Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is the Good Stuff

Just as cows moo, dogs bark, and babies cry-- writers write. Except me, for the past two months. It isn't as if the past months have left me with nothing to write about- in fact, quite the opposite. I can confidently say that this period in time has been the fastest, most eventful, exciting, changing period of time in my life thus far. I've been doing a lot of mental note-taking. I've been trying to spend more time soaking in the moments and less time recounting them. But now, I'll write in the hopes that my words can even come close to enveloping all that was and is as of late.

I've learned and grown and changed. That's life though; we learn and grow and change in different ways and directions based on the choices we make and the lives that we opt to live. We grow where we're planted. I am thriving in my little ecosystem. Being a mom and being a wife are life decisions that I intentionally made and have been knowingly shaped by. I am challenged day in and day out to live selflessly and put others' needs above my own. It's not a unique calling on moms and wives, but it's certainly a practical application of Christian character. I have adopted new priorities. I have gained new friends that understand. I have lost some friends that don't. 

Will and I gladly admit to being "boring and old", and we are happier that way. I'd rather spend my days coaxing out gummy smiles and my nights singing silly songs than go through the expected motions of being 21 and young. There's a lot of heartbreak and mistakes that I'd just as soon skip over. All that glitters isn't gold, so to speak. On the contrary, I've never felt so much fulfillment and joy and love as I have watching our little one grow into all that is being 12 weeks old. 

It's scary and it's humbling. Someone once told me that becoming a parent is God's way of showing you all of the ugliness inside of yourself that needs to change. It's true. All my impatience and attitude and arrogance is displayed front and center in my state of being overtired, overwhelmed, and ill-equipped. I am reminded of the sides of myself that I don't like and who I do and I don't want to be for my husband and my son. It's scary that what I do has a greater impact than what I say. It's humbling that I have been given such a gift in raising a child, while I am yet young and dumb. Good thing God is gracious, and so is my little family. 

There's unmatched pride and joy in watching Nehemiah day by day. We are in constant awe of how quickly he is growing and learning and changing. Everyone tells us not to blink. For the first time, the cliche "they grow so fast" is being realized in my life. It's true. They do. He does. We cheer him on as he lifts his head and kicks and rolls over. We revel in his smiles and can't help but broadcast each of his new tricks to our friends and family. 
As my dad's simple but wise words often remind me, "This is the good stuff."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Nehemiah

Dear Nehemiah,

The day you were born was a day that will stay in my mind forever vivid and forever blurry all at the same time.
You made your grand entrance on your own time; That's a character trait that I believe will transcend beyond your infant years. You will not be hurried. You will not be slowed down. You came the way and the time that you wanted to, bar all efforts of doctors and nurses and nature. You felt ready to come, and ready we all became, too. Your ambitious spirit was noted when you decided to come into the world four weeks earlier than expected. Your calm and patient side was also noted when Pitocin nor my walking blocks around the hospital grounds were going to hurry you out.
The day you were born was a day that held insurmountable joy and peace and fulfillment, all wrapped up in the tiny package that was you. I have never felt feelings like I did when I first heard your cry and held your tiny self; I didn't know it was possible to feel so much love at one time. I didn't know that a 5 pound, 15 ounce bundle of squirming and squeaking could so suddenly become my whole world. I have never felt as close and as in love with your daddy as I did the moment I held a complete synthesis of him and I, which was you. You were and you are perfect.
The day you were born was my first taste of God's unchanging and undeserved love that he has for us. It's cliche to say that there's no love that compares to the love you feel for your children; it's said often because it's true. You: in your quiet cooing, limp and tired dreaming sleep, have done nothing but simply exist to merit any love from anyone. And yet, existing is all that you've needed to do to capture the entirety of my heart. There's nothing that you could have done or could ever do to make me love you more, or love you less. It's an amazing love. It's Agape love. It must be something like the love our Heavenly Father feels for us.
The day you were born was a game-changing, life-altering, eye-opening, meaning-realizing pinpoint in time. You have instilled a new worth in me and in your daddy. Our lives are forever changed and forever better because of you.

I love you, and all that you are, and all that you mean,
more than words can say.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nehemiah: 1 | Jaundice: 0

We had Nehemiah's first doctor's appointment yesterday [read, September 10]. While I had noted that my little half-white half-brown mini was looking slightly more yellow than a nice shade of beige, I didn't realize that I should have been more concerned than I was. Our appointment was to the point; doctor checked his height, weight, eyes, nose. Then came the talk about his lemon-esque skin tone. The doctor's concern was obvious just by his naked-eye observations. He ordered us to get a blood test to check his Bilirubin levels and confirm his suspicion that Miah's jaundice had increased exponentially. We were told to be expecting a call within a few hours with results and a game plan. While we waited, Nehemiah took his first trip to Club FM. (If you don't know what club FM is, you must not live in Astoria/Warrenton and fall within the 16-30 age group.)  Will and I ordered our favorite burgers from The Wet Dog for pick up. We called around town in search of a breast pump. After three hours of dilly-dallying and time-wasting, we got the call that said Miah would need to be admitted and be put in the "bilibed", a UV-lit bed that works to reduce his jaundice. I cried. Will worked swiftly and systematically; I can always count on him to be the one with a level head. Our burgers got soggy and lonely sitting at The Wet Dog waiting to be picked up. Woops.

Had I gotten my way, we would have gone back to the hospital where Nehemiah was born for treatment. However, his Pediatrician is in Astoria, and would have no patient privilege in Seaside. So this is me, trying not to count the strikes against this hospital. We were "greeted" by a woman overly adorned with distasteful piercings and an udder lack of bedside manor, and her partner Gloria Gum-chewer. Words like responsible, clean, friendly, organized, prompt, etcetera failed to come-to when grappling for words to describe the experience. Strike one. We were placed into a room that one of the nurses lovingly deemed as "the closet room". I think "jail-cell" would have been more accurate, though possibly not as quaint. The closet room certainly lived up to it's name in stature. It's decor, lack of color and a clock, and it's half-burnt florescent lighting lived up to my pet-name for the place. Strike two. I can't say I was displeased with the staff that took us on. The nurses were conveniently on shift change when we arrived, so while we liked our nurse whom we'll call "Sally", our time together was short lived. She was replaced by "Martha", a competent and friendly lactation consultant RN. I like her. But, as our stay turned into overnight, the inevitable happened again- shift change. My comfortable budding relationship with "Martha" was sadly severed and replaced by "Ruth". I only know this because I can read; she failed to introduced herself, so I was reduced to reading her name-tag as a form of introduction. Grumble. She woke me up to feed Nehemiah at 11:30pm, and handed him to me while my sleep-haze tried to ware off. About 10 minutes into our 20-minute restricted feeding session, I realized dear "Ruth" hadn't weighed Miah before handing him to me for our feeding. Thus, making all of the work we had been doing to keep track of his eating volumes null and void, in one fell swoop. Strike three. Then there was the lack of paper towels, extra pillows, functional call-light, and the fact that dear "Ruth" had to ask ME how many ounces Nehemiah had been eating via bottle. Say it with me "Ruth", Chaaaarrrt Nooootes. Chart notes: saving nurses like "Ruth" from looking like incompetent fools one page at a time. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Seeing as my entire 3-day stay at Providence went completely scathe-free, (well, sans the nurse that kept letting my highly anesthetized leg fall off the table mid-delivery) I guess I had hoped that our 24-hour (or less) jaunt at CMH would have fairly equal results. Wrong-O. So long as Nehemiah is getting that black light-meets-tanning bed blue light shining on him, I suppose the rest is just details. Still.

When we were admitted, his bilirubin level was at 19.7. 19.7 of what, I don't know. But that's what I was told. The doctor explained that high levels of bilirubin can ultimately cause brain damage, and that if Nehemiah's levels were to increase to 21 or so, we would be shipped to Portland. At that point, the appeal of going to a highly reputable and award winning facility was pretty good. But, I suppose not at the expense of Nehemiah's health. We prayed. We waited. We napped. We prayed. We waited. At 8 pm, they re-tested his blood. By 9 pm the results were in. His level had dropped to 16! Our little man was shocking and awing left and right. The nurses said that his results were promising, and if progress continued, he would be in good shape shortly. After a long, grueling first night of our new breast feed-bottle feed-pump cycle, 6 am came earlier than usual. The nurses came to haul him off to the nursery to take some blood for his next blood test. I invited myself. They poked his foot and he took it like a champ, naturally. At 8:30 am, we were woke and greeted by the doctor himself. He was pleased to report that Nehemiah's bilirubin level had taken a dramatic, unexpected and rapid plunge to 13. At that moment, I am positive I loved the number 13 more than even Taylor Swift loves 13. The doctors good news just kept coming when he said that Nehemiah's CBC levels were within normal range, and that if his progress continued, we would be welcome to go home this evening. Sayonara, bilibed and closet room. You won't be missed.

I am so proud of my little man. I am so blessed by a faithful and healing God that loves us and hears us when we cry. I am even a little thankful for the closet room and bilibed for providing a healing refuge for Nehemiah. I am excited to go home and make up for lots of cuddling lost to the bilibed that will ensue immediately upon our homecoming.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The First Page of His Story

I went into labor on Labor Day.

1 PM: It was September 3rd and it was warm; I had decided to take my overzealous dog on an afternoon stroll. Our neighborhood stroll became a long walk, ending in a visit to stinky beach in Alderbrook. I kept taking mental notes of how my Braxton Hicks seemed to dislike my high-paced sauntering. They seemed to let up as I rested. Either that, or I was completely distracted with how much fun Liam was having gallivanting in the river and chasing all things winged. I thought about how things would change when the baby came. I took another mental note to just soak in the sunshiney quiet afternoon, just me and my dog.

2:30 PM:  Liam finally got tired out. William was filling in at the foster home in Alderbrook that day, so we just walked the half-mile to his work to visit. Cue Braxton Hicks. I started counting the time between each contraction, since I hadn't remembered feeling them so regularly. 7 minutes apart on the dot. By the time I got to the house, I had had about 5 contractions equally regular. I decided to sit and see if things would calm down again like they had before, but without success. William prompted me to  call L&D at Providence to see what they would have me do. Lucky for me, it was my personal OB that was the doctor on call. She advised that while I was on the boarder of being symptomatic of early labor, it may also dissipate with more rest. We decided the best plan was for me to rest, shower, and continue counting my contractions. She told me to call had things continued or progressed.

4 PM: Despite my attempts to stop my contractions with showering, water-drinking and laying in bed, they kept coming. 7 minutes, 8 minutes, 6 minutes apart. Though consistent and annoying, they weren't painful. I was thankful for that. William got home from work and asked me what I wanted to do. We decided to just be cautious and head in to Seaside to get checked out. If nothing else, their checking me will put my mind at ease knowing that everything was normal, baby was fine, and we were still right on schedule. We stopped to get gas and we stopped to get a McDonald's cheeseburger, my recent craving of choice. (Gross, I know.)

5 PM: We got to the hospital and got checked in. We were welcomed warmly by the nursing staff who ushered us to a cozy yet spacious room. To my pleasant surprise, The nurse who had given us a hospital tour just a few weeks earlier, Marty, was on duty. Though we had only met once before, she greeted me with a hug and a big smile like we had known each other for a long time. I appreciated that. They took my vitals and hooked my belly up to two monitors- one for baby's heartbeat, one for contractions. This was the first time I got nervous and excited about labor, feeling like it was finally, actually happening. Will's feelings seemed mutual.

6 PM: The doctor came. She didn't seem too concerned when she saw my contraction chart- she said it was likely a bout of false labor. But for safe measure, she told us she would check my cervix and see if there were any changes. I was dilated to a 2 already and was 80% effaced. She seemed very surprised by my progression. We were too. The doctor let us know she would be coming back in a few hours to check me again. She said it was not uncommon for people to stay at a 2 for long periods of time, so she wasn't concerned yet.

8:30 PM: I had dilated to a 3. 90% effaced. Doctor said she wasn't comfortable sending me home, and that we'd  be staying overnight. This was the moment I knew that we wouldn't be leaving the hospital without a baby. William and I tried to get as much sleep as possible. I don't know if he succeeded; I certainly didn't. The anticipation of what tomorrow would bring was too overwhelming to sleep.

7:00 AM: Dr. Greco came, and I had progressed to a 4. She said the words, "We are going to commit you to having this baby today." William and I looked at each other and smiled, both knowing what the other was thinking. As she was leaving the room, she said, "You both are going to be mommy and daddy at some point today!" They felt weird coming out of her mouth for some reason, even though I knew it to be true. I got on the phone and got ahold of our photographer Caroline, who happened to be in town for just one more day before leaving for a big trip. She came to the hospital within a few hours. Good timing, God.

1 PM: They started my antibiotic IV. We waited. And waited. I was still dilating. My contractions were consistent, but still staying 7 minutes apart. The doctor broke my water not long after to bring my contractions closer together. Nehemiah had already decided that he wanted to do things his own way, I suppose.

5 PM: I got an epidural. The anesthesiologist had said that complications were very rare, and that it shouldn't hurt at all. That was right before he "twinged" my nerve on my right side, twice. It hurt. Lucky me. I cried (probably the hormones) and Will held me like a good husband should. After the medicine started working, I felt much better. My right side was significantly more numb than my left, though.

6 PM: They started pitocin. I got nervous, excited, scared, everything. Indescribable.

8 PM: With a room-full of family and friends and at 8 cm dilated (to my knowledge), my body suddenly knew it was go time. I cleared the room. The doctor checked me. Yep, we were at a 10 and ready to go. William, the doctor, three nurses, Caroline and myself all went to work doing our jobs in the quiet and dim of Room 202. I kept looking across the room at my whiteboard that had the verse Isaiah 26:3 written on it, "You will keep her in perfect peace, whose mind is steadfast, because she trusts in You." He did keep me in perfect peace.

9:01 PM: The first moment I heard my baby's voice. I heard William start crying. I heard the doctor say the famous and anticipated words, "It's a boy". I heard William say that we had a son. Everything else because a blur. I held my child on my chest for the first of uncountable times. I held his head and his hands and cried. William held us. We cried. We laughed. We counted his fingers and toes and admired his perfection. William looked at me and said, "Nehemiah."
Our family became three.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chilly Feet

I've been told it's normal, every new parent feels it to some degree at one point or another during their pregnancy. Even so, it still feels like somehow I am shaming my maternal duties by admitting that I might have the smallest case of.. GASP, cold feet. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing I would rather be doing at this place in my life than growing my family and laying roots. 
It's like buyers remorse. Well, that sounds bad. You spend hours at your computer lusting after this beautiful pair of boots. (Go with me here.) You work hard and save your pennies until at last, the inconceivable, glorious boots are yours for the taking. You buy them. You collect them from the mailbox all wide-eyed and excited! You put them on. They're awesome. And then you stare in the mirror at your stately new footwear and realize you bank account is empty, you spent loads of extra hours working to save up, and what do you have to show for it? Boots. Are they great boots? Sure. But alas, you're second guessing yourself about what was once CLEARLY the right decision. 
William and I want this child, prayed for this child, and are now being blessed to be having this child in a little over a month. We are so happy and excited! But I can't help but to sometimes think to myself, won't this change everything? What is life going to look like after a baby? Are Will and I going to be the same? Are our friends going to treat us differently? What things are we going to have to say "no" to now, in the name of being responsible parents? I'd be lying if I say it had never crossed my mind, and that I wasn't a little scared.
 It isn't just about how our lives are going to change. It's also, even more-so, the fact that we are forever responsible for a new life. We are solely liable for sustaining it's life, providing it with necessary comforts, and teaching it how to grow to live and thrive in our world. That is big. The mistakes and successes we make will forever shape the baby that will come to be an adult. We are forming it into who it will be. The choices we make now will forever change and shape and dent and impress upon the life that is coming to be. We have 18 years to do the best we can to teach them- and then, that's it. They either are thanking us for what we've done or cursing us for what we haven't. Maybe both. But either way, being a parent is going to be the single most challenging, scary, humbling, teaching, rewarding, exciting, frustrating, life-changing title that I will ever have. I pray that we will be able to raise him or her up in the love and admonition of the Lord. I pray that we will pass our good traits, and try to avoid the ones that aren't. I hope that s/he will be gracious on us when we fail. Which will happen, a lot. I am striving to be really, really awesome parents.
I want to figure that those fears of inadequacy, change, and responsibility will pale in comparison to the rush of pride and excitement and overwhelming love that we feel when we first see our little one. My feet and I are warming up to the idea that everything will change. Nothing will be as it was; I have a hunch it's going to be much, much better.


I apologize for my terribly-too-long hiatus from blogging. Our lives seriously went into over-drive the past few weeks- so much happening! But praise the Lord, we are in our house and are finally settling down. A little. Here' s a brief preview of what the past few weeks have involved:

- moving out of our apartment. Really, this bullet should be like, worthy of 5 bullets. It was quite the ordeal to pack, move, and clean at 8+ months pregnant. Cue husband.

-Finishing the remodeling in our house that we've just moved into. This is also worthy of a significant amount of bullet points. This process included hours upon hours of hard labor by my husband, brother, and cousin, Will cutting off a significant chunk of thumb via table saw, countless trips to Home Depot, haggling with a stingy saleslady over our hardwood, paint, paint and more paint, repaint, sheet-rocking and re-sheet-rocking, fixing our slopey floor, installing doors, knobs, tiling, carpet, light fixtures, and so on and so on. I can't take any credit for this bullet- however, I can claim at least 1/2 of the anxiety that came from it's ever wavering finish date. 

-Baby shower #3. This was the "big one", you could say. It was the shower that had been set in motion months and months ago, and the one that had been anticipated for a while. Even though I knew it was coming up, it still managed to seem to sneak up so fast. Who knew baby showers could be so exhausting? It was so beautiful and so much fun. More on that later. Pictures to come.

-Being pregnant. Doesn't this deserve a bullet all it's own? Yes. It does. 


I am happy to finally have settled just enough to take some time to breathe and write, two things that are both necessary for, well, living, and my sanity. I'm planning on taking this next month with a large amount of resting, ice-cream eating, decorating, organizing, napping, and thinking. All which seem to be conducive to keeping up on my blogging. But if I don't, I am going to thoroughly milk the excuse, "I'm pregnant, I do what I want" :) Hey, I only have 4 more weeks to play that card. I'm going to use it all I can. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Artsy Fartsy

So, this thing called nesting: let me tell you- it's real. It is this weird, uncontrollable, incessant need to clean and organize and decorate. For most, this is great! Finally, a desire to put down the Oreos, turn off A Baby Story and get something done. For me, it's torture. Why? Well, because we are in the middle of moving into our somewhat-finished home. By somewhat finished, I mean most of our rooms have four walls, paint, and flooring. Not all. More on that later.

To curb this innate cleaning/organizing/decorating obsession until a more appropriate time, I decided to channel it into some artsy-fartsy crafting for the nursery. I found a set of wall hangings that I love on the internet, but they naturally were upwards of $15 each (not counting shipping!). So I decided to try my hand at making them myself. I hope that's not illegal.

I started with some scrapbook paper, a glass of sparkling cider, and an episode of Bones.

My finished product! I kind of love them. 

I apologize for the poor iPhone-quality pictures. Oh well. I planned on putting bible verses on them, but turned out to not have room. I think I'll make a fourth piece that has only words on it. We'll see.