How She Is

It's hard to love an imperfect woman. 
--how she's unpredictable for better and worse,
how she goes left
when every good reason goes right.
--how she talks clumsy in front of your friends
and bothers the people waiting for the bus,
her dress wrinkled and nose wrinkled,
how she is never all that she could be (yet).
But oh, the evenings together!
--how she opens her arms to you and lets you rest.
--how she comforts you with words
you forgot that you forgot but needed.
And the days! --how beautiful
she is when the light comes over her
just so and in her face you catch his face,
and she is sweeping along with a holy dance
and gathering the children up under her skirts in play
and collecting their laughter in a second alabaster box.
--how she cheers with unrestrained volume
for every wet and resurrected sinner,
and how she feasts!
--how her heart lives enlarged with hope, 
how her hands are bringing bread to the hungry,
how she sets the table for the poor
and welcomes the rich to sit with us, 
here at the bottom. We feast, we sing, we sing,
we sing, we quiet down and lean back and
look around and see our bridegroom delighted with us
and we know it is hard to love an imperfect woman,
but we thank you, O God, for loving us.
 

good

I held a baby's hand today.
I watched the snow falling.
I ate a warm tamale. 
I heard the cello played.
And at the end of the day
I rested my head in a soft place.

This is the good life.

Then There Was Joy

There was a lot of breathing. There were hours of dreaming interrupted by contractions. There was self-doubt, there was gratitude, there was resolve and fortitude, there were the repeated prayers tumbling off my lips, the mantras. There were 21 hours of the body adventure; 21 hours of laboring and intense expectation. 

And then there was her. 

Our daughter.

Bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh, fruit of our love, born from our joy––! Nika Joy was born late on an October evening, and when she came her father and I wept for joy and whispered the words that had helped me labor for those long hours waiting to see her face: "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His lovingkindness is unto eternity." (Psalm 118)

Once she was a whisper,
and now a beautiful, laughing song.

Day 129

The Child I Was Given To Love

I took a pregnancy test early one morning while my husband was still asleep. Two pink lines appeared. Pregnant. 

There in that quiet hour I knelt beside my bathtub and turned my heart God-ward. The first prayer that came was just this sentence: "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be." Other prayers would come later, but this prayer was the first, a prayer of receiving and of giving away. 

I was that very day 4 weeks pregnant (as they count those things), and 4 weeks prior I did not want to be pregnant, I did not want to have a baby, I was happy with my childless future, as I had been for all of my remembered life. But this was now and there were two pink lines and there was a surprisingly persuasive intuition that knew it was true before the urine stick did. There was an embryo inside, cells blossoming like a rapid springtime. "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be." I was praying to receive this child, to want it, not to resist it but to accept it.

But it was also a prayer of giving away.
Whoever this child could be---musical, stubborn, fearless, bookish---
Whoever this child might be---colicky, freckled, chubby, tall---
Whoever this child would be---reassuringly average, exceptionally bright, deformed or disabled or miscarried---
that was the child I was given to love.

On nauseating bus rides, in the moments between sleep, in the waiting rooms, at my desk, with my husband: "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be." The prayer continued. 

Last week I left the midwife's office dis-couraged. Un-couraged. De-couraged. The baby's heart rate was good, fetal movement was good, my blood pressure was good, but I hadn't gained any weight in two weeks and my belly hadn't grown either. I looked more like 30 weeks pregnant than 34. So the midwife ordered another ultrasound for me and scheduled it for the next available appointment, a week away. They wanted to be sure that the baby was okay, checking the umbilical cord, checking the amniotic fluid, measuring the baby's body. 

So with my ultrasound order in hand and week to wait, I left the office, de-couraged, un-happied. Now 8 months pregnant I had grown attached to the tumbling, kicking, hiccuping babe inside. 

Back on the bus, the primordial prayer returned. "God, make this baby to be exactly what you want this baby to be," even if this child whom you have given to me to love is disabled or a child who doesn't survive. Every good and perfect gift... Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

Looking at my belly, willing it to grow, thinking about the child I can't see. 

I cannot guarantee this child's well-being, in the womb or out of it. I wanted to get to 13 weeks so the risk of miscarriage would be low, then 20 weeks, then just let me get to 37 weeks to be "full-term," as if then (or then or then) I could count on a healthy baby. 

Birth will make the baby more visible, but it won't make the baby more safe. The world is not a safer place to be than the womb!

So in the weary night I cast my cares upon the Lord with the prayer of receiving and of giving away. And I awoke in the dark some hours later with the peace of knowing that God is making this baby to be exactly what he wants this baby to be. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 

33 weeks, 5 days.

33 weeks, 5 days.