Home > FTIAT, Guest blogger > FTIAT: These Arms Were Meant to Hold You

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.

Recommended post: The Thread

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.”

I giggled through tears as my three year old son leapt off the couch with a whoop and danced around us singing, “I’m getting a baby brother!”

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?

last: A Love Without StringsThe Clock : next

  1. August 12, 2011 at 5:45 am

    Beautiful story. i love darla’s blog, nice to see her guest on yours!

  2. August 12, 2011 at 5:53 am

    I can only say this is the best way to start a morning. Thank you, Daria, for sharing with us how your body didn’t let you down.

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

      Thanks, Crystal. I used to be so incredibly negative when I viewed my body, focusing on all the things I thought were “wrong” with it. But when I look at my kids, I am thankful beyond words.

  3. August 12, 2011 at 6:05 am

    What a lovely story. This will certainly help me look at my muffin top and stretch marks in a way better light. I do thank God everyday for my kids and family – they are truly God’s way of working miracles into our lives.

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:48 am

      I know it sounds crazy, but I am slowly beginning to love the muffin top, the stretch marks and the scars. It’s freeing when you start to genuinely love yourself, inside and out and everything inbetween! Thanks for your comments, mom2kiddos.

  4. August 12, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Amen, Darla!! AMEN! This is beautiful – as usual.
    Deb, thanks for giving Darla a chance to expose many others to her wonderful experience in life. Deb and Darla: For them (thy?) I am thankful!!

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:49 am

      It is hard for me not to keep saying ‘thank you’ to Deb, Lenore! From reading her stories and how she gracefully deals with her pain and loss, it’s inspired me.

  5. August 12, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Oh, Darla. I am ugly crying. This is raw and honest and absolutely lovely.

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

      Thanks, Tori. Not that I’m happy you’re crying (LOL) but then again, it does make me feel good that that connection’s been made! 🙂

  6. August 12, 2011 at 6:37 am

    This is incredibly beautiful. I hesitated reading it at work because I figured it would make me cry. I was right. (When will I learn to trust my instincts?)

    What a great post to kick off the FTIAT series! Darla’s got herself another follower!

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:53 am

      Oh, thanks, Chris! Sorry you cried at work. It was crying time for me when I typed it out and relived those moments, too.

  7. August 12, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Beautiful, Darla! Thank you for reminding us of what’s truly important.

  8. August 12, 2011 at 6:54 am

    What a lovely reminder of what is important in life. Thank you for sharing your pain and eventual joy!

    • August 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, pegoleg. It was hard but worth it to share some of my experience and pain with such a great group of readers Deb has here. you are all so supportive!

  9. Jess
    August 12, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Amazing, amazing piece. I look forward to reading more of Darla’s blog, and to the next FTIAT guest post!

    • August 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      Excellent, Jess! I look forward to all the upcoming posts as well.

  10. August 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Ahh, as always, a breath of fresh air. Thanks for your transparency, Darla, and using your gift of words to speak healing and courage into others. God bless!

    • August 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Fresh air will always do you good! thanks for your comment 🙂

  11. Juliette
    August 12, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I like…

  12. August 12, 2011 at 9:31 am

    This is so beautifully written. I’m so happy that you have the lovely family that you always dreamed of. 🙂 You have a lot to be thankful for! 🙂

    • August 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you! I certainly do and I will hold onto that gratefulness as long as I can.

  13. August 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

    This is beautiful!! Wow, great read. Thanks.

    • August 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  14. hormoneminefield
    August 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Thanks for sharing! Though I had to read through tears being reminded of my own struggles with infertility and miscarriages, I was uplifted by Darla’s gratitude for where she is today in life. Her acceptance of what society might view as flaws is the path I’m struggling towards, too. After years of disappointment with my body, I look in the mirror now and think, “not perfect, but good enough.” And like Darla, I’m so thankful I’m in this world and able to share it with the ones I love.

    • August 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      I appreciate your comments. I like “not perfect, but good enough” I am gradually embracing those “flaws” and realizing I have so many more important things to be thankful for. My kids love me, my husband loves me, what more do I really need? Sounds simple but really I am just happy that I’m alive and able to spend time with them.

  15. August 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

    This is such a personal story. I hung on every word from start to finish following your journey…and even teared up a bit as I remember years of infertility…still it has a happy ending which you remind us cannot be taken for granted. Love, love the joyful black and white pictures of your son and daughter. Thank you for agreeing to write this so we could meet you and your family.

    • August 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Oh, thank you, Georgette. I will never ever take it for granted. I’m sorry you struggled with infertility as well. Those pictures were taken last year and were hard to get as my son usually squirms away when I try to hug him now (he’s almost 9), but I managed to get one hug in before he took off running. 🙂

  16. August 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Darla wrote such a touching story. We could feel her pain and then the joy of having those two precious children.

    • August 13, 2011 at 3:53 am

      Thanks, Susan. To this day I am still in a bit of shock that I’m a mom to them. (and that they are growing up so fast….if I could make time slow down I would!)

  17. August 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    You have a rare gift of storytelling, my friend! Well done.

  18. johncerickson
    August 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    When I stare at the walls of our house here in Ohio, I know I’m here because of the rampant pain in my head, caused by some malfunction in my nervous and/or circulatory system. I lost a house, a job, a beloved dog, and my beloved Chicago. I should hate my body for what it has done to me.
    But it carried me onto a cruise ship in 1987, where I met my first crush, the beautiful Grace Lee Whitney. It waved flags at race cars along the sides of Road America in Wisconsin. It walked me up the side of Stone Mountain in Georgia. And in a level of foresight my conscious mind could never achieve, it decided to make me barf my lungs out in Dallas in the summer of 1988, leading directly to my befriending the lady who would become the greatest blessing in my life – indeed, the one thing to stand by me when even my body failed me.
    I have had adventures aplenty down here. Not all have been positive, but all have been interesting. And by being here, I’ve had to reach out via the Internet, where I’ve met and befriended some truly incredible people. Present company VERY much included.
    Life is too short to dwell on the negative. Congratulations on learning that, and learning that love, whether of others or life itself, is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given us.

    • August 13, 2011 at 4:01 am

      Wow, John. Your words made me cry (again! where is that kleenex…?) Thanks for sharing a bit about your life. Your body has carried you through the good and the bad. And like you said, not all things have been positive, but those things were necessary for you to reach a certain point in your life where good things have happened. That is how I look back on my life as well. All the heartache and pain, I managed to keep on grinding on through, learning a lot about myself in the process and what is really the single most important thing in life: love. And simply being alive to experience that. Life is way too short to dwell too much on the negative! Took me a long time to get to that point but I am starting to feel a sense of peace the older I get. Thanks for your comments.

  19. August 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    So beautiful. I should work on this type of attitude myself. I just sort of drag my body with me determined to do what I think I need to do, and get frustrated or disappointed when it doesn’t function as well as it used to. Thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts.

    • August 13, 2011 at 4:04 am

      Thanks, csroth3. I’ve fallen into that trap of cursing my body and listening to that negative loop of thoughts in my head. Sometimes, it helps if I see myself through my kids’ eyes or even my husband’s eyes. They all think I’m beautiful and perfect, so why can’t I? I try to take care of myself more now, exercise, eat right etc. and appreciate all that my body does so I can be here with my family as long as possible.

  20. August 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    This stage is Darla’s, but I wanted to take a moment to tap dance out during her intermission and sing a little thanks to everyone who’s commented. It’s no easy feat to release something so personal as this; to have it greeted with such warmth only increases the lightness of having faced the challenge head-on. Having said that, it’s time to sashay off the stage again and leave you with the star of this show. 🙂

    • August 13, 2011 at 4:07 am

      Deb, you certainly have some incredible readers here! I want to say thank you all for reading and for commenting in such a respectful, thoughtful way. You guys are amazing. I have to admit I had a little anxiety about talking about such a personal thing—thanks for the support!

  21. August 13, 2011 at 6:44 am

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it!

  22. August 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Deborah, I’ve read dozens of Darla’s posts, and each time I’m surprised all over again. It isn’t just the quality of her writing; I long ago came to expect her powerful, moving, and funny prose. It’s yet another facet of her humanity that seems to reveal itself with each piece. She tells about life — her life — with such honesty and insight that readers feel she’s somehow talking about their lives. Darla is one of my very favorite bloggers, and I have to commend you on your choice of guest writers.

    • August 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

      From the moment I read her first comment on Six Hands for Lifting, I lost track of the fact I was reading and felt instead like I’d been granted a direct line to her heart.That’s a rare and precious thing, so that it hardly seems like I chose anything consciously. The choice was already made at some subconscious level.

      I’m grateful that Darla’s choice was to share this powerful entry. It’s reading words like hers above that make “readers feel she’s somehow talking about their lives” that make the world feel less lonely. They illuminate more clearly than the words “I understand” ever could that there’s at least one heart out there beating to the same rhythms.

      • August 14, 2011 at 4:48 am

        Thank you, Charles and Deb. Your comments always make me smile. I appreciate your support and always finding a way to put things so eloquently! You’ve really made my day.

  23. August 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

    It was only after my husband and I lost our second child that I discovered how many others had endured a similar fate. People don’t often talk about such deep personal grief. I’ve never had the heart to blog about my experience. How can I explain what it’s like giving birth to a baby you’ll never take home? But I am so glad you have had the strength to share. God bless you & your beautiful family.

    • August 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you, dailydish. I am sorry for the loss of your baby. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what grief you’ve endured. One of my closest friends gave birth to a stillborn child and my own mother had her first daughter pass away at only three days old (my older sister who was born with severe heart defects). My mother still can only tell me bits and pieces about her traumatic experience and it’s been almost 45 years. It certainly is a very sensitive and deeply personal subject. I hesitated even touching on the subject at all, as my miscarriages were all fairly early ones. But I felt like I never had a chance to grieve, like society expected me to suck it up and move on. Thank you for reading and sharing with your comments.

  24. Priya
    August 15, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Is it all right that I find myself unable to say anything except this? — You’re a beautiful woman, Darla. Your family is blessed as are you.

    • August 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Priya, that is such a lovely comment. (I’m tearing up again!) I can’t convey how much your sentiment means to me other than to say, thank you, for letting me into your world and sharing mine as well.

  25. August 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

    What an incredible beginning to your series of guest posts, Deb!

    I felt the tears collect in my eyes as I read this. I absolutely love your attitude towards your body, Darla. As someone who’s still struggling with an eating disorder, I’ve often thought that one day, when I’m ready to have a child, I might be able to forgive my body for its supposed transgressions because of the amazing feat it will be carrying out.

    • August 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

      I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to start off the series with this post! I had goosebumps all the way through reading it, and didn’t doubt for a second its impact would be as great on other readers. Darla’s writing just tends to have that impact!

      Donating blood and childbirth alike helped me feel better about my own body. I hope you’ll find the same is true in your case. 🙂

    • August 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you. It’s an attitude that I have to admit, I didn’t normally have (and still sometimes struggle with even now). I spent most of my younger days viewing my body in only negative ways. I never realized how much I did put myself down or how often I did it. It was such a natural way of thinking for me, especially as a woman– that somehow I didn’t measure up to an ideal of what a body should be. Unfortunately, I am sure that is common for lots of women. Even if I didn’t have kids, I’d like to think I’d eventually grow into loving my body more…just for the simple gratefulness of being alive and healthy. I think that comes with time, when the more superficial things in life start to lose their hold on us. I appreciate you sharing about your struggle and I do hope one day you can find that forgiveness some of us still seek.

  26. August 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Wow — though not the same experience, close enough to feel that familiar pain. I’m saddened that so many women go through this kind of pain, but we also can share in the same joy and thankfulness. Maybe I will start looking at this body that has failed in so many ways in a new way. Thank you for sharing.

    • August 16, 2011 at 4:28 am

      Tiara, to me, that is something certainly worth trying to change. I think of how much better my well-being would be if I only treated myself and my body more positively! Thanks for your comments.

  27. August 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    This is beautiful, Darla! I’m so happy for you and your family, and all that strength and love you’ve got going. Way to kick this off! 🙂

  28. August 17, 2011 at 3:04 am

    So delightfully sweet and heartwarming.. I am happy for Darla and her story is a testament to the grace we all enjoy; somewhere, somehow, in all of our lives. 🙂

    • August 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      So true, we all have grace to enjoy in our lives. Thanks, eof737.

  29. August 18, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Thank you for reminding us what is important in life. It is so hard for us to see straight when we are overwhelmed by Hollywood movies and TV. We watch celebrities and hit ourselves why we can’t do the same. We hate everything that looks or feels different.

    It was beautifully written as usual. I felt your emotion in every word. You are strong and you should always feel this proud.

    • August 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      I agree, celebrities live in such a skewed reality anyway–and the older I get the less I care about those superficial concerns I used to have about my body. I am just happy I can do simple things like walk, talk…hug my kids. It’s all good. Thanks, Logophile for your comments.

  30. August 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I lost two children to miscarriage and thought my daughter was the last blessing. Then three years later, when I was forty, I became pregnant with our youngest child. Best pregnancy of them all.

    These days I fight my weight battle because I do not want to end up with the family scourge of diabetes and have my life shortened because of it. I have grandchildren to look forward to. As the the stretch marks, I cannot make them go away and I am not worrying about them. I never want to run around in a bikini, anyway.

    • August 19, 2011 at 4:03 am

      Rumbly, I’m sorry you know the pain of miscarriage. I also resigned myself to believing my son would be an only child. My daughter was truly a shock to us. I savored every bit of that pregnancy as well. Some days I still can’t believe I have two kids. How wonderful that you’re blessed with two as well.

      I have struggled with body image and dieting off and on all my life. But the best motivator to me now is just what you said: I want to live the longest, healthiest life possible so I can be here for my kids and grandkids. I have a long history of heart disease in my family (my dad died of a heart attack at 53 and my mother had congestive heart failure and quadruple bypass years ago) Now I eat right, exercise, practice yoga/meditation and take care of my body for that reason alone and it actually works.

  31. John Erickson
    August 19, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Okay, I haven’t said this yet because I didn’t want to sound sexist or anything.
    But ENOUGH, ladies.
    Enough with the worries about a few lines on your face. They don’t make you ugly, they make you interesting and beautiful.
    Enough with the worries about a few pounds. Anorexic teenagers are NOT, repeat NOT, sexy.
    This has frustrated me for almost 30 years. I’ve always found women beautiful regardless of age. Botox is the greatest curse visited on humanity. And the concept of ribs sticking out is disgusting.
    Enjoy your lines and your curves – those are what make all of you WOMEN, not silly little girls!
    (Slides soapbox back under bed. 🙂 )

    • August 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Amen, John. You are so right. This is what my husband’s been saying for years and I’m finally getting it. (a little slow on the uptake…) And damn, doesn’t it feel good to love yourself and your wrinkles and curves!

  32. August 21, 2012 at 12:30 am

    incredibly beautiful!!! This post brought tears to my eyes. I’ve suffered from endometriosis too and lost twins before my firstborn. I’ve looked up at the stars and wondered if god could hear me too. Every word in this post rings true! Our bodies – too fat/ too thin/ pale/ wrinkled/ scarred are still the most beautiful of god’s creations. Thanks for the reminder Darla 🙂

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