Monday, May 21, 2012

Remembering Burke’s Birth

I’ve had almost a year to think again and again about the day that forever changed my life. {You can read my initial reflections in Burke’s Birth Story here
And each time I revisit that day, I am more and more drawn to the task of analyzing how it could have been different.
How maybe…if the labor and delivery ward was not a swarming zoo of excited and anxious mama’s-to-be {I got the very last delivery room at 7:30 that morning}…
 if there weren’t sixteen billion scheduled c-sections that took my doctor’s priority {even though they told me that if I needed to be induced, I would not be a priority}…
if there was actually a doctor and a midwife on duty like they told me there always would be {there was just a doctor…and he was busy}…
if they had just taken two seconds to break my water when I first arrived very actively in labor and already 5 cm dilated {it only took 3 hours for me to go from 5 to 10 once they finally broke my water at 1 o’clock in the afternoon}…
Maybe, just maybe, I would have delivered my sweet boy naturally, without the need for my abdomen to be ripped apart.
And maybe, just maybe, my labor would have been cut in half.
And maybe, just maybe, my little warrior’s heart rate would not have been so distressed as a result of the shorter labor.
And maybe, just maybe, with less fighting and a more stable blood sugar level, my perfect boy would not have had his soft brand-new little heel pricked over, and over, and over again for four days straight.
And maybe, just maybe, I would never have had to experience the excruciating heartbreak of hearing my son’s sad screams with each prick to his heel, with each unnecessary drop of blood.
And maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have dreaded each feeding knowing that it meant more pain for my precious child.
And maybe, just maybe, we would have had a different nurse on duty the night he had three good blood sugar levels in a row—a nurse who actually followed directions. But instead we got the nurse that decided on her own that a fourth heel prick was necessary, just for insurance, against my wishes, and he tanked. So we started all over that fourth day…
But this isn’t the story that I remember whenever I hear that a new baby has been born. In these times {which occur more often than the others}, I inevitably get all choked up and shed new tears of joy. Joy for the new parents. And joy as I remember meeting my little man for the first time fifty weeks ago.
Because this remembrance doesn’t account for the details leading up to his arrival or even the traumatic ones shortly thereafter.
This remembrance is limited only to him. My perfect boy. My little lover. My firstborn. And the day that my family became three.
The joy of becoming a parent is indescribable and unfathomable. I wish it upon everyone who's willing, because nothing—nothing—will ever be quite like it. Nothing can ever prepare your heart to love as much as becoming a parent. And nothing can rival the inescapable miracle that is this: I wake up each day with even more love in my heart for my son than the day before.
And now, as we are about to say goodbye to infancy and open the chapter on toddlerhood, one look at my goofy, loveable, take-the-bull-by-the-horns kind of guy assures me that nothing else matters. Not the labor, the c-section, not even the painful heel pricks. None of that matters now. He’s as full-of-life as they come. He is not molded by the details of his entry into this world, but by the love that we show him. The examples we set. The things that we teach him. And the world that we give him. He’s got so much ahead of him. So many blessings. So much love. The whole world is his. And so far, he’s razzle dazzling us all each step of the way!

{Now give Ken Bruggeman some love by heading over to his website to check out the rest of Burke’s birth story as well as his other spectacular galleries!}

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My First Mother's Day

I had no expectations for Mother's Day. Traditionally, I have always thought it more of a Hallmark holiday than a real holiday. I guess my thinking is that if you don't honor your mom throughout the year, then it probably doesn't mean a whole lot to sign a sentimental card and maybe have a nice dinner on Mother's Day. So, as a new mother, I told Ben that he didn't need to do anything for me. He honors me every day. I am so grateful to have such a loving, appreciative partner in this journey!

That being said, I had a wonderful first Mother's Day. My baby--who has reverted to his newborn sleeping pattern these past two months as his molars worked their way down--actually slept nearly all night. He only got up one time and it was a quick and easy back-to-sleep. Unfortunately, I'm so conditioned to early rising and getting up 3-4 times per night that I could only sleep in until 6:30. But, I felt more rested than I had in what seemed like years.

We had spent the night in Allentown at my in-laws so that we could share Mother's Day with Burke's Ga-Ga first thing that morning. It turned out to be a blessing for everyone. Ga-Ga got first dibs with our family. And when Burke took a 2-hour morning nap, I got to lay around and rest. There was nothing I had to do. Nothing I wanted to do. And so I soaked up all the rest my body could handle.

Ga-Ga got to have lunch with all of her grandkids and photos too. Then, we packed our car and headed to York to see my mom and Burke's Grammy {who recently returned from China!}. The promise of homemade waffles and ice cream fueled us the entire way there!

We extended our relaxation at my parents' home, where there are always plenty of aunts, uncles and friends to give Burke lots of attention while giving Mama and Daddy a break. The only people missing were my grandmas. A few minutes before we were supposed to pick her up, my grandma called to tell me that she would be spending the remainder of her Mother's Day at the hospital so that the doctors could get her heart beating normally again. {she has problems with arrhythmia} We are glad that she is now home again and we can't wait to visit and give her the gift we crafted just for her! And my Nana lost her battle to colon cancer this past December. Despite the fact that her body was ravaged by this disease, she left a wonderful legacy of beauty and grace in her last days. It's days like this that make me miss her all the more, but I know she is at peace now and I look forward to sharing my memories of her with my children.

While Mother's Day is just that--one day in a year--I'll take it if it means some rest and relaxation for this tired mama! As my baby boy grows, I love that he gets more snuggly and lovey. He nestles in for hugs and kisses many times during a day. He needs me. He loves me. And, although it still hasn't completely settled in my mind, I'm his Mama. {yes, on our way home from Allentown I caught a glimpse of myself in the side mirror and asked Ben if he could believe that we are parents...because I couldn't. I wonder if it'll ever really sink in.} Motherhood has been the best journey of my life. And I wonder if this Mother's Day, maybe I was the one most thankful that God made me a mother!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Circumstances Are Not My Reality

I'll be honest. Our current circumstances aren't the greatest. Nothing has turned out like we expected. Unfortunate things keep happening. We haven't had a win in a long time. And just when we think things can't get any worse, they do. They can. And they do. And nothing goes untouched. Not our finances, our home, our cars, our health. Not one thing.

But in the midst of one thing after another and a handful of unlucky circumstances, I rejoice. Because these circumstances are not my reality.

They certainly seem real. And from a natural perspective--oh, they're very real. {My strep throat. It hurts. It's real.} But they don't define me. They don't become me. Because they aren't real to me.

I was reminded of the story of Job. Talk about crappy circumstances. Job had the worst luck. Everything was taken from him. Everything. And he still praised God. Thankfully, the narrative that Job couldn't see has been included in the story to counsel me. To remind me that my circumstances are the result of something much greater than myself. There is a constant battle being waged around me whether I'm cognizant of it or not. Good and Evil battling it out to see to which side I will pledge my allegiance. But my God and Job's God are the same. Then. Now. Forever. And Job's God said spare his life. And my God says spare her life.

The minute I clothe myself in my circumstances is the minute I become loyal to Evil. Evil becomes my father. Tells me that my circumstances are my reality. And tells me how to perceive Good. Which can't really be that Good, right? Not if all these things keep happening to me. Because Good wouldn't let these things happen. Good must have turned away from me. Forsaken me. And so I no longer can get alone with my God. My Daddy. My lover. My friend. Because he has betrayed me. Or so I am told.

But here is my reality:

God's love for me is fierce. It is deep and wide. It is unconditional and incomprehensible. God loved me so much that he sent his only son to die for me that I might live. Because of this, I am free. I am free from my circumstances. I am free from worry, doubt, fear, pity. I am free to live heaven on earth. I do live heaven on earth. God has given me many promises. And God is the ultimate promise-keeper. Unlike us, he never goes back on his word. Satan knows these promises too. And he's devilishly angry. He hates to lose. He wants me to play on his team. So he runs interference. He has control over my circumstances. He causes my circumstances. So that hopefully he can get me to become them and in that moment he can blame God. But I know that God's promises to me are near fulfillment because my circumstances are so pitiful. Satan is working overtime to keep me from these blessings. But I rejoice in those promises and in my Savior's love for me. His love is all that I have. And I am finding that it is all that I need. Really.

Friday, May 11, 2012

This Time Last Year

It's hard to believe that we are just three weeks shy of the day that changed our lives forever. And in those very short 11 months, I have already forgotten how it felt to carry my baby inside of me. To feel every kick, somersault, hiccup and punch to the bladder. I told myself that I would not forget. But it's inevitable. Because in the past 11 months, I awoke each and every day with anticipation. Excited to see what today would hold. Looking forward. Enjoying each moment and milestone as they came. And he was so much better on the outside, that slowly I forgot what he felt like on the inside. So, in a rare moment of retrospection, here are photos from our lives one year ago. Maybe they'll help me remember.

Photo credit for these gorgeous photos goes to the amazingly talented Ken Bruggeman. I am forever indebted to him for making me look so glamorous even as I felt near explosion. {Trust me, I did not look nearly so glamorous in real life...but I'll leave those photos in the depths of my computer.}

Becoming Mama has been the most incredible journey of my life. I would not trade one day, hour or sleep-deprived hormonal moment for anything. I am so thankful for this amazing gift.

Friday, May 4, 2012

To My Darling Burke: Eleven Months

I know I start nearly every To My Darling Burke post with the same phrase, but really it’s true.

I. Cannot. Believe. That. In. ONE. MONTH. You. Will. Be. 1!!!

I simply do not know where the time has gone, and yet I have cherished every single moment of the past 11 months!
 I have been saying for a few months now that I can’t wait for you to walk. I thought that you’d finally feel liberated, wholly satisfied, and proud of yourself. I thought that the look of frustration that would flicker in your eyes would finally disappear when your body no longer betrayed your mind's desires.
 Well, you’re walking now. Scratch that. Your running now. Full force. Everywhere. All the time. And I was right. The frustration is gone. You are free! It’s still shocking to me at times to catch you toddling across the room, hands high above your head in typical zombie-toddler fashion. I guess I just forget that you can walk. And you’re becoming braver and braver each new day. What started out as a few steps has turned into an all-out first instinct as your new mode of transportation.
 You still have not figured out how to stand up without holding onto something, although the mechanics are there. You do get really close sometimes. But, you just don’t know that you can do it. So, usually, the only time you crawl anymore is to get yourself to something on which you can pull up to start speed walking toward whatever has caught your fancy. Usually the dog.
See the hair on the floor?? That's all thanks to you pulling it out by the fistfull!
 Yes, the poor dog. You have really made a determined effort to tantalize and torture your doggy this month. You usually approach the dog under the false pretenses of snuggling—or aye-ayes—but then you just destroy him. Pull his hair. Pull his lips. Invade his mouth and ears with your determined pudgy fingers. Steal his toys. Taunt him with his own toys. You name it. You do it. Oh, and it’s also a full-time job keeping you from splashing all of the water out of his bowl. He loves you so much, though. Sometimes, he’ll play along, stealing his toy right back from you. {This back-and-forth sometimes goes on for a few minutes before you start pouting} But mostly, he lays there and endures your “snuggles.” I can’t imagine raising you without your dog. You would probably be so lonely.
 You are an observant little fellow. You’ve become a pro at tracking all of the birdies, squirrels and cats that scamper and fly about our neighborhood. If I ask you where the birdies are, you look up to the trees. You follow them when they fly. You’re also at the staring stage. You love to stare at people, moving objects, animals. It’s how you learn, assess, discover, understand the world and all of it’s lovely interactions.
 Well my fearless wonder, it has been fun these past 11 months. Watching you grow, learn and develop into the funny little human you are now has brought me the most incredible joy! Now, I will spend the next month planning for your 1st birthday—a circus theme! Daddy is virtually dying of anticipation in hopes that you’ll just destroy your cake. I’m sure you won’t let him down!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Steps Toward Sustainability

So I was hoping to get this post published around Earth Day, since April is recognized as Earth Month. But, taking life as it comes, I am just now getting to finish it...on May 1.

Anyway, a friend of mine works for Recyclebank, a company dedicated to eliminating waste worldwide by rewarding people for taking steps toward sustainability in their everyday lives. {It’s super cool…you should check it out!} Earlier this month In April, I went to Recyclebank’s website to check out their Passport for the Planet initiative for Earth Month. I started in Europe and the facts were astonishing. But one in particular struck me the most.

Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

The Strauss family is big on recycling. Called “The Greenest Family In The World”, this family of three only generates one bag of garbage a year. By composting, buying recyclable products, and reusing as much as they possibly can, they are truly masters of sustainability.
One. Bag. Of. Garbage. PER YEAR!!!!!

This blew my mind. Then Recyclebank asked how many bags of trash my family threw out per month. How close to the Strauss family could I come in my own life?

And it got me thinking…

How could I take steps to eliminate waste in my household in order to reduce the amount of trash I throw out?

Luckily, I'm pinning away lots of crafty ideas for future reference. That's when I remembered one pin in particular--a tutorial for reusable "paper" towels. Perfect! I hate going through so much paper product and this would be a perfect way to begin eliminating waste in our household. Not to mention, the cost of all those paper products over the span of a lifetime is probably quite astounding. So, I set to work making these babies and I'm sold! I'll be making more. Lots more. For me. For gifts. Whatever. They're awesome! Terry cloth on one side. Soft flannel on the other. They are super absorbent and rise to whatever occasion might be necessary. They snap together and we found that when you forget a bib, two towels snapped together make a pretty useful makeshift bib for our messy little eater!

With the handy snaps, this doubles as a hand towel!
This is just step one toward sustainability in our household. We are compelled to continue the journey, creatively exploring ways to eliminate waste, preserve our environment, avoid harmful toxins and chemicals and live the way God intended.

How have you taken steps toward sustainability in your household? I'd love to hear from you!

Hop on over to Frugally Sustainable to check out other great sustainable ideas!