Friday, May 22, 2015

On The Day Cassady Was Born

Leaving for the hospital to have a baby for the very last time, how does one describe that feeling?

Mike and I spent the night in a hotel close to the hospital to make for an easier early morning.  Cayman and Kobe were back home with grandparents.

Before getting out of bed I felt panic that I had carelessly forgotten something so important - finding that one verse to dwell on. I am a perpetual worrier and without solid words to ground me tendrils of fear will sweep me away.

For Cayman it was my life verse - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).  It's a declaration of trust in the Maker of an unforeseen future.

For Kobe's birth it was - "Don't be afraid," Jesus said. "Take courage. I am here!" - Matthew 14:27 (NLV) After experiencing a pregnancy and birth like I did with Cayman, I sat frozen in a boat of fears to ever have more children.  Kobe's life from the moment of conception called to me to step out of that boat and walk in faith with my eyes on Him, the One that won't let me sink no matter what may come.

I did not want a buzzing brain on the day my last born would come to us.  Worry robs joy and I knew for certain I did not want to look back and see the day through the haze of anxiety.  I always get nervous for surgery and when it involves my baby I get real scared.  I grieved for a time the way Cayman was born.  Completely unaware of her first breath and what the room felt like when it filled with her cries.

Or did she cry?

I was there in body but the brain asleep. I missed the look on Mike's face when he saw his first born child for the first time. I didn't get to see that.  Those things hurt. Not so much anymore though. As new moments of blessings came, filling up the photo album there was no room for sadness.  Just overflowing gratitude.

Kobe's birth, so peaceful and surreal, it touched me.  By the time baby number 2 was to be born I was no longer in a stiffened state of neediness as I was as a brand new mother.  I had grown with perspective.  Being the kind of high risk pregnancies I have made me deal with loosening my grip on things like control and decision making.  Birth plan options were slim for me and it all came back to count blessings and trusting.  I was spoiled when Kobe came into this world.  The spinal block slipped in easily.  The spinal anesthesia worked quickly.  I got to stay awake, Mike by my side, and we experienced together that indescribable feeling of hearing and seeing your baby the minute they are born.  It was amazing!! 

Baby number 3, what would be her story?  I knew before all events transpired that day, with faith the story, whatever might come, would be cherished. 

I had made my requests to God on how I wanted it to go.  Of course a healthy delivery and baby, but in the details I would be awake and all my senses alive to record the moment the clock stood still posting her entrance to this world.

This is the story of the day Cassady Ileen was born....

The morning light not yet seen over the horizon, I laid in the soft hotel bed face toward face with Mike. A shadow cast across his cheek from the only light in the hotel room coming from the bathroom.  I looked at his sleeping face long, feeling great love for my man.  He had fallen back to sleep after hitting snooze on the alarm.  The gears of my mind had already began to turn and I was awake.  Mike opened his eyes and his handsome voice greeted me, "Good morning, honey.  How did you sleep?"

"Good.  But now I keep thinking about things."

"Tell me about it." He invited me with that assertive love I adore him for to spill all those thoughts of mine onto his listening ears.

"Back home the house is spotless.  There is not a trace of dirty laundry that can be found.  Everything is done." my voice trailed off into sadness.

Mike stroked my head and tucked a piece of hair behind my ear, smiling meekly at me as I talked.  I know that smile of his, the one that says more than words.  He's listening to my heart and longing to know the right words that could make what feels shaky, stable.  What's broken, fixed.  What's unknown, assured.  

"That sounds good though, right?" He searched to understand me.

"Yeah, it does.  But now I lay here aching for the filled need to make this day restful in spirit.  Clean laundry and a meticulous house is not going to give that to me during surgery nor when I am sitting on that table curled over this pregnant belly surrendering my spine to an enormous needle.  I did not sit quietly with God's Word and find that specific verse I could carry with me today."

Without pause Mike spoke, "'Be still and know I am God'.  That sure is a good one, don't you think?"

"Yes it is!" I smiled and leaned in kissing him on the lips, "Thanks, Mike!" and then I went to the bathroom for my shower. 

Years of following Christ have counted up to numerous of ways He has always been with us.  And it's in that a confidence comes and great meaning is felt in the words "I am God" and all vitals return to homeostasis, peace comes, and worry stills.

My mom met us at the hospital.  I warmly and excitedly hugged her.  My joy is made bigger to share these special moments with my mother, the woman that gave me life and has loved me my whole life.

The pre-op room was quiet.  I was the first patient scheduled to deliver that morning.  Nurses were not busied and the corridor was still.  I appreciated the calm.  Dr. Van de Ven came on site and things began to feel real fast.

"Let's have a baby today!" He said with joy.  Such a proclamation is marked with greater amusement in a dutch accent.  I smiled.

Mike and I departed with a kiss and my mom snapped pictures as the medical team pushed my hospital bed to the OR.

Inside the cold, sterile room I shifted my weight onto the operating table pleased to have safely arrived at 37 weeks gestation.  When Kobe was born at 36 weeks the scar on my uterus had thinned to the point of transparency and the doctor could see Kobe's hair through it. The risk of the uterus being that thin is rupture.  The recommendation was for the next baby to be taken even earlier - 34 or 35 weeks.  It is a hard, hard conscious decision to deliberately eject a healthy baby from the womb before they may be ready.  I begged Dr. Van de Ven to not only not deliver earlier but to deliver even later, at 37 weeks. Getting over that threshold of full term just feels good.  He looked me squarely in the eye, compassion in his face not for the medical risks of such a decision but for my feelings. He didn't try to change my mind or pressure me to feel differently. What a rare experience that is these days in a world highly guarded to protect themselves from lawsuits. With affirmation in his question he said, "That makes you feel better, does it?"

"It really does." I said.

What a gift that was to me.  He gave me the power of choice, a say in my birth plan, something so important to an expectant mother.

I went home giddy and with the promise to live the next weeks as closely to a bedridden life as possible not putting any strain on my abdomen which was not going to be an easy feat with two small children at home, plus we were packing to move into our new house.

Sitting on the operating table, a fully rounded belly with a little girl inside who had been given as much time as I could safely advocate for her, I trusted she would be ready.  I curled my back stretching open my spine for the epidural needle.  I hate that part so much!!  Needles aren't my favorite but I can put mind over matter to overcome them as they enter a vein.

But the spine??  My body forgets voluntary breathing and I shiver like I've been hit by the winter cold.  As a child I broke my back resulting in a spinal fusion and permanent nerve damage.  I understand by experience the strength and fragility of the spine.  The next 20 minutes was challenging.  The anesthesiologists diligently worked and worked to get into my epidural space to no prevail.  In and out they pulled the needle through layers of skin, muscle, and fibrous cartilage.  Repeatedly injecting numbing medicine to relieve the pinching pain of the needle but that too was not successful.  A new plan erected, to ditch the epidural catheter and go to administering the spinal block.  The first plan was to have both.  This being my 4th abdominal surgery the scar tissue was expected to be thicker and the double coverage of anesthesia would assure longer bathing for the nerves to remain numb.  The spinal block went in and found its place comfortably past the epidural space and inside the spinal column.  The medicine was injected and my weary body was laid down.  A spinal typically takes effect within 10 minutes.  We were going on 20 minutes and I was not yet fully numb. The surgical team was ready prepared to move at soonest notice as the window of numbing medicine was going to be short. When the doctor gave my belly a final test pinch with the large tongs I could still feel a dull pain.

The next thing that happened I can only explain by the intense love that grows out of places of deep care and consuming adoration for another human being...

I asked to remain awake for the surgery.

I was as scared as looking down a barrel of a gun.  A part of me would have been relieved if the doctor would have said no, but the larger part would have grieved to release something I hold great value in.

Mike was summoned to join me in the OR. Thinking of my husband next to my side, experiencing me in great pain and shoved out of the OR if I needed to be put out quickly was an image that made me uncomfortable.

I made my request to stay awake with no hesitation but after the doctor granted my desire I began to think it through.

"I can wiggle my toes still.  Is that ok?" I asked.

"It's not ideal." the doctor answered.

"What if the pain is too much?" I continued as reality took root of what was about to happen.

The doctor assured me all I needed to do was give the word or if my vitals became too stressed the anesthesiologist would have the gas ready and I would be asleep within seconds. Or if I could hang in there through the birth they could put me out for the closing up part. 

"Let's do this!"  I pulled in as much breath my lungs would allow and breathed out slowly.

"Be still and know I am God".

I could feel my heart beating in my chest.  Then I saw Mike.

A feeling came over me and I knew I was strong enough for this.  He would joke it was the Ohio State shirt.

Mike took a seat next to my head.  He distracted me with amusing conversation and the video camera in hand recording ceaselessly.

"Birth attendance, are you ready?" Dr. Van de Van called out.

Mike stood up to peek over the blue surgical drape.

"Don't drop the camera..." I said.

"I won't." replied Mike.

"In my belly." I smiled.

The room laughed and the anticipation grew. 

And grew.

She wouldn't come out.

They pushed and pushed on my abdomen.  A lot of pressure and pain, my voice quivered to talk through it, my eyes watered from discomfort.

And then that beautiful baby cry!

It was then joy that wet my eyes.

Oh she was perfect!  

When she was placed on my chest I could feel nothing else but how much my heart beat with love for her.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cayman's Questions, The Continuing Story

Yesterday when I picked Kobe up from preschool I came ready to try my new idea - to have Kobe ask Cayman a question about her day in attempt to cease her repetitive question "How was your snack?".

You know the scene by now but let's review it one more time.

Kobe gets in the van.

Cayman asks, "Kobe, how was your snack?"

"It was good, Cayman."  It amazes me how sweetly Kobe answers her in the beginning despite the high predictability that this question will be heard again and again, as it always is. 

And here it comes, "How was your snack, Buddy?"

I enter with my brilliant plan to point Kobe as leader to their conversation.  "Kobe, ask Cayman what she did while you were at school."

"Cayman, what did -"

"HOW WAS YOUR SNACK, GUYS?" Cayman shouts.  Guys??  We've got imaginary people appearing now.

The too frustrated Kobe shouts, "NOT RIGHT NOW CAYMAN BECAUSE I HAVE TO ASK YOU -!!"


Kobe becomes completely still.

He doesn't say a word.

Not a sound.

Just a long pause and this look in my direction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cayman's Questions

Every time we pick Kobe up from preschool he no more has one foot in the van and Cayman is already asking, "How was your snack?"

"Good." he tells her.

"Kobe, how was your snack?" Cayman asks again.

"I said good! Cayman." Kobe answers sharply.

"How was your snack, Buddy?" she asks again. 

"Cayman!  I said good!!" tension growing.

Every. Time.  No joke, this is how it goes.

I often step in here and prompt Cayman to ask a new question.  When she can't think of something else I provide it for her, "Let's ask Kobe what toys he played with today." "What friends played with him?" or "What was the snack?"

Yesterday I decided to not intervene and see what would happen, hoping Cayman would think all on her own to ask a different question.

The redundant scene began.
Kobe got in the van.

Cayman asks, "How was your snack?".

Kobe answers, "Good."

Cayman asks again.

Kobe answers, frustration growing.

We're on the road now and Cayman asks again. "How was your snack, Kobe?"

"CAYMAN! I DON'T WANT YOU TO ASK ME THAT ANYMORE!!" Kobe shouts back at her aggravated.

"KOBE, HOW WAS YOUR SNACK??" Cayman yells.





What was I doing while driving this crazy mobile? 


I lost my sanity a long time ago. 

Cayman's repetitive question asking is a behavior that gets on my nerves too but I can accept it.

Remembering the days when Cayman use to not talk.  That seems so long ago.  She talks a lot now.  However, for a kid that has a lot of words she doesn't really make a lot of sense in conversation.  Often she is redundant in her speech, asking the same questions again and again.  Or asking a question that its answer is so obviously apparent by simple observation she even knows it.  She wants to interact so badly, which is such a beautiful desire, but she doesn't know how to so she falls back on what she knows will get a reaction - her sure-knowing questions she understands.

Today I have a new idea I want to try.  Instead of pulling the instructional redirect in Cayman's direction like I have, to tip it toward Kobe to ask Cayman a question about her afternoon while he was at school.  She is starting to get better at providing answers adequately to simple questions about her day so it may be a challenge she's up for. 

Let's see how the little conversationalists do today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Photo Booth

For Christmas Aunt Sam got the kids a creative gift - a photo booth prop kit.

It required some crafting - punching out, gluing, and taping - to put the pieces together.  Nothing too difficult. 

Who am I kidding? Doing nearly anything with a strongly independent almost 2 year old, a bossy 6 year old, and impatient 4 year old is patient trying.

I love doing crafty projects with the kids.

Really I do. (<----Needed to be said for self reassurance purposes).

Mostly because I am that crafty type personality. Also because the kids really enjoy those type of activities too.  But quite honestly I have to push past the dreaded feeling every time and gear myself up for it, setting the dial to extreme patience, low expectations, and intense managing skill readiness to redirect, redirect, redirect, redirect, redirect, redirect without losing my freaking mind!!!  That being said I go through phases where I avoid this torture until I am reminded how good it for them (and me).

And thus we have fun!!  A lot of fun!  In particular, this one may have been my most favorite project the kids and I have done!  I think they would agree especially when they learned the crafting would be followed up with pictures.

"The big camera or your phone, mommy?" Cayman asked.

When I told her the big camera, she bounced up and down cheering, "yay!!".  Kobe and Cassady joined in too.

These kids get their camera enthusiasm from me but their zaniness certainly comes from their daddy.

I have no words but just an "Oh. My."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cayman's First Lost Tooth

Cayman lost her first tooth today!!

I noticed the dark gap between the row of pearlies this morning as I helped her get dressed for school.  I gasped in excitement, "Cayman! You lost your tooth!!"  Her tongue immediately explored the vacant area upon mention of it but she wasn't happy.

No, she was upset and turned away with a grumpy whine.

When something is different and she doesn't understand it triggers her anxiety.  I quickly said, "Cayman, I am so proud of you!!  You lost a tooth!" and stretched my arms out inviting her to receive my happy hug.

She smiled!  :)

Then ran into my arms giving me a happy squeeze.

The lost tooth was lost.  I secretly felt sad. 

Her first lost tooth. 

My first lost tooth as a mother. 

And I didn't know where it was.

After I got her on the bus and off to school I searched more deeply and to my excitement found that lost tooth on the bathroom floor where she had brushed her teeth this morning!  I couldn't believe it!  I thought for sure she had swallowed it and it was long gone.

It is so tiny!  And so cute!

I couldn't wait to show Cayman her tooth when she got home from school and see what she thought of it.


to tell Daddy about the exciting news!!

I announced, "I found the tooth!!"   

Cayman looked intensely at the miniature rectangular shape in my open hand.  She asked, "That's mine?" 

"Yep, it is!" 

I thought maybe she was beginning to feel excited about her lost tooth.

When I asked her to hold it so I could take a picture of her with it, she freaked out again!  She was not going to touch that thing.

A friend tagged me on facebook this morning to this Calvin & Hobbes comic and it was appropriately funny today. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cheerio Towers

The final snowfall totaled 12 inches that we received yesterday.  The county went to a level 3 snow emergency and school was closed today. 

Pinterest gave me a good idea, an activity for the kids to do that wasn't too messy and suitable for their range in ages. 

Cheerio towers. 
Place a skewer, (or a raw spaghetti noodle), in a ball of playdoh.  Thread cheerios onto the stick.

That's it.

So simple.

The kids loved it! 

I haven't gotten the big camera out much, only for special occasions.  I use my iphone camera mostly.  It's fast, convenient, and I can silence the shutter to capture the kids naturally with no break in their attention.  But today I got the DSLR camera out, like old times, because I've been missing that.

I snapped pictures, changed settings, felt happy to find a piece of myself again.  Their reactions to the camera cracked me up.  Every time the shutter snapped they pointed and asked me, "What are you doing, Mommy??" like I was invading them.  It was some sort of a HUGE DEAL that I had this object in my hands pointed at them.  Goodness, so much has changed.

Kobe began to cover up his face telling me he couldn't make his cheerio tower because I was bothering him.  (lol)

Oh kid, you have no idea just how big my love is for taking pictures and it was renewed today.  Brace yourself.