Monday, April 17, 2017

Jubilee's Birth Story (mama's perspective)

I can’t think about the day you came without thinking about all the days that led to your arrival. Like I owe them their due respect, must take them into account, pronounce how it’s all linked together. And, of course, it is, physically, biologically. And then of course, it is, mentally and emotionally.
We had dreamt of you for awhile. We had just really reached the point of fear, of thinking maybe we wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally, when I took the test and the two lines appeared.
The next day I managed to sneak away and buy something to surprise your dad with. When I came home with a bib that says “I love daddy” it took him a few to get it. But when he did… I’ll always cherish that moment.
In our lives at that time we were starting year 2 in Thailand. Dad was just beginning his master’s classes and I was JUST promoted to project director at BCP. We had never both been so committed and so busy in our respective careers. We had never both been so passionate about and felt so called to loving well the teens God had placed in our lives.
Oh the fear I felt when I knew I was carrying you. I knew I needed to get my stress under control. And I often think God blessed me with the deepest, purest form of exhaustion those first 9 weeks, so that I would physically not be able to care so much. That exhaustion allowed me to turn off my mind and sleep through the night (for the first time in over a year!) and it gave me some distance emotionally, which I’m so glad for. But man, that exhaustion was also killer. I remember my head bent and eyes closed on the back of the motorcycle. Sleeping on the bus ride to work. Wondering why an email was taking me 45 minutes to write when it should only be taking 5. Resting my head on my desk and trying to keep from being sick/falling asleep. We wanted to wait to let others know about you (we told @ 19weeks), so I did my best to hide my exhaustion, but those were some long and tough days. (also, please note dear child, your mama did without her regular cup(s) of joe for the whole first trimester). (And then I caved and started drinking ½-1 cup a day. Don’t judge me you judgymcjudgertons, I knew no other way!).

When the second trimester hit it was like suddenly a fog had lifted. It was as if I had been running on 10% capacity and then suddenly I was back. It was like magic-out of thin air. Life went on as normal, except weekends were devoted to preparing for you- lists of what we needed, plans and plans and plans about possible timelines/ passport applications and flights. You know me. =) When I started to feel you in my tummy it was like magic. Brief little kicks or somersaults, but stronger all the time. You loved to play at night once mommy was laying in bed. Clients often asked me if you were moving or sleeping and loved to hear my answer as they surveyed my growing belly.  I consumed watermelon at an alarming rate, but otherwise ate pretty much the exact way I had done before- just more. =)  Before I knew it I was in the final weeks of pregnancy. Your dad and I wisely chose to have a short “staycation” at a nice hotel in downtown BKK, so we could escape our to-do lists and focus on you. It was wonderful and I’m so glad we did. But otherwise, Dad was working really hard to finish his masters classes ahead of schedule, and I was working hard to … oh so very many things. My last few weeks at work were insane. My last day I packed up my things. I threw myself a party and took about a hundred pictures with my clients- all big bellied and tired eyes, but huge smile. Our staff went out to dinner and… that was it. Except, actually it wasn’t- because I still had a few client files to update and my JRS exit interview document to write up. And so Saturday and Sunday I finished those things. At 9 months pregnant I was still slowly heaving myself atop the motorcycles to get around.. I’m pretty sure I took one last pregnant ride that weekend- much to the amusement of the Thai’s in my neighborhood, I’m sure.   Monday I slept all day and pittered around the house. And Tuesday- you began to make your entrance.

I woke up in the early hours of the morning with some small bursts of pain, and I wondered if maybe they weren’t contractions or Braxton hicks, but only momentarily- I was only 37 weeks along. All morning the small twinges of pain continued. After dad left for work I thought I better download some sort of Contractions app- to help me time and to try to keep track of what was going on with my body. I sent this email to dad at 8:30 am:
According to my contraction app I'm averaging one every ten minutes since you left for work.... Don't tell anyone or freak out cause I don't know if it will continue to increase, but fyi..  =)”

He of course called me right away! =) The contractions continued slow and steady all day. I did some laundry and cleaned the house. I made dinner and baked some cookies. I watched tv shows on Netflix and tried to rest. After dad came home the contractions were closer together, so around 6:00pm we called the hospital to ask whether or not we should come in. When they heard it was our first baby, and that I had been having contractions for 12 hours, they advised that I come in to be checked. We didn’t rush to the hospital- I took a shower and we had dinner. I hadn’t packed a hospital bag yet so I did that.  Around 8:00pm we taxied to the hospital. Dad was hysterical getting the cab- oh that man gets excited! Our taxi driver drove as fast as he could while I laughed in the back seat- we were definitely not in emergency mode but he didn’t want any surprises! When we neared the hospital he flagged down a police officer to help stop traffic so we could cross an intersection faster. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed for all the hoopla and laughed and waved from the back seat. I was in some discomfort, but didn’t feel too close. We went in to the OBGYN area and they wheel chaired me to labor and delivery. I thought it was silly that they insist I sit in the wheel chair and dad thought I was silly for being so stubborn about being taken care of.  When the nurses checked me they said I was less than a CM dilated, but the baby would probably come in the next day or so.

I had been calm all day- at peace with the process, trusting my body. I had been completely serene about the whole thing (which, by the way, is very not me). But when we got in the taxi to go back home and were stuck in stand still traffic on Sukhumvit- I was immediately uneasy. It seemed like labor immediately got more intense and my anxiety began to grow. We had meant to look into nearby hotels since we lived a ways away from the hospital and BKK traffic is so unpredictable…but we hadn’t done that, and by the time we were in the taxi I just desperately wanted to get out of the taxi and into bed as quickly as possible. Once we were home I immediately laid down. Contractions felt more intense but I tried to sleep between them. Around 10pm out of nowhere- my water broke! I immediately jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom- yelling at mark to grab something to clean up the mess. Now, I laugh, because your dad came back with two squares of toilet paper, at the time… I yelled “towels, TOWELS” (the “you fool” implied by the tone). As soon as my water broke the pain became incredibly intense. As I retell your birth story, we sound a bit under prepared- and perhaps we were. We remembered something in our birthing class about certain color of water to be good and others to be very bad but of course couldn’t remember what was what. Mark called our doctor and all was normal. We grabbed a taxi and off we rushed to the hospital.

I was very happy I thought to bring a towel in the taxi, because with every contraction there was more water. That was something that I … did not know would happen. We arrived to the hospital- this time to the “emergency” wing. I was very thankful for the wheel chair that awaited me. As they rolled me down the hall I laughingly asked Mark if there was a trail of water flowing behind me. I arrived at the hospital at 5 cm. Lucky for us, the AMAZING birth room was available so in we went. I bounced on the birthing ball and tried a few other things, but pretty quickly decided to try the tub to try to relieve some of my back pain (I had back contractions the whole labor… I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it was pretty rough). The tub relieved the back pain but it also completely zapped me. After a bit I got out and they checked me again. I was at an 8, but I also felt completely drained. I had wanted to labor standing up for the long haul, but no amount of convincing could get me to my feet. I had to lay. For the next few hours I laid on the bed- in a sort of half-conscious state. Mark was always by my side- offering me sips of water or Gatorade or food if I wanted (which I very much didn’t). Over the Rhine- the soundtrack to almost every meaningful moment since Mark and I met, played in the background and I focused on just getting through one lyrical line at a time. One angelic nurse applied counterpressure to my back pretty much the whole night. She was amazing. I adored her. If she left I immediately asked for her. A few times I told Mark that if it wasn’t soon I didn’t think I would have the energy to do it- but even as I said it, I felt some relief- everything I had read said that right when you want to give up is when the transition is happening and it’s almost over. I clung to that pretty tightly. A few times I confidently told the nurses that I was ready to push. They would call my doctor in and she would check, and always say no, not yet. Finally it got to the point where I felt like it took so much of my concentration and energy NOT to push. The nurses asked me to use the restroom and after that- it was go time- time to push! I went through my whole labor almost never opening my eyes- seriously. We wanted the lights off and a peaceful atmosphere and we definitely had what we wanted. But when it became push time, the lights went on and the room got busier. I didn’t mind- I was completely in the zone and so so ready to meet you! The first contraction I pushed. I had no idea what I was doing and how to work with my body. My dr. advised not to waste energy by making noise-which was spot on and I immediately listened. Mark counted to ten during each contraction-urging me to push for the full ten seconds. He was the BEST. During the labor part I mostly went inward. He was right beside me the whole time, and thanks to him, I stayed hydrated, but I didn’t want to talk or be talked to. But during the delivery part- he was VITAL! He urged me to push and counted aloud so I could have a goal to push for. He was encouraging and excited and I can’t imagine having done that last bit without him. I only “pushed” for about ten minutes and, you were here. You didn't cry right away and I remember that that alarmed your dad, which alarmed me- but you were just fine. This dark skinned, dark haired baby that they quickly laid on my chest. Daddy hadn’t planned to, but after waiting for a bit, he cut the cord. You were beautiful and a miracle and there was so very much happening all at the same time that I could scarcely comprehend it all. After you were weighed and measured and I was taken care of (I had a bit of the shakes and needed some warm blankets) they laid you back on my chest. I remembered reading/watching a TED talk or something about how newborn babies instinctually move to their mothers breast- I think it’s called the “breast crawl”. I somehow had the mindfulness to test it out and I was utterly amazed to see you- this tiny little thing- crawl and flop your way right to my breast. How incredibly miraculous, beautiful, amazing! The connection between mother and child is so …instinctual.

And that, little Love bug, is how you came into this world. We snuggled you and wondered at you and whispered a secret prayer into your ear so that we could confidently know the first things you heard and then pretty quickly skype called our families who were so very eager to meet you and hear your name. 

Then we laid together and you nursed like a champ (though, from birth you most definitely preferred one side to the other- I found that hilarious). 

One of my favorite memories to reflect on and laugh about is that shortly after you were born we needed to move rooms. You went first and daddy followed you. I was somewhat dressed and began gathering our bags. When the nurses came for me, I started walking out holding our several bags. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady. They had most definitely brought a bed for me to be rolled in and there I was carrying all our bags and ready to tackle the stairs to the other part of the hospital. This makes me roll with laughter. 1. Our bodies are amazing. 2. The bed was the best choice for traversing one hour post partum. 3. No one there knew what to do with me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Oh, my heart is breaking into a million pieces over Aleppo today.

There's a lot that I should do, but I can't help but read article after article-just glued to this horrible massacre unfolding now, in 2016, while we all watch and let it pass. I am angered today by my tears- tears accomplish nothing.

The executions, the 100+ unaccompanied children trapped in a building taking fire, the starvation, the goodbye tweets. Oh, my heart is heavy to imagine for one second what it might be to live through this.

I'm holding close my baby. Crying to imagine what it must be to not be able to feed her when she's hungry. To not have water when she cries of thirst. To be unable to calm her fears, to promise her that the sun will rise tomorrow-or that she'd be there to see it anyways.

What feels like all too often this past year, when my heart is heavy and hurting, when my tears are too many and I can't imagine what it is I'm to do, I repeat these words:

"You hear us calling, you hear us calling, Abba Father
 You hear us calling, you hear us calling, Abba Father
 Lord have mercy
 Christ have mercy
 Lord have mercy
 Christ have mercy."

  The Brilliance- Prayers of the People

For anyone else grieving over this on-going tragedy, here's something you CAN do- donate to preemptive love. I've been following these guys work the last month or so and have been so impressed. They're feeding thousands of people who have made it out of Aleppo. You can read about some of their work here:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Jubilee's Christmas Poem

In the midst of this darkness and chaos and strife
You entered the world and you breathed in its life

So helpless and cold, the room filled up with cries,
You looked up at our tender and jubilant eyes

In the gaze of this fragile, immaculate face
We also felt helpless and desperate for grace

Such innocence we’d never dreamed could exist
A picture of promise and infinite bliss

When I think of my little girl’s tale still untold
When I pray for her path that has yet to unfold

I’m filled up with hope because all that’s in sight
Is a future that’s full of potential and bright
But also at times I am swallowed by fear,
For stories of heartache are painfully near

Why should I hope, and why should I pray?
Our joy could be crushed into sorrow today

For innocence seems like a short, fleeting breath
Choked out in the grip of our suff’ring and death
Yet when doubt sings its whispers in my straining ear
When no spark in this world full of darkness appears

I remember that poor insignificant inn
Above which a star shone a shimmering glint

When light from a vast, insurmountable height
Came down in the form of an infant that night

God’s answer and comfort to innocent cries
Was found not in an audible word, but a life

A father’s unearned, inconceivable love
Was instilled in the life and the heart of a son

Who entered the world in the form of a child
Like my little one, so meek and so mild

He too endured hardship and tasted our pain
He too had his innocence stolen away

In a plan to redeem what is lost and corrupted
And all that our evil and sin has disrupted

All darkness was pierced and enveloped by light
That appeared in the inn on that humblest of nights

Written by Mark

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cloth Diapers and Miss J Way

Well, we are about one month in to our cloth diapering and absolutely loving it so far!

Years ago when our besties and roomies were pregnant and preparing for their little one, they opened my eyes to the idea of cloth diapering. I had thought it was a world of sharp pins that will (physically and mentally) scar both mama and baby, but soon learned much had changed in the cloth diapering world.

Many of our friends in BKK use cloth diapers, so I was excited to learn more about this growing trend when we discovered we were pregnant. But here's the thing- this world of cloth diapering can be sooo overwhelming. So, a few things this google addict of a mama researched/discovered/learned over the last few months:

1.  Brand

There are a million bajillion types of cloth diapers out there. I spent hours asking mama friends, reading blogs and reviews, etc. But honestly... I think they are all pretty similar and every family has their preferences. In the end, I decided to go with Bumgenius. However, the research did not end there as Bumgenius has their 4.0, 5.0, freestyle, elemental, and flip design. So many options!

Right now we are using Bumgenius Freetime. I was able to purchase twenty of the Bumgenius diapers used for about $10/diaper. I believe the typical price for a new diaper is $19.95, so I was happy to spend $10 on barely used diapers! (I also have several of the 4.0 version, as well as some Charlie Banana diapers that were gifted to me-which are much cuter designs, in my opinion. I may begin rotating these in now that we have a good system in place.)

Tips: Buy used- lots of people are selling these on craigslist and facebook sell groups. You can even find unused diapers from mamas who hoped to use cloth diapers, but changed their minds once their little ones arrived. You can find find moms willing to ship, so don't limit your search just to your area! I started with the Freetime because it seems the most like a "regular" diaper- no extra work of stuffing and un-stuffing. I wanted this to be successful, and guessed that if I felt discouraged by the extra "work" of cloth diapering, I wouldn't want to keep up with it. Now that I've got the Freetime down, I'm excited to test some of the other styles/brands.

          Try to get acquainted with a few different options before purchasing any- ask your mama friends, check out what is stocked at BabiesRUs and other baby stores.

2. Timing

Timing is everything, isn't it?

We have lots of friends who started out with cloth diapers from the get go. Oh lordy, had we done that, we would have fast sunk in a heap of newborn shart diapers. Jubes, angelic little thing that she is, pooped sometimes 4-7 times a DAY in her first two months with us. I really cant imagine having lived through that with cloth diapers. Bumgenius diapers are meant for babies 8-35 pounds, but they also make a line of newborn diapers. We knew we would wait to start cloth diapering as we planned to travel with Jubi right after she was born, and guessed correctly that all of our accommodation changes would make cloth diapering too stressful. However, since Jubes was a 6.5 ish pound baby, she wouldn't have been big enough for the diapers we bought anyways.

I'm really glad that we waited, as the amount of diaper changes had dramatically decreased by her third month of life. However, on our first day of cloth diapering, she let mama experience their full glory right away by producing a massive number 2 for her diaper numero uno. =)

Tips: Start when you feel like you can handle it! Some friends started right away and that worked for them. For me, I needed things to be as simple as possible while I dealt with all the other changes. I have heard that some babies get used to one type of diaper or the other (cloth vs. disposable) and switching is difficult, but that was not our experience whatsoever.

3. Laundering

Day one cloth diapering was great. I figured out which snaps to snap her in at. I figured out where to store the clean diapers. We decided on a location to deposit soiled diapers.

And then the next day I realized I needed to wash the diapers, and I suddenly felt much less happy about this whole thing.

But, as is often true, once we got into a routine this wasn't nearly so overwhelming.

Here's what is working for us currently:
1. Place soiled diaper in the dry bag in the diaper pin. (If poopy, rinse first into the toilet. We're lucky because most bathrooms in BKK have a handheld sprayer-you can ask Mark about this feature-he is totally a convert. I'm just happy to have it for the diapers. =) )
2. When needed (but at least every several days) dump diapers + wet bag containing diapers into the washing machine.
3. We usually add a cup or two of hot water as our washing machine isn't connected to a hot water heater.
4. Use cloth diaper friendly detergent. (Currently we're using  Charlie Soap, given to us by a friend who is done cloth diapering, who brought it back from the States).
5. Hang Dry (we don't have a dryer anyways..).

4. Cloth Wipes

We also decided to go ahead and do reusable cloth wipes. We use them just for "number 1" diapers, and still use disposable wipes when we are on the go. I love these wipes! We purchased two packs and 24 wipes has been plenty for us.

There are several different methods for using reusable wipes. We dunk are wipes (well, wipe, it only ever takes one) right before use. The solution we've settled on for now is: 2 cups water, 1 TBS baby shampoo/soap, 1.5 TBS baby oil. I've really loved using these wipes as I dont love the quality of wipes we have found in Thailand. These are so soft and wonderful!

Anyone have any other wipe solutions they've tried and like?

All in all, I really love cloth diapering. Cloth diapers just make so much sense! It's good for the earth, good for the wallet, and good for baby! And the cool, no pressure thing about cloth diapers is that, if it doesn't make sense for a period of time, or a day, or whatever- there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break and using disposables until you're ready to jump back on the cloth diapering wagon!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Some thoughts about some of my thoughts

I feel like I've got a million things to say- so many stories and thoughts and prayers and updates that beg to be written. And I'll have time, I'm sure (I hope) this next year to begin the discipline of writing it all out.

I am hopeful that this new year will bring with it a routine that may be a bit more balanced for me, maybe even a little healing.

And so... with my free few minutes while baby sleeps (not on mama, gasp!) I share with you the routines I'm aiming for in this season.

1. Exercise

These girls over at Tone It Up are where it's at. I a little bit love them and I absolutely love their workouts. I have never seen more change in my body than from incorporating their little workout videos in my daily life. I just did this workout and it has fast become one of my favs. =)

2. Bible Reading

While apart of me misses the old days of thumbing through my well-worn and written in bible (which is TOAST these days because it is leather and has not done well in Tonga and Thailand new bible just doesn't have the same feel to it, ya know? Change is hard.) the reality is I do much better doing something online. So, I'm currently checking out Thumbs up so far!

3. Reading, Reading

Every year ICS has a women's book club. Every year I download the book list, and sometimes even read a book or two...but I haven't made it to an actual meeting, quite a long time. But this year will be different since I am not working and fighting BKK traffic on Monday evenings. =) yay! So, current book club book, "The Expatriates" by Janice Y.K. Lee.

I'm also reading "Growing Strong Daughters" by Lisa Graham McMinn upon suggestion from a smart mama friend.

4. Baby Stuff

I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse to have the wealth of knowledge, opinions, and experiences that us mamas have now with the internet. Google has been both a life saver and a tear inducer ("my baby had a fever of 102 then died the next hour" I mean, really people? Why would you post that?!). Upon pregnancy I downloaded the Baby Center App, which gave me daily updates on my little nugget before her birth, and now gives me all kinds of info as she grows. I love it! From common milestones, play suggestions, common mama fears, etc. It's all there. I highly suggest the app/website:

Goals for this year...

1. Cooking

Mark is the cook in our house, though we don't cook much here. I'm hoping to teach myself how to make some dishes and cook something once a week.

2. Investing in friendships

I didn't do a great job of balancing my work with other parts of life these past two years. I could apologize for that (and sometimes I am sorry) and I could hem and haw about all sorts of stuff, but I'm working at giving grace to myself and being at peace with saying there are seasons in this life. And the last two years of my life the season was work. And now I am in a new season (that hopefully teaches me more about balance for any future seasons ;) and it's going to take a village to raise this little girl. =)

3. Writing

We will see...

4. Volunteering

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to stay involved with my kids. Do I pick a few I really like and invest in them? Do I pick a few that just really need...just need everything? Do I pick the single moms? The teenage moms? Do I reach out to some organizations and ask them their suggestions? Do I devote myself to english teaching? to livelihoods? to IDC? I just don't know yet and don't want to bite off more than I can chew. So... I'm waiting to invest long term in anything, while still keeping up with some of my clients, some of my old co-workers, and of course, IDC. Always IDC.

What are some of your routines, especially you mamas out there?