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Dreams and Diapers

For as long as I can remember I’ve had ONE dream for my life.  There have always been constellations of additions to the dream, floating like butterflies gently landing in my heart and then flitting away.  All the while, leaving the core of who I am: I have always been a wife and mother.

Just like so many other girls of earlier generations I imagined what and who my husband would be.  I imagined our home, our children and the way in which we would love one another.  I imagined having a family.  I never fully pictured the faces names or types of people they would all be.  I simply always left the place in my heart open for the man who would be the man I loved and for the little people that we would bring into our life through that love.

Even as a young kid I can remember thinking it wasn’t ok to want to be “just a mother” as  primary goal for my life.  My parents were divorced and both deeply unhappy people.  My father has been married and divorced four times now.  My mother was single the entirety of my child and young adulthood.  She did remarry while I was in college to a man who had three daughters of his own.  From where I sat (very far from them in another state as well as on another planet emotionally) from my mother; it seemed she had settled for something less than she wanted.    She and I have had a deeply strained relationship since I was 14 and I preferred distance and walls for my safety.  They both still seemed deeply unhappy.  My father even went so far as to tell me that I should never get married.

Thanks to all of that I kept my hearts desire quietly to myself and to a very few friends.  I also wanted to do something in my life that would change the lives of other people for the better.  I eventually found social work and felt that it was my vocational home.  It’s core values mirrored my own.  I felt I could do this work as a natural extension of who I was at the heart.  I was excited.  All the while keeping an eye out for that man who would join me on my journey.

I’ve loved three men in my life with all of my heart.  The second of which I loved more than I thought was possible to ever love anyone.  I knew exactly who he was, all his cracks and broken-ness.  All his weaknesses and strengths.  As many of his secrets as I could pry from his guarded  heart.  I guarded my own just as fiercely out of fear of having it shattered beyond repair .  I left him out of fear that I would repeat the mistakes I watched my father make.  I was desperate to avoid being a man’s “savior” or have a man try to be mine.  There is only One Savior and that is Christ.  Leaving him broke my heart but left me feeling I have somehow made progress; moved closer to the man I was meant to find.  (Secretly hoping that it would motivate the man I left to become that man b/c I believed  he could).

The man I dated after that seemed to be a nice man but was never someone I loved.  He was someone, I freely admit,  that I used to fill the empty space left in my broken heart.  He was verbally and emotionally abusive.   It was the quiet kind of abuse that sneaks into you  and starts to chip away at all the strength that you build in your soul.  For reasons only God will know, this is the man who became the father of the only child I have ever carried in my womb.  This fact broke my heart from the beginning but only for the child I carried.  I realized that the bad decisions I had made and the weakness that I allowed to keep me with the wrong man will now cost my child a debt she never asked for.  She will be burdened for the rest of her life with all the weakness, cruelty and self- centeredness that the man who helped create her keeps in his heart.  For me this is as close to an unforgivable sin as can exist in my world.

I left this man. I tried to learn to forgive myself for this failure.  I enjoyed each and every second of my pregnancy.  I reveled in how I was working hand in hand with the Heavenly Father to craft His child and work at making Good for her out of all of my failures. I prayed constantly.  I watched excitedly as my belly grew (as well as the rest of me!) I loved knowing how strong my body was and how strong I knew my baby was.  I loved the feel of her kick and the look of my nice round belly.  I’d never felt so strong, so rooted, so connected to the creator through the work He was doing in my body and in my heart.  My Father loved me back to health.  We whispered to each other every night.  I shared my fears and failings and He held me and shared His Love and Forgiveness.  I shared my dreams for my little family and He shared His strength and His protection for us.  I began to grow in confidence.  This growth culminated in the birth of the amazing fighting spirit gift that is my daughter Abigail Grayce….

More to come

Continue reading Dreams and Diapers


Miracles Happen on God’s Time, NOT Ours

*His name was changed, because frankly, I can’t remember what it actually WAS!  lol

“Hey Kandice, you have a phone call!”  I locked up my cash register and ran down the incline to the customer service desk where the phone had been pulled up to reach the desk and grabbed the receiver thinking: who on EARTH would call me here rather than just waiting until I get off work.  I looked at my manager, a man I’d known about two years, and suddenly didn’t want the phone call after all.  He had a look of sheer panic worry on his face as he pushed the reciever in my direction.

“This is Kandice.”  “Hey Kandy, it’s *Michael from from the doctor’s office.”  “Oh, hi. What’s up?”  “Can you have someone drive you to Vanderbilt right now?”  “Um, well no I’m working but I’ll just walk over when my shift is over.”  “No, I’d really rather you come now and don’t come alone.”  “Wow, ok I’ll ask about coming now but you have to tell me why so I don’t worry all the way there please.”  “Remember we drew blood when you told us you had missed two periods and the pregnancy test came back negative?”  “Yes, and are  you about to tell me I’m the next recipient of immaculate conception?”  (no laughter from him… this CAN’T be good)  “Ok well, you’re blood test came back and I need to see you.”  “Are you going to tell me or make me suffer?”  “You have a brain tumor.  Can someone drive you?”   “Um, no, I’ll be ok.  I’ll just walk over.”  “Ok, I’ll wait for you at the ER door and we’ll walk up to the MRI room together.  Ok.?”  “Yeah.”

I handed the phone back to my boss and stared blankly.  He asked me if I was ok and I said rather matter of factly, apparently I have a brain tumor and need to go up to Vandy right now for an MRI.  So, I guess the answer is no.  He said he’d drive me there but I really felt like I needed the walk and the quiet between the small grocery store where I worked and the hospital where I was going to have the MRI.  I don’t really remember the walk.  I do remember walking into the ER and not seeing Michael, the intern anywhere so I just asked where to find the MRI waiting room and went there.  I sat down and waited.  I had the impression that the MRI was waiting for me, but was told once I arrived that I actually would need to wait until a spot opened up between emergencies.  So, I decided I didn’t really want to be there alone after all and called my friend Shawn who seemed to arrive within seconds (although I’m sure it took her at least an hour to get there from Murfreesboro where she was in school)  We sat together silently (the word brain tumor at 20 tends to silence most people)  Then, Micheal arrived.  I didn’t recognize him in his street close and backpack, as I had only ever seen him in his “intern clothes”  (read scrubs).  He walked up and smiled at me and sat down saying, I didn’t want you to be alone.  Sorry I missed you at the ER.    I just smiled.  “So, brain tumor huh?”  Not exactly sure the response I was expecting.  “Well, yes, but let’s see what the MRI shows us before we talk about specifics ok?”  “Ok then”

Turns out, I did, in fact, have a benign pituitary tumor called a prolactinoma that is basically an uncontrolled growth on your pituitary gland that stops your periods and can cause you to lactate and without successful treatment can lead to infertility, vision loss and or total blindness.  After some research on my part and the very real and appreciated support of my wonderful intern (doctor) we found the right medication for me. It shrank the tumor (which meant no surgery..YAY) reinstated my periods and had no impact on my vision whatsoever!  Talk about blessed!  Finding the right medication was no walk in the park but we did it.  This left me with only one bit of bad news to swallow:  Thanks to this tumor I was going to be unable to have children.

To know me NOW is to know that was like a death sentence to me.  To know me THEN was to not realize how devastating that ‘life sentence’ was because I felt I wasn’t allowed to say that all I really wanted was to be a mom and every single thing I studied was toward the goal of making me a better wife and mother when the time came.   I studied social work, I studied the facts about this tumor, I took my medication and began spiralling into a very dark, quiet, angry depression.  I broke up with a young man whom I loved very much b/c I felt that I could not give him what he wanted anymore.  I dated other people who were a waste of time and energy because there was no point in being choosy now.  The depression worsened and went undiagnosed and untreated.  In fact four years went by the last of which I was dating a man whom was kind but dishonest at first.  Later he wasn’t so kind and I still couldn’t bring myself to leave.  I stayed on birth control despite the ‘infertile’ diagnosis because I knew WITHOUT A DOUBT that in spite of how much I wanted children I did NOT want them with him.  We used protection as well.  Then, one night, after having gotten back together after yet another attempt at a break up we slept together and (without getting too graphic) when it was over I knew the INSTANT I was pregnant.

Absurd, I suppose it would sound that way to some.  Nonetheless, I KNEW.  When I was a young teenager I knew for weeks before I started my period that it was coming.  I could feel things happening in there that I’d never felt before.  I could actually FEEL my ovaries ‘revving up’ as it were.  Same here.  I could FEEL the change.  I could feel what seemed like electricity inside my womb.  I remember thinking: “what the hell was THAT?”  I felt a little sick and a little worried and a little excited.  I just KNEW.  I pushed it out of my head thinking.  NO WAY!  You know what the doctor said and for goodness sake you are as protected as a human being can be in the situation (having been on the depo provera shot for a year, and having used condoms as well as having been told by this partner that he was also infertile).  Some time passed and I started having symptoms of pregnancy.  I bought something like 10 tests and brought them to the house I was dog sitting in.  I used three or four before I finally sat on the edge of the tub staring at four plus signs and thinking: “Holy Lord Jesus, there is a BABY inside my body.”   Then thinking: “DAMN IT! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW while simultaneously thinking HA!  SO MUCH FOR DOCTORS!”.

I called my best friend Jenny, we had a good cry while we talked about what in the world I would do.  I briefly considered not telling the boyfriend, thinking I wanted to make the decision on my own and I DEFINITELY didn’t want him parenting with me.  Then almost in the same breath said, no, he IS the father and God MUST have a plan for this little one that includes the man who helped create it.  I don’t want to start anyone’s life with a lie.   The next call I made was to the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment to verify the painfully obvious.  Then I called the (by now) ex-boyfriend to tell him the news.

It still amazes me how in a split second the blinders of depression and loss are wiped away by an unexpected, unplanned, undeserved and undeniable MIRACLE.  God, gave me the baby I wanted all my life.  Now, I had to start the journey of trusting Him with it literally EVERY single step of the way.  I was nothing, I had nothing, I could give nothing to another human being beyond what He gave me to share which was Love.  That is LITERALLY all I had.  I sat on the edge of my bed once I got back to my dorm (which not for nothing, was in a southern baptist university, in whose values I did not agree or live)  I sat on the edge of my bed and I got out a notebook and a pen.  I started a journal which was ultimately one very long prayer to God and love letter to the baby He gave me.   Page one says nothing but: “I have NO IDEA what Your plan is, but I trust You and I THANK YOU for giving me a dream come true, a miracle I could never deserve and a dream come true.  Please, Please help me know the right thing for this baby and do it.  No matter what it is.  Amen.  Life as I had known it had changed forever.  Again.