I Can Do Hard Things

by Dana Boyle on February 26, 2014

The topic occupying my mind-space the past week or so has been birthing my child.  I have mixed feelings about it, from excitement to meet her and to also be relieved of pregnancy, to fear and trepidation about how it will go, how painful it might be, and what might happen to my body and health, and even worries about how she’ll be when she’s born…I will worry until I know she’s ok.  Some of my worries are legitimate and some are irrational.

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I’ve also been beating myself up.  My self-talk has been about what a wimp I am.  How can I be such a baby?  “Don’t call about this symptom, they’ll think you’re a whiner.  Don’t ask to be induced, everyone goes through this.  It isn’t that bad, I’m sure.  Suck it up, you woos!” 

I’ve noticed a lot of frustration and anger bubbling up for me this week.  My body is not working for me to do things I want to do, I’m in pain, and I’m uncomfortable, and I still have demands on me both personally and professionally.  I also am not a couch potato and I put demands on my self.  I learned long ago from reading Harriet Lerner’s “The Dance of Anger” that anger is a message.  It’s a useful one that we women often ignore.  We tend to push our anger down and silence it, not only denying ourselves our feelings, but missing what the anger is here to tell us.  If we tune in and ask the anger what it’s really there to tell us, usually the anger will dissipate when we pay attention to the real need we have behind the anger.

I’ve thrown spatulas across the kitchen, called a lady a stupid bitch to her face, and thrown perfectly good items in the garbage to get them off my counter, all in one week.  When I stop and pause and ask that anger what it’s there to tell me, I discover a few things:

I’m scared.  I feel like I don’t have control over what is about to happen in my life.  I am worried about myself and my baby.  I am worried about breastfeeding and visitors and my new normal.  I’m worried I won’t be able to really be “off work” at all because I own my own business.

Mostly, I’m scared about the unknown of childbirth, my health conditions and whether or not it will go how I would like it to go – and even if it goes how I want it to go, whether I can handle it.  Can I do it?  I have doubted myself, and that’s where my anger is coming from.

I can do hard things.

For crying out loud, I weathered law school.  I took the bar exam more than once.  I had IBS syptoms for seven years.  I’ve been through traumas and accidents that involved pain and healing.  I endured a miscarriage at home including contractions (it’s not like getting your period, despite what doctors say), and a D&C when I found out my first baby was dead at the start of the second trimester.  I toughed it out through a full fertility work-up, complete with many rounds of blood draws (nine tubes of blood the first time – some of the draws from people who have no business ever touching people with needles) and internal examinations that were sometimes painful.  I was determined through six rounds of fertility treatment, including several shots a day in my belly, blood draws every other day, internal ultrasound wands and procedures, and phone calls with bad news, including wasted money and hopes.  I dealt with hormone storms in all directions from being pregnant, then not, then pregnant then not, and on fertility drugs that made me crash my car into a pole once.  I weathered deep grief at the loss of my babies, the loss of my dreams of becoming a mother (because there was a time I started to doubt I’d ever be a mom at all), loss of faith in my body, fear of the loss of my marriage from all these complications, and even a test of my faith in God.

There came a day when I declared that I didn’t want to live if it meant living without being a mom.  I was serious.  My husband did not understand it and thought I’d lost it.  I truly did not want to live a life that didn’t include a family of my own.  

The most painful thing was feeling like God was punishing me for something.  Fearing that He didn’t want me to be a mom, as some people actually told me along this path.  “Maybe you should just face it, Dana.  God doesn’t want you to be a mom.  You’re not meant to be.”  Even though I knew with every fiber of my being that I was born to be a mom and that that was not true, there was no bigger pain than asking God why He would give me such a strong desire for children from such an early age, only to deny that one thing to me when I finally was ready to be a mom.

Was there something I did wrong?  Was I broken inside somehow?  Did an accident in my childhood rob me of my ability to carry a child to term?  I remembered my dad asking a doctor if I’d ever have kids.  I didn’t remember the doctor’s answer, but the question echoed.

I knew in my heart that what I was believing about God was not true.  I had been raised knowing better.  What I knew was that God had His own plan for me, and for my child.  No matter what I did to figure this out, the needles, the tests, the doctors the crying and anger and all the money spent and volumes of books read…I could not will a child into being.  So I got quiet.  I prayed.  I read the Bible.  I asked other people to pray.  I put in a prayer request at my church every single week, to the point they started writing back to assure me they were praying for us to have a baby, and they quoted Bible verses about God’s timing, surrender and faith.

After two years of kicking and screaming, I surrendered.  This was one of the hardest things I EVER did.  I surrendered.  I told God that I knew I couldn’t make this happen.  I told Him that it if WAS His will that I not be a mother, that I would like him to help me learn to live with that.  I meant it.  If I’m not supposed to be a mom, then please, Lord, help me find peace in that.  I told Him that if it was His will to give me children, that I fully surrender to how He will deliver them to me, His timing, His way.  I promised him that I would raise any child he gave me to glorify His name, and that the way in which I parent will be to glorify Him.  I prayed that prayer one time, and I let it go.

Almost immediately after that prayer and surrender is when I conceived our daughter, and I’ve returned to that prayer every time I worry about her.  I tell God I know he did this, and he has this, and he is in control, not I.  I tell him I trust him to keep her safe, to form her in my womb exactly how she’s supposed to be, and that I know that he has a plan.

Now, as I fear childbirth and the surrender that it takes to get through whatever pain and twists and turns it may take, instead of the self-talk that says what a wimp I am, how much of a baby I’m being, or how I can’t do this, I have had the presence of mind to look back at this whole journey and recall that this isn’t just nine months of pregnancy and silly fear about childbirth.  I’ve run a marathon and I’m in the last miles.  I’ve been hard-core.  I’ve been broken wide open by this experience, and if I can do the previous three years and still stand, I can birth this baby in whatever way God has planned for me and for her and still stand and hold her after.

There has been nothing in my life that I’ve been more determined to do, and I can do hard things.  I am strong.  I am a fighter.  I am brave.  I am a mommy, and my baby is waiting to meet me and be nurtured and nourished by me.  She is coming to me, and she’s almost here, and  I’m not going to sit down and cry on the curb in the last mile.  I might run while crying, and I might need some cheerleaders to push me on, but I’m gonna finish this race, by God!

Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God did not bring me this far to leave me just before the finish line.  He’s giving me my second wind.

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

One of my dearest grandmother figures, Dianna Traina, was with me once in the hospital when I was a kid, and she said lots of encouraging things to me about how strong I was when I was afraid of a procedure and how she would always be there for me, and she promised that when my baby was born someday, she’d be there.  I was 14 at that time.  She used to write Jeremiah 29:11 in every card she gave me for birthdays, etc.  I still have those cards.  This verse is my strength as I finish the race and bring my baby girl into the world, and it fulfills her promise that she’s here with me every step of the way.  She used to always ask me if I wanted to pray about the things that were on my heart, and I wish she was here to pray for me, but I know that she is one of the people who taught me how to do that, and I can pray with her now on my own.

I can do hard things.

I’m also reminded how blessed I am when I think of my friends who didn’t get to come home with a healthy baby, or my friends who aren’t going to the hospital to have a baby, but for some scary health reason that has them fighting for their lives or their eye-sight.  They’ve been models for me, and I will focus on them, too, as I run those last miles.

If you can do hard things, I can do hard things.  I can do hard things.  Just a couple miles to go.

 

 

 

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leah February 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Dear Dana-
I could say so much….but you know it because you’ve got this, babe! You’ve totally got this. And everything you “don’t got” = God’s job. And it sounds like you’ve got that covered, too. Love prayers and hugs to you, your babies that went onto God ahead of you, and to the baby about to bless this world.

I’m going to cut and paste a link to a poem, Annunciation, that I love and that was particularly profound for me shortly before and during the birth of my daughter last summer.

XOXO-

Leah

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Leah February 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm

oops! Here’s that link- the poem is by Denise Levertov and is in this post:

http://leahrenascence.blogspot.com/2013/06/hail-space-for-uncontained-god.html

XO-
Leah

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Dana Boyle February 26, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Thank you, Leah. So much appreciated and beautiful poem. xoxo

This, particularly:

She did not cry, “I cannot, I am not worthy,”
nor “I have not the strength.”
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
Consent,
courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

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