Friday, June 17, 2011

Dear Mei Li,

As I sit here anticipating the arrival of your little brother any day now, I often think back to when you were born, right here, on this very bed. You have grasped our hearts with your little hand from day one. I'm thankful that you are my second child. I have felt much more prepared to work with your determination having had practice on your brother. You sure have given us a challenges this year (like 45-minute battles of the will over a miniscule bite of vegetables). But, in the process, we have both learned important lessons, and I hope and pray that God will help us to channel that determination into a life that serves the Lord.

I love your spunkiness. You are not reckless, but you tackle challenges head on. Anything your older brother does, you follow not far behind despite your much smaller stature. It's hard to believe you are only turning two because so often you act beyond your age.

I have loved watching your personality develop and seeing the busy, daredevil girl tempered by a tender and loving spirit. I have loved the little kisses and tight neck-squeezes that you give. You are quick to say 'sorry' (although, at times, equally quick to hurt your brother just so that you get to say 'sorry').

Some of your many accomplishments this year have included sitting for long periods of time to "draw" or "color", singing lines from a couple songs, already having many successes at going potty in the toilet, climbing up AND down the bunk bed, and being able to communicate nearly every need or desire quite clearly. It is hard for me to imagine how much more this next year will bring, but I look forward to seeing it.

You are our little sunshine, and sometimes our little thundercloud. For you, like your brothers, our greatest prayer is that you learn to love and live for the One who delights in you even more than your parents do.

I love you. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dear De Sheng,

I'm writing this a letter early this year because your little brother is going to join us any day now. I didn't want to forget to tell you how special this year has been for me as I watched my 3-year old grow.

You have grown physically. You are much taller, stronger, faster than before. You have mastered the tricycle and almost all the play equipment at the playground. It is fun to watch you rise to new challenges, like scaling steep hills and wading in cold streams. I think you are going to be my explorer and adventurer. I have not been the only one to be impressed by how long you persevere until you master a new skill. This is a wonderful quality that you have.

You have grown in head-knowledge, soaking it up like a sponge. I have loved watching you color, then draw and now how eager you are to write. It has been great fun to work on "school" and be creative together. You often ask really good questions and show a great curiousity about the world around you.

You have also grown as a big brother - learning to share with your sister, protect her and teach her right from wrong. You still have much to learn about this, but I am thankful that God chose you to be the oldest in our family. I see your care for other small children and I am happy to know that our new baby will join a family with a brother who will love him and look out for him.

You have also grown spiritually. It has meant so much to me to celebrate Christmas and Easter this year with you as you grapple with these stories and their meanings, really for the first time. You have asked great questions and I hope and pray that it won't be many years before you are able to grasp the significance of Christ's life and death.

So, now we are drawing to the end of your third year and suddenly, I'm going to be mom to a 4-year-old! I'm sad... sad to say good-bye to my 3-year old, but also excited to see what year 4 will hold for both of us. We have a special relationship, my son. I know that God uses both of us in each other's lives to draw us unto Himself. I pray that year 4 will be a year of drawing even closer to the One who loves us unfathomably, both mother and son.

I love you. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Every birth experience, like every child is so different and unique.

I love being able to read back on my previous birthing experience and remember God's goodness. I forget so many little details, so it is wonderful to have it recorded down. Here I am, holding my third child, with a third, unique story to tell.

Unlike my first two which were born the day before and the day of their due dates, this little guy decided he liked it inside mommy best of all. My mom had arrived, the midwife thought it could happen any minute, we did lots and lots of walking, but he wasn't convinced. I had planned a homebirth again, but instead found myself at 9:00 AM, Monday, June 6th headed to the hospital for an induction after being 12 days "overdue". While I was happy to take this route because my mom only had one week left, I was emotional and a bit nervous the day before. It was such a blessing to talk to several women at church who had been through induction before and realize that here in the UK they try to keep things as natural and un-medicated as possible.

Sure enough at 10:30 that morning, after being monitored and assessed, the midwife recommended the first, most natural stage of induction - a pessary. This is a "pill" placed on the cervix that releases a hormone to cause it to soften and dilate, hopefully bringing on contractions. If that didn't work in 24 hours, then the next stage would be to break my waters.

Right away, however, the pessary did its job. My husband and I walked around the BIG hospital one time and monitored my contractions starting at 4-5 minutes apart and ending up around 2-3 minutes apart. It was nearly lunch time, so I lay down briefly before we got into the lunch line. While we were standing and waiting for our food, a long, strong, double-over and pant contraction hit. As soon as I was able, we headed back to my bed. Another one hit and after it finally passed, I sent my husband after the midwife. It felt like things wouldn't be much longer and I was pretty sure I should be heading to the delivery room. The midwife came in and felt my tummy to assess the strength of the contractions and the time between. Of course she sat there for what felt like ages and I only had one contraction. They encouraged me to walk around some more and they would assess me again after a little while. I knew I was not going to get out of that bed! This baby was not far off. Another contraction hit. I felt desperate to be in the delivery room, free of my clothes and ready to push. I sent dear husband after the midwife again to ask for an internal assessment of the situation. Sure enough, I was at 7 cm and she said I could move to the delivery room. Thank you!!

They wheeled me down the hall, to a room that had just experienced another birth which they were quickly trying to clean up for me. At this point, I had turned inward to deal with the pain of the contractions which were long and hard. I wasn't overly aware of what was going on around me except that there is a lot more hustle and bustle, banging and clattering in a hospital. I was missing my quiet, homebirth experience. However, it was a huge relief to be in the delivery bed and let my body start bearing down with the contractions. Finally the only people in the room were my husband, the midwife and a student nurse. It didn't take long. The midwife could see my waters bulging, so she asked if she could break them with the next contraction. I said, Yes, please!!, but the baby didn't let her get that far. Suddenly, another contraction came on and my body totally took over, pushing mightily. The waters broke everywhere and baby was heading out. The midwife was saying, "Take it easy. Go slowly. Pant." "I was saying, "I'm tearing, I'm tearing!" "No you're not. You are fine." Another push, maybe two, and there were the head... shoulders... baby! We were all a bit shocked. I had expected at least another 30 minutes with waters breaking, head descending, the 'ring of fire', etc... Yet, there I was, at 1: 42 PM, less than an hour from entering the room, already holding a crying little, blue baby. We were all looking at each other saying, "That was fast!" I could hardly believe that it was over. I had my baby! I sat holding him to me for a while before we thought to confirm the gender. Yup, most definitely a boy!

We waited about 20 minutes for the placenta to show up. Meanwhile, baby took to nursing like a champ. I ended up needing only 3 superficial stitches. Then the equally long part of the experience started.... the paperwork. Daddy was able to bond with his son while I took a shower. Then he took off to get Oma and the older siblings. I enjoyed a quiet time alone with my second son - praying for him and feeling the love swell.

This baby is proving to be the easiest one on me yet (physically). I have been amazed at how quickly I have been able to get up and going compared to the other two. I see God answering my prayers because with my mom leaving soon, I need to be able to get up and going. Having my mom gone will probably be a much harder adjustment for the kids than welcoming a new baby home. They are fascinated by their little brother and are doing great at being gentle and helpful.

5 years of marriage and here we are, a family of 5!

Dear Ruben Petrus,

Just as I write letters to your siblings on their birthdays, so I wanted to write to you for your BIRTH day. You have been loved and eagerly anticipated far before you made your appearance. All of us have been excited to meet our newest family member - and you definitely tested our patience. But, you are here now and you are perfect.

We chose the name Ruben because we liked it and Petrus to name you after Petrus Berakati in Taliabo. He was like a brother to me and, therefore, an uncle to you. He loved the Lord, loved his people and served them as an evangelist for the sake of the gospel until his tragic death.

We got a very thoughtful card from Prof. and Mrs. D after your birth. He took some time to talk about the meaning of your name. Reuben - "Behold, a son" - was the firstborn and leader among his brothers. He stood up to them to save Joseph's life. Petrus - or Peter - likewise, was a passionate man and a leader - the rock on whom the church was built. These words meant a lot to me because while I sat alone with you in the hospital room a few days before, I prayed for you. I prayed first and foremost that you would be a follower.... a passionate follower of Christ. And, I prayed that you would become a leader - one who leads others to their Maker and Savior. One who stands firm in his convictions against the tide of godlessness and points others to Truth. May God give your father and I wisdom and strength to parent you towards these two desires we have for you. God bless you, my son. We are so glad you are with us and we look forward to knowing you more as you grow this year.

your Mama

Friday, January 14, 2011

Of all the bedtime rituals out there, the most helpful to me has been the bedtime song. When my children are little more than newborns I start singing the same song to them every time I put them to bed. For both of them it has been "God is so Good." This simple song quickly becomes the signal that it is time to sleep. We can skip baths, read three book or no book, be in a plane, car, someone else's house, in the daytime or the dead of night, but if that song is sung, they know it is time to sleep. It has allowed me great flexibility and has helped both my children transition to "big" beds with barely a hiccup. (About the age of 1.5 - 2 I ended up not needing to sing the song anymore to signal bed time). My husband says some day it will be sung at church and our kids will fall asleep in the pew.