Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012: the year of achievable new years resolutions?

Another year.  More New Years' Resolutions.  I actually had written down goals last year. And the year before.  Eeek.  But where are they?  Tucked in the back of some old journal, scribbled down in a moment, never to be reflected on or reviewed again.  Was it that they were not realistic?  Not achievable?  Not memorable?  

Well.  Even though this is for sure a new years cliche: "not this year!"  This time, the goals are here: in permanent ink, on the computer, the internet no less, to help me be more accountable.  [Gulp].  Better make these easy goals!  

Here goes:
1. Pray more.  Not just in quantity, but in quality.  Not because I should or because I have to but because I want to. I want to learn how to pray, how to actually connect with God daily, intimately, in moments of free thought, when I'm washing dishes, when I'm driving in my car.  It can't be that spiritual life is seperate from physical life.  So how do daily habits of living become spiritual events where I do the things that sustain life for the glory of God instead of for duty?  On this topic, I especially want to pray more for my husband and sons.
2.   Learn to be content.  For me this means a few things that might help towards this aim:

  • complain less.  I am such a whiner.  I whine about aches and pains, daily chores, my house disorganization, a broken washer, a sick child, a sleepless night.  I complain all. the. time.  Not just with my words, but in my mind and heart.
  • worship more.  I figure if I am giving thanks more often for all I have, for who God is, this will help me be more content.
  • serve others.  If I give to those with less, I will be more thankful for what I have.  If I help take care of someone else who is sick, I will be more thankful for health.  If I serve and give and offer and help- I think it will contribute to my overall sense of contentment.

3. Find a mentor and mentor someone else.
4. Let go of having a perfect home.  [What?]  I will take the advice of a dear friend and aim to keep one space of the house clean.  One.  Not the whole thing.  One.  That way, when I need a reprieve from the disaster, the messes, the chaos, I can have one space to think, rest, journal, pray and well BE, where I am not utterly frustrated at the mess.  Thing is: people don't have it all together so why do I pretend to be by making such a fuss about cleaning incessantly.  

Okay, how do I make that possible?  Maybe have a 1-chore-to-do-per-day and a 1-chore-to-do-per- month?  Maybe prioritize it less- below prayer and other above activities?  Hmmm, will have to think on this.

5. Get creative.  I LOVE being creative.  Baking, making, crafting and well exploring the world through creativity.  How come I don't do it?  Because I'm either a. cleaning or b. dulling my mind with mindless entertainment (such as perusing useless internet information, rechecking my e-mail 16 times a day, or watching stupid shows or movies).

which leads me to:

6. Limit my internet/screen time per day.  What am I modeling to Silas if I am constantly on the computer?  For me, this means taking and keeping the computer off of my dining table and putting it in our office so that I am not on it constantly throughout the day.  I'm not sure if I should limit it per day or per hour or how to keep track.  Maybe set a timer?  For me it should be maybe 1.5 hours a day maximum.  Or less?

7. This one may seem silly but I'm tired of complaining that I don't know anything about fashion or don't know how to do my hair or don't know how to do makeup.  I kind of want to learn how to do these things.  As a woman, I want to take better care of myself and learn how to wear things that are becoming and feel better about myself in general.  Comfort gives way for style every time with me.  This doesn't, however, mean that I want to spend more money on all of that, but I want to be wise, to study and learn how to do these things. 

8. Shop better.  This one I am especially terrible at.  Blame it on upbringing or laziness or I dunno, greed... no matter what way you slice it I am not good at being patient when it comes to shopping.  I need to be better, for my family's sake, at shopping around for better deals, keeping closer to our budget with grocery shopping, and just living more frugally.  How do the dutch do it [?]  I know it takes precious time, but maybe if I'm spending less time on the internet I'll have more time to prioritize this.

which leads me to my second to last goal:

9. Give more.  I would love to challenge our family in the way of giving.  Giving away things we don't need,  sharing meals with others, sponsoring another child or two, etc.  I want to give until it hurts.  

last goal:

10. Get informed [and do something about it].  Jason and I kind of live in a bit of a bubble.  We don't read newspapers or read the news online (sorry Cheryl, isn't that terrible?)  We don't really know what's going on in the world. The problem with this is that we don't hold ourselves responsible then, to do something in response.  This quote just hit me last night : 

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."  
- Edmund Burke

Ouch.  That's me right now.  I get so overwhelmed about big issues like sex trafficking, or obstetrical fistulas in ethiopia, or whatever is going on in the news.  Because it's so overwhelming, so appalling, I don't read about it, don't get informed about it, forget about it, and walk away.

But what if I didn't do that.  What if I did read about it, and heaven-forbid got moved by it, and then actually did something about it.  Not anything big, maybe just pray about it consistently.  But something is most certainly better than nothing, isn't it?


Big list.  Short year.  Better get on it.  And if, for some reason, I am super-woman and conquer that list [ha ha] and am looking for something else to do, here are some more goals [just for kicks]:

permanently organize my tupperware, join a cycling club, travel to Asia, learn another language, finish my quilt, lead a missions trip, take a counseling course, run a marathon, be a better nurse, learn how to garden, host an international student, eat more organic, record an album, write a book, sell a photo I've taken, help someone find Christ, invite a homeless person to live with us, start a home know, and end hunger and poverty.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Better late than never

So, this is old news, but I dug up this unfinished post and decided to edit and complete it.  I was starting to feel insecure again about the fact that I had to have a c-section and couldn't 'cut it' going au naturel with labor, so decided to review what actually happened and I feel much better: [Aka how did Toby enter the world?]

Baby Tobin Emmanuel Brink arrived at 7:15 on November 16th weighing in at 6 lbs 13 oz.  Why did we choose his name?  Tobin means "God is Good' (a form of Tobias) and Emmanuel means "God is with us."  We really believe that the meanings of names are important and over these last few years especially, we believe and know even more that God certainly IS good, and He certainly is always near to us.  Even in difficult times, or when things don't go as we expect God is still good and is our shelter and refuge in the storm.

God's goodness to us and presence for us were also true for us during this particularly challenging labour.  For weeks and months we planned and prayed and hoped that I could be able to deliver Toby naturally instead of by C-section.  We met with specialists who told me there was no reason I shouldn't be able to deliver naturally, I tried to be conscious of posture, we read books, and practiced relaxation and other birthing tactics.  We hoped and expected that this time I didn't have to have such a harrowing birth experience.  THIS time, it would be on our terms and we wouldn't feel bullied or pressured to have a C-section.  THIS time, we were going to have a better experience.

And, although the outcome was not as we hoped, we are certainly glad we gave this labour our best shot and are thankful nonetheless that Toby was born healthy and whole.

Here's how it went down:

I was having a large number of braxton hicks contractions on the night of the 13th but was able to fall asleep.  However, by 4:30 am I couldn't stay in bed anymore because they were too frequent and strong.  From 4:30 am onwards, I was having these braxton hicks- type contracts every 10-15 minutes.  They continued on for awhile but then would stop for awhile.  Frustrating because they would increase especially while lying down so I wasn't really able to rest.  I suggested that Jason work from home just in case since these were a bit stronger than braxton hicks and I wasn't sure what was actually going on.  By 9 I was exhausted- so took a bit of a rest but again, they just increased in intensity every time I laid down.  We went out for a walk in the early afternoon thinking that maybe this would either pick up the pace of things or not which it didn't seem to. They were just as erratic.  Once we got home I had some lunch and watched some funny internet clips for awhile and Jason worked while Silas slept.  While sitting and watching they got stronger and more frequent.  By this point they were every 8 minutes or so apart and continued that way for quite awhile.  By the time Silas woke up around 3 we had called the midwife and called my Dad to come get Silas as it seemed that they were getting stronger, were definitely NOT braxton hicks, and more frequent.  They were every 6-8 minutes apart and already fairly strong.  When the midwife arrived she checked me and said I was maybe 1 cm dilated, but maybe this was not labor so to try and rest and see what happened...  We did have my dad take Silas though (and thank the Lord we did!)

Soon after the midwife left the contractions really started to increase in strength and intensity.  I ate some dinner and tried to take a bath to calm them down hopefully enough so that I could get some rest (since it was around 8 and looked like it was going to be a long night!) but they didn't seem to calm down at all.  Stronger, more frequent, more intense...labour was certainly happening for real.  I really tried to stay calm, breathe, relax, and Jason and I did a lot to keep me in that state.  We walked around, we tried a variety of different positions, listened to some relaxing music we'd picked ahead of time, read scriptures that are real encouragements to me, prayed, and I mainly just tried to breathe.  By the time we called the midwife again at around 11 pm or so I was unfortunately only maybe 2/3 cm  dilated.  We decided to try and wait another 2 hours or more at home before thinking about going to the hospital.

Strong. Hard. Lots of work.  Labour was full bore.  By the time we checked me again I was around 5 centimeters and the midwife said everything looked really good.  My bag of waters was 'bulging' the head was lower, and I had progressed!  SO, even though things were getting very intense and the thought of getting in a car was not a pleasant one, we packed up and headed to the hospital around 2 am.  I breathed, I grabbed the uh-oh handle in the car like I had with Silas and somehow made it.  We got there, and I was optimistic that a. I wasn't going to use drugs and b. I was going to make it!  However, it was H.A.R.D. work to stay calm with the intense, intense and frequent contractions.  This time around, like last time, I had quite a bit of back pain.  But so far it looked like Toby was in the 'right' position instead of as posterior as Silas so that was encouraging.

I tried a bath in the hospital, different positions, continued to drink lots and stayed as calm as I could.  Next time the midwife checked me, another 2 hours later, after about 23 hours of labour at this point, I was less dilated, and the baby was higher up than before.  Huge. Downer.  At this point, after having strong contractions every 2-3 minutes for the last number of hours, this news took my focus and determination away.  I couldn't do this anymore if this is how it was going to be.  The midwife was convinced that since I was becoming less dilated, I had to try something else and an epidural was the best option.  I couldn't carry on as intense as it was for much longer without it.  SO, we called the anesthesiologist, I started to suck back the gas, and waited for him to arrive.  He came, did the epidural, and it didn't work!  I was still feeling the contractions on one half of my body.  It was horrible.  SO he had to do a whole other one.

Side note: mid-epidural I had been sucking back the gas so much I got ridiculously woozy, light-headed and so relaxed that I was laughing hysterically. It felt amazing and was a light break to the pain and intensity of the moment.  

After I got the second epidural, at this point it was about 2 hours later and I was still not dilating.  And, JUST as with Silas, not only was Toby not descending and I was becoming less dilated, but with the epidural on board he started having heart decelerations.  This is exactly what happened with Silas.  Scary stuff. The midwife got really worried when his heart rate started dipping so much so had to call the OB right away.  After hearing about my case: 27 hours of labour, going backwards in dilation (now only 3/4 centimeters), the head going up, Toby exhibiting signs of stress, and  now repositioning himself to be upside down like Silas = game over.

C section.

After all my careful planning, reading, practicing, hoping, praying, dreaming, I was at the end of the road again.  At this point however I knew two things: 1. I didn't want to have a better 'experience' of labour at the cost of my son's life or health and 2. I knew that I had done everything I could  to make it happen how I hoped it would.  I ate, I drank, I rested, I stayed calm and focused, I stayed positive, I stayed at home as long as I could, I walked, I stayed upright, I changed positions...  I did it all.  We didn't need to get induced, I was before my due date which was a great + for having a VBAC, my uterus continued contracting so I didn't need augmentation with drugs which would have caused greater risk for complications with a VBAC and well, I laboured mostly without drugs and the outcome?  The same as with Silas.  Almost exactly.  It wasn't even that Toby was a different size- he was only 1 oz bigger so that wasn't the issue.  I kind of resigned myself at that point that apparently, I just can't deliver a baby.

It was still a scary journey to the C-section suite.  They were very concerned for Toby, the OB seemed to take forever to come, and the epidural started to wear off making me ultra concerned but Toby was okay and I was okay.

Overall I'm very thankful.

Where I saw God's grace:
1. I had to be in the recovery suite for 2 hours, alone, seperate form Toby and Jason because of hospital policy so I couldn't breastfeed right away
  however: I had great nurses and had no issues breastfeeding even though there was a long delay
2. I had to stay in the hospital for 4 days, which we didn't plan
  however: friends and family helped watch Silas, visited, brought food, and we felt very supported and blessed
3.  I had a hard and long C-section recovery with tons of incision pain and it's still not completely healed
 however: Jason had a pre-booked paternity leave which was a God-send, we had such a great time with friends visiting, being showered with gifts and food, prepping for the holidays and just spending time as a family that it hugely made up for the hard recovery
4. Even though the outcome of labour was not as I hoped, Jason was so incredibly supportive, and I am so thankful that I was able to stay calm, focused, and positive.  I am generally at peace with the c-section and that, in itself is an answer to prayer.
5. I live in a country where I CAN have a c-section.  After watching some horrific documentaries about obstetrical fistulas and women losing babies and developing long-term physical complications after obstructed labours like my own, I am so very thankful that I live where I live and worry/pray for women who live in places where they cannot have c-sections.
6.  Toby is turning out to be a tricky baby, fussy, not falling asleep in the day well
 however, I am more relaxed [generally] and optimistic  this time knowing that this season won't be too hard for too long, and I can't complain because Toby only feeds once between 11pm and 7am due to a wonderfully helpful husband!
7. I am finished with my injections!  (Yahoo!!! 250 blood thinner shots later and no blood clots in pregnancy!)

And the biggest, and best, and greatest gift so far is a wonderfully healthy baby boy [thank you Lord] and a bonus gift that I wasn't expecting but am so ever, ever grateful for is that I am sleeping okay and that my thyroid levels so far have remained normal [thank you, thank you Jesus].

God is most certainly good and God was and continues to be with us.


Monday, December 19, 2011

A Month with Baby Toby

A whole month?  Already?  Here's the scoop on how this month with baby #2 has been:

Toby's weight: 9 lbs 2 oz (started at 6 lbs 13 oz) way to go!
[Since everyone's gonna ask anyways] Toby's sleeping: he does pretty well at  night- with a few 5 or 4 hour stretches between feedings.  That means usually 3-4 hours (max) at a time of sleep for us.  Not bad!
Toby's health: had a few finger infections courtesy of his terrible mommy.  I trimmed his nails and although I thought I was an experienced pro-star nail cutter, I trimmed his finger tips a bit too which turned into nasty infections.  A round of antibiotics, 2 trips to the clinic, and some probiotics later and his fingers are all better!
Toby's personality: week 3 Toby had been acting super colicky and fussy, always needing help to get to sleep.  Jason and I were thinking "man, this is one tough baby, Silas was so much easier!"  (Then we reviewed actual facts and discovered that Silas was the same way.  Aka: we forgot how tough these little newborns can be).  Needless to say, he loves to be held and rocked, so we do that a lot to get him to sleep, and he spends much time in the swing and in a carrier.  We're getting used to this pattern and trying to roll with it...
Differences from Silas: we cannot get this kid to take a soother.  Silas was a soother baby from day one in the hospital but so far Toby just gags on it (bummer).  Toby doesn't spit up!  [What?]  Silas was a major horker. I mean, 6 receiving blankets a day kind of spitting up.  But Toby?  Nada.  {Yay Toby!  Yay Mommy's clothing!} We think Toby's generally gonna give Silas a run for his money.  He's growing faster, is super strong, and rolled over from his tummy to his back the other day {not sure this is normal, but am refraining self from worrying}
Similarities to Silas: fussiness, alertness, size {generally small} and well, he looks IDENTICAL to him.  I mean, so much so that Jason and I were wondering if it is scientifically possible to genetically produce identical children at different times [is it?]

Highlights of this month: all the awesome social time we've had and the numerous visitors, outings, and part-ays.  We never got out this much with Silas this early!  I guess cause Jason's off, because of this time of year, and because Silas just NEEDS to get out, we have been off and running:
Christmas parties (2), date night dinner for Jason's birthday, Christmas shopping, tree-chopping down, a birthday party, visiting great-grandparents, visiting with cousins, visiting Nana and Papa, Captain kids trips, swimming trips...the list goes on.

Lowlights: stupid C-section recovery.  My incision is still not healing and I'm not too keen about it.  3 trips to the OB and all he keeps saying is 'here's some more gauze.'  Nice.  Silas has also been pretty challenging lately too with discipline.  Cute.  But challenging. Can say his alphabet almost independently.  But challenging. Able to repeat anything he hears.  But challenging.

My health: besides the aforementioned incision and general C-section pain, my thyroid has so far remained okay.  PRAISE the LORD!  I'm sleeping as much as anyone can with a newborn {thanks to my incredibly awesome husband who helps in the night} and I feel generally optimistic about the fact of God's healing in my life.  What a huge relief!

Goals: Jason goes back to work this week [gulp].  I am a bit nervous about it but here's my plan: stay positive, laugh, lower my expectations, celebrate my accomplishments, make lots of social engagements to keep me from being isolated, and be glad if I get to shower once a week.  Achievable?  Hope so.

Can't believe it's been a month because it's flown by but there's been a lot of activity and change.  Overall, even though some days I wonder how we will ever do this again [if that's God's will] I feel like since this is our second I can tell myself that 'it will only get better,' 'this is just a season' and 'one day I'll feel like this is manageable' again.  Yay for second-time-a-round confidence!

Sneak peak at some photos we had taken by our dear friends the Macphails:

p.s. look at how similar these brothers look!
{Silas is above, Toby is below...or is that right?}

One more highlight.  Seems silly but I discovered Pinterest and this has made me super happy because it's given me lots of ideas for activities to do with Silas.  I am more and more excited about teaching him things at home and not just trying to work around Silas, or finding toys for him to play with, but instead being more intentional about planning fun and educational activities for him.  Check out a few things I've tried:
stacking cheerios on playdough

pipe cleaners + colander.  Didn't last long.  Silas just dumped out all the pipe cleaners.  

'sensory' bucket of puffed rice.  He LOVED dumping, measuring and dumping some more

Lunch in an ice cube tray. Note to self: do things he likes AFTER he eats things he doesn't like as much

Favorite: homemade finger paints in the tub.  SO fun.

Love it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Raising Men

It hit me today in Church and I was almost crying, the whole service.  There were two young adult men a few rows up, with their backs to us. Broad shouldered brothers side by side, taking communion together, worshiping together, praying together.  Every time I looked over at them I practically started bawling.  Why?

It hit me.  I'm not merely providing nourishment for little babies and toddlers.  I'm not simply raising little boys.  I'm raising men.  I mean, like, these two little bodies will become grown men one day.  Wow.  That's an incredible responsibility.  I don't want to just survive this thing called parenthood (as per previous post) but I want to excel.  Therefore: I need to pray.  A LOT.  And certainly a lot more than I have been.  Because this world needs more godly men in it.  It needs more men who:

[and this is my prayer for my two little boys.  That they will...]:
Know God personally and love God unashamedly, boldly, and honestly
Be honorable, faithful, and courageous.
Be defenders of the defenseless, preachers of the truth, and will love others as they have been loved by their heavenly Father.
Be humble, and recognize their need for God's grace through Christ.
Be servant-hearted and compassionate.
Stand firm on the truth of God's Word, and fight against injustice.
Be valiant, righteous, and strong.
Be worshipers like David, leaders like Moses, and prayer warriors like Jesus himself.

Maybe it's too much to hope for but I certainly don't think it's too much to pray for.  This world needs men who will be godly and strong and I pray that my boys, my little men-in-the-making will be such as that.

[Tear].  Help me Lord to pray faithfully for these little lives and to model a real and authentic walk with you.  Not to model perfect religiosity or 'pretend' righteousness, but to model a real relationship with Christ.  In humility, to love Christ and love others.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly [aka Parenting]

Parenthood.  Sigh.  So much to learn.  So many years yet to input.  I look at people with many children and I shake my head going 'how do they do it?'  I'm not sure yet how many children God will bless us with but this I know: it's a lot of work raising kids!  Case in point:

the bad parts [of parenthood]
-when your child learns to say no and says it with every question you ask.
-when your child is getting too heavy and too big to effectively pin them to the floor to change their bum
-when your child refuses to eat and there's nothing you can do about it
-when your child picks a 'catch phrase' and repeats it. ALL. DAY.
-when your child learns the word 'cookie' and 'video' and somehow doesn't forget these wonderful experiences and begs, pleads, and begs some more for these things 
-when your child has a fit. Every. 10. Minutes.  And each time it's something different, and each time it's something that's seemingly inconsequential or that you cannot control "the lights are off......." [fit ensues] because the neighbor turned their Christmas lights off.  [Sorry?]
-when your child smiles when in time-out or seems to laugh off your discipline.  arg.

the good parts [of parenthood]
-when your child comes running to give you a kiss and hug for bed or when they haven't seen you
-when your child randomly says words that you don't think you taught them and they just learned
-watching your child do a puzzle you didn't know they could do, or get excited about building a tower on their own
-when your child prays or sings a song about the goodness of God, without prompting
-when your child reminds you to pray before a meal 
-when your child's eyes sparkle when they see christmas lights or a snowman, or something else new
-when your child laughs, hard, at something that you did

the ugly [of parenthood]
-trying to coordinate two children's needs of feeding, diapering etc, while at the mall or stuck in the car
-strapping children into carseats that they hate, then listening to them scream and not being able to do anything about it [I know, safety, yadda yadda, it still stinks]
-learning about yourself that you, as a parent, aren't patient, are not always loving, are innately selfish, and that you look forward to your children sleeping sometimes for peace and quiet.  
-also learning about yourself that you forget to be intentional and that the teachable moments are fleeting and momentary and can so easily be missed.  Lord help us!

Other recent parenthood thoughts:
1. My toddler is a giant.  I cannot get over how BIG he is compared to his new little brother.  How DID he get that big???
2. How/when did my toddler get to be so smart?  
3. or independent?  He refuses to hold my hand at the mall, or wants to wash his face himself....what??  When did he get so old?
4. Time passes so slowly [at night, when you're awake for the 4th time to breastfeed] but SO fast [when you think that your first child is almost 2 years old].
5. What. Did. I. Do. With. All. My. 'FREE.' TIME [before having children?  clearly.  I wasted it].
6. How does a small, itty bitty newborn poop so much?
7. I cannot believe I actually forgot about how physically demanding and difficult it is to have a newborn. So tiring.  [God's way of ensuring you have more than one child...]
7. What am I going to do when Jason goes back to work?  No seriously.  What AM I going to do?  So far he gets the toddler and I get the newborn.  Done.  But what happens when I am in charge of BOTH [at the same time].  Eek.
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