First, let me apologize to anyone that is offended by me mentioning God. Feel free to substitute “The Great Beyond,” “She Who Has No Name,” “The Almighty,” “The Limitless Universe” or whatever more closely fits with your vision of the divine. Look, maybe you throw clams at the sun on your spiritual retreats, I just think we all hold out hope for something greater than ourselves.
My beloved girlie Charlaine from Dallas said it best: “Girl, I have never known such fear as until I had children!” I always knew The Todd and I could overcome any challenge, face anything together.
Until God reneged on the deal.
Twins run in my family … multiple cousins have them. My dear mom lost twin boys at fove months. It was right at five months when I was pregnant when I started making deals with God. “I promise I will never take Your Name in vain again if the boys are healthy.” “I will donate 20 percent of my salary to the homeless if the boys come out okay.” “I will stop cutting in front of slower drivers and gesticulating angrily if it’s all good with the twins.” And later on when I gained 100 pounds of fluid (Editor’s note: I am not joking here, you could have put strings on me and floated me down Madison Avenue with the rest of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.) “Lord, I know my body is totally jacked up, and I’m okay with that as long as it’s not affecting the boys.”
I would just like to say that our planned C-section was NOTHING like the “Baby Story” on TLC. Talk about a birthing plan shot to hell. The crash cart, two cardiologists, trauma team, and that totally sucky tube that ran from my neck through all four chambers of my heart made it fairly clear that this was NOT what we had planned. And I was still okay with it. I figured God and I had a deal. Screw with me, fine. But leave the twins alone.
They had names by then. Zachie was on the bottom and HATED ultrasounds. He would flounce over crossly and refuse to let us see his little face. MacLean was on top, by my heart. They would always have their foreheads pressed together in my womb, like they were telling secrets.
I tried to negotiate with the cardiologists. “I can take a lot of pain, PLEASE let me stay awake to see them!” No dice. I told my mom and sister Jenne, “don’t you DARE let them be alone! If they separate them, you go with them! They can’t be alone!” I knew The Todd would want to stay with me … even though I threatened divorce if the twins were left alone in some warming bed.
I woke up four days later with a tube down my throat and my hands taped to the bedrail. Dang that Todd, he knew I would try to rip out the tubes. I was perfectly fine with the mess left of my abdomen and the network of scars. God and I had a deal. The boys were okay.
It’s been nine years since then. My boys have challenges. Big ones. I have learned that God doesn’t make bargains. This absolutely infuriates me, by the way.
I visited the pediatric cardiology unit at our local children’s hospital today. There are three month olds with scars bigger than mine. I compared “zippers” with a couple of the older kids. We are cool. We have our badges. And I looked at those parents who hovered as I lifted my shirt to compare those puckered track marks on our abdomens and chests. I dispensed stuffed animals and DVDs and cupcakes. Every one of those mothers and fathers would have given anything to take their child’s scar for themselves.
I ached to tell them that God doesn’t cut deals with any of us. I don’t care how many charities you give to. I don’t care how many good deeds you do. Your kids will still face challenges that will make you burn in every part of your body to swap places. But, you will hold their hands and tell them “hang in there. I get it. It totally sucks. But you WILL get through this. I did.”
And you will forgive God for “breaking the deal.”
At least, I’m working on it.