Friday, 28 April 2017

Together At Last // The Moment They Met...


I'm a little bit late with this post... there are posts I write because I have something to share, and there are posts I write purely for the memories and for the record keeping. This is one of those memory  posts. One of those memories that is so precious I want to capture it and store it up forever.

It was the moment they met - they had waited so long. Their little minds struggling to comprehend the process of time... a Mama who was admitted in hospital... a baby who would come, but hopefully 'not yet.' The girls had made paper countdown calendars at home with their Papa; and I think Jonas was beginning to doubt the existence of this supposed baby.

And then, eleven days earlier than our already very early planned arrival, our littlest addition made an early entrance, and after a weekend of recovering, by Easter Monday we were ready to introduce our little Elias to his big siblings...


Ava held him first... only five years old, and yet so much experience of caring for younger siblings. She beamed down at him. Our girl who had wanted another little brother "for Jonas", wrapped him up in her arms like newborn cuddling was the most natural and instinctiive thing in the world. She has walked this road twice before with such nurturing kindness and big sisterly care, and takes her responsibilities seriously. I never had any doubt that this kid would continue to be a fabulous oldest sister...


And then came our Heidi... After expressing some initial disappointment that he wasn't the longed for baby sister "I wanted a girl, but it's OK that it's a boy", she fell in love with him the minute she laid eyes on him. Of all the children, she is the one who dotes on him most, the one who will sit for hours, kissing his downy head, chattering away and making up little songs for him. It is as though his arrival has steadied the ship for her, added some equilibrium, stripped her of her 'middle child' role and given her some new responsibility. And she has risen to the challenge, wonderfully so. I'm so excited to watch this sibling relationship develop over the next few weeks and months.


And then came our Jonas. The moment our baby boy transformed into a big boy in front of our eyes. He hugged tight to his "baby Eeyas", planting kiss after kiss on his little brother's face. He has been so sweet with him, asking after him all the time, wanting to be involved, and always wants to check on him if he's sleeping. Protective big brother already. I am SO a thrilled for him to have had another boy, and am excited (and nervous) about the antics and adventures I'm going to have with these preschool boys over the next few years! 

We are still in the honeymoon period, Dave is still off, the novelty of me being home is not gone, and the adjustment from three to four has been nothing short of wonderful for each one of us. It's very early days, I'm sure there will be bumps and struggles along the way... I'm seasoned enough as a Mama to know that, but somehow, this fourth and final piece of our puzzle seems to have brought a new balance to our home, and the expected 'upset' for the older ones has yet to rear its head.

Somewhere down the line, I'm sure it will, but for now, I'm clinging hard to the joy of these four figuring each other out, and holding tight to the memories of that first time they met...

Together at last!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Today Was the Day // When Things Don't Go to Plan...

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When you come out the other side of any kind of personal trauma, it's easy to get caught up in the 'should have beens' and 'would have beens' of it all. Questions circulate, minds ponder the 'what ifs?' and 'what fors?' and the heart is left vulnerable to bitterness and resentment and comparison. From there, things can get messy very quickly... 

Yet instead, I am calm, and thankful, and at peace. It doesn't make much sense 

Today should have been the day Elias was born. It should have been the day I walked sensibly into the operating theatre, laughing casually and nervously with my husband. It should have been the day, at 36+3 weeks, that Elias was deemed ready to enter the big wide world by elective section. It should have been calm, and relaxed, and straightforward.

Today 'should have been' his birthday.

The day the Doctors scheduled.

And yet, God.... In his goodness, infinite wisdom and perfect sovereignty, did not see today as the best day for Elias to be born. Instead, at 34+6 our boy made his entrance into this world, on a day which could have gone so horribly wrong. And yet...

All the right people in the right place at the right time...

A little boy who, though early, was strong enough to do his last bits of developing on the outside.

As my mother-in-law reminded me throughout the pregnancy...

"This baby will be born on just the right day"

 And so he was.

Oh, and Alex... You've got your birthday back! Happy birthday not so little brother!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Up days, down days // Self Doubt and Mothering Instincts

                        
    
It was a tough old weekend... Saturday passed in a haze of newborn joy... Time with my tiny tribe, cuddles galore, a taste of normality again. After weeks in hospital, I lapped it up. It was quiet, mundane homelife in all its beautiful monotony. The children sat on the patio eating ice lollies, reading storybooks and playing make believe; the big three trudging up and down the garden in their own little imaginary world. And Elias just sleeping and feeding and sleeping and feeding in wonderful three hourly repetition. I'm soaking and savouring these newborn hazy days. After the trauma of our last little baby's arrival, both we, and the professionals, are agreed. We will not be travelling this road again. So I am relishing every second of my last little newborn for all he's worth.


                                    


                                    
     

And then came Sunday... And the weighing scales. And the self-doubt, and the tears and the questions. I had been so sure... Elias had been more alert for feeds, feeding for longer, he was happy and healthy, his jaundice was fading and his body in full working order. The midwives agreed. And yet the scales did not. A minor increase in his weight. But not enough. And so came the talk of intervention... The plans for top ups and increased frequency and Doctor's watchful eyes. 

In my gut I felt we were getting there. Just the two of us. We just needed more time. Twenty four more hours and I was certain the scales would follow the evidence we could all see before our eyes.

                        

And then I doubted myself... I couldn't put my baby at risk just because my instinct told me he was fine.

In a split second, my confidence as a fourth time Mama was gone.

And so followed the tears, the self-doubt. Everything in me screaming that we just needed a little more time, frustration at the plan (I have nothing against top-ups at all, but try feeding 40ml of expressed milk to an already full baby). I called a midwife friend and something she said really stuck...

"Continue to use your God-given maternal instincts to care for your little boy"

And then my official midwife called back...

"Your baby looks fit and well, I think maybe he just needs a bit more time. Do what you think is best and we'll weigh him again tomorrow"

                         
   
So in the end, I carried on feeding him as I knew how, three hourly and exclusively. And I prayed pretty hard that the scales would confirm what my gut was telling me. And all the while, I cried and doubted and felt the full array of emotions in between.

Baby blues + hormones + self-doubt = not a pretty sight!

And yet it is a wonder; these "God given maternal instincts" because, lo and behold, 24 hours later our little boy had started climbing that weight ladder. The scales we're agreeing with the evidence... Victory. For now.

                                    
    
And yet isn't it just a small picture of the next few years ahead?

Motherhood... One big journey of rollercoaster emotions... Of confidence and joy, of anxiety and self doubt. Even the most 'together' of Mama's will admit that self-doubt is part and parcel of being a mother. We want what's best for our children, our instincts tell us, we doubt and question, we seek advice... Feel insecure and uncertain. Am I doing the right thing?

And the honest truth is, a lot of the time, we don't know. We do what we judge is right, what our hearts tell us is best for our children, and we pray and seek God's wisdom and the wise counsel of those around us. And then we entrust our children to God's care, knowing that he sees all things, holds their futures, has "each of their days written in his book before one of them came to be".

And so, again, it becomes a lesson in trust, in letting go... In doing what is best with the information that you have... And giving God the rest.

It's not easy, riding the rollercoaster... But oh, such a privilege!

                      
   















Saturday, 22 April 2017

One Week // Looking Back



Yesterday afternoon I sat down and pulled up the pictures from Elias' birth onto my laptop. I sat there and the tears flowed. Such precious photographs of our boys first moments of life. Moments I missed... moments where he himself was not faring so well. Precious, private pictures that do not feel right to share. They will adorn the pages of his scrapbook, and forever be imprinted on my memory. The scenes are too raw for me to plaster across the internet. So many emotions wrapped up still in the events of last weekend... I think I'm still in a state of shock to some degree. When every Midwife and Doctor you meet looks horrifiedly at you and says "I've just read your notes... I can't believe that happened to you" you realise that the events of last weekend were traumatic, and therefore its OK to feel traumatised by them.

And I do. And that makes me feel a little lost.

I've always prided myself on being someone who has things together... who can maintain a steady ship through rough storms. I'm an optimist and a pragmatist, two qualities which have enabled me to hold my head through some pretty rough stuff.

But ultimately, I'm a Christian. Standing on the firm foundation that is Christ. And so when I'm floundering, feeling lost and a little traumatised... when my optimism and pragmatism fail me which they do, and they will... It's OK to crumble;  because he has me. In fact, crumbling into him is the best place for me to be.

There is so much comfort in that.

There were so many beautiful, wonderful moments in the horror of last weekend... and it's those memories I'm trying to cling to...

Not the guilt of missing the birth of my own baby.
Not the horror of coming round on your bathroom floor surrounded by about 15 medical staff shouting "Code Red!"
Not the trauma of being opened up for section, sewn back up again, and then reopened a few hours later in a different hospital.
Not the heartache of not being able to see your baby for the first ten hours of his life.
Not the "What if's" and the "if onlys"

Instead I want to remember the kindness of the midwives who looked after me so well...
The donors who saved our lives on Saturday as the litres of blood I lost were replenished...
The fact that I was in hospital when the horrifying events unfolded
My husband who made it in time and stood by my side the whole time I was awake.
The fact that the Lord allowed events to unfold so that in the end I was unable to have the intrusive surgery which we thought was necessary, but in the end wasn't.
The fact that despite all the evidence, my placenta came away intact and without difficulty.
That my baby boy, wired up and incubated, eyes closed since birth, opened his eyes when he heard my voice for the first time. Such a precious moment.
The NNU staff who cared so well for our baby boy
That despite not being able to feed him until he was a day old, Elias took to feeding really well.
The wonderful midwife assistant who sat with me, cried with me and shared her own very similar story.
That despite being born at less than 35 weeks gestation, our boy is fighting fit.


And when I look at it like that, I'm so very, very grateful. It puts the guilt and the horror and the trauma and the heartache and the 'What ifs' and 'If onlys' into perspective.

There was so much at stake on Saturday... so much could have been lost. So much nearly was lost.

And yet here we both are... me and my littlest boy. Living to tell the tale.

There is much for me still to work through. Much to get my head around. Many more tears to be cried...

And yet I can see so clearly that the Lord kept those promises he whispered to me on those dark hospital nights...

"Stand still and see how I will deliver you."
"Be still and wait."
" Look to me, daughter, and trust me"

I can look back at last weekend and reel in the questions, and the 'whys' and the shock of it all... or I can look forward, clinging to God's promises, revelling in his protection and not allow the trauma to steal the joy of these early days with our beautiful, miracle baby.

I choose joy. I choose to delight in life. I choose to savour our newborn Son.

Because Jesus takes the guilt, the trauma, the heartache. He lifts my burderns and slings them to a cross on Calvary and puts them to death as he dies and shouts "It is finished!"

And he rises from the dead. From death, comes life. From pain, comes a future.

And our little Easter baby will forever be a reminder of that.

The birth of glorious, wonderful life in all its fullness!

Happy one week birthday Elias!


Friday, 21 April 2017

Home At Last// Ready for Some Hum Drum

                        
It's been a wonderful 24 hours. Home with my little brood. I am taking it very easy, and David has been wonderful at running the household with the older three so I can rest up with Elias in our little attic haven. The children are besotted with their little brother... Utterly loved up to the point where our usually best buddied oldest two have been squabbling over who's next for cuddles, and who gets to carry the changing bag... So much for four sorting all those sibling dynamics!

They are just so pleased to have us home I think. The novelty will wear off I'm sure, and they'll be back to their old antics in no time at all!

I am savouring their enthusiasm though. And savouring home comforts. And home cooked food. And cuddles with my littles. And familiarity. And just being home where I belong.

So, so much to thank the Lord for.

                        

Elias is a little gem... A warm, fuzzy-haired, newborn-scented delight. We are having to work hard on feeding and staying awake. I thought it was a challenge with newborns before, but premature babies? Whole different ball game. But we are getting there, and I'm learning so many new things. And feeling vulnerable. And asking questions. And doubting my judgements.

Fourth time round and it's still the same.

My heart is so full of joy. I am sore, and tired... Weak and achey... And not overly excited about the six week (!) course of fragmin they've put me on... (I have to psych myself up to self-inject every time!) but these are a small price to pay for the beautiful gift of life we've been given.

Thank you for all your support, prayers and comments here... On Instagram... Messages, texts and face to face conversations. We have felt so upheld by you all and I've been so struck by the way our little family has been loved through this trial.

Now we simple revel in the recovery, the normality... And as my Dad put it...

"Ready to return to some hum drum"

Oh yes we are!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Our Little Arrival...


        
 
Our little bundle of joy

Our Elias William

Born 5 weeks early on Saturday suddenly, unexpectedly, a little traumatically and dramatically.

Childbirth is not pretty... But it is glorious. This little bundle of joy born too soon, yet fighting fit. Evidence that though the journey can be painful, difficult, riddled with tears, wounds, scars and doubts, the ending is beautiful... The gift is worth it. So very worth it.

God was in every bit of his arrival... The timings of events, which could have been catastrophic if things had unfolded minutes earlier, or minutes later... Perhaps I will share the story some time... For now, I'm trying to get my own head round it, and revelling in the newborn scent, the sleepy feeds, this precious little miracle gift of a boy.

Thank you to all of you have supported us so well over the past few difficult weeks.

We are here, and we can testify, as does the meaning of our littlest boy's name...

The Lord is God!

                       
  
                       
   

Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Friday Thoughts and a Little Easter Playlist


I've been thinking this week how hard it is for our little people to get their heads around Good Friday... To understand why a day remembering darkness, death and defeat could ever be something worth celebrating...

But that is the beauty of Good Friday... On first appearances, it is a day of apparent contradictions...

The Light of God being snubbed out by darkness, yet bringing light to the world...
Jesus death on the cross breathing life to us...
The apparent defeat of Christ, actually being the defeat of sin and death once and for all, and victory for him...

It is not easy to understand... And at the same same time, so very simple.

On Good Friday, Jesus willingly gave up his life for me - taking my guilt, bearing my punishment, paying the cost.

Now I'm free. Unburdened. Able to live a life with direct access to God and life in all its fullness... Peace with him, the assurance of eternal life, joy in trials. Not because I'm anything special, simply because he hung on that cross for me...

And for you, if you'll accept him...

And so I while away a quiet morning in my hospital room... Feeling thankful, and filling my mind with lyrics that remind me of these beautiful ancient truths, ever new!

So I thought I'd share my Easter Spotify playlist... In case you too would like to dwell on the wonderfully good news of that dark day. Just click on the link at the top.

Hallelujah!