Friday, June 28, 2013

Margins of Blessing

Sometimes, this bearing and raising of boys is tiring.  Sometimes.  Sometimes the four year old drops a dozen eggs on the floor the day we get them from a friend's backyard chickens.  Sometimes the five year old digs holes in the lawn and fills them with gravel from the driveway - in the pouring rain.  Sometimes I have to fight to convince well-meaning folks that this whole bearing and raising of boys is a blessing, even when I'm tired of doing it myself.
Because sometimes I am tired.
But always, always, I know I am blessed.  Always.

The baby in my stretching tummy is around 32 weeks old now.  He kicks and wiggles and hiccups.  His brothers can feel him moving; they delight in the fact he'll push back when they lay a hand against my shirt.
This pregnancy has been boring compared to the last one, 2 and a half years ago now.  That baby didn't kick so much.  We didn't know what his life would be like after he emerged into daylight for the first time.  No one could say if his body would function or if his brain would work.  The second half of his pregnancy was full of ultrasounds and meetings with specialists.  The first weeks of his life were busy with back and brain surgeries, MRIs and testing, and lots of interaction with doctors with strings of letters after their names.

Comparatively, this pregnancy has been dull.  The only issue has been the placenta growing low on the uterus.  Usually, it plugs in higher up, safely out of the way.  This placenta isn't blocking the exit, but it's right at the door at the bottom.  They say I have marginal placenta previa.

I've been hoping to avoid a c-section.  I've been through natural labor and birth three times and had a surgically-removed baby once.  Having major abdominal surgery means a long recovery time.  After a c-section, I won't be doing much cooking or cleaning or driving.  And I won't be able to pick up my little two and a half year old - the one who can't stand, or walk, or climb.  (At least not yet.)

(Disclaimer: this picture is actually from my pregnancy with Ben.  There are none yet of me currently with child... But you get the idea.)

Sometimes I think the doctors believe I'm crazy for wanting another baby after having one with disabilities (and after having 3 kids before that.)  Sometimes I'm convinced they just want the easiest option for them, forgetting (or not knowing) the blessing of these children.  They subtly recommend abortion if the fetus appears to have complications.  They mention often the option of tying my tubes so as to avoid any risk in the future.  They push to plan a c-section since I had one the last time.  Sometimes, I disagree with these intelligent and capable people who've studied birth and babies for many more years than I even attended school in total.  Sometimes.

They said this week that they want to schedule an early c-section (when the baby's around 37 weeks' big.)  They want to do an amniocentesis before it, to check the baby's lung development.  And I know there's a risk, if I go into labor, that the placenta could separate from the wall it's attached to.  If the bleeding from it was significant, it could be deadly.  But that risk is slight, considering the position of the placenta.  The hospital is minutes from my house.  I've gotten a bit more used to doctors giving me worst case scenario in the past couple years, no matter how slight the risk.
But sometimes, I don't know what to do.

I know only one thing that always works.
Would you pray with me?

Pray that as the uterus grows larger that the placenta would be pulled up and further out of the way so that bleeding won't be a concern.
Pray that I would be wise to decide if a c-section is necessary.  There is pressure to agree to it, but if it's not necessary, it doesn't seem advantageous to me in the long run.  

It's a little thing, in some ways.  Good doctors have perfected ways to get a baby out safely.  I am so thankful.  I also know that much of the time, babies have popped out au natural and healthy, and have for thousands of years.  I want to do what is best.  

But I could always use a little prayer.  Help!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Death and Taxes

It was breezy, hazy under the new summer sun.
The water sparkled, gulls called shares greedily when they spied a fisherman, the rumble of small motors echoed over the expanse of the bay.  I inhaled the fishy smell of the dock and peered up at my husband over the two year old's warm blonde head.
A sharp intake of breath beside me made my spine straighten.
"I got one!"  The seven year old gasped unbelievingly.  He jerked on the line; the pole bent against sudden tension.  He started to reel in quickly, prancing in a rather ungentlemanly excited jig.  "I got my first fish!"
Daddy laid a big hand on the small quivering shoulder.  "Ok, ok.  Slow down.  Steady."  
Gavin focused.  He cranked the handle methodically.  We watched for the flash of scales beneath the dark ocean.  
Suddenly the water parted in perfect shimmering circles.  A very unwilling fish broke the surface.  It hung, suspended, dripping, from the monofilament line.  A seagull wheeled overhead, nasally voicing approval.  Father bent over son and held the squirming fish so young fingers could extract the hook.  And there it was.  Flopping, ungainly, silver scales foreign against the worn paint of the dock.  Gasping silently.  Fish don't cry.

The two year old pulled back against me, uncertain.  Everyone was so excited.  But he watched wide-eyed.  Witness to something new - the first death.  Is this right Mom?

They took the catch to the beach.  Gutted, cleaned.  Then to the kitchen.  Fried in butter, salt.  Consumed proudly.  Full of fresh protein, boys raced off to the sand to dig holes for the tide to find.  Ben pulled himself over to the window to watch a moth trapped on the wrong side of the clear pane.  He reached for it.  "Butta-fwy!"  The crumpled insect left a dusty trail against the glass.  Little conqueror had vanquished his conquest.  He poked at the lifeless wings, then looked up at me innocently.  "Mom, hewp it."
"Ok."  I quietly scooped up the remainder of the bug and flipped it quickly out the door into a bush.  "Ok, bug's outside."
Satisfied, he pulled himself under the table to get a kiss from grandma's little dog; the moth's sudden demise was dismissed.

Reeling 'em in.

In the New Living Translation, Psalm 29 calls us "heavenly beings."  We are "sons of God."  The "real" part of us isn't from around here.  It hails from heaven.  It is eternal.  Forever young.  Death to a soul is a foreign concept.  Souls don't end.

And yet we're in these bodies that degrade with time.  My two year old doesn't know that yet; he's still discovering how much this limited body can do.  It's all exciting.
It can feel kitten fur.
It can move fast.
It can taste ice cream.
It can feel the exhilaration of a mud puddle, the warmth of a deep bath.
It can interact with other bodies, and tickle and laugh and snuggle.
He doesn't know how much it can't do yet.  And I don't mean just because he has a wheelchair or can't feel his toes.

Perhaps he just chalks up pain and physical failures to immaturity or the fact that mom wasn't there to be an extension of his limbs.  He doesn't know his body's not invincible.  It's not like his soul.  I don't think he understands mortality.  He's so busy living that death doesn't have any weight yet.

I hope I am never too comfortable with death.
Video games perpetuate it.
Movies glorify it.
Even newspapers dull my senses to its commonness.
But it doesn't mean I should ever just accept it.  Death, sin, taxes, degradation and dirt are part of earthly existence, but our actual existence is so much deeper, longer, more purposeful...  I hope I always question, humbly, like my toddler, "Is this right?"  

Oh, I'll still kill ants with abandon if (ok, when) they dare cross the threshold of my kitchen.  And spiders...  But they don't have souls.  They were made for this world, and to the dust of it they return (or at least to the depths of my trash can.)  And if I can get my manly little sons to do the deed, believe you me, I will.  Death is a natural part of reality.  For now.  But we won't always live in the "now".  We'll live in eternity, where there will be no blood, no pain, no fear.  No death.  

A wise man once realized he had desires that nothing in this world could satisfy.  He concluded that he must have been ultimately made for a different world.  He was C.S. Lewis, a staunch atheist, who lived through World War II.  Eventually though, he turned to Jesus, the Heavenly Man, to fill that hole.  Nothing else would.

We're not from around here.
I've gotta remember that.

But I'll certainly enjoy the fresh meat while I am here.  This physical body should eat well as long as I have sons around.  There are certainly worse things about being mortal.

Proud little mortals.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Lest I forget how flat out interesting it is to listen to children sometimes, here's a list of a few recent kid-isms from my own brood.

- "Everyone head for deep space!  I have to go to the bathroom, but it's too crowded on this planet and you'll all hear me..."  -Gavin, age 7

- "Where's my i-pod?"  -Ben, age 2  (And no, he does not own an i-pod or any similar device).

- "I don't like organic.  I like Fruit Loops."  -Gavin

- "When I stick out my tongue and touch my lip, I can feel my man-hairs."  -Shiloh, age 5

- "Mom, does the President think his job is just for fun?"  -Henry, age 4

- "I'd feel better if I was driving."  -Shiloh, from the backseat.

- "When I'm a teenager, I'm going to stay up super late - till 9 - and eat cereal!"  -Gavin, the rebellious.

-  "Where are the matches?" - Henry

- "The alphabet would have made more sense if I had written it."  -Shiloh

- "Do you have to obey the rules if you're in jail for breaking them already?  Like, do you have to brush your teeth?"  -Gavin

- "That was a speed lemon."  -Henry, referring to an old, but very loud and fast, car.

- "That was the worst cake I've ever had!"  -Shiloh, telling a friend's mom his opinion on their homemade birthday cake.

- "Princesses are too girlish and I am not too girlish so I do not like princesses."  -Henry, logic.

- "It's too bad Oreos aren't good for you.  But at least there's still goat cheese."  -Gavin

- "It's good for us to watch Veggie Tales movies.  It makes us like vegetables and there's always some Bible words at the end.  So can we have some crackers while we watch it?" -Shiloh

- "Mom, you can't dance."  -Ben (it's true.)

- "If we could just make a fire and cook meat, we would be happy."  -Henry, the very male child.

- "Don't throw Ben's diaper away!  If a bad guy tries to come in, we can scare him away with it!"  -Shiloh

- "It would be easier if you'd just let me have a credit card."  -Gavin

- "I'm not dirty enough to be cleaned yet!"  -Henry

- "You don't know how hard it is to be a boy, Mom.  You're just pregnant."  -Shiloh

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Skinny Soul

God bless coffee.
As a mom of four, going on five, boys in seven years, I heartily endorse it.  The first cup of joe is a necessary dose of medicine for early mornings when the little ones hit the ground running.  Which they do.  Momma can't be far behind.  Ahead is better.

"Tired" is in the description of motherhood.  Pregnancy, the odd baby schedule, then the rambunctious toddler years, the precocious pre-schooler, the inquisitive kindergartener, and the chattery elementary school kid can leave a mom a wee bit exhausted.
Times a hundred.
With a thousand million things to do that can't wait till tomorrow.
Plus the billion other things that can wait, a bit.
It's tough.

I'm using up calories and running through hormones like nobody's business.  So there are times I just need to eat an egg or up my magnesium intake or get off the computer and that'll give me a healthy kick in the pants to keep going till (the blessed hour of) bedtime.  But sometimes I must take stock.

Is it my body that is truly weary - or my soul?             

When was the last moment I paused in the day to thank God for something?
Did I pray for the child before jumping into discipline?
Am I breathing out impatience or encouragement?
Is there a verse in my head I'm pondering, or a complaint I'm harboring?
Why haven't I smiled today?
Can I really blame the rain for my attitude?  Or the finances?  Or the squashed bug under my barefoot?

I may be grumpy because this life is wearing, tough on joints and limbs and metabolism.  Maybe I need to sit down because the blood in my ankles just needs help to fight gravity past my bulging tummy.  It could be that my mind is spinning from the last dozen questions the 5 year old asked about reproduction.  Perhaps lugging the two year old around the garden for an hour really did do a number on my back.  It might be that I just don't know what to make for supper, and if it's healthy then nobody's gonna like it no matter what I choose.
But really, are my weariness and short temper a result of something beyond the skin-deep fatigue?

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
Psalm 42:1-2

Perhaps my hunger is for something deeper than buttered toast in the morning.  It's my soul that feels thin.  Worn.  Craving.
I might try to satisfy my longings with donuts and too much Facebook.  They taste good, for a moment.  But there is no sustenance.  Need goes unmet.

The pure hearty laughter of a two year old jolts me from numbness back to awareness of some deeper desire.  No, I don't have hours to spend in Bible study; not for now.  But I don't need to.  Four course dinners are nice, but not practical during rush hour...

I don't have deep, hours-long serious discussions with my husband every day.  But I talk to him often, laugh with him over the antics of one of our shared descendants, smile over an inside joke we share at the dinner table.  I can have that with God too.  Even better, since I can talk to Him in the night while my husband snores oblivious beside me.  I can find joy in His creation even while my husband is at work.  I can trust to Him my tears, my worry, while arm deep in dishwater.  I can remember His tender hand on me when I feel a parenting failure heavy on my shoulders.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You...  (verse 6).

And, incrementally, I am revived as I turn my eyes back to Him.  My soul feels refreshed.  I throw out the remainder of the kids' peanut butter from lunch while my own chicken salad sits neglected on the counter until I have a moment to touch it, and this time I remember to praise Him for provision of food, and the invention of mayonnaise and pickles.  Deep within, before I ever get to that first bite of actual food, substance starts to meet hunger.

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me.  The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me - A prayer to God for my life.
(verses 7-8).

There are moments when I get frustrated with this life I lead.  There's so much pressure to do it right.  But my understanding is pivoting.  This life I lead - aren't I supposed to be following instead?
He - my Guide, the Lamp to light my path, the King of all the earth, my Father, my Friend, my God - He is the rightful Leader of my life.  And I must say, He does a far better job of it.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?  Why are you disquieted within me? 
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 42:11

Daddy always shares.

Hope in God.  He's got this.
As for the other stuff, well, there is a reason why God invented drive-through coffee places.
There when you need it.
Take advantage.