My Victory/Identity Anthem – “This Is Me”

If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet, you should.  It’s a beautiful movie that hits all my criteria:  Great acting, great music, a moving story, a meaningful message, and something that can be watched with my kids.

download.jpg

The story is about P.T. Barnum, the man who started the first circus.  He enlists a band of society’s outcasts, and they form their own sort of family; they understand each other’s scars and come together to support and love each other.

Barnum then gets caught up in his fame, and the pride sets in.  He shuns his loyal troop at a fancy party because he doesn’t want to be associated with this group of outcasts in front of his hoity-toity friends.

The bearded lady then responds with an absolutely stunning musical number, and it resonated with me BIG TIME.  I regularly rock out to this song; it’s my victory anthem.  Check it out.

Here are the lyrics, and here’s the YouTube video.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)
I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
This is me
and I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) ’cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
Oh
This is me

Please Stop Telling Adopted People to be Thankful – and 9 Reasons We Don’t Need to Be

boy-walking-teddy-bear-child-48794.jpg

As an adopted child, I’ve heard every ridiculous comment about adoption you can think of.  My whole life, I’ve had to navigate awkward conversations, questions I didn’t have answers for, being called names like “bastard”, and being asked why my mom didn’t want me.

But the worst one?  The most cutting one?  When people tell me I should be thankful.

Recently I had two family members on different occasions rebuke me for speaking out about my lack of intimate relationship with my mom.  One of their reasons they used to try to silence me?  I should “be more thankful” that my parents saved me.  Because, you know, adopting me was so selfless and sacrificial, and that should nullify any hurt or negative feelings I had or have.  I’m not showing my thankfulness very well if I am open and honest about my childhood.

But the sad thing is, this attitude isn’t just from family members who are upset about me sharing.  I’ve heard this same sentiment expressed from various places my whole life.

It’s an attitude that needs to stop.  It is hurtful and damaging to an area where there was already so much damage done.  Being adopted is a damn hard road for those of us who walk it, and we don’t need it to be any harder.

So here are 9 reasons why adoptees don’t need to be thankful:

1. Our lives began with major loss.

As adoptees, we experienced major loss at a very young age; we lost our mothers, our chance at a secure attachment, and often times we also lost a sibling or siblings.  Can you imagine as an adult losing all the people that matter most to you, in one foul swoop?  Never mind for that to happen when you were a vulnerable, innocent infant?  Can you imagine if someone were to take you away from everyone and everything you know, and put you in a group of strangers and told you this is where you’ll live now?

But we should be thankful for this?

2. We had to become someone else.

I don’t care who you are, your heritage and your genetics matter.  They are part of who you are.  As adoptees, all of that gets erased the minute we are adopted.  All of a sudden, we have to assume a new identity; we are often given a new name, a new family, a new heritage to take on as our own.  Often there is no more mention of our heritage or our family of origin.  Our genetic makeup, our geneology, and our cultural background is lost and forgotten, and we are given a replacement set of those things that we must accept and become.

But we should be thankful for this?

3. Information about our past is hidden or kept from us.

This one is not always the case, but in my case this is true, and for lots of others.  My adoptive parents knew that I had Indigenous and Scandinavian roots.  They knew I had an older sister.  They knew my birth mom had brown hair and brown eyes and had a small, slight frame (just like me), and they knew she had an aptitude for art and language (like I do too).  They knew my name was “Melissa Joan Carlson” when I was born.

That information belonged to me, not them.  Yet, they hid it from me.  I never got the privilege of knowing that my skills and talents were genetic, that I bore a striking resemblance to my mom, and that – above all – I had a sister somewhere out there.  Growing up with 5 older brothers, I always dreamed of having a sister.  But I was never allowed the right of knowing any of that.  I remember dreading the “Family Tree” unit that would come every year in school, because my true heritage was taken from me, and without apology.  I didn’t know where I came from, and that is an unsettling feeling.  Giving us a replacement family tree and a fake heritage doesn’t fix it.  We live like imposters being told who we are supposed to be.

But we should be thankful for this?

4. We often grow up in a culture of shame.

My parents hid the fact that I was adopted.  They did tell me, so I give them kudos for that at least.  But very few people beyond those that were around when I showed up at 15 months old ever knew I was adopted (and I attribute that amount of honesty to the fact that they had to explain my appearance somehow!).  And that’s the way they wanted it.  I was told it was better if people didn’t know; I would simply get hurt and people wouldn’t understand.  They said they were protecting me, but I know it was themselves they were protecting.  But I complied, trusting their word.  If people know I am adopted, they won’t like me.  Tell me – do you hide those things you’re proud of, or the things you’re ashamed of?  I didn’t have words to put to it, but it created a deep sense of shame within me to know it was a taboo subject.  If it was something to be hidden, it must be bad.  I must be bad.  I carried that burden for many, many years.

On top of that, I was never allowed to talk about it or ask questions even at home.  I remember having questions burning in my heart, but I knew they weren’t welcome.  In fact, even as an adult, my husband made the mistake of asking my parents what my original name had been – to which he received a sharp kick in the knee under the table from my brother, and an explanation afterwards that “we don’t talk about that”.  The indignant looks on my parents’ faces were a harsh reminder of the silencing and the psychological and emotional abuse I had endured growing up regarding my adoption.

But we should be thankful for this?  

5. Our birth mothers (where we come from) are often shed in bad light.

There is an assumption that if a woman gives up a child for adoption, they obviously weren’t fit to be a good mother.  And that assumption may be true in some situations, though certainly not all.  But to shed a child’s birth mother, where they came from, in a bad light is not only selfish, but damaging to a child’s identity.  How do you think it feels to have someone assume you came from a prostitute or a whore?  How do you think that affects the heart of a vulnerable child when you speak with disgust about the woman who bore the child you are now privileged to raise?  Growing up, I never once heard a positive word spoken about my birth mom.  Never once did we pray for her, talk about what a brave thing she did, or how much she might miss me.  We hardly talked about her at all, and the things that were said were hushed whispers about what a screw up she must have been.  Children aren’t idiots – when you talk about where we came from in that way, it affects them.

But we should be thankful for this?

6. Lots of adoptive parents lack the tools to deal with the issues an adopted child might face.

This is especially true, I think, for those adoptees who are now adults.  (I believe, and hope, these things have started to change.)  My parents had an attitude that they would just bring me home, raise me like my brothers, and all would turn out fine.  They never sought out courses on parenting adopted children, on attachment issues, or reached out for help or counsel in any capacity.  In fact, I would even say there was an arrogance displayed there; an attitude of knowing how to raise kids already, because they had done this 5 times before.  I was expected to just adapt, and to never have issues.  But I did have issues; of course I did!  My birth mom had given me up, I had spent time bouncing around foster homes, I was neglected and physically sick for that time, I probably had trauma behaviours, and I was suddenly put in a family and expected to simply adapt.

And on top of all of that, I knew I was not to bring any of it up.  That hole in my heart was never given a voice; it just continued festering through my childhood, until I finally was able to seek help and healing once I was outside of my parents’ care.  So when people say, “but they did the best they could”, I don’t really agree.  And if that really was the best, it doesn’t mean it was good enough.  And it doesn’t mean they did right by me.  And it doesn’t mean I came out unscathed.  They never sought help, asked for support, read parenting books, or even admitted they didn’t know what they were doing raising an adopted child.

But we should be thankful for this?

7. Our adoptive parents are made out to be selfless saints.

Let’s face it – how good do you feel when you are the subject of pity?  How wanted would you feel if someone asked you out on a date and then told it they did it as a humanitarian effort?  As adopted children, we are often made out to be some charity case, and that is not okay.  Adopted parents wanted children, just like biological parents did.  No one fawns over a biological parent and tells that what a selfless act it was to procreate and bring a child into the world who wouldn’t have been otherwise.  So why would we do that to a adoptive parent?  People do it because adopted children are made out to be unwanted; praising adoptive parents perpetuates this attitude.  (And an even worse step is, “Oh, good for you.  But I could never do it.”  I won’t even touch on that one.)

Another sad reality is that a lot of children are being adopted by the very people who are looking for this attention.  Healthy parents are always looking to pour out of themselves into their children, and aren’t looking to get something back.  Often times, with adoption, a mother (or father, but often it’s the mother) adopts to fill a need.  (In my case, it was a need for a daughter, but it can also be a need to look good in the public eye, or to seek praise or recognition.)  Right from the get-go, this is a dangerous situation; it was never my job to fill a need for my mom.  But not only was I supposed to fill a need, and be the perfect little princess for her (my identity was taken away and I was made to be who she wanted me to be), but she gets praised for being a selfless saint for adopting me.  So this act that appears so selfless to some people, is actually the opposite, and creates further damage to the heart of the adopted child.

But we should be thankful for this?  

8. I would still exist if I hadn’t have been adopted.

The truth is, if my family wouldn’t have adopted me, another family would have.  Perhaps even a family that was healthier!  Of course, maybe a family that was more dysfunctional could have adopted me.  We’ll never know.  But the point is, I still would have had life without my adoptive parents “saving me”.  Biological children don’t feel the need to thank their parents for conceiving them, do they?  For “saving” them from the plight of non-existence?  Are biological children told they should be thankful their parents had some hot sex that one night and got pregnant with them?  No!  And in fact, if any child should be thankful, it’s the one who wouldn’t even exist unless their parents had fornicated at that exact moment.  I don’t go around telling people to remember to be grateful their dad and mom had intercourse and his sperm fertilized her egg, because they wouldn’t be here without that.  That’s ridiculous.  It’s just as ridiculous for anyone to expect an adopted child to live in a forever state of gratitude because someone took pity on them.

But we should be thankful for this?

9. We are talked about like we are stray dogs that someone took in.

One common theme that runs through all of these points, is that they all come from an attitude that adopted children are unwanted.  No one sees adoption as a humanitarian effort unless you see it through the lens of “nice family takes in poor, unwanted child”.  If we were to see it as, “family gets privilege of raising and learning from this child, and growing into a mutual love and bond” (and I’ve seen this attitude in adoptive families, so I know it exists), people wouldn’t say these things and hold these attitudes.  It doesn’t feel good to be looked at this way, especially when we already have other heart issues to work with.  Don’t add to it.

But we should be thankful for all of this?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Please stop telling us to be thankful.

We shouldn’t be pressured into being thankful for things that non-adopted kids aren’t pressured into being thankful for.

And for the record: I’m not thankful that I was placed in a home that not only didn’t recognize my unique needs, but ignored them and then used them against me when I did start speaking up.  I’m not thankful that my being adopted is used as a means to manipulate me into allowing poor treatment of myself and my family, and then to silence me about it.  I’m not thankful that I am told that putting up healthy boundaries isn’t showing gratitude like I should be.

So no – I’m not thankful for any of that.

But you know what I am thankful for?

I’m thankful that in the midst of brokenness, God was there.  And still is.

I’m thankful that it was never His plan for me to be hurt or damaged.

I’m thankful that He had a will and a way for my heart to be healed, and that he put people in my life who support that path.

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to find ME – the real me.  I’m thankful to discover my heritage, my past, and my birth siblings.  I’m thankful for the parts of me that have been woken up, and to see how much genetics do play a part in who we are.  I’m thankful that after years of missing this, I now have people in my life who are related to me by blood, and that we can compare looks and mannerisms and quirks.  I never had that growing up.  I am thankful for it!

I’m thankful that my brokenness as a child has helped me become the mom that I am.  I am thankful for the redemption I’ve found in parenting, that I can be the mother I never had.  Sure, I make mistakes, but I am thankful I learned to hear my kids, validate their feelings, own what I’ve done, and ask for forgiveness.  I am thankful I am able to do for them what my little heart screamed for as a child.

I am thankful when I see adoptive families who do this differently.  I find hope to see adopted kids’ needs be acknowledged and met.  I am thankful to see adoptive parents seek support and knowledge, and put their kids’ well-beings above their need to be praised or thanked.

I am thankful for a husband who has loved and accepted me in my mess.  Who has held me as I’ve cried.  Who’s listened for hours when I’ve had revelations about the past, or pulled back a new layer of my heart.  Who has bore the most brunt of my woundedness, but loved me anyways.  Who is on the same page as me and wants to grow as a person too.

And you know what?  I am thankful for my adoptive family.  I’m not thankful for the reasons I’ve been told I need to be, but I am thankful.  God turns all things for good, and He has certainly kept His promise.

Lastly, I’m thankful to have found my voice and courage to speak up, even in the face of pressure to stay silent and keep things hidden, so that others can hear the truth and find support and freedom we all need.  I would be even more thankful if I knew these words resonated with someone and helped them, which is what my heart truly is.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Please feel free to share if this resonated with you,

or you feel someone would benefit from hearing this!

________________________________________________________________________________________

* I suspect already this post will receive some heat, either to my face or behind my back.  I have been told that to speak out when you’re not reconciled with people involved is not okay.  Here are my thoughts on that:  1) Reconciliation only occurs when both parties will acknowledge and validate the others’ feelings, take responsibility for hurts both ways, ask for forgiveness, and then change future behaviour.  All of those things have to happen for true reconciliation to take place.  2) If the door has been open for that to happen, and it has not been walked through, it is no longer my responsibility.  My openness is my responsibility; I am not responsible to make other people open to this.  And truthfully, it may never happen, so my life needs to continue regardless.  3) I am not going to hinge the fate of my calling on someone else’s life choices.  4) These actions were wrong the moment they happened, not the moment I decided to share about them.  5) It is not my job to protect anyone, but it WAS their job to protect me, and that didn’t happen.   6) This is the most important one to me: I have been inspired, changed, challenged, renewed, healed, and encouraged by the stories other people have taken the courage to share.  A lot of those stories were shared in the absence of reconciliation (because then it would hinge on other people taking part), but in the presence of pure motives and a heart for those who would read it.  It is a risk, for sure.  But I’m diving in.  And above all, I care more about what God has called me to do, then what other people think.  I will not allow the enemy to shut my mouth to the things God has called me to open it about.  He is my refuge, even when the storm rages. 

Fighting Battles But Forgetting People

download-1.jpg

Are we so busy fighting the big battles and the things that threaten the spreading of the Gospel, that we’re forgetting to actually spread the Gospel?

Lately I’ve see so many articles and posts on social media that are waging war on all kinds of hot topics: Divorce.  Abortion.  Substance Abuse.  Homosexuality.  Islam.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and it doesn’t sit right with me.  I’ve been struggling with the idea of us as Christ followers spouting messages about “abortion is a sin!”, and “make your marriage work!”, and “stand up against the muslims taking over our country!”, and most recently, “don’t let those school board heathens take verses from our Bibles!”.

I understand that we need to stand, we need to have convictions and believe in them. And we need to pray.  But in the wake of our social media convictions there lies a lot of carnage; carnage made up of broken human hearts.

Behind that divorce is an exhausted woman who needs some support.

Behind that abortion is a woman living in shame who doesn’t know how she can raise a baby on her own and how she can manage the looks of judgement.

Behind the social drinking is a person who is dealing with a childhood of neglect and abuse.

Behind the homosexuality is a person who feels judged and condemned.

Behind the hijab is a woman who fiercely believes in her Koran and doesn’t know any other reality.

Behind a school board decision is a person who has hurt from the church and is trying to do what she believes is the right thing.

And all of these people, what do they receive from Jesus followers?  They usually receive more shame, guilt, condemnation, and judgement.   These people won’t benefit from a Facebook post that further pushes them away from what they need most.

When I watch how Jesus walked out his short years here on earth, he never addressed the sin or the issue without addressing the heart.  He never did one without the other, except maybe when it came to dealing with those who were religious, the Pharisees.  (I think He knew their hard, proud hearts weren’t open, but the heart of a hurting person would be.)  When a woman was caught in adultery (a sin punishable by death), He restored her dignity in front of her accusers, treated her with love and valued her as a person, and THEN  told her to go and sin no more.  It’s a similar story with the woman at the well.  When He healed people, He never asked them what sins they committed first (though He DID rebuke his disciples for inquiring who’s sin made a boy blind – John 9:2-3).  He took the depravity of the human condition and put it up against the Love of His Father.  And that love won EVERY. TIME.

I really think we have it backwards.  We address the sin in peoples’ lives, and then tell them how to live opposite of that.  We tell them not to get divorced, that abortion is murder, that alcohol abuse is wrong and hurts people.  But we’re not really doing what Jesus did – appeal to the broken heart first.  When Jesus gave love and grace to the sinners he encountered, it was a given that they would turn around and do something different.  Because meeting Love in person form has a way of changing people.  Imposing rules and fighting big issues don’t.

Let’s not forget that behind the “big battles” are people.  People who need love, not hate. People who need what Jesus has to offer, not more of what the enemy offers (judgement, shame, guilt, isolation, condemnation).  What are we offering them when we share politically/racially-charged articles on Facebook?

What are we offering them when we’re fighting so hard for our rights to spread the Gospel, that we’ve forgotten to actually do just that?  None of these issues affect my ability to spread the love of Jesus where He calls me to: which is everywhere, at all times – I need to grow to that!  (Remember that the Gospel is being spread even in places where that very act is punishable by death, so surely we can get around any restrictions imposed on us.)  The big issues don’t stop me from telling one person about the love of Jesus and how He can change our lives.

The big issues matter, but Jesus is teaching me that they don’t matter more than a person.

Jesus fought the big battles by going after one heart.  Then another.  And then another. Let’s go after peoples’ hearts and the big issues will diminish.

Josie’s birth story

_MG_2356BW

Although sweet Josephine is already 9 (nine?!) months old, I really wanted to share her birth story with you.

My previous experiences with birth were not awesome.  I remember being terrified, in a lot of pain, not being able to cope, and ending up with epidurals, vacuums, stitches, and really painful recoveries.  Not to mention the horrible symptoms of pregnancy that preceded all of that.  It had not been a lot of fun, and they were not the kind of experiences that had me beating down the door to sign up again.

The year before we ended up getting pregnant with Josie, I had started thinking that maybe birth didn’t have to be so awful.  I remember at Christmas time, hearing a song on the radio about how Mary would have toiled and been in pain giving birth to Jesus.  Right away inside of me, and I believe I even said it out loud without even hesitating, I thought “Yeah right!”  I just didn’t believe that Mary would have been in excruciating pain and having an awful time giving birth to the Savior of the world that would eventually redeem her.

Think about it.  She rode on a camel while she was 9 months pregnant.  She gave birth with no medical staff and only her husband there (that’s a WHOLE  other ball of wax right there!) and in a barn, to boot.  I remember always thinking that Mary must have had a special grace given to her because she was carrying and birthing the Son of God.  It just didn’t seem right to me that Jesus, who healed all that he came in contact with and who walked in the utmost peace and love and mercy, would have come into the world amidst screaming and terrorizing pain.  I imagined a completely peaceful, safe, JOYFUL birth.

But then I got to thinking, couldn’t that happen for me too?  If God could do that for Mary, couldn’t He do it for me?  I remember looking in the Bible at the part where the curse came on Adam and Eve, because that is where we get our idea of birth being painful.  It’s interesting to me that the part of the curse was specified for how it would affect males and females differently: Adam was told he would have to toil to provide for his family, and Eve was told that her pain in pregnancy and childbirth would be increased.  BUT, Paul tells us in Galatians 3:13 that “Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law”.  So was it possible that the curse over women had been redeemed by Jesus’ death on the cross?  I believed it was, but had never heard anyone talk about it before.  It rang in my spirit as such truth, and I was confused as to why we weren’t hearing about this more.  Pain-free child-birth?!  Hello!  Sign me up!

Not long after those thoughts started going through me, I happened to see a book entitled “Supernatural Childbirth” on a friend’s bookshelf.  This woman is an amazing woman of faith, and someone I respect and admire a great deal, and I was so excited to see how God had used her to bring this book into my path.  And at such a time.  I asked about it, and decided to just order a copy for myself, knowing it would be one I would come to often.

It arrived a short while later, and as I enjoyed a nice quiet bath one evening, read the book from cover to cover.  All of the thoughts and feelings I had been having about birth were all confirmed in this short book.  The promises of God regarding pregnancy and childbirth were that they didn’t have to be awful.  I didn’t have to suffer.  I could feel good in pregnancy.  I could give birth peacefully and without pain and toil.  Could it really be so?

I excitedly shared all I had read and learned with Kris, who instantly agreed with me.  We read the book together, and we were in full agreement that it could really be like that.  The only hitch was that we hadn’t really been talking about having a third child.  I remember thinking, as I was reading, that even though we hadn’t really talked about having more kids, that I’d really like to try it all again, just to have a different experience than I’d had before.

As fate would have it (and obviously fate = God!), we ended up getting pregnant that following summer.  I was excited to see how this time around, things would be different.

And they were.  Oh, how different they were!

I did deal with some nausea in the first couple of months, but I knew all along that it was just the enemy trying to convince me early on that I couldn’t have what God had promised.  I pressed on, and kept believing that I had been redeemed from all the crappy parts of pregnancy.  It subsided, and I felt like a million dollars after that.  I had energy, I felt great, I wasn’t sore, I slept like a baby!  I worked out all the way through my pregnancy.  It was amazing.  I can’t even begin to tell you how different it was from my previous experiences.  You really might not believe me anyways.  🙂

Kris and I had a list of things that we were believing for regarding the birth of our little girl. Ephesians 3:20 states, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”.  What a promise that God wants us to think and ask, and then on top of it, He wants to do even more!  We also stood on the truth of James 4:2 that states that we do not have the things we desire because we do not ask.  So we decided to ask!

So here are some of the things we believed for:  We believed that the day she was to be born, that I would wake up, go into labour, and be done within a few hours.  We had missed whole nights of sleep before our boys were born, and we just didn’t want to do it that way again.  We would be well-rested this time!  We believed I would not be in pain, and that the birth would be quick and easy.  We also believed that although I would not in pain, that I would still have contractions and would therefore actually know I was in labour.  We believed I would be and stay in perfect peace, knowing that fear can create pain, and knowing that God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  We believed that we would get to the hospital in time and that the right staff would be there.  We believed I would not need stitches and that my recovery would be quick and easy.  We believed I would not go overdue and need to be induced, but that I would also not have her early and that she would be full-term and healthy.

April 7, a Sunday, I had a great long nap in the afternoon.  I woke up, and had an urge to clean the house.  The boys were all playing outside, so I pumped up some great tunes and got to it.  Kris came in, surprised to see me in all my cleaning glory, dancing away and cleaning my little heart out.  Cleaning quickly turned into a dance party, and we had a blast. Oh, and we played swords:

IMG_1756

We both figured that this little one’s birth must be imminent!

That night, I woke early in the morning to the feeling of just need to have a good bowel movement.  I was only slightly crampy feeling, but definitely not uncomfortable.  After using the bathroom and figuring today would be the day, I went back to bed.  I didn’t even bother waking Kris and telling him, as I knew he would wake up and then likely not go back to sleep.  I feel asleep and slept until 7am, when our household usually gets up for the day.

I figured I was probably in labour, and so I hopped in the shower right away.  I was going to look decent if I was meeting my daughter today!  As I was showering, I kept having pain-less contractions.  They were just tightenings of my uterus, just like Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Though they were not painful, they were strong and regular, and I knew labour had begun.  I got out of the shower and texted Kris (we have a two-storey and I didn’t want to run downstairs in my skivvies), asking him to bring me a cup of coffee while I did my hair and make-up.  Then I texted again, telling him he should probably call our friends to come get the boys as it was time to go to the hospital once I was ready.  He didn’t reply, and was at the door of the bathroom in about 1.7 seconds.  He looked at me while I stood there calmly straightening my hair, “really?!”  Yes, really!  I told him that the contractions were strong and regular.  It was go time!

As a side story, our little rural hospital had called us the Friday before (it was Monday now), telling us that our doctor would not be in until after Tuesday.  If we were to go into labour, they told us we would have to go elsewhere.  I was immediately devastated, and then happened to look up to see what I had written on our scripture chalkboard just a few days before:

IMG_1737

Oh right, that!  I decided I would not fear, and it was in God’s hands.  It wouldn’t matter where I delivered, He would keep me safe.

So when I went into labour, Kris said, “you know what?  I’m just going to call out to Daysland and see if we can go there.  You never know.”  So he called, and the head unit nurse told him to absolutely head out!  Our doctor was back and able to deliver our baby.  Thank you God!

The nurse wanted to talk to me to assess where I was at, and when I couldn’t really tell her how far apart my contractions were, and I was chatting away just fine without the need to breathe through contractions, I don’t think she thought too much of it.  She said, “well, why don’t you just come out and we can at least see where you’re at”.  Ha!

So after getting a few things arranged, and waiting for our friends to arrive, we left.  It was about 830, and we had a 1/2 hour drive out to the hospital.  I popped in my Scripture music, and told Kris I just needed to listen to my music and not talk.  It was the most glorious, sunny morning.  I sat and listened to my beautiful music (“Hidden in my Heart” – highly recommended!), while my uterus painlessly contracted away.  At one point I looked over at the speedometer, and was about to give Kris a little heck for not driving faster.  I knew labour was humming along, and he was going a conservative 115!  I decided against it, though, as I knew I just needed to stay in my peaceful state, and let God look after that.  I couldn’t believe that I was able to just sit there upright, totally at peace, while my contractions were coming about 3-4 minutes apart.  I remember thinking, “This is really happening like we believed it would!”

We arrived at the hospital, and the nurse I had talked with on the phone met me.  I smiled and chatted away with them, and they took their time getting me into the delivery room and doing all of my charting.  After about 20 minutes, I was just about to say, “I really, really think you need to check me”, when the nurse said she’d grab the doctor to check me before he headed out.  He did his check, and then said there was only a lip.  I interpreted that as meaning I was only dilated a fingertip, and thought, “crumby!”  I thought I was further along then that.  I asked what that meant, and he said, “you’re 9cm dilated!  There is only a small lip of your cervix left!”  Praise God!  Everyone was shocked and started running around the room getting everything ready.  I was incredulous, even though it was all happening just as we had believed it would.

Below is a photo of me (my last pregnant photo!), smiling while in the transition phase of labour.  (I had an IV for antibiotics for Group B Strep, though in hindsight I wish I would have refused.  I really wasn’t worried about it and they didn’t have time for the full dose anyways.)

 IMG_1762

Josephine Sarah was born at 11:16am, just 2 hours after arriving at the hospital.  It would have been much, much sooner had my water broke earlier, but it didn’t matter.  I had spent that time in peace, and it certainly was not horrible as I had remembered labour to be!  I did experience some pain for the last hour, but it was minimal and completely manageable.  By the time it came to push, it all happened very quickly.  The head nurse (who was an obstetrics nurse for 20 years – the perfect staff we had prayed for!) was the one who delivered Josie, since the doctors only made it partway through the pushing!  I pushed only for about 3-5 minutes, and just a few good pushes got her out.  And that part didn’t hurt AT ALL.  I can’t really fully explain it, but it felt amazing to push.  I could feel her as she emerged from my body, pain-free.  It was absolutely amazing.  I did not need any stitches, and my placenta delivered quickly and easily, and the doctor even commented on how much better it had gone than usual.

We were amazed, and the medical staff were amazed.  At one point earlier on in the labour, a new nurse came in and said, “so this is the mom who came in 9cm dilated, smiling and chatting away?  Amazing!”  It was so, so neat and such a testimony of how good our God is.

It was such an awesome journey of faith and believing God.  Josie had been born in the exact timeframe we had believed for, with little to no pain, no stitches, and even the size we had asked for.  (Jack was a 9 1/2 lb baby, and though he was perfect and beautiful, we wanted a baby around 7 1/2 lbs.  Josie was 7 lbs. 11 ozs.)  She wasn’t early and she wasn’t late.  Her due dates were April 6 and 9, and she was born on the 8th.  God is so good!

  IMG_1765

She was perfect and healthy, which was the most important thing to us at the end of the day.  And she was, in fact, a SHE!  We were thrilled.  What a perfect addition to our family.

An extra little God-thing, was that we found a knot in the umbilical cord after Josie was born.  I wish we had taken a photo of it.  The doctor showed it to us – it was perfect little knot.  I didn’t know this at the time, but have since heard of multiple babies that were stillborn due to this complication.  The knot inhibits nutrients to get to the baby, and they eventually pass away.  I didn’t even know that could happen, and I am just so, so thankful that my little girl was not affected in the least by the knot.  Wow.

After the birth, I did experience some above-normal bleeding, as some of my placenta had retained.  Though the staff were a bit concerned, and it was a less-than-ideal situation, God was really my rock through that stuff.  I always felt as though my Dad were literally sitting in the chair next to me, holding my hand and telling me it was all okay.  I don’t think I ever felt as close to him as I did then.  And in hindsight, I would have included some post-birth details in our “believing for” list.

Knowing that some tissue had remained and that was what was causing the hemorrhage, we told my body to rid itself of that extra tissue, and shortly after that the piece of placenta removed itself.  (If you’ve ever read “Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth”, she even makes reference about telling women’s bodies to stop bleeding, and they do.  Funny!)  The doctor had mentioned a possible D&C (a surgical scraping of the uterus), or even a transfusion, but no more placenta remained and even though I lost a fair amount of blood, my levels never required me to have a transfusion.  God was so faithful in that part too.  The staff were constantly checking on me and asking if I was dizzy or had headaches, but I felt amazing even though I had lost a lot of blood.  I was a little tired, but didn’t feel as bad as they were expecting me too.  I had a check-up a week after Josie was born, and my iron levels were a decimal point below normal.  Even that part was supernatural.  I felt much, much better than I should have!

Nine months later, I am still sometimes in awe of how it all went down.  I am still praising Jesus for what he did for me during those 9 months and in that delivery room.  I am so thankful that he took the curse for me on the cross, so that I didn’t have to have a horrible time giving birth to my daughter.  I often wish I had had that revelation when my boys were born, but the cool thing about it is that my experiences with them really set me up to want something different.  Those experiences allowed me to put myself in a position to receive and believe God for something better.  Because that’s all He really requires of us – to believe and to receive.

I am so thankful for the gift I have in each of my children.  They are such a blessing to me.  And I am so thankful for my experience with Josie, and I am excited and passionate about sharing my story with other women, so they can experience freedom from fear and pain in pregnancy and childbirth too.  It can happen, because it happened for me.