Weight: Part 2 of 4--Provision

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory . . . . " --2 Corinthians 4:16-17


My blood.

It was everywhere . . . . on the floor, on the walls, on the dog's bed, on my clothes, on my legs, on my feet, filling up the toilet.

My brain was shooting shock waves of alarm into my limbs, and I was trembling all over. When I had started bleeding the day before, I knew it might come to this. Brandon was already moving when I said, "It's time to go!"

Only four days out of the hospital since we left with our new bundle of joy, and I was going back just in time to celebrate the beginning of her second week of life.

For those of you who don't know, bleeding after childbirth is natural. It's the pouring, gushing, passing of super-sized blood clots that make an audible whooshing sound loud enough for my husband to hear that isn't natural. This is what I was experiencing.

I barked orders to Brandon, telling him what to do, who to call, what to say. I had to think of something . . . anything . . . but the bright red splatter. When there was nothing left to say to Brandon, I made single word panicked pleas to Jesus, asking Him to help me keep it together and be with me no matter what horrors awaited me at the hospital that day.

You see, I may have just had my second child and experienced the worst pain I had ever felt in my life, but the fact remains that I am (always have been and always will be) the biggest chicken who ever lived on this earth. I hate needles. I hate blood. I hate pain. The very snap of a latex glove against a doctor's wrist sends shivers up and down my spine. I didn't know for sure what was wrong with me, and the internet is a scary place to seek medical advice. Three fearsome letters kept flashing across my vision in the bright red I was already seeing all over the bathroom floor--DNC. More immediately, I was afraid of passing out. I wouldn't be much good to anyone, especially my breastfed infant, out cold on the floor. In the blood. I had to stop imagining the worst scenario, which is my bent, and pray. So, that's what I did.

My Nona came to the house in the early morning to get Micah. I get my chicken tendencies pretty honestly from her (even though she is WAY tougher than me), and she had been battling breast cancer since September, so she understood what I was feeling. Before Brandon, Sara and I left for the hospital, she prayed for me, and reminded me of the Bible passage that had given her the courage she needed to get through each procedure--

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." --Philippians 4:6-7

Mom met us at the ER. I was so weak, I could barely stand on my own. I was frightened bringing my young infant to such a place, but I didn't know what else to do. I prayed for her safety. I prayed for courage. I prayed for toughness. But mostly, I just told Jesus not to leave me because I could do whatever I had to do as long as He was with me, but I couldn't do a thing a without Him. I prayed while they drew my blood. I didn't like to part with it as I wasn't sure how much I had lost already. My laboratory scientist mother assured me that I had plenty left. (Thanks, Mom.) I quoted the Philippians passage as my IV was started. It really did help.

A lot of waiting had to be done that day because my doctor was steeped in surgeries. I was eventually admitted to the hospital, and brought to my own room, where I waited some more. After a uterine massage, which I personally find to be somewhere between extremely uncomfortable and painful, and the passage of time, my bleeding slowed. It began to look like my fear of having a DNC may not be realized. I had texted several friends asking them to pray for as much.

My doctor came to see me after 5pm. She explained that she believed, based upon my two blood counts and the fact my bleeding had slowed, that a large blood clot had been left behind in my womb. She explained that she had checked my placenta to be sure no pieces had been left behind. After passing that clot, it was only a matter of time before the bleeding would have stopped on its own. She saw no reason to keep me at the hospital overnight. I was told to walk the halls a few times to be sure the bleeding wouldn't start back up. If it didn't, I could go home.

I felt several things---relieved, thankful and a little silly. But there was no way I could have known I wasn't going to slowly bleed to death without medical attention, especially considering the amount of blood I had lost. There had just been so much of it. After a day of being treated like a pincushion and losing what I thought must have been at least half of my blood supply (it wasn't, by the way), I was able to leave.

On the way home, I was still a little afraid that I would start bleeding again. I tried not to think about that. Instead, I thought about how God had answered my prayers, and what it had felt like to spend a day with Him, leaning on Him entirely for each experience. I hadn't experienced many days where God was my constant rock, and I was constantly leaning on Him. I had been praying for awhile that God would teach me to walk with Him moment by moment, and I guess that day was the beginning of an answer to that prayer. In obedience to the passage from Philippians I had quoted earlier that day, I thanked God--for taking care of me, for allowing this thing to happen to me.

Sleep deprived, weak from blood loss, still recovering from an intense labor, a little down from the drop in pregnancy hormones, and still a little fearful that I could start bleeding again, I went to bed in pretty bad physical and emotional shape. But I knew something for sure-I wasn't alone, and I did not have to operate alone. I remembered the words of the anesthesiologist--"When you feel the pressure, don't jerk away. Lean into me." I had definitely felt pressure that day, but instead of jerking away from the Lord, I leaned into Him. And He had provided everything I had needed.

One week after the incident, I recorded this in my journal:

"The Lord is faithful.
The Lord is good.
And I trust Him more today because of what happened a week ago."

That, in and of itself, makes all the blood, fear and needles worth it.

This day was the beginning of a habit that would become very important to my survival in the days that followed: exercise . . . . of my spiritual muscles. And God was good. He allowed me to start slow so that I wouldn't be crushed or obliterated by the weight of my troubles.

. . . . to be continued in Part 3 of 4: Sara Elizabeth

Weight: Part 1 of 4--A Birth Story

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory . . . . " --2 Corinthians 4:16-17

I last wrote three months ago. Since then, much has changed. My family has changed. A bright and beautiful new soul is with us. Micah is no longer an only child, but a very important big brother. Brandon is now responsible for the living of four. This responsibility has not been easy, which will be explained in a later post. He and I both are learning how to be good parents to two children, each child unique in personality and needs, each one dear and precious to our hearts and in the sight of God. My own life has taken several drastic changes, but I will get to that. My four part story begins with joyous circumstances, filled with hope, happiness and invaluable blessing! And yet, something was missing . . . . something I did not know was missing. Something I could not miss until I needed it in order to survive.


I was a bundle of nerves as Brandon and I approached the hospital. I hadn't slept well the night before, and had only managed a short nap that afternoon. It was midnight, and I knew my chances of being able to sleep on the stiff hospital bed to which I was soon to be strapped were slim. In my mind, it didn't matter terribly, for I was certain I would have this baby by early morning, and I could rest then. Boy, was I wrong . . . .

I was chained to my prison (I really hate those beds) by 12:45 a.m., and put on Pitocin at 1:30. I calculated that I should be in heavy labor by 5:00 a.m., and finished by 9. I was too excited to sleep. Brandon and Mom had no trouble snoozing away. I watched from the bed of torture a little enviously.
The night slowly dragged by, highlighted by an occasional visit from the nurse, the horrid blood pressure cuff going off every 15 minutes and contractions that were becoming increasingly regular, but not strong enough to do any good. I finally became bored with the monotony, and managed a brief snooze around 6:30 a.m. I awoke less than an hour later, feeling annoyed. I was behind schedule! I hate being behind schedule!

At 8:00 a.m., my OB came and broke my water, and gave me some highly undesirable news--I had not progressed all night long. She tweaked a few things for me so I could get going, told me I was good to get my epidural, and left. Remembering my labor with Micah, I immediately requested my epidural. I am not a fan of pain. During the hour I waited for the anesthesiologist, I became agitated. I felt that I couldn't stay on that bed a moment longer, much less on a heap of wet, chafing towels until the baby came . . . but I had to. I was no longer allowed to get up. My sweet Aunt Suzonne, a former OB nurse, came to my rescue. She changed out my towels, trying to get me comfortable. Even after this, I still wanted to call the whole thing off, and try again later. If only that had been an option. My contractions were getting stronger, I was soaking my towels again, and I really just wanted to scream from the irritation of it all. Instead, I prayed, remembering the Source of my help, and somehow managed to stay where I was without losing my mind.

Finally, the anesthesiologist came. I told him that he was a very welcome sight. He went through his list of questions, which must be the most annoying questions ever asked to a woman. I just wanted my blankety-blank epidural! He noticed my impatience, and smiled knowingly. "Let's get to it, then," he said.

Here, I think I made my mistake. I didn't know it was a mistake at the time, and I don't think my anesthesiologist knew the consequences of it. When I felt the pressure of the needle, my body instinctively jerked away from the needle. Then, the anesthesiologist said something that has reverberated in my brain over and over again for the last three months, "When you feel the pressure, don't jerk away. Lean into me." Too late. Damage done. But I wouldn't know it until a little later. For the moment, I enjoyed the sensation of pain and agitation leaving my body. I relaxed, asked the nurse to tell my family to return, and closed my eyes. I slept. Can I get an amen?

I'm not sure how much time lapsed, but when my eyes opened at the creak of my room's door, I noticed that I was still alone. After the nurse checked me out, I asked her to find my family. A few minutes later, they returned, all a little anxious about me. They had been waiting over an hour to hear from the nurse.

Around 11 a.m., a troubling sensation began on my chest, spreading to my arms, stomach, legs and lips. I was itching. I told Brandon, Mom and Aunt Suzonne what was going on. As I am the queen of allergies, we decided to notify the nurse so I could get something for it. Now this reaction seemed like a bad thing at the time. I was miserable for a bit. Based on my allergic history, I was a little afraid the itching could progress to something worse. But the Benadryl I was given took care of my symptoms, and I slept deeply for over an hour. That sleep was a gift, let me tell you, because it helped me get through what was coming. Once again, my strange allergies saved the day! Thank you, Jesus!

I awoke when a nurse I hadn't yet seen came bustling in, telling me that my OB wanted me to get things going. After checking me, I was still only 4.5 centimeters dilated and only 70% effaced. It was 12:45 p.m. at this point. I was way behind schedule. The nurse sat me straight up in the bed of torture, but I was okay with it. I had rested, and was ready to get things rolling.

After a short while, I began feeling things I didn't think I should be feeling. Pressure. Light pressure became heavy pressure, which became pain. It wasn't long before I was feeling everything. I punched my magic epidural button, but nothing happened. I called for the anesthesiologist. I watched the clock closely until he arrived, punching my useless magic button every 15 minutes. He finally came and gave me a bolas, but after a very brief period of relief, the pain came back, and naturally, was worsening.

I cried, prayed and puffed. I had NOT signed up to do this naturally. I had nothing to prove, no strange desire to "feel everything." I hate pain. I am NOT a fan, I tell you! Have you ever felt so much pain that you couldn't even make a coherent sentence? All I could do was breathe deeply, in and out, and cry, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" During a brief break in between contractions, I managed one thought--"If Jesus could suffer so much worse for His children, I can suffer this little bit for my child." And so I determined that I would bear the pain, no matter how bad it became.

Finally, I found that I could not help but push--my body was just doing it on its own. At 4:50 p.m. (again, way behind schedule), they had me ready to go with an audience of uncomfortable size. There were at least 7 people in that room. It may as well have been one hundred the way it felt, but I was too distracted by the pain to worry too much about it.

You know the women in movies who cry out, wringing wet with sweat? That was me. I had heard you get relief when you push, and maybe you do get a little bit of relief from the contractions, but I'm here to tell you, I did not feel relieved. Maybe relief is reserved for women who deliver small babies with small heads. I knew I had to do this quick, or I was going to run out of energy, so I threw everything I had into it. The nurse told me in code to quit making noise. Had I had any extra effort to give her, she probably would have gotten a piece of my mind, not at all in code, but I had to focus or I wasn't going to make it, and I didn't want a C-section.

I felt it when she crowned, but I needed a breather to prepare me for that last push. Then, with a ripping sensation I had never wanted to feel and never want to feel again, out she came to the accompaniment of my cries, "Ow! Ow! Ow!"

And then I heard her cry. Gravity shifted, centering on her little being. She was placed in my arms which brought a little relief to my pain. I cried as I held her, feeling equal parts joy and desire for the repair work to be done. I felt everything. I tried to focus now on the sweetness of holding my daughter, and not on what was happening below.

She was different than Micah, covered in a white, waxy coat. Her legs had the most scrumptious rolls of baby fat. Her face was round and beautiful, her lips a perfectly shaped rosy pout. Her eyes were wide pools of endless happiness. I did not know I had been incomplete until I held her. I did not know that I needed this baby girl until I took her in with every sense I had. My heart expanded to make room for this tiny soul, and for the hour I was given with her right after birth, I utterly lost myself. It was wonderful.Sara Elizabeth Keaster was born November 7, 2011 at 5:07 p.m. weighing 8 lbs., 4 oz., measuring 21 inches long.

Later that night, my little family gathered together for the first time. My Nona and Papaw brought Micah to meet his baby sister, and we all waited eagerly for the nurse to deliver her to our room.
(Photo courtesy of Jolly Tucker Photography.)

The moment we came together as a family of four was one of the most beautiful moments in my life, something I will treasure in my heart forever. My sweet cousin, Morgan Tucker, was there to capture a few images that can better explain the sheer rapture of the moment than any words I can write. Enjoy!--

I am abundantly grateful for the glorious sweetness of that time, for dark and dangerous clouds were gathering, and rain was on the horizon. It was the calm before the storm, and what a storm it has been.

. . . . to be continued in Part 2 of 4: Provision


With every change of the season, I am filled with bright expectation and excitement. The transition from autumn to winter brings along an anticipation of the Christmas holidays. I annually fall in love with the segue from winter to spring--the stark, beautiful nakedness of an oak beginning to bear it's light green spring robe; the pretty blooms resting on the branches of redbuds, dogwoods and peach trees. I enjoy the life and hum of summer out here on the lake, in the woods. But my favorite is the often dramatic entrance of fall.

A cozy kind of happiness washes over me when the light shifts angles and cooler temperatures sweep in. I get excited over the first brightly hued leaf I discover in the backyard. I daydream about pumpkin bread, candy-hungry children, and my family gathering together and reflecting on our many blessings before sitting down to my favorite meal of the year. Now that I have a child and another one who will very soon be appearing, this time of year has become even more sentimental to me, and I am thrilled that Baby Sara will be born in the glorious autumn season. It feels like a tip of my hat to my favorite time of year.

I've been thinking a lot about the shifting seasons--not just of those we are blessed with if we live far enough from the equator, but the shifting seasons of life. Last night, I told Brandon how much I've enjoyed every stage in our marriage, even the parts that have held their own various kinds of heartbreak. From dating to being engaged, from being engaged to being newlyweds, from being alone to owning a dog, from owning a dog to having our first child, from being a family of three to expecting our second child, these transitions have all been challenging, but they have all held remarkable blessings. And now, as I have less than 24 hours left of the final season on the short list above, I am mentally savoring each one, as I've been doing subconsciously for the past few weeks, made evident by the following photos--
Micah on the first cool, fallish day--our first day in months to play outside

Micah helping me with our first pumpkin bread of the season

Brandon and me at a wedding of friends

Micah and Emory, enjoying the pumpkin patch at Curry Farms

Micah playing at Curry Farms

Micah feeding a goat at Curry Farms

Micah painting pumpkins

New play dough

Micah enjoying a cupcake at the Fall Festival at my Nona's church

Trick-or-treating . . . er . . . . hunting on Halloween in Mom's neighborhood

There isn't enough memory storage on my photo card to capture all the kisses and cuddles I've stolen from my red-headed firstborn in the past few days.

I have worn myself out trying eke the most out of our final days as a family of 3, and you know what? It's been worth it. This last chapter has been wonderful, covering Micah's birth, a personal rebirth in my walk with Christ, a new closeness with Brandon, the growth of community with my extended family. It's been a really good chapter, one that I wouldn't be able to leave if I didn't know that by turning the next page, even more blessings await.

Tonight, Brandon and I head to the hospital. I will be induced into to labor, and tomorrow morning, we will have a baby girl. After so many months, it feels a little surreal, but really, really good. I will actually be holding the heartbeat I heard in March, the tiny smudge on the screen. Sara Elizabeth will become more to me than a thought, a hope, a movement in my belly. She will be my daughter, and she will be her own person.

I will close by sharing a funny little post I put on Facebook this morning--

Dear Sara,
This may come as a shock, but as of tomorrow morning, I'm kicking you out . . . . cutting the cord, so to speak. I've enjoyed our time together, living within such close quarters, but it is time for you to find your own place in the world. Once you're gone, I may find that I miss our closeness, but I'm sure it's for the best. And believe me when I say, the transition will be a lot more painful for me than it is for you. I'm looking forward to witnessing and sharing the next chapter of your life!
Love and blessings,