Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

I hang all my hope upon the cross with Christ. In the cross I see the vileness of my sin and I see the lengths to which Christ must go to expunge the wickedness from my heart. I see his willingness to take the brutal scourge that I deserve and the absolute inability within me to clean away even the smallest stain of sin. I see his love, what wondrous love, and I see my pride, what wicked pride. The cross of Christ is not where I look to feel better about myself, through the cross I see myself as I really am. Instead, looking to the cross reveals to me Christ as HE really is, the merciful Savior, my Redeemer, my Rescuer. All my hope is in him!

And as I looked upon that corpse [of Jesus], I heard a footstep, and wondered where it was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand. It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that, somehow or other, wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was nearer to me than my hand would go. At last I put my hand upon my breast. “I have thee now,” said I; for lo! he was in my own heart! The murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling in the recesses of my inmost soul. Ah! Then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master, should be harboring the murderer, and I felt myself most guilty while I bowed over His corpse, and sang that plaintive hymn: “Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were; each of my crimes became a nail, and unbelief the spear.” My sins were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows. My sins cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and laid the cross upon his gracious shoulders. His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity; but my having been His murderer is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express

C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Day Our Princess was Born

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It was Spring. All the daffodil fields were waving there ruffled heads at us as we drove through the valley to the hospital where our daughter would be born. I remember feeling oddly tuned in to all the beauty of Spring around me. Everywhere I looked I saw new life that God had created and was sustaining. Spring is the season of hope! The previous day we had received a phone call saying that our birth mom's blood pressure was high and her Doctor had decided to induce her labor early. Two weeks that we thought we had to prepare were GONE, not that there was really anything left to do but to continue to prepare our hearts for whatever the Lord had in his plan for us. We threw our overnight bags together and drove off to meet the scary future clinging to the truth that God is good.

The day of May 7th passed by in slow motion as we waited at the hospital to hear what was happening, waited to be told what to do, waited… waited… A few times, C asked us to come visit her while she labored. We colored together. We watched 27 Dresses together. We ate red jello together. I tried to keep my mind focused on ministering to her as best I knew how, supporting her and loving her, all the while battling the fear of the ‘what-if’s and maybes’ and also the rising excitement that needed to stay calm in my heart. When her labor intensified, she asked to be alone.

The electric buzz inside our hearts grew and intensified as the minutes and hours trudged along. We passed the time by walking around the charming downtown near the hospital, went out to eat, stopped by our adoption office to help prepare baby bottles for an upcoming coin-drive at local churches. Everything around us was washed in Spring colors, the sky was blue, the cherry trees were turned out in pink petticoats. Everyone around us was out casually enjoying Spring and yet I felt they could not possibly see the vibrancy of pink and green and blue, feel the briskness of the air, or sense undercurrent of hope and anticipation as I did.

The afternoon wore into evening and we were summoned back to the hospital. Labor was hard and long. At last, we heard that the doctor had decided to do a c-section. Baby’s heart rate was too low, and C had labored too long and was exhausted. At that point, everything accelerated… clammy hands, racing hearts, pounding heads. Jon and I held each other and prayed and tried to still each other’s shaking. Our adoption councilors directed us to wait outside the nursery door and soon it opened to us and a nurse asked us to come in. We held on tight to each other and held on tight to the One who knewMay 7 (10) copy 2 our hearts. Minutes later a door opened and in came a nurse and C’s father holding the most tiny wrapped bundle. With tears, he walked to us and unimaginably handed us his granddaughter. I truly believe in that moment that I first held my daughter my heart burst wide open and has never repaired the same way again. I cannot even think of how to write what we felt in that moment, but it was unlike anything I had ever felt before… a ripping, painful, overwhelming love, a crushing unworthiness, a truly humble thankfulness. This baby who so intensely looked right into my eyes was God’s perfect and merciful answer to eight years of pleading and weeping. How could she be ours? That first moment with our daughter is one that surges through my memory with electrical pulse every time I think of it. Jon and I wept together at 7:45 PM, May 7th, as we held our miracle for the first time exactly 14 minutes after the princess of our hearts was born.

DSCFf3499All too soon, our bundle was taken by the nurse to be unwrapped, poked, prodded and pricked. The kind nurse asked me if I would like to give her first bath.

Our baby was amazingly perfect at only 5 pounds, 10 ounces, and 18 3/4 inches long. We named her Sarah Grace Watson. Our princess from a gracious Lord.

Jon and I were given full access to the nursery room that Sarah would stay in and the nurses let us take responsibility for her feeding, diapering and care. It was a wonderful time of bonding with her and getting to know our precious baby. It was also a time of sharing with C as she would ask to have Sarah brought to her room for short periods and then a little later would come visit her in the nursery with us. Sarah’s birth mom was so very gracious towards us and so very tender towards the daughter that she had carried and birthed. I can’t imagine what she was going through inside, but this I know: She sacrificed herself for the good of her child because of her incredible love. I will always honor her for that.

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There was still an undercurrent of tension to contend with, a legal issue in the form of a 48 hour period of time beginning at birth that allows birth parents to retract their previously signed relinquishment. In our case, since Sarah was born after 5 PM on Wednesday, our full legal custody of her did not come into effect until Monday morning at 9AM. This is a good law (Washington's adoption laws are some of the best in the country) and I don't contend that it should be different. But on our end, that was a long period of time to fall in love, dream big dreams and trust that our hearts would not be broken. The hospital had a policy to not release infants to adoptive parents until full court custody was granted, meaning they intended to keep Sarah in the hospital nursery until Monday! However, God worked on our behalf through our adoption attorney, some rushed court-signed paperwork, and an additional consent form signed by C, who very much wanted us to be able to take Sarah home. For the first time in hospital history, they released our baby on temporary orders and Friday morning we were able to take her home! It really was a miracle!

Friday morning found us preparing to leave the hospital, sharing hugs and snuggles with Sarah’s birth family. Our adoption councilors made sure to warn us again that taking a baby home before the birth parent window is closed is risky business, but we proceeded with the peace that God supplied. Driving away from the hospital with our little Sarah Grace tucked snuggly in her car seat, we felt an unspeakable joy and freedom. We also felt like we were getting away with the greatest bank robbery of all time! Sarah Grace's arrival was met with adoration from grandparents, pink balloons, bouquets of flowers, presents fit for a princess. Home had NEVER felt so wonderful.

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That weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day. As I had for many Mother’s Days, I spent the day in tears… but this time, tears of unspeakable joy! Monday morning came and went without incident and just like that our sweet Sarah Grace was ours forever. Our family was born through God’s beautiful miracle of adoption and in every way and every day we are grateful.

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Isn't she beautiful?
 
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

36 Weeks!

DSC_6892 copyCounting the Days: Only four weeks left until the official due date!! I have conflicted feelings at this point, part of me desperately wanting to be done and another part of me equally wishing that this special time didn’t have to end. Technically, our Peanut (so dubbed by the princess)  will be ‘full term’ at 37 weeks and I can deliver anytime after that. Yea!

Baby’s size: Baby Blue is somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5 pounds and 18 or 19 inches long. He’s really going to have to stop growing or be delivered… which brings us to…

Mommy’s size: I am seriously all stretched out! Although I’m measuring an inch smaller than average, I feel absolutely HUGE. Interestingly, I have not gained any weight in the last two weeks even though my son is gaining about 1/2 a pound a week and I have not accrued any stretch marks. I’ve heard that is one of the benefits of being fair-skinned… which brings the benefit tally up to, let’s see, one. Kidding.

Movement: It is the oddest thing to watch my alien-invaded stomach roll! This fellow is quite a squirmy bugger and lately, as I feel his intense movement, I am acutely aware of how big he is getting. My ribs are actually soar from the constant kicking and jabbing they receive.

Sleep: I will leave it at this: it is 3:45 AM. I have been awake since 1:30 AM. Blogging seemed like a good idea. When I am finished I will attempt to go back to bed, where I will lay uncomfortably on one side, flip to the other side, almost fall asleep and then realize I have to pee. Repeat. DSC_6317

Clothes: I have discovered that maxi skirts are nearly as comfortable as yoga pants and infinitely cuter! I also have reconciled to the fact that nothing is going to be truly comfortable until this feeling of having swallowed an over-inflated beach ball is over. Even sweat pants. Even my floppy Wyoming sweatshirt. How sad is that!

Symptoms and Cravings: Braxton Hicks are weird. Cervical pressure is weird and uncomfortable. Hip pain is just painful. Peeing all the time is annoying. Being dizzy and cranky is getting a little old. Feeling simultaneously too full to eat and really, really hungry is confusing. Clear skin is fantastic. Sleeping is a distant memory. Bending over to pick up, well, almost anything is children’s work. I am fanatical about drinking water and eating fresh fruit. Pineapple has hit my #1 this last week, topping kiwi and strawberries. Other random cravings: popcorn, juice, frozen yogurt.

DSC_6421Highlights: Last weekend was an amazing, full several days. My best friends threw me a lovely shower that lasted most the day. We ate quiche, strawberries and pineapple, cheesecake, drank tea and chatted for hours. Baby Blue received some handsome little outfits, which was fun, but mostly I was just thankful to have my best people around me celebrating and giving thanks. It was really special. After the shower, my mom and I took Sarah on a date to her first ballet, Tea for Ruby. It was so special to watch her absorb every little thing – all wide eyed and excited and nervous. She waltzed away from the show with glitter in her eyes and twinkles in her toes. I couldn’t stop my eyes from filling up with tears as I watched her enjoy herself so much. The next day was Resurrection Day – After playing piano for the two wonderful church services, we hosted dinner at our house for our families and some good friends from church. It is such a special day and I love that we get to play host and hostess each year. This year we simplified a bit and as always, everyone helps!

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Looking Forward: If I were to label this pregnancy with one word it would be this: Privileged! I feel so very, very privileged to have carried this child, to have nourished him and felt him grow, to have been blessed with his health and mine. God has blessed me so much. Looking ahead, I am starting to crave the next step of meeting him and kissing him, snuggling him, sharing him with my two little darlings who cannot wait to meet him. The end is so close. I am sad to be done with this beautiful stage of my life that I never thought I would get to experience, sad to loose this incredible intimacy with my baby’s every move, and yet excited to hold him and see him. Sometime in the next four weeks or so….

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

32 Weeks ~ Counting Down!

32 weeks 1Baby size: He’s about 4 lbs. and between 16 and 18 inches long. His living space is dwindling, I can say that with confidence!

How far along: 32 weeks. It was exciting to hit the 30 week mark, but my excitement has turned into something more like longing as I’ve gotten a lot less comfortable and the eight weeks left until my due date seem interminable. Technically, I can deliver anytime after April 18th… that’s only six weeks away. I’m not even entertaining the idea that I might go long. Please don’t mention such a thing!

Total weight gain: More than I’d like, but less than I could! I’ve gained 22 lbs. to date… One month saw a 32 weeks 2whopping weight gain of six lovely lbs! Since then I’ve evened out to more like half a pound to one pound a week.

Sleep: Not bad. Still up a few times – you know why! – but mercifully, going right back to sleep. In fact, this last week I’ve even been getting up with my guy and having a nice quiet time before the kids get up. My life is so much more balanced when that is my routine!

Clothes: Okay, at the risk of sounding ungrateful… I’m totally ready to be done with maternity clothes. I have a lot of really cute things, but I really just want to fit back into my skinny clothes! In the meantime, sweatpants are my best friend and will be until I die. The end.

Food drama: Well, I’m sorry to say, my stomach has given up its space to baby and I can no longer eat. (Slight exaggeration.) I won’t go into details. My grapefruit/orange craving finally had to be denied which made me very sad, BUT kiwi is my new must-have. Oh, how I love kiwi! In fact I just finished off a bowl of yummy kiwi and strawberry and were it not for the fact that I feel like I just ate Thanksgiving dinner, I would have more. Delish!!

Symptoms: Nesting! I’ve heard of such phenomenon but never truly experienced it. My home is getting the scourge of its life and my energy rises for cleaning tasks and then plummets. Aside from my ‘big tummy’ as my littles refer to it, I am thankful to report that a lot of the typical pregnancy symptoms (swelling, heartburn, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, stretch marks, etc) are still passing me by. I don’t assume that will last until the end, but I’ll take it as long as it does! 32 weeks 6

Exercise: 20 minutes of pregnancy pilates a few times I week. My hips always hurt after the workout, so I can’t do it consecutive days, but I figure every little bit helps keep me strong for the coming day.

What Baby’s up to: According to our last appointment with my midwife, my clever boy has engaged himself in the right position for birth. He has a nice strong heartbeat that I could listen to all day. All his stretches and rolls and kicks are so endearing and even comforting… just to know that he’s doing well in there. Sometimes he finds a nerve or rib and spends his time playing fiddle on it, but mostly its just as wonderful as when I felt his first pop-corn kick. Oddly enough, I’m pretty sure I will miss feeling his movements so intimately after he’s born. Its just special and I love it.

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Belly Button: Innie/outie. You can see it through my shirts now… weird.

Name: TO BE ANNOUNCED!

What I’m looking forward to: More and more every week, I just can’t wait to hold him! I want to see his face and cuddle him. Its all SO exciting!

 

 

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 Weeks ~ 10 to Go!

I’m actually writing this a couple weeks late, so I’m just going to post a few pictures that a good friend of mine took this week. I’m excited to be counting on two hands now! It’s a bit surreal to think that we are almost a family of five and that this little boy kicking around inside is in his final weeks of cooking. I’ve felt really good for the most part. In fact, at this point I’d say my 3rd trimester has been the best. Sure, my body is a bit more cumbersome, but my energy has been better. So much to do, so little time. Another thing I’m excited about is that I’m now going to my midwife every two weeks instead of once a month. It really helps to pass the time! Plus, every time I hear his swooshing heartbeat my own heart jumps a bit. According to my midwife, I’m measuring one inch smaller than ‘average’, whatever that is, and my weight gain has been ‘appropriate.’ Good stuff.

So here are a few of the pics from this weeks…

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30 weeks 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 weeks 6I love these shots that Tara took for me, especially the ones of Jon and me together. I feared that I may not get any of the two of us, and these hit the spot precisely.  Thank you, friend!!