When I first started the Life Examination process, I had no idea where it would lead me. But I heard an unmistakable Voice telling me to simply "take the first step and trust Me for the rest." So I did. I started writing at the beginning...my birth. I wrote down everything I had ever heard about that event and I noted who told me. I realized when I was done that almost everything I knew came to me through my mother. I don't remember a single conversation with my dad about how my birth impacted his life. I am so very thankful that my mom took the time to share those details with me...that she thought it valuable enough information to pass on! But I also realized that everything I came to believe about the beginning of my life came to me through another person's "filter"--my mom's own belief system and perceptions. Was I a good baby? Or did I cry a lot? Was I a pretty baby? Was I wanted? Like it or not, those things affect how I see myself today. They are the very foundation of my self-esteem. Ever thought about that yourself??? I'd love to hear your comments!
Continued from THE EXAMINED LIFE: Chapter 1 In the Beginning
"In close proximity to my parents lived several members of my extended family so they, too, played parts in the drama that unfolded that day. My mother went into labor exactly one week after her due date. According to her, that was one of the longest weeks of her life. She said that everyone, including the postman, kept asking, “Are you still here?” All her previous labors began before her appointed due date and were heralded by her water breaking. But with me the contractions just started coming, so the beginning of labor was a little more difficult to define. I can’t even imagine how relieved she must have been to know that the end was finally in sight.
My mother stayed home during early labor, figuring it wasn’t really serious business until her water broke. My mother’s sister, Linda, is a nurse and was tending to Mom that day. Mom labored pretty much all day, but she said things got really intense when she was taking out the trash. She said that on her way back up to the house she had a really hard contraction, one she couldn’t walk through. As she stopped to breathe, my aunt put her hand on Mom’s belly and said, “These are really strong. We’d better get you to the hospital!” They packed up and headed out, stopping only to retrieve my dad from the golf course. It was a Saturday, and he was playing a few rounds with his brother-in-law, Johnny. When Mom arrived at the hospital, she was checked by a nurse and told that she was seven centimeters dilated! Upon making this discovery, the hospital staff kicked everything into high gear. Her obstetrician was called immediately and was told to get there ASAP, as fourth babies are expected to arrive rather quickly. The nurses were afraid the doctor wouldn’t make it there in time to deliver me.
As was the tradition in those days, my dad had to wait in the waiting room for the news that I had arrived. I can only imagine how my dad must’ve passed the time—nervously drumming rhythms with his fingers. It was also standard procedure to sedate women once labor progressed to a certain point, leaving them with no memory of the birth itself. My mom says that she never thought it was fair that the mother was the last one to know what she’d had, a boy or a girl. She had to wait until she woke up to find out. The doctor did arrive, just in time for the delivery. However, he didn’t quite have enough time to change out of his street clothes before having to make the catch. My mom said that his clothes were ruined in the process, a fact he was obviously not very happy about!
At the time of my birth, my mom started a baby book for me. My hospital bracelets and crib card were placed inside. It even had an envelope with a lock of my hair in it. I remember how much I loved looking at it as a child. I loved reading all the information written in the blanks. And I especially loved that it was written in my mom’s own handwriting. Having that book made me feel like I was important. Seeing all those filled-in blanks made me feel like my birth was worth remembering. I will always feel especially thankful to my mom for the time she took to do that for me.
According to my baby book, I weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces, which was pretty big for a girl back then. (I guess having that extra week to “cook” probably helped.) It also said that I had dark hair, blue eyes, dark eyebrows, and that I most resembled my brother, Mike. (That is the only time in our lives that people said we looked alike.) I was a bottle-fed baby. My mom said that the only women who breast-fed babies back then were the “farm women,” (and she was definitely not one of “those people!”). I assume that I was an even-tempered baby, mostly because I don’t remember hearing any stories about my crying for hours on end. It probably helped that I followed my sister who was, according to Mom, an extremely difficult baby. She was premature, causing her to eat often, tire when feeding, and cry madly when she wanted something.
My given name—“Lisa Marie”—didn’t carry with it any sort of family connotation. My mom and dad picked my name simply because they liked the sound of it. I do vaguely remember hearing my mom say that, when she chose that name for me, the only other “Lisa” she knew of at that time was the character on the show “Green Acres.” My first name means “Consecrated to God,” and I remember how excited I was when I made that discovery. To me, that meaning captured exactly what I’d always believed in my heart to be true—that I belonged to God and was special to Him. While I was growing up, I shared that fact with people every chance I got. I think that discovery was probably the first time I can remember feeling God’s calling on my life.
Nine months after my birth, Elvis Presley and his wife gave birth to a daughter and named her Lisa Marie. I have been asked all my life if I was named after her and I answered, tongue-in-cheek, “No, I’m older. She was named after me.” My mom’s sister, Linda, gave birth to my cousin, Dana, about nine months after me, too. I remember hearing Linda’s stories of how she had always loved the name “Lisa” and how she had wanted to name her own little girl that. But according to her, my mom had basically “stolen” the name before she had a chance to use it. This is one of the earliest memories I have of feeling responsible for someone else’s e hurt feelings.
My mother said that when she was pregnant, she thought I was a boy. Even when she entered the hospital to deliver me, the doctors and nurses all wore blue scrubs. (During the births of her other kids, all the medical personnel wore pink.) She said she took that to be a sign that she would be having another boy. She said she was so surprised when they announced to her that she’d had another girl. For a time I wondered if she had secretly hoped for another boy. After all, she did come from a family of seven girls. And with a college football playing dad, I know that boys were considered a precious commodity in her family. I wondered if my being a girl was a disappointment to her. But my mom laid to rest my fears in the letter she wrote me on Mother’s Day as she expressed how much my being born a girl had been a blessing to her, that she had secretly hoped that I would be.
I guess in the grand scheme of things, though, none of that really matters now. For regardless of what anyone else’s plans were for my life, God had His own plan for me. And it was His plan that, on that warm Saturday in May, my mother, father, sister, and brother welcome into their little family a new baby girl—me.
My mom’s mother, the grandmother I called “Meemaw,” came to visit my mom in the hospital and brought her some fresh gardenia flowers that she’d cut from the bush in her backyard. In a birthday card she sent me one year, Meemaw told me how the blooming of her Gardenia bush each spring reminded her of my birth. I don’t think she ever knew how much of a blessing it was to me to hear her say that! And to this day, when my own gardenia bushes bloom each spring, I am filled with memories of her as well."
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16
Thank You for writing the story of my birth—a story so simple, and yet so incredible. As I write it now, I can see evidence of Your love and provision for me from the very beginning of my life. Thank You for blessing me with a mother who took care of herself while she was carrying me and who made the effort to leave a written account of my birth for me. What a priceless gift! Thank You, too, for giving me a father who gladly welcomed me into the world and for the way he worked hard in order to provide for his growing family. Thank You for all the other people who played a part in my birth, too. Help me to explore further how this important event and all the people who were involved have impacted my life.
In Jesus Name I pray,