FTIAT: These Arms Were Meant to Hold You
Darla (She’s a Maineiac) and I first connected over her recounting of tough experiences that have nevertheless failed to roughen her soul. Her words are as open as they are transporting; through them, you’re gifted, for a moment, with the opportunity to see the world absolutely, exactly as she sees it. Be warned: You might not want to go back to seeing through your eyes after seeing through hers.
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Loving Spirit, Mind and Body
“I’m serious,” I breathed deep as my trembling hands held out the stick for my husband to inspect. “It’s positive.” Again. My body heaved with a sigh that sunk straight to my core. The look in my husband’s eyes mirrored mine. Disbelief. Fear. Hope. I felt his arms envelope me and I was soothed for a moment by their comfort. “Okay,” he whispered. “It will be okay.”
“I know it will,” I smiled. “I just know it.”
As the next few weeks dragged by, I found myself almost holding my breath, like somehow by sheer willpower I could stay pregnant this time. I gingerly crept around, careful not to overexert myself so I might hold onto that blissful feeling of a little life blooming inside of me. The thought of repeating that dreadful moment when I felt my baby’s tiny flickering light slowly drain out of my body and soul only to be lost forever was almost too much to bear.
I had felt the familiar deep sting of my body betraying me years before when we’d tried for two years to get pregnant with our firstborn, my son. At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis during surgery to remove a giant cantaloupe sized cyst along with my right ovary and fallopian tube. I cursed my defective body. How could it have failed me so cruelly? Feelings of anger and jealousy found their way into my heart as much as I tried to shamefully push them away. My bitterness only burned with more intensity as I watched my friends and family get pregnant with relative ease. The surgeon said my remaining ovary was covered in endo adhesions and scar tissue. The chances of getting pregnant were slim, but not impossible. I was done with the heartbreak. We began to explore other options. Yet, the very month we gave up, I got my positive and my beautiful boy was born on a chilly autumn night that September.
And now, as I stood shaking and holding out that positive pregnancy test for my husband to see, we had already gone through the hell of miscarriage two cycles in a row trying for our second child. Maybe this time would be the charm. Maybe this time my baby’s light would continue to twinkle and shine. Maybe this time I’d see the heartbeat flickering on the ultrasound machine. In the middle of the night, I’d sneak over to the window, look up at the moon and pray, tears rolling down. Could God hear me? I would squeeze my eyes shut and whisper to the darkening sky. Please let my baby stay! Please!
After a multitude of blood tests, my obstetrician prescribed one baby aspirin and a mega dose of B vitamins a day to battle the blood clotting disorder I was diagnosed with after the second miscarriage. He assured me I could carry this pregnancy. Every morning, I held the tiny pill in my hand, marveling that something so small and simple could sustain a life inside of me. Yet, I didn’t feel the suffocating worry lift until my fifth month when I looked up at the computer screen and saw the incredible 3D image of our baby sucking her thumb. “She even looks like me!” I gushed. I knew it would finally be alright. A few days after Thanksgiving, November 28, 2006, my daughter was put to my breast, her eyes wide and twinkling. I was floating in pure joy.
Today, that baby is almost five years old. She spends her days dancing and singing and sprinkling a bit of her sweet self everywhere she goes. My son is nine and is the most loving, sensitive and sincere little boy on the planet. I am blessed.
Now when I look in the full-length mirror, do I see the ugly C-section scars or the lumps, bumps and sags? Do I focus on what is “wrong” with my body? Or do I see something beautiful? Yes, it was my body that I felt had betrayed me once. But it was my body that carried these glorious babies, enabling me to feel their kicks and wiggling toes. It was my body that endured the endless hard labor and painful surgeries and helped to deliver these incredible souls into this world. It was my body that nursed them when they were hungry. And it’s my body that holds them tight, strokes their hair and rocks them to sleep at night.
As I get older, I love my body a little more each day. The number on the scale doesn’t hold power over me any longer. I am careful to treat my body like the amazing thing it is, with love, respect and kindness. It houses my mind, my soul, my spirit. Why bother putting it down or viewing it in a negative light? I am thankful each day that I can simply stand up and walk across the room so I can wrap my arms around my family. I can watch them play and dance. I can hear them giggle and hoot and holler. I can hold them close, breathing in their warmth and love.
Yes, I am truly grateful for this tired, creaky old body; wrinkles, gray hairs, sags, bags and all. It is what makes it possible to live in this world and to share this experience with those that I love deeply.
What more could I ask for?