Monday, October 25, 2010

What I'm chewing on...

I wanted to share some scriptures that I'm going to be meditating on this week, or for however long. I could type a million words here, but there is nothing on this earth more refreshing to me, whether I want to hear it or not, than God's Word.

My sweet friend a few years back made me a box of hundreds of scripture cards, all laminated and in pretty colors...yes, she was an Elementary school teacher...anyway, I keep it on a coffee table in my bedroom and while I feed Ryan I flip through these cards that are much more than just cards, but literal food for every part of my being.

In Jason's line of work it is common place, though heart-breaking, to encounter starvation and malnutrition.

In America it is common place to encounter over-eating or over-consumption, yet we rarely, if ever, equate it with the same definitions: starvation and malnutrition, lack or being without.

In America, we have so much. We have plenty. We have more than enough and even some of the most impoverished people in our country are better off than many of those in 3rd world countries.

And, in America, in American Christianity, there are many that on the outside look well-fed and nourished, yet on the inside are truly starving, barely surviving.

I lived like that for years...trying to follow Christ without getting to know Him in His Word...

John chapter six talks about Jesus being the "bread of life." In the wilderness when the Jews were wandering, God provided literal food, manna bread, for the people to ingest. For years, thousands of them, people have taken that sign as something with which we are to fill our lives with...we find comfort in it.

I found comfort in it for years...

The Jews were very comfortable knowing they'd find manna each morning out in the wilderness. Of course, then they started grumbling since they were eating it every single day...they longed for variety.

Jesus is that variety. He satisfies in a way we are unable to explain so that when our lives are in transition, holding patterns, complete chaos, knowing and trusting Christ brings a peace that no meal could satisfy.

Anyway, that wasn't what I was going to share...I was going to share the scriptures that I am chewing on, feasting on, in the days ahead. I hope they are an encouragement and challenge to you, as well.
  • "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." NIV Psalm 51:12 Here's The Message version that ROCKS!
  • "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." NIV John 15:4 Here it is in The Message.
  • "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." NIV Galatians 5:22-23 Here it is in The Message.
It's so cool how these were the first 3 scripture cards in my little box this morning...and how they progress as you dig deeper into each one.

So that's what I'm chewing on. Want a bite?

Friday, October 22, 2010

8 weeks

Why are these pictures so special to my mommy and daddy?

Well, besides the fact that I am the subject in the pictures, they say they are special because I am at home.

I am at home most of the time. I'm not sure why this is such a big deal, but when my mom smiles at me with this weird wet stuff dripping from her eyes, I suppose that is significant.

Apparently not all 8 week old baby boys are at their mommy's arms, getting snuggled and slobbered on. What? Oh, my mom said she doesn't "slobber" but that those things are called "kisses" or "smooches". Whatever they are, I won't lie...I like them a lot.

Yeah, my doctor told my parents today that I am really healthy. I have good muscle tone...this apparently will come in handy with the ladies, I hear. I also can hold my mommy's finger...again, apparently the ladies like this behavior. Oh yeah, I have good eye contact...sheesh, what don't the ladies like?!

Anyway, my mom and dad are really excited that I am at home with them, eating, growing, sleeping and, I heard my mommy even say she likes it when I poop. I like pooping, too, but who knew it could make my momma so happy?!

So, there you go. I am Ryan Everett Graves, and like my name means, I am "Brave and Strong", a "Man of Distinction" and I live at home with my parents.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shocking similarities...

...but thankfully, different!

(photo by Sara Lazio of Lazio Images...she rocks!)
(photo courtesy of Michelle of my favorite pictures of all time!)

I have more pictures to share. In fairness, the boys were not the same age in the above photos.

The first baby pic is taken at 3 weeks...the second is 5 or 6 weeks.

I have photos where they look like identical twins.
(Seriously, Ryan couldn't have just looked Italian or Asian or something?! Yeah, no. His dad is Czech/English, so that would not have worked...nope, he had to look just like his big brother!)

Noah was 7.5 weeks when he was admitted to the hospital.

Ryan is 7.5 weeks today.

...I am grateful to have passed the 7.5 week mark...

...but I'm still just loving him one day at a time!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I'm learning in 3rd grade

We are homeschooling this year...yes, you heard me right. We have an infant. We have a new puppy. I have my own business. I have a non-profit. I'm the director of women's ministry at my church. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm a sister, daughter, friend. Yada, yada, yada.

...and...I look nothing like the woman described in Proverbs 31...

...because, may I remind you, she had a full-time staff...God's grace and her full-time staff are what made her amazing.

What makes me amazing? Nothing.

I listed those things above not to boast that I am amazing and all that and a bag of chips, but because I'm a real live woman just like you, doing too much at once, but loving every aspect, and simply doing the best that I can.

I do live by God's grace, however I do not have a full-time staff. I have a lot of awesome people in my life that help me with all the areas listed above, and that is how I am able to do all those things. Team. I'll be the first to admit I don't do any of those things on my own...

I'm not sayin' I do them well...I'm just sayin' I "do" them.

So, back to homeschooling...Em and I embarked on this journey about a month ago. Ryan's arrival put our start date out a bit...
  • We've both shed tears.
  • We've both wanted to throw in the towel.
  • We've both laughed hard.
  • We've both wanted to punch the other in the face. (not really, of course)
  • I've wondered if I made the right decision.
  • I've gone back to God with the "Are You sure You wanted me to do this?" prayer several times.
  • She's told me she loves school but is lonely.
  • I've had to be better at coordinating play dates...
I could list a lot of bullet points that could lead to a million different discussions. But this is what God has put upon my heart as we do this homeschool journey, one day at a time:

It is my job this year not to obsess about her academic excellence (as she is naturally brilliant...) but to learn to love her and love her well.

As soon as I changed gears in my heart that this was my job, the anxiety of the bigger picture went away. I was able to let go and trust, once again, that God is big. That He loves Em more than I do. That He's got the big picture and knows just exactly what Em needs this year. And that He has a plan for her life...and it's beautiful and designed with her gifts in mind.

As a mom who loves her children to the Universe and back, it gives me indescribable peace to know that God loves them more than that.

If your gut, aka God, has told you to do something that is not up your alley and harder than you ever dreamed, I just want to encourage you... really can do it. Not because you are Wonder Woman, but because God is big and is faithful to us, even when we feel like flaking.

I have never walked in your shoes. I've never sat where you sit or endured what you have, or will, endure. All I know is that as I'm learning to love Emily well, I am also learning more about God's love for me.

I'm learning that He is patient beyond what I deserve.

Many people wonder where God is, or was, when things here on earth are unbearable, confusing and painful beyond words. From my own experience God was in the middle of it, holding my heart, assuring me that life here is short and temporary...if I'll just hold on and trust that there is more life to come.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The 411, Part Deux

Sorry! I literally did not intend to leave you hanging but between poopy diapers, homeschooling, pumping, trying to keep my kitchen clean, showering periodically, making meals, snuggling, etc, apparently big nuggets of time are no longer at my disposal. Today I did, however, stay up after Ryan's 5:00 a.m. feeding and do Turbo Jam, as well as showered and made breakfast with Emily. Some days I brush my teeth and that's fabulous. Other days I surprise myself and actually get other things accomplished. My goal each day, however, is to smooch the heck out of my tasty baby boy and stare at my beautiful 8 year old as she learns about God's beautiful love for her and the world. (And, of course, as you might imagine, I wrote the above paragraph two days ago and haven't worked out or showered since...)

So, as I said, that is when the whole scene turned emotional. Honestly, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Everything seemed like deja-vu with Noah's delivery.
  • It was also a Saturday...
  • It was a boy, obviously...
  • Same hospital...
  • None of the doctors from my practice were on call...
  • Third party doc on call that I didn't know from Adam...
  • Meconium on the scene...again!
Okay, so she was probably going to send me home...I mean, I was at a "One" for Pete's sake. And, I learned the inside scoop: nurses and doctors only consider the actual act of PUSHING labor!!!!! I'll give you labor! $%^&*(

Anyway, where was I? Okay, so, I was at a "One"...we've determined that. The problem was the nurse determined this just before shift change so I had to sit and wait for the next nurse to come in and see if anything else had happened. That nurse did come in...and nothing had happened.

So, she sent me on a walk for an hour. I walked the old halls where Emily had been born. They were remodeling areas of the floor, so it was nice and quiet...but it was mauve since that particular wing hadn't been remodeled yet, and let's be honest...mauve is gross. So, I headed back to the room to see if there had been any progression.

...I was at a "One" and a "half" ish...

BUT, the nurse wanted to do one more "procedure".

Did you know that pulling your cervix forward when its facing backwards hurts like a mother #$%^&*(?!?!

Uh, yeah! She was a great nurse and really on top of things (one of my BFF's is an L and D nurse, so she was checking in every so often and told me my nurse was good...), but all she said was, "This is going to hurt but the rest of the checks won't hurt as much..."

I literally almost shot up over the top of the bed! I screamed like a baby and when she was done, I literally rolled over onto my side and sobbed to Jason. I told him I wanted my Pooh Bear (yes, I do still sleep with my 38 year old Winnie the Pooh...what's it to ya?) and that this whole thing sucked and that I didn't want to do this and that it was just too much for me to handle and what were we thinking. The tears flowed. I felt totally vulnerable. It wasn't fluffy and warm and fuzzy. It was scary and it all reminded me too much of the last little boy who took me on a roller coaster ride.

The nurse let me calm down and then monitored little Nacho's heart rate for a bit. She told me she was sorry she had to do that but that she was sure I'd progress from there. She left us to calm down and take short cat naps. Jason babbled something about how we could have slept at home for so many more hours...I ignored him but gave him a good slap upside the head in my mind. Then forgave him quickly...because I'm just that kinda girl.

The nurse came in about half an hour later...

I was at a "Two".

But there was still talk of sending me home. WHAT THE FREAK?!?!

My contractions had slowed to between 3 and 4 minutes. I wasn't too excited about the idea that I could possibly still be sent home...and then I had my first visitor.

Dr. V, the third party doc that delivered Noah, walked into the room. She had her scrubs on, but not to see me. She said she had just gotten to the floor and saw my name on the board. She said that there are some names that just stick with you. She didn't know that Noah had passed away until she came on the floor that day 4 years later...she came in to say hello and to wish me luck. I was blown away. I reminded her of the party we had in the delivery room with all my girlfriends while Noah was born because I couldn't believe she really remembered me. She assured me she did. Who knew after all these years we'd left an impression?!

Back to the story. My nurse came in and checked me.

I was at a "Three".

She had been monitoring Nacho's heart rate and though it was recovering, she still didn't like that during each contraction his heart rate would dip she went to make a call...

...and Mr. Favorite Doctor strolled into the room, all smiles, dressed in his shorts and a Polo on that lovely Saturday morning. He said, "Let's get this show on the road and have a baby today."

I choked back the tears that he wanted to help us have a baby on his day off. But, I didn't send him back home :)

He broke my water and ordered Pitocin.

And, like each of my other kids, baby Nacho had stooled in utero so the ICU nurses were alerted that their presence would be necessary at delivery.

Freaking Great! Kid, you're killing me! The last people I want to see in your delivery room are a bunch of ICU people! Can't you just pop out and cut me some slack?!
Well, as I said, I was a bit emotional. I informed the nurse I was not planning on feeling any pain during this delivery so to make sure the anesthesiologist knew his services were wanted as soon as possible. I had gone to a 7.5 with Noah before I thought I'd pass out and finally ordered an epidural, but honestly, I just could not do it this time. I was tired before I ever skipped a full night of sleep, not just due to lack of sleep but the emotional roller coaster I had been on.

Anyway, my nurse started the Pitocin and was tracking my contractions alongside a girl's in another room. Mine weren't off the charts, but I could feel them and they were spreading out a little more. The doc came in to give me my epidural. I was ready to relax and calm down for a bit.

My little sister, due within a week of me (but also given the same due date on one occasion...) came over and painted my toenails. She went home and said she'd stop by later with the fam.

Jason's sister stopped by after class around 2:30 or so to say hi. Then Em and Gina came by to hang out for a little while.

Em brought me my Pooh Bear. I hadn't even asked her to!

I was at a "Four" so Jason informed them that it would be a while...if they had errands to do or anything else, to go ahead and come back later. So they all headed out for a bit.

Mr. Favorite Doctor kept calling the nurse and telling her to up my Pitocin because my contractions weren't that she obliged and kept cranking up the numbers. They still weren't as intense as the girl's in the other room whose peaks were really big compared to my mild ones...but I was starting to feel them.

In fact, I told the nurse I wanted my money back on the epidural because even though from the waist down I was pretty comfortable, there was this Nalgene bottle sized space in the core of me where I could feel intense pain when contractions came on...and I mean intense!

She called the anesthesiologist and then checked me again.

She said, "Well, that's because he's here!"

The drug doc got there just in time to give me a little something to take off the edge.

Mr. Favorite Doctor came running in next, threw on his scrubs, everyone got into position and I pushed. Nothing. I pushed a minute later during the next contraction. Nothing. I pushed a minute later...

Ryan Everett Graves entered the world at 4:41 pm.

I kept asking if he was okay. Mr. Favorite Doctor gave him a good flip-de-do, sucked out his mouth, massaged his belly a second and Ryan started wailing.

Relief all around!

He was pink.

He was crying.

He was moving around like a healthy baby.

He was different than his brother from the very beginning. I needed that.

Mr. Favorite Doctor put him right on my chest and Jason prayed over him.

Em came back shortly after he was born. We had promised her she'd be the first after us to hold her very own baby brother. She loved him right away. I suspect he loved her, too.

So, that's it. That's the story. Except apparently there was a twist...

On Monday after Mr. Favorite Doctor did Ryan's circumcision (which Jason and I both attended) he came to my room to chat and to write up my discharge papers.

He said, "You know, you had natural childbirth after all."

I said, "No I didn't. I was on Pitocin and had an epidural. Not really natural but I wasn't going for that this time."

He said, "Actually, remember when I kept having the nurse up your Pitocin because your contractions weren't that strong? Well apparently the Pitocin was dripping on the floor, not dripping into you. So, you had natural were in labor on your own."

And there you have it. What I thought was a small puddle on the floor left by my 15 month old nephew when he had come to visit was really a puddle of Pitocin.

And, one of these days when I have some time, I'll tell you how we picked his name.

Me and Pooh posting my gratitude for epidurals on Facebook...

My newly painted toe nails, thank you, Danar!

Our strong, brave, healthy baby boy

Big sis running in to meet Ryan Everett Graves, with Mr. Favorite Doctor, our Knight in shining armor, behind her.