We had an amazing day yesterday. I splurged beyond anything I've every splurged before (with the exception of a helicopter ride around the island Kauai which was totally worth it) and we took Austin and Macy to see "Wicked." Since we bought the tickets last June, it was as if we went for free (right?!?). As much as I suffer from Buyer's Remorse, I don't allow myself to feel bad when we spend money on experiences. Creating memories is never a waste of money in my opinion. This is something that our kids will remember for a long, long time, and they both asked if they could go again next week. Every morning for the past week, Macy has woken up and asked, "Is today the day I get to see the Wicked Witch?" She has no concept of time. She uses the word "yesterday" to describe any event in the past and the word "tomorrow" to describe any event in the future. It must be confusing. They both loved it, and they did really well as staying focused (although the love songs were a little slow for them). When the show started, I even got choked up a bit. I love watching my kids experience new experiences. It's almost an out-of-body experience for me. I love just sitting back and watching their excitement and curiosity. It was so much fun, and the cast was exceptional!
But even more exciting than "Wicked" was the birth of my new little nephew, Cash. Lisa was truly a trooper. They were at the hospital for 26 hours before Cash decided to make his entrance (or was pulled into existence - literally). She was progressing so well at first that we thought she would have the baby in the very early hours of Saturday morning. But, sadly, her labor stopped, and they gave her some serious pitocin to get those contractions going. She just progressed so slowly. It took her hours to dilate one centimeter - even with her water broken. Then, she pushed for about two hours and he was just stuck. His little head was turned and he just wouldn't come through the birth canal. The doctor ended up using the vacuum and eventually the forceps to literally yank him out of her. He is an adorable 8 pounds 15 ounces with dark hair and is a pro at the binkie already (what a good boy). Lisa was amazing!
In one of the songs in "Wicked," Glinda (the good witch for those unfamiliar with "Wizard of Oz") is supposedly getting everything she ever dreamed: the most handsome man on her arm, the perfect "job", and the admiration of everyone. Whenever she is in public, she feels it is her obligation to "appear perfect" (sound familiar anyone?). At this point in the play, she is beginning to realize that life is much, much more complex. In this exerpt from one of her songs, she is realizing the truth, and allowing herself to be honest for the first time. However, near the end, she is trying to convince herself (and those around her) about the meaning of happiness. She sings:
That's why I couldn't be happierNo, I couldn't be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn't be happier
Simply couldn't be happier
(spoken) Well - not "simply":
(sung) 'Cause getting your dreams
It's strange, but it seems
A little - well - complicated
There's a kind of a sort of : cost
There's a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn't know you crossed
Until you've crossed
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn't thrill you like you think it will
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Wouldn't be happier?
So I couldn't be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn't it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true
Lisa crossed a lot of bridges yesterday that she didn't even realize were there until she was done. Near the end, after hours of pushing and 26 hours without sleep or food, she was completely exhausted - emotionally and physically. Matt was struggling with watching his wife having to cross this very precarious and difficult bridge - feeling so helpless. My mom and my sisters were there, taking turns holding her legs and trying so desperately to support her and give her words of encouragement. Those last few minutes, I believe every person in that room was praying (in their own way) with all their strength that the baby would just come out. As I was holding her leg, shedding sympathetic tears and wishing beyond anything that I could do something for her...anything...to just give her some relief...to ease her pain. I saw it in my mom's eyes, too. I really believe that at that moment, I would have climbed up on that bed and taken over for her. But this wasn't my trial - not my bridge. This was Lisa's. She had to do it. She had to be strong - stronger than she's ever been before. She had to dig deep and find the courage and energy and faith to just keep pushing - no matter how difficult. Afterward, the doctor came up to her, put his hand on her shoulder and solemnly said, "That was really hard." He's right; that was really hard. But Lisa proved that she can do really hard things, and like every mother before her and every mother yet to come, she definitely has some war wounds to prove that she fought a tough battle.
I believe that one of the reasons that giving birth is so profound is that it is such a beautiful metaphor for our lives. I looked around the room today at church, and I noticed a lot of people who were currently crossing their own bridges; treacherous, scary, difficult bridges that have been put in their path. I noticed a lot of people that have been through seemingly insurmountable trials, sometimes one on top of the other (kind of like those contractions near the end of labor that don't seem to give you a break), and they have miraculously survived. They have also proved that they can do really, really hard things - wounds and all. And I noticed a lot of people that I don't really know, but I assume that some of them may also being going through very difficult, painstaking trials of which I know nothing.
I don't believe that "Happy is what happens when your dreams come true." At this point in my life (32), I have a new theory. It is different than my 22-year-old theory of life, and it will probably be different than my 42-year-old theory of life. So, here goes: I believe that happiness in this life has much more to do with setting goals (dreams, if you will) and then living with contentment and finding happiness in the journey. When we come to those "bridges," which can be scary, exciting, fascinating, etc., we need to continuously dig deep within our souls and carry on with courage, strength, and faith - pushing harder than we've ever pushed before. And although there isn't a chubby, pink, dark-eyed, gorgeous, absolutely perfect baby waiting for us on the other side of all of our bridges, there is always a reward.
I am reminded of a quote from Elder Holland that I used in my Easter talk on the "Atonement." He states: "One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path - the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends...We will never be left alone or unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are."
It was so apparent to me that Lisa was not alone last night. I felt the Spirit in the room, and I was praying constantly that the Lord would sustain her just a little longer. I could feel of our Heavenly Father's loving care that he has for this special daughter of his. She was also given the gift of such a caring medical staff. These people (nurses, anesthesiologist, doctor) genuinely cared for my sister, her husband, and this baby. Her nurse was amazing! My mom and I commented to each other (and we've given birth eight times between the two of us) that we have never, ever had such an attentive nurse. She did not leave my sister's side for three hours! She knew exactly what to say, offered endless patience and encouragement, and seemed to calm her down at just the right moments. As I stood there, I felt overwhelming gratitude for this woman who I believe was a gift to help her get through those most difficult moments. She could do what the rest of us could not, and I know Lisa felt supported. The doctor was focused and professional as he made very difficult, split-second decisions. Although I felt helpless, I am so grateful that Heavenly Father gave me so many sisters (my mom included). We are not a perfect family, but at that moment, we were completely united in purpose. It was a very peaceful, surreal feeling that binds me even stronger to these good people.
None of us could carry Lisa across her bridge, but the Lord blessed her with so many helpers. We need each other. And I believe there is so much happiness in finding the good in even the most difficult, complex situations.
Welcome to our family little Cash. There are no easy answers to life, and who knows what adventures you will travel. I do know that there are so many people who love you and are here to help you. I can't wait to get to know you better!