When dancing for your life. . .


These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Really the past 5 months. It’s been that long since I posted last, and life seems a million miles away from where it was last December. At least 163.45 miles away, across a river and past a State line.

On Monday May 6th I will deliver our second daughter via CBAC (caesarean birth after caesarean). Due to the circumstances surrounding Eleonore’s birth, I was not able to find a provider who would support me in doing a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and we didn’t feel comfortable “going rogue” and attempting a home birth, because for all intents and purposes everything should have gone fine with Eleonore’s birth. So this is how Hopping #2 will come into the world.

This past Saturday (April 27th) we moved from Bloomington-Normal, IL to St. Louis, MO. After much prayer and discernment my husband Nate accepted a position as a Worship Coordinator at a church in St. Louis, MO. Two weeks before that, we had our final service as Church of the Savior Bloomington-Normal. Everyone in the group was supportive and felt God leading them in different directions as well. Some to different states, some to different churches. God’s timing is always perfect, but change is still hard, and the disbanding of that group, the leaving PEAR USA and saying goodbye to something we had put our ENTIRE lives into for 2 years, is enough for a year of posts. I am sure at some point I will get to those posts. If I’m honest I don’t have the emotional energy right now. 

Since last Saturday I have felt overwhelmed at the state of life, and yet it has felt consistent. You move, you unpack, you settle, you get to know a place. You get to know your new Target (the closest I will ever come again to a new dating relationship in my life is the getting to know of a new Target). You walk to the park and play and you have frozen yogurt pops or “froze” as your almost 2.5 year old calls them on the front steps of your condo so that you can watch all the dogs and the people walk by.

Enjoying “froze” on the front steps!



And sometimes, like right now, you do those things while 9 months pregnant.

When we were waiting for Eleonore as soon as she was overdue, we started doing dances everyday, to encourage her to “COME OUT”. It became a joyous and silly thing. It was what my long uncomfortable days looked forward to, and I was able to creatively as well as physically exert myself.

People started asking about if we would be dancing out Peapod (as we have been lovingly referring to her). It seemed easiest to say “We’ll see”. Easier than explaining the c-section. Easier than justifying the c-section (which I always feel a ridiculous intense need to do). 

You see, some people consider us “hippies” or “crunchy”. I personally think we could be a lot more of those things, but we do subscribe to a more “attachment” or “gentle” style of parenting. In some of those circles a c-section is right up there with, well I don’t know, cannibalism? And I feel judged, even if that isn’t the reality, even if no one is. I keep hearing in my head “Who is judging, WHO IS JUDGING?” a line from a play I was in during undergrad called Marat/Sade about Jean Paul Marat & the Marquis De Sade in an insane asylum. Seriously. I played an inmate who drooled for the 2.5 hour duration of the play. Real drool.

See that drool? 



(The “Dancing Out” amongst other things about me, don’t seem so out of place do they?)

It became a favorite line among my circle of friends. To exclaim “Who is judging, WHO IS JUDGING?”, when we were in fact aware that WE were judging someone or something.

“Who is judging, WHO IS JUDGING?”

Me.

Myself.

I.

The reality of this life is that I want to give everyone else abundant grace. And I want to give everyone else abundant understanding. But when it comes to Meredith (and I know so many of us do this to ourselves) I feel empty of those things. I feel devoid of any capability to give myself grace. So I don’t. And it hurts, and it keeps hurting, and I inflict wounds I don’t know I’m inflicting and infecting.

Until it becomes too much to bear.

It seemed dumb to do dances to “Dance Out” a baby when I know the exact moment she will come out. It seemed “un-organic” it seemed unnecessary, it felt stupid. Name some negative feeling, and it felt that way.

Then yesterday something happened and I realized I wanted to dance.

I realized I needed to dance.

I realized I had to dance.

There have been studies and articles that have come out (this is just one example), that describe the epic importance of dance. They couldn’t be more true, at least in my experience.

I’d like to say that the dance fixed everything. And in some ways it was incredibly cathartic. It was 99% improvised and done in one take (mostly because you are really tired when there is a two year old in the mix and you’ve recently moved), and I was able to give myself more grace than I did during my last “Dancing Out” process (Don’t ask Nate how many times he had to film some of those dances, because he’ll tell you the truth, and I’ll be embarrassed). And I laughed when I saw that I unfortunately had on a nude cami, so halfway through it looks like my pregnant bare belly is hanging out of my turtleneck. If you know me at all, not needing to re-record after seeing that means I am learning to give myself at least SOME grace. So we put up the video and went to bed.

And the tears came. The violent body shaking tears that come from your gut and feel like they won’t stop because they are convulsing throughout your body and taking over. Your face becomes awash with puff and salt water and breathing becomes hard, if not completely impossible. I felt the need to scream at God. To scream at Nate. To scream at the world.

In three days that thing which happened almost 2.5 years ago is going to happen again.
This time it won’t be an emergency c-section. This time I will be knowingly having myself cut in half. I will arrive at the hospital at my given time, I will prep for surgery, I won’t be having a contraction when they put the catheter in, I won’t have been in labor for 23 hours when they give me the spinal. It will all be “routine”. It will all be part of everyone’s day. None of it will be “organic”. None of it will be “hippie”, none of it will be “crunchy”.

And it’s ok to mourn that.

More and more studies are coming out showing that women can suffer from PTSD after an emergency c-section. I now believe I have experienced that to some extent. I also know looking back that I experienced undiagnosed Post-Partum Depression. I didn’t want to get diagnosed. I felt ashamed, so I pretended it wasn’t there. I kept my story to myself.

And you can tell me how thankful I should be, that I have really great “by the book” pregnancies. That I can “move” the way I can at 9 months. That there is a beautiful healthy 2.5 year old toddler who makes my days equal parts crazy and beautiful,  and that there is another healthy baby that will arrive on Monday.

And please know I am.

But my experience has changed me. My story has changed me. It has hurt me, it has strengthened me, it has hardened me. My story has wounded me.

Let us talk about our stories more.

Without fear of judgement, from ourselves and one another.

Let us share what has made us who we are, good and bad, with abandon, so that we might know the beauty of the reality, that we are NOT alone.

Today I will dance. It won’t be perfect. It might be a little angry, or it might be downright silly.
And I might scream at God tonight, (I won’t literally scream at God or Nate, because we live in a condo now, and even after all this talk of not being afraid of judging, let’s be honest, “first impressions” and all . . .)

But God wants me to dance, and God wants me to scream. God wants to hear my story and be in relationship with me.

Please scream at me. Please dance with me. 

Please scream at God. Please dance with God.

Your story is beautiful, your scars are beautiful, you are beautiful.

Let’s dance for our lives.

“Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting. 
 
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
 Rumi
 
peace to you,
meredith
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One thought on “When dancing for your life. . .

  1. Recently I read this little book by Tim Keller called The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. It's based on the passage that includes Paul saying, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself."I've never really zeroed in on the line, "I do not even judge myself" because I've always been focused on trying to not care what others thought of me. But man, that line about not even judging myself has been blowing my mind lately. It's totally impossible. It's the whole reason we look in the mirror or read our own sent emails and Facebook profiles, to name only a few. But then there's the gospel, where the impossible comes to us by way of grace. And what a good thing to just keep reminding ourselves every morning when we wake up, or when we look in the mirror, or are meditating on our own image: "In fact, I do not even judge myself." I don't have to judge myself. I don't have to carefully curate an image. An image has been bestowed on me – God's – and I don't have to try to add to that. Similar to you, the theme of my pregnancy has been grace. Learning how to receive it from God and lean into it; how much of a safety net it is; how completely separate from our works it is. And in that, been learning to give myself lots of it. Thinking of you today. Praying for you. Love how God's using your story. There is no condemnation.

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