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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Our Home

Is it only when you are looking for God's hand that you see it so clearly?  Or is it because you are looking that God reveals it more plainly? 

Words cannot express the love I have for our home.  I have learned that I cannot pretend I will always love everything about it, but we are in that honeymoon period of home ownership where all we see are the amazing things- the beautiful perennials that are coming up, the amazing ability to send our kids outside without an ounce of guilt and say "go outside and find something to do!"  They have 11 acres to run and play and explore, and to me, every inch of that land is perfect and ideal for exploring.
I hesitate to put family matters into words but I believe doing so would lessen the story- let me tell you the story of our home.
Since we got married we wanted a certain lifestyle for our children.  We wanted them to have the freedom to explore, learn, and get skinned knees.  We wanted room for them to roam without fear of what they might encounter.  While many would argue that they can do that anywhere, the mama bear in me is sometimes more concerned about the PEOPLE they might encounter than anything we could find in the woods of SW Michigan.  Our first home was adorable and idyllic in its character.  We had amazing neighbors that we wouldn't have given up for the world in our young parenting life where we needed the friends right next door to encourage us, bring us back down to earth, or just listen as we cried.  But it was tiny (900 sq feet plus a minimally finished basement).  We figured we'd have one child, maybe another baby, but by the time that 2nd one was too big we'd be moving on.  God giggled.  We had 2 at once and squeezed every inch of space out of that sweet bungalow before it was time to move on in search of a bit more space.
Our second home was in our dream school district.  It didn't check every box for our "perfect" home, but we bought at the right time, got a great deal on the home (after not getting back what we'd spent on the first), and got into a school district we were excited about.  That home allowed us to build some fantastic relationships, dip our feet in the water of public schools, and feel like we had begun to establish a relationship with our long-term community.
After a few years in our 2nd home we discovered a few things about our life goals that maybe we hadn't realized before.  We found out we love having neighbors but we also value privacy.  We didn't like having to follow HOA rules (Andy knew this, I was not aware;)), or worrying about how often we were able to mow our lawn or if we could have people over without bothering the neighbors (who were not bothered, but still the fear is there).  We realized that in our particular spot there wasn't a whole lot for our kids to explore- we were land locked so to say by busy roads, sidewalks that ended inexplicably, and a larger neighborhood that at their tender young ages our kids were not able to access even though they had school friends who lived in it.  We LOVED the pool - something we didn't plan on- but other than that, the benefits of an HOA were lost on us.  We knew we hadn't planned to stay forever- but the desire to stretch our legs on some land of our own was STRONG.  We spent many evenings daydreaming about owning our own chunk of land.
It was around the same time that my husband's grandfather began to have health issues in his early 90's.  Andy had been raised having spent lots of time on his grandpa's land (also in Byron Center) and felt a huge emotional attachment to it.  He fondly remembers helping his grandma in the garden, riding with his grandpa on the tractor, riding bikes, and baking in the kitchen...so many wonderful memories I wish I could have shared with him.  His parents worked and relied on his grandparents to care for him and my sister-in-law during the work week.  As a result, he got the country-life childhood we both desperately desired for our own children.  I'd grown up with space to explore as well, and cherish the memories of time spent alone in the woods exploring and imagining. 
As his grandpa lay in a hospital bed early on in his illness, thinking he would pass soon, he grabbed Andy and asked him if he wanted "the farm."  Andy wasn't ready to say goodbye and assured him this was not the time or place to discuss it and thankfully, he was right.  We had a few more months with Grandpa for which we are very thankful.  During those months when Grandpa's health improved and waned, Andy and I began the process of determining if we could and should buy Grandpa's property.  One of the things I (and Andy, but I am certain I spent more time pondering) felt compelled to consider was what our next step looked like versus the typical next step for people our age.  We are approaching our mid-thirties and a part of us longed to have our "perfect" home.  We wanted a beautiful home- who doesn't? With all the bells and whistles- rooms for each kid, a guest room, a finished basement for the kids to hang in, custom details, allllll the pinterest projects, the perfect paint colors and finishes.  We live in a society that says all of this is possible.  A theater room?  Sure, why not?  Smart home?  It's to be expected right?  But there was a larger part of us that realized, in the transition from our tiny home to our larger home, that what once felt huge and lavish, now felt claustrophobic and full of STUFF.  We had filled our bigger home with all the things we "needed," but now we had to maintain all those things, clean all those things, organize and control all those THINGS.  I had 4 bathrooms to clean, two living areas, 4 bedrooms, a pretty big backyard and none of it ever felt done.  There was always an area that needed attention.  What good would an even bigger, fancier house do?  We'd go broke building it and furnishing it, then as soon as that was done, we'd feel the need to update- it's a hamster on a wheel-type scenario and I think we both felt done with it.
Grandpa's land offered a rather forceful escape from all that- his home was OLD- I can't even remember at this point how old, but old, and we didn't have the money to put into all the remodeling and modifying that it would need to be "just right."  So, we thought, lets just live in it.  Let's accept it for what it is and enjoy the 9 acres it has to offer.  After all, Grandpa wasn't looking to make money- just sell it fairly.  We could get the land for a good price, live there a few years, purge and decide what we truly needed, and THEN build on the land- exactly but no more than what we required.  It felt scary but just counter-cultural enough to be incredibly enticing.  And so we pursued.
Long, sordid story short, there is some history in the family that made our plans impossible.  But let me be clear- God used those people to stop our plans and put His own into place.  We were saddened to lose that land.  We were saddened that hard feelings between aunts and uncles could cause them to go to great lengths to ensure their nephew and niece did not gain a property that could have been incredibly beneficial to their family.  But despite it all, our decisions were prayed over and guided by bigger hands than ours.  We thought we knew what was right, but we were wrong.  Our loving Heavenly Father made that clear to us in no uncertain terms, for which we are incredibly thankful.  A local farmer, sought out by the aunts and uncles, purchased the land instead of us, and we settled down for a bit longer in our current home.
I didn't realize until we were in the process of selling our home just how much we had planned on staying- we paid a lot to have the carpets cleaned, we moved the kids' bedrooms around to make things feel fresh and new, we began to talk about little remodels here and there.  Then one day our amazing realtor sent me a picture, taken as she drove by the home, of a house for sale by owner that she felt met all our requirements.  However, the price seemed high- it was certainly higher than Grandpa's place had been, and we just weren't there mentally.
Over the next month I got alerts on my phone of a price decrease, an open house I considered attending just for fun, and then a second open house that happened to fall on a weekend that Andy was home and we had no plans.  We decided to go check it out; our main reason being that we could get a better idea of what we would be looking for a couple of years down the road while filling an otherwise empty winter day.  Little did we know we would fall in love.  It was home.  Without our realtor's help as she was out of town, we contacted the listing agent and went for a second walk-through the next day.  There is no other way to say it except that it was meant to be.  Every box checked, things we didn't dare put on a list of desires- done.  Amazing.
The rest of this part of the story is boring- make an offer, counter offers, financing, inspections.  Everything went flawlessly.  Our current home had an accepted offer after 10 days on the market and "lucky" for us, we were in Florida for a previously planned vacation during all of the showings and open houses.  Now the really fun part.
Our accepted offer was contingent on the sale of the buyer's home.  We never felt peace about it.  It was an offer, it was higher than listing, but we were allowed to continue to show the home AND receive other offers.  It felt.....wishy-washy.  We got more offers, we played ball, it felt awkward.  Then we got a 4th offer.  Like the good millennial that I am, but will rarely admit, I looked the new family up on facebook and I loved them.  I had an innate sense that they needed our home...and they had TWINS- the 3rd set that would potentially live in our home.  We decided to back out of the first offer and take this one.  I'm so happy that we did.  
I mentioned that the inspections on our new home went flawlessly- they sure did.  This house is over 130 years old, and yet it inspected 100% fine on a day when rain was pouring and had been for days - the house is in the muck fields of Byron Center, we expected it to be a bit wet and yet- it was dry!  The bank actually waived an appraisal (more confirmation that we had gotten a deal when deals on land in Byron Center are absolutely unheard of).  We lost about 500 sqft in the move and it's the perfect amount.  We have 2 bathrooms- that's all we need.  We have enough room for each kid to have a room but currently we are able to use one as a guest/spare room.  We have the ability to add on if we ever need it (will this love for adoption/foster care ever lead somewhere? who knows? but we have the space if needed), yet also a small enough house not to fill it with unnecessary clutter.  Perfect.  It has just enough character but all of the modern updates we need.  Not to mention MORE acreage than Grandpa's place and a killer barn.
The family we sold to are Christians with crazy similarities to our life story (now having met them I am even more convinced that God's hand was guiding this step of the process and has a whole other story to tell there as well), and the family we bought from are Christians who are thankful to have sold their home to a young family that will cherish and love it like they did.  Our next door neighbor is- wait for it- the farmer who bought Grandpa's land and recent interactions with him have shown us just how amazing this whole story is.  To God Be The Glory because I could not have fathomed a better story!  As I watch the clouds roll in over our gorgeous property where in the last 3 weeks our kids have run wild and free, I praise His name.  Thank you Lord for this amazing home, your faithfulness, and the ability to share the beautiful stories that only you could write. <3 div="">

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dear Christian Friends

Dear Christian Friends.

I have been guilty at times of everything I'm about to say.  In fact, I bet you wouldn't have to go back too far in my recorded (read: social media) history to find an example.  But that doesn't mean I can't do better, that I shouldn't do better, and that perhaps you should do better too.

In less than a month, we will have a new president and things will either be in chaos or they won't.  My prayer is that everyone can calm down (myself included because I get aggravated and moved by all the stuff I see on TV and the internet too) and go forward with some new lessons learned.

I hope that those of us who felt misrepresented by "our" parties will do everything within our power to make sure that in four more years this doesn't happen again.  Politics is SO not my area of expertise, but ironically it intersects with the thing I'm most passionate about - my faith - all too often.  (Incredibly ironic since keeping church and state separate is one of those things that is supposed to separate America from other countries, don't you think?)  I mean, it makes sense.  Politics have so much to do with our morals.  We are asked to vote every single year on issues that mainly stem from questions of morality: Who makes a good leader? How much money should be taken to run the government? Where should that money come from?  Is it ok to end a pregnancy by our own volition? How do we decrease poverty? What is marriage and who can get married?  Like it or not, the only way we know how to answer these questions is to draw out aspects of our own moral codes.  We take what we think we know about right and wrong and we apply it to the situation.

Christian or not, everyone has a moral code.  But Christians, my dear fellow Christians, we have something that everyone else does not.  WE have a living Savior who not only died and went to hell for us but was raised again and lives in glory interceding on our behalf before God!  He gives wisdom to those that ask and HE ALONE sets up kings and deposes them (Daniel 2:21).  We should not fear because He already knows who our next president will be and what will happen to America.  No matter who comes to power, Christians remember this- we are NOT Hillary's, or Trump's, or Johnson's people.  We are Jesus' people, we belong to him so fully that no matter what happens to America CHRISTIANS will still go on.  Please stop fighting one another.  Stop writing passive-aggressive articles and then passive-aggressively shoving them down each other's throats.  (This is where I cringe to look back in my history and see if I've done this, I'm certain I have)  DO have dialogue and be civil to one another, go ahead and "argue your case."  The world needs to hear what Christians believe and why they believe it, even if we disagree.  But do it with LOVE.  Do it with RESPECT.  Be amazed that even though we are all reading the same book and praying to the same God we can all walk away from encounters with Scripture and sermons having heard different things, moved to tears by His love yet still interpreting His word so differently.  I think Christians need to challenge each other, as iron sharpens iron we must question each other when we get that churning in our gut that something is not right.  But we must do so kindly, and remembering that we are all finite, and flawed, we are not all-knowing, none of us has a direct line to God.  None of us, no matter how much we study, can ever be trusted to interpret the word of God perfectly nor to understand it wholly.  This is not to suggest that we should stop trying to determine what is right, merely that we need to be aware that there are many things in God's word that we just may never fully understand.  At some point we need to be OK with walking away from a conversation in disagreement but with the understanding that we are all just doing our best to listen to God better and to make sure His name is glorified above all others on earth.

Remember friends, that you might be the only Christian example some people ever get, moreover, as it's been put so eloquently by someone much smarter than me- You might be the only Bible some people ever read.  Jesus got angry, it is not wrong for us to get angry too, and I do believe there are some things we can know unequivocally and long to defend with righteous anger!  But even then- it is not your job to enlighten everyone, it is your job to love Jesus and show others His love. You can't make others be nice, but you can be nice yourself and refuse to get dragged into the name-calling and bashing of other Christians who believe differently than you do.

I've spent much of this election season just looking for the answer to the question- how can I please God with my vote?  Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that any candidate's name is the answer to that question.  (Dare I say, that no candidate has ever been "the one" we had to vote for to please God?)  I don't think there is, or ever has been, a Christian candidate(meaning the candidate a Christian should choose), much as we'd sometimes like to think there is.  That said, I'm still going to vote, and I think you should too, but only IF you're praying, IF you're searching the Bible and spending way more time talking to God than talking to others about who you should choose (ouch, guilty again!).  The only way I feel I can vote in a way that would be pleasing to God is if I cover it with prayer, the whole thing, absolutely soak it in prayer.

Dear Christian friends, when this is all over we will still have each other.  We will still have to be able to look at each other, worship beside each other, pray over hospital beds and weep over lost souls together.  Let's not do irreparable damage to our relationships.  Let's not let the name "Christian" get dragged down any more than it already has.  Remember who you are and WHO'S you are this election season and most of all pray- for each other, for our country, and that God's will be done both in America and truly, in the world as a whole.  Remember who's you are.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

If you give a kid a snack

There are plenty of these posts out there, but today I feel like chronicling my story.  The reason?  After a week of staying with our kids, my mother said the 8 words that every daughter wants to hear her mother who always has a clean house say: "I now understand why your house is messy."
Very much like the parody of "If You Give a Mouse A Cookie," called "If You Give a Mom a Muffin," here is my blog entitled: "If You Give a Kid a Snack."  (sorry, mine is not going to be nearly as cute or rhyme-y)
Other possible names for this blog include, but are not limited to:
"Why I never answer my phone."
"Why I'm crazy and need drugs"
"Things to consider before you have children."

It's morning, breakfast is over, the kids have begrudgingly brought their cereal bowls to the sink.  They have so far played several games of Disney Guess Who and watched at least 3 episodes of My Little Pony and Wild Kratts.  It's time for a snack!
Thing 1 chooses a snack and opens it in the living room while finishing the last 4 minutes of Wild Kratts and of course, drops the torn corner on the couch along with a few crumbs.  This same child suddenly realizes that the snack packaging would make an amazing craft and goes to grab the safety scissors.
He grabs the scissors and knocks the jar of coloring implements on the kitchen floor.  He pauses to look at them, then skips merrily on his way as he has things to create.
The dog selects a crayon and chews it to pieces on the living room floor- a new favorite hobby she has recently discovered.
Meanwhile Thing 1 is cutting the snack bag to confetti, inevitably dropping several tiny, impossible-to-pick-up pieces on the floor where they flutter around amidst breakfast crumbs and dog hair.
Mom grabs the vacuum and begins to suck up the confetti, crayon, and floating pieces of dog hair.  A few seconds later the vacuum unexpectedly stops.  Puzzeled, Mom pushes the power button several times, then follows the cord back to the wall where the baby is smiling innocently while sucking on the prongs of the power cord. Mom wipes off the prongs, but as she is leaning over to plug it back in, smells a poopy diaper.
While changing baby's poopy diaper, Thing 2 manages to bang her knee on......something.  Mom kisses the knee but of course, the slight red mark requires a bandaid because Thing 2 has begun screaming that she's dying.  Mom, who is a bit preoccupied with the poopy diaper and squirming baby who is suddenly desperate to be anywhere but on the changing table, tells Thing 2 to go ahead and grab a bandaid from the bathroom.
While taking the dirty diaper to the pail, mom sees the aftermath of a child who thinks she's dying and needs at least 2 bandaids to cover the owie- several torn pieces of paper and the little rounded ends of the bandaid strewn around the bathroom.  But, the baby is pulling Thing 2's hair so she thinks "I'll bring the vacuum up here in a bit and get those, the upstairs could use a once-over anyway."
When mom gets back downstairs to extricate Thing 2's hair from Baby's grasp, she trips over the vacuum cord and stubs her toe to the point of bleeding.  She starts to ask Thing 2 to get her a bandaid when she is distracted by Thing 1 who is about to pour the glue he just uncapped all over the kitchen chair he has decided to craft on.
After replacing the glue cap, mom notices the dog has eaten another crayon and stoops to pick up the coloring utensils.  The dog stands at the door begging to go out so she heads to the slider to do so. Go, poop rainbows, you crazy mutt. She thinks as she slides the slider shut.  Unfortunately, Mom did not notice that Baby has followed her and promptly stuck her fingers in the briskly closing door (it's cold out there!).  Cue screaming baby.  Mom soothes baby who is not having it and requires cuddling on the couch with a snack.
Mom decides it's a good time to put on a baby-friendly show and chooses Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
Daniel Tiger is going to the Library. Yippee!!
Suddenly Mom remembers they have overdue books and as she heads to the fridge to pull out the dinner she had forgotten to get out earlier she realizes there is no milk and she is one ingredient short for dinner.
We'll run to the library, play for a few minutes, then the store, and by the time we're done it'll be rest time.  Maybe I can get away with a piece of fruit and the free cookie at Meijer for each of them for lunch... 
So she loads up the kids after a mad search for a toy that is apparently required for the 5 minute car ride, plus a clean diaper, paci for the baby, and matching socks.
As planned, the library is a hit and while she didnt get to check for thay new book she wanted because the baby pooped again and everyone needed a trip to the bathroom-twice- Mom knows she can check onlin later. When it's time to leave there are tantrums and plenty of whining about not wanting to go to the store, but Mom holds firm and bribes them with a cookie.
After a free cookie, a piece of fruit each, and a meat stick straight from the bag in the grocery store, Mom gets everyone home and to their rooms for rest time.
Mom goes downstairs and puts away groceries, manages to scrounge up a lunch that won't kill her healthy eating plan, and sits down to eat while checking emails.
Oh look! The kids need money in their accounts for hot lunch and Kindergarten registration papers need to be printed off.
She finds the checkbook to refill the lunch accounts, steals "drawing" paper from the kids' stash for the printer, prints the pages and begins to fill them out.
Baby wakes up, kids get up from quiet time.  The only way to transition the baby from naptime to a semi-happy wake state is to snuggle on the couch again with a snack.
Mom decides to try to multi-task and google how to make her couch stop smelling funky but baby thinks the phone is her toy and steals it, then hides it under the ottoman.
Once again, Mom remembers she has not pulled out the meat for supper so she runs downstairs and grabs whatever is available while realizing she forgot that one ingredient she needed.
Back in the living room everyone is getting restless so Mom sends the big kids outside.  Now the baby is crying at the window.
Mom looks at the baby for a moment and realizes that neither of them has been outside for more than 30 seconds to walk from the car to the house in....2 weeks.  It's Michigan in winter, after all.  So, she bundles up the baby and they head outside to "play," which involves mom following the baby around and trying to keep her from running into the road 637 times while simultaneously paying rapt attention to all the demands of "Mom, watch this!" from Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Thing 1 falls down and requires a bandaid for his bruised finger.  Mom tells him to go ahead and get himself a bandaid, so he disappears inside for approximately 20 minutes at which point the baby is cold and Mom decides to investigate. But Baby does not understand that she's cold because its cold outside and screams "Nooooooo!" the whole way into the house while clawing at Mom's face. Mom and Baby find Thing 1 who got distracted in the bathroom and is standing at the sink sans pants with his alligator letting him "swim in his natural habitat."  His sleeves are soaked so Mom tells him to turn off the water and go change his shirt.
It's snack time and time to start prepping for dinner so Mom pulls out some fruit and crackers and everyone eats at the table except the baby who shakes her head at everything but then demands a cracker to walk around with.
Thing 1 remembers his earlier craft and begins cutting more confetti which reminds Mom to finish vacuuming while the oven preheats.
Looking around the living room, Mom realizes she doesn't have time to pick up everything and sort it so she throws everything in a corner to finish with the vacuum.
Finally the vacuuming is done but Mom realizes the oven is now fully preheated and time is running short for dinner so she runs to the kitchen to throw it in the oven and try to find an acceptable vegetable side dish. Meanwhile the baby is actually pretty happy winding the vacuum cord around the living room so she lets it go.
Somehow Mom manages to finish making dinner, but by the time Dad gets home and drops all of his belongings in a pile in the mudroom, takes the vacuum cord from the baby while saying "Honey, did you see that she's chewing on this??" and mom feigns shock and claims "No, I'd never..." everyone is crying because they are SO hungry and Mom is the meanest because she won't let them have another snack and she is no longer their "favorite Mommy."
After plating tiny amounts of each item for the kids, Mom and Dad sit down to eat and spend the majority of dinner answering questions like "can I have more honey on my biscuit?" and "how many bites of this do I have to eat before I can be done?"  Between the two of them Thing 1 and Thing 2 manage to eat the serving size of your average sparrow and claim they are "soooo full."  Baby has 5th and 6th helpings.
It's bath night so Mom asks Dad to pick up dinner and takes the kids up to get clean.  30 minutes later the bathroom is strewn with clothing, the bandaid wrappers from earlier, water, and towels.  The big kids are now starving, but mom loses her shit and tells them they will have to starve.  They head to their rooms to get dressed and mom puts the baby to bed.  She returns to the big kids to find they are still naked and dancing in ways that make her wonder if they should be pulled from public school.
30 minutes later everyone is in bed and Mom goes downstairs to find Daddy asleep on the couch, dishes still on the table.  She kicks gently nudges him awake enough for him to say "I was just going to check the news...snore."
Mom puts away the leftovers, loads the dishwasher, tossing in pans that should probably be handwashed, gives the table a cursory wipe-down and collapses on the couch.  She turns on the old XFiles just in time for Hubby to wake up and say accusingly, "should you really watch this stuff? Let's watching something else." And promptly steals the remote.
As she looks around the living room, strewn with every toy she had originally thrown in the corner and a few she didn't even realize they owned, she notes the pieces of confetti she missed and pulls out her phone from under the ottoman.  There are at least 25 notifications she should probably attend to before bed, plus a book she should search out and hey, do they sell dog food on Amazon?
She sighs, looks over at her husband sleeping peacefully in his boxers with one sock hanging off and thinks: At least I vacuumed. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coraline's Birth Story- TMI Warning, but not too bad...

Because I'm behind on so many things- those Christmas photo books I was going to make once a year of all our pictures from the previous year?  Yeah, those aren't finished...I decided I'd tick one thing off the list before I forget too many details.  So here I am about 6 months late finally finishing this up!

Cora's due date came and went (11/14) and I was doing really well at being OK with it.  Lots of people were asking when the induction would be and my standard answer "I'm just waiting until she's ready!" was serving me well.  Then we found out that hubs was going to be leaving for his annual training on the 29th (two days after the two week post-due-date limit we had set for letting things happen on their own).  I obviously didn't want to have the baby without daddy around, and also preferred not to end up going home to an empty house, so we amped up the "do this it worked for me" natural labor-inducing tactics as a possible induction seemed to loom ever closer.  I walked, ate eggplant parmesan from Olive Garden, ate dates till I couldn't stand them, drank Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, put Clary Sage in my bath, the list goes on.

My doc had decided to induce on Wednesday night so I'd kind of resigned myself to that plan.  On Monday I got up and headed to the gym to walk on the treadmill with Bradi.  We walked for awhile, then I headed home with the kiddos.  All day I had contractions, nothing major, just more of the braxton hicks I'd been having since 14 weeks.  Mid-afternoon there was some spotting, which kept up and got heavier throughout the day.  In my mind I was thinking - cool, induction will move quicker than last time!  No big deal.  That evening Bradi and I had scheduled a pedicure so we headed to Kim's and told the woman there to push every pressure point I had because I was overdue!  She said in a very cute Vietnamese accent- "Ok, you have this baby tonight!"  Didn't seem like she did much different from every other pedicure I'd had, little did I know...

After returing home from the pedicure my contractions continued but they were still very spread out and very irregular.  Around 11pm I think I realized that I was in early labor but it STILL had not sunk in that this would lead to true labor.  No one in my immediate family had ever had a baby without pitocin or a c-section, it honestly was not really on my radar (denial much?).  I tried to sleep, but couldn't, so I tried to settle into a long night with no sleep.  Andy went to bed not really knowing things were moving along- I didn't see the need to get excited.  Again I tried to lay down, took a bath, watched some TV, but after awhile even sitting was not comfortable.  Next I busted out the yoga ball and spent some time sitting/laying/rolling on that.  I think it was around 2am that I finally called my doula and said something along the lines of "ok, I'm having contractions but they aren't regular or anything so...just thought you should know."  I also asked her when I ought to call her if things continued to progress as I couldn't really remember what I was supposed to watch for.  She said once the contractions were 3-4 min apart, lasting a minute long, and had been that way for an hour, I should give her a call.
In my always-planning brain I figured I'd labor through the night, get the kids off to school, then head to the hospital to get settled as we already had people in place to pick them up at school (it was Grandparents' Day)!
I was timing the contractions on an app on my phone and they were anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart.  By 4am they were still not regular but sometimes they seemed to be on top of each other.  I was hesitant to call and wake up my doula again but I was VERY uncomfortable.  I told her my contractions didn't seem to meet the criteria but that I just didn't know how long I could handle this so something was happening.  After listening to me talk a bit she said she thought she ought to come to my house. At that moment I knew labor was happening but I still thought I'd be going all night and possibly through the morning.  However, something about picturing her at my house made me realize I didn't have that long (she lives about 40 min away) and I said "I don't think if I wait much longer I'll be able to sit in the car."  So we decided she'd meet us at the hospital.  At this point the contractions were 3ish minutes apart, then there would be two right on top of each other lasting only 30secs or so, then it'd be 5 minutes. I STIL thought we were going in a bit early but I couldn't sit down and when they hit I was moaning/crying loudly and could only stand on my tip toes bent over the couch or leaning on the wall.

I went and got Andy and told him what was going on.  We called his mom to come stay with the kids and started gathering our stuff.  Suddenly I KNEW things were moving (I swear I could feel dilation!).  At this point Elijah came out of his room and said "Daddy can you turn up my white noise?  Mommy is too loud."  Thanks for the concern son.  I called my mom to tell her we were headed to the hospital but could hardly talk so she told me to call her once we were in the car.  I also tried Bradi but didn't get an answer!

I'd started to feel nauseous so Andy grabbed me a bowl and I sat on the couch (kinda) until my MIL got here.  The ride to the hospital is a blur.  My mom called but I was screaming and couldn't talk, Andy was calm and drove through the snowstorm like it was no big deal! At about the S-Curve on 131 I started to throw up, which was great fun between the crying, screaming, and desperate desire to NOT be sitting AT ALL.  I got a little scared as I knew that typically women throw up during transition.  Turns out an apple fruit squeezie to give me energy was not going to be giving me much energy.

We got to the hospital but neither of us could remember exactly where L&D triage was so we went to the regular emergency entrance.  I was dropped off in a wheelchair and brought inside where I promptly told the triage nurse that I was "very" in labor while Andy parked the car.  Since I could not possibly sit any longer I stood up next to the wheelchair and held on for dear life while screaming in a room full of strangers.  I'm pretty sure I heard someone say "is she going to have a baby right here?!"  And the triage nurse was definitely making it clear to L&D on the phone that they needed to come get me- fast.

I was wheeled to Labor and Delivery triage and asked if I felt the urge to push- I said no, so they put me in a regular room where I told the nurse "if you tell me I'm a 3 I'm going to die!"  She laughed and said "I don't want to be the one checking you!"  When she was able to check me she paused and said "how does a 6-7 sound?"  Excellent.  Praise the Lord.  When Andy arrived I was crying and told him I didn't think I could do it, I wanted an epidural, Brenda better get there fast to talk me out of it.  He was sympathetic and tried to make small talk with the nurse about the beautiful new L&D triage facility...so helpful ;)  I kept begging to stand up but they kept telling me I'd be moving to delivery quickly and had to be on a bed to do so.  Honestly, I'd have walked up there if they'd let me, sitting was torture!

Everything again was a blur, it seemed like a few minutes before they had me rolling down the hall to the elevator.  Just as we got into the elevator I suddenly understood that whole "urge to push" thing.  The nurse told me firmly- "you cannot have this baby in the elevator, I don't even have any gloves!"  So I just went back to writhing, screaming and crying.  At one point I felt warm liquid all over me and told her "either my water just broke or I peed."  "Doesn't matter," she said.  Thank you for making peeing myself normal, because it was not my water ;)...

We arrived in delivery and I continued screaming like a crazy person as they wheeled me to my room. The contractions were nonstop and I felt like I had no time to adjust to each new level of pain.  Every nurse at the nurse's station was staring at me and I remember just staring back whilst screaming.  If this sounds like a whole lot of screaming- that about sums it up.  Things moved SO. Fast.  I was checked again in my room and was already a solid 9 with pretty much no ability to stop my body from pushing.  Telling a woman not to push is really pointless, I'd heard that before but had no idea how true it is.

At this point Brenda arrived.  There I lay on the bed, on my side, totally naked and not caring about that one bit.  Someone asked me if I wanted a sheet and I said "I don't care."  This was my standard answer because I was past the point of being able to care about anything other than getting. the. baby. OUT.  Dr. Edvenson, one of the OB's at my practice was on call and came in just as they were breaking down the bed and doing that magic thing where all the lights and equipment seem to appear from nowhere.  He still told me not to push yet- yeah right -and spoke super quietly so that I had no idea who he was mumbling to.  Turns out, it was me, but I had no clue due to my own constant yelling.  He asked me what my plan for pain control was and I managed a "nothing" while silently wondering what on earth he would have done if I'd demanded an epidural or narcotic...they hadn't even had time to do the normal blood draw let alone place an IV (the lab came in to take my blood and a nurse yelled- "too late, we're delivering here!").  I imagine he was hoping to make a remark along the lines of "too bad little lady" had I asked for one of these things because seriously- there was no time for that nonsense.  He hadn't even read my birth plan for crying out loud, hello!?  This stuff is important people!  Where was my diffuser with relaxing lavender oil?  My calming music?  My bathtub full of soothing water?  Instead I got "I'm going to just do an episiotomy now because I don't like tearing" and did not have the will to argue.  I can still see Brenda next to me going "uh, um...oh, nevermind" when I said "fine, do what you have to do!" in response (she can advocate for me but she won't argue with me so the fact that I said go ahead kind of nullfied my desire to not be cut (which of course was written neatly in my unread and discarded birth plan).  He even used a local anesthetic first, which was another thing I hadn't wanted but again, I just wanted that baby out of me and was willing to do whatever it took.

Finally no one was telling me not to push and things got real- as if they weren't before.  I was suddenly terrified of pushing, I had already muttered the classic "I can't do it" phrase indicative of transition (right Brenda?!) and truly felt like this whole thing was not possible.  I could literally feel her moving down, I had no idea a laboring mom could really feel that, but it was distinct.  I am truly amazed at how effective God made us in this process, it all just seems so impossible.

Throughout pushing I was pretty much in a haze.  I saw tons of nurses- it was a shift change so there were double the norm at one point as I think the ladies who had started with me kinda wanted to see what would happen with this screaming woman that almost waited too long to get to the hospital.  There was also a team from the NICU in there because there had been meconium in the amniotic fluid so if she'd had trouble breathing as a result they would have stepped in and taken care of her.  I wanted to (but was able to refrain from) crying out for my mommy, and had to be repeatedly told to breath deeply so I did not hyperventilate.  Andy and Brenda stood by my head and held my hands while I pushed desperately and with everything I had.  After about ten minutes of pushing (so I'm told, it felt much longer to me) Sweet Coraline was born!  The doctor had asked (barely audibly, as was his custom) if I wanted to know what her hair color was while I was pushing.  Being unable to answer I remember thinking "of course it's blonde of some sort" so when she was laid on my chest and her hair was dark it was a total surprise!  I also immediately noticed her long fingers and the little spit bubbles she was making (which she still does when she's hungry).  Again we go into blur mode, Dr. Taber arrived in time to stitch me up, (I already felt great and joked "Just in time Dr. Taber!") Cora was weighed and measured (8lbs 4oz, 21"), and provided a beautiful spread-toed footprint for the nurse.

Having a pain-med free labor is one of the coolest things I've ever done.  I am certain that had it not been my plan I'd have gone into the hospital sooner (although not much sooner since I was basically in denial), and if I hadn't known Brenda was coming to support me I'd definitely have asked for an epidural.  It was indeed the worst pain I have ever felt, it compares to nothing I've ever experienced, but it's amazing how quickly the pain passes when it's finished.  I was able to get up and shower within an hour (and got the fun surprise of seeing how many blood vessels I'd broken while pushing in the hospital bathroom mirror- that's what desperation will do for ya), nursing was easier, and I generally felt great.  Bonus- Andy did not have the heart to argue with me when I pulled rank and chose "Coraline" over "Natalie" which was our backup choice.  He loves it now but was unsure for a few days ;)

My mom and sister arrived pretty quickly after.  Apparently my mom had originally resisted heading straight to the hospital and thought crying at home was a better option until my dad asked her what on earth she was doing. :)  Bradi had decided to leave her phone plugged in in the kitchen for the first time ever and missed my call which is why she wasn't able to be there for the birth (Andy told me I sounded very angry when I was on the phone with her on the way to the hospital.  I said something along the lines of "If you want to see this baby be born you better get here NOW!" lol...hey, I was barfing in a mixing bowl, what'd he want?!)

All that said, for about a week I couldn't imagine doing that again, but now I look back and I seriously have to talk myself down from having another just to do all that again.  It is just so cool to actually experience childbirth.  I felt before like it was something I read about in history books (silly, huh?) and magazines, like it was something you just didn't do if you had any other option.  But choosing to forgo the epidural and deal with the pain was extremely empowering.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who even thinks they might want to give it a try.  There is no shame in having an epidural or other pain management aid, but for me, I am just so thrilled I was able to experience what millions of women before me have gone through.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Follow-Up Post

I promised a post about my "deep thoughts and turmoil."  I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath...maybe not but here it is, because recording these things helps me process them and I enjoy looking back later.  I also hope that somewhere out there, there is someone who might need to know they aren't alone in what they feel about a change of plans.

First of all, like so many changes in life we've gotten used to the idea of having a baby now and are so thankful for this blessing for so many reasons.  I won't apologize for being unsure at first, it's natural to struggle with a major life change you never saw coming, even if it seems to others that it would be your dream come true!  But I'm thankful to be on the other side of that (though I will admit I may never get over the "oh my goodness we are starting ALL OVER from SQUARE ONE" thing;).

I have never liked to be a stereotype (which is, ironically, stereotypical of my generation- ha!) and so being "that" couple that got pregnant while trying to adopt was...not my first choice.  More importantly though, I didn't want those comments, the ones I've already gotten, the ones I'll tell you right now- DON'T MAKE because no one wants to hear them:
#1- "You just needed to relax."  Nothing is more insulting to a person who has struggled with infertility than hearing this.  If you think about it, it's easy to see why- basically you're saying that by wanting something so badly, she sabotaged her own efforts.  In other words- it's your fault you didn't get pregnant until now. Ouch!  Plus, this is just untrue.  If it were true, women in high-powered positions would not get pregnant, women in war-torn countries with hardly any food to eat would not get pregnant.  It has (almost) nothing to do with just relaxing.
#2- "Now you don't have to adopt, isn't this better?"  No kidding, word. for. word. I've had at least one person say this and many others imply it.  I get it, I do.  If you aren't "into" adoption, you might see it as a second choice.  But as I've said before- it was not our second choice.  It was the 2nd step in our personal process for building our family.  We felt it was a good idea, for us, to have bio kids first, but it was/is/never will be our second choice or last resort.  This comment hurts me for my friends that have adopted and have their kids home and are so in love and so certain of this plan for their lives- please, even if you don't get it, just don't say it.
I feel like I should add that I don't honestly remember who has/hasn't said these things to me.  I am not offended by them so much as I find them a bit predictable and insensitive.  I usually try to give a response that will cause the person saying it to think a bit, but I don't go home and cry or hold a grudge.  I understand that these things are said out of a lack of empathizing with the situation and/or just not knowing what else to say,

So here is what I know(the list is short).
-There is a plan for this baby.  This baby is not here just to teach mom and dad a lesson about how we are not in control.  This baby, as someone else so eloquently put it in an article I read recently, "has been part of the plan since time immeasurable."  While I'm sure that we are meant to be reminded of Who is in control, I also know baby #3 has a WHOLE life, whether short or over 100 years long, full of relationships and people he/she will impact besides just our family.  I don't know why our adoption was put on hold right now, except that I know for a fact that there needed to be room right now for this pregnancy and this baby.
-And yes, I said the adoption is on hold.  That's because Andy and I still believe 100% wholeheartedly without a doubt that we are meant to help with orphan care.  Somehow.  Perhaps we're back to the idea of refugee foster care, maybe it will be an older child later, maybe it will be helping others financially with their adoptions, most likely it will be in the form of another curve ball we could never even think of.

Unwittingly I came up with a pretty good metaphor as Andy and I tried to sort out our feelings the first night after we'd learned about our little surprise.  I said: "It's like you're going on vacation.  Which is great, and you're planning to go one place so you make plans, pick activities, and get excited.  Then you find out that you are actually going somewhere totally different.  It's still vacation and it's still great, there are great things to do in this new place too.  But you have to get used to the idea of the change.  You might be bummed to not get to experience the things you'd started getting excited about, and you also might plan to visit that place another time.  You don't stop wanting to go to that first place, and perhaps there is even a feeling of missing out, but you allow yourself to get excited about the new destination."

We were excited to have a biracial family.  We loved that idea for us and for all our children.  We were excited to adopt a child we were as certain as we could be would not have a good life or people who wanted it.  We had decided to adopt an HIV positive child and (I, more than Andy, but he was coming around) were excited to become advocates for a group of people that is hugely misunderstood.  We had a picture of our family in our minds and in it was a little blank spot with a shadow of a brown-skinned child (or more than one) who's features we had yet to make out clearly.  That picture has changed a lot but our hearts haven't.
My husband is a pretty amazing pilot, but Praise the Lord- God is even better.  We trust him to get us to the correct destination and I know that when we look back on the memories of this new destination, we won't be able to imagine life without this particular detour :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baby #3

About 6 weeks ago we got the surprise of our lives...Baby #3 is on it's way!  I've spent much of the last six weeks trying to figure out how to describe our thoughts and feelings but I want to keep it as simple as I can for those who only want the nitty-gritty and not my story of emotional turmoil, I promise to post that later ;)

As you know if you've read my old posts; we've had our issues having babies.  Lots of ups and downs, loses, disappointments, and though each event that resulted in a lack of a pregnancy was a time of mourning, we eventually got to a point where we were quite ok with the fact that we were not going to have another newborn.  I'll say it now and keep it simple- Adoption was NEVER a second choice for us.  We may have decided to have biological kids if we could first, but it was NOT something we landed on because we "had" to.  We have always wanted adoption for our family.

So, since getting on the adoption train a few months ago we've been gung-ho, praying about our options and choices, talking a lot at home alone and with family and friends.  There was so much that went into some of these choices and babies have been FAR from our minds.  Throughout the process, even though I felt I'd be devastated if it happened, I asked God to stop us if this was not what we were supposed to be doing.  Each time I asked for a "STOP" if it was necessary, I felt we got a lot of affirmation- from verses I read, people I spoke to, doors opening, even money that was there right when we needed it.
Then, in March, I had a few things going on with my health that were a little odd.  Nothing I couldn't write off to something else- for example I'd been due for a thyroid check and had a script, so when I got super tired one week I decided to go finally have it done.  The following Sunday I brought our adoption announcements (Thank you for your help on those, Nikki!) to church, put them in boxes, then headed to the service.
The sermon that day?  God's Sense of Humor, focusing on God's Interesting Timing.  The thought had crossed my mind once or twice in the previous days to take a pregnancy test, but when you've gone through what we have, and you value your sanity, you don't rush and and buy one very easily.
While I listened to our pastor speak about Abraham and Sarah's desire for a child, their efforts to "get one" another way, and God's "last laugh" when they finally had one on their own....I KNEW.  I could hardly stand to sit in my seat.  I grabbed my friend after church and took her to the store with me, we headed down to the church basement (since the kids were still in Sunday School) and lo and behold that thing turned positive!

Immediately I sent my friend back upstairs to take all those adoption announcements out of boxes and I called Andy.  Poor guy, he was literally stepping into the plane (I could hear it powering up behind him) when I shared the news.  He said "Ok honey, I gotta go, I love you!"  Then he proceeded to get into the plane and stare at the controls blankly until his co-pilot offered some assistance ;)

Crazy story, huh?  So here we are- back to square one with a gap of four years between kids!  The twins are excited- they got to hear the heartbeat last week- so Evie keeps asking when her baby sister is coming out (she's convinced it's a girl and will not hear any arguments).  Elijah tells me from time to time "I like your baby, Mama," and asks weird questions like "Does the baby get wet when you take a shower?"  So we're adjusting to this new future we are just now getting a glimpse of and knowing there is a plan for this baby since OBVIOUSLY we were meant to get pregnant right now.  Just waiting to see what this little one is going to add to our family!  :)

(Stay tuned for more of my musings about this new revelation, if you're into that kind of stuff.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Finally!  We get to let you in on a little "secret" we've been hiding for awhile ("secret" is in quotes because it's not common knowledge but it's not really been a secret either!)  A new little person will soon be joining our family!  Since most of you know that pregnancy and newborn babies do not appear to be in the plan for us anymore, this little one will be joining us by way of adoption from Ethiopia, and we could not be more thrilled!

This all feels like the culmination of years of thinking, praying, wishing, and learning, so while some of you may know adoption has always been on our radar, for others of you this might come as a surprise. Thankfully God loves surprises and has been preparing us for this one for quite awhile.  When Andy and I first got married the question of adoption came up- I think we arbitrarily had a conversation about it one day. I'm pretty sure I (Krista) asked Andy if he'd ever consider it, he said yes, I was faintly surprised, and we moved on.

Then, when we tried to start a family, the question came up again as we considered our options for handling our troubles having biological children.  We visited Adoption Associates, we visited The Fertility Center, and at that point in our lives adoption got put on the back burner as we decided for many reasons that trying to have bio children first was the best way for us to get started.  Fast forward 4 years and here with are, with 2 children, no desire to proceed with more fertility treatments (after several failed attempts), and still wanting to add to our family.  Back to Adoption Associates we went and from there to the Ethiopia Special Needs program.

We don't know a lot right now; we haven't specified a gender since we don't really care either way (though we've heard a boy is most likely), and we agree with AAI that an adopted child should be younger than the twins, preferably by at least 9 months.  We also know that for us, the term Special Needs will be defined as a physical problem ranging from a minor deformity, to vision or hearing difficulties, to HIV.  There are a lot of unknowns right now, but we DO know that God has a little one already planned for us and we cannot wait to find out more about him/her and for more and more light to be shed, revealing His plan.

If you know much about adoption you know that nothing is certain (not an easy thing for this planner, semi-type-A personality to accept!) and things, more likely than not, will move slowly the majority of the time. We are doing our best to prepare ourselves and our family for just about anything, but would covet your prayers of support throughout this process.  Pray specifically for Eli and Evie, that they would be able to approach this new sibling with love and excitement.  Pray for our adopted little one that he/she will stay healthy while waiting and will transition to our family life smoothly.  Please also pray for his/her biological family- we cannot know all the details of how or why our child has become orphaned but we are very aware that our joy in adding another family member comes to us because of other's loss(es).  My heart breaks to think of the loss our child will already have experienced in his/her short life by the time we are able to bring him/her home as well as the loss his/her family is experiencing in not being able to raise this little one.

Something you may not know, is that adoption, whether international or domestic is not an inexpensive undertaking.  Currently we are expecting our adoption to cost between $30,000 and $40,000.  While we anticipate being able to cover about half of the funds ourselves, we will still need to do significant fundraising along the lines of $10,000-$20,000, to allow us to bring our little one home.  We are also planning to apply for some of the wonderful grants we have been told about and would appreciate prayers on our behalf for those.  If you would like to be a part of our adoption story and support us financially we would of course, be very, very thankful.
We have been so blessed by the love and support we have already been shown from friends and family as we've gotten started in this time of expectation.  While the wait may be longer or shorter than the typical pregnancy, our "nine months" starts now!