a little bit of magic

"I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true for human beings. We do not wish to see children "precocious," like sprouts producing a soft and perishable timber, but rather, better, as if contending gradually with difficulties, they are solidified and gradually perfected."  - from the journal of Henry David Thoreau

I read this recently and it really struck a chord. There is something to be said for letting our little ones develop into life unhurried and unencumbered. I want my son have that innocent light for as long as he can.

[Photo by my husband]

isaac's birth story: part two

Want to start at the beginning? Read the Prologue first and then read Part One.

I know she is struggling.

How I wish I could sit beside her in that dark room and tell her not to worry. The future is beautiful.

I would show her a photo from his first birthday - the cute one with all the yellow balloons. I would tell her that he is smart and funny and perfect in every way. I would tell her that he won’t remember his time in the hospital, that he wouldn’t notice that his changing table was actually just a hastily cleared off portion of the desk, and that he never knew that she didn’t get a chance to pick out a special homecoming outfit for him.

I would tell her that there would be scary moments, but that they would pale in comparison to the moments of complete and utter joy.

I would tell her that soon she would be proud of her own physical strength.

I would tell her that yes, just as she had always suspected, her husband was indeed an incredible father.

I would tell her that her heart would be broken, just a little. Don’t worry, I would say. The fire will not consume you– it will only refine.

And then I would tell her to rest, because the sun would be up soon.


When we arrived at the hospital, the midwife on duty gestured to the crowded OB triage waiting room and dryly asked me if we all came in on the same bus. She was a bit intimidating, which only increased my anxiety.

They hooked me to a machine and checked for our baby’s heartbeat. I heard the tiny thud-thud-thuds, steady like raindrops, and smiled my relief.

More tests, and then, waiting. We spoke in low tones and phoned family members to let them know what was going on. Naively, we talked about how inconvenient this was, and how they would probably just send me home on bed rest. Our wrecked apartment loomed large in my mind. It was such a disaster. How would I get anything done now?

The midwife returned. Your water broke, she said, confirming what we already knew. It’s a risky situation for the baby, so we need to watch you carefully.

My brain was still ten steps behind, and I mentally kicked myself for skipping the chapter on premature babies in the pregnancy book. I remember glancing up and seeing the uncertainty on Aaron’s face. How long would we be here? When could we go home?

She smiled a wry smile. We have to do more tests, she said matter-of-factly, but you won’t be going home anytime soon. I’m sure you’ll be here until the baby arrives.


My room was at the end of the hall. Occasionally the distant moans and cries of a laboring woman punctuated the silence, her pain so raw that the sound tingled my spine.

To my left, my husband slept fitfully, wedged uncomfortably into a broken, over sized armchair.

To my right, a machine played the low, soft, sweet heartbeat of the child inside of me.

I lay in the center, finally alone with my thoughts, torturing myself with the unknown.

Had I done something to cause this? It was my fault.
Would our baby really be okay? Six weeks early seemed like a long time.
Would my hoped-for natural birth still be possible? Things were more complicated now.
Were we ready take a baby home? We didn’t even have the basic necessities.

My emotions crashed together like waves.

Guilt. Fear. Selfishness. Anger. Disappointment. Confusion.

I tossed and turned throughout the night, searching for resolution. My contractions were coming, but they were weak and sporadic.

The sun was coming up.


Tighten. Release.

Tighten. Release.

I learned something in the late stages of labor, when the pain was excruciating and I thought I couldn’t bear it any longer.

The moment you want to panic, the thing to do - the thing you MUST do - is relax. It’s not easy, of course. You feel as though you are about to be swallowed whole. But if you cling to and claw at the pain, if you try to control it - it will control you.

When you are holding on, let go.

Click here to read the next installment: Isaac's Birth Story: Part Three

the two-week life

Every two weeks, for the whole of our married existence, something rather important would arrive.

A paycheck.

In the beginning, the checks were small, but as his role at the company grew, they grew as well. Like everyone else, we worked hard at our finances - mapping out strategies for reducing debt, increasing savings and planning for retirement. It wasn't always easy (we tackled a lot of debt in the early years), but at the very least I felt quite a bit of stability and security from the regularity of those checks.

You all know the punchline, right? Let's just stop here for a moment and shake our heads in collective agreement: stability, in all its earthly permutations, is really just a big fat illusion.

It's been nine months since he was laid-off from his job. At that time we made the choice for him to forgo looking for another job in the corporate world, and instead decided to take a (gigantic) leap of faith and expand his evenings + weekends only freelance photography into a full-time gig - effectively making it our only source of income. (I had quit my job earlier in the year to be home with our son).

Since then I haven't talked about it at all, because I worried that writing about my myriad fears would only magnify them and because I knew that if I didn't talk about it, I also wouldn't have to talk about any failures we encountered along the way. It's embarrassing to admit, but it illustrates that I didn't have much faith in what God could do in our lives.

George Muller said that "God delights to increase the faith of His children." I see that now.

The photography business is our employer, and since our budget has always been based on the anticipation of a two-week paycheck, we kept it that way. We established ahead of time how much money we would need every two weeks to survive.

And then we survived.

Every time he has a photography job, we deposit the money into our business account. And without fail, for the past nine months, we have survived. Sure, I'm not getting weekly spa appointments (I bought a nail file last week and felt sort of guilty), but it's better than that. We are together. Pursing a dream. Increasing our faith.

Every two weeks, the money has been there, even during the times I never thought it would be. I remember one time being SO COMPLETELY SURE that we would have to resort to plundering our savings in order to buy groceries. And then, voila - our tax refund came and it was literally the exact amount we needed to survive for the next two weeks.

There is no stability. Not that kind of stability, at least. There is only this two-week life. And I am learning to love it.

Like swinging from vine to vine only to discover that the forward-motion is terrifying and exhilarating.

Like peering through the dirty glass to see the shape and form of something just beyond, where things are a little obscured but everything is beautiful.

[All photos by me, taken July 2010]