Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Battle Strategy

This morning, I sat and nursed Jase in the back row of the sanctuary at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) as our morning class began hopeful he'd fall asleep and stay asleep for the remaining 45 minutes. I couldn't help but remember those first few weeks as a brand new mom sitting with Avery as a newborn, in the back row of the sanctuary at BSF just two short years ago.

So much has changed and happened since then. While I'm in familiar territory when it comes to the taking care of an infant thing, the rest of it seems incredibly uncharted, even though I'm 5 months into being the mother of 2, 2 years into being a mom, and almost 7 years into being a wife.

Confession: Most days I feel defeated. I don't feel defeated all day long. But, at some point during the day, I do feel that way.

I'm overwhelmed by this season. As sweet as it is. As much as I don't want it to end. It sounds like an oxymoron, I know. And, that's one of the reasons why I think it's so hard to navigate.

How is it possible to rise to the calling before me? Shoot- it's not even before me. It's on top of me, under me, pulling my hair, in my arms, 100% enveloping me 24/7 whether it's a tiny person or a mounting to-do list of tasks.

I mess up every day. Every day I have to apologize to someone. I am constantly falling short.

Why do I keep messing up? Why can't I figure this out? Why am I not capable enough?

Thankfully when the word "enough" enters my thoughts it's a trigger word for me to say, "That's enough, Enemy. Get behind me, Satan. And out of my brain and out of my house. Go, in the name of Jesus Christ."

If you don't know what triggers are, in the simplest way I can describe them, a trigger evokes the same response every time. You engage the trigger, BLANK always happens.

Well, I need triggers to remind me of my reality. Often it feels as though my reality is burp cloths and spit up and temper tantrums and clothes that don't fit and upset tummies and so on. This is part of my reality. Yes.

But, the other reality I need to be reminded of is that Satan doesn't want me raising kingdom builders.

Satan wants me to focus on my physical reality and dwell on my short-comings. Satan wants for me to believe the calling I'm desperately seeking to fulfill is impossible.

Triggers used to be something I had to avoid because they'd set my PTSD off. (Another story for another time.)

Now, I find myself needing to surround myself with them. I need triggers to remind me to look to Jesus first when I feel defeated. First when my heart is heavy. First when I have no idea what to do.

This morning both of my children were lying on our bed crying as I wiped noses and zipped up shoes and asked, out loud, "Why are you crying??" If I hadn't been committed to rocking babies while the leaders met for pre-class prayer before BSF started, I would have honestly thrown my hands up and said, "Forget it. We're just staying home."

And Satan would have won that battle.

But, thankfully, because I remembered I had made a commitment that commitment triggered me to remember my commitment to my kids to shepherd them and surround them with the teachings of Jesus.

So, I'm not keeping them at home and therefore not taking them to a morning of age-speficic Bible teaching because I feel overwhelmed.

Triggers.

Triggers to defeat the feeling of being defeated.

Triggers to encourage my spirit when my body is sore from lifting and carrying and holding little bodies all day and all night.

Triggers to remind me to stop and breathe and sometimes walk away and count to 10 and pray before I speak or act.

Triggers to remind me of my reality - that I live in a battle zone. Not a house full of toys and stuffed animals and diapers and dog hair, but a war college whose students begin as newborns.

I am raising kingdom builders. Why would I ever expect for Satan to let that go unnoticed? Why would I expect him to leave me alone while I do this great and hard work? 

For 10 years I avoided certain triggers because I knew that every time a trigger presented itself, I would experience a very unpleasant emotional response.

Every time.

10 years of bondage to the avoidance of triggers.

I got very good at avoiding triggers.

But something Satan meant for evil, is now being used for good.

Now triggers are a battle strategy instead of shackles.

So, you can take that one back to Hell with you Satan.

And yes, mamas who feel like you are drowning in whatever season of motherhood it is that you find yourself in - or non-mamas who still feel like you are drowning - you are allowed to talk to him like that. Claim victory in this battle over that Enemy - after all, Jesus already has.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done."
 - Genesis 50:20

Friday, May 26, 2017

Welcome to the World, Jase!

Hey there faithful readers, family, friends. Man, did we leave you hanging or what?

Last I posted, we announced that the baby we were expecting was a healthy baby boy, named Jase Alton. It's been about a month since Jase made his grand debut, and here I finally am, sitting with a few minutes of quiet while the babes take their afternoon naps, ready to share with you some of the details surrounding his birthday. I'm going to be leaving a lot of details out to spare the men / queasy readers. If my female friends want to know everything, come over with cookies and some decaf coffee, and I'll share it all with you. : )

If you go back several weeks into somewhere towards the beginning of Jase's third-trimester, there was a weekend when the weather decided to warm up. That was the weekend my swelling started. I had a lot of swelling with Avery's pregnancy, but as the weeks progressed with Jase, it became obvious to all on-lookers that this swelling was different. By the time I hit 36 weeks, I was ready to send pictures of my pitting edema legs off to McGraw-Hill to be featured in medical textbooks and was feeling all kinds of very unpleasant side effects - carpal tunnel so bad I couldn't cut bananas for Avery, numb arms (yes, entire arms), a steadily increasing blood pressure, head aches, and (ahem) this funky neuro thing that happened one evening that involved me seeing disco lights....

Praise the Lord, my blood pressure never exceeded the "border line," my labs were always within normal limits, and Jase sounded fine at every check up.

Regardless, as we got closer and closer to our due date, and the edema and all its side effects got worse, I made the decision I'd sworn up and down I'd NEVER make again... To be induced.

Between Avery's birth and Jase's conception I'd switched OB practices, and my new doctor had a different plan of action for my induction, which helped lessen my opposition to it.

(Right before leaving for the hospital.)

So, on April 27th (3 days before Jase's due date), David, my mom, and I stepped off the elevators right around 7am onto the L&D floor to check in and have a baby.

When I got to our L&D room, I was greeted by the sweetest nurse who was being precepted (which means she's a new nurse to that unit) by an amazing nurse with 20+ years L&D experience. I immediately loved them both and will always be grateful they were our nurses that day. (Shout out to Alisha for putting in a good word for us!)

They got things started by checking my vitals and hooking me up to the baby monitor.

How'd I look? Well, that borderline blood pressure of mine had passed the borderline, I was already having contractions, and I'd put on 2+ more pounds of fluid since the prior afternoon. Let's just say, we were all glad I was on the induction schedule. It was time to get this baby out.

So, my nurses helped me get as comfy as possible with the baby monitor and IV and BP cuff while laying on my left side and started my pitocin.

My doc sent word that he was on his way to break my water, so my nurses notified anesthesia that I was ready for my epidural. My doc had expected for things to go fairly quickly after he broke my water, so he had suggested if I wanted an epidural, to get it before he broke my water. My epidural didn't work 100% with Avery and remembering what I felt after being induced last time with it not working 100%, I wanted an epidural. So, even though at this point with Jase, I didn't need one, I was A-ok with following my doctor's recommendation to go ahead and get it placed.

I'm not going to go into the details of the epidural placement. Let's just say, it was a painful experience for everyone in the room. After they were done, as I was sobbing with my head buried in a towel, the anesthetist stated that mine was one of the hardest epidurals she'd placed in a very long time. Apparently my scoliosis gave them a run for their money. Long story short, even after a 2nd anesthetist came in to adjust my epidural, the only effect it had on me was a numb left thigh. I had complete mobility and sensation everywhere else.

My doc arrived during the epidural placement to break my water. After giving me a good bit of time to somewhat recover from the epidural placement and get my emotions under control, he broke my water (about 10am). And it was at this point when I realized my epidural with Avery worked a WHOLE lot better than I had given it credit for!

If I knew that only women would be reading this, I'd include some funny details at this point, but again I'll spare the men!

So, as to be expected, things really ramped up at this point. My contractions grew stronger and got closer together. Since I technically had an epidural in my back, and a numb thigh, I knew it was pointless requesting to get out of my L&D bed so I could move around. I was too high of a fall risk. I had my bed basically set at a right angle (not really, but with pillows it was), so I could sit as straight up as possible. Everyone took turns helping me breathe through each contraction. I had a point on the wall, and my teary eyes were glued to it.

Sometime during the 2nd half of the 2pm hour, my doc checked me. I was at 8cm, and he gave my nurses the go-ahead to start setting up for the delivery.

Sometime during the 3pm hour, I couldn't resist the urge to push anymore. It was time to deliver a baby (ahem, without any pain meds)! So I started pushing.

During the pushing stage, my room gradually acquired more warm bodies. I already had two nurses and my doc and a nursing student who was hanging out with one of my nurses for the afternoon. But, two more nurses and three more nursing students joined the party as well.

Not long after I started pushing, I heard my doctor tell one of the nurses that Jase was anterior facing. I quickly went into the recesses of my nursing brain files to remember what that meant... He was face up.

So, almost everyone knows you want your babies to be head down when you're delivering them, but you also want for their faces to be down or facing the mom's back, which is called posterior. Anterior is the opposite. Anterior facing babies are (ahem) a little harder to push out.

So again, I'm going to skip a lot of the details of those 45 minutes and leave it at, it was a grueling 45 minutes, but I had the BEST birth team. We all birthed Jase together!

And, eventually, out he did come, at 4:07pm. All 8lbs 5 oz of him!

The entire room was shocked! Avery was 6lb 6oz. I knew Jase was going to be bigger - it was obvious. But I was thinking more like 7lb, max. Boy oh boy! Not even my doctor saw 8lb 5oz coming!

They let me keep Jase skin to skin on my chest for about an hour and a half after he was born while I downed graham crackers with peanut butter on them and at least 3 cups worth of a decadent combo of apple and cranberry juice.

That hour and a half was so peaceful. We soaked up every bit of our new baby and praised the Lord for how healthy and perfect he was.

(Daddy and Jase)

The next day, David brought Avery and my sister to the hospital to meet Jase. That was such a surreal moment - our first time to all be together as a family of four. Later that afternoon, once Jase passed his 24 hour tests, we were discharged and got to bring our sweet boy home.

(Avery seeing Jase for the first time.)

The following few days were filled with all the newness a newborn brings, even if isn't the first time to have one. Jase was doing great, Avery was adjusting about as well as she possibly could at her age, David was able to take several days off of work, and we had my mom and sister here at the house humbly serving our little family.

My recovery was very different than Avery's. I think I took two Ibuprofen while at the hospital after Avery was born because my doctor said it was a good idea to take some pain medicine. With Jase, I didn't need to be encouraged to take some Ibuprofen. I was watching the clock. And then one day, about 5-6 days after he was born, I started having a new kind of pain, and I ended up in my OB's urgent care with one-week old Jase in toe.

The culprit of my pain? Kidney stones / UTI / kidney infection. UTI / kidney infection = start antibiotics and keep an eye on Jase in case he came down with thrush. Kidney stone = grin and bear it. My go-to drug that always helps me pass them is Flomax, which is a no-no for breastfeeding mamas.

Unless I wanted to pump and dump and put Jase on formula for a few days, I was going to have to pass it on my own.

It was a hard evening, not going to lie. In some ways I felt like I was having another baby, only this time I was also nursing one at the same time.

My prayer warriors, y'all blessed me so much that night. Thank you for praying as fervently as you did. Either the 2nd stone was obliterated by the Holy Spirit or the shot of apple cider vinegar I took, or I passed it without feeling it (which also would be thanks to the Holy Spirit).

Since then, I've had to take a second round of antibiotics because the first one didn't clear my infection up. Prayerfully, I'm good now.

Also since then, we were so fortunate to get to have David's parents and sister come into town after my mom and sister left. I can't thank our parents enough for everything they did to make a way for us to have a grandma in our house every day the first two weeks we were home with Jase.

I've also been so touched by my friends here in Arkansas. I never imagined when we moved out here 5 years ago that I would have friends like these. Women who are so generous and selfless. Women who know I have this weird issue with asking for help, so they just tell me when they're bringing us dinner and show up with it or text me every couple days to remind me that they're there and available to come help me whenever I need them. With as physically difficult as this recovery has been compounded with the kidney stone / infection, to say I'm thankful is an understatement. Grateful. Thankful. Truly touched. And humbled. Thank you, dear friends.

So, here we are. One month into life as a family of four. We're finally feeling like we're getting into our groove which I know is going to change a lot in June anyway! But, for now, we're getting the hang of it. We're learning a lot. And we're just so grateful.

I know many of you have been praying for us and our little family, and I thank you so much. We're feeling them.

To our local friends and family, don't be strangers. We're just back in the newborn trenches! We blink and 20 diaper changes later it's bedtime already. We'd love to see you and introduce you to our little guy. Just give us a ring.

To our out-of-town friends and family, we love you. We miss you. Thank you for your texts / phone calls / presents in the mail. You bless us.

Until next time, hugs and love from the Warford Family - all four of us. : )