Monday, March 5, 2012

Ponderings of the Heart

... And Mary took all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19
This very accurately describes what was going on with me during my bedrest. Lots of internal pondering, figuring, and treasuring.

Here is the blog post I promised to come a day or two after this post. Clearly, that didn't happen! We have been just a tad busy around here.

One would have thought that I would have blogged numerous times a week while I was on bed rest. I did sit down numerous times to write, but a post never resulted. I am still not quite sure I have completely processed that time. When it comes to anything emotional, I am like a crock pot - I cook slowly. Slow cooking makes everything more tender and full of flavor though, right? Right. Ha!

One of the ladies in our small group put it perfectly the other night - as problem solvers (we both come from the medical profession), we assess the situation, bolster ourselves, and just get though it. It isn't until we are on the other side of the situation that we take the time to sort through the emotions, and figure out where were are, how we feel, where we have grown, etc...

Crazy as it may sound, the time on bed rest was actually a very intimate bonding time for me and Ellie, even though she was still swimming around under my uterus. All my "expectant mom" emails I received from various baby places talked about how you could/should bond with your baby while they were still inutero, by setting aside certain times during the day to talk or sing to them, etc... Yeah... I wasn't good at doing that. One, it just felt kind of weird. I knew my baby was growing inside me, and could hear my voice and was semi-aware of her surroundings. I would talk to her at various times during the day, and was constantly rubbing my belly. At the same time, "mommy guilt" had already set in that I wasn't being proactive enough in developing my relationship with my baby girl.

Part of the problem was my job. As a nurse manager for 4 busy pediatric offices, I was on the go Go GO all the time - dealing with personnel issues, chasing kids, talking to irate parents, holding kids down for shots and blood draws. You get the picture - not a calm laid back environment! I always loved feeling Ellie dance inside me, however, when she decided to start doing her Turbo routine inside me when, for example, I was trying draw blood on an eighteen month old, thoughts like,"Ok Ellie, now is really not a good time. Let's do this dance party later." Not necessarily actions to nominate me for "worst mom of the year award," but enough for plenty of feelings of guilt.

Once I was confined to the couch, all I could really do/ or should do was sit and feel my daughter move. Get used to her routines, find out what positions she was most comfortable in, even what music she seemed like best (Matt Maher and Kelly Clarkson for the record). I had a hard time feeling my own contractions, however, I was soon able to tell when I was having an increase in contractions based on Ellie's movements and activity.

The first week I was at home was the most tough, for sure. The medical side of my brain would not turn off. I knew what a birth at this point would look like - at least 4-8 weeks in the NICU, a variety of possibilities for breathing assistance, tubes, wires, alarms, limited physical contact with our baby, so many emotional ups and downs, etc... I began to prepare myself mentally and emotionally to enter that arena as a mom first, nurse second. I started to slowly prepare my husband for what such a delivery would be like. What his role would need to be as an advocate for our daughter, when I was separated from her after her early delivery.

As I have stated previously, we had literally done nothing to prepare the nursery for the baby. I discovered Babies R Us has the wonderful option of "deliver to store" for free. I had a huge cart saved on my account, full of necessities should Ellie make her debut too early. Of course, BRU's website leaves much to be desired, and kept emptying all my efforts from my the shopping cart, so I finally copied my shopping list to my documents folder of my computer and printed it off. The plan was for my mom to place the order and have it all delivered to our local store and for one set of grandparents to pick it up for us. As the weeks passed, and we still hadn't delivered, my activity was gradually increased to 30 min excursions from home, so I started a small stockpile of the absolute baby necessities.

This experience really showed me how little you actually need to bring a baby home. There are mega stores dedicated these tiny humans, when really all they need is a carseat, a safe place to sleep, some diapers, items to keep them warm, and a whole lot of love.

Once I got over the initial stress of the unplanned situation, I came to treasure the time spent at home, just me and my unborn daughter. I had not exactly enjoyed my pregnancy, physically... at all. This time, though, let me really focus on my upcoming role as a mom. It gave me a glimpse of what life was getting ready to look like - quiet hours at home, rarely leaving the house, even the medications I was on led to extreme sleep deprivation. Basically, life with a newborn, right?:)

Another unexpected gift we received from this time was a further realization of the support system the Lord has placed around us. As soon as word spread about my bed rest, we received phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, facebook communications, visits, etc... from people from all corners of our life! People reached out, not only to me and Jared, but also to our families. Even our siblings friends offered up their love and support. It was almost overwhelming and truly humbling! These offers of prayers and support continued right up until Ellie Faith was born. She literally had hundreds of people praying for her safe delivery. People we had never even met before were praying for us.

After our final prenatal appointment, the Tuesday before Ellie was born, when we found out we were going to induce, we went the the semester kick-off get together at the CSF, for a quick hello and to tell the students and staff the news. Plus, I think we just needed a little mental distraction. One of our students took this picture of us that evening.
Can we say "Deer in the Headlights" much? Ha ha Dang we are looking rough! I think the emotional stress of the always impending possible premature birth of our daughter had taken its toll, and not only caught up to us - it has surpassed us. My placenta wasn't the only thing that was spent... we were spent too. It was time. Time to deliver, time to end the waiting game, time to be a family.

I had been tearing up off and on ever since we had received the news. I think it was a combination of relief, fear, exhaustion, excitement, and those darn pregnancy hormones. But in typical "amy fashion" I couldn't just cry. Glenn, our campus minister pulled us to the side as we were leaving to pray over us. The three of us stood in the office, arms encircling, and a few tears did flow. However, peace started to  flow as well. It was the beginning of a glimpse, as well as a reminder, of the cloud of witnesses we had surrounding us.

We both went into work for a few hours Wednesday to tie up a few loose ends. My coworkers were prepared for an imminent delivery:)

 My parents and two youngest siblings came in town that night and stayed in a hotel. We visited with them briefly before leaving to go to our small group. The group was semi-surprised to see us the night before our induction. However, both Jared and I felt the need to be there. I think it was two fold. 1) again, I think it was a need for normalcy, but 2) most importantly, we needed the spiritual support. In all honesty, I can not tell you a single thing we talked about that night, however, I do remember feeling another wave of peace. After our discussion time, we always have a prayer request and prayer time. My dear friend, Danielle, suggested the group pray for Jared and I. All our friends gathered around us and prayed prayers of blessings, safety, encouragement, and strength for our new family. Danielle and others shed some tears, and finally my tears finally  began to flow freely. It was a relief and a release.

After many hugs, and promises to keep people updated, we came home, just the two of us, for the final time. Being one of the most laid back couples, and not always the most sentimental... want to know what we did? We curled up on our oversized beanbag, ate moose tracks ice cream, and watched a recorded show on our DVR (probably NCIS) ha ha! As we curled up in bed that night, my husband held me and prayed over us and our upcoming journey. It was the best night's sleep I had had since before I went on bed rest!

I was up at 4 am - this was one of the biggest days of life, and I was bound and determined to make sure I was showered, shaved, hair fixed, and make-up applied (ah the beauty of waterproof mascara.) When I look better, I feel better. Shallow? Perhaps, but definitely true. Although, according to this picture, I was neither looking or feeling too great:)

However, it was all so incredibly worth it!

 Still to come... the birth story!

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