Soft morning light is just beginning to make its way in through the windows, causing the room to glow. I didn’t get my “golden hour” of uninterrupted skin-to-skin immediately after her birth, but it appears God is giving us a second chance at it. (And let the record show that since I couldn’t give her that valuable bonding time, Brandon did in my place.)
As it should be.
Only the bright sun is peeking in at us at this hour. No humans. No one is documenting the occasion or swirling around us to check vitals. Brandon is in and out of sleep on the couch by the window, exhausted and drained.
I breathe in this moment as deeply as I can, all the way to the tips of my toes. It feels just right, despite everything.
It’s been hours since her birth. No doubt she’s already been checked over many times by everyone but her mama. Now it’s my turn. I stare and study and take her in, just as if she were minutes old. How is she so perfect? So small? She looks just like her siblings! (But really….they favor so much it’s kind of like I’ve had the same baby three times.)
Things are still hazy and swirling a bit, but a defined peace, thick and heavy as a warm winter blanket, settles over me as my mind and heart catch up to the reality that she’s here. That she’s safe.
I look up and learn her birth stats from what’s written on the whiteboard on the wall:
Baby Girl born 5-23-2019.
8 lbs 6 oz.
20 inches long.
My smallest baby yet.
It’s later in the morning now and a kind and familiar face appears at the door of my hospital room. My amazing doctor. She barely makes it in the door before saying, “We tried everything. We tried absolutely everything.” I know it’s true. I nod, teary-eyed, feeling fully wrecked both physically and emotionally. We thank her for being our hero. We recount the record-fast ECV and how on point she was during the emergency. More pieces in my paper-mache birth story. The three of us take a picture together, and although I look absolutely dreadful, I’ll treasure it forever. How do you express your gratefulness to the woman who saved your baby? How do you thank the person who stepped into one of the most sacred moments of your life and completed the story because you couldn’t?
Some people have said maybe it’s for the best that I was not fully present for such a crazy and, at times, scary birth. That I would have been traumatized. I understand that rationale and I’ve even said it to myself as I’ve processed everything. Through this, I’ve learned that people are very uncomfortable talking about difficult births, and I get it.
But the truth is, I’m left with trauma regardless. So if this were a “choose your own adventure” story, I’d choose to be fully present for the chaotic delivery knowing that it would be eclipsed by the experience of her birth. Most definitely. I’m hoping that God will let me watch the replay in Heaven in one day. 🙂
And about that C-section scar….It still catches me off guard sometimes. Did that really happen? Lots of c-section mamas say their scar makes them feel like a warrior. Perhaps in a different context I would feel the same. But I don’t. What I do feel is surrendered.
I’ve never experienced a such a deep surrender in all my life. I am utterly dependent on the Lord always, it’s just that most days I’m able to trick myself into believing I have more control than I do. Her birth proved that dependence, like a life-sized highlighter scribbled on this page of my life. It highlighted everything I normally rely on, including my love of control, my arrogant assumptions, my idolization of my preferences.
Surrendering to the plan God has for you is never a lesson wasted.
And here’s where I find redemption in this story: The Father never left my side that day (or any day). My only constant in this experience. He didn’t forget about me; he was attentive to the fullest. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
This birth does not define me, but it does impact me. It has shaped me, in the way any pivotal experience does. In one hand I hold the reality that this is a significant story with complex feelings. And in the other hand, I hold the truth that this story is not the entire story; God-willing it’s just the beginning.
It’s possible to carry both at the same time. The bitter and the sweet.
Since I did not get to hold my daughter first, I will hold her now. Since I did not get to see her first, I will memorize her now:
her wispy hairline.
the way she nuzzles in with her lips pursed while she sleeps.
the way her soft cheek fits in the crook of my neck like a puzzle piece.
the way her profile mirrors her sister’s.
the way she looks at her brother.
the way she sucks in her bottom lip like a baby bird.
how she snorts more than she cries.
the way her toes are always full of fuzz.
the tiny white specks hidden in the blue of her eyes.
the way she scrunches her nose.
the way she clings to her daddy like a baby koala when he carries her.
I’m not even embarrassed at the fact that I hardly put her down for the first three-ish months of her life. It was such a balm to my soul to have her close.
Becoming a mom for the third time feels like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of figuring some things out. I care less about having the perfect nursery or stressing about the curve on the growth chart. I’ve learned that my child has quite a lot to teach me if I take the time to really watch and to listen closely. One of the gifts this experience gave me was the reminder that attentiveness matters.
So although this paper-mache story built from scraps of memories still feels fragile to me, I can clearly – SO CLEARLY – see it’s beauty. Beautiful things are not necessarily perfect things, without any blemish. It’s far deeper than that. The end result of the finished project reveals its beauty and value.
The work of piecing this story together so carefully has not taken away the hard parts, but has proven to me that it was all worth it. All of the good and the bad, the hard and the glorious. She’s worth it.
Elowyn Faire. A “lovely promised land”. I’ve loved you from the second I knew you existed. You brought such peace with you. My calm after the storm. Forever grateful for your life, little girl.
If you made it this far – thank you so much for reading! Compiling this story and putting this out into the world is a little scary but it has been healing for me, in a way. I hope you are able to see your own hard stories with a lens of redemption and light. Our Father makes all things new. And even when we feel most alone, we’re not. ❤