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Archive for November, 2008

thankful1My best friend’s grandma passed away two days ago.  So my thoughts are with her and her family today as they both prepare for a funeral and celebrate Thanksgiving, which I’m sure includes being thankful for Grandma’s life and all she meant to them.  It’s been a rough year for them, and my prayers are with them today.  And I’m thankful they’re in my life.

Thanksgiving Day always brings back strong memories of my grandma whom I lovingly called Nanny.  She unexpectedly passed away on Thanksgiving Day of 1996.  Nanny meant so much to me and my life; she was MUCH more than a wonderful grandmother.  Nanny is a huge part of the reason I’m a Christian.  In the early years, when I lived with one or the other of my parents, she would call the Nazarene church in whatever town I lived in and ask them to come pick my brother and I up for church every Sunday, and they did.  Later, when I moved into her house, she took me herself, every Sunday and Wednesday.  She read the Bible to me and sang beautiful hymns to me.  I would get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and find her reading her Bible and praying under the light of the vent-a-hood over the stove.  I owe my relationship with God in part to Nanny.

Nanny dedicated her life to raising not only her kids, but her grandkids as well.  She gave up A LOT for all of us, and I am so honored and thankful that she was my Nanny.  Two of my children are named in part after her.  And I draw much of my strength from my memories of her.  She was a strong, selfless woman; I aspire to be like her.

I think of Nanny more on Thanksgiving Day not only because she passed away on this day but also because she made Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners so memorable.  We were very poor, but somehow we feasted on those days.  She spent countless hours in the kitchen, as many mothers and grandmothers do on this day, making everyone’s favorites.  She did it gladly and without complaint.  She let me help with the fruit salad each year.  That’s why, to this day, I make fruit salad for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.  It reminds me of her; not to mention it tastes so good.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I thank God for my Nanny and remember her so fondly.  And when I eat my fruit salad later today, I will think to myself, “Here’s to you, Nanny.”

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The Help

Two days before Sissy was born, my 17 year-old niece moved in with us very unexpectedly, like with 2 hours notice.  It was definitely not the best timing for us or our immediate family, but emergencies never are.  We took her in and did everything we could think of to make her feel like part of the family.  We moved our office into our bedroom so she could have her own bedroom.  We scurried to get her enrolled in our local high school since it started the following week (yes, I was up doing this 24 hours after giving birth!).  We kept in contact with her teachers to make sure she was doing well in her classes and even attended her open house.  We took her to dentist and eye doctor appointments.  We made innumerable phone calls and filled out several applications to make sure she had proper healthcare coverage.  We took her to her grandma’s house on Tuesdays so she could spend time with her.  We invited her to every family activity we did while she lived with us.  We set a few ground rules when necessary, but, for the most part, tried to respect the fact that she had done pretty well for herself the last seventeen years and didn’t need micro-managing.  We tried our hardest to tell her daily and show her daily that we loved her.

However, no matter what we said or did, it never seemed to make a difference to her.  When she came home from school, she would either lock herself in her room, sit in front of the computer or go next door to the neighbor’s house.  Our questions about her day were met with grunts (sometimes literally) and almost unintelligible, mono-syllabic answers.  Whenever the occasion arose that she had to sit and talk with us, she would simply tell us what she thought we wanted to hear in order to get away as quickly as possible.  But when she needed something from us, she was always right there willing to talk in order to not seem rude by asking for what she wanted.

Before she moved out last month (against our wishes for her well-being), Shmoopy and I discussed her poor attitude toward us and her seeming ingratitude.  I realize she’s a teenager, and that’s how many teenagers are; I just didn’t appreciate it because I wasn’t that way as a teenager (as a matter of fact, I think I talked my Nanny’s ear off).  In our discussion, one of us made the comment that “she treats us like we’re the help.”  She spoke to us when she felt it necessary and ignored us when she didn’t.  Sometimes she made us feel like strangers in our own house.

Since that conversation, I have felt extremely convicted by the Holy Spirit.  As I examine my daily routine, I think that God could easily say about me, “she treats Me like I’m the help.”  I talk to God throughout each day, and read my Bible almost everyday.  However, especially since I had children, I rarely take the time to just sit down and listen to what He would like to say to me.  I have been treating Him like a stranger in His own house (my heart).  Starting this week, I am taking steps to change this.  I am going to try each day not just to tell Him “please” and “thank you”, but to sit and listen to what He has to say to me.  I am going to spend less time watching mindless television and listening to the radio so that I can hear Him.  I am going to stop treating Him like the help and start treating Him like my Father, my Savior and my Friend.  I think I deserved as much respect from my niece, but I’m quite certain that He deserves it from me!

PS – For more background on our experiences on having our niece live with us, check out Shmoopy’s blogs about her, her open house, and a creepy story.

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Nicknames

Okay.  I noticed while writing my first blog that it became quite tedious to type “my husband” over and over again.  I don’t want to use our real names because, let’s face it, there are some sickos (and psychos) out there.  So, following the lead of one of my friends, I am going to assign nicknames to my family members.  All future posts will refer to them by these names.  Here they are:

Shmoopy = my husband (watch Seinfeld)

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Boss = big brother (he thinks he is The Boss)

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Bubba = little brother (face it, he looks like a Bubba)

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Sissy = little sister (the youngest)

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Hope this helps!

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0808-0421This, my first post, is for the benefit of my husband’s blog followers.  He once promised them that I would post the birth story of my third child; so here it is.

My boys were born in a traditional hospital.  When I think back to both births, I have regrets.  For reasons my husband can’t understand, I wanted to give birth to all of my babies naturally, without medical intervention (no pain medication, episiotomy, etc…).  However, due to various circumstances, one of which was lack of support from the hospital staff, I ended up with epidurals for the deliveries of both of our boys.  So when we decided to try for a third child, I told my husband we were going to use a midwife at a birthing center because I felt I would get more support for a natural birth there.  He agreed that we could go to Allen Birthing Center (ABC) since it was across the highway from a major hospital in case anything went wrong (he put his foot down against a home birth).

The midwives and support staff at ABC were so helpful throughout my third pregnancy, which seemed full of little twists and turns; but that’s a story for a different post.

Around 2:30 am on August 19, 2008, I felt my first contraction…two days before the due date but 7 days longer than I had ever been pregnant.  I was excited and ready to have this baby.  The next contraction was 9 minutes later.  The next was 30 minutes later, and so it continued through the night.  I just attempted, successfully for the most part, to sleep through the contractions and didn’t wake my husband.  When he got up at 7:00 am, my dear hubby asked how I was feeling as he often does, and I told him that I had been having mild contractions throughout the night.

We went back and forth trying to decide whether or not he should go to work and finally decided against it.  Other than that, we got up and began our day as if nothing were new.  I took a shower, which is always the first thing I do when I’m in labor, while my husband drove the boys to his parents house; it just happened to be their normal day to spend with Nanny & Poppa.  When he returned, he had a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me!

At 10:00 am, the thought occurred to me that I had a sonogram scheduled for later that afternoon, and I didn’t know if I should go to it or not since I was having contractions.  They were still very sporadic at this point, never any closer than 9 minutes apart.  So I called ABC to ask the midwife on duty (there are 3) what I should do.  Amy, the midwife on duty, said that she wanted me to come in around noon so she could check me, and then we would make a decision.  Very soon after that phone call, the contractions became regular at 4 minutes apart and began to strengthen.

My husband drove me to ABC at 11:45 am; I sat sprawled on my knees in the back of the minivan trying to let gravity work it’s magic.  When Amy checked me, she said I was dilated to a 4 and was definitely going to have the baby today.  She canceled my sonogram for me and told me to go somewhere and eat because I would need my energy.  You’ll never hear that from a hospital!

I knew I needed to eat, but I was not in the mood!  My husband insisted, so I asked him to get me a plain roast beef sandwich from Arby’s.  We went home, and I ate half of the sandwich and gave up.  The contractions were very intense and un-ignorable at that point.  I sat on the gliding ottoman next to my bed and rocked.  Once the contractions reached a point of intensity that I required my husband to rub my lower back to get me through them, I decided it was time to go back to ABC.

We arrived there about 1:00 pm.  We made our way upstairs to the birthing room of our choice.  (ABC is housed in an old 2-story victorian house with 2 birthing rooms that are set up differently.)  I don’t remember many details at this point because I was just trying to rest and let my body do what it had to do.  I remember that my favorite music was playing softly, the scent of orange-cinnamon was wafting from the oil burner my husband bought me when our second son was born, the lights were dim and everyone seemed calm.  It was nice.  Between contractions, I just lay on the immensely comfortable king-sized bed and rested.  During contractions, I breathed quietly through them while my dear husband vigorously rubbed my lower back.  I had no concept of time; I was trying to block everything out.  I think I may have actually fallen asleep between contractions even though they were only 2-3 minutes apart at that point.  I do remember that during contractions I was hot and sweating profusely, but in between them, I was cold.  At some point, my mom, who was present at both of my boys’ births, showed up.

Eventually, I had a doozy of a contraction that made me shake uncontrollably, at which point I decided to try the birthing tub.  I wasn’t sure if it would be helpful or not, but I just wanted something different.  When I sat in that warm water…ah relief!  It felt so good.  Don’t get me wrong, the contractions were still very intense, but the warm water seemed to take a little bit of the edge off.

Each contraction at this point was making me shake immensely, but I was still very quiet, internalizing the pain.  After a few more contractions, Amy suggested to my husband that he get in the water with me.  Once he did, she quietly suggested that I lay back in his arms and let her check me.  She did, and I was dilated to a 7.  I gotta tell ya, that was disappointing!  I thought to myself, “that’s a few more hours of this.  I don’t know if I can do it.”  Then I remembered the words of my water aerobics instructor, Linda, “Never say ‘I can’t’.”  Amy must have seen the disappointment on my face because she then said to my husband, “That’s okay.  She could go from a 7 to a 10 in the next contraction.”  And I thought, “yea, right.”

Right about that time, I had another earth-shattering contraction.  When it started, Amy said, “Just do what your body tells you to do.”  Well, my body was telling me it was going to push whether I wanted to or not, so I went along with it…as if I had a choice.  I pushed once and my baby girl’s head just popped out!  I didn’t even feel it!  The next contraction came immediately and Amy told me to wait a second because the cord was very loosely around the baby’s neck.  But I was no longer in control of my body, and I pushed.  Upon the second push, my baby was born at 3:58 pm.  Amy laid her on my chest and covered her with a towel to keep her warm.

My husband cried, I think partly because it happened so quickly and partly because it was a daughter.  He didn’t cry when either of the boys were born.  I just laid there relieved that my body no longer felt like it was being ripped apart from the inside.  Amy waited until the cord stopped pulsing and let my husband cut it.  After that, they moved me and our beautiful, quietly-contemplative daughter to the bed and pampered us.0808-0024

After 3 hours of pampering, we were allowed to go home.  It was the most wonderful birthing experience we’ve had.  I felt so wonderful and empowered.  This is not to say that women who don’t have natural births should in any way feel bad; they shouldn’t.  This is just something that I had wanted for SO long, and I had finally achieved that goal and had proven some things to myself in the process.  It was also a reminder of what a great team my husband and I are.  Amy kept saying that over and over.  Sometimes I forget that not all husbands are as supportive and involved as mine is.  I am so…beyond blessed!

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