the only light I will ever know is the way your hand held mine.
thank you for such hope and cheer.
thank you for planting me.
thank you for the celebration in the midst of all our waiting. . .
it didn’t turn out the way we wanted,
but I really loved my life.
I make way for light, the underground of hope.
when it’s a flower, it’s also me. . .
the wellspring of a story,
writing a beautiful thing
without seeing the light of day.
well, that’s the impossible, magical thing
of being the unseen.
-the roots, deep
I won’t be here long,
but I love how long you wait for me.
with eager hope and eyes to see.
we both have wintered well.
let’s enjoy the view.
I am the blush of spring,
and so you are to me.
-the rose bloom
it was safe to be like dirt in a garden yet to grow.
and it was hope to bloom like a wanted thing
from a broken pot of dreams.
and after the burial, the burst of the flower,
who knew this was me. –the gardener
and so the gardener, the roots and rose,
the tree and the seed waited and welled with joy.
life had already been, and it was really good.
but so much more was coming.
first spring, soon after, her.
all garden arms wide open for
the tiniest bundle of sunshine. . .
here comes the gardener’s daughter.
As for the gardener’s daughter? Well, I’ll let her tell her own story as she lives it. I am excited to get to know her as a person! She’s just shy of a month earth-side so we have a million things to catch up on as she grows into herself.
Make no mistake, this postpartum season hasn’t been without tears or overwhelm. It’s been a ride with highs and lows. I took this picture in the garden last week and also took a home video right there with our cat curled up on my lap, my son toddling around, and my newborn daughter resting against me. I know I’ll treasure this 60 second video forever. This particular moment(s) in the garden was much needed and so sweet for me as a mother.
I’m learning so much right now and feeling the discomfort that comes with breaking out of an old shell, working through postpartum healing and hormones, and growing deeper into my life as a mother. I am excited for what’s to come. Postpartum is far from over. But I’m here for it. Here for my life. Here for my motherhood. I am 100% here.
The surprise of my life came again with two pink lines. Pregnant! And so soon! A day after we found out, my midwife texted me out of the blue. It was such fun timing. Soon after I texted back and told her we had just found out we were pregnant. We’d only known roughly two days before telling our midwife the happy news.
From that point on, my midwife and I planned and anticipated her to be at my little girl’s birth. The next nine months came and went with sickness, exhaustion, excitement, fear, anemia, laughter, anticipation, good conversations and appointments with my midwife, and life, life, life.
A few weeks leading up to my April 1st due date, my midwife let me know there were two days she would be gone. This was something she couldn’t change although she tried. She didn’t tell me the specific days, only that there were two and if I went a little past my due date. . .that’d be good. So, I had a little time to prepare for the possibility she wouldn’t be there. Having missed Shasta’s birth coupled with our bond + friendship made this a birth my midwife was determined to be there for. I was glad she would be! She has made all the difference in my pregnancy, birthing, and early motherhood journey. She’s gold!
Then comes the morning of March 29th.
My plans for aftercare in early post-partum were unexpectedly shuffled around. When I found out, I couldn’t stop crying. Up till now, I had remained exhausted but fairly emotionally stable. But this tipped the scale. And though the shuffle made complete sense, I was disappointed! Suddenly I found myself with question marks where I had answers before.
That morning, Ben and I shared a smile saying something like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I went into labor tonight?” An emotional breakdown signaled Shasta’s labor and maybe those uncontrollable tears are my body’s way of preparing to give birth. At that point, we didn’t know, but it was a fun thought! (And we were right!)
For the rest of that day, our little girl was quiet as a mouse. She was so peaceful. There were no true signs. That evening I had so much emotion welling inside me. I felt overwhelmed, unable. Everything seemed daunting. My parents were here for the days leading up to and directly past my due date, but plans still needed set if I went “late” (quotations because babies come when babies come, ha!).
I found myself in Psalm 46. “God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and groan, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” And then I added my own “thoughs.” Though I’m exhausted. Though I don’t know how to care for two kids. Though this. Though that. And I ended that Psalm prayer with the end of that chapter. . . “Be still and know that I am God.” I prayed in my journal more, just so in need of God. I couldn’t do any of this without Him. Indeed, my very present Help.
Somehow I ended up in Psalm 18 and there were verses that spoke straight to my heart, surrounding me and holding me up in peace and courage. But it was verse 29 that became my anthem. “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.” I am no stranger to this verse. It has been a life jacket during my years of chronic pain. It’s one of my favorite pages in my son’s board book on the Psalms. (He likes it too.) So, in all CAPS I wrote, “IT IS ALL YOU.”
Mere minutes after my prayers through the Psalms, I felt my little girl like a rocket ship getting into position. That is truly the best way to describe how it felt. Contractions began steady and purposeful. But I wasn’t ready to call anything. I let this go for awhile and didn’t tell Ben. Once he knew, there’d be no sleep in the cards for him. No need to get him worked up if this wasn’t true labor!
A couple hours later, I decided to move to the couch which is infinitely more comfortable when you’re unwell! Ben heard me and asked me, “What’s up?” He’s always on high alert in the weeks leading up to birth! I told him I had been having contractions, but I wasn’t ready to call anything yet. Before I could get comfortable on the couch, it became a bit more clear that. .uh, yeah. . . this is probably for real. I go back into the room to tell Ben something along the lines of, “Never mind, it’s happening.” But it wasn’t time for the hospital yet!
So, I got comfortable and labored for a couple more hours before we decided it was time to call my Mom over to the house to care for Shasta while we went to the hospital.
Dad said, “Okay you guys, go have a baby.”
Off we went.
And then back we came, because I forgot my I.D. and insurance card. Hahaha! Thankfully we hadn’t been too far on the dirt road of potholes yet.
So off we went again.
The drive was quite bearable. Our conversation was sweet. I breathed and moved through my contractions well. I told Ben about Psalm 18 and there we were at the hospital. Upon arrival around 5 a.m. (??), I was 3.5 centimeters. I had texted my midwife some hours before while laboring at home.
And of course, March 30, was the last of the two days she was gone.
I got situated in the hospital and continued laboring. The nurse brought my husband a cup of coffee from (I’m assuming) the nurse’s lounge because she said the cafeteria wasn’t opened yet. She was the absolute best! I tried to labor on the birthing ball which was just a bad choice. Haha. I didn’t last long! I found a good position during contractions to labor in bed. I jumped from 3.5 centimeters to 7 in no time at all. Throughout this, my midwife was texting me. She was hoping to make it back for little girl’s entrance. But labor was moving fast. I still felt my midwife by my side even though she wasn’t right by my side.
And then at some point, I felt my water break. And it BROKE. Like in the movies. It was right up there with one of the most uncomfortable parts of labor. With bug eyes, I gasped to Ben, “My water just broke!” The nurse changed out the bedding. I labored, holding tight to Ben, and somewhere along the way. . .I noticed her tattoo.
You are my sunshine.
She was the same nurse I had for Shasta! The nurse I remembered most from my son’s birthday. She explained her “You are my sunshine” tattoo as the song she would sing to her daughter. It was a song passed down between mother and daughter and it was apparent that You Are My Sunshine was a lullaby etched deep in her family history. I decided to tie that story to mine and sing that song to Shasta as part of our good night routine. It felt special to let her tradition live on in my family.
“You’re the nurse! You’re the one who was with us for Shasta! We sing ‘You Are My Sunshine‘ to him every night!”
It was an amazing discovery.
She added to the story saying that in the last year or so she now has a grandaughter to whom she sings the song. It was such a special gift to have the same nurse, to get her name (because I could not remember!), to tell her we sing that song to our son, to hear the story is living on in her family. With my midwife unable to be there, I truly believe God gave me this specific nurse, a sense of familiarity, a really beautiful extenstion of Shasta’s birth to his sister’s, refreshment to my heart!
I kept meditating on Psalm 18:29, said yes to the epidural, was behind one other woman, then they changed their mind. I needed it first. My body was moving fast. We were close. Getting the epidural took awhile. I struggled with positioning. When baby is that low, it’s hard to sit! I continued breathing and calmly moving my way through contractions slow and steady.
My nurse and Ben were so present for me throughout the pain. There was such a contrast between the gentle comfort they provided and the intensity of the pain. It was beautiful to feel the gentleness of their comfort, but it did not erase the pain. It could not! I felt the pain and comfort simultaneously but separately. The comfort carried me through the pain, but not away from it. There’s a lesson in that, I think.
After the epidural (administered by the same anesthesiologist from Shasta’s birth), I managed to get some rest. The epidural only dulled the top half of the contraction, but allowed me to feel the pressure and urge to push. I was thankful for the relief.
Not only was my nurse and anesthesiologist the same from Shasta’s birth, but without my midwife there, the doctor delivering was the same too. Initially when I had arrived she wasn’t on shift, but I was determined to stay pregnant until she was! (As if I had control, heeheheee.)
If my midwife couldn’t be there, the only other person I wanted delivering my daughter was the one who delivered my son and took care of me so well. (I was told later that her delivery of Shasta was one of her first births at this hospital!) She came in, checked on me and the baby who was, in her words, “happy as a clam!”. And that was that. The baby was coming soon, but we were going to let this baby labor down.
My midwife was watching the strip from afar, sending me a video with her love, and Ben snapped a terrrrrible selfie of us and my disheveled self with a thumbs up to send her way. There was no way this baby was going to wait for anyone.
Around 12 p.m. (I’m assuming times here), it was time to really have this baby. I’m not sure how often I looked at my nurse like a wild woman saying something like, “I can feel this baby!” And at some point in the birthing process, my nurse asked how I was doing to which I replied, “Well, pushing a human out isn’t really my cup of tea!” There was laughter and then we just kept on laboring together. If you’ve ever given birth or attended one, you know it’s a group effort. I find that so beautiful.
The actual pushing was short, and I truly did not know how I would do it. God absolutely carried me through my daughter’s birth in every way.
And there she was!
While my daughter laid on my chest, the doctor took care of me and a nurse helped my baby along until they heard the hearty cry they were happy with. She was just fine. 12:31 P.M. Eight pounds, 5 ounces of complete miracle, of whirlwind life, of spring.
After Heidi was born and all was well with myself and baby, my wonderful doctor said almost as though she was talking to herself,
“Congratulations. That was a beautiful, beautiful thing.”
We named her Heidi, because my husband and I just love the name. I think most people identify Heidi as a cute name and it is, but I find it rather strong and spirited. Odeletta was a name we discovered along the way meaning “little spring.” I didn’t know if Ben would go for it, because Heidi Odeletta sounds a bit like yodeling, but Ben loved it. The more I say it, the less like yodeling I find it and the more like singing it is.
Heidi Odeletta, our spring girl!
My midwife came to visit us the next morning. We had both spent months looking forward to Heidi’s birth as something we would do side by side, but as we talked about things that happened before and during her birthday, it was so abundantly and beautifully clear to me that Heidi Letta’s birth was purposeful in every detail imaginable. Suddenly, my doctor’s words, “That was a beautiful, beautiful thing” made more sense. It was her all along who needed to be at Heidi’s birth. It took awhile for the reality of my midwife not being there to sink in, but it began to around Day 3 postpartum. And while I have cried more than once about my midwife being unable to make Heidi Letta’s birth, the lingering sadness cannot steal the beautiful and purposeful way in which God brought her into the world exactly as He did. His hand was gently + powerfully everywhere.
Truly I have lived the words, “You are He (God) who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of You.” Psalm 71:6.
Heidi already holds such a life story, such a story of life.
God is kind and He is good. I love how He brought our Heidi Odeletta to us. I love that the Psalms hold true. That God carried us into such a miracle as this and continues to sustain us through the exhaustion, tears, emotions, newness, and love that is always too big for us to hold on our own.
My prayer now in these sweet, overwhelming, hard, lovely newborn days is “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because He trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3.
Happiest of Birthdays, my Heidi Odeletta, our spring girl! You are my sunshine. As is your brother. And God is our Light.
Like many women who struggle during pregnancy, this one has been hard for me. It has been a mental labor and a physical struggle all throughout. It’s wild to see the way people talk about birth and pregnancy online. All the advice, natural things, do this, not that. On and on. I don’t get caught up in it and am very protective of where I go for information and the stories I read.
But I’ll be honest, I’m approaching this birth “weak” as far as “they” are concerned.
I am not at all where I “should” be, and I can imagine many women are like me.
But I’m not intimidated by where I find myself at 39 weeks. Carrying my daughter has been a labor of love.
And I’ve done it imperfectly.
There has been pain, fraility, struggle, anxiety, calm, anemia, long-lasting sickness, discouragement, excitement. . .
As I approach her birthday, Psalm 71:6 is my anthem. “Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he (God) who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.”
And that verse is the driving force behind this poem which says everything I want to say so much better and more succinctly than a long post could articulate.
This poem is to all pregnant women. But especially to those who have struggled and labored in love without the strength to do “everything just right.” To those who have been sick and weak for most, or all, of these last 9 months. To us who cannot and do not meet the expectations and ideals laid out.
Do not let the echoes of should demoralize your spirit.
Weak bodies dance.
Birth is not only for the strong.
Where Weak Bodies Dance
my body is not strong like all the books and my peers, professionals say I should have been, should be by now.
but when I’m asked to deliver you, I know I’ll do it strong. without the shoulds, with a weaker body, with a zeal and spirit only God could give.
and while my body works relentlessly after working hard so fully and unwell, so imperfectly these last 9 months for you, my soul will be fully well, right where it should be, full resting.
for it is God who brought me from my mother’s womb and it is God who will bring you forth from mine.
both our bodies human, fragile from labor and deliverance. from beginning, heart and lungs earthside. from learning how to be mother and child in a world where brokenness and beauty, shoulds and withouts, meet safety and strength in God.
and all the books and voices, though loud and long and sharp, can’t hold back the story where weak bodies dance and sing, rejoice labor and deliver, inhale, exhale, the miracle! over and over us wholly here half ready all in giving and receiving life.