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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Abby

6 years after we were done with our family, God blessed us with a beautiful daughter, Abby. God taught me lots about patience as I waited for Abby to arrive. I had to spend many weeks on bedrest, learning to let other people do all the things that were my responsibility. It was a tough blow to my pride, but I learned that allowing other people to give themselves away results in seeing them blessed. I hope to be able to pay forward many of the good deeds that I experienced during that time.

Abby arrived Mother's Day weekend four years ago. After all those months on bedrest and medication to keep my contractions stopped, I ended up having to be induced after all. The induction was no big deal, but for this birth I accepted the offer of an epidural for the first time since I was having a tubal done immediately after the birth. I have mixed feelings on the epidural. It certainly made transitional labor easier, but I would say that pushing was much more challenging without being able to feel the contractions.

Having a baby in my 30's has been a blast. I have enjoyed Abby a lot. I know to appreciate the little moments in life and to mark the milestones. Being older with more life experiences makes me less stressed about many of the little things that I fretted over with the other kids. However, working means that life is much busier now than it was with my other children, and Abby sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

I think that the neatest thing about our family is seeing how my big kids love their baby sister. Knowing how crazy my life is as a teacher and church planter's wife, they try hard to help take care of her. I rarely do any of the daily maintenance involved like bathing or dressing her. The big sisters do most of those chores for me. I enjoy quietly listening in the hall as the big kids read her a story, sing her a song, or play games with her. One day recently I was washing dishes, and I looked out the window to see my son teaching Abby to ride her bike.

I occasionally have to intervene when the games are less than well planned. Like there was this one day that James had Abby sit on the scooter and he was shoving it downhill toward the street to see how fast she could go. Abby loved it, but I vetoed the toddler shooting off into the street.

Abby does not meet strangers. She loves people and enjoys nothing more than a large gathering. If ignored for long, she will interrupt conversations to draw the attention back to herself. Recently she came into the middle of the room to show everybody that she has long hair. Random. She now even verbalizes her imaginings of how conversations with people are going to play out. I find this very interesting, and amusing at the same time. Today she was planning out exactly what each of her friends would say about her new boots.

It is hard to describe Abby in words. She is funny, intentionally so since an infant. When she was about nine months old she made a hysterical face that we called "The old lady face." One night we were at dinner with friends. Their baby boy did "the hulk" and got more laughs. She immediately combined the two moves to try to win the moment.

Abby means "father's delight." She has certainly fulfilled that to the nth degree. Every time we find ourselves gasping for air from the gut wrenching laughter she induces, I am reminded that God has been very good to our family. We are blessed that he sent us a fourth child. A ray of sunshine for our last child.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

On May 22, Shawn and I will celebrate 17 years of marriage. A lifetime ago, we stood in front of our family and friends and pledged our lives together for the rest
of time. We had grand visions of finishing college, becoming successful in our fields, and starting a family. Imagine our surprise when we began struggling with infertility. We tried fertility drugs, but had no success. We endured years of waiting every month to see if God would bless us with a child, only to be devastated to discover that yet again, we had failed to conceive.

I had final
ly accepted that God loved me and wanted the life that was best for me and maybe, just maybe, that meant no children, when our youth group that we were leading asked permission to pray over us. They laid hands on us and prayed, and God blessed us with a son. James was our absolute delight. After trying unsuccessfully for years to have a child, I appreciated every breath that he took. I basked in the pure joy of holding him and loved him in a way that I could not have ever imagined loving another person.

I wean
ed James at 6 months, expecting it to take several more years to have another child. After a few short months of trying to conceive, I went to an initial visit with a new fertility specialist, expecting to begin treatment again. Imagine my surprise to discover that I was pregnant. This time God blessed us with Grace. Only 19 months behind James. I was prepared to take a break from having babies for a while. Chasing two babies was hard work. That's when God surprised us with our beautiful Katie.

I was privileged to enjoy many years at home with my babies. I exercised every ounce of creativity in my
body to create magical memories and big adventures on a limited budget. There were countless beautiful and precious moments during those years. Of course, there were hard times as well. My marriage was not in a great place, and I fought a challenging battle with depression. But overall, my children enjoyed life. I was blessed beyond belief. 3 amazing and wonderful children. I could not ask for more.

But God was n
ot finished with our family. 6 years after Katie, God sent us Abby. Abby has brought sheer joy into our midst. Being a mom in my 30's has been a blast. Parenting with a solid marriage and a healthy mind has definitely been much easier. My only regret is that working has kept me from having the same types of adventures with Abby that I was able to do with the other kids. However, Abby doesn't seem to have suffered any at all from being in childcare. She is bubbly, outgoing, and fun.

This crazy, chaotic life as the mom of 4 is an amazing gift. Every day I look at my children and am thankful that God allowed me the privilege of being their mom. Some days are tough. There are lots of moments that I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing. I freely admit that I am making up this mom thing as I'm going along. However, most of the time our house rings with laughter. Sometimes that laughter is even at me trying to figure out the mom thing. But every day at our house is a gift. A very special blessing. This Mother's Day, I am extraordinarily thankful that I am fortunate enough to be a mom.