to a woman and when it's messed with a woman can often feel so disappointed. He didn't know. But I knew and as time went on, it became more and more clear to me that as happy as I was to have my little healthy baby boy, I was definitely struggling with how it all came about.

And then came the guilt. I can't tell you how many times I've had people say to me, "Well at least your baby is healthy. That's all you can ask for right?" (None of these women have had c-sections either and if faced with one wouldn't want one!) Of COURSE I'm thankful he's healthy! I mean, isn't that a given?! The fact that I was even slightly disappointed when I was looking right at my perfect baby boy made me feel even worse and much more guilty. My emotions were so tied up in knots I didn't know how to sort it all out. I heard all the comments like, "A 100 years ago you could've died." Well yes I guess anyone could have died in childbirth...heck anyone could still die today! But no...they probably just would've delivered my breech baby and chances are we both would've been fine. Or "Well at least you didn't have to go through labor I mean I labored for over 30 hours with my first." And I'd be left feeling numb, left out, ungrateful and guilty all for struggling through what I felt about having that first c-section. It was a very confusing place to be. No one tried to make me feel bad. I just did whenever birth was brought up. I felt defective, unsettled and muddled. I didn't feel right and to be perfectly honest, I didn't know how to make it right.

I'm not saying that all of my emotions were justified or even remotely godly but they were real and my disappointment was real. Not every woman who has a c-section feels the way that I did, however, many do and most don't want to talk about it. I wanted to feel my baby laid on my chest after having used every ounce of my being to push him out into the world. I wanted to feel that victory. Instead, I got to simply touch his face and he was whisked away. I lay in a hospital bed all alone and my baby waited for me to nurse him for a few hours. We were detached and all alone, and I hated it.

The reason for these feelings, I learned, came as I sorted through all of these conflicting emotions to finally get at the root of the problem. And it took a very long time for me to get there. I began to see that the very essence of my femininity was all wrapped up in carrying a child, childbirth and then nurturing that child as best as I could. It wasn't because I had made it an idol, it was because it was who I was inside, as a woman. It was me. It was how God had designed me to be. It was natural for me to be disappointed that I didn't go through the whole process God had designed because well, that was how it was supposed to go.

However, what became crucial was what I did with that realization. Yes, Isaac's birth wasn't how things were supposed to go in a perfect world. Yet, this world is fallen. And God promises us that we will have sorrow. And I had to wrap my arms around the fact that even though God had wired me to feel the way that I did simply because I am a woman, I still had to accept the fact that He didn't allow things to go the natural way. His answer was, "No." That was God's choice and not mine. He orchestrated it all for His glory and who am I to question the Almighty? As hard as this was for me, I knew it was right and I knew God would help me sort through the disappointment.

So as the months wore on, that's what I did. I laid my longings for future births at His feet and I surrendered as best as I could, my sadness relishing in all the joy that God had still given me in this new little life. It didn't make it better all of the sudden. But I grew and began to understand, in a small way (and I'd understand much more later with Joshua) that God spins and moves and does as He pleases. I may not always know why but I can trust Him to share my hurts and I can trust Him with my life.

This time was important for me to sort it all out. I needed to learn more about myself, my femininity, what it meant to be a mother and how God had equipped me with all I needed to do what He'd called me to do--be the wife of one handsome husband Steve and the mommy of one precious baby boy, Isaac...laughter.

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