Monday, July 30, 2012

25,000 graves & 10,000 reasons

You would think by looking at the little brick building with it's steep roof and swooping covered drive that it was from a fairy tale. . . 

The covered drive breaks away to cobblestones and then asphalt,  lined with trees, magnificent grandfather trees, strong, old, wise, shading the path that sharply rises.

At the crest of the hill, up through that  tree-canopied drive, is my little man's resting place.

And that's why we're in the little brick building, which isn't a fairy tale at all.  It's hot and stuffy and lined with monuments and markers and urns.  Daniel and I are seated in 1970's era squeaky chairs with papers spread on the Formica table.  Polly, the lady helping us design Gabe's stone is new to our ideas.  She isn't familiar with substituting different fonts.  She wants to add clip art.  We don't want clip art.  She seems relieved to answer the phone and her associate begins to small talk.

Twenty-five thousand people buried out there, he begins, waving his arm in the general direction of the tree lined drive and we're quite aware that he is just referring to the size of the cemetery. . . but my baby is numbered there now. 

Maybe thirty thousand.

Maybe I hate death.

Maybe I never wanted to drive through cemeteries trying to pick a spot to bury our son.

Maybe I'd rather be anywhere but here in your office.

I think back to the days of wanting to scream at the unthinking comments of well-meaning people.  I did scream. 

Two weeks after Gabe's death Daniel asked me if I was going to stop crying.  I remember being incoherent, retching, wailing, screaming the grief out at him. . . I want my babyyyyyyyyy. . . . .

He didn't know.  He was just scared, too, unsure, life spun out of control and searching desperately for mooring.  He wasn't finding any stability in me.

I bring myself  back to the present, a startling new concept for me. The Hayley of a year ago didn't have the strength to overcome insensitive words. This is a new Hayley, a different one.  Mr. Cemetery Man (Tom? Ted?) is rambling on about how they do rubbings of grave markers all the time. 

We finalize a bunch of details and write a check for an enormous sum that still doesn't feel like enough and then we leave and I feel spent and wasted.

There won't be Cubbies, swimming lessons, drivers ed or football. No snow-shoveling businesses, no camping trips, no first car, no graduation parties, no wedding plans.

I feel like this is the last thing I get to plan for my little man.

Yay!  We get to plan a grave stone!

Oh, I'd so much rather plan little boy stuff right now. . .

My friend Loren asks me how I'm doing and I tell her that I'm fine.

I tell her that I think I'm just stuffing the grief away because life is so good right now and the grief. . . two years of it. . .was so very dark.

It was, frankly, a nightmare.

I've reached the point in my grieving that it feels like reopening a deep wound to go back to the grief, the loss. 

It took so much time.  It was exhausting.  It was sleepless night upon sleepless night.  It was so dark.  I cry just thinking about the darkness. 

And now it's different.  I don't know exactly at what point it changed, but now I have the ability to cope, to laugh, to sleep, to smile about Gabe.

This is freeing.

It is not fun to be the people with red rimmed eyes.

It is not fun to be the drain on your friends and family.

It is not fun to be broken and needy.

But the grief didn't really go away, it just sinks below the surface, and the calm, apparently still waters of life hold so much deep pain.

On Mother's Day this year. . . that's the last time I broke down and wept for everything that could have been.

That was . . .well, two months ago.  Initially I never imagined being able to go a day without the screaming, burning pain being eased by tears.  But even in the tears of today, the calmer, gentler tears, there is a different sort of grief.

On Mother's Day. . .  Cambria (with much help from my sister Elizabeth) brings me breakfast in bed at 6:30 am.  I am thinking about Mother's Day two years ago and our happy little family, untouched by loss.  Gabe "wrote" me a mother's day card too, and I still have it, treasured. We ate at Las Lomas and he nibbled on beans and rice.  Details that would normally be forgotten are seared in my brain because it's all I have left of him. One week away will mark two years without Gabe and the grief is mixed up with Eli's laughter and the music playing. . .

The sun comes up

It's a new day dawning

It's time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me

Let me be singing when the evening comes

The tears spill over and I weep for all of the pain and the growing and the changing and I cry because God is still so good.

I cry for the weariness that comes from "fighting the lies of the economy of deficit."  I cry for the simple trust that is broken and will never return, because I found out that life was cruel and earth is not my home not by being told, but by finding my little son asleep forever in his safe little bed.

That cruelty, that brokenness, that's not a reflection of God.

Those twenty-five thousand graves (or thirty) - that's not about God, that's about sin.

He is not okay with all of this pain.

He is not sitting in the Heavens watching suffering, cold and unmoving.

He is the only way out.

He is the only reprieve from the suffering.

You're rich in love and You're slow to anger

Your name is great and Your heart is kind

For all Your goodness I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

So I while I weep for the 25,000 graves (mostly just one), I look for the 10,000 reasons that His heart is kind.

Well, it's not tidy and it's not neat, but there's the grief post for the summer. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

bath(f)room talks

{after the ladies room. . .}

***TMI ahead, proceed with caution.

So I do believe that I fry my brain cells on a daily basis with these conversations. 

Sometimes they drive me to Web MD, sometimes to tears, sometimes to laughter.

Cambria: I can't go to the baffroom, it feels like a pin.

What the what?

Jacob: Cambria, you may be constipated. {This is a classic Jacob comment}

Cambria proceeds to conversationally chat about her lack of bathroom progress throughout the day.

I suggest drinking water, my cure all for everything from scratches to smashed toes.

At about 4 pm, we are in Barnes and Noble, headed to baby Blake's shower and after a two hour drive and McD's sweet tea, I  need the restroom. 

If you would have been in B&N ladies powder room, you would have heard the following:

Mom, wow, I never thought about this, you hafta have Eli with you when you go to the bathfroom!  Wow that's just really hard! 

{you have no idea my dear}

Me: Well, moms do hard things sometimes.

Cambria: Wow, Mom I'm going to the bathfroom!  Wow! 

Me:  That's good.

Cambria:  Well I had been noticing all day that I couldn't go to the bathfroom, and now I can!! *spoken with the same inflection and intensity you might imagine in a child announcing a trip to Disney*

Me: Good, Cambria, that's great.

Cambria:  Mom, isn't it nice that we can have our own, private word, just between you and me, for p**p, it's  go-to-da-bathfoom.  That's our own word so that we're polite.

Me:  Yes, that is so nice.  {oh i do love euphemisms. . . }

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blake Lee (my sister writes about home birth)

I read little Blake's birth story last week and just thought it was too cool not to share.

Edith (better known as Aunt E) is my sister and one of my best friends; we talk almost daily and she is such a special part of my life.  She's beautiful and funny and married to Bronz, her farmer husband and mom to two little farmer babies, Kamie and Blake.

I tell her that her life is like a happy Tim McGraw song with her big white farmhouse, hardworking man who loves her, cherry tree across the driveway and tractors and cows and cornfields.  


{and leave her some comment love :)  }

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9

“I can’t do it”

--that’s what I told Bronz when he suggested a home birth.  My reasoning being if something went wrong, I would blame him, and our marriage would fall apart or be forever ruined by bitterness.  He didn’t necessarily agree, but listened, and consented.  Then God started working… Showing me that not only was I not trusting Bronz, but I really wasn’t trusting Him.  Did I trust God to take care of me, baby, and our marriage?  Could I take the risk?  Not meaning that home birth is a more ‘spiritual’ option, just that in my case it happened to be a trusting God issue.  After about a week, I brought it up to Bronz and agreed to plan on finding a midwife. 

Enter Homebirthisphere

“I don’t fit”

--I really don’t know how many times I whined that.  But really this home birth group was a subculture I’m familiar with, but they aren’t ‘me’. I like coffee and chocolate and cold cereal and nutella and….  First visit with midwife had her going over what I had eaten the day before, her face lit up when she saw pistachio dessert… “Oh pistachio’s!”  Umm… keep reading. 

I started reading blogs – cloth diapering, baby wearing, co-sleeping… (In which all kids sleep in bed with mom while dad is relegated to couch) mentally going –scratch- scratch- scratch

So I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only reluctant homebirther out there.  Surely the world wide web had someone like me, whose husband had cajoled them into trying it “just once”… So I googled… And found… Nothing. Zip. Nada. There was quite a bit on convincing your husband – not my issue, including one lady who was willing to divorce her husband over the issue.  Now that’s taking it to a new level.

Then there was the fact that I was extremely phobic (if that’s a word—if not, you get the picture) about what everyone else must think.  Because if I thought we were borderline crazy everyone else must think we actually were.  

So yeah, I gave it to God, and gave it, and took it back… and gave it again.  And cried on the phone to my sisters… and played the martyr with Bronz… And gave it back to God.  Just being honest here.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? ~Psalm 56:3-4

Through it all God showed me that he held our future in his hands…

We had an extremely emotionally tough winter, with bizarre family issues happening weekly if not daily.  Things I never, ever would have dreamed we would go through.  Midnight phone calls, police, hospitals, court dates.  The court dates were the worst, I would feel contractions, and know I couldn’t do anything about it, and pray that God would watch over our baby.  I didn’t have the option to stay home, as there was another innocent involved.  God protected.  God would still have been good had I miscarried… Yet instead he allowed me to be pushed right to the edge and held me through those rough months.

Finally a week before my due date a friend and I were driving home, and hit a deer, I watched it fly up and thought it was going to land on my windshield.  Instead he did a flip off to the side, but smashed in the friends hood pretty good.  The odd thing was that the airbags never went off. $3000 worth of damage, dead center of car, and no airbags… While the baby probably would have been okay, it certainly couldn’t have been good to have it be hit by the airbags.  It could have been coincidence, but it felt like God was showing me that He could take care of everything.

Be still & know that I am God.

Baby Birth Day

After labor started and stopped the day before… And I had felt all the nausea early labor signs, I really didn’t think I would go into labor on Saturday since I felt so terrific.  So I planned to go on a picnic after church on Sunday and called a Strawberry U-Pick-Em Farm to make sure they were open.  I cuddled with Kamie and happened to fall asleep for two hours.  I woke up at 4:45 and had a contraction, 15 minutes later another one, then they started coming every 2-3 minutes with strong ones being about 8 minutes apart.  I called Bronz who was working on fence out in our pasture and told him that I was having contractions for twenty minutes.  After another 20 minutes I called our midwife who was camping  and was going to be at least 2 ½ hours out.  I didn’t want her to have to drive over here if it was a false alarm, but then I really didn’t want an unassisted birth either!  I got my family team to come over and pick up Kamie. – Who was busy using my distraction to dump out birth supplies and fill the toilet full of tp.   Now I’m an extrovert, but when it comes to labor, I get very quiet, and have to concentrate… So I kept thinking that I had all these people I wanted praying and just couldn’t call them.  I called a doula friend… She had put me in touch with my midwives, and so I thought I would do her a favor and let her observe a birth. I’m funny about who I want around me, they have to either know me so good that I won’t feel dumb, or need to live up to their expectations –or- not know me well enough that it really doesn’t matter.  Tracy fit into the not know me very well category.  Was I in for a treat, she was closer than the midwives so got here first and was so amazing, calming, supporting.  Bronz and I were so thankful that we had her with us.  About  8:30 I got in our whirlpool tub, and just loved the water. Bronz was showering and getting last minute details done. 

Midwives arrived at 9:00, and helped Bronz fill up the birthing pool – which was really cool.  They said I could deliver in the tub, but I wanted to have the option of the bigger space and Bronz to be able to get in and support me. 

Around 9:30 my midwife examined me and said I was at 6 but could go really fast.  Then they told me that they really wanted me to walk around and maybe do some stairs.  Bronz was still filling up the pool, so I waited till he was done, cuz I knew I would need his support to get through any harder contractions. 

Sure enough I stood up walked into the next room, had about two contractions and went into transition. I promptly laid down on the floor. I remember hearing Keith Green & The Imperials playing in the background and thinking that I really was feeling like a little more calming music… That, and why did Eve have to mess up and give us all this pain in childbirth thing.  The assistant midwife told me I should get into the tub. I did and the contractions immediately became more manageable.  My Mom came in and asked if the water slowed labor, I figured it did and didn’t really care.  Midwife shrugged, then asked me if I felt like pushing.  Two contractions later and I did.

Blake was a big boy and it took about ½ an hour to get him out. I didn’t have any desire to deliver the baby myself, or even have Bronz do it.  But when it came down to it, being able to feel progress as I went through the incredibly painful part was fantastic.  When he slid out and they untangled him from the cord (Around his neck, arm and leg!) and I lifted him out of the water… That was the most amazing experience ever, laughing, crying, praising and thanking God.  
About that time my supportive husband almost passed out…Which created a small crisis in which everyone tried to get him off the side of the birth tub so that he wouldn’t fall in. (Now that’s a new risk to homebirthing!)  He was so embarrassed. “I pulled a calf last week!” (The difference my dear, is that I am not a cow.)
I like to be clean and reasonably pain free before cuddling in, so Bronz had the first hour to hold Blake and rub the vernix in.  I guess my Dad showed up for a peek at his grandson. This is getting to be quite routine for him, not only is Blake the 11th grandchild, but his fifth grandson born in ten months.  That’s what happens when you raise eight kids, and pass on a love and awe for life.
Then it was my turn, and I think I’ve pretty well hogged him ever since!  So amazing, incredible. What a gift.  Having such an emotionally difficult pregnancy deepened the joy of the baby. 
So, Mr. Blake Lee
All nine and a half pounds, twenty –two and a half inches of you,
God can care for the sparrows, he has taken care of you. 
And your mama can’t wait to see what He has planned for your future.
Love you

My recovery has been amazing.  Totally different than Kamie’s, but then I’ve been drinking this raspberry leaf tea with nettle and alfalfa, and taking liquid kelp. Oh, and comfrey tea in my bathwater, and I have seaweed sitting around.  I even eat spinach if I make it into a green drink.  Still not using cloth diapers, and Blake has slept in his cradle two whole nights.  Maybe I need to set up a natural mama blog… after I finish my coffee.
 The verses used were ones I looked up before a court date, when I literally didn’t didn’t know how I could pull through. I printed off multiple copies, and hung on to them for the next couple of months. 
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3 ESV)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sweet Corn & Aunt E

Well at the begging of my children, I stopped at a stand and bought sweet corn tonight.

Cambria:  '"Mom, pllleeeeese can we get sour corn.  Or whatever it's called."

It is roasting hot here; they didn't care.  I thought a dozen would be enough for us since Daniel is gone, but . . . Eli and I had to share one ear.

Apparently we're fans of corn.

*   *   *

Super special treat in the works for you. . . my sister  (known as Aunt E around here) is posting on how she ended up having a home birth. 

Edith's beautiful and funny and lives on a farm with her farmer husband, Bronz and their two little farm babies, Kamie and Blake.

I think her life is like a happy Tim McGraw song.  She's got her big white farmhouse and her gravel road and cherry tree across the driveway, tractors and cows and a hardworking man who loves her.

And she's super brave.

Find out more later.  :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

and I am not angry

I am slapping on sunscreen

starting the dishwasher

answering phone calls

cleaning up bedding from my overnighters

dashing out the door to early morning swimming lessons

My kids are ready (remember when you were a kid and didn't have a blessed thing to do?), shouting from the van in good natured tones:

Mom, we're going to be late!

I feel that squeezing, burning frustration rise in me.  It doesn't matter that I've been up since the crack of dawn, I still have people shouting that I'm late!

I am ready. I grab Eli.  Oh, he needs to be changed.  I walk run over to my diaper bag and start digging in it for the necessary paraphanalia.  But before I can get to that stsuff, I have to remove my favorite Bible, a beat up leather NIV, from the top.

I recognize the irony of my priorities as I dump God's Word on the table and I stop.

Lord. . . I don't have time to sit down and study today.  It's going to be a flip-open-and-read-the-first-verse-my-eyes-land-on kind of day, but I really do want to hear from You.  You're important to me.

Standing, still holding my (admittedly peeeuuuuueeee) son, ignoring the calls of my human event reminders, I open my Bible to Isaiah 27 and start reading at verse 2:

In that day --

Sing about a fruitful vineyard:

I, the Lord, watch over it;

like I watch over my kids

I water it continually

hear, hear

I guard it day and night

2 am mommy calls

so that no one may harm it

always with their best interest in mind.

Yes, Lord, this is how I feel!  You do this, too?  This continual care for needy ones? And You sing about it?

I let this thought wash over me and then let my eyes scan to the next line. 

Thunder from Heaven for Hayley on a Monday morning:

I am not angry.

He does all of this care, this protecting, this loving guardianship. . . and He is not angry.  I feel enlightened and amazed at how much I needed this encouragement from God. 

I continue the continuum. . .

I am not angry.

He is not angry.

He is not exasperated.

He is not faint and weary.

He is God and He has every right to be angry with these ungrateful beings He calls children. 

But He is not. 

And I am so thankful.

May I pass on the grace and lack of anger to my children.