Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jude, my Manly Praise of Judea

My sweet Jude turned 2 last month. And like all mothers, I couldn't help but think of how he came to be (his WHOLE story, people, not just that part. Although, that was pretty fun, too.).

I should confess something. I was terrified of Jude before he even existed.

Thanks to a hideous first-birth experience with Jack, I truly thought we would adopt the rest. There was no way I was going to go through that trauma again. When Jack turned 2, I still felt no desire for another child. Yet God began whispering to me (that's his most lethal weapon, by the way. Fear the whisper).

As the months passed, I knew in my spirit that Jesus was telling me to have another baby. And in typical Crystal-fashion, I protested.
Lord, Jack's the most perfect kid ever. Plus, Jack's birthday was the worst day of my life. I love my job and don't want to give up any more of my precious free time. I hate gaining weight! I want to run another marathon!

One by one, God began patiently answering my terrified questions. He surrounded me with a group of natural-birth fanatics at my MOPS group who convinced me that a positive birth experience was possible. He sent me a doula who listened to my birth story with a dropped jaw, then said, "Um, Crystal, what you went through was not normal...and possibly illegal." And I found a group of midwives who found my tendency to run while pregnant awesome and who all had names like "Happy" and "Kitty." Pretty different from my last experience, where the first thing my newborn saw was a doctor in cammo who previously told me that I was putting both my baby and myself in grave risk by running a marathon pregnant.

I still wasn't feeling all that excited about it. So I made a deal with God: I would run another marathon, then I would get pregnant. Feel free to debate the theology of that with me some other time.

I remember standing in a hotel bathroom in Redding, California on January 17, 2010. I had just finished the Redding Marathon in the pouring rain. I was crying and shaking, getting ready to throw my birth control in the trash. But I just couldn't do it. I was so terrified.


And then, I heard the whisper again.

I know the plans I have for you, Crystal. Plans to PROSPER you and NOT to harm you....plans to give you a hope and a FUTURE.

Well. At least I took that as a sign that I would live through the birth.

Obviously, I did. Like always, God completely knew what he was talking about.


December 1, 2010 turned out to be the exact opposite of November 15-16, 2007; instead of wondering whether I was going to die, I marveled over my body's ability to bring forth life in its own time. For the first time, elation absolutely flooded my body and heart as I held my newborn boy. For the first time, all those cheesy Hallmark baby cards made sense. For the first time, I realized that despite my past, I was made to be Jack and Jude's mommy, imperfections and all.

It was, in short, one of the best days of my life. Because that was the day God used Jude to heal me.

Jude, before you, I carried a wound deep in my soul. I had messed up Jack's birth. The horrors of that night were all my fault, so I thought and had been told. If I had only done this, or that, it would have turned out differently. I couldn't even do what young, uneducated Third-World teenagers know how to do, so how could I be a good mom afterward? I couldn't, I told myself, and I treated myself and decisions accordingly.

Yet you proved me wrong. After you, I changed. I forgave the horrid, yet well-intentioned doctors at that awful military hospital. I recognized that the agony of Jack's first year was not my fault. I gave myself permission to grieve, and then heal, and then admit that maybe I AM a good mother.

My sweet Jude, it is because of you that I felt nothing but excitement last summer as Nick and I planned for another baby. It is because of you that I face April 3 (or thereabouts) of this year unafraid.

Jude Andrew, your name means "Manly Praise of Judea." And I love that. You are, and have always been, a man-child from the get-go. And you, sweet son, are my song of praise, the offering back to the Messiah from Judea who gave you to me.

So today, at the ripe age of 25 months, I celebrate who you are. Your ability to ride a bike but refusal to potty train. Your goofy nature but intense focus on practicing free throws on your little plastic hoop. Your hysterical love of imitating your older brother. Your beautiful eyes, lashes and curls. Your rounded belly and chunky buns. Your fear of nothing (except the toilet). Your first word of "Gracias." Your singing of the ABC's and full-on rendition of Jesus Loves Me. You sing it because you know it's true. Jesus loves Jude.

So do I.