Thursday, June 6, 2013

Embrace the Chaos

Landon is two months old today. It’s hard to believe that these first two months have flown by so fast. They’ve gone so fast that it’s been almost that long since I’ve written anything here.

Actually, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this blog… since we’re not in Costa Rica anymore and I don’t have anymore crazy bug stories or whatever. And so I’m trying to figure out whether to keep writing or not and what the focus would be, etc. But one of the reasons I haven’t written is obviously because we had a baby. And my focus has been precisely that – little baby Landon and adjusting to life with two kids!

It seems we’ve been doing a lot of adjusting lately. And with that adjusting has come a fair share of chaos. I’m not too good with chaos – I like order and I like to control things – so with the transitions and moving and ups and downs and especially with a baby, I’m learning to let go. And my mantra to myself lately has been, “Embrace the chaos.”

When there are three loads of laundry to be folded, one in the wash, and another pile of dirty clothes on the floor, I tell myself “embrace it” {because this much laundry means we have the blessing of a baby in the house}

When we’re up several times a night, and wake up feeling like we got hit by a train I remind myself again, “embrace it” {because being this tired only comes when you’re caring for an infant and this little one was an answer to prayer}

When the kitchen counter is covered in clutter or you can’t see the rug on the floor because it’s covered in dog hair, I repeat to myself, “embrace it, embrace it” {because this mess means my priorities are in the right place – taking care of my two children and sometimes even making a decent dinner for all of us}

Some days are easier than others. But overall, I am filled with joy because we have this precious baby boy who we waited a long time for. I am trying to relish in this phase of life because I know it won’t last forever. One day my sassy four-year old will be 14 (and be even more sassy) and my baby boy won’t be a baby anymore (and hopefully be a little less sassy than his big sister). Time goes fast. So I’m trying to embrace it, all of it, even in the chaos.

Some of the 'chaos' of the last couple months has included:

Kate's Fourth Birthday!

Bowlin' at Big Al's with G-Pa!
Doing a birthday curtsy

Pinata time!
Going to gymnastics and ballet classes

And of course, the boy

A month ago... already changed so much!
In one my of favorite outfits from friends Gabi and Esteban in CR!
On Grandmama's chest.
 And the thing we spend the most time doing with little Landon: burping him and washing all his crazy spit up off of everything!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

Landon Clark Westfall arrived five days early on April 6th, at 5:05 pm. He weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz and was 19.25 inches long.

I was fully not expecting an early arrival of this precious baby, since his big sister came 8 days late, and I just had this feeling that since I was so darn uncomfortable and ginormous that of course he would come after my due date.

I also wasn’t expecting labor to start the way it did, or shall we say my ‘trip to the hospital’ since it wasn’t really labor that made us get in the car at 1:00 a.m.

But then, with babies, you must learn to expect the unexpected, right?

Here is the gist of my ‘birth story’ (the part appropriate for a public blog):

I basically had one more thing to get for the nursery on Friday, April 5th: a little lantern lamp from Ikea. So we made the trip over to Portland and on our way back I joked with Joe, “watch, I’ll go into labor tonight knowing the nursery is finished.”

That was sign number one.

Then, that night, as I was preparing for labor by writing some Bible verses down and going over the hospital bag list with Joe (telling him the ‘last minute’ things he needed to be aware of to throw in the bag), I started to feel anxious that Joe wasn’t quite as ready as I needed him to be to support me during labor.

So at 11 pm that night, we got into a little argument. I was feeling nervous because my platelets had been low (platelets = what makes your blood clot) which meant I couldn’t get an epidural if they dropped any lower. This in turn meant I really needed Joe to be the super labor coach if I had to give birth without any pain meds.  Even though he was amazing with Kate’s birth, I just can’t help myself: I like to control things, and at that moment I really needed his assurance that he was up to the job (i.e. he had read over my ‘notes’ and ‘visualizations’ of what to say to support and comfort me and help me to breath and relax, etc.).

So it didn’t help when things were said like, “I mean Jennie, I’m like a boy scout – I’m always prepared.” That’s not what I needed to hear in that moment.

I went to sleep in tears. Sign number 2.

Sign number 3 was the fact that I went to sleep late. It was probably 11:30 or 11:45 when I finally conked out.  Going into labor tired was one of my worst fears, especially with the added reality of the platelet situation.

So, of course, when my water broke abruptly at 12:20 a.m., just a half hour after falling asleep, I was thinking, “Go Figure!”.

But it was still very unexpected. I mean, who has their water break, unless you’re on tv? (Fewer than 15% of pregnant women have their water break before labor). Plus, I was in bed. Asleep.

I couldn’t believe it.

We had to go to the hospital right then since I needed antibiotics (I was Group B positive, for those of you who care/know what that is). So there went my plan of laboring at home for a few hours. And then, when labor didn’t start in the car, or overnight in the hospital, or by walking around and up and down stairs in the morning time, I knew what was coming: induction by pitocin – the dreaded drug I had heard horror stories about. Oh, and my platelets had dipped below the line so unless they went back up during active labor, there would be no epidural relief.

Things were not going as planned, but, I knew I would get to meet my little boy soon, and I also knew that people were praying for all of us. And that’s what got me through.

The rest is easy – I started pitocin around 9:30 (it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought – I just needed a tiny bit), labor started progressing, and by the time I was at a 8.5 cm or so, my blood work came back showing my platelets had improved so I was able to get a perfectly light epidural in the 11th hour (thank you Jesus!).

Landon was born healthy and beautiful and perfect. I got to hold him on my chest right afterwards and it was such an amazing moment. I never had that with Kate since she had aspirated meconium pretty severely and was whisked away to the NICU. So it was extra, extra special to hold my baby, the one we’d waited so long for, and just rejoice in that moment.

Thank you to all of you who prayed for us and supported us during this journey. Landon is a perfect gift.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Psalm 139:14-15

Every good and perfect gift is from above…
James 1:17

Here are some photos (ok, lots!) of our first few days together.

Only hours old...
Daddy very intense and focused on a diaper change.
Meeting baby brother for first time... she is thrilled.

Aunt Maggie
Uncle Ben and Aunt Maggie
Proud daddy.
Precious Landon
Alert and awake. For a minute.
This is right when my mom first walked in the room. She was giddy.
Tired mama and sweet babe.
Sweet sleep.
About to go home!
First car ride.

Kate greets Landon at home...
Me and my children. So crazy I have 2!
Love my baby brother!
Grandmama and grandson.
First day at home.
'I want to hold him!'
Our first walk, out by Columbia River.
Asleep in Ergo.
Yes, he sucks his thumb.
Those little burpy smiles... or whatever they are. They are cute!
Our hands.
Grandmama and grandkids!
My mom, me, and Landon.
Story time with Daddy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Stop Trying...

I tend to be an overachiever. Okay, actually I just AM an overachiever. I don’t mean that in a bragging way at all, I hope you all know. Actually, it can be quite a detriment.

Instead of rest, I often choose frantic activity. Instead of a peaceful frame of mind, I choose to worry. Instead of allowing others to help me, I am a “do-it-myself” girl – fiercely independent – and then I wonder why my daughter is so independently natured. And I wonder why I’m so damn tired at the end of the day. Or at the beginning of one.

Achieving and getting your to-do list done, or making goals and going after them are of course admirable traits. They have served me well in many ways. But sometimes, you just gotta say no. And sometimes, it’s okay to quit something.

I quit something recently and am actually quite proud of myself: I quit reading my Bible.

No, it’s not that extreme. I haven’t lost my faith or anything. But, Joe and I had set out in mid-November to read through the whole Bible in one year. (Again, not a bragging point – just a goal we had set for ourselves to encourage ourselves to be more intentional about spending time with God).  We printed out a schedule from the Internet that gave you what to read every day. I stuck with it pretty well, even through packing, moving and traveling… and then just last week I decided I had had enough.

I was getting so frustrated trying to read these intense passages of Old Testament scripture where so many “why” questions arise, and then not be able to really study it or understand what was happening. I was reading just to “get it done” and it wasn’t feeding my soul or leading me closer to God in any way. At least not right now in my life (like 10 days before baby #2 will be born). I needed something more immediate, more accessible, more understandable. Something that would challenge me to connect with God right then and there, and throughout my day.

So I busted out the little Jesus Calling devotional book my friend gave me a year ago. It may be a little cheesy (it’s written as if Jesus is talking directly to you, and yes, you can buy it at Walmart), but I actually love this little book. So many times it has a message that is exactly what I need to hear, and it offers scriptures that you can look up – like one or two verses, instead of the chapters of Leviticus I was reading before – verses you can “carry” with you throughout the day.

This one from March 29th really challenged and encouraged me (the italics are the scriptures the author uses as a reference):

Stop trying to work things out before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time. When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today’s agenda. If it isn’t, release it into My care and go on about today’s duties. When you follow this practice, there will be a beautiful simplicity about your life: a time for everything, and everything in its time.

A life lived close to Me is not complicated or cluttered. When your focus is on My Presence, many things that once troubled you lose their power over you. Though the world around you is messy and confusing, remember that I have overcome the world. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1; John 16:33

Part of the post-Costa Rica conversation that Joe and I are always having seems to be centered around these questions: What next? Where next? Is it here in the Vancouver area? Back to Seattle? Another place? What types of jobs should we pursue? Etc… These aren’t bad questions, it’s just that we spend an awful amount of time allowing these questions to consume us, instead of resting in God’s timing and guidance our lives.  God gave us minds, choice, and freedom, and he invites us into a conversation about our lives, but that doesn’t mean we have to be consumed by constant analyzing and it shouldn’t mean that we stop relying and trusting in Jesus to be our ultimate source, our ultimate guide, our ultimate peace.

So with all that said, I am glad I quit reading my Bible. At least trying to read through it all this year. I will try again another time when I can devote more time to studying and really understanding what I’m reading. In the meantime, I’m challenging myself to stop being such an over-achiever; stop trying to work things out before their times have come and instead focus on the simple, peaceful presence of Jesus as I go throughout my day.

P.S. I’m also trying to be at peace while we wait for this baby’s birth… I’ve been much more anxious second time around, wondering when and how it will all go down. While we wait, we’ve been keeping busy. Here are a few pictures of our life lately.

The nursery, just a little over a week ago. I've been frantically working on it!

Kate at the park on a sunny, spring NW day!

 Kate had her very first field trip at her preschool. They had been studying about Servicios Publicos (public services), like fire fighters, police, medics, etc. For the trip, they went to downtown Camas (a small mill town we live next to) and toured the fire station, library, and local grocery store.

Future fire fighter...
My dear friend Eryn hosted a lovely potluck dinner/shower for me this past Saturday. I am still waiting for some pictures that she took, so I only have these two... But the food was delicious, the company superb, and the laughter worth it all... Thank you Eryn and all who were able to make it!!

The three pregos! I look ginormous compared to these two! So scary.
And then there was Easter.

The Easter bucket (it was the cheapest and most practical thing I could find!)
Opening a second basket from Uncle Andy, who came down for the day from Seattle.
We had lunch with Great Grandma at her retirement home. In the back is Andy, Joe's brother, and his girlfriend.
Egg huntin' at Grandma and Grandpa's

Our dyed egg collection: animal print style!
It was also Grandma's birthday on Easter, so we enjoyed celebrating her and watching her open presents!
And then, there was the Oregon Zoo today! I really shouldn't go out in public anymore... I feel like a curiosity shop or something, but you know, it's Spring break and we really need to get Kate out of the house. Plus, it gets my mind off of waiting-for-the-baby, and it's good exercise to walk around the zoo! We even had a very, very special behind the scenes experience with the penguins, thanks to Aunt Una Beth, who volunteers at the zoo!!
Kate wanted to pose by this giant bear.
With Rick, the penguin keeper and Mochika, a Humboldt penguin who thinks he's a person.

We got to go in the actual enclosure and peek in this kennel to see a penguin chick and its mama!!
Mochika hanging out in the corner...
Being a flamingo.