Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)
TITLE: Born in the Belly of an Iron Whale
By Chely Roach
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Someday my daughter will know that she was born in a bed that I was shackled to. She will find out that she spent the first year of her life behind prison bars.
It is a humbling, humiliating thing to endure…giving birth to an illegitimate child while handcuffed to the bed rail, as if I had the desire or strength to run. The staff at the local hospital were mercifully kind, but I could see the pity, the curiosity, the judgment in their eyes. I could almost read their thoughts; This baby was doomed from the moment it left the womb.
Grace Katherine was born at 6:13am…the very moment that the sun peeked over the horizon. It wasn’t until I first held her that I finally named her. I whispered into her tiny ear, “His mercies are new every morning, and what precious grace He has given to me…”
It’s not an altogether bad thing, us being here. We are sheltered, and well fed. We are a world away from the drugs that got me here, and the man that fathered her. Gracie deserves more than that life, and this place is giving me the chance to break away clean. The biggest blessing is that we are together.
Before I was even formally sentenced, I knew that I was pregnant. I spent my first two months behind bars either crying or throwing up. And praying; constantly praying for a miracle to be released with time served. After all, I was a brand new believer. Six months earlier I gave up the drugs, and started going to church. Sure, Jeff was still living with me, but I thought that I would be able to lead him to God. He would see Christ in me. Instead, I wondered down into the root cellar one afternoon and discovered his meth lab. The Bible I just given him for Christmas was propping up the wobbling leg on the table he was using for his illegal chemistry set. I called my pastor, and he told me to call the police. By the time my pastor and his wife pulled into the driveway, they were putting me in the back of the squad car. Jeff’s name wasn’t on the lease or the occupancy permit…only mine. In the eyes of the law, the drugs were in my possession, and they wanted a conviction.
I spent hours and hours lamenting to the Lord how unfair it all was, and how I was being punished for Jeff’s crime. When my pastor’s wife came to visit me, I gave her an earful. “Why, Susan? Why would God let this happen to me? I did the right thing!”
She looked at my swollen belly, and without a hint of meanness said, “Really, Joanne? Do you really think God wanted you to continue living with that man months after you were saved? Open your Bible, baby. Sometimes God will put you into the belly of a whale to get your attention, and then spit you out on His path.”
So here I am, in the belly of a great iron whale. Though the walls that surround us are painted in pretty hues, and there are swings in the courtyard where children play, this is not the utopia any mother would dream of for her child. Up until the month Gracie was born I wrestled with the choice to keep her or give her up for adoption. Even now, I wonder if I based my decision on my own selfishness. Regardless, she is my joy; she has given me a new sense of purpose. She is the soft path that God has set me on.
Someone once told me that bad decisions make good stories, which is painfully true. My mother used to say to me, “I hope you have a daughter just like you.” Those last three words still sting from their intended venom. I pray for my baby to live a far different story than mine. Yet, I still struggle with the decision to someday tell her of this auspicious start that I have forced upon her. Most days I believe that I will. Some days I cower and mourn. It’s times like these that I hear that still, small voice, I am the Lord of humble births…I will search your heart, and know your anxious thoughts, my precious child.
Because whatever my God ordains is right…
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