Shifting Ground

“After your experience with PPD, how did you ever decide to have a second child?” I still can’t fully answer that question. Upon reflection, I find the biggest driving force to be Liz and Bo, Ben and Jake. Lucas and I have amazing siblings. We adore the friends and partners that we have because our parents gave us the joy of brothers and sisters. When we married, we both agreed that having the approval of our siblings was as important to us as our parents. And as we get older, we appreciate those gifts even more.

As AJ neared her 2nd birthday, we began to entertain the thought of round two. This meant a diligent partnership with my doctors to prepare my body to be free of damaging medicine. This is was a fear inducing prospect. The journey to pregnancy was not quite as easy with round 2. I believe the time that we waited allowed my heart to be healed in ways I didn’t know that I needed. We found out that we were pregnant in November, and in December we discovered that we had been pregnant with twins, but miscarried one.

This is a weird head space. You are so thrilled to see that heartbeat on the ultrasound, but at the same time, you are heartbroken at the loss. I hate when people tell me that things happen for a reason, but in this case, with retrospective vision, it was true. I was mid-second trimester when continued abdominal pain was revealed to be a gallbladder full of stones. My grandmother died 5 years before this from gallbladder cancer, so I wanted that organ out of my body. The surgeon was not keen on the idea of operating while pregnant, so I waited. For those unfamiliar with the gallbladder, the main function is to store bile, which helps the body break down and digest fats that you eat. Those with gallbladder issues usually have discomfort after a fatty meal. Because I had a growing human that was pressing upward into my abdomen, any amount of fat could trigger my gallbladder to feel the pressure of excreting bile. So rather than gaining 60 pounds like I did the first go round, I gained a total of 16 pounds with baby #2.

Gallbladder pain is very uncomfortable. And even though I tried hard to control fat, it would flare up. To help combat the pain, my doctors gave me a prescription for Hydrocodone. And I took it. In June of 2005, as Lucas was trying to watch game 7 of the NBA finals, I began having a severe gallbladder attack. My meds could not control it, and quickly the abdominal pain began to trigger contractions. So mid-3rd quarter, I sheepishly announced that I needed to go to the hospital. The baby was not due until July 31, so I knew it was too early. I was in so much pain, I didn’t even think to wear shoes. I just got in the car.

After seeing the contractions and the state of the gallbladder, I was admitted. And from that moment until July 6, I was offered IV Demerol and Phenergan to control my pain and nausea. Don’t get me wrong, I was miserable. But every 4-6 hours, life got a little better. When that medicine would hit my veins, I was transported back to the night of my first drink when Wild Turkey made everything a little lighter. The worry lifted. And most importantly, I did not have to be in control.

During this pregnancy, our family began participating in a small group with 3 other couples. For the first time in so long, I was learning and engaged in conversations about the mission of the Church with grown ups. In the world of students, it was rare to carve out Church space for yourself. During Lent of 2005, our church did a book study and we began meeting weekly with this group. It was around a dining room table with a group that grew to be family that I began to ask some really hard questions.

Because I was tired of the show, I was longing for a place that I could begin to let my walls come down. I had absolutely no idea what it would look like or how to do it, but I wanted to try. It was in this season, that I began hearing different voices. Ones that were not published by Cokesbury or found on the pages of “The Faith We Sing.” My traditionally traditional way of doing Church was failing me. And It was from this space, that voices like Rob Bell and Jon Foreman and Donald Miller and Brian McLaren became salve to my infected wounds of religious hurt.

Through their words and songs and writings, I began to crack open this small place of hope that maybe this thing that I dreamed of giving my life to might really change the world. I started to talk with people who had similar thoughts.  I began to see that the Church did not live and die in a denominational system, but instead in the hearts of people who were committed to changing the world for the One who turned their world upside down. I began praying again. And, listening again. I began to say these things out loud to friends.  It was so very clear that the ones who ‘got it’ totally did. But the ones that did not, thought I was off my rocker. So most days. I would tuck my new-found discoveries in my back pocket and keep on doing things like tracking attendance and planning fundraisers and trying not to rock the boat.

When you have a major shift happening in your life, change can be hard. When all of your tectonic plates start moving at the same time, new continents start forming. And when an earthquake like addiction begins to tremor, it is only a matter of time before buildings crumble and tsunamis take hold in the ocean. For me, the hardest thing to reconcile about the next year and a half of my life is that it was some of the best and absolutely the worst, all crammed into one explosive package.

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