Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Anxiety

“And he described Jesus in one word. Are you ready for this, Noelle?  Jesus was RELAXED.”

A friend of mine shared with me about a podcast she had heard from Dallas Willard.  I can’t remember how we got there, but this was a divine word that I knew was not an accident.  I consider myself a fairly even-keeled person, but all that usually means is that I store the extra highs and lows on the inside until they ooze out and somebody’s gotta clean them up.  It’s not until my anxiety is called out by name am I able to deal with it.

Motherhood has brought on a new anxiousness.  Everyone calls it “natural” but anxiety is not healthy, even if it’s for good reason.  It eats away at you, one thought at a time.  While I want to be a more relaxed parent, I know it’s simply so not my style.  I’m trying to accept that.  I like structure, and knowing, and stats, far more than I like to just “let things happen.”  Because, what if I let things happen and it turns out horribly?!  How do my motherly instincts fit into this equation?

First it was feeding.  I experienced so much stress with my first two months of nursing; I’m surprised my body didn’t just give up all together.  By God’s grace, we fought through and my son has gained weight without issue, and now we have a wonderful feeding relationship.

Then came the sleeping issue.  Swaddling correctly, sleeping position, is he breathing, etc.  Then general health questions- why is he congested, what is this skin reaction, immunizations, germs in the church nursery and grocery store, indigestion… it’s enough to work one into insomnia, and at times it did.  By God’s grace, my son is figuring out his sleeping on his own, and all of those health worries have worked themselves out.  Imagine that.

Lately I’ve been worrying about pumping schedules, my husband’s role in parenting and my hesitancy to leave my child with other people- if my insecurities are worth listening to or fighting through.

Last night, my husband asked the dreaded “is there anything you need to talk about” question.  What started as a minor concern about the perception of others blew up into a complete projectile spit up (baby pun intended) of anxiety that had been building up itself.  Poor husband, didn't know he'd need a burp rag for the wife too.

Does caring/loving your child so much HAVE TO accompany such high levels of anxiety?  Does thinking about your child 24/7 HAVE TO include worrying about them 24/7?  I think the answer is no, but I realized this was something I most definitely was NOT doing.

When Dallas Willard described Jesus as RELAXED, we’re not talking about the ultimate vacation or spa day.  Jesus really, in every circumstance, trusted the Father.  This is a NEW place for me to trust God.  I may trust him with my marriage, our jobs, family drama, friendships… but suddenly I’m like the kid with the new toy.  I don’t want to share it.  It’s new, and I want to figure it out.  I want this part all to myself.  Why am I so relaxed about trusting the Lord in these other areas of life that are old hat compared to the new, but not this new one: my child.

If I could only stay reminded of how much more God loves my son than I ever can or will, I could finally relax.  I could finally trust.  My shoulders would drop away from my ears, my hands would soften and I could drift back to sleep, if I could just remember how to be like Jesus in this way: at times angry, at times staying up late, at times up early, at times in pain, at times with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but all the while- trusting that the will of the Father to be the ultimate good.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Dad's Take on a Birth Story, Part 2: The Scariest and Greatest Night of My Life

We checked in to Sutter Roseville hospital at about 5:30pm, brimming with optimism that the moment had arrived - of course Noelle's optimism was tempered by the pain she was already in and what she knew was coming.  The head nurse was Kendall, a sweet and honest lady who informed us early on that what Noelle had gone through - thus far the hardest 24 hours of her life - was actually not real labor.  What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks was she talking about?  All those contractions were not the real deal?  By the book, it had only just begun.  Wow - it kind of took the wind out of our sails, but Noelle dealt with the news like the champ she is and was ready to meet the greater challenge ahead.

We got checked into our room and settled in for the long haul.  Noelle had registered a solid "4" on the dilation scale upon checkin, so it was hard to say how long the ordeal would take.  Lorrie and I were doing our best to encourage her and remain peaceful even though neither of us could possibly contain our excitement.  Lorrie just wanted to hold and spoil her new grandson... I meanwhile wanted to see this little guy who had already changed so many aspects of my life while remaining inside my wife's body.

6pm... 7pm... 8pm... The first few hours passed with plenty of

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Dad's Take on a Birth Story, Part 1: The Time Before the Time

See that guy in the photo?  Not the one in the beanie... the one smiling like a complete dork who has no idea what he just got himself into.  That's me, proud father of my firstborn son Colton Sterling Ritter.  This is the story, from a dad's perspective, about the birth of this little guy and about what my amazing wife went through to bring him into the world.  My intentions, just so you know, are two fold:  help myself remember the details and feelings of that fateful day (and night!), and encourage anyone facing this beautiful, life changing, and strange experience.

It all started way, way back on April 12, 2013.  It was a Friday evening and I'd just gotten home from work.  Colton was already 8 days past due, so it literally felt like every hour that passed could be the hour it would all get started.  Sure enough, Noelle's contractions began