Friday, October 30, 2015

A call to get ready

I turned around to stare at her from my chair. My sweet baby girl, 15 weeks, sleeping so peacefully in her swing. I had just finished my devotional for the morning. A call to be ready to give God glory in all circumstances. In all suffering.

What I cannot fathom though is how God sent His SON Jesus, knowing He would suffer a tormenting death. For me.

For her.

I sat there. Staring at her. My little girl. So perfect. So gentle. So innocent.

How did God do it?

I knew God was asking me, "Heidi, will you do the same? Will you give your daughter over to me to be used for MY glory? What if it means she will become ill? What if it means she will be injured in some way? Will you still do it?"

My mind says NO! But when I read the Word, I know the truth.

"And the truth will set you free." John 8:32

I know that whatever the cost, I must be ready. Ready to surrender. Ready to walk in pain. Ready to give over my baby girl.

But honestly, today, I'm not ready. I want her to stay here with me. Safe in her swing. Fast asleep. No cares in the world. I want her to live in a world where she doesn't have to fear going to school and getting shot. Or face persecution. Or deal with unmet expectations. Or (fill in the blank).

But reality is, what I'm asking for is heaven.

We are not in heaven (yet).

But some day, I pray, my sweet baby girl will say "YES" to Jesus. "YES" to whatever He calls her to.

And her mommy will have to sit back and say, "Yes, Lord, she is yours."

I can only pray I'm ready.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Madeline's Birth Story


I jumped out of bed and made a mad dash to the toilet as I heard Mike yell from the bed, "What happened?!"  

"My water broke!" I exclaimed.

He came running to the bathroom, grinning from ear to ear.

"Sweetheart, this is it!  This is what we've been waiting for!"

It was 10:50 pm, we had just said our goodnights, prayed labor would come on its own and drifted off to sleep.  I was 41.5 weeks and frankly, in bit of denial.  I'd been waiting for this moment for weeks, but began to think it wasn't going to happen on its own.  

My contractions were instantly 1-2 minutes apart, at least it felt that way.  While my water leaked out, they only intensified.  There was no turning back, this is what I had prayed for!  

I had an idea of what I wanted for labor.  My mom, sister and many cousins had relatively fast (6-8 hour) labors, so I had that in mind.  I thought I would labor at home for a while.  You know, do dishes and clean, sit on the birthing ball, take a shower, take a bath, have Mike rub my back, take a walk outside.  I even made Mike a list of things he could do for me or offer me during labor.


With contractions so close, I wanted nothing else than to sit on the toilet.  Every time I tried to get up, another contraction would come and I would run back to the toilet!  Mike tried to encourage me and offer help, but I 'shushed' him every time!  (Sorry babe)  He did eventually get me out to the living room to sit on the birthing ball, but after one contraction I made a dash back to the bathroom!  

I knew in my head all the things I needed Mike to do to help me, but found it difficult to speak.  Finally I had about a three minute break between contractions and said, "Text Terry and Kari."  That's about all I could say.  I wanted my midwife and birth photographer to know labor had begun!

Quickly, Mike knew he needed to get me to the hospital. Thankfully I had made a list of items that he needed to load into the car.  Mike started packing the car, while I sat...on the toilet of course!  (I've never loved the toilet more...ok, except maybe when I returned home from Haiti, but almost just as much!)

I heard Mike shuffling around the house and garage, and all I could think about was how insanely close these contractions were!  

Mike eventually came back to the bathroom and asked, "When do we go to the hospital?"

I replied, "Now."

As he tried to get me moving, I didn't want to budge.  Everything inside of me just wanted to roll into the tub next to me and deliver there!  Mike finally corralled me to the garage.  

I just stood there, staring at the car.  

"I can't do it.  I can't get in.  I can't go to the hospital!"

Mike was CERTAIN I was going to get in the car.  He laid my seat back and assured me that I could do it.  As we started driving down the gravel road (we only have 3/4 mile), I kept telling Mike to slow down.  I got SO angry that he was going so fast!  

"You better slow down RIGHT NOW!"  My teeth clenched.  "Oh oh oh..." Another contraction began and took my breath away.

What I later learned is that Mike was going 3 miles/hour at that point!  I swore he was going 30!  He quickly sped up, knowing if we crept along at that speed, we were going to have a baby on the side of the road.

Mike called the labor and delivery coordinator on our drive in to let them know I was in labor.  We arrived at the hospital shortly after 12:30 am and were quickly escorted up to my room.  I felt a safety and assurance, as I was greeted by my co-workers.  Coordinator Jaci met me in the hallway, while my nurse April met me in my room.  

The monitors were placed to check on baby and my cervix checked.

"Heidi, wow, you are 9 centimeters!" exclaimed April.

I was so thankful she didn't say 3 centimeters!  I thought I was either close to delivering or needing an epidural!  All I could think of at that point was getting up to that toilet.  April and Mike escorted me to the bathroom and coached me along.  I remember asking for an epidural.  I knew in my head it was too late for one, but I wanted them to know that the contractions were bad enough that I wanted one!

Everyone in the room assured me that I could do this, that I was doing a good job and that my body was made for this!  I remember saying lots of "Oh no's," "Ooooo Ooooo OOOOO's," "You guys, I can't do this," and "Jesus, help me!"

I didn't want to be touched or talked to.  I didn't want massage.  I didn't want to be fanned.  I didn't want Mike even touching my bed!  I laugh at it now (and feel a bit sorry for everyone in the room!) but I was in a zone.

There was one thing I wanted: water!  Mike became my water boy and jumped on the opportunity to help me.

I started to grunt on the toilet and was escorted back to bed to try a new position.  My midwife arrived as I started to push.  I felt like I was vomiting out of my bottom.  You know, that irresistible urge that everything in your abdomen wants to be out!?

The pressure soon became increasingly unbearable as I pushed.  Most women say it feels like your having a bowel movement.  That was not the case for me.  I felt like my front lower pelvis was breaking in two!  I even remember opening my eyes at one point, staring straight at my midwife and saying "I'm tearing!"

I had so many thoughts and yet none at all while I pushed.  Thoughts that I could do this, followed by thoughts of doubt and exhaustion, followed by thoughts of the next contraction.  

I continued to be encouraged by everyone in the room and soon heard:

"Heidi, good job, we can see the forehead."

After being a labor and delivery nurse for 7 and a half years, I knew this was it!  I was close to delivery, actually closer than it even felt to me.  I pushed maybe one or two more times and then out came baby!

Our daughter, Madeline, was born at 2:18 am.  As she made her arrival into the world, I was the first to see that it was a girl!  I couldn't say anything though, as I was in a bit of shock.  Even though I've always wanted a girl first, I had many thoughts throughout my pregnancy (and so did many others) that it was going to be a boy.  I couldn't believe my eyes!  

I waited for Mike to make the big announcement.

"It's a girl!  It's Madeline!"

As they placed her on my chest, I kept announcing over and over that we had a girl!  

"Mike, you have a daughter!"

He smiled ear to ear, "Yes, sweetheart, we have a daughter."

Our 8 pound blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl captured our hearts right at the start.

A lot of the remaining details seem more of a blur to me.  It turns out Madeline tore me up quite a bit on her way out!  My midwife called in the OBGYN to help with the repair.  I had a 3rd degree, bilateral periurethrals, many other vaginal tears and tore my cervix too!  After trying to hold still for a while, I was taken to the operating room to be put under general anesthesia for the cervical repair.  

While this wasn't the ideal situation (some would call it the nurse curse!), I look back on everything with great faith that the Lord knew what he was doing.

You see,

1. I was able to do skin to skin and nurse Madeline before I had to go to the operating room.

2. Mike was able to do skin to skin and spend time alone with his new daughter for about an hour while I was gone.  Mike says that moment when his daughter was on his chest and everyone in the room had cleared out was one of the most amazing moments of his life!  God knew what he was doing to solidify their bond! (If I hadn't left, I'm sure I would have hogged her the whole time!)

3. I had the best staff on that night.  Everyone took amazing care of me and my family.  April coached me in such a gentle and kind way.  She gave me autonomy and showered me with compassion through it all.  I had a room full of prayer warriors: my husband, nurses, midwife, photographer/friend, and other staff!

You guys,

God is so good.  Praise Jesus for His indescribable gifts!  He has blessed me with an incredible husband and now beautiful daughter.  The miracle of birth is truly just that.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The unknown hour

The unknown hour (and day!) is upon me!  I sit here, eagerly and anxiously awaiting labor to begin!  

At 41.1 weeks, I now have to chuckle because I was worried early on about even making it to term! 

I am reminded how God has provided for us each step of the way:
  • I remember at 22 weeks when the pain in my right side (under/in my ribs) hit me. Ultrasounds of gallbladder, liver, kidneys, and baby/placenta all came back ok.  We only found mild hydronephrosis - which many pregnant women have.  We prayed for release of pain.  God answered.  Within 2 weeks I was mostly pain free.
  • I remember at 28 weeks when the heart palpitations began, sometimes lasting 4 hours at a time.  I remember at 30 weeks, hearing the cardiologist say, "If your ECHO (ultrasound of the heart) shows anything abnormal, I will recommend early delivery and no more babies."  We prayed. God answered. Normal ECHO.
  • I remember when the blurred vision hit me.  I had walked into church at 33.5 weeks and felt like I just couldn't get my eyes focused.  Tests over the next two weeks showed I had protein in my urine.  Concern arose for early delivery.  We prayed.  God answered. Protein-gone!  Blood pressures and labs remained good.  Blurred vision stabilized.
When I think of all the ways the Lord has heard our prayers, I cannot help but thank him that I am now overdue!  

As I await for 'the moment' when labor will begin, I've found myself thinking about Jesus' words in Matthew.

Matthew 24:36-37,44 says, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

While I don't know the hour that labor will begin, neither do I know when Jesus will return!  He tells us though to be ready, to prepare.  

There will be both hardships and joys.  

Labor will be difficult, a time of suffering, a time of anguish.  I will long for it to end.  I will beg God for a release from the pain.  I know I will!

Likewise, end times will be hard.  Harder than hard.  More difficult than anything we can imagine! The Bible reminds us that there will be persecution, troubles, wickedness and deep anguish.  For those who refuse Christ, the punishment will be an eternity of unending pain.

But friends, there is hope.  We cannot lose our minds in the hardships.  There is HOPE! 

I cannot help but think about the joys to come at the end of labor.  The overwhelming joy that it will be to hold and see our baby for the first time.  To have a love for something that I've never felt before - an instant love, as I've been told.  The joy of seeing Mike hold our baby for the first time. Our child, in its father's arms.  

I am then reminded of the joys that will come at the end of time.  For those of us who believe in Jesus, the suffering we endure WILL NOT continue forever!  There will be a time when the joy overcomes the pain.  The moment when we are wrapped in our Father's arms and His love endures us forever!

What an incredible promise we get to look forward to!  Praise God for this beautiful and tangible picture of heaven, through the anticipated birth of our child.  

The challenge I have for myself (and maybe you) today, even more than meeting our child, is to eagerly await for that time.  That moment.  The unknown hour of our Savior, Jesus', return.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Announcement grace

I’ve had several people ask me why I never put an official (especially early) announcement on facebook about our pregnancy.

To be honest, I struggled (battled) internally about this issue.  Still do.  

When we were trying to get pregnant, all the announcements and baby pictures (while I tried to rejoice with the parents) were VERY difficult for me to see.  I found myself traveling the road of anger, jealousy, envy and just. plain. sadness.  

With that said, as I hit mile stones in my pregnancy (particularly 12 weeks) when often people ‘announce,’ I found myself holding back.  Not because I’m at all ashamed of my pregnancy.  We didn’t even need help getting pregnant, it was simply time and trust in the Lord.  

BUT while my heart was rejoicing in this incredible gift (and trust me, I wanted to blast the news), the tears flowed thinking about all the momma’s out there who so badly wanted a baby to grow inside them, those struggling with infertility and losses.  

I still cry for you.  I beg to Jesus on your behalf.

I write this blog to bring light to the issue.  Those who are struggling are all around you.  I’m not saying one should or shouldn't announce the joys of life in social media.  I will probably continue to do so.  But rather, I challenge all of us to think about those who may be on the receiving end.  And extend grace.  Extend love, patience and thoughtfulness. Maybe its a private phone call or message to let them know you care and are thinking of them.

I also write this for those of you who are in the midst of waiting on the Lord for children (or a spouse or a happy marriage or fill in the blank).  I pray that you can see the struggle that also goes on the other end.  I’m sure there are plenty out there like me, who want to share and rejoice in the good news (whatever the news may be) but also struggle with hurting you.  Please extend grace to us as well.

Lastly, I wrestle with blogging/posting this, because I may be (ok- will probably be) an insincere hypocrite some day!  I apologize to you now.  But I guess I’m ok with that, because this is where I’m at with this issue today.

My hope is just to bring some understanding to this place that so many women are struggling.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Simple things

Its the little things that matter.

Its taking out the garbage.
Its doing the dishes.  
Its making the bed.  
Its leaving notes around the house to let someone know you care.

Simple things.

They take time, but they matter.

This week Mike left for a work trip to California.  I had to work that day too, and left before he did.  Upon my arrival home, I was greeted with a note saying that he had left messages around the house for me.  He wanted me to know how much I was loved and appreciated.  Not only did he leave notes, but he also took out the garbage, made our bed and put the dishes way.  Simple things - things he also does at other times - but they were ALL done before he left!  I think it was the notes that sent me over the edge with emotion, but it also was the fact that he took the time to do these tasks for me without being asked.

I spent two hours bawling like a baby that night. TWO HOURS, friends.  Tears of joy.  Tears of thankfulness.  Tears of deep, deep love.

I also spent many of those moments pondering why I was such a wreck about it.  While many thoughts came to me, one that definitely spoke to me was Mike’s reflection of Christ.

He didn't have to do ANY of those things.  He simply did them out of a heart to serve me.  A heart of love and selflessness.

As I've thought more about it, I think of ‘little’ things the Lord does for me each day.  Things I don’t notice.  He ‘takes out my garbage,’ forgiving me of the sin I entangle myself in.  He keeps me held together, providing me with all the strength I need.  He shares His love for me through a love note written years ago!

What if I searched for His word, His truth and His love for me as much as I searched around my house for the love notes my husband had hidden!?  How would that change my relationship with the Lord?

We are called, as Jesus’ disciples, to “love the Lord with all our heart” and to “love others as ourselves.”  

This leaves me with two thoughts to ponder tonight:
  1. What am I thankful for TODAY (little things) that the Lord has done and is doing for me?
  2. What simple things could I do for others, to be a reflection of Christ’s love this week--WITHOUT being asked?  

I challenge you to do the same.