***This post might be best understood if you know about my birth story… if you haven’t had the chance to read this (LONG!) story and are interested, it can be found on my personal blog, here***
The best way for me to defeat anxiety is to fully process it, and I have not done that until I have given voice to it. It seems to hold great power over me as long as I allow it to bounce around in the endless abyss of my what-if-scenario-producing mind. Unfortunately, a lot of thoughts have been holding me captive over the past year, due in large part to not taking the time to pray through them. When I write out my prayers, I can more clearly see who I am. My worries no longer define me, and my past experiences turn from anxiety-evoking into a reason to be grateful.
“Writing” in this way is not for everyone, but for me it proves very therapeutic and revealing. I am thankful that I finally took the time to do it, and below I share my findings. It’s definitely a pretty vulnerable look into my heart and mind, but I’m sharing it in hopes that a reader might glean some sort of inspiration from it, which surely does not come from any part of me but from the God who revealed these truths to me!
It has sure been awhile since I have prayed in this way via writing. I regret being gone for so long. A lot has transpired over the past year that I would like to process through by recounting it and expressing my heart…
In a lot of ways, I feel like I have already “worked through” some of these things but it has all been in my head. And as a non-verbal processer, I think it would be good to commit it to “paper.”
The last recorded “pray document” I see in here was written on December 22, 2016. Ryan and I had been trying to get pregnant for two months, and I was pleading to you for comfort because it had again not transpired. Little did I know that in less than a few weeks, Otto would be conceived! Your timing is always perfect and looking back, I cannot imagine life without this specific little boy. It’s so sweet to see that this prayer was answered so quickly after calling out to you in sadness and confusion.
And then enters my first trimester. Lord, I wanted to be pregnant SO badly, and then once I was, the reality of that physical toll hit me like a ton of bricks. I was so surprised at how awful I felt, and honestly, I know that a lot of my days were spent moping around and feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for giving me the grace and mercy to get through those tough days and weeks, and for offering me wisdom through my Mom and sisters.
The miracle of pregnancy evolved as my nausea and exhaustion faded away and I started to feel the baby kick. Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to experience such a joy inside of me. I remember feeling SO close to You and Your handiwork when I felt Otto start to flutter about inside me…. So softly at first, and eventually turning into strong kicks! But in a way, I was so close to Heaven, feeling the evidence of my freshly created son on the inside, having so soon before been in Your loving care yet all at the same time, he had been on your mind since the very beginning. That Truth is both unfathomable and wonderful to me. I praise You, for my little boy was fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works.
I believe my biggest hit came within the 24 hours that Otto was born. I knew going into it that my labor and delivery would be uniquely mine. No two stories are the same. I also knew that I shouldn’t have expectations, and I had also been fervently writing out prayers in my prayer journal about all of my many anxieties about it—wanting my baby boy to be and stay safe, and to deliver him in your perfect timing and way.
And even though it feels traumatic to recount, I know it to be true… it was in your perfect timing and way. I have to trust that Your wisdom got through to me and still to this very day is still doing, even amidst the trials that were endured.
Having high blood pressure was tough for me. I honestly think I struggled with it being a pride issue. I always believed that if I tried my best to stay healthy and take care of my body that my BP would be just fine. I know now having high BP, especially in a first pregnancy, is not an uncommon thing. It was also alarming to me that it climbed high again after going down for several weeks, and I felt super anxious when I was sent to the hospital to be induced because of it. This was definitely not something I wanted to have happen, and I remember losing control of my emotions before I even went in.
Looking back, one regret I have on that day is that I did not stop and take time to pray. Why didn’t I sit with my husband and we together call out to you? I wish we had done that to calm my nerves and to invite You into the process ahead of us. It’s a lesson to stop and slow down amidst the whirlwind of life and let You in.
Also, the whole process of my labor and delivery felt very scary to me. I remember feeling like everything happened so fast, and I didn’t have time to process things before they just had to happen due to my high blood pressure. Again, in the end, everything turned out OK, and I am so grateful for modern medicine that helped me to eventually dilate and deliver our child. And honestly, my pain and suffering does not hold a candle up to what some women endure. But it was still so scary and uncertain in the moment.
And then there is Ryan’s seizure. This was so startling and haunting. I try to avoid it, but at times I can’t help but replay the imagery / sounds / scene of those horrifying moments. I remember wondering if my husband was dying right before my eyes. This is a scary notion to think when one is tied up in bed, ready to deliver a firstborn son. To try to remember those moments… honestly, I have to think: they were awful, yet somehow so peaceful, all at the same time. It doesn’t make sense. But I have to give voice to the very important fact that Your hand was with us the entire time. So many facets of that situation were in Your care, from the fact that we were in the best place we could have been (in a hospital, surrounded by immediate medical care)… my Mom was already with me and nearby for emotional support and care while Ryan was away… Ryan ended up just fine with a minimal head injury, immediate medical intervention, medication, and a diagnosis… the chaplain that seemingly appeared out of thin air within moments right next to my hospital bed and held my hand, whispered soft promises in my ear and prayed with me… the overall calm and peace I felt during these very intense moments, and the fact that my otherwise high BP remained low and the baby stayed perfectly calm the entire time… and the best of all, that Ryan DID indeed make it back for Otto’s birth. Could we have asked for a better outcome amidst all that transpired?
Lord, you were there through every second, wrapping me in Your loving care.
The following days/weeks/months ahead were covered in anxiety for me. I struggled with my own health, having been completely bedridden for days and on so much medicine throughout my labor & delivery. I remember feeling so physically weak and not like myself at all, and wondering why I wasn’t just “bouncing back.” Coming home on blood pressure medicine that made me feel weird, being extremely sleep deprived, having very little physical strength and also trying to figure out life with a newborn felt overwhelming. Added to that was my anxiety about my husband. I was SO worried about him in those first few months, Lord, and didn’t know how to process it. The seizure medication he was on made him depressed and unmotivated. Due to his diagnosis, he was unable to drive, which meant I had to drive the 3 of us anywhere we needed to go. Driving is also a huge source of anxiety for me, so I felt like I was hit with a triple whammy. Looking back, I know that at the time, I was just trying to survive. But I also know that in a weird and crazy way, I was not breaking down in tears everyday or going hysterical. I remember my Mom telling me how she was proud of me, how I was a good and natural mother, and that I had every right to be upset or fall apart, but I just simply was not doing that. And the only thing I can point to is the prayers of the people. Lord, it is those around me who love me and their requests whispered Heavenward that surrounded me. I know it, because I felt it. My reaction during this stressful time was not normal, and I believe with all my heart that in large part, it was due to Your peace.
Lord, I am so thankful that everything seemed to turn around by the end of the year. Ryan’s medicine was adjusted, he started to feel and act more like himself, we were feeling more comfortable in this journey of parenthood, and I started to build up more strength and get some much needed rest. It was a tough few months, but we got through it. And while at times, I still look back at those moments and remember how overwhelmed I felt, I know there were so many pockets of joy. Tears turned to gladness, and slowly but surely time erased my sadness.
We are now eight months down the road, and I feel like my physical body is back to normal. Otto is pure joy to us, and Ryan is also doing fantastic. I am SO THANKFUL, Lord. Life is full of so many Seasons, and you are there through all of them.
With that said, if I am being honest, Lord, I still struggle with thinking about Ryan potentially having another seizure in the future and it terrifies me. It makes me so scared to think about being alone with him and having to witness it. What will I do? What if it happens at night while we are sleeping, and I am woken up by an episode? What if it happens while he is driving to work, and he gets in a terrible car accident? What if it happens while he’s walking someplace where it would be very dangerous to lose consciousness and fall?
And I could go on with a thousand what ifs, because Lord, you have gifted me with a creative mind possible of generating three thousand various scenarios. But perhaps I should be asking different questions…
What if no matter what happens in the future, You are always good? What if Your Promises in the Bible are true? What if you are a God of peace and grace and wisdom, One in which I should trust in with my Life? What if I am called to have open palms in this life—yes, to love deeply—but to realize I don’t own my security or the health/well-being/lives of others?
What if instead of focusing on myself, my comfort, my security, my health, my happiness, and on what I have to lose, I focus instead on the only One I don’t have to lose?
It’s a process, Lord. I’m finding that the more I realize that life isn’t about me, the more panicked I become because the more I feel like I am missing the point. Life is marching right by, so very quickly, and what if I am not in focus? But honestly, I’m just going to say it: living with Heaven-ward lenses on terrifies me. Because what does that mean? It means I’m trading in everything I find so comforting for a purpose that is beyond my comfort. And that feels frightening and very out of control.
So Lord, this is where I am at. I feel like I am at the brink of living fully in Your Peace and Joy, and I know as my Loving Father you want to see me in that space. But it will take a continual growing of my heart, and opening up of my palms, and a shift away from Self. And that is hard to do… allowing myself to be anxious, while it may not be a pleasant feeling, still offers me some semblance of control. And to live this life totally unabandoned, I must give up my habit of worry.
I pray that You can help me do that, and You can help me remove my immediate push-back and fear. Show me that living this way doesn’t have to always mean loss or trauma or doom. But if it does, Lord, You are good. You are always good, and Your mercies are new every morning.
There is grace for the day, each day and each moment. As I pedal forward into these sweet moments of motherhood—seeing Otto grow, and so quickly—watching his personality blossom before my eyes—I pray for wisdom in parenting and a heart full of mercy. Continue to point me to Your Purpose and ways to show Your Glory.