Friday, May 1, 2015

The Birth of our Daughter

Sunday afternoon around 5pm I realized I was having contractions fairly regularly.  Stephen cam home from church around 6pm and I thought it would be good to time them. They were coming every 5 minutes. I wasn't too excited about this since I had had them come this often many times for an hour or two in the early morning hours and then they would just stop by morning. I wasn't convinced it was real, yet.
Just after being admitted

Around 7pm some friends from our community group stopped by.  They told me that this was "it." I decided to put on my tennis shoes and go for a walk to see what happened. Jude wanted to come, so I let him. While walking, the contractions picked up to every 3 minutes. I had to slow down or stop for them but could still talk through them. When we were about halfway done with our walk and heading home, Jude melted down and did not want to walk anymore. So, I picked him up. After carrying him through a couple of contractions, I realized how ridiculous it was that I was carrying a 35lb toddler while having contractions... he walked the rest of the way home.

Once I got home, the contractions slowed back down to every 5 minutes. I could still talk through them, though I would have to stop and be still with each one. So, we got Jude ready for bed, but called our person (my mentor) who would be watching him so they could be on standby. I also called my sweet friend Ashley who offered a whole lot of encouragement!

Around ten, my contractions began to get more painful. I had taken a shower and done some things to get Jude ready to spend the night at my mentor's and to be ready to go to the hospital (We live only 1 mile from our hospital so we weren't in a rush). Since they continued to intensify, we decided to load Jude up and head out. 

Around 11 (it think) we dropped Jude off. We set him up a bed, and proceeded to tuck him in. However, he had a coughing fit that caused him to gag and throw up. Seriously, I was holding a bag while my toddler puked in it and having contractions.  It took some time to get Jude settled in, so I think we made it to the hospital around midnight. 

Upon arriving the nurse said I was at 3 cm and 80% effaced, they did a quick sonogram to make sure baby was head down.  (I was 2cm and 50% on that Thursday at my last appointment).  The nurse said we could walk around for an hour and come back - if I had progressed to 4 they would admit me and give me a room.  So from 1-2am we walked all around the hospital. It was a small hospital so we decided to walk outside thorough the parking lot. Each time I had a contraction I would stop and lean my head into Stephen's chest and sway and rock.  I was having "back labor" and it wasn't fun!

At 2 am I decided to walk 30 minutes more... I wanted to progress enough to get that room. In that room was a big tub and I wanted to get in the tub sooooo bad. For some reason, I thought the tub would take away my pain. 
Clara Jean

Jude meets his sister
Our first picture as a family of four.
At 2:30,  I was 4 cm and very thin. Contractions every 3-4minutes.

I got in my room and got in my tub. It didn't help with the pain as much as I hoped it would. 

Sometime between 4-5 AM, I got out of the tub and decided I was ready for the epidural. The nurse said I was a 5-6cm. Contractions were still coming every 3-4 minutes.

Just minutes old
I was given the most wonderful epidural ever.  I had no idea it was supposed to be so wonderful. I felt SO much pain with Jude, so I was pleasantly surprised when I felt no pain, just pressure and still had control of my legs. It. Was. Blissful.

So, Stephen took a nap.  I tried to nap, but was too amped up on adrenaline. So, I sent some texts.

By 7AM my contractions had slowed a bit. I was still at 6cm, so my doctor dropped by at 8AM and broke my water. Baby had a major deceleration shortly after this.  I could tell the nurse was really panicked, but she finally fixed it by pushing on the baby'

s head. My doctor left to take her son to school.

At 8:30 I told our nurse I was feeling pushy.  She checked me and said something like, "Oh, yeah. Baby is RIGHT THERE!"  So we waited  a few minutes for my doctor to return from dropping her kid off at school. I started pushing at 9 am.

At 9:06 AM, after pushing through 2.5 contractions, Clara Jean Powell was here!  She was 8 lbs even and 20.5 inches long.  I remember feeling shocked at how big she was when they put her on my chest.  I know 8 lbs isn't a huge baby but she seemed so much bigger than Jude was (7lbs7oz). 

She was born beautiful, healthy and hungry! She nursed well.

We sent a picture to all our family, but did not tell them the sex.  We set up a google chat and told them live.

We had a quiet morning in the hospital just the three of us. Karen brought Jude by after his nap to meet Clara. He wanted to hold he so badly, but couldn't since he was sick.

Steak dinner!
That evening the hospital served us an awesome steak dinner.  Stephen went home to spend the night with Jude at our house. So, it was just Clara and me that night. We had several sweet visitors that ministered to my heart!  The Raubachs, Aly, and Ashley all came bringing goodies, bows and pink clothes!

I can't believe how quickly I was smitten with Miss Clara Jean. She turned my heart to mush quick! We are so blessed to have this precious, healthy, beautiful little girl!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Catch up: Fall-Winter

November and December were a whirlwind of sickness, surgery, buying a house, moving, and holiday festivities.

As a side note, if I ever try to move in December again, please remind me that I am the wife of a worship pastor and that is not a good idea!

The House

I never thought we would be homeowners. It still blows my mind how quickly and perfectly it all

We bought our cute little 1950 home from some precious church members. Our realtor, who is a retired elder from our church had told us about this house and that it was about to come on the market. They agreed to let us see it before it went up for sale. It was a Friday evening, I had a cold, Jude was sick (the puking kind) and we had just received a newborn foster baby. So, Stephen decided to go look at the house alone, when he returned he was excited and encouraged me to go see it.  So, I did. I think we put in an offer on Sunday.

In between this this time and our closing date, Stephen became jaundiced. His gallbladder was DONE and needed to come out. So, he had a two procedures and a surgery to take care of all that. It was a crazy couple of weeks!

We moved into our house on December 5th. This was the week before the Christmas production. Yikes! It was crazy. I was very pregnant and hubs was only a couple weeks out from surgery, yet we managed.  Mostly because some sweet family blessed us with the gift of a moving company. I am not sure how we could have done it otherwise!

The Kid

Jude is a full blown 2 year old (as of October). We celebrated his birthday with a few of our Oklahoma friends and even Granna was able to be here for it. It just amazes me how much he grows, learns and talks.

Granna and sick Jude
We have very few pictures of our Christmas trip home to Florida this year. This is because Jude had
the FLU while we were there. He was miserable. Needless to say we didn't get to see as many people as we had hoped, but we are so thankful no one else caught it. We will forever remember 2014 as the Christmas Jude had the flu and my sister sprayed everything with lysol - even a PINE TREE after Jude touched it - and made people wear hospital masks. Oh, memories.

Thankfully, we made it through the flu with no febrile seizure. This is huge! He had fever for 6 days and it spiked up to 104-105. I hope and pray perhaps this means they will be fewer in our future!

He started to feel slighty better the last two days we were there. So we squeezed in his first fishing trip  with Granna and an evening of seeing the lights with Grandad and Grandma.
First fish!
Looking at lights with Grandad

The Church

We love our church more and more every day. Frequently, Stephen and I will look at each other and ask "How did we end up here?" We feel inadequate to serve such a special body, but we cherish it so much.

We adore our Community Group, which has in every way, been our family here in Oklahoma. They are so precious to us and truly do life together day in and day out.
Jude at the Christmas Eve service

After the Christmas Eve service


We are getting so close to welcoming a new baby - only 6 more weeks until my due date. This pregnancy has flown by. We actually got to take an extra sneak peek and baby this week since I have been measuring 2-3 weeks ahead. We still have no idea if this little is a girl or boy, but I am anxious to find out!
Our Baby!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Sanctificiation of Fostering

Today we said goodbye to our precious Z. We so enjoyed having this little person with us for almost a month. We believe that being moved in with a kinship placement is for Z's (and Z's family's) good. After we said goodbye, I remembered a blog post I had wrote about how the fostering experience was sanctifying, but I had never posted it. So, here it is.

We are only a little over a week in on our first placement, and the honeymoon is over. This. Junk. Is. Hard.

But, as I look at each hard moment and each challenge, I am trying to remind myself of the opportunity for grace. I said trying.  I am far from always thinking rightly. So, if you don't mind me being completely candid, I will share some of these hard things that are also good things. (Warning: You will fully see my sinfulness in the next part of this post. Feel free to be appalled, but only if you will then reflect on the fact that Jesus is bigger than all my sin.)

1. They are sometimes hard to love. There is not this primal, hormonal instinct to love this child as there was the one I birthed. I know some foster parents say that they feel love for the child(ren) as soon as they step through the door. I believe them. But, this was not the case for me. Quite honestly, in the difficult moments of "parenting" a child that is not my own, the enemy will whisper, "You don't HAVE to do this." It's true.  I don't. But, then I remember the fact that I don't have to do this means it is a greater opportunity for love. I get to CHOOSE to love this little person, even when they are not lovable, and there is no biological reason to. Even when they might be wisked away tomorrow leaving my heart broken. They are mine to love today. And I choose to love them by sacrificing and serving them. And isn't that a love that sounds a lot like the gospel?

2. Life is much more hectic. It doesn't feel like I am just twice as busy, but infinitely more busy. Laundry, dishes, and messes have multiplied immensely. Add to this keeping case workers updated and keeping logs on them. I miss downtime and being able to  turn on some Curious George and go on autopilot when it was just Jude and me. But, this  busyness has proven good for our house!  I spend less time on Facebook and our TV is rarely on. I spend more time teaching and training.

3. It is hard on Jude. Three days into fostering, Jude was obviously having a hard time. Jude has always been a compliant fellow, but the meltdowns that ensued were outrageous. This has been good for us in several ways. I have AMPLE opportunities to talk about the gospel with him, and though he may not understand it, I am getting more comfortable with this way of training. Also, this has really caused me to confront the pride I have in having a "well behaved" child. When your child has a fit in public, it is incredibly humbling!

4. It is heartbreaking. When your foster child celebrates milestones, your heart just breaks for them and their parents. This little one will never get to celebrate that milestone with their mama and daddy. Their mama and daddy are missing out on some of the biggest joys of parenting. Foster children just go through so much and it sometimes seems like the "system" cares little for their well being. For example, after having Z for over a week we got an email saying that the name we were using was the wrong name. I completely lost it - broke down in tears. This poor baby was put into a home with complete strangers who don't even know their name! But, with this heartbreak comes the opportunity to pray earnestly. My heart is broken for the way that sin has ravaged this family. I reflect on the fact that the only way they can be free from sin is Christ - without whom, sin will continue to lead them to death. So, we pray for the Lord to save this family. And, I pray for my own heart.  I pray that the Lord would guard my heart so that I would want nothing more for this child or this family than salvation.

As I read back over this list, I can't help but chuckle. Who knew the Lord would use a super-cute, blue-eyed little Z to show me so much? But, he did. And, we look forward to the challenges and joys that await us in our next placement.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Extra Pair of Feet

There are another pair of little feet in the Powell household. Monday afternoon we welcomed our first foster placement. For the sake of this and future posts, I will just refer to this child as Z.

And, to be honest it has, thus far, been so much easier than I imagined. I had braced myself for lots of difficulty, but it has not been so bad. So much grace!

My biggest concern was sleeping. We have a two bedroom home and therefore Jude is sharing his room. However, the first night went without a hitch. We lay Z down first and waited for about 30 minutes to make sure sleep was deep.  Then, we told Jude it was bedtime and said, "You have to be quiet, Z is sleeping." He put his little finger to his lips and said, "Shhhh Z sleeping."  We then snuck into the room and Jude slipped into his bed. He went to sleep and we never heard a peep all night! Praise!

In the morning, Jude woke first. He began talking to his animals as he usually does.  I came in and said, "Shhh." His eyes got big as if he remembered something. He looked over at the crib, pointed to it, then put his finger to his lips and said, "Shhh Z sleeping."  We then quietly snuck out and let Z sleep a little while longer.

Nap time, on the other hand, didn't go quite so well today (our first try). I think I will play with it and figure it out after a few days.

I know foster children generally have a bad reputation, but Z has a sweet, mellow, and happy disposition. We have been very blessed by Z's presence already. This is a pleasant child.  I looked at Stephen the first morning and told him... this is not supposed to be this easy!

But, it is also difficult. Thinking of all that Z has been through, and has yet to go through, is tough. Figuring out childcare for my OB appointments is a little more difficult now - as are all errands - a small thing, but a thing nonetheless. And, just being real, I had a few teary moments the first evening mourning the loss of our family of three, realizing our routine and comfort has been "shaken up."

But, its worth  it. And, whatever difficulties lie beyond this "honeymoon phase" will be worth it. What a great opportunity to grow in love, patience, perseverance and, above all, Christlikeness. What an opportunity to pray for this child's salvation and that of Z's parents. We pray The Lord may use us to share the gospel with this family. We are thankful for the extra pair of feet the Lord has allowed us to care for. We are praying and hoping to see great things come from the time that Z gets to stay with us.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Different Kind of Pregnancy

Here we are, with full hearts, celebrating 15+ weeks of pregnancy.

As if that weren't enough (and it is!), grace upon grace, I am just a normal pregnant women this time around. No high-risk pregnancy like with Jude, no twice daily injections of blood thinners or daily doses of progesterone hormones. Praise!

When we moved to Oklahoma, I spoke with my new doctor about what she thought was medically necessary for me to carry a pregnancy to term. I had some reasons to believe that the twice daily heparins shots and progesterone supplements on top of a daily aspirin and thyroid medication were not completely necessary. She agreed that I could most likely forgo the heparin shots and the progesterone supplements and just stay on thyroid medication and a baby aspirin. As soon as I found out I was pregnant she did some blood work to be sure.  I prayed that the Lord would allow these results to come back obviously positive or negative (not borderline as they had with Jude). He answered and we took the plunge - going heparin and progesterone free.

It was a difficult first few weeks! I mean, who in their right mind wants to "experiment" with a baby's life?  However, we decided to see it as an opportunity to put our trust fully in the Lord, realizing that HE is sovereign over my body and even over medicine. To see it as an opportunity to cherish the gift of conception and each day of pregnancy even if we don't get to hold a healthy baby at the end. An opportunity to believe that whatever happens, the Lord intends it for our good.

Praise God, he has graciously answered our prayers and those of those praying with us in these early weeks of pregnancy. Thus far, he has sustained this baby. I am watching a bump grow without any bruises or knots on it from shots!

And, yet more grace, we will be welcoming a foster baby into our home literally at any moment - We found out we were pregnant the same weekend we completed our foster care training!

I can not believe how much things have changed so quickly. But, my heart is full and anticipating much growth (family, physically, and spiritually) in the next few months!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Sick Kid and Sin

I remember being childless.

I remember thinking things about my parent-friends.

Things like, "What's wrong with them/their kids?  They are ALWAYS sick! Maybe the parents are hypochondriacs?"

And, now I have no doubt the same is said about us. We are currently sitting in the ER waiting for test results to tell us why he is still spiking 105 degree fevers after four days of antibiotics for an ear infection and why his neck is swollen.

The reality is, you can breast-feed forever or never feed your child junk food, but those things are not sovereign over sickness. The Lord is.

(***As a caveat, let me say, we have been so blessed that our little guy has not had a any life-threatening illness.  I am by no means trying to elevate our dealings with normal childhood illness to be something more. What we deal with doesn't come close to what other parents deal with who's children face serious life threatening issues. My heart breaks for them and I can't even fathom what they go through.)

It has become rather obvious to me that having a sick child is greatly used by the Lord to reveal any idolatry of my child that is within my heart. I know it is normal for parents to be anxious, to think, "What if?" to be frustrated when physicians or medication don't offer a quick fix, to think "I should have done something differently" (IE - not put them in nursery, took them to the doctor sooner, given them more/different/no meds), and to entertain thoughts of self-pity.

Yes, these may be common thoughts and feelings that all parents have as they try to care for their sick child the best they can, but they are common because our hearts are so prone to idolatry.  Especially idolatry of our children.

How quickly I forget that the Lord is in control, not us. How quickly I forget that this child is a blessing from God, not a burden.  How quickly I forget that each opportunity to care for my sick child is an opportunity to deny myself and put someone else first.  How quickly I forget that I am blessed that the Lord has been gracious that our child has not battled with something life threatening. How quickly I take my eyes off the Lord and put it on doctors, medicine, my child and myself.

As parents we have a responsibility to care for him - to provide him with medical care and medication if needed.  These are not bad things; they are necessary things.  But, when my heart becomes crowded with thoughts and anxiety that reveal I think this is in MY control or question "Why us?" I am dealing with an issue of idolatry.  My child's wellness has over-shadowed my faith in the Lord to do all things for good.

Please, do not hear me say we should not act to care for our child when they are sick. We absolutely should. However, we shouldn't give in to the temptation to sin in the process. I shouldn't worry. I shouldn't play the "what if"  or the blame game. I shouldn't snap at others who are trying to help. All of these reveal something gone awry in my heart - idolatry and a lack of faith in a completely Soveriegn God.

A friend texted me after I shared with her the details of our recent sickness, "Oh, friend! How the Lord must love you!"

She sure is right. He loves me immensely to teach me the many lessons in sanctification that come along with parenting a "sick kid."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

He is 18 Months Old!

Jude had fun with his "Halfday" cupcake
I. Love. It.

Really. I may love having an 18-month-old more than any age yet. I am so serious.

I love that he understands us. Or, at least he tries and gets it most of the time. I love that if he doesn't understand, I can "teach" him what I mean usually in just a few minutes. 

I love that he is becoming more independent. I love that he can communicate. I love that he loves to make us laugh and likes to make us proud.

In honor of Jude's Halfday (which has become an official thing in the Powell household), I wanted to list some cute things Jude does. (Disclaimer: I know these are not spectacular and are totally normal developmental milestones, but grandparents read this blog and well, they eat this stuff up!)

So, here's the list, in no particular order:

He has begun pointing and asking "Autsis?" (translation: What's this?)

He tries to entice us to wrestle with him. Yup, all boy. Loves to roughhouse.

He still loves books. Maybe all kids adore books at this age, but I promise we could read book, after book for hours and he would not be bored. Also, it amazes me that he never brings the same book twice - he remembers which ones we have read already.

He loves the "Bah-bull" (translation: Bible). He will grab it, get in a chair, and turn the pages. He has never ripped a page, which is still beyond my understanding.

He loves to take all the pillows off the couches, make a pile, and fall into it, face first.

He loves rocks, sticks, acorns, and dirt more than any toy in our house. 

He sneaks the above objects into the house and deposits them in random places. 

He still gets plumb giddy about brushing his teeth. This is not an exaggeration. We say, "Jude let's brush your teeth," and he runs, giggling, into the bathroom saying, "Teece" (translation: teeth).

He loves Curious George.

When watching Curious George, he gets upset (and cries) if something goes wrong or if George does something bad.

He offers kisses without being asked! Melts a mama's heart!

He copies my and his daddy's actions during cooperate worship. I love seeing him raise his hands, pump his fist, clap, say "Amen," and bow his head. What a precious thing!

He plays jokes. His favorite is to point to Daddy and call him "Mama" just to be silly. Then he will call me "Jude Dude" and point to himself and say "Daddy."  Then, he switches the names up and does it again. 

He calls anything that is crunchy "kackihs" (translation: crackers).  Even celery, dried seaweed, and nuts. He was disappointed with the celery, loved the seaweed, and was denied the nuts.

He will say almost every animal's name AND sound. Except cow. He will NOT call it a cow. He will only say, "Booo" (translation: moo).

He dances to his daddy's beatboxing. Actually, he will dance to any music, but daddy's beatboxing is the cutest.

Every morning, when we get him out of his crib, he hands us several items as he names them:
"Orsch" (translation: George) - His stuffed Curious George.
"teur-dool" (translation: turtle) - His light-up turtle pillow pet.
"aimpit" (translation: blanket) - His blanket.
"aimpit" (translation: blanket) - His other blanket.
I then carry all of these items into the living room and plop them on the couch where he cuddles up with them and watches Curious George.

When we say, "I love you" he says, "ah -djew" (Translation: I love you soo sooo sooooo much.  Ok, I embellished that a bit.)

It's a great season. We love our 18-month-old. Happy Halfday, Jude Dude!