Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mackenzie Jane: A Birth Story

40 weeks came and went.  

Then went 41 weeks.

All was healthy and I had done this "late baby thing" before with Colton.  No sweat this time.  No need to panic.  We'll just plant the winter garden, or I'd delegate at least.

All the while, my doctor and I were hoping and planning for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean).  Colton's birth was about 30 hours of labor and ended in emergency C-sec due to fetal distress.  We were praying for a different line up for Mackenzie's birth- as I was a good candidate for a natural birth this round.

But God knew otherwise.  I went in for a final ultrasound and nonstress test.  Fluid was VERY low and we were given the option for induction or repeat cesarean.  At this point with Colton, there was at least some labor and dilation, he would ultimately go 9 days postdue.  The question was if this baby would drop or stay uneffaced like Colton, leading again to fetal distress.  My doctor was extremely supportive while I tearfully asked if our likelihood for another emergency C-sec was increasing if we went with induction and in our case, the answer was now yes.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Finally Writing About IT... What I Learned In The Valley

It's been a year since I wrote on this little family blog.

Since that time, Chris and I walked through one of the darker valleys we have experienced as a married couple thanks to...  can I say it?  The dreaded "I" word?  


Gosh I despised that word.  It still makes me straighten up in alarm.

I've wanted to write about it, but prayed that one day I could write on the "up side" of the valley, looking back down on to that dark place, thankful for where we've come.  It was hard to put my feelings into words during that forever time.  

I feared being judged.  
I feared not having the right thing to say.  
I feared lashing out on a bad day.  
I feared underestimating my feelings on a good day.  
I feared having to face yet one more "idea" to help.
I feared the idea of not wanting to be done, but being done.
I feared being angry at God.
I feared how I started to view my marriage.

FEAR is CRIPPLING.  We are not called to have a spirit of fear... (2 Tim 1:7)

I had friends who had just began this monthly battle of disappointments, testing, diagnoses, while others who were veterans in this war, claiming the fight for years and years.  What would I have to say that would be different?  Why were we being called to walk in this muck?  I wanted my testimony to revolve around victorious parenting, blissful marriage, vibrant community.  I mean, who doesn't, right?  BUT... that's not what we are promised... most definitely not.

We are NOT promised ANYTHING, but we are promised GOD HIMSELF.

This statement still brings me to tears.  He's enough.  Truly.  I'm so humbled thinking about how many times I beat my fist in the air asking WHY.  Why couldn't we have another baby right now?  Why wasn't my body working the way it was supposed to?  Why wasn't my plan working out?  All the while, I believed tearfully that His way was indeed better than mine, but I didn't have to love it right now.  

The ONLY thing that got me through these last few years was the truth of God's Word.  Everything else left me searching and questioning.  God met me in my mess with his comforting words, even on my worst days.  He left me wanting for nothing but His presence (Ps 23:1-3).  He was with me no matter how long this valley went for (Ps 23:4).  Only then could I go on with joy knowing He was doing something greater in me (James 1:2-3).  Resting in Him was my only hope while in waiting (Romans 12:12).

In God's infinite wisdom and timing, we have been able to conceive another baby, who is growing steadily by His grace.  I could shake my head in disbelief, but instead I'm left in awe and worship of the God who creates, prevents and gives life.  My little science brain tried to rationalize for so long, too many tests not lining up and my health care team disagreeing about what was really "wrong."  

If you're reading this and can relate on any level, please know it's okay to talk about it.  Not enough people know how to talk about fertility.  It's hard.  It's personal.  It can offend.  You can lose friends.  But we need people around us, especially the type that will just squeeze your hand at that baby shower, or text you that they are thinking of you when you're about to give up.  

Secondly, keep pouring into your marriage.  Remember that was your first gift in this whole journey.  You had each other.  Take care of each other.  Figure out HOW to love one another, cause it's gonna get really hard.  

Lastly, lean into the God who knows you.  He knows your hormones, your test results, your temperature, and when you're running from Him.  His word creates breath and life yes, but it also gives comfort in the waiting.  I can't explain His reasoning, but I do know His character.  It's loving, enduring and trusting... which makes "waiting" for anything in this world "nothing" in comparison to the glory that is in Him.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

He's Changing My World

I became mother of a boy a month short of two years ago.  I had no idea that his "boyness" would change the way I see the world.  I mean, it dawned on me today that I drive differently, shop differently and literally THINK differently, with him in my life now.

I drive slowly around construction zones with the windows rolled down just so he can get a peak, or hear the beeping.

I preserve insects in a jar instead of washing them down the drain when rinsing my garden findings.

Every book I check out at the library has something to do with motorized vehicles.

A good day is when a tractor is found on a baseball field, dragging and adding dirt.  It's like a three in one.  Score!

Anytime I catch myself explaining why he can't go outside, I pause, slap myself and find his boots.  What was I thinking?

I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing the difference between a track excavator and a backhoe.

I never forget to put the garbage out, because that would be a sin. 

I try to shop at stores with "car carts" because life just goes better that way.

I never get a ball out unless there is a "bat" to go with it.  Otherwise, there are tears.

To be honest, people ask us all the time when we're gonna have another kid.  We have been praying toward those efforts for what seems like a while now.  There was a significant period of time when growing our family became almost an obsessive goal in my mind.  Until, I watched my kid playing with his trucks.  So intent.  So content.  So focused with the toy at hand.  Not worried about his next meal, or his next activity, or his next nap.  All attention on the trucks in front of him.

He's my truck right now.  I'm captivated.  Focused.  And I don't want to miss a thing, while worrying about the future.  God's got that part.

I love being a mother of a boy.  Especially this one.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Next 30 years - Reflections on turning 30

You may have already heard... but I turned 30 yesterday.  I figured I'd jot down a few reflections for those of you interested in reading them.

1.  As the day approached, I realized I had been a lot more excited about entering the previous decade than this one.  The only good reason was because I knew that the next decade would be the big 4-0... and at that point you can't even pretend you're young any more.  But 29 years and 360 days old.... c'mon, I'm still in my 20's baby!  Not any more.  However, just one day into this new decade of life and I actually already like it.  Maybe it's the fact that I like responsibility and influence more these days, and I think both of those increase (or should!) with age.  Who knows.

2.  This past weekend was a significant one in that it represented many things coming together at once.  On an important-but-not-ultimate level, my house finally got a backyard.  4+ months of hard work, lots of stress, plenty of money, and tons of volunteer hours from friends has made the dream come true.  But more significantly I saw a lot of people this weekend, had friends over, and realized that I'm at the point where I have close friends who I've known "since I was a kid" but also close friends who just became close friends in the past 3-6 months.  That's when you know that a) you're getting older and b) you're blessed to still be making friends.

3.  I'm loving almost every minute of being a daddy.  I say "almost" only because the past week has been rough, and it's not the only rough week we've had with our little man.  But that pales in comparison to being able to be the father to a wonderful son.  Sure he'll start breaking my heart with his disobedience soon enough, and sure I'll get frustrated with him at times and then realize he's just like I was when I was a kid (unless he has Noelle's childhood temperament, in which case I'll be very happy!), but literally nothing in my life has compared to this relationship forming with my son.  I'm looking forward to this next decade with Colton.... and maybe another kiddo... and maybe a 3rd?  Whoa, slow down their tiger.

4.  I want my 30's to be more fun than my 20's.  But it will be fun in vastly different ways.  Fun in my 20's had a lot to do with sports and college for a while, then with moving to a new city and totally loving the adventure that Portland was for us.  Fun in my 30's will be filled with being a dad, planting even deeper roots in this local area of Placer County, going on family trips, serving in my church, improving the quality of life in my home one step at a time, and hopefully still playing a decent amount of golf.  But I believe the fun will indeed be better because it will be richer as the family grows.

5.  Tim McGraw's song "My next 30 years" has been in my head for a while.  I really do need to write some resolutions for my next 30 years.  Truth be told, I'm at the very beginning of the best 30 year period of my life (1-30, 30-60, 60-90... if the Lord keeps me here that long).  I've still got plenty of energy, I'm growing in wisdom with my finances, I love planning things with my wonderful wife, always trying to soak in the beauty of God's creation around me and wanting to be an integral part of expanding God's Kingdom in our region and around the world.  I do believe these next 30 years will somehow be better than the first set of 30 I've already lived.

Much more could be said but I want to keep it short and sweet.  For those of you well beyond your 30's and reading this, please provide some piece of advice, word of caution, or anything else you think I need to know in the comments section below :)

 -- Chris

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dirt for the Soul

We are re-doing our back yard at the moment.  Not to mention, maintaining the front yard.  And there's the side vegetable garden as well.  Home ownership will really keep you in the dirt.  If you enjoy that kind of thing.  We didn't know we did, until we got a little dirty.

I confess I like to have my stuff together.  Is there anything wrong with that?  I crave structure and routine.  And when I have it, I enjoy the room to create and allow for improvisation, but I definitely like to plan for that freedom.  And like many things in life, parenting is an opportunity for change in this area for me.  The first time I put my Tupperware back into the cabinet and he looked at me like "aw, thanks mom" and took it all out again with such joy... that's when I realized that this kid was gonna help sanctify me.  And I want to thrive in the process, not fight it.

My dad, also type-A/planner/clean-freak type, was finishing dinner while visiting for Colton's birthday.  He commented how blessed he was that my floors were dirty.  I call them "distressed" which means I can get away with the "barn look" a few days longer than most.  He said when I was a little girl, he saw me coloring one day and I was getting so frustrated at myself because I couldn't stay within the lines.  He pulled back, wide-eyed and realized this was the "him" in me that was coming out.  He said my floors give him hope that maybe my children might be a little more normalized because at least I was okay with dirt.

I laughed out loud, thinking about how it drove me crazy that I didn't get to clean my floors before the big birthday party that weekend.  But when I look down to see that my son is MOST happy when his bare feet and hands are ash grey from going in and out of our sliding door, traipsing in more dirt each time, I just shake my head in joy.  I can feel the good for my soul, and for his, right then and there- watching him make a mess, knowing that we can clean him later, and that he'll sleep better, and that hosing down your kid is such a better feeling than locking him inside just because you don't want to deal with the mess that day.

Colton loves dirt so much.  He'll squish it, lick it, hit it.  And while I know it's normal for little boys to enjoy all things earth and worm related, I think it's been especially good for me to have a boy.  I'm leaving so much of my clean self outside these days.  Weeding while watching him play with the hose, or replanting that same poor basil plant he keeps pulling out of the garden bed as if he'd finally found his favorite one.  It's all so good.  I love getting dirty with him.  I love picking him up even though that means getting my shirt mud swiped.  I love washing our hands together afterwards and watching the water go from brown to clear.  He's not thinking twice about what's happening, but I'm hoping this discipline of dirt play will instill a freedom to let the dirty floors go when I come to visit someday, and give him a love for cultivating earth that his father and I have discovered about ourselves.

Here's to more laundry, and grassed stained jeans- his and mine.  I love being a mom to a boy.  It's so good for my soul.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Baby Turns One Tomorrow

A year ago tomorrow, I got to see my baby's face for the first time.  It's so strange to think I didn't know what he would look like, and now I can't get his face out of my mind.  That face has changed so much in the last year.  I have changed too.  No one can prepare you for the love of a child.  It's so magnificent.

In one year, our hearts have been filled to the brim with joy for Colton Sterling.  How is it possible that I can grow to love him more?  Thought I would reflect through some flash backs over the year... cause each time I was in the shower thinking about what to write about I got lost in these random memories.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Ministry Is Sleeping

Tried to time it right.  Skipped my shower, teased my hair instead.  Husband brought out all the stops.  But after taking my exhausted son into my arms just 15 minutes before we should be leaving for church, he looked up at me with the most tired eyes and we both understood each other.  This day, this nap, this time, sleep was more important to his little body.  And it was momma's job to notice that.

I love the Church.  People from all different kinds of backgrounds and upbringings coming together to worship God.  Gatherings on Sundays were and are very important to my husband and I.  But something not talked about until you are in it, is the sacrifice Sundays become when you have little ones.

I'm seeing each week into this motherhood adventure that every day is different and each Sunday is a new decision.  So I haven't written off church.  But my expectations are low, and if we get there for half a sermon Praise Be To God!  And if my son needs a three hour nap that morning, Praise Be To God.  My ministry has been refocused for a little bit, (or just concentrated for a while) on my son.  My family is my first ministry right now.

My call to know intuitively what he needs in that moment is one I take seriously.  Last week that was a good ol' college try in the nursery and we made it through a whole service.  Today his growing body needs me not to push him.  Before having kids we loved having people over several nights a week, sharing life with other couples, spontaneous dinner parties... and now my ministry is to quiet the house down after a difficult day, turn off the noisy toys or just GET ON THE FLOOR that I haven't swept and play with the legos.

It takes discipline to find satisfaction in this "ministry" on some days, if I'm being honest.  But when I do find it, God reminds my soul that this indeed is EXACTLY what He is calling me to do.