Sins and Sinners

I've hesitated writing on this topic for a long time, because no matter when I write it, I'm afraid it will look like it's directed at someone in my life. So let me just preface this by saying: this is directed at no one in particular. It's just something I've seen a lot, all over, in myself and in others, and it's something I wanted to address. 
A few years ago, I had been in a big fight with one of my best friends about the boy she was going to marry. We ended up not talking for 2 years. At the same time, I also had a family member I hadn't talked to for years, as well as other friends who I hadn't just fallen out of touch with, but who I purposefully chose to cut out of my life for one reason or another. 
Finally one day it hit me: I had all these people in my life that I was afraid to bump into, that caused me anxiety and stress to worry about hanging onto my anger. I was certainly not faultless in any of the situations, no matter how justified I felt in my anger. It was exhausting.
It seems like the older I get, the harder the situations become. Where silly spats used to cause temporary rifts between friends, I am now dealing with friends going through bitter divorces, angry fights and situations where one or both parties have definitely been wronged. And even when I am not the person directly involved, I find it very hard to just let go of my anger.
I am very quick to jump to conclusions and choose sides. Caleb, who doesn't have any of those tendencies and couldn't if he tried, has helped me a lot in this regard.
But the thing that has hit me the most lately is realizing that we are not our sins
We are all going to make mistakes. You will never find a friend or spouse who doesn't upset you sometimes, or hurt your feelings, or even occasionally upset you so much that you want to cut off all ties and never speak to them again.
But it's rarely ever worth it. Because despite how severe we may deem the sin, it is not ever impossible to overcome. Christ taught, "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also" (Luke 6:29)
I have always struggled with that scripture. Shouldn't I be able to cut people out of my life who have hurt me? Isn't there something to be said for protecting myself against future harm?
But I think I understand that scripture better now. It shows us how much Christ believes in each one of us to be able to change. He knows that those we love will often hurt us more than our enemies ever could. He knows that we will probably hurt those we love in return.
But he also knows that he provided us all a way to return to our Father in Heaven completely clean. He didn't just do that for those with the minor, no-big-deal sins. The atonement is for each and every one of us. 
I don't say this to judge anyone's choices. There are definitely abusive relationships which should be left behind and forgotten.
But for the most part, I think we all need to remember that we are not our biggest sins. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and let time heal us, and somehow come to separate the sin from the sinner. Because people aren't replaceable. Because when it comes to our marriages especially, I believe we have to fight. These days marriage isn't looked at as something that will last forever, but it should be. That is how we should always think of it, and only in the most dire circumstances should we even consider letting go. Because those we love are worth fighting for. Because we come out of those trials with stronger relationships and determination to be better, to do better. 
But mostly, because if today you are the one being hurt by another's actions, tomorrow you will likely be the one hurting someone else. And I hope that when I am on that end, my family and friends will still be there, willing to forgive, willing to believe that I can change, and that I am worth loving again.

And They Still Bring It Up

Most of you know, because of my hardened self-esteem and ability to take a beating, that I grew up with 3 older brothers. I could tell a lot of stories about those years. Being pinned down and forced to eat sour candies that I hated. The time they let me eat that silica powder pack with my frozen pretzel that specifically says "do not eat". (I couldn't read, and it looked like a powdery topping. When my mom figured it out she lost it and called poison control and I thought I was dying.) All of my dolls being bald because Cody would rip out their hair to torment me.
When you hear this next story, please bear in mind the years of psychological torment that led to this moment. 
I was five. We had just pulled into camp in Oregon where we were staying for a family reunion. It had been a long road trip, and it was starting to get late. As my dad started to park the trailer, I complained that I had to go to the bathroom. Since the trailer wasn't set up yet, my mom told my brothers to walk me over to the public bathrooms across the campsite. 
When we got there, there was a sign on the door for Women, only it looked like this. 

Now, to me, it is still pretty obvious that this woman, while also bald, handless, and all around unfortunately-shaped, also only had one leg.
As my brothers tried to convince me to go inside, I told them nice try, but I was smart enough to know that this was a handicapped bathroom.
They got a good laugh out of it at first. Ha ha, our little sister is so dumb, now go to the bathroom.
But after a few minutes, it wasn't so funny. I mean, I was only five, and I really had to go. This was no time for their mean pranks. But I also couldn't understand why the handicapped women's restroom was right next to the men's room, with no regular restroom in sight.
Luckily, after what felt like an eternity of my brothers trying to convince me that the bathroom wasn't handicapped, my mom came over to figure out what was going on. She, of course, laughed too and then had to escort me into the bathroom, where I was still sure a cop would burst in at any moment and arrest us. 
And now, the point:
Lately, I see a lot of people posting pictures and stories about their kids that may seem cute or funny to us, but are generally really embarrassing for the kid. Granted, I post a lot of pictures of my kid. Like, a lot. But I try to keep in mind what he might not appreciate being posted all over the World Wide Web twenty years from now.  
Not only that, but it's mortifying for them now. Kids aren't just emotionless little robots. They understand and remember a lot younger and a lot more than we give them credit for. Just because they are little doesn't mean they don't deserve basic human respect, especially from their parents. 
All I can do is be grateful there was no one around to film me that day while I stood there doing the pee-pee dance and crying about my lack of bathroom accommodations. Id prefer to blog about them myself twenty years later, thanks!

I am not broken

A few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic and remember thinking, "There is a human growing inside me, and it has to come out at some point." Honestly, the thought completely terrified me. Everything I've ever seen about birth portrayed it as the most painful thing a person can experience. It was horrible counting down the days to what I was sure was going to be a horrific event.
But at the same time, that knowledge kind of went against common sense for me. Why would birth be so terrible for us, yet not so for animals? Why would anyone in their right mind have more than one child after going through trauma like that? And WHY would anyone ever go without an epidural?
Luckily, the mother of the cute little girl I nanny had her natural and we talked about her birth experience a lot. I remember her telling me she had a friend who got an epidural and right before she had to push she was just sitting on her phone on Facebook, and that wasn't what she thought birth should be like. At first when I heard that, I thought, "That sounds great! Sign me up for that birth!"
But, being the person that I am, I decided to research it to death. I am so glad that I did, because by the time I went into labor I had no fear of birth, and was actually really excited about it. Even after having the somewhat traumatic birth experience that I had (two weeks post date, 28 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing and finally a forcep delivery of my almost 10 lb child) I still have good, calm feelings about Dayens birth & I am actually excited to have more kids! (Go figure.)
But now that Dayen is all good & born, I have this head full of knowledge that is of no use to me until I have another child. And what's worse is having to deal with the amount of people who tell me, "Well just make SURE you don't go past your due date next time!" Or "I can't believe your doctor let you go that far past!" Because I have a huge rant built up in my head, but I don't get to say any of it or I sound completely crazy.
So, here comes the rant & the crazy!
First and foremost... You are NOT broken because you go past your due date. Calling it your "due date" definitely makes it feel like if the baby is not here by that date, something is wrong. I was surprised what an emotional blow it was to me when I didn't have him early, let alone "on time". It was a really disappointing and frustrating couple of weeks, and I wish I'd had less people texting me saying, "he's STILL not here?" and more people reminding me that all babies were born eventually! 
The truth that I didn't know at the time is that MOST first time moms, if left without any interventions, actually go to 41 weeks+ 5 days, which is exactly when I had Dayen. If I had known that, I could have relaxed a little more there at the end.
Usually when I explain that, people like to remind me that going past my due date was probably the reason I had such a huge baby. BUT, Dayen was 9 lbs 6 oz at birth, and over 11 lbs at his 2 week appointment. He has consistently been in the top 97th percentile for his height and weight. 
Yes, him being a bigger baby definitely made birth harder. But I really believe our bodies don't make babies that we can't birth. Dayen was posterior (meaning face up- picture trying to put a tshirt on a toddler from their forehead rather than the back of their head... It works, but takes a lot more effort!) and he had the cord wrapped around his neck so getting him to turn was difficult. I'm very grateful for modern medicine and for the OB who came to use the forceps, but I do believe I could have had him on my own.
Finally, everyone keeps telling me to just get induced next time. And I have to admit, that was a pretty appealing option. I like to have a plan, and it would have been great to know an exact date my baby would be here so everyone could plan on it. But, the truth is that induction makes you 50% more likely to have a csection. We already live in a csection happy country, where nearly 33% of births are now csections, usually not because of medical emergencies but just because birth can take awhile, and it's easier for doctors if they can schedule an exact time for delivery. Don't get me wrong, csections have their place. We are lucky to live in a world where babies and mothers can be saved in emergencies because of csections. But it is definitely not ideal! You don't want to be recovering from a major abdominal surgery while also being sleep deprived and trying to take care of a newborn. It's also very hard to find a doctor who will let you attempt a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) so usually once you have a csection, that's how the rest of your births will go too.
The comedian Jim Gaffigan has an awesome commentary on natural birth. His wife had all 5 of their children at home with a midwife. My favorite is when he says "the reaction we usually get is, 'oh we were going to do that too, but we wanted our baby to live!'" It really is crazy to me how many people thought I was completely insane for using a midwife instead of an OB, even though I gave birth in a hospital. I think the term "midwife" gives the image of a woman in a shawl covered with cats & moons who chants over your belly to make sure the baby will be born with 10 fingers and toes. And, there probably are midwives like that. But for me, having a midwife meant that I had support there with me the entire time. I didn't have to "wait to push" until a doctor got there, I didn't have to be checked constantly to make sure the doctor could be there on time. And again, I'm so glad I had a relationship with a great OB who was at home watching Dayens heart rate drop and was awake ready to come in at 2:45 am when they called him. But I can't imagine what that experience would have been like without my midwife! And she still texts me wanting updated pictures or just to say Hi. Show me an OB who will do that.
Ultimately, I realize every birth experience is different. But the fact is, you have a right to choose what your birth will look like. It doesn't have to be where you just walk in and get directed by doctors how to have your baby. You aren't sick, you aren't dying. You are doing what your body was built to do. 

Hopefully, this will stop me from going off on a rant to the next person who tells me I better induce next time. 😁