Chaniel Garrett’s Pre-Birth Story | The very good that was very hard
“Because what’s good is not always what’s easy.”
One of my new and already-very-dear Philly friends said this recently, and I couldn’t help but be struck in the heart with its truth.
This entire pregnancy has been an exercise in denial, I think. I refused to act pregnant – until I couldn’t carry laundry baskets up and down all the stairs in our tall and skinny city house. Which, not being able to do laundry, wasn’t all that bad, really. 🙂
The times I went in for ultrasounds and doctor visits were filled with so much anxiety for me. I think because of the memories of Kyle they invoked and the fact that at those moments. I had to face the reality that there was a baby inside of me. A baby that something could happen to at any moment. I didn’t go to a single doctor visit without a crazy emotional breakdown within 24 hours of leaving. Then, after that moment of reality, I’d go back into my comfortable state of denial.
Even blogging here about the pregnancy was tough for me. So I kept you updated, at a bare minimum, because I knew the prayers and encouragement and support from this incredible community here would be a help.
Honestly, I was struggling to stay afloat. Spiritually, I was struggling. It’s crazy, right? You’d think my deep struggles would have been with Kyle. And while there were struggles there, the ones I faced with this pregnancy were deeper. Because, you see, to have any sort of hope, to muster up any sort of courage to face that doppler or ultrasound wand again,
I had to believe that God was good.
And I didn’t. And every little thing that was hard – crazy doctors who wouldn’t even acknowledge Kyle as a real person, city parking bills of $26 for every doctor visit – not a parking ticket – a parking garage bill for every visit…my daughter asking us to pray for her at night to not dream at all. Because she knew if she dreamed it would be about her brother dying.
Those hard heavy things – stacked up on a scale, “proving” how God wasn’t good to me. We were even refused a scheduled ultrasound appointment at one point. One that I felt was desperately necessary. I ended up in a near panic attack outside the doctor’s office after that one.
In my trauma and disbelief-warped mind, anything good – finding a decent compassionate doctor finally, at 37 1/2 weeks, after seeing eight other awful doctors, had to be because I took matter in my own hands and figured things out.
Don’t get me wrong. I believed God was good. Just not to me. Like, I was destined to face the hardest thing in every situation. I mean, really, after all we’ve been through?…accepting God’s hard plan for us seems to be the necessary default attitude for us. So, I felt that I needed to mentally prepare for what the hard thing would be in this scenario. A hard labor? Maybe an emergency situation with my health or the baby’s? I didn’t want to say that God was in a proving ground. But that’s kinda where I was putting Him. When really I should have been resting in just the fact that He saved me. Because that is enough goodness to keep me praising forevermore. But I certainly was resigned to the reality that hard things come to us. So I needed to brace myself for what that hard thing would be this time.
Looking back now, I am so thankful for the friends who listened to my struggles so patiently and obliged my requests to send “truth arrows” when they could. I knew my faith was so weak, I needed that truth to get me through the next appointment, the next ultrasound.
And I’m so overwhelmed by God’s goodness to me. And His tender mercy towards me and my crazy hard hurting heart. Because so many times I just completely chose not to see His goodness towards me.
I let those heavy hards weigh me down so much I couldn’t breathe at times.
But He never left. He never stopped loving. That’s steadfast love. To love me, despite my denying that love.
Yes, some of my difficulty in believing came from a sheer lack of sleep – from around 32 weeks on, I was able to get 4-6 hours of sleep at night. I generally need 8-10 to function at my best. So after 9 weeks of this, my mind was barely able to keep up with daily tasks, much less processing tough fearful things. Along with that sleep deprivation of sorts, a PTSD diagnosis that I’m still learning more about gave me some clarification into the anxiety issues that would arise at every appointment. So I do give myself grace in that these things made believing all the more difficult. However, this story isn’t about me and my failed trust. This story is about the God who never left me.
And this boy. His story is just one giant mercy story of grace.
Chaniel: God is grace
It’s a Hebrew name. Rhymes with Daniel, said with a “ch” as in “church”. Or “ch” as in “chocolate”. Whichever you happen to need more of at the time of reading this. I seem to always be in need of both. 🙂
We wanted a name that would tell his story. One name that would encompass the whole of his story, which, by nature, has to include his brother’s story as well. And so many times in sharing his name, God’s name is also shared. And his brother’s. It’s so beautifully healing to all of us.
Garrett: A bold spear
So the Saturday before he was born, I felt so many fears and excitements about his coming birth, having a feeling the next week would bring him to our arms. We didn’t have a middle name picked yet. But I had narrowed it down to a handful of names.
I drove myself to my last prenatal massage appointment that morning, and on the way back stopped off for a quick treat at Dunkin’. I grabbed my doughnuts – the quantity is remaining purposefully ambiguous here – and my new anniversary Bible gift from my husband – drove around the corner in the parking lot and and read these verses:
It is a good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To declare your steadfast love in the morning.
And your faithfulness by night…
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
It was like a spear pierced right through my cold, shriveled heart.
God could make me glad?
I begged Him to. In the back of that parking lot. I begged Him for a chance to give thanks so I could be glad. And I knew right then that I needed to remember the good things or I would be swallowed up in my fear.
And God gave me peace for the first time in the pregnancy. Finally I could breathe a little. Because I started to list those reasons for giving thanks.
* a healthy baby
* a kind ultrasound technician for my last ultrasound who patiently checked every crazy thing I asked for – for 35 minutes – which was extremely beyond the price grade for a 5 minute Level 1 ultrasound that was just supposed to check for a weight estimate.
* dear friends who were faithfully praying for me and letting me know on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.
* a husband who loves me so tenderly and patiently through my deep struggles.
It was good for me to declare his steadfast love in the morning…that morning, as I sat in that parking lot. And a worker brought out a bag of trash for the dumpster. And a frustrated driver honked at a person texting at the light in front of him. I declared it. Three times in my journal.
He does love me.
He does love me.
He does love me.
It was good for me to declare his faithfulness by night. Those long sleepless nights when my thoughts would turn to fears darker than the night sky. I had to recognize His faithfulness. I knew no matter how I felt about God and His plan for my life, He wouldn’t leave me. He didn’t leave me for a second with Kyle. Especially during his labor. He wouldn’t leave me with Chaniel.
God could make me glad. He could pierce my soul like a bold spear with His grace.
And I named him that day. Before he was born healthy. Before I delivered him and lived through it. Before my soul felt pierced. Because I was able in that moment, to believe, to hope that it would be. I wanted to be pierced right through so that nothing could take away the scar of God’s grace from my heart again. Naming him that day in my journal was my act of faith. And I had rest. Finally.
This boy. He’s so so good for all of us. Yes, he fills our hearts with love and joy and laughter and squeals from the girls every time he sneezes or has another diaper to change. (And trust me, there’s tons of them!) He fills our empty aching arms. Pretty much every moment of every day and many moments of every night, he’s filling those arms.
But the biggest healing that’s happened is in my heart. Because I know God is good to me.
Sometimes I feel as thought my pierced heart is bleeding God’s grace, pouring out evidences of itself all around me. It’s so bright to me now. So so clear
And I can say to my sweet little boy one day, that without a shadow of a doubt, I know, that God’s goodness, and His mercy, and His unfailing love will be with me forever.
It wasn’t easy to understand this as deeply as I do now. But it was all very good.
While I know many of you were coming here today looking for the promised birth story…I felt compelled to share my heart before I shared that story. It’s still coming…check back Friday…for the very very good. And actually the very very hilariously easy birth. 🙂 Thank you for all the prayers and support over the last 9 months. I’m so beyond thankful for all of you. <3, Kim
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