Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I walked to the shops today.

I walked to the shops today.  My husband had an errand that would take a few hours and it was a beautiful wintry day in Australia - which means sun shining and only cold enough for a light jacket.  The trip was probably about 3 kilometers in total, plus the extra kilometer I added by trying to take a short cut through our neighborhood, which apparently has very windy streets that do not all lead to the shops.  I had nearly 11 kilograms of Saf on my back (24 pounds) in the Ergobaby carrier that we could not live without, and over 12 weeks of growing baby on my front.  I felt pretty good about myself.  I felt strong.  I'm nearing the second trimester energy surge and I can feel it.  It's the first time I've felt motivated to exercise in .. 12 weeks?  Yes.  Probably. 

a younger, smaller and balder saf in the Ergo (on the front)
Saf could stay on my back for hours.  He babbled, waved frantically at his shadow, watched the scenery quietly, began to sing to himself, lay his head against my back and fell asleep.  I rewarded myself for my efforts with a smoothie bought with change that I found on my dresser.  (Buying things with change is always a satisfying experience for me).

South Sudan, a women's seminar - my lovely friend Aline teaching on nutrition.
As I walked for exercise, to pass the time, and in pursuit of a treat, I thought of all the women in the world, babes on their backs, walking many kilometers on dusty roads - I felt connected to them.  I was strong too.  I kept my baby close to me.  I walked.  But then I remembered why they walked - and it wasn't so they could enjoy a smoothie guilt free.  They were most likely in pursuit of their family's daily water supply.  And I felt humbled.  I can remember seeing mamas in Sudan with a toddler tied to their back with colourful material and two 40 liter jerry cans of pumped water in their hands and one balanced on their heads.  It took all of my strength and skill to get one can on my head and carry it for a kilometer without losing it.  [Which I was pretty proud of.]

I window shopped for awhile, ran into a couple of friends, listened to some kind of talent competition that was happening and walked home.  As I walked, listening to Saf and enjoying the sunshine, I couldn't help but think of women that I know and don't know, walking their own roads at the same time, for such different reasons.  I didn't feel guilty for my sidewalk and satisfied belly, but I felt the weightiness of gratitude and responsibility - for not only the gorgeous child on my back, but the luxury of choice and time and energy to waste. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Like an endless falling

"Things fall apart,
the center cannot hold."
We are no strangers to the falling apart;
We perpetrate against the center of our lives,
and on some days it feels
like an endless falling,
like a deep threat,
like rising water,
like ruthless wind.

But you ...you in the midst,
                 you back in play,
                 you rebuking and silencing and ordering,
                 you creating restfulness in the very eye of the storm.
You ...be our center:
                 cause us not to lie about the danger,
                 cause us not to resist your good order.
Be our God.  Be the God you promised,
                  and we will be among those surely peaceable in your order.
We pray in the name of the one through whom all things hold together.

From "Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth:  Prayers of Walter Brueggemann"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the gift of comfortability.

Last night as we were tucking ourselves into bed, careful not to wake the sleeping baby in the bed (the sleeping baby who almost always manages to wake up no matter how quiet we are) my husband began lamenting at the state of my comforter.  "It's all in a big lump, becca! (he whispered intensely at me)  I always keep track of my corners.  Yours is in a big ball!  I have no idea how you sleep like that!"  (We don't share blankets because I share mine with Saf, and it just works better that way.  Chris barely likes to share a bed.)

And in that moment, I realized.  I have the gift of comfortability.

Chris laughs because I'm often sitting on things that he's looking for, completely without noticing.  I've slept as a single person with piles of clothes at the end of my bed.  I'm as quick to sit on a floor as I am on a couch.  I really enjoy other cultures, mud huts, crowded buses.  I like meeting new people and even secretly enjoy awkward situations.  I can sleep anywhere.  Really.  Even in cardigans (with pokey buttons, Chris adds from the couch).

And now, I feel vindicated.  I have a gift.  The gift of comfortability.  

Kuala Lumpur airport.     

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

naming the loss: our first pregnancy, part 2

We jumped back into life pretty quickly after the loss of our baby.  We didn't know what else to do.  Most people didn't even know we were pregnant so it was difficult to share our loss.  The world kept spinning, we had work deadlines and we had to pinch ourselves to make sure the pregnancy hadn't just been a dream.  How could the sky be so blue and people be so happy if our baby was dead?  I was working with a mother and child healthcare training program which was about to begin in a few weeks.  There was so much to do.

So I kept going, putting a smile on my face and regularly reminding myself that things would be okay.  But I cried alot.  Alot.  My poor husband, new to me and to marriage, had a wife who sobbed most evenings.  He probed with questions and held me with quiet but I still cried myself to sleep most nights and woke up in the mornings with tears in my eyes.  I found it difficult to be around pregnant women, especially when they didn't know that I had recently lost a baby.  And I was helping to facilitate a course that was exploring issues of pregnancy and birth every single day.

Most "comforting" words people offered made me angry.  I didn't care that at least I knew I was fertile - I wanted to still be pregnant with my baby.  I didn't care that I was young and had plenty of time to have more.  And I didn't believe that "it just wasn't God's timing".  Basically what I needed to hear was that the loss was a massive loss, I was free to grieve, and the person speaking cared about me.  I did not need people to help me look on the brighter side. 

I felt angry.  I felt really empty. And maybe the worst part was that Chris and I, who should have been rejoicing in our new family of two, suddenly felt incomplete.  Someone was missing and we were not enough for me. 

Five months down the road, in the middle of an emotional meltdown in front of my community, God met me - in a very real way.  I vocalized (mostly through sobs) every bit of anger, disappointment, fear, hurt, jealousy, grief.  It was very ugly.  And God really came.  It's hard to explain, but a deposit of healing was planted in my body/heart/mind that day.  And it continues to grow.

I wrote in my journal:
"I've been wondering these days about the new heavens and the new earth, and our little unborn baby who is somewhere, other than in my womb.  I was thinking of the passage in Isaiah 26 where Israel is compared to a woman writing in pain, only to give birth to wind and not the child she longed for.  (v.19) And then God's declaration, 'Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise, O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!  For your dew is a radiant dew and the earth will give birth to those long dead.'

Underneath all of the symbolism on a national level is a woman grieving the loss of her unborn baby.  And even lower, even quieter, is the promise that the earth will give birth to the dead.  I don't know where to go from there except to imagine:  the new earth - lush with green and unity and right, structures of justice flourish, disease is gone, nations reconciled, death swallowed up - and our children are born into this redeemed and wondrous place. Maybe I will carry our little one in my womb again and all of my hope will be safe from destruction.  Maybe I will writhe in strength and beauty and deliver my baby into Chris' hands, into the future that he didn't have before.  And we'll have all the joy of raising him in a world where sin has been conquered.  I like this thought."

To mark the one year anniversary of our baby lost, Chris and I recorded a song.  We shared it with good friends who lost a baby the same week that we were remembering ours.  It imagines that when everything is right in the new world, our little seed will be able to take root and grow.  I've never heard a theologian articulate my theory, but I hold this hope in my heart and look forward to nursing our first baby under the shade of the tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations (Rev 22).  Amen.

Seed by becca d

Friday, June 17, 2011

naming the loss: our first pregnancy, part I.

[The next two posts will be about our first pregnancy, subsequent loss, and process of finding healing amidst a very lonely and quiet pain.]

You can read the second post here. 

We didn't intend to be pregnant.  Well, we did eventually intend to be, but maybe two years after we were married.  You know, so we'd know how to love each other well and we would have gotten to explore marriage, have hundreds of sleep-ins and deep conversations over coffee with no interruptions.  After two years, we'd feel secure in our ability to parent and we'd feel ready for a little seed to be planted and frickin' take over our lives forever.

I still think this would have been a good plan.  We had loved each other from very long distances through friendship and special friendship and even engagement.  We got married on our 52nd day actually in person.  (Not that we counted).  We deserved some quiet and close without children to worry about.

But in our honeymoon togetherness on Vancouver Island with rain and waves crashing on rocky beaches, nausea-inducing whale viewing, extremely yummy food, long road trips with ferry rides and the sweet relief of finally and forever - we somehow made a baby.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

exile (naming the loss)

My brain has felt like it's actually working these days, so I picked a book off of our shelf that we've had at least two years or longer.  It's by Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Old Testament scholars, called "Cadences of Home:  Preaching among Exiles".

walter b.

Exile.  I've had conversations with people who are actually living in exile, refugees who have fled from their native countries to seek safety and new life in a foreign city.  They have painful, even terrifying stories of chaos, instability, loss and often fleeing violence with their children on their backs.  Most people living as refugees that I've met have taken on this status because of war - whether in Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, or Somalia.  I really cannot imagine how painful their experience of displacement has been.

In the Old Testament, exile generally refers to the Jewish people whose sacred temple was destroyed and city seized in 587 BC, and they were taken to live in captivity in Babylon.  I had a professor who would often say of the exiles, "The dead ones were the lucky ones" as people would have been assaulted on many levels and death marched to their new home, occupied by their worst enemies.