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Wonderfully Made is dedicated to encouraging women and their families along their journeys of faith, motherhood, marriage, and special needs. We believe wholeheartedly that you, your precious children, and your own unique journeys are wonderfully made by God and look forward to walking the journey with you. "You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am wonderfully made." {Psalm 139}

Women of Courage: Aprille’s Brave Journey to VBAC

Nearly five years ago, I laid on an operating table while a skilled surgeon cut my child out of my abdomen.

After hours of excruciating labor, multiple factors spinning this birth completely out of control, I was pretty much left with no choice.

I felt anything but brave in that moment – sobbing and shaking uncontrollably, arms strapped down, giving into a procedure that I thought meant that I had failed somehow.

But looking back, I think that’s one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. I went on to face postpartum depression, recovery complications, breastfeeding complications, sleeplessness, and special-needs parenting of this child who insists on doing everything the hardest way possible.

Many of my dearest friends have similar stories, and have gone on to make the very brave choice to be cut open again and again to bring subsequent children into this world. They choose to lay down on that table and surrender to the scalpel. That’s pure bravery.

But I’ve spent the last five years planning a different path – a different kind of brave. The kind of brave that says, “Let’s try this again.”

I did a lot of research into the choice to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) very shortly after my son’s birth. I’ve made lifestyle changes like changing the way I eat and learning how to exercise. I’ve learned about the importance of optimal fetal positioning and the risks and benefits of certain medical birth interventions.

The thing about my first son’s birth – the reason I didn’t feel brave – was that there were so many things outside of my control. Some due to lack of education and knowledge on my part. Some due to a less-than-friendly birth environment. Some due to poor lifestyle choices. Some, due to just the multiple random circumstances that I truly had no control over.

When I found out I was pregnant with our second child, I greeted it head on – with excitement and purpose. I already had done the research and was seeing a pregnancy-experienced chiropractor and found a VBAC-friendly doula. Now all that was left to do was do this thing.

But as I’ve walked through each day of pregnancy, I’ve realized that it isn’t necessarily that simple. Even after checking all the boxes and doing all of the things, there was still me and this baby. And I wondered how we would prepare.

How do I be hopeful and positive but still be realistic – so I’m not devastated if the outcome isn’t what I want?

How do I go about being proactive – without becoming controlling and obsessive?

How do I deal with the pain of my previous birth – and yet heal and move forward from it?

How do I balance truly believing in myself and my baby – that we can do this – and depending on God for strength, especially when my faith is already in a shaky spot?

How do I be brave?

The answers to these questions have been anything but simple. And some of them haven’t had answers at all. Discouragement has set in when the discomforts of pregnancy have taken over yet again. When the weight has still piled on in spite of my lifestyle changes. When my hands swell in spite of the 80 ounces of water I’m taking in every day.

I walk while reading over birth affirmations about bravery and faith. And some days, making this choice, I truly feel brave. Because this time, regardless of the outcome, I’m more in control of the choices. I am empowered. I’m making a better situation happen.

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Other days I wonder if it’s nothing but bravado. If I’m really as brave as I think I am, or if I’m just masking fear by doing and planning and preparing.

I try to visualize pushing my baby out and bringing him to my chest. I hear myself saying, “I did it. I can’t believe we did it!” and tears spring to my eyes.

And with everything in my being I want to believe it.

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(Photo Credit)

How big is my brave?

Big enough to try again. Big enough to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Big enough to believe in myself and my baby.

Big enough to believe that anything is possible.

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Aprille is a twenty-something mom of one very active and challenging little boy, mom-to-be of another Little Brother, and wife of a disabled combat veteran. She blogs at Beautiful In His Time, her personal chronicle of finding God’s beauty in her often messy life – her marriage, her mothering, and her faith. She has a passion for writing about military life and high-needs / special needs parenting situations. During the month of October, she will be sharing a 31 post series about how she has prepared for her VBAC. You can receive all 31 posts via email by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/KL5-rYou can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest, and Instagram

You’re Not Alone: A Special Needs Mom’s Reflection on Fear and Motherhood

Hi, friends! I am honored to be guest posting for my dear friend Wynter’s beautiful blog, Made To Mother, on fear and motherhood. Click here to read the full post!

To our new friends from Made To Mother, welcome to Wonderfully Made! We are blessed to have you and hope you will feel right at home. To learn more about our family, this blog, and what being Wonderfully Made is all about, click here!  You also can connect with our awesome community on Facebook.

If I could go back in time and tell my eighteen year-old self one thing, it would be this...I was a senior in high school when I walked into school wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt accented by a basketball belly, a strand of pearls, and holding a five pound dumbbell in one hand and a baby doll in the other. It was career day and we had been told we could dress up, either as someone we aspired to be or as something funny.

I was dressed as a soccer mom. And I thought it was hilarious.

Now, ten-years-later, as I sit writing this in yoga pants and a t-shirt with a real post-baby belly and dumbbells buried in a box in the basement, I can only shake my head at the young girl who determined at eighteen that being a mom was beneath her.

If I could go back in time and tell my eighteen year-old self one thing, it would be this…

To read the rest of this post, hop on over to Made To Mother!

Women of Courage: Cari’s Adoption Story

Brave. It lives inside you, dear one. Will you share it? Read Cari's Brave Adoption Story for inspiration today!

I’m honored to have my dear friend Cari of Dugans In Cahoots here today sharing the first story for the Women of Courage series. Her adoption story is unfolding, and it is just beautiful to witness. Please join me in welcoming sweet Cari to this space. And thank you, Cari, for sharing your brave.

Whenever we step out to do something that seems impossible, daring, or risky…onlookers label you as being brave. They assume that you must have mustered an incredible amount of courage, and that you are always strong, and fearless.

My definition of bravery is quite the opposite:

Being brave, is stepping out despite our weaknesses, despite our fears, and despite the obstacles that hover over you. You can be brave, and be weak all at the same time. You can crumble and cry, and still be brave.

Just recently our family made the decision to add another little one through adoption. More specifically, domestic adoption. It is a messy process, filled with loss and gain. Joy, and indescribable pain.

For me, one of the scariest part about this process is being so vulnerable about my feelings surrounding our decision with friends, family, and the rest of the world.

Because for me, to share my heart on the matter, is a little like ripping my heart out of my chest and serving it on a platter for others to view, to critique, to comment on, and to judge. It’s not easy for me to completely convey the massive amount of emotions that are constantly swirling around within me.

Because as soon as I looked at my husband and whispered, “Yes, I’m in. Let’s do this.” I gave my heart away. Not just to the process of adoption, but to our future little one, and her ( or his ) birth parents.

My heart is wide open, broken, and too far gone to ever go back.

I’m in love. I am in waiting. And that can be a bit scary. Especially when there is no due date. There is no end to our story, and that I am not the author, just a humble character in a much bigger picture.

I feel weak when I compare the bottom line of our bank account to the estimated $30-40k we will owe in legal fees the second we finally hold our little one in our arms.

I feel weak when I think of another beautiful mother, and courageous father placing that precious bundle in our arms, along with a piece of themselves. Their loss is unthinkable.

I feel weak when I think of our future son or daughter’s heartache in losing a piece of them. Their loss in unbearable.

I feel weak when I begin to count all of my parenting inadequacies and shortcomings.

I feel weak when I think of all of the unknowns. All of the logistics. All of the red tape. All of the emotions that are stronger than I am.

Friends, I feel weak because I AM weak.

But I feel brave because there is one who goes before me. Just recently a friend texted me this verse from Isaiah 45:2-3 NLT:

“ I will go before you and level the mountains. I will smash down the gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness- secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”

This verse brings me to my knees, and has been what I have been clinging to as we sort out finances, as we lay awake at night wondering and dreaming of our little one, as we feel heartbroken for two precious parents who ARE the definition of brave.

I have already cried an ocean of tears for them and for our little lamb. There are so many circumstances out of our control. Out of our ability to plan and to prepare. Out of our scope of understanding, and beyond our ability to dictate. Out of our ability to heal.

Isn’t it true that when God calls us to something, it is tempting to list all of the reasons why we can’t , why we shouldn’t, why we aren’t enough, and why He should just ask someone else? (And believe me, I have 40 thousand reasons why to say no.)

But He didn’t ask anyone else. He asked us.

Us, who feel inadequate.

Us, who feel unprepared.

Us, who feel weak.

All He wants is our yes, and our heart.

We gave Him both. And are just waiting to for Him to do the rest…

To follow our story as it is being written, please visit: www.dugansincahoots.com

If you feel led to contribute to our adoption fund, you can do so here: http://www.gofundme.com/sqygxs

But above all, if you would, please pray that in our adoption, His name will be known and written all over our story. That everyone will know that even though we are weak. He is strong. And because of that we all can be Brave.

Thank you . Thank you . Thank you.

cari dugan bioCari Dugan is a lifestyle photographer and writer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She writes candidly about everyday life and experiences on being a wife and a mother on her blog Dugans in Cahoots (www.dugansincahoots.com ) You can also keep up with her on Instagram ( @cariduganphotography ) Her husband, and three children make life what it is – A Beautiful Mess.

To submit your own story of what brave means to you, please email me at wmpsalm139 {at} gmail {dot} com.

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