Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter on her Birth Day

My Sweet Daughter,

I am sitting here in a dark hospital room, listening to your constant heartbeat on the monitor, and wondering when you will be in my arms.  It is 3:30 a.m. and Daddy is asleep on the couch just across the room (probably more like half-asleep with those accommodations), and though I know that I should be sleeping now, before the pain becomes too intense, I just can’t—I can’t stop thinking of you.  And though the doctor warned me not to watch the monitors that track your heart rate and my contractions, I also can’t stop doing that.  It is exciting to be in the midst of this, in the process of bringing you into this beautiful world. 

My contractions right now are subtle and inconsistent.  They come and go.  The doctor decided to induce me today after my appointment in his office this morning when your heart rate started dropping during the non-stress test.  They have been monitoring you closely these past few days because, at my appointment last week, they recognized signs that my placenta is petering out and you may not be getting enough nutrition.  My uterus is measuring small, you are measuring small on the ultrasound, and most concerning, your abdomen is measuring disproportionately smaller than the rest of your little body.  To make matters worse, your S/D ratio, which measures blood flow into and out of the umbilical chord, is elevated which is another sign of this placenta problem.  The doctor felt it was best to wait to induce as long as we could, to give your little lungs more time to grow and develop, but after this morning’s results, he decided it is time to get you here.  Daddy and I agree—we don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your safety and well being.  

You will be arriving just over two weeks early, so you might be a peanut, but I think you will be just fine.  I can’t wait to hold you in my arms, to kiss your chubby little cheeks (at least they looked chubby on the ultrasound this morning), and to look into your eyes for the first time—to stare deeply into the eyes of my daughter and to see you searching my face, learning me, and seeing for the first time the woman who will cherish you and be your mother throughout this life and into eternity.

I’m sure I won’t be perfect at it, my little love.  In the past few weeks, mingled with my feelings of sheer excitement at the prospect of your impending arrival, I’ve felt a twinge of fear now and then—fear and inadequacy and nervousness.  Because I won’t be perfect.  And when I picture you wearing the tiny pink pajamas that I brought to the hospital, all swaddled up and ready to go home and begin the adventure of life, I know that you deserve all the love and all the good things this world has to offer.

I promise I will do the best that I can.  I promise that I will love you with every piece and particle of my soul.  We will figure out this life together—you, Daddy, Big Brother, and I.  We are so ready to add you to our “family squeeze” before bed each night (we will squeeze you softly at first, I promise), and we are ready to try our best to meet your needs, whatever those may be.  

It has been an honor to be pregnant with you.  Just the other day, I was staring in the mirror at my “baby bump” thinking, “Is this really happening?  To me?”  I never knew if I would have the opportunity to carry a child in my womb, and as incredibly difficult as it has been to be pregnant at times, due to sickness and other complications, it has been an experience that I would not trade—to feel you kicking inside of me, to see my belly growing over the weeks and months, to put my hand on my stomach and know that a baby girl is in there all nuzzled up, safe and growing.  Pregnancy has been long and much harder than I ever anticipated it would be, but sitting here in the dark, listening to your heartbeat and feeling the contractions that will eventually (but probably not for a long time at this rate!) bring you into the world, I know that it was worth every moment of the pain to be a part of this experience.

You are almost here.  In a few minutes, they plan to start me on Pitocin, so I am sitting here contemplating the unknowns.  What hour of the day will you arrive?  How will my labor progress?  Will I end up with a C-section if your heart rate drops during contractions as it did this morning during the non-stress test?  In my mind, I have an idyllic picture of how I’d love the next 24 hours to go (and that picture does not include a C-section or vomiting during labor or many of the other unpleasant things that often occur during delivery), but writing this letter has reminded me that no matter what today holds, it’s going to be a great day.  Because, at the end of it, the world is going to be blessed with a beautiful, fresh, new soul.  Certainly, my world will never be the same.

Happy birth day, my precious Sally Grace.  Come quickly—I am waiting for you.

With love beyond words,
Your Mama  

**Sally Grace was born at 11:08 a.m.  She measured 5 lbs 12 oz, 18.5 inches.  She is healthy and perfect in every way.  More details and photos to come in another post in a few days! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Mega Update

I feel like it's been a big couple of months.  Lots going on.  I am quite tired and ready to veg out for the next couple of weeks until this baby is born.  Here's a list of what we've been up to this summer:

*Sometime in early May, Noah switched from a crib to a big boy bed.  This was probably a long time coming, and he did just great with the change--never came out of his room even once.  (I attribute this to the success we've had with his "light turns green" clock, which is the best parenting purchase I've ever made.  It initially took some training to get him to respond to it, but boy do I recommend it.)  

When I say he switched to a "big boy bed," I do mean "big."  We put him in our old bed, and I actually really like that he has so much space because all three of us can snuggle in to read a story together, and sometimes after he's sound asleep, I crawl into his bed and wrap my arms around him for a few minutes.  Funnest.

Noah likes to "read" to himself in bed before naptime and bedtime.  I love standing outside of his room and listening to him flipping pages and reciting the stories he remembers (making up the details as he goes along).  One day I found him sound asleep during naptime with a book on his face. :)  I hope he's always a reader.

*We attempted potty training for the third time.  It did not go well.  This probably deserves its own blog post, but I will summarize by saying that my very smart and very stubborn son simply will not be forced to use the potty.  Man, he humbles me sometimes.  He totally knows how to use the toilet but flat out refuses when he knows that I want him to do it.  I've decided to let it go for the time being and see what happens.  Please don't judge me when you see my thirteen-year-old in diapers.

*We spent a weekend in Pocatello for Mother's Day.  A few of Ryan's siblings and their kids were there as well, and it was a fun weekend of chatting, kite-flying, celebrating mothers, and being together.

*We've spent time as a family outdoors in Twin Falls.  It is really beautiful this time of year--well, except for the past two weeks which have been between 95-100 every day (way too hot for this pregnant woman, and the forecast isn't changing anytime soon).  In May and June, the weather was great and we went for walks, did some simple hikes, and spent lots of time in our backyard.  Despite the heat, last week Ry and Noah went on a father-and-son date to a nearby cave, and then Ryan and I got away for a dessert date at a restaurant on the edge of the canyon.  We love being outside as a fam.

*We spent another weekend in Pocatello for Father's Day.  Again, a few of Ryan's siblings and their kids were there--I didn't get many photos but, as always, it was a good time.  On the way home, we got off the highway and drove up close to the big windmills that we always see on our way to Poky.  Noah was ecstatic.  He has been obsessed with these windmills for almost a year and had never been near one up close.  He kept saying that it really "freaked [him] out" to be so close to one.

*Noah did two weeks of swimming lessons.  This was very traumatic for both of us.  I had no idea when I signed him up that these were "tough love" swimming lessons where the intent is to really teach the kids how to swim, not just splash around and get comfortable in the water.  Noah and I were both shocked when the first thing that the teacher did was dunk him under the water and hold him there for a few seconds.  I don't consider myself an overprotective mom, but it was painful to watch.  He came up screaming, coughing, and sputtering, and as I listened to him sobbing, "Oh please don't sink me!" over and over for half an hour, every motherly instinct in me wanted to grab him and pull him out of that pool.  I made it through the lesson without intervening, but afterwards I did talk to the teacher about my concerns.  I felt like *that* mom, but I'm glad I followed my gut and spoke up for Noah because they were much gentler with him from then on out.  I'm also glad I didn't pull him out of the lesson altogether because he ended up having a good experience and learning a lot.  They still pushed him, but they weren't so aggressive about it, and he made a lot of progress.  By the end of his session, he was going under the water willingly for several seconds, and he even jumped off the diving board to his teacher a few times.

*I organized and labeled everything in the house.  I am thinking this must be an odd pregnancy thing.  I don't have much energy these days, but for some reason, when I do have energy, I feel the urgent need to organize.  This irrational project is slow going, but I get a little done each week.  Our office supplies look pretty rockin' now, if I do say so myself--I even made a bin for "adhesives," so if you ever come to visit us and are in need of some glue or tape, you will be able to find it quickly.  You're welcome.

*Noah's been camping three times this summer with his dad, and he loves it.  He does pretty well.  Though it takes him a while to fall asleep, he sleeps through the night and often sleeps in late in the morning.  He enjoys being in nature and eating smores.  I am excited for next summer when I'm not hugely pregnant and I can join them (with an infant...hmmm...we shall see...).

*My dad came to visit for a weekend!  It was so nice to have him here.  He entertained Noah, helped me organize stuff in the nursery, took me shopping for baby girl clothes, made freezer meals with me, and did tons of dishes.  Seriously--Dad of the Year.  I didn't want him to leave!!  We also had some fun while he was in town, including going canoeing on the Snake River.

*Noah has spent a little time with his favorite babysitter, Baylee.  This darling 13-year-old lives in our neighborhood, and she rides her bike over once a week to play with Noah for a couple of hours while I get stuff done, work on Power of Moms, or, since I've been pregnant and sick, take a nap.  Noah adores her, and I love listening to them playing trains and playdoh--this break is as good for him as it is for me.  

*Our friends from college, the Adamsons, came to visit.  Back in 2004, they set us up on our first date (did you know that Ryan and I met on a blind date?), so we will be forever indebted to them.  We hadn't seen them in seven years, so we had lots of chatting and catching up to do.  They and their three kids stayed in our little house with us for three days and two nights, and it was very chaotic and very fun.

*We went on a family trip to Sun Valley with my in-laws for the 4th of July.  Everyone was there except for Ryan's youngest brother, Tanner, who is on a mission for our church.  It was great to be together.  We went to a parade on the 4th, spent a day on the beach at Red Fish Lake, and celebrated Gordon's birthday.  The guys learned to fly fish one day, and I think Ryan is hooked (no pun intended).  He went out the next night with his dad, and he caught a real whopper on the river (and by whopper, I mean someone's pet goldfish).  He's been watching fly fishing videos on YouTube and reading fly fishing books ever since we got back.  I can totally see Ryan becoming a fly fisherman.

*And last but not least (are you tired yet? because I totally am), Noah got his tonsils and adenoids out this past week. He had absolutely ginormous tonsils that the pediatrician and ENT were afraid were blocking his airway, so out they came.  He was a trooper on the day of the surgery--didn't even cry as they were taking him away for surgery in a little wagon--but recovery has been pretty tough on him. 

The first day, he was writhing and shrieking in pain and could not be consoled.  It's been a little better since, but he still doesn't want to swallow or eat much, and he has at least one horrendous freaking-out-in-pain episode every day (just had one that woke him from sleep as I am writing this blog post--thank goodness for his big bed so I could snuggle him).  The doctor and others acted like recovery from this procedure would be no big deal for a kid Noah's age, so I think I had unreasonable expectations going into it.  Hopefully he will be back to himself soon because it breaks my heart to see him like this.

So yes, that's all.  And I have almost nothing on the calendar for the next three weeks until the baby is due.  And I am so glad--I couldn't keep up that pace for much longer!

It's a happy and busy life.  We are blessed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pregnancy Nausea, Compensation, and the Goodness of God

I woke up this morning feeling extremely nauseated.  This is a norm for me since I've been pregnant--it's not every single day, but it's enough days that it can feel really, really discouraging and daunting.  After dry heaving into a trash can for a few minutes (sorry for the details), I sat in the recliner in our bedroom and just cried.  I suddenly felt so tired and so hopeless.  My rational mind says there's only four more weeks of this until the baby is born, but underneath that logical thought brews the fear that this is never going to go away completely.

Do you remember my bout of unexplained nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea last summer?  I lost 15 pounds in three weeks.  My OBGYN thought it might be from ovarian cysts, but when they gave me a laparoscopy, they found that the cysts were resolving and were not the problem--turns out it was my endometriosis. (I guess women with endometriosis release more prostaglandins, which cause nausea and diarrhea...lovely.)  Once they removed the endo, I felt better for a few months--until I did IVF and got pregnant.  I don't know if it's common for women with fertility issues to have tough pregnancies, but it makes sense to me that if your hormones are already messed up to begin with, pregnancy is going to do a number on your body.

I could have it way worse--some women have to be hospitalized during pregnancy for vomiting and other complications--but even though my pregnancy hasn't been the hardest that I've heard about by a long shot, not a single day has been easy.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring this little miracle baby into the world, but after nine months of feeling pretty darn cruddy, I sometimes spiral down into a hopeless place on the days when I feel especially terrible.  I try not to let it happen, but it does on occasion--because there really aren't guarantees that I'm ever going to feel awesome, with all of the weird stuff that goes on in my body whether or not I'm pregnant.

I know it's pointless to think this way...to worry about a future that may or may not even occur...but sometimes it's hard not to go there.

Yesterday morning, while sitting in our recliner with my trusty trashcan by my side, I read a sermon called The Resurrection of Jesus Christ given by one of the leaders of our church, D. Todd Christofferson.  It is excellent--I recommend it.  It details the events of Christ's miraculous resurrection and goes on to explain some of the spiritual significance for us today and always.  One passage in particular caught my attention:

"The Savior makes all things right.  No injustice in mortality is permanent, even death, for He restores life again.  No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy."

The word that caught my attention was "uncompensated."  I've heard that word used in the context of life's trials and difficulties before, but I've never thought deeply about what it means.  I looked up the Webster definition of "compensate," and I was struck by the definition as it relates to the struggles of life:

"Compensate: to provide something good as a balance against something bad or undesirable"

Sitting there in the recliner in the early hours of the morning, before Noah had woken up and while everything around me was quiet, I was overwhelmed by the implications of this definition.  To be compensated doesn't mean that we get back exactly what we lost.  It doesn't mean that those whom we feel have harmed us receive a "comeuppance" that we determine is just.  It doesn't mean that life is perfect or easy.  It just means that when we face something difficult, God--in His infinite, unspeakable goodness--will provide something good to balance against our struggle.

Oh how true this principle has been in my life!  I could never expect to be compensated by God for any of the trials I face--I am too richly blessed to begin with to ever feel entitled to more blessings--and yet He never fails to pour out His tender mercies on me.  It brings me to tears when I think about it.

When my mother was sick for thirteen years, when she passed away, when I struggled with infertility, when adoptions fell through, when my baby had colic and I felt so alone, when I was going through the intense process of IVF, when I am enduring months of pregnancy nausea...honestly, even when I go through the simple, everyday trials and stresses of daily life (which sometimes feel even more overwhelming than the "big" stuff)...God has compensated me for my heartaches through unexpected, undeserved, beautiful mercies.  Sometimes it's hard to recognize those blessings in the moment, but when I pause and reflect on my experiences, it is so apparent that His hand has been there, lifting me and prompting others to lift me as well.

Why does He do this?  Why is He so good to His children?  He loves us.  I know He does.  I believe that He weeps with us during our trials, and though He doesn't always intervene, He is there strengthening us, reaching out to us in small ways to "balance" some of our heartache with gifts that bring us joy and get us through.  I know that this is true because I have lived it.

So why am I writing this post today?  I am writing it to remind myself.  Because even though I had this revelation about compensation and the infinite goodness of God yesterday, I felt so hopeless and discouraged this morning.  Sometimes life is just tough like that.

God is good, and He is there--and whatever life calls upon us to bear, we can do it through Him.  I want and need to remember this, always.