Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"FLYing" toward Biblical Hospitality

I so love the book of Romans! Especially chapter 12. Every time I consider purchasing a new Bible, this is the chapter I read to test whether I should buy that particular version. (I have a system, okay?! Ha ha!)

Well, today a particular verse was brought back to my remembrance...verse 13 that says:

"...distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality."
And I know I'm not the first to make this connection, but in order to adhere to the command to be "given to hospitality" you've got to have a relatively clean house, right?

Having been fairly diligent lately to stay on track with my "FLYing," my home has been relatively presentable. That feels so awesome! While I wouldn't jump to host a ladies tea at my place at this point, I can have people over without being totally embarrassed by my lack of diligence in housekeeping. I can even invite people in if they show up unexpectedly. Even my kitchen has been in such a state of semi-readiness that I can offer a snack to people. It feels great to just open the door and say "sure, come on in!" without scrambling to tidy up and throw a bunch of stuff in the bedroom and quickly close the door. (Probably nobody else knows what I'm talking about!)

I know that hospitality extends far beyond moving past talking to visitors on the porch. But chaos (or CHAOS- Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome as the Fly Lady calls it) in our home is something that keeps us from moving toward the Biblical directive to be given to hospitality. And guess what? If you are regularly given to hospitality, your house will by necessity stay clean and orderly. It's a beautiful thing!

The Bible tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). But in order to love our neighbor, we need to love our self! We need to make our home a place that we love to be, and in turn, other people will love to be there too! And we will love to invite them over!

Where are you on this journey? Are you loving yourself? Are you loving your neighbor and inviting them over? What can you do this week to take a step closer to hospitality?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Son's Birth Story, Part Two

Please read my previous post if you missed Part One!

I ended up having another night much like the previous one. I was terribly uncomfortable, and couldn't really sleep. I may have dozed off a couple of times, but I never really rested. And I really needed to! I really wish I would have known how to consciously relax at this point.

I was up early the next morning (it's Friday now in case you lost track), and I worked up enough motivation  to get into the tub. That was SO nice! (I felt like I barely fit, but it was awesome nonetheless). It was so relaxing, and I was able to actually drift off into sleep (glorious sleep!) for an extended period of time. I'm pretty sure this didn't do much to speed up my labor, but at this point, I did not. Even. Care! I think in part, I stayed in so long, just because I knew what a hassle it would be to get out! I eventually did get out, and my husband went to go get some breakfast. I ate, and I think sometime around this point is when my labor started "for real".
I had stopped obsessing over keeping track of the timing of the contractions, but I would guess they were pretty regular now, maybe every five minutes or so. And when one came, there was no guessing involved. I remember sitting down on the sofa, and I would get one and jump up immediately and go into the bedroom.

(Warning: Bunny trail ahead!) For those that haven't guessed by now, with regard to temperament, I'm pretty much Phlegmatic, but with a serious streak of Melancholy. Depending on what day it is, maybe the other way around. The Melancholy trait can manifest in me usually being terribly reserved especially when it comes to anything physical. I do not like being physically expressive in front of people! Even my husband to some extent. I have the tendency to be rather private, so when active labor finally started, and contractions came for real, I had this overwhelming urge to retreat like a mama cat! 

So that's what I would do. A contraction would come, and I would move into our bedroom. At some point, I realized that rocking my hips would alleviate some of the discomfort. It was as if I was working with my body to move the baby down in preparation for birth. In fact, this was the main (perhaps only) method I actually used to help with labor.

We had determined that our goal now was to get to the hospital as soon as possible. I was not looking forward to the 45 minute drive, and I wasn't entirely packed and ready yet. But before I got ready, I felt the need to soak in the tub for a little while (Can you say "Phlegmatic?"). So while I did that, my husband packed the car with everything I had ready, including several pillows so I could be comfortable on the way over.

The drive was not too bad. I sat in the back of the car, and actually, I didn't have many contractions for the duration of the trip. Maybe three or four. (Funny how our bodies work, don't you think?) By the time we reached our exit, I was ready to get out of the car! I made my husband stop at the nearest gas station so I could get out and move around. I walked into the convenience store, and another woman was walking out as I was walking in, and I must've been a sight, because all I remember is the look of surprise in her eyes as I walked in. (What? People don't normally go to the convenience store during active labor?)

Anyway, after resting in (of all places) the restroom for several minutes, we started off to make the remainder of the trip to the hospital. It was about a mile from where we were. We arrived, and my husband dropped me off at the curb. I may have been offered a wheel chair, I honestly don't remember- but if it was offered, I most definitely refused!

We came into the admissions area, and oh my...this process seemed to take forever! I left my husband talking to the registrar to go attend to the contractions whenever there was one. We were finally ushered to triage, where we learned there were no labor and delivery rooms open. It was unclear how long it would be before one became available. They said I could sit in the triage room, and I actually had to wait there for my midwife to come in and monitor me. I sat on the monitor (monitoring the baby and my contractions) for probably the longest 20 minutes of my life. Then my midwife checked me, and she said cheerily, "Congratulations! You're going to have your baby today!" I was at 6 centimeters, and she said my bag of waters was no longer intact. (When did it rupture? I assure you, I have no idea! If not in the beginning, then probably in the tub at some point). This was around noon on Friday.

As soon as I could, I got up off the triage bed (which felt like it was a good six feet off the ground!) and got vertical again. Since there were no rooms open, we asked if I could walk through the hallways. They said I could, and so I did. When I would get a contraction, I would stop, lean forward against the wall, and rock my hips. That was my method through pretty much the whole thing! Soon, my older sister came to the hospital to join me (in the hallway) followed by my niece. I didn't talk much to them! I was just a little distracted.

Finally after what seemed like hours (maybe it was!), a room opened up for me. I went in and immediately asked to get into the bathtub. (This hospital has large soaking tubs in all the rooms). I had indicated on my birth plan that I wanted only intermittent fetal monitoring, and so I was checked with a Doppler every 15-20 minutes. Even in the tub. After my first soak in the tub, other comfort measures were offered and tried (like a birthing ball) and failed. Probably by this time, I had more visitors (sisters, mother in law and a couple others). I was so exhausted, and the only thing I could think about was how I really needed to rest for the work ahead.

I asked the nurse what kind of sleep-inducing medication was available. In my naivete, I was thinking like Tylenol PM or something to that effect. The nurse started talking about Stadol and others like that, and of course an epidural. I knew I didn't want that. And one of my sisters warned me that Stadol would just make me nauseous and dizzy and I'd probably throw up. I didn't want that!

I ended up just forgoing all medication. I asked to get into the tub again. Then discreetly, I asked the nurse to have my visitors go out of the room. Honestly, they weren't doing anything wrong, but I just felt like I was in hospitality mode or something. They were visiting me! I was much more relaxed after everyone went out.

I think after my soak in the tub, I was checked and was at nine centimeters. I was told by my midwife that I could try to start pushing if I wanted. Well, that seemed like as good of an idea as any. Except that I didn't really feel the "urge" to do so. (This observation was after the fact, of course). So I began pushing. I had no idea what I was doing. I felt really inhibited too, which didn't help. Plus my contractions never got any closer together than five minutes apart. 

Praise be to God, my little guy's heart rate stayed super steady the entire time I was pushing. It lasted hours. Finally, the midwife said she could see the baby's head, and I asked "what is the hair texture?" My husband in his excitement replied, "it's long!" (It may seem like a totally random question, but this is something I was wondering for my entire pregnancy, as my husband is bi-racial, and I am not). Somehow, I had the wherewithal to inform him that I did not mean the length of the baby's hair, but whether it was curly or straight. I was told that it was straight, and somehow I immediately knew that this baby was a boy. (I had convinced myself that a boy would have my hair texture and color and a girl would have his).

After a couple more contractions (and a little help from a sharp, pokey instrument), my son was born. It was amazing! Someone in the room said "it's a boy!" and I could hear my previously banished friends and family on the other side of the door cheering. They were only waiting for three and a half hours! He was born at 9:46 p.m. weighing in at 7 lbs, 15 oz, and I was completely overjoyed. It was a long, exhausting labor, but worth every minute.
Five days old
And a little more recent snapshot!

And with that, I wish my little blessing a Happy Fourth Birthday!

What's your experience with childbirth? 

My Son's Birth Story, Part One

***Published in two parts...I know you have other things to do! Lol!

Stay tuned for Part Two!

This is a post all about what I was doing four years ago today! Grab a snack and enjoy (you're going to need one to keep your energy up ;-D)! 
At the time, we did not know whether to expect a boy or a girl; we wanted to be surprised. That kind of drove everyone nuts, as people seem to think that nobody waits to find out the gender of their child any more. Well, with this pregnancy and birth, we ended up doing a lot of things that "nobody" does any more! (At least in our little circle).

I originally started out wanting a home birth with this pregnancy. I received prenatal care for the first 30 weeks or so from a team of Licensed Midwives. They were really great and I loved the personal care that I received from them. For some reason, I thought that our insurance would cover the expense of a home birth to some extent (I figured they would've been considered "out of network" or whatever, but that did not end up being the case). I was informed around 30 weeks that we would have to pay the entire cost out of pocket (and that it was due by 33 weeks- yikes).

One of the midwives explained this information to us and she knew our situation, and pointed me in the direction of alternative care. She informed me of which doctors to steer clear of (as in "it would be better for you to give birth under a tree somewhere than see this doctor") and also gave me information of a birthing center with a team of Certified Nurse Midwives (or CNM's). I ended up going with this group of care providers as there were no other midwives in my immediate area that were covered on my insurance. Turns out that my insurance restricted the use of the birthing center, so I had to go to the hospital they contracted with. That hospital was about 45 minutes away from us without traffic, but I made that exception because I really did not want an obstetrician to attend the birth of my child. I really wanted a natural birth experience and did not feel at that time that I would be supported the way I wanted to be by an obstetrician.

In preparation for this birth, I read three books: The Birth Book by Dr. Sears (and The Pregnancy Book by the same author- it actually covered much of the same material), and Christ Centered Childbirth by Kelly J. Townsend. (All of these are awesome reads by the way, if you're in the market for a birth book). My husband and I also took the birthing class provided by the hospital. It consisted of four classes, one of which we skipped because it was the class about pain meds, and I was determined to not use them!
I somehow was convinced that my baby would arrive earlier than the due date. I still don't know why I thought this. Wishful thinking, I guess! I began my six week maternity leave on May 1st. In hindsight, I should have just worked up until my labor began, but I think I made that decision because I wanted some time to "unwind" and finish getting everything ready before I became a mama!

The Wednesday before my son was born (the 16th), we went to church like any other Wednesday evening. We came home, and went to bed. It was the day before his due date, so I was pretty excited, and feeling "overdue" because I thought I should have already given birth by this point! (Plus, I was measuring a week ahead according to the midwife.) Anyway, we were in bed by 11 pm, I guess, and then around 1:00 a.m. I woke up to use the restroom. As I rolled myself out of bed, a huge gush of fluid flooded my mattress. There is absolutely nothing that can describe the terror of that moment! Suddenly, the whole reality of impending childbirth comes to light...and it's just...well...terrifying!

I woke my husband up in a state of semi-panic. All I could do was just lie there. I could not stop the gushing (sorry, I know, TMI!). It was such a powerless feeling. My husband came around to my side of the bed to help me up, and I went in the restroom to clean up. I just remember trembling- like I said, I was basically terrified. Meanwhile, he took our sheets and stuff to the washer (I had actually placed a cheap plastic shower curtain under our sheets just in case this happened!) We called the midwife's after hours line, and spoke to a midwife who told me to just try to rest as much as possible. She said to expect contractions to begin in the next few hours, and to call back when they were around five minutes apart.

I stayed up for a bit, ate some toast (pregnant woman middle of the night hunger!) I started to try to compose a text message to alert my family and closest friends that the time was drawing near, but I was so nervous that I couldn't compose a succinct thought in the form of a message, and ended up giving up on that, and thought I would just leave it til morning to let everyone know. I don't remember how far I got with said message, I just remember reading over it, and it being terribly long-winded and ramble-y. (Imagine that!)

Anyway, as I was sitting up eating my toast and attempting to text message my nearest and dearest, I began to feel some contractions. Nothing serious, more like pretty strong menstrual cramps. They were pretty sporadic, so I tried going back to bed. It was so difficult for me to relax (I tend to be a tad on the slightly tense side anyway- more about that later) and when I tried laying on my side as I normally did, I felt really uncomfortable. (As a side note, I did not know the value of consciously relaxing at this point, so that pretty much didn't happen). I went to go lie down on the recliner in our living room hoping this would be a comfortable place for me to rest. It was slightly better, but I tend to not sleep easily in places that aren't my bed, so the remainder of that night was pretty ridiculous for me. Mind you, my husband was sleeping soundly in the next room. No sense in both of us being awake, right?

The following morning was Thursday, and I began packing my suitcase for the hospital. I figured I'd be going any time. My husband called into work to let them know I was in labor, so he was home with me, thankfully. At some point, I had been in contact with a midwife, and she basically told me to try to get my labor going, as the contractions were pretty sporadic. They were anywhere from 7-12 minutes apart with no discernible pattern. She suggested going for a walk, or maybe soaking in the tub (at this point, I thought "yeah, right!" I was SO huge and could barely maneuver in our little apartment tub). We ended up going for a walk to the water store nearby. I think I got something to drink, and maybe a snack. The normally 15 minute round-trip walk took us about 40 minutes due to me having to stop every so often. I was pretty exhausted, and I think when I would get a contraction, I really couldn't do anything. So I just sat down.

I remember continuing to pack the suitcase after we got home, and I had talked with one of my sisters on the phone. She was getting concerned because not much was happening. She suggested calling the midwife again and maybe trying to go to the hospital to see what the "hold up" was. It had been about twelve hours since "the gush". I called the midwife, and she said to go ahead and come in, sooner rather than later to avoid rush hour. Well, in case you don't know, it takes me forever to get ready anyway, so in slow-mo labor mode, well, let's just say we ended up going after rush hour!

I had convinced the midwife that my water was in fact broken, and so I was in triage briefly, then was escorted into my labor and delivery room. I was checked and determined to be dilated to three centimeters. The nurses wanted to take a sample of the fluid just to be certain my bag of waters had ruptured. Well, wonder of wonders, there was no amniotic fluid in the sample! I was incredulous. I still kind of am! I asked what in the world I could have possibly experienced in the middle of the night. I was told that I probably had a bladder "malfunction", or it was my mucous plug. (Ugh!) Neither seemed highly likely in my opinion, I had never had any bladder issues up until that point (or after that, for that matter) and it was way too much fluid to be just my mucous plug. But whatever. Moving on...

They sent me home. The wonderful nurse told me, "I want you to come back when you have a contraction, and you can't talk through it". So not what I wanted to hear at the time, but in hindsight, she was right! (Note to first time expectant mamas: don't bother going to the hospital until you experience this, please save yourself the trouble. Lol!)

Come back in a little bit for Part Two! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Keys to Overcoming Anger- Staying Connected

 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, New King James Version)
As a wife and mom, there are many things that I have reacted to in anger over the past few years.

Anger because I feel let down. I feel rushed or overwhelmed. I feel like there's not one more interruption I can tolerate. I can't bear to feel one more small round bit of cereal crunching under my feet.

Before I was married, I seldom got angry. I was so spiritual then! As one man of God has said, "everyone is super-spiritual until they get around other people." That truth certainly has played out in my life!

People make mistakes. They stumble. They sin. Sometimes against you!

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

It's such a cliche. And one that I kind of got tired of hearing...until I got it!

When we allow ourselves to respond in anger, we are taking our eyes off of Jesus, and putting our hopes and expectations on our husband, our children, our whatever! 

We must stay connected to Jesus, no matter what! That does not mean that we will never get angry at anything. But those frustrating situations will be less and less in our minds as we are looking to Him to meet our needs, to fulfill our expectations and hopes. He really is everything to us! 

As we learn dependence on Him, we will begin to overcome anger!

 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, New King James Version)

What helps you to stay connected to Jesus?

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting to Know You Better!

Hello, Friend!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Little Helper

My little guy helping me out in the kitchen a couple nights ago. Well, he's not really an ox, and he's not exactly treading grain, but he sure enjoyed sampling the spinach I asked him to dry in the salad spinner!

Spreading the Word: Bloggers for Birth Kits

The Mommyhood Memos Bloggers for Birth Kits
If you've ever carried a child in your womb, you know what a scary, exciting time that can be. I think it's pretty safe to assume that if you're reading this, you live in a developed nation. That pretty much guarantees (with a few exceptions) that you have access to an ideal birthing environment, whether your choice is to give birth at home, in a birth center or at a hospital.

Well, when I heard about Bloggers for Birth Kits happening over at The Mommyhood Memos, I knew I had to show some support! I am passionate about birth, and it's especially on my mind this month, since in just over a week I will be celebrating four years since giving birth to my precious little P (hopefully I will get around to sharing his birth story in the very near future)!

I feel in the United States, we have our own "birthing issues" that need to be addressed, but it's really nothing like the expectant mamas in places like Papua New Guinea experience.

Bloggers for Birth Kits is an effort to help moms in developing nations prevent childbirth-related complications and death. For just a couple of dollars, we can help support this vision. I encourage you to click over to The Mommyhood Memos to read about this and how it is really growing and impacting the lives of moms in places like Papua New Guinea. If you can't support financially, maybe you can blog about it or share on Facebook to get the word out!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Back on the Fly Lady Bandwagon

 That's right! I fell off of it. But I'm back.

Too many things were not getting done, and I was sort of drowning in my lack of routines. I had been out of the house for extended periods a couple of times over the past week, and the CHAOS became really apparent. Of course, after being out of the house, I was pretty drained and didn't have much energy to get stuff in shape, so you can imagine (but please try not to- it's not pretty!)

Have you heard of the Fly Lady? She (Marla Cilley) has a website ( as well as a book called Sink Reflections. It's been about a year since I came across her site. I found it sort of by accident, but it was life-changing! I love it when someone comes along and challenges my perspective toward housework or organization (another great book I've come across is Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern).

For people like me, for whom housework and organization seems to be this completely "mystifying" experience, women like the Fly Lady seem to just unveil the process of orderly living. (This is coming from someone who used to be sent to "clean your room" and would be discovered two hours later playing in the middle of a bigger mess- this kind of still happens for me, though I'm somewhat more disciplined these days). I so appreciate the advice of these ladies, and their step-by-step directions. It makes housework seem like not such an insurmountable task. Even if you have little ones. Even if you don't have a lot of help from others.

Hopefully in the coming weeks, I can create better habits so I can achieve more order and clarity in my world. I started last night with shining my sink. I still woke up to a counter full of dirty dishes, but my sink was shiny! That little step will start the ball rolling to even greater diligence!

Have you ever fallen into a housework slump? What has helped you recover?