A little over 18 months ago, I was rolled onto my side, clinging to a hospital bed and ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that death was a breath away.
The pain. Oh my gosh, THE PAIN! It was the most intense physical experience of my life.
Danny was standing next to me, but he wasn't on the bed with me. He wasn't feeling what I was feeling. In short, he didn't know.
"My body is breaking," I cried out, desperate for someone -ANYONE -to realize and see! SEE!
"Your body isn't breaking," Danny said.
I hated him in that moment. My brain went into a tail spin. I realized that everyone in the room THOUGHT I WAS FINE.
But I wasn't.
I knew I wasn't fine, but no one else could feel it. In fact, they were certain I was fine!
"Your body isn't breaking."
The contractions weren't letting up. Before one would let go, another would start. There was no break, no rest, no regrouping, no recentering... there was a shortage of oxygen getting to my brain.
I couldn't THINK straight.
My body responded to the pain and that was that.
"I'm dying," I told my husband, desperate for him to TRULY SEE that I was -in very fact -DY.ING.
"You're not dying," he tried to soothe me.
Again, I felt crazy. No one that wasn't me didn't seem to realize the seriousness of the situation. I bypassed my husband and looked at a nurse.
"CAN'T YOU GIVE ME ANYTHING FOR THIS PAIN!?!"
She seemed surprised.
Apparently when I'd said a few months before that I wouldn't be having an epidural while I was in the hospital that I was one of those women who was against pain medication while birthing babies. But I wasn't. I just strongly felt I should have an epidural. It was a gut feeling, so I went with it.
The hospital staff was obliging. TOO obliging.
The nurse ran out of the room to order and get me some relief, and THAT'S when it happened.
That's when the baby decided maybe she ought to debut.
The nurse came back in, her hands filled with magic vials, "What happened? I was gone for a minute!"
The baby happened.
Calm, serene, plump, quiet. They placed her in my arms, and still. STILL. The pain was fierce. I begged for medication.
"It will interfere with your bonding," the Dr. warned.
Oh my gosh, WHAT BONDING? I was hurting so much I could barely focus.
It wasn't until a few hours after she came that I finally felt bonded to my baby and her cute little elf-like skin tags on her ear. Her imperfections were just perfect to me. I breathed her in. I'd had two babies before, but this one? Something was different. I knew her. I'd known her before. It was a sort of foreign kind of "you're HERE" kind of reunion.
The pain -the seemingly lethal pain -brought me an immeasurable gift.
The trials in life right now seem to be just like those contractions.
Cousin hit a bus the same day Alicia starts job. Dies twice on helicopter, makes miraculous comeback despite brain trauma.
I leave my full-time Mommying in the past and fully underestimate how hard it will be emotionally.
Grandpa in hospital.
Dad works shop and Grandpa's ranch. Overdoes it.
Dad in hospital with viral infection. Nearly loses the fight, transfers to ICU down int he Phoenix area.
Alicia fields job without training because her boss (Dad) is in the hospital.
Dad comes home.
Danny leaves for 2 months to train for his new position (K9). He's home on weekends. The break is very timely. As much as Alicia needs help, the marriage is just so fragile.
Mom goes into the hospital -knee surgery.
Thanksgiving comes -family tension causes a boundary Alicia hated enforcing.
Baby turns one -Alicia forgoes a baked cake and instead sticks a candle in a ho-ho. Ole!
The next day, Danny and Alicia sit in front of the computer where Brannon is "present" as Danny reads his full disclosure. Everything addiction related. Alicia listens. The session ends. Alicia leaves town with cash and writes a very angry letter in a bed and breakfast while entertaining a fantasy about cancer... the kind that kills you.
Mom gets her other knee replaced.
Alicia starts to realize something is OFF and realizes she's going through depression.
The depression wreaks a strange sort of havoc in her life and Alicia struggles to understand what the eff is going on.
The baby begins walking and Alicia gives up on any chances of being able to sit on a clean floor.
Behind the mess of the depression and the actual literal mess of the house, the marriage situation is confusing at best and straining and worst.
But we work hard. Counseling, group therapy, weekly meetings -both online and in person. Sponsors. Talking, connecting, honesty.
And then the group therapy ends abruptly.
As does counseling.
Danny's boss puts pressure of holy pressure on him.
Alicia's gall bladder begins assigning her a seat on the bathroom floor.
Each day she's sick -nausea follows eating. Rinse repeat. Surgery in July.
And guess what?
I'm at the "MY BODY IS BREAKING" point. I can't breathe or see clearly anymore. To everyone around me, I'm not breaking. I'm fine.
But I'm on the table again. Looking around for a blessed nurse with magic vials.
So many nurses are thronging me -food is brought in now and then, children are taken from time to time, house cleaning help both hired and volunteered is given. The Lord is taking sweet and precious care of me as I cling to the hospital bed and cry out in desperation, "I AM DYING."
I used to wonder at people who couldn't seem to get enough help, who still despite seemingly having their basics needs me still struggled to just SMILE. I judged them.
And the Lord -in His sweet wisdom -is stripping me WHOLLY of that judgement.
All things will work together for our good.
I'm grateful for the suffering -it's setting a course for the way I will live out the rest of my life. My priorities are shifted (and shifting), and if anything... if NOTHING else... the Lord is preparing me to serve His children with pure charity, unmarked by judgement.
I feel ungrateful writing these things. I feel like a whiner. I feel FEAR that people will hear my words and judge me because my basic needs are met and I'm still crying out from the bathroom floor, "Can't you give me anything for this pain?"
Today and everyday I will simply do the next right thing.
Living one day at a time? When things are good. Today I will live one moment at a time, one situation at a time. One hour at a time.
For when the oxygen returns to my brain, I will behold a mysterious, miraculous gift... imperfect and perfect, grand and small, a sort of birthing experience in it's own right.
And I know at that point -I will bond with it and look back on this laborious treachery as a worthwhile investment.
But for today, I'll just do the next right thing.