Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aesop's Fabled Entry: A Birth Story

It has been years since I've used this blog, but I wrote the birth stories for the boys, so I thought I should do one for my daughter as well!

The real question with a birth story is where do you start? At the very beginning would be great, but I think that would be inappropriate, so no thanks Maria von Trapp.

On Saturday, I went into hospital at 1:30 pm. My darling daughter was born at 2:55 pm. The end.

Not enough? I'll try again. (I'll bold the actual birth story, but there is a decent amount of backstory to help explain it all)

On Saturday, I gave birth to our only daughter, who is our fourth child.  All three of her brothers were born in week 37, so I assumed that she, too, would be born in week 37.  All through the pregnancy, I focused on 37 as the week when all would be revealed.  I had all things ready by the start of week 37, except for one and it was stressing me out a little bit.  Our second son's birthday party was scheduled for 37+2.  Based on the fact that I made it through a wedding having contractions three minutes apart whilst labouring with our third son, I kind of figured that I could make it through the party even if I was in pain.

The party came, the party went.  Even with all the frantic getting ready and the release and relax of being done, there was no baby.  Not a problem, plenty of time still in the 37th week.

Except, there kind of was a problem.  I had gestational diabetes this pregnancy, as I had with my 3rd.  The main difference was that now living in Victoria, I noticed that they approached the subject of gestational diabetes differently.  Here I was under much higher surveillance.  The extra appointments were wearing, as they took time and energy I didn't really want to spare.  Home schooling and growing a person felt like enough to be focused on.

When they called for an extra ultrasound toward the end of the pregnancy to find out if baby was overlarge (which can easily happen with gestational diabetes), I agreed willingly if a bit grumpily.  I wasn't measuring large and my sons weren't huge, so I thought this child would be no different.  And the ultrasound backed me up. So the next time I went in, they asked me to get another ultrasound, this time to make sure the baby was growing big enough. I flatly refused.  I had already had four ultrasounds, one of which no one could explain to me why it had been ordered or what its purpose was.  They wanted baby not to be giant. Baby was not giant. Baby was growing and that was good enough for me.

It wasn't enough for them, though.  See, this beautiful child had an interesting way of hanging out in my womb.  She curled around to the right side. Her feet would kick at my side.  You could see it. She was obviously over there.  Unfortunately, this made my measurements a bit iffy. When you are 36 weeks and you get 32-33 cm, health care professionals get all edgy, even though you can state that your child moves almost constantly and hey did you see those feet poking out over there?  They called for another ultrasound which I reluctantly booked in for week 38 (whatevs, it'll all be done by then, right?)

Every time I went into get checked, people would start up with the "your baby is too small" thing which would stress me out, though I'd calm myself down and remind myself that she'd been growing fine and was active. Her cord had plenty of blood going through it. She was fine. It got to the point, however, where my blood pressure would go up when I was at clinic. They then had new things to stress about, GD and (slightly) high blood pressure! (My blood pressure was normal when checked at the regular doc and no protein was leaving me, so she was fine).

So there I was, in the 37th week, hoping that any day would be baby's day and I could cancel all the upcoming appointments. It seemed as though my plans would be fulfilled. Through the party and the days before I had plenty of Braxton Hicks. Honestly, I'd been having Braxton Hicks for months, but now they were coming every afternoon and lasting until the evening.

I spent the Sunday afternoon cleaning walls and other crazy things and was rewarded with a painful Sunday night. But the contractions stopped in bed that night.

Every day I had Braxton Hicks. Every day they'd get fiercer as I did things and back off in the evening. One day, after a long walk with my sons, they got very fierce indeed. It was go time.

No.

I started calling baby "Aesop" as it was like the boy crying wolf all over the place.  I'd alerted the friend who was to watch the boys one time when it got painful, and then felt like an idiot when I called off the alarm that evening.  The Braxton Hicks started coming when I got up in the morning and would go only when I was lying in bed in the evening. I was tired, mildly pained, stressed and grumpy.  Ever grumpy.  I got sobby one day, believing baby would never come out. I'd try to help the contractions become real by getting work done, but it just made stronger Braxton Hicks.  I couldn't even get out of my ultrasound!

The Saturday of my 38th week came.  A young uncle of mine died unexpectedly.  The pain of it, the distance that I could not cross to get there and be with my family burned.  My grief for my 52 year old uncle who had always been full of joy seared my soul and the Braxton Hicks came on again.  I thought the shock had sent me into full labour.  It was a hard day, but my grief was not assuaged by birth.  My husband loved me.  My sons hugged me, but still I sank in grief and frustration.

On Monday, the ultrasound tech was nice and explained that the doctors around here tend to be cautious.  It's not a bad thing, I suppose, to be cautious, but man oh man it was difficult to live through.  Baby was still growing.  All was well.  I went to see the doc that aft and he was nervous.  Blood pressure high! Baby not a giant! Did I want baby out that day?

No, no I did not.

I was allowed a reprieve of three days. On the third day, I went back.  I was checked to see if all the weeks (months) of Braxton Hicks had done anything.  Nothing.  I left with tears streaming down my cheeks, feeling broken and scared.  All of the fear was eating at me and though I daily tried to give it back to my heavenly Father, I didn't know what was happening. The boys had come without help.  The boys had come before I had expected them.  Here I was at 39 weeks, feeling like I was 42 (as I'd perceived full term for myself at 37, so felt overdue though I wasn't).  Here nothing I did made the baby come.  Ahead of me was uncertainty and fear.  I was to be induced the next day.

All the Friday passed in a bemused fuddle. My uncle was being buried. I was not there. I did not know what induction would do, but I heard it was painful.  The fear of the unknown played with my fear of failure to grow baby properly. I went through my day and hoped it would just start.  Baby would just come.  I played soccer with my young son for the first time in weeks, hoping the running and jostling might do something.

At 4 that afternoon we went in, I tired from weeks of bad sleep (Braxton Hicks may not eventuate to anything but they can be darn painful and they had gotten painful on the Thursday and stayed painful), but resolved to be induced, pleased that the day had come to finally meet our child. The days of crying wolf had passed.

Or had they? My exam showed that I was 3 cm. Come back in the morning unless it starts up.  We picked up dinner on the way home, not having anything prepared (the boys were having takeaway as we thought it was a special day). The whole evening was full contractions, even as the day had been. They were intense. They were close.  I sat down in the evening to see if they would continue.  They slowed to three times an hour, though they were still jaw jarring in intensity. 

The night passed slowly. I slept between contractions and waited for them to speed up.  They didn't.  My dreams were odd and would end strangely.  Like, I'm at a lake with someone from uni and we're going to go canoeing - just wait I need to have a contraction -- and I would wake up having a contraction.  I tried to be silent so Adrian could rest.

We went in on Saturday morning at 7 as we were instructed. They listened to baby again and sent us on our way - an emergency had come in and there were three other women labouring.  Maybe they'd call later, maybe the next day.  The contractions stayed strong, but not regular or close enough, so I gritted my teeth and went on with life.  

They called again around lunch time.  We'd gone to a parking lot fair very briefly to check it out and I'd wandered around trying to ignore contractions while the boys enjoyed the things they saw.  When the hospital called, we were getting ready to leave anyway.  I said I'd be in after I'd eaten.  We got to the hospital at 1:30 pm.

I was 6-7 cm, though my contractions were not regular. They broke my waters at 1:45.  The midwife set out to get an IV in my hand. With the complications of blood pressure and GD they wanted it set up in case it was needed. She blew the vein in my left hand and then my right hand.  I didn't care as the pin in my hand was much less than the contractions I was having. Fun trying to sit still for a needle whilst contracting.

She gave up.  The doctor came in to put the IV in my arm. The midwife moved on to feeling baby's position in the womb.  Adrian was doing his best to relax me and started to massage my feet. It all struck me as funny and I made a joke about it being the worst day spa ever. I'm always making jokes when I'm in labour.  Because I'm a crazy person. With the needle in, I got up to dance with Adrian as I enjoyed the music.  Upon standing I had contraction on contraction.  Adrian was amazing as he always is, talking me through all of the contractions.  Then I felt the pressure.

But it was too soon.  I hadn't been at the hospital long enough.  It couldn't be time.  I was up on my knees on the bed.  I had to push.  I  pushed.  It was happening, that bone breaking pain. I bore down through a couple pushes for her head and it was out. One more for her body.  We were just so excited that our baby finally had come.  The midwife checked baby out.

"Is it a girl or a boy?" said Adrian. "Check for yourself," said the midwife. 

A girl. I scooped her off the bed.  They undressed me and urged me to turn and sit.  I couldn't be bothered. I had my little joy in my arms.  The pains of the weeks melted away and bliss came in the form of a squalling little girl.  They convinced me to turn, easier to deal with the fourth stage then.  I went back to silly jokes, not able to believe it was done, that she was there, that she was a she having been sure it would be a fourth boy.  My legs still shook through the day hadn't been as long as I'd thought it would.  We'd only been in hospital for an hour and a half.

And that's the story.  The girl who cried wolf now cried in my arms, now comforted in my arms, now warming my heart.

The end.

(Oh and the midwives and doctor that day were great, though the doc did comment on my Canadian accent and how I said "about" while she stitched me up)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sara

My friend Sara went home to Jesus today.

She had a terrible disease.  She was 32.  She went peacefully and for that, I give thanks.

Death is a terrible thing, and not a friend.  We need Jesus.  He has prepared a place for us in heaven.  He has destroyed the enemy death.  He has taken Sara home.  Away from the terrible pain, the terrible frozen disease that immobilized her.

I miss her.

I've missed her for a long time, as I haven't seen her in a few years.  It was hard when she got sick, being so far away.  I wanted to be there for her.  To help in some way.

Thoughts and prayers are good, but it's nice to give hugs too.

She was a funny, fantastic person who I spent ridiculous, random adventures with drinking pots of tea, driving the prairies, growing up.  She was thoughtful, caring, generous, clever and she loved serving and helping people.  She was good at what she did: caring for people.  I know many people will miss her.  As I think of all of those years where she was a major part of everyday, I weep.  She was like a sister and I'm so glad to have known her.

Goodbye, Sara.  One day we will meet where there is no death and no crying.


The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The long long long way back

As you might know, we moved recently and our delightful little family had the fun of moving across Australia.  Well, 3000 km across it, anyway.

Because we moved around the time of Anzac Day, the movers packed up our things on the Wednesday and loaded them on the Thursday.  We were leaving on the Monday following.  I can hear you thinking that one through.  Did we camp with three youngens?  Are we experienced in the way of the air mattress?  That had been our intention, but a wonderful family from the church offered us their place in town (often farmers have a small apartment in town because the drive is long!), and so we moved in to that place on the Wednesday.

Tall says "new home, yay!".  No, Tall.  There is more driving yet to be done.  That whole last week was bizarre.  Adrian was still working, but we were also trying to do all the visiting we could.  3000 km is a long way and there are many people we knew we would (and currently do) miss that we wanted to catch.  We didn't manage to see them all.

Oh, how I miss that land.  I can see it in my mind's eye.

The boys were happy with the new place.  New things to explore, different toys to play with and Mommy driving them to the beach all the time...

The last days came.  We had decided not to start early on the Monday, but to leave after lunch, eating at our favourite restaurant in town.  It was a glorious, sunny, warm day and the boys and I went for a play date (wear the kids out before the long drive, no?) while Adrian ran a few last minute errands (one of those was to pick up a couple greeting cards which I finally filled out and sent two weeks ago.  Because I'm nothing if not prompt.  Waiting for a thank you card? Trust me, it's on the list).  I also got him to get me a little notebook so I could write things like fuel prices.  My mother does it.  His mother does it.  I was suddenly consumed with a need to do it.  Perhaps I will knit soon, too.

We went about 400 km the first day.  The way across the bottom of Australia is long and fairly straight.  If you look at the map, it looks like there are a decent amount of towns spread across, but when you actually get to these places, they are a roadhouse and servo.  Often with a motel component.  That's it.  I was nervous about driving into the middle of nowhere with three small boys and we thought easy days was the way of it.  Also, we'd heard okay things about that roadhouse (I'd heard much about most of them having mice and cockroaches).  We pulled up for the day before the sun set, had dinner and settled into the room.  The boys went to sleep well and Adrian and I tried to plan for the next day.  We crouched on the floor of the room, peering at the map by the light of the bathroom.  The trip had gone okay and the short days weren't seeming as necessary.  That, and I wanted to see a whale.  Four and half years beside the ocean and I hadn't seen a whale.  There was a place at the head of the bight where at certain times of the year they guarantee you to see whales.  We were a few days off that time of the year, but we thought we'd try.

This, however, gave us a problem.  If we stopped where we'd been planning, we'd have to wait until 8:30 in the morning to get moving.  That seemed like a lot of wasted time.  I started looking up reviews online about the roadhouses near there.  Not good.  We looked at the map.  We looked at each other.  We decided to get up at 4, put the kids in the car, hope they stayed asleep so we knock off some of the journey.

We hopped into bed very early (for us, so probably super early for you) and lay in the dark listening to the boys sleep, while we whispered and giggled like ninnies at sleep-away camp.  Who can sleep that early?

The morning came, as mornings do, and though I had listened VERY carefully, I heard no mice and saw no cockroaches.  We loaded the car in record time, put the boys and as Adrian said, should we check the room, I said no.  We'd be fine.  Had only brought in minimal luggage.

The boys woke up in the cold morning air.  We blasted the heat and drove away while Tall said from the backseat "Going to X-----, new home?"

200 km later when we sat down to breakfast (please, let me never not see a bacon and egg sandwich for a long while, the trip was full of them), I realized something that we had left behind.  Two safety rails for beds.  400 km trip to get them? Not so much.

The day went well.  We sang, read books, played with toys, explored a bit.  We caught glimpses of the ocean (this rested my soul), looked at cliffs, looked at signs, counted eagles (we saw: a lot.  What? My blue book is somewhere over there.) We paid for gas at $2/L.  We opened presents (special for the boys) and ate bickies (gifts from our old congregation).  Baby pooped explosively in his seat early in the day.  I cleaned it up as much as I could and then had to sacrifice a blanket to it.  There was nothing else to be done until I could get to a washing machine.  We ate sangas and drank terrible coffee (seriously terrible coffee.  Were I to do the trip again, I would make sure to pack the french press.  Adrian said we should, I thought it would be a bother.  He is a brilliant, brilliant man.)  We got to the whale place within half an hour of it closing.

It was a lovely, beautiful walk outside the car.  The ocean was spectacular, even if the sand was the wrong colour.  There was only one thing it lacked.

Whales.

Anyway, we drove on and by the end of the day we had three boys who wanted out of the car now and two parents who wanted to eat something and not be sitting anymore. This is why we ended up sleeping at a pub.  Because at 980 km and a 14 hour day, we were done.  But still, no mice or cockroaches.  And cheap as.

The next day was a good time.  We were back to not pushing it as we neared civilization.  We had about a two hour break at Wudinna, which is a great place for a stop.  Good coffee, good egg and bacon sandwiches, and AWESOME playpark.  The jumping pillow!  The random stranger who grew up Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism as her husband was Catholic, but who still knew lots of people Adrian did.

Seriously, the man knows everyone in Australia.

We stopped early that night so the boys could play before dinner.  They were okay with that.  You would think after the third day in the car, they'd be busting to be out of the car, right?  Okay, so when we went to have a break at one point in the afternoon, the two big boys threw a collective huge tantrum as they didn't want out of the car.  It was one of the funniest situations of all time.  "No play with ball, stay car!"  But we all got happy again.

The drive to the Barossa was lovely, the winding hills and roads that curved a nice change from the flat outback.  The outback is very cool, but it was nice for a change.  We spent a couple of night with good friends in the Barossa, played in Adelaide, went to the zoo on a cold and wet and windy day, saw planes and basically ran around like crazy people.

Then we went to Adrian's folks's place for a visit, where, for the first time on the trip, we had no cell phone reception.

We came to the new town a few days later and waited for our furniture to arrive.  As we waited, we got to know the town.  We played a bit.  We experienced frost.  It was great.

And here we are.  Settled (mostly) into the new home.  We pushed really hard at unpacking for awhile and then the last couple of boxes took a long time.  There are still a few things waiting for homes, but soon, soon, soon, I'm sure it will all go away.

The frosts in the morning are great.  Going from a land that was in drought to a land where the grass did not dry for a month (no exaggeration) was unusual.  I miss the ocean, though we have managed to visit it a bit.

So that's how we made it home.  Though for the first month, Tall kept asking when we'd get there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Running Commentary

Say what?
Mom:  Tomorrow we're going to go on an adventure!
Tall: Tall go on adventure? And Small?
Mom:  And Baby and Mom and Dad.
Tall: And chairs.
Mom: And chairs?  You'd need a lot of packhorses.
Tall: Pack horses? Yay!

Wherein there was spaetzle in the chicken noodle soup.
Dad:  Wow, this spaetzle really soaked up the moisture.
Mom:  It's like a camel.
Dad: Camels' humps are actually full of spaetzle.
Mom: Camels were invented in Germany?

Colloquially speaking
Mom: The spoon's in the curry.  That's sounds like a phrase, doesn't it?
Dad: What?
Mom: You know. [Affects broad Australian accent].  The spoon's in the curry; it's off the table, mate.
[Speaks normally] That sounded like an Australian phrase, right?
Dad: So Australian that I couldn't understand what you were saying.
Mom: No, no.  The spoon's in the curry: it's off the table.
Dad: That just sounds like you're describing an event.

Dinner Manners
Dad: [Sternly] It's dinner time.  You should be sitting in your chairs eating or you should be dancing!

Poops-a-doozy
Mom:  [Upon discovering a nappy rash]. You really need to tell me when you poop so this doesn't happen.
Small: [Toots in Mom's face without nappy on] Poop!

A Miracle?
Dad:  [During evening devotions] His legs weren't working and Jesus made his legs better so he could run.
Mom: Where's he going? [Referring to a picture where the man was running]
Tall:  To watch TV!

Imaginarium
Small: [Spies a ute canopy on the ground]. Quack, quack, quack! [Like, crazily excited]
Mom:  Do you think ducks live in there?

Who needs school?
Tall:  Tigers live down in the trees.
Mom: They do? In the trees in the jungle.  What do they eat?
Tall: Tigers eat rocks.

Tall: Tall is a farmer.  Makes cows out of horses.
Mom: What?
Tall: Makes cows out of sheep.
Mom:  How?

Mom: What do crocodiles eat?
Tall: Bugs
Mom:  Crocodiles eat fish and...
[Tall's eyes bug out.  He runs into the kitchen to look at the fish tank]
Mom: Not your fish!

Say it again, Sam
Dad:  And this story is about Jesus.  Can you say "Jesus", Small?
Small: [nods]
...
Dad:  And they were on the water.  Can you say "water", Small?
Small: [nods]

A long time ago when we were working on word clarity.
Mom:  Say "water".
Tall: Wagain
Dad: "WaTER"
Tall: Water
...
Tall: Train-car
Mom: Train track.
Tall: Water!

It's been a long time since I'd posted and I have too many things to say and no idea how to start, so I thought you should just get to hear some of what goes on here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fare thee well


Today is Adrian’s last day of work here.  Tomorrow we leave and start our 3000 km journey to our new home.

I don’t want to go, but I know we have to.  We are called to move.  While we deliberated the call, it was easy to see how God was calling us onward, yet when we said yes, it suddenly became a much bigger deal.

Though I have moved 9 times in my life (4 of which were large, either across Canada or to Australia), I find this place harder to leave.  It has become my home.  Maybe it’s because we started our marriage here, or because our three sons were born here.  Maybe it’s the stage of life.  Maybe it’s the beauty of this place or the people who live here.  Maybe it’s the memories that crowded the empty house we cleaned yesterday.

All I know is that it is time to say goodbye, or rather “farewell”.

Fare well, my beautiful town with your lovely, pristine beaches. Fare well, first house of our marriage – the place where our children grew, where I painted a tree on the wall, where we played and danced and sang, cooked and cleaned and worked.  Fare well to the place that was sometimes unbearable for me – the distance away from nearly everything like when I couldn’t even contemplate going to my grandmother’s funeral.  Fare well to silly poetic thoughts of the glorious and terrifying ocean.  Fare well to friends met and made by all of us.  Fare well to two lovely congregations who have cared for us and challenged us.  Fare well to some of the best coffee.  Fare well to shops where the keepers know me (and the children) by sight and ask after them if they are not with me.  Fare well to windy days and middle of the night towel banks by the front windows in rough rain. 

Fare well to long drives north and west.  Roads known so well, filled with conversations and silly things.  Fare well to walks in the bush and on the beach, around the neighbourhood and over rocks.  Fare well familiar sights and smells.   Farewell lovely people whom I will miss.  Fare well habits and schedules, birds and trees.

Fare well to dreams unfinished, hopes unrealized and plans undone.

I love you, my little house of dreams; goodbye. May God bless this place and these wonderful congregations that made this place home.  We pray God will bless you with a faithful pastor.


Hello to the future, to not knowing what’s around the corner but going boldly where God has called us.  With our home in our hearts (and future vacation plans) we go forward to new dreams, new hopes, new plans. 

Farewell.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Today has been a very difficult day for me.  From a mishap before the grocery store this morning and large frustration afterward to little boys acting up in church and being rough so that they were disruptive through service this morning to spew in my hair, it's just been a full on, hard day.  As I sat in church with my head in my hands, wondering if all this congregation will remember of me is this moment where I feel like the most useless parent, a new thought strikes me.

No matter how hard this day gets for me, it is Good Friday.

The Good is mine.  The Good is done.  The Good was because this was Jesus' worst day ever.  As I sit with the weight of three little boys wrestling in my lap on and off, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Have you ever had a sin weigh on you?  You know you did something wrong and you can feel that weight pressing you down?  Jesus had that sin on him.  All of the sins of all eternity, of every person, he took on all the guilt, the shame, the wretchedness, the pain and suffering of all and he broke it.

He died and took to death all of that sin.  He was crushed for our iniquities.  By his stripes we are healed.  It is finished.  He has died for the sins of the world.  The sins of a world that does not acknowledge him, a world that constantly mocks him - he even bore that sin.

And he did it uncomplainingly.  He did it because he is love.

And you know what else? He is risen.

As I tucked my boys into bed at nap, my anger and frustration were gone.  Jesus' love and sacrifice has healed my soul, not through any deserving of mine, but because of love.

Let us love one another.  Not be tolerant or stupid, but actually love.  Care for, build up, encourage each other to go the right way.  Not the way of the world, but the way of our Saviour.  Trusting in his mercy, holding fast to his promise to never leave us or forsake us, clinging to the cross.

Come Lord Jesus, come into this weary world.  Oh, how we long for you to come, Lord, come.

Themes taken from Isaiah 53, 1 John 3 and a song by Robin Mann.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Song

Jesus, I Will Ponder Now
--Sigismund von Birken


Jesus, I will ponder now on your holy Passion; with your Spirit me endow for such meditation.  Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish of your suffering, pain, and death that I may not perish.

Make me see your great distress, anguish, and affliction, bonds and stripes and wretchedness and your crucifixion; make me see how scourge and rod, pear and nails did wound you, how you died for those, O God, who with thorns had crowned you.

Yet, O Lord, not thus alone make me see your Passion; but its cause to me make known and its termination.  For I also and my sin brought your deep affliction; this the shameful cause has been of your crucifixion.

If my sins give me alarm and my conscience grieve me, let your cross my fear disarm, peace and pardon give me.  Grant that I may trust in you and your holy Passion; if his Son forgives anew, God must have compassion.

Jesus, Lord, my heart renew, let me bear my crosses, learning humbleness from you, peace despite my losses.  May I give you love for love!  Hear me, O my Savior, that I may in heaven above sing your praise forever.


Tune: Jesu Kreuz, Leiden Und Pein (Melchior Vulpius)
1st Published in: 1646