Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Welcome, Baby!

Elena Jane Monica Rutchik
7lbs 7oz

She's got a full head of black curly hair. She is doing great - having a small issue with getting her temp up, but other than that mama and baby and well.

My "best" labor yet! Thanks for all the prayers!

Baby Time!!!

It's baby day! Well, I hope she comes before midnight :)

Thought I would update and share a "before" pic while I am still smiling.

I'm starting to get a bit uncomfy - so I'm off to the awesome tub in this L&D suite!

Please pray for health for mama and baby. I've got all your prayer intentions with me as well.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Updates and Prayer Buddy Reveal

First things First – Prayer Buddy Reveal
I’ve had the honor of praying for Christina this Lent! Christina takes amazing photos! I had such fun going back in her archives and seeing her gift come to life on her blog.
I won’t share her prayer intentions, but we had many in common this Lenten season and I felt so close to her knowing I could pray for these intentions as they weigh on someone else’s heart.
God Bless you, Christina! You have been close to my heart this Lent.

Update on Baby/the Amnio
Thanks so much for all of your prayers and messages. Still no baby! Here is the short version:

My BP has been CRAZY town and baby girl also seemed to not be so happy in her little home inside of mama. The specialist thought it may be best to go ahead and take her out. Hence, an amnio to check for lung development. No such luck. The amnio itself is more of a mind game than anything. It’s gross and they prepare you as if you are having surgery. That really messed with my mind. I made the mistake of looking at the giant needle before it went in. That was not smart. It did hurt, but it wasn’t too bad. The rest of the day was also filled with cramping and contractions. But, all worth it for the little lady.

The first week her lungs we no where near ready, so all of my care was switched to the specialist’s office over an hour away and I have had 3 appointments per week. Sigh. It’s been a juggling act with one car, Joseph’s school, thesis and interviews, the kids and all my appointments. But, it can only go on for so long.

We repeated the amnio last Thursday and although the lungs were STILL not developed, the number had doubled. My blood pressure had also gone down some and baby seems more pleased hanging out in mama. This time I was smart and just closed my eyes as soon as they brought the trey of stuff in and started sterilizing my belly. This helped with the fear a lot. But, this time the needle went in and I didn’t feel it come out. It stayed in. I started wondering what was happening.

“Why isn’t there fluid coming out?” the doctor asked the ultrasound tech (they do an ultrasound while doing an amnio so the doctor knows where the pockets of fluid are)

And then it happened. My baby started freaking out and I felt that needle jiggling all around inside of me. I FLIPPED out. In theory I knew they could see what was happening on the ultrasound, but my eyes were closed and I thought maybe they had stabbed my baby and I wanted them to know she was flipping out.

“Don’t worry, everything is fine clam down and don’t move” they told me.

Then the doctor started giving direction to the ultrasound tech who was a trainee. This is what I heard:

“The baby has grabbed the needle. Keep the view right there and don’t move it. We just have to wait for her to let it go. Come on baby, stop playing with it. Nobody move.”

My baby GRABBED the needle and was PLAYING WITH IT. Everyone had a good laugh when it was over. Only something odd like this would happen to me. I find it funny now, but I was not laughing then. It was creepy and it hurt and boy was I sore afterward. Now it’s just a good story. I think I have a little sassy gal on my hands already.

So, I’m still pregnant. I’m driving an hour to see the specialist, getting blood taken and turning in all my urine like it’s homework twice a week. I'm also seeing my regular doctor (who of course leaves on a 2 week vacation this Thursday) once a week here in my town. I am 38 and a half weeks and I guess all lungs are ready at 39 weeks, so we’ll see if maybe we have a baby this week.
All these false alarms have been great for one thing: we have finally decided on a name. It took forever and we have changed our minds about a million times, but we are confident this one is the keeper.

School/Job/Health Situations
It was truly Lent over here and I don’t want to speak too soon, but it is starting to feel like Easter now! My husband Joseph has turned in his graduate thesis and already locked down a teaching job for the summer at the UW school here in town. He is “thisclose” to locking down more teaching gigs at a college about an hour away and news on that should come this week. He will be teaching a mock class to their board of deans on Tuesday. Prayers for that, please. There are also a few other irons in the fire for the fall and I am starting to breath a little easier that there are jobs, GOOD jobs, out there for English instructors and that this was a sacrifice worth the time, stress and money for our family. We would still need to figure out insurance and if we would move somewhere more central like the Fox Valley, but thoe are stresses we have decided to save until baby is here, school is done and Joseph passes his health appointments (God willing!).

We are really praying this baby is born and we are out of the hospital by May 3rd which is when we have our appointments at Children’s hospital to genetically test the baby for Loeys-Dietz Syndrome and Joseph will have his big batch of check ups and tests. The weeks leading up to these appointments always turn me into an insomniac and a worried ball of nerves and stress as we have really been blindsided with bad news too often. We have really been praying for the worry to leave us so we may see the blessings in the next few weeks as Joseph finishes school and we welcome a baby. These are blessings for our family and we are trying so hard not to let fear and worry overshadow these things we prayed and worked so hard for.

Whew! That was a huge update! Thanks for sticking with me. Easter is here indeed. We had a lovely Holy Week and Easter Sunday and I hope to share some of it this week. Although, I REALLY hope I will be in the hospital holding a baby. This mama is done!

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

Hey there prayer buddy and AWESOME blogging mama friends! Could you please say an extra prayer for me tonight? I have to have an amnio in the morning and I have to tell you - YIKES! I’m a bit scared.

I guess God was really using Tessa to teach me a lesson on fear this week for a reason. No need for big concern, I’m just a Scaredy Cat. You see, I did what no person in their right mind should do before a medical procedure; I googled. U-Tube had an assortment of lovely amnio videos for my viewing pleasure and now I’m pretty sure I won’t be sleeping tonight!

My husband almost passed out once because he thought it would be a good idea to watch them put the epidural in during one of my labors. That was not a good choice on his part. He said it was one of the freakiest things he has ever seen. He’s in for a treat in the morning. I can’t decide if I should warn him via making him watch what I watched, or if ignorance really is bliss.

Thanks for your prayers – in the end it is worth every snuggle and baby coo in the world!

If you happen to be my in real life friend/family or FB friend, please don’t mention this on my FB wall. I’m not in the mood to answer lots of questions about my pregnancy to some people I sat next too in 8th grade science or met once at a party.

Also, this baby is coming sometime in the next week or two. I would love to offer up some of my labor for your intentions, so comment or send me an e-mail if you have a prayer request!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Theological Crisis in the Bathroom

Last night was crazy here in Central Wisconsin! Out of no where the temperature went up to over 80 degrees and brought with it a lot of severe storms. Joseph took “his girls” out for ice cream and all 3 of us were wearing sun dresses that no longer fit! Mine a bit too taught around the middle due to the large belly and Tessa and Anna’s dresses from last year have become far too short! It was too hot for this mama to care, so out for ice cream we went.

We knew severe storms were called for, so we needed to get out and pick up some batteries for the flashlight. We made it home just in time for the tornado sirens to go off. We don’t have a basement, so we collected our newly working flashlight, the computer, some candles and the girls’ blankies and had a family party in the bathroom!

I was surprised to learn that Tessa was really afraid of all the thunder and lightening. The lightening really seemed to get her. Before we made our way into the bathroom I assured her there was no need to be scared, but that if she hears that siren she always needs to find mommy, daddy or a grown up to go with – just like when the smoke detector goes off. She could not be settled (and neither could her curly hair I may add, her mop top could seriously be used by the national weather service!).

Once in the bathroom so continued to tell everyone to relax. It became very apparent to mommy and daddy that she kept repeating this because she was really having a hard time. I reminded her that sometimes when we are scared we can always ask Jesus, Mary or God to please help us not to be scared anymore. She listened, was quite for a few minutes and then the questions I thought I wouldn’t get as a parent for another 10 years started pouring out of my 3 year old.

TESSA: “Mama, why ask Jesus and Mary and God to make me not scared of the lightening when they could just make the storm stop?”

MAMA: “Well, God is so big that we can’t always understand Him, but even when we don’t understand we know one thing for sure; He loves us more than anything, so we can ALWAYS ask Him to help us,”

TESSA: “Yeah, but if he loves me he’ll take the storm away so I don’t have to be scared anymore?”

MAMA: “Well, no,” I said. God doesn’t always do what we ask of Him, He loves us so much and knows better than we do what is the best thing for us. He is even smarter than mommy and daddy.”

TESSA: “But why does he want me to be scared? That’s not very nice of Him, that’s not loving.”

While Tessa sat on a bathroom stool asking all the questions of faith and life, Joseph and I made eyes of desperation and shock at each other through the bathroom mirror. I was literally saved by the bell when the siren stopped and I excused myself to go into the living room and check the TV to see if the storm had passed.

The all clear was given and our family theology session in the bathroom ended. Later, during night time prayer Tessa thanked Jesus for keeping us safe during the storm. As I was mentally patting myself on the back for my awesome parenting she interrupted my prideful moment:

TESSA: “See mama, God will take the storm away when I ask him to. So I don’t have to be scared. Because He DOES love me.”

MAMA: “Umm, well, that’s not really…ummmm..not every time…. He didn’t…ummmm. Goodnight! I love you!”

Apparently I was chocking on all my pride!

So God won’t ALWAYS clear Tessa’s path of storms. I know I’ll have to teach her about redemptive suffering someday.

But really, cut me a break, I’ve got a 3 year old theologian on my hands here and I was sitting crossed legged on a cold title bathroom floor, nine months pregnant in a tornado warning. I can only do so much.

Clearly I need to start asking for God to guide me in my parenting of my very intuitive and inquisitive daughter!

I never do this because I always feel gross around this time. But now I wish I had done it with Tessa and Anna - so here I am!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Working Mother

I’m a working mother. In my opinion, the words “mother” and “worker” are synonyms.

I don’t claim to understand the inner workings or mystery that is God. I believe the vastness of His love is too much for our mortal, fallen minds to grasp.

I am sure our worth is not found in a paycheck and that every life holds the same amount of value. That amount does not begin with a dollar sign.

This is not the mind set of our culture. Questions such as “what do you do?” and “what are you?” are quick to form on the lips of strangers and long lost friends. The answers sought are often job titles, and expected as definitions of a person instead of how a paycheck is earned.

When a mother is asked what she “does” there is often a qualifier placed in front of her answer, either by herself or the person she’s speaking to. “Oh, I’m JUST a mom,” or, “so you JUST stay home?”

Don’t cut yourself short, moms! There’s no “just” about this gig! Let’s all get together on one thing; in the language of motherhood, “just” should indeed be treated as a four letter word. Let’s not say it about ourselves or let others use it in reference to our vocation.

There are many calls to the same vocation. This is especially true of motherhood. Some are called to be the family breadwinner; some are called to be home fulltime, some half time. There are mothers who are called to bring new life into the world yearly during their season of fertility in the form of a new baby while others carry the cross of infertility. Some mothers are called to mother children of the world who have no mother.

As mother, the one thing we all have in common is that we are all called to live our lives breathing life into the world, be that into little souls trusted in our care or in the many other ways God calls that breath from us into the world. It is fruitful. It is good, and it is different in each mother.

I am currently called to be a work at home mother. Working from home is stressful, but worth it for our family. I started working from home for a family centered company when our second daughter was two months old. The opportunity was a God send for me.

Joseph and I had just had two daughters in one year and realized we needed an additional source of income. Over these two years my commitment has varied. My role and time commitment has nicely settled into about 15 hours a week.

My freelancing career has grown greatly over these past two years. On average, I am working on freelance assignments about10 hours a week, putting my total weekly working hours at about 25.

The addition of these freelance hours has helped me become a better worker and a better mother. When I found myself too overwhelmed with these commitments I took a step back and really discerned how I work.

I used to “work” all throughout the day. Making a phone call here and there, checking my e-mail every hour and answering e-mails as they came in. At the end of the day I had really only “worked” maybe an hour and a half. Yet, I felt like I was working all day every day and that the TV was babysitting my children.

My husband and I decided this was not working for our family and after much discernment, we decided that although I am still called to be a work at home mother, how I went about it needed to change. With my freelancing growing we decided it was time to make room in our lives for me to have some solid and defined working time.

For the past few months we have set aside larger blocks of time for me to work. Instead of always feeling like my mind was on work while my kids fit between those stresses, we’ve shifted our focus. I work less days but for longer periods of time. This has created less time stressing about work and more time actually working. It’s been a wonderful change for me mentally and it’s been great for my projects and my motherhood. I’ve been able to take on more freelance work and feel the publications I work on for my job have become better as a result.

The last trimester of this pregnancy has been one of great discernment for this work at home mother. I have a masters degree and the student loans that often accompany such a degree. In the past month many have asked me when I am going to “use” my degree.

My favorite question is, “when are you going to stop wasting your degree and go back to work?”

The question boils my blood. I do work. I am a mother, and a working mother at that. Just because I don’t leave my house everyday does not mean I’m not working, that I’m wasting my education or that I am financially lazy.

A few doors were recently opened to me and there was the possibility of me going back to work, full or part time, outside of the home.

During the daytime hours I was able to talk myself into this. I thought of all the debt we could pay off, vacations we could take and stress that would be taken off our plate.

But, the night. The night was another story.

For a few days I was unable to sleep and didn’t know why. Then I started having panic attacks. As perfect as the plan sounded, I am not called to it. I am called to be doing what I’m doing. I am home with my kids AND I work. The way our family pieces that all together is unconventional, but it works for us.

I feel so blessed to be home with my girls, doing a job I really like, working with people who share the same values as we do and building my writing career right along side my family. We are willing to sacrifice to live in the way we feel called. Just as mothers who work full time outside of the home are willing to sacrifice things to fill the role they are called to as a mother. Same vocation: different and equal call.

Like many other things in life, motherhood seldom goes exactly as expected. I learned this lesson in my first days as a mother when I was unable to breastfeed. I was heartbroken. I had convinced myself that to be a good mother one MUST breastfeed. God did not create that opportunity for me. Instead, His plan was much greater. His plan was Irish twins for us. This heartbreak turned into the blessing we call Anna Clare.

As I write this, I am very pregnant. My mother has come for a few days to help take care of the girls and clean my house so I may rest and get ahead on my projects and job to prepare for the birth of our third daughter. On this very day we are both answering the call to motherhood. My mother on her hands and knees scrubbing floors for her daughter and I in a chair, resting so that the daughter in my womb may grow strong and ready to enter the world. Very different kinds of work, but work none the less.

Truth is, there is as many definitions of a good mother as there are mothers. We need not compare our situations and gifts to one another. Motherhood is not a competition. There need not be winners and losers. As mothers we love children, and therefore want all mothers to be winners.

We’re all working mothers. We are exactly the mothers our children need and we fulfill this call in many different ways.

Motherhood, in all its many forms is a high call and a lot of WORK. No ifs, ands, buts or “justs” about it!