Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas 2005

This time last year I was bracing myself for a monumental shift as we were about to leave Buffalo for Chicago. I never would have dreamed I'd be having such a beautiful Christmas one year later.

A family of five with a very pleasant little baby boy.

A big house with individual bedrooms.

No tree (crushing hazzard), no lights (electrical hazzard), no bulbs (choking hazzard), but a lovely mantel with 5 stockings (on stocking hagers with the potential for laceration hazzard, but avoided!).

A little girl who likes to wear a tiara and make faces at herself in the mirror.

A boy who could play with his electric toothbrush all day.

A loving, gracious congregation.

A cool, fun, family-like staff.

An amazing husband.

And the chance to remember my Savior came to earth for me.

Merry, merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Wanna Work! Part II

Re-read last week's post using a slightly higher-pitched voice, add a few tears of frustration, and you've got a pretty accurate picture of my day.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Little Hole

I saw something on the wall of Izak's bedroom, near the head of his bed. A dark spot. Not a spider. Not dirt. I started to scratch it off when I realized it was really stuck on there. So I picked a little more, applied a little more pressure, and then, oops! Took off the first layer of drywall. So now there's a little hole that will someday be painted over... the dark spot? A dried booger.

I Wanna Work!

Well, today was my greatly anticipated first-day-back to work. A new hospital (Loyola University Medical Center), a new state, a new situation (staffing agency - kinda like substitute teaching for nurses), a new computer charting system. I rose and shone (?) at 4:30 a.m., and just before I left the house ... 4:59... the phone rang. "Sorry, Heidi, but Loyola cancelled you today." Aahhh! What a major disappointment! Matt had slept on the couch to give me a sound night's rest since we're all fighting colds. He heard the phone ring and knew it was either a cancellation, or my Grandma (97) made her worldly departure. Choice number one.

I went back to bed and stewed. Man, was I mad! I needed this day out for more than simply money. My nurse's heart is aching for action. My sedentary brain is longing for complex conversation that doesn't involve noodles, pee-pee on the potty, or one-sided safety talks. I want to know if I know what I used to know: how to hang drips, how to start IV's, how to assist a physician during procedure, how to detect impending doom.

I keep calling the phase after baby number three "the beginning of the beginning - again." Everyone's born, everyone's growing. The only thing slowing me down is the limitations of the children, not my physical fatigue from pregnancy, so I shoulder alot more. I feel strong and sharp. I can see my way to organize, prioritize. I know that my primary job is being the SAHM, which I love, not because I've always dreamed of this, but because I'm fulfilling a calling and see God in it all around me. This is the most valuable of times. I treat my days with the seriouness that I would any other job. I don't take my time with the kids lightly. I don't look for distraction for myself (since I'm pretty introverted) or sit idly by; I focus on being present to the kids, teaching, playing, observing. Each night I think, Did I look each child directly in their eyes and communicate their value in a way they understood? Did I cuddle each one? Did I kiss each one without worrying about the time of day? Did I give my best? I think it takes deliberate choices to engage the kids and not focus on myself.

That being said, I also believe that I need to work a little bit outside the home. Matt is my greatest champion to that end. He doesn't try to harness my energy by re-directing my focus home, he synergizes my efforts in helping me seek the right kind of nursing job for this phase. Granted, there are only a few days a month that I can work that will not totally throw off the rythym of the household - a few Saturdays, maybe some Sunday evenings, but not Mondays. Mondays are about the only sacred space that we have. They're deemed "Family Days," and we protect them fiercely. However, working Saturdays impacts Matt because he generally works at the office for 6 hours, and then later after we (kids and I) go to bed in the evening. But he's willing to reallocate those hours elsewhere in the week to help me get the release that I need in my career. Honey, I love you, and am grateful for the way you're encouraging me.

So, for Pete's sake, don't call me off! The scheduler is looking to see if there's anything available this evening. I'm hopeful. Even if it's just for four hours (though the drive is an hour in itself), I'd like to get my foot in the door. This could be the start of my working pattern for years to come. I look forward to my orientation at Northwestern University Medical Center, too. The more orientations I've completed, the more facilities I can chose to work in. I'll begin to accumulate skills, experiences, information, and relationships that will solidify my nursing path. No more foreseeable long absences from ICU or oncology (I've been out for 9 months with the move and pregnancy). It's time to jump in and stay in the pool!

I feel like it's my first day of school, but the bus didn't pick me up. If not today, then hopefully next Saturday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Herd of Cats

Levi at 8 weeks.

Liberty at 18 months.

Izak at 3 years.

Grateful Patriot

Since my husband's a night owl, he had a chance to steal my blog before I could get it typed out. Rather than repeat it, I copied his reflections and pasted them. They are well put, and definitely something I wanted to share with you.
Heidi and I went to Olive Garden for a date the other night. We were stuffed back in a corner, far from all the hubbub...perfect. As we were talking, I heard a little voice above the din. Glancing to my left, at the next table, I saw a little girl, probably about 7 years old, standing straight and looking directly into the eyes of the three Navy men who were all sitting quietly and looking back at her. She was singing to them in a soft and tender voice.

I couldn't make out all the words to the song, but above the noise of the room, I heard "You answered the call..." and "Thank you...Thank you...Thank you."

Her family was there to celebrate grandma's birthday. But this little girl had to sing a special song for these servicemen. Her mother explained to them that they have tried to teach her how special men and women have answered the call to serve their country in the military. She understood...and when she saw them, she just wanted to say, "Thank you..."

It's a moment that took be aback...difficult to put into words here. I was glad to have been invited into that moment by the tender voice of a little girl.

When she finished, the three of them all said, "You're welcome."

When Matt pointed out the little singer, I immediately teared up. For me, it was a holy moment. Yes, my heart agreed with the little girl, thank you, thank you, though I'm too old and proud to say it myself. I am so grateful for your service.

As I have mentioned before, I'm deeply grateful to our service men and women for their dedication to our country. Among many things, I pray to raise children who respect the armed services. And as they grow older, a part of that teaching will include understanding that, though they may not be asked to, our men and women in uniform may choose to lay down their lives to protect us here on earth. It's then, I believe, a quick transition to being humbled and grateful to the One who served us by laying down His life for our ultimate freedom here, and also in the life to come.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A new twist

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
And there's still another way
I know, though it seems strange to say.

With 3 under 3 I have found
That I'm house- and auto-bound.
To take the 3 into a store
Invites chaos, danger, maybe more.

So for fifteen minutes plus five
One-way, I'd load the kids and drive
To my favorite coffee shop.
They had drive-thru, no need to stop.

Don't unload the herd of cats
Who bolt and dart, imagine that!
And do not give them space to run...
I know, they never have any fun.

But, oh, God loves me, I'm glad to say
Because while driving the other day
I spied a sign both orange and pink.
I was so excited, I could hardly think

Of anything else! For you see,
It's a mere six miles down the road from me!
A Dunkin Dounts, open 24/7...
And the best part - a drive-up window! Ah, that's pure heaven!!!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Levi at one month. Posted by Picasa

Must write

Must blog, must blog. Writing is the form I can use to express a lot of thoughts that hang on me all day, though finding the time to sit and write is nigh impossible. Either sleep or write, take your choice. Forget eating, I gave that up weeks ago.

I guess I'll just be newsy. Levi is a month. He's much less fussy, and has stopped screaming bloody murder during his baths. He actually looks over at his reflection in the mirror, very calm, perhaps it's just resignation. But my policy is that all men that I sleep with need to smell good.

Speaking of which - Matt and I celebrated our 11-year anniversary this weekend. It was amazing to recall the places we'd lived and the jobs we'd had. We love to talk all day about our wedding day, remembering the moments. I'm afraid that there wasn't as much pizzaz this year as we'd hoped, since I totally wiped out around 8 p.m.. Sorry, Lover! Next year, and each year will continue to be better! We will see Vermont again!!

Libby is recovering from an emergency operation on her hand almost two weeks ago. We ended up in the ER, and then need the OR for repair. Gosh, she's a spirited little thing! I love it. We met one of the most fantastic surgeons I've even known, Dr. Frank. A short, more narrow version of Mr. Rogers. He adored Lib, and she thought he was pretty cool too, being an expert peek-a-boo player and all.

Izak is growing more and more observant. Yesterday we were making a U-turn in an Applebee's parking lot and he said, "Come on everybody. Let's go inside for nuggets and colored balloons!" Not bad for a kid of few words.

There's a lot that I can't tell you in the blog. A lot of confidential issues, some things that I may be able to reflect about in time. Can I just say that this last month has been one of the most difficult times that I can recall? If we were using battle terminology - "heavy shelling" is a pretty good word picture. But I was so encouraged when I was stumbling through Isaiah and it said repeatedly, "Do not fear; I will help you." The pastoral families have prayer every other Tuesday night here at our house. We prayed that God would make us desperate for Him... now we're praying for relief! Okay, okay we're desperate already! But God promised help.. and to a mom and wife of a family under the purifying fire, help is exactly, exactly what I need right now.

Jesus, thank you for being with me. Your presence is something I sense in the deepest parts of who I am. Thank you for being my strong, right hand. Thank you for enfolding my home with your arms. Thank you for being in the future, and for your protection in moments of crisis. I am so blessed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Eleven years ago today. You're still my hero. Matthew. I love you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Trench

Being a SAHM (stay at home mom) with three three and under lends itself to several words pictures. For example, most days I say that getting the kids in order feels like I'm herding cats. Certain times of the day feel like I'm being pecked to death by ducks. But most days I just refer to it as my life in the trench. In the morning I get up and put on my work clothes, grab my pick ax and jump in the ditch. On a normal day I just dig. If I'm digging at the right pace then I usually just keep my trench dug out. Some days I dig like crazy because the pressure is causing the sides to cave in. Other days I dig and bail water because of the storms. I don't mind my trench, it's familiar, it's busy , but it's mine.

Basic trench issues: Keeping the house in relative order, accommodating new changes to the schedule and taking into account the impact on each individual family member. Remembering the things that make each one sad, or happy, or content, and knowing when to employ the right one. Knowing when to lean on my husband, and when to draw up the bootstraps in order be leaned upon. Always remembering that only one adult at a time is allowed to be having a terrible day in his or her particular trench. Knowing where pretty much everything is located in the trench including the 9 bottles, 7 sippy cups, 4 pacifiers, and two blankies. Remembering when to pay the bills and balance the checkbook... Ah, home sweet trench.

Lately there have been special people who have come along and worked tirelessly alongside me. At this point in my life, when the workload is so intense and constant, I don't have a lot of time for folks who just want to stand up on the edge, look down in my trench and talk. Nor do I have time for people who want to sit around and tell me all about their trench. If you're going to take up time and space in my life, then for God's sake, grab that ax, get down here next to me and dig! DIG!!

A loving shout out to my fellow trench companions: Mom, Aunt Lo, Aud, Jenny, Bonnie, Anjee, Carrie P., Liz, Charlotte, Linda, Wanda, Rache, Jennifer G.. Your presence has made my time mothering and managing a heavy load much less lonely and much more joyful. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Levi 2.5 weeks

Looking more stretched out! My sitter, Rache, would say, "Next thing he needs is to grow a neck!"

Bad Mom

Today I had the thought, Perhaps this was a mistake... three children when I only have two arms, two hands, two adults... . Common thought, I know. I've found that it actually occurs earlier and earlier with subsequent babies. I didn't question my soundness of my decision until after Izak was born. I remember wondering what I'd done when I had a wailing newborn daughter and sobbing son locked in their car seats in the minivan... and I clearly remember panicky moment early on during Levi's pregnancy that centered around the lack of good judgment I'd used in bringing a third upon myself and the family! But each time I rest in the fact that these are God's children, not mine, and order eventually comes.

When Izak was a newborn, I remember the parents who rolled their eyes at me and said, "You ain't seen nothin' until you have ___ (insert numbers greater than one) kids to deal with!" Though insensitive and invalidating, they had a point. Two is nothing like one, and three is two on an exponential graph! I'm busy every second, though breastfeeding every two hours may not look like busy-ness. There were a few times today when everyone was crying, and at least two of the three were hanging on my pants simultaneously, while I held the baby. (Which baby? you might ask.) There have been times I've played too many videos and not read enough books. There have been times when I haven't changed the dirty diaper quickly enough and someone's gotten diaper rash. I think the easy (and extremely unhealthy) thing to think is, I must be a bad mom. Good moms wouldn't have these problems. The reality is that there are hard moments. Even when there's only one child, and especially when there's more than one. But that kind of thinking does nothing for either Mom or family. So you cowboy up, suffer through; you cry a little, you pray a lot. And things get better.
Bad moms don't do that.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

We regarded one another... Posted by Picasa

F5 update

The transition continues to go well. Levi is a relatively calm baby, Libby and Izak have grown accustomed to his presence. Matt is back at work, and I haven't flown the coop, or flown over the coop as the case may be. The kids and I ventured to a park down by the church and had a lovely time. Levi slept in his seat, which I hauled from site to site. The weather was balmy and sunny. I'm still surprised from time to time how strong and agile I feel. I can squeeze in small places, fit on the slides, and eat brownies for lunch if I want... it's great not being pregnant!

I'm figuring out how to make life fun on the fly as we adjust to spreading things between three kids. Izak has been relegated to the back seat of the minivan. This was not a welcomed adjustment since he's always seemed to need my help in being settled. "Mommy, here's my water, Here's my napkin. Here's my half-eaten french fry." Now he has to manage his own space, so to speak. He has cup holders and places to put things... but how do you get food to him if you're driving down the road? Well, if you see me driving down the road and turning around to chuck a chicken nugget at my toddler, don't laugh too hard. It works. He thinks it's a fantastic game. It's also useful with chocolate munchkins. And I'm a pretty good shot - so far it's mostly right between the numbers. Hope he doesn't lose an eye...

Libby is a beautiful fireball. My little mini-me, according to my mother. She'd watch Libby's antics while she was here and shake her head. "It takes me back thirty-some years in a flash." And what was it like to have me after having Stef, a handicapped child? Mom: "I was no more ready for you than I was for Stef." Great. But Libby is extremely fun and crazy. She's discovered the girl in the mirror - she spends long stretches of time working on her expressions: the smile, the head-tilt, the flirt, the uh-oh, the kiss, etc. Boy and girls... way different!

The church is pounding us with meals. We've enjoyed some fabulous cooking over the past week and a half. I can't imagine what we'd be eating if the meals were up to me... cereal, toast and crackers, maybe.

That's a quick update.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dr. Fisher

Levi and I went to the pediatrician for our first visit yesterday. Dr. Fisher is a very tall, lanky 50-something man with wispy white hair and large hands. He speaks quickly, admits to mumbling, and occasionally changes the subject so quickly that even I can't keep up. He rapid-fires the basic questions, "How's he eating? Sleeping? How many wet diapers a day?" I find myself responding like the contestants on Family Feud, all I need is that big red button.

He was going through the drill when he asked, "What color are his bowel movements? Yellow?"

"No, they're actually orange."

"Orange?!? Do you know why?"

So here's the doctor asking my medical opinion, obviously testing my nursing degree prowess. Test question: Give the rationale for a newborn's orange poopy diaper as it would compare and contrast to the normal yellow breast-fed poopy diaper. Right. Ready, sir.

"Well, I figure it's him clearing his bilirubin. I've noticed that his jaundice is lightening so he must be passing the excess bilirubin in both his diaper and urine-"

He interrupted, "No that's not it."


"No." And a wide mischievous grin crawled across his face. "It's orange for Halloween."

Monday, October 24, 2005


An F5 is considered an "incredible tornado" by the Fujita scale. It has winds between 261 and 318 mph. Damage sustained can be any of the following: Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel re-enforced concrete structures badly damaged.

The Furr family has now become... an F5.

Matt and I are giving each other lots of hugs nowadays to keep one another's morale up. F4 to F5 is still early in it's transition. Most of the time it seems to be going well, and then, without warning, the wheels fly off and trees disembark, the house creeks... you get the picture. Overall the kids seems pleased with Levi's addition. Izak refers to him as "baby brother" and is so very concerned with his little cries, shouting for my attention, "Baby Brother Crying!!" Libby circles him like a small shark, eyeing him out of the corner of her big browns, every now and then coming in to poke him on top of his head, not too hard, but hard enough as if to say, "Hey you, this is MY turf... you feelin' me?" Some days I choke back tears thinking of an encouraging word a mom gave me when Libby was a baby, Before you know it, you'll hear them running down the hallway together laughing. But until then, we take it a moment at a time.

The birth details (Men, you've been warned.) This is especially a shout out to my curious Bradley and Buffalo buddies.

Matt and I arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m. Tuesday, October 18th. We were checked in and chillin' in our lovely birth suite for about two hours before the OB got there. The monitor showed that I was having contractions every 7-8 minutes (tell me something I didn't know), but they were mild. I was 5-6cm upon exam, so there had been some progress at some point. The OB ruptured my waters at 9:26 a.m. (that sucked!) and ordered Pitocin to be started. Really though, once my water broke, I rolled over on my left side and got to work relaxing and working with the pain. I've never had my water broken artificially before, but I was determined to play nice and follow the rules as much as possible. Levi was coming down along my backbone, so there was really intense back pain (so did the other two). They hung my antibiotic, and not to change tradition I began vomiting. The nurse checked me and I was already 7-8. Then came my buddy Pit. Induction Pitocin can go as high as 20-30 mu. They started my drip at 2mu. The second they plugged it in, the pain and intensity of the contrx made me start to moan. Heck, I think all I needed to do was smell the stuff. The drip started at 9:58 a.m.. By this point I'm thinking, You know, some drugs would've been nice. I don't think I want this natural thing again. In fact I'm sure I don't. But at that point, it was too late. Within a half an hour I began thinking, You know, a c-section sounds really good about now, I would be fine with that, perhaps I should mention it to the nurse... But what I've learned about childbirth is that the crazier, more desperate the thinking, the closer you're getting to the END. I've also learned that it does you no stinkin' good to give voice to the thoughts because that may only reinforce them. So I was quiet, except for the moaning and occasional "Baby, baby, baby out." Matt was amazing. stayed right by my side, talking gently from time to time, reminding me to relax, put my shoulders down, relax my legs. He was the weather master as I'm calling the climate, "I'm hot!" (whipped covers off) "I'm still hot!" (dropped the thermostat in the room as low as it could go) "I"m cold!" (covers my legs) "No, I'm hot!!" He stood by the bedside and allowed me to grind me forehead into his side as the contrx hit, clutching his shirt. He'd softly say, "Let go and relax, you're doing great." I did not feel like letting go, but knew I needed to obey my coach.

A little before 11 a.m. I thought I'd pull one over on Old Mother Nature. I knew left side-lying was a way to expedite labor, so I rolled over to my right side to slow things down. By now I'm thinking, I'd like to die. No pain meds, no c-section... I think I'll just die right here because this is impossible. If I have to go one more minute with this intense pain, I'll never make it. But as I rolled over I felt everything change. The back pain stopped, the contrx became centered in the middle of my body, I stopped moaning. I actually was thinking, Hey, this isn't so bad. Right side, good move! But then came the pressure... and I felt my body start to push, and I thought, OH NO! Back on the left, back on the left!!! Because as much as I didn't want the pain I really didn't want to push! The nurse was close by, and checked me out, said the time was very near, and started calling for the doctor. I just remember lying there, determined to not push, no matter what. One contrx came and went, and then my body took over and began bearing down. I began to writhe under the force of it. (That was when I had my first behavioral correction from my coach. Matt said firmly, "Heidi, quit biting the sheets!") The OB came in and the nurse said, "She's ready to deliver." The OB said, "Is she getting ready to push?" and the nurse said, "No, she's delivering right now." As the OB was walking across the room I remember yelling, "I'm only doing this once, so somebody tell me the best way to push!" They helped me "assume the position" and I tucked my chin and let 'er have it! I heard Matt counting in my ear, "1...2...3...4" and could feel the pressure and burn of the head, then a slight relief - I'd pushed the head out and wasn't even aware. Normally everyone starts yelling, "Stop, stop, stop!" and they suction, but since no one was saying anything (Matt said the OB was suctioning like crazy) I bore down and gave it another shove.... and then had the most wonderful feeling when it all just came out! And there's wriggling, and warmth, and, well, all that. I guess the nurse was still trying to tie the OB's gown when she had her hands full of baby boy. She'd gotten there just in time. And Matt said to me, in that whispery, tear-choked voice he always has, "It's a boy! It's a boy!" 11:05 a.m.

Levi was full of fluid from rocketing out so quickly without spending time in the squeeze cycle, so he had a bit of suctioning to do. His cry was very pinched and tight at first, but he screamed and screamed. I remember just being absolutely dazed. It had all happened in 1 hour and 29 minutes. I called the nurse over and just said, "Be with me, please." She smiled and stood there and held my hand. Colleen was fantastic. Matt was amazing. The OB made easy money. And the nursery nurse was really funny, cracking jokes, sarcastic, talking to little Levi, apologizing to him. I was too stunned to laugh, but she was funny!

Overall, that's the story. I sustained no damage to speak of. Levi looks like the c-section baby I was wishing for. He eats well and frequently (every two hours), and sleeps... well, that will come in time.

I think back to how much I stressed with the first two. Would they every sleep or nurse well? Would life every moderate? And I'm determined this time to live in the knowledge that Levi will grow and develop, and that this very happy and healthy F5 will see great days ahead!

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My new son

Welcome, Levi Lawrence Furr. Born at the bidding of Pitocin and the medical team (which included Mommy), he finally came out at 11:05 a.m. Tuesday, October 18th. Nine pounds, 4 ounces. Quite a beauty. More details to come.

Thank you for your prayers and kind words of encouragement.

Monday, October 17, 2005

One Way or Another... Baby Comes Out Tomorrow!

We're sick of messin' around. The doctor said that I should've gone a long time ago... if I could only have contractions. I am scheduled for induction with Pitocin tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.. We have childcare lined up for the day and night. I've had Pit before, so I'm not afraid of any surprises. Labor's just plain hard any way you go about it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cake!! Posted by Picasa

Izak is three!

My sweet one turned three surrounded by pastoral staff and several friends whom he loves very much. It was a beautiful day.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

39 and 4

Last night Matt and I had another potential "last date for a very long time." We left the kids with a charming little sitter and headed to... Benihanas, of course. After dinner we stopped at Target for wipes and strawberries, and as we were strolling between home decor and ladies' clothing a funny thing happened. I've heard of the sciatica attacks that pregnant women get. A sudden pinching of the sciatic nerve that runs down either side of your lower back into the leg renders you immobile. Well, sure enough. I don't know if the baby dropped down into the pelvis (I assume it's coming down sunny side up), or what happened, but my right leg went from functional to collapsible in about 2 seconds. Matt's looking at me as I'm folding backwards into a human envelope saying, "Are you ok? What's happening?" I keep thinking it will get better with the next step as I'm sinking, sinking, slumping towards the floor, yelling, "Get me a stool or a chair." I'm still too proud to go into a heap at this point, and too shocked to believe I'm literally falling down in the middle of the store. (Might have asked for it because on my way in I thought I might be having a contraction, and Matt asked if we needed to stop. My comment was, "If it doesn't stop me in my tracks then it's not worth stopping for." Eh-hem.) Matt grabs a little ottoman and shoves it under my rear as I'm closing in on a landing. We're both belly-laughing. He's asking, "Is your water going to break? Because if it is, we're about to buy an ugly $70 foot stool! Here, get up and sit on this one for $29.99." People began staring, and I'm trying to pull it together. It was a funny event, full of physical humor which is my favorite kind, even if it was at my expense. We managed to limp through the rest of our trip and made it home. Last night was fraught with not-so-funny pain for most of the night... but still nothing to clock or time. It just hurt. But the laugh from earlier in the evening will go a long way in keeping me smirking.

My next OB appointment is today at 1:45p.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

39 and 1

Baby remains in solitary confinement, and shows no new signs of emerging. Mom has returned to Bay City after 10 wonderfully helpful days. I'm trying to navigate each day alone again, which isn't as easy as it sounds. I think one of the best parts about Mom's company is that it helped give me someone to talk with, and though I may have been constantly thinking about whether each moment was "it," I could talk about something else. Home alone with little ones means I don't really have the conversational selection of another adult, unless you don't mind exegeting the adventures of Blue's Clues and Riverdance a thousand times a day. I'm not a phone person, especially with two little ones bound for folly. It's nice to have another person as an "alongside one."

My last appointment was last Wednesday and my next appointment is Saturday. I feel rather despondent, so I didn't see what the rush was in getting back into the office in order to be told, "Anytime now... don't know why you haven't gone already".

Izak turns three on Sunday, bless his heart. There will be cake from Baskin Robbins and candles!

Libby has been having tough nights with multiple waking. My assumption is molars and perhaps nightmares. But her nights have been choppy... which makes my nights more choppy.

Not much else that I want to share. I'm working on being an "expectant" mom rather than a "frustrated" one. I'm not sure how I'm doing, but I've resolved that there's nothing else to really be stressed about. Mom's come and gone, Matt's into October which he prepared for mentally to have the big upheaval occur with his schedule, my hopes of a sapphire birthstone have passed... I guess all that's left is beating the snow...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Being Picked

I think I agree with the general psychology that says we carry childhood issues into adulthood with us. I think one of my "things" has always been being one who was picked. Either because of my potential value, or proven worth, or importance... the list goes on. The little voice inside me still, at 34, says, "Pick me!" I remember not making my senior H.S. Homecoming court by one vote, and the burn in my heart because I knew I had not even voted for myself, but another girl on the ballot. If I would've only voted for myself then I would have been picked. I remember an atypical orchestral try-out for an international group I toured Europe with when I was 15 years old. We had to discuss and choose our chairs based on how we thought we played. I neglected to choose principal chair because I thought it was haughty, though I had never received any lower placement than first chair due to my skill and training. I ended up third chair by default, and was absolutely ill about it (until the end of the rehearsal when the conductor shouted, "Heidi, get up in first chair, and Dan, you're always out of tune! You sit third!"). After being embarrassed by third I was picked for first.

Today it's therapeutic for me to say I've been picked again. First, my husband, who consistently picks not only me but our whole family, chose to go to an important meeting with me that he did not have to attend. We both had a crazy night with the kids, who were pretty much up from 2-430a with various needs. He had stayed up late and worked the night before, and uses Saturday as a work day... but wearily looked at me this morning and said, "I think I'll come with you. This is a pretty big thing for our family." And just like that, I was picked. Secondly, my mom, who I've mentioned in the past having a crazy list of dependents back in Michigan, chose to come out here for 10 days to be with us all as we await/survive the end of this pregnancy. She had a million other things that were pushing for her attention, but instead, she picked me. No, I didn't have the baby while she was here, but the around-the-clock helpful presence was perhaps even more of a blessing than had a newborn been in the mix. I got to watch her drink up her grandbabies and delight in their developments, and enjoyed working alongside her throughout the day. ( I also got two homemade pumpkin pies out of it too... oh yummmmm.)

Thank you, Lord, for the way you continue fill the little holes and divots in my heart. Thank you for picking me every single day. And thank you for those who love me and my family so much that we live in the security of knowing we have been, and will continue to be, chosen.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A True Fanatic

Three years ago this month Izak was born. I was at the hospital, recovering from a long but rewarding labor. A few nurses had gathered in my room, and were musing about the sudden increased census in the labor and delivery unit. One nurse said, "I don't know what it is... There's no full moon, and they're too late to be New Year's babies...". The other nurse said, "I know, and it's way too early for Valentine's Day babies."

Without much thought I interjected, "Well, these are Super Bowl babies!"

They just stared at me, while I blushed and grinned form ear to ear. My team won.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ready, Set...

WAIT! Good grief, Lord! What IS this? Tuesday evening and Wednesday were looking great as far as having the baby. Good contractions, they even started to fall into a nice pattern on our way to the OB office. If the baby drops any lower it's going to be in one of my legs. The exam showed that I'd made good progress, actually 1 cm more than I had hoped, head down. The doc "stirred things up" a little, and by the time we drove down the road a mile for lunch, I thought I'd drop the baby in the Olive Garden. Very intense stuff. I called Mom, told her things looked favorable (She came out on the train the next day), called my inner circle of pregnancy friends and told them things looked like they would be done soon. And then the signs began to fade into nothingness. I had a silent night, got great sleep, and awoke ready for the show. Thursday morning had a few highlights, but then it settled down. I thought maybe subconsciously I was waiting for my mom to come. Her train arrived at 1:53p. And the rest of the day remained quiet. Late Thursday night after Mom and the kids were in bed, Matt and I went for a long, wonderful walk. We got home about midnight, and I "lost something" and had quite a "show". From 1-2a Friday morning I had great contractions 9 minutes apart... and then nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing!!!! In the morning I went in for a labor check with the same doc who had seen me Wednesday. Exam essentially unchanged. She offered to admit me, but said that I may just end up going home if things didn't progress - and that's really unacceptable to me. So home we came. This time I had absolutely no activity as a result of the exam. Nothing to report. Nothing to do but wait... it's either got to be mind-numbing contractions or my water breaking that will prove I've made the leap to real labor.

Why, Lord? Why did Wednesday look SO good and then everything stopped? I was the most sure I've ever been that that was real labor, but it ceased. So here I sit with my mom while the minutes tick away. She's having a great time with the kids, and is such a huge help. No one knows me as well as Mom. But we look at each other as if to say, where's this baby!?!? The caregivers back in Michigan are getting a real run for their money by 97 year-old Grandma, who has a propensity to misbehave while Mom's gone. She's very fragile and child-like... and stubborn. So Mom bears the stress of that end of things too.

I've done everything I know to do. To be very honest, I don't think the wait has anything to do with "doing the right thing." I think it's just about the wait. I've always been control-challenged, and waiting room experiences really bring that out in me. Instead of relaxing, I become more insistent about peddling my agenda. There's a desperation I feel now, an inability to be happy with the current settings. I struggle with a view of God as an irritated father, one that mocks me as I struggle in limbo. I always find it interesting that I'm so opposed to stillness. In the absence of direction I want to go forward. In the absence of progress I want to make things happen, even if it's the wrong thing. In the absence of hearing God's voice I turn up the sound so that I'll at least hear something. And while I'm being lured gently into the desert by the One who loves me, where I've spent a majority of the last three and a half years, I drag my feet and whine to go back to what I know. Essentially less of Him, and more of myself.

Jesus, help me cherish the wait. Give me your peace. Solder my feet that I will not run from your presence, and may that alone be more than enough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The end of pregnancy brings one word to mind:

~ pressure in my lower back and belly so strong that some days I think I'll about split. Libby did this dance for two weeks. I know it can take awhile...

~ pressure to have the baby when it will be most convenient for the help that's involved. After this week is up, there's no telling when my mom will be able to come out to help. We haven't seen her since May, before that, January. The running joke with Matt is always "Don't have it on this date, I have a meeting," or "After service on Sunday would be fine." He's always joking, but I do take to heart his schedule and it's demands. My batting average has been pretty good the last two time, avoiding the opening weekend of our new worship center, and a massive men's conference that Matt was involved in.

~ pressure created by high and low weather systems that move through the area. Rainstorms bring on the false labor like you wouldn't believe. My water broke with Izak during an October storm. There's a big front coming through tomorrow...

~ pressure to not say (or even entertain) half of what I think

~ pressure to keep on routine with my children when some days I'd just like to quit and go away

~ pressure to remember "control issues" and submit to God's plan, not mine

~ pressure to remind God that my plan makes a whole lot more sense

~ pressure to keep a stiff upper lip when, each day, I think about my girlfriends back in Buffalo and remember that this time will stretch my dependence on God... great... pressure AND stretching...

~ pressure to not cry... much

~ pressure to learn and change because of what I've learned, not merely whine about what the problems are

~ pressure to reach out

So for me, it's hard to avoid pressure at the end of pregnancy. It strikes at the very heart of my "wanting things just so." I marvel at the thought that God, and only God knows the exact moment when this baby will be born. He knows the lessons that He wants me to pull from this time. He knows where this particular path leads. It's easy for me to look back and say with a small degree of confidence, "If this had never happened to me, I can see what I might have become...", but there is no way to say, "And in the future I can imagine that these events will lead to...". It's a good thing to learn to relax in the knowledge that God is the only one in the future, and there's absolutely no pressure in that.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Power of Observation

Izak was out on our back patio the other day. Through the open slider I heard him excitedly exclaiming, "A frog! A frog! It's a frog!" We had seen a brown frog or two over the past few weeks, so I walked out to see if it was a returning visitor, one who obviously had no fear of toddlers.

I saw Izak crouched over the pavement, studying, tracking, but nothing that resembled a frog. "No, it's not a frog, Buddy."

Then with the same pitch of excitement he cried out, "A spider! It's a spider! Look at it! A spider! A spider!" Looking closer I answered, "No, I don't see a spider either."

He was quiet for a second and then he asked, "What is it?"

"Well, Z, that's an ant."

"An ant. Hi, Ant."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Moon

Izak is fascinated, fascinated with the sky. He can name it all - blue sky, night sky, stars, shooting stars, helicopter, airplanes, birds, geese, clouds (black, rain, white), rainbows, rain, hail, snow. But his favorite feature is the moon. He has a wonderful memory, so I've been teaching him the subtleties between the different types of moon. White moon, circle, crescent, wolf moon, blue moon, and the newest fascination, a harvest moon. His bedroom is on the east side of the house, with windows facing the perfect direction for a moon gazer. Since going to his big bed, I've had to grow used to the notion that just because he's in his room doesn't mean he's asleep. He loves to fiddle around with his CD player, listening to various discs that I've burned for him. (Had to take away Andrea Bocelli last week... Ave Maria being sung at full-force by a toddler is just not conducive to quiet moments.) When he's finally ready to turn in, he will turn of his CD player and quietly fall asleep. Just like that. He's a terrific boy.

Tonight Matt is out for the evening at a meeting. I put both kids down by 7:30p. I've been noticing that the moon is very full and bright the last few nights, and this has been of particular interest to Z. Once or twice I would open his door to see if he was asleep because his room was quiet, only to find him tucked under the shade and blinds, nose pressed to the glass. When he hears me enter he begins to explain, "See it? There's the moon. The big white moon. See it?"

Tonight I thought I would give him a treat and leave his shade and blinds up so he could watch the rise of the moon... but to my surprise, there was no moon to be seen at 7:30p. More to my disappointment than his, I'm afraid. I told him, "You can watch for it, but stay on your bed and listen to music." At 8:30p I went to check his quiet room. He was curled up at the head of the bed, fanny in the air, winding down to dreamland. From the angle I was standing at, I spied the coveted night prize rising behind a young maple in our neighbor's yard. "There it is! There's the moon! Look, Izak!" And I lifted him up to a stand to see the top of the moon in the east. "See? It was coming up, just later than Mommy thought." He began to whisper, "See it? There it is. The moon. A harvest moon." Sure enough, tonight had a beautiful orange sphere, slightly lop-sided, but rising to her place for my son to admire her. "You can watch the moon rise, just please stay on your bed. You may have to stand to see it, and hold the headboard like this (demonstrating), but don't fall. Enjoy, Buddy. I'll be back later."

At 9p I went up the stairs, expecting to find my little star gazer planted at his window sill. A harvest moon. What a temptation! Instead, the room was dark. He had drawn his blind down, and was curled up, sleeping. Too much light? Naw. But tonight Mommy was more excited about the night sky than he was. And that's when it dawned on me that time is passing, and my little one is growing out of babyhood. I covered him with the comforter and thanked God for my kind, gentle boy. For the gift of innocence that he readily shares with me. For his simplicity. For his winsomeness. And yes, for the moon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Naysayers and Advisors

This part of my pregnancy is always mentally hard. My body has had the last two babies early. I sort of see it as a gift from God to help encourage me because the nausea and vomiting always kicks up at the end. I've been pushing up my Zofran doses to try to control the sickness, which looms around the clock. So here are the two questions I get: 1.) When's the baby due? 2.) How are you feeling? Here are my new answers. 1.) Soon. 2.) Fine. Any other answer than these usually brings on a conversation that makes me want to cry. I hear about the "you usually don't go until two weeks after your due date" rule, despite the fact that I know my body, this is my THIRD baby, and my ultrasound placed the due date almost one week earlier than the calendar date. If I mention that the n/v is worsening I get to hear about (DEAR GOD) crackers, taking it easy, menu choices, other women's cravings during their pregnancies and whatnot. It can actually be such a discouraging time that I don't want company, other than tried and true friends, the majority of whom are in Buffalo and scattered around the country. It's a time that if I want to talk about the pregnancy, I want to be heard, not responded to, unless it's kind words of encouragement and optimism. I've translated this into how I talk with pregnant women, and when a woman says she's 38 weeks, I chirp, "How fun! You go right ahead and have that baby then!" Their faces light right up and they usually laugh. It's a refreshing thing to have a conversation with someone who wants it to end for you too, and doesn't go down the pain/suffering/overdue scenario. I'm a registered nurse, I'm an intelligent lady. I paid a lot of money to learn about pregnancy and childbirth, so I do know the rules, and oh, and have I mentioned that I have two babies already?!? I know what can be, and what is is very challenging right now.

Yesterday I spent the whole day at Loyola University Medical Center orienting through my agency to work there. It was awesome. The day was long and physically tough. It's the most sprawling campus that I've ever seen, and we traversed the length of it... twice. My belly was SO tight, and the contractions (though false labor, I'll grant you that) were brutal. It was fun thinking about my career again. Matt was home having Daddy Day, the kids were having a blast! I felt like a grown-up again. I also plan on knocking off two more hospitals (Northwestern and Sherman) so that I can just start working after the baby's born and not have to waste a day or two orienting. If I only get out of the house two days a month to work, I want to work! There were about 13 of us in the class, other agency and traveling nurses. During a quiet moment when we were all standing somewhere waiting, someone asked, "So, when are you due?" (Everyone stops and looks.) "Soon." "Is this your first?" "No, my third..." And then the best, nicest, most encouraging thing I've heard in a long, long time... "Wow, you look fantastic!" (People smiling, heads nodding.) "Thanks."

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Naps in our house are a funny thing lately. Libby needs 'em. Izak could use them, but does okay without them, and I don't get one unless Libby and Izak and baby #3 are having one. It can add a certain amount of desperation to a day. Take today, for instance. I heard Izak awaken at 5:45a, crying. My guess is it was a bad dream. But once my little morning bird is up... he's UP. Yesterday his nap fell from 1-4p. Since I was out of the house for a meeting I wasn't able to roll him out earlier, thus creating at least a 10 o'clock bedtime (he was froggin' around from 8p on). And you can almost put money on the fact that when he's up late, he will also be up unusually early. Oy vay.

Liberty sometimes has a hard time with nap placement. Occasionally she absolutely wipes out mid-morning, and goes down for the count (her typical 3-hour tour). Which brings her up about the same time her brother goes into his room for quiet time - that tactic is called "tag team." The lovely part is it allows me one-on-one time with each kid, the horrendous part is I get zippo downtime, and by the time Matt gets home I'm not looking so good... .

Several people have offered to help, but I never quite know how the day is going to roll out. And unless baby #3 is in the mood to sleep, laying down to rest becomes futile. Another funny thought I had the other day was that I project my fatigue on all other adults. People ask, "Can I help?" and I think, "Why in the world would you offer help when you're so tired?" I see everyone as feeling as exhausted as me. They look pretty good, but they must be dying of fatigue! I had to laugh when I put those pieces together. The tricks of the pregnant brain! It's hard to fight the feeling when it arises from a cellular level.

Only a few more weeks. And then the dynamics shift dramatically. My encouragement is that since it's my third I know that eventually... eventually... things even out. Thank God!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Middle Name

We all know there's a mystical power contained in one's middle name. When it's strung together with one's formal first name it generally implies, "Look out! Trouble ahead!"

Today Libby was on the go. She's discovered the power button on the TV and enjoys flicking the set on and off and on and off and on, etc.. Izak has taken to shouting her name when she interrupts his video viewing, "Yibby!!! NO!!!" To which Libby usually begin to cry. Neither one of my children respond well to yelling. To thwart the tear/frustration fest that spirals out of said difficulties I've begun to do two things:
1) I try to redirect Libby's behavior by encouraging her to turn the set back on. "Liberty Kathryn, turn the TV on." Said firmly, without yelling, but clear instructions (which she sometimes gets and sometimes ignores). This is also to benefit her brother so he can model the phrase back to her. "Yibby, turn it on!"
2) I try to address the heightened tone of his voice by getting his attention, "Izak... we don't yell at sister. Izak..." This phrase is issued with a foreboding tone, one which could land you in a time-out if you don't pick up on the seriousness of the message. But today the conversation took a slightly different spin.

Click. (TV is turned off.)

(Mommy, firmly) "Libby... Liberty Kathryn, turn the TV on, please."

(Izak, hollering from the couch) "Yibby! YIBBY!!! NO!!!"

(Libby looks over her should at brother, chin quivers, tears well up.)

(Mommy, warning) "Izak..."

(Izak, echoing tone) "Izak Kathryn..."

I think he got the point.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Touches my Home

I never had a blood brother. The Bennetts were a band of women, save Dad. Christopher lived over the fence. He was the same age as us, and we were his secondary home. Every day of junior high and high school he rode to school with us. Many mornings, while Kat and I were putting on our makeup, he'd be sitting with us, telling us about football or swim team practice. After 10 years of being neighbors, he became my brother.

After high school, Chris went into the Coast Guard. He's a fantastic swimmer, and has been part of the search and rescue teams on the helicopters.

Kat wrote today to tell me that he was stationed/living in New Orleans. His wedding is at the end of this month back in Michigan - it's being postponed. His home is under water, everything lost.

Chris is one of the guys working day and night to rescue people off rooftops, and out of other precarious situations. He called home for the first time a few days ago. He's emotionally and physically wrung out. He's seen hurricanes and rescues before, but nothing as massive as this.

Please pray for my adopted brother, Chris, and his family. For his safety, stamina, and own personal recovery from Katrina.

Liberty Kathyrn at 15 months Posted by Picasa

You know you're in your third trimester when...

You know you're in the third trimester when...

1) You lean over to pick something up and you can't bend any greater than 30-degrees.

2) You know exactly how many steps you climb each day - today, 128 and counting.

3) Walking to the bakery and buying a cupcake for your toddler's lunch is acceptable.

4) You're scheduling OB visits with the doctor who has the smallest glove size.

5) Any flirtatious comment from your husband receives your response of, "That's what got me in this condition in the first place."

6) You know the exact mileage to the hospital.

7) You are imagining how big the baby is every time you feel it move.

8) You note that it seems bigger every time you feel it move.

9) You consider naming the baby after your favorite chef at Benihana's.

10) It takes you two days to give yourself a pedicure.

11) At least three or four times a day you find yourself curled up in a corner crying, "Dear God, what have I done?!?!"


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Keeping Watch

My sophomore year in nursing started out with a chapel organized by the nursing profs at IWU. Teresa Smith did a devotion on the scripture of Christ in Gesthemene. He was requesting his closest friends to keep watch with him... stay awake, pray, be attentive, but please, just keep watch with me... I can't exactly recall her reflections, but that talk slowly awakened something within me that I came to know as one of my mercy gifts - keeping watch with those who are suffering. Over my nursing career I've had the privilege of being in the presence of those who are about to pass into the next life; The challenge is learning how to quiet myself, and allowing the emptiness/uselessness that I feel to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus. I never would've thought that this would be the area of life in which I felt the most used by God. In nursing school I wanted to rescue people or die trying. I wanted ER, trauma flight, high-octane experiences. My philosophy was that God was indeed the ultimate giver and taker of life, so no matter how many machines we applied to a patient, when it was their time to go they'd go. It didn't take long before I saw that machines, while good in many ways, stripped away the moments that letting go and honoring the patient's wishes provided. I didn't really keep watch during those days. I kept busy.

After carrying a caseload of oncology patients in Boston, I began to learn how to be present with a person who was dying without panicking. How sometimes there are no answers. How sometimes there is nothing else that can be done. How to respect silences. How to listen. How to beat back the need to talk about myself. How to get out of the way and be Christ's presence.

I still love working in the ICU. I love trying to turn the tide in a patient's favor and give them another chance. But now my gut knows when the end is near, and I find great satisfaction in helping both the patient and their loved ones find meaning and memories during the watch. It's a sacred time.

My dear friend, Jean, lost her 2-1/2 year battle with pancreatic cancer Saturday evening. Jean was a life-long model to me. Jean was also my mother's best friend. Jean made time for me to come and visit the last time I was home, and readily opened her heart to me when I asked, "What have you been learning? What has God shown you?" She touched many with her honesty and wit. She blessed her family by intentionally investing in them during the 2-1/2 year watch. She was surrounded by friends and family when she left behind her earthly shell and passed into eternity. I believe that, though it was a bitter battle at the end, Jesus was honored by those who kept watch with her. Jesus was present in those who kept watch with her. And now God will be present to her family by blessing them with another line of watchkeepers. Godspeed, Jean.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"With delivery before me and pregnancy behind..."

...I press on towards the goal!! Almost 33 weeks along, with a big, busy belly. This baby feels the most active of the three. Most of the time I still feel it's a boy in there, but then again, I was consistently wrong with the other two. I delivered a week early with Izak, labor precipitated by my water breaking. With Liberty's pregnancy I was dilated to three and 80% effaced at my 36 week visit. My midwife laughingly said, "I guess I'll see you this weekend." But labor pains, 5-8 minutes apart, only came for a few hours every night, and would disappear when I fell asleep. At 37 weeks I was 4 cm and ready, but no baby! (How do you know the difference between false labor and real labor? Real labor ends with a baby in your arms!) The midwives shook their heads, not sure how I was still hanging in there, but every night labor would come and go. At the end of 37 weeks I was actually at 5 and so ready to go. Libby came at week 38, her labor so furious and fast I was stunned for a day or two. This third baby... well, I think it will be earlier still. Braxton-Hicks are a frequent part of my days, sometimes being so intense that I have to stop and catch my breath. SO, so tight! But then it's off and running again, since there's no rest with two little ones, especially since Izak decided to crawl out of his crib for naptime yesterday. A first.

I need to start pulling out my boxes and going through what I have and what I need to get. I donated a bunch of things to a friend in Buffalo who was in need, thinking that I was done with babies. She had a little boy. But I think I can salvage some things from Libby's early stuff... and what do you really need, other than Onesies, for the first few months? If this child is as big as I think it will be, then I should be able to use 6-month outfits soon enough. First baby 8# 8oz, second 8# 14oz, my guess is it will clear the 9# marker.

I need to start assembling the Call List for labor, which feels very overwhelming to me. I wish my mom were a given to be here, but she's 6-hours away, caring for elderly MIL and my handicapped sister. She's miraculously been at the other children's births, don't ask me how, but this one doesn't have a good feel to it. Heck, she could get mostly here but be stuck in Chicago traffic for three hours. Oh well, God knows, God knows.... I keep telling myself that. This is a time in which I feel very courageous for the actual labor, but so frightened for the kids and what will happen with them. They're so little, and though I know they'll survive, I worry how it will roll out. Will it be a sudden onset? Will there be lots of time to arrange and communicate? How will this impact Matt? His roll is so different now, and I know he's planning accordingly, but there's only so much you can do before the wait begins. I feel as if we're already in "the wait."

Exhaustion is a daunting reality from day to day, but I rest in the comfort of knowing how awesome I feel after the baby's out. I never feel more weak, vulnerable, and tapped out than when I'm pregnant. After birth it's as if I've been brought back from the dead, a kind of resurrection I suppose. How will it work with three, three and under? Not sure, but the encouraging word that I've been receiving is that two to three is not as big of an adjustment as one to two. If you have experienced otherwise, please keep it to yourself. I have to have hope at this point.

There is a narrowing that I experience towards the end of my pregnancy, as if the walls were closing in and I am being pushed into a corner. It is a place where I am very, very alone, about to embark on an adventure in which no one can really come to my aid. Labor is an alone place, and I find myself already making that mental shift. It's different than being lonely, that's a state of being in which you can be surrounded by thousands, but connect with no one. Being alone is a reality. Other than God and the new life about to emerge, no one can go to the place of labor with me. My husband, who is amazing in delivery, can only come so close, he still stands at a distance in a sense. He is watching and coaching me from afar. I can see him and hear him, but I can't go to him. Matt has been my hero in the delivery room, and after birthing two children I know and love him in ways I never imagined possible... . He protects me and "keeps watch" while I work very, very hard to let labor have it's way with me. He makes the process safe by his presence. He won't let anyone distract me. He is my guard. One more time, Matt.

So 3 weeks could be a week 36 delivery, 5 weeks could be the 38 week delivery... we'll see. It's a secret only God knows, and He ain't tellin! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

"... As Long as It's Healthy."

This blog might sound on the rant-ish side, because it's something that I've felt very passionate about for a very long time. It's a response to a cultural cliche'. Case and point: Matt and I were out for a wonderful dinner at my favorite restaurant, Benihana's. We were sitting at a table with 5 other people that we've never met. The mother of the family sat next to me, and very pleasantly asked how far I was along. (Not really something that I can avoid these days. The big belly is quite the conversation starter.) Eight months, I replied. And the next question that always, always follows is "Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?" I reply, No, we didn't find out. Well, this nice mom was so tickled and proceeded to tell me that she didn't find out either because they didn't have good ultrasound machines back then, yadda, yadda, and then the comment that cuts me every time: "It really doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl, as long as it's healthy."

I know that this statement is supposed to be an appropriate, encouraging, cheerful way to end talking with an expectant mom. It has an unspoken good-luck quality, as if one were giving you a charm or shaking salt over their shoulder. Honestly, it's all I can do to keep my big mouth shut and not say something like, "Really??? Is that ultimate the goal here? Is that how I'll know if I've "made it", when I have a healthy, whole child? And what then would you say to all those women, of whom my mother is one, who deliver babies that have obviously not met that standard? Babies that are not perfect, not healthy?!?"

I especially feel like believers could re-examine the use of this trite statement. What if I have a baby that has abnormalities? We would all agree that God loves this baby, God created this baby, God knows this baby. But it doesn't fit the "healthy" description. Did I not pray enough? Did I not have faith enough that this baby would be whole? Did I sin (remember the old Bible stories)? I know all of the answers are "no." So what in the world can we do with a statement like that? In the process of working towards a mother's heart I have come to the point of wanting to please God by joyfully accepting every child He gives me. While I, of course, desire a healthy child, my heart's cry is to be an obedient servant, even if it means that my baby (babies) might not be healthy. Even if it means that God takes me down a different path to do something in me that only a child with disabilities could do... if I could love and trust Him that much... whatever it would take, I would do it.

I personally like this: It doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl, it will be loved no matter what.

I realize this may come off very b*tchy, perhaps finger-shaking-shame on-you; it's not my intent. People close to me and far from me have made this statement. But can I be honest with the universe? I'm never prepared for the "healthy" statement when I hear it. I often think about moms who have what appears to be a healthy baby, but instead the little one has or develops unseen problems. Hearing, sight, autism, learning disabled, and the list continues. Then heap on top of it the problem that they seem to be a healthy looking child... but a mom's heart is secretly breaking. I have no doubt that growing up in a home with a handicapped older sister is the seedbed of my thinking. It's a way in which having a disabled sibling has irrevocably changed my perspective.

Okay, there's downloading for you. Hope it wasn't too harsh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Defeat - the tool of Motherhood continued

At a very young age I took this scripture to heart, "Be holy as I am holy, says the Lord your God." "Mom, what's holy mean?" "Perfect." Be perfect as I am perfect... and that became one of my mortal flaws from my earliest memories. I've always wanted to get it right, be correct, not corrected, be on target or even ahead of the game. Rebuke brings humiliation, correction is shame. I have always jokingly used this to my advantage, "Don't you want a nurse who is a perfectionist?!? Or would you rather have someone who sometimes gets things right?" God knew this seed would be constant battle for me, so He lovingly uses the tool of Motherhood to dig it out of me. Motherhood is a spade. Motherhood gets at the heart of control, image, and the need to be right. Motherhood lays her silver blade at the base of Perfection and cuts down deep to the root of the problem.

From time to time I find myself uptight about parenting issues. Discipline. Speech. Potty training. Walking/crawling. I look at the problem from every angle I can find, ask millions of questions, read every article and board I can find, make every comparison possible... not to necessarily know how to best serve my son or daughter (though that's a part of it), but to find out if I'm right. It becomes more about the feelings of inadequacy and failure that I am feeling, than about the normal, timely process it takes for some things to take hold in my child's life. I worry more about whether I'm measuring up in other people's eyes, than whether I'm being kind and loving to my child in their time of transition. I came to the conclusion early on that I wouldn't post about struggles with my children because of their right to a private life, their chance to develop without me throwing up my blogging hands at their failures. I don't think this is an image game. But in my deepest heart, when I feel anger and resentment boil up when he/she doesn't seem to be "getting it," I've learned to step back and say, "What's the REAL issue here? Is it because I can't control this situation? Is it because I feel the pressure to check one more thing off my parental list? Is it because I can't be perfect?" These thoughts are a sign to me of the Holy Spirit's tender work in me, for nothing is more defeating to a perfectionist than knowing that to be perfectly human is to be imperfect, and to strive for anything else is vanity.

Lord, fill me with your kindness today towards my children... and as I feel my limitations, may I also repent and receive your kindness for myself.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Shake, shake, shake... shake your bootie!

Tonight I had the privilege of helping put on a dance for the mentally challenged members of the Center for Enriched Living, a day program in Lake County. As a church we sponsored their summer dance, "A Night in Las Vegas." One of their board members, Laine, attends our church and helped dove-tail this event into our vision of outreach. This was our first community contact since Matt became the lead pastor. We provided food, drinks, decorations, and chaperones for a 2-hour dance. It was a blast! I haven't danced that hard for that long... ever.

I've mentioned in the past that I have a mentally and physically handicapped older sister. Every dance she's gone to she's been the prom queen because she's one of the most gregarious, bubbly people that you've ever met - and she can shake her bootie!!! I think she would've been proud of me tonight, because I was able to hang in there for almost two hours, 8-months pregnant, sweat and all. (Two cups of coffee and a bag of chocolate cookies helped boost my resolve.) Thankfully, the DJ had choreographers to follow, so I was able to look better than I actually am. Many, many times during the dance I thought, "If my sister were at a dance I would want someone to treat her with joy and excitement." So it helped me overcome being shy, and taking a member by the hand to help them swing their arms to the beat. I thought, "This man is someone's son, someone's baby boy," and it helped me overcome feelings of awkwardness in order to slow dance with him as he sat in his wheelchair.

The marginalized, the "least of these", is who Christ commanded us to love. It was truly a joy to do the electric slide and hokey-pokey with a group of individuals that didn't need my presence tonight nearly as much as I needed theirs.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The boy, happy at home. Posted by Picasa

A run down

I'm not really about blogging on events, but lately that seems to be the crux of things. So I suppose it's fair to do a bit of reporting. For the record, I haven't ever been as busy as I have been for the past month. I pride myself in quiet, cozy schedules that focus around home routine and childcare. It's just been downright nuts lately.

Upon returning home from Buffalo I spent a few days getting my bearings back, and preparing for the next feat of events upcoming. Being about eight months pregnant has made the "bounce back" factor much slower than I'm used to. If I think about it, I've spent the entire time I've lived in Chicagoland battling the delayed return of energy and homeostasis since I was technically pregnant when we moved. I can only imagine what it will be like to not be pregnant in a few weeks... yipee!! Saturday afternoon we had wonderful friends stop and visit. We met the Spauldings in undergrad, Brad was one of Matt's groomsmen, Laura is a fellow nursing student. We're godparents to Adam and Hannah. It was a terrific visit. I'm amazed how some friendships seem timeless and deep, and some friendships, though closer in proximity and exposure, struggle to maintain relational depth and intensity. I was so encouraged and undergirded by their visit. They went to church with us Sunday morning and enjoyed Family Day. Brad said, "Hey, if I lived closer I'd love to come to your church!" Good words of encouragement for me.

Sunday afternoon we packed up and headed to West Michigan to meet our former small group friends from Buffalo. We stayed at my sister-in-law's huge country home that was only minutes from Lake Michigan. It was a great, but stunningly tiring, time. Six adults, five kids ages four and under. Two dogs (our former Newfoundland lives there), two kittens (read escape artists), about 10 chickens, a rooster, and a cage full of finches. A literal zoo. We enjoyed the gorgeous beach, white sand that squeaks when you walk on it, clear blue water. It was awesome, and a little scary for me. In my pediatrics rotation I cared for a baby who was drowned in the bathtub by her brother... I never thought about it again until I had a little boy and a little girl, and then it all came flooding back. I'm not necessarily trying to sound like the most neurotic mother you know, but it gives you a little context, I guess. I kept both eyes plastered on the kids at the beach. They did wonderfully. Lots of laughing and playing. We have a beach just up the road form us here in Lake County, and of course Izak asks for it constantly, even more so now. It was great to be in the same space with our dearest friends, though there wasn't a lot of time for heart-to-hearts. By the time we left the kids with sitters and went out for dinner Tuesday night we were all about asleep in our plates. It was hard to say goodbye, not knowing when we'll see each other again. My guess is it will be soon.

On our way out of West Michigan we stopped by and saw Aunt Suzy, the cousins, and G'ma G'pa Hilson. We navigated Chicago's traffic very well and got home in four hours. The kids have been so tired all day... but Izak INSISTS on potty-training himself. I've been practically discouraging him, but he runs to the bathroom and crawls up on the potty to do it anyway. For more information than you might want about our training adventures, feel free to click on my husband's blog link.

It's late. I'm tired. I'll talk to you all soon.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I ran away... but I came back

This last weekend I ran away to Buffalo for approximately 48 hours. It was a trip to surprise my friend, Barb, for her baby shower on Sunday afternoon. I just couldn't miss it. Barb and her husband, PJ, had tried for years and years to have a baby. Barb and I were so excited to be pregnant together at the same time last year. We were green and growing when a bomb fell on them. The official diagnosis is "incompetent cervix." She went into early labor, unbeknownst to her, around 22 weeks. She was hospitalized to try to stop the labor. After a week they couldn't hold it back any longer, her water broke, and she delivered her baby. In the process Hannah died. Barb and PJ had called Matt and I for support and counsel during the heartbreaking decisions and stages. We were good friends prior to that... this experience fused us. I was with Barb during the beginning of her labor, Matt visited the next morning and was one of the few people to see little Hannah. Matt took care of the memorial service a few days later, I sang and played the piano. It was a guilt that almost choked me as I stood before them singing songs of comfort with my belly round and active. It seemed so wrong. When Matt told them that we were moving to Chicago they were blown away, and through Barb's tears she cried, "You were the only one who saw Hannah." There are some things you will never forget...

Shortly after we moved, Barb called and surprised me with the wonderful news that they were pregnant!!! I surprised them back by telling them that I was too!!! Once again we are weeks apart with our due dates. She has been closely monitored by her medical team, and all is well! And she's no longer considered high-risk! In a few weeks she'll have a green flag to have that little baby whenever she can! I was hiding in the kitchen when she arrived at the shower a few minutes early. It was soooo much fun to see her reaction, and then, of course, we two pregnant women had a nice little cry together. I said, " We've wept together... now it's time to celebrate!" It was worth every mile to bless her, pray over her, and encourage her. I'm so proud of them. They've remained faithful in the face of devastation, and clung to the promises of God because their very lives have depended on it.

Just for fun I bet Barb that I'll beat her to the delivery room. We'll see... but I wouldn't bet against me. LOL

Seeing my old home was a striking experience. It was as if I'd never left. The fields were greener, and the trees bigger than I remembered. I called Matt from Carrie's and said, "I'm not coming back." I saw precious few friends, as I knew too many would put me in an emotional tailspin. I didn't go to church Sunday because I'm not ready to face 2000 people yet. I only had a little relational margin left. It was so cozy to sit down with old soulmates and share at a deep, meaningful level. I surprised the McGarrys and showed up on their doorstep for coffee. Jennifer, Chuck, and the kids met me at Uncle Joes for breakfast. Aud and I had dinner at Buffalo Street Grill, and Carrie and I sat on the deck while the kids ran in the sprinkler. Deep conversations, insightful questions, revealing answers, an occasional cry. It was almost like a dream... I awoke one morning and clearly thought, "I had the weirdest dream. I had moved to Chicago and Matt got his own church, and we left everything behind... Hey, why am I on the floor in Gavin's room?" It was really, really good to be back.

The best part was that Matt was home with the little ones while I was away, and he did a wonderful job. The slept well, napped well, and were happy when I returned home. He's awesome anyways, but to insist that I go for a weekend by myself was one of the greatest gifts. He's so selfless. So brave. And so thoughtful.

So there. I did run away... but I'm back.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blessing me

God's been blessing me the past two days. My heart feels it, recognizes it... a sign of the thaw of the shock.

Yesterday I received two huge boxes of beautiful girl clothes from the Mother of Four Girls, Cheri Fox, back in Buffalo. Her friendship is steady. Her blessings are always dead-on, the exact thing that I need at the exact time. All these lovely clothes... makes me so pleased to have a little girl, perhaps two...

Yesterday Leslie called from Buffalo to ask some medical advice. It was like I had only been in her presence the day before. Beautiful, strong friend. Miles, yes, distance, no. She told me that she keeps up with me through my blog, but didn't want to intrude by leaving a comment. Sensitive to the heart-work of the move. Makes me hope that I never forget the (bitter)sweetness of the move, the eternal treasures that are emerging, the bonds of womanhood that I have been stumbling by for the past 6 months I am now beginning to grab onto...

Yesterday I talked with my friend here. And Sara told me that she thought I was very brave for moving here. And I could receive those words knowing that the light was coming at the tunnel's end. The angst and pain of wondering how I will survive each day has lessened, the ability to see the opportunities emerging is returning, the "hope of a future".

My beautiful children bless me with their soft, sweet skin, little eyes which peer into my soul. And my husband is always the jewel of my life with his kindness, humor, and handsome strength...

Just blessing after blessing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


A funny thing has happened since moving to Chicagoland's suburban sprawl. I worry about my kids' safety in ways I never have before. I worry about them being snatched out of our fenced-in backyard. I worry about people breaking into their second-story bedrooms, through locked windows, and taking them in the night. I worry about car-jackings when they're in their car seats and I'm loading groceries, or abductions from the cart when I'm not looking. It's a curious thing that I think is founded in my sense of relative isolation. Hamburg was a smaller community, we lived more country, and didn't even lock our doors at night. I lived on the cusp of farmland that could've swallowed my toddler up in moments without a sign. But I felt like I knew, and was known by, the town. It was hard to go anywhere and not see a familiar face. I had an unspoken feeling that people were watching out for me. Here I think they watch me, but wouldn't necessarily intervene. In my heart I know that's not the truth. Midwesterners are known for good-heartedness, and I would step up to help anyone I saw in need. It just must be a weak spot that the Enemy knows to hit.

One late night I was wandering around the house, and I noticed that my computer wasn't closed. As I shut the lid the streetlight from behind me illuminated an outline on the dining room wall. There was someone in my house, right in front of my eyes! Intruder! But before I screamed I figured out that it was actually MY shadow that the streetlight had created. I don't think I've ever been that spooked. I promptly went into the bathroom and threw up.

I spend a lot of time offering this issue up to God in prayer, not so much asking to feel safe as much as taking comfort that He is ever-present. If anything devastating were to occur, would I rest assured that He had not turned His back? Would I know beyond a doubt that His gaze had never left me or my children? His promises are true, I believe that now in the face of security, but would I be faithful to that in the face of devastation? I have begun to think about people in two groups: either my children are safer because of your existence, or they're more endangered because you're in the world. That's fearful thinking, not one that puts forward the truth of God's promises. Lord, help the Enemy to not prevail in this block in my heart. Help me to surrender my children to you everyday, every moment, and know fully that you are the ultimate protector.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I DID IT! Have my ACLS card! Not bad for a SAHM. Thank you to those of you who prayed and encouraged me. Endless thanks to my awesome, capable husband who took care of my little ones while I did a 12-hour day away. The house was so peaceful and pleasant when I arrived home. Thank you to Charlotte who gave me loads of free hours to study while she filled my house with the happy laughter of my children playing and having fun. I feel like a million bucks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Back to the Books

I'm spending the rest of this week studying my ACLS Provider Manual. I have about 150 pages to go. Saturday I'm taking an all day course to receive my ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certification. It's the next step above CPR, intended to use while coding a patient. I've worked in ICUs all of these years, but was never thought to need it bad enough to send for training. I anticipate returning to work a few days a month around Christmas, so I wanted to have the ACLS cert. under my belt. I found a company who teaches it, paid for it myself, and am preparing to perform it. A wee bit nervous...

I was telling Matt last night that the vocabulary alone takes me back to the days when I had a career. Automaticity. Adrenergic agent. Laryngoscopy. Ah, Latin. Words that I haven't heard in forever, it seems. I love the medical terms that concisely describe a situation. One big word is sometimes worth a whole paragraph. But the deluge of words taxes my mental power. By the end of my readings I'm struggling to remember what CPR stands for. LOL

So I hope to report later that I received my ACLS without difficulty. It's a matter of professional pride at this time. I've toyed with going back to medical school... then we moved from Boston to Buffalo. I flirted with going back for a graduate degree as Nurse Practitioner... and then I started having babies. This small step is the most I can currently do to prove to myself that I'm still a good nurse with brain-power to boot. I know I'm going to need that confidence when I have to restart my career again after almost a year off in an entirely new health system and state.

This evening I am looking forward to welcoming Aunt Lo (Laura Goble) and her entourage (mom Louise and friend Amber) into our home. Lo is starting her graduate degree at Wheaton. She was my husband's administrative assistant while we lived in Buffalo, though she's actually more like family. I can't wait!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lady Liberty stands Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Sorry for the silence. Last week I was working hard at keeping the wheels on the household as Matt was away for some recuperation from Monday to Friday. Thankfully my best babysitter from Buffalo timed her trip out here for a visit to overlap with his absence, which was to only way I survived it. THANK YOU, RACHE!! It's cute, Rache (pronounced Ray-chee) is not her real name, it's Rachel. Nor has that ever been an acceptable nick-name either, she tells me, until our family adopted it for her. But it's the only name that folks here in Chicago refer to her by. "Where's Rache?" "Did Rache come out to visit?" She's a great sport.

Matt came home looking refreshed and a bit renewed. We'd had long discussions about how to best get a vacation this year, and concluded that 1) he needed it more since his job requires a clear head, and 2) he wasn't going to get it with the three of us in tow. So we split up. I'm weary in a way that even time on vacation will not correct. Pregnancy takes it's toll, that's for sure, especially 3 in 3 years. I feel like I can go a bit longer without absolutely frying...

Next week I enter my third trimester. Baby is kicking and turning, nausea is only a problem in the afternoon, and a little Zofran corrects it. My due date is October 18th, two days after Izak's third birthday. I bet I'll go end of September, early October.

Our neighbor has started driving his Harley motorcycle to work every morning. The problem is that when he starts it, Izak automatically wakes up. So rising times have been between 530 and 6a again. Poor kid. And yes, poor me! Most mornings he awakens so loudly that it's poor Bibby too. Alas... dear God, please bring snow! Liberty is down to one nap, and Z has mostly dropped his, which isn't a big deal when rising is at 7a. But when it's so early, we're all off a bit. Today he's finally napping, and was kind enough to coordinate it with Libby and myself. Just a few precious minutes of quiet. That's my vacation!

I've noticed a funny thing since moving and becoming pregnant. Probably at least five times, people find out about our third baby on the way and say gingerly, "Congratulations or condolences?" Why can't anyone fathom that this might be a very intentionally-timed spacing of children? Why do people assume it's a mistake? Can anyone else out there see how important it is for us to stabilize our household and get the whole pack moving forward by generating the next baby now rather than later? Being a nurse I specialize in caregiving, and having 3 3 and under really works with my strengths. Diaper changes, line 'em up and let's go. Lunchtime, lock them in their seat and let's start dishing. It's kind of like rounding on an assignment of patients on a hospital floor. Be organized, have a plan, and execute that plan to the best of your ability. There are precious few people who have been genuinely encouraging. For the most part people think we're nuts. But my little brood will be sleeping through the night together sooner, able to ride the rollercoaster rides sooner, be potty trained in a shorter span of time, and big enough to carry their own backpacks when we hike sooner. In essence, the Furrs get to fun times together sooner by packing the kids together. This has always been the plan, and I feel God has been directing in the plan since the beginning. Hard work? Of course. Any type of spacing is. But intentional? You bet.

I have a lot more thoughts about adding a third baby to our family. I'll share it another time.

Need to go roll the boy out before he naps the day away and parties all night... and then gets up early again.


Monday, July 04, 2005

I Love July Fourth!

I am a closeted patriot. It seems as I get older, the country becomes more divided, rhetoric becomes more divisive, and very few people are found weeping out of thankfulness when the national anthem is played (I generally fall in that last camp year-round.). July Fourth gives us permission to actually admit that there's a remote possibility that America may be okay, if just for today. As I've said in the past, I am aware that America is not perfect, nor is she God's favorite. But she has been blessed by His hand. There are people that I've known that find great joy in beating up each administration as they lead, partisan and bitter. To this day I'm still trying to find my own response to certain administrations' weaknesses, but it doesn't mean that I throw away my love of this nation when man fails. I have to work really hard to think about political issues, maybe I fall short in reaching "proper" conclusions. I do see the subtle ways that the media seeks to destroy patriotic hearts like mine, but just because the country's occasionally (painfully) on the wrong side of the issues doesn't diminish my appreciativeness.

I tried to enlist in the service twice in high school and once during college. Unfortunately I have asthma that cannot be lied about. Five minutes in basic training and I'd be dead meat, my childhood physician told me as much, not to mention I would want to be healthy and strong in every way to serve. I have a deep admiration for men and women in uniform. I love to listen to stories from people who have been on tour during war-time. In high school I was adopted by the local vets as a bugler for their funerals and memorial services. Many times I'd be sitting in class and an elderly man in khakis and badges would peek in the door and motion me to come with him. Memorial day was a long morning full of short services all over Bay County. Between services the men and women liked to stop by a bar for a cold drink, and that's where the stories would unfold. Fighter pilots, medics, sailors, nurses would recount tale after tale for me about what they experienced. Some still cried when they talked, though well into their 70's. Some got a far away stare, others laughed nervously and sucked on their cigarettes. That was the age that I really began to grasp what had been given for my freedom. And it grew within me a thankful, humbled heart.

I hope to pass my patriotism on to my children. It may take some doing because I'm not really sure Matt and I see completely eye-to-eye on this. Can you be a true Christ-follower and be deeply patriotic? I would think that there are lessons about sacrifice and freedom that Christ embodied that would serve to undergird a love of America without eclipsing the gospel. Do I want automaton children that never question the government or the leaders? No, but I am committed to raising kids who are respectful, and I think many lessons of gratitude come from the men and women who gave, and continue to give us freedom. If your an armchair general or a wanna-be politician, don't waste your breath on me. Next to my thankfulness for the freedom I find in Christ is my love of my country. To spit in the face of a country's sacrifice... well, I can't even finish the sentence.

Liberty's namesake speaks to two of my favorite realities: the freedom of life we enjoy in a great country, and the everlasting, life-saving liberation of the soul.