motherhood · Poetry

Birth Is Not Only for the Strong

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.

halfway!

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.

third trimester! (28 weeks)

And I’ve done it imperfectly.

There has been pain, fraility, struggle, anxiety, calm, anemia, long-lasting sickness, discouragement, excitement. . .

35 weeks! almost there!

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.

-S.V.F.

infertility · motherhood

The Days Before I Saw My First Positive Pregnancy Test

Quite a few Novembers ago, I remember sitting outside and trudging through the emotions that come with infertility. There was a storm brewing in the distance, but as I sat there I suddenly felt that it would be okay. . . even good. Not right then. Maybe not soon. But sometime. There was a a settled feeling that washed over me. . .it was almost as though I had caught a glimpse of something beautiful, but it happened so fast. I can’t even remember all the details from that cold, fall afternoon. Only that good was coming.

I think that split second moment was a gift from God. . .momentary relief from the fresh, young tulmtuous waves in my soul.

The years following that moment were filled with tears, anguish, hollowness, heartache, the bathroom floor, pain. . .healing, closeness with Christ, the garden, laughter, the joy of a leaf, a life that filled up with life. And all of these things ran together in a way words could never describe, but you can understand. . .because you’ve been there too.

Fast forward to November 2019. I was on the brighter side of healing. My husband and I had recently had a conversation about how we would move forward in our family journey. I remember saying something along the lines of, “I really want children with you.” But I also remember confidently and peacefully closing doors in so many directions while opening ourselves to a life we hadn’t planned, but I finally felt excited for.

Shortly after that, I received a basket from a friend filled with the brigthest flowery things, pens, and a blank notepad. It was gift that seemed to say, “I see you!” And I put that basket of gifts on display!

Mere days later, another friend sent me this mug, joy comes in the morning, alongsisde a beautiful note which I have in the back of my prayer journal from that time. She knew about my struggle with infertility, and these were some of her words, “I pray for you almost every night and have every confidence that God has the most beautiful plan for you and Ben.”

About a week and half or so after that, I took a pregnancy test not expecting much or really anything at all. I had long-since given up taking these tests and asssumed my hormones were acting up because of my increased sugar intake.(Helloooo harvest party! 😉 )

Well, that test turned to two pink lines so fast. I couldn’t believe it, and yet somehow it was so believable. I just laughed! Hope Gives a Eulogy has a poem for that moment and a hundred others I experienced during infertility.

But there it was. Clear as day. Two lines. A yes. My firstborn son.

Flowers given to us by friends when they found out we were pregnant with our son which we eventually planted as his flower. And now they are blooming wildly this November!

Remember that note from my friend sitting in the back of my prayer journal? Around it I wrote, “note + gift from a friend received a week and a half or so before finding out I was pregnant. This was one of 3 meaningful gifts leading up to the great crescendo of our Shasta-boy.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention a third gift in this blog post, because I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I’ve got it recorded so it happened!

What a parade of gifts before the grand finale of our son. Which, of course, we know is not the finale, because God is always working and weaving miracles and healing and hope realized in so many ways! The reality is I had received thousands of gifts from God in those dark years leading up to those 3 gifts from friends leading up to the gift of a baby I could only yet see in two pink lines.

I hosted our third Thanksgiving in our bright blue home while being 6 or so weeks pregnant. That Thanksgiving was our first holiday with a baby in tow even though we’d never met him yet. The flowery blank notepad given by my friend is now my garden journal.

I totally added the sun flare to this garden journal photo! 😉

And if you’ve been around here for awhile, you know the significance of the garden in my long infertility journey! The “joy” mug is one of my all-time favorites and I love drinking coffee from it during the fall/November season.

Amazingly, I’m writing this blog post on the same November day I found out I was pregnant two years ago! (That wasn’t planned.) Even more beautiful is sitting here typing these words while being 21 weeks pregnant with our little girl.

halfway with our little girl!

I’ve been surprised by both my babies in different, wonderful, totally-of-God ways. We are headed into our fifth hosted Thanksgiving with inexplicable healing and the gift of two children.

And I think it’s important to note that with God this story could have happened in a thousand different miraculously good ways. . .children or not. I believe no matter what, I could still sit in November 2021 and recount God’s goodness. Which solidifies the truth that no matter what happens in our future, I will still be able to recount God’s goodness, be awestruck by His gifts, stunned by His timing, filled with His healing and hope, surrounded by a life made with life by God.

But here I am now. This is the story to date. The good gifts are endless. God’s goodness is endless. I’m moved by God’s love for me. As I wrote in my poem, Lest I Forget!, “and it was flowers, and Novembers, and pink skies, summer nights where Your blessing took over my life, and I was crying and laughing and breathing and longing and it was beautiful lest I forget!”

Today with the gift of my son and daughter, my husband and a 5th Thanskgiving in my home, I pray as I did in 2019, “Help me receive this gift with open, celebratory, trusting hands.”

God makes life. “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” -Psalm 66:5

And so we do, and we will!

Amen.