Thursday, August 30, 2012

A lecture to myself on the topic of electronics... electronically.

Don't worry. The irony hasn't escaped me.

My MacBook propped on my lap (obviously - I'm typing), iPhone to my right. They're both there if I need them. Whew!

If I need them. Need them. Need.

My friend David posted a link to this article the other day and I couldn't read past the second paragraph because it was already too close to home. The part about the "itchy feeling to check my phone and do the circuit"? Yea. Nice to meet you. That's me.

My particular circuit only contains a few: Facebook, blogs, email. But that's okay. I can stretch those three as loooong as I need.

Okay, so what to do? "All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful..." I Cor. 10:23. It's not bad to have these things in my home. I have been so incredibly encouraged, spurred on, and built up by other mama blogs and friends' great Facebook statuses. There is a place for these things. Parts are helpful.

But there are parts that are extremely hurtful. The same friend (boy, you've been on a roll, David!) said later, "Kids shouldn't have to grow up competing with a phone for their parents' attention."

That made me take a step back and think, "What will James remember about my time spent with him?" Hopefully it will be more memories of reading books and building block cities and playing outside than with my head and face glued to my dumb phone. Gotta make those little red notifications go away!! Right??

So this is me, ready to battle that itchy feeling to check the circuit. To combat it with questions like, "Is there something else that I can do with these moments? Is there another activity that would be more helpful - to me - to anyone?"

I only write when James is sleeping. I try to only have specific times in the day to "check my stuff." Keeping my phone in only one place in the house instead of my pocket helps immensely. And believe me, I fail all the time. Looking-real-quick-for-a-recipe can easily turn into a 20 minute photo-gallery-tour-of-someone-I-barely-know.

But it's worthy to press on.

My dad frequently reminded us, "Good, better, best; never let it rest." I don't know the origin of that quote, but it's so stinkin' true. Yes, it's good to read encouraging or funny things on Facebook. It's probably better to look at your 3 year old. And it's most likely best to hug him and talk to him and read him a book.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why am I shocked?

... that this morning I specifically prayed "God I need your strength today, so much,"

And around 1:00 pm, right before kids' nap time, I was chugging along like I was still 8:30-fresh? It struck me as I swept lunch crumbs from the floor and didn't feel like I was about to collapse.

Even though I'm getting bigger-pregnant. Even though I didn't fall asleep until midnight. Even though I woke at 6:00 am.

And I'm shocked that He hears me. I'm shocked that He cares. And I suppose deep down, if I'm honest, I'm still shocked that He's even real.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Natural labor and delivery

I love talking about birth stories - any kind. If you get me going, I could talk about it for hours and I have to be careful that it doesn't become a too-much-information conversation... in fact, you may want to read this post with caution.  ;)

I count it a privilege and honor to be able to grow and birth another person. Every experience from woman to woman is different and special to her. Some mamas want pain management, others schedule c-sections for a a variety of reasons. Jim and I prefer to prepare for a non-medicated birth. And yes, I did mean to include Jim in that phrase. During James' labor, he was my rock. He could help me relax every muscle from head to toe with just a few words and touches.

Here's my man, bearing as much of the burden as he could. (James' labor)

So, other than lowering risks of further interventions and distress, what is the point of feeling the pain and going with a natural labor? Why do that to myself? Why do it the old way?

I've readdressed this question with myself and thought I'd share it with you. I will also say that this is an endeavor that we have chosen. Just like some choose to run a marathon... I don't choose that particular endeavor. That training is pain that thousands of people choose every day because of the satisfaction, accomplishment, health, and wellness that they find at the end. But likewise, I don't want someone haranguing me to choose that feat if I don't want to. I will explain my reasons to you, but it's obviously your decision. Convictions are like belly buttons.  :)

I've had many friends with beautiful, successful labors that included pain reducing drugs and I don't devalue those experiences in the least. In fact, I did use pain management; just a different kind. I don't want to feel pain. Pain hurts. Pain reminds us that we're breakable. That we're dependent. And that can be scary. But it can also be good. 

There are also different kinds of pain. There is pain from injury, pain from an accident, pain from misuse, but none of those describe the pain caused by an effective contraction. Yes, there are injuries during childbirth - tearing is a good example - but they don't always happen and don't have to happen. Each contraction can be seen as a tool. A strong, sometimes extremely intense tool, that brings my baby out into the world. One of the most powerful phrases that Jim says to me during a contraction is, "Let it do the work..." That helps me to tell each of my muscles to relax and not work against the effectual contraction.

Another way to work with contractions is by position. We asked to have an IV port (you can see it in the pic) instead of a full IV so that I could move around. If a contraction was particularly intense, sometimes just switching position, walking, or swaying could help.

Not numbing the pain allows me to be completely present and in control for each phase of labor. The pain that comes with dilating contractions is completely different than the urge to push and I like to be able to feel when and how much to engage.  

If you're interested in having a natural delivery, I'd definitely recommend preparing ahead of time. Bradley Birth gives exercises, nutritional guides, practice relaxation plans, and tons of information about every stage of labor. Simply knowing, "Oh, I just barfed and my pain feels almost out of control... I must be going through transition," was so empowering. Going into it simply hoping to go as far as you can may not be the best game plan. That said, we also know all of our plans could go out the window if something unexpected happens (which is a reason we feel most comfortable in a hospital setting.)

Our approach to childbirth is specific to us as a family. We completed Bradley Birth training, but chose to have a hospital birth. I don't want pain drugs during labor but once baby's out, bring on the high-powered Motrin! 

I'm excited - and yes, there's a little fear mixed in - to see how Anna Jubilee's delivery will turn out. One thing is certain, it will be an adventure. All adventures include pain, unknowns, twists and turns. I'm also looking forward to sharing our birth story and hearing others', too! What a cool, miraculous part of this life.

**EDIT - I cannot forget to mention, we also used an amazing doula, Angel, and I was SO thankful for her presence. Definitely recommend!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The home streeeeetch

This Friday, I'll turn 34 weeks(ish) pregnant. The last weeks of my pregnancy are approaching!

My due date has been calculated anywhere from October 11 to October 4 so I'm really trying to just be cool and collected and remember that she will come at some point in early October.

Ask me how well that's working.  :)

I have to say, my emotions of anticipation with baby Anna are COMPLETELY different than when I was pregnant with James. With James I was thinking about the imminent pain of labor, how I'd deal with it, learning how to nurse, the fears of the unknown, and just the general question, "what in the world is this going to be like??" Basically, my mind was consumed with the event of his arrival, not necessarily the aftermath. I think that's pretty much par-for-the-course with a first baby.

With Anna, it's more about meeting a new person. I can't wait to see her. I can't wait to hear what her cry sounds like and to see whether or not she has my long finger-toes. I have more of a scope of how fleeting the birth is. Not to devalue it, just a more realistic view. With some of the unknowns out of the way, I can devote more to preparing my heart and mind for adding a new love.

This morning, James laid his head and one arm across my belly to feel Anna hiccup and kick. He giggled so much I thought he'd have an accident right there on the couch. I just sat there, in a crazy mix of laughing and crying, looking down at him, essentially playing with his sister for the first time. It was one of the most amazing moments; don't want to forget that one.

We have at least another 4-6 weeks and I know they'll fly by. It will be work to go from one to two, but I'm ready for that challenge. I'm treasuring my time with just James during these days, but I'm also excited to see him grow as a leading, loving big brother.

For now, please pray with me that I will have patience to be still and diligence to prepare. God is most certainly faithful.

Here's our daughter over 10 weeks ago. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A few to remember

Just a little of my 3-yr-old James that I don't want to forget:

- To Jim, every day upon returning home - "Yet's wrestle on da red bed!"

- Calling grapes blueberries and blueberries grapes.

- Buh-skeetos for mosquitoes

- Buh-sketty for spaghetti

- "Come now fount..." for "come thou fount..."

- Bouncing, "bay-bee-Anna-Joo-buh-LEE!!"

- "Look at the big, blue mountains!" (seeing anything hazy in the distance while driving)
- To anyone around, all day, everyday (but not forever, sadly) - "Play with me for-justa-lil-bit."

My precious boy... slow down with the growing thing!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Painful mothering

I have no clue yet where I'm going with this post.

Only an itch that began as I left church this morning. The itch that began in my heart, traveled to my head, and rested there, pushing away an afternoon snooze and other mental occupations. Hopefully, now that the itch has moved to my fingertips, some small fruit of wisdom may begin to grow.

Okay. So Jesus said that if I want to be his disciple, I must deny myself, take up my cross, and follow him. If I want to save my life, I will lose it. If I lose it for him, I will find it. People will hate me, families will be divided. A tall order to sign up for this Jesus.

As I sat there, scripture washing over me, I was excited. My soul leapt and answered yes! I want to forsake all others and follow you, Jesus. I want to radically deny my ideals and my wants and my illusions of what is important for your sake - so that yours will be magnified. But then... what... how... where...?

I have a big round pregnant belly. I have a precious, learning, questioning 3-year-old attached to me most hours of the day. I have a basket of dirty clothes calling my name and sink of dishes slowly becoming a terrarium.

I'm pretty sure I know the quick answer: "Sara, as a mother, those mundane tasks are your service. To your family and, in turn, as a disciple of Christ. Whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God."...right? I mean, I am denying myself pleasures left and right, all day long, keeping up with a growing boy and cleaning the toilets and checking Facebook. (ha!) That's my uncomfortable life of denial of self.

Right. Of course.

And yet, somehow I'm not satisfied with that. Somehow there's an ingredient missing. Where's the radical? Where's the painful sacrifice?

** And here, I clicked 'Save' and shut the computer. Still got nothin'. **

So, next day, still pondering this. I'm realizing that the quick, first answer above is truly more full than I first thought.

Hang with me.

One man found a treasure in a field and in his joy, sold all of his belongings to buy the field. Another man, likewise, found a super valuable pearl and sold all of his belongings to buy it. Both were probably elated. Thrilled. Exuberant. HAPPY with their sacrifices because they recognized the value of the better thing.

The pain that comes in motherhood, homemaking, and pouring oneself out for another is joyful. BUT. But, but, but, but, BUT - only when the mundane has been redeemed by God himself and not me.

And here's what happens when I try to create my own martyrdom, to try to manufacture that painful mothering that shows I'm sacrificial: I become bitter. I wonder why no one's helping. I search for MY time. I look back at my day and feel pride for temporal accomplishments. I hurt others. I'm jealous. I forget about Jesus.

But when God himself, through the Holy Spirit, graciously intervenes in my day and gives me unexplainable joy in nose wipes and Play-doh for the fourth time today, therein is the miracle. There is the glimpse of joy that those men felt as they sold their belongings for the greater thing.

So, sure, motherhood discipleship to Jesus is not going to look like Peter, James, and John. Whose does? But it will look the same when it comes to Christ redeeming their mundane. He took their jobs of fishermen and made them fishers of men. And for mothers, Jesus takes our tasks of building a family and makes us builders of his kingdom.

Yes there will be real, physical pain, heartache, and death. Yes, there will be denial of self every day. People will hate me ("indoctrinating your children with god fairy tales, etc.")... even my children will hate me at some point.

But there will also be joy. Joy that doesn't come from me but is a gift of grace. Joy in repentance and forgiveness from God. Joy in sharing that truth with others.

And that is the greater thing.

(Sharing through "finding grace in the everyday," too!)

Grace Laced Mondays

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A little nesting, before and after

Our kitchen cabinets have become a safety hazard - raining expired bags of wheat germ onto my head when all I need is a sippy cup... and of course the endless search for the Tupperware. lid. that. matches.

So this morning I geared up for some purge and organize. Ahhhhh...

Before, upper cabinets. Stuffed with expired meds, pasta, teas, etc.

Emptying all the lower cabinets. James had a ball :)

After, lower cabinets. Easy access to the things I use most.

And after, both upper and lower. Let's see how long it will last!

The most exciting part of this endeavor was the moment I exclaimed to myself, "AH! I have a roasting pan!" Now that it's at my fingertips, hopefully I will actually use it. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Satanic toilets.

James is a sensitive guy. He'll readily tell you that he does not like sirens or loud noises. I'm sorry to say that this trait is inherited directly from me.

He's also in the process of potty training. We're working on wearing his underoos all day now, even for outings. He's becoming a pee-pee and poo-poo extraordinaire.

Enter those new-fangled automatic sensor toilets that flush for you. I understand - sanitary, convenient, efficient... and utterly terrifying for a 3 year old boy who is learning to relax muscles so he can relieve his little bladder.

The Evil Eye

Imagine you are eye level with this unpredictable, roaring beast and you're expected to perform a most private of actions. Poor guy... we've escaped many a dangerous dungeon, my little knight shaking and scream-crying in fear, Mommy holding and hushing and apologizing up and down "I'm so, so sorry buddy. Will you forgive me? I didn't think it was a loud one."

For now, we're just sticking with manual potties until he's a little older so hopefully he won't develop a fear of all toilets. Any creative ideas on defeating these monsters?