A Happy Holiday Season

I have been a bit of a Scrooge this year as the holidays are approaching.  I refuse (and I say that lightly) to listen to Christmas music.  I don’t like or want the snow – not that I ever do.  Plus I have no interest in shopping for people’s gifts.  I think part of the problem may be that I am very focused on Lincoln, and all I want to do is things for him.  This isn’t a bad thing.  It’s just usually at this time of year I am doing things for me…

A typical Amber Christmastime:  The season for me normally kicks off with the Cities Sampler release day.  I immerse myself in the beautiful music while planning to start the Santa season.  For the past seven years, I have spent ~5 weeks leading up to Christmas working with Santa.  I have loved that job since day 1.  Thanksgiving occurs, which stops the Sampler listening and begins the Christmas music.  Then I spend many glorious days preparing my shopping lists, purchasing more gifts than necessary at higher amounts than needed, and I finish off wrapping these gifts. At work for the past 2 years I have helped plan the Christmas Party!  I thoroughly enjoy heading to Grandma’s/Aunt’s/Nebraksa/Parents’ to open gift and spend family time.  One thing you should also know about me, which shows why I love Christmas so much, is that my love language is Gifts.

This year is a bit different.  I didn’t go to the release day because my wonderful bestest Nikki won tickets to the Sampler Listening Party where I was able to reserve my copies of the CD.  Therefore on Nov. 17th I did not start listening to the Sampler.  (I didn’t actually start listening until this week!)  As Santa geared up, I did not.  This year I am just doing the scheduling.  While I have loved working with the people at Santa and have truly enjoyed holding this position for 8 years, I do not miss one bit of it.  I am not on the Christmas Party committee this year.  Thanksgiving came and went, along with a bit of snow.  I enjoyed the family time, but did not enjoy the snow.  I am fearful of driving with Lincoln in it.  I am a very good driver, but other people are not.  Christmas music has still not started.  I haven’t purchased a gift – nor do I really want to.  I love to give people gifts, but this year money is tighter, since having a baby is expensive, and I just worry.

Ultimately, the Christmas season will bring me great joy and cheer.  I will buy the gifts that I need and want to buy.  We are not strapped for money, we just need to watch more closely how we choose to spend.  Alabaster will probably not be buying all of his kitty/dog/bird cousins a gift this year.  And unlike most years, I could care less what I get for Christmas!  All I want is for Lincoln to be happy and healthy, and to get the things that he needs.

So instead of being excited this year about my gift giving and receiving, or Christmas music, I am simply joyful towards life.  I have an amazing family, an uber supportive work environment, and the husband and child that I have wanted for so long.

Christmas for me this year is a time to truly understand the gift that Jesus was and is.  I have been blessed incredibly these last few months and I am happier than I ever have been.  The holidays will be a time for me to share that joy and happiness with others as best I can, to do it for Lincoln and for God.

Becoming A Mom

Our sweet beautiful Lincoln Xavier Gehring was born on Wednesday, July 20th at 2:07pm.  This is our long, sad, scary, beautiful story.

Our labor journey began the night before when Justin and I headed to Woodwinds Hospital to start the process of inducing me.  Link wanted to come on his own time, and both me and my Dr. didn’t want to wait any longer for Link’s time to arrive.  After getting admitted on Tuesday night, we were going to start one medicine but Link’s heartrate was too high.  They did some tests and realized that I was a bit dehydrated, so they started pumping fluids into me.  That meant starting the IV which I was not looking forward to.  Needles and I don’t agree.  After awhile, Link’s heartrate went back to where it should be and they were able to start the medicine.

Tuesday was a long night because I had the IV hooked up to me as well as 2 monitors reading any contractions I may be having as well as Link’s heartrate.  Everytime I had to get up to use the restroom (remember, I’m pregnant here which meant I peed a lot, and they were pumping fluids into me, which meant I had a lot to pee out) Justin had to help me unhook and rehook things.

In the morning, it was time to start the pitocin and the antibiotics, which they started around 7am as planned.  Contractions started, and increased in intensity.  It is a pain that I would have trouble describing to you.  I thought that I would have to wait a very long time before getting pain relief, so I would just tell the nurse (we had amazing nurses, by the way) how they felt and how they were progressing.  She would increase the pitocin gradually and check me for dilation.  I didn’t think I was dilating as well as I should be, but she kept telling me how great I was doing and at about 10am, she called the Dr. to see what pain relief I could get.  At only about 3 cms, and just a few hours into it, I thought I would just be able to get some narcotics, and not an epidural.  She came back with the news that the Dr. (who I already loved) said I could have “anything I want” for pain relief.  We had already talked about me wanting an epidural eventually, so one was ordered.  The wonderful amazing epidural Dr. came and inserted the epi, and soon all was better.  I was amazed at how well the pain was taken away.

In just a short time, close to 1pm, I was already completely dilated/effaced/all the good stuff.  The nurse called the Dr., who had been on his way to lunch, but turned his car around anyways to get to the hospital.  Once he got there, the nurse and he decided that it would be alright if he went down to the cafeteria to grab a quick lunch.  While he was gone, the pressure started increasing in my body and I felt the need to push.  The nurse and Justin helped me push for awhile, and the Dr. returned.  I kept pushing, which was the most incredibly difficult and unique experience I have ever been through.  I was determined to get the baby out quickly, because pushing was not fun, and I didn’t want to sit there for hours doing it (I am not a very patient person).  I pushed hard and felt a moment of relief and my baby was on my tummy.

During that moment, I had heard the doctor mention something about the cord being wrapped around the baby twice.  I looked at Link’s face, and I immediately felt like something was wrong.  His eyes were bulging out of his head, he wasn’t crying, and he looked like ET.  I had expected him to not look perfect after being pushed out of me, but this just didn’t seem right.  The Dr. was frantically trying to suction the baby’s nose and mouth.  Justin cut the cord.  The next thing I knew, the baby was gone.  They had taken him to the baby station and were paging the special care nurses and the NNP (neonatal nurse practitioner).  Justin had moved from me to the baby, as did the nurses and Dr.

If you know me, you can understand how at this point, I checked out of the situation.  I am someone who likes to not deal with difficult situations if I can help it.  I like to block out emotions and eventually have a break down later.   This is what I was experiencing.  After doing who knows what to my sweet baby, who I did not feel connected to at this point at all, they brought him over to me and explained what was happening.  I have no idea what they said.  Then Justin, baby and the nurses left the room.  My nurse and Dr. were with me as I went through the last stage of labor, got stitched up (my amazing pushing skills had caused me to tear) and was cleaned up.  My family was waiting in the waiting area, and I’m sure completely terrified and pissed that no one would let them in the room.  At some point I asked the Dr. if whatever was happening to the baby was life threatening, and they said no.  He was having some fluids in his lungs and trouble breathing and they just needed to take care of him.

I got cleaned up and they finally let my family (mom and dad, Ashley, Nikki, and Pat) into the room.  The Dr. had told them what was happening with the baby.  The next 4 hours are quite the blur.  They kept the baby in the special care nursery until 6pm.  During that time, my family spent time with me, and at some point Justin came and gave us an update.  My very scared, wonderful husband had become a father the moment he watched our son turn purple.  It would take me longer.

At some point, the nurse had run me a bath so that I could get cleaned up and go down to see the baby in the special care nursery.  They wheeled me down there, and told me I could hold him.  I looked at him and felt very scared.  He still looked a bit scary and had lots of things hooked up to him.  I told Justin that I needed to go back to my room, so he wheeled me down and I had my mom come see me.  This was the first time that I cried.  I was feeling very guilty for not feeling connected to my baby.  My mom explained to me that what I was feeling was completely normal, that they took him away from me so fast, and that I would get there.

At 6pm, they brought my baby to me, and explained how well he was doing now, and that he was out of the woods.  There are so many other things that were happening during this time, it’s hard to write down everything, and of course you’ve read a lot by now.  The next couple of days at the hospital were very stressful.

Breastfeeding has been a nightmare.  Link doesn’t latch on, and until today (yay for today!) he hasn’t had any successful latches.  I made the decision once we got home that we would be feeding him a mixture of breastmilk and formula, because my baby was starving and I needed to do what was best for him.  We have been trying to work our way to latching, but Link hates it, and it’s hard on mommy and daddy.  We will get there though, or we won’t.  Either way, Link is eating and growing!

I have learned since giving birth that my Dr. said that I saved the baby’s life.  By pushing him so fast, I saved his life.  The Dr. said that I was a incredibly strong, both physically and emotionally.

Once I got home, and Justin and I were starting to get settled in, I started to get a great case of the baby blues.  I have shed lots and lots of tears, but I have been assured (and incredibly comforted) that what I am going through is normal and expected after a traumatic birth like Link’s.

I am falling more and more in love with Link every day, and I’m getting less blue every day.  It will take awhile though, and I am making sure to take care of him and me.  Justin has been so incredible as have our family who have been here cleaning, cooking, and letting mom and dad nap.

I am very tired, but it gets better every day.  The physical pain is decreasing and the emotional pain is getting better as long as I keep talking about what happened and how it felt to go through everything.  I love my little boy so very much.  I love my husband, who has become an amazing daddy.  Link’s first checkup went beautifully, the Dr. says he is perfect!

I will have much more to say about the adventures of Amber, Justin and Lincoln.  For now, check out Link’s webpage for journaling from mommy and daddy, and lots and lots of pictures!

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom

There are so many changes that come with starting a family.  One of the biggest ones for me is the growth spurt I am experiencing localized to my abdomen.  No longer can I fit into most of my clothes.  I also had to remove my wedding ring this weekend because it was getting just tight enough to warrant removing it.  I will be getting a cheap band to wear in the meantime though.

Also changing is this strange movement going on in my belly!  The baby loves to move around, but never when I want him to.  I would love if baby would move when Justin’s hand was near enough for me to grab and place on my stomach, or when baby hasn’t moved for a couple of days and mommy starts to worry.  But, just when I am ready to pull out my hair (this is an exaggeration), I feel a nice kick and I know that all is well with baby.

Besides the changes going on with me, my environment has been changing!

Alabaster, our sweet kitty (unless you ask Justin), is acting like he knows something is up.  I wake up in the middle of the night, and he is sitting up, staring at me!  He does this for hours sometimes, Justin says.  Too funny!

Justin has started the nesting process!  In the past couple of weeks, he has installed a ceiling light (with a dimmer!), installed 2 smoke/CO detectors, installed an outlet, rewired two outlets, rearranged the basement, and installed a shelf.  I may be forgetting something!  We are working on readying the baby’s room, which means making sure everything is safe and easy to manage.  We have a lot of work to go still, but it is looking great!

I am working continuously on trusting that God is there with and for me.  I make sure to pray to Him when I have doubts and to thank Him for the baby kicks that I feel.

Starting our family together has been stressful and exciting.  We are looking forward to much more of this and can’t wait to meet our little one!

Title quoted from Anais Nin

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free

I saw this beautiful quote by Michelangelo and I thought of the pregnancy process.  God is taking the time to create my wonderful little child and will introduce us to the babe once it is completely ready.  Even though my hormones are going crazy, I can’t do basic math anymore, and my center of gravity is off, pregnancy has been such a beautiful process.  I am so excited and blessed to be going through this.

Our next doctor appointment is on Wednesday.  I am so excited to see our babe again and to see the growth so far.  I have not been gaining any weight, I am still down about 12 pounds.  I am only slightly concerned, but I want to make sure that babe is growing like it should be.

I am truly over the whole Minnesota winter thing.  I understand that once summer hits, I will be extra hot, but I am more than okay with that.  After our Monday snow, I fell on the sidewalk at work.  While I didn’t get home, and babe seems to be just fine, it sure scared me.  The slipperyness and coldness has stayed way past it’s welcome.  Ironically, it really hasn’t.  We always have snow this long, but this year it’s bugging me especially.

Classes have started up again.  I have class about every other weekend, so this weekend class is on.  I amazingly got all of my reading done, which I sometimes slack off on a bit.

Speaking of reading, there are quite a few times where I completely forget that I am pregnant.  While I am reading is one of those times.  I am guessing this is very normal – you don’t think about anything you are all of the time.  Part of the reason is probably because I am not sure that I am feeling babe move around yet.  There have been no, “YES! That’s it!” moments yet for me.  I am very excited for that, but I am trusting that even though I can’t feel babe, God is caring for us and I will have even more proof of that on Wednesday!

I want to share one final little story.  Due to my pregnancy brain, I forget a lot of things that happen during the journey, but I want to make sure I am remembering them.  Justin, Nikki and I along with Justin’s parents went to Khan’s Mongolian BBQ for lunch one day.  At the end we got our fortune cookies, and the server brought one extra.  We decided that was for the baby, and I picked one and read the baby’s fortune.  I do want to say that while I really enjoy fortunes, I don’t usually take them to heart.  I cracked open the cookie and it read, “You will bring sunshine into someone’s life.”  What a perfect moment that was.  I teared up a bit, making everyone laugh at me, but what a perfect, beautiful, God moment.

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.

I have been wanting to share, mostly with my future self/child, the journey that is my pregnancy.  Now, just about halfway through, I am finally starting!  Who knows, this may be the first of many words to share, or it may be the last.  It is hard for me to stay consistent at blogging, but here’s to trying!

I am pregnant with my first beautiful child, who is expected to arrive in this world around July 11, 2011.  Babe will be a summer baby, which in itself is a new experience since Justin and I are both November/December birthdays.  So far this has been an easy pregnancy, which I am very blessed to say.  I have had my share of nausea, exhaustion, mood swings, pregnancy brain, headaches, and the other usual suspects that creep into life once pregnant, but I haven’t “lost my cookies” or anything to that extent.  I have been fortunate to have had 3 ultrasounds so far where I have gotten to see my babe, and we have another one coming up on Wednesday.

We will not be finding out what we are having, pending “pregnant Amber” doesn’t go crazy and tells the tech to share the news.  Justin is convinced it is a boy, as are many other people.  One of our ultrasounds showed the leg (it was the leg, believe me) placed in a certain way that made it look like a very well endowed little boy.  A few people have decided babe is a girl.  I am truly happy knowing that this babe is growing healthy, and I have no preference.  I have been calling babe a she to counteract Justin, but I have been dreaming in pink!  Who knows, I just know that God has decided to bless us with a baby.

Now I saw the quote I used in my title about questions and answers.  At first I saw it, and thought it was completely wrong.  I would always prefer to know ALL of the answers.  Just ask my mom!  I have been searching for answers to all of my questions since I was little, and never accepting that I couldn’t have the answer.  Now of course, I didn’t always get the answer, which increased my frustration.  I want(ed) to understand the world, it’s every detail and direction.  I want(ed) God to make it clear to me so that I have no more questions and only answers.

The more I read this quote, I realized that in it, God was speaking to me.  He is telling me, yet again, that knowing all of the answer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, nor is it possible.  I don’t get to know the answers, it is not my right.  What I am supposed to do is listen to God, to search in Him and in His word for the answers, but to be content in still having questions.

During this pregnancy, I have had many questions, doubts, and not-understandings.  I have been blessed with a beautiful, healthy babe so far (see the doubt I still have in that sentence?) while so many others have losses, troubles, and unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy.  I don’t understand.  I ask “Why me?” too often, instead of just believing/accepting that God has given me this gift.

I will continue to have doubts, and this pregnancy will test again and again my faith in God.  Fortunately, I have people praying for me, and a little babe inside of me that will help me to remember God’s miraculous ways, and to thank Him always for this gift.  I can still question, but I need to add trust into the question that if the answer is not clear to me, I will be ok.

Title quoted from James Thurber