Bjorn’s Birth

I apologize for the blog silence the last few weeks.  Those who follow me on social media have seen my news, but for the readers here who aren’t on social media:

I’d love to introduce you to Bjorn Jorolf.  

He was born 1:28pm on July 13, weighing in at 7 lbs, 14 oz, and 21 inches long.  He’s my biggest baby by a long ways.  (Ingrid was my next biggest at 7 lbs 3 oz.)  He was born at home under the care of a midwife as we had planned.  His first name means “bear” and it suits him very well.  He’s totally our little bear.  His middle name is his great-grandfather’s name on Knut’s dad’s side.  Great-grandpa Jorolf, or “Oldefar” as the kids call him, just turned 100 earlier this year.  (Jorolf said that’s what they would call the oldest grandfather in Norway.)

There’s something therapeutic about writing out a birth story, and there’s something special about reading them.  I love reading birth stories.  If you are like me, please enjoy.  If you get queasy by these stories, you can just enjoy the beautiful baby-chub, and skip the part I wrote after the pictures.

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(Photo taken of me by my midwife “B” before she left at the end of the day.)

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Like my last few births, I was having hard contractions on and off for 2-3 weeks pretty consistently.  Unlike my other pregnancies, I was having trouble walking near the end.  I was just so huge, and the way he was sitting made it difficult to lift my left leg, so I just swung it around as I walked like a pirate.  To say that I waddled would be an understatement.  I looked absolutely ridiculous moving around.  The pressure of his head was constant and made me on the brink of tears nearly constantly it was so painful.

So I was very ready to be done.  I was battling a lot of fears this time around.  I think that was because my previous births were all pre-car accident.  Since then, I’ve dealt with anxiety, panic, etc.  Keeping my head rational and myself calm was my biggest concern.

For those wondering why we picked a home birth again, you can read a previous post I wrote for when Ingrid was born on why that is a good fit for our family, and my particular set of risk factors in birth.

I almost called the midwife the night before he was born, as contractions were holding at a steady every 10 minutes, and my labors tend to quickly go crazy from that point.  I told myself “I’ll call her and have her come after one more contraction.”  The next contraction didn’t come until over an hour later.  Then they pretty much stopped altogether, and I went to bed, and slept soundly for the most part that night.

I woke up on the 13th, about 5am to some contractions.  They weren’t awful, but they were different.  I could tell the deepness to them meant something.  Also, I was leaking fluid during each contraction, and though that hadn’t happened to me before in labor, I knew that meant something important too.

I called my midwife, “B” around 7, and woke up Knut around the same time too to tell him that I had told them to come.  He didn’t exactly jump up in panic.  He just turned off his alarm and said, “sweet, that means I don’t have to get up yet.”  Yeah, this wasn’t this daddy’s first time around the block.

My midwife usually comes with an assistant, who didn’t make it to my last birth until afterwards because I went so fast.  This time  the same assistant has been handling a lot of this pregnancy, as she has been working towards a midwife status for awhile.  She has finished all of her classes, and spent some time doing some on-hand training at a birthing center, and just has her final certification exam and has to work under a midwife for awhile left.  So she’s been logging births as much as she can, and since I just adore her as well, (we really clicked) I had full confidence having her (“C”) work as the student-midwife for my birth, under the guidance of “B.”

To me, I felt it was the best of both worlds.  I had midwife “B” who has been practicing as a midwife for about 30 years, and has a ton of experience, and midwife “C” who has all the newest information and fresh knowledge and excitement to bring to the table.  So for this birth, it felt more like I had a midwife team.  This ended up being so perfect.

Knut called his parents to let them know that they should pick up the kids around 8.  Silje had been to a sleepover 2 nights earlier at a cousin’s, and had only 3 hours of sleep there, and then the night before, Knut took all the kids to a softball game and kept them out way past their bedtime, so we were hoping they would all sleep in.  However, now we had to get them out the door around 8.  We were going to just let Silje sleep and be at home during the birth, or having Grandpa pick her up later, but the little kids were so excited that today was baby-day that they made sure everyone was awake in the house to know this exciting news.

B and C arrived before the kids had left.  They know B and C from our prenatal appointments, so they were so excited to see each other.  Knut worked to get the kids out the door, and I was dealing with the deep contractions, though still very random.  They were coming in clusters.  I’d have a cluster of 3 in 15 minutes, and then I’d having nothing for about 15 minutes.  I couldn’t get any rhythm to them, but with the leaky fluid and just the different feel to them, I knew I had made the right choice to call them over.

For Ingrid’s birth, B was at our house about 10 minutes before Ingrid was born.  This was so different.  B and C transformed our bedroom with some medical equipment.  They plastic sheeted the whole floor by our bed.  They got the bed set with pads, and set out their trays of sterile tools, and set some towels over a heating pad to make a warming bed if necessary.

Once the kids were gone, and the midwives were set up, they checked me, and happily, the baby was no longer sitting posterior (“sunny side up” is another expression for that position) as he was at my last appointment.  All my crawling around on all 4s, and doing some spinning babies positions for the last week and a half worked!  This made me very happy.  Knut was busy cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast, and I started feeling nervous.  I felt like something was wrong that the contractions weren’t regular, with people waiting on me now.  I was feeling shy, like a watched kettle.  So I just walked around my house alone for awhile, while the midwives stayed out of my way.  God brought to mind Psalm 23 as I walked around, looking out my windows, and out at the sheep’s pasture.  It was like God was assuring me through this passage that he was going to care for me, and I could let my fear go.  It was very powerful.

The midwife team blended in as the perfect wallflowers and just let Knut and I do our thing.  They came and checked on the baby’s heart rate every 30 minutes or so.  Then they left me alone again.  Knut was busy working on chores for awhile, and I knew he just had to have a job or he’d drive me crazy, so I just let him keep cleaning.

When things started to stall more, B showed me this sash trick called the rebozo belly lifting technique.  She wrapped a shawl around my waist, and pulled back and up a bit as she stood behind me.  The idea is to tip the baby a bit so his head can be positioned better.  All I know is it felt really good when she was supporting my huge belly with a sash like that, and the contractions very soon got more serious.

C also works as a doula, and she was full of ideas for pain relief that I’ve always gone too fast to use in the past.  When I started humming through contractions as they got harder, she would use her hands to put counter pressure on my hips.  That really helped.  I filled the tub in our bathroom, where Ingrid was born, and just wanted to see if I could lesson the pain of the contractions in there.  I spent some time in the bathroom tub, and Knut came up and brought up a speaker, and put on the Fernando Ortega station from Pandora, and the mood got so calm and peaceful.  I asked him to read some verses from the cards I wrote out, and he so he did.  I think he liked knowing what to do, and this was an easy job.  Although I liked the water, it’s such a small tub, that I couldn’t find a comfortable position like last time.  After 2-3 contractions, I got out again.

What I loved about this birth is that it was so much slower than my last few.  I only had to deal with the contractions alone if I wanted to, but if I wanted my back rubbed, or counter pressure, or a hot compress, or water or food, someone was on hand to help me.  I barely had to say a word.  No one was running around getting things ready.  So this stage of the labor had pain management so much more under control as I could rest better in-between and I was surrounded by people who knew how to lessen the pain in very real ways through touch and full of ideas to make things easier on me.

The contractions got much harder, and much longer, but they were so far apart that in-between them, I almost wondered if I made a mistake calling the midwives.  But then a few minutes later a terrible one would come again, and I knew everything was ok.  I was starting to feel shy again about all eyes one me, (I’m not used to births lasting longer than 3 hours or so…) so the midwives went downstairs, and I laid down on my side on the bed to try to rest better between contractions, and Knut stayed in the corner of the room reading some Tolkien he’s been working through, and coming over only when a contractions started so he could hold my hand and stroke my hair.

Things really picked up then.  I headed back to the bathtub, still unsure where I was going to birth this baby in the final stretch.  I started entering transition there, as the contractions started coming right on top of each other.  I started feeling nauseous and shaky.  B came up and asked if I wanted to birth him in the bathtub like Ingrid, and if so she would move some equipment to the bathroom.  I told her I still didn’t know.  I said I just couldn’t get comfortable in there, but I was fine for now.  She said they should probably move me to the bedroom, then sooner rather than later.  She reads me and my sounds so well.

It took the team of them to help me out, wipe me down, and help me walk to the bedroom.  At that point in labor, there’s not much you can do voluntarily! Once in the bedroom, I had Knut sit on the ground, leaning against the bed, and I leaned my head on him while on my hands and knees, which was the most comfortable and wonderful thing at that point.  That man is my rock.  That worked out really well for awhile, except I couldn’t relax very well during the quick breathers I got in-between the now-rapid contractions.  I said so out loud, and either B or C brought over my yoga ball and suggested I lean on the ball for contractions instead of Knut.  That worked much better, and I squeezed Knut’s hand like crazy as labor got to that horrible phase of the baby beginning to crown.  (He said I only hurt him a little.)

I hate that phase of labor.  Really, really hate.

I should stop and add here that I have really been fighting God about this last phase for the last few months.  I have doused it in prayer, and have memorized verses to fight the fear, and it really, honestly helped.  It was still awful, but I made it.  With each new contraction, I kept praying silently “Jesus carry me through this one.  Just carry me because I can’t do it.”  When I kept my focus off the contraction, and fixed on Jesus and what he was doing through me, I didn’t lose my head (as much).

Then my water broke.  More like burst.  It was a ton of amniotic fluid, much more than usual.  And there was meconium in it, which was not a good sign.  C had been checking the baby’s heartbeat quite often now, keeping on top of it.  It was always good, but when the water broke, we saw the brownish green fluid at our feet, and the head started crowing, his heart rate plummeted down to about half speed.

It was a scary few moments.  From my perspective, I was panicking inwardly toward God.  “This is where my life falls apart!  This is exactly what I was afraid of!  This is horrible!  This is awful!  We have to get him out now!!!”  Above my panic, it was almost as if God were talking above me straight to my soul: “I am still here!  I haven’t left, and I’M STILL CARRYING YOU!”

As that was happening, B and C wanted me to change positions.  Knut helped me stand up and lean on the bed.  B put an oxygen mask on me, and C kept the doppler on the baby’s heart rate, which immediately recovered when I had simply stood up.  The oxygen blew cold in my face and was refreshing.  I had felt like I was gasping for air as before then, and the cold air reminded me that yes, my lungs actually were still working.

During those few panic moments, Knut said that he started to freak out, but as he looked at B and C quickly move to action, and with very capable hands just doing what needed to be done, he felt reassured just from their faces: we have the exact right team for the birth.

I just say this because I think a lot of people assume that home births and midwives are for the “perfect” or “ideal” birth, and anything that could possibly be off just can’t be handled by a midwife.  Actually, they are trained to handle safely an enormous amount of scenarios.  Often at our prenatal appointments, we’ll ask them how they will handle a situation that has been on our mind, or fears that we may have.  B would always walk us through various scenarios, so we always knew what to expect, and can make some educated decisions based on our personal risk factors.  Always ask lots of questions, for whoever you have attend your birth!  That’s my biggest piece of advice.  It’s good to know how they react to various things so you can be mentally prepared for whichever way your birth will go.

The horrible pushing phase lasted about 9 minutes, I’m told.  His head came out, and everyone told me to stop and blow with my breath like I was blowing out candles.  Honestly, it took every nerve in my brain and body to accomplish that blowing.  I felt them messing with his head a bit when it was out, and I was immediately worried we were dealing with shoulder dystocia.  I asked them, and they said, nope.  He was rotating just fine, and the shoulders were fine.  It took another minute of blowing, and I was able to then push him out when the next contraction came.

When he came out, (B’s log has this at 1:28pm) he didn’t go straight to my chest as Ingrid did, mostly because I was standing, the midwives had him behind me, and we were all in a huge puddle of amniotic fluid on the plastic sheets on the ground.  It was all very messy, actually.  Towels appeared everywhere.  C kept telling us to talk to him.  It took him a few seconds, and then he cried.  The placenta detached almost immediately, and I was surprised that I had to deal with that so quickly.  They tried to hand Bjorn to me, but Knut had to help me, as I was still shaking and feeling weak.  We just stood there in the mess holding this wet, crying baby, encased in messy blankets and I was just so relieved it was over.

I delivered the placenta, and things calmed down very quickly.  B and C started by cleaning me off, and gently getting me into the prepared bed.  Bjorn was put on my belly with some clean blankets now as they wiped down my legs with some warm cloths.  That felt so good.  Knut came around to the other side of the bed and just snuggled with Bjorn and me as B and C did a few basic vital checks on Bjorn, especially with the meconium in the fluid issue, and when they determined that his lungs were clear and he was fine, they went to work cleaning up the room.  They had some big black trash bags and just started clearing everything out.  They worked so quietly and efficiently, and within a few minutes, not only was the mess out of site, but most of their bags and equipment was brought out to their car and our bedroom looked like a normal bedroom again.  It was spotless.

It was after lunch by then.  They asked if I wanted to eat something, and as Knut started naming things off we had in the fridge for me, I decided I just wanted a bowl of grapes.  Knut wanted some of the chicken pasta salad, so B and C went down stairs, brought us up some lunch, and said they were going to give us some alone family time for about an hour, and if we needed anything they would just be downstairs.  In the meantime, I should try to get Bjorn to eat before they did the newborn check when they got back.

So Knut and I just soaked in how gorgeous Bjorn was, and slowly started letting family members know.  We called the kids over at the grandparents first, of course.

When they got back upstairs, Bjorn had eaten and was very happy.  It was a perfect time for him to get all checked out.  After he was all done and showing everything was normal, they checked me over and found I had no rips or tears.  I was still having trouble lifting my legs after they had been so sore weeks before the birth.  That was just going to have to take some time to get back to normal.

After that, they wanted to know if I wanted to see the placenta.  I’m always fascinated by that, so I said that I’d love to.  They showed us the cord, which was about 3 feet long, compared to the “normal” of 2 feet.  They said that I had a huge amount of amniotic fluid too, which is probably why I was just so huge in the last weeks.  They said that sometimes when the cord is extra long like that, the body will protect the baby from that causing problems by giving it a bigger amniotic fluid buffer.

The cord was wrapped around his neck 4 times when his head came out!  That’s why they were fussing a bit when the head came out.  The cord wasn’t tight, and they were working it a bit around his shoulders as he descended.  They said having it around the neck 2-3 times is common, but 4 times is very rare.  I asked B about it when she came the next day, if she was worried when his heart rate dropped like that.  She said it’s common enough, and doing a quick position change always does the trick.  Besides, she said, she knew I would get that baby out in a blink if she told me to, if it was a real emergency.  That was very true when I thought about it like that.  It’s not like he was stuck.  With the births of Solveig, Ingrid and Bjorn, I never really pushed.  I just let go of the urge to avoid pain.  Even in Bjorn’s birth, they kept telling me to blow to slow down my pushing.  Mentally for me, it’s more of a letting go feeling than an pushing feeling.  They’re always trying to slow that down, though, so I don’t tear too badly.

Once all the exams were done, there was a list of things that I had to do (go to the bathroom, eat food, etc.) and then they left us some detailed instructions, some various herbs in case something on the list happened, and they left, saying they’d be back the next day to check on us.

Then we had the grandparents bring the kids over for about 30 minutes, after which I was exhausted, even though they were all so good.   I was just tired.  They left, and the house got so very quiet.  It was probably the quietest it has been since Ingrid after was born 3 1/2 years ago.

Knut then grilled me up a bacon-wrapped sirloin that we had bought and saved for this occasion, with some yummy collard greens cooked in chicken broth, with bits of bacon.  Oh, it was yummy.  We snuggled in with Bjorn and watched a movie (Fiddler on the Roof) from the laptop at the end of our bed.

All in a day’s work.  Whew.  It was one of the best birth experiences I’ve ever had, but still…in the end…I’m so glad it’s over!  Snuggling the baby on the outside is so much more fun.

Stubborn Walk and Our Puppy

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My DSLR has been needing some maintenance.  I should send it into a professional to get properly cleaned.  I kept telling myself that I couldn’t be away from it for 6-12 weeks as they said it would be.  So it’s been sitting there, waiting for me to do the cleaning like I did once before.  It’s such delicate work, that I was waiting for a time when I could concentrate, which doesn’t really exist in this home.  It’s been sitting there for probably over a month, and finally I realized that I’m going to want it ready to go when this baby comes, and to just suck it up and fix it.

I forgot how much I love my camera compared to my phone camera.  I did my best, and it’s working much better, but I can tell there’s still a button that sticks a bit, and I might have to bite the bullet and get it tuned up.  But not now.  I need it for the baby.

After it was fixed, the sun was going down outside, and I couldn’t help myself but to take a walk.  I haven’t even wanted to walk out to the mailbox since last Wednesday, it hurts so much to walk.  This baby sits so low.  But I stubbornly walked a little around the yard with the dogs.  It was just so pretty.

I was sick of sitting with my feet up.  My mental health required it.  It’s one of the most gorgeous times of the year in our yard, and I just couldn’t stand looking through the porch window anymore.

The meat chicks got out to pasture today.  Our old dog, Lena, who is a black lab/German Shepherd, and about 7 years old has been playing outside with our new “little” pup, Nanny, who is a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd mix.  She’s about 7 months old, and already a bit bigger than Lena.  She still has some growing to do.  She lives outside with the sheep, and we got her for the purpose of keeping predators out of our yard, which both of the breeds in her do well.  They guard livestock, and are extremely serious workers.  They are nocturnal for the most part, hunting down predators at night, and snuggling all day.  Our last livestock guardian was 2 years old when we got her, as she was being re-homed by a family who just couldn’t meet the needs that her breed required.

A puppy is so different.  Soooooo different.

Lena tries her hardest to keep on top of Nanny.  They wrestle and play-fight.  Lena comes in at night just wiped out, often too tired to climb up the stairs to her bed in our room.  She naps whenever she’s inside and away from Nanny.  She’s lost most of her fat since Nanny came to the farm. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Lena so fit.   She no longer lays around depressed like she did for months after our last livestock guardian, Missy died.  She snores from exhaustion, and is cautious of her hips when she does stairs.  Nanny is an energetic pup.

She’s getting into trouble, like most puppies do.  We finally got her to stop jumping on people.  She knows how to sit, and she knows how to come, at least as well as livestock guardians ever learn how to “come.”  (They consider it more of a suggestion.)  She’s killed 2 chickens.  I’ve heard from other breed-owners that it can take up to 2 years to get them to understand not to chase chickens.  She killed 2 kittens, but we believe that was an accident.  The 2 mama cats kept letting their kittens wander in the barn, and it stressed Nanny out.  She kept picking them up in the back of the neck, and bringing them back to each perspective nest.  She never felt it was ok for them to be away from their nest.  We think that she was too clumsy with 2 of them.

Then the other day, I was pulling out of the driveway and I saw Nanny picking up an animal from the rose garden, and heading back to the barn with it.  I stopped and called her over, and sure enough, there was a black kitten that she was holding from the back of the neck, ever so gently with her teeth.  It was so cute I nearly pulled my phone out, but the kitten was so freaked out that I just reached to rescue him from Nanny’s mouth.  Other than being a bit wit from her slobber, the kitten was fine.  I walked him back down to the barn, and lay him with his mama, which seemed to satisfy Nanny.

That’s not what’s going on with the chickens, though.  She eats those.  Knut ran out to chase her away from eating a chicken last night, and it turns out she was just eating a squirrel.  I have no idea how she caught a squirrel.  She’s ridiculously fast.

She’s a snuggle-bug with humans, and the walk was much more work than I meant it to be because I kept telling her to stop pushing and leaning against me for some snuggles when I was trying to take a picture.  Finally, Lena rescued me and enticed Nanny to a wrestling match, and then they went running all over the yard.

The kids are learning that they actually need to pick up their toys outside now too.

Or they’re destroyed. It’s not a bad lesson to learn.

Nanny has a good heart.  I can already tell she’s smart and eager to learn.  I can tell she has some great instincts.  But the fact that she’s an immature puppy is written all over her too.  Fortunately, they grow out of that.

Unloading

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I’m sorry I haven’t blogged much lately, friends.  I have worried that if I start, I’ll just unload everything.  Then I realized this afternoon, that you guys are my friends.  I can unload.  You can take it.  I can come out of my end-of-pregnancy hermit state for a moment.

Friends, this baby is sitting so low.  So uncomfortably low.  It hurts to walk, stand, and for some reason it hurts whenever I move my left leg.  There’s a nerve pinched or something.  My muscles are stretched to the maximum.  Most of my maternity clothes don’t fit anymore.

Oh, but God has given me so much grace.  I can’t skip saying that.  He’s helped me not fall to pieces about 128,431 times in the last few days.  I have no idea how I’m still here, other than his mercies.

David was at Bible camp last week.  He had a blast, and has been great since he’s come home, minus the last day or so.  Silje and Elias have their turn at Bible camp this week, though Elias is already home, and Silje doesn’t come home until Friday, because she’s in the older group.  She turns 12 this week, and I won’t be there for it.  I’m honestly really sad about that, but it’s what she wanted to do for her birthday…be at camp, and so I’m dealing with it.

David was amazingly wonderful on Monday, as he made breakfast for the little girls and me, served on china plates.  He even made some desserts in the afternoon, and supper that evening.  He was amazing.  He does so good when he is working or serving.  But he did too much, and it has showed, as he’s been struggling in days that followed.

Then he had so much fun hanging out with his grandpa on Tuesday morning as I brought the little girls to a local preschool VBS that we sometimes do.  I got to sit in a coffee shop and eat chocolate cake with some ladies from church during that time.  That was a gift.  But like always, after he works really hard one day, doing above and beyond, he has days that follow where he crashes.  It’s just not sustainable.

So then we got home at lunchtime on Tuesday, and everything started falling apart.  I was physically done for the day, just getting in and out of the van, and walking through parking lots.  My pain level was the highest I like it to be.  So I was done.  And David was a grump.  He had so much fun that morning that he wanted the rest of the day to be just as fun, and started talking back and being rude when I asked him to do the littlest things.  Elias came home from camp and was exhausted.  I asked David to do his regular afternoon chore of the lunches dishes, and he fell to the ground and cried.  And I just let him.  Because I can’t manage everyone’s emotions, and at some point, they have to manage their own.  Fine.  Don’t do the dishes.  Be sad.  I’m going to sit down and put my feet up.  If you want to talk, I’ll be right over there.  I told him that I will love him no matter if he does the dishes or not, but I couldn’t protect him from the consequences of not doing his work.

That evening we went to Tae Kwon Do.  The kids were much better after that diversion, and refocused, which is the awesome thing about that class.  We actually had a really fun discussion on the way home from town in the van.  I could tell they were doing better.

We got home at 6:30.  Knut texted me that he would be in the field until dark…which around here this time of year is about 10pm or so.  We had no clean dishes to eat on, because David didn’t do them.  There wasn’t even counter space for me to make supper.  So David saw the problem, and started doing the dishes, apologizing profusely that he is making supper late because of his bad choice.

7:30 (because David was mad at himself, and when he’s mad at himself he moves at 1/10th a normal person’s speed) we had some clean dishes, I had some counter space, and I started making supper.  It was hard because I was hurting, Elias finally wanted to talk about camp, David wanted to talk about his feelings about his choices, and the little girls wanted to hang on my legs that hurt.  So I kept trying to get them away, but they wouldn’t stay away and did the revolving door bit, where as soon as I sent one kid out of the kitchen, another one came in.  So what should have taken 20 minutes to make took me about 40.  If I had yelled, and put the fear of God in all of them, I might have gotten it on the table in 20 minutes.  But I knew if I lost it, it was all over.  The night would end in tears and I would hurt even more from my muscles tensing up, my heart pounding, and my throat raw.  God gave me an extra heaping dose of grace and we just handed it out to everyone and kept putting one foot in front of the other.  We lit some candles for the table.  We put on some soothing music to calm the hyper little girls who should have been in bed.

Then I ask the boys to set the table for me.  David brought out our big Britta water filter container from the fridge, and filled everyone’s glasses.  But he forgot to put it away.  Right when we were sitting down, Elias picked up the very full square pitcher with about I don’t know, 2 or 3 gallons of water in it to move it back to the fridge so he could get to his plate.  It was too heavy for him, and he dropped it.  The plastic cracked open and water went gushing all over the kitchen floor, and all the kids start screaming as if it’s lava destroying our house or something.

I stayed cool.  I grabbed a bunch of towels.  We got it all sopped up.  We sat and ate.  Elias felt terrible, and I kept telling him it was an accident.  David was crying that he was the one who was supposed to put it back, and I just keep repeating it was just an accident.  I’m not mad.  Let’s just eat.  They’re all trying to help.  Let’s just eat.  It’s all over with.  Let’s just drop it.

So around 9pm, we start eating supper.  (The little girls normally go to bed around 8.)  By 9:30 the little girls are in bed, and at 10pm, the boys are done feeding the animals, and I start working on trying to fix the kids’ school computer that Knut accidentally messed up when we were trying to add all of his files to it, since his computer recently died.  I’m no computer genius, but I fixed it.  That was the high of the day.

I woke up this morning to a charlie horse racing up my right leg.  I always get them bad in pregnancy, and someone told me that magnesium helps.  So I’ve either taken an epsom salt bath, or rubbed magnesium lotion on my legs, and it’s really helped.  Last night I couldn’t reach my legs to rub any lotion, so I took a bath just to soak my screaming joints, but I was so tired I forgot to put the epsom salts in.  I just miss one night, and I woke up in horrible pain.  I started kicking to make it stop and Knut woke from a dead sleep saying “what’d I do?  What’s wrong?”  He groggily massaged the muscle spasm for me as I was whimpering.  Then we tried to go back to sleep.

I dropped the little girls off at VBS this morning again.  They were so excited, though very tired.  A bunch of moms were going to meet at a park.  I told the boys there was a softball field and a playground there.  They packed up their softball gear “just in case” they could play.  We got there.  I said hi to my friends, and David noticed that there was a little league game going on at the diamond, so he couldn’t play there, and was left with the big open field or the huge playground.

He didn’t want to play catch with his brother in the field.  He didn’t want to play on the playground.  His life was apparently over.  So we stayed for about 45 minutes, and David interrupted no less than 10 times, inappropriately, when I was mid sentence, and with much rudeness.  His life was over, and he wanted me to know this apparently every 2-3 minutes.  I corrected him.  I gave out consequences.  I gave him ideas.  I kept my own attitude in check.  But after 45 minutes, I was done with that, and I loaded the boys up and we went to the store to buy a new water filter.

We had lots of extra time, so I let the boys look in the toy aisle.  David kept asking me to give him a job so he could earn some money and buy some more toys.  I told him he has to do a good job with the chores he already has, consistently, before he can get to the next level of getting a paid job.  (Every time we pay him for a job, he gets half done and quits.  It has messed up a lot, and it’s something we’re working on.)

We got what we came to get, went to check out, and David asked if I would buy him a little dollar toy.  I told him that I wanted to.  I told him that I had planned to.  I told him that I had big plans for that morning, to have fun with them, and I wanted to treat them.  But I don’t reward bad behavior.  Ever.  I reward good behavior.  It is not my job to make his life fun and wonderful at all times.  My job is not the fun fairy.  My job is to train him.  And rewarding someone for not listening and constant interruption is bad training.

We had a long talk about how when we feel weak and stuck, we need to pray to God for strength.  I told him he is in the season of training, and God isn’t there to make our life easy, and perfect.  He’s there handing us power and strength.  We talked again about the literary heroes he loves so much, and how heroes are made by overcoming, not by having things handed to them on a silver spoon.  We talked about how jobs are for people who can go into a broken situation and fix it, a messy situation and clean it.  Paying jobs aren’t for people who demand that everything is perfect before they lift a finger.  I don’t like it when my kids demand a paying job.  You earn a paying job.  You earn it with your hard work, reputation, and willingness to be trained.

Then we picked up the little girls.  They had so much fun.  But Ingrid was so tired.  I got them in the van, and overtired Ingrid screamed the whole way home from town, which set off David’s SPD, and he was holding his ears and sitting on the fetal position by the time we got home.

He was trying.  I was trying.  We were all trying.  We managed to get some lunch, and get everyone to their sanctuary spaces.

And now it’s quiet time.  My feet are up, and I’m going to do some seated work like reading, homeschool prep for next year, some behind the scenes blog work, and probably goofing off on Facebook.  That’s what the rest of my day looks like.  Knut is taking David to the library tonight where I signed them up for a free kids’ class on how to use the 3D printer they now have available for check out.  They are both looking forward to that.  So I should have some plan of what to do with the 3 little kids.  We’ll probably read books on the couch all evening.  I’ll make some tea for that.

But now it is quiet.  Ingrid is asleep on my bed.  Everyone is resting.  I intend to do nothing.  I have no idea what we are eating for supper.  Probably popcorn.  We will see how that works.  It just hurts and I’m done for the day.

I hope you guys don’t mind my sporadic writing until the baby comes.  I’m at the point of the pregnancy where I can only do what I can do, and I refuse to feel bad about the rest.  It’s a motto that has been keeping me sane.  I will crawl back into my hermit hole now, and just rest.  God is still good.  All the time.

My Planting Season

After wrestling our kids in church yesterday, I turned around to see one of my friends.  As we both unleashed our kids to go into the fellowship hall and get some treats, we looked at each other and gave a collective sigh.

Sunday mornings are hard.

Our day started out so great.  I was able to get some Bible reading in before the rest of the family was up.  I was able to at least work through my prayers for my family.  I lingered on my prayer notes for David.  Not that David is worse than the rest of my kids, but Sundays are harder days for him.  We had talked the night before and he wanted to do so good today.  I wanted this victory for him.  I keep forgetting that God can use failures just as easily (if not more) as victories to teach us things.

I’m not sure what exactly made it unravel.  There was a miscommunication with his breakfast.  It was no one’s fault, and a complete mistake (long story), but he ended up having 2 heaping bowls of cereal he thought he could have, but actually had one of his highest allergens in it: soy.  About 20-30 minutes later, he was on the floor, in the fetal position, overwhelmed by life, overwhelmed by sounds, words, people, mad at the world… once again.  Parents with kids with SPD know there’s a difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, and this was a meltdown.  Was it the cereal?  His reactions are neurological/nervous system based.  I don’t know.  Maybe?  Sigh.  Part of me thinks that’s just him on Sundays.  That’s not the point.  In fact, I’m way off on a rabbit trail.

Sometimes my prayers effect my kids.  But more often than not, they effect me.  It’s like God takes a hold of my brain, and puts a hedge around it.  It’s like I hear his truths playing like a broken record in my heart.  When one of my kids starts falling apart, and I want to give into anxiety, discouragement, and/or embarrassment, he gives me clarity.

There were 3 things that were playing like a broken record for me yesterday morning after my prayer time and throughout the morning:

1) This is not the time for harvest.  This is the time for planting.  I am in the planting season with my kids.  I’m planting truth.  I’m planting love.  I’m planting wisdom.  I’m planting skills.  I’m planting discipline.  If I have learned anything from living on the farm, it’s how opposite the farming world is from the instant-gratification life I knew in the city.  Food just doesn’t appear out here.  We don’t just order chicken nuggets.  We know something had to die, bleed out, get cleaned, chopped up, fried, and served.  We see the cost, the time of growing something from an egg, from a seed, from the newborn stage.  There is a time to plant.  There is a time to nurture, there is a time to water.  There is a time to wait.  There is a time to harvest.  There is an order to it.

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Farmers are some of the most patient people I know, because they literally watch their grass grow.  They don’t wave around their hands and moan that they have no harvest 5 minutes, 5 days, or even 5 weeks after they planted.  They know there’s a time for planting.  This does not surprise them every year.

Farmers also know that they’re only capable of modifying the environment, and even then, only to an extent.  They can manage the health of the soil, the planting, and the harvesting.  They can manage the weeds (to an extent) and depending on whether or not their crop is rain dependent, or other means of irrigation, they control the water.

But no farmer can make a seed grow.  That’s entirely out of their hands.  They can only control parts of the environment up to their capability.

There is nothing instant about growing things.

Dear friends, I’m simply in a season of planting.  When I remember that, I feel so much less of a failure.  We should not let the technology culture of instant-results effect how we see ourselves as parents.  We should not plant a seed in our child, and if it doesn’t take root immediately we say to ourselves “What am I doing wrong?”  Nothing.  We are planting…not harvesting yet.  Patience.  This is part of the process.

2) The Holy Spirit has access to my children’s brains.  This is something that I’ve heard Sally Clarkson say over and over again, and most recently again in a recent podcast of hers this last week.  She’s a great mentor mom who has dealt with out-of-the-box kids.  This truth is one that has been replaying over and over in my mind during these stressful times.  God has access to my child’s brain, my child’s heart, in a way that I don’t have.  As all of my children have been getting older, I feel a distinct shift in my role.  I’m not sure if it’s my parenting style changing, my kids getting older, or just my growing awareness that I am not enough for my kids, nor was I designed to be.

My kids were designed to crave God, need God, and long for God.  More often lately, when I feel as though I’m at the end of my rope with one of them, I fall less into despair that I’m failing them, and fall more into the awareness that the end of my rope is a cue from God that he’s got this from here.  It’s where I stop.  “OK, God.  You’re turn.  You talk to them.  You speak to their hearts.  You can reach them in a way I am unable.  You are the expert on hearts.”  Instead of teaching my kids how to be good in one more way, because it’s just not working anymore, I’m just pushing them towards the grace of God with every ounce of strength I have, knowing that God will catch them.

3) God is holding my kids.  This is somewhat related to the above point, but it’s something deeper, for me.  I sometimes sense this spiritual battle surrounding my kids and I can do all sorts of things that I feel are “insurance” that they’re going to make it whole through life.  I can think that if I just keep homeschooling them, they will love the Lord, or if I can just teach them enough honor and respect than they will learn to honor and respect God, or if I parent a certain way, I will have this insurance policy that God will have to take them then.  It’s a trap, I think all Christian parents fall into in their own ways, through their own legalistic bents.

But God loves them deeper than we can see.  They are part of a greater story than we can imagine.  As I prayed yesterday morning, my mind drifted back to my particular family history, my particular family sins that have gone down through the generations, and it was as though God spoke to my heart, that my kids were part of His redemption story, in a way more grand than I could possibly imagine.

When my kids are baptized, I have requested the same song in each service: In Christ Alone.

There’s a verse in that song that goes like this:

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever clutch me from his hand.

God is holding my kids in his hand.  He loves them more fiercely than I ever could.  He has access to their brains, and their hearts.  And me?  I’m just a farmer-mother planting seeds day in and day out.  But God is the one making things grow.