Monday, January 31, 2011

My Pillow

I haven't been sleeping well for the last couple of weeks.  There have been several contributing factors to my interrupted slumber:  sick kids, a nursing newborn, and a lingering cough to name a few.  Probably the greatest factor, though, is that I haven't been sleeping with my pillow.

I have this wonderful squishy pillow with an ugly green pillowcase.  The pillow is pretty old.  I think it was Ray's before we got married.  The pillow case is probably even older than the pillow.  I think my mom gave it to me.  If my mom rejected it, then it must be pretty bad.  And it is.  The thing is green, floral, and hideous.  But it covers my wonderful squishy pillow, so I can't help but love it.

I claimed the green pillow when I was pregnant with AJ.  It was the only way I could sleep comfortably with my belly so big.  I think I also kind of used it to replace my husband.  Things with Ray were pretty awful that year, and I'd often cry myself to sleep while hugging that pillow.

After AJ was born, my big belly went away, but the pillow did not.  My pillow became a source of comfort in more ways than one.  It helped me sleep more comfortably, but it also somehow made me feel less alone.  I was able to use my pillow as a barrier between Ray and I in bed.  I used it to cover up and hide my post-baby body, and I used it to keep him at a distance.

Ray made comments about it a lot.  I think he always knew that I was using that pillow as a barrier between the two of us.  He knew I was covering up and keeping him away.  My excuse was that it helped me sleep more comfortably, which was true.  But I never let myself consider that maybe my comfort shouldn't come before the health of my marriage.

After Melody was born, I started to think about my green pillow.  I started to realize that maybe it was causing more harm than good.  So for the last couple of weeks (give or take), my green pillow has stayed on the floor at bedtime.

I have to be honest, I'm not sleeping well at all.  My body has forgotten how to sleep without that pillow and I wake up with my hands and arms all twisted up and tingling from loss of blood flow.  I'm just not as comfortable.

And to be honest, I'm not sure it has really helped my marriage at all either.  I'm pretty sure Ray hasn't even noticed that the pillow has been staying on the floor.

But I think it has been good for me.  It has forced me out of my comfort zone.  It has made me think about the space I was choosing to keep between me and Ray.  When I wake up in the night, I often put my tingling hands on Ray's chest or arms instead of wrapping them around a pillow.

Hopefully soon my body will get used to sleeping without it (and if not, I'll just keep loading up on coffee each morning), but even if I wake up with tingling achy arms for the rest of my life, I think it's worth it.  He's worth it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Little Hugs

Life is kind of rough right now.  I feel a little guilty even saying that, knowing that there are people in the world who don't even have clean water to drink.  I mean, really.  Who am I to complain about my life being "kind of rough" when people are dying from dirty water?? 

The point of this post, however, isn't to complain.  And it isn't to solicit sympathy for my "kind of rough" life.  It's really to say that I am amazed by the little blessings that God gives to me when I am exhausted and at my wits end and just plain done.

Little things.  Things that wouldn't matter to anyone else.  Things that most people would probably say are just coincidence, but I know they are little hugs from God.  Moments when I almost literally feel his arms around me telling me "You can do this, Laura.  Don't give up."

Moments like:

  • AJ playing a practical joke on me that is actually funny and makes me laugh.
  • Megan eating her toast without complaining for once.
  • Melody waking up exactly when I was ready to nurse her.
  • Kaybelle leaving her ponytail in for more than 5 minutes.
  • Drew giving me a good laugh when he came to me with his pants hanging down to his knees because the kid is just so skinny. 

Little blessings.  Little hugs from the One whose hugs matter most.  And I know I can keep on going...with His strength sustaining me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beam

I stand in the kitchen, hunched over, head in hands, tears flowing.  Tears of anger and regret.  Tears of loss and hopelessness.  Thoughts flow through my mind faster than I can process them.  Thoughts of blame and fury  and discontent and complaint and longing. 

A little one comes into the kitchen and asks me what is wrong.  Instead of embracing him and thanking him for his spirit of compassion, I snap at him and tell him to go away.  All the while, my heart aches and burns and I hate myself for my harsh words.  Part of me wants to call him back and hug him and ask his forgiveness, but my selfish side wins and I continue to wallow in self-pity.

Eventually, the tears cease and I'm left raw and exposed.  Face red, hands shaking, my thoughts continue to bombard me. 

And then a still, small voice.  Words spoken to the depths of my soul, not in condemnation, but in love.  Words that act as a healing balm to my broken heart. 

"...Remove the beam from your own eye..."

Words that often frustrate me, today act as a much needed reminder.  My thoughts change from those of accusation to those of introspection.  I realize I am not any better.  I know that my behavior must change.

I bow my head and I put my trust in Him.  I pour out my heart to Him for He is my refuge. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Goals


Just a few of the things I hope to accomplish in 2011.   Might be revising this post over the next few days as I think of more things.

HOME ORGANIZATION
Do a major clean-out of all three bedrooms (including closets).
Paint the hall bathroom a color other than white or beige.
Find a storage solution that isn’t ugly for the dining room cabinet.
Make the area above the sliding doors in the living room pretty.

HOMESCHOOLING
Revamp homeschool schedule for spring semester.
Get rid of homeschool books we aren’t using.
Get new drawer system up and running.
Successfully teach Drew about money and time.
Teach Megan how to read.

FITNESS
Make it all the way through the C25K program.
Run at least one 5k.
Start and finish the 30 Day Shred.

CRAFTS/ PROJECTS/ FUN
Memorize Colossians.
Memorize catechism with the family.
Make myself and my sister a cute new camera strap.
Plan and execute at least 5 at home date nights for me and Ray.
Finish top secret sewing project.
Read 5 books for pleasure.

Who am I?

Eight days ago, my womb was full.  My belly was firm and distended with the life of my unborn baby.  Eight days ago.

Today my womb is empty, and my arms are full. 

And I don't know who I am.

Some answers are obvious.  A wife.  A mom.  A daughter.  A sister.  A friend.

But all of the sudden I don't recognize myself.  My hand goes instinctively to my belly, a habit developed after 9 months of carrying my child, and for a moment I panic when there is no belly to rub.  And then I remember the infant sleeping in her cradle.  The one who consumed my body for so many months now lays quietly in a nest of soft, pink blanket. 

I look in the mirror and can't stop staring at my new body.  My eyes fix on my wilted abdomen, and I feel a little bit empty and confused. 

Who am I?  Who is this withered person looking back at me? 

Just a wife?  Just a mom of five?  Just?

His words pierce my wandering thoughts.  "When did you become so beautiful?"  I look up into his eyes and wonder if he is seeing the same thing I am.  Obviously he's not. 

"You look amazing today."

"You don't know how sexy you are."

"How did I get so lucky?"

"You are so beautiful."

BEAUTIFUL.

I don't really believe him.  I don't see beauty when I look in the mirror. 

But I do feel it...a little.  I feel it in the way he touches my face, and the way he holds my hand.  The way he pushes my hair out of my eyes, and tells me he loves me.  I catch him gazing at me from across the room, and I know my wilted belly doesn't matter to him.  His lips turn up and his countenance conveys his deep affection for me.

He loves me anyways.

He thinks I'm beautiful.

And he's patient with my insecurities.  He knows I need time to see my beauty.

Who am I?

I am a beautiful wife.  I am a devoted mother.  I am a cherished daughter.  I am a supportive sister.  I am a sympathetic friend.

And...

I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the One who makes no mistakes. 

And hopefully soon, I will believe it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hope

2010 didn't begin well at all.  Reading through some of my writings from January 2010 brings back a flood of bad memories.

"...We fight, spew hateful words, give each other the cold shoulder, avoid each other as much as possible.  Sometimes I think I must hate you.  I know that I hate what we have become.  I hate being in (what feels at times like) a loveless marriage."

"...It's been a long time since we were passionately in love.  It's been a long time since we longed to see each other.  It's been a long time since just being together made everything seem wonderful.  I miss those long ago days."

"...Oh God, convict Ray's spirit.  Let him see his need for fellowship and teaching.  Let him look past the politics and past the human nature, and let him thirst for You.  Amen."

"...The days are so long.  Sometimes I feel like I am withering away.  The lack of intimacy and affection in our marriage has started to cause me physical pain.  I miss you so much.  I wish you wanted me."

Just a few short months ago, yet a lifetime.  Today, at the start of 2011, we have found HOPE.  Our marriage has seen so much change in the last few months.  More than I have been comfortable with, to be honest.  But it is good change.  It is change that was so necessary and needed. 

2010 will forever be remembered by me and Ray as the year of change and hope.  I wonder what 2011 will be remembered for?

Melody's Birth Story

At about 1pm on Wednesday afternoon (29 Dec 10), the doorbell rang. My bestest friend of 15 years was standing at my door all the way from Omaha, Nebraska! I had no idea she was coming, and was thrilled to be able to spend the afternoon with her. She joked that maybe surprising me would throw me into labor. I think she was right.

I noticed some small contractions while we were out to lunch and again while at Toys-R-Us shopping for AJ’s birthday gifts, but didn’t think much of it since I had been having contractions on and off for weeks. They were really nothing out of the ordinary. I came home, had dinner with the family, and then walked to Wal-mart with Ray’s mom and the girls.

I think that the walk to Wal-mart was when I realized I might actually be in true labor. Walking didn’t make the contractions stop as it had for the last few weeks, and I just felt kind of “off” somehow.

Around 8:30, the kids went to bed and I decided to start timing the contractions. They were anywhere between 5-9 minutes apart at that point, but not painful at all. At 9:30 I noticed that they were getting closer, and even though they still weren’t painful, I told Ray that if they were still consistently close at 10pm, that I wanted to head on over to the hospital to be on the safe side.

Ten o’clock rolled around and they were definitely still close and definitely getting more painful. I decided that I wanted to get some chores done before leaving, so I cleaned the kitchen, started the dishwasher, swept, got the trash ready to go out, and folded some laundry. Also decided I should probably go ahead and pack a bag for the hospital.

Ray told his mom that we needed to go. I’m pretty private about being in labor, and we hadn’t told her anything up until that point. I think she was pretty surprised, and I feel bad that we took her so off guard. She was amazing though, and got us out the door quickly.

After stopping for gas (I know, we were SO prepared haha), we headed on out to the hospital. Contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart at this point, and getting more and more painful. By the time we got to the hospital, I was having to really concentrate and breathe through them.

We got up to labor and delivery around 11:45pm. At that point I was definitely starting to question the whole “natural labor” thing. I remember telling Ray several times that there was no way I could do it, and that I would never survive without an epidural.

The nurse started to get me hooked up to all of the gadgets that are required. Found the baby’s heartbeat, and started monitoring my contractions. She checked me and I was already dilated to an 8. That really encouraged me, and I knew at that point there was no turning back for me and my natural delivery.

Just a few minutes later I felt the urge to push, and after two pushes my water broke rather violently. The room got busy at that point with people getting ready for the birth of our baby. I started to push with each contraction, and after about 15 minutes of pushing and just an hour at the hospital, Melody Hope was born. I made it through with no drugs whatsoever!

A few things that I want to remember:

Ray, as always, was incredibly amazing. I’m always blown away at how wonderful he is when I’m in labor. He just seems to know exactly what I need, and it’s one of those times that we just work so well as a team. I’m so thankful to be married to such a phenomenal man.

The reason I chose to go natural this time after having four babies with epidurals was not at all for the “experience” or to be a hero. It was simply because the epidural terrifies me. I have a really sensitive back, and just the thought of the needle in my back gave me terrible anxiety. I decided I’d rather try to just go without this time.

Not only did I have no drugs, but I had no IV at all. The nurse tried to get one in my arm, but she blew the vein. After that there was no time to get one in. I understand why they wanted an IV, but I’m glad I didn’t have to have one. It was nice to not be hooked up.

Melody was born on AJ’s 8th birthday.

Melody was not named after anyone in particular (unless you count the girl named “Hope” that works at Jason’s Deli on Maryland here in Vegas), but her name holds a lot of meaning for me and Ray. Not sure I could really explain it, but the name is just really special to us.

I made it an entire pregnancy with NO CHOCOLATE! Going for two years now.

Melody came out completely sunny-side up, but I didn't experience back labor at all.

Melody was 7 lb. 9 oz. and 20.5 inches long. Oh, and completely gorgeous.