My First Cry Pierced the Silence of My Amish Parent’s Bedroom

My birth story used to be the favorite story of my life to tell.

My first cry pierced the silence of my Amish parent’s bedroom as I slid out into the world and into the waiting hands of a local American Indian midwife. As the midwife dipped me into a bowl of warm water to calm me down, my dad dropped all of the names that he and my mom liked into his wide—brimmed, black hat.

Rhoda, Laura, Elizabeth, Anna Margaret, Rachel… the white slips of paper swirled and bounced.

My dad reached into the hat, his fingers closing around one of those random white pieces. He pulled out the paper and opened it. The fate of my name was revealed.

My daughter. Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography
My daughter and I. Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography

My name was to be: Anna Margaret. I was my mom’s namesake; her name is also Anna Margaret.

The winds of change blew me far away from that white farm house in upstate New York.

Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography

During the course of over 22 moves in 29 years, I took on many different identities:

Abused, my childhood was filled with pain.

Socially Awkward, my family moved frequently and I found that I didn’t fit in anywhere. I learned that it was easier to keep to myself.

Member, when I joined the plain church my family was a part of.

Wife, when I got married at the age of 19.

Excommunicated, when I was cut off from everything I had ever known, leaving the plain life style I was familiar with… forever.

Barren, as I said good-bye to 4 angel babies who left my womb too early and took flight to the skies.

Military Spouse, when my husband joined the Air Force.

Fulfilled Mother, I welcomed my miracle daughter after a painful series of medical procedures that enabled my body to have a child.

Foreigner, as I found myself living abroad in Tokyo, Japan.

Betrayed, I watched my marriage fall apart, shattering my carefully pieced identity.

Separated, for over two years I lived in limbo, I never knew which way was up.

Divorcee, the dissolution of almost ten years of marriage brutally ripped my heart apart.

Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography

That brings us to the end… A Divorce. The Divorcee. But, was this really going to be the END?

During my divorce, I had the opportunity to change my name. It was introduced to me as part of a required, methodical process. I would have the opportunity to not only change my last name, but the rest of my name as well.

At first I disregarded the notion. Why change my name? Had I not gone through enough change in one lifetime? As I drove home that day, my spirit low, my body numb, I felt a stirring deep inside of me.

I quivered as a familiar voice broke through the fog that was smothering me and spoke to me in my spirit, “I have given you a new name.

Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography

Suddenly I saw my new name in front of me, a name that celebrated my value, a name that celebrated my ancestry, a name that filled my future with hope, a name that was CHOSEN specifically for ME.

Margaret Ann Delagrange.

I chose my Grandmother’s maiden name as my new last name, because I was always proud of that smidgen of French heritage in my otherwise German ancestry.

My name given to me at birth, Anna Margaret, meant: “A Gracious Pearl”

My new name, Margaret Ann, meant: “A Pearl of Grace

You wouldn’t think there’s much of a difference, but my new name told me that I was no longer simply a name picked from a hat. I was no longer just a chance. I was no longer a helpless little girl. I was no longer any of the things that I lived through, whether I lived through them graciously or not. My new name told me that I am now a woman. The rough things in my past have helped polish me until I glow. From the pain, a pearl of grace has been birthed.

Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography
Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography

Today I am a Pearl of Grace.

Today I am here on this earth ON PURPOSE.

Today the lines around my eyes are full of joy, carved by pain.

Today I shine.

Today I am free.

Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography
Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography
Photo by: Sarah Pagano Photography
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