Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Saga about Sisters (Part 1)

Sisters. They are a gift from the Lord! I have three of them, all equally precious to me. When you are little, growing up together in your parent’s home and sharing a room while fighting over who-took-who’s hairbrush or doll, it’s easy for the beautiful treasure of sisterhood to escape you. Growing up with three sisters was a little bit like the Bennett family from the book Pride and Prejudice. Just ask my father! That’s a lot of girls under one rooftop. My older sister is here right now visiting from overseas, and I am cherishing these moments I get to spend with her. There are few people on this planet who get you inside and out, because they have known you since you were a baby. My older sister knows where I tend to be weak and where I am strong, she knows what foods I like and activities that I enjoy. She can’t help it; she’s known me for too long to not know.

My older sister and I were like night and day growing up. It was obvious that she was blessed with super-smarts from early on. She was a bookworm and read voraciously. She skipped a grade in school. She would tolerate the outdoors but she didn’t love it, and she hated sports and exercise. She had the heart of every teacher she sat under, because she excelled so well at school. She was obedient and polite, and rarely got anything more than a stern warning from our mother. She was sensitive too, and usually didn’t have to be told that she was in the wrong. She wasn’t a tomboy but she wasn’t a girly-girl either. In fact, she didn’t have time to be either, because she was too busy reading.

My sister in all her red-haired glory

And then I came along. I was a different animal. I was loud, energetic, and boisterous. The home videos speak (or should I say shout?) for themselves. Looking back, it feels like I was always in trouble. My parents bought a whole section of books that remain on their bookshelf to this day on the subject of ‘how to raise the strong-willed child’ after I was born. It’s no wonder, I had a really rebellious spirit back then. I didn’t really like reading that much. I spent a lot of time outdoors, on my bike or in the cherry tree in the backyard. I struggled in school, and my teachers did not like me immediately. I got detention in second grade for forgetting to raise my hand too many times. I often felt that there was no way I could ever measure up to my older, seemingly more-perfect sister. I got C’s and she never got anything less than an A.

And then came high school. For the first time, I watched my sister struggle academically in a calculus class in college. I was a sophomore in high school, but I had discovered a few years prior that math wasn’t too hard for me. In fact, a lot of school was becoming easier for me. I learned how to study, how to focus and apply myself. I learned how to get help if I didn’t understand something. My sister and I started talking on the phone while she was away at school. We started emailing each other. Our relationship started to change. I was learning to find my identity in Christ, and she had already found hers. We started to share about our walks with the Lord, things we struggled with, how we could be praying for each other. We were growing up, both in stature and in the Lord.

A year later, she met her husband. As they dated and eventually prepared to marry, our relationship survived a very difficult family matter. We went running together often, stopping occasionally to pray through tears and heartache. It wasn’t easy, but it something we endured albeit through much confusion. Looking back over the years, I can see now how the Lord has brought much healing.

Then sis got married and our relationship grew even deeper. I was a freshman in college, busy with anatomy and chemistry among other classes, and work. She was completing her student teaching degree at the same college as me. She often invited me over for breakfast, or to go on walks or hikes together. I knew she cared about me and so I allowed her to speak into my life when she thought necessary. She encouraged me much in the Lord. Her husband accepted me in as his sister in law and was never threatened by our friendship. I have always appreciated his (as well as my husband’s) sacrifice to allow my sis and I to spend time together when we get the chance.

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My sis and I not very long after she gave birth to her third child.

And then it came time for my sis and brother in law to start their long journey toward becoming specialists in linguistics and overseas missionaries. Their training for this difficult and long process took them all over the U.S., including Wisconsin, Oregon, Oklahoma and Missouri. I visited them at each stop along the way, by scraping up any spare money I had towards sale tickets with Southwest. Each time I left to say goodbye I was sad but knew another trip was around the corner. They came to visit our family whenever they had the opportunity and the finances.

In the meantime, my sis had one, then two, then three little boys! I got to watch her grow into the role of becoming a wonderful mother. She welcomed me with open arms to be an auntie who could love on her children without reservation. She helped me to foster an individual relationship with each of my nephews. She trusted me, and knowing that blessed me greatly.  She often sent me hand made cards in the mail with the latest drawings her kids had done. Many of them adorn our refrigerator. Although she was often several states away, I always felt close to her.

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Getting to do what aunties do while living overseas in 2007.

When her littlest was 2, their training was completed and it came time for them to move overseas and start their missionary work. I traveled with them and worked in a medical clinic in the same country for 3 months.  When that time came to an end, I remember holding back tears (not so successfully, as I recall) on the plane coming home. I knew it would be a long time before I could see them again, their location being so remote and plane tickets being so expensive. And yet, this work that they were and are still doing — bringing HOPE to a people group bound in fears and superstition–brings a greater joy that more than covers the hardship of separation.

Over the years, I have traveled three times overseas to see my sister, and twice she has traveled to see us. We are thankful for each trip we get. It might be easy for a person to go an entire year without seeing their sibling, but for sisters who write each other almost daily, who are aware of every little need, every prayer request, and much of each other’s daily lives– a year feels like an eternity. I have to admit, I cried the day I discovered that our little unborn baby would already be fifteen months old by the time he met my sis for the first time. Separation just never gets easier. In fact, it seems to be the opposite! But the Lord continues to be faithful, He continues to bless where we don’t expect it, and to give strength when we need it most.

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This is a card my sister sent me a number of years ago that still hangs up on our fridge.

One of the things I treasure most about my friendship with my sister is her God-given ability to empathize. When I have been in a place of deepest heartache, dark despair, utter brokenness, or confusion and uncertainty, she has never failed to immediately get on the phone from several thousands of miles away and make sure that I am okay. I cannot tell you how many times she cried with me when my heart fells to pieces again and again over our struggle with infertility. I cannot tell you how many times she has prayed over me– literally hundreds of times– over any struggle or fear that I had.  She is, as Anne Shirley puts it, a “kindred spirit” to me and always will be.

Sisters are a blessing, but friendship takes work! If you have a sister but aren’t close with her, I encourage you to write her a note, give her a call, or bless her in a unexpected way. Love her well. Don’t let distance be a reason to detached!

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This is also a little note-card from my older sister… also on our fridge.

~All of my sisters are wonderful and a huge blessing in my life in their own special way. Parts 2 & 3 of this series will be about my younger sisters.~

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Filed under Infertility, Missions

Things I Never Knew About Pregnant Women

So please forgive me if you happen to be aware of all of my newly founded revelations I’m about to make about pregnant women (mainly THIS pregnant woman). I really had no idea… and shame on me since I’m a nurse, too! So these are the things I’ve learned so far — that is, in the past 18 weeks of pregnancy. I’m sure I’ll have a whole new post for things I’ve learned during the remaining 22 weeks!

1. A women’s taste buds literally go haywire during pregnancy. As in: “This broccoli tastes like bitter poison.” And what tastes semi-tolerable during the 8th week of pregnancy may taste positively disgusting just a day or two later. There is no diagram for predicting what one’s tastes buds will prefer, because they seem to undergo chemical changes multiple times a day. (Just ask my husband who recently ran out to pick up the dinner I had been dreaming of, only to find that I could barely choke it down.)

2. Back pain. Who knew that carrying a tiny baby the size of an almond can literally cause sciatica nerve pain in your back? Really? How is something that small already infringing on nearby nerves? If someone had told me this before I got pregnant I would have seriously wondered if they were a hypochondriac. These were complaints I had expected from someone in their last trimester, not their first. That is, until it happened to me…

3. Despite being pregnant, I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to go through years of infertility and pain associated with endometriosis and the possibility of never having children. The pain from that experience is still very fresh, and although we have a child on the way, my battle with endometriosis may very well be decades long.

4. Always knowing where the closest restroom is. At work, at the mall, at a restaurant, at the airport, at church– you name the place: The location and proximity of the nearest restroom is always on the mind of an expectant woman.

5. Getting over the fact that for several months you just looked like you gained weight or “got fat.” Sure, whatever. One of these days that belly will really pop out and the confusion will be over once and for all.

6. Some very few women skip and hop through pregnancy like it’s the best and most fulfilling time in their lives. The rest of us wonder if it’s normal to feel so uncomfortable when others still can’t tell from appearances that we’re pregnant. So tell me… I’m still wondering… Is it normal?

7. Adding on to #6, the thought of holding one’s newly born child and knowing that pregnancy is just a season is one of the few things that alters one’s perspective for the better when dealing with daily pain.

8. Dreams so real that you wake up and wonder if it really happened. And, dreams about what your own baby’s delivery will be like. Please tell me it won’t be that horrible… (as in painful!).

9. Ibuprofen is a beloved and very good but missed friend. Tylenol is a pathetic acquaintance who always fails to deliver.

10. Having your belly patted is a strange experience.

So there are some things I’ve learned along the way about pregnancy. It is much harder than I ever expected, but more thrilling than I could have dared myself to believe. I look forward to the things I will be learning in the next months to come!

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Filed under Endometriosis, Pregnancy

The Husband-Father

I dearly love my husband.

I haven’t shared too much of what he’s been like throughout this unexpected pregnancy process, and I thought it might be fun to do so. These have been some of my favorite memories of my hubby since the day we found out I was pregnant:

~ The hospital bag. From about 8 weeks on, my husband began researching what we might be needing in the hospital bag for when our son is ready to be born. Although I assured him that he had many several more weeks to figure this one out, it sure warmed my heart to see his interest and excitement in the coming of the baby. I still don’t think he’s completely decided on what to the pack the bag with, but his engineer-method of researching such a topic was hilarious to me.

~Hospital (piggy-backing on the previous memory). Because my hubby was really wanting to get the hospital bag right, I reminded my husband that the hospital was only ten minutes away and that if he forgot something, he could just quickly run home and grab it. His response: “Oh no. There is no way I’ll be leaving you at the hospital. Not even a chance!”

~The workshop lesson. The very night we learned we were having a boy, my husband started talking loudly towards my belly and gave a lesson to our son on various kinds of saws and tools one might find in their garage. I rolled my eyes and laughed but delighted in knowing that he will be an excellent father and teacher to our son.

~Pregnant belly pictures. This was my husband’s idea, not mine. His idea was to keep track of this growing belly of mine every single week with our camera. I negotiated for once a month since once a week is a lot of pictures!

~Baby shower. My husband: “Wait, I’m not invited?!” (He was of course joking.)

~Nutrition. A few days after the IVF was completed, I was extremely nauseous one day with no relief. The only thing I could keep down were Ritz crackers and water. My husband, very concerned about my sad lack of nutrition for an entire day, said to me “But what about the baby?? Will everything be okay with the baby?” I explained how (if I was even pregnant– at the time it was too early to know) the baby would take whatever nutrition they needed from me, and that one day of eating Ritz crackers would be just fine. “Phew!” He said. “That’s really good to know.”

I hear bringing a new baby into your family, especially the first, can be a strain on your marriage. Just the sleep deprivation alone can cause friction, let alone the complete life-altering adjustment of caring for another totally dependent human being. And I don’t anticipate that my husband and I will be immune to these struggles. But for today, we are enjoying this process of another human being growing inside of me. Despite the chronic pain I am dealing with, there are so many things to cherish and be grateful for!

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Filed under Marriage, Pregnancy

Pain Update and Fall Happenings

It’s been a long night of lying awake. At 4am I finally got up and decided to make some apple sauce in the crock pot with some leftover apples I had. Even if I’m tired, it’s nice to smell the apples simmering in the sugar and cinnamon. A perfect fall treat! And I thought I’d give an update from my appointment with my OB yesterday.

Things are still much unchanged. I called the nurse with the women’s health department on Wednesday and ran the symptoms I’d been experiencing the last month by her. She didn’t think they sounded normal and said she’d email my OB and get back to me. The next day, my OB called and we went through the symptoms again — she got me in right away to do another ultrasound and I was extremely relieved to see that our baby is doing well and looking like he’ll be staying put inside me for a while (that’s right, I said HE! We found out it was a boy on Monday!). As for the symptoms — the constant abdominal pain, especially on the lower right side, the nerve pain in multiple locations, the horrible pain and pressure I have when I sit down… she believes it is scar tissue pulling and ripping apart (thanks to 4 surgeries) as the baby grows in size, and unfortunately there’s pretty much nothing that can be done for it. She did however give me some hope that the irritated nerves in my abdominal cavity may become desensitized later on. I sure hope so!

Despite the news that I may be living with chronic pain for quite a while, I actually left her office overjoyed by the fact that I finally didn’t have to worry about preterm labor. I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulders, and I thanked the Lord for that! It was a direct answer to prayer.

On another note, in a little over a week my sister flies in from Papua New Guinea with her youngest son. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen her last, and the excitement is building exponentially every day that her arrival gets closer! She’ll only be here for a few weeks but I’m looking forward to cherishing each moment that we get to spend together. After this I won’t be seeing her until summer of 2015… which is something I can’t really think about too much (or I’ll start to cry!) but there it is all the same. So it is with great excitement and joy that we anticipate her arrival next week.

Here is a picture of my sister and I while her family was visiting during my Bible college days.

Here is a picture of my sister and I while her family was visiting during my Bible college days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, my mom and aunts are throwing an early baby shower for me so that my sister can be a part of it while she is in the states. I was initially a little hesitant to have a shower so early (I will only be 21 weeks) but I am really excited to celebrate our miracle baby with family and friends. My mom asked me to create a baby registry and I have to say that it is quite overwhelming! I have some ideas as to what a newborn will need (thanks to my NICU experience) but beyond that it is a guessing game for me. I guess that’s why the first child is always the guinea pig — even their baby registry is a test-run!

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