Friday, February 26, 2010

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

We published this over here to link up to over here, but I thought it might be fun to have a record of what our days are like at this stage of life. No doubt things will change so much as the years go by!
I tried to pick a "normal" day... a day where we're at home doing our winter thing together, nothing fancy or earth shattering perhaps. Our sacred time together nonetheless.

And so it begins...

7:15 am... I wake-up to the happy sounds of Maddie jabbering away and playing in her crib. Soon Hope drags her white wicker stool in there to climb into Sissy's bed. For at least half an hour they giggle and play. Ideally I like to be up before the kids, but these days I have a big (and I mean b-i-g) reason why that doesn't always happen if we have no where to be! :) When I start to hear the beginnings of a sisterly spat, it's up and at 'em time. I whisper a prayer for strength and wisdom.

I think Maddie's working her, "What-chu talking 'bout, Willis?"

There are morning hugs all around. We take care of wet bottoms, and I notice Maddie's nose running! Aww, bummer! The healthy streak meets a speed bump. We get dressed in play clothes and head downstairs with great cheers for breakfast. Maddie's in her tennis shoes and "hat" (headband), while Hope just has to have her bedroom shoes.

8:15 am... I make the quick oatmeal since they are evidently starving. Add raisins and maple syrup since we're out of honey. Need to get a call into the local honey guy. Serve up sippy cups of milk and extra D3 with vitamins on the side... take that, runny nose! Prayers are barely uttered before they start digging in; these girls love breakfast just like their Daddy.
I decide I need a Monday treat, so I whip up a simple frappucino-- light on the coffee and heavy on the milk, just the way I like it. Fix some peanut butter and jelly toast. Grab a handful of raisins. Also need to get some more fresh fruit because I really want a banana. We do our almost always requested daily devotion. There's praying, reading, and singing. A little grumping too... that poor, drippy nose!

9:00 am... I wrangle everyone upstairs to brush teeth. Maddie could literally brush hers and splash in the water all day long. Remembering Hope went through this stage too except she loved to wash her "hans! hans!"
Mostly unMaddie-like she has a fit when I finally tell her we need to head to the playroom. It's for certain; she's feeling under the weather. Hope and I quietly go on in to work on our ABC's. That girl just loves to learn! Thankfully Maddie soon joins us while needing lots of extra hugs and kisses. I am most happy to oblige.

Afterwards I turn on some music and the girls play while I get in a load of laundry... my one or two loads each day is helping my sanity tremendously! Some sharing over Little People gets out of hand, and we have to review these right then and several other times throughout the morning.
A few consequences are to be had and discussions about making good choices. I need my coffee. Whispering a few more prayers doesn't hurt either.

A bit later, I hear it. The beautiful sounds of playing together, taking turns, learning from bad choices. Everyone gets a marble in the jar. Shouts for joy! We've almost met our first goal.
10:30 am... Snack is served, as usual, in the family room while the girls watch their reading video. Water with a splash of juice and a trail mix concoction of Joe's O's, granola, and raisins hit the spot. I add some peanuts to mine and take a prenatal vitamin. Wash up breakfast dishes and get painting supplies ready.
11:10 am... Messy time! How the girls love that. We're headed to a big aquarium soon, so it's all about ocean life. The girls sponge paint a seal, some eels, and whales. We add them to the kitchen mural and count how many of each creature there are. I look around and paint is everywhere. We clean bodies and tables and walls and floors, but it's worth it. Almost always is.

12:00 pm... Back upstairs we go as I notice I am still in my pajamas. I also realize I've had little water today, so my Camelbak gets a fill up while I'm at it. Gate the girls in the playroom with the happy sounds of more music. I fold some laundry in our bedroom and put the wet load into dry. Someone (cough... Hope!) lets the gate down and I hear Maddie in the bathroom; I catch her just before her baby goes to the potty in the real potty where I also notice Hope forgot to flush last. Send Hope back to the bathroom to finish business and wrangle the babes down the stairs again and into the car. So proud of our big, potty trained girl-- no walk in the park to get there, but she did it!

I forgot my chicken yesterday at Publix, which put a real kink in the gyros I was craving. Notice in the car that I'm getting pretty nauseated. At 27-weeks this doesn't happen too often, but when it does it's truly yuck. Tell them one requested story after another and sing a little before feeling totally green. Get sick in the parking lot once we arrive and then feel lots better. We pick up our chicken along with some yogurt and other essentials for our upcoming trip. The girls go wild with a free sugar cookie from the bakery.

1:40 pm... Get back home later than I had hoped. I have to work to keep Maddie awake in the car. A quick lunch is in order so doctored up green smoothies and pepperoni-cheese crackers are on the menu. Hope gets hers after a time-out for behavior on the way home, and she is happy to come back to the table. Even asks if I'll forgive her for the way she spoke. Sweet girl.

Hope gets to pick a 30-minute video to transition to rest time, while I spend that time reading and doing flashcards with Maddie. Put Maddie down for a nap, so thankful for the cuddle bug she still is, and then work with Hope before she has rest time. I really enjoy one-on-one opportunities during the day.

The nauseated feeling is back again. Ick! I load up in my bed with some water and a granola bar. Catch up on a few e-mails and bills, write to Baby Girl in her journal, read for our Tuesday parenting class, and have a quiet time. This really helps me feel better, even if Hope has to be redirected to her bedroom a couple of times in the process. That girl can come up with some creative stuff, I tell you, as she doesn't want to miss a thing! But she's getting better, and only occassionally worse, all the time. :)
4:00 pm... MIRACLE! Both girls are still sleeping soundly, so I head out to the mailbox where I find a letter from my mother-in-law. She is so gifted at old fashioned correspondence. I barely make it back in the house before pouring over her words about how healthy avocados are and encouragement about having the three kiddos so close together. I set out some carrots and popcorn for our snack, unload the dishwasher, and try to return some much needed phone calls. I have turned into a horrible phone person these days, and I need to work on it.

It's confirmed again. The girls are plain old pooped! They never sleep this long, and I'm especially grateful they are able to get the rest they need. I go ahead and prep dinner while trying to use up all our fresh stuff before we travel. Bake some tilapia with a little butter, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and Italian parsley. Saute mushrooms, make a small pasta salad with pesto and tomatoes, and heat up leftover sweet potato. Am I the only one who feels so blessed to have groceries?

5:30 pm... Finally Maddie is stirring! We actually have to wake up Hope, which Maddie loves to do, and both girls are excited to eat. We go ahead with dinner. We hate to eat without Daddy, but sometimes we just have to. He works so hard just so we can have days like this.

It warms my heart when I see the girls hold hands for our blessing. Sometimes they even burst into spontaneous song. Sometimes, oh sometimes, they do not.

This night they did.

My cup overflows.

That extended rest was a God-send... they are angels! We laugh and talk; no whining to be found, and I love when I don't feel so frazzled at this point in the evening. The phone rings and Daddy says he'll be home soon. We clean up dinner dishes, sweep the floor for no less than the twenty-fifth time that day, and wash up ourselves. The girls get in monkey PJ's and brush and floss their teeth. Humidifiers are filled, favorite blankies and babies and books are found, and water bottles are placed by bedsides.

7:00 pm... Every one's favorite-- Daddy's home! We pick up the playroom, and I leave them with hugs and kisses to play and wrestle until bedtime. I head to our nearby Super Target to help with an impromptu shower planning meeting (for a family foster-adopting FOUR beautiful kiddos!) and to pick up some saline drops for that sad, little nose.

On the way home it's offical, I'm feeling really pregnant. Some might even say waddling. I hope they don't.
9:15 pm... When I walk in the door, both kiddos are in bed reading more stories to themselves after such late naps. Daddy says they were great with their nightly ritual of bedtime reading and prayers. Hope gets out of bed to give Daddy "one more hug and kiss" and then sees me so we both get showered. I am most happy to oblige.

All in a day's play. All in a day's work.

All in the gift of another ordinary day given to us to live!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Snapshots

Thank-you Auntie Sarai for sharing your love for our family, your handmade talents, and even a night out on the town for us big girls.

And thank-you, Blue Skies, for helping fill in the great big gap when we had to say goodbye.

Both of you... just what we needed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sweet Spring

With promises of stacked lumber becoming another bed of veggies... pretty flowers scattered all around... and, best of all, tiny toes to fill some brand new consignment sale steals.

I know 0-3 months don't really wear shoes but, honestly, who could resist such a promise of Spring? :)

Sending you a little sunshine,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hope and a Birth Story

While we're at it and lest we ever forget... pieced together from her journal, baby book, and our video/memories. :)

So we didn't even listen when they talked about c-sections in our birthing class. Sure, Hope's pregnancy was full-- chocked full-- of surprises. But a c-section? No way!

As I began my rotation through our OB's office, you might know I found out her breech position at an appointment without Joe. With my l-e-a-s-t favorite doctor. On an afternoon when I had practically broken my neck to get there after school.

They threw in that I was Group B Strep (GBS) positive as a bonus.

An ultrasound confirmed her presentation, and I went home crying because I didn't fully understand what all that meant. Joe and I began researching methods and options. We prayed and sought advice. After all, we were almost a full month from delivering. She had plenty of time to turn.

Or not.

A few days later I began having strong contractions. They were definitely all over the map, but making me work. After about a day and half of that, we made a midnight run to the hospital just to be sure that nothing further was up with what had already been a high risk pregnancy. They sent me back home with strict instructions to take it easy and to stay off my feet as much as possible, especially since I had a lingering upper respiratory infection that I couldn't shake. The doctor prescribed me an antibiotic to help with clearing up the rest of that mess, something I had avoided as long as I possibly could.

I called my school after leaving the office and my incredibly supportive principal told me I'd be fired if I didn't stay at home as long as I needed to take care of our girl. Blessed woman!

As an aside... the year before I was teaching at-risk students to read and write at a different school I simply loved. When the funding was cut at the year's end, I was so discouraged. I drug my resume and my morning sick self all around one of the largest school systems in Virgina trying to land a similar job. The only thing available was at a brand new (beautiful, spotless!) school kind of far away from our house.

As the principal gave me the tour, I kept hearing God say, "It's clean, you won't get sick." A strange confirmation to accept a job, but I took it and began working a few weeks later.

One night Joe yelled from our living room, "Get in here! You have GOT to see this!" I rushed in to find him watching the news. Across the screen flashed pictures of the school where the funding had been cut, the school I so badly wanted to be at while pregnant with Hope. The entire thing had been shut down due to a horrible strand of the Norovirus which had sent hundreds home terribly sick. The images I remember most were custodians and personnel literally scrubbing everything in sight from top to bottom.

"It's clean, Katrina, you won't get sick."

So... :)

We stopped by the store on the way home and loaded up on lots of healthy foods and DVD's, but almost immediately upon walking in the door the contractions picked back up again. We got out my birthing ball. I took warm showers. Joe rubbed my back and legs, prayed over me, "danced" with me, and breathed with me.

"Surely, surely these can't be only Braxton Hicks!" I told him.

For two days I labored, sometimes having contractions every ten minutes or less and sometimes only a couple of them an hour. Lots and lots of back labor all through the day and night. Just when I thought my strength had worn thin, I was granted some of the sweetest sleep I'd had in days.

I woke up the next morning and rolled over to see the alarm clock flashing 9:00 am... a pleasant surprise! Joe hugged me tight and told me he was going to stay home again that morning just to be sure I was okay. Happy about that and in a sleepy stupor I got up to go to the bathroom when I began to leak fluid.

I was the one yelling this time for Joe to come to me!

He called my OB's office, and they asked if my water had broken. Joe began the question, "Katrina, do you think...," but before he could finish the sentence the flood gates opened. Reading his mind I exclaimed, "Get off the phone! We've got to get to hospital!"

I kept thinking about how they couldn't give me the necessary antibiotic for being GBS positive now that my water had broken. It was only later that I was reminded of the antibiotics already in my system for my upper respiratory infection. The same antibiotics I had been avoiding until just before my almost month early delivery.

Yep, and so... :)

In adrenaline filled craziness, we threw things in the car and I remember Joe jumping in the shower. "What are you doing?" I hollered as I tried to find a clean pair of stretchy pants. "I just want to be totally alert," he explained.

Umm, honey, are you kidding me?!

Soon we were on our way, though, and Joe called our families to ask them to pray. We scrambled to arrange for a dog sitter. Our dear friends, who had all our information and directions, were out of town along with a great many from our small group. My parents weren't due to make the seven+ hour trek to our house for another two weeks. Thankfully we got in touch with other friends and quickly tied up loose ends. Dad and Mom Britt assured us they were on the way, so we were further able to relax.

By the time we got to the hospital I was soaked... the receptionist took one look at me, and I was whisked away in a wheel chair. Due to baby's position, once my water broke the incredible pressure subsided as well. In fact, I could hardly feel anything at all!

In our room Joe held my hand tightly, and we waited on what we hoped was my beloved OB to be on call. Instead, that l-e-a-s-t favorite guy came briskly into the room and began asking questions. My eyes filled with tears, and Joe immediately figured out what was wrong.

When that OB left, Joe pulled the nurse aside and asked if they could call our Dr. Morgan. This physician had made special visits, whether he was on call or not, to be with us during particularly hard emergency visits. She understood completely and quickly made the call. Within minutes she informed us all that Dr. Morgan was on his way and would take care of everything from there.

Peace washed over me.

Dr. Morgan came in and shared congratulations with us. Then he said, "Well, how about we see if this girl has moved?" We held our breath, but we had already decided that if she were breech then we would be okay with what that probably meant. We had only asked that God start the labor so we could feel confident in our decision to proceed, which He did. Sure enough, she looked exactly the same as the other ultrasound... firmly resting her bottom first and legs folded up around her face, just like it felt she had been for a good month.

He made sure to carefully explain things to us and to give us our options. In the end we felt that same peace calling us into the operating room. We had no regrets.

The team was amazing. The spinal took quickly and everyone was truly patient, funny, and kind. The best part was finishing up the prep stages and them letting Joe back in the room to be by my side. He immediately teared up at what I found out later was his having to see me so vulnerable, and he made a bee line to the other side of the sheet.

My doctor started giving me descriptions of what he was doing, and I jumped right in with, "That's okay, Dr. Morgan, I don't need a blow by blow. Just get our little girl out please!" The room laughed quietly and I whispered for Joe to start talking to me about whatever came to mind. One of a million times I'm so glad God gave me a great communicator to share this life with.

I remember, just like many times throughout the pregnancy, Joe quoted verses from Psalms. He reminded me that in just minutes we'd see our little girl and wondered what she might look like. He hoped she got my good eyesight and teeth and not his... you know, so we could avoid glasses and braces. I'm sure there was more, but it was like wonderfully comforting fuzz.

In no time I heard him exclaim, "She's here! She's here!"

I began asking, "Is she okay???" because I didn't hear any crying yet.

Finally I heard those lungs open up, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. All Joe could get out through his tears was, "She's beautiful! I knew she would be. She's so beautiful!" He also let me know each and every thing they were doing so I could feel like I was right there. I was grateful he innately understood I needed that so badly.

They tried to get her over to me as soon as possible and all I could do was cry. Joe was right; she was a dark headed blur of beautiful! The worst part of a c-section to me was not the lingering scar or the tender area to heal... it was the inability to really hold my child right away, the one I'd been waiting so desperately to meet.

Joe went to be with her as they ran the tests, and I waited for Dr. Morgan to finish putting me back together. As he worked, he shared some final thoughts with me.

"Katrina, I can tell you this now but honestly I never thought we'd make it to her birthday."

My mind raced back to about a week before this moment when I woke up in the middle of the night to suggest the name Hope. Our two top contenders until that night had been Annalise and Helena, very different from that simple alternative.

"He just didn't have much hope," I thought to myself and smiled.

Out loud I told the team, "Well, it was thanks to the prayers of so many that she's here. I'm certain of that."

When reunited with Joe and our baby girl, I shared this exchange. We knew that was to be her name. Joe opened a baby book we brought with us straight to the "E" section where he quickly found Eliana.

It's meaning: "God answers."

So true... God answered with hope.

With our Hope.

And I'm so glad He still does, even when it feels so very different from how you thought it would be.

Welcome to the world

Beautiful Hope Eliana

"God's answer of hope"

Born at 11:57 am on January 19th

7 lbs. 11 oz.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Just Another Reason to Love Friday

(Save Liam Neeson's "Les Mis" for when the kiddos are in bed... so good!)
Friday's Family Night
(a.k.a. Daddy gets home early as he can and we all shout, "Hooray!!!")

Tonight's agenda?

As our senstive tummies recover from some of the past week's serious ickiness, I'm thinking chicken noodle soup. Maybe a Valentine's cookie or two for some of us? But definitely a rousing game of Cootie...

Don't know it?

Oh, but you should! :)

TGIF, friends!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fear and a Birth Story

There are certain things, I believe, that every family has to deal with in their lives. Things perhaps that get passed down from generation to generation, knowingly and unknowingly.

For the women in my family that thing tends to be guilt. The "I should haves" that try to steal joy from all the "I did its" in our lives.

For Joe's family that thing is often fear. Something I'm not sure I really understood until I had children. Having to dig deep and believe they would be okay, we would be okay... no matter what. If I let it, that fear alone could grip and overtake. Especially as I look toward this third baby meant to enlarge our number and our hearts.

Were it not for, at least, two things...

II Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

No coincidence, I believe, that in the months leading up to May this is exactly the book our small group has been studying. The book Joe has been leading us through, just as he will lead us through the day that is to come. Power. Love. A sound mind.

Sweet peace in those real promises.

And secondly is our story, our testimony. Our doula took pictures for us during Maddie's birth and she also wrote our story as she witnessed it. It has become a treasured possession of ours that I read often in these days of waiting. Just in case something were to ever happen to it and now that our blog is private, I will share the details to remind us all that we do not have to settle for a spirit of fear. No, indeed!

*As you read on, please keep in mind that this is our experience just as the doula recorded it. It isn't too graphic or anything, but still... just thought I'd throw that out there! :)

Katrina and Joe- you are mightily blessed!

What a beautiful journey, a dance, an embrace. I was so blessed to have witnessed such a pure and loving welcome to this new life. It is amazing, every moment that I think of it, how much God was a part of this miraculous time; from Joe's laryngitis (which forced him to speak quietly throughout your labor), to the nurse in your room (who was a believer and whose daughter was both a missionary and a doula), to the willingness of your doctor to "bend the rules," to the ease of which your body opened to receive your beautiful babe and the timing labor began.

Around nine in the morning on Friday, July 18th, two days after your estimated due date, I received a phone call from Joe that you, Katrina, were having contractions between 4-7 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Although they were "sporadic," they were definitely making you work. I began getting things in order to come to you. At about 11, I received a second call that things were definitely getting stronger and asked that I come over.

I put my children in the babysitter's hands and headed your way. On the way, I received another call that you had changed plans and were going to go into the hospital. I met you there and noticed the contractions seemed to come anywhere from two minutes apart up to to seven minutes apart. After spending an hour in the waiting room, you were given a room and things really started to pick up.

After changing into a gown, you sat on the bed for your initial strip. Your nurse, Terry, was such a lovely God-send. She didn't wait for you to ask but went ahead and worked on getting permission from your doctor to simply place a hep-lock instead of IV fluids. She then let me know that, as long as she could get some tracings on the baby, she would be happy.

As soon as the strip was done, you got out of bed and began dancing with Joe- who gave you loving caresses and whispered sweet encouragement to you. You would lean forward into his chest and breathe through each contraction, swaying your hips. At the conclusion of each contraction, you would stand back up, holding his hand, while he swept strands of hair behind your ear.

You tried the birthing ball when you began to tire of standing, and moved your body gently with each contraction. Around this time, you began to feel that it was too much, I reminded you of your promise to be protected in labor, and of your prayer to have a seamless birthing time and quick labor. God was granting you the desires of your heart. Joe quickly moved in to whisper encouragement to you and prayer- asking God to give you strength, and praising Him for the labor you were having.

It was truly a holy moment. Your acceptance, your peace, and his love; the setting in which miracles can occur. Watching you work with your body so fluidly, effortlessly, was poetry to witness. You were in tune with exactly what your body needed to bring your baby down. And soon you were feeling the urge to push.

As the pressure in your lower back began to intensify, and your legs began to fatigue more, you moved to the bed, where you sat 'en-throne'. Soon we requested the squat bar, and you attempted a few squats. These simply did not feel right to you and you asked for another idea. During this time, your doctor came into the room and pulled a stool into the corner, the furthest point away from the room as possible, and patiently watched your birth unfold.

I recommended turning around so that your arms were folded over the raised back of the bed and you were on your knees. This only worked a short time as well. You turned back around on your own volition and soon felt an overwhelming urge, which had evaded you until this point. Your nurse encouraged you at your head, Joe leaned in to give you whispered praise while alternately watching the baby's descent. I helped support your other leg and, only when baby's head began to show, did your doctor wheel herself to the center of the room and put her hands on her knees, exclaiming, "Oh, now, here we go!"

You seemed slightly disbelieving that you had arrived at this point in your labor, but your baby descended quickly. As the head began to emerge, your doctor put her hand protectively on your perineum and helped ease the speed of birth. Almost immediately, I noticed that the baby had some indications of being stuck. Your doctor noted it too and asked for the bed to be lowered. No panic, no fear- simply direction. As your bed was being lowered you gave another push and the baby's shoulders literally popped free and she was born onto the foot of the bed where she let the world know of her arrival.

Joe leaned in and whispered with joyful tears that it was a girl. You brought your baby into the world in God's strength, your husband's support, and loving faith from all those surrounding you on that day in a little under twelve hours of labor. You were beautifully graceful and humbly strong.

I am so blessed to have been given the gift of witnessing this sacred event! Thank you, family Martins!

Welcome to the world

Beautiful Madison Elise

"Good hearted, God's promise"

Born at 6:32 pm on July 18th

8 lbs. 15 oz.

Power. Love. A sound mind. To Him, not us, be the glory.

Fear... reborn.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Daddy Didn't Even Have to Cry...

(Maddie didn't either, for that matter, regardless of that hilarious expression!)

...It was a close call, though. With reports that, of all things, our old beach town was to receive a boat load of snow... well, he just about despaired. I think he may have even ranted about his snow curse on Facebook between this never ending cycle of briefs he has due.

But, low and behold... who's laughing now?

The neighborhood was in four wheeling, snow ball throwing, angel making, makeshift sled sliding, spontaneosly piling into houses for pizza heaven!

Just before the storm I snuck out for necessities including milk, eggs, and bananas. It is obvious that a pregnant woman's in charge of the list when it also includes the ingredients to make seriously good salsa (think: Chilis!) and modified monster cookies (think: leave out the butter and half the sugar-still delish!). What a combo, huh?

Thankyouverymuch, growing baby girl. :)
On the same note, when our fearless leader wrangled the troops back indoors we were all pretty pumped about hot chocolate, grilled cheese, and soup. My Mom always says that he's one of her favorite people to cook for... so grateful. I totally agree. (Also for us, it provided a thankful distraction from the donuts he wanted to spin in our family sized SUV! ) That man of mine works so hard doing some serious stuff during the day, but he's got a big kid heart that I just love.

The falling snow was beautiful.

But getting him home for an extra day?

That might just be worth a tear or two. :)