Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
Saturday, April 2, 2016
"Do you want it?" She asked again. When I assured her we did, she looked happy.
At one time I would have been offended by such a line of questioning, but now I realize it was just the culturally logical inquiry. Wanting three children and wanting three GIRLS was pretty far outside the norm. Besides, she seemed relieved to find out I did indeed want this one.
"They are happy," I said. "It doesn't matter to them. They are also happy with girls."
"Oh, that's very good," She said. "In China, your in laws probably wouldn't speak to you any more if you only had girls."
Friday, February 26, 2016
I want to remember that these moments are important. When I am accomplishing nothing and haven't made it outside the apartment because it would take five hours to get everyone ready, when I have been doing and saying the same things over and over with no measurable progress, I want to remember that these days still matter.
These are the moments of nourishing my baby and teaching her to trust. These are the moments of sternness, of gentleness, of silliness - of letting my middle child know she is seen and not forgotten. These are the moments of teaching my oldest how to read and to love reading, of helping her adjust to changes at school and loneliness over losing her classmate-best friend. These moments shape lives.
Friday, February 19, 2016
|They said I ought to start tracking faces. I did NOT know you looked like that.|
|If you don't feed me I will eat your face|
|Sleeping with her great grandmother|
|Adalyn, Juliana, and Nadia at 1 month|
|It's all fun and games as long as nobody gets smushed|
|Um, guys...a little help here.|
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
|37.5 weeks and no idea I was about to have a baby|
|Settled in at triage; Kevin trying out his camera|
|A few minutes after birth, still covered in a healthy coat of vernix|
|It wasn't the cute owl hat I had planned, but I did finish a hat for Nadia's homecoming!|
Monday, January 25, 2016
I was convinced that the baby would not come early, seeing as all my fervent early-baby wishes last time were futile. So when I went into labor at 37.5 weeks, it took a while to believe it was actually the real thing. I kept thinking, "It's too early for baby to come. I thought I had at least a couple of weeks to prepare. I was going to make a hat for her!"
My first labor was 15.5 hours and rather...laborous. My second was 1 hours 45 minutes and rather adventurous. This one was a nice middle ground: 5.5 hours that I would best describe as peaceful. Plenty of time to get to the hospital and settle in, and when she decided it was time to come, she shot out in about 30 seconds, and I got to help catch her. I will write up the full story soon, because I do love a good birth story.
Because Nadia was born earlier than we expected, and because these things seem to be harder to decide once you get to the third baby, Nadia was born before we had a chance to finalize the name. So we spent our first few hours after birth getting to know baby and trying to settle on a name. In the end, I'm glad we waited until we met her, because while she looked more like "squishy newborn baby" than any particular name, I think Nadia really fits her.
We both liked the sound and meaning of the name Nadia Charlotte. We wanted each of the girls to have a meaningful name, not something to grow into and experience in their lives. Juliana Grace means "youthful grace." Adalyn Lucia means "noble light." Nadia Charlotte means "hope free."
The fact that Nadia decided to come early on MLK Day makes her name even more appropriate. Our prayer is that her life will similarly be a beacon of hope and freedom. I have been thinking of the words of Isaiah, echoed by Jesus: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Such words of hope, ringing with freedom - we ask that she will experience this reality in her own life and fight for freedom for others.
Baby is nearly a week old and doing well. She got down to 5lb 11oz but has already started gaining back. After a very sleepy start, she has been nursing well. Her nursing schedule is something like this: Wake up and nurse a bit, fall into floppy sleep, wake up 20 minutes later and nurse some more, sink into a deeper sleep until alerted by a six sense that mama is trying to sleep, take a shower, or eat, wake up desperately hungry. She has occasional alert spells but more often than not can be found sacked out in someone's arms.
Mama is tired and sore but enjoying her internal organs all returning to their usual place. While Nadia has been sleeping semi constantly, there hasn't been a whole lot of sleep for me (shocker, huh?). One of the real mysteries of newbornhood is how baby can sleep 20 hours while mama sleeps 4. I don't get it. Last night Nadia slept for three hours straight - then she nursed for three hours straight. I didn't know that was possible, but I'm actually not exaggerating. I am enjoying lots of warm baby snuggles and trying to share some with baby's many admirers.
Speaking of admirers, her sisters are big fans! Juliana keeps saying, "I really like the baby!" At first she would say, "Nadia is just wondering where mama is," but after holding the baby for the first time, she changed it to, "Nadia is just wondering where her sister is!" Adalyn alternates between shy interest, indifference, and rough love. Nadia has also enjoyed lots of attention from her grandparents and aunts, including her doctor aunt who is the first to describe her as "anatomically intact."
|Miraculously, no one was harmed in the making of this photograph|
Enjoying our first days with this squishy little baby!
Saturday, January 2, 2016
My year in review would look something like this.
- 8 months of pregnancy
- 1 violent stomach bug and 1 less violent, longer-lasting mysterious stomach ailment
- 4 months of mostly constant “morning sickness”
- 1 month of severe allergies
- 7 weeks of bad colds
- Lot of general pregnancy ailments like difficulty moving, digesting, sleeping, or thinking clearly
I spent a lot of time inside because I was sick or because it hurt to climb to the fifth floor or because I couldn’t go out without a mask and a large box of tissues. I spent a lot of time on the couch because I was sick or because I didn’t want to throw up or because I felt like I really might die of tiredness.
If we actually had food to eat and nobody got buried under a pile of laundry or toys, that was probably a successful day. There were five students I saw on a relatively regular basis, and that was about the extent of my campus interactions. I taught Juliana as often as I had voice to do it. It was a year of great limits.
I spent a good deal of time feeling frustrated - not everyone has such a hard time with pregnancy, why me? I felt guilty for not doing more, for neglecting my kids and not spending time with students. I felt discouraged about feeling so bad all the time. I fought against the limits.
And then, eventually, I accepted them. I still got frustrated and discouraged (and did I mention irritable?). But I realized that actually, this was what I needed.
It’s impossible to accept grace when you still think you can keep it all together. Working hard to be strong, pushing through, thinking positive - that’s what you’re supposed to do as long as you possibly can. But sometimes, it doesn’t work. However hard you try to be strong, you still get sick. Pushing through means getting sicker. And pithy motivational sayings make you want to punch someone.
In the end, I learned about grace because I had to. It wasn’t an intellectual pursuit. I didn’t finish those books. I didn’t read through the Bible or even read through one book of the Bible. Instead I read the same passages, the same verses over and over again. I listened to the same songs over and over. I learned the same things over and over, and each time the truth sank in a little deeper.
When I think about what I accomplished - or mainly didn’t accomplish, it looks like a dormant year. I was a tree in winter: silent, stripped, waiting. But I think I will look back on this year as an important one. Not only because I grew a child, but also because I grew. In the deep, quiet places that cannot be reached in the busyness of accomplishment and self-reliance.
It hasn’t been my favorite year. I can’t say I want to continue in this period of sickness and pregnancy and limitation. But looking back, I am grateful. It has been a year of grace.
I haven’t yet settled on my One Word for the new year. It will be a year of newbornhood - of long nights and daily growth and constant neededness. It will be a year of potty training and the start of another three year old, God save us all. It will be a year of learning to read and changes at Chinese school and inexorbable growth. It will be long and full and exhausting and pass so quickly.
So I know my idea for the new year...something about seasons or slowing down and living the moment, about investing in what is right in front of me. But I haven’t yet decided on my One Word. But it’s only January. I’ve still got time.
[Linking up with Velvet Ashes: One Word]
Saturday, December 19, 2015
While her cousin Elizabeth was celebrating a long-awaited baby and the removal of her reproach, Mary was facing shame, suspicion, and likely shunning. The turned backs of neighbors and friends may have seemed a lot more real than the memory of being highly favored. While she was busy laboring in a stable, the shepherds got the whole hallelujah chorus.
Mary experienced a whole lot of trouble along with the glimpses of glory, but after all she had no ordinary role.
After the shepherds and wisemen faded from sight, off to share their moments of epiphany, Mary was still there. She was the one to hold baby Jesus, to gaze into his face, to touch his pudgy cheek. She nursed him and held him through sleepless nights. Imagine seeing the first of Jesus’ smiles, hearing his childish whispers of love.
Mary was there for the quiet years of his growth. The rest of us know so little about his childhood, but she was there through each moment of it. She knew his favorite food and favorite friends. She laughed at his silly jokes. She wrapped skinned knees and dried tears. He was hungry and she fed him, thirsty and she gave him something to drink, naked and she clothed him, sick and she cared for him - every single day.
Jesus’ closest followers got three years with him; Mary had thirty-three. There was much she did not yet understand, but by the time he started his ministry, imagine how much she already knew of him! She had known he was special from before he was even conceived.
She was there at his birth, and she was there at his death. She stayed nearby and watched him suffer, because how could she turn away now? Though she was helpless and brokenhearted, she gave him all she could: her presence in a time of abandonment. And even in his anguish, Jesus made sure his mother would be cared for.
I think it’s appropriate that Mary was one of the first to know of his resurrection. And how did she come to find out? She was going to fulfill her last motherly duty - anointing her son’s body with burial spices. She wasn’t expecting a miracle - she was doing what she could to care for her son, just as she always had.
How is it that she got to be a part of so many big moments - his announcement, his birth, his first miracle, his death, his resurrection? Certainly she was special, blessed among women. But I think she witnessed these things because she was there.
She didn’t miss the big moments because she was already there for all the little moments. She was already there washing his clothes and making his food, worrying if he was getting enough rest. She swaddled him at birth, and she prepared to anoint his body at death. She had the opportunity to see Jesus from the first to the last. After all, she was his mother.
Friday, December 4, 2015
In most American families, the first and second children are more or less a given. Sure, there are some couples who don’t have any children, through their own choice or not. But since most people expect kids, they probably get a lot of inappropriate questions about why they don’t have any. And there are certainly people who only have one child, but in general after you have one, people are wondering when you’re going to produce the sibling and don’t you want one of each sex?
But plenty of families stop at two kids. It’s really the rational thing to do. You have fulfilled your obligation to provide a sibling and reproduce yourselves. You have quite enough insanity to keep your busy and you might as well stop before you are outnumbered. We are well past the age of needing help around the farm, we have access to birth control - there’s really no practical reason for that third kid. (Granted, one could say that having children in the first place is an insane decision, practicality wise.)
By the third child, you know what you are getting yourself into. I didn’t love my first pregnancy, but it was more or less a piece of cake compared to these later two. The second pregnancy was pretty much miserable, so this time I knew what I was in for.
Maybe you got lucky with a super easy first baby and thought, “I can handle this; I must be really good at this parenting thing.” But unless the universe is super tilted in your favor, the second child is bound to come along and prove you wrong. (I was fortunate to have the “high needs” one first, so the second seemed easy in comparison).
At any rate, by this point you have realized that when you finally get through the sleepless nights, you still have the tantrums and potty training and blatant defiance and education worries...and you have discovered that sleepless nights do not end with babyhood. This parenting thing just keeps being hard, so why in the world would you go and start over again with another baby?
Unless it’s a total surprise, the third baby is usually more of a decision. You weigh the pros and cons. The house isn’t going to get any bigger, which means three kids in the same room waking each other up. In America you will have three car seats. I know those things are live saving, but it's going to take 30 minutes just to get everyone strapped in. In China you will have to somehow rangle three children down five flights of stairs. Three kids sure don’t fit on a bike, and can you really get that many on and off a bus by yourself? You may never go out again.
While I understand the principles of addition, they don’t seem to apply to children. Each added child seems to multiply the laundry and mess and chaos and tiredness. You already rarely see the bottom of the laundry hamper as it is, and now you are thinking about adding 5x the laundry (because somehow, that’s how it works)??
So why in the world do you have that third child?
Just because you want to. It’s not for convention or practicality or obligation. It doesn’t make sense. But you look around at your two child chaos and feel like something is still missing. Your family is not complete. You have the third child just because you want them. (Hopefully and presumably you wanted the first to as well, but the third child is just special. Which I’m not just saying because I am a third child...) The third child is like a bonus.
Besides, you know what you are getting into. You don’t have to worry (too much) about all the weird pregnancy symptoms, and it’s going to take a lot more than a few stretch marks to faze you. You know that pregnancy will in fact one day end. You feel like you could probably deliver your own baby on the side of the road, if it came down to it.
You already know about the heart-melting first smiles. You know how incredibly awesome it is to finally sleep through the night, and you will never again take it for granted. The first two have eaten an awful lot of fuzzy stuff off the floor and fallen head first off an awful lot of chairs without dying, so there’s a pretty good chance this next one will survive too. You know that one day this baby will be able to wrap its arms around your neck and say, “I wuv you, mama!”
You already know how much the siblings will enjoy each other, fighting and all. The first child is old enough to understand what is going on, to feel the baby kick and discuss again the mystery of just how it’s going to get out of your stomach. You know the coloring and block building and dancing around the living room will be that much more exciting with someone else to join the party.
You have seen how incredibly different those first two children are in looks and personality, and you cannot imagine either of them not existing in the world. You know this third will be a totally new surprise.
It doesn’t make sense. It’s not practical. You’ll lose a lot of brain cells and gain a lot of gray hairs. But you have that third child anyway, just because you want to.
This is the irrational season
Where love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.