Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Morning Lark


Nearly seven years ago, I birthed a beautiful baby girl. My second daughter. She lit our entire world with warm rays of sunshine, but after her birth, my soul started sliding into darkness. Anxiety consumed me. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I had always had a timid spirit, a fearful heart, but this was different. This anxiety, this darkness, was all consuming.

In the weeks leading up to Kate's birth, I heard a story about a mother who suffered a heart attack and stroke several hours after delivering her second child. There were no warning signs. Tragedy just struck. And being that I was just weeks away from delivering my second child, I could not stop thinking about that mother who passed away. I could not stop thinking about her story. Because if tragedy could happen to her, it could happen to me!

The day finally came when I would get to meet my new daughter. I desperately wanted to meet her, but I was scared. So I waited at home as my labor progressed. My water had broken hours before, the contractions were strong and regular, but still, I waited. Finally, Boss convinced me that we needed to head to the hospital, if not for me, then for Kate. And so I agreed, for the health and safety of my unborn daughter. But had it been only about me, I would have sat at home forever. Home felt safer than the unknown.

We had an uneventful birth. A much easier birth than what we experienced with our first daughter. Boss did his best to hold my hand (he does not do birth), my mom was able to be in the room, and everything went just as it should. And then finally, after nine long months, they handed me my beautiful new daughter. She had the most glorious head of thick, dark hair, a button nose, and her eyes held a hint of blue. And she was so tiny! The nurses all claimed she should have been on the cover of an Anne Geddes calendar. And my world really did light up. For hours, I loved her and held her. I kissed her tiny face over, and over again. And as long as the sun was shining outside, sun also shined in my soul. But then night came. Boss took Emma home to sleep and my mom stayed with me. We settled in for the night, but I could not rest. I could not stop thinking about that mother who had died. And along with the darkness of the night, came a deep darkness in my soul. I could not have explained it if I tried, but I felt it. My heart started racing, the anxiety began mounting, and I was certain that I was having a heart attack. The nurse came and gave me something to help relax me, yet still, I could not find rest.

The next morning, my blood pressure was sky high. The doctors, who were unaware of my mounting anxiety, began to run all sorts of tests. And the more tests they ran, the more afraid I felt, and the higher my blood pressure rose. To the point of scary. To the point where they were scanning my lungs for blood clots and strapping me to the bed in case I seized. I had never felt more fear in my entire life. After about a week, my doctor found a medicine that worked to successfully lower my blood pressure and life went on. But the anxiety went on, too. I took my blood pressure constantly. I refused anti anxiety medication, because the listed side effects of the medication gave me even more anxiety than I already had. Funny to think about now, but at the time it was anything but. One doctor suggested I breathe into a brown lunch sack when I felt anxious. I informed him I would need to have it clipped to my neck at all times.

And my life became a pattern. During the day, when the sun was shining bright, I was good. But at night, when darkness prevailed, I could not find rest. All I could find was fear. And that is when I became an owl. A night owl. When the rest of my family went to sleep, I stayed up. I watched mindless TV, searched the web, read a book. Sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, when the first rays of light started to fill the sky once more. Anything to keep my mind from wandering. Anything to keep the darkness at bay. And then, when I was so tired that I could not see straight, I would crash. The hours I began keeping worked great for my anxiety, because for me, light equaled safety and darkness equaled fear. I could rest when it was light. But the hours I was keeping were not great for my role as mother.

For seven long months, I suffered in the darkness. For seven long months, I kept the hours of an owl. For seven long months, my marriage suffered and my family suffered. Boss took on most of the responsibilities of each day, so that I could sleep when I felt safe. And my biggest regret is that fear robbed me of the early months with my beautiful second daughter. I can't remember anything about those days except for the darkness that consumed me.

But, as with most things in life, the intense fear eventually passed. Anxiety no longer consumed me. I began to function again. And we laugh now when we talk about those early months after Kate's birth. We laugh that some of Emma's first words were blood pressure cuff. We laugh that I could not take anxiety medication, because thoughts of the medication gave me more anxiety! We laugh whenever we see a brown lunch sack.

Most of the events of that time are behind us. All but one. I am still a night owl. The hours I keep are much better, they still allow me to function as a mama, but those first few hours of darkness still consume me. So I sit up and wait for sleep to come. And then I pull myself out of bed the next morning to be mama. It works, but it's not the mama hours that I want to keep.

Because I don't want to be an owl, I want to be a lark.

Rising early with song, joyful for each new day to begin. Greeting my children with a kiss and a smile, rather than having them pull me out of bed with their daily pleadings for breakfast. And some morning quiet time would be nice. Some time to start my day with God. Time to be in his Word.

God's Word constantly talks about being an early riser, and it is beginning to convict me.

Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Psalms 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Proverbs 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

And God's Word talks much of being a part of the light.

1 Thessalonians 5:5  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

I am becoming convinced that I cannot honor God with my life if I continue to let the darkness consume me. I can't be the mama that I want to be, if I do not rest when my children rest, and rise before they rise. I am owl enough to know that is not wise. I want to be a child of the light. I want to be a lark. My Christian walk is a journey. Ever changing, walking closer with the Lord each step of the way. And while sleep habits may not seem all that important to some, for me, it signifies something more. It signifies letting go of the darkness and entering God's light. It signifies the next step on my journey with the Lord. It has been seven years coming, but I am ready to be a lark.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...


It is 4:00 AM as I am reading this.. I am up with Kate and Jack...what better day to become a lark than today! I am coming to wake you up! JUST KIDDING...I will wait till a more decent hour...4:30