Tuesday, October 11, 2011

With love to my middle daughter

I've gotten into a habit over the years of remembering the births of my babies on the evening before their birthdays. In the quiet house, after all the day's activities have settled, it's a sweet time to let my mind drift back to those births that I never want to forget.

Jaime Renee was my most difficult pregnancy. I was so sick the first trimester that I lost 10 lbs. Then, just as I was feeling better, we moved from SD to Tucson, AZ in the middle of the summer. There is so much to be said for youth and enthusiasm and it goes hand in hand with the words, 'blissful ignorance'. Our firstborn, Christy, was just 1 year old. We fit our worldly goods in one car with no air conditioning and towed a small trailer behind.

We found an apartment and settled in, except for that employment thing. Kevin had a horrible time finding a job. We were very close to the University of Arizona Medical Center. We qualified for very reasonable maternity care as long as we were willing to have residents as our doctors. I was just fine with that because I knew they would be more emotionally engaged because it's all new to them. And it was an adventure!

A few weeks after we moved into our new place, I started running a really high fever and started having contractions. The doctors decided to admit me because the high fever concerned them. It was the only time I'd ever been delirious with fever. And I was worried for the baby. And I was worried about leaving Christy with our new neighbors. We had no family around and were too new in a new city, new state, even new part of the country to know what to do or who to contact.

My high fever wouldn't break. The doctor decided it would be necessary to do an amniocentesis, a procedure to insert a long needle into the uterus to draw out some amniotic fluid. The fluid is then tested to see if there is something wrong with the baby. At that time, 32 years ago, it was a very new procedure. They had just developed sonograms and the screens reminded me of a fuzzy TV screen that lost its signal.

For the procedure, the huge sonogram was brought in. The head of the OB dept was there to oversee the residents. I had 4 resident doctors following my case at this point. Remember, it was only Kevin and me. Kevin was allowed to be by my head and he held my hand and comforted me. Standing over me was the doctor, unsheathing a very, very long needle. Kevin and I were really scared but we were strong until the doctor who was watching the sonogram stated, "A little more to the left, you don't want to hit the baby's head." That was too much for Kevin. He got really lightheaded and had to sit down. He kept thinking, 'That's MY baby's head!' I closed my eyes and prayed.

When they got the necessary fluid, the doctor held up the vial, shook it a little, said, "Cloudy...that's not good." and then left the room. The resident doctors stayed with us and explained that the fluid should tell them if the baby was causing the fever and if the baby was sick. They told us that healthy fluid should be clear. They left us with the comments that, should they have to take the baby then, the chances of a sick baby surviving that early were very slim. They told us we might consider names or no names, funeral or no funeral....things that had never crossed our young minds ever before.

So as we waited, Kevin and I clung to each other and talked to our baby. We truly were all we had. Our world had shrunk to the size of that hospital room. I'd been put in isolation in case I was contagious so it was lonely too. Time dragged by as we waited for the results and yet it flew by as we prayed that our baby would be spared.

The doctors returned with the news that the baby was safe. The fever was from my body, not my baby's body. There was also a warning given to us. The high, extended fever could have caused brain damage to the baby and we needed to be prepared for that possibility. Kevin and I just reeled with the emotions and information we were trying to process. But we clung to each other.

My fever finally broke after almost a week. I was finally was able to return to our apartment and to Christy. I still had the last trimester to go and was told to stay off my feet as much as possible. Christy was 1 year old. Well, we did the best we could. We found a church nearby and were warmly welcomed. Kevin finally found a job! But the job was 2 hours away, in Phoenix. The job started right away and I still had another month to go. Kevin could stay with his dad in Phoenix and look for an apartment for us. A wonderful family in the church came to us and offered for Christy and me to stay with them until the baby arrived. That was such a sweet example of being the hands and feet of Jesus. I was willing to stay alone but I didn't have to. This kind family welcomed us and gave us a real sense of security as we waited.

Did I mention we waited? For a baby who tried to join the world 3 months too early, when the time had come for her appearance, she refused to come. I had only gained 12 lbs the entire pregnancy (that included the 10 lbs I'd lost at first). I was going to the doctor's every day because I was classified as a high risk and they were very careful. At the doctor's office, these sweet resident docs would surprise me with something to eat, a burger, a milkshake, etc. They kept trying to get weight on me. I was so touched by their genuine care and concern.

I think the family I was staying with got more nervous each day I went past my due date. Kevin was 2 hours away but we were thankful he had a job. We could only talk every couple days because long distance was expensive. Christy was happy wherever she was and she charmed everyone. Then on Oct. 12, 1979, fourteen days after her original due date, labor began in earnest. I will always remember the ride to the hospital. It was about 5pm and we were fighting heavy rush hour traffic. We had no idea how long labor was going to take so this man and his wife rolled down their car windows and started yelling, "Mother in labor!! This lady's having a baby! Let us through!" And people responded! It took a lot of yelling and I would've laughed a lot harder if it didn't make me pee my pants!

We got to the hospital and I got settled into the labor room and waited for Kevin to come. I started praying he'd get there in time. No worries there, it was going to be a long labor. Back then was the age of natural childbirth so comfort was never an option. I walked as much as I could until Kevin arrived. Then he walked with me and I could look a bit more pathetic because I didn't have to be so strong. Finally I was put to bed and hooked up to monitors. That was when the trouble started.

Everytime I had a contraction, the baby's heart beat would drop, lower and lower. The doctors said the cord was probably around the baby's neck and was being squeezed during contractions. The baby was too far down in the birth canal to do a c-section. Then it was discovered that she was face up, not the correct position of face down. They couldn't turn her manually because of the cord being wrapped around the neck. So they put an oxygen mask on me and had me get on my hands and knees to relieve pressure on the cord.

At this point, the doctors told me I got to choose which doctor would deliver the baby. There were about a dozen folks in the room to observe the high risk birth. Any shred of modesty left when I was on my hands and knees with pains very close together and a gown that opened in the back. I can laugh about it now and it gets funnier the longer time elapses. At the time, I was trying to rip off the mask because I couldn't breathe and then the urge to push came over me like a large rolling wave. Then the doctors told me I couldn't push until the baby turned face down. I fought that urge to push as long as I could. I finally felt something and told the nurse to check me. She flippantly told me I didn't know what I was talking about. I grabbed her arm and told her SHE. NEEDED. TO. CHECK. ME. NOW. The nurse was surprised that the baby had turned!

At that point I yelled, "I'm pushing!" Then I picked out the delivering doctor and said, "The baby's coming!!" And boy, howdy, did that baby make a quick entrance from there!

The umbilical cord had been wrapped around the baby's neck 3 times! They carefully unlooped it and then they announced, "It's a GIRL!" Before we could hold her, the team of docs were swarmed around checking her out. We never knew exactly what they were looking for but as we waited, they got more and more excited. Those resident doctors brought our daughter back to us, handed her to us for the first time and then told us that she was perfectly healthy! Then they crowded around and asked us what we decided to name her.

We had decided on the name Jaime Renee. Jaime was for our friend Jim. Renee was the middle name of my best friend who had tragically died a year earlier. AND Jaime Renee in french means Love Reborn. We felt like we had a miracle baby in our arms. A little girl who almost arrived too early, who was thought to possibly have brain damage, but who instead, was nestled into her parents' arms. Each of the doctors touched her and said, "Hi, Jaime", or "Welcome to the world, Jaime". It was a sweet, sweet moment.

Jaime was ready to eat from the moment she came into the world. As she nursed, I examined her tiny hands and discovered she had a blister on her thumb, where she'd been sucking it so hard in the womb!

Kevin and I loved our new daughter and we clung to each other. Our friends brought in Christy to meet her new sister. Christy was 15 months old and was talking a bit. She came up with her own name for Jaime. She called her (sound it out) nnnnn...gong (and make your voice go up and down). Or just ask Christy now, I bet she'll be happy to tell you how she said Jaime's name!!

Oct. 12... 8:09pm.... 7lbs 4oz...19 1/2 inches long.... Welcome to the world, Jaime Renee.

Thanks to God for the honor of being chosen to be Jaime's parents. We have been so blessed.

Happy Birthday, Jaime! You are our Love Reborn!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hearing God's Call over the years

Ever since I have been a believer, I've wanted to hear God's Call for my life. I've wanted to do what He's wanted and to be what would bring Him glory. I found that God was as willing to show me His will as I was willing to do His will! And what an adventure it's been! I've had the honor of helping start a Pregnancy Testing Center, working with ladies who have dealt with abortion in their lives, women and girls who had been hurt from sexual abuse. I had the joy of working with Josh McDowell's "Why Wait?" campaign, speaking to teens and parents all over the country. And I had lots of fun making a teaching video with Josh McDowell called, "The Teen Age Q&A Video".

After that, I heard God clearly calling me to focus on my newly teenage daughters. It was time to invest in their lives and the lives of their friends. I knew I was where God wanted me. I knew that I knew that I knew.

Then my daughters married, settled here in town and started having children. I heard God again. I knew it was time to concentrate on my grandchildren. What a blessing to have the ability to stay home and take care of them instead of their being in daycare. I knew I was making a difference in eternity and it is God's call on my life.

I smile because I never thought this is where I would be or what I would be doing in my mid-50's. But then I think about it and realize that I don't know what I envisioned doing at this stage of life. Success isn't something that consumes me. Things aren't that important to me. I don't have to have the biggest or best. (ok, I confess I am a hotel snob....) But I love being where I know God has called me.

It's interesting to look back and see that God truly gifted me when He called me. It reminds me of part of Corrie Ten Boom's story. Corrie and her family spent time in a German concentration camp. Most of her family died there and she was released by a technical error. She spent the rest of her life telling her story about God's working in all circumstances. What led to her imprisonment was the fact that she and her family helped the underground rescue Jewish people. Their house was altered with a 'hiding room' and many Jews came through their house and were able to be taken to safety.

After Corrie was released from the concentration camp, she assumed she was to go back working for the Underground again. They welcomed her back and she carried out the task. But it wasn't the same.

In her words, "I bolted for the door. I stood thankfully on the sidewalk until my knees stopped knocking. If I had ever needed proof that I had no boldness or cleverness of my own, I had it now. Whatever bravery or skill I had ever shown were gifts of God - sheer loans from Him of the talent needed to do a job. And it was clear, from the absence of such skills now, that this was no longer His work for me."

I understand that observation deep down in my soul. When I want to do God's Will, He will faithfully lead me. He will enable me. And it will be an adventure! When it's time to do something else, He will let me know and in His love, He will show me that my gifts were loans from God for doing the job He gave me. My Father God is so loving that He gently shows me that we're concluding our adventure. He gives me the strength to finish well and the excitement that a new adventure is about to begin.

I am so loving being able to help with my grandchildren. I love so much all the time we are together. If you ever wonder how cool and awesome I am, just look at my refridgerator! Notes and pictures from people who love me. I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

And I am hearing God calling me again. This time, I'm not moving on, God's encouraging me to add a bit more. I am hearing God whisper to me to concentrate more on encouraging and helping my daughters. I want to do more than just watch their kids. I want to pay attention and see if I could help them when I sense I could be an encouragement. I want to look for chances to love them, help out, give them time with their spouses, and be available for them when they need a shoulder. God showed me that it's a joy to do His Will. Not always easy, not always a smooth ride, but always a joy.

When I am doing God's Will, I feel more alive, more confident, less fearful of failure. And God's call on my life right now is to love my daughters better, and keep loving my grandchildren. And I know that I know that I know.

It's not a big, flashy calling. It won't get a lot of attention. It won't be noticed by many. It sounds mundane and maybe a bit crazy. But it is God's Call on my life. I've been called to pour into my adult kids and their children, something that was taken for granted a few generations back. Sadly, it has be intentional these days just because of the lives we lead.

I dont' think I'll be the person who struggles with a mid-life crisis. I know who I am already in Christ. And I know that all I want for my future is to do the will of God. When I hear God's call on my life, I know He is in control, He will supply all I need to do it, and it will be an adventure!

So, where you hear God's Call on YOUR life?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

He is, yes, He is

When I was in school, we used to conjugate verbs. for example, the verb 'remember':

I remember We remember

you remember You remember

He/She/It remembers They remember

Then there are those verbs that don't follow any of the regular rules, like 'to be':

I am We are

You are You are

He/She/It is They are

This year, 2011, has been the worst year I can remember. This year, it has seemed that every time we would pick ourselves up from one thing, something else would happen to hit us again. Deaths, sicknesses, divorces, etc, etc.... it's been a rough year.

The only thing we've been able to cling to is God. He has been our anchor when we have felt battered by waves in a storm. I have seen over and over why God said to Moses in Exodus 3: "Say to the people of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you".

This year, we have been experiencing that HE IS.....

HE IS faithful. We have a Father who will never leave us nor forsake us. No matter what's going on around us, He is right there, walking with us.

HE IS love. He is bigger than bitterness or anger or resentment or discouragement. He loves us when we feel our most unlovable. He loves us even when He knows the things we think, but never say out loud.

HE IS in control. Even though we have felt blindsided, He is not surprised. Because of that, we can rest in his arms when we feel overwhelmed.

HE IS our provider. Over and over this year, we've seen God provide even the smallest details in the midst of our pain. From encouragement from friends at just the right time, to unexpected surprises, God has always provided just what we've needed.

HE IS our shepherd. He knows what lies ahead for us. He knows the direction we need to take. He will guide us as we walk unfamiliar paths.

HE IS our redeemer. He will take these difficult times and turn them into something beautiful. Whether that beauty will be displayed in wisdom, discernment, mercy or whatever He chooses, it will be beautiful.

HE IS everlasting. These days will pass and soon this year will be a memory. But God is forever. I can cling to that truth as I walk through these difficult days.

HE IS my rock. I can hunker down and hold onto the rock that is my foundation and strength. I don't have to know what will happen tomorrow or next year. I only have to hold on today. He will give me the strength, mercy, grace, wisdom that I will need, as I need it.

Grace and strength for the day are never given ahead of when we need them. It's not something that can be stored up for a difficult time. God gives us what we need, when we need it. Our job isn't to figure it out, our job is to cling to the Rock.

I will be re-reading this as needed. It's my reminder as I finish out 2011.

About Me

My photo
Longview, Texas
In the autumn of my life, I am very content.