I had an emergency C-section the night that my daughter was born. I am not the sort of person who does well in an emergency, especially if that emergency entails things like scalpels and my stomach area. I prefer to stay intact, thank you very much.
I was a little bit panicky after the surgery, what with my baby being born weighing one and a half pounds and all. I mean, I am fairly panicky in general but I feel as though it was warranted on that occasion, maybe. I suppose that is why the hospital staff decided that it might be a good idea to sedate me—because of all the panic. I only recall little bits and pieces of what happened after they rolled my hospital bed down to recovery but what I do remember quite clearly was the part where I decided to rid myself of all my clothes.
Now, I’ve always been a patriotic person but I have never felt overly invested in my love for my country until a nurse told me that I could not remove my hospital gown. This felt like a huge injustice to me and one that must be righted immediately.
So what I did was, I stood up shakily on my hospital bed and started screaming, “I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!” while attempting to strip off my hospital issued attire.
Then the nurse pressed a button and suddenly there were several nurses trying to calm me down and explain to me why I could not sleep in my birthday suit. I was completely indignant about this and made that known by continuing to yell, “YOU CANNOT MAKE ME WEAR CLOTHES! I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN! I KNOW MY RIGHTS!”
I was what you might call “a problem patient.” I am very sensitive to medication, y’all.
That night was the very worst night of my entire life and not because I was strapped into a scratchy hospital gown like a straightjacket. I delivered my daughter against my will, my body rebelling and bringing her into the world fifteen and a half weeks before her due date, and they whisked her from me to try and save her.
I met her for just a mere moment before she was wheeled away and I kept trying to climb out of bed all unclothed and freshly cut open because I just wanted desperately to find her.
I remember the first time I laughed after I gave birth to Scarlette. After finally being wheeled to the NICU the next morning to see her frail, fragile form and being wheeled out again as I heaved anguish sobs I thought for certain that I might never laugh again.
But a few hours later, to help stem the leaking of milk that was soaking my hospital gown, a nurse brought me a stack of nursing pads. She delivered them into my hands wrapped up in a little plastic bag with the words “HAZARDOUS MATERIAL” emblazoned across the front.
I looked at them and I started to laugh. I laughed at the absurdity of it all, of these tiny cotton patches designed to nestle against my skin being delivered in a HAZMAT bag and at how I had followed every single rule required to have a perfect pregnancy and still my baby lay down a hallway hooked to machines.
I laughed and laughed until I cried and somewhere in there I knew that this meant I was still whole. That I hadn’t completely lost myself to my grief, not yet. If I could find the laughter, maybe I could find my way back. Maybe I wasn’t completely hollow.
Laughter is who I am and the appearance of it felt like hope.
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4), and sometimes those are at the exact same time.
This is an excerpt from my new e-book Hold Tight: Embracing Hope and Humor in the Everyday, which is available for a limited time exclusively when you pre-order my new book Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected. Anchored is available at most major retailers! Just submit your pre-order receipt here and you’ll receive the Hold Tight e-book featuring pieces by yours truly as well as contributors Jessica Turner, Courtney DeFeo, Jessie Weaver, Christin Ditchfield, Dawn Camp, Kristi James, Joanne Kraft, Michaela Evanow and Molly Huggins!)
You’ll also receive your choice of a physical print from the 3 options below from talented artist, Jessalyn Bray at Flax and Wool Designs! Your e-book will be sent to your inbox right away so you can start reading while you wait for Anchored + your physical art print to arrive in your mailbox! ♥