Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baby Blues and Most Beautiful Words of Scripture

pardon photo quality.....I can only seem to have time to snap pictures quickly and have little energy to carry my large camera these days....

I heard it said once that the most wonderful words in scripture were these: “And it came to pass.” I chuckled then, thinking how true it was. But I was a teenager and was clueless.

 “And it came to pass….”

late nights and early mornings...such is this phase 

Baby blues were not something I faced with Gracin’s delivery. The transition into motherhood was easy and dreamy. I struggled with learning to handle the new baby and household duties, but it was a precious time.

This second time around with Garrett I have found myself caught in the difficulty of hormonal blues. I toggle between two extremes. I tried to explain it to Kyle this way:

One minute I feel like I am in a bright, white, beautiful room. There are simple flowers absorbing the beauty of natural light dancing in from windows, bordered in white, sheer curtains. In this room I am hopeful, excited, purposeful, thriving, satisfied, and covering all the needs of my family quickly and happily. This room makes my heart beat faster with sheer joy. I want my husband close, I want my boys there to enjoy the sun, and in this place I feel like I could fly. Picture your paradise—be it a beach, mountain’s peak, coffee shop, parents’ living room, or spa….believe me when I say that this bright, naturally lit room with simple flowers is my paradise. It almost begs me to sit and rest for a moment before conquering the world.

It’s true. That’s how I feel in extreme #1.

Welcome to extreme #2:

When the blues hit I feel like my room is suddenly black. The beautiful light that inspires me is drowned in darkness. I feel itchy in my own skin. Restlessness causes me to almost pace the floor. I must pace to elude the alternative of sitting and staring blankly out the window….I see the light but cannot welcome it into my aching emotional abyss. I lose the excitement of taking life firmly by the proverbial “horns” and instead fall into survival mode. In these moments I want to shut the world out. My husband and boys are in this room with me, dark though it may be, and they need me. My men need to be fed, their clothes need to be washed, there is always another chore to do. This is how I plunge ahead, moment by moment, doing what must be done as if by robotic housewife skills. But I wash dishes with tears brimming at the backs of my eyes—tears that have no explanation and no energy to release and trickle out. Sometimes I’m angry. But I can’t explain that emotion either. Angry moments, even these, are accompanied by the desire to ugly cry for no apparent purpose.

My poor husband.  

Usually my blues barge in like an unwelcome visitor in the evenings when I am tired. Sometimes they are prefaced by a long family walk during which I feel excited and thankful to be out of the house and breathing clean, fresh air. Other times they come knocking in the mornings after a sleepless night or easily frustrating event. It’s hard to shake these feelings. I cling to my husband during the “episodes.” Bless him, I inwardly turn into a leech and struggle to let him go outside, to the garage, or even the bathroom. Seriously. I’m not making this up. I do well at hiding it, but from the moment he walks out of my sight until the moment he appears again I feel anxious. I don’t want anyone else in my world…just him and my boys.

I feel like an oxymoron. My heart screams for companionship, for a chat with a friend, for activity, but once the darkness overwhelms my emotional space I want the world outside of my little home to go away. I feel lonely, I blame the world for this painful aloneness, so I desire to push them out. Don't worry, it's not anyone's fault that I feel alone, really. For people to help they have to know there's a problem. I have hidden myself away and tried to mask the struggle. I still post pictures on Instagram, statuses on Facebook, or try to be involved in a virtual social space, but I do it out of a bizarre desire to be part of a world that seems so far away. I avoid negative or “blue” statements in social media because I hate public displays of hormones and, honestly, I haven’t wanted people to look at me with pity. I wanted someone to empathize...not sympathize. 

I can’t explain all these feelings. They are foreign to who I am. I am never, EVER, been an overly emotional person. I didn’t understand PMS-ing girls who use their times of the month to explain away their hormonal outbursts. In fact, they irritate me. I rarely cry in front of people other than family or close friends. In fact, I rarely cry at all. I am typically emotionally stable.

God has been so merciful, so unchanging, so compassionate on me during these past weeks. I know from reading other women’s experiences that I am not alone and certainly not in as bad a position as I could be. I cling to Him for strength and perseverance. I am blessed His mercies are new each morning.

My husband has been so patient, so understanding, so compassionate. He cannot understand these feelings, but sends me for a walk or to a chair for rest when I feel I cannot keep persevering. His only request is that I not close myself off from him emotionally. So I tell him how I feel, as irrational as it may seem, and I don’t caveat the feelings. I’m learning to own them, though I don’t understand them. My boys have never ceased to bring a smile, for even when in my dark moments Gracin’s toddling and senseless jabbering gives me strength to keep changing diapers, cooking dinner, and cleaning up messes. And though I often feel like crying through parts of his nursings, or even cursing them at the very pain of his latching on, sweet Garrett’s warm skin against mine as he nurses and often falls asleep at my chest keeps me in a state of continuing.

I know these are normal feelings for many women, and I’m not ignoring or pushing them away in an attempt to pretend they don’t exist. I’m accepting that they are here, and I am painfully aware of them on a daily basis.  My husband prays over me often as we face these moments together, one moment at a time.

The days aren’t bleak, they are precious. These days with my boys are precious. I need them close, I need their happy chattering, even their whiny tears and messy moments, to keep me moving. I know that the time I struggle with baby blues will be short in the long life we share as a family, but today, I have to be honest with the situation and keep moving ahead.

Aren’t we thankful that our Father is always in the light??? “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:15). I’m clinging to Him.

It is hard to share this with you. I don’t like admitting difficulties as Satan often tries to convince me they are weaknesses the world will label me for having. But that’s what’s going on in our world right now. That’s where I am… tough and “un-beautiful” as it may seem.

Thanks for listening, this confession is like therapy for my heart. We can believe together the precious, beautiful words of scripture together:

“and it came to pass…..”

handsome daddy being silly with G1 before bedtime 

sweet brothers....who look so much like brothers :)

sitting in the back of the car after a family outing

the reality of life at the end off the day with a busy toddler 
painful boo-boos as the right of passage into learning to walk 

precious cuddles that keep me rocking until even the chair
seems to doze with us. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Garrett Charles: A Birth Story

I remember typing Gracin’s birth story. In all honesty, it was only a year ago that I was sharing with you the precious moments leading up to, and following, our oldest son’s birth.

After having time to settle at home for a week, I am excited to share with you another precious story…..the birth of Garrett Charles.

The weekend before I went into labor we were blessed to have my parents come visit. My mom came to help me clean cabinets, clean bathrooms, and “get ready” for baby. We didn’t know when baby was coming for sure, but at my doctor’s appointment the week before I was 50% effaced, dilated to a 2, and Garrett was at 0 station. Doctor told me “it could be any day,” and I left his office trying to remind myself not to get excited just in case I had to wait weeks before the effacing was complete.

Mom and I scrubbed cabinets and chatted away on Thursday afternoon. That evening Kyle and I took her and the stroller to a local college and walked 2 miles, pushing Gracin and enjoying the weather. I had to stop several times from contractions and general discomfort, but they fresh air was perfect and much needed.

 My dad drove in from a long business trip on Friday and we enjoyed being together in our little home. Dad was exhausted and fell asleep for several hours on Saturday afternoon while Kyle, Mom, Gracin, and I decided to get out of the house and go walking. By the end of the walk I was doubled over in pain. The contractions were hard and I could feel the pressure of Garrett’s little head low in my pelvis.

Mom was vague, trying not to get my hopes up, but she encouraged me to rest and said, “I don’t think you’ll have to wait too much longer.” After seeing my discomfort, my father was less reserved and said pointedly, “Well, we are going home on Sunday, but we will be back before the middle of the week.”

Sunday afternoon rolled around and I had plans to walk again. But after church, I was exhausted and chose to rest instead. We noticed Sunday afternoon that Gracin was running a low grade temperature and his coughing and runny nose from allergies were getting worse.

Monday morning arrived and with it we realized our big boy was sick. His fever was higher and he was coughing and gagging. He and I cuddled through the day and he slept a lot. I noticed how tired I was feeling and how my Braxton Hicks contractions were deepening into stronger, more noticeable pains. I googled “signs of early labor” and according to the internet I matched all but one of the signs. But I wasn’t going to have “bursts of energy” because I hadn’t been sleeping well at night. I smiled, sent the list to Kyle, and we hoped together that labor would be Monday night. Nothing happened except Gracin coughed harder and took another dose of Motrin for his 100 degree fever.

Before bed I used my breast pump and spent an hour on the couch as had become a nightly routine. I was trying to stimulate good contractions to help with effacing. We watched American Idol and went to bed, but not before I suffered from three very strong, very closely timed contractions that sent me to the commode to vomit. Kyle was staring at me and asking several times, “Are you in labor??”

After convincing him I wasn’t, he fell promptly asleep and I laid awake for several hours, feeling contractions, listening to my little boy cough in his bedroom, and determining I was going to call his doctor the next morning.

Tuesday dawned and Gracin was running a 101.6 fever. He was coughing, choking, snotting everywhere, and had a round of diarrhea. I called his doctor, very concerned, and was told it sounded like a cold and to give him Mucinex. Ok, that was going to be my afternoon plan….going to the drugstore for medicine.

Trying to play, but obviously sick

I noticed that I was feeling very nauseous during the morning. Kyle surprised me by coming home for lunch and we sat down to enjoy some leftovers. I ate potato soup, hoping to stop my nausea, but as soon as I finished my food I had a strong contraction and vomited again. I hadn’t been able to keep much food down since the night before.

I called Mom and asked what I should do.

“Call the doctor,” she said.

Of course, the doctor’s office was closed for lunch and weren’t going to open again for an hour. Kyle kissed me goodbye, headed to work, and told me to let him know what the office said. “We might have a baby today,” he remarked as he closed the door.

We couldn’t have a baby yet. I had a sick kiddo and I wasn’t ready!

I talked to my sister on the phone while Gracin went down for a nap. She kept me company while I tried to do dishes, straighten the bedroom, and wait on the office to open.

I finally got through to the doctor’s office. Of course they wanted to know how close my contractions were.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I have a sick kid and I haven’t had time to time them. But I can’t keep food down because they are so hard.”

“Well, I guess you might want to go to labor and delivery and get checked out,” they said, almost reluctantly.

I wanted to cry. I had determined with both pregnancies that I was NOT going to go to the hospital unless I knew I was in labor. Especially since Kyle was going to have to take off work. I wasn’t convinced I was in labor. I had been busy with Gracin all morning and all I knew was I didn’t feel “right” and couldn’t keep food in my stomach. I called Kyle and he told me he would be home soon.

I packed the last of our things into the waiting suitcase, called the necessary people, and tidied the last of our daily mess. After Kyle got home, we woke Gracin, loaded all of our hospital bags, and headed to L&D.

I was scared, distant, and almost ready to stop the entire trip. What if I wasn’t in labor?

Once we started driving and I began to relax, I noticed that I was having contractions often. They were about 3 minutes apart. Oh, ok, maybe I wasn’t crazy.

The nurses sent me to a little curtained off space and told me to put on a gown. My husband sat with our coughing little boy on his lap and they watched Curious George on the iphone while I padded to the bathroom and put on the “booger green” gown. I laid on the bed, feeling the continuing contractions, and trying to convince myself that I wasn’t crazy for being here.

The nurse who came in said she recognized me. She was certain she had helped deliver Gracin…, I didn’t think my last labor was memorable. Apparently she didn’t forget the crazy lady whose labor was induced and yet refused an epidural even after being given pitocin.  

She checked me. “You’re at a 4 and 80% effaced. Your contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, and that baby is low. You’re in labor. Let me call the doctor and see if he wants you admitted.”

She left the little room. I stared at the ceiling, and then my husband. Our eyes were locked and we shared that intimate moment that said, “This is it. We are going to meet our baby. This pregnancy is nearly over.”

The nurse came back in silently. She unplugged my cords from the monitor and I asked, “Does he want me to stay?”

“I’m unplugging you, aren’t I? Let’s go get you a room and have a baby.”

The next hour flew by. Gracin crawled around the labor room while we called friends who were going to come watch our boy, talked to parents who were on their way, texted family members to be praying, and settled down for the work ahead.

My sweet friend Katie showed up and chatted for a while before my parents arrived. She was going to take Dad back to the base and get him checked in so he could watch Gracin while Mom stayed at the hospital to help me. Once they arrived I kissed my big boy goodbye and felt a little tinge of sadness, this was my last moment to kiss him as my only child.

Mom settled in the room with Kyle and I as contractions made little mountains on the screen. Contractions came 3 minutes apart and slowly became stronger. The first hours of labor were easy and special. We were relaxed, enjoying the chat, and talking over the excitement to come.

Dr. Ward broke my water at 6:30, declaring I hadn’t progressed since I was checked 3 hours earlier, and left. Lucky man.

The nurses were incredible and gave me a dose of narcotics to take the edge of the pain. I believe after that dose we were given a small taste of what I would look like as a drunk. I couldn’t contain my laughter, although I have no idea what I was laughing at. I tried to carry on conversation and couldn’t understand why my husband and mother were doubled over in laughter. I would be laughing, start to cry, and then “ouch” my way through a contraction. Ahhhh, narcotics. There may be a video on my husband’s phone that he shot as I was coming out of the “stupor.” I’m sure he’s keeping it for blackmail purposes.

The next 4 hours are a blur, and I will spare you details. Just imagine me in a really bad mood, grouching and then apologizing, lots of groaning and frowning, lots of hard breathing, lots of my mom rubbing my feet to distract me from the pain, and lots of the nurses coming in to tell me we were progressing.

By 10:00 the nurse was on the phone with the doctor, telling him to come because I was ready. I remember only pushing 4 times with Gracin’s birth, so I expected to have a short delivery. I believe I pushed 7-8 times with Garrett, but when he came into this world, the doctor almost juggled him because he arrived so quickly. At 10:26 the doctor held him up in one hand as he clamped the cord. He was there. My heart beat faster as I heard his scream, his lungs proving themselves healthy. First thoughts blazed through my mind: He’s here! Does he look like his brother? Oh that HAIR! Is it really a boy? Oh yes, yes, that’s for sure a boy.

Kyle asked if Garrett could be put on my chest—something I hadn’t gotten to have with Gracin and something I regretted deeply. As the doctor flopped (and yes, he did FLOP that poor boy on my chest) I felt the most amazing warmth flood through my tired body. There was blood on my chin from where his little head grazed my jaw. “Hi, baby! It’s ok….oh, honey, it’s ok,” I crooned. His screams continued as the nurses took him away, wiped his little red body, and suctioned his nose. They had told me he was “premature” at 36 weeks, 4 days gestation. I had been arguing their estimation of my due date in my mind, but when they weighed him and pronounced him a healthy 7 lbs. 3 oz, I knew he wasn’t premature. He was perfect.

Kyle cried, I teared, my mom was smiling and shooting pictures for me, and as the doctor stitched me up I felt relief (and hormones) surge through my body.

We had our second baby! 1 year and 11 days after our lives and worlds were rocked by the birth of Gracin Lawrence we were again changed by the birth of Garrett Charles. Love multiplied…..

They left us in the delivery room as a surge of laboring women had arrived to the hospital. My mom left, Kyle’s mom and grandmother came in to meet little Garrett, and then we were left alone. Just me, my handsome husband, and our precious baby boy. Garrett proved to have a ravenous appetite from the moment he arrived. The first nursing was easy, intimate, and is etched in my mind.

We fell asleep there, the tired three of us, until nearly 1:00 AM when they moved us to a permanent room and took Garrett to be bathed. I didn’t sleep that first night, but I did lay in bed cherishing the memories of the day past.

A friend of mine was actually in labor at the same time I had been, so after she had her epidural, we texted back and forth—separated by only 2 rooms—each of us bringing strong boys into the world.

Each child Kyle and I conceive will have their own “birth” story. Gracin’s is a memory I will never forget. Garrett’s has become just as permanent and memorable. We praise the Lord for added little blessing!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Thoughts On Your Social Cleavage

This is a topic that has been heavy on my mind the past few weeks. Maybe it comes because I am an exhausted pregnant woman, bursting with child, and chasing a busy soon-to-be-one-year-old around the house. I can become irritated....and lately I've been irritated with things I've been seeing on Facebook.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Facebook. I love getting to see pictures of my gorgeous niece, my cousins and their children, and I cherish that within seconds my parents and in-laws have access to every picture and video of Gracin I put online. Social media connects families separated by long distances, and for that reason I do enjoy it. I have been involved in FB messaging with church friends who are arranging meals for new moms, asking for prayer requests, or encouraging each other with scripture and words of wisdom. Facebook isn't necessarily evil. 

Social media is a wonderful tool. But sometimes it becomes more than a tool, it becomes the sounding board for people to complain, post unnecessary hateful things, and go on political or moral rampages. What you post online is a picture of what you want people to see and think about who you are. 

I wish I could say I coined the phrase "social cleavage," but really I heard Beth Moore reference it in a Bible study. After spending time pondering it, I have adopted the phrase as the best way to describe what I see online. No one wants to see your physical cleavage, at least I don't, and in the same way, no one wants to see you go all "ape" online and reveal a part of your character that speaks negatively of who you are. 

I have a dear friend whose husband was recently gone for nearly a year on two back-to-back deployments. I know it wasn't easy, and I'm certain there were days that she had a million hateful things to say about being home to play the role of a single parent to three kids. But bless her, she never posted anything negative about the whole ordeal. Every day she sought to bless others through scripture or general posts about her kids. Life was hard, and yet she didn't show her "social cleavage" and descend to a level of complaint. I gained so much respect for her during those hard months, and as the potential for our own deployment arrives, I keep her strength and resolve in the back of my mind. 

I have yet another friend who has five ADORABLE children. She is one tough mama! I love that, even in all the craziness, she only posts hilarious stories or overflowing love about each of her sweet ones. She doesn't complain about motherhood, and each day that she posts about a long previous night or a child's meltdown is a moment that she turns into humor or lessons learned. She reminds me that being a mama is glorious, even when it feels overwhelming.

And then you have the other friends who post statuses laden with complaints. Hey, I get that sometimes life is rough, your work is hard, your day didn't go as planned, and your kids are driving you crazy. I'm there too! But unless you are able to turn a bad day into humor or share a way God taught you through the difficulty, constant status updates to gripe only make people dread seeing your name pop up in their feed. How do I know this? Because there are a few people who post, and I usually skim over what they have to say--I'm worn out from "seeing" them complain daily.

If you don't want people to think of you as vulgar, don't curse in your posts. Warning, if you make a habit of dropping bad language, I will probably remove you from my friend list or block you completely. I don't want to read it. If that's your opinion and the way you want to state it, fine, but don't be offended if I choose to not read what you post. 

Social cleavage one wants to see it. If you want to share a rough day's events, that's fine. But evaluate how often you are complaining. If you scroll through your page and there are more than three posts with negative connotation in a week, it's time to rethink what you're posting. 

Still other people reveal their social cleavage through their political and moral posts. I will be straight up honest: I'm Republican, I don't like Obama, I'm not for gay marriage, I'm Baptist, I believe in spanking, and I don't really care if you agree with me. But I don't think it's appropriate for Facebook, Twitter, or social media to be the platform for people to be hateful about their opinions. Let's be real here--when has a FB comment war over someone's political stance changed the overall opinion of those participating? 


I have been involved in, and seen, many debates take place on the social media platform over spiritual matters, Obama, gay marriage etc. Not once has anything I have said changed anyone's mind...nor have they changed mine. Save your breath. They aren't going to agree with you even if you post a hundred well-documented websites as your "proof" or quote a hundred verses from scripture. When people are set in their opinions, you can argue till you're blue in the face, and if you are like me, the only result is you will walk away irritated at someone else's "stupidity." 

Don't argue over social media. It does nothing. 

If you don't like the current political administration, hey, I get it. I'm disappointed too. But be careful what you post. Don't keep sharing pictures bashing Obama and his family--especially when those pictures are from groups like "A monkey is smarter than Obama" or "Like if Obama is the worst president ever." 


Hey, I don't agree with him. I don't like him. But I don't think we need to be sharing things from groups who refuse to be respectful. He's our President. He was placed there by God. I didn't and won't vote for him, but let's not share hatred. Facebook isn't going to change policy. It isn't going to impact the world. Prayer changes things. Logging off social media and actually getting involved in politics changes things. 

I've shared my political thoughts when it involved the military, but at every turn I've tried to be respectful. If I haven't, let me know! I want to avoid showing you MY social media cleavage. (I'll just invite you over for dinner and share it face-to-face.)

If you want to post a picture you think describes your feelings perfectly, try saving it to your phone or computer and then posting it on your own page...don't just share from a group page that may be promoting hateful things. Be careful what you publicly "endorse" online. 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Keek, Vine......there a dozen social sites now. For the love of your witness, be cautious what you post. One of my favorite quotes on facebook is "Don't judge me." I'm sorry, but here's the fact: if you post your opinion online for hundreds (and potentially thousands) of people to see, you open yourself up to scrutiny and you INVITE people to draw judgements about you and your family. 

If you bash your husband's character over media, don't expect people to respect him. If you complain about his job, don't be surprised if his boss finds your postings and skips over your husband for promotions or weekends off. If you constantly gripe about your own job online, don't cry when you are let go in a tough economy when cuts are needed. If you don't want people to think of you as a complainer, don't make every post sound like you are whining about life.

Social media is a wonderful tool--as long as we use it as such.  We need to be cautious what we post so we don't reveal inappropriate parts of ourselves that should be reserved for intimate conversations and confessions with friends, our spouses, and family over cups of coffee in the safety of our homes. 

I'm not sorry if you disagree with me. I'm really not. And if you catch me becoming a whiny person who shares hateful things, PLEASE, privately message me and call me on it. 

Let's cover our social cleavage. NOBODY wants to see it. 


P.S. And those groups that say "let's see if Jesus can get 1,000,000 likes....." 

just think about it and answer this question honestly: when has Jesus EVER needed social media to "like" Him? There are people being tortured and DYING for their faith because they love our Lord. I don't think a quick click on Facebook is going to help them or show your undying dedication. True love and devotion isn't measured in what you post is measured in how you LIVE.