Friday, March 28, 2008

Baby Talk

A random note: I wrote all the birth story posts and the twaddle, ur I mean escape literature, (right Summer?) post last weekend or early in the week and posted them throughout the week. I hate it that blogger adds so many spaces when you save a post as a draft. Anyone know if I'm causing it, let me know.

Not so random note: I've never registered for baby items. We registered for our wedding shower back before computerized registries existed. Y'all remember the big black binder at Wal-Mart they kept at the service desk?

So, I'm thinking of registering for this baby. Not that I need all that much, but what I do want isn't available at Wal-Mart or any brick and morter store I've been to. I'm looking at this site for cloth diapers, which is essentially all I need. Well, I mean if it's a girl.

If this is a boy, my friends and family will probably insist I not put him in Jaybird's infant pink car seat. I have a feeling the grandmothers won't be able to resist buying him more clothes than we can even store, so I'm not worried about that at all. This is the first boy on either side (we're the only ones with children so far).

But, if this is a boy, it does bring up a few problems. Does he get his own room? Are group baths going to be a thing of the past? Do I have to change my email address and blog title?

Hope has a solution for this, she shared it at dinner. I was finished eating and was poking around the Cotton Babies site I linked to above, just looking at cute carriers. Hope joined me and was pointing out good ones for a girl. Then she said, "If this is a boy, it will mess up everything. But we could send him to...what's it called? Public school?"

I love it!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Have I blogged about Twaddle before? Is that a new word for you?

I learned this word a few years ago, while studying Charlotte Mason's teaching style. Even if you don't homeschool, you need to be aware of twaddle.

Twaddle is something like junk food books. Twaddle is writing that is void of much value. It's not inappropriate, it's not offensive, it just doesn't add anything to the reading diet. While junk food is bad for your body, though, twaddle isn't bad--there may occasionally even be a time for it. Twaddle may be more like iceberg lettuce-void of any nutritious content.

I see books in three different categories: Rich, vibrant and worthy of your time and effort, called a Living Book, Twaddle, and Offensive or Inappropriate.

Examples of Twaddle are all those books sold at discount stores that are made from movies. We have some (although I try to purge the house of twaddle, especially for my older readers), I'm thinking of 102 Dalmatians, Barbie Princess books, really just about any modern Disney book. Some people call The Boxcar Children books twaddle, but I think they serve a purpose in helping a young reader gain confidence while adjusting to chapter books. (Although the dialog is too choppy to enjoy reading aloud).

Twaddle is preferable to inappropriate or offensive literature, though. When I think of parents letting preteens and teens read Pet Cemetery or anything from Steven King or the like, thinking it's great that they're at least reading, my heart breaks. I read Pet Cemetery as a teen and the clearest scene I can still recall to this day is a very inappropriate scene for a teen girl to have read-an intimate scene between a husband and a wife. It's not okay to let filth come into our children's minds (or our own) just for the sake of reading! This really is junk food, junk food of the worst kind.

My heart breaks for another reason, too. There is so much great literature out there to be discovered! If kids were introduced to the great, rich stuff, they won't want the junk. Before homeschooling, I didn't know of any great books. My English classes in college hadn't given me any (no, those were more like the offensive ones!) and I missed a lot of good books it seems most people read in high school...I remember Beowulf and Fahrenheit 451 but that's about it. Mrs. Smith sure could teach and I loved Beowulf, by the way. I wish I could sit through her class again today.

As I searched out book lists online (mainly from like minded homeschooling moms) I found some treasures. Many of these can be found in Honey for a Child's Heart, a book of reading lists that is broken down into reading levels and genres. Beware, many of the books listed aren't in shiny glossy covers, they're the outdated looking, yellow, green or orange bla covers you'll find at the library. The ones that haven't been checked out in six years. Or sixteen. Let your family discover these treasures and you'll find yourself adding them to your home library, they are so good, they just become part of the family.

Here's a tiny list of great books-Living Books-our family has enjoyed:

Wolves of Willoughby Chase- A slightly scary book about little girls who have to survive the takeover of their estate by an evil caretaker.

Tucker's Countryside & Cricket in Time's Square (Books illustrated by Garth Williams, great stories about animals with great personalities.

Freedom Train (about Harriot Tubman)

Wind in the Willows & The Reluctant Dragon (about a dragon who's more interested in poetry than being a dragon!).

The Borrowers-this is a great series about the little people who live in your home and take all your little "misplaced" items to use in their zany life (a match becomes a torch, for instance).

Sisters Grimm-we just discovered this great series still in the making. It cleverly weaves together childhood fairytale characters into the mysterious plot of two sisters searching for their parents.

Redwall Series and Castaways of the Flying Dutchman-Ash especially likes this author.

These are for your more independent, elementary aged readers, although The Borrowers, Tucker's Countryside, and Cricket in Time's Square are all fine read alouds for younger ones. Oh, and they aren't just for kids, Shane and I have enjoyed many of these books. He & Ash have shared several series-especially Redwall and Sister's Grimm.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Birth Story 4

This is the last birth story until fall! Aren't you glad?! This one is two stories in one-a high speed police chase and a birth story! Sorry it's a bit longer than the others.

This pregnancy had some interesting circumstances, too. Shane had been in a car wreck on the way to work when Bethany was three months old. He had a severe concussion and wasn't allowed to return to work for a few months. Once he did, he only worked a few weeks when he found out his number was up and he and many coworkers were being laid off. He was offered a retraining opportunity and decided to take it. This is how he ended up in law enforcement, but first he had to go finish his degree, so off to college he went.

I had been working on losing weight with his graduation as my goal. I had worn a little black dress to one of our first Galas and wanted to wear it again to his graduation-but I'd have to work for it! Then at work one day, I decided to do a pregnancy test after everyone left. I had a tiny idea I might be pregnant but didn't really think so. I started the test and then went on about my work. I went back to check on it and was shocked to see it was positive. I went home and informed Shane the little black dress would be replaced by a maternity dress. I was due a few months after his graduation.

I had no insurance coverage until half way through the pregnancy so I had to apply for Medicaid. I had to change doctors to accommodate the insurance change. I was sad to leave the doctor who'd seen me through all the previous pregnancies. There was a new doctor in town and she'd joined our pregnancy center ministry so we thought she'd be a good fit. Dr. Smith was my new doctor and we had decided to try a VBAC.

I really wanted a midwife at this point, but with VBACing Shane said "no way." Dr. Smith was great to go along with much of my natural plan. She did want me to have an epidural in place since at that time the hospital didn't require the anesthesiologist to be on site. If he were eating dinner with his family a half hour away, and they needed to do an emergency C-section, then I'd be in big trouble. I understood but was bugged by it. Why did I have to change my plans because the hospital wouldn't provide what was needed (they do now, thankfully)? I am the paying patient and it wasn't unreasonable. I don't think patients should have to have extra procedures to make up for a lack of services the hospital should provide. I begged Shane to reconsider the midwife...

When I actually told Dr. Smith I really didn't want an epidural, she said that was fine and she'd request that the appropriate people be in house should they be needed. Whew! I was so glad!

Jaybird was due July 12. At the end of June, Dr. Smith started telling me I probably wouldn't make my next appt. But I did. And the next one. And the next one. Her due date came and went. I had a false start, even called Shane home from his new job at the Sheriff's Office but by the time he got home, it all stalled out. I've never called Shane at work except for 3 times-the false alarm, one more false alarm when I just put him on standby, and then the real time. I was so nervous calling him at work. The last time I called him I had to talk to the same officer I'd talked to before...once again saying, "Everything's fine, I'm in labor (again)". I felt like a fool but what could I do besides pray I'd go into labor on his night off? Which I did, but it didn't seem to work :(

So, the night it was for real, I made myself dial the SO with trembling fingers. I called him and he couldn't come home right away. Lots of officers were out with training and vacations. He had to make calls to see who could cover him. He can't just leave, it can be a felony to just walk out and leave the jail understaffed. So, he calls his brother to come get me. Shane works half an hour south of here, in the same town as the hospital. He thought if his brother could get me to him, then by the time I got there, he'd be able to leave.

I was a mad momma! I did not want his brother to see me breath through contractions! He had some nerve! I wasn't about to push or anything, he could have just waited. Meanwhile, while I'm steaming and packing last minute items into my bag, his brother gets a panicked call in the middle of the night. He jumps out of bed at the word "labor" and with the speed of lightening, drives like a madman the 10 minutes to our house. He didn't know it, but a serious crime had just been committed near the highway he was now speeding down. The police see him flying and assume they've found their criminal. Shane's brother sees the lights behind him in the distance and assumes Shane had called his buddies out to escort him to me. Ha! He had two very irate cops from different departments to deal with when he pulled up to the house!

I had just gotten out of the shower and was in the dining room with wet hair and PJs when a big burly bald officer burst in the house to see if I'm having--get this--heart pains. "No, I said, I'm just in labor and waiting for my husband to be able to leave the SO." I was so confused...what in the world...why didn't Shane just wait and come home himself!?

My mom shows up to watch the three children still asleep and she tries to calm the officer down who's outside yelling at my BIL (who doesn't hold back anything, by the way. I'm not sure how he didn't get arrested). The yelling officer was her next door neighbor...oh well, it didn't work so she came in to check on me. Great. More people to watch me labor, just what I wanted.

Baldy kept asking me if I needed an ambulance. No, I'm fine, really. Where would the local ambulance take me? Our hospital doesn't even deliver babies. Finally, they leave. I'm on the phone with Shane and he tells me I have to ride with his brother at least to his house (between the our town and my destination) so I climb in and have hard contractions all the way there. Shane met me and took me on to the hospital. I was relieved but oh so mad!

I forgot a change of clothes for Shane (no, not on purpose, really) so he had to help me labor in his uniform, which I find great, but he feels is dirty after a shift. We get to the hospital at some horrid hour of the morning, I think around 3:30. The nurse set me up for monitoring and said they'd see if they would keep me (I was 11 days overdue!) after an hour. I was at a 4. Well, in 30 minutes she was admitting me. I had my standby Stadol and rested between contractions. The contractions hurt across the C-section incision, each contraction, not just some. It felt like my hips were going to explode, the pain was so bad. I wondered if my uterus was about to rupture. The pain was so bad I informed Shane I would have an epidural if I didn't have a C-section. My contractions had seemed sporadic and short, so I knew I'd not made much progress. I couldn't endure hours of this pain. I hoped Dr. K, who was on call, would insist on a C-section.

Surprisingly, at 6 am, I was an 8 or a 9. Wow! I can do this! I'm not having a C-section if I've made it this far! Dr. K agreed but still said a C-section was the safest route. He left it up to us after double checking my c-section records. When I said go ahead with the delivery, he said that although it'd add some gray hairs, he's supportive of the decision. He broke my water.

About 7am, Shane started calling people saying we'd have a baby before 8. I still laugh when I think of him on the phone between contractions. I had to hold his hand in a particular way, have him squeeze back at the peak and not a moment before-I was high maintenance! At 7:30 am I was ready to start pushing. Being so experienced, I decided to just do a couple little pushes with each contraction.

Here's what my journal says about the next contraction: "Then I had a killer 60 hour long contraction, it just wouldn't stop. I probably should have pushed through it, but I couldn't even keep focused. Shane held my feet together in one hand while holding my hand with the other." I still think of this contraction and dread delivering this baby!

Shane went out and told the nurse it was time to push and the nurse at the desk casually answered, "Okay, I'll go find Wendy (the nurse)." Shane said, "No, like right NOW!"

Wendy came in and I pushed once. She saw the baby's head and grabbed Shane's hand to hold the baby back. She told me, "Stop while I get Dr. K!" She didn't even leave the room, she yelled out my door. They didn't even break the bed all the way down, I pushed once more and out popped her head. There was old meconium in her amnio fluid... I waited forever...Andrea came in the door (on her way to church. I had no idea I'd deliver so quickly!).

Out came Jaybird (not her birth name, lol) with her very long, knotted cord. Andrea said while cleaning her up, "God saved your baby. " I didn't understand at the time, then they explained her cord was knotted, tightly at the time of birth (delivering the old tired placenta probably pulled it tight). God did protect her indeed. Wendy said in all her years of nursing, Jay was only the second knotted cord with a good outcome (lived).

I was in such shock that I delivered with two pushes, not an hour's worth. My brain couldn't wrap around it at first. Andrea had the baby up to me trying to get her to latch on, Dr. K was doing whatever drs do between your legs after you give birth and Shane was beaming beside me. I was so overwhelmed. I kinda freaked and Wendy saw it and offered the Stadol she was going for before delivery. I took it by default, but only needed time to recover. What a ride!

Then I blinked and I'm pregnant again. Jay will be 2 this summer, on my Dad's birthday. This baby is due the month of my Mom's birthday...I was just trying to be fair :)

Check out her hair! It was about 2-3" at the longest point, right on top of the back of her head. Beth was sure her permanent hairdo-total Alfalfa hair, was Andrea's fault because Andrea spiked it at birth...and it wouldn't go back down. Thankfully when she was six months old, it did lay down. Here's a picture of our Texas Haired Child now:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Birth Story 3

Well, if the others were somewhat normal, this one made up for them! I have to back up to the pregnancy to tell this story.

During my first sonogram of this pregnancy a large cyst was found near the baby, but outside the uterus. It was clear fluid, so it wasn't a mass, just a somewhat mysterious cyst. It would remain a mystery, too until delivery because any means used to investigate it could threaten the pregnancy. To rule out an enlarged ureter (posing as a cyst), I was sent to a urologist.

I had an appt set up but in the mean time I had unrelenting pain so my primary doctor sent me to a different urologist, Dr. D, who had an immediate opening. I love this man! It's a good thing, too, since I had to see him monthly through the entire pregnancy.

I'm trying to keep these stories brief, but this one is just plain medically interesting (to me anyway). I found out all kinds of things at my urologist's office. He kept me there for two hours the first time, poking and prodding, sonograming and testing. We found out that my bladder doesn't empty fully, has debris floating around in it, and that the bilateral reimplantation surgery I had as a child resulted in my ureters (the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder) being criss-crossed--who knows why the surgeon did that. The cyst was pressing on my right kidney, causing it to decrease in function. I almost had a stint put in to drain it, but thankfully with monthly monitoring, Dr. D decided I was okay without it. Off to the big city I went each month though to have a sonogram done of my bladder and kidneys by a guy Shane and I swore was Albert Einstein. We always tried to get him to give us a glimpse of the baby, but he wouldn't do it!

By 20 weeks, the cyst had grown to the size of a softball. It kind of bothered me that we can have things in our body that size and never know it. My very thorough nurse practitioner even missed it in my prenatal exam. Scary.

So, we all wondered what this would mean when it came time to deliver the baby. Would delivery cause the cyst to burst? We just waited to closer to the end, and Dr. T warned me about a possible C-section.

It turned out, this older wise doctor was right. Bethany wouldn't turn--couldn't turn--because the cyst was in her way. That sealed the deal. Dr. T wouldn't risk turning her himself, possibly causing the cyst of unknown origin to burst.

I like to say she was born on her due date, too, since we planned a C-section and she was indeed born on that day. I believe it was about a week before her due date, though. I was so nervous. Surgery isn't a small deal, even if it's done daily in that hospital. I had my little funeral requests written out for Shane, just in case. (I told you I'm slightly type A.)

With this baby, we'd decided to not have her eyes treated with ointment since I don't have an STD and she wasn't even passing through the birth canal and we opted to hold off on the Hep B vaccine, which together caused a little tension with the nurse, but all ended okay, right Andrea?

Andrea was there, taking great pictures. Shane looked great in the royal blue paper gown/hat/shoe covers. It was the strangest sensation to have her pulled from my body. It felt like my ribs were coming out, too. It didn't hurt, but it was weird. The epidural, of course, was mandatory, but I lived through it-even though the room was ice cold and I was shivering through the insertion of the needle. There is nothing like the warm sheets Ann covered me in though! Someone, Amy probably, the baby's nurse, brought Bethany to me for a moment, then Shane took her on to the nursery. Our little ones were so excited to see her through the glass. Little almost-3 yr old Hope just motioned over and over through the glass that she wanted to touch her, "Just let me touch her, Daddy!"

Drs T & A then removed the cyst. It was attached to the fallopian tube, was just a fluke kind of thing. During the sewing up, I felt very weird, like I could feel my pulse throughout my entire body. I was about to ask what was happening when it stopped, and I still don't know what that was about.

I had a short stay in ICU and while I was there, Bethany was evaluated. They discovered she wasn't breathing well through her nose and if she didn't start, she would be transported to a specialized Children's hospital an hour away. Thankfully, she passed the nursing test-if she could breathe while nursing, she would be cleared of any problems, and she could. Nurse Ann told me "that baby just needed her Momma."

Recovery was NOT fun with a C-section. Shane was helping me clean up in the hospital bathroom later that night and I started to pass out. He had to carry me back to the bed. He was scolded by the nurse but told her his hands were a little full; he couldn't call her. It was a slow process of healing at home. I hated having to ask for help just to turn over in bed. Even a couple of years later, when Bethany would pat my lower belly to get my attention, it would hurt a little.

I started worrying about future deliveries shortly after having Bethany. I didn't want another C-section but was afraid of a VBAC. I researched for hours but never found a peace about it.

Then I found out I was pregnant with baby number four and had to make a decision...but that's a story for next time!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Birth Story 2

Well, here goes. Part two---Hope's story.

This one went a little faster, I think. I knew things were starting to happen one evening, and sure enough contractions followed. Some family came over and stayed with three year old Ash and we got to the hospital somewhere after midnight. I was dilated to a five.

My nurse was Deborah, who I feared. It turned out she was great. We were so very tired, so we cat napped between contractions that had kind of fizzled a bit. I progressed to an eight, though by shift change when my favorite nurse, Marianne became my nurse once again. We called our pastor and the family, I had a tiny dose of Stadol (my other favorite companion during labor!).

My amniotic sac was still fully intact, but my doctor promised to come break it after a morning meeting. I was about a nine at 11:30 am when he did come in and broke it. That is a strange sensation!
This got things going nicely and I had a bit more Stadol and was nearing the pushing stage. Marianne left Shane and me alone to get started pushing, although it was ineffective because of my position. Marianne later repositioned my legs and I did much better. I pushed for an hour just like in my first labor.

I was ready to quit, though. I do this every time-start saying I can't do it right as the baby's head is crowning. They encouraged me that I was almost done, they could see her head! But I quickly told them her head was the size of a three year old's!

And it was! Well, almost. She was born at 1:30 in the afternoon and weighed in at 9lbs 5 ounces. Ash was 7.5 lbs, so this was quite a difference!

Even with her size, I only had a tiny tear that didn't require stitches. I had been worried about tearing again, but Marianne assured me that it's not unusual to not tear with second or third babies-the tissue has been stretched before. She massaged during birth, which wasn't comfortable at all. I was amazed to get out of bed and feel totally normal-this is what it was supposed to feel like? I had no idea!

We let Ash come in alone before any family, so she could get to know her little sister. We offered her two names: Bethany or Sarah and she picked Sarah. Sarah Hope.

Oh, and she was also born on her due date! Very fun for this slightly type A mom!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Birth Stories

Jess over at Making Home is sharing her birth stories while anticipating the any-moment arrival of her fourth child, Silas. I thought I'd copy her and do the same here. Edit: Jess gave birth Thursday night to a healthy & beautiful little boy-Congrats Jess & family!

My labor with Ash was right out of the textbook. My water broke before dawn on my due date. I loved it that my water broke, since it was a for sure sign that I was to head to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital still in the early stages.

We walked scores of miles trying to get labor to speed up. This was when the new mother/baby wing of the hospital was being added and we walked that corridor before beds were set up. I'd stop and have contractions in the hall, breathing through them and holding on to Shane. Finally, in the afternoon my doctor told me we'd need to use some pitocin if things didn't pick up soon. I was terrified of pitocin and the horror stories I'd heard about the harsh way it threw a woman's body into labor. I narrowly escaped it, since my body finally got busy about the business of the day.

My sweet nurse, Marianne, conspired against me with Shane. They knew I wanted to attempt a natural delivery so when I asked for a narcotic when I was dilated to a five or so, she got "busy" elsewhere or had to go find some...whatever they could do to put me off. I finally received a half dose, which made me a bit talkative--Shane had to tell me to be quiet and get ready for the next contraction--but it helped me cope so much better.

This baby still caused some trouble, though. Every time I was checked, she's just float right back up when her head was touched. Somewhere around 9:30 that night, it was time to push. She continued her floating antics up to the very end. I'd push her down but after every contraction, she'd move back up a little. I'd pushed for an hour when this stubborn baby finally made her appearance. The doctor had delivered her head and was suctioning out her nose/mouth and said not to push. I'd only had Stadol, not an epidural, so all the feelings were very intense. I told him I couldn't tell if I was pushing and he said I was fine just like I was. In the next moment, my body took over and pushed. He said, "Well, I guess we'll go ahead and deliver the baby now!" And out she came while I tore in a V shape.

We handn't been able to find out her gender with the sonogram, so we were surprised at birth-a sweet surprise. There were no problems other than the tear. I didn't know any better, so I thought every woman who had just given birth had a super-duper tender bottom for a few days.

We pulled out of the hospital parking lot with Shane driving oh so carefully. We'd never transported such precious cargo before. We arrived home and cried tears of joy for days, at the amazement of our daughter.

That was 11 years ago this month. When I call her name, I still think of the little baby, our first little one. Yet my words don't jive with that. I say, "Jaybird, go tell Ash to change your diaper." Or, "Ash, could you start dinner?" Those aren't the things you say to a little baby...when did this all happen? Overnight it seems.

Oh, and she still amazes us.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Okay, here's the update...

I don't even know what to say...bottom line: The sulphur works during the day, but at night I'm as good as dead. The witch doctor (ha ha) told me the right remedy will work all the time, so Thursday afternoon we met in the old, abandoned Wal-Mart parking lot where she gave me a high potency dose of another homeopathic remedy. She warned me that this one might make me feel worse before I felt better.

So, I took the dose and went back to work. When I got home an hour or so later, I started the "worse". I was nauseous, couldn't tolerate noise or light (it aggravated me to no end when I had to use my cell phone; it was soo bright in our super dark bedroom). I didn't want to be alone, but I didn't want to talk or be touched. I was angry and restless, along with a little disoriented. Shane, who should have been asleep, volunteered to take the big girls (well, he actually took all of them) to karate since I was such a mess. I hid in the bedroom. Finally, my bladder won and I had to venture out to the restroom. I found that light wasn't so bad, and I sat down at the computer. Shane came back with the littles and I regressed a little and almost threw up. I ended up on the couch with a movie and somehow started feeling fine. I was a little weak feeling, but no other symptoms. Shane had thankfully called in to work since I was so incapacitated, and I was glad since an hour or so later the regular nausea returned. I took a little of the sulphur per the witch doctor's suggestion and went to bed on the verge of the purge.

This morning and all day has been mostly nausea free. I haven't needed any hard candy or additional doses, but I have to stay on top of very frequent meals. It's getting close to the time the regular nausea returns, so the real test is yet to far, so good, though.

One thing I've realized is that the first trimester issues are more complex than just nausea. With the nausea removed, I still feel run down, both physically and emotionally. I thought that without nausea, I'd be on some kind of high, but honestly I still don't feel great. I'm very thankful for the major reduction in morning sickness, but I'm still weary of figuring out what I can eat both today and between shopping trips. What can the kids eat that won't make me sick to clean up? Can I change a diaper without gagging? Can I do dishes or will I get sick at the sight of dried on food? Should I ask Shane to run to one more place to get the craving of the hour or am I pushing it?

I feel a little guilty for not being ecstatic about not feeling sick to my stomach, but I guess God planned for us to play the first trimester nice and slow...hey, at least in that case, I'm finally in total compliance with Him!

Edit: Last night (Friday) was almost completely nausea free! I got a little sick when I had to talk on the phone, and when I went too long without eating (I'm eating like a newborn!). I was tired, so maybe that played into it, but all in all it was the best night in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I feel like I'm doing something illegal

With all four previous pregnancies, I've tried various methods of keeping nausea away. If you've seen it recommended, I've tried it. Ginger-ginger tea, ginger root, ginger candy, ginger snaps, sucking on hard candy, keeping crackers by my bed, eating frequently, and on and on.

Last night I talked to a friend who dabbles in homeopathy and she suggested sulphur as a remedy. This kind of remedy comes in a tiny little pill like form, and you put several under your tongue and let them dissolve. I was worried they'd taste like sulphur smells, but they don't. They're sweet, actually.

And even if they did taste bad, if they worked, I wouldn't mind. Well, I say that, but the crystallized ginger I bought today is hardly edible. Whew, ginger is strong!

I get out to the car, still at the health food store, hoping the owner, who also sells not only Ezekiel bread and organic herbs, but hair perms and beauty salon products (this cracks me up, but I was recently told the beauty stuff allows her enough profit to stock the health food stuff, so whatever). Oh, the rest of my sentence: ...hoping the owner isn't watching me and really, really hoping the sulphur doesn't taste bad since I didn't have a drink to wash it down and I didn't want to puke right there. I put a half dozen pellets in my hand and then under my tongue. I immediately felt better, but that is probably just my high hopes that something might finally work.

I have continued to take a dose every two hours or so and it seems to be working. The nausea isn't gone completely but it's gone most of the day. I got hungry a couple times and felt like I could get sick, but ate and felt better. The real test is if I can wash all the dirty dishes without gagging. We'll see. I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Nausea Games Have Begun

I thought I might not be forced into play this time around, but thankfully, I didn't get my hopes too high. It did feel good the last two weeks knowing I was pregnant yet not feeling any sensation of morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness. Sunday morning it hit.

When I was pregnant the first time, with the child who is turning 11 today, smells and nausea started early. Shane and I used to split those little Lipton noodles & sauce packets for dinner, eating them with garlic toast. Well, when I got pregnant, those things repulsed me (good thing, they're terrible for you!). I had to rid my pantry of them. They haunted me though, and Shane started smelling like them. One day we were sitting on the bed, he leaned over to kiss me, I got a whiff of Lipton and without missing a beat, swung my head to the opposite side of the bed and threw up.

I threw up non stop during that pregnancy, until about 12 or 13 weeks. Same story with pregnancies number two and three except that each time I rode the nausea roller coaster two weeks longer. When pregnant with Jaybird, I knew I'd throw up until 18 weeks finally rolled around. Thankfully, I had a lot of people praying for me and I only threw up a few times, but fought nausea non stop until about 12-14 weeks.

So, the smells are crazy. Yesterday while at Wal-Mart, I mistakenly walked through the detergent aisle. It didn't make me sick, but wow, it was florally overpowering. I had walked through the bait aisle a few days before and could smell the fishy food flavored stuff through the packages! What made me sick though, was walking out the doors (which usually makes me happy). There was a circle of smokers at the other entrance and I, unfortunately inhaled. I stepped quickly to get a fresh breath only to breath in diesel exhaust. That almost did me in!

Shall we even talk about cravings? I think I have condiment cravings...with my first pregnancy, Jen R and I would make frequent trips to Dairy Queen for nachos with jalapenos on the side. The jalapenos were the important part, the nachos were just because I couldn't eat the jalapenos straight. The next time it was mustard (which sounds good right now). I bought those frozen pretzels just so I could dip them in mustard. Last time I needed sweet & sour sauce and Jen F was my enabler :) She brought me egg rolls on more than one occasion because it's not lady like to eat sweet & sour sauce out of the jar. Jen, last night I realized I had loved my sweet & sour chicken I'd eaten for lunch-and connected it back to my old cravings... and then decided I need egg rolls today for lunch!

While it's all funny now, really, in the middle of puking all day, with laundry piled to high heaven, dishes left undone because caked on food is a powerful vomit trigger, kids who've gone unschooled for the day (week...) it gets hard. I recall telling Shane I didn't want to live anymore during my pregnancy with Beth. If you think of me throughout your day, I really would love your prayer. I don't want to get to that point of despair again.

You could also pray for Shane; even though we've done this a gazillion times, he still thinks pregnancy nausea is all in the head. If I didn't need him to help raise this gaggle of children, it'd be off with his head!

The great Christian comedian, Mark Lowry, says his favorite verse is, "And it came to pass." The next four or five weeks will come and go and I'll forget all about this part. I do it every time. I even write in my journal, "Don't ever do this again, it's miserable, whatever you do, don't ever, ever, ever get pregnant again!" I guess if Shane would use Lipton sauce packets for cologne, that advice might be easy to follow. In the mean time, I've got to hook up with some egg rolls!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Baby names, round I

Shane and I have agreed on three baby names. I know we have four children, but I was outvoted on one. I'm pushing to pick this one's name. Shane said that's fine, as long as he agrees. Let me tell you a little secret. I have a long list of acceptable names to me. He doesn't like any of them. His agreement will not come easily.

Here's what I found tonight that I like. Just a list, not any are for sure at all:

Girls: Audrey (this makes my list everytime), Ella, Elenor, Maillie, although I like M-a-l-l-i-e better, Cheney, Elise, Jenay, Jolie (I always like Julienne, I wouln't want Jolie as real name, maybe a nick name).

Boys: Jase is our standby-Garrett Jase or Gavin Jase (the first is my pick, the second is Shane's, Brennan, Bradford (cool middle name, I think...happens to be a friend's maiden name), Colby, that's it...but I know I have more boy names locked in my brain. How about Hamlin? It means little-home lover. So, is it that he loves his little home (perfect for us!) or is he a little guy who loves home (perfect for any mother's son). I don't really like Hamilin, don't worry, the meaning just caught my eye.

How about Elise Lucy F.? Her initials would be cute. Don't worry, even though Lucy was my great grandmother's name, Shane already axed it.

My aunt told me today that a coworker named her twins (boy & girl) Hatcher and Finley. Not sure which one is which. Of course, Shane likes Hatcher. And Arial. And Cray. I smell fish.

Encouraging Friends

There were two parts of Thursday that I didn't include in my short little run down of the evening. I've wondered lately if simply being a friend is a ministry of its own. Just encouraging someone, letting them know they are valued, praying for their needs, offering companionship...I think it is a ministry--an important one.

I was thinking this in terms of me being a friend to others, not others blessing me. Thursday, though, I was blessed by pure friendship.

First, as I was answering the never ending phone calls on Thursday morning, a volunteer's husband, Albert, called. He works with the local food & clothing outreach. In their little building downtown was a visiting missionary. Albert put the missionary on the phone and the man introduced himself, asked my name while Albert was filling him in about the big plans for the night. The man, whom I've never met, just started praying for me--praying for peace for and for all the details of the evening, for ideas and again for peace. This man is a Messianic Jew, from the tribe of Levi, the set aside tribe of the Old Testament. It really hit me today how rare it was to speak to a man of such lineage. Peace has been my theme for the year, my prayer theme, if you will, so it was touching that the Lord would send me that gift the morning of the Gala.

And closer to my heart, a friend who I won't embarrass by naming, had been following the proceedings of the day and knew I would be tempted to feel defeated, sent me a text two hours before the Gala. It read: Relax :) Everything is going to be great! God's plans are always better than ours. Let's rock this party!

Friendship ministry may be the most important ministry after ministering to our husbands and children...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Power of Prayer, Part II

I needed to process all here's the second part. By the way, if you think this is long, just wait until I blog about this baby's birth story--especially if its anything like the last one...hmmm maybe I should blog about that...

Okay, here you go:

So, we were filling up, but what would we present to them? A meal, a song, 12 minutes of program and a plea for money? Oh boy, what were we thinking? A Gala without a speaker? Without even a testimony?

I thought about this as I ran home to pick up my kids and wake up Shane. Shane, by the way, who had been having abdominal pain which made me think of our good friend who ended up in the operating room with part of her intestine removed last year. There was nothing I could do about his pain, but the devil reminded me of it and my distraction from my husband throughout the day.

I need to insert some praise for my wonderful daughter, Ash. She was such a trooper. I left the house a little after lunch and they didn’t see me until almost 5:00 pm when I ran home to change. Although the house wasn’t very clean, she had fed them their lunch, taken care of Jaybird when she got up from her nap, then even had the foresight to get them all dressed and ready to go to Grandma’s house before I got home. When I arrived, they were already in their coats! I don’t know what I would have done without her help.

For all of you who care, I dressed in my thrift store black dress I bought a few years ago. We spent Sunday afternoon at North East Mall walking through the entire 45 mile long mall just to get to JC Penney’s where I found my snazzy black and white jacket with oversized buttons (on sale, of course!). It was worth it, not only did I feel good in my new threads, I was warm :) I refreshed my makeup, put on my new New Balance tennis shoes, grabbed my heels and the diaper bag and headed out the door after pointing Shane to his suit.

The Lord had still not told me anything to add to the program. Okay, Lord, 12 minute programs probably please people. They can get home sooner…get out of their dress clothes and do whatever people do with spare time in the evenings.

We gathered to pray as a staff and board, led by a local youth and family minister. People, of course, arrive early, even before the volunteers are ready to check them in. I really don’t mind, if people arrive early, they deserve to see us still pulling it together.

Our ushers don their boutonnieres while the board members get nametags stabbed into their jackets and dresses. We realized we neglected to plan the lighting changes, so we experiment with switches even while guests are being seated. My nerves are shot; I’m just wondering how this can ever, ever work.

Finally, after a few glitches with seating that were thankfully easily resolved, it was time to start. Pastor Mike from the First Baptist Church set the tone by graciously welcoming everyone. The room, in spite of its 1980 dusty mauve paint and stained gray carpet was stunning, thanks to our excellent decorators. They rivaled the “big city” decorators I’ve worked with while planning our other Centers' galas. The food-a fancy cut of steak that fell apart when you breathed on it, grilled chicken with a marvelous sauce or marinade or something tasty, julienne carrots with some delectable sauce, incredible grilled asparagus, wonderfully seasoned white and red carrots and a custom bread-was perfect. Who knew this kind of meal would be served in BBQ country?

The dessert-which I only had a few bites off-was just as great. We had two chocolate fountains with rich, dark chocolate. That alone would have suited me, but in tall vases were skewers filled with sweet strawberries, marshmallows, and other fruit. I had the coconut cream pudding dish with a cherry on top. Very beautiful!

I’ll have pictures to post soon and you’ll get a better feel for the atmosphere. It’s important, because I promise you, the food, décor and the musicians pulled the night off for us.

Well, except for the two pastors who saved the day. Let me get back to the program…

Pastor Mike warmly welcomed…then the dinner began. It was smooth, the food was good, lots of smiling faces and interaction between guests. It was going so well, we gave dinner more time than planned. Hey, it’s not like we were going to run out of time! Finally, it was time to start. I’m nervous again just typing it! (I had considered praying for laryngitis that morning, since I hate public speaking. I knew my part was minor compared to the other ladies’ parts, so I could have been skipped. Little did I know that I was the program!).

After an absolutely beautiful song, “Orphans of God” which brought several tears around the room, I was on. The mics were causing a little trouble and I HATE mics anyway. I step up and say the few lines I felt the Lord impress on my heart a half hour before:

“May I tell you that our day fell apart?”

I told them about the process of losing our speaker and our special testimony. I told them about the tug of war in decision-making regarding the fate of the evening.
Then I asked, “Is this anything compared to what a young girl feels when she finds out she’s pregnant and wasn’t planning to be?”

I paused for effect. Then I said, “So, lets enjoy our evening anyway, because I know my God. My God is big enough that you don’t need to hear Carol’s story to be moved to get involved with this work. Stacy would have shared about aborting during her senior year in our high school, God doesn’t need that to pull your heartstrings.”

Then I continued with my regularly planned spiel. I explained a little about what our center does, where we are and where we’re going. I plead for their help by making a final illustration:

“In 2006, 18 women from our county had an abortion. That number isn’t all that high; surely there are better causes to invest in. Well, think about it this way. If a piece of playground equipment at the park were to take the lives of 18 children, our fine mayor (who was there) would have it pulled out. Jack ____ is here, he’s a State Trooper and he’d tell us that it wouldn’t take 18 fatalities at one intersection in town to warrant a stoplight. Well, we’ve had 18 deaths from an unseen cause in our county. That’s about the size of an elementary school classroom. A classroom in missing every year. Year after year. What will you do about it? Who will care? This is our community and we have to protect all life here, both born and unborn.”

I went on to introduce the emotional DVD that would give a visual to the heart breaking stories of the girls we see and how we help them. This was supposed to be the launching mechanism into Stacy’s story and then Carol’s final punch.

The DVD wouldn’t play.

We sat there, smiling, pretending to be calm but as the clocked ticked on, it was very uncomfortable. Prayers were going up, I know, but something about those mauve walls must have thwarted our efforts. Finally, I had the girl who was supposed to sing the closing song to go ahead and sing now. She did, and did another moving performance, as I hear there were more tears shed, but it could have been tears of pity for us.

Her song ends and we try the DVD again. Now it will play but the sound won’t work. Never mind, that’s it, lets just end it all now.

Mike, the pastor, gets up and gives a great, encouraging plea for financial support. I don’t remember his exact words; I just knew in my heart he was doing a bang up job rallying the audience. He reminded everyone that the reason we were all here was for them-not the speakers. The snow didn’t matter, the technical difficulties didn’t matter, but they did. They had a job to and now was the time to step up. Another musician, who has a great, soft style, sang Amazing Grace as our new closing song—perfect choice!

I was holding back tears; the dam was just about to give. But I still had to greet all these people and hear them all say it was really a good evening, bla bla bla, but all I wanted was that DVD to have worked or a good, hot bath, I didn’t really care which anymore.

My new favorite guy, Gregg, was to say some closing remarks and pray. I walked back to his table during the financial plea to tell him his new cue (since we changed the songs around) and he said he had a 5-point sermon planned. I told him he dared not attempt it, it would surely go wrong! He started quoting scripture to me about being more than conquerors and reminding me that we know who wins in the end. The devil’s antics only prove that this is important work. I loved hearing that, it was balm to my soul. Not just the words, but that he would care so much to share that with me.

The dam started to break. Shane tried to hold me close as Gregg spoke similar words to the audience moments later. During the prayer, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I had to go to the restroom and cry a little. I could hear the crowd murmuring, so I knew I had to get out there, but my eyes were very red and watery…oh well, I took a deep breath and out I went. I never cry. Stupid pregnancy hormones. And exhaustion. And no speaker. Four inches of snow.

Of course, there was a lot of encouragement. No one said a negative word. They were moved and told me so. They were impressed with the evening, they had a good time, they want to volunteer, be on the board, and so on. Lots of hugs and smiles…

We bade our guests farewell and cleaned up. Shane picked up the girls and took them all home while we washed steak knives, stacked and wrapped the rental equipment, vacuumed and mopped. I got home bone tired at 11 pm. The two big girls were still up and enjoyed some left over potatoes. I collapsed in the living room floor and sweetly told Shane there would be no lunch packed for him tonight. His little girls pulled one together and I went to bed. Sleep wouldn’t come until around 1:45, my mind was so busy processing…

I think the positive reactions the night before and all the kudos were enough to end this story, but everyone seems to want to hear about the money raised. $10,000 came in last night and $5000 was pledged for the year in monthly donations. We also have a handful of new volunteers. Not bad for 90-100 people who gathered in the snow with no speaker, no testimony, no multimedia presentation, just the Lord’s presence in the chaos.

And one last note, the devil isn’t done. I got a call this morning that the Cowboy Church’s pastor lost his hearing aid last night, and they’ve looked all over the Community Room for it. It’s quite a costly loss, so if you feel led, please pray it will be found. Also, last night while we were cleaning, the precious couple that did the decorating and the dessert bar ended up in the ER. Mylea has the flu and pneumonia! Please pray for her healing!

Power of Prayer, Part I

I have a friend who says I’ll write a book someday. I’ve thought about it, I admit, but every time I think of a topic I’d like to write about, I remember that I learned it all from reading books…no original ideas here. Until last night. Truth really is stranger than fiction. I chose this title because my mind can’t comprehend what the day would have been like without prayer-it was absolutely unreal as it was-bathed in prayer!

Let me give you some background. This is our first Gala in a little bitty town. I wasn’t even sure anyone would know what a Gala was. I wasn’t sure where we’d find caterers who could put together a classy meal, and no, I don’t mean good barbeque. Decorations that don’t involve cowboy boots and bales of hay-not so sure in this town.

Much to my surprise there is a great catering/decorating team right under our noses. Not only that, but we found friends of the ministry happy to underwrite the event to pay for all the fancy-smancy food and décor. We had a great speaker lined up, one I’d heard a few years before and could totally trust to be powerful. A local town sweetheart was slated to share her moving testimony and a zinger of a DVD about a girl facing an unplanned pregnancy who changes her mind after getting a sonogram was set up and ready to go.

It was all so smooth. Too smooth.

Let me back up a week. It’s crunch time-seven days until the Big Day and I realize I’m a few days late on my period. I rationalize it away remembering that I’d been a little sick, Jaybird had been nursing a whole lot more since she’d been sick, and that the stress of the Gala planning all had taken a toll. Thursday night I decided I should probably stop wondering and just take a test. But not before I wrapped up the Gala program, my director’s report, and the seating plans. I had to concentrate and could not be bothered with frantic thinking if I were, indeed, pregnant. I worked on those until late in the evening Thursday while emailing a friend my suspicions and worries. Finally I took the test just a few minutes before Shane got up to go to work.

It was positive.

I was shocked.

I was testing my heart to see if I was finished with four children. I had been feeling our family was complete but wanted to give it more time before making a permanent decision. I guess our family wasn’t complete and God had other plans. Although I praised God for the blessing and miracle, I was dreading telling anyone with every fiber of my being. I cried some that night, even woke up weeping in the middle of the night. (If this is news to you, it's either because of proximity or that you're one of the ones I'm afraid to decide :) But just know if you say something negative, you'll forever be in my memory as the first to chide me about it).

I told Shane the next morning. We sat on our front porch swing and I just blurted it out. He chuckled and said he already knew. God had given him a verse two days before, Psalm 127, about children being a blessing from the Lord. He even told a coworker that morning he felt our family might be growing. He was giddy. Shane never showed any doubt or hesitation about embracing an enlarging family. This comforted my heart but I still begged him to just let us keep it a secret—forever.

I did tell a close friend and then we told a group of my closest girlfriends and their husbands, essentially my Life Group, a few days later. I was exhausted and cried a bit, but their joy and the joy of a few others I told the next day boosted me up. Finally, I told my mom and the girls told my mother in law, I told my friend whose wedding I am in—near the time the baby is due and almost everyone was just giggly with happiness.

So, we get to the morning of the Gala and I actually thought I’d have a peaceful, quiet morning before meeting the volunteers at the Community Room. The phone starts ringing though, at 9am, as the snow is heavily falling outside. Will the snow affect the evening? No, it’s just snow. Come on, fellow Texans, don’t play into the jokes that Texans can’t handle a few flurries.

As we continue to watch the snowfall, I learn the schools are closing, as is the beauty shop where I’m supposed to have my hair done. I go in early, on the phone the entire time with calls to our speaker, my volunteers, the board, and everyone under the sun who has an opinion about what we should do. Several times I ended up on the phone explaining our decisions to friends who wanted the entire scoop on what we were thinking and why. I almost stopped answering those calls! My husband and the Board Chair are both sick in bed, so I feel a bit alone in the decision making process, ironically. On top of that, here I am paying to have my hair done for an event we’re on the verge of canceling.

As I’m in the salon chair, my cell rings and it’s Carol Everett, our speaker, making the point that if we hold the Gala, those who are just casual invitees who we want to catch our vision probably won’t be the ones coming out in the snow. I agree and feel we should try to postpone it for the next day. My hairdresser says, “That might be your sign that you just don’t need to do it tonight.” Then I call the volunteers working on the meal at the community room and they report there’s no way the chicken will be edible tomorrow night. My hairdresser then says, “That might be your sign you should just go ahead with it.” If I had any more signs, the hairdresser might have to sell me a wig since I was about to pull every strand of hair out of my head!

Instead of a dozen cell phones buzzing back and forth, a few key decision makers decide to meet up at the Community Room for a face-to-face pow-wow. It’s 2:45 in the afternoon. Carol Everett has to leave town in 15 minutes to make it from Dallas. If she could even make it. My chest was red and blotchy from nerves, but hey, my hair looked good!

At the Community Room, sitting down at a gorgeously dressed table among white columns with ferns perched on top, two of us with prom styled hair, the rest still make up-less and a bit wilted from the weather, decide the show must go on, with our without a speaker. What will we do for a program? Who knows, but we have to get these tables set, it’s three hours until the show-whatever that is!

I take a break to call Carol, excusing her from driving here since her route would entail driving through areas that had been hit harder and could be dangerous. She immediately starts praying for us and I shed the first tears of emotional strain. I regain composure by the end of the prayer and we laugh about the circumstances, she praises my attitude and we hang up. The next blow is that Stacy, our post-abortion testimony didn’t feel safe driving from out of town either, so that left my six minute ministry report and the DVD as the meat of the evening’s program!

The Lord didn’t show me anything else to say or anyone else to improvise with. I didn’t want “filler”, rambling, unplanned testimony just to say we tried.

Instead, we wanted to make sure the seats were filled. One particular gung-ho volunteer immediately got on the phone and started calling table hosts to see if their guests would still be coming. Amazingly, about 75% said yes. Our roads weren’t bad, just slushy, but that’s still an excuse to stay home.

So, we were filling up, but what would we present to them? A meal, a song, 12 minutes of program and a plea for money? Oh boy, what were we thinking? A Gala without a speaker? Without even a testimony?