Garden Lullaby

6 Months Postpartum, Awkward Armfuls & the October Garden

I sat in the garden a few weeks postpartum and felt the breeze. Holding my daughter close to my chest wrapped warm in her colorful quilt. My son played. I smiled. Even laughed. There was a lifting here. Happiness I could feel. The early postpartum fog rose half an inch.

I’m in the garden 6 months postpartum. The breeze is shifting from early spring to early fall. My daughter is stretched out on the same colorful quilt. I’m watering the flowers. I glance over, catch her eye, and she grins. Wide as the ocean. My son plays. There is a light-heartedness here. Happiness felt everywhere. Half a year postpartum finds me well. Finds all of us well. Time can be beautiful.

my kiddos are all blurry in the background.😍 Heidi on that colorful quilt and Shasta drawing!

My husband and I were talking about Heidi’s birth recently and his experience of her birth confirms the word I use to describe it–powerful.

I remember hearing the firm words and controlled intensity of my doctor urging Heidi to cry. Really cry. The hearty infant cry you want to hear for every birth. The cord had been wrapped around Heidi’s neck and the final moments of her delivery were difficult for her. I knew from my doctor’s tone that something wasn’t fully the way it should be after she was born, but I also didn’t feel alarming chaos since she gave care so succinctly and swiftly. All truly was well, and I rememeber asking “Is she okay?” They were effusive in their reply. Yes, she is!! AND SHE WAS!! But when my husband relays the story there’s a bit more intensity to what happened. No emergency, but some uneasy moments to be sure.

Heidi’s roses bloom one more time before true California autumn sets in!

Life is so precious and the gift of a baby, a live birth, and a healthy mom is cause for worldwide celebration every single time. I told her birth story already, and it’s a good one. But anyway, Heidi was born! And even in the intensity, the turning blue post-birth, the “MAKE HER CRY” commands, there she was.

Healthy. Whole. Strong. Spring after winter. Spring the whole time. My wonderful doctor saying more to herself than anyone else, “Congratulations. That was a beautiful, beautiful thing.”

Indeed it was. Still is.

my garden journal, page set to the year 2022

There’s more to this story. And it’s remarkable! But it’s also not really my story to tell on the internet. I just know that every single detail of Heidi’s birth was a powerful display of our God.

Still in the days following Heidi’s birth I would cry over my midwife not being there. I would struggle deeply through the fog. Days would feel like sandpaper. . .scraping, depleting. Growing pains galore. But the garden bloomed and so did I, eventually. And wowza, it’s worth the time it took!

I’ve spent plenty of October afternoons side-by-side with my daughter. Being a mother, but feeling so free and light. Seeing butterflies at the zinnias taking there sweet time.

October was Zinnia Season! These were all planted a few days before Heidi’s birth.

[Admittedly] sighing at the lovely autumn breeze making it difficult to photograph flowers. Just stop for a second. (But you can resume your breeziness soon!! I do love it, promise!😅) Enjoying the last warm afternoons and anticipating everything cozy and holiday.

Always gathering up the baby toys, that same colorful quilt, that enthusiastic Heidi o’ mine in awkward armfuls! My son toddling with us, sometimes ever so slowly!

My son’s flower bush about to bloom. November is its shining season. This is very special since Nov 2019 is when we found out about him!

It’s a season rich in its routine. Filled with chatter, “I got chu, Mommy,” overwhelm, laughter, and learning. Heidi’s birth story is 7 months in the past, still stunning us with how it turned out, how God weaved every detail and moment, how we experienced His protection and power.

Life is poignant, brilliant!

Excuse my big bold letters, but the garden knows it too.

I wrote a poem about 6 weeks into my postpartum season having been inspired by a spring bird whistling through a rainstorm. This poem, Weather, touches on the complex journey of deepening into motherhood and staying in life, of experiencing wonder & joy alongside the fog and absolute heaviness that occur during motherhood. While the heavy, indiscernable postpartum fog lifted soon after birth, the growing pains in the last 6 (now 7!) months have been intense. But I am more settled than ever. A happy mom. Loving it. Height of joy these days, but I know there will be more to weather. Impossible to avoid, but the sun abides and the bird flies. And so do I.

Weather

spring bird
sings
in a rainstorm.
a woman
grows
into a mother.
a damp, hard thing,
but a rhythm
deep in
joy,
drenched in
abiding
sun.
this bird and I
fly,
anchored.
for we’ve learned to
weather well.

S.V.F.

Welcome to the garden, November. It’s lovely to see you. Happy 7 months, Heidi. You’re radiant! Happy memories flood of finding out about Shasta. I love you more than ever, son! We’re flying. We’re anchored. We’re weathering. And it’s fall, but it’s spring. What a season.

Garden Lullaby

Magic of California Autumn // The September Garden

It’s eating fresh-picked, late-summer blackberries on the first day it feels like autumn is in the air. It’s how you are soaking in the last vestiges of summer but enraptured by every gust of wind making a leaf flurry center stage. And you just there in the front seat.

It’s the first day you’re outside and the air around you has suddenly shifted. It’s the first huge rain that comes down in buckets and cats and dogs and every other rain idiom you can think of.

It’s the warmth of the sunshine, but the coolness of the shade. It’s how every last day in the garden is heightened in its enjoyment as the season slowly turns. It’s how long these lasts last.

This is the magic of California Autumn.

Summer hangs on tightly. Spring even seems to show itself. The bursts of life are so bright against the dying leaves now piling in the garden. Yet even these blooms, bright as they may be, have an older look to them.

The garden as a whole does not seem near as playful. California Autumn is a gentle thing. Not dramatc. Not rushed. Not swayed by our opinions or impatience. It changes when it does. Wraps us in sunshine. Finds us in the garden with a plethora of zinnias, barefeet, babies lying on colorful quilts and us lying in the grass.

The September Garden has been absolutely stunning. Even its abundance, it does not have the youthful blush of spring, but I wouldn’t want it too. It’s beautiful when framed by our little corner of the world about to storm. It holds its own as the year gets old and the leaves fall and gather.

Every color, every rose bloom carefully bursting, every last long and warm afternoon has an enchantment only to be tasted this time of year.

And we are full.

Full having spent a year wrapped in the blessings of the Lord, welcoming our second child, experiencing our best garden season to date, pushing our son in the swing for months on end, back and forth, watching him grow right before our eyes, cultivating life inside and outside the garden gate.

The magic of California Autumn is the beauty and excitement experienced within it despite the lack of pomp and circumstance. And the joy of autumn itself is gathering up the stories of your year and sitting within the goodness of God. Maybe not making sense of everything, but knowing with certainty that nothing makes sense without Him.

And here you are. Perhaps a bit like my September Garden.

Abundance and weariness. Blooming but not youthful. Radiant as you weather the storm and those yet to come. It’s beautiful here in a way spring can never attain. Beautiful in a way hard to explain.

So I’ll go barefoot in autumn and be smitten by the novelty of it.

A Happy Fall, indeed.

Poetry

Life Here Is Not Only Madness

For whatever reason after I finally posted, A Mother in Warfare, I could not write any new words. Not really. I read through old work and edited an old poem making it better. But truly new words? New ideas? Not a thing. Perhaps due to a few things. Who can really tell? I have my suspicions. No one thing the sole culprit.

You can push through writer’s block fine enough, but this particular time (these days in general) didn’t seem like a time for pushing through. It seemed like a time for waiting. Just letting that absence of creativity lie dormant. Of not forcing beautiful words on a page. I had none, anyway. I was blank space.

But then my husband and I were in the garden with our son. He turns two this August and I’m already getting excited. I’ve been thinking of his birthday since I was early pregnant with our daughter. Birthdays light up my soul, I suppose.

And his is so special.

I can remember the anticipation I felt leading up to his birth. I can feel those long days of labor. Picking zinnias before going to the hospital (the first time, heheee). The laughter. How he felt on my chest in those first minutes. Bringing him home to sunflowers and our first walks in the garden holding him tiny in my arms. I was thrown into this kind of magic that hasn’t stopped. I’m getting carried away. Like I said. . .birthdays.

And more specifically the birthdays belonging to my children.

Well, anyhow, he’s almost two and that evening in the garden, we picked him a snow pea and showed him he could actually eat it. I hope I never forget his face. It will always be one of the sweetest things I’ve experienced earth-side. A moment so small and so big and beautiful. . .his realization that some things grown in the garden can be picked and eaten too.

And for me? I felt I could write again after that. I didn’t know what the words would be just then, but they would come soon. The following poem feels like a way forward after my latest, Even Mothers, Even Here.

So here we go. . .the words that came that evening after June snow peas in the garden.

Snow in June

after too much death

much too soon,

after wrestling with the words,

after all the words ran out,

after the Psalms ran on audio,

after nursing my daughter in

the dark of morning

afraid of lights out, life out,

of bad news down like

lightening,

I’m in the garden with my son.

he’s standing, loved, between us.

and he’s full smiling, hint of grinning,

we’re picking snow peas in June.

now height of morning light in evening

watching him taste and see

the fruit of our hope,

that this fruit even exists

that it can be for him. . .

not untouchable like the roses

not to save like the daisies

not to spare like the pink blossoms

. . .but to pick and eat,

its beauty in the tasting

its joy in the process.

eyes alight, its snow in June,

us right there with him.

fresh delight and nightfall soon. . .

life here is not only madness.

for I have also tasted,

and I have also seen.

the Lord, indeed, is good.

I’m not sure what I’ll write next or when. . .?

I’m in the days I can’t really explain.

I can imagine a mixture of postpartum, mothering two, shifting into a new camp season, wrestling with my fear of loss, trusting God with my whole being, and experiencing my faith deepen has life demanding my full attention without margin or capacity to write. I may be a solid two months past giving birth to my bright-eyed, wonderful Heidi, but I’m only a solid two months past. So there’s a lot still happening.

But Shasta is on his Y Bike in the bathroom batting his toddler hand at the dust particles floating in the morning sunlight.

And Psalms 16:8-9 upholds me in the night.

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

Heidi smiles at the drop of a hat.

Words will come again. The days sure do. I’m grateful for every single one.

So while I wait, grow, heal, learn, deepen and surrender, I think I’ll enjoy another snow pea in the garden this evening.

motherhood

The Garden Welcomes My Daughter

If the garden told the story,

there was nothing much to see,

until she put a garden under me.

a rosy bush, a sunflower,

some weeds, some grass, all joy.

so maybe it was she who was the flower first.

-the tree

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.

-the seed

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.

And God is here with me.

Here is the best place to be.