Scars of the Soul

My son is almost six. He’s terribly excited about his birthday, and although I wonder where my baby has gone – I also look forward to the adventures to come. But with his birthday also come the flashbacks. And this is something I suffer alone, in silence.

My son was born before birth trauma was a “thing.” But even with the recent advocacy for women’s rights in childbirth I still feel guilty somehow that the day my son was born was simultaneously the best and worst day of my life.

Six years. Isn’t that long enough for the wound to heal? I go to yoga class. It’s core day. We do plank, and side plank, and locust. My scar burns. All that is left is a thin white line, but six years later it still burns. And six years later, the scars on my soul, although healed, still burn.

The day comes back to me in snapshots. My water breaks, my husband rushes home from work. We speed to the hospital. Today is the day we get to meet our son.

The doctor comes. She does a vaginal exam. “You’re having a boy,” she says. “I can feel his butt.”

Breech. How can my son be breech? “C-section,” the doctor declares. “Get her ready.”

I’m alone in the hospital, my first time admitted there since my own birth. My husband is on the phone, working out some details he had to leave undone at work. A flock of nurses descends on me. One of them puts in an IV. Another shaves me, naked in a room of bustle. Another is asking me questions, filling out forms, expecting me to focus.

I’m in the OR. They’ve taken my husband away to get dressed. The anesthesiologist is getting ready to stick a needle into my spine. I’m shaking so bad a nurse has to grab onto me and hold me still. My body goes numb.

My husband comes in. The screen goes up. I feel weird pressure and tugging. “It’s a boy!” the doctor says.

The screen is in front of my face. I can’t see. There are spots on the screen. I try to scrape them off with my fingernail. It’s my own blood spattered there.

I hear crying. “I want to see my baby, please,” I ask.

“Well, what are you planning on doing this weekend?” the doctor says to the nurse.

“I think I’ll go to the lake,” she says.

“I want to see my baby,” I say.

“The weather should be good for that,” says the doctor.

A nurse brings over a baby. He’s all wrapped up, all I can see is his face. She lets me kiss him on the forehead. The nurse, my husband, and the baby leave. I’m alone again.

I scrape on the screen with my fingernail again. The spots bother me. Why are they there right in front of my face?

The doctor is happy with the surgery. “You did great,” she says. “I’ll be back to check on you tomorrow.”

Recovery is on the other side of the hospital. The nurses don’t want to have to take me there. No one else is using the OR, I can just stay and recover there.

The screen comes down. They slide me off the table onto a bed. I’m still alone. Nurses bustle around, carrying away trays and buckets of blood. Maybe that’s the placenta. I’m glad blood doesn’t make me queasy. So much of it.

Finally they take me to my room. They bring me this baby – my baby, I suppose. I finally get to count his fingers and toes after everyone else in the family has gotten the chance to do it. I lay him on my chest and hold him tight. I don’t want to let go. He IS mine.

The next day the nurse comes by to take out my catheter. “Stick your butt off the edge of the bed,” she says.

“Close the door,” I tell her.

“It won’t take that long,” she says.

“At least close the curtain,” I insist.

“It doesn’t matter,” she lies. “Your room is at the end of the hall.” It was really smack in the middle of the hall. People kept walking by.

I consent so that I can be rid of her.

Finally we leave. I’ve never been so glad to leave.

Six years ago this was. I’ve been to a dark place and I’ve clawed my way out. But I’ll never set foot in that hospital again. I’ll continue to feel a wave of nausea whenever I hear of anyone having a c-section. And if I hear anyone else say, “All that matters is that you had a healthy baby,” I’ll slap them.

No I won’t. But I’ll feel like it.

You can’t see my scar. There’s no way you’ll ever catch me in a bikini, and even then you probably couldn’t see it. But it’s still there.

And so are the scars in my soul.

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I Smelled a Gardenia Today 

A poem I wrote four years ago today. 

  

I smelled a gardenia today. 

It smelled of life and laughter. 

It smelled of death and loss.

I smelled, and my heart broke. 

My friend smiled and said: 

Have you ever smelled a gardenia? 

and Isn’t it just lovely? 

And I smiled while I cried inside. 

It was a lovely gardenia bush, 

With flowers white as an Easter lily. 

And Good Friday is tomorrow 

And I want the hurt to leave 

but I’m scared that it will. 

And my friend said – Are you OK? 

And I laughed and spoke of other things 

Afraid I would begin to weep 

With a heart as fragile as the bloom 

Will the smell so sweet ever speak 

Of peace and love and joy? 

Or must I wait til in heaven we meet? 


I smelled a gardenia today.



A bit of backstory:
My grandparents loved gardenias and had 2 huge bushes at their house. My grandfather loved to pick them and bring them inside until my grandmother complained the house “stank” of gardenia. But he’d still bring them in and she loved them too. My grandfather has been gone for several years now, but I just lost my grandmother last year on Good Friday.

God of the Unexpected

I have decided that God is the Author of the unexpected. When God tells you how to do something, you might as well do it, even if you have no idea how it will work.

The Battle of Jericho

In Joshua 6 we can read of the battle of Jericho. The Israelites had been wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, and they were psyched to finally see some action. The first big city they came to was Jericho. So the warriors started polishing their shields and sharpening their swords.

And God said, “Hold on a minute. I’ve got an idea.”

“Cool,” the Israelites said. “You got some new moves we can try out.”

“Sure do,” said God. “For starters, you can get your swords and shields ready, but don’t worry about getting them messy because you’ll just be carrying them for decoration.”

“What? That’s insane! Are you just gonna zap them from the sky?”

“No, you are going to conquer the city. And this is how you’re gonna do it. For six days you are going to march around the city. Don’t say a word, just march. On the seventh day you are going to march seven times. Then you are going to yell really, really loud and the walls will fall down.”

“That’s not possible. And we will look silly just wearing all our armor and walking around the city every day.”

“Do you want to conquer this city or not?”

“Well, yes.”

“Then do it the way I told you to. And after the walls finally fall down, you’ll get to use your swords to kill the people inside.”

So the Israelites did as God told them, and the city of Jericho was demolished. They may have felt a bit stupid all dressed up and doing nothing but marching around, but they got what they desired in the end.

The Blind Man

In John 9 we read another interesting story, this time about a man that had been blind from birth. Jesus was walking along the road with his disciples, who started talking about the poor man like he wasn’t even there.

“Hey, Jesus, who sinned, this man or his parents?” they asked. “Somebody had to have done something for him to be born blind.”

 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, sparing them the lecture on the impossibility of the man sinning before he was even born. “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

“Huh?”

Jesus didn’t say anything else. Instead, he bent down and spit on the dust.

“What on earth are you doing?” asked the disciples.

“Hold on,” Jesus said. “I’ve got an idea.”

The blind man sat nearby and silently listened.

Jesus started stirring up the spit, and spitting some more, until he had a good bit of mud. Unexpectedly the blind man felt a warm wet ickyness spread across his eyelids. Inwardly cringing, the man lifted up the sleeve of his robe to wipe off his face. Just another joke at the expense of a blind man. He ought to be used to them by now, he’d been living with them all his life.

“Wait,” Jesus said, and there was such power in his voice that the blind man froze, his arm suspended in the air. “You need to go to the Pool of Siloam to wash that off.”

Maybe because of the tone of voice Jesus used, maybe because of the rumors he had heard about this man called Jesus, and maybe because he couldn’t wait to get away from the disciples which were now snickering in the background, the man turned and ran toward the pool. As he ran, avoiding obstacles along the way, he tried not to let himself hope. But at this point any chance was worth taking.

As he dipped his hand into the pool and wiped the mud away from his eyes, new sensations began to flood his body. How do you explain colors to someone who has lived their life in darkness? How do you explain the dimension of sight to someone who has used their fingertips for eyes? The blind man was flooded with light, and discovered that vision was way better than he had ever imagined.

It was well worth the humiliation of the spit, the snickering disciples, and the foolishness of the errand to wash at a certain pool.

Peter and the Fish

The last example I’m going to use is found in Matthew 17. There was a knock at the door. Peter went to answer it.

“Yes,” Peter said, surveying the well dressed men waiting outside.

“We are collecting the temple tax,” they informed him. “Doesn’t your Master pay it?”

“He sure does,” Peter said quickly, not wanting anything to tarnish Jesus’ reputation. “Be right back.”

Peter ran back into the house. “Hey, Jesus,” he called, “some men are here collecting the temple tax.You got it?”

“What do you think, Peter?” Jesus asked. “Do kings collect duty and taxes from their children or from others?”

“From others,” Peter replied, a bit confused at what this had to do with the men waiting outside.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said. “But we don’t want to offend these tax collectors. I don’t have any money now, though. Judas has taken the bag and gone to the market for food.”

“What am I going to tell them, then?”

“Hold on, I’ve got an idea. Go get your fishing pole.”

“You expect me to catch enough fish to sell to pay that tax? I don’t have all day.”

“No, just run over to the lake and catch one fish. It will have a coin in its mouth, enough to pay both our taxes.”

“Alrighty then,” Peter replied, always ready to jump feet first into whatever Jesus suggested. “I’ll be right back.”

Peter had forgotten about the men waiting outside. As he ran by with his fishing pole slung over his shoulder, he called to them, “Oh, hold on, we’ve got an idea.”

The men looked at each other, sure that Peter had gone insane. But he caught just one fish, and that fish had the promised money right in its mouth.

You, Me, and the Guy Next Door

So what does this have to do with us? If you find yourself in a fix, or boxed in a corner with no more options, or simply looking for something better in life, you need to take it up with God.

You may very well hear Him say, “Hold on, I’ve got an idea.” It may make no sense, and you might not want to go along, but believe me, it will be the adventure of your life. And the results will be more than you could ever have imagined.

Family is Forever

Someone once told me that everyone has two families – the one they belong to and the one they choose. No matter whether or not you like your parents or siblings or even your inlaws, they are still your family and you love them no matter what. Then there is your family of choice – those certain special people in your life that you can’t really just call friends because they are so much more than that.

Today I’m really, really happy because I got to go to lunch with a member of my chosen family that I haven’t seen for far too long. He came to pastor the church my parents and I attended when I was only 12. He asked the congregation to call him Pastor Joe. My parents weren’t too sure about the whole calling-the-pastor-by-his-first-name thing, so they tried to get us to call him Pastor Gresham, which sounded weird to us as no one else called him that. So in our house he was simply known as The Pastor, always capitalized.

The Pastor became my mentor of sorts, and when we were seen together, people often assumed I was his daughter. He loved to write, and I loved to read. He gave me a manuscript once to look at, and when I gave it back all marked up, we started a writer/proofreader relationship that continues to this day.

So when The Pastor emailed me a month ago and said we should have lunch sometime, I thought it a good idea but soon forgot. Then he called me last week and mentioned the idea again. I was determined to make it happen. We keep in touch through email, text, and phone calls, but we hadn’t actually seen each other for about nine years. We made plans and I looked forward to the chosen day.

The day before I was a bit apprehensive – so much time had passed and I didn’t know if we would even recognize each other. Silly of me, I know. But when we got to the restaurant today, and I saw The Pastor standing on the steps, there was no mistaking him. If I hadn’t been a grown-up mother carrying her daughter I would have squealed and run across the parking lot. We were both older, of course, and rounder, and I had two kids he had never met, but we got along fantastically.

We talked of the past, and the present, and caught up on the people we knew in common. The kids behaved surprisingly well but insisted on calling The Pastor “Pastor Job.” Of course he was calling Arya “George” so I guess he deserved it.

We sat at the table for two hours, neither of us wanting to leave. Finally we got up and walked outside. Trip tried to take our picture and got an excellent one of our knees. A random lady entering the restaurant was hailed upon, and not surprisingly did a much better job. We continued to talk until Trip announced in no uncertain terms, “Mommy, my poop is going to come out RIGHT NOW.” So we parted laughing.

There’s a lot of life lessons I could illustrate from this story, like not putting off visiting friends, or how joyful the reunion in heaven is going to be, but I’ll let you figure out that part for yourself. I’m smiling and still have a warm, fuzzy feeling. So I’m going to just go be happy for a while.

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Soccer Lessons

I was teaching Trip how to play soccer tonight. We had a goal at either end of the front yard. One was mine and one was his. After the first round, which I won, I let Trip win a couple times, although I made him work for it.

The next round, Trip kicked the ball over to my goal. “That’s Mommy’s goal,” I corrected him.

“I know,” he replied. “Come here, Mommy, kick the ball in.”

“But you’re supposed to be trying to get to your goal over there,” I said, pointing across the yard.

“Yes, but right now I’m helping you, cause it’s your turn to win.”

Green Smoothies

I’m pretty sure this was originally created by VitaMix, but here is the most helpful recipe I’ve found for green smoothies. Helpful because I really don’t like to follow recipes, preferring to abide by the “throw some in until it looks right” policy.

20140325-130344.jpgWe’ve been drinking a lot of these lately to get over being sick from this crazy weather.

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Homemade Energy Tea

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My husband works nights. It’s a hard job for him to stay up all night, and sometimes he needs a little extra caffeine. He always liked to buy energy drinks. Sometimes he would drink two or three of them every night. This was starting to hit our budget pretty hard.

So I started looking for an alternative. Everything I could find on Pinterest told me how bad energy drinks were. Yes, I agree energy drinks are not the healthiest drink out there. But I also know my husband and he doesn’t like “weird” natural stuff, plus he needed something to be able to stay up all night and work. So I came up with my own recipe. It’s healthier than a regular energy drink, but it still has lots of caffeine and sugar. It is also much cheaper than buying two cans a night. And he liked it and said it worked.

Ingredients:
1 lemon
3 bags green tea
1 family sized iced tea bag
2 inches ginger
1/2 cup lemon juice (or another lemon)
3000mcg Vitamin B-12
60mg Ginkgo
1 cup sugar
6 cups water

Directions:
Shred ginger and slice lemon. Mix in pan with water and vitamins. I just use supplement pills and they dissolve. You can put in whatever you like.

Pour in the water. Simmer on low for around 30 minutes.

Strain out the lemon and ginger. Mix in the sugar while the tea is still hot.

Fill the bottles you are going to put the tea in half full of cold water. (I was reusing water bottles at first and accidentally melted one by adding the tea first.)

Fill the bottles the rest of the way with the tea mixture.

You may need to add more sweetener depending on your tastes. I use liquid stevia.

Refrigerate then enjoy.