Monday, April 30, 2012

The Profession of Nursing meets The Profession of Motherhood

I'm used to working 12 hour shifts. I'm a nurse on a medical floor in a hospital. For those of you that don't know, that means that for 12-13 hours a day I am on my feet with an occasional chance to sit; it means I run at times to keep someone from falling or getting out of bed, I run to grab a crash cart, I run just to stay on top of my ever-growing list of medications that need to be given, dressings that need to be changed, patients who need education on their condition, documentation that needs to be completed, patients who need to go to a procedure, etc. It also means that when I get home from all that running and finally sit down with my feet up I don't want to move again. Yes, I am exhausted by the time my shift is over. But I have been given the opportunity to touch the lives of people I might never have come in contact with otherwise. I have been given an opportunity to show compassion to those the world may want to avoid - the alcoholic who is admitted again for detox and liver failure, the homeless and uninsured man who hasn't taken his medication or seen a doctor in months because he can't afford it, and those are are just generally unpleasant and miserable especially when they're ill. And when I start to feel the frustration and bitterness when taking care of these patients I try to remember Jesus' words "whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me" (Matt. 25:45). 

I often say now that I am only a "part-time" nurse now since once TLO joined our family I am only working 1 day a week. But that's really not true. You can't be a nurse part-time. Once you have the knowledge and skills, you are always a nurse. A few years ago my husband and I were on a ferry between Scotland and Northern Ireland when a call came over the intercom asking for a medical professional to assist a passenger in distress. I remember looking at my husband and asking "am I still a nurse here?" Yes, I responded and you can read my version of this interesting experience here. And then last year I was called upon for a similar situation while on a plane, my version of that is here. Vacation, land, air or sea, a nurse is a nurse is a nurse. I pledged in the Nightingale Pledge to "practice my profession faithfully" and that's what I'll continue to do.

Although I don't get "shifts" as a mother, I generally am "on-duty" for 12 hours a day and "on-call" the other 12. Yes, I am blessed - TLO has slept 10-12 hours a night since she was about 4 months old. So I consider those hours my "on-call" time. I'm on-call if she needs me, otherwise I get quiet time, a good night's sleep, and time with my husband. My "on-duty" time as a mom doesn't leave me with swollen ankles, aching feet or a bursting bladder like my nursing profession does. Instead, it leaves me with stained shirts, finger-printed glasses and pureed green beans in my hair. It doesn't leave me with the ache of wondering if I did everything I could to comfort and support my patient. It leaves me with a smile, a laugh and an amazement at how much change happens in a child in such a short time. It doesn't require me to document everything that was done throughout the day, every intake and output, every action or conversation and doesn't follow the "if it wasn't documented it wasn't done" rule that we live by in nursing. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to document in photographs and video the moments I want to remember forever and be able to share with family and friends. But while nursing is my profession, my job, my calling, motherhood is my gift from God. "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him" (Psalm 127:3)

So I am a full-time nurse, full-time mom and full-time amazingly blessed child of God. If it weren't for the last part of that sentence I would feel a little overwhelmed. But God gives me the strength to do everything I need to do. "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength" (Phil.. 4:13).

I prayed to God to find my calling and He answered with the profession of nursing. I prayed to God to be the mother to a child who needed me and He granted all that I asked of Him...and so much more!

Thank You Father for allowing me to be Your hands, Your feet, Your servant. Thank You for allowing me to serve others in the profession of nursing and help me to remember my purpose and  calling when I grumble about my job and have a bad day or difficult patients to care for. Help me also to remember that You have given me the gift of motherhood and the great responsibility that goes with it. Give me the strength to know that while I can't be all things to all people, I can be a good nurse, mother and blessed child of Yours without becoming overwhelmed. Amen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quiet Treasures

For the first few months of TLO's life I did a dream-feed with her each night. This is when you either feed a baby while they're still laying in the crib/cradle/bassinet or you gently get them up, feed them and put them straight back to bed. I did this as late at night as I could before I went to bed, she barely woke up and was usually back to sleep before we ever got back to her bed. When she could only go 5-6 hours between night-time feedings this bought me an extra couple of hours. As she got older she stretched the feeding times and now will go 10-12 hours at night.
I didn't realize how much I missed those dream-feeds until I got to do one tonight. TLO's schedule got a little messed up this evening because we went to dinner (yummmm...Thai Cafe! My husband must love me!) and then to Wal-Mart. By the time we got home she was EXHAUSTED and late for her evening nap. So she got in her pj's and hopped into bed, sort of...come on, she's only 6 months old! Anyway, she went to bed at 7:30 and usually takes a bottle around 8:00. We kept expecting her to wake up for it but she never did. So I decided to get up her up at 10:15 to feed her rather than having her wake up at 5am on Saturday morning. Oh my goodness I do miss that time! She took her bottle mostly with her eyes closed and when she was done she opened them and smiled. That smile. It melts me. She smiled and laid her hand on my cheek, then nuzzled her face into my neck, stopped, smiled, nuzzled...and finally settled back with her eyes closed but her hand still on my cheek. I couldn't help but just sit and hold her like that. Night-time feedings are just so different than in the daytime. It's just so calm and quiet, so serene. I want to treasure those memories of sitting like we were tonight - hand to cheek, little milky mouth nuzzled into my neck.. I want to bottle up that feeling and keep it forever. (Someone please remind me of this feeling when she's a teenager!) My special child, I will treasure you for ever.

There is another mother who treasured her memories. Luke 2:16-20 tells us the "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Imagine the memories, thoughts and emotions she had as the shepherds gathered around them singing praises to her son! Imagine that amazing feeling to have the son of God lying in your lap, nuzzling your neck, touching His tiny hand to your cheek and to know that the fate of all men rested in Him! Oh Mary, what did that feel like? And as the Heavenly Host sang in verse 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Glory to God!

I prayed for this and glory be to God for all He has blessed me with!

Thank You God for that tiny hand that touched my cheek, for the milky wet spot she left on my neck and for the quiet times we have. Help me to remember that I need quiet time not just with my child, but also with You, my Father. Thank you for allowing me to reach out to touch You when I need comfort and remind me to reach out to touch You when I need to shout for glory as well. Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Biology, Schmiology - Infertility and Adoption

May 2010. The world fell apart around me. All my plans, hopes and dreams - gone. Everything changed because of one word : INFERTILITY. Yes, we were told that our chances of conceiving a child were next to nothing. Specifically we were told we had 2 options to expand our family: in-vitro fertilization or adoption. Immediately, we said adoption. Surely that was what God was calling us to do. Surely God wouldn't allow us to go through the pain of hearing the "I" word without having a bigger plan for us. Right?????

The next year of our life was kind of crazy - we dealt with some personal issues, waited through the last 6 months of the 2 year minimum marriage requirement so many adoption agencies had and then gave in to our own selfish desires for the biology element of having a child and decided to try in-vitro fertilization. It was a difficult decision and let me just tell you that if you have never gone through such a process you can't imagine the toll it takes on your body and mind. I refer to the process as pure evil because I was pretty miserable and the end result for us was more heartbreak. And through it all we kept coming back to adoption. We said "God has a plan for us." We heard stories on the news about babies being abandoned. We talked to friends who adopted. We prayed. And then, we gave ourselves a summer break! (Yay for summer breaks!) Seriously, we took a vacation, actually we took 3 of them! :) 2 of them were for meetings for my husband but we got to enjoy some vacation time along with them. And once we were done with our travels we started the best journey ever! After doing a lot of research we found Christian Adoption Consultants, and specifically Tracie Loux who became our consultant and guided us through the journey. She helped us make our dreams come true so much faster than we ever imagined! Just to give you an idea of our whirlwind - August 18th we had our homestudy visit, September 20th our homestudy was officially approved, October 3rd we asked to have our profile shown to a birthmother and October 6th she chose us! 18 days later we had a beautiful baby girl in our arms!  Exactly 40 weeks (the length of a normal pregnancy) from the day I started medication to do in-vitro our beautiful birthmother gave birth to the baby would become a part of our family. God's plan is GOOD!

When I look at The Little One I don't see physical features of either one of us reflected back in her face but I see our love reflected through her smile, I see our joy reflected back in her eyes. And so I have to say "biology, schmiology." Adoption rocks!

April 22 to 28 is National Infertility Awareness Week. If you know someone who is struggling to conceive or know that couple that has been married for a long time and "when are they going to have kids?" please show a little love to them! RESOLVE is a national organization promoting awareness and support of infertility. If you want to know how to help or support someone through infertility, read here.  Saying things like "if you adopt you'll get pregnant" "just relax, you're trying to hard" " if you quit trying you'll get pregnant" "you can borrow my kids, they'll make you change your mind" and other such things just don't help, they hurt. We didn't adopt so we would end up pregnant, relaxing has nothing to do with the problem, and I certainly don't want your kids! (no offense!) :)  Perhaps the best thing you could say to someone is "I've been praying for you" or "I've been praying that God will open a door for your family." And remember that Mother's Day is just around the corner and is such a hard day for those struggling with infertility. So while you may be enjoying your family that day, remember to give a little extra hug and say an extra prayer for them.

And if you want more information about adoption (you don't have to have fertility problems to adopt!!!!!!!), please, please, PLEASE contact me! I love to tell the rest of our story!

I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for this, who knew what God would have in store for us!

Abba Father, thank You for adopting me and setting this example! Thank You for strengthening my faith and my marriage by putting us through the fire. Thank You for giving me a story to share and allowing me a voice to share it. And please Lord, wrap your arms around those who are struggling today. Let them feel Your touch and know Your presence. Let them know the hope and see the open doors and the beautiful gifts you can provide through the pain of infertility. Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday in a Friday world

Yes, it's Monday. You can see how much The Little One enjoys Mondays. Yes, Mondays follow the day that she gets tons of attention at church, gets to be held for a majority of the day, and most importantly...gets her nap schedule completely messed up. Mondays roll around and I think we both sometimes just want to pull the blanket up over our heads and sleep until Tuesday!

How many times do we as adults feel that way about Mondays? After enjoying a weekend spending time with our families, enjoying the weather, not having to be up early to head to work, no deadlines for work or a boss breathing down your neck, how many times does Monday come and you dread getting out of bed?  The tone of posts I see from friends on Facebook are different on Monday compared to Friday.  On Monday I see a lot of "Ugh, back to work." "Monday, please be nice to me." or "Don't make me go back to work!" Today I'm in agreement with The Little One because we've been Daddy-less this weekend while he traveled to Washington, D.C. and I'm ready to have someone else change a few diapers, wash bottles and entertain TLO! (If only  I could have someone else do all that and I could still get all the smiles and snuggles!)

But all of this talk about Mondays being so bad got me thinking (yikes!) As Christians we are called to be different, and not conform to the patterns of the world (Romans 12:2). We are called to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14). If the world despises Mondays, we should delight in the fact that we have been blessed with another beautiful day and another week to make a difference. If Mondays are dark and dreary, we are to be a light to our co-workers, offering a smile, a helping hand and a positive attitude.

The next time you think negatively about your Monday, try "renewing your mind" as Paul suggested (Rom 12:12). Don't conform to what the world does! Rejoice in the day! Offer your praise to the One who created you and created this day! Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the One who gave His life so you could have the hope you enjoy!

And I thank God that this is the face I get to see most of the week! I prayed for a child who needed me and look at the beautiful face the Lord placed in my life!

Thank you God for the beautiful Monday you have given us! I know we often complain about Mondays, but how can it be a bad day when we had the opportunity to have our spirits renewed in worship and praise yesterday?! Please help me to renew my mind and look forward to Mondays as much as I do Fridays. And thank you Lord for the beautiful blessing in my life who reminds of these lessons! Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Grumbling and Growling

Today I've been listening to The Little One (TLO) playing and in the middle of her playing where she seems completely content there are spontaneous eruptions of grumbling and growling.  (Yes, literal growling. It's one of the noises she does best!)  She grumbles and growls and then continues playing, rolling side to side, back to tummy and toy to toy. One toy in the mouth, another in the hand, more being kicked with her feet. Yes, she's content...ish. It can be very frustrating when she's only contentish.  I want to get down, look her in the eyes and ask her "how can you not be happy with all these toys? You have nice clothes, a clean diaper, musical toys, cuddly toys, chewable toys and more.  So why aren't you happy?" Yes, I realize the stupidity in trying to rationalize with a 6 month old, that's why the words were never said outloud!  :)   But then I looked around the living room and around our house and had to ask myself similar questions. "How can YOU not be happy with all your stuff? You have nice clothes, a nice house, plenty of food, a good job and a beautiful family. So why aren't you happy?" Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with my life. I have so many more blessings than I ever could have imagined. And I like to think that I'm content. But then I remember how often I've wished I could have new clothes, or the new carpet I'm longing for (so "TLO" will stop rubbing her face in the old carpet!), the new decorations I want for the walls, new this and new that. Maybe I'm not content?

I can't  help but think of the Israelities as they were led away from Egypt and were provided with freedom, safety, food and drink. They were a free people now but they grumbled. So if I feel this frustration with TLO and her grumbling and growling, I can't even begin to imagine the frustration my God feels when He looks at all He has blessed me with and I still say I want more. 

I prayed for this tiny child and the reminder she has now given me of my blessings, and the Lord granted what I asked of Him.

Thank you God, for the blessings you have given me. So many blessings, I can't even begin to put them in a list or name them. Thank you for entrusting me with the life of this little child and for the lesson she has reminded me of today. I'm sure this is only one of many lessons she will have for me through the next several years. Thank you for remembering us and continuing to bless us even when we grumble and growl about out lives, our circumstances and our problems. And thank you Father for the gift of Your Son who had the ultimate reason to grumble and yet still gave His life for the sake of other complainers like me. Thank You God. Amen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My simple reminder...

Have you ever had one of those days where you need a reminder of why you're doing what you doing? Today was one of those days for me. It was one of those days when the Little One wasn't happy, wasn't comfortable, wasn't playing, wasn't sleeping. No, Mommy. I'm not going to play/cuddle/have tummy time/swing/sleep. Now, since she's not quite 6 months old, all of that was said through various episodes of crying, hand-slinging, kicking and other such activity. But as I walked into her room to put her in the crib, my eyes fell on the cross hanging on her wall that held the reminder "For this child I have prayed..."  Yes, I prayed for moments like this. I prayed for that little snotty nose and tear-streaked cheeks. I prayed for the little hand pulling at my hair and the little bottom that offered me a dirty diaper as a sacrifice this afternoon. But I also prayed for those eyes that light up and turn towards me at the sound of my voice and the smile that takes over her face when I sing silly songs. I prayed for the big, slobbery, open-mouthed kisses on my cheeks. I prayed for the tiny fingers that hold  onto mine.  I prayed for this sweet child and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him.

I'm starting this blog with the hope of reminding myself of my blessings as well as encouraging others.  Some of my musings on here may be first-time mom musings, adoptive parent questions and struggles, lessons I'm learning on raising a child of another race (hello hair and skin care!), a day in the life of a nurse and who knows what else!  Thanks for joining me on my journey! Please try to support and encourage and not to judge and lets see where this journey takes me