Whew chile, it was no walk in the park.
I debated sharing this. I really did. I’m still not 100% sure that it’s not going to cause some to be uncomfortable. But hell, it’s 100% true and at this point in my life the rosy glasses I have tried to color my experiences through don’t quite fit anymore. I’m committed to vulnerability and processing in a healthy way so if you’re on that journey with me please feel free to keep reading. If not …please feel free to keep reading.
I found out I was pregnant on the heels of finding out that some really dear friends of mine had just miscarried twice, then another couple we love soon after. This pregnancy was a super surprise and in our opinion, we were not even close to being in a place to have another baby. But even more than surprised, I was sad. I felt intense guilt that looked like tears on journal pages and silent shower sobs. Why would God give us a baby right now? It felt wrong to be excited. It felt sad to share with those friends. I didn’t feel deserving, I didn’t feel like it was fair.
Soon after that I had to walk through some hard family stuff that broke me pretty sincerely. Relational dysfunction is easily one of the most heartbreaking things to me and to not see reconciliation happen is even harder.
Then a ministry opportunity my husband and I thought was ripe for the picking turned into a closed door. Have you ever felt called to something and every faith step you take seems like it’s not working?
So ya’ll, I had been struggling. Physically, emotionally, mentally (and hormonally, duh) It had been a rough go. Even though this pregnancy was boring, no complications, no health concerns perfectly happy, moving healthy baby, emotionally I was all jacked up. I was crying all the time, snapping, angry at our circumstances yet scared to admit I was angry with God. We have so much to be grateful for how dare I complain? God is still providing, why do I worry so much?
I made 40 weeks with Uriah and they had to induce me. I got an epidural and it made my entire back ache. When the time came to push I couldn’t because every moment of bearing down felt like my back muscles would surely lock up from cramping so hard. After hours and hours of labor pushing, stopping, then trying again with no success, I had to have an unplanned C-section. During the surgery, I was ironically in a crazy amount of pain from the epidural in addition to feeling the pressure of them performing the surgery and putting my insides back inside. It really messed with my head to feel all of that intense pain. My husband couldn’t do anything but hold our new baby tight as I yelled at everyone and cried and prayed for it to be over. I just kept my teeth cliched and stared at Uriah repeating to myself, “you are so worth it.”
The day after delivery, my nurse came in to check my vitals like they had been for however long and help me go to the bathroom. I inched my achy body towards the end of the bed to stand up and felt like someone was hitting me in the head repeatedly with a bowling ball. She looked at me and asked what was wrong. I couldn’t even make eye contact with her for the pain. She phoned another nurse and said I was showing signs of a spinal headache. I hobbled to the restroom and on the way back to the bed she tried to take my blood pressure while I was standing up. The first time she tried it wouldn’t register. As the cuff filled with air and tightened at what felt like a glacial pace, I struggled to stand. The black grout between the tiles on the floor seemed to begin moving up the walls and closed in around my head. I drooped my body into her as I muttered “I’m going to pass out.” She moved me back to my bed like wonder woman as I dragged my feet. Thirty minutes later I was getting a blood transfusion.
After the blood transfusion came the intensity of the spinal headache from hell. When you get an epidural block like I did, there’s a potential that the puncture at the site where they deliver the medicine into your spinal cord can cause a small tear. They use special tools with the goal of preventing this but it’s still a risk. That day, three anesthesiologists came in to perform an epidural blood patch to try to remedy the problem. Spoiler Alert: It did not work.
Meanwhile Uriah was having low blood sugar readings. If you aren’t aware, my oldest was in the NICU partly because of the same thing. But after all my body had endured up to that point, my hope of breastfeeding was out of the window. So much energy was going to just healing. After a couple nurses tried to pressure me into sticking with breastfeeding I had to very clearly and sternly state that I would not gamble with this topic. Bring me the formula now and let me feed this baby.
A few days later I was finally allowed to leave. What I didn’t realize was not only was I taking another perfect little boy home with me but also HELLAAAAAA TRAUMAAAAAAA. People joking about me having another baby after Uriah was not only not funny, but felt hurtful and dismissive of the darkness I had just experienced. Both times I delivered a baby I experienced trauma. Laughing off that mental pain wasn’t healthy for me. Smiling through it and trying not to freak other people out wasn’t healthy for me. Isolating and replaying the worst moments over and over wasn’t healthy, but for some reason I couldn’t stop doing any of it.
My ability to take care of myself was zilch. Having someone else do for you what you have done for yourself for years is borderline humiliating. Healing or not. Needing another person to help you dress yourself, cook for you, help you to the bathroom wasn’t fun for me.
I was still dealing with intense spinal headaches. It took about 3 weeks for them to completely go away. My back is still super tight from 3 spinal procedures. I still probably need to talk with a therapist about all the things I can’t post on here that I still struggle with regarding both of my deliveries and postpartum experiences.
So what’s the point?
If you’re still reading, thank you, but I’m sure you’re like Calah where is your usual optimism? Your ability to look on the bright side and take it in stride? Girlllll listen…
In the midst of all this I found that a really unhealthy habit I have mastered over the years is not feeling it. I’m a super logical person so when I feel like my emotions aren’t taking into account the big picture I try to push them down. The part I fail at over and over is NOT understanding that Jesus made these emotions. Jesus himself had emotions. The emotions are not the sin, the sin is thinking that I can’t trust God with my emotions and to know exactly where I need them to be healed.
I was not full of faith. I was full of fear. I was full of anger and some of it still remains. I can say that because now I know that God isn’t scared of my fear, isn’t intimidated by my anger, and ultimately he has already done the work on the cross to free me from it.
I heard so many positive cliches that were said to make me feel better. Mostly because people get scared for other people who are in a crisis of faith or when they are walking through hard times. What I and so many others forget is that Jesus is still King Jesus whether people believe him and abide in him or not. God is still the ultimate provider and protector whether people honor him as such or not. He still protects when we reject him. He still endured the cross for the very people who demanded he be wrongfully crucified. He still became sin for us. It took me coming to the end of myself to trust that I can still abide in Jesus in the midst of my pain. I had stop staring so hard at my own physical and emotional scars and turn my eyes to see God for who he truly is.
Following Jesus isn’t just slapping a band-aid on your pain. When we lack trust, and are scared to put our hope in him, he’s faithful to meet us in that place but he doesn’t always give us what we think we need or want like a genie. He desires us to draw near to him for HIM (in true relationship) not just for the stuff he gives us.
So what was ALL of that for? Ionno, fam. But a wise man told me a few years back that the worst thing to do with pain is to waste it. So as frustrating and hard as it is, and as much as I have the ability to become bitter and jaded, I’m begging God to use it and help me not be afraid of the process of healing from it all.
Written By Calah Jackson