Tuesday, August 2, 2016

You Make Me Brave

   I've read more in the last calendar year than I have in the last decade. It has been such a nice change, even if it's meant my knitting time took a direct hit. Right now, I'm reading I Will Carry You by Angie Smith for the third time. It is such a good book. In a doula group I am a member of, I mentioned it and said I thought it should be a requisite for anyone entering the obstetrical field in any capacity. Another doula responded that she thought it should be a requisite for adulting. Spot on. 
   I Will Carry You talks about a lot of things, but the major point is the journey of this mother from the start of motherhood through the start of her journey dealing with the loss of her daughter, Audrey, who was born with numerous congenital defects that resulted in her only surviving for 2 hours after birth. It is such a really real, raw portrayal of the feelings very commonly experienced through such a loss, and how she and her family began learning to walk with this pain. There are numerous spots I'd love to quote from every chapter, because they're such... such zingers that cut right to the heart of what many experience on this journey. But today, this one really got to the heart of the part of the journey I am currently on. 
In so many ways, [Audrey] has made me be brave. She made me want to be a better mommy, a better wife, a better daughter to the King who holds her in His arms.
In the last year, I have done so much that has always been so out-of-character for me, but I did it because of Asher. Because he makes me brave. Because I am his voice in this world. His life was so short, but the impact he left on us as his family was profound, and I will not let that voice be silent. I CANnot. I have felt from the moment we lost him that it had happened for a reason, and that it was important. In the last 1.5 years, I as a person have been transformed. If you knew me before, the person I am now is completely different. I know I've said it before, but it is so completely true. Angie says it several times in her book, and I have found that in my life it is true: There is the person I was before I lost my child, and there is the person I am now. Those two are irreconcilably different. I am stronger, but my heart breaks more easily because it constantly carries a much heavier load of love and pain. I feel deeper, think more, and am perfectly comfortable in silence. I am more drawn to other people, wanting to connect more deeply and widely. As a life-long introvert, these things are huge. HUGE.
   As soon as I began my training to become an SBD doula, my typical character decided I was going to be the most thorough student and become the best darn SBD doula that ever walked the planet. Because I do nothing half-way, y'all. I don't fail. I don't try. I do and I do well. Then the coursework hit me like a load of bricks and I found there was no way to 'brain' through this stuff. There's technical stuff, to be sure, and that all came very easily to me, but by and large it has to be slow, feeling, reflecting. I even took on a second session of coursework, because when my first one came to a close I felt like I needed to dig in more, and dig deeper. Now that my training is done and I am preparing to work with families, I feel overwhelmingly like I need to focus on introspection. On developing my personal character in order to be worthy of walking this hallowed ground with these families, no matter the trimester or the outcome. I am fully trained to walk through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with completely "normal," live births, as well as the complicated, the too early, the lost, the still, the sick, the NICU, and the heartbreaking journeys, too. The privilege of being asked to enter into that space, those experiences with families just awes me. I feel overwhelmingly like I need to dwell in the place of being the "love-bringer" to all. To my children, to my husband, to my friends, to the families I will serve. Like I need to live that title so completely in every aspect of my life in order to be genuine in these spaces with families I will serve. It's hard. And it's an immense privilege. And I have the courage to do it all because of the little boy that set me on this path. The little boy who was no bigger than the palm of my hand, whose name means Blessed and Happy, and whose 'after' completely altered the course of my life.

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