Friday, December 7, 2012

New Life, Death & Insanity

Well, Ladies, it has been ages since I've written anything. It's been even longer since I've written anything meaningful, if ever. Let me fill you in.

I've been pregnant. If you know me you'll know that I'll take hard labor any day before pregnancy. I become grumpy, nauseated, exhausted, and generally not fun to be around. So it went for about 32 weeks. Then my baby dropped and I started having contractions. My doctor was NOT impressed with this new development and exhorted me to get more rest. I asked if he could babysit my other two children. Not amused, he gave instructions for when to go to the hospital (contractions every 15 minutes apart, water breaking, bleeding, baby not moving) and they would do everything in their power to make sure the baby wouldn't be born early. Except for the bleeding and baby not moving. Then it would be an emergency cesarian.

Through the grace of God I made it to week 38. You would think the doctor would be happy. And yes, he was. But then he was afraid the baby would go into distress. He wanted me to go to the hospital several times a week to have the baby monitored. Once again I asked if he would babysit or if a toddler and a kindergarten age boy would be welcome to run around the hospital while I was strapped to a machine. I mean really, how serious could it be? He ordered a nurse to come to the house several times a week to monitor me. Gulp.

I was induced in my 39th week and my second daughter, a healthy girl named for Our Lady, was born.

Stress over, right?

If you've read my earlier post entitled Legacy, (yeah, I know, it's been so long I have to look it up, too), you know that an elder of our family has been causing a great deal of grief. Right before I became pregnant she was diagnosed with cancer and the idea of another child in the family brought her no joy. In fact, she told everybody who would listen that I did not want this child. We had no business having more than two children. I was overburdened and depressed. You get the idea. Oh, and my husband should be at her bedside at all times. It became difficult even to talk to extended family without hearing - I kid you not - how selfish our family was. Oh, and how much this woman loved us. Everybody was convinced that she would die any day. Everybody was on high alert. This went on for about ten months.  (The family, coincidently, lived far from where she did. They did not even consider going to visit.)

With the birth of our daughter came to obligation to call this woman and tell her the good news. It was from this phone call that my husband learned that the elder was going into hospice/palliative care. She would go from the hospital directly to a center where those with fatal illnesses go to die with dignity. Would he visit her before the end? Of course! She never once asked about me or the child. We didn't take it personally because she was dying. We would keep our joy muted out of respect.

By the time my husband got home from the hospital there were already e mails from family members who were shocked that he was so selfish as not to visit this woman. By the time I got home from the hospital (and in North America you're talking two days maximum for a vaginal delivery) we were getting phone calls from three countries, two continents, and numerous e mails from people wondering why my husband wasn't at this woman's deathbed. They didn't know our daughter had been born. Oh, and she loved us so much!

My daughter wasn't two weeks old when my husband went flying out to see her. She was dying! (tick tock). When my husband arrived everybody (not the family, of course. They weren't there) was shocked to see him. ("Oh, we heard you weren't coming!") He stayed for five days and then came home. ("So soon?")

After all of that this woman lived on for more than a month. (tick tock?)

I do not mean to say that her death is a matter for jokes. I am not resentful that she somehow took attention away from me because she was gravely ill. But I am still angry about the whole thing. Had she been, less, well, deceitful and vicious, my husband would have been able to make sure the baby and I were settled before he went to visit and would have been able to stay longer.

I know that people change as illness overtakes them and they approach death. Sadly, this woman had been behaving this way for as long as we can remember. This is her legacy.

Oh, and she loved us. She was such a "nice lady".

So the funeral came and went. Thankfully nobody expected me to attend. Without this woman egging them on the family stopped calling us to tell us how selfish we are and how misunderstood she was. Blissful silence.

How was I handling everything? I thought I was doing well until I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. There was nobody in the family I could talk to because, of course, I had no business having another child. And besides, I didn't want her anyway. Depression was the proof of our incompetence as a married couple, parents, and human beings in general.

So I reached out to a few trusted friends (and now an anonymous internet community) and asked for prayers. I received some truly beautiful and prayerful responses. One woman told me that she would give thanks to God for the miracles He was surely to bestow on us in our need. Would you believe that I actually became angry with her for that? I mean, a miracle would have been if this elder had given up her addiction to alcohol years ago. A miracle would have been Jesus taking care of my crying baby in the middle of the night because my husband was out of town placating a selfish, slanderous woman out of sheer self defense. A miracle would have been never falling in to depression.

Then I began to wonder: what is a miracle anyway? And what do I truly want?

Well, a miracle is the birth of a healthy, full term daughter.
Thanks be to God!

It would be a miracle if this woman ever makes it to heaven. Yet doesn't God want all of His children to be with Him? Finally! Something to pray for.
Lord, hear our prayer.

God does not want any of His children to suffer any mental illness, temporary or otherwise. He does not wish us to feel overburdened and in despair.
Lord, hear our prayer.

It seems impossible that, because of this woman's meddling, certain members of the family can ever come together in love and mutual respect. But doesn't God desire us to be a part of a loving family?
Lord, hear our prayer.

I am finally understanding that God doesn't really perform any miracles at all. He is capable of anything. I was just so limited in my thinking that I couldn't imagine any peaceful resolutions. For me, the miracles are the change in my perception. God doesn't change. We change. The kingdom of God is here and now.

One night after praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, I felt a huge weight lifted from me.

I understood that Jesus died for this woman and she needs my prayers. She can no longer hurt us and wants us to forgive her and asks for our mercy.

I do not have to come up with witty speeches to defend my family against slander. I no longer have to be right all the time. The slanderous voice is silenced. If I wish for peace then I am invited to peace. I can create peace within the family by being at peace.

It isn't that my pain is unimportant or my view of events isn't valid. We have truly been willfully injured. Yet I am learning that these things pale in comparison to the love of God. And frankly I am not going to wait around for those who have wronged us to give an apology before I start feeling better about life.

So after all of this how am I doing? Better. My husband and I are working together as a team to make sure that I have rest and help. And he is well aware that he asks about the dishes in the sink at his own risk. We no longer feel that we are under siege from family members who were afraid of this woman's viciousness as well. Our children are thriving. I am getting out of a horrible fog and starting be believe that I am a capable woman again. I am looking forward to the future.

If you have made it this far, please pray for Susan.

May God continue to bless you. I will continue to pray for you and in thanksgiving for the miracles He will surely provide for you.

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