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!



Saturday, September 8, 2012

38 Weeks: One Day

I woke up this morning, got my buddy breakfast, filled my coffee cup to the brim, and sat down to read my Bible. I started with my Jesus Calling devotional, September 8:  

Accept each day exactly as it comes to you. By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body.

I laughed out loud! Today I am 38 weeks, 1 day pregnant. When I was pregnant with Joshua, my water broke on the first day of my 38th week. It feels weird to reach this point, and to have a very strong sense that this time around, I'm going to be pregnant much longer. (Hopefully only like a week or so, but who knows!?)

Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely, resting in my sovereignty and faithfulness.

This opening paragraph fits PERFECTLY! It's funny, for all my "whining", I'm really not that uncomfortable, and I'm doing quite fine enjoying my sleep, time with Joshua, and relatively "easy" life. The addition of a squirming newborn will be so exciting ... but really, I'm cool if she wants to wait a week. 39 weeks and 1 day seems just fine .... :)

On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance: The demands on you seem far greater than your strength. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives--giving up or relying one Me.
I want Baby Boo to come when Baby Boo is supposed to come. And if it means getting uncomfortable and battling some intense impatience? Then so be it. On some days, yes--mother of two, Joshua and Boo, is a demanding role. But since I can't really give up, I just have to rely on Him.

...I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day. Trust Me, by relying on My empowering Presence.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

An {almost} Perfect Day

Today was an {almost} perfect day.

Wanna know why?

4.5% good messy hair bun
11% fun activities
20.5% just us three
23% great weather
41% my chosen attitude

It also helped that Joshua slept til 7:21am, and I only remember having to get up twice in the night to relieve my poor squished bladder.

Isn't it incredible how much my attitude affects my day! I honestly, physically felt the difference this morning in the mood of the home. When Erik (who gets up after me) got up from bed, I CHOSE not to be crabby at him and bitter about his extra sleep. I CHOSE to embrace being a mother--the one who generally wipes up/cleans up/picks up (though Erik has done a lot of that lately ... :) ) I CHOSE to recognize that I was choosing to be on my feet a lot, and do a lot of stuff. I CHOSE to take moments to interact with Josh, but I also CHOSE to not be guilty about letting him play alone, which he was once again doing well--hence an {almost} perfect day.

My husband and I conversed. We parented. We explored {again} the zoo with our adorable son. We ate. We relaxed. We sorted through stuff in the garage (one of my favorite parts of the day...). He ran errands while I rested my feet. I baked communion bread while he watched football. We ate Chinese food for dinner. We watched "You've Got Mail" and munched on popcorn and M&Ms.

Joshua and I colored. We blew bubbles. We shared a pretzel and took photos in a photo booth. We raked the dirt in the yard. We rode the carousel. We fed some ducks. We laid on a froggy blanket and read a book. We made music--he on the drum, and me on the egg shaker. We rang the doorbell. We sang monkey and rhino songs. We did bathtime.

I disciplined. I baked. I boiled pump parts and bottles. I packed my hospital bag. I chatted with my neighbor. I interpreted two-year-old language and calmed a frustrated little boy. Twice today I kissed scraped hands and brushed off dirty knees.

And in all this, I CHOSE. I CHOSE to recognize that a large part of my role as a wife is to do tasks--often mundane ones--that keep this house functioning. I CHOSE to accept that the dirty truth of parenting is that I have to be consistent in my discipline. I CHOSE to laugh with my husband and enjoy my time with him. I CHOSE to think good thoughts about my still unclean house, instead of discouraged ones. I CHOSE to sit down, with my laptop, with my feet up while there are still many messes in this house.

So much of ANY day is about CHOICE. So much of being a mom--and enjoying it--is about CHOICE.

I chose this life, I chose this role, I chose all of this--and when I get over myself and CHOOSE to enjoy it, it is truly wonderful.

Granted, today, due to the amazing weather, good hair day, fun activities and good company it was quite EASY to choose ... I'm still proud of myself for doing so. Many an {almost} perfect day has been not quite {almost} so perfect because my attitude has tainted it.

So what would have made it perfect you ask? If it had been just a tiny bit warmer when we were at the beach ... I wanted to build sand castles and get in the water! And of course, if I went into labor right now....well, then this might just be a {completely} perfect day. :)