Wednesday, February 29, 2012

one of those days

Yesterday was one of those days - one of those days I was sure would be every day with two always needing me little ones.  All my days are surprisingly not one of those days.  But yesterday was.

There was up in the night teething pain which makes for tired parents and a grumpy boy; fever, his first, so I stripped him down and nursed him.  He vomited all over the couch and I left it until his father woke up because my toddler-baby just needed to be held.  There was both children crying and trying to hold them, arms not able enough.  No naps overlapped and muggy rain threatened us all.

It was worth it though, just to get outside, so we went.  Up the street past abandoned buildings, cafes, pubs and art galleries (but mostly abandoned buildings, this old street of ours) - we walked and greeted familiar people who were probably confused as to why a mother and children would be taking a walk when the dark sky was pregnant.  With downpour.  I could have suspected it and stayed inside but we really needed a change of scenery, some new air to breathe, some exercise (at least one of us).

He shouted, "All wet!" and we were, at least he and I were, his sister protected in the stroller fortunately.  I stopped at 'the corner', where the women wait for the men and money is exchanged for intimacy but it never comes.  A man saw me from across the street and he came running.  With an umbrella.

He walked us halfway down the hill towards the place where my husband works and we walked the rest of the way in the downpour, warmed by kindness from a neighbour we didn't know.

The girl was oblivious.  The boy loved every minute.

"Happy!  Happy!  Happy!  Happy!"

And I was too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Psalm of thanks in late February as I fall asleep

Where are the ten thousand fingers that
Knitted you
Inside of me?
The ones that wrote your ears
To soar when you smile
And painted your skin with
Olive oil and such promise of growing
What music played as your flower eyes were plucked
From the furthest field and now we are seen,
So much like your father under dark strands of youngest hair.

What wild imagination laid a tiny womb inside my own?
Oh the hope that was born with you my baby girl.

I listen as you sigh close by
And we both give way to our eyes closing
I whisper thanks with my every breath
For you,
My jubilation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

this weekend (we lose control).

This weekend I heard wonderful news - my friend gave birth to her baby girl.  I sang inside, relieved and excited for their future together.

This weekend, on the same day, I heard tragic news - my friend's tiny baby had died inside of her, the end of a joyful new pregnancy coming much too soon.  I grieved with her, aching for their loss of future together.

I stare at my own baby girl - a miscarriage early in pregnancy wouldn't have lost a nameless, faceless baby.  We would have lost her, and everything that is to come.

In church we prayed for S.ria, for the oppression and violence and blood and silence.

In church I held my baby girl and we shared eyes and smiles and so much affection.  We are glad for each other.

I imagined S.rian mothers years ago, with precious babes in their laps, smiling and thankful.  They never imagined their children would grow to commit such brutality, or experience such abuse.

I too have a smiling baby who will one day be capable of giving and receiving pain.

It's the vulnerability of fertility; we plant all and we lose control.  Something grows but we can't keep her alive, we can't make her stay, we can't even make her do right or love us back.  A mother gives everything, and yet she still isn't able to make it certain, not anything.

Occasionally I feel the nakedness of it all, in birth and life and death, how close we are to falling off the edge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


My sister snapped this while we were at the beach this week.  That's Grandma and Saf close to the water.  Peaceful.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

baby, you are a mystery to me.

Before marriage my husband and I met briefly and then spent twenty one months living either across the country or across the world from each other.  Actually most of our lives were spent that way when I think about it, but twenty one months when we were in knowing of each other, and in wanting of being closer.

Nine of those months we were friends who emailed each other occasionally (well, I practiced restraint and wrote every two weeks; he usually responded within six hours) and as we grew in our knowledge of each other through letters strung together on a computer screen, we grew in love.  I was in India and East Africa most of the time, the last few weeks at home in Pennsylvania to visit my family.  I loved those months - as we expressed no intentions towards each other, nor affections for each other, there were no expectations.   We were free to write and converse and explore and question and our answers held no consequences for our future because our futures weren't connected.  He was a mystery that I was growing in knowledge of - but would we ever become anything?  Did he feel the way about me that I felt about him?  The ambiguity was thick, it was challenging me to stay there in the grey, not to push us into conversations we weren't ready for.  It was hard.

One morning in May I woke to a very long, beautifully soul-baring email (of course) from this Canadian boy whom I was pretty sure I could love.  All of sudden, he came out with it, his truest thoughts about me and his heart and it was all so honest and I was overwhelmed.  He told me, "Everything I know about you, I love.  And everything I don't know about you, I project choosing to love."  He loved me!  We talked on Skype pretty quickly and I said, 'Yes, I would like to get to know you more'.  The next day or so he wrote and said, 'Does this mean that we're dating?'  He likes language that's more accommodating than I care to use sometimes.

A few weeks into our dating (living on opposite sides of Australia) Chris mentioned the possibility of coming to visit me.  "Why?  Isn't it a bit soon?" We didn't even really know each other ... did we?  We hadn't even seen each other in nearly ten months.

That was a silly response which I quickly recanted and he came.  I remember it pretty clearly, picking him up at the airport.  He was sitting in a chair with his bag,  I was running late.  He smiled wide at me and gave me a hug.  And then we could barely look at each other for the next six hours at least.  We took a long walk to a park and got very lost, neither of us caring one bit.  We did cartwheels, had a picnic I had prepared of peanut butter, banana and raisin sandwiches, sat in the grass together and talked in real time, no electronics necessary.  Chris gave me a journal he had written in on the flight over, one that we would share for the next year until we would vow to live side by side day and night.  It was the perfect gift.  He knew me.  I would have nearly married him on the spot.

There was this incredible familiarity in being with Chris that first time after so many months of learning and loving him from a distance.  And there was also this awkwardness in our togetherness, a newness, he was unfamiliar.  I didn't know how to look at him, how to walk next to him - we hadn't held hands, yet were (on some level) committed to growing whatever this was together.

I'm remembering this first 'date' with my husband because of the moments after my daughter was born a few weeks ago.  For nine months she was part of me, on the inside of my body, my heart, my thoughts.  Her every movement I felt and even anticipated the way she'd stretch her legs, wriggle around when I was laying down nursing her brother, respond to her dad's touch on my belly.  I knew her well.  But she was still a mystery.

But then I actually met her.  On the outside.  And she thoroughly surprised me.  As I was pushing her out the midwife said, "I can see her dark hair."  Dark hair?!  What?  Her brother had been bald and I full expected another hairless offspring.  When she was finally born, her cry was the sweetest, most relieving sound.  I took her onto my chest and stared at her, astounded.  This was the little person I was growing?  After a few minutes someone said, "So what did you get?"  We hadn't even thought to look.  I lifted up her tiny body and looked at my husband in joyful disbelief.  "We had a girl!?!"  We both had felt fairly certain we were having a boy, although we had left the gender unknown.  We were wrong.  

The most wonderful things often grow in darkness; we know, and we don't know.  We are familiar and confident, we are surprised and even a little confused.  I loved the last days of my pregnancy, knowing the rich ambiguity of face and name and gender would be gone soon enough.  She was a mystery, and yet I knew her.  My husband (to be) was so familiar, and yet he felt so new on that first date.  I still have moments of surprise with Chris, but there's nothing like those months of long-distance loving, full of anticipation and wonder but so many miles apart.  And I'll never reclaim those months of womb-secrets with my daughter.  She's here now, we see face to face.

I often want it all to rush by, so I can know, see, and understand fully.  But there's something precious and fleeting about the dim mirror, the unknowing of the womb, the black of fertile soil as we wait to see if seeds with sprout.  We don't have to know outcomes to commit ourselves; our hearts can grow like pregnant mamas who love fully in the waiting, ripe with hope and future, stretched thin with love for someone very present, but still unseen.

I'm not sure what I'm really trying to say here, but in the spirit of this post, I think I'll just let it be.  ;)