October 22 was a day of mixed emotions here at Das Schmidt Haus. A couple of clues.
Let’s first tackle the upper photo. October 22, our wedding anniversary. This year marks our ninth year. In a nutshell, I’m at my best — stronger, smarter, calmer, more patient, loving, and caring — when next to Joel. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than by his side.
Last week our family dined out, and a married couple, probably in their mid-seventies, greeted Joel and told him how impressed they were with his hands-on approach to fathering. The wife made a point that, and these are my words here, in an age when fatherhood has become commoditized, almost dispensable, it was nice to see Joel so engaged with his family. I agree. And I don’t tell him enough how grateful I am for that gift. I could learn a lot from the Samaritan leper who, along with nine Jews, was healed by Jesus and then was the only one of the ten who returned to Jesus to thank him for the healing.
It’s related to grace, a word meaning the release of loveliness. Too guarded and infrequent are my gestures of gratitude lately. It would behoove me to shower Joel with a little more loveliness. After a day of spoiling me with gifts, I’m still thinking of ways to express a little gratefulness in return. I guess I was so convinced I would be in the hospital — laboring, pushing, sweating — and the uniquely precious gift I could offer Joel would be one involving our newborn babe.
But that was not in the playbook, which brings me to the second photo above. October 22 was also our baby’s due date. Several months ago I was flipping through the calendar’s pages and surprised with delight when seeing the cute message our then 4-½-year-old daughter wrote on that date. I would have bet the moon that this babe would have made a grand appearance by now.
I have been very anxious, all knotted up these past few weeks. A couple points of reference: I grow big babes and am attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with this one. I’ve been keeping a couple of OBGYNs at bay who for several weeks now have pushed for me to choose a repeat, elective c-section. Yet I fear I’m running out of time. Sure, babe is measuring larger-ish, but not so large to prevent at least a safe trial labor for the VBAC. The science comes down in my favor here. Moreover, I feel ready for natural labor and have been in deep prayer and feel called to this course of action — to at least allow this child (and me!) an opportunity to come on his/her own. But each day that passes is one more day for baby to grow larger, thereby providing doctors with a little more “ammo” to keep pushing me toward a scheduled c-section. Patience has never been my strongest virtue, and this situation is exploiting that raw reality. And it’s a fine balance — what’s in the baby’s best interests versus what I want here.
So the weekly doctor appointments get me more knotted up and usually leave me second-guessing everything.
Enter more anxiousness.
I knew I needed a talking off the ledge last week and reached out to a wise friend, a medical doctor who’s personally traveled down a similar c-section/VBAC road. She offered me the following advice:
I believe that there is no more holy time in a woman’s life than when she conceives and when she delivers. Accordingly, these are the times when we are most subject to attack by evil. For so many of us, this takes the form of anxiety. Remember that God has a beautiful plan for you and your baby. Just stay faithful in prayer.
10-4, sister. Faithfulness.
As Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness.” And so I ask for the same. Here I am, Lord, I desire an increase in faith. I am weak. Please, increase my faith.
So where are we now? Several have stopped by here, looking for a progress update, and I apologize for going AWOL. This post truly was intended to be a very quick update, but here I’ve found myself engaged in a complete brain dump, haven’t I? So the skinny? Well, I’m still feeling led to attempt the VBAC, and our plan is to give ourselves a couple of days to see if baby does what s/he needs to do naturally. I have an appointment scheduled for late Thursday afternoon, and we’ll see where things are then. If baby’s vitals are good and I’m still feeling called to attempt a natural delivery, we’ll keep on. If not, well, I need to quickly come to terms that I gave it my best shot and it just wasn’t meant to be. The upside is I could be holding a babe in my arms by Friday afternoon AND I could catch some college football games on ESPN while recovering in the hospital on Saturday (important details in this non-cable household). Now that would be something … holding the baby, not the football games!
Bottom line: If something can be done, there’s no need to worry; if nothing can be done, there’s no need to worry.
Mmm, hmm. Easier said than done. Just ask most post-term pregnant women.
Finally, one last point about October 22. It is also Blessed Pope John Paul II’s feast day. Back in January, we prayed a novena for his intercession as we attempted to achieve pregnancy. We again ask for his intercession over the safe and healthy delivery of this approximate 9-pounder balled up yet apparently quite cozy in my womb. It would have been oh so very cool to have delivered this babe on Pope John Paul II’s feast day and our anniversary. But who am I kidding? My stories typically end with a bit of dissonance, and God’s orchestra is still playing this concerto in a minor key. Stay tuned for the final resolution.
Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us.
Mary, undoer of knots, pray for us.
St. Gerard, patron of expectant mothers, pray for us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.