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Torticollis Trouble

When my first born was two months old I was down on the floor playing with him and I watched his eyes follow an object. I noticed that his head didn’t follow the one direction.

I took him to the doctor and learned about a condition I had never heard of before – torticollis. This is defined by an abnormal, asymmetrical head or neck position, which may be due to a variety of causes. The term torticollis is derived from the Latin words tortus for twisted and collum for neck. (wikipedia)

This took us on a one year journey at a rehabilitation centre, with many stressful days.

I had a lot of guilt. I had followed everything the hospital told me about tummy time, not leaving him on his back, etc. Caleb was one of the first babies treated for this disorder at our local rehab centre.

When it came time to make the decision on whether we needed to pursue helmet treatment, I found the decision excruciating. There was no guarantee that the treatment we were doing at the time would correct it, and if it did get worse, his facial features would start to pull out of line.

We prayed and felt that we were not to go ahead with treatment, which involved traveling eight hours every week for the first while.

In the end me did make the right decision, and the physiotherapy did correct his flat spot, strengthened his neck and corrected his tilt.

Then Amayah came along. I was overly cautious to make sure that we watch her neck and went far above and beyond what was necessary for a newborn in preventing flat head.

But she was diagnosed with torticollis too. Her’s wasn’t as bad, and with what we knew from our extensive treatment with Caleb, it corrected itself.

I couldn’t understand how my two kids had this condition. What were we doing wrong?

Now with Eli, we were almost obsessive with making him do tummy time, laying on his sides, and keeping him off his head when not napping.

Then all of a sudden his flat spot appeared and quickly became bad. The doctor told me he had “stage 4 torticollis”. I had never heard the term “stage 4” used to describe anything but life threatening illnesses, and I was sure we’d end up having to make the trip to an Alberta hospital quickly, before his eyes, nose and mouth were pulled out of line, and dangerous pressure was put on his brain.

I came home from the doctor and cried to Andrew. We were doing everything we possible could, and I was embarrassed. The first thing a medical professional always assumed was that we just left our kids on their back all day.

This week we had our assessment at the rehab centre that Caleb was treated at. Our therapist said we were the first repeat cases in siblings he’d seen.

Got to love being the exception in weird things like this.

Then they told me something that has finally freed me from my guilt. Repeat cases like this are generally caused by how the babies are carried in the mother’s womb.

It still was affected by my body, but we legitimately did do everything we could to protect our babies from torticollis.

Sometimes circumstances literally are completely out of our control. No matter how hard we tried with our kids, they were going to get a dangerous flat stop if not caught.

Even though out of my control, they have not been out of God’s control, or out of his watchful eye. After we caught Caleb’s case, they were astonished that a first time mom observed it, but I know that God made me aware of it.

We still don’t know if we’ll have to go for a helmet with Eli, but I know that so far my kids have each avoided the life long detrimental affects of torticollis as we have continued to pray that the Lord would bring all things hidden to light, and to make us aware of the things we could not know on our own.

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Caleb “reading” Eli a story to help him stay calmly in his side lay positioner.

 

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Baby weight blues

The third baby has been hard on my body. And I’ve been hard on myself.

In all honesty, I’ve been really struggling with feeling extremely frustrated with my weight, extra skin, and other things I don’t like about myself since giving birth one last time.

I’ve felt a little ripped off. I didn’t gain any extra weight with Eli, so I thought I’d be “back to normal” quickly.

So not true.

I have struggled with gaining weight after baby like I never have before. Maybe it was having a newborn at Christmas. Maybe it was not having a spring baby (I used to walk so much when the others were new babies).

Whatever it is, I’ve been discouraged to say the least.

One of my brave things for the year has been to accurately look at my fitness goals, and not beat myself up, but be realistic and take steps forward.

The mind battle I play is always that I’m not doing enough. I’m not exercising enough, eating well enough, drinking enough water.10967053_10155127990595431_1905459958_n

Andrew has taught many times to just ask yourself if you’re doing more than you used to. Who cares if you’re doing enough, but are you doing more than you have been? Are you making progress?

So last night, I was bravely speed walking in -30 weather, have a conversation with myself and the Lord.

I was mulling over the concept of “loving our bodies.”

I haven’t been feeling much love toward my body lately.

So the Lord flipped it for me. He asked “does your body love you?”

Well what does that mean? I asked.

Is your body feeling love from you in terms of choices your making? Even if you aren’t doing everything you want to, are you making progress?

I found this to be really encouraging. This challenged the mental side of me. My body wants to be cared for by the side of me that nourishes, strengthens and encourages myself.

I need to treat my body in such a way that it would be appreciative of my decisions.

I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else, but I feel at peace in changing my focus. I can be zoned in on making sure that my body is feeling the love, rather than if I’m happy with how I’m looking.

If I care for my body in that tender way, hopefully the results I want will come, in time, and with a healthy mind!

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (AMP)

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I Won’t Be Overwhelmed

This week was the most challenging so far with three kids. No one ever seemed happy. I gave one kid attention, and the others screamed, cried or acted out in ways that mostly involved poop and pee.

My head hurt quite regularly as the whining seemed to never stop. I’ve felt guilty that I don’t have the same time to spend “bonding” with my new baby like I did with my others.

I don’t need anyone to remind me that it’s all still new for the kids and they’re adjusting to the baby. I know. But honestly, I’m a little frustrated.

The combination of both my husband and I have to take trips out-of-town on two different days, all the other pieces of our schedule and the kids behaviour, left me pretty worn out by the time I made it to this afternoon.

I was so thankful that I managed to get two kids to sleep at the same time, and the other had a (too long) session in front of the TV while I took a nap.

I remember from having my second baby, that there are very few “sleep when baby sleeps” moments with other kids in the house.

This is where relying on God’s strength instead of my own strength has really been displayed.

While I was feeling overwhelmed one afternoon trying to get laundry done, the two younger kids to nap and feeling really emotional and discouraged about my parenting skills, another song popped into my head.

The Lord has been so good at meeting me exactly where I am at. I haven’t spent as much time in the Word or in prayer, and yet He continues to speak and encourage me in the middle of my chaos.

Jenn Johnson’s song “God I look to you” holds words that has been speaking peace to my soul for the last 48 hours. This song doubly encourages me because Jenn is a mom to three kids, a pastor and a worship leader, who obviously fights the same battles I do.

God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed 
Give me vision to see things like You do 
God I look to You; You’re where my help comes from 
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do 

I have felt overwhelmed, but unnecessarily. This became my constant prayer and declaration.

Anyone and anything in the natural and the spiritual can hear this declaration. I won’t be overwhelmed because I’m looking to my God for direction.

I know that He will give me the wisdom I need for parenting, for rest, for life. He knows just what to do.

May the Lord meet you exactly where you are today, and show you just what you need to do to fight what is trying to overwhelm you and hold you back from living in the fullness of joy that our Jesus came to bring us.photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

God we look to You.

Birth & Babies

Birthing Eli

At five a.m. my contractions suddenly started. They didn’t come softly or give me much time to ease into them. I had left a few things to the last minute because I had long labours with my other two.

I sat at the kitchen table writing a list of instructions about the kids in between contractions, while the rest of the family slept.

Before I went into labour the Lord continued to speak to me the song “Steady Heart”, and I had planned to listen to that album while I was in labour.

Things started progressing quicker than expected, and we weren’t able to wait for my in-laws to arrive, we had to call a friend so we could leave.

I climbed in the van and fell on my hands and knees. Tears started pouring down my face. I didn’t think I would make it to the hospital. We had an hour and a half drive, and these contractions were coming so strong and so close together.

I managed to sit up which lessened the intensity slightly. Andrew got in the driver’s seat, and I said through my tears “I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this drive!”

My wonderful husband encouraged me that I COULD do it, and turned on my previously selected Steffany Gretzinger album (The Undoing).

God is so good in the midst of pain and fear. Each song that came in just spoke such peace to my soul, and her soothing voice helped me breathe down each contraction.

The line “sometimes it’s painful to be brave, to look fear in the face and know your name”, came on and I felt this inner strength to be brave and take on this labour and delivery with everything I had.

Such peace filled the van, I will always remember it.unnamed-2

We did make it to the hospital, met our doula (who I could not have imagined getting through that intensity without) and got settled into a room. Labour progressed very quickly (for me), and Eli was born with a total of eleven hours in labour.

Everything went smoothly, until a couple of hours after delivery.

They told me to try to go pee, so I went into the washroom and suddenly lost what was to me a terrifying amount of blood. Being sore, exhausted and emotional from just giving birth, I felt so panicked. Could I live through losing that much blood?

That’s when an amazing nurse came in, grabbed my shoulders and looked me in the eyes and said “Monica, I promise I am going to take the best care of you, and you are going to be absolutely ok.”

I kept losing a lot of blood and massive clots. A team of doctors and nurses came and worked quickly to get the situation under control. I am so incredibly thankful for their calming presence, when in reality Andrew and I were so scared.unnamed-1

Needless to say, that little incident slowed my recovery quite a bit, but God’s hand was totally in it all. I had been miraculously fit in for an iron infusion right before going into labour, which stopped me from needing a blood transfusion.

Having a baby is always a very spiritual event for me, as much as that might sound strange. This time was no exception. Seeing the Lord hold fast to his promises to me is alway incredible.

I had my husband pray this verse over me in labour, and I’ve claimed it in each stage, through another round of mastitis, joint pain and exhaustion.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
(Ephesians 3:16)

HE IS FAITHFUL!unnamed

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Treasuring Eli

Unless you are one of my personal friends, you may not have heard that we had our baby just over two weeks ago!

Tuesday, October 28th at 3:45 p.m. we welcome a beautiful little boy named Eli.

It’s hard to believe it’s now been over two weeks since that day. There are so many little things that I have been treasuring. I feel like Mary, the mother of Jesus, as it was said “she stored up all these things in her heart.”

Seeing my older two kids meet their baby brother, although a little stressful administrating who got to hold him, felt like Christmas morning. I could hardly wait to see their reactions, and they didn’t disappoint! 10432933_10154737644570431_7235834682934578742_n

Amayah’s initial elation and maternal instinct has cooled a little as she processes not being the baby anymore.

While I’m still recovering and getting stronger after losing a significant amount of blood after delivery, there are many little things that I’m enjoying once again.

Like coffee. Oh I forgot how good coffee that doesn’t give you heartburn or increased nausea tastes.

Or giving hugs without a rock hard belly in the way, I haven’t felt miles away from my husband or kids.

Like the smell of a sweet newborn and their unbelievably soft skin.

When I was pregnant with Eli, the Lord told me he was going to be my “peace baby”. I had a lot of fear around having another baby after dealing with a fussy second born. So far he seems to be the fulfilment of that promise.

Having Eli has been a beautiful reminder to slow down. Not feeling strong has actually been a blessing. I’ve sat in my comfy leather wingback chair and cuddled each of my kids as long as they’ll let me. unnamed

A beautiful peace, like the soft snowflakes falling this morning, has descended on us during these weeks as the most important things have simply been eating, sleeping and showing our kids that we love them.

I am happy to watch baby grow up and run around with his big brother and sister, but in this amazing, beautiful, tiny newborn stage I’m simply treasuring Eli.unnamed-1

Birth & Babies

Steady Heart

I’ve completed 38 weeks of my third pregnancy. I honestly can’t believe it. After giving birth to Caleb I didn’t believe I had it in me to carry and deliver any more children.

As you’ve joined in my journey over the last three years and read my struggles, fears and lessons learned from motherhood, you know that God has done so much in my heart through this whole experience.

I stand yet again at the point of bringing another life into the world, and all the unknowns that it holds.

I recognize more than ever what a gift and privilege it is for me to have had the ability to do this. So many people these days struggle to have babies, and my heart breaks for them.

While my body feels so done with being a home for this squirmy child, I get waves of fear that sweep over me to do it all over again. What if this one is colicky too? What if I don’t bounce back quickly from delivery? We’re already overwhelmed with two some days, how will we handle three?

And while there are no guaranteed answers to these questions, the Lord continues to faithfully speak peace to my soul.

Just like he gave me a verse and song for Amayah’s birth, He’s been giving me treasures to hold on to this time. Like this song, Steady Heart.

Stephanie’s lyrics speak such comfort to me.

I can’t see what’s in front of me.
Still I will trust you.

Steady heart that keeps on going,
Steady love that keeps on holding,
Lead me on.
Steady grace that keeps forgiving,
Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

Though the sky is dark,
And the wind is wild
You’ll never leave me 
Though the night is long
There is a coming dawn
The light is breaking 

And as the dawn breaks
And the clouds clear
In an open space
Together we will run

For both my pervious births I’ve laboured through the night, and at dawn my baby is born. The words that talk about the night being long and the Lord not leaving, just cements courage into my being.

Looking toward birth number three, I can’t wait to see what the Lord shows me, and how he reveals his heart of love to us as we see our baby boy or girl for the very first time.

Whatever mountain you’re facing, I pray the Lord grants you this steady heart.

Baby, I can’t wait to hold you.

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(Photo Credit: My amazing doula Corina). This was taken moments after Amayah was born.
This memory inspires me that it’s more than worth it to do it all again.

Faith, Hope & Love

Those things you hate.

There are a few things that can get me really fired up. I mean, they can get me really angry.

Like divorce. No, I don’t hate the people who get divorced, but I hate the destruction of families, the splitting of a union that God has joined and the impact on kids.

Like apathy. I hate it in myself. I hate it in the church. Jesus said he wants us either hot or cold. It’s the lukewarmness that he spews from his mouth.

Like insecurities. We’re powerful and free. I hate that we believe the lies of the enemy sometimes, and that we’re often immobilized by this.

Like sickness. I hate it. I don’t understand it. I don’t get why Jesus doesn’t heal some people, but I know that he does still heal today.

A wise woman named Elsie Welch once asked “What do you hate?” and then proceeded to tell us that whatever we hate is what God has made us passionate to fight against.

So I will continue to value, protect and fight for every marriage in my sphere of influence.

I will fight the apathy in my own life and disciple those in my sphere to be passionate, uncompromising lovers of Jesus.

I will continue to speak truth over myself and others, rebuking the insecurities that try to hold us back.

I will continue to pray for the sick. I will see many recover. I may seem some not. But I will never stop praying for healing.

What do you hate? Here in lies your passion.

What do you hate