Cut Open


Tasha Burgoyne -Cut Open3

Our colorful nativity set was placed on a table beside our box TV that year. We were weeks away from welcoming our first child and I was overcome with anxiety about giving birth. Just days before Christmas, my husband and I wrote our biggest-fears-turned-biggest-prayers onto ripped-up printer paper and laid them before the baby Jesus’ feet in our nativity set. It was a tangible giving over of our fears as the transition into parenthood drew closer.

Here’s what I wrote on a small, jagged-edged, thin white surface:

God, please let me have a natural birth. I don’t want to be cut open.

I folded it up as tiny as it could be and left it there at his imagined baby feet, covered by cloth.

Three days after Christmas, I heard and felt a pop while sitting on the couch one evening. Half an hour later, water streamed down my legs uncontrollably and I couldn’t stop laughing with nervous laughter. After another 20 hours, I lay in a recovery room alone, unable to stop shaking from the medication still in my body and unable to stop shaking in my spirit, waiting to be reunited with my husband and baby boy. I couldn’t move. I had been cut open.

For months, I felt defeated when someone asked about my birth story. I didn’t want to say that I had a C-section. The recovering pain of my scar screamed of my weakness and shortcoming.

Deep down, I wondered if God said “no” to the request I laid at his baby feet because I didn’t do enough to receive it. I hadn’t been strong enough. In the days that followed at home, I spent quiet afternoons watching my son wiggle on a swaddling cloth on the floor while I read aloud to him, hoping he would grow a love for books and stories. As I read words aloud with confidence, I pushed fears and falsehoods deep into my heart.

Less than three years later, I was unexpectedly cut open a second time for an emergency C-section, and we welcomed our second boy into the world and into our hearts. And those fears and falsehoods remained in my heart, lodged deep beside the spaces our boys took up.

Then, this year, it was my heart that was cut wide open as we welcomed our third child–a girl–through adoption. Through loss and brokenness, beauty and grace, paperwork and decisions I never imagined making, we grew from four to five in what some may call the most unnatural way.

Our little girl, physically birthed by another woman and separated from her womb, then her arms, went on to face another separation and then another. Her body and her voice told the story of life being cut open as we traveled home. We watched her struggle, and we held her, my husband and I, aching fiercely for all of the ways we, each of us, lose what’s hoped for and grieve our deepest unmet desires, and the loss of what’s most natural and what could have been.

I once thought giving birth was about power and strength and that the way I gave birth would either make or break the foundation my mother feet would stand upon.

Instead, it’s the scars that keep telling me the powerful stories of broken things mended and brought back together.

It’s the prayers lifted up and seemingly gone unanswered in the ways most hoped for.

It’s the water breaking, the water crossing, the uncontrollable shaking, the screams of separation from womb and country.

It’s the hardest and most courageous decisions made that connect mother stories across the sea.

It’s the restless nights without understanding, the surrender to ways I never initially imagined, and the things I once thought should be hidden, coming uncovered with time and the unyielding, ever-reaching grace of God.

It’s all of these things, like rough bricks, imperfect and unfinished, scar-gifts of redemption and courage coming together, that keep my mothering hands and feet firm.

It’s having been cut open that has given birth to sitting my whole being at Jesus’ feet.

It’s this cut-open separation from comfort that’s led me to reach for empowerment, not by avoiding my biggest fears, but instead, by leading me straight through them with the power of Jesus’ perfect love holding me tight.