Wednesday, November 19, 2014


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.


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!

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!

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. 


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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I've tried to start this post about 10 times and every start just isn't right.  Too pithy or silly or whatever.

I was asked to promote this site on my blog.  Please check it out.  Sure, the official week has passed but we all need to be made aware of things in life.  Be careful.  And help get rid of dangerous things.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hospital Visit

Like Fleming McWilliams and David Bowie before me, I find that I am afraid of many things.  Not Americans so much (although I wouldn't want to run into Scarlett O'Hara in a dark alley. She be crazy.
), perhaps, but a lot of little things. Driving on ice.  Snakes.  Singing in public.  Singing in public while driving with a snake on ice.

What really scares me though, is not being able to help my boys.   A few weeks ago now, when Baby was just three weeks, the dreaded gastro bug that has been circling the town (nay, the world it seems) hit the boys.  We caught vomit, both with our clothes and our hands.  Baby somehow got it too.  One day he vomited so often that I had to change my clothes more than ten times and Adrian at least four.  We took him into the hospital as he had gotten jaundiced too.

I hated being at the hospital.  I have great respect for (most) doctors and nurses.  I am impressed by that which they have to contend.  They checked out my boy.  Thoroughly.  They watched as he vomited on me again and again (on special occasion, he managed to vomit across the room and into my open handbag).  They brought him blankets and towels to be rugged up in to get away from the vomit.  They ordered tests and admitted us.

It is a bizarre experience to be admitted into a hospital as a companion. There was nothing wrong with me and yet I was in a hospital.  My boy was that sick.  And I couldn't fix him.  Neither, it seemed, could they.

That's when it got scarier.  They took obs. they checked his blood sugar. He screamed whenever he got hit with a needle. He screamed in general really.  Definitely if I put him down or someone else held him.  When I'd run off to have a shower, I could hear him scream from down the hall and tried to hurry back as quick as I could.  I could not stand to see him in distress.  Heck, I was in distress.  I wanted to be home, especially after a night of less than two hours sleep holding my sad, sick, loud baby.  Home would mean he was getting better. Yet, the spew kept coming.  I gave up changing until I was entirely covered. They came to take blood and had to stab him four times to get it.   I was ready to punch everyone in the face and run off with him, even as I knew that they were doing their best to help him.

We had to stay a second night. I cried.  It meant my family was still split apart (and yes, only for a couple nights), but because of terrible sickness and unknown.  They would not let him go because he was not stable. Not stable? Were his obs. not fine every time they checked him? How was he not stable?

Babies are fragile.  We all know not to shake them and to support their tiny necks, but I've always been impressed with the strength of newborns.  Birth is not the most gentle of times.  Babies, I thought, were highly resilient.  Babies, it seems, can go downhill incredibly quickly when they are sick and he needed to stay.

I cried.

I cried so much in those days.  I cried when he cried out of pain in his belly.  I cried when they took his blood.  I cried when they told me they had to take more blood later that day.  I cried when they took it.  I cried when my boys visited and asked me to come home with them.  I cried when Tall told me he loved me.  I cried when he had blood three days later and five days later at his ultrasound when he wailed (at that age, the vomiting could mean a problem with his digestive system and needed to be checked out).

The boys visited a few times in those couple days, but even though they enjoyed the toys in the paeds. department, they were a bit too active for the ward.  I missed them.  I ached for Baby.  I longed for the comfort of being with Adrian.  I read the Word for strength.  I worried and prayed and fed and fed and fed and prayed it would stay down.

Those days are past now.  Baby is fine now, praise God.  He still vomits occasionally, in the way that babies do.  He is content and healthy according to all tests.

It was a scary time and it was short.  My heart goes out to all of those families for whom hospital visits are long and prognoses not good.  I know some of you are going through this and that you have pains you are suffering: you are in our prayers.  May God our Father grant you comfort and healing and may you ever trust in the gifts He has given through His Son - life everlasting and forgiveness bought through His own suffering and loss.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Third Time's the Charm

Welcome to the birth story of my third son! Upon careful reflection, I cannot determine how much of this story to share, so it shall be presented in two forms:brief/succinct and too much information.  Wait, you say, shouldn't a birth story start with labour and end with birth? To that I say, probably, but I can't help myself..


The Birth Story
On a Saturday evening, my third son was born after my being at the hospital for 4 and a half hours. He is healthy and only took two pushes?! Also, he was the largest of my three sons at birth.

The End.

But it just doesn't seem like enough, does it?  So let us go back in time, back to the beginning of labour.

Thus It Begins
Our story begins on a regular Thursday afternoon. Okay, so it wasn't a regular Thursday.  It was the Thursday in my 36th week of pregnancy.  I had long been worried that I would go early with birth of my third child.  People kept telling me that I had dropped and expressing surprise of when my due date was.  Evidently, I looked a cow who needed milking.  Really, I was measuring the right number for the right number of weeks, but still all these idle comments sat on my mind, and combined with the fact that my eldest son was born at 37 weeks +4 and my second son was born at 37 weeks +2, I worried.  I tried not to worry.  I prayed about it and gave it to my heavenly Father and three minutes later tried to take it back again.  I cleaned the house and got told off for nesting too early.  I was exhausted from all that my mind wanted to get done before I had three to run after.  I had this theory that the baby wouldn't come until I'd finished off my to do list (ask many mothers about their birth story and the baby seems to come as a case of relief - "As soon as I finished [insert large task here] I felt done and whoosh, the waters, they broke".), thus I kept adding to my to do list.  I got a good deal accomplished.

Thursday (36 + 4)
Whilst sitting at my sewing machine during naptime, I realized that I was having regular tightenings.  I had been having those on and off for the past day and passed it off as Braxton-Hicks, but these had a definite constancy to them. They didn't hurt, but it was still before 37 weeks and I was nervous (also, people are always claiming that the more babies you have, the faster they come). I called my husband and after the boys woke up, we went to the hospital.  I went so that they would tell me they were Braxton-Hicks, maybe tell me to put my feet up for a few days and la-dee-da all would be fine.

Except.  They told me I was in labour. Early labour, sure, but the contractions were registering, consistant and constant.  I was advised to go home and wash the floor, which I did with alacrity. I had wanted to scrub that floor for quite sometime, but first I celebrated by thoroughly vacuuming.  It was delightful.  Sure enough, that evening I was having somewhat painful contractions 3 minutes apart.  Went to the hospital. After about an hour, they slowed down.  The midwife considered breaking my water, but said the head was "ballotable*, I was only 2-3 cm," therefore it wasn't a safe option.  Anyway, it was my third baby.  Baby would hurry themself up soon, surely, she thought.  I sent myself home to get some sleep before it started up again.  They calmed down while I slept.  Fine and dandy, I thought, false alarm.  Except. The next day I was still in labour. Constant, consistant tightenings.  Even at night, when I'd get up to use the washroom, they would be there.

I was somewhat pleased, as I was concerned for my dear husband.  Sure, we had lovely ladies from the church to come and help out when we were at the hospital, but I couldn't expect them to be there all the time from birth 'til I came home and Adrian still had to get work done.  Getting work done with the boys "helping" is sometimes interesting.  Add a computer to the mix and you've lost the day.  Fine, I thought, this baby can hold on for awhile.  Just need to get to 37 weeks! And then it's not early.  And if I can make it until my sister comes, whoo!

It was not a comfortable wait.  The contractions stayed with me, never longer than 10-15 minutes apart and softer when I slept, but always there.  They got worse when I was active.  I had two young boys to play with.  It was often uncomfortable.  The end of the day was usually worst, though some mornings would start with strong, frequent contractions.  Sitting slowed them.

Tuesday (37 + 2)
The contractions would not ease up and were three minutes apart.  I waited until the boys were asleep (just as I had the first time) and then my husband and I called lovely ladies from the church to come and sit with the boys.  I was crying in pain.  Surely, this would be over soon.  I was worn out from the constant pain.  Everyone and her sister was telling me that a days-long labour like this meant a quick birth.  Bring it on.  I wanted to meet my baby.  Sure, my sister wouldn't be around for a couple more days.  Adrian could survive with the boys.  Except.  He had a wedding on Saturday.

At the hospital, I was told that the head was still ballotable and I was 3-4 cm.  After sitting for awhile, the contractions slowed again.  I got frustrated.  And left.  And sobbed in the parking lot.  On the walk to the car.  In the car.  Huge, racking sobs of frustration, of longing to meet my child, of anxiety, of confusion - surely my body should be able to manage birth a third time.  The pain was real.  The contractions were real, but there was no result, only pain.  Only waiting.  And I was tired. Weary of patience, of wondering if this was really happening.

We took the long way home from the hospital and stopped at the ocean.  We stood in the dark and I sobbed on the wooden railing while Adrian held me and understood my frustration, my ache.  He's good at holding me.

We got home and had tea with the lovely lady in our house.  I bit back pain and ignored contractions and tried to be a pleasant host - something that I fail at on a good day.  As I crawled into bed that night, I felt oddly powerful.  Like even though I could not cause birth to happen, I was somehow able to stop it progressing.  Surely, then I would be able to hold this baby in until my sister came.  I would not go back to the hospital until my water broke, because then I would be sure that it was happening, no more second guesses.

Wednesday (37 + 3)
Loss of mucus plug.  Lots of wondering and waiting.

Friday (37 + 5)
My sister arrived.

Saturday (37 + 6)
The day was like any other.  The pain was there.  Movement made it worse and more often.  Naomi started to time me about lunch.  Only five minutes apart.  So what, I thought, I've been there before.  The wedding was scheduled for three.  I decided to sit around and not do too much.  While I got ready for the wedding, they were 3-4 minutes apart and so strong and long that I started to cling to things to remain upright.  Fine and dandy.  Weddings aren't long.  I can make it and then lie down and calm the contractions again.

It was a lovely day for an outdoor wedding.  The sun was shining and filtered through the trees in showers of brightness.  The bride was late.  The contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting about a minute-minute and a half.  Adrian invited people to sit.  I adjusted my sunglasses and hoped no one looked at my face as I stood behind the chairs and watched Naomi mind my sons.  I could not help.  I could not move.  As he got to the sermon, I had to sit.  Use my power.  Slow this madness.  I had to wait.  I collapsed on the ground.  My sons climbed on me, ran past me, went up the hill.  I closed my eyes and felt the sun bite my shoulders.  I shifted slightly to the shade.  The contractions slowed.  I was winning.

The wedding was finished and Adrian came to me.  The act of standing brought the contractions to full force once more.  I clenched my jaw and asked to leave, then said, "No, do they need you for photos?" So off he went for photos.  When they realized I was in labour, they decided to do the group photo right away.  We smiled for the photos and then got in the car.  Dropped Nao and the boys at home, got changed, burst of pained tears coming from me.  I wiped them away and hid the pain from the boys, held them close, told them I loved them and got in the car.  Got to the hospital at 4:30 pm.  I told Adrian if I wasn't at least 6 cm, I was leaving the hospital.  I was 6 cm.  I writhed in pain waiting for baby to rush out the way everyone had promised me baby would.

Baby would not be rushed.

The pain grew worse and worse, the contractions held long.  My water still had not broken.  The midwife couldn't get enough to make it break, the head pushed down so firmly.  I felt like I needed to pee a lot, but didn't really.  I must be sweating off the water I'm drinking, I thought.  I took a shower and screamed when the contractions hit.  The screaming scared me.  In my other births, I only screamed when pushing, when the pain got too hard for me.  How was this too hard for me now?  My third birth, I should be able to do this.  I gave up and asked for gas.  So I couldn't go natural, it was just gas, just like I'd had for my first two.

Through it all, Adrian held and supported me.  He talked me through the pain and gave me something to think about.  The stories that worked best were the ones about the boys, or our marriage.  Even against the wall of pain, I could hold an image of my beautiful sons and I could stand through the pain, bear through it.  I would hang on Adrian's shoulders and crouch through the pain.  It seemed to help, the bouncing up and down, like I could do something to help that baby out.  I only bit him once.  I pray a lot in labour.  Mostly prayers for mercy and help.  After the shower, I wore a hospital gown, but as I hung off the top of the raised end of the bed, it was in the way.  I apologized to the midwife.  I make a lot of jokes during labour, in between pain.  It's strange, but when the contractions aren't, the pain really goes away.  The midwife was used to me.  She had helped birth Small.

I felt the need to push.  She agreed, I was definitely at 10 cm.  The pain was unbearable though.  I needed to push, but I was unable to push.  I could not push.  I tried so hard, but it wouldn't work.  Like my foot was on the floor, but the car was still in park.  All the revs in the world wouldn't make it go.

Suddenly at 8:42 pm, my waters broke.  I felt relief.  Blessed, sweet relief.  God is merciful.  I was crouched on the bed, holding the raised bed head. I could breathe again.  The midwife called the doctor.  I needed to push. One push and his head was out.  I could feel it. Adrian said it.  Even as I was still processing that, my body needed to push again, and out came his body.  The midwife only had time to get one glove on to catch him, my perfect, beautiful, amazing son, born at 8:45 pm.

It was so odd, how quickly he came out.  With my first two, it took half and hour and then an hour of pushing to get the baby out.  It had been odd processes of bearing down when not pushing to hold the child in place and work him out.  Not this time.  Gravity helped.  God helped.  A week and half of labour helped.  I take it that as much I wanted to meet him, he wanted to meet me.  And then I had to turn around and sit down so I could hold him.  I cannot explain the moment of holding one's own child for the first time, but it is incredible. Magnificent.  It makes you feel whole, and like your heart will explode with joy.

The doctor came in.  And then the other news happened.  My placenta was stuck. The cord had torn and it was not coming out.  After giving birth with only gas, my option was to now get a spinal block and have it removed.

Being wheeled into the surgery was so bizarre.  I felt for women who have to have an emergency caesar.  The room is cold.  Everyone is there and contributing to your lack of modesty.  Time passes and you can do nothing.  And not being able to feel your legs?

The Land of Too Much Information
As a matter of procedure, they catheterised me to make sure I was empty.  I probably will be, I said, talking too much from nerves, from joy at having a new son and from fear.  I trusted the doctors and staff, but I did not want to be in the room, away from my son and husband.  I wanted to hold them still. Sure, I'd been holding Baby since he was born, but I craved him.  Labour is such an intense time and such an oddly wonderful time as my husband helps and supports me so much.  It's an intensely private time for the two of us and I cherish those moments together when I get to appreciate my other half - the one who enables me to keep going.

Even though I had peed so many times in labour, I was not empty. Far from it.  They got off 1 1/2 litres  from my bladder.  The number shocked me.  Them, as well.

They started explaining to me why birth had been so hard.  With a full bladder and full waters, Baby could not get past and manoeuver down.  Probably, they theorized, my bladder had not been emptying properly for the week of labour and that's why he couldn't progress.  Why was this?  My bladder had gotten kinked somehow.  It could have been from my body being worn out giving birth to three babies in three years.  At any rate, placenta was removed and the process of healing my bladder was it's own adventure that probably doesn't need to be discussed.  I will say this, I stayed in hospital until Monday night and it is all fixed thankyouverymuch.  (I think the closest you can come to experiencing this would be to cut the ends of an empty pop bottle, put a (large) squid in a bag full of water and affix another bag of water in the tube.  Then try to force the squid through the tube.  Fun, huh?)

My Adrian and son were waiting for me in the room.  I held them and they held me.  We had tender, delightful moments and then I sent Adrian home.  It was after 11 and he had church and three baptisms to do in the morning.

I didn't sleep much that night.  Baby made noises, and because of the GD, they needed to keep a very close eye on his sugars.  Everytime I started to fall asleep, I was woken up by a nurse or Baby or just the odd odd feeling of my legs coming back.  Like when you go to the dentist except for the freezing feeling was everywhere from my ribs down.  I got them back by 5 am.

This birth was my hardest.  It was the longest I've held a baby in (still haven't made it to 38 weeks).  But this Baby is no less loved, no less cherished.  All of my sons' births are precious memories, even if they are hellish to experience.  But I wouldn't trade my boys for anything.

*Ballotable - the most frustrating term in the universe, meaning that the mass (in this case, head) can be moved.  It is one of my least favourite words and can now cause irrational frustration in me.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How Shall I Call Him?

On Saturday last, we welcomed a new little boy into the family (this is not the birth story.  I'll post that another day).  He is a wonderful little joy to us.

There is only one problem that I can see here.  I don't know what to call him.  Don't be like that. He has a name.  Quite a good one, we think.  I'm just not sure what to call him on the internet.  Already we have Tall and Small. So Tiny?  But then, Small is not so small anymore.  What to do?

Small, Medium, Large?
Baby, Toddler, Boy?
Tall, Grande, Venti?
Monkey, Monkey, Underpants?
Sleepy, Happy and Doc?
Child 1, 2 and 3?

Any ideas are welcome.  Post them in the comment section.  If I choose your suggestion, you win a prize!  Which isn't a dirty nappy, I swear.

[We don't use their names on the internet, because we would like to give them some privacy. It's also why I don't post about everything that happens.  They may not be stories that the boys want shared with the world at large.]

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gestational Diabetes

I found out that I have gestational diabetes a couple of months ago.  I was not overwhelmingly pleased. We got the call from the doctor's office at lunchtime.  I was over it by dinner time, but that first half hour was not my finest.

To my understanding, gestational diabetes means that the placenta is killing my insulin and so more of the sugars are getting to baby who in turn would produce more insulin.  Insulin is a growth hormone, so they put strict limits on diet and whatnot so that the child does not grow too big.  The extra growth can cause early labour and other complications, should the child be allowed to stay in.  We shall not talk of those complications.

I was advised to see a dietician, a diabetes consultant and to learn as much as I could online.  The information online was good, but somewhat confusing.  I was quite pleased to see the dietician so I could get some things cleared up (and also pleased to learn that my interweb gleanings had been good and I was already following the diet).

In essence, to maintain a steady blood sugar when personal stores of insulin are not working properly, one must eat small amounts of carbohydrates regularly.   This was a bit difficult for me, as after I finished feeding Small, I attempted to give up snacks and just eat at mealtimes.  Being told to eat six times a day was a shock.  After meeting with the dietician (more good news), I got a blood testing kit and got to prick my finger four times a day to make sure the levels are good.

Thus, a good day should look like this:
Wake up: fasting blood prick blood sugar, 4-4.9
Eat breakfast: 2-3 units of carb (30-45 grams)
Two hours later: blood sugar, 4-6.7
Eat snack: 1-2 units of carb (15-30 g)
At least two hours later, eat lunch: 2-3 units of carb (30-45 g)
Two hours later: blood sugar, 4-6.7
Eat snack: 1-2 units of carb (15-30 g)
At least two hours later, eat dinner: 2-3 units of carb (30-45 g)
Two hours later: blood sugar, 4-6.7
Eat snack: 1-2 units of carb (15-30g)

Also, everything had to be low or no-fat while making sure that the flavour hadn't been replaced by sugar or the wrong sweetners.  And, you should have some protein with the carb.  Basically, you spend the entire day thinking about food.  You plan out meals in extreme detail.  I've done weekly meal plans for awhile anyway because it makes grocery shopping easier.  This was just another step, where you measure out your pasta with a cup measure.

The truth of it is, though, gestational diabetes isn't so bad (I could live this way if I had to, I'd just a bit grumpy around Christmas when I had to skip the cookies.). We'd already been trying to eat healthily, though I must admit I had been enjoying the occasional Pepsi to keep some pep in my step.  Little boys who were not sleeping well due to teeth and undiagnosed ear problems who somehow had energy in the day were wearing through my already depleted energy supplies.  I had sometimes enjoyed some yummy chocolate or a doughnut to keep going.  That all had to change.  Whole grains are recommended.  We already ate multi-grain bread and had tried wholegrain pasta, but hadn't enjoyed it.  We've found out that now we do.  And whole-grain couscous!  We already only used whole-wheat flour (or spelt if white is necessary).  And there is stevia in my cupboard now, but that has the most nasty aftertaste ever.  Just use a bit of raw sugar (15 g is 1 tsp).

In fact, gestational diabetes has given me a few things. Other than a nervous twitch of reading nutrition labels, I mean.  It's given me an appreciation for people who have to deal with this all the time.  My dear sister is type one diabetic and I never fully appreciated how difficult life must be for her.  I knew that she had to think about food a bit more, but there are charts devoted to glycemic index and how to make healthy food choices into healthier food choices.  And she has to survive with insulin! My sugars have been pretty easy to regulate thankfully, mainly because I've learned that my willpower is pretty good.  I love this child so much that I want them to be healthy and I've kept to this diet more than I ever thought I could.  Because my blood sugars have stayed within the healthy levels (4-8 in a blood prick, so says the doc), no extra insulin was needed.  I've also had the chance to try to new recipes! I had gotten lazy about the recipe thing because the boys had gotten a bit difficult about trying new things and cooking two meals sucks.  Unless you have to, and then it's a chance to explore.

Some recipes that we've stumbled across:
Sun-dried tomato and artichoke quiche
One sheet of puff pastry
Some sun-dried tomatoes, drained thoroughly
Some marinated artichokes, drained thoroughly
Half of a small container of ricotta
4-5 eggs
Pinch of herb salt

Beat the eggs.  Add the other stuff.  Pour onto the puff pastry, which in your greased quiche pan (but greased with EVO oil, not butter. Gotta watch those carbs).   Top with grated cheese.  Bake in a hot oven (240C) for 25-30 minutes.  Actually, Small taught me the last bit.  He turned up the oven on me from 190 and I could smell the quiche much sooner than I thought I should.  Upon checking it out (well and truly done in half the normal time), I learned that dinner prep could be done sooner and Small likes to play with dials.

Best Ever Brussel Sprouts
Quarter some brussel sprouts and boil until the water turns green.  Drain.
In the meantime, toast some pine nuts.  Keep your small sons away from the oven if you wish to maintain a regular temperature.
Drain some sun-dried tomatoes.
Grate parmesan cheese.
Mix all these things together with some minced or dried garlic and a bit of herb salt.

And then realize that brussel sprouts are delicious.

Tomato Salad
Chop up some small tomatoes of different colours.
Chop up a couple drained roasted red peppers.
Toss with a few capers and some garlic.
Add some dried multi-grain bread, a swoosh of EVO oil and balsamic vinegar.

And then there's that eat any brassica (kale, broccoli, etc) after it's been roasted in olive oil for 20 minutes in a hot oven and then sprinkled with parmesan and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice.

Cheese is a surprise delight of the whole GD thing.  Milk has carbs. Yogurt has carbs.  Cheese? Carb free.  About a month into the diet I asked my doctor if I could have fat again.  I was losing lots of weight (2 kg in one week) and my blood pressure was a bit low.  I've been back on fat since (woot, woot!) and that makes cheese consumption even easier.  Bocconcini is my special treat right now.  If I'm feeling peckish, it's free food! For whenever! And has calcium which is good for everybody's bones.  It's a bit odd when bocconcini becomes one's candy.

So where are these carbs found then, these highly regulated and documented carbs? In delicious things. In fruit. In starchy veg (peas, lentils, corn,  etc). In pasta and potatoes and bread and cake and anything made from wheat.  In nuts.  In candy and chocolate and milk and yogurt.  In fact, carbs are liberally spread through everything, especially prepackaged things.  Again, it's been cool to have a reason to push forward and try to make things from scratch, but sometimes when you're massively pregnant, dealing with two delightful boys that make life full, you'd like to order a pizza. But you've done the carb count, and you can only have two pieces. And that sucks.  But you can have salt and pepper squid salad! So that's something.  And all the other veg you could want.  Although, it does have some carb in it, so you have to think about everything that goes into your face.

(I just pricked my finger - 5.3.  Dinner was chilli-cheese sausages and pea salad - peas, celery, cashews, mayo and italian dressing.  It's surprising, but it hurts everytime.  Next time you see someone with diabetes, kiss their poor fingees.  Or offer them some bocconcini.)

[What is a unit of carb? One piece of bread. A medium-small potato, but as they have a high GI, eat them only occasionally.  A 125 mL glass of milk. A small tub of natural yogurt - which I now prefer to any sweetened.  A quarter cup of dried fruit and nuts.  One large cracker with peanut butter. A teaspoon of sugar.  Good luck getting that medicine down.  Half a cup of cooked pasta.  Half a cup of cooked rice (basmati or brown, please). 3/4 cup of oatmeal. 1 medium or 2 small fruits. 3/4 cup of grapes. Still hungry? Load up on proteins and non-starchy veg.  It's good gear.  Who doesn't want a poached egg with that? Oh - the trick to a perfect poached egg:  Add enough water to a low-edged pot to cover an egg.  Bring to a boil.  Add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt.  Crack an egg and drop in the water as closely as possible.  Cook for 4 minutes for soft.  10 for pregnant ladies hard-style.]

That, in a nutshell, is gestational diabetes.   If the nutshell was the size of a commerical airplane.  Any questions? Bueller?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Third Thoughts

Yesterday, I learned that someone else I know can't have children.  It hurt to hear about it and it put some things into perspective that sometimes get skewed.

There is much suffering in parenthood, but at least we are parents.  On somedays that is the silver lining.  My heart aches for those who don't get to experience it and I pray that this impasse would be destroyed for them.

Both of our sons have been sick and needing antibiotics lately and the lead up to those doctor appointments made life quite difficult.  Lack of sleep, whingy children, reverting behaviours have all been the norm this last month.  Being 36 weeks pregnant and stressed that I could go into labour at anytime (thank you people who keep telling me I look ready to pop... since November) does not help matters.

And yet even on these hard, hard days my sons amaze me.  The joy they get out of a mud puddle.  The utter bliss from a treat out of a stocking.  The way they are growing up.  My nearly 16 month old wants to walk when we go for walks now.  What's up with that?  The way they play together and help each other out.  The little ways that their palates are opening up and they are willing to try new things. Tall ate ham the other day.  Pink meat!  It's all a process, this parenting thing.  A long, involved process with no days off, no hours off (yes, I know babysitters exist.  And do use them.).  It's a process where you say the same things and do the same things and try to train away the same behaviours everyday.

It's not easy.  It's rather hard.  Without those spots of joy sprinkled on each day, the days would be impossible.  They are even more impossible on days when I let myself get sidetracked from prayer and Bible time and try to go it alone.  In fact, we've gotten into the habit of thinking fond thoughts of the children before we go to sleep.  Even on the hard days, we think through the drudgery and glean the beautiful moments, the little sparkles that show how they are growing up or the silly things that make them the loveable, frustrating, incredible little men that they are.

And the hard isn't confined merely to the children.  There are no holidays from laundry, although some weeks get more piled on them.  Dishes need to be done.  Meals need to be made.  Life does not take sick days.

With the joy splashed on all life from these children, life seems different.  No matter how hard the day is, it is special because of these boys.  Sure, we get less sleep now. So what? We have the privilege of helping these boys become good men.  Growing up is one thing, but growing good men, that's a tall order.

My belly rocks and bulges as its occupant stretches and tries to find a way out.  It must be getting tight in there.  My back aches and gestational diabetes is sometimes a pain in the bum (I'll write a post about GD later).  I do not relish the thought of labour, but I long to hold this child in my arms and meet them. To gaze in his or her eyes.  To feed and sustain a new little life.  To fall even deeper in love with all of my children as I see them interact.

If you know someone who can't have kids, hug them.  Encourage them to adopt, sure.  There are plenty of children who need homes and hopefully the system works so that parents are given children.  But, just hug those people and try to splash their lives with joy.  It must be a special kind of pain and it needs a special kind of love.  I feel guilty when I complain about life as it has these blessings in it.  Cherish your blessings. Give thanks for them. Take care of them. And love those who don't have them.