Bug’s Journey – Month 2

I sometimes wonder if the SA Lockdown was really Corona-induced or the result of God answering the prayers of a desperate mother, asking Him to make a way for her husband to be home more to help her with the crying baby… so despite the cut in our finances, I have embraced the lockdown, simply because it meant hubby was home.  Its been amazing – lazy mornings followed by an easy-going daily routine of Family.  I needed it.

We thought things were improving, until our 6 week check up.

Bug had still not gained enough weight – she was a good 700g shy of where she should be on her baby growth chart.  We were crushed. And that wasn’t the worst of it; the Dr identified her having a heart murmur.  I didn’t know what that was, but I cried. Nobody wants to be told that their baby has a defect; especially one with her heart.

This is perhaps another turning point in our journey – the one where we resolutely set our faces to Health and seeing our daughter grow from ‘failing to thrive’ to hitting that green zone with a flourish of fat rolls.  But it would take every feed at a time.  We met again with Jackie who created a personal feeding plan for B, and gave me advice on how to increase my milk supply. For the first time in 6 weeks, we had a Plan and for me – Hope. I felt empowered. And, for the first time, dared to think that the overshadowing fear might be conquerable.  That was the Thursday before Easter.

On Good Friday, my husband and I broke bread together.  We felt it was a prophetic declaration of Christ’s blood and redemption over our family, business and Bug’s health. In my heart, I prayed that by some Easter Miracle she would gain 40g – maybe even 50g if my faith could be stretched – a day.  God is the God of the Impossible, right? On the Tuesday morning, we visited our GP to have Bug checked out and he weighed her for us.  She hadn’t gained 40g. She hadn’t gained 50g – she had gained 100g a day over the weekend! Don’t tell me my God doesn’t take care of His little ones? We were in awe.

We went to a new pediatrician to have Bug re-examined; what a completely different experience! It felt like we were suddenly being surrounded by God’s best for us – doctors who loved on B and encouraged us.  I finally understood what it means to have life breathed into your desolate situation.

Month 2 saw things begin to turn around for us, but I think the greatest turn around was me – I finally allowed myself the chance to breathe and let go of the burden I had been carrying.  I let go of the Responsibility and overcame the Anxiety and Fear. And in doing that, I began to fall in love with my daughter.  For the first time, I got to play with her and enjoy her and not feel incredible guilt or shame or failure when I held her.

That was my personal turn around.

Bug’s Journey – Month 1

Do they tell you the first month is the toughest? They should. Because, wow, was ours tough… Bug was born a week early (via C-section) and perhaps my body wasn’t ready or maybe that’s just in my head, but for the first month, I honestly always felt like I was on the backfoot, desperately trying to catch up but not really having a clue. About anything. Maybe I should have read more books. Maybe that wouldn’t have helped in any case. I guess I will never know.

All I really remember about the first four weeks of being a mom was absolute fear.

And an incredible feeling of self-doubt and Inability. I haven’t struggled with such depths of Inadequacy or a overwhelming sense of Panic since, well – ever.  In many ways it left me paralyzed.  My natural reaction to Fear is to withdraw and try make sense of it all, but this was perhaps the worst solution: instead of reaching out for support (and potential solutions to our problems), I pulled inwards and became suffocated by my own fears. But let’s start at the beginning…

We were scheduled for a ‘medically motivated C-section’ in February because my gynae didn’t believe I was capable of giving birth naturally.  I had developed sciatica in month 8 and after 5 weeks of not being able to walk unassisted, I had to agree with her – the pain was simply too intense. I hadn’t really thought too much about the surgery – perhaps my first mistake – and the fear was simmering below my very casual facade. It was real. And yet, I survived. I remember there being a moment when all the doctors held their breath when the spinal tap didn’t immediately kick in – and then collectively sigh when my spine was aligned and it took effect. And I remember gripping the screen in front of me throughout the procedure as a way of keeping my mind on anything other than what was happening beyond the piece of material. And then I remember a push and the doctor’s laughing – I can’t even recall if Bug cried or not. I was told her relieved herself the moment she was pulled out. And I officially became a mother.

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That’s when it became a little rough.

On Day 2, it became apparent that Bug wasn’t feeding well; she is what they called ‘a lazy eater’ who wasn’t gaining enough sustenance and constantly falling asleep at the breast.  She’s also rather determined, so no amount of prodding from our side could change that – she simply shut her mouth tightly and slept. Great. We had a daughter who’d inherited her mother’s lack of appetite and her father’s love for sleeping. She lost a lot of weight and after a nightmarish two days, we were resorting to feeding her expressed colostrum via a tube attached to my finger. (Sidenote: pregnant mommas reading this – pack a breast pump into your hospital bag just in case!)

For the next two weeks I felt like I was living under the shadow of this Fear of Inadequacy.  The ‘problem’ with breastfeeding is you never really know if baby has drunk enough or if you’re producing enough milk.  And it doesn’t help if your baby is known to simply fall asleep mid-feed.  I was clueless.  Its at this point that I really wish I had asked for help. At my lowest point, I was trying to hand express with a syringe to collect as much milk as I possibly could to feed her via the tube. It was exhausting. I felt like I was caught in a perpetual cycle of expressing and feeding and never really getting to relax or enjoy my baby.  Instead, I watched my husband bond with her from a distance and further retreated into my Fear. Make no mistake: I love my husband and am so grateful that he is a hands-on dad who adores our little girl.  It was my own Inadequacy that screamed inside my head that I was failing horribly at this whole motherhood thing. That kind of fear opens the door to anxiety and an anxious mother doesn’t produce enough milk…

During week 3, once hubby was back at work and I was home alone with Bug, things hit another low.  I had no clue what I was doing and trying to distinguish between the ‘different baby cries’ was almost impossible.  My sustained memory of this week was sitting holding my baby while we both cried. I still get emotional just remembering.

It was then that we finally found help in a lactation consultant.  Bug was not gaining weight sufficiently and we needed support. This was possibly the start of our turning point – we had several potholes to hit yet, but meeting Jackie would be key in the next few weeks.

Growing Bug – our pregnancy story

For the most part I had a text book perfect pregnancy: I only had 4 weeks of mild morning sickness, lost weight instead of gaining any, only really began to “show” after 6 months and was generally quite healthy.  In fact, I only found out I was pregnant around week 8 – we had been on holiday with a friend who announced her pregnancy at the airport and for the next two weeks, we celebrated her journey towards motherhood without realising I was already a week ahead of her..!
My gynae was supportive in me wanting to try natural and it never really occurred to me that we would have to consider any alternative.
Until January.
Month 8 things changed; my L5 pinched and compressed my sciatic nerve. I have never experienced such pain – for a continuous month I struggled to walk and at times the simple action of standing left me breathless from pain.  We tried everything – physio, spinal alignment… nothing worked. By the end, I was unable to walk without assistance and walking down the passage to the bathroom at night was excruciating.  Garth would have to hold my arms, and help me shuffle one step at a time, as I cried.  It was horrible, and hard-going but it united us in such an incredible way. We persisted like this for a month, taking nothing stronger than Panado – more for the psychological relief than physical.

We had our 35 week check up and in a moment I went from the highest level of self confidence to feeling like a complete failure when my gynae expressed her doubt in my ability to go through with natural: I had to think caesarian. I was honestly crushed.

And yet, God works in incredible ways.
The very week before I received the news, we were offered an opportunity to do a photoshoot with Daniel West. I have been in awe of his work for years and knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot begin to express how much it means to me to see images of me looking strong, when in reality, I felt so very broken and sore… I am so grateful to have breathtakingly beautiful images that remind me that strength is not physical, but comes from deep within.That month  taught me that when I am at my closest to tapping out, God has blessed me with a husband who loves me in my darkest moments, friends and family who care about me (and celebrate my journey to becoming a mother) and Jesus has never left my side.

“See she rises from her desert, clinging to the arm of her Beloved” – Song of Solomons 8:5

Love one another

I’ve been meaning to blog for quite a while now, but have been left with such a strange sense of Silence the past couple of weeks… while everybody else on social media seems to have found their voice in the various outcries against women abuse, I retreated into my thoughts. Its not that I don’t have an opinion or care about what’s going on in our country… I was just processing things a little more slowly. And what I was seeing was leaving me just that much more discouraged.

How quickly an amazing movement for justice made the dramatic leap to proclaiming #menaretrash left me speechless. Appalled really. The swift turn of focus in using an incredible opportunity for unity and freedom suddenly became a man-hating festival. It saddened me because the initial focus was lost – and not all men are trash.  I am married to a man who is not trash; I have been raised by a man who is definitely not trash; I have male friends who have protected me and honoured me as their sister – and they are not trash. To broadly pronounce such a hate-filled statement upon half of our population is no better than the physical abuse suffered by victims – it is prejudiced and counter-productive. Those who feel the fullness of the judgement withdraw in fear, and sadly those that do not use it as a title to justify their actions – nobody wins.

So what now? In all my ponderings and prayers, this is my conclusion: Love one another. Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. (1 Cor 13: 4-8 TPT) 

Let’s become a society who loves – who does not traffic in shame and disrespect, is not easily irritated or quick to take offense, who finds no delight in what is wrong BUT is a safe place of shelter because we never stop believing the best for others. THAT’s the society I want to raise my daughter in: one filled with faith-filled love – and not Fear.

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Little Miss Wild – due Valentine’s Day 2020.  May she know and experience the Fullness of Love.

Doing Singleness Well

Up until my little revelation 5 minutes ago, I have always hated the question, “what’s your greatest achievement?” I never knew what to say – I managed to complete a 12km run? How lame. So want to know my new answer? Here it is:

I did Singleness well.

Thrilling, right? It may not be as exciting as climbing mountains or completing epic races, but believe me, in my new season of Married – it has served me better than any mountain top ever could. I used the time I had during my Season of Single, well.

I got married in my mid-thirties, so believe me, I had plenty of time and opportunity to get it wrong.  Never one to back off from a challenge worth facing, I chose Purity.  Not just of my body, but my heart too.

While others were chasing after the things of the world – or in Christian circles: giftings, callings and the things of His Kingdom, I chose to seek His Heart. I wanted to be Lost and Found in the King’s heart. I wanted to know what pleased Him – what He loved and what He didn’t.  I wanted both my life and my very being to be pleasing to Him. But that meant I had to change inwardly. Lots. I invited Jesus into my heart and asked Holy Spirit to do all that was necessary to work wholeness and healing within me. Was it easy? No… more like having open heart surgery wide awake and fully conscious. It was tough and sore – and felt like a continual cycle of victories and failures. But every victory brought me spoils and every failure was an opportunity to crawl back onto Daddy God’s lap and try again. I don’t just bear fruit from that season; I stand upon a solid foundation of roots sunk deep into Him.

Every step of my daily walk is determined by the unshakable certainty of my Identity in Jesus Christ and the Freedom (and Victory) He has bestowed upon me. I live in the very real, life-changing Truth of God’s Word and Spirit. If anything I face is not in alignment with those two, it must either be repented of and cast aside, or overcome.  I am single-minded in pursuing His Best for me. This isn’t me boasting; this is just me describing my approach to life – I am a freak, I know. But after a conversation with my husband this morning, I was reminded of how passionate I am about seeing Christians walk in the Fullness offered to them in Christ. Nothing infuriates me and breaks my heart like seeing Christians walk in brokenness. Our very healing and freedom should set us apart as God’s Redeemed!

So where am I going with this? If you find yourself in a season of Single; embrace it. Make a choice to use this time well – ask Holy Spirit to do a new working in your heart, mind and spirit. Be deliberate about finding Healing, and find someone to help you walk that healing out in your daily life. Bringing Brokenness into marriage makes a tough task that much harder.  You may not know your future spouse yet, but one day when you’re married you will face a moment when you can either say “I loved you enough to ask Holy Spirit to deal with my brokenness so that you wouldn’t have to” or…. you’re going to have to face your loved one and ask for mercy.  I pray they be gracious.

Loving well within marriage means preparing your heart – before you even meet the person. So what if you haven’t made the same life choices as me? Is it all too late? Not a chance.  God is loving and gracious, quick to forgive and restore.  There is nothing more powerful than God’s Redeeming Love. I pray your path on the Single Track may have more Victories and Adventures with Jesus than ever before; who knows what lies around the next corner?

Loving within Boundaries

“Love her, but leave her wild” – Atticus

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I have loved that quote, long before I met Mr Wild (and became Mrs Wild) – the sense of freedom it promises in a kind of love that does not impose itself upon another… well, I am pretty sure I am not the only person to want to be loved in such a way.

I’ve begun reading a book, “Boundaries in Marriage” by Dr’s Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  Wow.  I love it when Holy Spirit brings a seasonal word for a timely revelation! I’ve always had fairly negative associations when it came to the concept of Boundaries – either it was a restriction enforced upon you by another, or it felt like a selfish and manipulative way to gain control… both are so dangerous and well, untrue.  Boundaries are important in all relationships, and especially within the context of marriage. Yes, in a spiritual sense, we become one person, but in reality we are still two individuals carving a life together.  Boundaries protect our individuality while nurturing our relationship.

After two evenings of eye-opening revelation, this is what I have learnt –

Boundaries require Ownership. We each need to take ownership of our own thoughts, attitudes, feelings, words and behaviour.  They’re ours. A sign of a healthy, mature person is their ability to ‘own’ both their triumphs and their mistakes – not to blame others or find excuses, but simply ‘own it’.  (And what I had to learn is I cannot ‘own’ my husband’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions… nor could I change them.)

Boundaries create Freedom (and Responsibility).  As Christians, we have been Redeemed by Jesus’ blood and have been free’ed from the power of sin and death.  We are called to live lives that testify of His freedom.  Boundaries protect that freedom and remind us to continually remove any thought, habit, attitude (etc) that infringes upon or denies both our own and our partner’s freedom.  We have a Responsibility to protect the Freedom Jesus has given us.  What I learnt was that I do not need to take Responsibility for my husband’s choices or actions – and I also do not need to allow his choices or actions to infringe upon my Freedom in Christ.  I am not a victim of his choices or actions.  While he will face the consequences of his choices, I can choose whether I allow them to impact me.  It may be my responsibility to lovingly bring fears/ lies/ inappropriate thoughts or actions into the light – but it is not my responsibility to change them.  That’s between him and Holy Spirit.

Boundaries allow us to Love, freely.  Because we take ownership of our selves, and continually seek to dwell in the Freedom found in Jesus, we have an amazing ability to ‘Love, Regardless’ – loving the other person regardless of how they love us back; loving the other person regardless of their attitudes/ actions being worthy of love… we don’t become doormats.  Rather, by being seated in Heavenly places with Christ, we can freely extend Love and Compasssion and Grace without needing to have it returned in the same measure.

There’s a Liberty that comes when we walk closely in Jesus’ presence.  And this liberty only evokes a greater understanding of the need to take Ownership, fight for our Freedom, and consequently extend deeper Love… its a cycle that draws two people into a greater depth of relationship.  Boundaries allow for this to happen.

Boundaries are becoming my new favourite ‘thing’ – created within a pure heart, seeking God’s best for our relationship.

 

Create a new, clean heart within me.[a]
Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you.” – Psalm 51:10 TPT

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
the path that brings me back to you.” – Psalm 139: 23-24 TPT

Say YES

About this time last year, I began dancing.

At the time it was a major Step Out from my comfort zone of hibernating on the couch and avoiding people under the excuse of being an ‘introvert’. And even then I knew it was about being obedient to Holy Spirit’s leading me out from my (comfortable and potentially harmful) Habitual Lifestyle.  I had become stuck in a social rut and while complaining about being lonely and not meeting new people, I was, well, still sitting on the same couch and only venturing out of the house for the same routine activities.

At the start of last year, Holy Spirit told me, 2018 would be the year of me saying Yes, Lord – and I would find the consequences of my obedience would lead to great change. It honestly did. And it all began with Saying Yes to Holy Spirit’s prompting me to start dancing (you can read the original post HERE). Was it scary? YES. Were there times when I questioned what I was doing? YES. Did I ever want to climb back on the couch and hide there? YES. Did I realise that was not the best solution to overcoming my loneliness and isolation? Yes… But. Through taking a bold step of faith-filled obedience, it opened a door to my life honestly being changed.

Because I began dancing, I met Garth. 8 months later we were engaged. Another 3 months and we were married.  I cannot begin to explain how much better life is because I dared to Trust Holy Spirit and obediently said Yes, Lord. Getting married is not the Fulfillment of every promise God has for me, but rather, it is simply the Start of a new chapter filled with other adventures and callings that require a Yes, Lord response. Every step we take further into God’s plans for our lives, is another opportunity to grow deeper in our relationship with God – overcoming Fear and finding Faith in His Love.

I don’t know where God is leading you, or what He is asking of you at the moment – but if you can be honest with yourself and identify a comfort zone or two which may not be as helpful or healthy in your life as you like to think… well, maybe Holy Spirit is asking you to trust Him and overcome some fears, so that He can lead you out into the More that He has in store for you.  God’s plans for you are always for your good, to grow you and help you experience Life in Abundance. Trust Him. Recognise the Invitation.

Say YES.