Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Welcoming Judah {his birth story}

We made it to 39 weeks, but my body was done.  Although I had hoped to go into labor naturally I was completely willing to be induced.  My back felt like it was going to break, and I was just physically done and ready to meet Judah.  So at 6:30 a.m. on September 19th we checked into Wesley.

The Lord really gave us some sweet nurses.  I was a mess of emotions going into the hospital, mostly nervous and praying that Judah would be safe, questioning my request for doing a VBAC rather just doing the more known option of a c-section. 

The nurse who checked us in and went through all the initial questions was a gift.  She had lost a baby as well and her daughter had lost a baby due to hydrops, so when my blood pressure was a tad high she knew it was only due to stress, and glossed over the experienced any sadness after the birth of your children question and added only grief sadness.  She got it.

Then we met our amazing nurse who would basically deliver Judah.  She had been working in labor and delivery for 33 years now and she knew her stuff.  That day there was a nursing student shadowing her, which was such a blessing because we were able to hear and learn what all the lines on the monitor were indicating.  It helped in labor tremendously, because she could predict how soon he’d be there based on the monitor.  She also kept reassuring us that Judah was doing awesome, which helped me to focus on the whole labor thing and not to worry about his safety.

We got checked in, my iv in, fluids started and they checked me and with all the walking I did I was still stuck hadn’t dilated anymore and was still 50% effaced.  I was bummed and wondered how this labor would go and wondering if I could really endure labor naturally.

About 9:00 they put in a foley ball in hopes that it would get something started.  My contractions were about 8 minutes apart at this point and by the time they took it out had increased to 5 minutes apart.  The next time they checked me I was 4 cm. dilated, everything was nice and soft and my bag of water was bulging.  After the resident checked with my doctor he decided to go ahead and break my water, since it was about to break anyway and try not to use as much Pitocin.  Per my request I finished my ice chips then at 11:15 they broke my water and started me on a tiny drip of Pitocin.  Labor started off slow, not raging like it was with Micah after my water broke.  The contractions picked up for a bit, then they slowed down.  When I was checked at noon by my doctor I hadn’t progressed at all.  So they upped the Pitocin a tiny bit to see if it would increase the contractions and get them regular again.  We started some music and it was good to relax a bit in between contractions.

About this time our nurse Audrey returned from lunch 12:30 and things were starting to pick up and I was having to breathe through the contractions.  I decided to try the birthing ball for a bit and see if it helped progress anything.  It was great, but I was experiencing a lot of back labor.  Audrey figured that Judah’s head was turned and that was part of the back pain.  Marvin was great about applying counter pressure to my back and did a great job helping me through each contraction.

We decided to check and see if this had helped and I was sad to see that I was only 6 cm.  I was hoping to be at least 7 cm by this point.  So we decided to change positions a bit and try a couple of things to see if it would help him turn his little head.  The best position was being on my knees with the bed straight up, I could put my arms over the top and use the bed to help with each contraction and squeeze the dickens out of Marvin’s hand. 

It was at this point where I just didn’t think I could do it anymore.  Thankfully Audrey was great about just talking me through each contraction and helping me breath through each one. Marvin was great about reminding me it was almost over, and that I was doing great, although in my head I questioned his ability to know if that was in fact true.  I was feeling very nauseous and decided to sit up in bed, in case I got sick.  After a few contractions that rocked my whole body, I was feeling a lot of pressure, and the only thing I could say was get him out.  Audrey decided to check me and surprise there was a head.  She had called my doctor when she thought I was in transition and told him it would be any time.  So he obviously didn’t make it, Audrey called for the resident to come quickly and she came into the door got some gloves on and caught Judah with zero seconds to spare. My doctor got there about 5 minutes after Judah arrived.

He came quickly and I was so relieved he was here, healthy and crying.  The best part was the skin to skin time after his birth and being able to hold him right away.  It was such a sweet time.  I am thankful for a sweet delivery and for the Lord helping us bring another sweet little boy into the world.  What a gift!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


…...our 4th little boy. 
Meet Judah Garin.

Born Thursday September 19th at 2:18 p.m.
8lbs. 7 oz.
20 inches long
And so sweet.

We wanted this little guy to have a name with meaning.  Marvin was traveling for about a week and when he came home and we both had thought of the name Judah.  That night we were reading to the boys from their Jesus Storybook Bible the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.  How Jacob worked for an additional 7 years so he could marry the sister he loved, Rachel not the one he was tricked into marrying.

As we read…”Now when Leah knew that God loved her, in her heart, suddenly it didn’t matter anymore whether her husband loved her the best, or if she was the prettiest.  Someone had chosen her, someone did love her-with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

So when Leah had a baby boy she called him Judah which means, “This time I will praise the Lord! And that’s just what she did.”

We loved that idea of Praising the Lord for our Judah and it was a fitting name after this past year of learning what the Lord means by loving us with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love throughout heartache.

His middle name was a tough one to choose, but ultimately we loved the fact that Garin means warrior and we wanted him to have a strong name.  Ultimately we want him to have strong character, and our prayer is that he grows into a man who fights for the Lord.

So Mr. Judah Garin, we’re so thankful you are here.  What a gift you have been already.  We are praising the Lord for you.

Monday, September 23, 2013


We are now going full swing with Kindergarten.

During our drive to TN I finished planning for the entire year and I’m thankful that the planning part is finished and that I can open my planner and find exactly what we are doing for the day.  My prayer for the year is that this first year of formal education would foster a love for learning and that we can figure out a good groove of what works for us, and to have fun at the same time.

So far we’re both enjoying it, although if you think homeschool is all rainbows and butterflies, you're very mistaken.  On our first day of school it took about 10 minutes of redirecting Micah to try to stop him from literally trying to push his brother off his chair to wrestle. 

I’m using a program called Go Phonics for language arts.  After talking with our educational consultant she brought up a few things about the program I planned on using that third culture kids tend to struggle with, mainly due to their English deficient environment.  So basic skills are not being reinforced by things they are seeing as they are out and about their community.  So she felt like this was a great program that does a good job at overemphasizing some things.  Plus I like the fact it used a ton of games that I didn’t have to create my own.

I’m using Sonlight’s read-alouds and some of its history and science.

For Math I’m using Saxton, we’re finishing up Kindergarten, and will start with 1st grade sometime in March.

For scripture memory we’re continuing using Hubbard’s Cupboard bible memorization verses.

Then as a family we’re using a program called Treasuring Christ.

I have a slew of fun art projects planned for the year and I’m excited for this opportunity to teach Calvin this year.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer in America

We've so far enjoyed our time in the states.  

We enjoyed one of my favorite holidays at one of my favorite places on this earth.  My grandparent’s farm.

We were able to see Seth’s stone for the first time, a sweet gift.  

We forgot how amazing the ribs are at Guy's and May's.  It was fun watching the boys enjoy running around on the same lawn I did as a child.  They had so much fun.

I enjoyed catching up with family.

Next up was the County Fair.  One of the Marvin’s favorite childhood memories each summer.  We were so thankful to be able to be there for it.

One surprise was that my sister-in-law entered some flowers for the boys in the fair.  They each won a ribbon and it’s one of Calvin’s most prized possessions at the moment.  (Thank you Susan.)

They’ve loved tromping around grandpa and grandma’s farm with their cousins.

Micah’s become obsessed with animals, particularly cats and the baby kittens.  He’s still working on being gentle and we’ve joked that we need to get our little baby a pair of safety glasses to protect him from little brother’s fingers.

They’ve been spoiled by Grandpas and Grandmas and it's been fun to watch their relationship with boh sets of grandparents grow.

My heart has been so blessed by our summer travels.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Away Part 2 {Vienna}

After we spent some time in Prague we made our way via train to Vienna, Austria.  We rented an apartment for our stay there and I’m not sure we’ll ever go back the hotel route unless we get a great deal.  It was so nice to put the boys to bed and to have some time with Marvin in the evenings where we could talk above a whisper.  Plus I could do some laundry so I didn’t have to do much by hand in the hotel and we came home with mostly clean clothes!!!  The apartment was only a couple blocks from the Metro and a block from a tram line.  It was so convenient to get around.

I’m not sure which city was my favorite.  Both were equally beautiful.  Vienna has been a city I’ve always wanted to visit since I was a little girl because my favorite movie in grade school was called Friendship in Vienna.

Marvin was wowed by the beautiful landscaping, and I’m not sure how many plants he commented on but it was a lot. 

We did a lot of kid friendly things in Vienna.  Our first stop was the Zoom Children’s Museum.  It was fabulous, we had to register ahead of time for a time slot and both boys could go to the same exhibit which was nice.  They loved it.  Micah’s favorite part was the rope and the puzzle in the submarine.  Calvin loved the ropes. 

Then we headed to the famous Prater Amusement park and rode the large Ferris wheel.  Micah wasn’t a fan, but loved the park just across the street.  Both boys loved this scary slide.  Micah was a little bullet going down that thing, and he makes my heart race sometimes, wish he had a little more fear in him.

We were able to take in Schronbrunn Palace.  WOW.  I was amazed at how kid friendly it was.  We stopped and ate a lunch we packed here.  Stunning views of Vienna.  We wish we could have spent more time in the labyrinth mazes, but we wanted to tour the palace before meeting up with a friend from my hometown.

The shock of the day was that Calvin loved the Palace tour, thanks to technology.  He was given his own listening guide and he entered every number into his listening device.  Afterwards he told me it was neat to see where the mother lived.  We were shocked that he actually paid attention to the entire 40 room tour. 

Micah however woke up from his incredibly brief nap right before we entered the palace.  Bad timing.  So I carried him through 20 out of 40 rooms on our tour, got my arm workout in for the day (in case you were wondering why Marvin didn’t carry him, Micah’s quite particular and when he’s tired it’s easier to not fight some of his requests and it kept him quiet vs. a full blown meltdown if Marvin picked him up.  We figured our fellow tourists would rather not hear a screaming child.)  It was very grand and I enjoyed learning more about the royal Austrian family.  They did a very good job of painted a concise picture of their life and included some fascinating details.

We met up with a friend of mine from my hometown for dinner and the park.  She showed us a great Chipotle like place and were able to take it to a park nearby and let the boys play.  Thanks K it was great to meet your husband and little guy and fun to see you while we were in town.

The next day we went to the Vienna Zoo.  It is hands down the best zoo I’ve ever been to.  It was neat to see some of the original enclosures and everything was so established, tall tress, large plants.  The boys were impressed.  I loved watching the panda bears, munch on their bamboo and the monkeys.  I heard Micah say, “Mama look", about a million times that day.

We headed back into town and enjoyed some Austrian food and saw this crazy guy practicing for a big slack line performance the next day.  CRAZY.  Calvin loved it because he actually knew what he was doing since he walked, with help, on a slack line a couple weeks prior during a picnic we had with some friends.

The next day we went to a music museum.  I figured Calvin would like it, but he decided he didn’t want to enjoy it before we went inside.  Although I think he had fun.  I enjoyed learning more about a few famous composers and seeing Beethoven’s spectacles was pretty cool.  I’m thankful Marvin let me enjoy that part of the museum while he took the boys to a more interactive part of the museum.

Shortly after that we headed to the airport and flew back home.  It was a great trip.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On the Eve of becoming a Family of 6

Today I found myself with lots of mixed emotions, eagerness, excitement, nervousness, fear, sadness, happiness, relief because tomorrow Seth will move up in the ranks of our family and the youngest child title will be passed along to his brother.  It has left me very weepy.  

Seth has been our baby, and even though we never got to experience all the baby things with him, he’s held that sweet tender place in our family.  In my mind it's hard to come to terms with the fact that he will be a big brother tomorrow. 

But here we are on the edge of adding to the family the Lord has given us and I’m sad.  Sad because life moves forward without Seth, and I miss my little boy and all the memories that would have been filled with him this past year.  Sad to think that maybe others will think we’re done grieving because the Lord has filled our arms again.  Sad because this is another thing we have to do without him.

I’m nervous about birthing another child.  Nervous about for his health and safety.  Nervous of what tomorrow will bring.

But there is a huge part of me that cannot wait to meet this little blessing whom the Lord has knit into our family.  My prayer going to bed tonight is that I would wake up in the morning with joy and peace in my heart and my heart would not be overshadowed with fear and sadness.  I’d love your prayers today more than ever.

Respite Retreat

We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to go to a Respite Retreat.  It was a questionable trip, and the fact that my due date was moved up made us very nervous about going.  We decided to pack and leave after my doctor’s appointment on Thursday if he gave us the green light.  Marvin and I felt if he was still high and I had not progressed any farther we felt okay going.  Although I was still nervous, and I mapped out hospitals on our route, we left for the 12 hour trip.

We were so thankful that we were able to go.  It was such a blessing and gift to spend that time with others who also had lost children.  Plus it was also fun to go on a road trip with just Marvin, something we rarely get the chance to do.

As we got closer to Tennessee I started to get very nervous, mostly because I had no idea what was in store for us that weekend.  Nervous about the emotions the Lord was going to take us through that weekend, and nervous to maybe met with some unexpected grief, that might just knock me down again.  But it was so good.

Overall, it was so sweet to be in the company of others who know a little bit more of the pain of losing a child.  I should not be surprised how the Lord places people in our paths, and were so blessed to connect with several couples.  Each of our grief has been and is different but there is a common heart bond and understanding of the difficulty and pain that this road involves.  Many things others said over the weekend resonated with our hearts.

Nancy and David Guthrie are so sweet and the Lord has gifted them with the ability to help those who are grieving.  We were so blessed by them.  For me our weekend brought up a lot of how I still very much struggle with fear about our living children.  To be honest sometimes I let fear win.  It was so good to be reminded to talk back to those fears with the Word.  Yes I may lose another child, but your word says…..You are always with me.  Your love never fails, etc.

Another gift was that I was reminded to not make Seth into an idol and to be present in my living childrens' lives.  It’s a hard to put words with the emotional tug of missing your child so fiercely and also enjoying the ones the Lord is allowing you to hug.

Lastly it was so sweet to enter into a time of worship together.  To be able to sing words, proclaiming together our trust in him despite the roads he’s led us down, blessed my heart tremendously.  The body is pretty amazing.  I’m so thankful we got to go and I'm so thankful to David and Nancy's ministry.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebrating Seth {on his first birthday}

This post is long overdue, but I did want to share how the Lord filled Seth’s birthday with comfort and hope.

We sent a few gifts for Seth’s stone back with some sweet girls who got to spend a semester with us.  It helped waking up in the morning knowing that something would be delivered to his grave.  I think that was probably one of the hardest parts of the day for me.

Our day started with a friend stopping by at 9:30 and asked us to go outside.  As we stepped outside, tears immediately swelled as we saw our family (the ex-pat community) standing out on the playground each holding a balloon.  We were blessed beyond measure.

They prayed for us, rejoiced in our son, and remembered him.  It truly touched our hearts.  Then we watched our balloons float to heaven.  It was good to be able to hug our family here on his birthday.  What a gift they have been to us this past year.

Calvin got to give away some bubbles and cars to some kids on our playground before we headed out for the day.  We had a few left over so we hid them around our playground for other neighbor kids to find later.  I love seeing the joy it brought Calvin to give things away.  Micah even helped pass out the bubbles.  I’m thankful we were able to do something like that as a family, to remember Seth.

Of course all our neighbors wanted to know what the balloons were about in the morning and was a good chance to explain it was our son’s birthday and our friends wanted to pray for us and remember him, yet another way Seth's life has allowed us to share our hope in Jesus.

Since it was warm enough we decided to take our picnic lunch to the river and Marvin choose the perfect spot. After a little hunting we found a great little off shoot, with the perfect little slide for the raft and all the sand and rocks Micah could ever want.  Marvin and I enjoyed watching the two boys he’s given us play.


After the perfect afternoon we headed home, picked up some pizza while two little boys snoozed in the backseat.

We sang Happy Birthday.  And enjoyed cake. 

It was a day we felt the Love of Christ.  Although we missed Seth and wish we could have celebrated by chasing him around, and watching him open presents and enjoy cake for the first time our anticipation of eternity grew on his birthday.  We are thankful for the hope we have in Jesus and that he carries us through days such as these.

**Thank you to all of you who love us through loving on others in Seth’s memory.  Our hearts were deeply touched.  Thank you so much.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Made It!

Not only did I make it to 9 months.  I’m almost 39 weeks along.  Crazy.  I’ve decided my body is incredibly unpredictable.

My fluid level remained high until 36 weeks, and things started progressing, and then one day it dropped and the contractions stopped.  So when we were actually ready for this baby to come, he decided to stay put, and pack on the pounds. I’m scared at how big he’s going to be.

The reality of this little guy’s arrival finally dawned on me today.  I haven’t really thought much about having a third little one to care for because honestly it hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t really ventured into thinking about sleepless nights, how Micah will react to a new baby brother, homeschooling with two little ones to take care of and trying to concentrate on teaching Calvin, recovery, traveling with three, etc.

So when I got off the phone today with the doctor to schedule his induction, it suddenly became real.  

He’s going to be here this week real. 
Oh my goodness our life is going to change real.

I would be lying if I would tell you that I’m completely at peace about everything.  In fact many days it’s the opposite.  I’m scared that we’ll lose this one as well.

Part of me is nervous about having a newborn again, and that it will bring up more emotions and grief, which I’m sure will happen, but I think most of it is just uncertainty of how grieving will look with a newborn.  Stepping foot in the hospital is enough to relive Seth’s birth and the time we got to spend with him.  I don’t want this little guy’s birth to be overshadowed with grief, I want to be present and for the Lord to fill me with his peace and joy with his arrival.

My heart longs to hold a sweet little newborn in my arms.  To cuddle and to enjoy him sleeping on my chest, free of tubes, and machines.  I can’t wait for those moments, but I’m scared they won’t come.

We sang the song Sovereign by Chris Tomlin at a conference this summer and honestly was so hard to sing, I mean truly sing it to the Lord with all of my heart.  But it was freeing at the same time to release all these fears, hopes, dreams into his loving hands about this newest little one.  It’s a daily battle, but the Lord is Sovereign in my greatest joy, AND sovereign in my deepest cry, and as we’re about to welcome this little guy into the world that song has become my prayer.

Thanks for walking this road with me friends.  It’s been a blessing to travel with you.