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.ūüėć 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!ūüėÖ) 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.

infertility · The Celebrating Soul

When Autumn Is Just a Moldy Pumpkin

Upon choosing a title for the email I send every Monday,¬†I picked “It’s Okay If It Stinks.” So sophisticated, I know. While I’ve been basking in the autumn season and all the fall things, the photo below popped up on my memories last week, and regardless of it popping up, I think about it often enough.


This squashed pumpkin was Fall 2017 in every way. I don’t really have any other photos to mark that time, and honestly, this one says it all.

FALL 2017 STUNK.

This pumpkin was a result of my trying to host a fun little fall carving pumpkin get-together. You know, making the most of things and whatnot. It was fine and all, but I stabbed my thumb with a knife on accident and said thumb got really infected. . .turned green! Apart from that, our truck was a mess and blew a tire on the freeway on the way to church!!! We were officially a year+ into no baby. I was soaking my thumb in garlic, oil, and whatnot and it was one of the worst falls ever! I don’t have anything good to say about it. Okay, I don’t! It was hard. Bottom line. End of story.

But it didn’t stay hard.

Or I should say. . .it didn’t stay hard without hope & healing.

The next fall (2018) I was rolling out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of pumpkins to throw a harvest party. And it was a big deal to be in a place mentally and spiritually to throw a party. Just that spring we had rolled out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of flowers,  officially beginning our Porch Garden.

Fall 2019 would arrive and I’d be even more settled into life despite infertility. I’d be¬†hosting a girl’s fall party with my friend, eating too many sweets,¬†breaking out like a Junior Higher, thinking maybe I’d had too many sweets! BUT ACTUALLY IT WAS MY BABY BOY and the hormones were just raging! (I probably also had too many sweets, heheeeee, no regrets, but the breakout was totally baby-related!)

But Fall 2017 was just a moldy pumpkin.

It was nothing good. It was the season that marks where I used to be before healing, help, freedom, and LIFE. I love to look back now because I see what God has done, but I don’t kid myself into twisiting that season in and of itself into something beautiful. It wasn’t. What is beautiful? That God didn’t let me stay there. He didn’t let me stay consumed by my envy, jealousy, or anger. Didn’t let me stay stuck in grief. God answered my deep questioning of His goodness with Himself and I was satisfied! God heard me, saw me, helped me! WAS WITH ME. That is the beautiful thing. But not Fall 2017. Nothing beautiful about then.

So if you’re in a fall season that’s a squashed, moldy pumpkin,  you don’t have to try and make it anything different. It is hard. It is painful. It does stink. So bring all of that rawness to God. And whether or not you see the hoped-for change of season this side of heaven, you will know satisfaction in God, comfort in His Presence, amazement that even when pain stays the story it doesn’t stay the story.

I can’t tell you what you’ll get to look back on in a few years. I can’t say whether or not Fall 2022 is your beginning mark. But I can say with certainty life in God is not disappointing even when life itself is disappointing. God transforms, heals, teaches, grows, helps, sees, hears, IS WITH US. His Presence is everything, and we are made radiant as we seek Him with our life however life this side of heaven turns out, or doesn’t.

Rooting for you, trusting God with you, let’s live.

-S.V.F.

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.

infertility · Poetry

How Thoroughly God Gives Life!

In 2020, while a child grew in me, I returned to the thing I had loved to do as a child. Writing poetry. And I wrote the years down. Infertility. My silent screaming. God’s history of love to me. My grief. The garden. The starkness of the bathroom floor. The healing. The escape from the grave. Hope Gives a Eulogy. How thoroughly God gives life! His miracles are many. His presence is everything.

artwork by the talented Emaline Westbrook!

It’s been one year since I published Hope Gives a Eulogy. What a gift to learn I could love God with all of me, fully trust Him and live in hope from Him without ever trying to make infertility the good thing. I could hate the pain without bitterness, grieve the loss extensively, and still completely love and be loved by God. I could experience His kindness without contorting His kindness into the brokeness of infertility. Anything good I experienced during infertility is because God changed it. He made the childless story different. He gave the barren woman LIFE. He didn’t let infertility stay the story.

And that was all before my my children.

And as I wrote my son in Hope Gives a Eulogy,

You were never missing,

But so many things were–

Joy and peace and healing,

Dreaming, breathing, being.

A real hopeful kind of living.

So I learned how to play

Hide and seek.

Sometimes, buried treasure

Is a box of lost and found.

And the garden is half-priced

Daisies in a grocery cart.

Maybe the eulogy is a prelude

For new life.

See what I mean?

I’ve got much more to tell you,

And I’m so glad you’ve come along!

I can’t wait to show you all the best

Hiding spots.

(There’s a lot.)

This is a story I’ll be telling forever. To my children, and should God give them, my children’s children. “Come¬†and¬†hear,¬†all¬†you¬†who¬†fear¬†God,and¬†I¬†will¬†tell¬†what¬†he¬†has¬†done¬†for¬†my¬†soul.” Psalm 66:16

Truly God has kept my soul among the living! (Psalm 66:8)

It has been a profound journey of hope and healing. God turned my life into spring and then He gave me two children and expanded that springtime in huge ways. I know this story of God’s love and glory is far from over. I’m glad to have part of it written down. To have shared it with you. And here we are one year later.

To celebrate one year of Hope Gives a Eulogy out in the world, you can purchase this personal collection of 96 poems for half off the original price! This is the best deal to date and the offer goes through Mother’s Day should you find yourself or know a friend who is in a spring-less season this Mother’s Day. May these poems meet you wherever you are. Let me wait with you for however long it takes spring to burst in your soul again. And then some.ūüíē

Perhaps the eulogy is, indeed, a prelude for new life.

-S.V.F.