The Family Discussion

PuppyBaby

“Mom, Dad, we have something we want to discuss with you.”

My husband and I looked at each other in apprehension.  It’s always a little scary when your three kids—even the toddler—band together for a “family discussion.”

My oldest son Kyle took the lead, “You said if mom didn’t get pregnant by Christmas, we could get a puppy.”

The girls nodded their head in agreement and three-year-old Kolby chimed in with a chant, “puppy, puppy, puppy!”

I exhaled a big whoosh of exasperation, delighted at my children’s tenacity and complete frustration at my old and rusty uterus. 

The kids are right.  We’ve tried and tried and it’s time to own up and pay our puppy dues.

I really do want my kids to get their dream dog.  I also really want one more baby.  I guess I want both.

I don’t want to throw in the towel yet (I’ve still got a month) but my biological clock seems to have stalled and stuck—it’s been two years and two miscarriages—so unless we explore infertility, I am more likely picking up dog poop in the near future than changing diapers.

(Insert a melancholy tune)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this breathtaking sadness at hanging up the cleats in the baby making department. 

I see women all the time who have one or two kids and are so adamant they are DONE. 

While I respect their resolve, I’ve never had that feeling stick.  Not even once! 

No timer dinged loudly in my brain or heart.  The only thing holding me back from the Brangelina adoption of a mini-tribe is money. 

As far as I concerned, the more (munchkins) the merrier.

When I hear people complain about their kids I cover my ears.  Yes, these little (and big) suckers drive me bazonkers, but it’s a beautiful chaos. 

Call me crazy, but I just want more.  More kisses, more cuddles, more baseball games and tutu’s, more giggles and yes…even more teenage angst. 

Children are life—ravishing reminders of God’s blessing and love in a world of chaos. 

Maybe my thinking is broken.  Maybe it’s letting go of control?  I don’t know.  It’s just hard to watch the baby years come to a halt. 

Maybe I’m afraid of who I am when I don’t have a passel of children around to distract me.  Before I had kids, I was a little lonely.  I was a (mostly) only child with a large age gap between myself and my half-brother.  A large family fills that gap. 

The laughter, the noise, the energy…I love it.

Tim and I told the kids we would seriously consider our prior agreement. 

I also told them to ignore any strange noises from our bedroom. 

 “EEEEWWWWWW!!!!! Gross!” yelled my middle schooler.  Kyle just smirked.

(This is one way to guarantee you will never have sex, because kids are smarter.  Kyle simply stays up until 1:00am doing homework, Kolby and Faith wake up at 5:00am since the time change and just for good measure, Kolby also wakes up in the middle of the night to go potty)

We have to be sneaky in this house.

And we just might need to call a handyman to repair the broken fence on our dog run (just in case).

The Awkward Baby Daddy

Once a month or so I head over to Mission Hills Church and teach a class to a group of unwed pregnant young women and the occasional baby daddy supporting them. I run into a cast of characters at Birthchoice but this week might have been the most memorable EVER.

In the front row sat a very pregnant and lovely young gal. Beside her was an older gentleman who resembled Santa Claus. The age gap between the two was close to forty years.

I almost asked if the man rubbing her shoulders and cooing support in her ear was her grandpa or father but I felt prompted to hold my tongue.

As I started the class I bantered with the girls and asked a few questions. When I got to these two, it didn’t take long before the story poured out.

Santa was the baby daddy.

And it wasn’t pretty.

The girl clearly had some mental disabilities attributed to an accident during her teen years where she had lingered in a coma for weeks. Although still able to comprehend, there was dullness behind her beautiful brown eyes. She struggled with social filters and boundaries.

And from a distance (without perspective) it looked like this man had taken advantage of a young mentally disabled girl.

My stomach dropped and I choked back the rising waves off revulsion behind my tongue.

But as I talked, I secretly watched the two and how he interacted with her. Surprisingly he was gentle and patient and kind. I saw true delight and care behind his eyes.

Huh?

And then all of a sudden Jacob came to mind –Jacob, the biblical patriarch who dealt a shady hand all his days. This is the man who stole a birthright from his brother Esau, finagled the best livestock from his father in law and took his wives and kids and hitched the first camel train out of town.

But then one night it all came crashing down and Jacob was forced to confront his brother and the past.

He spent a night near the river Jabbock (which means wrestle in Hebrew) and Jacob did exactly that –he wrestled with God. He came clean. He owned his past and persistently dealt with his junk until God allowed him to pass through. He came out on the other side wounded (with a lingering blow to the hip) but able to move into his future unencumbered.

And here was this man before me -a man with kids my age who had impregnated a young girl, who didn’t run for the hills.

He didn’t abandon her.

He didn’t encourage her to abort the baby.

I imagine he had to face some ANGRY parents and possibly law enforcement.

Instead he owned it.

He accompanied her to parenting classes, assembled a team of friends and family to assist her and stayed close by her side.

I saw a man wrestling with God.

His sin was painfully obvious. It was the eye-sore in the room. Even the young knocked up sixteen year old girls felt justified that their mistake certainly wasn’t as heinous as his.

And I was reminded that in God’s economy nothing is ever black or white. And grace and forgiveness and sacrificial love trump righteousness every time.

God gave me new eyes that night. I saw myself in this man and my own struggles with failure and brokenness. The Jabbock nights flashed before my eyes where I have confronted the past and wrested with my soul.

The nights where I have ripped open the shiny facades I hide behind to expose the real me within and acknowledge the deep crevices and prickly darkness to the one who knows my most secret sins.

I saw a man who courageously faced his grimy soul and sat before me humbled and refreshed.

Not many sixty-five year old men get to be new daddies. There was humor and pain as he shared his unfortunate tale.

And it made me smile.

I believe God brings families together in the most bizarre ways.

I believe he can restore relationship out of ashes.

And I believe he can build something new and wonderful out of a contrite grandpa/baby daddy holding the hand of his greatest source of brokenness and future blessing.

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iPad Babysitter?

baby-with-iPad

As a parent of a three-year old, I know the quandary a parent faces when their toddler melts down in a fine-dining establishment. 

We silently play a mental game of tug of war.

“Do I pull out the iPad and soothe baby or wait outside in the cold until daddy pays for the meal I didn’t even eat?”

Hmmmm…tough call.

In the days of old, babies clutched a rattle in their tiny fists for amusement and played with their toes –but these days just as many parents hand over the iPad or SmartPhone to: (A.) develop fine and gross motor skills (swiping and poking) and (B) passively babysit.

Do a Google search for “toddlers with tablets” and images and videos of toddlers maneuvering hexagons and triangles bombard the screen.

(Seriously though…my baby could sort shapes way before yours)

But critics shake their head at this early embrace of technology, suggesting addictive behavior and behavioral disorders could follow.

But are parents heeding expert advice?  Am I?

Urvashi Sen of New York City claims her 11-month-old son Ishaan could swipe a tablet before he was 9 months old.

Sen, a member of the group Upper West Side Moms, says she feels conflicted about handing over the technology to her children. Suzy Wolfson, another member, also expressed concerns about her 13-month-old son Leo’s interaction with tablets.

“I feel guilty when he’s sitting there with it,” Wolfson said. “But at the same time, I know I’m going to get him to eat dinner if I give him the iPad. I do think there is real learning and value.”

A study by Northwestern’s School of Communication discovered that 37 percent of parents of kid’s age 6-8-years use their tablet or Smartphone to entertain; despite the fact that over half are concerned the mobile devices may have a negative impact on their physical activity.

But research reveals, the more their kids beg for technology the less parents seem to care.  Because the truth is when the Smartphone is at arm’s length and the baby starts crying, many parents will reach for the easiest solution at hand. 

And once patterns are set, it’s tough to resist.  The baby knows if he cries hard enough in public, mom or dad will cave to the pressure.

What’s even more frightening is the addictive nature of technology.

ABC News conducted an informal test to see if babies would prefer mommy’s arms or the iPad.  Sadly enough, the toddlers were irresistibly drawn to the touch screens.

Infants over and over again are mesmerized by digital toys. When Leo was given the option of his mother Suzy, or the iPad, he went straight to the tablet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children age 2 and under –zero “passive screen time.”

Not even for Elmo or Baby Einstein or Yo Gabba Gabba.

Just to fess up…in our home, we cheated by a few months, but generally deferred technology across the board until age two-ish (translation 20 months).  We also set limits on media but occasional fail during the summer months.

Instead, the AAP suggests unstructured play and talk time because they believe these approaches help children learn while supporting development.

This means mommies and daddies might want to consider turning away from their SmartPhones at the park to play pirates and princesses; it means we bring crayons and toys to the restaurant instead of the latest “Cupcake Maker” app, read books at bedtime and pull out the Little People for a game of pretend. 

It means we need to engage with our kids and not use technology to do OUR JOB.

We have to step up as parents even when it’s SOOOO easy to be a boob tube, iPhone, and iPad SLACKER. 

Because who is going to tell on us, the baby?

“That’s a time when these young kids need to be developing language skills and learning to recognize a facial expression, not scanning the Internet on an iPad,” said Gary Small, author of iBrain and professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Alright, exhausted parent’s of the world, as summer begins let’s virtually pinky swear to play more and tune in less.  Let’s turn off Playhouse Disney and go make a real fort with pillows and stuffed animals.

(Either that or your baby is going to turn into a techno-zombie who prefers his virtual mommy.  Just saying…)

How do you feel about toddlers and technology?

Source: ABC News

Potty Humor

“Mommy, I made Elmo sad,” called little Kolby.

I hurried into the living room of my neighbor Keri’s house where Kolby was playing in their tot-sized plastic kitchen.  “Why did you make him sad?” I asked.

Two-year old Kolby hung her head low and sheepishly whispered, “I peed on him.”

I looked down and realized I was standing in a trail of yellow liquid.  Then I too hung my head low as I told my good friend my kid just urinated all over her floor.  Fortunately she was cool with it and reminded me our other toddler neighbor recently pooped in her garage.  Keri is gracious like that.

I don’t think I would have even tried this herculean feat of diaper eradication if it hadn’t been for Ms. Maggie –Kolby’s preschool teacher.  Ms. Maggie is very loving but also very firm and when she tells you to do something with her I mean business look, you generally do it fast. 

(Clearly she has the gift to intimidate preschoolers and grown women)

 Ms. Maggie said it was time to go cold turkey on diapers on Thursday afternoon when I picked Kolby up from school, so I immediately hid all the Huggies, made a trip to Kohls for some new panties and bought Pull-ups for bed-time.  By Friday we were ready to go. 

But Ms. Maggie forgot to mention how inconvenient cold turkey can be.

Now some of you are thinking, Sam you have two older children.  You have already done this. 

True, true…but motherhood has a way of erasing the really BAD memories and apparently I blacked it out because it was too painful to recall.

In all truth, it took Kyle a full year to figure out how to aim, fire and pee and he was well over three before I could relax.  And Faith, being my fairy-like unpredictable child managed to navigate the potty in a week when she was twenty months almost effortlessly  So, I have two polar opposite experiences to pull from that happened over ten years ago.  It’s not much to go on and I’m still as clueless as every other mother.  All I know is we are running out of Jelly Beans and stickers and blue Brach bunnies to bribe Kolby with to tinkle.

On Friday I had to take Kolby to the baby potty every twenty minutes to empty her pee pea sized bladder.  Sometimes she actually peed in the potty and made it burst out in song (thanks to a musical chip on the bottom of the bowl) and then she would jump off the potty mid-stream and yell and clap.

*Note to self* musical potties SUCK

It’s a crap-shoot (literally) to see what will happen every twenty minutes.  Sometimes she pees on daddy’s leg, or on the floor, or right next to the darn potty.  I feel like I have a puppy. 

When I finally put her Pull-up on for nap on Friday, Kolby and I looked at each other with great relief and a unanimous sigh.  At least for a few hours we could stop stressing.

On Saturday evening, after destroying about ten pairs of Minnie Mouse and Elmo underpants, we headed to church where I got schooled by the volunteers about how I am supposed to stay home during this crucial pee period.  And then Kolby hid in a corner of the church and pooped on Elmo just to proove their point.

On Sunday we ventured out to a birthday party at a park.  Kolby was doing great and keeping her panties dry. But about an hour in to the festivities she tugged on my hand and asked to use the restroom.  I ran to my bag and pulled out her princess potty seat cover and we took off to the public bathroom in the park. 

I sanitized the nasty toilet, put her little pink potty seat on the lid and placed my tiny girl on top.  Kolby smiled and started to pee, and the birds sang and the doves cooed and we were so happy for about a minute and then the world came crashing down.

The toilet was an automatic flusher and as Kolby slightly leaned forward it exploded as if a jet plane was taking off under my baby’s rear-end.  Kolby’s face contorted in fear and she started screaming.  She reached for me with tears and pee streaming down her cheeks and legs.  I grabbed my baby and then I started crying too and cursing the toilet. 

And then we stomped out of the bathroom defiantly and I grabbed a Pull-up and lovingly placed it on my girl’s bottom and we both stopped wailing.

I now belive cold turkey as a method when potty-training is highly overrated.  Kolby and I are more than content to settle for lukewarm, though I’m a little scared to face Ms. Maggie at preschool tomorrow.

 

 

Recalibrating God’s Plan

People keep asking my husband and me if we are knocked up yet.  I’d bemoan the lack of modern civility but since I did post our intent to procreate to the entire internet universe –I might have to own this one and take the hit. 

So, in all honesty I’m a little conflicted now about birthing another child. 

After our recent miscarriage and the most difficult season of parenting I have ever experienced, another baby –even a blond chubby cheeked cutie –represents a future teenager.  And it’s enough for me to hide any atrophied eggs at age thirty-nine I have left when my husband gets that gleam in his eye.

We sensed God telling us to try for another munchkin and we obediently tried.  It didn’t work.  So my thinking is maybe the whole scenario might simply be about listening to God and following his direction.  PERIOD.  And maybe this is where it ends. 

Maybe tragedy can also be MERCY and maybe it doesn’t have to make sense.

Might I need a new equation?

God+ direction=obedience

(Results not guaranteed)

Sometimes the Christian life doesn’t lead to happily ever after and little bow tied Jabez-y blessings.

What if God is more interested in my knowing him and following him than the places and circumstances he leads me to? 

They say life is about the journey and not the destination.  I think it’s about staying on the heels of the trail guide no matter where he takes you.

I think Jesus is more interested in us saying YES to him when he calls, but it doesn’t guarantee what we say yes to will ever come to fruition.  

And isn’t this the mystery, frustration and beauty of the Christian life?

 

Baby vs. Puppy -The Final Decision

After a good deal of prayer, looking for various signs from heaven, and crying out for fleece (and then more fleece because God can’t really be serious about this), I think Tim and I are going to go for the BIG TRY.

For a baby that is. And some poor dog out there is out of a doghouse now because we dissed him.

Basically “trying” means we are having necessary sex vs. the unnecessary sex we normally have.  This makes it much more official.

And since we want a boy child who will be a tall and a  stellar athlete I will be donning sports apparel and six inch heels for the “trying.”  (I’ve found it’s best to be specific with God)

I know some of you are thinking…seriously?  Raising four children seems rather excessive these days.  (It’s so Duggar)

I know.  I know.  Trust me…I know.  The pitter patter of little paws sounded so appealing.

And let’s be honest here.  I’m already overwhelmed.  As I write this, I have a huge baby snot stain on my nice work pants and some buttons on my shirt have gone astray.  I’m lucky if I pull a shower every other day and my makeup is haphazardly applied at stoplights.

I was so exhausted a few weeks ago I actually ate a nugget of baby poop thinking it was a cheerio. Let’s just say it was an unpleasant surprise.

We have a three bedroom home and it’s pretty darn full.  The only room left to put a baby in is the cabinet over the TV that I can’t reach.  Or maybe in the closet or the bathroom (oh wait…that’s daddy’s Man Cave).

Then there’s the fact that my husband works non-stop (three nights a week and six days a week) and he goes to seminary on his only day off- which leaves me completely hosed from a help perspective.  Of course I do have the older two minions, I mean children.

Crazy right?  So I’ve been asking for a sign.  And every sign that comes across my path is anti-dog.  Remember when Snoopy was trying to hook up with that cute little girl and then he realized he was a dog and the relationship was doomed (maybe because he was a canine and she was human) and everywhere they went there were signs that said “No Dogs Allowed.”  Yep –it’s like that.

I tried the throw open the Bible tactic to get a word from God on my Kindle.  This method lacks the “wow” factor of dramatically flinging open the scriptures, closing your eyes and dropping a finger down on a verse, but it was still effective.  I opened my Kindle, clicked on my Bible download and Psalms came up randomly.  I glanced down with intensity and bamm…a verse on how “God knits us together in our mother’s womb.”  Shut the front door!    Another baby reference. (Or maybe a knitting reference, but God knows I’m not crafty so it has to be about a baby –right?)

Then my husband Tim says he feels like God is saying to him, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Youza!  I’m thinking, “Are you sure he didn’t say –be fruitful and multiply our income?”

But my biggest objection is really not the enormous amount of work involved in having another munchkin, it’s the same fear I struggle with everyday –that I won’t be able to love everyone enough, or I’ll feel even more inadequate as a mother than I already do, and oh yeah –that I won’t have time to write or volunteer as a room parent and then there’s all the additional mommy guilt trips.

I guess I have to trust that with four rug-rats and the always lively Tim Keller I will probably have enough material for a full season of SNL and as for the rest, I’ll just have to leave it up to God. 

For those of you still not convinced –namely me, I will suggest to you that I do have three great kids and (because of or in spite their mother) they are tremendous little people.  They are giving, loving, talented and irreplaceable. (And the world really needs more good people and fewer jackwaggons, dang it!)

So…now that we got that settled, here comes the fun part –making the baby. 

(More bun in the oven jokes to tentatively follow pending the “trying” phase)

PS.  I was joking about wearing the six-inch heels. 

What new, risky and bold decisions are you making in the new year?

Just Cracking Up Over Here

Check out my awesome boa!
 
I am having one of those icky-sicky days where I sound like a barking seal and feel like snotty slug.  But sometimes we have to buck up and get through these crap days.  I find that laughing is always the best medicine.
So, I decided to share some of my favorite silly finds of the day so you can share in my folly (or misery if you have no sense of humor).
How about some cat humor?
 

Source: popurls.com via Samantha on Pinterest

 

 

I’m on pins and needles waiting for him to say “boo!”

 

I think I saw a lady on Balboa Island with this little guy.  He was in a stroller.

 

Little offbeat humor here…for weird moms like me who know Goodnight Moon by heart.

 

I totally relate!  I’m a July baby.  It stinks man! And because I’m close to the 4th of July, people always give me sparklers as a gift.  What’s up with that?

Source: imgur.com via Samantha on Pinterest

 

Baby Charlie Brown…I love it!  All he needs is a crappy ornament!

 

This is so twisted and sick it’s kinda funny! He looks like a young Dexter.

I hope I made you grin! 

Much love…Sam

Baby vs. Puppy?

Next month, my husband Tim and I will have a rather important discussion –do we try to get pregnant and go for a fourth child or do we cry “uncle,” say three children is enough and buy a puppy instead?

Decisions, decisions…

My friend Page says if I have to even ask the question I’m not ready to have another child. Which I agree with in theory, but my biological clock is ticking very loudly and at thirty-nine years old I’m terrified of my uterus crashing when I hit forty.

Bong, bong…you’re out if time lady.

In theory, I would love another child but selfishly I would also like to wait a few more years because I have a lot going on right now. 

But life isn’t like that.  Some decisions have an expiration date.

 I know all these Hollywood starlets have babies at sixty, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the money for Depends and diapers all at the same time. Besides, I really don’t want my poor kid to have to constantly explain that’s I’m not his grandma and make excuses why his daddy drinks prune juice instead of beer after the ball games.

Did I say “his?” Oh right, that’s because Tim wants a boy child too, just to make it more complicated.

I would also like to ensure this pregnancy is free from any debilitating nausea, with no blood disorder (which has plagued me in all my other pregnancies) and no gas (seriously –the elephant farts are the absolute worst part of being preggers) If I could guarantee all of this…I might be open to another munchkin.

More income might be nice too (because babies are expensive) and a nanny would be extremely desirable. We might need to add an extra room over the garage to have somewhere to put the child and the nanny. Cha-Ching!

The obstacles seem insurmountable.

So, we come back to the puppy. I like dogs. I have a yard and a dog run (though I need to fix our fence). But my husband seems very resistant to this canine conversation, which leads me to believe he really wants another child.

And sometimes all the good reasons not to do something fall away in light of love.  

Either way –it should make for an interesting conversation.

Let me know what your vote is.  Baby or puppy?

 

A Walk to the Hospital

Some people labor in vain, while others are just vain laborers. (quote by Sam)

It started during the morning staff meeting. Just as I reached for the tapitio sauce to spice up my egg burrito, a wave of intense pain rolled around my tailbone then wrapped all the way around to my swollen belly.

I frantically gripped the counter of the church kitchen and panted, “whoo whoo whoo, heee heee heee,” in the breathy way pregnant women are instructed to huff and puff. That is, until the pain gets bad enough for the real guttural groans of childbirth. This is why you don’t ever tell the labor and delivery nurses you are in ministry. That way if an F bomb escapes while you are bearing down to push they won’t stare at you like you’re a hypocrite.

Emily, the children’s pastor, looked at me quizzically. “Are you in labor? Do you want me to get your husband?”

“No, maybe, I don’t know,” I replied. The last thing I wanted was to be an inconvenience to the team or to my busy pastor husband. We were trying to get this new church up and running and I really didn’t have time to fit birthing in on this particular day.

Ironically, it was my actual due date, but baby number three seemed quite content to hang out in the nice warm womb for the full term. Labor wasn’t really on my radar because we had a scheduled induction the very next morning. Wrapping up all my loose ends was on the agenda for today. I had the meeting to attend, a few quotes to do for work, and kids to pick up from school.

Besides, I had it all planned out down to the hour. The two older children were scheduled to spend the night with my ex-in-laws and the renovation on our condo from unanticipated flood damage was to be completed that very night. And most importantly, the baby’s arrival was perfectly coordinated to not conflict with Sunday Service. Our fledgling church was every bit as much as our baby as was the actual child now dropping precariously low between my thighs.

As we moved the meeting into the study, I alternately paced and rolled around on the sofa while the church staff shook their heads at me in disbelief.

“You are so in labor.”

“Uh, Sam, it’s probably about time to head on over to the hospital.”

Defiant, I stared them down, determined to keep my schedule. I picked up the kids from school then headed back to church and to my favorite sofa. Around 4:00pm. A gush of water dampened my seat. I ran to the restroom to check if my water had broken. But when I stood up, it seemed to stop. Embarrassed and humiliated that I had more than likely wet my pants, I kept my mouth shut and continued to deal with the contractions which were growing more painful by the minute.

My husband walked in around dinner time and suggested we head out to find some grub. Now my husband, the soon to be father of the baby on the way, was not the baby-daddy to my two older children, Kyle (eleven) and Faith (eight). So though he was a great step-dad to the kids, he was rather clueless about childbirth.

Planting a church during the pregnancy had required almost all of his time and energy, leaving little room for Lamaze classes or birthing preparation. When the Doctor had told him a few weeks prior I was about ready to pop, he had protested adamantly.

“But, I’m not ready,” he said. “I’ve got two more weeks! I’m just getting used to you being pregnant.”

The doctor and I looked at each other in bemusement. But now, here I was the stubborn one, clinging to my agenda and in complete denial of actually being in labor.

The kids and I piled into my husband’s grey Ford Expedition and we headed over to the Panda Express in Ladera Ranch. It sits dead center in a strip mall of idyllic suburbia. I timed my contractions on the dashboard of the car. They were about four to five minutes apart now. I figured I could make it to three minutes apart before I cried “uncle.”

In we trooped to the restaurant and ordered up our usual favorite fare. But my insides were violently churning and the mushroom chicken I normally adored didn’t look too appetizing. My husband urged me to eat up. “You need to keep up your energy; we are having a baby in the morning. “He decried jubilantly.

I smiled back weakly.

“Oh by the way, “he said, “I need you to drive your car back to the condo, pick up the kids bags and then take the kids over to their grandparents. I have to wrap up some work at the church and then I’ll meet you there.

My eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know if I can do it, I’m really in a lot of pain.”

He smiled his charismatic smile, “Kyle will be with you. He’ll take care of you.”

Mumbling low-grade insults, I drove the thirty minute commute back to Newport Beach in waves of delirious pain. The contractions were holding steady now at four minutes apart. I whined and moaned the whole way home as my son both encouraged and laughed with me at the absurdity of driving in labor.

We walked in the front door to our condo and were greeted by the roar of fans. The construction crew was still on sight, even though it was now after 8:00pm. And all of a sudden, I got grumpy, real grumpy.

I glared at them menacingly. “Hey lady,” the guy in charge said, your husband told me we had to have this done before you brought your kid home from the hospital. We are just doing our job.”

I grabbed the bags, shot the workers a dirty look and headed to the car. We pulled up at my ex-husband’s parent’s home (Mimi and Papa to the kids), a few minutes later. Mimi ran out and invited us in with open arms. Finally, I had found a nice place to relax. I plopped down in their big comfy chair, curled up in a cozy blanket and then “whoosh” another big gush of water burst forth. This time I knew it wasn’t pee.

“My water broke!” I shouted. Just then my husband walked in the door and everyone got very excited. The kids were laughing, the cats were meowing, and the adrenaline was pumping. My husband’s eyes got very big. “It’s time! It’s time!” he said with joy and trepidation.

We kissed the kids goodbye, thanked the ex-in-laws and headed back to our condo where fortunately the workers had retired for the evening. I told Tim I wanted to take a quick shower before we headed over to the hospital. Honestly, I just wanted to look decent for the round of pictures that I knew would follow. So, I jumped in the shower, blow-dried my hair, carefully applied makeup, and even managed a few curls with the curling iron. The contractions were now about three minutes apart.

At some point, I finally got around to calling my doctor to tell them we were on the way to the hospital. When questioned about my contractions and time of water breaking, my doctor seemed a little miffed that I was not already at the hospital. She sounded a little angry in fact, “Let me get this straight, you have been having contractions for the last fourteen hours, your water broke six hours ago, and you are now just calling me? Get your butt over to the hospital.”

“Ok” I said. We practically live next door. We are on our way”

Tim walked in and said nonchalantly, “Remember that day we were walking around on Balboa Island and we passed the photo shop with the gorgeous pictures of the pregnant woman with her belly showing. You know I always wanted to take some pictures of you like that but we sort of ran out of time. Could we do a few now?”

“Now?” I asked incredulously.

“Just a few, it will take two minutes, max.” he promised.

With a loud “fine,” I walked out to the living room and dropped my meticulously packed bags by the front door. I had packed the special little tie-wrap t-shirts my older kids had worn in the hospital when they were born, the perfect going home outfit for baby, a brand new mini-pacifier, soothing music on the iPod, and my favorite pillow. All the essentials a girl could possibly need for the hospital stay.

Tim lined me up where he wanted to shoot me and then had the audacity to request I change into a black satin top which he thought would curve nicely around my giant belly.

Seriously…a costume change?

I am going to stab you...in the eye.

But I adore my husband enough to play along with his badly timed request. So in the throes of labor, contractions now about two minutes apart, I do an impromptu photo shoot for my hubby. As a former model (yes, I’m serious. It’s how I put myself through school), I pose and smile, in between contractions of course, and make love to the camera with my eyes.

I hate you...

I throw in some more under the breath cussing at my husband for making me do this in the first place. My personality is now teetering between curmudgeon and loving wife.

When Tim is satisfied that he has captured my pregnant essence we head out the door to walk to the hospital.

Yes, I said walk to the hospital. Our condo complex was just down the street from Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, so I figured we could save some money on parking and walk. I might have been hallucinating when I thought this was a good idea, but now fifteen hours into labor, I’m not really operating with a full deck of cards.

My husband pulls our travel bags with the rickety wheels across the cobblestone pathway as we make our way over to the hospital. Now reeling in pain, I stop several times and desperately hold on to the stone planter and screech in pain. Then we have two more minutes to walk as fast as I can trot.

Waddle, waddle, howl, waddle, waddle, yelp.

Finally, we arrive in labor and delivery. The nurses crowd around me and bark off directions but I refuse to let them push me in the wheelchair to my room. If I’ve made it this far, I’m not wussing out in the final stretch. I do let them convince me to take the epidural though. I’ve birthed one child drug-free and that was enough pain to last me a lifetime.

Epidural kicked in...I look sooooo out of it.

And so Kolby Grace Keller entered the world. She came out of the birth canal with a true knotted umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. The doctors believe Kolby tied her cord up around the fourth or fifth month in-utero. The knot completely blocked all blood flow and nutrients from reaching the baby. She should have died, but somehow the cord fused around the knot to give her just enough sustenance to live.

They said she was a miracle baby. The doctor was so amazed Kolby survived he had the nurse take multiple pictures of the mangled cord.

 

Call me Kolby the Survivor!

 

But it didn’t surprise Tim and I. Not that we deserve a miracle or take God’s grace lightly, but we do believe in a big God whose endless love allowed a little baby to survive against the odds. He is a God who can take the endless knots we tie and lives we so easily tangle and turn them into beautiful things.

Got a good baby story? Share it with me…

The Dreaded Halloween Costume

As the leaves turn golden and the first chill in the morning gives way to scorching Southern California afternoons, it seems we have slipped into the fall season, which I mostly like, except for one particular event that makes me cringe-the dreaded Halloween costume shopping.

Now, I take great delight in picking out baby’s costume (this year she is a puppy), but the big kids are another story all-together.  First they beg and plead for me to drive them to the mega-land Halloween store which I’m pretty sure is the main clothing resource for serial killers and prostitutes.  I seriously despise these places.

Generally, I make the kids stay one aisle behind me as I scope out the next, that way I can deter them from a particularly raunchy or gruesome stretch.  People look at me like I’m nuts; “Kids, abort, abort…don’t go down this aisle. It’s The Girls Next Door meets The House Bunny.”

I know my son get’s an eyeful every time we go to these places, despite my stalking around like an over-protective mama bear.  Can someone please tell me why Halloween has become a socially acceptable day to dress like a slut or better yet Freddy Krueger? ( And yes, I do remember dressing up as a sexy Red Riding Hood one year in college.  I know the pot’s calling the kettle black here, but I’ve matured people!)

Faith is at the awkward age between little girl costumes and the dubious Jr’s section.  Anything in Jr’s has big gaping pockets for the tween’s chest, and since most ten-year olds are still growing, I can only assume the boob pockets are to hold candy?

Two years ago she was little Bo Peep, which means mommy had to do some altering of the sexy sheep girl’s ensemble.  First we bought big, so the skirt covered her bum, then we laced her up tight and made her wear a shirt underneath.  We also had to do some creative pleating along the top and add some big bows to cover the gaps.  She looked adorable once we were done, but the effort was hardly worth the fifty dollars they charge for this riff-raff.

Last year she dressed as an eighties girl and I breathed a sigh of relief. She looked like a cross between Cindy Lauper and Madonna, with a hot pink tutu and green streaked hair, but who was I to complain? At least she was modest.

Kyle on the hand dressed as a priest with black sunglasses.  Was it irreverent? Possibly.  This year he’s going to be a Mexican Bull Fighter. I know, right? It just gets better and better.

At least I get to dress up the baby in whatever I want. Next year I’m rolling out the princess gowns. Whoopee!!!!

 

 

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