The Other Miracle

The one that didn’t happen. 

On June 6, 2017,  just over four weeks ago, my daughter Elanor was born. 

Before Elanor was born I prayed and asked others to pray for her to turn from the breech position she’d been in since at least 32 weeks. We were hoping for a VBAC and that isn’t possible with a breech baby. Our primary reason for pursuing a VBAC was to avoid increased risk of complications in future pregnancies from repeat c-sections. We were not sure how many children we wanted total, but we had names picked for up to four more:

Gilbert Carlyle, after our maternal grandfathers.

James Godfrey, I just love the name James and Godfrey is an old family name, and the middle name of my great uncle, who is a wonderful man with a fascinating history. 

Beatrice Rose, two names I adore! Beatrice from my favorite Shakespeare play, and Rose from my family tree. 

Rowena Joy, for my great aunt, who is an inspiring figure in my family,  and Trey’s grandmother.

But Elanor stayed breech, and this turned out to be the miracle that saved her life. When we went in for a version to try and turn her we found I had dangerously low amniotic fluid. We scheduled a c-section for that evening. I was sad to miss a VBAC, but mostly happy to have a plan, a day of rest pre–surgery, and the prospect of a healthy baby girl! It was actually a very restful and pleasant day. Elanor was born without complications, healthy and vigorous, and she knew me immediately! I was so at peace. That would have been a great end to the story, but sadly that is  only the happy prologue. 

They used conscious sedation for the surgery, so I was very aware of the moment we found out about the other miracle, the one that didn’t happen. 

My uterus had developed an aneurysm; instead of a nice thick muscle a third of it was paper-thin membrane. This meant the uterus could not contract and doing so was essential to stopping both the normal blood loss of a completed pregnancy and that from the c-section. It had to come out or I would face massive hemorrhaging quite soon. Our routine c-section suddenly became an emergency hysterectomy. 

This had to happen. Even had they been able to save the uterus future pregnancies would have been dangerous to me and the baby. 

I was not and am not ready for this. 

I am not ready to be done being pregnant. 

I am not ready to be done trying to have a VBAC.

I am not ready to be done with nursing or holding my adorable jelly – bean babies or watching them grow and learn. 

I’m not ready to give up the dream of a brood of kids to do Molly Wesley proud. 

I love Elanor; she is perfect. But I am not ready for her to be my last. 

So far this doesn’t feel like a door closing or a mere redirection. To me this feels like my children were real; I just hadn’t meet them yet. And now I never will because somehow they have been taken from me. I will never know if I’ve lost one, two, or four children, or perhaps more. I don’t know their names, their eye color, their first word, if they looked like me or like Trey. I will never help them learn to walk, or speak, or write an essay, or read Tolkien impossibly early. To me this is a real loss, not just the loss of an opportunity. 

I waited to tell this story until I’d fully processed the events. Elanor is beautiful and nothing about her birth made this happen. It was always going to happen. My poor uterus was doomed and I didn’t want this story to overshadow the miracle that she is. 

But healing my broken heart will take time, possibly a very long time. 

So now if you see me getting weepy, know it’s not you, nor is it just post–partum hormones, though those don’t help, for sure. I’m healing. At least, I will eventually.

Lord, give me the strength to not become bitter;

Give me the courage to grieve;

Give me the will to accept your Will; 

Give me hope and peace to one day move out of these shadows; 

Make my love for the children I have burn away the sorrow for those I will never meet. 
In closing, we are asking all well intentioned family and friends to please not mention adoption or surrogacy. We are grieving a real loss and don’t want to trivialize that or the seriousness of those options. We need to heal first. Down the road, like 3 to 5 years down the road, we will assess the possibility of more children. Until then, we ask that these subjects be avoided in the context of our family. 

Thanks for listening. 


Commander Data and Add the Words

A House committee of the Idaho State Legislature just struck down House Bill 2, popularly known as “Add the Words.” For three days they have heard testimony from 154 different people in the state house: over 100 in favor of the bill, and less than 50 against it. The bill proposes that the state add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s Human Rights Act, protecting LGBT Idahoans from discrimination in housing, employment, and other areas.

I am truly saddened that this bill was struck down, and by such a wide margin (13-4 in a straight party line vote).

I am not LGBT. And I am still wrestling with how non-normative sexuality intersects with some of my other values. But I keep coming back to a few things.

In the grand scheme of things the gender and sexuality of others is not a priority. I’m not saying it’s never an issue. But let it be an issue in real life, in people you actually know and situations which truly affect you, and don’t make it an issue for people wholly unconnected with you. There are much, MUCH bigger priorities than policing normative sexual behaviors: like poverty, infant mortality, the Nigerian massacre by Boko Haram. Even in our personal lives I suggest that values such as honesty, integrity, selflessness, self control, generosity, respect, dignity, all these things are infinitely more important. A person who has these qualities but happens to be LGBT is still an excellent person. And it is on these qualities that I choose my friends, not their gender identity or sexuality. And I would hope that it would be on these values that people choose employees and renters.

See, the real issue here was not about homosexuality or gender identity. It never was. The issue was recognizing the humanity of the other, even when we disagree with them. Christ himself excelled at recognizing the other. That recognition was one of the core themes of his ministry. He loved the others. He healed them, blessed them, saved them from persecution, honored them with his attention. Tax collectors, adulterers, prostitutes, foreigners, lepers, the lame, the blind. If we are to follow in the footsteps of the rabbi, these are the priorities we need to have. But before we can love the others, we need to first allow ourselves to see them and see ourselves in them.

We are judged, by others, by history, by posterity, most harshly on how we treat others. Particularly others who are, in a real sense “other,” different than we are, and perhaps to a degree beyond our understanding. I cannot claim to fully understand the LGBT community because I am not a member. Their lives are, in many ways, beyond my imagination. But they are undeniably, unequivocally, and irrevocably a part of the world in which I live. They are human. They are fellow citizens of my country. They are intelligent, caring, brave, selfish, idiotic, lazy, hard working, loving, and spiteful just like me and everyone I know. If we dare to exclude them from any list of “human rights” then we need to rename that list no longer pertain to “humans” but to a lesser subset. And I mean lesser in every possible way. In this case we have declared that we, our little subset, are human and these others are not. And in so doing we damn ourselves.

My question in this situation is not whether Idaho has the right to limit the application of our Human Rights Act, or whether being LGBT is a choice or not, or whether alternative sexuality is right or wrong. My question is what does it say about us, who are WE, when we deny the humanity of others of mankind? When we deny that others, like us, are loved by their Creator and endowed with inalienable rights? Have we not made ourselves less?

This clip from Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of my all time favorites, and another example of how Captain Picard is one of the best role models an eight year old could ask for. While the question at stake in the clip is the very person-hood of a clearly non-human character, is he person or property, the sentiment applies very well to the Add the Words scenario.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Art Imitating Life


Okay. Now we can continue.

Downton Abbey has swept across the UK and the US, igniting new fascinations with pageantry, elegant drama, and beaded gowns. But of course it’s the characters who steal our hearts.  Whether you feel more attached to the upstairs or the downstairs crowd, everyone has a favorite, someone they identify with.  And it really begins to feel like a family.

So, naturally, when characters start dropping like flies in Season 3, it’s a trifle upsetting. Continue reading

My Favorite Story: Vlog #2

As part of the summer storytelling/video class (which is going very well) we have to start doing “vlogs” or video blogs.  Talk about your crazy word creation!  Our question for today was “what was your favorite story growing up; why, and how have you seen that story evolve or be re-told in new media and new stories?”

I thought about this a lot during the day.  Though I try to be reasonably discrete with my faith not cram it down anyone’s throat, I found that my honest answer really was about my faith.  My favorite stories are those that reflect and retell the greatest story ever told and the one most intimately significant in my life: the sacrifice of Christ.

one of these days I need to figure out how to control that thumbnail thing on YouTube.  Yuck.

No problem with Gay Marriage

Note: I usually avoid topics like this simply because of their volatility.  However, it’s come up often enough lately that I feel I need to say a few things, particularly since some people might be a bit surprised by my views.  This particular post is a more of a manifesto than any academic, religious, or political treatise on the subject.

This may surprise a lot of people I know, but I actually have no problem with legal support for alternative marriages. Do I support them personally? Would I encourage my friends to engage in them? No. Absolutely not. Continue reading

A Good Friday Lament

A Lament for the Messiah

The sun is dark before my eyes,
Or am I blinded by sorrow?
The earth shakes and heaves like a sea in storm,
Is there nothing firm, nothing solid on which I can stand?
Or are my own limbs numb with shock?
Oh Lord, why have you forsaken us?
So long we have waited! So long… I have waited.

Now our hope is shattered like glass.

Continue reading