Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baby Praises

On Tuesday morning, Don went in to work early so that he could get home just in time to drive to the hospital. We planned for him to meet me at our house after my OB checkup and take me to external version appointment, since I was uncertain whether the medications and discomfort would prevent me from driving.

In the afternoon, I dropped the boys off at my sister-in-law's, not knowing when I would return. I drove 30 minutes to the doctor's office and went in for another ultrasound to check the baby's position. Immediately, the technician said, "Well, the head's down." Apparently, without any attempts from me at special exercises, luring with light or sound, or physical manipulation, our little girl found her way to the right position in time. Praise the Lord!

According to the technician, she still has room to wiggle, but my midwife thinks that at this point, baby probably will not flip over again. I am so thankful that she did turn in time, just like her brother before her. As I drove back to pick up the boys that day, I wondered why God should be so good to me. There I was, driving a nice new vehicle (more on that another time), to my very own house, full of new things that Don and I have been able to buy - all material things, but recent blessings nonetheless for which I am grateful. I have had three healthy, relatively easy pregnancies. I had just a few days to worry about complications instead of the lifetime some people have to live with them. The Lord has given me so much.

Even the afternoon was a gift. I got to relax at home with my children (I had finished all the day's chores that morning, not knowing what time we would be home). My husband came home early, and instead of driving together to an uncomfortable hospital procedure, I enjoyed some rare moments of intimate conversation with the man I love. Again, I am thanking God for the abundance of blessings He has given me.

My hope, of course, is that baby stays in a proper vertex position until she makes her arrival sometime in the next few weeks. With only two weeks until my due date, I know that labor could come any day, or delay for nearly a month. Today I have been feeling pokes and pressure in places I had not felt them before, which I hope is a good sign that baby is settling into place.

And while I do pray for a smooth and easy natural labor and delivery, I can thank God for the short-lived trial He allowed in letting me wonder about having a breech baby. Those few days reminded me to trust Him completely, with my body, my baby, and my desires surrounding childbirth. Apparently I did not learn this lesson well enough last time, when we had the similar scare with Hayden!

Again I turn to the Psalms to express my thoughts:

But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.
Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

Psalm 71:14-18

Another member of the next generation will be joining us soon, and as she grows, I will tell her of the marvelous Creator who brought her into the world. In the meantime, I am praising God for a healthy pregnancy and a lack of complications. I am thankful for friends who loaned me their maternity clothes, so that I have something to cover my bulging belly. I enjoy sleeping, undisturbed, in my comfy bed, or running errands easily during this time before a needy newborn joins our family. I am blessed by all the clothes that has been given to us and the extra items that we have been able to purchase for baby.

And I am rejoicing that God has not forsaken me, but continues to show His power and love and grace in my life. Though I know not the measure of His goodness, may I declare, like the Psalmist, "I will praise you more and more!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Craving the Word

Pregnancy is a time when women often think about cravings. While ice cream and chocolate have a special place in my daily menu, I am not sure I can blame that entirely on pregnancy. The truth is, my tastebuds enjoy those tastes regardless of whether I am pregnant or not. My flesh enjoys the simple pleasure that accompanies dessert.

Eating sugar causes the body to crave, well, more sugar. Low carb diets understand this principle and purposelly ask the dieter to eliminate all sugars, at least in the beginning. While eating candy and cookies causes us to want more of the delicious sweetness, a steady diet of whole foods will actually decrease those cravings and replace them with a hunger for nutritious fare. I have even read about others craving green smoothies as a result of drinking them regularly. While I have not reached that point, I do look forward to a big bowl of oatmeal or a slice of whole wheat toast. My body has learned to appreciate the taste of that which satisfies even more than an abundance of sugary treats.

And it is not just tastebuds that can choose to seek out the sweet or the satisfying. Something as seemingly innocent as email, a TV show, or checking Facebook can become addictive, and the more we fill our minds with wordly fluff, the more we desire it. No, it may not be outrightly harmful, like drinking poison, but a constant diet of empty calories will eventually leave us feeling sick and weak. Even if we throw in a small helping of vegetables, a tiny snippet of spiritual truth, our health will depend on the overall pattern of our diets...and our days.

When something - a vacation, a move, a new baby - disrupts my regular Bible reading, it is easy to fall out of the habit of spending regular time in the Word. It might be easier to grab a cookie - whether it's a magazine, online shopping, or sleeping in late - rather than making the effort to prepare a nutritious meal. Yet I find that when I make spending time with God a priority, my desire for it increases. The more I read the Bible, the more I want to read, and the more I want to know the Author.

Just last week, as I finished reading the book of John, a study note about "the first day of the week" lead me to a cross reference in Acts, where the first Christians gathered together on Sundays. I read on to find the story of Eutychus, a young man who dozes off while Paul is speaking, falls out of a window, and dies! Even though I have read Acts before, the story did not seem familiar. It is so exciting to discover new truths each time I read the Word. And I will be thinking of this story in Acts next time I start to fall asleep during church!

Our Lord is so good and faithful to reward our commitment to Him with an increased enjoyment of Him. His Word has a sweetness all its own - not the sugar high of an Oreo that leaves us tired and nauseous when we overindulge, but the naturally delicate goodness of honey fresh from the hive. Psalm 119 is a beautiful picture of how God wants us to delight in His Word:

33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;
then I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.

As concerned as I am about health and nutrition, I must strive to nourish my soul even more diligently than I seek to nourish my body. Before I panic about the trans fat content of a French fry or the worthlessness of white bread, may I consider my spiritual diet. Instead of being content with spiritual junkfood, I pray I will fill my mind with a steady diet of God's Word. And as I do so, I find that I will crave Him more and more.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Heads Up

At my weekly prenatal visit last Wednesday, I saw the obstetrician in the practice instead of my usual midwife. At my 36 week appointment, my midwife thought baby's head was down, but at 37 weeks the OB felt my abdomen and suspected that I may have a breech baby. After an internal check where no head was felt, she sent me for a quick ultrasound that confirmed her suspicions: baby is breech.

I'm not completely shocked, since we had a similar situation with Hayden. An OB thought he might be breech, but thankfully an ultrasound at 37 weeks showed that he had turned vertex. Of course, as I mentioned in his birth story, Hayden came our completely tangled in the umbilical cord - probably the result of his last-minute gymnastics!

Our prayer is that this baby will turn on her own without getting as dangerously tangled as her brother did. If she is still in a breech position tomorrow afternoon, the OB will perform an external cephalic version to try to manually flip the baby. While I would rather avoid the procedure, I certainly think it is worth trying, and because this is my third pregnancy and baby is not too big yet, I am a good candidate for the version. Statistically, there is a 60-70% that the version will help baby to turn (and only a 15% chance that she will revert to breech if the version is successful).

There is also a small risk that the procedure could cause complications such as fetal distress, so I would certainly appreciate your prayers tomorrow. In spite of the temptation to worry, it is a great comfort to me to know the One who formed this baby girl will also control how she comes into this world - whether head first, foot first, or through necessary surgery, my baby girl is in the hands of the Lord.

This is what the LORD says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid...

Isaiah 44:2

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mother's Day

Me, my boys, and my big baby belly on Mother's Day.

He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 113:9

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Fitting Apology

A few hours after Hayden ripped a couple pages of Fox in Socks, I found this in the bathroom trash:

Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry,
but because your sorrow led you to repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:9a

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Where You Might Find Me

I have not been blogging much lately, but like most homemakers, I have certainly been keeping busy. These days, you might find me...

Drinking red raspberry leaf tea in the morning while I read the book of John from the MacArthur Study Bible...
Getting dressed, a process that has become quite daunting with the large belly to cover and the necessary support stockings to squeeze into, even as the weather gets warmer...
Planning, preparing, and cleaning up the aftermath of three meals and two snacks a day...
Attempting to teach two small boys to share, be cheerful helpers, refrain from screaming, eat their food without complaining or playing at the table, and sleep at the appointed times...
Flying through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Donny...
Packing six-course lunches for my hardworking husband to take to his new job...
Tracking down our new insurance numbers to make several appointments and getting the appropriate record transfers and referrals...
Driving an hour roundtrip, once a week now, for an "Any questions? Everything looks good" prenatal visit...
Online shopping for sandals for the boys, diapers and a carrier for the new baby, and a body fat monitoring scale and coffee maker for my husband...
Checking out books on gardening from the library, for children and myself...
Watering and the little garden we planted and wondering if anything will grow...
Reminding Hayden to go potty, and washing little hands that can't quite reach the sink...
Organizing children's clothing by gender, size, and season, and making trips to the attic to store it all...
Stepping over the puddle in our slightly flooded basement to get to the washer in order to do a dozen loads of laundry a week...
Folding said laundry in the morning, afternoon, and late evening...
Visiting with family and friends on weekends and at church, and managing the social calendar inbetween...
Watching my husband fell trees in order to allow more sunshine to reach our newly remodeled swimming pool...
Budgeting, paying bills, and tracking every penny spent...
Thinking and praying about acquiring a new vehicle that will fit three car seats...
Checking the bird's nest outside our door for new chicks, and watching the birdfeeder to see if my cardinal friend is out there...
Enjoying the sensations of a wiggly unborn baby, and brothers who like to touch my belly and say, "She's playing peek-a-boo!"
Finding it hard to squeeze my regular weekly bread baking and floor cleaning into the schedule...
Changing the sheets and washing pillowcases for the four pillows I am currently sleeping with...
Sleeping an impressive seven hours a night (okay, maybe 6 1/2)...
Feeling slightly overwhelmed by my complete inability to do it all...
Knowing my Lord has much to teach me, and that these busy days must not become a distraction...
Trusting in my Maker, that every detail of my life is in His perfect hands.

But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands...

Psalm 31:14-15a

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hayden's Birth Story

Last Wednesday, I shared Donny's birth story. For this Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane, here is the story of how Hayden was born!

My due date was November 10, and I was hoping he would be born on the 11th. Donny's birthday is 12/12, and I thought it would be so cool if our next child was born on 11/11. Such a birthday did not seem likely, though, when I started having contractions late in the evening on November 5th. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions frequently, but these were different, and I could feel the pain in my back. I slept undisturbed that Sunday night, but on Monday morning, I was still having frequent contractions, and they continued into the afternoon. After hearing from doctors and experienced mothers that second children come quickly, I expected labor to progress rapidly, so I called Don to come home from his work an hour away.

When he arrived, I didn’t feel like we needed to leave for the hospital right away; my contractions were about three minutes apart, but not very painful. We stayed home for a while, waiting for labor to grow more intense before calling the doctor. Finally, after we put Donny to bed, we decided to start the 35 minute drive towards the hospital. We went out for a light dinner at Panera and then walked around the mall until all the stores were closing. I still didn’t feel like I needed to be there, but I also did not want to go back home, only to return in an hour. So we went over to the hospital to have me checked out.

After monitoring me for a while, the hospital nurse checked me and said I was 3cm dilated. I said, “So I can probably go home then?” But she said they would check me again in an hour. While we waited, Don and I did a LOT of laps around the hospital maternity ward. I was still having lots of contractions, but they didn’t seem to be getting any more frequent or more intense. When we finished walking at midnight, they stuck me back on the electronic fetal monitor, and the nurse was supposed to come back in 15 minutes to check me. I was sleepy, so I dozed off a bit, feeling annoyed that I could possibly be at home while I was stuck in an uncomfortable hospital bed. At 12:45 I noticed the time and wondered if they had forgotten about me. Finally at 1am, after leaving me on the monitor for an hour, a different nurse came in to turn the monitor off and check me. I was still at 3cm, so they finally let me go home. Don and I got home around 2am, and although my contractions were gaining intensity, I slept through the rest of Monday night.

Don stayed home from work on Tuesday. I was still having contractions, but no worse than the day before. In the middle of the day, we took a long walk to the local elementary school to vote, hoping the walking would move labor along. We were walking for at least an hour, but to no avail. I continued having contractions up until I went to bed on Tuesday, and then I slept through the night. Since nothing had progressed, Don and I agreed on Wednesday that he would go back to work. The morning continued the same as the day before. Then Don returned home in the early afternoon because his boss said he could telecommute until the baby was born, instead of having to race home when I called. Shortly after he arrived, I decided to lie down while Donny was napping, figuring that I might as well rest while I could. I ended up being very glad I took that nap!

I woke up around 3, and at 4:00 I noticed my contractions were more intense than they had been, so I started timing them. They were about 3 minutes apart, so I told Don that it was really time and I called the doctor. I was thrilled to find out that my midwife - the same one who delivered Donny and would have delivered me if she hadn't been on vacation that week - was the one on call. Because there were 2 OBs and 2 midwives in the practice, I knew it was a blessing from God that I should be so fortunate to have my own midwife there for my second late-night labor.

I checked into the hospital at 6:00pm. Around 6:30 I was 4cm dilated. I said, “Great, it took me 2 days to get one centimeter!” Don and I did some more walking around the hospital, and at 8:30 I was at 5cm. We continued walking until my contractions were getting strong enough that I had to stop frequently and have Don massage my back. But at 10:30, I was only at 6cm. I was starting to wonder if Hayden would ever come out! I sat on the birth ball and played cards with Don for a little while, and then I spent some time lying on my side, since my midwife thought the baby’s head might be transverse, and this would help him get into a better position. Around 12:30 I was finally at 8cm, with incredibly painful contractions, and my bag of water was still intact. Thankfully, both my nurse and midwife were really great about letting the labor take its course instead of trying to push unwanted interventions on me.

Around 1:00 on November 9th I finally got into the waterbirthing tub. Don got in with me and pushed on my back during the contractions. I was so glad to have his support, and the midwife even admired how well we worked together. In between contractions I was fine, but during them I was in so much pain…I knew it had to be almost over! My water finally broke at about 1:45, when I suddenly started pushing. His head was out with a couple pushes and at 1:51, Hayden Israel was born!

I was on my knees in the tub, and when Don and my midwife went to pull him out, the cord was wrapped around his neck twice and around his arm, too. They had to quickly cut it so they could untangle him and get him stable, since he was completely limp. Fortunately with a little oxygen he was fine, just like his big brother who also came out tangled. Soon we had some time to bond with Hayden, and he nursed, too. I was so glad that my little waterbaby had finally, in his own sweet time, come out in the world!