Friday, January 27, 2012

Do Not be Anxious (God's got it handled) ...

When I posted the day before I delivered my youngest, little did I know I'd have quite the follow-up story.  Ironically, I never bothered to post the follow-up ... so here goes!

Many of you knew I was struggling internally with the circumstances surrounding my repeat c-section. I felt under duress from both sides of the gammit, from the hospital "umbrella ban" on v-bac's (regardless of individual risk factors) to well-intentioned members of the natural parenting community who were pressuring me to "fight" for a v-bac ... as my duedate rolled closer (and then passed), I found myself a wreck. I finally gave it back to God and said, "please insure the delivery that You know is best for this baby as only You would know."

When I had an episode of prodromal labor and began dilating at 37 weeks, I began to wonder if He was going to force the quick v-bac I'd been half-anticipating. Then it seemed that fizzled out so I resigned myself to another surgery (though I was grateful for the extra prep time).

Initially the whole check-in and pre-op process were uneventful ... until the nurses struggled to get DD2's heartbeat. Although it was blatantly obvious she was active, she kept evading the sensor and it took them a good half-hour to get her vitals. In the process, one nurse looked at me with a startled expression and asked, "Don't you feel that?" Apparently I was having regular and rather intense contractions, but was oblivious. This is where it got interesting: she expressed with some concern that the baby's heartrate would dip with every contraction. Not enough to cause serious concern (since they were going to be taking her in 45 minutes anyways), but enough to take note of.

Again, the rest of the process was "textbook" until I heard my OB say, "Oh, there you are," followed by one of the nurses say, "oh dear - it's around her neck." It turns out the umbillical cord was not only wrapped around Rose's neck, but twice and much tighter than they generally see it before the baby exits the birth canal. Essentially, if I'd delivered her naturally, it would likely have cut off her circulation before she'd even crowned. Of course, no one had any way of knowing this - except, of course, the One who'd answered my prayers. In retrospect, I am incredibly grateful that circumstances dictated the c-section.

All that being said ... the fact that I already was in labor had prepped her beautifully to enter the world! She screamed bloody murder for a solid 20 minutes and scored 9 and 10 on her Apgar (upon which I got a quiet aside from my OB that "these East German nurses never give out 10's!")

In loving memory: She carries for her middle name that of my beloved Auntie Lou, who's birthday she shared with her duedate. This incredible woman could have stepped out of the Sister Act films, as a spunky nun and inner-city school principal who lost her 4-year battle with cancer two years ago ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dear God, here's my wishlist ...

Well, it's the new year and "Letters to Santa" season is over ... for eleven months., anyways  Still, I have to smile at the faith of small children, studiously writing out their heart's desires to the memory of a saint who sacrificed much to supplement the needs of the poor.  With requests ranging from greedy to superficial to whimsical to profound, these children trust that their wishes will be heard ... and answered.

Y'shua challenged us to approach his father like children, to lay our heart's desires before Him.  He desired that we would trust Him to listen and answer.  "You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?  Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."  Luke 11:11-13 (NLT) 

Now I realize that this verse is about the receiving of the Holy Spirit, but I can't help but marvel at the ongoing metaphor Y'shua uses of children and parents for our relationship with Abba.  I know that while I don't want to encourage greed in my children, I also delight in giving them frivolous gifts occasionally ... and I would never turn down a request for a need so long as it was within my power to provide it.  In fact, I try to anticipate their needs in advance (almost to a fault).

I was thinking about this today as I was considering our most recent season of change.  We are now a family of five.  My husband is now a chaplain for the National Guard; and his regular job hours have been on the fritz for months with no end in sight.  I am grateful for his job (both of them), but family life has been difficult.  And of course, in our extensively dreary northwestern US climate, time outside is in short supply.  We live indoors.  With the recent addition of our youngest ... our 800 sq.ft. 2 bed/1bath (which is also our laundry) just isn't accommodating our growing family of very busy yet housebound children.  I know that the stifling atmosphere has been taking a heavy toll on both our emotional and physical health lately.

Moving on a tight budget is never easy.  I realized it was high time that I swallow my pride and petition our heavenly father for a home suited to accommodate our family for the next few years.  So, Abba, here's my wish ...

I long for a home where my children can grow up as I did: with room for imagination, and separate spaces for play, rest, and study.  I yearn for a yard where they can stretch their legs as the weather allows; and that I can make productive with the labor of my hands ... it looks something like this:

- 3 beds: one master (large enough to accommodate a nursery area), one for the kids, and a spare for guests (or where the siblings may redivide into)
- 1 bonus room: a corner for my sewing that I can gate off; and the rest a play room for the kids (separate from their bedroom, which I want to keep a place of rest)
- 2 baths (there's nothing worse than balancing stomach bugs and potty training with only one toilet available!)
- separate laundry (have you tried to keep a bathroom clean with lint dust floating everywhere?) - or laundry in an insulated attached garage
- country kitchen with lots of counter space (cooking from scratch and making your own bread, yogurt, etc. is a nightmare when counter space is in short supply)
- greatroom layout for both dining and living (fewer walls means fewer accidents), with built-in bookshelves a desired bonus
- pantry ... with a kitty door (weary of the daily task of enforcing in my children that they can't eat the cat food!)
- a fireplace or woodstove to provide heat when the power's out; or to supplement when it's exceptionally cold
- some kind of garage or shop for storage
- large yard with full sun (when it comes out) in at least half of it, where I'm allowed to establish a garden ... and hopefully a chicken coop ... and where my kids can play with improved parental visibility (i.e., a reduced likelihood of being picked off by a coyote than our current location) ... a dog run would be even better, as we're hoping to bring a therapy dog into our family.

...  hopefully I'm not asking too much ... but I'm trying to think like my children.  He may say "no" for reasons I cannot predict ... but that is no reason to not ask.  Because He may say "yes" ... and then some.

And you?  Would you approach your Heavenly Father with the hope and trust of a child?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Loss Restored ...

Recently a friend suffered a miscarriage, and briefly I was reminded of the deep ache I suffered during my pregnancy loss.  In her private blog she reflected on how misunderstood miscarriages are in our society … and how well-intentioned family, friends, and acquaintances so frequently mishandle the situation.

I confess I had an even briefer moment of mirth as her words sounded so similar to those of my blogging sister-in-law Erica McNeal in her e-book, Good Grief.  Both women offer succinct advice and feedback to their readers on what one should – or shouldn’t – say to a person enduring times of grief.

In the same token I found myself marveling at how differently God hard-wired each of us.  At times I still marvel at how thoroughly He healed me of my loss … the comfort that is so palpable in the knowledge that I will spend eternity with my baby.  An eternity that is more secure than that of my surviving children (at least until they embrace Y’shua as their Messiah).  I stand confident and comforted in the restoration of my loss.

I also find myself reflecting on our near-flippant attitude towards those who pass without knowing Y’shua.  “Well, they’re going to Hell …” in the same tone we might casually say, “Well that’s too bad …” We may not say it, but I’m sure many of us think it.  Or in a discomforting moment, we may fully consider the eternity they have chosen – an eternity banished from God’s presence … and shove the thought aside, unwilling to foster the grief of a very permanent loss.

This isn’t the first time I’ve considered a heartbreaking truth:that God allows us to experience childloss to bring us closer to His heart.  And I don’t just mean in the commonly acknowledged sense of turning to Him in our grief …
… no, I dare to suggest that women especially stand posed to truly understand God’s grief – at least as far as our human limitations will allow.  Even more surely as our little ones are formed in the secret place of our wombs, every soul that enters this earth first springs forth from the Heart of the Father.  He knows and loves them infinitely more than even a mother can fully imagine.

And the hope we cling to – the hope of reuniting with our prematurely taken child – it pales in comparison to the hope He has for each of His children.

Any woman who has suffered childloss can tell you that we fight to sustain our babies.  Miscarriage is a physically and emotionally draining battle.  And if our child is already born, we pound the gates of heaven for their continued survival and Salvation.  The battle continues … we are all someone’s daughter.  We are all someone’s son.  And we were all first molded in the bosom of the Creator.  I pray we can in our grief embrace the intimate understanding He has granted us of His heart – and rally to battle for the restoration of His lost children.