To be honest...

May I tell you something with frightening honesty?

It seems strange to me, sometimes, to share my inner workings so candidly in a place where I have no real idea who is hearing me.  I am by nature a very private person; especially about the things that have such emotional potency for me.

Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the blogging community that lends itself so well to candid talk. Like an 18th century masquerade. Maybe when nobody can see your face, you grow bold and turn about the dance floor with confidence and a low-cut dress. I think that’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s the anonymity that is the real thing that gives me the courage to be so open, here.

I think it’s you.

All of you in the ‘blogging community’ who have been so willing to be open and honest about your inner strengths, weaknesses, fears, and above all: the things you’ve learned about what it means to be a human being on this glorious and treacherous earth.

You don’t know me, but you’ve taught me. I’ve grown. I may not have seen your face, but – thanks to your blogs – I’ve seen parts of you that are more expressive than your face – and I consider you my friend. A fellow journeyer who takes the time, occasionally, to stop and share with travelers on the same road what you’ve learned in hopes of making their journey easier, more rewarding, or in the very least – more funny.

This fellow traveler would like to return the favor.

And so may I be honest with you?

Lately, I have been afraid. I’ve had a pair of cold, sharp teeth gnawing at my bones. The kind that eats away at you so slowly that you don’t realize you’re being reduced until one day you look in the mirror and there’s a hollowness there – just there, at that spot behind your eyes where your courage used to be.

This week I was finally forced to see it.  My glint was gone.

 It started nearly a year ago. Bill and I had been trying for a while for another baby – and in January of this year, confirmed hopes ended in tears. So when, a month later, we were given hope again – I was suspicious and ‘realistic’ and unwilling to give myself over to the joy in hope that I should have allowed myself to feel. 

I talked myself into believing that the little pink lines were lying to me. I wasn’t going to believe it, yet.  Not until I had solid proof that this was going to be the real deal.

Thank Heaven for Bill!

He gently coaxed me from my doubts, and we decided I should have a blessing.

Thank Heaven for a righteous priesthood holder in my home! Throughout this pregnancy, I have called upon that power often – and I am humbled and grateful to tears that my sweet husband and best friend has been ever able to grant me ready access to God’s power and love. Each time, my Father has had a very specific message for me that has spoken to the deepest prayer of my heart – confirming to me beyond any doubt that God is aware of me and cares – a great deal! – about my mortal crossing.

This time we were told that those little pink lines would result in a new member of the family.

After the blessing, Bill and I migrated to the kitchen discussing all that had been said. Bill turned, and with tears in his eyes said, “Stepper. You’re going to have a baby.”

Finally, I allowed myself to feel the reality of it. We had been promised.  This was going to happen. I wept, and Bill and I crash-hugged in the middle of the kitchen and did the awkward-yet-awesome hugging-jumping-crying dance as we laughed and yelled and wiped our eyes and kissed through grins.

Yet the teeth were already at work within me.

In the blessing, I was told to prepare myself for the challenge this would be.

Challenge? I thought. And instead of focusing on accepting the admonition to prepare myself, I instead began to dwell on that one little word: challenge.

What did that mean?
Was my baby okay? Malformed? Sickly? Was I going to have a special needs child?
Was *I* okay? Was this pregnancy going to be dismal for me, medically?
Would we lose our income and not be able to pay for care?
What would happen?  What did that mean, challenge?

Bill – with concern in his eyes and a gently reproving smile on his lips – said, “I don’t think you need to worry about it, baybuh. It probably just meant that this pregnancy will be a challenge. You’re working, you have a toddler, your husband is in school. Pregnancies are challenging by nature. Don’t dwell on that one phrase of a beautiful, hopeful, and uplifting blessing.”

Of course I knew he was right.  So for a minute, I stopped thinking about the word.  Challenge. But then it came back, challenge, challenge. And the teeth began to gnaw and I began to stew and wonder and worry.

Through the whole and discomfort of my first trimester, those teeth worked at my bones.  Then, in a moment of clarity, prayer, and husbandly counsel, I realized that I was creating my own challenge by fretting over that little word, challenge – and I had been treating it as though it were synonymous with the word trial.

Mistake!

Trial – noun.  Subjection to suffering or grievous experiences; a distressed or painful state; an affliction or trouble. 
 

Challenge – noun.  A call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.  Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, ect.
 

I remember the day I told Bill I had been foolish. That I was, after all, Stepper the Mighty; she who is not afraid of a challenge. And that I had been told to prepare, not fret. If Heavenly Father meant to make me ready for something, by gum, I would be ready!

And so I increased my efforts.  More perfect scripture study. More perfect personal prayer. Better magnification of my calling. Better friend, better wife, better mother.

Better me.

The teeth stopped gnawing. But they remained, clenched and slowly grinding.  I was tackling my daily challenges head on (not always without complaint – sorry Babe! – but always with determination) and there was a marked difference. But there were doubts that slipped through the cracks and would still occasionally bubble to the surface of my thoughts and catch at my throat.

In retrospect, I can see that I wasn’t the victim of these thoughts. I refused to let them go. I clung to them, tucked down in the corner where nobody – sometimes not even me – would notice them.

Challenge.

These doubts reformed and remanifested themselves in the form of The Dreaded Question: would I be forced to have a repeat c-section?

Here’s the brief history:

I labored with Wyatt for 12 hours – progressed to an 8, then stopped. Usually if you’re in active labor and labor stops, it is indicative of a problem. My doc said he’d watch me for another hour, and if things didn’t pick up again, they’d have to do a C-section. The next moment, Wy’s heart rate dropped and they whisked me away to surgery.

VBACs (Vaginal Births After Cesarean) are possible – but C-sections themselves are gaining in popularity with doctors across the country. Doctors are far more willing to perform a repeat c-section than deal with the risks of a VBAC.  The doctor group that delivered Wyatt had a policy against doing a VBAC at the hospital that my insurance would cover. My choice: stick with my trusty doctor group and pay out of pocket – or find a different doctor group that allows VBAC at a hospital my insurance covers.

We chose plan B.

My research led me to the ONLY doctor group linked with a hospital my insurance covered that would do a VBAC.  They were my only hope – and my first appointment with one of the doctors (there are two that rotate) was discouraging. After learning that we had switched doctor groups for a chance at a VBAC, he nodded, made a note on my chart, and then told us all the benefits of a repeat C-section.  He’s given us this same schpeal every appointment we’ve seen him for, since. I somehow get the impression that he’s leaning toward the repeat C-section.  He doesn’t like my odds – calls mine an “untried pelvis”.  Keeps talking about not having a crystal ball, and we’ll see – we’ll see.  The other doctor has been a bit more encouraging – but still I have felt that on D-Day, at the first sign of any complication, they would cry SURGERY! And I would have to fight for any kind of honest shot at a VBAC.

To be clear – the surgery itself doesn’t scare me.  Been there, done that, healed remarkably well.

It’s the implications.

I want children.  Lots of children.  Hundreds of them! 

What’s more, I know there are children who want me.

Two c-sections in a row basically kills any chance I’d ever have for having a natural birth.  This impacts any future children I may want to grow in this body of mine.  It also impacts the number. I’ve had doctors tell me that they’ve known women who have had 11 children via C-Section. I’ve also had nurses tell me that an epidural doesn’t wear off, and GUESS WHAT?!

I want my children to have the best shot possible of coming to this earth as healthy, whole beings. 

C-Section has become a bit of a dirty word to me.

To be even more clear – I would like all who might still be reading this extremely long post to know that if it is determined that I absolutely can’t give birth naturally and a c-section really is the only option – I will gladly be sliced open and be grateful that I live in a day and age when such a thing is possible, let alone fairly standard!

I just want to know that I had no other option.

And I am not confident that my doctors will give me the chance to know that.  I feel like we are on opposing teams, coincidentally working toward the same goal. I want to go the long, hard, inconvenient route; and they just want to be home for Thanksgiving.

Friday is my next appointment.  Supposedly, a decision will be made.

And the teeth gnaw on.

After midnight Sunday night, Bill and I were talking. I was once again expressing my fears about a c-section and my defiance for my doctors and my intense desire to have this baby RIGHT. NOW. Basically talking myself in fevered circles.

And then Bill did a brave thing.  He called me on it.

And after some tears and some snarky comments from me, he gently led me down the path of my own psyche to reach a conclusion. I had let these fears and doubts consume me.

My glint was gone.

Oh, what a revelation! He knew in ways I was unable to in my current state of mind that I was not going to be able to fight this war – c-section or not! – if I didn’t get my brave back!

And then a miraculous thing happened. I realized that in my internal war with the idea of having a repeat surgery and my imagined war with my doctors (who really were giving me their best take on the situation – I was the one taking it personally), I had inadvertently lumped my sweet husband in the ‘them’ part of ‘me vs. them’.  I had just assumed that all of my ranting and raving over the past nine months had accurately expressed to him what I wanted from this whole thing – when really all I was telling him was what I was afraid of.

So then do you know what happened?

Bill and I got ourselves on the same page.
Perspectives shifted, desires and fears were plainly expressed and plans to handle them were plainly discussed.
His courage fed mine.

I got my glint back.

There is a phrase that is popular in the evangelical churches: Let Go and Let God.

The truth is: for the most part, I really don’t have any control over this situation. I – like my unborn daughter and the doctors who serve us – am at the mercy of nature and science.  There is no crystal ball. 

I am not in charge.

But Someone is.  And He’s REALLY good at it.

And as was testified to me at the beginning of this particular journey I’m on – He is aware of me and cares about my mortal crossing. He will be right there with me through all of this – whatever happens! Whatever challenges may arise!

Let go.

And let God.


And my goodness, it feels wonderful to unravel myself from the doubty-face web I created for myself - and to feel again the strength and courage of simple faith.  









7 comments:

Philip and Mandy said...

What a fantastic story. Thanks so much for sharing this! It's so easy to get caught up in what we want, and the best case scenarios, but it's so so important to remember that God has a plan for us and so, come what may! Good luck with everything, hope you and your baby are safe and healthy - which ever route you end up taking!

Grandpa Rusty said...

Stepper, you and Bill are wise beyond your years. I too hope you'll see your desires fulfilled with a safe, normal delivery. But if not, you have the support of not only your loving husband, but of your adoring parents as well. All will be well.

The Aprecios said...

this helped me a lot personally. thank you.

MikkSolo said...

I "CHALLENGE" you to some serious board gaming over the Holidays. Baby or not, come and get some!

Shawn

Nae said...

Thank you for your example. :) I'm praying for you! I'm excited to someday soon meet your baby girl!

Stepper the Mighty said...

Shawn, you are ON!

sharon. said...

Love this post!!!