Monthly Archives: October 2015

60 Reasons I’m Glad You Were Born

For my mom on her 60th birthday:

1) You always think of others. Nothing I could plan could compare to the way you have celebrated each of us in incredibly meaningful ways. A six-foot long Subway sandwich in the courtyard of the Grace for my thirteenth birthday comes to mind.

2) You nurtured my creativity but still helped guide my choices (ahem, the Barbara Bush puppet).
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3) You didn’t let me watch rated R movies for many years. (except for Stand by Me … ;)) You protected my childhood and didn’t let me grow up too fast.

4) You love Daddy so well. You always speak well of him, a trait I try to emulate in my own marriage.

5) You’re a great daughter. You are caring and incredibly generous, and I hope to take care of you as well as you cared for Papa John and Grandmommy. I have priceless grandparent memories because of you.

6) You let me explore my interests. You sat through an untold number of dance recitals, piano recitals, and volleyball games (cheering for my teammates when I was sitting the bench).

7) You always treated my friends so well. You were genuinely excited about their lives, and I loved bringing them home to hang out with you too!

8) You are perhaps the most selfless servant I know. You have volunteered to teach Cubbies, Sunday School, and VBS. You never seek to draw attention to yourself but rather serve quietly where there is a need.

9) You are an excellent teacher! You care about the students other teachers write off, and you have a way of making everyone feel so good about themselves. I love hearing your former students say how much you meant to them.

10) You have good taste in music. You helped shape my own tastes as I listened to your old records (James Taylor, Supremes, Beatles).

11) You love animals! You brought in a stray off the street when you were eight(?) months pregnant with me and have loved and cared for a long string of animals ever since.

12) You are passionate about reading. You modeled what it meant to read for fun.

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13) When I was in first grade, you commissioned a portrait of me as a gift for Daddy. I love those paintings so much, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of sitting for them.

14) In elementary school, you rewarded me for good citizenship grades, not my academic grades.

15) You taught me to respect leaders and teachers, but you didn’t always blindly take their side. If I was in the wrong, you made me own up to it, but if something was unfair, you stood up for me. (10th grade Spanish book, remember?)

16) Speaking of being in the wrong, you made me confess to your principal after I threw soap in the fishpond at your school. I was terrified of going to the Mr. Stoval’s office (I hadn’t even started school myself), but you made me face my fear and tell him it was me. I learned so much about honesty and responsibility through that experience.

17) You are a morning person. I am absolutely not. However, for many years you modeled what it meant to have a consistent quiet time … in the morning! Talk about inspirational.

18) You chose all my teachers in elementary school but never told me you did (until I was in college, maybe?).

19) You gave me the best present after eleven lonely child years … Joseph Daniel Reed!

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20) You coordinate doggy reading days at your school. Kids who struggle with reading find a nonjudgmental listening ear in those pups. How fun are you?

21) You let me volunteer with you in summer school. I learned so much about special needs students those summers and hopefully gained a bit of your compassion.

22) You love Designing Women as much as me!

23) You got us season tickets to the Philharmonic, and you took me (and often a friend) out for Sonic cherry lime slushes afterwards.

24) You made me stick with piano lessons until seventh grade. You once played a duet with me at my recital, not knowing as you walked to the front of the church to join me that your shoulder pad had become dislodged giving you a small hump on your back.

25) You and Daddy read me Bible stories, prayed with me every night, and took me to church.

26) You took me to the Paramount for the first time to see Gone with the Wind and pointed out the moving clouds on the ceiling.

27) You made “take your daughter to work day” a blast. No wonder I ended up becoming a teacher!

28) Almost every Friday night you took me to Hastings to rent movies.

29) You introduced me to the Beaches soundtrack and didn’t laugh in my face when I told you I wanted to be a singer.

30) At the end of each semester, you made my teachers cookies. I’m pretty sure you did this all the way through twelfth grade.

31) You gave me boundaries and “unfair” rules when I was younger so that by the time I was in high school, I didn’t really need them anymore.

32) You shipped me off for two weeks every summer to visit Kaye and Jay.

33) You have a small group that you’ve met with consistently for years. You’ve developed deep friendships because you love your friends so well.

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34) You are a fabulous aunt! You have driven an untold number of miles to support your nieces and nephews in sporting events and artistic endeavors.

35) Gingerbread houses! You are the master! You sold them every Christmas season to make extra money (which I’m sure you ended up spending on my Christmas presents), but best of all, each year you gave one to my class. For at least one day I was the most popular girl in school because no one could wait to devour that candied house! As I got older you allowed me to invite a friend over for a gingerbread tutorial.

36) You let me spend a whole summer in DC when I was in high school. You encouraged me to follow the Lord’s direction, even when it meant my leaving for weeks at a time.

37) You took me to see The Princess Bride and Troop Beverly Hills in the theater.

38) You organized my first grade talent show debut … Miss Adams’ Apples! I remember practicing at your school and having the coolest sponge painted apple shirts.

39) You make fruit cups.

40) When I decided to give up sugar for Lent (forgetting that my birthday happened to fall in the Lenten season), you made me a sugar free cheesecake.

41) You took in your grand-cat when we moved to Indonesia. I know Hassan has given y’all all sorts of headaches, but you love him as your own.

42) You gave me good advice and didn’t let me be a “mean girl.” When I complained about my friends (or my perceived lack thereof), you encouraged me to find someone who needed a friend and be a friend to her.

43) You make the best fruit salad (as all of the cousins will attest).

44) You never fought (at least not in front of me) with Daddy. The one time y’all had an argument over a Rook game, I was so shocked I was convinced you were getting divorced. 😉

45) When I won tickets to Don Henley, you flew to Chicago to go with me.

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46) You killed Daniel when you were mafia when he simultaneously saved you as the angel.

47) You were a wild child. I love hearing stories of Kaye and Jack’s “cool big sister,” whether it be sneaking out and stuffing your bed with a big stuffed dog or pulling into a ditch to smoke and not get caught. Knowing you now, I still can’t believe you did those things!

48) You’re a great mother-in-law. You have always made David feel so welcomed and loved. You crack him up, too.

49) You are funny! As you have gotten older, you are more prone to speak your mind (kind of like Grandmommy). I can’t imagine the things you’ll say in the next few years …

50) You are one of my best friends. There are times that there is no one I’d rather talk to more than you. You always listen well but also try to help me see things from the other person’s point of view. We don’t have to do much when we’re together. It’s enough to just sit around and talk.

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51) You steal my perfume. I love that we have similar tastes in many things and that I can introduce you to things you end up loving (like Andrew Peterson).

52) You watched The Wire for me. I love talking to you about the characters on whatever series we happen to be watching at the moment.

53) You let me take all your West Wing DVDs to Indonesia.

54) You stuff the best Christmas stockings. Besides including a note saying that I was going to be a big sister in July of 1993, you always filled them with the coolest girly gear.

55) You took me to get pink thumbprint cookies when I was a little girl.

56) You gave me my dream wedding. Everything about that day was absolutely perfect. You even took dance classes with Daddy to help him get ready for the father/daughter dance!

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57) You talk to strangers. Or I should say, you’ve never met a stranger. You can’t help but be kind to any and everyone you meet.

58) You often took me to the original Taco Bueno. I remember always ordering frijoles and strawberry Fanta. I also remember accidentally using the men’s restroom because I didn’t know the Spanish word for men.

59) You have begun wearing a picture of your granddaughter every day. (Thankfully you drew the line at my cousin’s wedding …)

60) You are the best Gran! You overcame all your flight fears to be here to help me take care of Clementine the first month of her life. She loves you so much. She got quite spoiled by Gran’s early morning day care. 😉

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Birth Story (Part 3)

July 9, 2015

12:00 AM – As I mentioned before, at this point I am miserable and exhausted.  I’m dilated to a six, and one of the nurses asks if I want an epidural*.  She tells me that if I can handle the pain now, I should be fine and wouldn’t need one.  This would be as bad as it would get.  What a liar!  I waver for about 15 minutes before deciding that yes, I do in fact want the epidural.  I can’t imagine trying to labor unmedicated for who knows how long and then push a baby out on no sleep.  I need my strength.

1:00 AM – Sill no anesthesiologist.  I feel more tired than I’ve ever felt, and I begin to get desperate.  The nurse tells me that she can give me some Gozali approved drugs until the anesthesiologist can get there.  Desperation wins, and I give consent.  The meds help me sleep, although the contractions wake me every five minutes or so.  I can’t stop thinking about the epidural.

1:30 AM – “Where’s the anesthesiologist?”  “She’s at another hospital.”

1:45 AM – “Where’s the anesthesiologist!?”  “She’s maybe on her way.”

2:15 AM – “Tell me the truth.  She’s not coming, is she?”  “Probably not.”

2:45 AM – “The anesthesiologist is on her way!  She’ll be here in 15 minutes.”

3:00 AM – Epidural relief.  It’s pretty hard to be still for them to insert the needle in the midst of contractions, but the anticipation of no more pain is a great motivator.  I feel immediate relief and am able to sleep for more than five minutes at a time.  The delivery room is tiny, and the only place for David to sleep is hunched over in a small wooden chair.

6:00 AM – I wake up to pressure.  Whereas before I couldn’t feel the contractions at all, I begin to notice them again.  They’re not painful, but I can tell when they’re happening.  I explain this to the nurses, and they “top off” the epidural.

6:30 AM – No relief.  I can now feel everything except my left foot, and the contractions are quite painful.  I get up to go to the bathroom and am able to walk unassisted.

6:30 – 8:30 AM – Blur.  Worst pain of my life.  I surprise myself by my need to vocalize through the pain.  The nurses try again (twice) to fix the epidural, but nothing works.  At one point I lean over and tell David I want the “Betty Draper delivery.”

Mad Men's Betty Draper just after waking from her "twilight sleep"
Mad Men’s Betty Draper just after waking from her “twilight sleep”

8:30 AM – Dr. Gozali arrives, checks me, and it’s time to push.  I never feel the urge to push, but I defer to his expertise.  A plus to the epidural wearing off is that I can push in whatever position I want, which was one of my biggest reasons for wanting to avoid one in the first place.  I start in a squatting position, but I’m too tired to do this one for long.  I move to my hands and knees, but again I need a break and just want to lie down.  I end up doing the majority of pushing on my side. I’m not exactly capable of thinking clearly at this point.  Evidently I’m not pushing hard enough.  I feel like nothing is happening, and I am SO. TIRED.  The pre-transition contractions are bad because they’re inescapable pain, but pushing is worse because you can’t be passive.  It’s not just happening to you; you have to work, and this after you’ve spent hours in agonizing pain.  I get better at following Gozali’s directions and apparently my pushing is more effective (although I still don’t feel like I’m doing anything).  I’m told to “use the pain” and that with each contraction I should aim for two long pushes.  Gozali’s tone is much more encouraging and less chastising as I conform to his pushing instructions.  I’m still not convinced anything is happening.  The doctor offers to give me a “small cut” to help speed things along, but I decline.  Somehow I am able to hold to my “no episiotomy” conviction, even when all else has gone out the window.  More effective pushing.  Baby is crowning.  David assures me that something is happening even though I feel like it’s still going to be forever.  We’re almost there.  Gozali says if he does the episiotomy, the baby’ll be here on the next push.  I ask for two more contractions worth of pushes, and he consents.  On the second contraction, her head makes it out with no episiotomy needed.  I finally feel a sense of accomplishment as I feel her coming out.  The last two pushes are the most difficult and most painful, but then it’s over.

9:37 AM – Baby H is here!  I ask if it’s a boy or girl, thinking I already know the answer**.  David sees her before the announcement, and his brain has a hard time putting together what he sees.  When the doctor says, “You have a healthy baby girl,” I cannot believe it.  David sneakily films our first few moments together as mother and daughter, and I look to him in disbelief, whispering, “It’s a GIRL! … Clementine!”

All goopy and cone-headed and already breaking out of her swaddle!
All goopy and cone-headed and already breaking out of her swaddle!
I cannot believe I have a girl.
I cannot believe I have a girl.
Almost 24 hours old
Almost 24 hours old
Getting to know each other
Getting to know each other
Sweet sleep
Sweet sleep
Hall, Party of Three
Hall, Party of Three

—————

*I tentatively had planned on an unmedicated birth.  I was an emergency C-section baby, and I wanted to do everything in my power to avoid the same fate.  I also wanted to minimize potential problems with breastfeeding early on.  That being said, I also was a realist.  I didn’t know how I would respond to the pain or exhaustion, so I remained open to the possibility of needing drugs/an epidural as a last resort.  It wasn’t my preference, but I wasn’t going to feel guilty if I ended up using them.

**At our 20 week anatomy scan, we told the doctor we did NOT want to know the sex of our baby.  The appointment was a series of measurements: “Head, normal.  Heart, normal.  Arms, normal.  Legs, normal.  Sex organs, VERY normal.”  At that comment we both yelled out, “We don’t want to know!” to which the doctor seemed to do some back peddling.  I was so bummed!  Why would he say that if it were a girl?  Every subsequent ultrasound we reminded the doctor that we didn’t want to know, but I was convinced I saw a penis every now and then.

Birth Story (Part 2)

Water breaking.  While in the movies it’s always portrayed as this huge gush immediately followed by super intense contractions, this was a bit more tame.  Don’t get me wrong, it was certainly a dramatic event, shocking even.  I had expected to experience contractions first, and then my water would break as the delivery drew nearer.   Nope.  This moment induced much the same stupor as when the two lines appeared on the pregnancy test.

David was in the kitchen when it happened, and according to his retelling of events, I said, “Oh my gosh, my water just broke.  Wait, did I just pee myself?”  For the record, I do not remember saying the latter portion.  I do remember being very concerned about observing the color of the liquid because I knew if it weren’t clear, that could indicate infection, which could be serious.  Thankfully from what I could determine, everything seemed okay, and our next step was to call the doctor.

I mentioned in the last post how we had just begun to prepare for the baby’s arrival, but at this point neither of us had packed hospital bags.  The forums I followed were full of “What’s in your hospital bag?” posts, but I hadn’t yet seriously considered it.  I think it was my way of “postponing” the birth until I was ready.  Surely the baby would hold off coming until I had at least packed my bag, right??

I called my doctor’s office and was told to come in immediately.  I explained that I wasn’t ready for “immediately” just yet and that I needed to shower and pack my bag.  I could definitely be ready in a couple hours.  They weren’t exactly thrilled with that response and encouraged me to get there as soon as possible.  Dr. Gozali would see me before sending me on to the hospital.

We scrambled to gather the things we would need, praying that in the commotion of the moment we wouldn’t forget anything important.  I grabbed the tiniest onesie we had as Baby H’s “coming home” outfit.  She was supposed to wear the same elegant white gown David had worn home from the hospital when he was a baby.  However, the little orange and blue tiger outfit (that didn’t look quite as unisex once it was actually on my daughter) would have to do since the gown was coming with my mom.

Reality coming home outfit vs. Ideal coming home outfit
Reality coming home outfit vs. Ideal coming home outfit

We made it out of the house with everything except some of the paperwork we would need to get her birth certificate rolling.  Our next stop on the way to the doctor’s office was an expat friendly grocery store for snacks.  My mom was bringing Twizzlers, pretzels, and trail mix, and I was sad to anticipate laboring without these essentials.  We ended up spending way too much money on American snacks, but those Goldfish and Twix were worth every single Rupiah.

Getting ready to leave
Getting ready to leave

Traffic was getting bad at this point, and it took us over thirty minutes to go three kilometers.  We made it to the doctor’s office (still not really contracting at this point) a little before 3:00 PM.  I was dilated 2 cm, and Dr. Gozali said everything looked good and he’d be surprised if we didn’t have a baby in the next 24 hours.  Off to the hospital we were.

At this point I still wasn’t really contracting, or at least the contractions were very minor and erratic.  I tried timing them on an app, but I wasn’t always sure that I was even having one.  I gave up timing them until we got to the hospital.  Traffic wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either.  It took us about an hour to go nine kilometers, which is pretty normal for the beginnings of rush hour.  I was very thankful not to be in active labor at this point.

Traffic on the way to the hospital
Traffic on the way to the hospital

We got checked in fairly quickly, and I was sent to one of Medistra’s two labor and delivery rooms (the larger one) and immediately put on a monitor.  Not much was happening, but because my water had already broken, they put me in a recovery room instead of sending me home to progress a bit more.  I felt pretty good at this point.  I ate dinner and bounced around on the exercise ball.  I did some stretching, and David and I watched cat shows on TV.  (Seriously guys, “My Cat from Hell”? TV Gold.)  As I began to get ready for bed, however, I started to feel the contractions more.

Wait, who's the one giving birth here?
Wait, who’s the one giving birth here?

I didn’t have all my “labor Scriptures” ready, but I asked David if he’d read Romans 8 to me again.  For a long time our prayer had been that God would give us the right children at the right time in the right way.  He was in the process of answering that prayer, and our new prayer was that he would prepare us for this baby and prepare the baby for us. I tried to let the following words ruminate in me as I struggled to fall asleep:

“For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”

Amidst the contractions I fell into a shallow sleep until the nausea hit around 9:30 PM.  I. Hate. Throwing. Up.  Soooooooo much.  Honestly, the thing that prepared me the most for Clementine’s birth was not running a marathon, but my horrific food poisoning incident in Malaysia.  Seriously, the nausea and vomiting were worse than the contractions (at this point).  I threw up twice and told David to go get someone because I felt so terrible and wondered if we were getting closer.

Around 11:00 PM, they put me back on the monitor, which this time showed much stronger and more frequent contractions.  They moved me back to labor and delivery (the small room this time), where I proceeded to throw up again even though at this point there was nothing left to throw up.  I was miserable and exhausted, and I dreaded the next who knew how many hours.

When the clock struck midnight, we at least knew one thing.  Baby H would be born on the 9th of July.

The Belated Birth Story (Part 1)

Forgive me, but this is going to be long and probably somewhat self indulgent because I don’t want to forget a single thing.  Three months have gone by (as of TODAY!), and I’m terrified I’ve already lost precious moments and details.  Foolish me, I thought I’d whip out this birth story a week after Clementine was born.  I certainly wouldn’t take longer than a month.  But, motherhood happens, to borrow from the iconic phrase, as does the other (spoken from the other side of many dirty diapers).  😉  Here goes.

“Baby H” was due July 18th.  We moved to Jakarta proper on June 26th, which we hoped would allow plenty of time to get everything settled.  First babies always come late, right?  Because I knew we would be moving at the end of June, nesting was somewhat difficult.  I did my best to gather and categorize everything needed (I am an Upper Crust/Jakarta Marketplace deal fiend, I must say), but I couldn’t begin to set up the nursery until we moved.

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View of Jakarta from our new apartment

Moving at any stage of life is stressful, but moving at 37 weeks pregnant is a special sort of challenge.  Thankfully we had movers (and on the front end, our wonderful helper, Ibu Rum) to help us pack and unload, but unpacking and deciding where everything would go in a new space was a chore.  Procrastinator that I am, I put off the nursery.  I had banked on those three weeks.  Praise the Lord, we at least got two of them.  When Baby H let us know she (spoiler) was ready to come, however, we weren’t exactly ready for her.

On Tuesday, July 7th David and I went over to our pastor’s house to pick up some things David’s sister had left for us as they were moving back to the States.  After we returned home that afternoon, I noticed some light spotting when I went to the bathroom.  I was somewhat alarmed because spotting can be a sign of impending labor, but then it could also still be days or even weeks away.  We weren’t taking any chances, though.  That incident lit a fire under us, and we immediately snapped into “what if the baby comes tomorrow?” mode.  We ran some errands that night, and I finally washed the few baby clothes we’d been given in case we actually needed them soon.  We went on what would end up being our last “just the two of us” date: dinner at TGI Fridays.  (If I had known it would be our last dinner as a couple and thus become part of “the story,” I might have picked something a bit more original …)

I mentioned the baby’s due date was the 18th.  My mom and aunt had tickets booked arriving on the 15th.  Most of our baby stuff (minus crib and changing table) was coming with them.  My mom had stressed several times that she wasn’t traveling halfway around the world to hang out with her nine-months-pregnant daughter for days on end.  In her eyes, missing the birth might just be worth it if it meant extra days with her brand new grand baby.  I suppose Clementine wanted extra time with her Gran too because my mom ended up getting her wish.

Prepping the nursery ... finally!
Prepping the nursery … finally!

On the morning of July 8th, I woke up extremely early and decided to go have a quiet time.  I told David in the days leading up to the birth that if I were grading myself on my mental, physical, and spiritual preparedness for this baby, I’d give myself a B, C, and D respectively.  I had read a few pregnancy books, tried to eat healthily and stay somewhat active, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was not in a place spiritually where I felt ready to be a mother.  I sat down with my bible and journal and poured out my insecurities and failures before the Lord.  I began to gather verses I wanted to focus on during labor, words promising his presence in the midst of suffering.  I was hoping for an unmedicated birth, and my desire was to “fix (my) eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of (my) faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

One of the sweetest seasons of my life was training for a marathon.  God gave me such an amazing friend in Jamie and allowed us to “train” together both physically and spiritually.  When it came time to run the race, we decided to prepare verses of scripture to read as we completed each mile.  Going into childbirth, I didn’t really know what to expect outside of what I’d read, but I’d heard it compared to running a marathon.  I have two friends who have done both, one pre-motherhood, one post.  My marathon partner Jamie ran two marathons before birthing Kyla (unmedicated).  Stacey had four natural births before running her first marathon this past year.  Jamie thought the marathon was easier, while Stacey thought maybe childbirth was.  I suppose it comes down to what’s more fresh in your memory.  Regardless, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  That morning I also outlined a blog I wanted to write about running as compared to birthing with a request for readers to share scripture with me that had meant something to them in the midst of difficulty or struggle.  I had a rough draft of my birth plan, but I needed specific words to focus on in the midst of contractions.

The last of the marathon scriptures
The last of the marathon scriptures

7:30 AM rolled around and I was growing more and more tired.  I went back to bed to sleep a little more, not knowing that this would be my last morning in a while forever to sleep in.

I woke up lazily around 11:00.  I remembered some laundry left in the dryer and went to change it out.  Now that I was in full nesting mode, I had such goals for the day!  I wanted to sort through the baby’s clean clothes and put them away.  I wanted to pack my hospital bag.  I know you’re supposed to do this at 30 weeks or something like that, but what can I say?  I’m a procrastinator.

As I bent down to pull out the laundry, I felt a pop, immediately followed by warm liquid dripping down my legs and onto the floor.  Spotting may or may not be a sign of impending labor, but water breaking most certainly is!