Tuesday, April 15, 2014

upon the waters

Last summer was a hot one. It's hard to imagine it while waiting out this everlasting winter, but the end of July and most of August were scorching. So every morning, before the heat set in, I threw on my running shoes, strapped Harriet into the jogging stroller with her breakfast, and we took Murphy for a good run. I'm not a runner. I ran because Harriet only has so much patience for the stroller and because it's a better workout for the dog. I listened to music for inspiration, playing it from my iPhone without headphones on so that Harriet could hear it too. A little Katy Perry, some Miley Cyrus...upbeat stuff to help me keep my pace. But oddly enough, there was one song that kept me running more than any other - a slower song, nearly impossible to dance to, not the typical workout playlist staple. It's called Oceans and it has gained lots of popularity in churches and on the radio in this last year. As I ran, I contemplated the words...

You call me out upon the waters,
the great unknown,
where feet may fail.

The song refers to that miraculous story in the Bible where Jesus is walking on the water in the midst of a storm. His friends are in the boat, terrified for their lives. He welcomes Peter to step out of their vessel and onto the waves - the ultimate test of trust. Peter does it - not without fear or second guesses, but he lifts himself over the boat's rail and places his feet on the water's churning surface, his faith in his Savior keeping him above the treacherous waves. As I ran and listened to the lyrics, I pictured myself in Peter's sandals and wondered whether I would have trusted enough to do the same.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters,
wherever you may call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger 
in the presence of my Savior.

The singer repeats these words over and over again, and as my feet pounded the solid, dry paths, I visualized a "trust without borders" and I wanted that. I imagined where Jesus might call me, how He might stretch my faith. And slowly, carefully, like Peter stepping out of that boat, I began to make the words of that stanza my mantra. I began to beg that of Jesus - that He would make my faith borderless, infinite.

This was terrifying.

I know that I serve a God who is completely and utterly good. A God who loves me endlessly. But I also know that sometimes He makes choices that my finite mind never would have made, choices that cause me pain because I can't even begin to comprehend them with my limited scope. I knew that He would answer my request to grow my faith but I didn't know how. I was fearful of what my "great unknown" would look like. I imagined awful things - an illness, an accident, a loss - you know, those unspeakable events that wound us nearly beyond repair but are, in the end, supposed to make us better, stronger people.

But then...I was pregnant again, against all odds. And there were two babies, against all odds. I remember in those first days and weeks, people asking me how I was feeling about the news. Of course, the most powerful emotions were elation and blessing, but there was also a part of me that felt sobered by this new development. I felt, in some ways, like I was going into battle - a private, miniature battle against gravity and time and anxiety. And as I've walked through this pregnancy day by day, I have realized that this is it - this pregnancy (and assumedly motherhood afterwards) - is God's answer to my request for trust without borders.

Really? While He has others wait endlessly and suffer unimaginably, He grows my faith through joy and blessing? Not that I have been completely unfamiliar with struggle and not that there isn't more of it in my future. Of course there is. But for now, He seems to have chosen to gently stretch the borders of my trust with a priceless gift rather than ripping them away like I foolishly expected Him to. To say that I am humbled by this...no words can express how much.

This journey over the past thirty-seven and a half weeks has not been easy. That's for sure. The discomforts get worse by the week - swollen feet, arthritic joints, trigger finger, nausea, back pain, pulled muscles, difficulty breathing, extra weight (a full sixty pounds), limited mobility, restless legs, and insomnia...oh, the insomnia! At my final OB appointment today, I burst into tears while telling the doctor that I got two and a half hours of sleep last night and three and a half hours the night before. Even with Benadryl and a homeopathic sleep remedy on board, I can sleep for maybe an hour at a time. It's making me feel crazy...and rather anxious because I was so hoping to go into the birth feeling well and well-rested. It's not going to happen that way. And I feel silly saying it, but it's true - these little discomforts have stretched my faith more than I would ever have thought.

While I have had many aches and pains, there have been no complications. Not one. Not even a close call or a test that warranted repeating. Nothing. These babies have surprised me and the doctors by staying put in my very short torso for a full thirty-seven weeks without even a hint of dilation, not a single contraction. I am so, so grateful. I am clearly not a medical professional, but I really wonder if part of the reason that they have stayed so solidly put is their breech positioning. While I have had a bruising type of pain in my pelvis for about a month (feels like a did a hundred-mile race on a road bike yesterday), I have absolutely no pelvic pressure. These babies' heads are right up under my bra line and their butts are high too, so although I've bemoaned their breech status and the fact that I have to have a c-section, perhaps this should be more a matter of gratitude than complaint. Perhaps if these babies were vertex, those little heads (which a growth ultrasound recently put in the 89th and 98th percentiles) would have pushed themselves out much, much earlier. Again, a reason to trust that His plan is far greater than mine.

Every once in a while, I feel sad about the idea of a c-section. I feel sorry for the babies. I feel worried about the recovery. And I feel...oh how spoiled this is going to sound...even cheated. It sort of feels like running the majority of a marathon, only to hand the baton to someone else at the twenty-six mile mark and watch them cross the finish line for me. Is there part of me that's a little glad to be done at 26 miles? A bit tired and relieved that someone else is tackling the final fifth of a mile? Of course. But deep down, I want to do it. All of it. Even the messy, excruciating parts. Maybe even especially those parts. I have done it before and I know I could do it again. Even with twins. Even in an operating room with lots of people watching. So yes, sometimes it bothers me to be finishing this way.

But lately, I have become much more content with the idea of a c-section. I think this is partly due to the fact that I have tried and tried to flip these babies. I saw a chiropractor several times. I visited an acupuncturist who did moxibustion. (I tried very hard to believe in both of these practices, but when the acupuncturist in the Hawaiian shirt commented that holding the moxa stick felt like holding a crystal wand due to the energy pouring out of it, I nearly laughed out loud. All I knew was that it smelled really, really, really bad. I bought four of the sticks anyways, fully intending to use them at home...but then my dog chewed them up, so that was the end of that.) I laid upside-down on a board that we rested against the couch and nearly died of a coughing fit when the babies came crashing into my diaphragm. I put icepacks where their heads are, hoping that they'd turn to escape the cold. Nothing worked. And although some of these things were a bit miserable, I'm glad I did them so that I can at least say I tried. Baby B is bigger than Baby A anyways (sizes roughly estimated at the growth ultrasound to be 6 pounds, 5 ounces and 6 pounds, 14 ounces), so even if they flipped head-down, the doctors still wouldn't want to deliver vaginally. They like the first baby to be bigger and pave the way.

And as with anything, even the less attractive option has a positive side. A friend recently told me that when she had her c-section, she felt so grateful that she could come out of it feeling fresh and ready to mother her baby rather than dog-tired and in desperate need of a long hibernation. I can absolutely identify with that, especially given my recent lack of sleep. So again, perhaps this c-section is a gift - another gesture straight from Jesus, beckoning me to trust His plan and join Him amidst the waves.

Another area that brings me anxiety is my daughter. She is going to be a fabulous big sister. I know that for a fact. But every time I think of expanding our family, of stretching my love to include other children whom I have not yet met, I want to cry. Often, I do cry thinking about leaving her behind as we head to the hospital. We are desperately grateful to have both families nearby and I know that she will be fully loved and entertained during the four days that I am in the hospital, but the thought of nuzzling and nursing and loving on these babies while Harriet is across town breaks my heart. She is more resilient than I give her credit for and she will be just fine sharing her mama, but I am already grieving that time with just her and I. Most mornings, I go into her room and hold her and bury my face in her neck and tell her that she is my best girl in the whole wide world. And she adamantly disagrees, saying, "No Mama, you are my best girl in the whole wide world." Can we still say that if there's a little sister? I am so grateful to my wise, wonderful doctor who, without me having to even bring up this issue, randomly warned me that it would be very normal to feel a little bothered by the possible lack of love I feel for the twins at first in comparison to the adoration I have for Harriet. Normalizing is always helpful. And even more than that, I know that this is another area where I am being asked to trade my fear in for faith and to trust even my daughter to His capable hands. Because He loves her immeasurably more than I do...it's hard to even fathom that but wonderful to believe it.

So those are my final thoughts on this twin pregnancy. Just a few more days and we'll step out of our boat and into a wholly fresh and even frightening lake storm - parenting these tiny twins and their big sister. But the best news? Our Jesus is already there, walking those waters and gently calling us to join Him - right there in the midst of the toss and spray. And as intimidating as it may look, nowhere could be safer than where He calls us.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of me and my belly (measuring 52 weeks today) - some of the last ones before we meet these precious babies face-to-face.


  1. Such a beautiful big belly, Em!!!

  2. i am praying for everything and you!!!
    i feel the same way you do about harriet and siblings. and I'm not even expecting a sibling for C! i can't wait to hear your babies names.
    remember i am here to help - FOR ANYTHING!!!!!!!
    good luck mama bear - you got this!!!!

  3. Just one more encouragement for your C-section...I felt like my husband got such great bonding time with Rylie (who was also a c-section due to being breech...we also tried everything to turn her, but she had other ideas...and now that I know her, it does not surprise me in the slightest :) ) right after birth. He has such a special relationship with her and I have always felt it has something to do with the moments he got to spend with her right away. I was bonded, I carried her for 39 weeks and had felt every movement, every hiccup. I love that Brandon got some one-on-one time with her while they were finishing my surgery. Just a small thing, but thought I would share!

  4. This is a beautiful post, Em. You look adorable! I can't wait to hear about your babies' arrival into the world :)

  5. You are such an amazing writer. I love this post and identify so much with some of your feelings. Best of luck to you with the arrival of your babies! And by the way, you ROCK at growing babies!! That stomach is amazing!! I love it.

  6. You look amazing Em! Thank you for the update. Please know I'm thinking of you and your family as you prepare for the arrival of your babies. May this finally part of your journey be a smooth one filled with lots of joy and wonderful memories.

  7. I know exactly how you are feeling about Harriet! I did the same with #1 when #2 was on the way. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to love #2 the same or that I would love #1 less. The only thing I had to compare it to was how the dog became less important when #1 came along. Would my first born become less important to me when her brother was born? I also struggled with how I would be able to love a boy as much as I did my daughter (hard for me to admit now, but that's how I felt!) But then my precious #2 was born, and all those worries faded. It is another beautiful gift from God that we are able to love and adore all of our children MORE as we have more of them!

  8. You are doing amazing! I remember that awful feeling of being done and your babies are staying put much better than mine did. I can't wait to meet your babies. Oh and I love love love that song.

  9. Em, your faith is amazing. I love that song too. I can't wait to see pictures of those little babies. I can't imagine the physical discomfort you must be in, but I can empathize with sharing your love. Once again, fabulous blog post.

  10. You are such a beautiful person, inside and out. You inspire me to be stronger in my own faith. And holy cow woman! You have absolutely rocked this pregnancy! I'm so glad it has gone smoothly and the babies are nice and big and healthy. I know how hard it is to carry twins, and I only made it to 33w2d, so I can only imagine how these last few weeks have been for you. I wish you the best of luck for a successful delivery and easy recovery. I can't wait to see pictures of your precious new little ones.

  11. Beautiful post. Praying for you!

  12. You look gorgeous!! I am so happy that your pregnancy has gone so incredibly smoothly, and I love your perspective on these gifts.

  13. Love this. Love you. I'm so thankful that the Lord tested you and stretched you in this way. I'm praying for you, sweet friend! Hoping for a successful and simple surgery and two beautiful, healthy babies! Can't wait!

  14. Love this so much! I will be thinking of you guys a lot the next couple of weeks! :) :)

  15. Beautiful post, beautiful belly, beautiful smile! Wishing you all the best on this new adventure. I can't believe it's 37 1/2 weeks already! You will get through these hurdles and meet them with that smile, even if first come the tears. Thank you for the update and your perspective!

  16. Love that belly!! Not much longer now and those little babies will be in your arms. So excited for you!!

  17. Love this entry! Love all your entrys! Thank you for your faith and I love how Jesus is carrying you through this beautiful journey of pregnancy and motherhood. You look so beautiful it makes me want to have another one or two!

  18. Love this post and can't believe how soon those sweet babies will be here!!! WOW! Time seems to have flown by... you know, for me... who was not carrying TWO babies! ;) You look so fantastic and adorable. I am so excited for you and will be thinking of you during these final days. Can't wait to 'meet' these two here on your blog soon.

  19. Love seeing your post and love that sweet belly of yours!! Trusting God will be with you during the delivery and every second after as you adjust!

  20. Thank you for such a beautifully written post! I love this song, too and I pray for that kind of faith daily. Praying for you and your family as you welcome the new babies soon! What cute pictures :)

  21. Wow, consider my mind blown. A good IRL friend of mine sent me a link to this song 10 minutes ago and I was just listening to it, crying about my SIL who died last month. It is a SPECTACULAR song. I love that people going through all sorts of different struggles can identify with it.

    Oh lady, I'm so sorry that the twins didn't comply with the head down position for a vaginal birth, but you're right to focus on the fact that you've done what you could to encourage them to move and now it's time to have faith in God's plan for this birth. You've got this!! ((HUGS))

  22. What a beautiful post. I'm praying for a safe and healthy delivery for you and your babies.

    You look absolutely lovely. You've got this for sure!! xoxo

  23. I had 5 wonderful, vaginal births with my boys, but when my daughter was ready to be born, she was breech. I had to have a C-section as well. I was so bummed about it, and it took me a couple days of not being comfortable sleeping at home before I finally broke down in tears in the middle of the night looking at my beautiful daughter. She was here, and she was healthy. She was quite tangled in her cord that if we had tried to turn her like we planned the nurse said we would have had problems!
    I know how you feel about feeling not as accomplished after birth - I didn't feel like I had done it! But God kept our girl safe and brought healing as well! Still hoping for a VBAC with this next one though!

  24. Aw! I am the mother of twin girls (now 2 1/2) and we had such a complicated pregnancy that I would have given my right arm to have a belly like this. Good for you!!! We only made it to 29 weeks, but now you would never know they had been preemie. I love twin stories


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