Monday, November 30, 2009

NICU Day #5

Ever since Tuesday, Bella's arrival, I can feel a mental change that will forever impact me.  Perhaps my priorities aren't much straighter, and maybe I still will lose focus on the important things... but life feels differently.  I can tell you this though, I appreciate a lot more.  My heart is a bit more empathetic, and I'm looking at people a little more lovingly.  As years pass, maybe I will lose sight of this and won't feel this way always.  What I can say is that now that I've felt this way once, I have no excuse not to attempt to always free my heart as God wants it to be.

Miles and I made sure to at the very least see Bella before we picked mom and dad up from their hotel to make it to the 11:00 church service.  Unfortunately I was extremely tired (thanks to Percocet) and woke up later than desired.  We made it there by 9:45 after a trip to Starbucks.  The doctor had not yet looked at her numbers yet and had not yet made his orders.  They said we could hold her after they studied a few numbers and tried a few things.

The doctor wanted to take her off of the hood (oxygen rich environment) and... let her breathe room air!!  I was so excited to hear this news.  After watching her numbers on the monitor, he decided he wanted to try to keep letting her breathe without anything all day, as long as her numbers were within a certain range. 

Alongside being able to breathe room air, he wanted to begin feeding her in groups like meals as well as increasing her intake.  IF she showed signs of interest (which, I don't honestly know what that would be), they would also offer her a bottle.  She seems to quickly  be on her way to meeting her requirements to come home!

Nurse Lindsey from last night walked into the section Bella is staying at looking rather tired, yet smiling and sweet as usual.  She handed us a manila envelope with a note written across it: "Brittany & Miles, thank you for letting me take care of your angel.  Lindsey"  She insisted we open it later, but the nurse taking care of Bella this morning/afternoon, Sharlyn, opened it to show us.  She'd made us three scrapbook pages.  A mommy page, a daddy page and a little handprints page.  Had I not been in public, I would have bawled my eyes out.

Hanging above Bella's incubator was also the art project she requested us to take part in.  Both Miles and I had one hand of ours inked, then once pressed onto the paper shaped into a heart.  In the middle of this "heart" was one of Bella's little hands.  I don't know what touched Lindsey to do this, and to stay late enough on her graveyard shift to finish it for us... but it really, really touched me.  What a wonderful woman.

We didn't get to hold her this morning, because by the time they were okay with us holding her, we'd have been entirely too late for church.  Kissing her good-bye, we made our way to the hotel mom and dad are staying at.

For about 20 minutes we sat in the parking lot (not realizing we had left the NICU a little early) before calling mom and dad.  This morning I finally realized that I am stressed.  At first I'd thought I was handling everything extremely well, and I still am, but it was the first time I allowed myself a moment to soak things in (and Lindsey's endearing gift certainly had pushed a button inside) and on our way from the hospital to the hotel, I began to cry.  I needed a moment to collect myself before calling my parents down, so we just sat listening to some music and taking in the breather we desperately need.

When mom and dad got in the car, I was so excited to show them Lindsey's gift.  They were touched as much as we were, and agreed that she is a very special person.

As soon as Miles and I stepped into the lobby at church, people hugged, congratulated and cooed over the birth of our daughter.  We received a prayer shawl made for Bella from the women's ministry (I ended up napping with it later today), and Angie discussed the baby shower they'd like to hold for us.  I requested we wait until Bella is out of NICU so everyone can admire how wonderful she is :)  Haha.  They're talking about providing gift cards for food, gas and whatnot when we make our trip to Omaha for Bella's heart surgery (whenever that is).  I was incredibly touched at how much people truly care about Bella, her condition(s) and how we are.

Once we left church, Miles made a side trip to the Chevy dealer to have a look at his beloved Camaro :)  Mom likes the look of it, and they discussed wheels and tires and upgrades.  I'd gotten extremely hungry and mom and dad wanted to treat us to lunch at Olive Garden.

Again, the fact that I'm stressed showed up.  Our waitress wasn't exactly employee of the month, but she (according to my parents and Miles) hit a button with me and I thought she was the rudest waitress ever.  After we'd finished our meals, Miles took me out to the car because, apparently, I was slowly getting more and more loud about how rude she was.

Mom and dad were dropped off at their hotel room so I could go home and just nap.  For some reason I was unusually exhausted.  Before I took my nap, I called in their names at the NICU so they could visit Bella.  They took their rental car and got to hold our baby and stay with her until we were able to make it over tonight.

Miles and I made it over around 9:30.  I'd woken up around 7:00 PM and the NICU is "closed" from visitors between 7-8 PM.  We got to hold Bella for about 45 minutes each (usually only 15 minutes!)  Little Bella was dropping in her blood-oxygen that evening so on and off the nurse put her on oxygen... (but that still counts as breathing on her own).  Other than that, she'd been doing well all day!  I'm so proud of our little girl.  She's working so hard!

Before Miles heads to work (he's not going to take his leave until Bella comes home from NICU) we're heading over to NICU at 5 or 6.  When we come home he'll head straight to work and then mama will come pick me up to be at the NICU by 8 AM so that I can talk to the doctor and see what new development for the day is taking place.

It's nearing 1 AM, and we've got to leave here around 4:30 to make it to Bella early enough. 

Heavenly Father, I wish I could thank You properly for all the blessings you've betrothed Miles, Bella and me.  Thank You for surrounding us with people who care so much for us and our daughter.  Thank You for our family, who have supported us spiritually, financially and emotionally.  Everyone has been so wonderful to the three of us, and I can't thank You enough.  We don't deserve it, Lord, but yet You provide it anyways.

Thank You for Bella's extreme progress!  You are leading her home quickly, and I thank You so much.  My heart aches to be with her as a mother should be with her child.  Please, Lord... bring Bella safely home to us soon.  Until then, provide Miles and I the strength, endurance and patience to handle being away from our child for so long.  We give up our daughter to You, and know You will take better care of her than anyone else.  

Thank You for everything, but most of all, thank You for Bella.  Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NICU Day #4

The exhaustion over this past week is catching up to Miles and me.  We'd wanted to be at the NICU by 9:30 AM but ended up waking up at that time.  Hurriedly we got cleaned up and left, making it there by 10:45 AM and fortunately did not miss the pediatrician.  He briefed us on the upcoming new things for the day with Bella, and how she did the night prior after we left.

Today is her first day without CPAP, or assisted breathing.  She was, as they call, in "the hood".  The hood is a plastic cover that goes over her head and is an oxygen rich environment as she breathes in the air by herself instead of CPAP.  CPAP is a tube that is inserted in her nostrils with air that is forced through her nose whether she breathes it in or not.

We left the hospital during our last visit by 10:30 PM.  She's done well under the hood so far all day.  They also started a new medicine to make her urinate more.  Her jaundice is decreasing, though she's still doing phototherapy.  It's so cute the little "sunglasses" she wears. 

The pediatrician decided to start her on a new medicine.  This medicine will help her with her respiratory rate we hope.

What requirements must she meet before coming home?  She must be off of CPAP completely.  She must then, as well, be able to orally eat instead of by feeding tube.  She cannot orally eat (bottle) without meeting the breathing requirements first though.  We continue to pray that she progresses each day so well!  This will bring her home with us sooner.

The nurse we like so much, Lindsey, took our handprints and Bella's and made a sweet little heart with them.  She's doing a little project with them and, I believe, some pictures she took last night.  We adore Lindsey, but unfortunately she doesn't work until next Wednesday.  As much as I like her, I hope that we don't see her... because that means Bella will be home.

Miles and I will be off by 8:00 AM to see Bella before church.  Then we'll head over to my parents' hotel to pick them up and head over to church.  I'm exhausted, I'm swollen, I'm hard as a rock (in some areas...) and I cannot wait to lay in my fresh bed!  But first, I must finish this wonderful glass of wine that I may indulge in now that I am no longer pregnant :)

Thank you healing Lord for the wonderful progress Bella has made in just 24 hours.  We are so grateful for Your healing touch, and pray You'll continue to lay Your graceful hands over Bella's lungs, heart and soul.  Give her the strength, merciful Lord, to continue this hard road during her first week on this planet.  I pray with such passion that You will heal her soon, because honestly... we want her home!  I want to hold this little blessing You've given us, and I want to show her such love.  I can't thank You enough for her presence in our lives, and I'm so eager to relish in the presence of this little angel.   

Please be with all the nurses in the NICU.  We're so grateful for Lindsey to have watched over her these past few nights, and hope that You recognize this wonderful woman's passionate love for these babies.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bella Meets Grandma & Grandpa

Despite getting in late the night before, Miles, my parents and I were able to make it to the NICU around 8:30 AM.  I was thankful to be able to talk to Dr. Benn (Bella's NICU pediatrician) who gave us some good news!

Her white blood cell count and other numbers are still decreasing.  The lab tests have not yet come back on whether or not she has an infection but it's looking as if she doesn't.

She did very well "in the hood" (off the breathing tube and placed in an oxygen rich "hood") and continues to do so.  Her schedule is now 4 hours in the hood and 2 hours with assisted breathing/breathing tube.

Although she's having frequent enough bowel movements, she wasn't digesting her food as they'd like.  Instead of huge meals, they'll be doing a sort of IV-drip of food.  She'll receive the same amount of food in a day, just throughout rather than all at once.  This resulted in a second tube being inserted down her throat and into her stomach.  Mom and dad stood by while I held her little hand as the nurse quickly did the insertion.  The little trooper gagged just a little, grimaced and continued on her merry way of sleeping!  (For anyone wondering, Miles was in the lobby updating his mom on Bella's condition).

To help her out a little with the digestion, they'll be giving her Reglan for a little bit.

Both her lungs and heart have not changed and she's not showing any signs of heart failure as of now.

Thankfully, they took the IV out of her scalp.  At first I figured she yanked it out but they decided to take it out since they can use the PIC line in her arm to distribute any medicines or fluids.  Now we can see her sweet little head so full of brown hair! :)

The nurses today allowed my parents to hold her.  It was their first time ever seeing her and holding her!  We have some very sweet pictures of that.  Even though the rule is just 2 people at the bedside, they allowed my parents as well as myself to be next to Bella for their first visit.  Then, during her "hood" time, they let my mom hold her and my dad. 

To treat her jaundice she's also in phototherapy, so this limits holding times to 30 minutes.  We end up just splitting it into 15 minutes per person.  Again, more really sweet photos of Bella with her grandparents :)

Before we left during that visit, Miles and I placed the scapular my mom gave me.  It was the one she had as a little girl and gave to me.  Now it's hanging at the foot of Bella's little incubator so she can look at Mary and Jesus.  Tomorrow Miles has requested I bring in her Gator's stuffed cheerleader bear :)  Haha. 

We took mom and dad up to Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City.  We love going there, but since I've been pregnant we've not gone since I couldn't drink.  Since I'm on Percocet for a short period of time, I didn't think it wise to do the free wine tasting, so I didn't.  While mom and dad tasted (the DELICIOUS) wines, Miles and I wandered and admired the the shop and the pretty decorations.  It's such a relaxing place, even if there were a ton of people in there.

I became very tired, so mom and dad rested in their room at the hotel and Miles and I came back to rest.  Miles did some decompression on Eve, and I fiddled a little on Facebook before realizing I was falling asleep at the computer and finally napped.   Before my nap I called the NICU to check up on Bella and see how she did in her time in the hood.  The nurse that answered for her was Renee, the mean nurse who treats me like I'm an idiot.  She informed me Bella would be in the hood again at 7:00 PM, and that was when her shift ended.  Haha, so I knew I would be in after 7:00 then.

Mom and dad took us to Applebee's for dinner.  By now Miles and them convinced me a little bit of alcohol would not affect me or do anything bad to me.  I knew you shouldn't have alcohol with pain killers, but I didn't know why.  Miles explained it to me, and after I realized it would (if even) make me more tired... I opted for my first margarita in nine months :)  YUM!! 

Straight after dinner we headed back to the NICU so Miles and I could possibly hold little Bella during her practice (hood time).  Nurse Lindsey was on shift and taking care of Bella.  She is perhaps the sweetest of them all -- or at least ties with Nurse Deb.

She took Bella off the hood and let us hold her.  Even though we were told we could only hold her for 15 minutes each (or 30 minutes total), she said she felt it was important for Bella and for us to be able to hold her and instead we went on for about an hour.

I was the first to hold her, and while I was studying her tiny little fingernails I was startled by a dazzling flash.  Lindsey had just taken our picture and was prepared to take another.  After I'd handed Bella over to Miles, she did the same thing with them.  I wonder what she's doing with them?

Lindsey spent some time talking to us about Bella having Down syndrome.  She asked if we needed to get genetic counseling for future pregnancies, and I explained how there are different types of Down syndrome and that Bella had the "classic" one - Trisomy 21.  Transloaction is the type where it would be genetic.  I further explained that it was "luck" of the draw.  She related saying all three of her children were in NICU and had an amniocentesis for one of them. 

Both Miles and I really, really like her!  She also promised she'd try to get me Bella's handprints before she left her shift. 

When she informed us that she'd be a little longer (resulting in us holding Bella more than 30 minutes), Miles handed her over to me and said that he'd go get one of my parents so they weren't sitting out there alone.  Soon my mom came in and we cooed and stared and adored little Bella. 

Dad became extremely tired and a little sick, so I told Lindsey we needed to go.  Mom and I watched Lindsey and another nurse put Bella back in the hood and on phototherapy and kissed her goodbye until tomorrow.  Just as we were leaving, Lindsey let me know she'd be working tomorrow beginning at 7:00 PM again.  This was good news!  Miles and I will be sure to be there  during her shift so we can hold our little one.

As much as I wanted to not be pregnant (and am happy Bella is OUT in the world now), I'm not enjoying post-partum.  After a C-section, you can expect a lot of swelling thanks to the IV drip.  As of now, anything below my knees look like  fun-house mirrored balloons!  Honestly at first when I saw that I almost panicked.  After a little bit of research, I realized that for at least a week I could expect this especially after a C-section.  Apparently it is worse if you don't move around a lot soon after your surgery!  Thankfully I was up and running within hours of waking up.

Needless to say, since I'm not breast-feeding, my breasts are incredibly sore.  This is something I can tolerate a lot better than the terrible cramping I had days before Bella was born, haha, but it's annoying and a bit shocking to me.  Within a day I feel like they've grown two cup sizes, and they're hard as rocks.  A few nurses told me that icing would help (which I just did) and other tips like standing with your back to the shower, wear a sports bra with nursing pads to keep them from moving too much (which can cause further engorgement).  These are not fun after symptoms!

Tomorrow is a big Gators vs Seminoles game at 1:30 our time.  Miles and my dad will sit and watch that.  Mom and I will take that to spend some time together and go see Bella.  I'd like to head to Target and Michaels, and I know those are stores she'd enjoy being in with me.

Since my legs have swollen to the size of pillars, Miles insists that we all take it easy tomorrow.  Other than the trip with mom to visit Bella, they all would like me to sit and raise my feet lol.  I think we all need a break anyway.  Between dad travelling non-stop for almost two weeks, and mom is stressed from travelling, dad and Bella, I'm recovering from the C-section and Miles is handling the balancing act of baby-is-sick-in-NICU and work.... we all could use a good, stay-at-home Saturday :) 

Beloved Jesus, thank You for the precious gift of life.  Miles and I feel incredibly blessed to have this little token of Heaven as our daughter.  We pray that You are with her constantly, especially when we cannot be there to support and comfort her.  We ask that You grant Your mercy, knowledge and tenderness on the nurses taking care of little Bella and the other babies.  Thank You so much for blessing our baby with the care she is receiving, and thank You for creating people who want to make her better! 

We are so grateful God that You have enriched our lives with Bella.  She is our gift, and I can only hope we will do her right in Your eyes.  We miss her God, and we pray You will send her the strength and ability to breathe well on her own, the ability and health to take and digest her food and the spiritual perseverance to pull through this tough time in her first days on earth.

I love her so much Lord.  Thank You for our daughter!  You know our hearts anxiously await to hear she can come home with us and be a healthy little girl until her time to Omaha comes.  Thank You for everything.

In Jesus' merciful and healing name... Amen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bella's 1st Thanksgiving

As of 11:00 AM I was released from the hospital :)  Of course, Miles and I ended up physically leaving at 1:30.  Before actually checking out we went to be with baby Bella. 

Dr. Buehner (my OB/GYN) came into my room first this morning.  The nurse knew I was anxious to go see my baby, so she requested that he make the trip to my room first.  Upon his entering, I greeted him with quite a chipper presence.  He looked shocked and smiled, shaking my hand and telling me how good I was doing and looking.  I certainly feel a lot better than the previous day, and it was nice to have washed up, put on some make-up and re-do my hair... even in a hospital gown!  The chipper presence came from, of course, knowing I could go see my baby soon, haha. 

We discussed my medications that I'll be on.  The list seems so long!  I thought post-partum meant no pills (other than anti-depressants in case of PPD) but that is very untrue.  A part of my new medication regimen will include iron, as he stated that I've become very anemic.  That kind of shocked me.  He said once I begin taking my iron again (I stopped the day I came in to deliver Bella) I will feel so much better; that a lot of my weariness, tiredness and such are from the anemia.  Yay!

I really appreciated his sitting in there and chatting, even if it was for only about 5 minutes.  He seemed genuinely concerned, or at least cared to really know, how I was feeling about my baby being in NICU and her condition at the moment.  He related a story of his own about his son when he was born having terrible jaundice, and it was really nice to hear your doctor try to relate to you -- even if he did say that the experience Miles and I are going through is nothing like his and he can't even fathom how that'd be.  It's a shame I'll probably be pregnant in another state by the time we're ready for kiddo #2.  Dr. Buehner is an excellent doctor.

After checking my incision, he said he'd go do the paperwork so I could be released immediately.  Yay!  One of the NICU nurses was extremely surprised I was already released having had a C-section, lol.  I don't know what you'd call typical, but she very dramatically said, "You must be doing VERY well."  Hopefully some of my insane healing powers were passed onto Bella.

Of course, as soon as I saw him move from his position to leave, I about lept to the NICU door.  Handily enough, it was only about 50 feet from my own door.

Before Miles came I was able to spend about 3-4 hours with Bella.  Neither of the times was I allowed to hold her, as she was hooked up to a breathing tube (basically).  The pediatrician, Dr. Benn, showed me some of her numbers this morning.  Her white blood cell count, which previously was very high, and her platelet numbers went down.  In fact, all of her numbers decreased!  This is a good thing, so I was so happy and sent some thanks to God.

Once the shift change came, I had to leave and so then called Miles and had him come pick me up.  As I waited I gathered my things that were dispersed throughout the room and waited by the window.  When he came we went directly to the NICU and spent some more time with Bella.  This time, however, we got to hold her.  They were testing how she'd do off of the breathing tube and instead be either in a hood or have a thicker tube of oxygen blowing directly at her nose.

After a while we left for home.  It was about time for my Percocet and Motrin, and shortly after popping them I conked out on the loveseat until about 4 PM.  What was the first thing I said to my hubby?  "You want to go see Bella now?"  Hehehee.

We just came back from seeing Bella.  Apparently she did fine with her breathing when we held her, but after she was put down did not do well on her own and had to be put back on the breathing tube.  The nurse that is watching her now (Nurse Renee) was slightly unprofessional and just plain rude.   When Miles asked her a serious question, she didn't know the answer and instead of saying as much snapped at him.  She also told us that we needed to start doing what we were briefed on earlier.  Well, to be honest, no one told us anything about what she did... we were told to wash our hands, come in, see the baby and be.  We didn't know we weren't, supposedly, allowed to touch our child.  Or rub her arms.  Or that we had to sign in and state what we did with the baby when we were there.  No one showed us that, and everyone let us either hold her or always watched and saw us touching her.  She acted like we were hurting our own baby, and even though I didn't appreciate her attitude, Miles just about blew his top.

My mom and dad should be flying in Rapid City in about an hour.  I'm going to take a crash nap and hopefully dream  about Bella.  I miss her and wish I could hold her.

Welcoming Bella

As most of you may know, Miles and I had our little baby girl on November 24th at 2:04 PM here in Rapid City,  South Dakota.  She weighed in at 5lbs 11.9oz and was 17.5" long! 

I have been writing down everything I can remember from going to my OB/GYN appointment that day, up until the day after having her.  Today will be my third day here at the hospital, however, because I'm doing so well they plan on releasing me before spending another night here.

Tonight at 9:30 PM my parents are flying in.  I hope and pray they make it here safely, and am glad they're flying rather than driving.  Not only is the drive from Florida to South Dakota at minimum 2 days, but it's also the holiday and so dangerous! 

The entry I'm working on is, of course probably more for my sake and my desire of remembering everything I could or can.  If you do decide to read it, take heed because it is enormous LOL.

As for now I will just update you all on Bella's health.  Her online hospital announcement is provided to us for free by the hospital.  You can see it by clicking here, though it may take a few days before they add her :)

Bella's heart does not need immediate surgery as we'd been led to believe might be the case. (WOO-HOO!)  As per instructions of her cardiologist, Dr. Spangler, we just have to wait until her heart begins to fail.  We will have weekly appointments with him until she shows signs of beginning heart failure, so it won't be Miles and I at 3AM trying to get ahold of Dr. Spangler and driving to Omaha in craziness.

Right now she has a tube sliding down her throat (as you may see in her Facebook album "Bella Rose").  This allows for her to breathe through the proper canals.  For a while she had an oxygen hood on, but now has tubes that you or I might wear in a hospital to help her breathe. 

She's also been stuck with some sort of long needle that extends from her little, little bicep to her chest.  I don't remember the term for it. 

It's looking like it will be about 1 week minimum to wait to take her home with us.  I'm trying not to focus on that at all, because of course I wish I could take her home right now.  It doesn't help hearing the other mother's in their rooms with their crying babies!  I wish she could even sit next to my bed, but she has to be in the incubator.  Poor little dear!

The visiting hours stop from 7-8 AM, 11-12 PM, 7-8 PM and 11-12 AM as well.  I have about 20 minutes to go visit little Bella before the shift changes, so I think I'm going to go and be with her for a little bit.  That is, if I can walk! LOL

Pictures & the full story are on their way!  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We are having a baby today! Once I am conscious I will update you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last Cleaning

As much as I hate sleeping in, as much as I hate not doing something productive, I allowed this past weekend to be quite a lazy one.  Thankfully we did complete the nursery (YAY!), now all that is left is putting things away in there and cleaning up.  I figured we will soon not having weekends to sleep in on, and I know Miles has been quite stressed with work and thanks to my ritualistic get-up-to-pee-every-30-minutes middle of the night routine, he cannot sleep well either.  A good sleep in did us both well, I think... or hope. 

We managed to get 95% of our grocery shopping done, and yes, despite the very probable (or not probable) chances of Bella arriving on or before Thanksgiving, we have a turkey and all the sides we want with it.  Just in case.  Well, even if I am home I don't know why I couldn't have a turkey in the oven... even if it's a day or so after the holiday! 

Tuesday is my appointment with my actual doctor (as opposed to the CPN).  I'm admittedly a bit nervous.  The last time he and I conversed was at the hospital when I was in pre-term labor and I believe that was about a month ago.  (Wow, time flies...)  In a month, I could have dilated to something I would consider scary.  With a good handful of physical changes that have occurred between then and now, I think I have a right to be slightly... scared.  Scared of what?  Having them whisk me to L&D straight after my check-up tomorrow, lol.  I really doubt that'll happen, but I have this unsettling, unreasonable and unfounded fear. 

Despite knowing I'm just anxious and scared (hey, it's my first time being pregnant), I'm still going to clean the house today as if it's the last time I get to clean it until Bella arrives.  I know my mom and Miles' mom will help me take care of the house during December, but no one takes care of your home like you do.  Okay, I know I may have some slight OCD or control issues when it comes to cleaning but still... this is one thing I can do before Bella is here.  After that, I pretty much expect to be loopy (on or off meds) for a bit after.

Perhaps part of my anxiety comes from having (stupidly) read all the forum and blog entries on how badly an internal exam hurts in the third trimester.  I had one at the E.R., but the pain I felt is different than what anyone else describes.  My mom doesn't remember having had that kind of pain during an exam, that it was just uncomfortable.  The nurse had even said it shouldn't hurt, just be uncomfortable.  Well, let me tell you, it HURT... and it didn't hurt where everyone else said it would so I think, I hope, she did something "wrong".  Regardless, I'm going to be very verbal with my doctor tomorrow and let him know that I'm scared to death of him. LOL.

I wish there was more to say, but all that is swimming in my head is anxiety!

Book Review: Mere Christianity

While I do post my reviews of each finished book on my account, for posterity sake I'd like to begin adding them here as well.  Plus, if I run out of characters (which I almost did in reviewing this book!) then I can at least have seemingly more space to yak out my thoughts here.  Beware... this is over 4100 words, lol.

From (full review/opinion)
When you first begin to read "Mere Christianity", it comes off more educational than you'd expect or perhaps would even like. Let me tell you though, the book is designed like a fine meal! Each course leading up to a more grand one, and finally you reach this thought-provoking point towards the end that allows you to literally glide through the rest. C.S. Lewis is more remarkable than I'd ever previously given him credit for. I don't believe that even now in our day and age (of intense liberality) that what he wrote about in each chapter doesn't still hold true. His words, wisdom and advice are timeless and really should be required reading for any Christian! What's even better is that this book can be (and should be) read with vigor on a frequent basis for those who are Christians. With each growth spurt you have in Christ, you're sure to discover something new and more miraculous in "Mere Christianity".

Now for those who're searching for religion, spirituality or curious about Christianity -- I think while this book is by far the most candid, modern and yet conservative perspective on Christianity as it should be, it is not a book that may be widely appreciated or understood by those who're merely curious. This book can most certainly better answer the most common questions that agnostics and believers of other faiths ask; questions that are difficult and questions that you may have never thought of. However, I wouldn't expect (as an agnostic) to understand everything throughout the book. Regardless -- if you're curious, read it. It won't hurt.

Below are collected quotations from the book. Some of them I'm merely explaining, as a source of short synopsis (and perhaps for my own self to remember different sections) and others need no explanation whatsoever. Many times you catch yourself staring at just one sentence or paragraph and going, "Wow... yes."

"The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys." (p 10)
He starts off the book building a base of understanding. Between playing with analogies to help those many of us who aren't theological scholars.

"The Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not." (p 17)

"There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake." (p 29)
The modernity of his speech throughout the book adds enough humor, enough realism, enough candidness to let you know that he is a human as well. There's a more personal touch to how he describes everything due to his lack of ego.

"We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conlcude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place). The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built." (p 29)
Building from his base, chapter-by-chapter, you begin to be able to imagine at least the very basis of why anyone would even believe in a God in the first place. Many Christians who were simply born into their religion (to later fall in love with Christ on their own) aren't capable of speaking or taught about why we inherently believe in God. For those of us who may have only simply questioned but never ventured into the abyss of doubts, this quote here really provides one with just that perfect answer. People do not like to hear just theological definitions or seminary terms. Instead they want things related to tangible things; actual moments; actual events. Lewis provides that in nearly every explanation so that it's easier for anybody -- believers and non-believers -- to fully fathom.

"A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." (p 38)
While it may seem so unimportant, the development he makes here about mankind's idea of "right" and "wrong", despite religious beliefs, really adds a definitive quality to the morality of Christians. He naturally ties in the every day, the common sense, to allow us to see how much faith we ALL have (despite believing in Jesus Christ or not)... it's just a matter of whether or not we are rejecting the original Creator of "right" and "wrong".

"Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity." (p 41)

Book II, Chapter II "The Invasion" -- All I can say is that if you're not a believer, you may want to read this chapter at least. If you read only one chapter in this book, read this one. Perhaps then Lewis can persuade you that his thoughts are not so bad after all.
"Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having." (p 48)
It isn't until people begin hitting their teens that they begin to encounter the element of free will with religion, particularly the Christian faith. Beautifully summed up, Lewis explains how it is very possible for free will, time and a God who is loving to exist.

"God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." (p 50)

"I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, 'because it must have been so easy for Him'. Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays. In one sense, of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them? The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child." (p 58-59)
The key to this entire bit is "...but were possible only because He was God." So many of us forget this, but it is what rightly validates Jesus' perfect life as man and yet being God all the same. I could have quoted further on into the analogy of child and teacher and yet another one he goes on about, but it would have taken nearly a page.

"If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man's fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work." (p 64)
I'm convinced this is a re-wording of Matthew 7:3-5. Though with that re-wording I believe he's helping us tie in how we are all one body in Christ. We're all different working parts, with different functions and needs, and we're all needed. We are to take care of ourselves and our souls before reaching out to correct someone else. What good are we if we aren't fully functional in the body of Christ?

"Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine." (p 69) (Machine being the collective machine that mankind is)
Again, using the analogy that is popular amongst Christians, that mankind is one living body and each of us different parts of that body. With that analogy is also the explanation to why we must follow "rules" or have any sort of morals. This quote isn't going to change your life or perspective, but the paragraph (or even chapter) that it stems from might. He really does well on explaining why we do have morals; why they matter and how they actually benefit society as a whole. So eloquently does he point out that all your actions will inevitably cause a reaction that will affect someone else -- even if it's a decision you make solely for yourself.

"He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head." (p 77)

"One great piece of mischief has been done by the modern restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people to forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things. A man who makes his golf or his motor-bicycle the centre of his life, or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to clothes or bridge or her dog, is being just as 'intemperate' as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals." (p 79)
I wanted to shout out, "THANK YOU" when I read this. I really did. We are so deceived by what we deem as "good" and "bad" that we don't see that there is, in fact, too much of a good thing. Just because you're not out drinking until you're out cold, doing drugs until your money is out and your organs, or have some obsession with pornography doesn't mean that your obsession (which, for so many of us, we define as "hobbies") is being practiced with temperance. Temperance is what creates in us the self-discipline to know that there is a time for everything -- but not time for everything. Priorities can be accomplished when you practice temperance.

"But the truth is that right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality or character called a 'virtue', and it is this quality or character that really matters." (p 80)
We often say, "It's the thought that counts" and yet forget this when we attempt to do the right things -- but only doing the right things not because it is right, but because we want something in return. Like giving a gift only to expect that someone say thank you, or someone return with a gift for you as well. We have quickly evolved into a society that does the right actions... yet with no thought, no heart and no true act of selflessness. There is no goodness in handing over your food to someone who is starving if you're doing it to be acknowledged, rewarded or praised.

"For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear -- fear of insecurity." (p 86)

"When a man makes a moral choice two things are involved. One is the act of choosing. The other is the various feelings, impulses and so on which his psychological outfit presents him with, and which are the raw material of his choice." (p 89)

"I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before." (p 92)
Without trying to put any sort of "doomsday" appeal on this, I wanted to, once again, shout "THANK YOU". The fact that every moment, every minute decision and choice matters is perfectly explained within this chapter. I really appreciated how he was able to show the reader how important their choices are.

"When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place, if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity. But if they break it through ignoracen or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners." (p 94)

"God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them." (p 99)

"For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing." (p 100)
Don't we hear a lot of that? If you feel angry, or lustful, or resentful, or countless other negative emotions... it's always healthy and reasonable. Not that feeling these things aren't going to happen, but we have come to allow ourselves to think that these are all healthy and reasonable as imperfect human beings when in fact they are not. This... these negative emotions and reactions are why we need God... so that we are not drowning in our own imperfectness.

"A man and a wife are to be regarded as a single organism." (p 104)
And yet so many men and women disregard the fact that they are married or that someone they're interested in is married. Marriage, nowadays, means nothing to society. It's not respected. God created marriage and in within that union He created it to be permanent; the husband and wife are now one... and I don't believe that's symbolic.

"The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intded to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual plasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again." (p 105)
"But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury." (p 107)
Even in his day, Lewis was able to see that just because people decide to room together and/or sleep together doesn't mean they should then get married to just "make it right". While the sin itself is not good, and goes against the morality of mankind, you do not solve unchastity with forcing people to marry. This is taking marriage too lightly when we encourage such "solutions".

"The promise made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love." (p 107)
I could not have agreed more with his brilliant (yet going-to-be-regarded-as-old-fashioned) opinion that it is, in a Christian marriage, the husband and wife's very duty to love when love is no longer there.

"[Love] is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God." (p 109)

"It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it." (p 109)

"What is more, it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening." (p 110)

"You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution." (p 113) (In regards to the man being head of household)
This does not invalidate the opinions or rights of the wife, but I really couldn't have put it better myself.

"There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule." (p 113)
I can name a hundred sitcoms that show us this very thing!

"What really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or hellish creature." (p 119-120)

"Pride leads to every other vice." (p 122)
Anyone remember the movie "Devil's Advocate"? Yes, I do... and I always remember loving (because of it's truth) Pacino's line, "Vanity is definitely my favorite sin."

"'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride." (p 122)
Lewis proceeds a while about how pride is really the culprit of so many of our evils.

"A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you." (p 124)

"The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object." (p 125)

"For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense." (p 125)

"We must try not to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity." (p 127)
Here he shows a situation that happens quite often, and with young boys. We teach our children to cure their other sins with pride. We tell them they are better than this or that, and many times, for boys, we play on their masculine egos to get them to change. Instead of identifying and attacking the problem, we attempt to quickly change one bad by making him proud and doing what is right only out of pride... not out of genuine interest.

"When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him." (p 131)

"Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." (p 132)

"Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither." (p 134)

"People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs." (p 137)
With earnest attempts to not laugh out loud, I felt so relieved that he represented the Bible and Christ not as some Christians do. Instead, he allows for the impossible feat that maybe, just maybe, the divinely inspired Bible did contain symbols.

"Or take a boy learning to swim. His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leave shim unsupported in the water -- or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down." (p 139-140) (On faith)
Faith is so hard for many of us to grasp - whether we believe or not - and it makes it even harder to explain. Yet Lewis does so in a modern and simple way... just as he does so many other important things in this book.

"The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and church-going are necessary parts of the Christian life." (p 141)
Here's your answers (if you read it with context) to the questions on why Bible reading, devotional reading, church-going and prayer are so important in a Christian life.

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good." (p 142)

"That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in." (p 142)

"...if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. IN the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to goet to America." (p 154) (why we need theology AND practical religion)
Again, he further explains (wonderfully, I might add) how the Bible, religion and spirituality all complement each other.
"When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others -- not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, thought it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one." (p 164)

"God is not hurried along in the Time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel." (p 168)
With earnest attempts, Lewis tells us of how we can have free-will, yet a God who sees everything even if we haven't come to tomorrow yet. You've got to read this chapter a bit more slowly!

"He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not 'foresee' you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him." (p 170)

"It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that." (p 179)
(On giving up ones entire self to God)

"Men are mirrors of Christ to other men." (p 190)

"If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. ... Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictivness are always there in the cellar of my soul." (p 192)

"Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in 'religion' mean nothing unless they make our actual behaviour better; just as in an illness 'feeling better' is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up." (p 207)

"We must get over wanting to be needed: in some goodish people, specially women, that is the hardest of all temptations to resist." (p 223)

"The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become." (p 225)
Since He, in fact, created us and is trying to help us (with our permission) to become what He created us to be... we are not yet who we REALLY are until we give ourselves up.

"What I call 'My wishes' become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men's thoughts or even suggested to me by devils." (p 225)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sights on God

Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.
Augustine of Hippo
 My husband has been having a hard time at work.  Everybody, I know, has hard times at work and at least once in their lifetime they will run across a boss who just downright doesn't care about how they make any of their employees feel.  Unfortunately this is my husband's first time ever experiencing an authority figure (as in boss) who feels compelled to just be as mean as they can be.  We're talking this man literally yells at people.  On a daily basis he berates the employees (particularly my husband and one other person) to the point that they are literally fearful of going to work.  They're afraid to leave the building at all during the day.  They're afraid of making mistakes.  We're not talking about making a handful of mistakes.  If just one mistake is made, you can pretty much expect that this man is going to make the heavens rain down cement on your head. 

My husband is also a good man; inherently wants to be good and serve.  This is where we differ, because I have a big mouth and a more aggressive personality.  He, on the other hand, will be very compliant and attempt to please the opposing person to the best of his abilities.  My husband absolutely hates confrontation, and really detests any sort of fighting.  If I were in his shoes, I admit I'd probably lose my job or have walked out.  Immaturely, I'd much rather cause a huge blow-out with that guy and lose my job than put up with the incessant and needless beatings he dishes out daily.  (Despite others having already talked to him about the negative and harmful effects his way of doing things has on everyone). 

At this point my husband is about to lose his mind.  I sat with him in his office until 9:30 PM last night so he could get as much done as he could.  He was given an impossible deadline, and while knowing he can never meet that deadline, he wants to have as much done as possible so that maybe-kinda-possibly-hopefully Mr Big Bad Wolf will not bark down his throat and tell him he is a failure.  This morning, my husband had a major case of being down in the dumps.  The deadline is the end of today, and of course, it's 99% improbable that he'll be able to meet it.  He's already given his boss a heads-up on this, but in the long run that doesn't even matter.  In the end my husband will, inevitably, be scorned for this. 

As his wife I absolutely hate watching this happen to him.  There's absolutely nothing I can do, and there's not much I can do to cheer my husband up.  He's happy to be home when he's allowed to be, and tries to spend time with me... but there's many days where his mind is completely preoccupied with the worry of what's going on at work. 

I feel that as his wife it is my responsibility to constantly moderate our spiritual lives until my husband is able to focus on more than what is bare-essentials-important.  Somehow I have to remind him (daily? hourly? frequently?) that God is in complete control over all of our situations.  The Book of Job is always reassuring in the matter that He will never place us in situations He has not created us to be able to handle.  If you think of everything that Job went through, and you think about if that had happened to you... I think most of us agree that we would most likely go insane.  Absolutely berserk.  Nutso.  For some reason though, Job didn't.  He kept his sights on God, even despite good friends disagreeing with his perspective. 

While I feel that the entire focus of the Book of Job is not on just one thing, I do think that God shows us that when we focus on Him (especially in muddy situations), that we will get through it a lot less worse for wear than if we attempted to deal with it ourselves.  God is perfect, and He understands the perfect way to deal with any and every situation.  (Honestly, if it weren't for Him, I wouldn't have known how to handle, accept and be proactive about the diagnosis of our daughter having Down syndrome). 

That is now a current goal that I have to refresh in my mind.  My duty as my husband's partner is to help him in the areas he cannot focus on, just as he helps me when I cannot focus on my important areas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


After this weekend (which wasn't the best of all weekends to be honest) I went on to check out the blog roll and found out that I'd won a Cricut cartridge.  Not just a cartridge of any nature, but the Winter Woodland cartridge! :-) 

You see, I began following the "Obsessed with Scrapbooking" blog.  The writer/scrapbooker on there is also a part of a "Christmas with the Cricut" blog, which features all kinds of crazy awesome things you can do with the Cricut for the upcoming holiday.  Each week the latter blog hosts a contest in which you apply for by simply following their blog via the Follow feature or RSS Feed, and then make sure to comment on each post that week.  Sundays are the days the winners are announced.  By golly, the first time I ever entered... I won!  I'm SO excited!

So of course, I urge you, fellow crafters, to run over and claim your number!  Queue up for their contests.  If anything, you do learn an awful lot -- even if you don't have a Cricut.  I'm still looking for more scrapbooking blogs, though ones that don't use the Cricut.  I'd like to discover other avenues of scrapbooking, like embossing, chalking, stamping, etc.  It's all so... new and therefore, hard lol.

Right now I have chicken and potatoes baking in the oven.  They should be done in a few minutes.  Afterwards I'll let them cool off and then pack them up.  I'm impatiently waiting for Miles to call so I can head over to his office and we can eat dinner there as I read or crochet while he finishes up his work.  Tonight he has to work unusually late, so I figured I'd just bring dinner.  Haha, because I cannot wait!
Yay!  I've been summoned!

Happy (legal) Anniversary!

Yesterday we celebrated our 2nd (legal) anniversary.  April is our wedding anniversary, but we still like to at least recognize when we were legally married since it was five months prior to the wedding, done in a different state and under different circumstances.

Since we don't plan on going all out on our November anniversary, I figured going to Starbucks and getting him a coffee for lunch would do for the day Hi-I-Thought-of-You treat.  We planned on going to Red Lobster for dinner (yay! no cooking!) so I had figured that would be the extent of our celebrations.

Throughout the day though, Miles kept updating me that he'd be later than expected.  I'm fairly used to him not coming home until 6:00/6:30.  He tries to go to work at 8:00 and be home by at least 5:30, but in his line of work it's not unprecedented for anyone to stay past 5:00.  In fact, most of the time people do work late.  So I didn't think much of it, but did ask that he make it in time for us to at least go out to dinner.  (Hey!  my meal plan was for baked chicken, and that takes at least 2 hours for just cooking!)  Needless to say, when it comes to Red Lobster, I'm all for that.  Seafood = Love.

Towards the end of the day he'd told me that he'd be really late.  When he says that, I expect him to be home around 8:00.  Yes, I was disappointed, but we could still go out to dinner.  I'd taken yesterday off to recover from having cleaned the day prior.  Apparently typical cleaning is now as laborious as a 10-mile run.  At least, for someone who's 9 months pregnant. 

By the time 5:00 hits, I'm just beginning a crochet Christmas project.  I barely have any work done (after having frogged it a million times) when I hear Miles walk through the door at 6:00!!

Well of course I was ecstatic, although I admittedly felt entirely guilty that he felt obligated to be home so "early" on a needed-to-work-late day.  As a consequence he'll have to work very late today.  That's okay with me though.  I get to go up to his office once everyone leaves and read or crochet. 

Red Lobster was of course divine.  It never can be anything less, if you ask me.  He told me to not hold back since it was an anniversary meal.  Haha... I always order the same thing though.  One pound of snow crab legs.  So in order to go "all out", I made it a pound and a half.  I think Miles ate all the shrimp the restaurant had to offer.  I've never seen so many different types of shrimp.  That's the first time I've seen him crave fish like that, haha. 

After our lovely little dinner (which, by the way, we were seated at the table that we sat at the night he proposed) he took us to Best Buy.  He apparently had in mind to buy a Christmas CD.  We looked all over for the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD and finally found it tucked away.  I've never (consciously) listened to Mannheim Steamroller, but was really impressed when he put it on in the car.  Impressed that all that came from one human. 

I convinced him to also indulge in a cheap buy of Fall Out Boy's Greatest Hits CD.  He's always listening to "America's Suitehearts" and finds a few other of their songs absolutely hilarious -- lol.  I don't mind them or their music... and it was only $10. 

But, his entire purpose was to come in to see if they had the new Super Mario Brother's Wii game.  Maybe I talked about it more than I even thought, but he was very disappointed when we'd journeyed the length of the store and never found it.  This, too, was tucked away... or at least wasn't where we'd thought it'd be.  He insisted on buying this for me... and so we spent just as much at Best Buy as we did on our dinner at Red Lobster.  After all of our attempts at squeezing the budget, making sure we don't overspend... I was entirely shocked he spent that much money last night. 

The night could have ended better if it weren't for contractions making me feel like I was going to fall into a nasty flu oblivion.  During the commercial break of our show, I decided it was definitely time to head to bed because there was no way laying on the couch with my face planted in the cushion was going to make me feel any better.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From the Land of Naps

I want to write, but I am just so tired.

There's larger contractions by the day now.  Nothing hurts, but my back is beginning to ache sometimes with the contractions.  Today was my OB/GYN appointment and the CPN said she'd like me to stay on the medication until I see my doctor on November 24th.  Of course I want off it now, but I know it's for Bella's best interest.

Everytime I take this medicine though it sends me into this weird fog.  For at least an hour I get extremely dizzy (to the point that I must lie down), my heart slightly races (not as bad as before) and only a slight headache (as opposed to the reportedly common very bad headache side effect).  Then Bella starts moving like there's a disco in my tummy.  When you're dizzy and you feel sick... you don't want a baby inside you throwing a party.

The nursery is about 98% complete.  The border/trim has to have a second coat and that, I project, will be done tonight.  Tomorrow Miles can begin throwing the furniture back in place and then I can run crazy in there and tidy, clean and organize how I would like :) 

I am too sleepy to write much else.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pediatric Cardiologist Appt. #3

Out of all three appointments, this one was the fastest by far.

Since Dr. Buehner's nurse had said they seemed to think I was just hitting 34 weeks, I had a few points to bring up with them.

Firstly, I let the assistant know that I was nearing my 37th week and about to get off my pre-term labor medication.  Secondly, I reminded her that while it was no problem to come back, this was my third appointment.  My first appointment was a few weeks after my 27th week, and the last appointment I had was at 34 weeks.  I wondered if they had just forgotten -- or if there was something serious happening and no one had wanted to tell me.

Apparently they'd hired a new nurse who got my timetable wrong.  Regardless though -- the Omaha Children's Hospital doctor asked Dr. Spangler (the pediatric cardiologist) if he'd do one more echocardiogram to (1) make sure that Bella's heart was strong enough to even endure surgery; (2) see how small one of her chambers were (if too small, this could mean immediate surgery after birth); (3) look at how certain hair-like "things" had developed; whether they had grown into the septum of the heart, crossed over all into one chamber (not good) or if they were as should be -- in their own chambers. 

So... we have no idea really about how bad her heart condition could be.  Dr. Spangler is sending off his notes and this echo to the Omaha surgeon and we'll see from there.  As soon as Bella is born (if we don't hear from them before then) Dr. Spangler will immediately be called in to do an echo on her.  He'll then send that for direct feedback to the Omaha surgeon.  If all goes as originally planned (wait for heart failure to kick in so she can go to surgery), then we will have weekly appointments with Dr. Spangler so we can avoid complete failure and anything "bad".

Honestly, I can't wait for this all to be over with.  There will be so many more known factors once she is born that it won't be so wishy-washy.  We will know things.  We will know the condition of her heart; when to expect to have to go to Omaha; if our baby girl will be okay.  Things like that are important to me right now, and I wish I could know these things.  For now I am trusting in God.  From the precise moment of her conception He has planned out her life.  He has given her a soul stronger than anyone's I'll ever know in order to deal with what she's been dealt.  God will take care of her - in and out of the womb.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” - Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

You may think I'm crazy, but it's the most comforting thing in the world to me.  Just to know that God made her from the very moment she was conceived; that He had everything all planned out.  She is very much His creation, and I am just a vessel for her to enter this world.  Before even being born, she's teaching me so much about a God I want to teach her about.

Perhaps I'm Nesting...

When I went into pre-term labor, I was exposed to hospital food.  (Thankfully my wonderful husband ran out to get me some McDonalds before I died of complete starvation).  While all of the food looked as if it'd been mushed together and simply called turkey, or beef, or whatever it was... there was one muffin that recruited me into the muffin world.  A rhubarb muffin. 

Admittedly, I had no idea what the heck a rhubarb was.  (I do know what turnips are!)  When I bit into this little delish muffin, I was so happy!  Naturally I now have to make a rhubarb muffin batch or I may, in fact, go insane.  Then again -- maybe I only liked it so much because I was deprived of any real food.

Online I found a rhubarb muffin recipe but am hesitant.  Will it turn out as flavorful?  Will I even like it?  If you know of a rhubarb muffin recipe that you adore yourself, let - me - know!! 

Yesterday I received two books in the mail (thanks to mama): Notes Left Behind and Crazy Love.  Bella's toy box came in as well as her new switch plate cover :)  It must have been a Bella day because I also was able to order the glider for the nursery (for free shipping on Amazon it could arrive as late as December 9th -- way past her EDD!)  and a new changing pad. 

Due to Bella's arrival late November/early December, the fact that we may have to pay for almost 2 weeks worth of hotel fees when staying with her in Omaha (which we don't even know WHEN that will be)... we decided that Christmas gifts can only be extended as far as Bella and maybe ourselves.  Of course, Bella will get the normal Christmas present budget - but between Miles and I, we may have to be just very sweet, lol.

However!  Thanks to doing some research on the Cricut machine mama gave me last year (or was it earlier this year?), I found some wonderful very cheap ideas for Christmas gifts for the family.  I'm thinking maybe some crocheted ornaments that could be cute.  For our parents though, I think I have a cute idea with etching (using the Cricut!)  Just a little ornament for everyone in the family... that won't cost us much (if anything at all since I have loads of yarn) and it'll be a small token to say that we love them, we're thinking of them, and we appreciate all they've done for us throughout the beginning years of our marriage and through the pregnancy with little Bella. 

Miles has tomorrow off since it is Memorial Day.  That is one awesome benefit to him working in the military :)  He gets every federal holiday off!  Woo-hoo!  Tonight he may second-coat the nursery.  I really don't think a second-coat is necessary, partially because the paint itself says it's a one-coat paint.  He, however, keeps looking at the walls and saying he thinks it needs a second coat.  If it makes him happy, go for it, lol.  Hopefully then Wednesday we can do the trim, put the furniture back in their proper places and set the nursery up -- gasp -- once and for all!  By that time, I will have pictures. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bella Heart Update

While driving out to JCPenney and Sears, I received a phone call from Dr. Buehner's office.  Michelle, the nurse I love, called to say that the pediatric cardiologist (Dr. Spangler) called to say that the other cardiologists he showed her last echocardiogram to in Omaha, NE requested for another echo to be performed basically ASAP. 

There was nothing more said than they wanted it done before I was 34 weeks... and Michelle kindly pointed out that I'm in my 36th week.  No one said anything about something new to worry about, but I will definitely be doing some heavy imploring.  She set the appointment up for me at 12:15 tomorrow.  Miles has had Tuesday set-up for a case he is working on and won't be able to make it (which, in reality, he doesn't need to) so I will just keep him up to date throughout the appointment via text.  (I heart text-messaging!)

As Miles pointed out, it seemed that Dr. Spangler forgot that we had an appointment with him before when we saw him last time.  Miles wonders if he's forgotten all about that first appointment and never sent off those original tapes of the echo to the Omaha doctors.  "My" last echo was done around week 34, and Miles wonders if he just lost track.  Point well made, and a point I will be sure to carry into conversation once I see Dr. Spangler tomorrow.

While I don't think anything is wrong, and of course am hoping nothing more could be troubling Bella's little heart, I will keep everybody up to date after my appointment tomorrow!

Nursery News

We had such a busy weekend.  Friday we took the night off since Miles was too sick to even eat dinner (this saved me from having to bake a cake).  We celebrated his birthday, he talked to family throughout the night and finally we went to bed.  Although, before he came home I had the urge to finally put all the bottles and bibs away in a smaller bin I'd bought earlier.  I cleaned out three cupboards and one drawer in the kitchen in between his phone calls... to which he laughed at me for "nesting" ;-)

Saturday, oh boy.  We did some serious shopping.  We finally bought the two huge bins from Target that will go into Bella's closet to hold the excessive amount of blankets she has.  They, unfortunately, didn't have a changing pad!  The one his parents bought for her is excessively long and has holes in it, so we needed a smaller and no-holed one, lol.  We were able to buy a trash can for her diapers though.

(Miles had previously asked, when pulling up to Target, what we needed from that specific store.  When I listed off "trash can for her poop" he replies in true confusion, "Who's poop!?!?")

Miles took his gift card he received for his birthday to Scheels.  He's debating between just buying $50 worth of bullets or the standing target he's been wanting.  (I vote for the latter since he's been wanting it and won't buy it otherwise!) 

First though, we had headed to First Chance, Last Chance Games downtown.  They were from Who's Hobby but moved next to the porn store (ugh) downtown.  The store is small, but its use is mainly for people to come in and play their games -- whether it's Warhammer or not.  Miles utilized some of his free money to buy the proper paints for his figures that I bought him. 

Afterwards we hit HoLo.  After a great debate, we settled on three shelves.  I'd only asked for one! LOL.  We ended up with all white ones (to be painted in the darker contrast color of her room).  One is fairly long, and will be mostly for my use, the other is a cute corner one we'll set up by her crib and the other is another smaller one.  We also were able to pick up her Christmas stocking which slightly matches ours but is different.  I did want to get a "Baby's First Christmas" stocking but it's such a waste of money since she only has ONE first Christmas. 

That's when we drove to Applebees and hungrily ate up the gift card his parents gave him for his birthday.  Still feeling sick, he wasn't able to completely finish his meal and they serve such a large portion for their salads that I wasn't able to finish mine either.  We walked out with our leftovers as well as a Triple Chocolate Meltdown to enjoy later on.  Yummmmm!

Once we'd finished our Target and Scheel's excursion, I asked if we could go into Michael's.  HoLo didn't have any of the scrapbooking supplies I wanted for Bella's baby book, and thankfully Michael's did. 

By the time we got home it was a bit past 5 and we were exhausted!  I knew if I asked, he'd have started painting that evening but really.. he was sick and I didn't want him to push it.  Instead we relaxed, ate dinner and finished our Triple Chocolate Meltdown (always so gooooood) and watched Defiance

Right after church (where I was extremely uncomfortable for some reason -- I'm going to thank contractions for that) we went grocery shopping and bought some hardware from a local little hardware store.  We came home and he began painting her room.  Oh my goodness I love it!!

All of her walls are painted, the shelves are painted in the contrast color and her furniture looks gorgeous.  I'll post progress pictures afterwards... but he wants to do a second coating.  Our walls are slightly textured, so he's sure he sees lots of white spots and I think it's bugging him lol.  He plans on doing that afterwork, then tomorrow the final touches (painting the window edging and bottom edging in the complementary contrast color) and then voila!  Baby room will be done!

Then... she can come out :) LOL.

(We are doing the nursery in Olympic's Ballerina as the main color and Restful Rose as the contrast color)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my husband :)

Okay, so this isn't exactly a birthday picture, but it's a sweet one of us (honeymoon) and there was only one birthday photo from last year.  A photo which, I know, he would not appreciate me posting for the world to see, haha.

Unfortunately he's come down with something.  We're not yet sure, though it's looking as if it's merely a cold (hallelujah! We don't need another flu bout in this house!)  He took some Tylenol before work and forced himself to eat breakfast.  Apparently his throat is sore and feeling swollen, causing him to feel quite gaggy.  He says he isn't achy, which is a sign of the flu, and so we find this to be good.  I do hope he gets better though!  His parents sent him a gift card for our restaurant of choice - Applebees.  If not, I'll scrounge up something for dinner and we'll still have the usual little "party" with cake, gifts and silly pictures.

Right now I'm reading the first book in a series called "Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris.  After reading the Twilight saga, I became intrigued by the possibility that others have written vampire stories more along the same lines.  I've never had a thing for vampire stories until Twilight (is it because Meyers wrote spotlessly of the most ideal person?)  Between hearing that vampire stories typically had a lot to do with sex, biting people to suck on blood and so forth, I never found curiosity to read these sorts of things. 

Harris' book is dimunitively fresh.  After Meyers' immense success with Edward and Bella, many authors in a global effort decided to nearly plagarize the story line.  Reading this vampire story is different - quite different - than reading Twilight.  I would not, by any means, hand this book over to anybody under 16.  As for my own children, I wouldn't let them read it period.  There is the cliché sex involved, although I have to admit I was much more able to skim those parts without disgust than when I read Cheryl Strayed's acclaimed novel Torch

Now that I am nearly half-way done with Dead Until Dark, I find myself remorseful that it didn't turn out to be gripping in the way that Twilight was.  I don't foresee myself actually picking up the other novels in the series, and thus must go back onto my Goodreads account and delete the formerly prospective vampire stories from my "to-read" list.

How is it that a young adult saga was more gripping than an adult novel?

On November 10th we can expect to receive Bella's toy box.  Hallelujah!  For the time being mama and I stuffed all of Bella's stuffed animals (which, 95% of them are formerly mine) into large yard trash bags and piled them into her very-little-room-for-storage closet. 

Mama thinks I should have picked out a more childish and whimsical kind of toy box.  You know, if I was more frivolous I might have chosen one of those cute fairy princess ones (although they don't match her décor at all and that would grossly affect my OCD).  This one is the same color of wood, it matches the swindling of her crib (which will turn into her toddler bed) and, lo' and behold, it was cheap.  I also appreciate the fact that it's somewhat benchy and allows for toddler use by means of their safety latches so that little fingers are not squashed.

Don't get me wrong, we're not by any means in poverty, but when I find a chance to save money (yes, even by $1) I will do it.  Bella's closet is now split in half.  The top shelf is still in use to store our old momentos.  The right side of the closet has my wedding dress, two extra large suitcases and a few of Miles' suitcases (all of which are stuffed with an array of items).  Little Bella gets access to the left side of the closet, and with her excessive amount of infant to toddler clothes, I have very little room to store her things! 

Babies 'R' Us sells an infant closet extension for around $12.  After looking at it yesterday I quickly realized I could buy a wooden rod from Lowe's or Hobby Lobby (aka HoLo) and hang it by thick pink ribbon and voila... a closet extension for $3.  Yes people, $3. 

With the bedroom paint I will ask Miles to paint the wooden rod just for extra oomph -- and therefore we have it.  A personalized, decorated and cheap extension.  I am so proud :)

This weekend, regardless of our health, we have to get her nursery painted.  Never have I been thankful for having such a significantly small guest room (which is now the nursery).  Miles will only have to paint two full walls (which are small), a wall with her window on it and then a few strips on the sides of the closet which makes her fourth wall.  The trimming will be painted a contrasting warm color, and that shouldn't take long at all.  Once that is up - we can hang her curtains, shelving to help aid us in our lack of storage, the few little things I want to add on her wall, her new light switch plate cover, and I might even go splurge on a princess netting to hang from the ceiling. 

There's a few Do-It-Yourself projects I'd like to take on for Bella's room.  One of the first, and easiest, would be a growth chart.  Sorry, can't bring myself to buy a $50 growth chart when I can easily buy all the supplies to make one in under 2 hours for around $25.  The website has a good little tutorial to help you make one. 

The blog Obsessed with Scrapbooking provides a really awesome tutorial on how to use your Cricut to make vinyl wall décor.  I'd love to put this above Bella's crib!  I've found some vinyl wall coverings for around $20 at different stores, even some of them for a nursery, but they're too impersonal and I may want to just have her name there.  If not, I'm thinking of a cutesy mirror that I can etch her initials on.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What if God Was One of Us?

Yesterday a small box full of developmental toys for Bella came in, thanks to mama :)  They were adorable and unique toys that I love for her.  Of course I see things I want Bella to have, but I also like her having things a lot of other kids won't have.

Alongside the delivery was our Netflix movie #2: The Taking of Pelham 123.  Denzel Washington and John Travolta.  A sure fire wonderful movie, for sure.  Not.  The movie wasn't bad, but it didn't parallel with either of their other works.  It was entertaining, but it wasn't mind blowing.

Miles and I discussed more how much we want Bella to be, as a friend of mine says, "an external baby" right now.  Today marks the 35th week, so technically by next Wednesday she's allowed to enter the world. 

Today I was able to finally sell the Blackberry Storms we once used.  Someone offered us $200 for them both (including S&H) so we took the deal.  In this guys message on eBay, he gave me his phone number and asked for me to call him so he could guide me through.  Guide me through what?  I assumed he meant on how to make it "Buy It Now".  I never even insinuated I was going to sell outside of eBay.  No, no, no.  That's against policy in any case, plus it's for my own safety.

Soon after verifying my account through eBay I was able to use the option of "Buy It Now" and set both phones up for $100 each.  I'm not sure, but I think that somebody other than the guy bought them.  It's under a woman's name and a different account but to the same city.  In any case, I received the payment and shipped them off today.

Since I was already out and about a bit, I figured I'd stop by Walgreens and get some gift wrapping tape, paper and ribbon for Miles' birthday gifts that I bought yesterday. 

My aunt had sent my mother some products from a wonderful French line called Caudlié.  Mama didn't keep any of the products and sent them all back to my aunt, but I did keep one product for my night moisturizer.  It has worked like heaven in a bottle for me.  Alas, it's also $40 for a 1.5 oz bottle.  Hardly budget worthy, although I'd been granted permission from Miles.  Regardless of, I couldn't guilt-free order something so tiny for so much.  As I walked into Walgreens I figured I'd look at Olay's moisturizers since their face wash seems to have settled well with me.  Right next to them was a brand name called Merlot, made in the USA, out of the same ingredient that makes Caudlié so prestigious: grape seed oil.  For $15 I was able to get a huge jar of this wonderful moisturizer (with SPF 15) and not have to compromise on the ingredient that I think is doing it for my face.  Woo-hoo!

After perusing the gift wrap and ribbon, I had to hang up with mama (who'd I'd been on the phone with the whole time) since my battery was running out, and decided to find a cheaper tape than the $3.99 one hanging above the ribbon.  As I went to grab the $1.99 tape from the office supply area, a middle-aged man with a Vietnam Veteran hat approached me and asked when I was due.  He claimed then to have delivered many babies in his lifetime.  From there he kept me just outside the supply aisle for nearly an hour discussing how he formerly was a ballerina, he still wore tights (for his knees...?), wanted a church locally, how he was a 'nam Vet from the Army, how my husband should stay in the USAF for the rest of his entire life, how I shouldn't share a name with Britney Spears, how his kids haven't seen him for 18 years, where he lives, how he was looking for pastel chalks to begin painting again, how he played piano since he was 5 and countless other miscellaneous things mixed in with comments too creepy for my own taste.  In the midst of it all he threw his phone number and name at me so my husband or I could call him if we needed anything.  Yeah.  Right.

Once I was finally able to unrudely escape his presence, I ran to the car and shut the door, locked the doors and sped away in case he was somewhere writing down our car make, model and license.  He scared me.  And that's exactly what I text messaged to Miles.

Within a minute my husband called me to ask me what scared me and why and if I was okay.  LOL.  I told him about the creepy supposed veteran, and he asked me what he looked like and told me that I needed to learn how to dismiss myself in these types of situations.  He's right.  I told him I tried without being too blatantly rude, but Miles correctly pointed out that if he gave me the heeby-jeebies like he did, did it really matter if I was rude?

My question is this:  what if he was innocently just a lonely man looking for conversation from anyone?  What if he had no perverse intentions?  What if he was an angel?  What if God sent us together for that conversation?  What if God sent him to talk to me so I wouldn't be on a certain road at a certain time where I might crash and die?  What if I was sent to distract him from a situation that might cause his life to be in jeopardy?  What if it was God Himself? 

This is why I have a hard time dismissing myself rudely.  Unless the person is REALLY creepy and I don't think I can physically or mentally handle what it would take to leave, then I don't see a reason to be rude.  I was in a public setting, parked in the first row of the lot, and many of the workers had seen us outside the aisle -- to whom I'd also made eye contact with several times. 

You have to admit... it's pretty sad we live in a world that when you're approached, you're more likely to think the person insane, perverted or psychotic than you are to think they're lonely.