Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Can't Help It

ALMOST SEVEN YEARS AGO...   I was sprawled out on an operating table on the brink of the ceasarean delivery of my second child.  The OB-GYN looked me in the eye and asked, "Are we tying your tubes today?"  I shuddered at the thought.  I don't remember my exact response, but I'm sure it was something like, "Absolutely NOT!"  I looked over at my husband, Keith, who hesitated, but then agreed with me.  I'm pretty sure he was on the same time-saving, money-saving wavelength as the male doctor who was about to cut me open - "We might as well do it while we're in there."

At that moment, there was no doubt in my mind that we would have at least one more child.  Little did I know what lied ahead...

TWO YEARS LATER...   I will never forget the moment I finally understood the absolution behind Keith's words as he raised his voice at me in desperation, "We're done!  We're not having anymore kids!"  The reality of his true feelings hit me like a ton of bricks.  Even after all we'd been through, I had not lost the desire to be pregnant again, to give birth again, and to be a mother to a third Bray child. 

I'd always heard, "When you're done, you'll know you're done."  Yet here we stood.  Keith, so certain that we were meant to be a family of four.  And me, so certain that we should have another.  How could we be so completely opposite on our vision for this family?  I remember feeling shattered, unloved and untrusted.  It was so unfair to Keith, but all I could think about at that time, is what I wanted - another baby...

TODAY...   Now that I am a few years older and few years wiser, I recall the moments that transpired soon after the OB-GYN asked that fateful question almost seven years ago.  I try to see what happened through Keith's eyes...

I sit here praying as I hold my wife's hand.  I can see the fear in her eyes as she tries not the think about the c-section they are performing, evicting our child from the only home he has known for the past nine months.  It seems ironic.  She has been praying so desperately to keep him in there as she was forced to bedrest since going into pre-term labor at 30 weeks.  Now they are cutting her body open to pull him out.  As I'm watching her face, trying to remain calm, I see her cringe.  Despite the spinal that is supposed to make her numb, she grows pale as she is overcome with pain.  I listen as the doctor explains that the baby's shoulders are wider than they expected, so she might feel some pressure.  I'm studying her.  She is not just feeling pressure.  She is hurting.  She is hurting a lot, and there is nothing I can do about it.  The color drains even more from her face, and the fear in her eyes turns to panic.  She is frightened.  She tells me her chest hurts.  She tells me again and again.   And I just sit there holding her hand and rubbing her hair because there is nothing else I can do.  I decide to look over the blanket they have hanging to block our view of her torso and what they are doing down there.  I see what must be her organs lying above her belly.  And then I see him...  our precious child - the product of our love, and my heart stops.  His face is blue, and there is something wrapped around his neck.  Oh God, please no.  The next seconds last for what seems like forever as they quickly unwrap his umbilical cord and suction all kinds of fluids from his mouth.  I hear my wife's panicky weak voice, "He's not crying."  I am frozen. "Why isn't he crying?," she asks.  I struggle to grasp the reality of what is occurring right before my eyes.  Then it happens.  "WAH!  WAH!  WAH!"  Thank you, God.  I crumble back to my seat beside her.  She is sobbing.  I think I'm crying too.  She starts heaving because the pain she is experiencing is almost unbearable.  Between heaves, she begs to see him.  "I need to see him.  Please let me see him."  The pediatrician allows her a quick glance, and she is happy.  I know she is still in pain.  But her colorless face is glowing with motherly pride.  She says he is perfect.  And she is right.  He is perfect.  Thank you, God.  The nurses tell me I need to go with our son.  They reassure me that my wife is in good hands.  I watch her as I walk out the door.  She looks so pale and so exhausted.  I feel like I should stay with her, but I know I need to be with our son.  So I go.  I leave my wife.  I leave her in God's hands.

I sit here with tears uncontrollably rolling down my face as I relive that moment.  I honestly thought I was dying as they pried my belly open to get Camden out.  And the world stopped as we waited to hear that first cry.  What joy and relief we felt when at last we heard him scream.  It was the scariest moment of my life.  I imagine it had to be the scariest moment of Keith's life as well.  If I put myself in his shoes, there is no way I would willingly walk down that road again.  So I honestly cannot blame him for not openly embracing the idea of another pregnancy and birth.


I can stifle it.  I can suppress it.  I can pretend it doesn't exist.  But as I held my sister's newborn baby girl in my arms yesterday, all the walls I built in my attempt to block out those feelings came tumbling down. 

I can't help it.  I want another baby. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shame on Me

My mind had been racing since my husband and I sat down to reconfigure our monthly budget last night.  I will soon be quitting my job, thereby allowing me to fully focus on homeschooling our two boys.  So we are trying to decide how to adjust to that loss of income. 

As we looked at each line-item in our budget, I became more and more anxious.  How are we going to do this?!  We cut from our grocery line, planning to utilize coupons and take advantage of weekly sales.  We cut from our medical line.  We rarely have to use it, and prayerfully we won't need it now.  Still, we had a significant amount of money that still needed to be cut.  My heart sank as I realized the exact line item it would have to come from - my spending money for the boys and me :( 

I cried on the inside.  You see, schooling at home, while so incredibly rewarding, can also be suffocating at times.  There are several days when I feel like we just have to get out of the house.  Of course, this costs money, not only for food and entertainment, but also in gas.  The realization that we simply won't be able to go out just anytime we want to was terrifying to me.  But it is what it is... 

I couldn't sleep at all last night.  (For the record, I don't recommend talking finances with your husband just before bed.)  I began wondering if I'm doing the right thing.  (I always second-guess myself.)  Despite the fact that I have been wanting to quit my job pretty much since I started it a year ago, I began to wonder.   Maybe I shouldn't quit my job. 

When I got up this morning, I was still a bit overwhelmed by the reality of our financial situation.  I felt anxious and unsure.  As a dear friend reminded me just yesterday, where can I go but to the Lord.  So I sat on my bed and reached for my Bible.  I guess, due to lack of sleep, I forgot today is Wednesday.  I opened my Bible to Tuesday's devotion, which I had neglected to read yesterday. 

The passage came from Exodus 13 - 14, when the Israelites had been given permission to finally leave their lives of slavery in Egypt and were fleeing toward the Red Sea.  Ironically, my friend with whom I enjoyed a four-hour breakfast yesterday had just spoken to me about this passage.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I read on and was reminded how the Israelites complained to Moses when all they saw was water in front of them and angry Egyptians behind them.  They wondered why they had been freed from slavery only to die in the desert.  As certain death stared them in the eyes, they began to think their lives as slaves wasn't so bad afterall.  At least they had food and water.  At least they weren't about to die.

I thought about how this scripture applies to my current situation.  I spent the last six months trying to convince my husband to give his blessing for me to quit my stressful part-time job.  Homeschooling and working part-time, while also being the homemaker, was just too much for me.  I have been praying and praying that God would release me from this heavy burden.  And about a month ago, that prayer was answered.  The stress of my workload took a toll on my body, and I wound up in the hospital having a tube run down my throat, only to find out what we already knew.  I was totally stressed out, and I simply could not handle it.  So Keith decided it was time for me to quit my job.  Woohoo!!!!

Just as I'm sure the Israelites were overjoyed to soon be out of Egypt, I was overjoyed to soon be done with my job.  THEN just as the Israelites became frightened as they realized what lay ahead of them - the Red Sea, I became frightened of what lies ahead of me - less financial security.  I began to rethink this whole job-quitting thing.  Maybe it wasn't so bad afterall.  At least I could come and go as I please.  At least I didn't have to think about every dollar I spent.

Even though God was a big enough God to save the Israelites from what the enslaved lives they'd been praying He would save them from, they still considered going back to that life, rather than trusting God as the Red Sea loomed ahead. 

Even though God was a big enough God to save me from this job I've been praying He would save me from, I still wondered if I should reconsider quitting, rather than trusting Him as I face financial change.

Exodus 14:21-22 says, "And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and waters were divided.  And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left."

I can only imagine what the Israelites were thinking as they walked between those walls of water - blatant evidence of God's almight power.  Surely they were ashamed at their lack of faith and trust in Him. 

I have yet to see how God will carry us through this next year, but I am certain that He will.  And as I walk on dry ground, I am certain that I too will be ashamed that I ever feared what might lie ahead.