infertility · motherhood

Zinnias, August 1st, & a Folded Paper of Dreams

I scribbled out my dreams for the future. I wrote of children who would garden with me and complain about it, but I wouldn’t mind, because I would be just so happy they were there with me. A folded piece of paper stuck in a between the pages. Who knew if it would happen? Who knew if it could.

But it did.

2022 zinnia with Shasta’s red wagon in the background and the spent flowers inside already dumped out in the pathway. I better go pick those up soon!😂

Of course, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But it was true. The next nine months passed as they do, and on the fourth day past my due date, I was finally in labor. It was August 1st, and he was coming.

I walked out to the garden and cut some zinnias before we made our way to the hospital. It felt like an important thing to do. It was celebratory in its own way. Even though I had been in labor all day and had contractions all through the previous night, I had more laboring ahead. We came home for the night with instructions to come back the following morning. I didn’t pick any more zinnias, and by the next morning I was much too along to easily do much of anything else besides labor! We were going to have a baby! We were about to meet our son.

It was a birth I won’t soon forget. And full of laughter. I will always remember his birth has one of laughter! A beautiful foreshadowing of our life with him. We brought our Shasta home to sunflowers and zinnias.

I remember looking at him and thinking, “I can’t believe he’s real.” And I remember the moment I realized we’d have our Shasta-boy past the newborn stage. We had our son for keeps. I remember feeling that certain sadness all mothers feel when realizing your child won’t stay this little baby forever, but I also remember realizing how exciting it would be to have conversations with him as a young man.

And so time moves as it does and I find myself in the garden on August 1st again.

Shasta has outgrown his yellow boots and walks around in his blue ones. The sunflowers are towering giants. The zinnias are begging for attention. The garden needs some tending. I cut the zinnias and stop his young hand from picking the one not yet bloomed! Such earnest “help!” I place the cut zinnias in water and hand him his own to stick in the water too. Soon after I begin trimming out spent flowers. I reach across the flower bed to give my son the old and done flowers to put in our weed bucket which will soon be stored in his red wagon along with a piece of bark he found. He says “tank u!” multiple times as flower stems and old things cross from me to him.

We are gardening together.

It must make God smile to see it. . .

Two years later the woman who scribbled dreams on a piece of paper has a jar of zinnias, a bucket of spent flowers, a son to garden alongside, and a baby daughter nearby. Over the years, time has felt both cruel and beautiful. But with God it has always gone to good places. Somehow in His miraculous, healing, redemptive, and purposeful work, He made the barren woman sing before children and then made her a joyful mother of them.

Shasta, Heidi, and I fumble through the garden gate in the unlikely cool of an August morning. We’re a fun group, but not a very graceful one! Two’s a party, three’s a crowd as they say.

Naturally, I disagree.

Shasta runs around in his blue toddler boots or crocs depending. Heidi experiences the garden for her first spring and summer. In many ways, I toddle too as I experience so many firsts as a mother. Nonetheless, I water and watch us all grow.

The story unfolds vibrantly, and I have found it is the zinnias who tell the time.

Two whole years.

Then and now.

All to good places. The zinnias tick away this lovely mayhem of life. And we grab hold. With gusto. With flowers on the kitchen table.

I think I have a new tradition every first of August.

motherhood

The Desert Sky, Flowers, and the 4th Trimester

I smile at Heidi who smiles at me with her whole face. I love how she talks with such gusto, concentration, and effort.

taken in the first 6 weeks of Heidi’s life, not quite in the deep thick of it, but still in the very messy stages. this is pre-bloom. WE ARE BLOOMING NOW😍

I walk by the flower bed filled up with the wildflowers and zinnias we planted the weekend before her birth. Heidi is 3 months old now and it feels as though the garden is clapping for the joy of it. I can’t believe how special and poetic it feels to see these flowers bloom. . .these which once were seeds and planted mere days before her birth. Of course it would thrill my heart to watch life unfold like this before my eyes.

Heidi is growing with the flowers.

The sunflowers across the way tower into slow and steady giants. These were planted soon after her birthday and I love seeing time move in this way. I am not afraid of it. How I love the gifts God gives within it!

If I could describe my daughter in the few months I’ve known her earth-side, I’d say she is the desert sky at night. I can still see the Mojave night sky dotted with lovely stars. These stars are like joyful pin-pricks, like participants in something grand while just being happy to be stars.

Heidi Letta is just happy to be her and to enjoy fully whatever skills she has at present. She especially loves to talk and be talked to. She is vibrant, full of life, and radiant as she interacts with it. The desert sky at night! The fourth trimester has been a myriad of emotions, growing pains, and wonder.

I struggled through those early postpartum weeks, praying earnestly for help. . .that the fog would lift, that I wouldn’t spiral, that I would see past the feelings of sadness and overwhelm. I felt like I could have cried for a whole day. And God, I love this life you’ve given me and my children, but tonight it feels too much for me. Carry me until I see everything I know. And then, please keep holding me.

Though it felt long, the intensity was short-lived. And one day in the garden while Shasta played and Heidi lay against my chest . . .the fog lifted. There was a lightness spreading within. The intensity subsided. The cat was curled up in my lap. There was an April breeze. Spring was afoot. Heidi’s colorful quilt an ode to such a deeply good and hard season. My laughter. A 60 second video recorded to remember the life I was surrounded in though it had often felt like TOO MUCH. But there we were. And there I was too.

Some days after I would thank God for an ordinary, BEAUTIFUL morning with my kids. For all the roses blooming in the garden. . .for life that felt like LIFE again.

And then soon after that I would be asking God for help as the demands of motherhood overwhelmed! me. This would be followed by many more prayers falling between feelings of joy, difficulty, strength, weakness, laughter, sadness. . .etc. . .

While the intensity of postpartum has eased and the initial pressing heaviness was short-lived, my prayers still sound much the same! Thanksgiving and cries for help! Joy and sadness. Honesty. Confiding myself in God.

In the 4th trimester, I struggled, but also grinned, laughed, and was submerged in life. God was ever present. His provision carried me through! Sometimes, I look at my kids and I think HOW DO I HAVE TWO KIDS?! HOW ARE THEY REAL?! But they are. And I love it.

Early on Sunday morning, before the rest of the house woke up, Heidi and I slipped outside to water the garden. She was still in her pj’s just lounging while I made puddles around the the plants with our garden hose. We’d share big smiles. She’d watch the water. I’d talk to her here and there. I love being in her company. I love being her mother. I love sharing the garden with her.

Those early postpartum weeks were deep and heavy, but here we are. Here we are! In the garden smiling and watering the plants together on a summer Sunday morning.

And rather than deep like drowning, the depth is found in living. l am deeper in my motherhood, deeper in my fellowship with God, deeper in my love for my children, deeper in my commitment to the life & tasks at hand, for the day in front of me. There is a lightness of foot and a lightness of heart I did not know I’d know again. Postpartum can be like that. But it’s not (and shouldn’t!) be like that forever.

And while the garden claps for joy, I clap too.

For so many reasons.

For Heidi’s powerful birth. For who Heidi is. For fog lifting. For flowers growing. And me too. For my motherhood breaking out of its cocoon. For laughter. For tears that needed falling. And every prayer heard. For mornings in the garden. For the Mojave night sky I still get to see every day. (What a gift you are, Heidi!) For time moving. For babies that don’t keep. And my not staying the woman I used to be. For God’s presence in it all and that He will be present in all the days to come. And in the minutes too. Because, sometimes, motherhood is done by the minute, or more truly, by the second! God is with us!

So, I’m clapping too. For the sheer life of it all.

motherhood

Sunflowers, Summer Son

Our first sunflower of the season bloomed in the second week of July. I love sunflowers. They remind me of the summer I was pregnant with my son. That first time experiencing all the emotions that come with the final weeks of pregnancy, the excitement, the unknown, and the natural way your mind just starts preparing and anticipating for a very real labor of love.

39 or so weeks with our boy late July 2020!

I ate my share of strawberries summer 2020, grew sunflowers for the very first time, took pictures under the sunflower’s giant shower head, passed the time watching makeup videos on YouTube (I know, it doesn’t seem like I would enjoy those, but I do!), took walks, bounced on the ole pregnancy ball, picked zinnias in early labor, and eventually, after a loooong labor and a laughter-filled delivery, I brought my firstborn son home to sunflowers.

Summer used to be so hard.

August especially.

Then God gave me my son born in the summer in August. And sunflowers made up the backdrop.

2 weeks or so postpartum with our long-awaited miracle boy August 2020!

What a love story.❤ Naturally, the ground squirrles ravaged those sunflowers soon after. They bent low and looked a bit like mayhem, but sunflowers remain such a celebration of summertime and a reminder of the beautiful summer I experienced. . .and right in the midst of 2020 when the world and everyone felt as though we were falling apart at the seams.

We still deal with that fallout today, but 2020 was not only anger, confusion, angst, and scares. It was sunflowers, and babies, and laughter, and hospital rooms bursting with new life, and moms rocking their babies to sleep, and men learning how to be dads. And loving it.

In 2021 when I was pregnant with my daughter, I wrote a poem that seems fitting to share in this post. We can live so scared of the times and we can be fearful for our children, but neither is how God wants us to go about birth, or parenthood, or birthdays, or life spent here. . .in this broken world.


BIRTH IN TIMES LIKE THESE

They said it would be
too scary to bring
a baby
into this kind of
world.

As if someone’s birthday 
shouldn’t happen
because we think only
in nightmares.

As if the weight
of our worry
is their reality
forever.

As if we are the
pirates
of all peace
and goodness.

As if God ran out
of His beauty
and power
and kindness
and love
the moment
we grew up
to give birth to the children
we wouldn’t even have
without
the hand of God.

Maybe it would be scary
if it was me
who brought this baby
instead of God
who brought this baby
to me.

but it’s just me
in an invitation 
to hold my baby and see
so many good things
happen
after naively believing
only nightmares
come true.

-S.V.F


Summer sun in the sky and summer son beneath sunflowers. My arms are open wide to life earthside. I will celebrate all that is good and lovely with thanks to God the Most High. My stakes are in the ground.

I am not afraid.

Here but heavenward.

motherhood · Poetry

To Moms of Tiny Artists

Art in the Thick of It, Poem🎨💓

“I don’t make art anymore.”

But I watched her for a day.

November 2021 in the garden with my eldest, my firstborn, my boy!!

She smiled at the morning and then paved a way. She made room for their messes, imaginations soar. She helped them make sense of their huge world and her own such a blur.

She cheered for the funnest dreams. . .yes, the United States could use a queen! She pointed to leaves falling, can you hear the rustling? She filled up cups with water for stubby stems and weeds. She picks out mundane magic hidden inside of everything.

And when the magic ran all out. …her arms gathered up their growing pains. Her voice, “this is how a deep breath goes.” And her heart, “I’m here with you, and I love you very much.” Their eyes, “mom! our best nightlight, our knight in shining armor!” We are big and safe. We are strong and brave. We are loved and happy.”

Still she held back tears, sighed, “I don’t make art anymore.” But how can this be true?

She painted life by living, and like colors on a canvas, her art filled up her children. and greater still, where are the children standing next to her? Because all I really see are artists standing tall who just can’t wait to emulate
the wild art of living, of painting like their Mother.

-S.V.F.

a note // please do make some art if you can & enjoy those hobbies & pastimes but for the seasons and/or days which are all consuming & demanding DO NOT LOSE HEART! Tiny artists in your care!!💓