Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Time to shake things up a bit...

On a different note, I'd like to direct people's attention to this post written by one of my heroes of the faith. This post, like most of them, is short and to the point and without apologies. I'd be happy to help anyone get ahold of his writing as it is immensely practical and immensely helpful and immensely Biblical.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Entertainment

I've had cause recently to ponder the nature of entertainment and how it is to fit into the life of the Christian. What, you may wonder, prompted these thoughts? Well, it is my addiction to Gilmore Girls and getting to borrow seasons 1-5 on DVD. We've watched little else here this past month. Not only that, but we've been watching A LOT of Gilmore. But the more I've watched, especially so much in so short of time, the more acutely I've been aware of the world view which underlies the show and the sort of "people" the main characters really are.

Now, I have the habit when watching a show or movie to view the situations and people the same way I would real people in real life. So I get attached to these people, I feel like I know them, like I would want to have them over to dinner to hang out, that sort of thing. But as I've been watching Gilmore Girls I have realized the Lorelei and Rory aren't people I that I would really ever be good friends with. In fact, I would have concerns about close and intimate ties with people who are so antagonistic towards the majority of my world view. But what do I do with this information? Does it really matter that the main characters of my favorite show don't line up with Biblical truth? Does it really matter that they aren't people to be admired or emulated? I mean, it is just entertainment, right?

I'm beginning to think though that it does matter, and that letting things fall under the blanket protection of "entertainment" just doesn't cut it. I should follow that sentence though with the caveat that I intend to keep watching Gilmore for now, and have no intention of returning the DVDs today or anything like that. The thing though I that I wonder about is the sense of entitlement that we all seem to have in regards to entertainment and relaxation and down time. It is a part of our mindset that we are somehow deserving of entertainment-that the right to watch a movie or a TV show or read a book is inherent in the make up of the universe. It is taken for granted that we all need "down time" to relax and get back on track in order to do everything else better. And maybe we do, I honestly have no idea. I can see much good coming from forms of entertainment. First of all, truth can be expressed in fiction. Read this article at my husbands blog for expansion on this idea. But basically real Biblical truth can and is contained in much fiction and it can be to our great benefit to read. Also there are bonds which are formed sitting down as a family or friends and enjoying entertainment together, talking about it, laughing together. And "down time" can come in various forms-many of them very good. Playing an instrument for example can be used for the good of many, arts and crafts can benefits those less fortunate (think church quilting circle) and leave hierlooms and memories for the generations to follow. So I am certainly not thinking for a moment that everything which isn't work or Bible reading is bad and should be thrown out.

What though are our standards by which we judge how we spend our time? And what effect are these activities having on us? Do we get so caught up in a favorite movie or TV show that we are ok with the compromised morals of those involved? I know I have. (For fellow Grey's Anatomy fans, anyone else find themselves rooting for Dr. Shepard to choose Meredith?) And beyond even choosing our entertainment and down time, how much time do we commit to even those things which are good? Do we more earnestly pursue our hobbies and entertainment than we do our God, His Word, and the families which He has given us?

I don't have answers to these questions, but I am beginning to understand that the way I spend my time is something I need to be conscience of. It is important to not simply go through my day on auto-pilot, not having any concern for the concrete things of God. It isn't enough to pray before meals and think about blog posts and read the occasional Christian blogs. There is much which we can and should be doing with the time our God has given us and perhaps that doesn't need to contain as much entertainment and me time as I once thought it did.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sleep: A poor substitute for caffeine.

Sticking with the general theme of posts lately- I have a newborn. She is amazing. I don't think it has really sunk in yet that I have two kids. Really, it seems a bit surreal that Nolan and I are even married (if you know our dating story you'll understand why) let alone that we have children. But I am married to my high school sweetheart and we do have two beautiful daughters.

And in the grand tradition of having a newborn in the house, sleep is extremely elusive. If you talked to me during the first couple weeks of her life you'll be surprised I am saying this because all I did those first couple of weeks while awake was nurse her and gush about how much she loved to sleep. Seriously, I was getting almost 12 hours of sleep a night, with a good 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep in there. It was such a blessing. As is typical though, that season of sleepiness is over and we are in the stage that vaguely resembles a POW camp. You know: no sleep, no showers, no unaccompanied trips to the bathroom, sporadic meals, and various physical tortures that would be inappropriate to discuss here.

Like most people, I don't do well on no sleep. Actually, I get desperate to be brutally honest. I take to tearfully pleading with a small child who has no capacity to understand, let alone comply, to "please sleep. please. please. please. please sleep." I tend to forget, after just one night, that sleep does return to vaguely normal patterns in just a few short months. That it won't be long before she only needs to eat once, maybe twice a night, and then not at all. Then she'll leave our room and go and have an endless slumberparty with her big sister.

The trade off though isn't half bad I must say. I am sitting here getting to be on the computer, drinking a really good cup of coffee, with the perfect little girl asleep on my chest. Yes, asleep. The
pouch has magical powers. Get one. Anyway, this is a season that is filled with so much joy and peace and feelings of wanting it to never end, and yet at the same time it's season that is exhausting and even occasionally makes you think that this is the last baby that I'll ever consider having. I love it, all of it. When I'm 80 I'm not going to remember the nights I got a good sleep. I will remember though what my precious angel looked like at 2am as I rocked her and she nursed peacefully at my breast.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm clean

Ah, showers. Wonderful things, aren't they? You don't truly realize how nice it is to be clean from head to toe until you haven't been for awhile. And anyone who has had a new baby in the house knows that showers don't happen regularly. Right now I am sitting here clean and smelling good with my hair combed for the second day in a row. It just might be a miracle.

It won't last though. Yesterday about 5 min. after getting out of the shower my angelic baby threw up in my hair. Not long after her sister repeated the same performance in my lap. They are both sleeping right now, so for awhile I am clean.

{rest of post removed due to its inability to make a point or really truly say anything....so enjoy what was suppose to be this deep post and now is nothing more than a glimpse into my hygiene habits. Oh well.}

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Birth Story

To be honest, I'm not sure how to go about writing about the birth of my second child. So many blogs do such a wonderful job of telling about the birth of their children, and yet the style in which they do it just isn't me. I don't want to simply go through and write about the stats of how long I labored and pushed and and how big she was and what drugs I took and all of that. I shy away from that partly because the details are fuzzy in my mind. They are coming in focus a bit more as time goes by, but still the exact details of what makes a birth story aren't particularly solid. But the main reason I don't want to write about it in the normal way is that it seems the experience of giving birth is so much more than simply the stats. So, this is my attempt at not only telling what "happened" but the emotions and lasting effect behind what happened. This record is more for me than anyone else. Giving birth was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and if anything is worth writing about this is.

I should start out with a brief recap of the birth of my first daughter. It was a scheduled c-section about 2 weeks before my due date. I never went into labor and had very few contractions. We went into the hospital on a Thursday morning, I was preped and taken to the OR and about 20 min. later my beautiful, perfect baby girl was born. True to her nature she was screaming before she was even out and didn't stop till they brought her to me in the recovery room. I was fortunate to be up to holding her very soon and she was brought to me less than an hour after she was born.

The thing is though, I wasn't a participant in her birth. I had the position of an involved spectator so to speak. I was physically effected, but only because of what was done to me not because of what I did. I wasn't able to get around very well for almost 2 months after the operation, and it was a full 2 weeks before I was really able to pick her up and do many of the basic care. It wasn't until I was pregant again that I realized how great a toll this had taken on me emotionally. It was then I realized that I didn't want that experience again unless it was absolutely vital for the safety of my baby. I wanted to labor, to experience the pain and toil of child birth, to be able to take care of my baby after she was born, to be there for my toddler. Don't get me wrong, I think c-sections are amazing procedures and I am so thankful that they are available. And I would not hesitate to have one again if I really needed it. I just wasn't convinced I needed it this time-so we went for a natural birth.

My due date was Feb. 19 and since I had had a c-section they wouldn't induce if I went over but instead would want to do a repeat c-section so we were praying hard that I would go into labor before my due date. On Feb. 14 I started having contractions every 10 or so minutes, but they were pretty mild so I didn't really think it was going to turn into anything. By about 6pm that evening the contractions were still 10 minutes apart and had gotten painful, but I was still able to function fine. In fact I had the bright idea of going to Hobby Lobby and getting fabric to make baby bedding out of. I contiuned down the path of "bright ideas" by trying to make said baby fabric when I got home. Now, perhaps you don't think this is that big of blunder? Well, I wouldn't either except when I was pregnant the first time I was warned by many women that generally when you go into labor you get a burst of enegery and a desire to do a project. Further more, I had been talking about that said burst of energy all pregnancy and was determined to watch out for it. One would think that with 6 hours of contractions just 5 days before my due date I would have noticed it. One would think that my husband asking if this was the burst of energy I would have noticed it. But, no, I didn't notice it. And I continued to work on said bedding until midnight. Now, by midnight I had been having contraction 5 min. apart for about 3 hours and wasn't able to sew during them any longer. Finally I decided that I might be in labor. Honestly though I still wasn't convinced. So I took a shower and finally laid down to try and get some sleep about 12:30. But the contractions didn't let me sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, so when at 4 I knew I was for sure in labor I was very tired. The next hour was when things really started to pick up and get uncomfortable. This hour was also when I began to start throwing up and that we decided it was time to go into the hospital.

When we got there they immediately wanted to do many things which I really didn't- give me an IV, break my water, and hook me up to an internal monitor. I agreed to the IV as I was concerned about getting dehydrated, but put them off on the other things. So, to speed up this narrative....my contractions stayed at 5 min apart until about noon when they picked up to about 2-3 min. apart. But by about 4 (I think this was the time, this is where it starts to get fuzzy) I was still only at 8cm. dilated so we broke my water. Contractions are much worse when your water is broke. Much. And then about 4:30 (I think) came the pitocin. Contractions with pitocin make the other contractions seem decently pleasant. My heart goes out to all the women who are routinely induced with pitocin and having their waters broke. I would have signed up for the epidural I think had I had to endure the pitocin from the beginning.

So at about 5:45 I was ready to push. I had no clue what I was doing in terms of what muscles to use. By that point I had gotten kind of stuck in bed because the contractions were coming so fast I hadn't been able to move to a better position. So I ended up delivering in the position I really didn't want to-but it did the trick, so ce la vie. My first push did nothing. I could tell right away that it was totally in effective except to make me more uncomfortable in the contraction. At that point I had my first doubts of "I'm not going to be able to deliver this baby." But by the grace of God the second went better, and the third MUCH better. By the third push I knew that this was going to be fine, I could do this, and soon I was going to get to see my baby. I didn't think it would be as soon as it was though. At 6:11 my little girl was born. The part of the whole ordeal that I had been most concerned about was really the easiest. I didn't feel it when I tore. And I did get to feel everything else. For the sake of the male readership (if they are still reading, which I seriously doubt)I won't go into too much detail....but I got to reach down and feel her head and was able to tell how much of her body was still left to be pushed, and such things. That was amazing. I was the participant in the birth, not just the spectator.

After she was born they put her right on my chest and I got to cuddle her there skin to skin for the next hour while they stitched me up. That was so great. She didn't leave me, but just cuddled there contentedly. In fact, with the exception of a very short cry right at first, she didn't cry at all. She was just happy and perfect. Sleepy really. She was 6lbs 8oz, 18 3/4 inches long, 13.5 cm head.

But those are just the stats.

What isn't included in those though was so much. Like deciding to use some pain meds when I had originally thought I wouldn't. I ended up getting two doses of Demerol and an anti-nausia med, along with a dose of Nubain with the pitocin. They didn't help much with the contraction pain exactly. Certianly some, but the main goodness of the drugs was that they made me sleepy so in the stage of 5min. spaced contractions I was able to almost sleep inbetween them. And in the late stages it made me sleepy enough to relax. This gave me the energy to push when the time came. After 30 hours of contractions, 36hours with out sleep, and about 21 hours of real hard labor I had no energy left. None. Now, I probably would have found the energy I needed to push without the meds, but I really think I would have pushed more. I am glad that I took them. Part of me really wanted to not to somehow "prove" something. Ultimately though I realized that was a stupid and rather wrong reason to do anything. I have nothing to prove. And I certainly don't need any growth hormones added to my pride. So if nothing else it is probably good for me that I can't say I did it completely natural.

I am sitting here though now trying to find words to describe the other behind the stats emotions of birth. Feeling the pain of the contractions and knowing that it is working for good- for each one works to bring your baby into the world. Knowing that your husband is there with you, loves you and believes in you. Having to put your trust in God and God alone when you know that although it is "you" doing this, it is only by the grace of Him and with His strength that you will be able to endure and bring a child into the world. Believing at times that it wasn't going to work, and furthermore was going terribly wrong and you and your baby were in danger and having to turn that fear over to God and feeling His peace wash over you. And so many other things that are only vague impressions, nothing I could ever put into words, but experiences and feelings that I wouldn't trade for the world.

I definitley prefer natural birth to a c-section. I don't feel closer to one daughter over the other though. She isn't more special or more loved. Rather it is something I just feel immensely blessed to get to have exerpienced once in my life. If there is a next time, which I pray that there will be, I will do things slightly different. First, I'm hiring a doula. So much of the reading I did and things I wanted to try to help with pain and with tearing I completely forgot about. Also, I really want to look into a birth center instead of a hospital. I want to be with people who look at pregnancy and birth as something which is a part of life-not a medical condition which needs to be treated.

Wow, I have all these impressions half formed in my head and I can't tell you about them. So I shall end this really long post now. There are sure to be further thoughts on babies, and labor and delivery, and children (especially the older reacting to the younger), and all of that....but for now, this is my birth story. There are things left out, and details I probably have wrong. But this is the way I remember it and so that's how it is and probably will be forever.

God is so good. In all ways, in all times. Whether the perfect birth ending in the perfect healthy baby or in the hard labor ending in heartache, and in everything inbetween. I'm still overwhelmed by how amazing it all is. Go and have children for yourself, I can't explain anymore.

3Psalm 127:3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
5Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I am rich

There has been a drought around here of posts. I started out strong, adding new posts every week. But after the first few months things really tapered off. It is my intention to change that. I think I may even move all this over to a blogger site and once and for all have a real blog. We'll see.

The main factor in my lack of posting has been being pregnant. Which is what this post is mostly about. I love being pregnant. I love knowing that there is a little person inside of me growing. This individual, distinct person that I have the privledge of being mother too. And what I really love is how easy it is to tell almost from the beginning that they have there own personality and traits. The pro-life movement talks a lot about when the heart beat starts, and when they have finger prints, and how early they are fully formed-but it is far more than just anatomy being formed in there. I knew with my first that she was going to be high energy, high maintance, and strong willed. She used to move around so fast in there that you would swear she had eight legs. She used to kick me if I was in a position she didn't like and wouldn't stop until I moved. For those of you who know her, you can attest that she is still rather like that. Where as my new little one I knew was much more mellow. I always felt regular movement, in fact started to feel her move at 13 wks, but it was slower, more deliberate. Simply-she wasn't as spastic as her older sister. And even in this first month it has proved to be her nature. She is laid back, likes to cuddle, let's the big sister poke her without any fuss.

All of this really amazes me. My children are unique creations of God. They are His and have been given traits by Him. Yes, they are here for me to raise and to help mold into Godly women, but it was The Potter who molded them first. And really it is Him who will continue to do so, I just get to participate.

My husband tells me that I grow good babies, and I hope that those things which are under my control I do well. But I didn't give them these personalites, these gifts. Like all good gifts, they have come down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

I nevewr thought that at 23 I would be married (almost 5 years now) and with two children. I would have it no other way though. It is good that we aren't given a magic wand to determine the course of our futures, and it is good that all prayers are not answer with a yes. Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Praise be to God that it does.

And Praise be to God for babies and motherhood. It truly is amazing.

“Here is a little mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mothers heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!”
~ Elizabeth Prentiss’ Stepping Heavenward