Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh Yeah, I Just Used the Word 'Phoenix'

Parenting turns your life upside down and your heart inside out. There's a huge line of demarcation in my life: BEFORE THE BIRTH and AFTER THE BIRTH. I barely remember the former (okay, slight exaggeration). I think I used to go get coffee and read, or something. And shop. And write. And think about things other than what color and texture someone's poop is today and whether it's a sign of imminent doom or radiant health.

Everything everyone says before you have the baby, the stuff that makes your eyes roll and the stuff that you think you don't care about, is true. Sleep, and your attitude towards it, is forever changed. Your tummy looks like it's been through a war--and suffered defeat. Your memory is suddenly so bad that you fear early dementia. You look like What Not to Wear's best nominee yet (you have visions of Stacy and Clinton hacking your wardrobe of baggy jeans and milk-stained T-shirts to bits).

However, out of the ashes of the ruin of your body, routine, free time, and sartorial prowess, a phoenix really does emerge: a great, fierce love. I've heard dozens of times that to have a child is to allow your heart to forever walk outside your body...or something like that. Cheesy, but sweet, I used to think. Now I realize that it's not Hallmark pap. It's just a statement of fact.

This is the first time in my life that I know without any internal debate or question that I would gladly step in front of a Mack truck if it meant protecting my son. Again, it's just a fact, not heroism or duty. I think hormones play a large part (and are the culprits behind my early senility, as well. Fickle schlubs). I love my husband, but I have never had many thoughts about dying for him, perhaps because men are the protectors. This is the first time I have had something to protect.

By the way, some of you have mentioned wanting to see a picture of Noah. Ryan and I decided not to post pictures of him, but if you want to e-mail me and I feel okay about it, I'll send you a link so you can see our photos (discernthetimes at yahoo dot com). I would love to post them, but we've seen a few things happen online that make us feel uneasy about letting the wide world know too much, and my name is attached to this blog. I would do it if the blog were more anonymous.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I think I am ready to come back

After a long absence, I think I am ready to start posting again.

It's been a crazy five months--heck, a crazy year!--and I've been going through a bit of a tough time since Noah's birth. For a long time I felt emotionally paralyzed and unable to communicate, especially in writing (even if I'd had the time, which I didn't).

I knew even while I was going through it that I was experiencing postpartum depression, or something very close to it. I started to emerge a couple of months ago and have been getting steadily better since then. I didn't have to go on any medication, and I'm thankful for that.

I've changed in ways I can't even explain at this point. The utter despair and helplessness I felt after Noah's birth (combined, of course, with joy and wonder) made me feel like I am back at square one when it comes to some things I used to hold strong opinions about.

Opinions about motherhood and parenting really don't mean squat until you are one--unless it's something straight from the Word. If it's not straight from the Word, there's room for families to be different. You could sum up my thoughts this way: "Gee, God, I just found out that I don't know anything." I didn't realize I had become arrogant and overly opinionated--but I had. You name something, I probably had an opinion about how it should best be done.

I'd like to say I am out of the pundit business, but that's probably not true. Heh.

This blog might be pretty choppy from now on. I don't have the time I did before. But it's good just to post...just to put something out there and try to remember that I have a voice, I have a little family out here, and I am not alone in my new journey.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

God's Amazing, Admirable Character

I've been remembering with gratitude lately that the Lord is fully aware of how hard it is to be a new mom. This passage came to mind:

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

These verses remind me how God cares for me, how tender His heart is toward His people, and how well He knows the difficulties of caring for young children. I am just discovering it, but He knew it all along, and He can prepare and sustain me.

When I was first coming to know the Lord, when I first began intently reading the Bible, I was drawn to everything I discovered about the character of God. If He had simply created us and nourished us, He'd be worthy and deserving of our worship--it would be His due. But He's so much more than a Creator, and He's taken such great pains to reveal His heart to us. It's overwhelming to me while I read, or as I pray or reflect, at times.

Nothing can justly be required of God. He answers to no one. He is sufficient unto Himself--he doesn't, you know, need anything. And yet He cares, He helps, He suffered for us, He listens, He mends...He comforts.

That boggles my mind, because if we're going to be perfectly honest, my motives are selfish probably most of the time, and when they're not, I'm sure that's the work of the Spirit. I often do things because I need something, I want something, or there's something in it for me. God loves because HE IS. The very One on whom there can be no justified expectation of anything on our parts, the very One who owes no one anything and needs nothing, is the One who has loved, given, served, created, nourished, preserved, aided, transformed, and saved a people (you and me) who didn't deserve or earn anything.

As I read about the Lord, I see a God that not only deserves worship kind of by default, but whom I really like and admire. I hope that doesn't sound too strange. Granted, we only know what "goodness" is because He has defined and demonstrated it. But over and over in the Word, I see more than a loving God. He could be 'loving' and not go as far as He does. I see amazing, unfathomable mercy. I don't deserve such compassion and comfort from Him--but as I come to Him, expecting a reproof or coldness, He gives warmth, forgiveness, and an open embrace. If I'm sounding like the Prodigal, it's because I am thinking of that parable. Can any of us ever read about that Father coming to greet his dirty, formerly rebellious son without tears? What have we done to deserve the ring, the sandals, the fatted calf? Nothing. In fact, we did everything to forfeit such treatment, just like the Prodigal.

And yet, here he comes to meet me, arms outstretched.

I am thankful that He is who He is, even while I am everything I am.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Woman's Sanity Still Intact Three Weeks after Birth of Son

I just thought it sounded like a good headline. Or how about "Woman Miraculously Survives Same Event That Every Other Mother in the World Has Survived"? Nah, too wordy.

Noah is asleep on my lap in a sling (I'm not happy with it, but am too poor to get another one right now), so I have the luxury of two-hand typing! What joy!

First, I'll update you on my daily routine. My life right now consists exclusively of:

1. Feeding Noah
2. Trying to find a place he'll agree to sleep for more than five minutes
3. Realizing that #2 is unrealistic, and anyway, he needs a diaper change
4. Holding Noah
5. Trying to burp Noah and grab a swig of water at the same time
6. Seizing 1.5 hours at a time at night to attempt to sleep, but wait--he needs a diaper change, and wait, now he's hungry...

That about covers it, I think. He eats almost constantly. I think we're in a growth spurt that has lasted about three weeks of his three-week life.

Thank you for your prayers about his birth. The most important request, for a healthy baby, was generously answered by God. The birth experience was...not what I'd hoped for. Can I omit the details if I just give summary words? Here you go: stalled labor, pitocin, artificial rupturing of membranes, epidural, two-hour pushing while numb, 3rd degree tear and episiotomy (sorry to any gentlemen reading this!). Enough said.

The first week or so after Noah's birth I was the most sleep-deprived I've ever been in my life; labor was over 24 hours, and since we first came to the hospital at 11PM, we hadn't slept since the night before, anyway. I was exhausted. Add to that the raging postpartum hormones, and...I was a basket case. Thus the quip below about holding on to my sanity. I felt totally overwhelmed, fat, tired, drained (literally and figuratively), worried about Noah's growth and my milk supply, and just plain emotional. I cried every day and worried about Post-Partum Depression.

This week has been a lot better. I feel more like myself, I was able to get to the gym, and I haven't cried every day. Ryan has been a champ the whole time--I can't imagine a father doing more than he's done. Breastfeeding is going well; Noah passed his birth weight last week and now weighs over 8 lbs 4 oz.

You know, everyone talks about pitocin being very painful. For me, it wasn't; I wasn't in terrible pain until my water was broken. I was at 4 cm and he was low. The pain almost immediately became un. bearable. Indescribable. Until then, things felt like the books said they would, and I managed the contractions well. It hurt, mind you, but it was manageable. After the ROM, it was NOT manageable and I requested an epidural. Unfortunately, the epidural wasn't turned off when I needed to push, and I couldn't feel a thing (even though the nurse was telling me I could--thanks!). After two hours of fruitless pushing--his head was visible but we just couldn't get him OUT--the doctor did what he had to do.

Man, I said I wasn't going into detail, and there I went.

But the end result is amazing and beautiful: this precious baby boy that I can hardly stand to let go of! He smiles and laughs, and it's not gas. I don't care what anyone says. I don't know what he's laughing at, exactly, but it's clear sometimes that something is amusing him.

I appreciate you guys more than I can tell you. Right now, feeling so alone and overwhelmed, reading your good wishes and comments has been such a comfort. I feel like the worst is over emotionally and am looking forward to climbing this mountain. Truly, the hardest job I've ever tackled.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Noah Has Arrived!

Noah Daniel arrived at 10:43 PM Saturday, January 20! He weighed in at 7.5 pounds and measured 20.75 inches. As you see, he's completely precious. He's already firmly established his character in the "sweet and snuggly" category. I can't believe anything can smell and look so perfect.

I have been completely exhausted this week. I just had my longest stretch of sleep in 7 days--three hours in duration. Bliss.

I'll have more to say soon. Right now I am just working on holding on to my sanity (not an easy task).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Long-Overdue Update (AKA: Yes, I am alive!)

Thanks to everyone who has written or called--you guys are the best. I really appreciate just knowing that if I dropped off the face of the earth, someone would care! I didn't intend to do that, exactly, but...anyway.

Noah Daniel is doing well, and is still in the womb! I am 38 weeks today, and Ryan and I can't wait to SEE our little man in person. As I was telling Shannon the other day, I still can't believe that I am going to have a BABY in my arms, in my house, in just a matter of days. Even though I can feel his kicks and movements inside me, it's surreal...and maybe it will be until he's here.

So--any last-minute advice for a nervous mom?

I really, REALLY appreciate any prayers for a healthy delivery. I'd like to do this without any drugs (no epidural, etc.), and am praying to that end. God is in control. I am not afraid of labor and birth. It's that whole BEING A STEWARD OVER A CHILD thing that has me flummoxed!