Love One Another Deeply

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I have recently learned that it is not okay to withdraw from relationships… not just not okay, it’s a sin! Go figure! It makes us feel terrible to withdraw anyway, regardless of us withdrawing for emotional safety. 1 Peter commands us to love one another deeply, and Proverbs 17:17 says that a friend loves at all times. Withdrawal is a form of self-protection, which is meeting our needs through our own  means. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not a sin in and of itself, it is our brain’s natural response to dealing with extreme stress. PTSD does, however, make certain sins feel safe, including withdrawal, minimizing our own and others’ sins, avoiding conflict, controlling, manipulating, anger, or being judgmental and condemning… They are all in the name of self-protection from further pain, but not what God would have for us.

I am learning that my perceived needs, which include security and love, are not needs according to God. God has already freely provided them for us through Christ, but they are not needs… they are privileges. For the longest time, I have thought that if I could simply find someone, completely unassociated with my trauma, to love me, I would be well on my way to healing. I desired unconditional love that does not trigger. Guess what! That does not exist!

I would find someone to mentor me but I’d panic and push them away as soon as I began to feel vulnerable. I have even begun to push away the most important people in my life: my husband and children, because they make me feel most vulnerable. It’s the feeling of vulnerability that scares me. I am finding that I cannot run from feelings.

I have tried time and again to even push God away… Maybe because He was there during my trauma and allowed it; maybe because I feel debilitated in my PTSD at times; maybe because He isn’t healing me as quickly as I desire. But try as I might, He will not leave. He chose me before the foundation of the world, and determined every step I would make before I was born (Psalm 139). He knows when I will choose to make my bed in hell, and when I will choose to look to Him. He knows my self-preoccupation and He knows my desire to glorify Him. I can be as angry at Him as I want, and yet it does nothing but hurt me those around me. It’s miserable.

What’s my alternative to self-protection? Accept what God has for me, and look to Him for contentment and peace. In therapy, it’s called radical acceptance. And it is radical! But it also requires the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to be okay with what God has given me, including my trauma. My training tells me to explain to my clients that they must find their own way into radical acceptance and healing, but I do not know anyone who has healed from complex trauma in their own means. I believe walking with the Lord is the only way. As I seek to glorify God in my thoughts and actions, He will soften and transform my heart. It is the most difficult task I have ever undertaken, because it includes a complete change in mindset, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Galatians 4:13, NKJV).

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
 -1 Peter 4:8

Image credit: http://www.ibelieve.com/inspirations/love-each-other-deeply.html

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Happy birthday to my son

My son had a birthday on Saturday! Here is a letter that I wrote to him.

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To my handsome four year old,

Today is your birthday! Four years ago today, I held my breath until I heard your soft cry on the warming table. Only after you began crying did I remember to ask if you were a boy or girl! You came into this world a bit too early, and yet you met all of your milestones early! You were a scrawny newborn who quickly grew into a 90th percentile weight (and 30th percentile height) fat little baby. Today, you are 75th percentile height and weight, and are a well-proportioned little kid with 6 pack abs and clearly visible calves and quads. Those wrestling sessions with Daddy sure are paying off!

This has been your biggest year yet! You started swimming lessons!! You are the happiest kid in the pool, laughing hysterically the whole time! You also started reading. You can read all of the Bob Books Set 1 fluently and comprehend it all! I am so proud of you. You can sound out words like “peekaboo” and “sinking,” which seems phenomenal to me!

You also became a big brother. Wow. I am seeing your empathetic side flourish as you spend time with your sister. One time when I let someone hold her, you asked, “Where’s our baby girl?” We have caught you on video talking to her and giving her toys, and trying the console her when she starts crying. Being a big brother was a huge adjustment for you, and yet your love for her brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for being so gentle.

Right now, your favorite food is the Super Kingpin quesadilla from Moe’s! Everyone is so surprised when you eat it all! Your favorite color is green (on most days). You have never tasted candy, and you choose carrots or peas for snacks. Your favorite movies are anything Thomas Trains. You love all music, and you have been known to bust out dance moves during church worship. And we don’t even go to *that* kind of church!

I love you so much, and you have taught me more than you could ever know. Patience, gentleness, prayer. My favorite moment of all time was the first time you were being corrected for a tantrum and you stopped crying and asked God to forgive your sins and help you make wise choices. Daddy and I had not taught you that, but it was evident at that moment that God was speaking to your heart.

Your smile melts my heart. I hope you have a happy birthday. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Mommy

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My Daughter’s Birth Story

In honor of my daughter’s five month birthday, I am posting the letter I wrote to her when she was about two weeks old. It’s in her baby journal. There are a lot of silly similes but I didn’t revise it due to the level of emotion I had when I initially wrote it. There is really ZERO comparison for pushing a child through your vagina without an epidural… all the while begging for one.

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To my perfect little lady,

You and I share a very special bond- you made your grand entrance into this world by blasting through my vagina like a crate of dynamite. And these days, you are endlessly sucking the life out of my boobs. Upwards of 16 hours a day, dear. You will never share this special bond with anyone else, and you will probably not fully understand the depth of this bond until your daughter blasts through yours and attaches herself to your boob like a drunken sailor attaches himself to whiskey. For. 16. Hours. A. Day.

It all started at 6am on 9-8-13 when I started leaking fluid. It wasn’t enough to make the call that my water had broken, and the doctor told me watch- either I would continue to leak, or… or I peed the bed. There was nothing all day long, and I was feeling more than a little embarrassed. Finally I felt that distinct leak again in the evening and knew it was hospital time.

After jacking me open with the jaws of life calld a (light-up) speculum (you will learn about those joys soon enough), the midwife determined that though I may have a small leak, my water was in-tact. I was having steady contractions, but was stuck at 4cm so they sent me home. Mind you, the contractions were only four minutes apart and were lasting over a minute each- they say that’s when you should go to the hospital, but mommy is backwards and LEFT the hospital instead. They kindly suggested I take a Tylenol and enjoy sleeping in, since your brother was at mom-mom’s.

I enjoyed about 45 minutes of sweet sleep before I woke up in active labor around 3:30am. Nervous to be sent home from the hospital again, I labored at home for several hours. Finally, at the advice of the midwife, when I felt like I was going to die (on all fours crying through each contraction), I woke daddy and we made our trek to the hospital… again.

Now if you learn anything about mommy, it’s that I have an embarrassingly low pain threshold. By the time we checked into the OB triage (the lovely place they sent me home from the previous night), I was 7cm dilated and begging for an epidural. I had two on-the-floor-crying-for-relief style contractions changing into my gown alone. The nurse immediately wheeled me to labor and delivery, and had to stop a few times so I could dramatically endure my unmedicated contractions.

When we entered the delivery room, the first thing I saw was the warming table, and it hit me- I would not be leaving this room until I had met you. That made me feel warm and excited inside for about four seconds, and then the next contraction hit me like a freight train flying through Siberia.

During the first contraction in the delivery room, I begged the nurse for an epidural and while she was working away to draw blood, daddy encouraged me to do without because “she’ll be here by 9:05. You’re almost there. Twenty more contractions.” It was 8:40am. Ignoring daddy (but letting him hold me through the contractions), I continued to beg for an epidural like a crack addict begs for a fix, and mid-contraction, dramatic mommy got the doctor to peek in to ask if I was okay. When she saw my frantic state, she immediately checked dilation and I started crying when she said I was still only at 7cm. Despite the nurse’s attempt to get me to stop, I had been pushing with each contraction since I arrived in the delivery room (life lesson: don’t push till they tell you to; you’ll end up in pain for five months and counting). The doctor said that once my water breaks, it’ll be go time.

Two or three contractions later, I heard a balloon pop and out gushed water, blood, and your first poopie. Seriously. It was nothing like Hollywood portrays. I cried, “gross!” and the nurse laughed until she saw the meconium. She exited the room and when she returned a few moments later, she was followed by several NICU staff and four doctors… FOUR. Within a moment, my bed had transformed into a delivery table, complete with giant stirrups and a huge bucket with a red bag. During the magnificent transformation, someone explained that I would not hear you cry or be able to hold you right away; they would first take you to the warming table to assess your health due to the meconium inside the womb.

The nurse held one of my legs, doctor #1 held the other, doctor #2 was sent to sit down in the closet (yes, the closet) for messing something up during the bed transformation, doctor #3 was in prime catching position, and doctor #4, the one who had checked my dilation a few minutes before, was the lead doctor and oversaw the process. Doctor #4 explained that next contraction would be time for me to push and when she saw my you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-not-without-an-epidural expression, she said pushing would make me feel better and I’d get to meet my baby soon.

Feeling you come through was the most amazing experience. With every push I felt you come just a little farther and then retreat slightly. Doctor #3 announced that you had a nice head of hair, and I felt a flood of emotion knowing you were almost here. Three contractions (about eight nice pushes) later, at 8:57am, I witnessed you slide right through. You were one of the most beautiful and perfect things I had ever seen, or ever will see.

I heard your soft cry on the warming table and was in love. A moment later I asked what your APGAR was and they announced it was a 9.9 because “we don’t give a 10.” Don’t be discouraged by losing one-tenth of a point on your first exam, my darling. A 9.9 is like saying you got a 10 without the bragging rights of a 10. They were just intimidated by your perfection and docked you for it. It’s okay. We both know you’re a 10.

Daddy was the first of us to hold you while they stitched up your entryway and uncomfortably placed all their weight on my uterus to exit all the blood clots… There was quite a lot of blood, girlfriend. They changed my gown and sheets, gave me the hugest pad you’ll ever see, and sat me on an ice pack before daddy handed you to me.

I immediately burst into tears and continued to cry until I handed you back to daddy so I could slowly prepare to leave the delivery room. The nurses led me to the bathroom where they gave me a nice squirty bottle to help me pee. Besides the greatest invention in the world, the sitz bath, the squirty bottle has been my best friend through my healing… even two weeks later as I write this. That’s right, girl. Your grand entrance is still affecting my ability to sit, stand, or lie down! You are more than worth every pregnancy pain, every pee leakage, every contraction, every push, every boob ache, every stitch, every vaginal and bottom pain, and every sleepless night you  have given me thus far. I’m just glad I recovered from my issue of peeing when I stood or touched water! The first week was brutal.

That night, I began laughing as the nurse bathed you. The nurse reprimanded me for laughing at you, but I was not; I was caught up in the pure joy of seeing the entirety of my daughter for the first time. You were (and are) so beautiful.

[Daughter] sweetheart, it was such a joy to bring you into this world, and it’s just as great a joy to hold you and feed you 1000 hours a day. You made quite the impression on me entering this world, and I expect that you will continue to do so as you grow from baby to child to woman, and perhaps eventually bring your own child into the world.

Love and kisses,

Mommy.