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  • Writer's pictureKristen Cole

“The Lotus” Revisited: Part 1 – Pain Before Beauty


This post originated on this BLOG with this post. The remainder of this post is from my expansion of that original post, so please read the original first to get the whole picture and concept. This is only a part one as the entire post is too long for a BLOG. This is another excerpt from my book proposal.


Have you ever felt under water? I have. I recall a certain time when I was pregnant with our first child. It took us about eight months to conceive him, which was long for me, but I realize short for many others who have endured the hopeless agony of infertility. I had just started a new job with a start-up office and was well on my way to be somewhat of a partner in this practice.

It was also the time in my life when I found myself with a very ill father in law. He had a series of complications from a back surgery for spinal stenosis. And when I say complications, I mean, he had an open infected wound on his lower back that my very non-medical mother in law had to pack. He had IV antibiotics at home, he had a slew of medications that neither he nor my mother in law knew a whole lot about.

I remember sitting at my father in law’s bedside one night, pregnant with our first miracle baby…I sat there watching his frail body, his chest rise and fall. I looked down at my belly and I wondered. Would he meet this child? What would happen to my husband if he lost his dad, his best friend, his confidant in this life…aside from me, but I was very new in this role as his wife. He had known his dad for all of his twenty-seven years. His dad has been his constant, his source of centering, his root sustainer.

I watched him. I prayed. I saw the team of residents come in the room and ask him to consent for a procedure. He had had a medication that causes drowsiness. He was incoherent. Sign here, the resident said…and I believe he had no ill intentions…but this was another procedure added to the laundry list…that they were not sure would work…and my father in law took the pen, ready to sign, just as had been requested. I intercepted the pen. I asked the resident to ask my father in law his name. I asked that they consider whether he was coherent enough to sign a consent.

Shocked, the resident did just that…and you know the answer. My father in law was not even sure of his name at that moment. “Who are you”, the resident asked me. I nicely explained that I was his patient’s daughter in law…but really, I was just the one stalling the process. I was holding up the assembly line. I was not the face he wanted to see that evening. I was one going against the grain, in our family’s muck and mud. I was asserting my skill at a time of need. I was pulling from my source…because I knew what was best for my father in law. Little did I know what lied ahead for me in future slime and grit.

I took his hand and I told him what they were talking about. There was no way he understood and I knew that. I heard his confusion, I looked at my growing belly, I heard the beeping, I smelled the familiar institutional stench. I said, No. I told them they had to wait for my mother in law or my husband. That we needed to talk about it.

He laid there. His body trembling, his strength leaving, his voice silenced…and I spoke for him. That night, pristinely clear in my memory, is one night I look back on and see the beauty that can arise from the darkest, scariest waters of the deep. And my deep was insecurity…even then…in who I was as a healthcare provider.

Not an overly vocal person, finding my voice that night, was my own blooming lotus flower…filled with beauty of the courageous type…the type that emerges despite the most unlikely of circumstances or surroundings…the type that surprises…even the grower of such beauty.

That night prepared me for another struggle beneath the life giving water’s surface during that time.

At our routine scheduled ultrasound for our baby’s anatomy scan, we did not leave the office with black and white flimsy pictures to show off…instead, we were told that our baby might have a genetic defect associated with one of the findings on his ultrasound. The wind taken from my lungs, we would have to wait two weeks for the answer. We would have to go on our anniversary trip…not knowing. We would have to go to work…not knowing. I would have to feel those sweet little baby boy kicks…not knowing whether he would be deemed “compatible with life” or not.

While we waited, we did the only thing we knew to do…we dug deeper and deeper, straining our already thready roots, for we were in a spiritual drought. We were desperate for the life giving water that just had to be there – somewhere beneath the ground. Looking to the right and left did not help as we were surrounded my murky waters that we could not see through. We were in the midst of sorting through medication after medication, clearing its use for my father in law…realizing the disconnect between patient and provider…the side effects not commonly recognized by the casual observer…but that is not what I was…casual… It took suffering. It took questioning.

It took digging…so deep that it physically hurt me and it hurt us.

It’s hard to stop a BLOG without wrapping it up, but…to be continued on next week’s post…stay tuned.

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