Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 weeks and 5 days of learning

Lydia is 5 weeks and 5 days old.

In all my years of school I do not know if I have ever learned so much in just 5 weeks and 5 days.

On the humorous side I have realized the incredible amount of things I really can do one handed and that Lee cannot, just how little sleep I actually "need" in order to keep functioning, while at the same time becoming painfully aware of just how nice sleep can be. I have also learned that I can be indifferent to being peed on or getting poop on my hand, can somehow forget about what I may look like or if I have brushed my teeth yet until the door bell rings and I am snapped back into reality, and everything I used to do quickly now takes 3 to 5x as long. (i.e. This is the third time I have sat down to work on this blog in 4 days). I understand the meaning of 'mother bear' & have found myself ready to stand over my little cub and defend her at all costs. (this has increased my fear of mother bears in the wild because now I can imagine what they will want to do to me if I come close to or harm their little babe).

On the more sentimental side I have learned just how many hours can pass in a day spent just staring at this beautiful little person we have been blessed with. I finally understand what Stevie Wonder was really feeling when he said "I can't believe what God has done, through us He's given life to one." In my most sleep deprived stage of life I have learned no matter how tired I am or exhausted I feel or what hour of the night it is there is just nothing as precious or captivating as those big, sweet eyes staring at me in the dim light.

Just the other night my sweet little Lydia Jane was fussing and not wanting to be laid down. So, as I often do, I laid her beside me in bed. And there we were. Both laying on our sides facing each other and I couldn't help but surrender to the smile on my lips. She had stopped crying and was laying there staring at me, totally content. She just wanted to be close to her mama. While moments before I was in a zombie state of fatigue I suddenly felt no desire to close my eyes. I don't know how long I stared into her lovely eyes and studied her perfect face, but no amount of sleep would be worth giving that moment up.

I never knew how special it could be to be the only one who can 'fix it'. It was something I had been looking forward to for months, maybe longer, to be the mama when only the mama has the touch.

Fear has a whole new meaning to me now. As trusting of The Lord as I desire to be, in small moments I have found myself stricken with fear at the realization of the things I cannot protect her from, frozen in terror at the story of a baby being hurt or even dying, and hitting my knees in prayer as I cradle her and my mind torments me with all of the bad and scary events that could occur that could cause her physical or emotional harm.

Have I ever prayed more fervently? Have I ever been more desperate for God's hedge of protection? Have I ever cared so deeply or loved so fully? No. Never. Not once.

People told me I would know a love I had never known and be more in love than I ever had. I believed them of course, but never imagined it, never comprehended it until now. It makes me miss my mother terribly and it also makes me want to shower her with apologies for my rude junior high years, the times I lied to her or spoke rudely to her, and any grief or stress I ever caused her. But just when I become afraid she may still be hurt by me or even angry I realize how much she loves me as her own baby girl and I know that I am amazingly blessed to have a mother who loves me as greatly as I love my sweet little one.

I am not ready for Lydia Jane to grow up. I will cherish every sweet little moment and day to the best of my ability. And I will pray for her always & maybe one day she will bring in to the world a precious little baby and she will have the epiphany or realization of my great love for her. No matter how much I try to express it to her, until then, I do not think she will ever be able to grasp it.

Singing Newborn

Monday, August 23, 2010


4 Weeks old-August 17

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Investment versus Return

When I decided to transfer from Tabor College in Hillsboro, KS to Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA and my dad saw the cost difference, he simply said to me, "I'll gladly pay for any education you want to pursue, but with costs that high you have to ask yourself if the investment will be worth the return."

He wanted me to consider what type of job I would pursue after school and if I would be able to make enough money to essentially pay for my education (not that I would be literally paying it off, because my father blessed me by paying for it, but I got the idea). Of course it would! So off to APU I went.

Upon graduation I didn't know where to go or what to do. I took a trip to China, but ultimately stayed in Azusa where finding work was quite a challenge. I ended up working at a very fun little art gallery and then 10 months later went to Buenos Aires, Argentina to study Spanish for 2 months. I got back, got engaged, got married, and started the Public Administration masters program through Walden University online. I had wanted to pursue creative writing through Fresno State, but didn't make the cut-off for applying. Two very different majors, huh?

I've learned in life that I am very impulsive. This didn't dawn on me until last year when I impulsively cut bangs without even looking in the mirror. I don't mean that I trimmed already existing bangs, I mean I grabbed the long shoulder length hair in the front of my head and hacked across them with kitchen shears. It was so incredibly impulsive. As I tried to repair the 'flaws' in my hack job it dawned on me just how ridiculously impulsive I was.

Why did I choose public administration? Well, because I like to lead and to organize. However, what I really knew nothing about before starting this course was anything about politics and/or the economy. Not really anyway. I have enjoyed the classes because they are intellectual and I am learning a lot and I enjoy to learn, but I become afraid about what I will do with this masters I am working towards. Then not to mention I go and get pregnant and have a baby right about the half way point of the whole program. I don't regret having our precious bundle for one single second, but it does make completing school work a little more daunting and undesirable. I mean, who wants to sit down and focus on text books and politics when they could be holding their 4 week old baby? Exactly.

I would really like to teach at a Junior College just one or two nights a week once I finish my masters. Yet, while I would LOVE to do this, I can't help but think how inadequate I would be to teach on the subject of Public Administration. I mean, I am barely just learning. Now, communication studies (my BA degree), that is an area I feel more fit to discuss. Can you teach at a JuCo in the study area of your BA or does it have to be your MA focus? Goodness I don't know. I just know one thing I have always known: Once I started having children I knew I would be torn between always wanting to be home with them and wanting to work.

Obviously I would choose my kids over work in a heart beat. At the same time, however, I remember the investment, not just financially, but physical and mental energy over 6 years, that I have made. When I consider the countless hours of studying, writing, and stressing out, I want to reap some benefits or rewards from all that hard work. Once again, I don't just mean financially, I just mean I want to put to use the things I have learned. Teaching at a JuCo is the most desirable to me, because it means I could be at home during the day with my kids and Lee could be with them when I worked one or two nights a week and they wouldn't have to go to a baby-sitter or day care.

And as I finish up this current quarter--desperately--I am thinking on these such things. School has been so overwhelming that it is hard to imagine starting back up again in December after taking a quarter off and not finishing until September. Do I have it in me? I guess so.

Just two final papers to start and finish by Sunday, and then one more week of small papers and I will be done with this quarter. Maybe after taking 12 weeks off I will have more motivation once again and not be so overwhelmed. I hope so.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Isn't She Lovely

Isn't she lovely
Isn't she wonderful
Isn't she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we'd be making one as lovely as she
But isn't she lovely made from love

Isn't she pretty
Truly the angel's best
Boy, I'm so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can't believe what God has done
Through us He's given life to one
Isn't she lovely made from love

(Isn't she Lovely by Stevie Wonder)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Birth Story--the extended version

On July 11 we walked across the street to send off the Guatemala Team leaving for their two week mission trip. As I gave Miriam Hofer a hug she said, "Now don't go having that baby while I'm gone!" I just laughed, because we both knew it was a ridiculous possibility. I mean, our baby wasn't due for more than a month.

The following week I got a little crazy working on projects. Poor Lee, he was so busy and I wanted (and needed) his help for so many things. I decided to give the guy a break right before he left for church camp, I mean, after all, we would have plenty of time before the baby arrived after he returned a week later.

So Sunday, July 18, I walked across the street again to the church. This time it was to send off my husband and all of his junior high students to summer church camp for a week. Someone asked if I would be fine with Lee away. Of course I would, I had plenty of homework and housework projects to get done to get ready for this baby. Loraine Schellenberg said. "Oh yeah, you're far enough out nothing is going to happen." I honestly and whole heartedly agreed with her.

Vince Balakian advised Lee to gather all of the emergency numbers and give them to me. He thought we should be prepared in case I went into labor. We agreed. Yet, we failed to complete the task. Oops.

So after sending Lee of on Sunday I did the following:
-Primered the nursery to get it ready for Lee to paint it :)
-Then my feet throbbed so bad I could hardly stand it (in fact I wrote a post about it all) I was desperate to complete tasks, bizarrely motivated.... hmmmm, nesting?
-Worked on homework
-Suffered from some braxton hicks contractions (false labor contractions) Who knows if they were false now?

Monday I completed an entire weeks worth of homework and started the next week's. (Thank you God for that!) Then I went and hung out with Kathleen Bergen.

It was all just a normal day.

I came home & proceeded to work on more projects, suffer through more "false" contractions, and then finally hit the hay around mindnight.

At 3 am I woke up quickly and assumed it was because I needed to pee (as usual for a pregnant woman, especially at 35 1/2 weeks pregnant). But then I had that cramping feeling again. Those darn Braxton Hicks! I went pee and while peeing (sorry for details folks) I heard a "pop" and I thought to myself, "Gosh, pregnancy is so weird. Now I make sounds when I pee. Gross."

Wanting to get back to my precious sleeping I laid back down. But no way! I felt stabbing pains in my lower back when I laid down so I ruled out sleeping as an option. I went through the advised steps for getting rid of BH contractions: juice, a snack, and walking around, but to no avail. So I grabbed my text books. I guess I would do some homework if I wasn't going to get to sleep.

So there I am, sitting indian style on the bed reading a book when, hello! I think I've peed myself, depsite the fact that I had peed 3 times since waking up 10 minutes prior. Of course the thought crossed my mind that my water could have just broken, but felt a little embarrassed for even thinking so because we weren't even near my due date and I didn't want to be dramatic. I jumped up ticked that I had lost bladder control and ripped the sheets off the bed to wash them. However, even after I took a bath, had changed the sheets and my pajamas I kept 'leaking' and had to sit on a towel. So I googled on my phone how to know if your water broke. (oh modern times)

The two signs that stood out to me:
-some women hear a popping sound when their water breaks
-a consistent leaking feeling

Oh brother.
Still, I remained in denial.
I did start making notes in my phones to keep track of my "braxton hicks" and how long they were. I still have the note, it makes me laugh to look at. By 4am my contractions were 6 to 7 minutes apart and I was in a lot of pain. So I took another bath and continued to text my sister Jennifer in Kansas. I needed to talk this through with someone. I was, afterall, home alone and had no present voice of reason to snap me out of my denial.

In the bath tub for the second time I continued to time my contractions. At 5am I thought for sure I wasn't recognizing the contractions or timing them accurately, because surely they were not occuring on the dot every 4 minutes. So at about 5:15am I called Jennifer knowing it would be 7:15 in KS and I would catch her awake. I did. She hadn't got any of my blackberry messages yet. I started telling her what had happened so far when I had another contraction. I guess by the change in my voice and breathing she knew I was in real labor. She told me to get off the phone and find a neighbor or call someone (in the same state as me) to take me to the hospital.

It's almost 5:30am in California at this point so I was not surprised that my first attempt received no answer. But The Lord had it worked out. Stephanie Warkentin had been at my house the evening before to drop off a package for her daughter and son. (Oh yeah, because I was planning to drive up the mountain and spend the day with campers on Tuesday). So I called her and she called me right back and hit the road to come get me.

I headed out the door to the hospital in pajama pants, a tank top, and a t-shirt (no undergarments because I rolled out of the tub in lots and lots of labor pain and just grabbed what I could once I realized I was heading out the door to the hospital. I did grab my purse, but there was nothing in it that I needed once arriving at the hospital: no camera, no insurance card (that was in Lee's wallet), and no cell phone. I had dropped the cell phone in the front yard on my way to Stephanie's car. Bummer! Not that I would have time for phone calls because it felt like I was constantly contracting, but still!

Once in Steph's car I apologized in advance in case this was a false labor thing. Ha! Who knew I was so good at the denial game. On the way to the hospital Steph began working her magic to get a hold of Lee and telling me random stories to distract me from the intense pain I was in. I only cried once on the way to the hospital and it wasn't because of the pain. It was because I was slowly moving from denial and realizing my husband didn't even know what was going on and we couldn't reach him because cell phones don't get reception up at Hartland in the mountains.

I remained surprisingly calm all morning while laboring alone and even when we reached the hospital. We walked up to the counter and Steph started to tell them what was going on. They acted really non-chalant I think they were assuming since I was a first time mom and still almost 5 weeks from my due date that I was probably not in real labor. But of course I had a contraction while they asked me endless questions and had to squat down by the counter, "Oh don't squat here hon." They told me as if I had some kind of choice since they weren't putting me in a room.

Steph kept urging them to check me while she talked with the director of the camp about what was going on. It was a God thing that Steph would be able to get a hold of the director of the camp so quickly! The nurse tried to tell her not to have the dad drive down just yet until we checked her. But since he had a 1hr 15 min drive AT THE LEAST, Steph told the director to get him down here. It was a good thing, because when the nurse did check me she said, "Oh! About 9cm!"

It was go time. Which really, even I, Miss Denial, could have told them at that point. Yet, the big "9 cm" definitely snapped me into reality!

The next 2 hours were spent wondering if Lee was going to make it. None of the nurses thought he would. It was close to 6 when they told me I was at 9cm and Dr. Cano was on call, but Julie would be on at 7am. Julie is the midwife I REALLY wanted to do my delivery, so I knew we were at least making it to 7. :) Julie showed up and she didn't rush me. My body was pushing on its own, but I didn't feel the urge to push yet despite everyone reminding me not to wait for Lee to push. My lamazze teacher/doula said I was probably waiting for him subconsciously because my body wanted him there so it just waited. She says she has seen that a lot in women's labors.

I was practically sitting up and leaning to the side during labor. And my midwife Julie Medina was awesome and just let me labor the way my body wanted to. She was so encouraging and calm.

When things got in to full swing after the nurse checked me I was in sound mind to rattle off the things I wanted "No pain medication and delayed chord cutting. Oh, and I haven't had my strep B test yet." You see, it was Tuesday and on Wednesday I was supposed to have my 36 week appointment, get my strep B test, pre-register at the birthing center so I wouldn't have to register while in labor, and finish my 'birth plan'. Isn't God funny with his timing?

Due to this change-up in the order of things I had nurses asking me all sorts of questions "height, weight, what I brought with me, et cetera et cetera". And they wanted me to sign all sorts of things. Let's keep in mind this is in the MIDDLE of the most intense pain I have ever felt at this point in my life. So Steph would put the pen in my hand and rest my hand on the line that needed my signature or my initials. Thank God I didn't sign my baby away, because let's be honest, I wasn't comprehending much of anything they were saying to me.

A nurse asked if the bed needed broke down, but Julie said, "Nah. She'll probably deliver just like that." I was so relieved because moving brought excruciating pain. Which is funny, because I had been so worried the nurses and doctors wouldn't give me the freedom to walk and move around during labor. But then again, I did that part of labor at home alone and had all the freedom I wanted to pace around my house, which I did. :)

Lee called Stephanie's phone when the got far enough down the mountain to have reception. She held the phone up to my ear and he told me he loved me and was on his way and that I was doing great. I couldn't really respond but I gasped out an "I love you, too." Surely he would make it. I just knew that he would make it.

Some time after 7am I hit the wall they had told us about in Lamazze class. Everything 'down there' felt like it might explode and I suddenly panicked thinking "I can't do this." I literally ran straight in to this towering wall of "I Can't." Lee wasn't there yet and this was too hard. But then a comforting voice from within said the most empowering and terrifying thing I had ever heard, "But you are the only person who can do this. No one else can do it for you." I said a quick prayer, okay, I prayed through my whole labor, but The Lord reminded me in that moment that I was able, because He made me able, and He made my body to be able. So I told myself "I am the only person who can push this baby out. I HAVE to do this. I CAN do this."

So I started pushing.

Around 7:30am I heard some nurses shout in the hall, "Are you Lee!?" Moments later he came running into the room--complete in Dodger shirt and hat. :) He traded places with faithful Stephanie who had stood by my side and held my hand the whole time. That last stretch was the hardest. Every time I pushed I thought certainly that her head was out, but it wasn't yet. "I see lots of dark hair," Julie told us--and this was a surprise to me. Because of how I was sitting I was able to see the back of her head when it came out and Lee was able to comfort me and see his baby girl enter the world. At 7:49am Julie said, "reach down and deliver your baby." I got to help scoop her up and place her on my tummy. There she was, she finally made her debut. HER debut. Remember, we didn't know the gender yet. So Julie let Lee announce it, but Lee was so speechless and in awe that it took him a little while to say it.

I just held her close to me and laughed and cried at the same time and told her everything was okay and that I loved her. About 15 minutes later she nursed for the first time. It was incredible how instinctual that was for her. Isn't God amazing?! Then Lee gave her the first bath and fed her a glucose bottle to get her sugars up. They were pretty low from being premature. But she was a plump 6lb 5oz for her 18 inches length and she was perfect in every way.

"Do we have a name?" Julie asked, and I panicked and said, "No, not yet!" Though we had talked frequently about Lydia Jane and loved it all the way through, I was still so startled by her early arrival and my unpreparedness that I didn't feel ready to solidify her name. It didn't take us long though & we went with what had been so beautiful to us all along. And every single day the name is more perfect for her. And my incredible love for her has only made me more aware of my mother's incredible love for me, God's incredible love for his son that He watched suffer for our sake, and God's incredible love for us.

My little Lydia Jane, you have changed my life forever.