I miss my dad.

Oh, the things I’d write if swearing didn’t matter.

— — —

Hi dad,

you’ve been gone for 7.5 years.  The last thing I feel like doing is rounding up because it is, in fact, more than 7.5

But 7.5 is what I say because I’m not to close to saying 8.

You never got to know my 3 kids.  You never even got to see the first of my babies.  You never saw me pregnant.  You never saw me achieve a dream.

That last one isn’t true…

You walked me down the aisle. I’m still married to the man you allowed to take my hand.

In fact, you said to him, when he asked permission to marry me, that he didn’t have to do that.

And then you told him about the fish you caught last week!

There wasn’t anything more than, “You know, I’ve got something to show you…”

as if there was something profound happening.

But there was!

Your brain, working around and beyond that tumor that never did quit.

It was trying, saying, “hey, young man who has my daughter wrapping him around her finger.  You’re good.  You’re in!”

— — —

I miss my dad.

I say this nearly every night, right around 10 or so.

He isn’t here.

He had Jesus as his lord and savior, just in time.

He’s in heaven.

I miss my dad.

I always will.

Until I don’t have to anymore.

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Peter’s birth story!

11+ months later…
…but it was like it happened yesterday.

10 days before:
Peter was due on December 31, 2017

Overall, my husband and I wanted him to be born on that date because of tax reasons – yes, tax reasons.  Not a bad idea, but it was hard for me to understand.

See – I kept thinking, hey –

we’ll get that tax break next year and

our baby can be born later and be bigger and

I won’t have to rush anything and

I’m getting really nervous about this and

I just don’t like how he’d be born on New Years Even and…
and…
and…

To which my husband said,
“…you get the tax rebate this year AND next year.”

Oh.

The other thing going on before Peter’s due date was, well, Christmas and the stomach flu.

Our other son, Zeke, got a hardcore stomach flu.  Literally puked on me, and that poor boy was sick for 3 days.  Mind you, I know what worse stomach flu is like; I had it when my daughter was 11 months old, and that lasted 5 days.

Still, when you’re 39 weeks pregnant and have a 2-year-old wailing, coughing, and then puking on you, you get a little nervous and know that the best place for this unborn baby to be would be the uterus.

But still, that tax rebate would have been helpful, so we tried all the natural ways the internet told us to, and we waited.

One quick tip: eating a whole pineapple does nothing but make your mouth sting for a whole 24 hours.

December 31st came and went. A late baby, yet again!

Throughout this pregnancy, we called this baby “Pumpkin Pie.”  We were keeping the gender a surprise, so “Pumpkin Pie” it was to help us keep from thinking it was a boy or a girl.  Still, my heart and my listening to old wives tails made me think that our pumpkin was female.   This baby’s heart rate was the same as my daughter’s, so in my mindit had to be a girl.  What I realized later was that I just thought a girl would have been the right fit in our family.

This was the third baby for us, and it was also the third hospital where we delivered a child.  For this time, unlike Suzy’s team of OBGYNs and Zeke’s teams of midwives, I had my choice of a group of family doctors with OB certifications.  Yes, my doctor could be doing a colonoscopy one minute and a c-section the next.  Nevertheless, there were doctors in town that came highly recommended, and I landed one that worked.

This doctor, Dr. Carlstone., was a man who was a bit older than my husband and whose family attended the same church my husband grew up in.  He is a straight-shooter and generally non-interventionist, but he also would rather take a tried-and-true approach than throw caution to the wind.  While I can appreciate that, I still had my doubts and had difficulty communicating with Dr. C., so I got pretty nervous that I’d end up with a labor and delivery that was exactly opposite of what I wanted – rushed delivery or an unnecessary c-section.

After getting too nervous to think clearly, I ultimately talked to my friend Kelsey, who had referred me to Dr. C in the first place.  She, too, had delivered 3 kids in 3 different hospitals.  She, too, had her 3rd kid with Dr. C.  And she, too, had the same misgivings about him that I had, but ultimately said she’d go with him again.  Why? During the delivery, he was straight-forward, respectful, kind, clear, and really, really great at delivering babies as naturally as possible.  And yes, he was an “acquired taste,” so that made the experience much better for me.

As the appointments went on and as my belly got bigger, Dr. C and I got on the same page.  What Pumpkin Pie and I needed was to also get on the same page.  Baby liked to party ALL night long!  Any time, any where, that kid was moving inside me.  My other two kids were like clock-work – at 10:30 p.m., they decided to make a final call in the dance hall of my womb and let me know they were heading to bed for a slumber party.  What this baby did was, well, wake up at random times of the night to make sure I knew that my husband’s ninja skills were inheritable.

So, as I neared the end of my pregnancy, I started to get nervous.  Both of my last pregnacies ended in being induced.  I did not want that, but I honestly felt like I couldn’t help it.  I had never had a natural contraction, and my placenta got stuck last time, so could this be it for pregnancies?

I wrote out my birth plan.  I wanted to go into labor naturally.  I wanted to wait until necessary to go to the hospital, both when labor started and when labor progressed (why sit on a hospital bed and just wait, wait, wait?). If possible, I wanted no meds.  Among other things, I wanted this to be as natural as possible.  Beyond all these things, I wrote 3 more pages of preferences based on this one statement:

“A natural labor and delivery is my goal, but I’m very aware that this probably won’t happen.”

I presented this plan at 37 weeks.

To my relief (and to evidence the hiccups in communication Dr. C and I had), he informed me that he favored the least invasive, most natural labor and delivery possible.  He is not one to take chances when a C-section may be necessary, but his desire to make this work was quite comforting.  He also got a kick out of me quoting the World Heath Organization for statistics about babies being healthier with delayed post-birth baths.

Never hurts to do research.

So the final week of 2017 came and went.  My dear friend, Heidi, who also had a baby due the same day as Pumpkin Pie and even had the same doctor, actually delivered her son, Samuel, around 3:00 a.m. on the 31st of December.

Our pastor joked in church that little Samuel was a good boy and got his parents a nice tax check!  I looked at John and shrugged – what could we do?

One thing we needed to do – decide when to have this baby.  Dr. C. was available the week following my due date, but on January 8th, he was flying to Mexico with his wife and 7 kids.  If I were to wait longer than the 7th, then I’d need another doctor.

Funny, because the hospital’s policy was that you only saw your one doctor since they were guaranteed to be present for your birth.

Guaranteed … except when they plan on flying south of the border!!
Guaranteed … except when they decide to escape the country!
Guaranteed … my foot!
The pressure was on –

from my doc: “If you want me, you can have your baby on the fourth of January (I wanted the 5th, like my other two kids, if anything!)

from my husband’s work: “John needs to come back.  Sure, he has paternity leave, but we thought you’d have had your baby already…”

from anyone who was curious: “…”YOU’RE HUGE!” “Why wait?” “You think you could push out a baby that size?”  Newsflash – I already had!

I just wanted the baby to come naturally, but I also wanted to please everyone.  My doctor scheduled this really long, drawn out induction for the evening of the 3rd. In retrospect, I understand why that would be used rather than a rushed dose of pitocin, but I just was feeling so off about it.  So, so off.

And my mom made a comment that “I think you’re ready to be done with this pregnancy.”  I mean, yes, I was, but I wasn’t ready to be done with it in a way that I was uncomfortable with.

John was feeling the stress from work – to get back sooner than later but also to be there for me.  Having the baby earlier would make that happen.

In an attempt to see if I was dilated any further (I did want this to happen), my membranes were somewhat stripped.  It wasn’t fun.

With all of this, I was going nuts.
I was so tense and stressed that I couldn’t get comfortable physically no matter how I laid down or sat up or anything, you know, aside from the massive self I had become!

So, John had the wonderful question after a long day of us stressing and pacing: “If it didn’t matter what I or the doctor or anyone thought, what would you do?”
I’d wait.

So we did.

The next day, the 3rd, I decided I was going to call the doctor and cancel my induction for that evening.  I had began to feel some cramping and contractions, but they were so spaced out that I knew it wasn’t real labor, even though I had never had a natural contraction before.  So, we went to Chick Fil A and Target, and I called up the hospital from the Target parking lot and cancelled the induction procedure.

On the 4th, I had more sporadic contractions, plenty of movement from baby, and my mucus plug came out.  Still, it could be another week!

The 5th was quiet, as in the baby was quiet.  I should have called the doctor to be sure, but baby did move when I jostled my belly and laid on my side.  It just wasn’t as much as usual.  But when I needed it to happen, the movement did.  I decided to go to bed at about 11:30 or 12 that night, because I doubted I’d get good sleep anyway.

I did get good sleep.  I slept about 7 or so hours and woke up with the sun right 7:30.  I know this because that’s when my water broke, on the 6th.

Pop!
I did not hear that sound with Suzy, but I heard it now!  I thought – really?  Was that it?  it was definitely a pop, but not super loud.  Still, there it came – the waters, as the nurse ladies like to call it back in Chicago. Thankfully I rushed to the bathroom across the hall and thought, hey, it’s happening!

I callled the hospital at 7:47.  I told them that my water broke, and they said – get here right away.

I was like, “Why?”  I mean, with Suzy, my water broke and it was nearly 16 hours until she was born.   I had pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnty of time. I mean, pitocin was coming my way anyhow, right Zeke?  Right??

Wrong.  So, so, so wrong!

So, I told John what was up, called my mother-in-law and alerted my neighbor in case my mother-in-law didn’t make it in time (the irony of this mindset, right?), took a shower, ate some toast while John took a shower, woke up the kids, went back to the bathroom because I felt like I needed to go #2, nothing, then came out and felt kind of crampy in my legs, then I thought we’d better put my big boots on because it’s freezing, then I wanted a family picture, all while the leg cramping turned into hip cramping turned into a full-blown contraction and I was like…that came fast.

We left at about 8:45.   Why?  Because who leaves early for labor and delivery?!  Not someone whose water broke.  Not someone whose water broke nearly 4 years ago with her first pregnancy.  Nope.

So while gritting through those family pictures and saying, “I feel like I have to poop,” and my mother-in-law saying, “DON’T POOP!!!!” because any woman who hasn’t given labor on pitocin and an epidural knows that the feeling of that is likely your body wanting to push, not poop.  I mean, I DIDN’T KNOW.

So then we got in the car.  I looked to my left as we pulled out on to our street and saw our darling neighbors, the Vannooys, all waving us on from their front door and windows with big, beaming smiles.  I’ll never forget it.  I’ll also never forget how rapidly and sporadically those contractions came on.

We started timing the contractions on the 18-minute drive to the hospital, and I was in disbelief that they were getting as fast as they were. Every 10 minutes – no, 7.  Wait, that was 5 minutes. THREE MINUTES?!

Thankfully John was quite familiar with the emergency department of this hospital, given his experience as a chaplain in the same town.  He fetched me a wheel chair, got my laboring self up the elevator, and we were again entering a labor and delivery ward on a very quiet Saturday morning.

Except for me.  For the first time in my life, I wasn’t exactly quiet.

I got on the couch in this massive room and attempted to take off my boots.  Tell your pregnant lady friends, people, not to tightly lace up winter boots!  I did it, but I wish I had asked for help.  Anyway, I did get help getting into my gown and getting up on the bed.  The contractions did.not.quit, folks, and my doctor was on his way.

Yep!  My OB had NOT yet left for Mexico with his family!  He worked until the day before he left.

I believe I came into the hospital at about 6 cm dilation, but I knew I wasn’t going to last long.  I just wanted that dang epidural now, but I also knew that the saline that needed to get in my body would take one hour.  One long, excruciating hour.  One hour that I simply did not have.

So Dr. Carlstone got suited up and wheeled himself over to check me out.  There I was, half-gasping, half-wailing, and he said, “Well, Laura, this is what you wanted!”

I yelled/whined/wailed, “I KNOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!”

He knew I was in pain (stupid 1-10 pain scale.  It doesn’t work when your numbers are 3/10/8/6/150289) and we both knew that there was no getting an epidural.  He gave me some other IV med to “take the edge off,” and boy did I say, “DO IT!”

It didn’t work.  John’s hand got a workout and he did all he could to time the contractions that took turns happening on whatever part of my throacic region they desired.  Seriously – this had never happened to me before.

All that med did was make me dizzy.  I was infull labor, because by the time they got it through my veins, I yelled, “I feel like pushing!”  Yep, in less than a half hour, I went from 6 cm to 10 cm and fully all there.

Unlike my other babies’ deliveries, my husband wasn’t able to swing around and watch.  Nope.  Carlstone had him GRAB A LEG and get me ready to push.  I gave John a look to make sure he wasn’t going to pass out, and he was ready.  It was like he was born for this.  Thank God for John Bazal!  Because I was a wreck!

A nurse came up to me on my other leg and lifted me up, telling me that we’d push with each contraction for 10 seconds.

I told Dr. Carlstone that I was a good pusher.  It’s true.  I was never a true natural at sports, and I don’t have particularly natural strength, but here we are – me in my incredibly painful element.

Contraction 1: PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!! and breathe.

Contraction 2: PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!! and breathe.  “NOPE!” I said.  I kept pushing until I physically had to collapse back on my bed.  It was just what happened!

Contraction 3: “Ok, here comes the burning and tearing!” Carlstone yelled.

As an aside, I loved that he said that.  I needed that, because I knew that a. it was almost done, and b. the worst was there, and it was my job to fight through it.  This was the part that totally caught me off guard with Zeke, and instead of condemning me, my doctor prepared me.

So, contraction 3: PUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and – “it’s a boy!”

A boy?

A boy!

They plopped that little mister on my chest.  He lifted his head, raised one eye-brow (and still does), and plopped his head back on my chest (and still does).

I was surprised with that little boy but so content.  A boy.  My Peter.  My Peter James.

The days and weeks to come were extremely difficult with me and this little guy.  It took some time for us to get in sync.  But looking back at this story, seeing how we made it happen, reminds me so much of how Peter and I are now – together.

He is my fussiest baby but plays so well.  He is my skinniest baby but eats like no other and is all muscle.  He is content when his needs are met, and he is content most of the time (except when something is wrong – like his brother is sad).

After figuring out his needs, pushing and gnashing through the newborn weeks, seeing that first smile and finally figuring out that he was working toward getting sleep, not fighting it – well, I’ll sum it up like this.

In the first week or two, when the second wave of stomach flu had passed an my husband’s work came calling and my postpartum anxiety turned into that and postpartum depression and this little baby would just NOT sleep on his own nor on his back, I laid on the floor in the middle of my living room while Peter contentedly laid on his belly and said to him, “I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.”

I did.  And we won.

Peter James Bazal

10 lbs.

22 1/4 inches

Born 9:57 a.m. on January 6th, 2018

My little lion cub

My patootzie

Our sweet little Love

Postpartum – 4

Do not,

I repeat,

Do NOT use any mint-y-anything if you are nursing.

I went from being a fire-hose to barely a dripping faucet after using menthol cough drops and Vicks on my feet.

Let’s hope I can get this milk back for my baby.

update: electrolytes got my milk back in full swing, as well as giving my postpartum hormones a loop-di-loop at the same time!

Postpartum Anxiety -3 … or is it?

It annoyed me when my medical team continued to try to preemptively help me with my impending pastorate depression.  

1. It’s not fun to talk about this.  

2. IT’S ANXIETY, PEOPLE!!!

…and then all that was to hit me after I had my baby did…and it was different. 

Yes, I was nervous…

anxious…

call me chicken little because the sky had me as a landing pad. 

But then there was sadness…

darkness…

insomnia…

And I knew I had at least both anxiety and depression.

But then…

but God.

(To be continued)

Postpartum Anxiety – 2

This morning I was struggling with fear. Fear of my son crying, who is fussing during his nap again…no, crying again. It’s hard for me to hear. 

So, when the adrenaline started coursing around my head this morning when I woke up fearing his cries, then again just now after he unsettled from setching down for his nap, I wrote out with my finger on the carpet,

I LOVE PETER.

I do. 

It’s true. 

But it’s hard to feel that when my world feels like it’s crashing in. I don’t know why my brain is doing what it’s doing, but now I have one tool to help it l, the anxiety, stop. 

“Free of Me” – A Review of Sharon Hodde Miller’s Book

 

When we embrace our God-given purpose, He takes the focus off ourselves and onto a much bigger story.
Sharon Hodde Miller – “Free of Me”

 

 

 

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From Sharon Hodde Miller’s FB page

 

Do you ever read a book and don’t realize how applicable it is until some time after you read it?  That happened to me with “Free of Me” by Sharon Hodde Miller.   In fact, the application from each chapter of this book hit me with a clear and present “THIS IS JUST WHAT I READ!!” moment after each chapter I encountered.

Take a look at this book trailer from Miller, illustrating exactly how relevant this book’s focus is:

“Free of Me” works to identify self-focus in life and love and calling and faith, eventually moving toward a Christ-like view of all of those things and a life free of the pursuit of false hope.  I think Miller does a great job at identifying what can trap us in self-focus and shows us how to pursue a freeing Christ-focus in all those things I mentioned above.

“The one true God responds to our insecurities with reassurances about himself.  In doing so, he releases us from the source of our paralysis, shifting our gaze from the “can’ts” to the One who can.” – Chapter 3, “When You Make God About You”

I was surprised at how easy of a read “Free of Me” is but also how profound it is at the same time.

Taking on this topic, especially in this day and age, is no easy task, yet I came to see that instead of explaining every little nuance of this subject, Miller gave a practical lead-in, developed a biblical case for her points, and is letting the Holy Spirit handle everything else on the individual application (and conviction!) end-of-things.

Here are a few examples of my experience with this book:

Several of the chapters are titled with the phrase “When you make your —- about you.”  One of the chapters examines what happens when you do self-focus your friendships.  And let me tell you, it was immediately applicable.

We move so much that my social insecurities and anxieties are often fed by the fact that I have to go through the friendship cycle again and again.  This chapter helped me remember how God provided already by giving us a church community, kind and generous neighbors, and nearness to family all in our newest relocation.  So that was an easily recognizable application.

“Friendships are for us, but they are not about us.  They exist primarily for the glory of God.” – Chapter 7, “When You Make Your Friendships About You.”

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I think I liked a few of the quotes from this book.

The next chapter is about calling.  Hey, I’m a stay at home mom, and when do I ever get to make that calling about me?  Oh, any day I want, I realized! But what if that calling isn’t all that I am? That’s something I struggle with because I’m lazy with my talents outside of mothering, so reviewing this chapter was a true kick in the pants.

“Remember what your calling is for.  It’s not about you, and that is great news.” – Chapter 8

And then I read the chapter about making church about you, and let’s just say that Miller’s introductory story is my introductory story, so this hit me both on the head and in the heart.

“Over time, [Jesus’] disciples grew into intimate friends, and that model of friendship is a basic function for the church.  Our call is not to gravitate toward people like us but to gather strangers and turn them into family […to] gather enemies and turn them into friends.” Chapter 9.

In an age where popular Christian women leaders are tempted with an end-goal to focus on self (whether that version of self is proud or pitiful), something like “Free of Me” is a true breath of much needed fresh air.

I don’t know that I’d say this book would make someone feel happy, but it may make them feel free, and that’s worth more than all the temporal validation that this world can offer.

Because in order to be “Free of Me,” one has to be free through Christ.

Wherever you are in your journey with God, this book will bring value to you. And yes, it is pointed toward women and doesn’t apologize for that, but like the Truth of God it proclaims, it’s full of great stuff for everyone. I highly recommend it.

A final p.s. :
I received this book for my honest review. If I hadn’t liked it, I’d have said so (ask me about my other reviews!), but I did, and I’m saying so just the same.