Friday, October 31, 2014

Crappy Halloween!

"Crappy Halloween!"

Doesn't have the same ring to it as "Happy Halloween!" does but hey...that's life sometimes. This was not our greatest holiday ever. The entire day was an experiment in meltdowns on Harrison's part which had both Kris and I on edge. Then we lost our minds and took that big ball of meltdown energy to a big fall festival at a local church. Our energetic toddler, who already has a hard time handling crowds, went absolutely in.sane. Lincoln slept the entire time. And, as usual, I am not in a single one of the very few pictures taken.

It shouldn't bother me so much, really. But it does and I hate that. I hate that I want so much for days like this to be perfect even though, in the mind of a 2 year old, there's nothing different about this day. It's just another day and then suddenly your mom puts funny clothes on you, takes you to a big crowd, and says "have fun! But be on your very best behavior!" Not exactly a recipe for success.

I wouldn't even have sat down and gotten these thoughts off my brain except for the following reasons:
1. It's good to be real.
2. Next year I want to look back on this so I can remind myself to not repeat the same mistake. Ha!

So live and learn.
And next year just keep calm.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Picky picky.

Harrison woke up from nap about 30 minutes ago in a terrible mood. He see that there is avocado and tomato on his lunch plate. A couple of his favorite foods! But no, not today. He didn't even want to look at them. Finally, after he ate two sandwiches and was still hungry I said, "do you want some guacamole?" Well, that gets him all excited. So I take his plate, cut the tomatoes a little smaller and mix them into the avocado, then mash it up and give him his plate back. No seasoning or anything. 

He ate the whole thing. 

This is one of the many reasons why kids are weird. Super, super weird. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Flawed System

There is no denying that the medical system here in the United States is flawed. Taking a step further back, though, there is also no denying that the world we live in is flawed and it always has been. In fact, it always will be until we're joined with God in heaven so let's just all get used to it, shall we?


This is like saying "Well, we're all sinners so we might as well not strive to honor God!" It's shameful to see injustice or pain and just sit back and let life move right along. So let me be officially among those who want to see change in our healthcare system. Mind you, I'm no Obamafan. I'm not going all political on this blog. What I want to see is ethics and accountability. Let me recount for you my experience.

In short, I suffered an exceedingly rare obstetrical complication after delivering my second son. So rare, in fact, that there have been hardly any real medical studies done on it. However, ask any doctor (who isn't trying to save their skin) what causes it and you're going to hear one thing more than any other: Don't pull too hard on the umbilical cord. There are other factors that can play into it and yes, sometimes it just happens, but the vast majority are mistakes. Plain and simple, right? Well, apparently not. After months, literally, of back and forth phone calls, meetings, and being tossed around through the system like a paper airplane I finally get to talk to "the powers that be" today. And, quite frankly, she should be ashamed of herself. Yes yes, she works with lawyers, not doctors, but listen here: she supposedly read through the information we sent to the hospital yet did not know what a uterine inversion was. In fact, I had to give her the definition of placenta. I would think that this is the kind of thing you look over before making a conference call with someone wanting answers from your hospital, but maybe I'm wrong.

Here's the underlying issue, though. After about 45 minutes of her playing the nice guy it comes down to one really simple thing: the hospital is not responsible for the doctors. That's a direct quote, by the way. The doctors have their own insurance and merely practice at the hospital. We live in a world where, at the end of the day, doctors are terrified of being sued. So terrified, in fact, that many are afraid to admit a mistake was made because that opens them up for a patient ruining their career. What a shame that is for everyone involved.

I asked for two things:
1. An apology or admission of mistake. Why? Go back and read my birth story if you need to, but it's beyond clear what happened. And if you think I'm pointing my bitter, trembling fingers at the resident then go read it again. Everyone has to learn. Everyone makes mistakes. But the best way to learn from those mistakes is to humbly say "I learned my lesson and I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep it from happening again." This hospital owes it to it's teaching program and to the moms who will continue to deliver there to treat this situation with respect and to learn from it. So here I am, a patient who is literally being denied the information in the investigation made into what happened to me even though it will greatly affect how to approach any future births I may have. That is devastating and sickening. Is that what this system has come to?

2. An adjustment to our bill. We are NOT asking them to wipe the slate clean. We went there for a vaginal birth and that's what we got. We didn't go there so that I could spend a day and a half in the ICU while my baby had 'round the clock care in the nursery thanks to a horrible mistake. Again, I'm not asking to ruin someone's career, but we would not have incurred those expenses otherwise. Why should we be responsible for paying for something like that?

So here are the answers I got:

1. You can't prove it so we won't admit it. That about sums it up.

2. The bill is from the hospital. The resident is not a hospital employee. Since the hospital isn't responsible for the resident it is impossible for the bill to be adjusted.

So let me bring this back to where I started. It's a flawed system. The doctors and the hospital are not a cohesive unit. If you've ever had surgery you know that you get a bill for the operating room from the hospital but then there's about a dozen other separate bills from what feels like each and every other person in the room. How on earth can there be any accountability when they're all separate agents? Who do they all answer to? In addition to that, there's the overriding fear that someone who just wants answers is going to turn around and use your honesty against you.

It's not simple. It's actually so complicated that it makes my head spin and my heart hurt.

I want an apology. I feel like a little kid staring a bully in the face after getting knocked down on the playground. Humiliated and afraid, but what can I do? Tell the bully "Say you're sorry!" and hope they mean it? I'm afraid I'm grown up enough now to know that it's not that simple. And before you go thinking that I'm doctor shaming, I'll repeat myself: go back and read my birth story. I may have been wanting a home birth but I'm no doctor hater. I could name several doctors that I truly adore. But they've been stuck in a really prickly corner for long enough that they have to have lawyers step in to answer questions for them when things get tough. If anything, I feel sorry for them. What a way to ruin an otherwise really rewarding job.

I want to be able to put this to rest but I just can't. I have one last appointment coming up where I hope to get the most important thing to me at this point: the apology. I want that far more than an adjusted bill. And, call me crazy, but I sincerely hope that my very optimistic views will be right and that this will incite some change in the system.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking the Backseat

You know how to spot a brand new mom, right? She's the one letting her husband chauffeur the family around town while she sits in back with the new baby. Maybe she just feels more secure staying close. Or maybe she's like I was and has a baby who screams in the car seat and needs some extra comforting. Maybe she is convinced that she's going to miss that first smile or that the baby will somehow change while he's out of sight. I'm aware that not every mom does this but I know a lot who do!

Then, there's the proverbial backseat. Suddenly you're not "Jane", you're "Sally's Mom". Your needs, wants, and hygiene are suddenly second to those of the tiny human. If you choose to stay at home and put career goals on hold then you probably are getting really comfy in that backseat.

One side of motherhood that has been rather complicated for me is the concept of time standing still in a way. Obviously, time marches on and babies grow and life changes. But, as a stay at home mom, I have chosen to not pursue some of my former personal and career goals. Instead, I've accepted that this time is fleeting and there are things that can wait. Imagine though, if you will, coming into motherhood only a few years out of college and a degree in performing. A degree that is centered around the idea of musical excellence and being quite comfortable at center stage. Then BOOM! Here you are nearly 5 years later cleaning out your closet while your husband is working, babies are playing, and you come across an old faithful performance dress. Dust it off a little. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Ahhhhh. Take it in. Now open them and look around.


I know what you're waiting on. That moment where I say, "and then real life hits and there's poop to change and dishes to wash and life sure sucks!"


Nope. Not even a little. Because instead I look down and this precious life is smiling up at me as his big brother runs in to tell me that his absolute favorite part of his favorite movie has come on and I really need to come watch it, too. What did I do? I hung that beautiful dress back up in the far corner of my closet, picked up the baby, and (for the hundredth time) saw the moment in Toy Story where Buzz comes on the screen for the first time. You're jealous, right? Ok, so you're probably not. But here's what I'm sayin': I *chose* this back seat. There's something really special about looking around and knowing you are right where you're meant to be. Even if that place is a big mess and there's no big "stage" waiting for you somewhere. I feel so blessed to be a stay at home mother. I miss performing, working, and honing my skills but I know that those things will wait. I can pick it back up later if that's where God leads. But this time, this place? Sweet moments like this go by too fast.

So here I am. In the backseat and loving it. I've got my babies, my husband, my Jesus, my family and friends and I'm singing so loud!

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Reasons Why My Husband is Better Than Your Husband

I meant to have this done in time for Kris's birthday last week but I didn't make my deadline! So here it is...better late than never. 10 reasons why my husband is better than your husband!

10. He makes time for our family. He took Harrison to Auto Zone with him tonight while I made dinner even though he could have gone by himself on the way home from work. That made Harrison feel super special and I got to make dinner a little more quickly!

9. I enjoy and appreciate his talents. He is currently sitting at the piano while wearing the baby, playing and singing "My One and Only Love".

8. He is humble. I can't undervalue this one enough. It's so wonderful to share my life with someone who knows that his worth is found in Jesus.

7. He takes time to listen to me and invest himself in my interests. It's one thing to allow your wife to chat with you about her day and the things she values but it's quite another to really listen, encourage, and become invested in each of those things.

6. He leads me in worship. I am so thankful that God gave me Kris as my music minister! It's one of the most special things for me to experience as a church member and enhances, rather than distracts, from my ability to see God working in my life and our church.

5. He genuinely enjoys being a father. Some of my other points have to do with Kris's strengths as a dad but his true enjoyment and joy in our children is priceless! I love when other people notice and tell him how extraordinary it is to see a dad having so much fun with his kids.

4. Have you seen his hair? The curls. I die. My husband is a good lookin' guy.

3. He is a hard worker. He does so much to keep our family afloat financially. More than that, though, he really loves working diligently toward a goal and doing things with excellence for the Lord.

2. I can count on him to be honest with me in gentle criticism when I need to improve or change something in my life. It takes a pretty delicate balance of grace and love to be able to approach your wife with something that needs changing!

1. His priorities are in order. Jesus, marriage, babies. It's not easy, but he lets God guide him. What a blessing to all of us!

Friday, October 17, 2014

My VBAC Journey

**I wrote this out a couple weeks before sharing Lincoln's birth story but am just now finishing and publishing**

I've decided that writing out a birth story is one of the most therapeutic things in the world. It's wonderful to take this thing that only you have ever, ever experienced and get it out of your brain.

Having gone "overdue" with Harrison and then having a failed induction leading to a cesarean section led me to adjust my expectations for pregnancy and birth. I knew that I wanted to avoid another c-section. 

I can't even attempt to get Lincoln's birth story out of my brain without unloading some other things first. If you know me, you know that I'm not really capable of telling a short story. I love details and find stories without them unfulfilling and boring. But if I said all I want to say regarding the end of my pregnancy, labor, and birth...well, I could write a book. But I won't! I'll just break it up into pieces for my sanity and anyone interested can pick and choose which parts they want to read. Best part? This isn't even really about sharing the story so much as preserving my thoughts for myself. So I'm opening up but mostly for myself and my journey.

So I'm starting off here. VBAC. With Harrison I had a failed induction which led to a cesarean when I was "overdue". I have peace about that experience but no desire to repeat it. Months before we decided to start thinking about having another baby I began to read everything I could about vaginal birth after cesarean. I talked to a doctor, a midwife, doulas, and many women who had VBACs themselves. It gave me hope! Kris and I spent a lot of time in prayer about it and knew that God was leading us to make this decision. We were so excited to see our family grow and hoped that God would use a VBAC as one of the means of continuing that growth.
Complications and risk factors increase greatly with each cesarean. We've always felt God calling us to a bigger family and we knew that after 3-4 cesareans I'd very likely need to stop having children. We'd love to adopt, so that's ok! But medically and emotionally we knew that VBAC was the best and safest option for our family.

After my second miscarriage I started struggling more with anxiety over pregnancy. God was teaching me and mending my heart but I did find myself with a different perspective on how to approach my next pregnancy. Once I found out I was expecting again I started my care with my local ObGyn. She is wonderful and I have nothing bad to say about her. But the morning of my second appointment with her (at 12 weeks) everything shifted. We woke up to a phone call from Kris's parents letting us know that his brother had been killed. He stayed at home with Harrison while I went alone to my appointment to find that the baby and I were very healthy. I no longer had as much fear about losing the pregnancy but grief of a whole new level filled our family. It's impossible to describe those next few weeks. We hadn't announced our pregnancy to anyone outside of immediate family yet and I'm glad for that. We were able to move through that first week with a glimmer of hope in our hearts but nothing was distracting from our need to grieve.

So here we were with all this grief and change and, at the same time, hope. I believe that only God can give hope in the middle of that kind of overwhelming sadness. Suddenly, though, I needed some change in the plan. I wanted to have this baby at home. I had considered it before but, for many reasons, decided against it. But, when I'm being really honest and raw, I have to admit that I struggled my entire pregnancy with a lot of anxiety. There was so, so much going on in our family's life and I was suddenly overwhelmed with simple, everyday life. I went into survival mode and lost most of the fight in me. I didn't want to fight the hospital system for a vaginal birth during a time in my life when I needed serenity. I didn't want to relive my previous experience and the fear overwhelmed me. I know that some people think that homebirth is scary or dangerous but it seems so incredibly natural to me. What I can say is that for me and my family homebirth was anything but scary. It calmed Kris and I to think of being in the comfort of our own home during something so sacred and healing. I've already told the story of Lincoln being born in the hospital after laboring at home. But knowing what I know now, would I go back and change my plan to birth at home? Absolutely not. I never would have been allowed by a hospital to go into labor on my own that late into my pregnancy and, just like with Harrison, I was a terrible candidate for induction.

I am so thankful that God led us to our midwife and answered our prayer for healing and a vaginal birth! Kris and I have both had much more peace in relation to everything that happened to me at the hospital because we have that victory to cling to. After my c-section I worked incredibly hard at making breastfeeding a success and found healing in that even though it was a long, tiring journey. Now, in the wake of a uterine inversion and physical and emotional healing, I am thankful that I have that incredible victory to remember when I feel overwhelmed by everything else. My pregnancy with Lincoln fell during the most tumultuous time in our family's life and I retreated emotionally out of an intense survival instinct. I am not proud of how I handled so much of this journey but in the wake of it all I am praying more than ever for physical, emotional, and relationship healing.

I believed throughout my pregnancy that God would heal me and allow me to birth Lincoln in the way he promised. I am so blessed by Him answering that prayer and teaching me that He never makes an empty promise.

Back in the Groove

I have found over time that I really, really enjoy writing but rarely prioritize it in the midst of a bazillion other things to do. However, I've been feeling more and more like I'm getting back in the groove of normal days around here. Though normal has a different definition than it did a year ago, that's for sure.

Motherhood of 2 little boys. It's really been a smoother adjustment than I expected. I anticipated a lot of jealousy from Harrison but we've had very little negativity from him in relation to being a big brother. Lincoln is a very chill baby so that has made everything so much easier.

Grief journey. It still sucks but it's easier every day. That's all I've got on that for now.

Ministry. We sure love our congregation. This weekend is the 100 year anniversary of our church and we are having some really great celebration events. Last night we had a men's choir concert, tonight an ice cream social, tomorrow a festival, and Sunday a special worship service. We feel so incredibly blessed to be at our church during this season in it's history. Our church family is wonderful!

I'm hoping to post more updates as time goes on and use my Facebook less so let's see if I stick to my resolution!