Most recently I took up crocheting again. Jake and I enjoy watching a lot of movies, so if he is holding Adrian, that's the perfect time for me to do a little project. This week I completed a hat for the first time ever, and it doesn't look terrible.
Ever since I learned how to crochet when I was about ten years old, I've had a on-again off-again relationship. I'll get inspired to do something one minute, and then completely drop the project for a solid year or two before starting again. I hope this is one skill that I can improve in over time.
Here is what I'm hoping to make next:
|Photo Source: http://www.hopefulhoney.com/2013/11/baby-pom-pom-hat-crochet-pattern.html|
I've always wanted to be a part of a book club that talked about one specific book, so I'm not sure if this club is the right fit for me. However, it was great to get some book recommendations and, need I mention, to get out of the house sans bebe. The next meeting is in January, so I will give it another go.
One of the books I would like to check out next is And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini. I've read the other two by him, and found them very thought-provoking and intense. Does anyone have anymore book recommendations?
For some reason, bottle-feeding was never an option in my mind, and yet we felt completely frustrated whenever he needed to use the feeding tube. The second Wednesday after Adrian's birth, the doctors once again said that the moment he starts feeding exclusively orally, that included bottle-feeding, he could go home. All of a sudden that triggered something for Jake and I. If he starts to use a bottle whenever he doesn't breast-feed well, we could go home!
All of a sudden the doubts started flooding in, and I was so confused on what to do. I kept getting mixed advice from hospital staff. Some people were against the bottle, saying it can lead to nipple confusion, and other people said a baby will suck whatever it's given. Whatever the case, as long as our baby had to use a feeding tube he had to stay put.
I started feeling selfish, though, and knew that I wanted to bottle-feed him just to get out of there. That was a rough day, and since Jake wasn't there, I felt like I was needing to make all these decisions by myself. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but it felt like it at the time. I was also dealing with judgment from hospital staff, knowing that some of them weren't approving of what choices we were making. I started praying that Adrian would just breast-feed exclusively so we wouldn't have to use bottles at all.
We knew that the staff needed to see Adrian eating exclusively orally for 24-48 hours before they'd let him go, so we started keeping track of how many breast or bottle-fed feedings he would have in a row, and we were getting encouraged.
One night I completely slept through Adrian's 3 AM feeding, waking up to a 6AM wake-up call from the nurse. I scrambled to remember what happened at 3AM, and when I asked the nurse, she said that he didn't wake up and she didn't call me because she wanted us both to rest, so she just fed him through the feeding tube. I was kind of frustrated--grateful she let me sleep, but frustrated that she didn't call me because my breasts were sore since I hadn't pumped at 3AM. Not to mention, she hadn't even given him the benefit of the doubt, and had fed him with the tube, which meant we had to start at square one again.
At his noon feeding, I lost it because the nurse told me she tube-fed him at 10AM because he was fussy and she didn't want to bother me--he was AWAKE and she didn't call me!! I was super frustrated because it seemed like every time we took a step forward there were two steps back. Also, that's the reason I was there, to feed my son, and it was never her call to assume she was bothering me. So I lost it,and started crying even more because Adrian wouldn't wake up for his noon feeding (probably because she'd fed him at 10AM!) The doctor came over and talked with me, saying he would stand by me no matter what option we chose (regarding bottle, breast, or feeding tube). THEN he offhandedly mentioned that we could get transferred to the Cambridge hospital, and I thought, that was even an option?! Why weren't we informed earlier?! Jake had been driving back and forth from Hamilton all week when we could have been much closer to home. I jumped at that opportunity and he said he'd see what he could do.
The next morning I was frustrated with the night nurse, AGAIN, because she did something without my permission. That got old real quick, and I realized that I was going to have to be more firm with my nurses. Adrian wasn't waking up so we thought we might need the feeding tube, but the poor little guy woke up from the insertion and eventually breast-fed. I felt like such a failure because he kept crying before nursing. It was so difficult, and I didn't have the stamina to fight with my baby, especially since all those leads connected to monitors gave us no mobility.
At his 9AM feeding he fought and fought, and we were both getting stressed out so finally I gave him a bottle and we were both much happier. Everyone kept telling me to do what makes us feel better, and I just couldn't fight with my baby anymore. It was taking a toll on our relationship. I wanted Adrian to trust me, and if that meant foregoing breast-feeding for us to be happy and less stressed (for now, while in hospital at least), then so be it. I wanted to breast-feed but I also wanted to be sane. I knew that the Lord would work it all out in the end.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we still reeling from a rough Saturday. We discovered that, if he drank what he needed, then he was on a 3 1/2 hour schedule. The problem was that he got unsettled during the day. He hadn't been able to calm down much. I thought if the nurses called me, I may just have to sit by his crib with a book and just hold him. He seemed like he just wanted some mama love. The new nurse wanted to top him up with the feeding tube, but I suggested the bottle instead. He had had three feedings in a row without the tube, and he was waking up from hunger, which was a good sign.
That night we got word that a space had opened up at Cambridge Memorial, but at that point he had been doing really well. We were worried that transferring him might mess up his feeding schedule and that he'd revert to the feeding tube again. The nurse told us that the situation in Cambridge was even better, that he would be in our room with us. We jumped on that opportunity, and so around 7pm on Sunday evening my little Adrian was packed up in a portable incubator and transferred to CMH.
We drove as quickly as we could to meet up with him. As we entered the hospital, our doubts started mounting. It felt as empty as a tomb, and we got lost trying to find the paediatric ward. However, Adrian was crying to eat by the time we got there, and I was so encouraged because he just kept eating and eating as the nurse informed us about hospital protocol and such. We were so grateful, since he wasn't hooked up to any monitors, and he was right beside us in the bassinette, in our own private room. That was the first time in two weeks that we had him all to ourselves, but it felt so good to have the independence. It was also difficult because we didn't really know how to soothe him that well. The nurses always did that so much better. He didn't wake up for his 1AM feeding, and I was nervous that the nurse was going to suggest a feeding tube, but she was encouraging, and told me to wait until the next time to try again.
Things were far more relaxed there than they were in Hamilton, and I was starting to wonder what the big fuss had been about after all. Why was it that he needed to be hooked up to monitors and be on a strict three hour feeding schedule at one hospital and not another? I wasn't complaining, but just wary.
His weight went up on Thanksgiving Monday, and we were pleased and praised God (since he hadn't needed a feeding tube since midnight on Saturday night!). We were prepared to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital, even though we had been praying for about a week to be discharged so we could see family.
Around 11:30, the doctor came around, and after lots of questions, examination of Adrian, and a few final checks, he told us he didn't see why Adrian needed to stay, but that we could go home. We were just floored, and all of a sudden I got nervous, like maybe they didn't know what they were doing, and that they shouldn't be sending us home already. I mean, we JUST left Hamilton the night before!
But we packed up our stuff and left the hospital feeling so overwhelmed. We drove straight to Jake's extended family Thanksgiving gathering, without telling a soul, and praised the Lord for such a wonderful Thanksgiving miracle.
I was in a complete state of disbelief, and was so nervous about doing this on our own. I mean, for two weeks we were surrounded by nurses and hospital staff giving timely and well-directed advice and help. But we were so thankful to God for the precious little life we could FINALLY bring home.
The worst for me has been finding desserts that don't have dairy in them.
>that sour cream apple pie tart from the neighbour?
Thankfully, one of my friends sent me a link for this vegan chocolate pudding cake. It's pretty darn amazing, and you wouldn't even know it was made without dairy! I must admit, it's nice to be back in the kitchen again :)
|Not the best picture, but trust me, your taste buds||will love you!|
On Wednesday, the day after he was born, this pediatric resident came to take a look at Adrian. By the time she left, I was bawling. She had seemed very unsure of how to hold a baby and looked like she was hurting him as she was examining him. She later came back with some other people and they also had a look at him. Then on Thursday they came back to tell us that there were some things they were concerned about, and they wanted to take him to the NICU Level 2 Nursery for further monitoring. I guess during his check that morning he had choked so badly that they had to suction him. So they took him away and I bawled. I had no idea what this meant or what was happening. Finally we got to go over and see him. (I am convinced that those walks back and forth from the NICU were what sped up my recovery, even though that first week my abdomen was in pure agony!) And, you can guess, I bawled once again when we got there because he was stripped down to his diaper in an incubator with all these leads hooked up to him. The doctor told us there were concerns with lack of weight gain, some respiratory issues, feeding issues, and possible genetic abnormalities. I was in so much shock, and I just wanted Adrian to know that I loved him no matter what. Jake was so strong, and asked questions with such a level head. I was grateful that he was there! It was hard to leave Adrian in the nursery, but we went back a couple of hours later for a feeding. I met with the lactation consultant, who was such an encouragement to me.
Thus began the strict 3-hour feeding cycle, and it felt so endless. I had many highs and lows, and Adrian had some good feeds and bad ones. On Friday I was discharged from the standard ward, and the doctors visited with us again, saying that he exceeded their expectations with breast-feeding and that he was gaining weight. His respiratory system was starting to look better, too. The we saw the geneticist who said that the results for genetics would be back in about 1-2 months. The doctors said that the only thing keeping him in the hospital was his feedings, and as soon as he could feed exclusively orally he could go home. [At that point he had been using a feeding tube for some of his feedings because he wasn't waking up to eat.] Because I was breast-feeding, the hospital was able to put us up in a bunk room, which was pure solitude after staying in the ward. It was a blessing to have the amenities of the hospital's Ronald McDonald room, and I will never undervalue that organization again since we benefited so gratefully from it. After spending the entire weekend with crazy ups and downs, needing to use the feeding tube on many occasions and observing him a little more closely, I noticed that he looked tired and exhausted. The LC suggested alternating between the feeding tube and breast-feeding, to see if giving him a break in between makes him more receptive to breast-feeding.
Honestly, I had never felt as discouraged as I did the first few breast-feeding sessions that second week. He was so hungry, but did not want to breast-feed. He would rear back his head and cry like I was torturing him. That's when the LC suggested that he was just weary. So we waited for the doctors to get in touch and to explain what could be going on. It was frustrating, but I was happy that Mom was able to stay with me for a few days since Jake had to go back to work.
The whole experience was overwhelming, and possibly the toughest thing I've had to face in life. But we were so looked after by God, and couldn't dismiss the blessing it was to have a son! We were so absolutely in love with him, and that's what made us push through the tough moments of each day. I would do anything for Adrian. It was hard, though, because I felt so trapped in the hospital. I was just praying that God would grant me patience as I waited on Him to do His good will in His time. I just wanted Adrian to be healthy, and I needed to stop placing undue expectations on him for how quickly I thought he should be improving. I felt rejection from Adrian when he didn't want to breastfeed, and then the frustration ensued as a nurse and I would fight with him to get him to eat. We were both exhausted.
At that point we were asking the Lord for some improvement so that we could go home on Thanksgiving. Adrian started to improve later on that week, but I still needed to remember to trust God in His timing. Some of the passages that comforted me were Psalm 139:13-16:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.and Psalm 104: 27-30 reminded me that it is the LORD who is in control of everything, not me:
These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit,[a] they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
Jake was so amazing through it all. I never knew I could function off so little sleep, and my body was hurting from the section, but Jake was there, steady and supportive. Whenever I voiced my doubts and fears, he said, "Ashleigh, you are a wonderful mother but a terrible God!"
Although it wasn't ideal, we experienced some of Adrian's firsts in the hospital, including the first time we tried to give him a bath. We had both watched nurses give him baths previously, so we thought we could do it. The nurse left us to it, but as soon as his little body started sliding around in the tub we both freaked, and called the nurse back over in panicky voices. We laughed about it later, but felt like major parent fails at the time!
Born October 1, 2013 at 5:17 am, weighing 7 lbs 5 oz, his little mewling cry tore through my heart- I was in love forever. The night before (Monday) I was coming off Day 3 of PG gel (something they use to try to stimulate labour when you're overdue), and hadn't felt much of a contraction for a couple of hours. The pain was wearing off. Jake and I were watching a movie when I felt like I peed my pants. They when I went to the bathroom, I noticed a pinkish colour in the toilet. I looked at Jake and said, "Well, that's different." I also had two very painful contractions, also very different from what I'd experienced with the gel insertions. We called the hospital and they said to come on in, that it sounded like my water was breaking. We loaded up the car (for the final time!) and then all the way to Hamilton I had contractions.
When we got there, they told me I was 2-3 cm dilated (FINALLY!) so they admitted me and set me up in a labour room. I laboured from 8pm to about 5am. About 2 hours into the labour, they decided to put me on a small dose of oxytocin. As I look back on it, my contractions were probably quite painful due to that. I could barely stand them. Mom and Dad got there around 1AM-Dad wasn't supposed to come, but Mom's ride fell through at the last minute. Dad said 'hi' then went down to the car to get some shut-eye. Jake tried to rest while Mom sat through each contraction with me. Her presence was much appreciated. She rubbed my back as I tried to labour on the ball. The nurse asked me why I wasn't going to take any pain meds, and I said 'No reason, just wanted to try without.' But honestly, they're actually brutal. Maybe without the oxytocin it's better, but honestly, I thought I would die. That's when they told me they were worried about the lack of fetal movement and there was talk of a c-section. To say I was relieved is an understatement. I was in so much pain that a c-section sounded wonderful at that point. So they did some cranial stimulation (tickling the top of the baby's head to elicit movement, and yes, it was painful for me!) then they waited for a while (because they really didn't want to go through with the c-section). After about 3 tries, nothing changed. So off went the oxytocin ,and my contractions spaced out even further again-- baby sure didn't want to come out!
We waited for them to set up for the surgery, and Jake had to scrub up (looking mighty fine, if I do say so myself!)
|Jake in his scrubs, just before the c-section|
Finally, they brought him over all bundled up and placed him on my chest, as I was still being stitched up. His face was so red, and the first thing I remember thinking is how chubby his cheeks were and I just wanted to breathe him in. Jake and I fell instantly in love.
|With our newest addition to the family :)|
|Me and my baby|
Before that, Jake had a chance to watch them give Adrian his first bath. They brought him back and we were just completely enamoured. For two wonderful days we slept, fed, cuddled, and changed Adrian.
|So much love...|
To be continued...
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ~Romans 6:3-4
The song's chorus:
I will rise, I will rise,I'm so grateful for those spiritual connections that God creates, when the light bulb finally goes on in my head, and I understand. I am grateful for the reminder of the life I have in Him today, and how His sacrifice restored hope for all of humanity.
As Christ was raised to life,
Now in Him, Now in Him,
This is what I did instead:
|One massive zucchini (yes, that is cut in half!!)|
My food processor really helped to speed along
the grating process.
|It yielded 25 1/2 cups of grated stuff, perfect for baking!|
|Here we have a gluten free zucchini brownie, a zucchini loaf,|
and 2 dozen zucchini raisin walnut muffins
My plan is to take six weeks off from work, and then to return to my evening shift (since I work split shifts) so that Jake can take care of the baby during those three hours. However, I'm saddened that I may not have the same students I had before. My students will be given to other teachers, and the only way they might come back to me is if they request for me.
So you see, I'm happy to have been approved for this time off to spend with our baby, but I'm frustrated that I will have to build up my student base all over again. It's been especially difficult to say goodbye to them, since this week is the Korean thanksgiving, and many have been unable to make their lessons due to visiting relatives and traveling.
This morning I groggily rolled my way out of bed (looking, I imagine, almost identical to a beached whale) at 4:40am for my lesson at 5 and thought naively, "Ah, only two more days of getting up at stupid-o-clock."
I really have no idea what life with our newborn will be like. I grew up with younger siblings, but only remember my youngest brother's baby years the best. Even then, I wasn't his mother (although I still felt and do have a special protective and nurturing bond for him), so I wasn't fully aware of the behind-the-scenes that my parents experienced.
Despite whatever sleepless nights that may come, I can honestly say I am excited for this next phase in our lives. Everything is new, scary, and exciting all rolled into one. For now, all I want to do is to hold our precious baby in my arms and to finally look at his/her face, to touch those arms and legs that have been just out of reach but oh-so-present all these months, and to drink in the sweet smell that is a newborn's skin.
|39 weeks and 2 days|
|What mine looked like|
|At the drive-in|
|Jake and Josh|
|Us with the groom, Mike. Congrats!|
The chapter on study in Celebration of Discipline was highly practical, especially the list of some classic Christian literature that should accompany our regular reading of Scripture. I confess, some of those books haven't even made it on my to-read list. I'm more of a fiction girl myself, but I pride myself on reading a wide variety of literature. I should probably give them another chance. Here are today's points from the chapter:
Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free ~John 8:32
Freedom is an amazing aspect of our lives in Christ. Let's be encouraged by His words!
WHAT we study determines the kind of habits that are formed.
We know that the things we read about and study circulate in our minds. If I consistently read about the unrest in Egypt, that's going to be heavy on my heart. In the same vein, we need to focus our study about God so that we can form habits that are life-changing.
We [often] give a critical analysis of a book before we understand what it says.
In this statement, Richard Foster is just encouraging us to read a book with the simultaneous actions of a.) understanding what the author is saying b.)interpreting what the author means and c.) evaluating if the author is right or wrong. I have often been found guilty of judging a book 'by it's cover', if you will. The discipline of study requires us to go a little bit deeper into the text to glean extra meaning.
To read successfully, we need the extrinsic aids of experience, other books, and live discussions.
Just as we cannot do life solo, Foster intimates that we cannot read a book without supplementing to enrich the experience.
God desires various "tarrying" places for all of us where he can teach us in special ways.
Using the example of Paul's vision of clean and unclean things in the book of Acts, Foster suggests that God may not have been able to speak to him had he not been delayed there. It's important that we deliberately tarry, or open up space in our busy lives so that the Lord can grow us.
The key to the Discipline of study is not reading many books, but experiencing what we do read.
When my sister and I were growing up, we always kept a list of the books we read. Melissa was very detailed in her notes, even going so far as to write down the pages for each book. We became very competitive, but it was never a surprise that she read way more than me. Her secret? Drown out the distractions and lose yourself in the story. I was so focused on the goal to read more and more that I forgot to experience the story in all its fullness. Perhaps if I focused less on the task and more on the meaning I would gain more from my study.
One of the principal objects of our study should be ourselves.
We don't just study to gain insight into spiritual matters, but also to gain insight into personal matters. When we study ourselves, what makes us tick, why we see things the way we do, we should be changed people.
Fasting has many purposes, such as effectiveness in intercessory prayer, guidance in decisions, increased concentration, deliverance for those in bondage, physical well-being, revelations, and more. Here are a couple that I want to dig into a little deeper:
Fasting must forever center on God.
Becoming closer to God must be the reason we fast in the first place. If God is not the central focus of our fasting period, then it is all for naught.
Fasting reveals the things that control us.
This one was particularly telling for me. I often let things control me- my emotions, other people's expectations, and even my pride. It would be interesting to see my response to fasting were I to do it again some time soon. Some people see their anger rise quickly when they fast, which allows them to ask God to deal with it in that moment.
Fasting helps us keep our balance in life.
Creating the space for balance is so important. I get so distracted with the trivialities of life, and fasting is a good way for me to focus on those things that matter.
In his book, Foster talked about various types of fasts. Firstly, there is a partial fast. He recommends going from lunch to lunch, so you only skip two meals and drink only water and juice. Secondly, there is a 24-hour fast, which involves fasting for a full 24 hours (skipping three meals) and drinking only water. He suggests that the fasting muscle, like so many of the disciplines, needs to be built up and trained. Once you have become used to the 24-hour fast, he advises to move up to a 36-hour fast, and then gives practical advice for how to do a 3-7 day fast, and then up to 21 and even 40 days.
Let's look at some of the statements that stood out to me in this chapter:
Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes.
This is crucial to remember, since health and fitness media most often focus on fasting for weight loss purposes. Fasting as a spiritual discipline is not the time to try to lose those final 5 pounds you can't seem to shake.
It is clear...that Christ both upheld the Discipline of fasting and anticipated that his followers would do it.
Whatever your thoughts are about fasting, Foster points out that Christ never actually commands His followers to fast. However, He does say, " 'When you fast...do this' ". He expected that his disciples would do and do it regularly. We can also see, from various examples in the Bible, that there are definite spiritual benefits to fasting.
Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money.
This one hits pretty close to home, doesn't it? For some of us, giving money can be pretty easy. In my case, $39 automatically comes out of our account every month for our sponsor child, but I don't consciously think about it. Some months that money could come in handy somewhere else, yet the sacrifice is a drop in the bucket. Fasting, however, is something we can barely stand to imagine, and thoughts like, oh-my-gosh-how-can-I-go-without-food-for-a-day?!! circle 'round and 'round in our heads. We are constantly bombarded with health magazines, fast food ads, and surrounded by so much food and drink that it almost becomes physically impossible to fast in our society. We have so much, and yet we are often unwilling to give it up for even a day to become closer to God.