Sunday, December 23, 2012

Imperfect Photos

I'm so annoyed with myself.

My kids look adorable and I wanted to capture the matching outfits. I adjusted blankets, ornaments, presents and seats to prepare for what I knew would be a crazy photo shoot.

During a break from the football game, Erik helped me gather the children and prop them up. Well, Becca we propped up. Joshua we bribed, cajoled, coaxed and entertained in an attempt to get some precious photos.

So why am I annoyed with myself? Because I got frustrated. I got frustrated with my two year old because he wouldn't sit still and smile normally. Because he wouldn't stop saying "cheese" with a squinchy face. Because he wouldn't look at the camera. Because he kept rocking and moving, and laying, and rolling. I got frustrated because my two year old was, well, being two.

My goodness, what else did I expect from him??

He wouldn't be Joshua Nelson Lindeen if he didn't make goofy faces, roll on the floor, pucker up and make oogly noises at his sister. He wouldn't be Joshua and he wouldn't be mine if he wasn't the silly little boy that he is. 

And I must say, the imperfect pictures that we did capture are the most precious, true-to-life pictures I've ever seen. My impish little boy and my smiley miracle baby girl.

We are so blessed. Merry Christmas from the Lindeens!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Feeling overwhelmed? I am. I really feel like I shouldn't feel overwhelmed. I mean, Joshua was in daycare for 6 hours today. I was able to squeeze a workout in while Becca napped. Erik did a fair chunk of my normal house hold cleaning yesterday. I was able to get a haircut yesterday. I didn't have a lot of work on my plate today.

And yet, I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, I just think being an adult is overwhelming.

Keep a clean house.
Understand health insurance.
Swap the laundry.
Feed your kids
Clothe your kids. In moderately clean clothes.
Spend quality time with your spouse.
File your own taxes.
Wash all fruits and veggies. Well.
Play with your kids.
Put gas in the car.
Remember to change the oil.
Balance your checkbook. (What's that?)
Give back to your community.
Establish a circle of friends.
Clean out the fridge.
Unscrew the outdoor hoses. BEFORE it snows.
Change the furnace filter.
Pick up some DrainO.
Take a break.
Hold down a job.
Pursue a career.
Chase your dreams.
Soothe the crying 10 week old who has a tummy ache and just can't be calmed down.

Adulthood is overwhelming. Motherhood is overwhelming. I'm not complaining; I'm just stating a fact.

Good thing tonight Joshua went to bed easily and I really can put my feet up and at least attempt to soothe the bundle of Boo who seems to have a sore tummy. I guess, for this moment in time, I'm not too overwhelmed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We have a KID!

Today has been a funny day. Why? Because Joshua Nelson Lindeen is funny. Quite, in fact. 

I love that kid.

This evening after dinner we played hide n seek. Joshua learned this awesome game while staying with his older cousins this week. So tonight, we played a family game. First time ever that we really felt like we had a kid! I turned to Erik at one point and said, "Wait a minute--we have a KID!" Joshua would even take a turn counting "Di Doos Di Di .... ready here come!" and he turned out to be a great hider. I reveled in the joy on his face every time we found him or him us or he just jumped out of his spot, so enthusiastically engaged in the fun. We have a kid!

This morning, he drank his milk, pointed to his tummy and said, "Tummy! Milk! Gone!" and laughed. Then he pointed to the front of his diaper and said, "Milk! Gone! Haha!" and promptly went to the bathroom.

At dinner, I gave Joshua some watered down Crystal Lite as a treat. He immediately started guzzling it. We said, "Time to pray!" and he pointed his index finger at me in this new way that he does and said, "No! Wait! No Waaaaaait!" "Wait for what Joshua? It's time to pray--we always pray before a meal." "No, wait! Juice." he stated matter of factly and kept right on guzzling. We tried not to laugh and prayed to thank Jesus for the juice.

Apparently I take too many pictures, because now Joshua starts to say, "No, mama. [index finger pointing included.] No mama--no picture."

We made a gingerbread house today--or more like we decorated a pre-assembled foam house that I got at Target for $5. THANK YOU TARGET. Joshua has been carrying that thing around all day. In fact, the house had to play hide n seek with us.

Joshua loves to have me (or anyone available) draw animals based on his whims. Today it was hippos. Other days it has been giraffes, alligators, lions, bears and tigers. [{The only one I just canNOT figure out is rhinos. If someone can teach me how to draw a rhino, I'd greatly appreciate it. So would Joshua. My rhino is creepy...}] Erik was putting Joshua down for a nap this afternoon, and for whatever reason it was a struggle. He almost had him content and drifting off when Joshua sat upright in bed, eyes wide and yelled tearfully, "Hippo cubor! Hippo cubors! Daddy, Mama, hippo cubor!!!" Erik came to me, bewildered. I knew immediately--he wanted the two scrap pieces of paper that I'd drawn hippos on earlier that day. Erik got them, gave them, and Joshua went to sleep, "hippo cubors" (hippo colors) in hand.

We have a kid. He talks to us, he tests us, he loves us. He tells us stories (though we often can't decipher, we've learned to nod and pause and affirm with the best of 'em), and he shares his joy with us. I'm so excited for more family hide n seek nights--it's fun having a kid!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dear Rebecca: I see you, I hear you

I've been getting into the show "Parenthood" the last few weeks. It's what I watch when I'm nursing Becca and Joshua isn't around to entertain me. There's an episode where two of the characters are in marriage counseling, and the husband keeps using the phrase "I see you and I hear you." 
I often find myself saying this exact phrase to my adorable daughter. 

Rebecca, Mama sees you and Mama hears you. 

This sweet little girl--this miraculous gift from God--just wants to chat. She'll be in the middle of nursing and I'll glance down and there she is, twinkling eyes and huge bubbly grin.  

I see you and I hear you. 
I'll sit her up to burp her and I'll pause for just a second because I know that as soon as her eyes focus and she hones in on my face I'll be rewarded with the biggest grin ever, complete with drooly lips and a body wiggle. 
I see you and I hear you.

As I bustle around the house, or rapid-fire reply to emails between a feeding and the soon-to-follow nap time, she sits in her bouncer or swing and coos at her animal friends. I'll glance over every now and then and see my baby girl, eyes searching for someone to talk to. The panda on the toy bar just doesn't always cut it.

I see you and I hear you. 

When I take a moment to put down the food I'm cooking or the laundry I'm folding and simply stick my face in front of hers I am reminded: all this little one wants is me. All she is asking for is a hello. A howdy do. A moment in time to see my face and respond. 
I see you and I hear you. 

That smile melts my heart every. single. time. 
That grin causes laughter to bubble up inside me. 
That new found "coo" and "goo" and the beginnings of a giggle bring me so much sunshine on these cloudy days that I just don't know how I ever lived my life without you, Rebecca. You are my sunshine. You are my joy. 

I see you, and I hear you, and I am forever grateful that you are mine.

Monday, November 19, 2012

You Know You Have a Toddler ...

You know you have a toddler when:

You finish wrapping your husband's birthday present, flip it over, and find peanut butter smeared all over the top of the package. #peanutbuttermonger

You actually look forward to 6:15am because it's so stinkin' cute that the kid proudly says, "Waaaaake! Meeeee! Wake!" as he wiggles to get out from under his blankets.

Your formerly really cozy-cool den/reading room transforms into a fort/epic dinosaur battle room.

Crumbs on the couch, under the couch, on the floor, crushed in the carpet, sprinkled over every surface are, well, normal. #newstandardofcleanliness

You don't even feel the need to vacuum up the crumbs until people are coming over. And then only sometimes. Depending on the people.

Bananas, yogurt, string cheese and graham crackers--all things you used to eat, are ferociously protected and reserved for the youngster. So much so that you don't even remember what those yummy foods taste like anymore.

Guests have to sidestep boats, walruses, numerous fishes, balls and other such bathtub toys when trying to shower. #sorrydon'ttrip

Words like "abudatti" "dati" "hetititititoter" "aowi me" all make sense to you and are actually a relief. #nolongerlostintranslation

The words helicopter, elevator & alligator all sound the same. But you can tell the difference.

Your new baby girl gets peanut butter kiss marks on her cheeks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles placed in her arms.


The approaching winter is more dreadful than ever before. How to expend enough of his energy indoors?? #impossible

You often have to explain the difference between stickers and window clings. So not the same thing ...

A blog moment is interrupted by a little voice saying, "Stories Mama? Stories?" #whocouldresist?

Bathtime is an often used reprieve to occupy and contain a non-stop bundle of energy. #heisintherenow :)

 You dream of three word sentences and a potty trained son.

Your blogging is interrupted again by the same little voice, now done with his bath, asking, "Mama plays? Me? Turtles?" and you crouch on the floor to have a battle between two ninja turtles, a giraffe and the Hulk. #practicingmybattlesounds

 You can't even count how many times a day you say, "I'll be right back", "In just a minute" "What Josh?" and "Silly! You're so funny!"

Equally so, you can't even begin to count how many times a day you hear "Deez Mama?" "Wook, Mama!" "Mama? Down?"

When playing with your precious son, you are almost always told you're doing it wrong. "No Mama!" #somanyopinions

Pretty much you know you have a toddler when your world is full of joy, giggles, tantrums, precious moments, hair-pulling situations & lots and lots of cuddly hugs, "pat-pat-pats" on the back, and sloppy wet peanut butter kisses. I pray for more words, I hope for easy potty training ... but for now, I have a little 2 1/2 year old who has said, "Deez Mama" 4 times in the last 20 seconds, just asked me to go "down" to "plays" with his sticker book in hand and his overalls falling off his shoulder. I've said, "In a minute" twice and should probably now go. #lovebeingamom

Friday, November 9, 2012


8 salad plates = $5.52
8 dinner plates = $7.92
2 serving platters =$5.98
1 cool coffee thing = $3.99
Goodwill hunting with my future sis-in-law = PRICELESS

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Be Near

Do you hang verses around your home in an attempt to be immersed in God's word?

I do. Every other cupboard door, over the stove, on the side of the microwave that faces my so called "office" in the kitchen. My bathroom door, the linen closet door, the kitchen window sill. The verses are all over, and yet, I rarely see them.

(To be fair, I do read the one on the linen closet door, only because the toilet faces that door. So ... yeah. I do read that one.)

Today I've been feeling a bit blue. "I'm blue." --Rachel, from "Friends" (Brittany Miller, name that episode... :) ) I think it's a whole bunch of things. It's the weather, it's some changes in our life, it's contemplating going back to work and all that means for my daily life with two young kids. (Dad, if you're reading this, I like my job and no, I won't quit. I know you need to retire... :P)

It's my perpetual headache, my endless sinus infections, the lack of girl time, the tantrums of my precious two year old. My blue feeling is a product of a whole bunch of things.

So as I sat down to blog, with really nothing in particular to write about--just knowing that writing tends to help me--I paused. My eyes wandered to the pile of random coupons, "to-dos", and hospital bills (ick). My gaze caught a verse that I'd taped to the microwave months ago.  One that is there, in my eyesight every day, that I don't think I've read since I wrote it down.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Who have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 I may be blue, but that verse can't NOT lift my spirits. "Nevertheless" -- no matter what. No matter headaches, or monotony of motherhood, or tantrums. "Continually" -- all of the time. Never ending. Never ceasing.

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 73:23-28

"Good to be near" -- close to. Residing with. Snuggled up. I must say, I am not always near God. I have verses plastered around my house in an attempt to stay connected. I spend at least a few minutes most days reading my Bible, trying to journal some thoughts. I make prayer lists, and attempt to lift my voice to the Lord. I play worship music (or Joshua does) as we play and do chores. And yet ... I'm so often not "near" Him. I've put all these things in my life to help me get near, but I rarely actually draw near. Why is that?

If you have an answer, or some experience with a possible answer, please comment. :)

"But for me it is good to be near ..." It's a choice. I guess I just have to choose more often to pause, read those verses on the kitchen window sill, the bathroom door, the microwave side. It's a choice to be near.

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Little Butterfly

I'm not real big on super themed rooms. I have nothing against them--in fact, I'm always a little awed at how cute some people's kid's rooms are! But it's just not my thing to ever be THAT coordinated. Joshua's room had specific colors that I liked, and a monkey night light and light switch plate. That was the extent of the coordination.

When it came time to decorate Rebecca's room, I felt a little stuck. She would be sharing with the guest room, and I was adamantly against going pink. Too much pink, I thought, and I might hurl. So I opted for whites and yellows, and since the walls were blue, blue. Hints of pink--just hints. (Ended up with pink curtains, so the "hint of pink" is a little more than a hint ...) We didn't choose to go with any sort of animal theme, just colors and pretty decor.

It came time for me to send my ideas for the design of Becca's name print to our cousin, Emily. She designed Joshua's, and I was so excited to have another one done for my baby girl! I talked it over with Erik, we chose a verse, decided on the color scheme and then I asked him, "What should be on the picture?"

See, I didn't really want owls or birds, though those baby girl designs are adorable. I didn't want jungle beasts or zoo animals as that's Joshua's thing and I didn't want him stealing her picture. :) Butterflies had crossed my mind, but I don't love butterflies either (obviously I have a problem here). However, butterflies were seeming like the way to go. And when I asked Erik, he, on his own, said butterflies as well. So it seemed we were going with the butterfly idea! So I sent our notes to Emily so she could work her magic.

Life went on, days dragged on, and we finally reached Becca's birth day. I gathered a few items including a pink blanket with a butterfly on it. "Funny," I thought as I folded it, "there's a butterfly!"

Well you all know the story of Rebecca's arrival. What should have been a perfect labor and delivery ended up unexpectedly awful when our little girl came out limp and not breathing. (See here for the story). And in the days that followed, I started to notice something: there were butterflies everywhere. On blankets given as gifts, on sleepers received from out-of-state aunties, on toys for the car seat, on swaddle wraps from friends. At first I just thought, "Well obviously Target had a line of butterfly themed items this year."

But as I sat in the dimly lit NICU room, listening to the hum of the cooling machine that was working hard to cool my daughter in order to hopefully protect her brain from further damage, I realized something.

Becca is our butterfly. 

She came to us in this big person world but needed some extra time in a cocoon. Her cocoon happened to be a plastic box in the NICU but it was a cocoon all the same. My little girl needed some time to recover from what had happened to her--something that the rest of the world will never know or understand--and after a while in that cocoon, she could come out in all her butterfly glory. Which she has done fully--smiling and cooing and growing and pooping, my butterfly is stunningly beautiful.

And so now I have fully embraced this butterfly theme. The print from Emily is perfect. I had a light switch plate designed to match. Becca's Auntie Jen found her a butterfly costume for Halloween.
And I still notice butterflies on her clothes and blankets and just smile now because I realize it's not just a line from Target. It's a reminder of God's protection--God's miraculous protection--of my little butterfly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Parenting: The Ultimate Power Trip

If I were a power monger, I would want to be a parent.

Isn't parenting the ultimate power trip? I mean really--there's this tiny little person (or people) who can't quite talk yet, can't dress themselves, can't feed themselves any more than some crackers from the low shelf in the pantry. They can't drive themselves anywhere, they can't dial a phone number. They have to listen to you, and you technically can {try} to make them do so.

Parenting is the ultimate power trip. Can you imagine if I, or any parent, capitalized (in a bad way) on this place of power? If I allowed the fragrance of complete and total authority to get to my head? What if I chose to rule and reign in my household, and whip these little ones into shape?

I'm telling you--not a pretty picture.

My job as a parent is to shape and correct my child, of course. Out of love, and in love, I am to "pull weeds" and strive to mold my child into the person God has created him or her to be. Most days I don't know what I'm doing. I've read some books, sought some counsel, but in the heat of the moment, I'm often slack jawed and grasping at straws. What DO you DO when a two year old throws books down the stairs, burst into tears, and blabbers something unintelligibly ending in ".... mine, Daddy!" while you're glued to the couch, nursing the one month old who chooses that moment to projectile spit milky goo everywhere, and then bless you with a cross-eyed grin?

Jeremiah 10:24 "Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing."

As Joshua travels through the so called "terrible twos" (I strongly dislike that label), I am challenged every day to correct in justice, but not in anger. To follow God's example and administer justice because it's the right thing to do; not because it feeds my power trip and fuels my anger. I could so easily "bring him to nothing"--which is a terrifying reality as a parent. I am physically huge relative to my little boy (which won't last long I know!), and relationally in charge. How easy it would be to misstep and reduce my son to nothing. Shame him, ignore him, look past him, yell at him ... way to easy. I know myself, and not only can I snap once I've reached a certain point, but I also easily (and often gladly) carry a grudge.

Again, I have to keep Christ in mind, and when my little boy quickly flips the switch and moves on from his tantrum to sunshine, butterflies, and toddler love, which he can do astoundingly quickly, I must move on too. Holding a grudge against a two year old is, well, stupid. Just about as stupid as if God held grudges against us trantrum-y human beings.

So here's to a day without anger, but full of justice. Justice carried out in love with the end in mind. Because my son is practically asking me to correct him in justice, but not in anger--because I truly could reduce him to nothing. Instead, I'd like to think that every minute of every hour I'm with him, I am pouring into him, building him up, pulling out weeds, tilling the soil of his heart so that 20 years from now I can say to myself and Erik, "Job well done."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guitar Picks & Bobby Pins

Everywhere I go in this house, I find guitar picks

On the kitchen table, kitchen counters, kitchen floors.

In Joshua's toy bins, between the couch cushions, on the piano bench.

On the dryer, in the lint trap, on the basement floor.

Guitar picks are everywhere. 

This used to irritate me. I'd think, Why can't he just keep them all in one place? When is he going to be more responsible with his picks? {frustrated sigh} {musicians}

Then one day I noticed something ...

Everywhere I go in this house, I find bobby pins

Wedged in the carpet, caught under pillows, slipped under shelves.

On the counters, in the car cup holders, on the end table. 

On the dryer, in the lint trap, on the basement floor.

Bobby pins are everywhere. 

This has never irritated me. Why? 

Because the bobby pins are mine.

The guitar picks are his.

Why is it that we (and by "we" I mean wives) see only the things our husbands do and not the things that we do? (by "things" I mean potentially irritating things).

I'm not better than he; and he is no better than I. We each have our oddities; we each have our strengths. We choose to do this life together and therefore ...

Guitar picks and bobby pins are everywhere. 
And always will be.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Totally Worth It

I remember early in my pregnancy with Rebecca, I messaged some friends on Facebook:

Okay, ladies, did you ever have thoughts like this?
"Why in the world am I messing with what I have right now by adding another child??"

Josh plays by himself, he communicates, we have a great family routine ... why in the world am I having another kid??
I just need to know that these thoughts are normal ... and I don't feel like blogging about it right now. :)

They provided me with realistic encouragement, comments about the journeys they've been on, and ultimately helped me realize that I wasn't a bad mom for experiencing some anxiety.

And now, here I am--with one baby eating applesauce, string cheese and milk while watching Curious George, and another baby swaddled up tight to my chest, desperately trying to fall asleep.

Two kids. I have two kids. How crazy is that?

A few lessons I've learned so far in this little-over-three-week journey:

  • Mamas weren't lying when they told me to use the Moby wrap. While I still can't stand putting the thing on every time, it sure does help for those late afternoon snoozes Becca needs. 

  • A shower really is more compelling than a little more sleep. I never believed my friend Becky when she'd tell me this, but the other morning I chose to shower while Becca and Joshua continued to sleep, even though former-me would have chosen sleep over ANYthing. 

  • I'm more able than I realized. Not completely able, not able entirely on my own, but more able than I expected. 

  • Second babies really are easier--not because they themselves necessarily are, but because I am less freaked, less anxious, less .... everything. If she sleeps longer than I expected? Great! If she has trouble falling asleep? Great! (Well, not really great at 11:30pm when we've been rocking, bouncing, nursing, swaddling and singing for 90 minutes). But Great! as in, it's okay! Tonight will pass, and tomorrow will come. We'll get through. :) 

  • A second child is TOTALLY worth it. It's worth it to see Joshua express affection. It's worth it to see Erik's heart melt at her first coos. It's worth it to feel my naturally selfish heart being chipped away at just a little bit more. It's totally worth it. Totally. 

  • Guess what? I do have time for quiet time with God. When Joshua first arrived in my life, I convinced myself that I didn't and that it was okay for the season. It really wasn't. I need that time with God, in His word. Now, am I getting to it every day? No. Is it deep and long and super spiritual feeling? No. Not usually. It's usually to the tune of Sesame Street, interrupted by coos, cries, "please mamas", and diaper changes--size newborn and size 5. But cracking open that Bible, whether on my phone or at my kitchen table amidst the toys, dishes and paperwork, is a crucial step to making it through this stage. And of course, any stage of life. No excuses this time around--God and His word are key in my life, and I will fit it in--it just looks different than before two kids, and before that, one kid. This is my new normal. 

As Becca Boo slumbers and makes me uncomfortably hot, and Joshua buddy excitedly narrates Curious George to me for the 19th time, I am content. I am a mother times two, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks to my friends who encouraged me--you were right on. This is TOTALLY worth it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Awesome Son

I just can't get over how awesome my son is.

He plays like Andy from Toy Story, complete with Mr. Potato Head and a semi scary dinosaur.

He tries to hike the basketball at the park-and somehow looks awesome doing it.

He gives me a workout by being a little too crazy at tumbling class.

He transitioned to a toddler bed with absolutely no fight no trouble no nothing.

He loves his baby sister so much and is working on how to best share his mama.

He's just so gosh darn cute, so irresistibly huggable, so knee slapping hilarious that I just can't imagine life without him!

God, thank you for the gift of Joshua Nelson "Din-deeen!!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Never Woulda Thought

When I woke up on September 21, 2012, I never woulda thought so much would happen in a matter of hours. My life took a major twist. And though we've ended up miraculously straightened back out, my heart will never be the same.

I never woulda thought that I was strangely and strongly led to schedule an induction--even though I'd never considered it before--because of what I now believe was an absolute need to get Rebecca out and into this world by 9:42pm on September 21. Only God knows why, but I am convinced that she needed to be out by that moment so that she could live.

I never woulda thought that my relatively easy,  normal, basically perfect pregnancy would end with such a bang ... and that Rebecca's life would begin with such panic.

I never woulda thought, as we toured the hospital in early August, that I'd know every crack in the floor, every turn in the hall from the parking garage to the NICU.

I never woulda thought that I'd be the one noticing lost, confused people in the hallways of the hospital and stopping to give them directions.

I never woulda thought that I wouldn't get the joy of wheeling through the halls with my brand new baby girl, showing her off to everyone in sight.

I never woulda thought that we would welcome no one but immediate family to meet Rebecca at the hospital, and that we wouldn't even be able to hold her until day four of her life.

I never woulda thought that I'd learn the lingo of the NICU, and be able to converse with other moms with the same experiences.

I remember the moment. The moment I knew something was wrong. She'd come super fast, and I was still reeling with the realization that my delivery was over. The doc pushed her onto my chest, but because she was so limp, her body kinda flopped. That's when I knew--I knew when I couldn't get a grasp of her, I knew when I didn't hear her cry. I knew when I asked, "Why isn't she crying?" and the nurse quickly whisked her away. I knew something was wrong.

And yet, I still can't figure out why I wasn't more upset. I wasn't more concerned. My sister jokes with me now about how I was asking if I could eat something--while my baby girl was barely breathing on her own in the other room. Why wasn't I bawling? Why wasn't I screaming for  her and begging her to be okay? Was I in denial? I know I was being shielded by my husband who didn't want me to know, by my sister who wasn't sure what to say, and by the doctor's who were busy just trying to figure out what went wrong.

I do remember shaking--violently shaking anytime I'd allow my thoughts to drift to her. So I think I just didn't--I just didn't think. I asked for crackers, I talked to the doctor, and did everything I could to just get through.

I don't remember feeling anything when I realized NICU had been called in. I DO remember feeling something when they stopped long enough to let me see her. Her little eyes blinked so slowly, and she took the most labored raspy breath ever. Her head was a funny shape, her color still a little off. Her cheeks were out of this world, and she had the same swatch of dark hair her brother had.

She was alive.

I knew in that moment, when my eyes locked with her, that everything was going to be all right. Even an hour later, when the neonatologist used the words "brain damage" and explained the cooling therapy and the drugs and the risks ... even when my thoughts, my horrible dark selfish thoughts were, "I can't do this. She'll mess up our life. How will her disabilities affect Joshua? And our family? I want to start over!", a sense of peace settled over me. In that moment, I knew--and I never woulda thought--that no matter what, Rebecca Elizabeth, developmental delays, possible brain damage and all, would be and already was a member of this family. No matter what, this little girl would change our lives for the better. No matter what, Joshua would be shaped by his experience as big brother to this little angel. No matter what, Erik would be affected by her sweet presence and her smile. No matter what, this mama's heart would expand to include a little girl, who by no fault of her own, entered this world with a little unnecessary drama.

I never woulda thought we'd walk out of the NICU with a pink bundle of perfection with a clean bill of health.

I never woulda thought that we'd be one of those families with a story of how prayer works, God heals, and Facebook spreads the word. :)

I never woulda thought that I'd be sitting here, 13 days after her birth, and only 3 days after her arrival home, blogging about an experience that I never expected to have, with a tiny little lady with sparkly blue eyes, her brother's nose, her daddy's lips and the worst case of hiccups ever sitting in the bouncer next to me.

My God healed my baby girl. I believe that He knew something would go wrong in the birth canal. He knew that my daughter would not be breathing. He knew her brain would have "unhappy neurons" (I love how the NICU neurologists helps us understand things) and that evidence of seizures would display. He knew that Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 and 3:40, my little girl would stop breathing and need nurses to help her through it.

And oh mind you--I am human. I have yelled a little bit, and asked Him, "If you knew a bad thing was going to happen in there, why didn't you stop it? Why not heal it before the bad thing happened instead of allowing the bad thing to happen? Why allow my baby to come into the world this way? To go through this pain? Why would you have us walk this road?"

But even as I asked, I knew. Because He knew his people would rally to pray. He knew His name would be glorified, and that is why we exist here on earth--to bring glory to His name. And while I wonder why I needed to be the mama who went through this to bring Him glory, I know I am stronger because of it. Not stronger in myself, but stronger in Him. Never before have I been the recipient of such miracles.

I never woulda thought that this would be Rebecca's story. But truly, I can truly say: I'm grateful that it is.

My little miracle baby who didn't cry at birth is starting to cry now--apparently she's hungry again. :) Oh how I love that cry.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Abnormal Experience

It is so against everything in my nature--in any mother's nature--to walk out of a room, leaving your newborn daughter alone in a plastic bed. All alone. In the dim lighting. With cords and wires and screens and beeping things.

It's so incredibly abnormal.

It's so abnormal to labor well, labor easily ... and shock the doctors by delivering a limp baby who's not breathing.

It's so abnormal to suspect no problems one minute, progress from 6 cm to birthing a child in less than 40 minutes, deliver a limp, gray little girl, and while trying to hold her ask, "What's wrong with her? Why isn't she crying? Why is she so limp?" 

It's so abnormal to finally get to hold your baby ... 4 days after her birth. How anyone ever goes any longer than that, I'll never understand.

It's so abnormal to feed your newborn as best you can, only to realize it's not enough, and then try to stuff her full with more, even when she's obviously porky and content.

It's so abnormal to begin to understand the "nurse speak" language, and be able to interpret for others.

It's so abnormal to come home every evening, a mother of two, to a home that only has one sleeping child.

It's so abnormal to have a closet full of pink things that your daughter is quickly growing out of that she can't wear because she's in the NICU.

There are so many thoughts that go through my head in a day. So many questions, so many wonderings. But more often than not, I'm just getting through. I'm doing what needs to be done. I'm focusing on my daughter and her needs. I'm praying for my son, that he'll come through this just fine. (And I know he will). I'm telling myself to rest, to relax, to hope, and to be grateful.

Because in addition to the abnormal list above, there are a few more:

It's also abnormal to have such a platform at such a young age. Baby Becca has spoken more boldly for the Lord in her 6 days of life than many of us ever have.

It's super abnormal to have upwards to 1,000 believers praying for your daughter, some as far away as Cambodia.

It's incredibly abnormal not to breath at birth, to have a neonatologist of 40 some odd years diagnose brain "insult", and have absolutely no evidence of "insult" whatsoever.

It's spectacularly abnormal to have super specific prayer requests blown out of the water, answered with huge "yes's" and miracles beyond our understanding.

It is very abnormal to be one of those families now--we are one of those incredibly blessed families. One of those families who can say, "This is Rebecca. She is a miracle."
It's so abnormal to hear a neonatologist use the words "brain damage" and still, somehow, deep within myself, have this deep, residing sense of peace that everything would be okay. I felt dumb at first--naive really. Erik and Tara had a different perspective than I did. Yes, I felt the birth and knew something was wrong but they had to watch it. Hear the doctors. See Rebecca not breathing. I felt so silly that I wasn't as upset. I wasn't worried. Truly I was--I just wasn't focused on it. There's so much a woman is doing post birth ... in my mind, she was going to be okay. Once I saw her breath and flutter her eyes at me, this is what I knew:

Rebecca is here. She is born. She is alive. She is part of our lives. And no matter what--brain damage or no brain damage. Developmental delays or no developmental delays. This little girl is now a part of us. She will shape us. Form us. Transform us. I am Rebecca's mom. Erik is Rebecca's dad. And Joshua is Rebecca's brother. And she is who she is, and we will love her fully. No matter what kind of changes this little girl brings to our lives, we are better for it. No matter what.

The doctors are still scratching their heads. They have no idea what went wrong.  That's abnormal--and our God is the God of abnormal. He was with Rebecca and me. He knew she needed to come when she did. He led me to schedule an induction, He walked with me as I labored and then birthed her very very quickly. He stood with Erik while he had to watch his baby girl get "bagged" and hear the initial words of concern from the doctors. He carried us as we walked those long halls toward the NICU to see our little girl. He sustained us as we held her little hand while she lay naked and cold. He held us up when they thought they saw more seizures at 3am. He cheered with us when we heard the magnificent news that there's no evidence of damage. And He is with us now as we figure out how to navigate these days of life in the NICU, while still loving our spunky little boy at home.

Rebecca Elizabeth, welcome to the world baby girl. You light up my life with your smiles. My breath catches in my chest when you open your eyes. Your cheeks make me giggle, and your very breath makes me cry. My dear daughter, you are exactly what this family needs. Thank you for stretching our faith muscles. Now please eat lots, and breath well so we can all live in this same house together! Joshua can't wait to play. :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

40 Weeks: What a Feeling

September 21, 2012 ... Wow, I never EVER thought I'd make it to this day! I thought for sure I'd have my baby girl by now. But God and she had other plans! Happy due date to me!

For a variety of reasons, we've chosen to be induced today. I'm not going to go into them here, but I will say it was a tough decision for me. And I've been fairly quiet about the decision.

And I've now deleted about 12 sentence beginnings here because I'm not sure 
what I'm trying to express! 

I guess I'm just trying to say, I never thought I'd do an induction either. But here I am--about to head into one! I've been quiet about the decision because, as we all know, Facebook can be a brewing bed for hot button issues, and for some, induction might be one of those issues. And we all know how feisty we can get with our "motherhood opinions". I just wasn't in the mood to field a bunch of comments on whether or not this is the right thing to do.

While Erik and I appreciate peoples' concern and while everyone has the freedom to express opinions, at the end of the day, it's still our decision. And we are at peace with it! I'm happy to be able to say that. Earlier this week, I knew that if I needed to cancel, I could. And we've spent all week praying that God would make it clear.

I truly believe God works His miracles through medicine, and without medicine, and around medicine, and in medicine ... No matter what, HE is the one bringing Baby Boo into the world. If we trusted God to use medicine to get us our babies in the first place, what's to say we can't trust medicine to help get our babies out? Either way, God is sovereign, and as we submit to His will, He leads us to the best decisions for our family.

And so, today (hopefully not the wee hours of tomorrow morning! :) ), I will meet my baby girl. My Baby Boo. The one who has been squirming and kicking and dancing for months; the one who is already so much a part of me I can't even imagine my life without her--and I don't even know what she looks like. Today, I am Mama of Two: Bubba and Boo. Let the craziness begin!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Things I'll Miss

In an attempt to remind myself that this pregnancy really is nearing its end (whether I believe that truth right now or not), I'm going to try to list all the things I'll miss about being pregnant.

Here goes nothin'...

  • My shelf. Hands down the best part of having a huge basketball shaped tummy is being able to rest my cereal bowl, water bottle, cup of coffee, whatever on my belly. DEFINITELY miss this convenience when I'm not pregnant! 
  • The incredible sensation of feeling my baby squirm and twirl and roll. An honor bestowed on mothers--and I'm so glad I've had the two chances I've had so far to appreciate this miracle!
  • Guilt-free donut holes at church. I really should stop, but they're just so yummy ... and nobody judges the 39 week pregnant woman with sugar crystals spattered on her belly shelf. 
  • Joshua's child-like understanding of his sister and where she is. So. Adorable. 
  • Solid reason for (and the time to) take naps. 
  • I really do like some of my maternity clothes, and I get bummed to pack them up again!
  • The lesser standard of working out that I can have for myself. A 30 minute walk is an awesome thing while pregnant! It's totally not enough when working off the pregnancy weight. 
  • A natural, obvious talking point with strangers, new people at church, and friends. I guess the newborn easily fills that void though ... :)
  • Rocking Joshua and Baby Boo at the same time, while still having half a lap and an arm free.
  •  Freaking my brother out with my huge belly. He gets so shocked by it, even though he sees me weekly...
  • Looking down at the Baby Boo bulge and remembering the pain and discouragement during the years where I wasn't pregnant, and felt like I was the only one who couldn't be pregnant. And the intense sweeping rush of gratitude and joy that follows as I thank God for answering my prayers with a "yes"--and a "yes" two times over at that!

I'm so ready to be done--at over 39 weeks pregnant, with my due date looming, I'm battling impatience. I know I know...I'm not even overdue yet! But since Joshua came two weeks early, it seems to me like Baby Boo is already one week late! I love being pregnant--I truly do. It is such an honor, and I'm so humbled and blessed to have now experienced it twice.

But, Baby Boo, come on out any time! We're ready to meet you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Crafty Craft Maker and a Football Fan: Part II

I thought I'd go ahead and show you what I ended up "crafting" during this pregnancy. I'm still a little bit in shock that I did ANYTHING crafty, let alone 4 projects. I'm also still a little in shock that my husband watched three football games on Sunday, and is now as Buffalo Wild Wings, in a Packers sweatshirt, to watch the game with all the other crazy rabid fans.

It's just all too weird.

But, in the spirit of embracing my new craftiness (that I think is now over...) here's what I made:

Memory box for Baby Boo

I used some of the same fabric that I used to make the letters of her name (to hang on the wall) I'll have to post a picture of that crafty project later. :)

Made one for Joshua too, but with paper. I got lazy.

I love that his has stuff already! First curls (*sniff*), his favorite nightlight that he broke, and his first drawing. What a big boy I have already!

The recovered lamp, also done in fabric that matches the box and the letters.

And the best one of all...the giraffe growth chart. This kid would NOT get out of the picture! He loves it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sacred Moments

I'm unnecessarily impatient.

Only 5 days past my 38th week, and I'm aimless, lethargic, and wondering why she hasn't come yet. Silly me--expecting her to be as early as her brother!

So, today, I decided to make the best of it, which meant giving myself the freedom to do absolutely anything Joshua wanted to do. No "No, honey, not now." or "Later baby, Mommy's busy!" Just a lot of "Sure!" "Good idea!" "Oh, you want another buckets of toys? Why not!"

Because I know that any day now (or next week or the next ...) I won't be at liberty to do this anymore. There will be another little human being who actually needs me more urgently than Joshua, and he and I will have to learn to be more separate. So today, I'm soaking up my Joshua time. And boy or boy, does that kid know how to play!

We dove into all sorts of activities. From bubbles, to squirt gun fights, and making of "yum yum" soup (day old hose water with bits of leaves), we had a blast on the deck in the morning shade.

More for Mommy's sanity than for Joshua's, we took a break and watched "Word World" my I mean Joshua's favorite cartoon. We munched on Cheerios and raisins and cuddled up under the froggie blanket on the couch.

Play-Doh was our next endeavor, and while I sat and made cookie cutter animal cutouts, Joshua used the spaghetti maker to make good "yum yum" food for his horse, Roxy.

We did some painting, some coloring, some dancing, some singing, some lay-on-the-floor chatting. Then we did some more painting. (And Mommy learned patience as her son mixed all the colors together to create ... ugly colors.) It's amazing how hard it can be to just let him create, instead of trying to show him how to do it "well". But how incredibly important to do so--for both him and for me! What he creates is so much sweeter than what I would do perfectly-within-the-lines with amazing color coordination and design. I'll take Joshua's creations any day!

We applied tattoos, picked up toys and dumped out new ones. We took some videos and talked a lot about baby sister. I didn't clean, I didn't email, I didn't sort, I didn't fold. I admit, I checked Facebook, and I obviously took photos, but this time was intended to be with my son. Not just near or around, but with. And it was fun!  

 There's truly nothing like taking a moment to relax on the couch and simply listen to the unintelligible language of your two year old as he plays with "rawrs" "people" and "tractors".

When he dribbled black water on the floor, all I could do was give him high five for making it to the sink without completely spilling and thank him for cleaning up his paint project. When he got in the way of my shot of the black water, all I could do was giggle at the awesome picture I captured of a two year old's delight. That face just screams, "My Mommy is present with me, and playing, and I think it's a BLAST to get in the lens of her camera!"

 And what better way to end our time than this: I was putting my tired puffy feet up on the couch and enjoying the sounds of Joshua playing with his Tonka cars. His level of exuberance matched my level of fatigue. Funny how that works! All of the sudden he quieted, and I heard him say his name for his baby sister. He then appeared at my side with his baby doll (named after his sister) and said very clear, "Cuddle deez Mama?"

Yes, Baby, we can cuddle. Today is do-whatever-you-want day. And Mommy sure loves to take time to cuddle!

 As he rested his head on my shoulder, he very adamantly placed baby on my other shoulder and indicated I should hug her. He then proceeded to share his raisins and Cheerios with his baby sister, while he actual baby sister pelted him with strong kicks from inside of me. We talked about life, and how we're going to make a birthday cake for the baby.

Today has been a good day. The house is not clean, the hospital bag is still only partially packed. I have unanswered emails, unwashed dishes, and a dozen little tasks I could be doing instead. But time with my Joshua is fleeting--and I truly don't know how much of this special one-on-one with my Little Buddy I have left. So for now he naps, and I'll rest too. Cuz once he's up and at 'em again, who knows what we'll do!

What has motherhood taught me in 2 1/2 years? The moments are miraculous, but we have to have to have to make time for them. And so today, I did. Because I could!