Introspective Insights

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

The Sweet Sound of Chaos

Yes, you read the title correctly. I’ve never been so happy to hear screaming and laughing and the pounding of running feet! After five days of being sick, Kayla is better. She is smiling and laughing and she asked me to chase her around the living room. Normally that whole chasing thing is pretty short lived for me, but I heartily chased her around for as long as we could handle it! Breathlessly she declared, “I feel much better!” Indeed!

I never thought I would be looking forward to the week coming up that her and I would spend together with the baby. The sick Kayla was much harder to handle then the well Kayla. I’m sure well Kayla and I will have a great time.

Note: I didn’t publish this post right away and am happy to report that our week together was great. We had our ups and downs, but overall it was a good. Thanks to everyone that was praying for us. In a way, I’m sort of lonely today without Kayla’s sweet face around. Just me and the little boy today.

If Only There Were Two of Me…

I’m sure we have all had that thought – wishing we had a clone or an extra set of hands. I’m especially feeling that pain today – figuring out how to juggle two kids – an infant (by definition – needy) and a little under the weather toddler (temporarily needy). It seems that I’m constantly having to choose, whose needs get met first. Unfortunately, my infant son cries more loudly and is harder to reason with and he usually wins the battle.

I’m also struggling with how to work with Kayla’s recently behavior issues (presumably more apparent or new due to baby Zachary’s recent appearance on the scene). A few days ago, I was reading Corey’s post over at Living and Loving Every Minute of It (click here to check it out – a little long, but worth it) and I believe she really hit the nail on the head. When our own needs are not met we are impatient and cranky and stray from our core parenting style and frankly from our own personalities in general. It seems like that is the story of my life lately. I’m thankful to Corey for her timely post and helping me get back on track.

I guess in the end I keep coming back to this simple truth. God has put me in this situation and he will see me through. I Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” How often I am tempted to lash out, to yell, to be impatient, to do what I shouldn’t do in this new, two child parenting game. I have to remember that I am weak and nothing without God’s help.

I often think about how blessed I am to be a mother (twice now!) and I have to constantly focus on God’s strength and not my own. With this focus, I can do anything!

Sweet Girl

As those of you know who have had children, the aftermath or “post partum period” can be a roller coaster of emotions. At times I’m happier than I can imagine and other times the littlest thing can make me cry. (Case in point, I am not a country music fan, but there is a country song on the Gospel Music Channel that had me in tears one day.)

One morning before Jerry and Kayla left for the day I was crying and Kayla came up to me with the receiving blanket she uses for her doll and said, “Mommy, don’t cry, don’t be sad” and she wiped my tears away with her blanket. Of course, this made me cry harder. How can a 2 1/2 year old know what her Momma needed so much? I’m so blessed to have such a sweet girl.

She adores her little brother and takes every opportunity to kiss him, touch him, and hold him when she can. It will be great when he can respond more to her. Thinking about this reminds me again of how blessed I am.

Devotion

I had a hard time naming this post only because the word devotion seems a bit too cheesy for me, but I can’t describe it any other way. I marvel at Jerry’s love for me and how he so often anticipates what I need to hear or what needs to be done. It is as if we have found out how to be in sync – in a perfectly, devoted way.

Right before we left the hospital with Zachary, we were enjoying a quiet time when he was sleeping. Jerry looked at me and he said, “you should be proud.” I knew exactly what he meant. All those months of praying and asking God to give me a natural birth, the work of actually experiencing it and all that pushing! I starting crying. How I needed someone to say that to me, how I longed to shout from the rooftops, “I DID IT!!” But I knew that was not what I was supposed to do. I’ve tried so hard to be humble and thankful that God would choose me to be a mother again and I knew that was what I should focus on. But to have those words said out loud for me – what a wonderful gift.

So I want to be proud, but I won’t. Instead, I’m thankful that a faithful, gracious God heard my cry for help and blessed me with the desire of my heart.

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.

Don’t Let it Get Away

I’ve been subconsciously avoiding this topic for awhile because it means that I have to admit something to myself – that Kayla is growing up and time is flying forward at light speed. I’ve been sort of watching it all happen out of the corner of my eye in denial as if somehow avoiding this topic will prevent that truth from occurring. But it is happening. In some ways I don’t even recognize my baby.

She talks is complete sentences now and some of the things we talk about are even surprising to me. With the new baby on the way it reminds me that in some ways she will be forced to grow up a little bit more. This makes me sad, but in the same way I know it will be good for her. She pats my belly and says hi to “baby brudder” just about everyday. Yesterday she asked if baby brudder could come out and play dinosaurs with her. Today she said “he really wants out, right now!” When we told her that she would teach him how to play she just smiled and growled and laughed like she does in her sweet, little excited way.

But tonight as I laid down with her as she was falling asleep, all I could see was my baby girl in the half light. Her sweet cherub face filling my view, her little thumb in her mouth, her eyelashes fluttering, fighting the sleepiness. I pulled her close and kissed her. I wished the moment would last forever.

In some ways I guess it will – she will always be my baby girl no matter what happens and no matter how old she is.

The Distraction of Electricity

Over this past weekend we spent 40 hours without electricity. It started Friday night about 7pm when a storm passed through and knocked out the power. (Thankfully we still had hot water.) This is very unusual for our area and we were surprised to find that our neighbors across the street all had power. We found out later that only about 35-40 houses in our neighborhood were out.

As we sat there in the dark that night, under the faint glow of the street light across the street, I pondered how much we rely on electricity not just for the normal day to day operations such as the hair drying, dish washing, and microwaving, but for the distractions of everyday life.

Jerry and I were forced to just sit there, literally, and talk in the romantic candle light. We talked about everything we could think of and enjoyed the candles that had been collecting dust for months. The candles in our fireplace had only been lit once since we put them in this spring – what a travesty! I pulled out every new, scented candle I’ve been forgetting to try and put them out. It was so quiet…no hum of some distant appliance or even the quiet static of the baby monitor. Most importantly, no computer, Internet or *gasp* BLOG to distract us from what we should really be doing – spending time together.

The next morning, the transformer down the street was repaired and we went back to life as normal – washing clothes, sending emails, and blow drying hair. But the story doesn’t end here, a little more than 24 hours later, we hear a shocking “ka-pow!” and the power went out again. In some ways I was annoyed, I really wanted to crosstich that night and there is just no way to do that in the dark, even with a great flashlight! In other ways, it was a relief. There was no way I could catch up on some of my work projects or get sucked into the Internet that night.

We sat outside watching the stars and gazing at the moon rising. It was cool outside and quiet – we sipped our coffee and talked softly. For once I was thankful for the lack of distractions…for being forced to do nothing but relax. It was as if God was trying to tell us in an indisputable way to just put the difficult week behind us and be still. Well, thanks Big Guy – we needed that!

The Blossoming Belly

Well, for those of you who don’t know, Baby Powell v2.0 is on the way. This pregnancy has been very odd or maybe not odd in the “statistical significance” sense, but odd in the “not like the other one” sense. We tried for several months to get pregnant and after watching just about every other female family member get pregnant before me, we were finally blessed with the digital readout at the crack of dawn (6:30am 5/31) of “Pregnant.” I was happy and excited but so bleary eyed that the tears ran down my cheeks on the outer rim of my eyes instead of the inner rim near my nose. Weird? Odd? Yeah, it was. Because we were on vacation, we promptly went back to sleep until Kayla woke up.

The weeks following involved exponential weight gain (12 lbs in 6 weeks – thanks wacky thyroid!), nausea in the evening – what’s that talk about “morning” sickness? Don’t know about that… And being smacked on the head with a two by four fatigue at random times of day. For a couple of weeks, Jerry just tucked me in at about 9pm.

Suddenly at 10 weeks – I came back to life! I could stay awake in the evenings! I tossed out my saltines that I had permanently attached to my person! I made it through the late afternoon without a snack! Ahhhhh…but then the belly popped out. And with a vengeance it went forth in its glorious round girth. There should be some law against “popping” before week 13. In one week, normal clothes became 2-3 inches too small. Maternity clothes from my previous pregnancy were all for the wrong season, so only a few worked at this stage. But all was not lost – $100 later – two pairs of pants and three shirts joined my life and brought me over to chic maternity land. Who knew that I looked so good in mint green? Or that the inventor of the “miracle pant” would now become a beneficiary in my will? Could sleek khaki pants and breast-hugging shirts somehow make me a better person? I guess that all remains to be seen.

On July 11 we went in for my first midwife appointment. After all the talk about twins, she thought it best to do an early ultrasound verification. One little baby was hanging around in there – its little heartbeat flickering. All of a sudden – it started jumping around – thrashing its little arms and legs as if it knew it was on camera and as if to say, “Hi Mom and Dad – I’m doing good in here!!!” Our midwife laughed in surprise and said, “that is so unusual to see the baby moving this early.” Well, as we have seen with Kayla, we don’t have ordinary babies (and I mean this in the best possible way of course). Of course our baby would move around like mad at 9 1/2 weeks!

Two weeks later (11 weeks or so), I felt that flutter feeling (Moms, you know what I’m talking about). Now with “normal” pregnancies this usually happens around 16-18 weeks. I stood there thinking to myself, “Naaaahhhhh, this is pretty early.” It’s as if this baby heard my thoughts and decided to do it…hmmm…seven more times! I know without a doubt that was the baby moving. I don’t care what anyone else says. My midwife confirmed today that without the placenta in front as it was with Kayla, it is pretty likely that I’m more sensitive to movement and I did feel this little one moving.

At my appointment today we very easily heard the baby’s heartbeat – slower than Kayla’s, but very strong as if to say, “I’m strong and healthy, Mom and Dad.”

I’m pretty convinced that like Kayla, this baby is going to have a story to tell when we meet him or her for the first time. (Kayla’s was a pretty intense story as she screamed bloody murder for 45 minutes straight right after she was born. No little baby wah, wah for her!) It’s been very different than last time, but so calm and peaceful. It is odd, but I’m looking forward to giving birth. Maybe I am slightly naive as I did not even have one contraction with Kayla (c-section due to her size – 10lbs 3oz), but I have a sense of rightness with this whole process.

As for now, the belly continues to grow. I rub it and dance often – just to make Kayla and Jerry laugh. Ironically, even though this blossoming is so important, so unique and so well, fun this time, I have not taken one picture of it in its spherical glory. I guess it’s off to select the appropriate photo shoot look and start clicking away.

Sweet, Sweet Summer…

Well, here we are…it’s official…the calendar may not say the first day of summer, but it might as well be. Summer unofficially started weeks ago…and isn’t glorious!

Maybe you don’t agree and well, I wouldn’t blame you. The shocking transition from 55 degrees to 85 isn’t for the faint of heart and can make some of us even irritated with the idea of a new season. I’m with you…I get it…but I’m here to talk about the good stuff. The stuff that summer dreams are made of.

There is nothing like gazing at the greenest, most perfectly trimmed patch of grass and just imaging yourself lying on it, petting it. Ohhhh…this love of freshly cut grass has exhibited itself in me very strangely. I have visions of sleeping on it…I think that is why I took up golf. I can’t help but love the perfectly manicured greens. When people aren’t looking I stroke that grass as if it were my small, furry pet. How can’t you love that crisp smelling field of perfection?

And the flowers – is there anything like the sight of orange daylillies (and they are everywhere around here these days) smiling in the breeze – swaying so gently as if singing a lullabye.

And the sky so blue you can’t imagine that it could be real – contrasting with the crisp white clouds floating by.

All of this enticing beauty – beckoning me to be a part of it…stirring a longing in me so pure and so exciting. I long to see a lake – not any lake, but Lake Michigan – part lake, part ocean. Big enough that I can’t imagine its end, small enough to believe that it can be embraced. I imagine looking out…hearing the waves crash, the seagulls call, the sandpipers flit way with their tiny little feet.

Looking out into the endless blue reminds me that this is all a gift from a Creator that longs to know us so intensely that he would use any noble means possible to get our attention. Which brings me to a breathtaking watercolor sunset. Always unique, always quiet, and always gently asking, “Meet me here again tomorrow?” How kind, how thoughtful, how delightfully loving He is.

So do yourself a favor tonight, tomorrow or the next day…go outside – maybe at dusk – check out the canvas near you. Now I know in my postage stamp of suburbia I can’t really see the full sunset, but I can see the pink and purple streaks reflecting in the sky and the lightening bugs starting to flicker here and there. Get out there…be quiet, be still, and know that He is God.