Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

To My Zachary

Yesterday you turned 5 – five, five, five.  I can’t believe that half a decade has passed
since I first held you in my arms.  Your
older sister taught me to be a mother. 
But you – you taught me how to love as a mother.
  Pushing you out was one of the most excruciatingly
difficult things I have ever done and I will never forget the feeling of you
entering this world.  All pain and
discomfort and intense, overwhelming eleven hours of labor began to fall

My heart began to race and didn’t stop for another six hours.  I sat up instead of sleeping – watching you –
 baby burrito cooing and humming in your
big sleep.  You were such a loud sleeper
and my heart ached with love for you – love at first sight.  

Now you run and jump and search for toys that begin with the
preschool letter of the day.  Every toy
can be made a gun or a sword and you leap off the top of couches in a single
bound.  You have a heart of gold
crumbling under the weight of my yelling and apologizing as fast as you
can.  You hug, kiss and protect your
sisters.  You tell me you love me when I’m
having the worst day.  

Your clear blue eyes dimpled cheeks and chin envelope me in
the reminder that there is so much good in this world.
  And you – in your five your old glory are one
of the best of those goods.  

I love you – my one and only boy.  I’m so grateful for you, Zachary John.  Your name means “remembered by a gracious God”
– he remembered me and in his grace and mercy gave me the gift of you. 

My Christmas Gift

With Christmas still around us in our eyes, ears, and mouths
and the hope of Epiphany looming ahead, I present a guest post along those
themes from my sister, Rachel Miller.

Like years past I spent the last several weeks planning and
plotting and watching for sales and shipping deals in order to find the perfect
gifts for my kids: three deliciously beautiful blonde boys ages 5 months, 2
years, and 5 years old.  All of the fretting and sweating and logistical
maneuvering was all worth it to see their eyes light up when they tore back the
wrapping paper and saw their new favorite toy/game/shirt/whatever.  Also
as in years past, my husband and I agreed to not buy each other Christmas gifts
to wrap and place under the tree.  I truly am OK with that decision, but
this year I am especially thankful for it.  I think if I had a gift under
the tree to unwrap, I might have missed the completely perfect gift that God
gave me this Christmas.  God allowed me to clearly see his own son, Jesus
Christ, in each of my children for the first time.

First Sebastian, my sweet chubby 5 month old.  As we rested
and nursed quietly this afternoon I thought about the fact that this is how
Mary and Jesus spent the first Christmas.  Mary, exhausted from travel and
childbirth, probably spent most if not all of Christmas Day resting, cuddling,
and nursing God’s own son as best she could in a barn. I’m sure we both
kissed chubby fingers, traced the curve of an ear, gently rubbed a tiny back.

 What a beautiful reminder of Jesus’ humble beginnings and Sebastian’s
potential to be an extraordinary force in this world.  Thank you, God.

Then Nathan, my crazy intense 2 year old.  Our pastor
spoke of the Magi at the Christmas Eve service.  He stated that, while
most nativity scenes show the three kings offering their lavish gifts to a
newborn Jesus in the manger, it’s more likely that it took them several months,
if not over a year, to follow the star and find Jesus.  He asked us to
imagine the chaos it would have caused in the streets of Bethlehem when this
caravan of wealthy VIPs entered the city in search of Jesus, all to find a
toddler not so different from the ones squirming in the pews that night.
 I could see it in my mind’s eye.  I could see the look of surprise,
yet quiet understanding in Nathan’s enormous eyes as the wise men presented
their gifts.
 I could see his heart-melting dimpled smile, and even hear
him trying out some of the new words describing his gifts: gold … muh …
frank-a-tents, all the while giggling.  A reminder of how God will use my
seemingly ordinary Nathan to do remarkable things for his kingdom.  Thank
you, God.

Finally Kameron, my firstborn.  Five years ago at this
time I really identified with Mary as I was only days away from becoming a
mother for the first time as well!  As I listened to Kameron have an in
depth conversation with his aunt about Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his
railway friends, I thought of Jesus as a young boy in the temple.  I
specifically had a vision of a boy not much older than Kameron surrounded by
the elders in the temple, speaking to them with authority about theological and
spiritual matters.  Ok, clearly Thomas the Tank Engine is not as deep of a
subject, but I had never seen him speak with such passion and authority about
the name, number, size, color, and unique characteristics of an impressive
number of engines.  I could picture Kameron in the midst of a spirited
debate with the elders, educating them on the attributes of God the Father in
his sweet yet matter-of-fact voice.
 A reminder of how God uses the mouths
of even children like my Kameron to speak his truth to the world. Thank you,

Gifts under the Christmas tree are nice, and I still enjoy
the thrill of hunting the perfect present, but nothing compares to the
gift of clearly seeing Christ in your kids for the first time.
 I pray
that all Christians experience similar revelations in their journey of faith.

Rachel is not working her day job wielding her red tape machete or pushing
beer-leavened baked goods on the side, she is home with her three boys ages 5
years, 2 years, and 5 months eating homemade pizza and ice cream made by her
culinary gifted husband, Kal.

To My Wonderful Boy

This is a tribute to my son Zachary who turned three on 2/4.

Three years ago, you came into this world after one triumphant push…your sweet little cry filling my ears. My sweet, special boy – the result of my 2nd pregnancy and first labor. Eleven hours of labor – I was giddy and happy when my water broke and introspective through the hard, late hours. Pushing you out was the hardest work I have ever done, but definitely the most rewarding.

My heart raced for a day…but I was fine. I stared at you in your clear little bed – swaddled, hat on, little face squinted in sleep. You cooed, and sighed and I knew that I was in love…love at first sight. What would I do with you, my sweet little boy?

You name – Zachary John – means “remembered by a gracious God” and oh, how gracious He had been to me – that day – those days following your birth.

It is three years later and I can’t believe how you have grown. Not quite a toddler, not quite a boy, but always wonderful. You make me laugh – your twice dimpled smile makes me melt. I cannot resist you. Loud, fast, running, jumping, screeching, growling, tackling me…you pause and your little arms are around my neck, “I love you mommy.” I am still in love with you my son.

I didn’t know how to love a boy, how to raise you, how to do this thing – being your mom, but you showed me how. I will never be the same since we met. I’m so grateful that God gave you to me. Happy birthday, my Zachary John.

Five Weeks and Counting…and Growing!

Five weeks – little Zachary is 5 weeks old today. As some friends predicted, he arrived just after the Superbowl – Monday February 4 at 2:44 am. My water broke at 4pm on Sunday February 3rd and I just laughed. For some reason, this whole pregnancy I had a feeling my water would break and I was in a great mood thinking about how in 24 hours or less, Zachary would be in my arms. I was nervous when I called the midwife and excited that she said as long as labor started on it’s own in the next 6 hours I was free to stay home. The contractions felt like low abdominal menstrual cramps and I actually had to ask myself at first, “was that a contraction?” They became regular about 6:30pm and were about 5-7 minutes apart when we left for the hospital about 9:30pm. When we got to the hospital they asked me if I wanted a jacuzzi room – I was excited thinking how comfortable that would be. (Turns out I never used it – more on that later.) They told me I was dilated 6 and 90% effaced. I was elated and happy that I was able to be home through so much of the first part of labor.

The contractions were intense, but I prayed through each one and held onto Jerry. I found labor to be a very inward, introspective experience. I closed my eyes through every contraction reminding myself that God created my body to do this work and I should not resist or tense up. When I resisted a contraction they hurt more and seemed unbearable.

Unfortunately because I had a c-section last time, they made me wear a fetal monitor at all times. It made it hard to move around although they could hook me up to a wireless unit, they kept having to change the position of the monitor to make sure they could still capture his heartbeat. I tried to walk, but felt best when I was lying on my side, but I knew that this slowed things down. I was unbearably hot – that was one of the most surprising things about the whole experience. (No interest in a hot, jacuzzi tub!) Even though it was freezing cold outside, they turned the heat off completely in my room. I can’t imagine if it had been on.

By about 1:45, the feelings were incredibly intense, I felt the urge to bear down, but didn’t recognize at the time what that feeling was. I just remember sitting on the toilet thinking that my pelvis was coming apart – that it was at the widest position it could be. I was right – I was fully dilated and 100% effaced. I remember the midwife saying to me, “It’s time to push this baby out!” I remember saying in a fog, “Really, it is?” I kept thinking – the hard part is over, right?

WRONG! I never realized how hard it would be to push out a baby – I just had no idea. I pushed for nearly and hour and I just remember thinking after each push – he has to be out soon right? I was so tired and the fact that I had not slept in almost 24 hours was taking its toll. Near the end they lost Zachary’s heartbeat and could not get it on a monitor on his head. That was ironic to me because I could feel him kicking me right at that moment. In the chaos I don’t remember if I said anything about it out loud. The midwife said to me, “If we do not get this baby out soon, I will have to cut you.” That was enough motivation for me and on the next push, his head came out partially and then the next push he came completely out. I’ll never forget that immense feeling of relief and the strange sensation of the umbilical cord still attached to my body. In seconds he was on my chest and I remember saying over and over, “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.” He was so big – 9lbs 6oz. They said I could breastfeed him, but I couldn’t sit up, so that was challenging, but he sucked for about 10-15 minutes and then they wisked him away over to a bassinet to be weighed and other things.

I’m still overwhelmed now 5 weeks later thinking of the experience. I thank God that he gave me the perfect birth – no drugs, a short labor, a beautiful, healthy boy. I just kept looking at him when we were in our room a few hours after he was born and just marveling at how beautiful he was. We were surprised to find that he has two dimples. There is no one else in either my family or Jerry’s family that does. I remember during those quiet days in the hospital looking at him and thinking “God must have delighted in making you.”

Five weeks later I look at him in his swing making growling and cooing noises as he likes to do and being amazed at how big he is already – almost 13 pounds.

It Won’t Be Long Now

I’m counting the days until little Zachary John makes his appearance. Everything is going well. The midwives think that he is much smaller than Kayla was and he is head down and ready to go. Everyday seems slow when waiting for something this big to happen. I hate that I just used such a simple word as “big” to describe giving birth and the experience of raising another child. In truth the magnitude of it all is alluding me at the moment. I’m just trying to take one day at a time.

Everything is ready – at least physically – his room, clothes, even diapers and wipes all loaded up into the changing table. My bag and his are packed. Yet everyday I keep wondering, am I ready? Mentally ready? I’m trying to stay positive, to take the memory of the chaos of those first few weeks with Kayla in perspective. To remember that I was new to everything and at least this time there are only some aspects that are completely new. Like the fact that he is a completely different person – with a different personality and habits among many other things of course.

I’m not sure what I had to say in this post that is very profound, but more just me trying to grasp the stillness and quiet before this joyous change. It reminds me more than ever that I have to trust God in all things. He has given me the gift of this little boy. Zachary John means “remembered by a gracious God.” Because he has remembered me, I know that he will be with me through this.