Building Castles

I attended a Women of Faith conference last month with some close friends. Over the course of the weekend and in between the other happenings, Deborah Joy Winans, performed monologues/sketches that would help set the tone for certian parts of the event.  I've been to a few of these conferences so there wasn't a lot of "new" stuff that spoke to my heart... except for the very last drama.

Deborah Joy told a "story" of a character who was the first among her friends to have a baby. While she stayed at home caring for children her friends would be on world travels, experiencing life and new adventures! She longed for the same excitement and sense of freedom. Months and years went by. Her children wouldn't listen to her when she spoke. Her husband wouldn't say "Thank you!". She thought to herself, "Do they realize who makes them their lunches? Who does their laundry? Who does their dishes? Who drives them everywhere? Who makes this house a home?" Feeling at an all time low, a friend returned from Europe and gave the mom a book about castles. In the front page, her friend scribbled something about her work as a mother mattering because she is building castles now for rest of the world to see later. Confused about what that means...?

Have you ever wondered if all your mommy work ever gets noticed? Do you think people care? Do you wonder if 100 years from now, people will even remember you and all you've done for your children and family? Do you long for a little praise and thanksgiving for ALL you do? If you've been a mom for 3 months or 40 years, you know the feelings I'm talking about. It's this deep longing to be appreciated and recognized for the work you do day AND night. Being a stay at home mom, I often wonder if people realize all that I do to care for Amelia. Or do they think I have an "easy job" since I'm staying home...

The reality about this book in the story is that as she flipped through it and looked at the photos, there was hardly one castle where the builder was known. These castles were 100+ years old! They are these beautiful, tall structures that people marvel over. People travel from afar just to catch a glimpse of them. They're strong and steadfast where they were built. Somebody a very long time ago spent countless hours, days, months, years!! building these castles. I'm sure the builders shed blood, sweat, and tears over theses works of art. And all you see in a book is "builder unknown". How fair is that?

Isn't motherhood so much like that? At first, I was discouraged by the thought of this. But the amazing thing is that my Father in heaven knows what I'm building. He knows what you're building. God sees our labors of love. And that work is eternal. If in 100+ years, when I'm gone from this world, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren love Jesus, I'd say that all of my work was worth it. And it doesn't even matter if I get credit for it! God is the one working through me. I do appreciate a "Thank you!" and "Good job!" from my husband now and then. Or a "Wow! You do a lot!" from friends. I think we need that as mothers! But first and absolutely foremost, we need to find our worth and identity in what GOD says about us and our work.

Continue building castles, my mommy friends. We may be "unknown" someday, but our legacy will tell of the great works we're doing now. ♥


Life as a Balancing Act

I'm first and foremost a follower of Jesus. Second to that, I am a wife to Danny. We decided almost two years ago to embark on the adventure of starting our family which resulted me earning the new role, mother, at the the beginning of this year. While I was working on becoming a mommy, I was a youth leader (still am!). I was called the "youth group mom". I loved it! But as soon as Amelia was born, I became "Amelia's mom". That is my third role in life, with being a youth leader moving to fourth (amongst a million other roles but for the sake of this post, I'm limiting it to four).

I never realized how much of a balancing act my life would be after having Amelia. Each of these areas require time and commitment from me, all at different levels! Finding those levels these last 8 months has been the hardest challenge of my life. All I know is that "...for such a time as this." God has me here: striving to follow Him wholeheartedly, desperately trying to respect and honor Danny, learning to love and care for sweet Amelia, and remembering that in all of this, a group of high school students is looking at my life for wisdom and guidance as they also strive to be the best for our Lord.

Life truly is a balancing act. And right now, I feel like I'm going to fall over with it all crashing down on me.


Commencing Cloth Diapering

A couple weeks ago, I finally decided to look into cloth diapers. I know many people who use them and swear by them. But I just figured it was for hippie, green people... which I am not. I believe in a happy Earth but I just don't do the economical stuff most of the time. One thing I will say I am though, is frugal! I love a good deal. I love saving our family money! I coupon a lot for this reason. So when I looked into cloth diapers and discovered that over the course of having at least 4 kids, we could save thousands of dollars, I knew I had to convince my husband! I spent a few days reading articles, getting figures for what it would cost, and watching videos. I presented my case and he was convinced! But under one condition: I had to try them out for a day since a friend of ours offered to let us borrow some supplies. If I liked them and thought I could take on the extra laundry responsibility, we'd look into it.

Today was that day! And we have decided to commence cloth diapering!

I ♥ Amelia's cloth diapered booty!!
Well, we actually started last night. We doubled her up (like everyone said to do). She didn't even pee! Her poos are very solid now so cleaning those up was a breeze (although, we do still intend to get a sprayer sometime in the future). We were loaned the two types of Flip covers and an Econobum cover along with the stay dry inserts and the organic inserts for Flip, the prefolds for Econobum, and some other prefolds. The Econobums are no good on our little girl's booty. Her daddy is Brasilian. And she has his booty (which I LOVE!). The Flip stay dry insert is so trim on her (but still very absorbent)! It didn't seem much bigger than a normal diaper. I liked the organic inserts but they are too pricey for us. We will be stocking up on Flips and the stay dry inserts! I liked the hook and loop for bedtime because I can get it really snug. I plan to get just a couple of those and then the rest of the covers we will get in snaps. Someday, I would love to have all 12 colors. :) I will also be using cloth wipes as it just makes a lot of sense. And I will be doing the "no-pail method" for storing soiled diapers. We live in a small, 2 bedroom apartment, with the laundry closet right in the middle and down a hallway. It's super convenient. I am going to make my own laundry detergent as well!

We plan to get just half of our "stash" this next month. Then we will gradually build from there. The start up cost for cloth diapering was the one factor that always scared me away. But we found a way to make it work! Over the course of about 4 months, we figured we will earn the investment back in not having to buy disposables. I'm very excited to have this opportunity for helping my family save money! And what the heck, it's pretty cool that I'm no longer contributing to the tons of diaper waste created by these little people! :)


Amelia's Birth Story

Everything started on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. I thought my water had broken in the early morning but was not sure so Danny and I went into the hospital that afternoon. They performed a test that came back negative. So they discharged us, telling me I just peed myself in my sleep due to Amelia most likely laying on a nerve. On Thursday, February 10th at 2:30 pm I had an appointment with my midwife and learned that I was 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I had also been having contractions on an irregular basis for a day. My midwife was prepared to admit us because she believed I was in early labor. I really wanted this baby to come quickly because my midwife had an unexpected conference come up that just so happened to be the weekend I was due! But I wasn't ready to be in the hospital yet so Danny and I spent a few hours walking around downtown Gresham in an attempt to induce the contractions into a more regular pattern and increase their intensity. As the evening went on, not only did my contractions continue but I also began to feel the same leaking feeling I had felt early Wednesday morning. It was very obvious at this point that it was amniotic fluid, not me peeing myself. That evening we stayed home with Crystalyn, our doula, laboring until I felt it was time to go in to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at 2:30 am on Friday, February 11th and they determined that Amelia was coming but things were progressing very slowly. At 7 am a nurse came into my room, woke me up, and proceeded to tell me that they (the midwife on call and nursing staff) were getting concerned about how long my water had been broken. At this point, we believed it had been about 15 hours (since about 4 pm on Thursday, when I had my last prenatal appointment). She continued on and told us they highly recommended starting me on Pitocin to try to jump start things. I was half asleep and very nervous and while it wasn't exactly what we wanted to do, we trusted the staff and moved ahead. In the early afternoon my midwife called us (she was gone for the weekend at a last minute conference and could not be there for the delivery). She asked how I was feeling and I explained that I was very frustrated. It had been a few hours since going on Pitocin and there had been absolutely no change in my contractions. Not only that but I had just been told I couldn't eat anything except for clear liquids. I was starving at this point so as you can imagine, I got quite upset. My midwife, Regis, stayed in great contact with us and the staff at the hospital. I told her how I was feeling so she called the new on call midwife, June, and told her to take me off Pitocin. My plan all along had been to let things progress naturally. And this was not part of that plan. Regis reminded me of that. And I regained the confidence to stick with what I wanted.

After going off Pitocin and eating a much needed lunch, the midwife then sent all the friends and family who had been waiting home, to get some rest, confident that Amelia would be coming the next afternoon. This helped me a ton as I was feeling quite a lot of pressure knowing there was a room full of people waiting anxiously for any news. I felt like I had to perform and since nothing was happening, I was very stressed. Danny and I took a nap and then went for a walk around the hospital in the evening. Around 7:30 pm I entered active labor. By 11 pm, I had progressed to 6 cm. The midwife and nurses began to get concerned with how long things were taking at this point, especially because the contractions were getting very painful and close together (1 min apart and almost a minute long). Amelia was also getting very stressed. Her heart rate was not decreasing just as a contraction was beginning but instead towards the middle of a contraction. They put me on oxygen to try to help Amelia's heart rate behave the way it should. The midwife wanted to give me medication that would decrease the rate of the contractions and allow for my body to do what it needed to do but my heart rate was already high at 134 bpm. The medicine would increase my heart rate even more. The only other option was to get an epidural and prepare for a cesarean section if Amelia didn't decide to come soon.

At 12:30 am Saturday, February 12th I received the epidural and also learned that I was fully dilated. Getting an epidural in the middle of a contraction, while shaking violently, not awesome. I thought I was going to die. But I held still just long enough. They also informed me that more likely than not, a vacuum was going to be needed to get her out because her head was getting stuck on my pelvic bone. I signed all the paperwork saying I was okay with having a cesarean section if that was what needed to be done. At this point, I would've done anything to get my little girl delivered safely.

At 1 am they had me start pushing during every other contraction, instead of all of them, to keep Amelia from getting too stressed. At around 3:30 am my midwife told me I had 15 minutes to deliver Amelia. If I did not have her delivered in that time frame, they were going to go forth with the cesarean section. Danny later told me that they had a path to the door ready for me to be wheeled to the OR at any moment. They shut off my music and were very serious.

At 3:58 AM on February 12, Amelia Ada Laine was born! But delivered with her was a large amount of meconium followed by the placenta almost instantly. This was a huge surprise to the delivery staff because all the fluid I had been leaking in the previous hours was clear, as normal amniotic fluid should be. They placed her on my chest and she let out a tiny noise. Her body was lifeless. A few seconds later the nurses took her away to examine her. I didn't even see her face... just a full head of hair and a limp body. The first thing I heard June, the delivering midwife, say was, "Does she have a pulse?" I immediately panicked and began praying out loud. Now, I'm not an openly spiritual person. I don't pray out loud just anywhere. But when I realized that it was a life or death situation, I prayed. After a long pause, the nursing staff assured June that Amelia had a pulse. It was faint, in and out. But it was there. They also suctioned her lungs and stomach in case she had swallowed any meconium. We learned later that she had none in her which makes sense since she was not breathing at first. After still not breathing, they began CPR. I heard the counting like there was nothing else going on in the room. It was like someone was yelling, "1! 2! 3!" right in my ear. I was terrified that I was going to lose my baby right then and there. I prayed for God to fill her body with life. I prayed it over and over and over. Amelia wasn't responding to the CPR so she was rushed down the hall by a small army of nurses while Danny and I stayed in the room with the midwife, Crystalyn, and a couple other nurses. I was in hysterics as I watched them run out with Amelia. I couldn't do anything about it either because: 1. the epidural and 2. my midwife had to carefully stitch me back together as I had a 3rd degree laceration due to an episiotomy that I tore past because of the use of a vacuum to suction Amelia out. About 5 minutes later a nurse came in to get Danny so he could go see Amelia. By the time he got down the hall to the nursery she was screaming wildly. He had brought back a video for me to see about 15 minutes later. Amelia was perfect! I couldn't hold back the tears. I wanted to hold her so bad!

It was not until later that weekend that we learned that my water had in fact broken Wednesday morning. I hadn't just "peed myself". So it was 72 hours between my water breaking and her birth. Because of this, the staff was afraid that Amelia could have an infection. They typically don't allow babies to be in a leaking amniotic sac for more than 24 hours. But we didn't know it had been that long. Also, my midwife informed us that as long as I didn't have a fever and baby was showing great vitals, there was no reason to worry about that 24 hour mark. Of course, everything was fine until the very end. Our midwife even said, "Your daughter is an A+ student!" as she frequently checked her heart rate on the monitors earlier in my labor. Amelia was kept in the nursery from the time she was born until that evening at 8 pm. She also had to be on antibiotics for our entire hospital stay. I was able to breast feed her that afternoon, which was a huge surprise to the nurses as they did not except her to nurse so soon. She came to our room that night, with her IV fluids being reduced by half. She went off her IV the next afternoon. Her jaundice score was a very low one, which also surprised everyone. I also learned later that her APGAR score (a system that rates a newborn's respirations, reflexes, pulse, skin color, and muscle tone) was a 1 at birth. She got a 1 for a grimace in response to stimulation. Five minutes after birth, it was a 5. Ten minutes after birth, it was an 8. My delivery nurse, Cyndee, informed us that in her 15 years of work, she has had one other baby besides Amelia that was born with an APGAR of 1 that lived. All the others did not recover and ultimately died. Another HUGE surprise was that she did not have meconium in her lungs or stomach. There is no telling how long she had been in the amniotic sac with the meconium. But the nurses and midwife believe it was a very long time as the placenta was green with red streaks, rather than fully red and all that. My placenta was delivered right with Amelia which is definitely not normal. This means it had been detached too early, meaning Amelia wasn't getting the oxygen she needed (explaining why I had to wear the oxygen mask). This also explains why I was having such intense contractions at the end. My uterus, with a semi-detached placenta, had gone into overdrive. The list of "this happened but definitely should've ended with a much poorer result" is long and I could go on...

When the stress of the delivery began to ascend to its peak, Crystalyn immediately text messaged my best friend, Amanda, "PRAY NOW". I'm not sure who prayed or how many people were praying. But let us say, God answered. Those prayers are prayers we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Nothing about how our daughter is living today makes sense. I know that God is in the business of miracles though. Early on in my pregnancy with Amelia, I had this assurance that her life was going to be a special one. I knew God had big plans for her. And I could see how her little life was already impacting people for the Lord. I never imagined this birth scenario would happen but it did. It was quite possibly the worst day of my life in terms of the fear and pain I felt. However, it was the best because I saw God give life to a baby barely hanging on. It was the best because our little girl was born. She has been a witness to those who do not believe or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And to be able to be a part of that as her mommy is a joy I cannot explain.

We had Amelia dedicated to the Lord on Sunday, February 20, 2011. We did so because we believe she is a miracle and people need to know that. She is our daughter, yes. But she is the Lord's first. We also dedicated her because as her parents, we want nothing more than for her life to be a shining beacon of what an amazing God we serve. We pray she grows up to know that for herself. And dedicating her was the first step towards that.


The Big 3

I decided I would narrow down my life story to three major events to describe who I am and why I am me!

The most important event in my life took place November 29, 2001. I was 13, in the middle of my 8th grade year, and desperate for a place to belong. A classmate invited me to a weekend retreat with her church's youth group. I was reluctant to go since I wasn't the "churchy type". But it sounded fun. During that retreat I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I started attending the youth group and church with my classmate on a regular basis. I had found a place of escape and love in my new church family... something I needed terribly as my home life was quite dysfunctional. Fast forward ten years later, I'm still attending that church, that classmate is my best friend still, and my life is fully devoted to the Lord. I aim to have everything I do and say be for the glory of the Lord. I'm human, of course, so I don't always succeed. But that is the beauty of forgiveness and grace.

The next most important event in my life was when I married my beloved, Daniel. We met when we both started attending the youth group at our church. I was in 8th grade, he was in 10th grade. He was quite quirky as a teenager so attraction was not a quick thing for me, to be honest! But over the course of about two years, we became great friends. He was a gentleman and very smart! He had a silly sense of humor and a smile that lit up the room. And most importantly, he loved the Lord intensely. For a year and a half, I had my heart twitterpated over him. He was totally unaware. But our friendship continued to grow. After attending a week long church camp together, he realized everything. I went away for rest of the summer to visit my dad out of state. We talked every day, emailed, instant messaged! When I returned, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was 16, he was 18. We dated for two and a half years before he proposed. It was during a New Years Eve party at his parents house, in front of a bunch of friends and family. Then we had a year and a half long engagement (worst idea ever, in case you're wondering). In that time, I went away for my freshman year of college and returned. He graduated college. We planned and planned and planned the wedding. After nearly four years of being together, we finally married on May 10, 2008. It was a lovely spring day. Danny (what he is more commonly known as amongst close friends and family) is more than I ever imagined in a husband and father to our daughter. He is strong in spirit, he's an extremely hard worker, he loves me well, he loves Amelia so well. I will write more about him in this blog, don't you worry!

Finally, the last most important day of my life so far has been the birth of my daughter. We decided to start trying to conceive February 15, 2010. Three months later, I was pregnant! I had all the normal morning sickness issues, weight gain, etc. But overall, I had a great pregnancy! So my midwife was confident that my birth would play out similarly. It was not an easy birth, to say the least (I will post my birth story soon). I learned what it means to truly rely on Someone much bigger than you to get through an experience. My sweet Amelia is a reminder every day that God is the one that gives life. She is joyful and so fun! We are blessed and challenged by her every day. I am a different person because of her. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

You can see where my passions are, I'm sure. I have many more! I don't have this blog to be preachy but to simply tell people about how God has and is continuing to work in my life. I don't want this blog to be all mushy and about my wonderful marriage. But I do want people to be encouraged as I write about our life together... struggles, triumphs, and all! And lastly, I don't want to talk birth and babies constantly. But I do want people to see the wonderful work that God has created in us women to be able to birth life! I want people to know the joys and sorrows of mothering/parenting. I'm striving to live a life that can be looked up to and modeled after... truly Titus 2. 


at it again

Well, here I am, blogging again. Or should I say attempting to blog again? I have started and stopped countless times over the years. When I start it, I love it! I am a writer at heart. I have been since the 6th grade. It's how I get my thoughts together and presentable. It's one way that I unwind. It's how I long to document life (along with photography). When I stop blogging, I'm discouraged. I'm unorganized. I forget important things that happen. So here goes!

I plan to start my blog off with stories of my life. Important things that have made me who I am today. Then I'll launch into daily ramblings as I experience life! I'm excited. I hope you are, as well!