I cry every time I read birth stories.
Even the stories of total strangers. I’ll be sitting in a Panera eating baked potato soup and trying to unobtrusively wipe away my trails of mascara because I can’t take my eyes off the achingly beautiful descriptions of how life comes into the world.
Life, life, wild raging, batteringly beautiful, frighteningly fragile life.
There’s this impossible ache that registers just below the heart when we read birth stories. I think it’s because they’re this living, breathing testimony to heaven bending down toward earth and earth standing up on its tippy toes to receive a new life so fresh from the passing of God’s hands to ours.
It never gets old.
This miracle of how God wrapped Himself up in the human form and we get to celebrate afresh every time we unwrap the echo of Heaven in a new baby.
I’m constantly astounded by the fact that we consider motherhood, “ordinary.” When it’s outrageous in its courage. When it, quite literally, bleeds life from the giver. Bleeds prayers and tears and blessings and terrible, holy faith.
When it opens our eyes to the majesty of a world we have no control over and reminds us how vulnerable we are and how parenting is this living, breathing parable of surrendering control to the God who had the whole world in His hands all along. We just hadn’t stopped to notice until we became mothers and discovered that most of what happens to our kids and our own bodies is entirely outside our control.
So if regular birth stories make me cry, Kayla Aimee’s micro-preemie birth story that releases today made me bawl. She asked me to write the foreword to the book and I pretty much ugly cried my way through the whole thing starting with this sentence, “My daughter was born and she weighed less than six sticks of butter.”
I cried and was reminded all over again of the righteous courage of mothers. Of the awe and the wonder that those of us who have brought babies into the world feel. And the terrifying truth of what we will sacrifice to keep them with us –
Scarlette needed blood continuously and the minute they told me she would require a transfusion I wanted to cut open a vein and give her all of it, every bit of life that coursed through.
I was humbled by Kayla Aimee’s story. Because there’s so much I realize I took for granted when I had my own three kids. Because her’s is a birth story that came 15 weeks early. It’s a story that reminds us there is no such thing as “ordinary” or “boring” when it comes to motherhood.
Instead the whole realm of sleeplessness and nursing and changing diapers and breathing that we take for granted are so much holy ground – especially when viewed from the inside of the NICU.
I felt speechless reading it and at the same time wanted to write a whole book chronicling all the lessons Kayla Amiee’s story taught me. About faith and how as long as God is faithful our own faith doesn’t need to always hold firm – because His always will. This anchor that holds the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll.
It’s a remarkable story. Like her remarkable daughter.
I want to meet Scarlette so that I can kneel down to look into her beautiful, brave eyes and tell her that her mother is one of my heroes. Because she did what moms do – she kept showing up. She spoke up for her daughter. She studied, she stepped outside her comfort zone, she questioned and listened and overcame her own fears in order to stand up for her daughter.
Isn’t this the whole legacy of motherhood? This painful breaking up with ourselves and our own wants and needs in order to be able to fully love someone else. And discovering in the midst of it the parable beneath all that exhaustion and all those diapers of a God who invites us into the hard truth of living self-sacrifice.
It makes me want to take gifts to the NICU at our local hospital. It makes me want to be brave enough to get over my own awkwardness and connect with another mother who may be grieving.
I’m so grateful to Kayla Aimee for loaning me her eyes to see. To see afresh the God of invisible moments. The God who sees. The God who bears witness to the three am fevers and blood transfusions, the hours spent walking off the colic or walking off the bad dreams.
The hours spent waiting in a hard chair for just a few stolen moments to hold the baby you haven’t been allowed to touch since she was born. He is the God who celebrates first breaths and never tires of hearing first words.
He is the God who keeps watch with the midnight mothers, with the block builders, the stain removers, the back yard sand box sitters, the park walkers, the baby food makers, the classroom volunteer helpers, the play dough bakers.
He is the God who imbues each seemingly small moment of a mother’s day with the eternal and by simply being in it with us blesses it and makes it holy. By being Immanuel – God with us. Modeling the greatest gift a mother gives to her child – in Kayla Aimee’s words:
“Mommy’s here. Mommy’s here,” I would whisper and it was all that I had to give.
And what we think we can’t give; what we worry won’t be enough — Jesus gives thanks for and breaks and multiplies and there is always enough for today. And tomorrow. And at 2am.
There He is again, singing over us as we sing over sick babies and breaking our hearts into bits and pieces of holy, sacred sacrifice. Providing more than we could have known, hoped for, or expected. Measuring our lives in all the broken, ordinary glory. Heaped high.
A sacrifice of praise.
And in this book Kayla Aimee testifies to her making and unmaking and remaking. Reminding all who read it that Jesus gives us immeasurably more than we could ever ask for or imagine.
This weight of glory that we only have to be willing to open our hands and lives to receive – every precious ounce of heaven wrapped up in the eternal glory of the weight of six sticks of butter.
I can’t recommend this story enough. It’s for anyone whose faith got messy. Whose night got dark. Whose valley got deep.
Click here to get your own copy. You just got to read my foreword for free :)
Oh, oh wow. I’ll put this on my “must read” list. I don’t know if I can bear to read it right now, based on how choked up I got from your forward alone!
But, I wanted to thank you for sharing this, I really, really needed to hear this today:
” Modeling the greatest gift a mother gives to her child – in Kayla Aimee’s words: “Mommy’s here. Mommy’s here,” I would whisper and it was all that I had to give.” And what we think we can’t give; what we worry won’t be enough — Jesus gives thanks for and breaks and multiplies and there is always enough for today. And tomorrow. And at 2am. ”
And the title is perfect too. It was also a perfect reminder today that God is with me. Please tell Kayla Aimee that God has already blessed someone through her book, even though I haven’t read it yet.
I can’t wait to read this book! My firstborn was born at 25 weeks and 3 days. He spent, or rather “we” spent, 110 days in the NICU. Praise God he is now a healthy 3 year old miracle boy! It was only by God’s sustaining that we made it through that journey. Thanks for sharing the book!
Wow! I love that you keep writing about breaking up with ourselves. Breaking up with ourselves is what life is really all about.
Beautifully said. I can’t wait to read the book, but based on the number of times I’ve bawled through one of Kayla’s blog posts about Scarlette, I’m pretty sure the book should come with a box of tissues. I just know it is going to touch my heart to its very core.
Breaking up with ourselves – it’s the story of motherhood, and really, tjevstory of Christian living. Thank you for this beautiful post.
I love the title. And where you talk about our faith getting messy. Life is messy and our faith follows the ups and downs sometimes, but I have an anchor that keeps my soul.
I’ll stick it on my “to read” list as well… I’ve whispered the same, mommy’s here, too many times to count for my own miracle baby. As another commenter said, I’ll be sure to have tissues handy!