Monday, May 15, 2017

Why I am Politically Conservative

Why do you believe what you believe? 

That question, and its answer to follow, is just as important to me as what you believe. 

That's why I love apologetics and the ministry of evangelism.  Both give opportunities to go deep in conversations and really learn about others, to challenge and be challenged.   And asking that questions is a means of constantly ridding ones own heart of judgement.  How often I assume my friend believe one thing only to discover how wrong I was.  Or perhaps I was correct in assessing the what, but the why was totally different than I expected.  

As part of my study in the RZIM Core Module, we were asked to do regular interviews with friends who held a different worldview.  The interviews were based on the 4 points that define worldview: 

Origin
Where do we come from?

Meaning
Why are we here?  Why do we have life? 

Morality
Is there right/wrong good/evil?
If so, how do we know what defines right/wrong? 


Destiny
Where do we ultimately end up?

These interactions were one sided in the sense that we could press issues with further questions, but we could not answer in return.  This wasn't practice on arguing a point, but rather on listening and hearing the heart of the person, because as Ravi Zacharias says, "Behind every question is a questioner."

This was my favorite part of the course, as I loved engaging with a few of my friends on these issues, and learning more about how their worldview formed.  Sometimes I was quite surprised by their answers, such as one friend who expounded hard on why she believed in evolution, but then followed by saying "but behind the events, to have all the factors interacting, there is some strong force - a strong might - something miraculous."  And another friend on that same question, first acknowledging that our origin is "probably evolution" followed with "But there are questions evolution doesn't answer.  I believe in healing, for example, and the power of thoughts or prayers..... Animals don't have a healing capacity like humans, so there are some things that evolution doesn't answer." 

Other times I was saddened by how closed the heart of one of the ladies was, though I thought she was much more open.  About Yeshua, Jesus, for example, she said, "I just don't think I can believe in him, because in Judaism, God isn't a human.  He's sort of like an energy."  I had no idea until that point that she was intellectually wrestling with that issue, and rejecting the Messiah based on her own religious background that she had also reject. 

When you stop and listen, you learn.  What I learned from these ladies didn't change my own biblically based worldview, but it did change how I saw each of them, how I pray for them, and it tore down preconceived notions I had about that why question behind the what.  And mostly what I learned is that:

Judgement is shallow.

It takes time, care, and humility to dig beneath the surface, and to get over the self that makes assumptions. 

***

We are at one of the greatest partisan divides in history, I believe.  At least in recent history.  And lately, as I gauge where we are as a body of believers based on reading through the social media posts of my friends, this divide is no less evident in the church. 

Having spent 9 years in liberal arts universities, a good many of my believing friends from those years more so identify with the Christian Left, or claim an apolitical position.  Honestly, as someone who is conservative in both how I view God's word, and in my political worldview, I feel rejected by a lot of my friends from that persuasion.  And its not even necessarily direct, but its the general statements of negativity toward anything conservative feel as just what I said above, shallow judgements.    

Thus, I decided to share with you all why it is that I'm politically conservative, and the answer might surprise you.

 I'm a conservative because.... 

I'm a real living and breathing human being. 

That's why. 

I have a lived experience.  One that has involved parents who passed down values, pain and suffering, joy and pleasures.  I'm a thinker, a reader, a researcher - a student of God's word, an honest lover of the Yeshua, Jesus.  I'm someone who prays over the media I see, the experiences I live.  As a designer, I seek the Lord about solutions and what works best. 

A Native American friend once prophesied over me, based on knowledge that my mom's family has an Iroquois Heritage, "You have a great love for government and peace making."  He said a little more than that, but he encouraged me to receive these gifts as my inheritance, and he was so right on.  My peer group at the time seemed to be holding the Christian left as more freedom based, and the apolitical as the Politics of Jesus (even though under the surface the apolitical worldview isn't really apolitical at all- more on that some other time!).  I couldn't fully reconcile either of these perspectives with how I understood scripture and the US constitution, yet often I sort of kept it to myself in the friendship context.   On top of that,  I've loved civics and government for as long as I can remember. The first notable drawing I made as child was the White House when I was in Second Grade (and I grew up to be an architect).   I needed his encouragement to embrace that love as something God nit into my being.

Since it is fun for me, and I have embraced it,  I invest spare time in studying how this world works.  I do this simply because I'm me, and I enjoy it.  (I also really like reading up on what's going on at Disney World, so I'm a nerd on all fronts, forgive me.)

Now living in Israel, I have that many more interests to explore, in the study of how this parliamentary and multiparty system works compared to my beloved US government and constitution.  On top of that, there's the UN, and international law.  My brain gets its fair share of work, and I like that.  You don't have to, but I do!  I try to represent my variety of interests in my media outlets, posts about my kids, what I ate that day, ad even politics and government included. I'm a whole person and this is part of my passion.  On top of that, I live in the land of loud opinions in Israel, and so I'm not only engaging with my western friends who don't get it, but also my Israeli friends who do.   You don't have to love what I love, or use your media outlets like I do, and  I certainly never tried to tell anyone otherwise -- how to run their tweets, Instagram, and Facebook status. 
 
But in addressing statuses and clickbate article titles that I see often...

No, I'm not conservative because I think God is a Republican. 

No, I'm not conservative because I'm a closet legalist.

No, I'm not conservative because I'm doing what the Christian Right is telling me to do.
 

No, I'm not conservative because I haven't considered the other perspective.
Did I cover all of the rhetoric? 

It doesn't really matter. 


I'm conservative because I'm me...  and real person...  with a real heart and mind. Someone who has sought answers, weighed evidence, and thought through beliefs and solutions.   Someone who left home at 26 years old, and moved to the Middle East.  Someone who was deeply affected by the choice of abortion by a loved one... Someone who is raising children in a broken world where the blood of my neighbors runs cold in the street due to terrorism and hate.  Someone who spent 9 years of my life immersed in the left leaning worldview of the university system.  Someone who had a brain tumor.  Someone who was raised between the celebrity subculture of professional baseball and the rural South. Someone who's parent's divorced, and merely 7 months later, who's grandparents were killed by an illegal immigrant driving under the influence of alcohol. Someone who's had to learn forgiveness and love. Someone who's had to see my own sin on the cross.  Someone who's had to repent. 

When all of these experiences, merge with study and prayer, I veer toward the right.  If its interesting, I can break it down more nuanced in the future. 

I would appreciate being afforded that honor of acknowledgement, though, the one that realizes I'm not a machine or someone who follows a movement blindly.   One that recognizes that I'm a person, and my choices have meaning, history, and thought behind them.  And maybe even for someone to occasionally ask me about the why.

But isn't that what we all want?  Just to be treated as... living?


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Discipleship of Cleaning

Life with three babies hasn't left much room for writing - or really much of anything - lately.  Nap times are not coming so easily, and because of that I've felt as though I can't take charge of my days. My house seems to dictate my days, and I've been drowning in my regular chores.

The Lord has been ministering to this area in the last few weeks, however, as I've learned some root causes and solutions to the battle of keeping an orderly home.  Today I'll share about solutions, and later on (if I can keep enough order to have time!), I'll share about the root problems I've struggled with.  This might seem backwards, but in this case, implementing the solutions is the best way to attack the root.  More about the 'why' behind that later!

Thinking and praying through solutions to living in survival mode became a concern of my heart several weeks ago, when during a moms' group that I attend, a friend shared that even though her mom was great at keeping the house clean, her mother didn't teach her how to clean. I realized that was the same in my home growing up, and two women in our mothers' generation shared with me the same thing about their mothers!

I simply can't be the only one who keeps house.  I. Just. Can't.  And that means that I have to get my kids moving on the cleaning.

What I'm understanding, however; is that there is a general idea that simply enforcing a clean house is enough to pass on the practice of keeping house, but oh my, it is not.  Holding to this approach has led to much more yelling and threatening to give things away than I care to admit, and has generally made cleaning days tense.  At these ages (6, 2, and 3 months), it would be easier for me to simply do everything on my own.  I could get it done faster and without pulling my hair out. But that is a short term solution, and I want to parent with godly principles that last for the long haul, for their benefit and for mine.  I don't want to be cleaning up after teenagers, and I want them to be motivated people.   

And here is the truth:  Housekeeping in an art and one that needs to be taught with intention, even as an act of discipleship.  I can't just shout out commands like a, Mefaked, a Drill Sargent.  I have to work with them so that they can find their own solutions to a mess, growing a character that helps them persevere rather than becoming overwhelmed and shutting down.  We want to make overcomers, after all, even when it comes to tackling the house.  They won't get it if I don't instruct, which means I've had to be still and search the Lord's heart for order. 

And I have prayed.  I've wanted to rise above the crazy cycle of boundary pushing and power struggles, and really enjoy family life. 

As I've been praying about this, how do actually be a clean and oderly person on my own, and then how to disciple in this area,  the Lord has given me two strategies (though I'm going to share three) for my kids. These are straight from Him to me. Not something I found on pinterest or learned from a book.     The great disclaimer here is that I'm not sharing because I'm an expert who has a super clean house (I don't), but because it really has been helping us take charge over our home, taking authority over our space, rather than being ruled by bad habbits and too much stuff.  So...  This is what we are doing: 

1.  Keep a Weekly Routine

I like to clean on a weekly schedule, giving myself one big chore a day outside of a few normal things such as dishes, counters, and the general pick up  that happens every day.

Friday is the Big Bedroom Clean Up (BBCUP) for the kids since Aviel (age 6) is home from school that day (Israeli schools are Sun-Thurs). We do a really focused job on their shared bedroom after breakfast, before mini pizzas.

I've already been intentional about teaching them this rhythm, and talking through the week about how if we put things away, it makes the BBCUP shorter and easier.  This is a principle of reaping and sowing.  If they sow tidiness during the week, then they will reap easier effort on the BBCUP.  It has taken about a month, but they are finally getting it. 

Now for the the new ones.  They overlap so the ordering here is mostly about an easy read and not necessarily a rigid way of getting things done. 

2. We work "Big to Small." 

Whether we are doing the BBCUP,  the living room, or laundry, we start with the big stuff, and work our way down. Big to Small is an easy visual concept that even 2 year old Lydia can grasp.

I ask them, "What's the biggest thing in the room?"

For our bedrooms, its the beds, so that's where we start. We change sheets every other week, so we'll either do that, or we'll simply make the beds on off weeks.

Then they identify the next biggest thing, which is usually clothes and coats, and then shoes... so we put all of that away (more about that in number 3).

Then its toys, again by size.

In the living rooming, we fold throw blankets and put them in the baskets, and then do the pillows on the couch- because the couch is the biggest thing in the room. Books and DVDs are almost always second, and then toys.  Sometimes, though, a certain toys can be the next biggest, like when the Duplos are out -or tracks of any sort.

They help me with laundry, too. Sheets and towels are the biggest... undies and socks are the smallest (more about that in the next category).

Interestingly, the kitchen we work Small to Big, taking care to put away utensils, then cups, then plates and pots and pans, before wiping the bigger areas such as the table and counter tops.  Even though its opposite, it works out logically as its easier to clean the pots and pans when the sink is empty.  They get it, so we go with it. 
 
3.  We Organize by Category 

When there is a so much stuff that its hard to get started, we use the Big to Small method, but we pause before putting things away, and first put things in piles.

We stack all of the books, and all of the DVDs.

If people did not put clothes in the hamper, we put them in a pile.

All of the Hot Wheels cars together, baby dolls, markers, etc.

Then we work Big to Small based on pile size.

Aviel's bed is in a loft in the kids' room, which requires climbing a ladder.  He can get his bucket from his room, put his pile of Hot Wheels in the bucket, and then carry them up the ladder all at once. Instead of doing tons of trips back and forth, sorting by type and putting them all in together consolidates effort! This works both for living room clean up and the BBCUP. 

Sorting and organizing  also works with laundry

I have them sort the clothes according to who they belong to.  Every family member gets a pile, and then we fold Big to Small for each family member. 

Again, first we do sheets and towels (the biggest overall), and then we choose the biggest pile in the family, which really changes with every load, and start there. Abba's is usually biggest with lights, Aviel's with darks, and either of the girls with colors. 

We use the same strategy of sorting and organizing clothes types (shirts, pants, socks, undies, etc) and then fold Big to Small in each pile. 

These methods are bearing fruit! 

The underlying idea is to give them an intentional strategy so they don't look at a mess and feel overwhelmed, but rather have a method that they can use to tackle the mess. It gives them a problem solving tactic that they can apply each time, rather than me micromanaging, and threatening with consequences the entire time we are working. It helps in our relationships, but also, I hope it is something they will carry with them through out life, so that they can grow into orderly and efficient workers in their careers and callings, as well as their home life. 

I hope this helps some of you, and if you have strategies of disciplining in the area of house work, then please share in the comments! 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (Part 5)



The weather was beautiful - a cool, but not cold and rainy November day.  My mom and I got up that morning, took Aviel to preschool and then decided to go eat breakfast at the Coffee Bean on Jaffa Street. 

Feasting on a French Fritatta, I noticed that my normal Braxton Hicks began to come on a bit more strong while we were eating.  A group of ladies, obviously christian volunteers were sitting inside the restaurant, and commented that I looked ready.  I was more ready than they even knew! 

After we ate, we decided to walk around City Center for awhile to see if things might pick up.  At this point, I had pretty well decided that I was feeling early labor contractions, and they were about 10 to 12 minutes apart.  Around 11 am, I thought it best to get Aviel from school, so that we would not need to make another trip in, and go home to rest. 

I called Devin and let him know, as well as the Doctor, since he would be making a lengthy drive in.  I also updated my doula, Sarah, and my friend Natalia, who would be joining us.  Sarah had flown in from California to be with us for our second birth.  I felt so blessed by her commitment to be present.  Natalia, I prayerfully asked to attend, for a few different reasons.  While I was preparing for Aviel's birth, I remember reading that in Modern/Western culture, most women do not experience their first birth until they actually go through one.  Historically, and even at present in the developing world, women were exposed to real birth through helping their mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends, go through this life changing experience.  How amazing it would have been to have been part of culture where birth was simply part of being a women, whether you were doing it or helping.  I wasn't ready with the first one, but I decided that a way to better our birth culture would be to invite a women to be with me who had not yet gone through this one her own.  Natalia was a perfect fit, because of our already established friendship, she already had a positive attitude toward child birth, and she could provide the gift of playing worship songs while I was laboring.  Since she was coming in on more than an hours worth of buses, she decided to join us rather early, and prepared to spend the night. 

Devin came home late in the afternoon, and cancelled plans to attend parent/teacher forums at work.  I felt so much more relaxed once he arrived home.  The doctor made it around dinner time, at which point my contractions were around 6 minutes apart, but not strong.  He checked me and I was less than 3 cm, so he went to a friend's house for the evening.  I felt a bit discouraged, because I was hoping that I was farther along, and just coping *really* well. 

I felt someone conflicted through the rest of the evening as to how to progress.  Should I go to sleep, or keep moving?  My head was telling me to move, but my body was telling me to sleep.  Eventually, the body gave in and I laid down to rest. 

Sometime after midnight, my contractions began coming closer and stronger, around 3 minutes apart.  Devin called Sarah and she arrived around 1:30am on November 12.  They had again slowed down by her arrival, so I went back to sleep.  Natalia was sleeping on our couch and Sarah slept in our purple papazan chair. 

We woke up early that morning, around 6 am.  I was in a funk.  My contractions had really slowed down at that point, and while I remember waking up the morning Aviel was born, and my body needing a little time to pick up again, this time, since my team had arrived to help me, I felt as if I had let everyone down, and taken up too much of their time!  I was concerned that labor was going to stop and everyone had made their way to be with me for nothing!  Boo! 

Sarah suggested a walk to help things get going.  We went to the pedestrian stairs in our neighborhood and climbed those, walking up and down the hills.  I shared with her how hard the last year had been, how hard the pregnancy had been, but also a lesson the Lord had been teaching me how to be free fro perfectionism and being performance driven.  I was born a failure, so that wasn't something I had to fear.  Yeshua did the work for me, so I could rest in that.  Something of my own words let me release this laboring processes to Him, as I realized I wasn't a show, but doing doing a job with him. 

When we arrived home, Sarah suggested that the house clear out, expect for Devin and I, so we could be alone.  My mom took Aviel out, and Natalia and Sarah met with friends separately.  I actually needed this quiet privacy to get mentally into active labor.  My contractions were somewhat "shy" as Sarah said, and having a hard time picking up with all of the activity. 

I got in the shower while everyone was away and had a real conversation with the Lord. 

I think I've been more afraid than ready, but I'm ready now.  Please bring on my active labor.  

Upon getting out of the shower, things picked up rather quickly.  Devin and I labored together, alone, in the kitchen for quite awhile.  I sat on his lap and worked through the more regular and stronger coming contractions. 

Sarah was the first to arrive back to our house, around 11am.  She tried to check my fundal height externally, but my shy contractions got a little scared off again.  I went back to my bedroom and labored totally alone for a while as the house slowly filled up again.  Devin called the doctor at this point and when he arrived, I was very pleased to be measuring 6 cm!  Fully in established active labor.  He recommend another shower, noting my progress. 

Again, the Lord and I had a conversation. 

Lord, I've been afraid of transition.  I know you will carry me through it, though, let's pick things up a little more. 


After getting out of the shower, Sarah suggested, "Why don't you put on something a little easier, like a dress or a skirt." 

I put on an orange sun dress and then walked to the living room. 

Natalia said, "Wow.  You look beautiful." 

Everyone noted in agreement, Devin coming over to give me a kiss.  I didn't really believe them, but trusted that my hormones must be giving me a glow. 

The contractions pick up stronger and stronger.  This time, I was negatively affected by loud noises.  Aviel's playful sounds, for some reason, made it hard for me to cope.  Even at one point, I remember hearing my mom looking through the video drawer, and having to ask her to stop, though she was trying to be quiet. 

Interestingly, though, music was helpful. 

I moved to the couch and labored on my knees.  Sarah pressed my hips through the contractions while Devin helped the doctor set up.  Natalia was paying mostly english songs on the couch next to me at the time and all was peaceful.

Then there was a sudden gush as my waters broke! 

The next few contractions were a bit harder, and then I had a small pause. 

I cried the most peaceful cry.  It was as if I was releasing the hardship of the last year all to the Lord.  I gave him over the stress of the Cushing's Disease, the surgery, being so sick from the pregnancy...  doing all of this alone without family support, on the bus, feeling like I had been a horrible mom to my sweet son, who had needs I could not meet through such a long time of sickness.  I gave it to him.  I laid it at His feet. 

Then transition set it. 

It was much stronger than what I remember going through with Aviel, but I was encouraged.   Knowing that it would not last long, and I was near to the end, I oddly also remembered the story of Perpetua, a young mother who was martyred in the 3rd century AD.  I had studied her story after my surgery, and felt such inspiration in her courage.  It might sound as an strange thought to have during birth, but I trusted fully that the Lord would carry me through this work I needed to do.   

Interestingly, Natalia switched from English to Hebrew worship at that point, fully directed by her own leading of the Holy Spirit. That change brought on a strength in my spirit as well, as I remembered how much prayer had been poured in to Lydia's sweet life long before she was conceived.  Our congregation prayed us through that hard season, and I felt the power of their prayers with me. 

Sarah coached, "tell that contraction where to go." 

So I told the contraction to leave through my bottom parts and began gently pushing them out in that direction. 

Devin was in the bedroom with my doctor and has shared a few times that they could notice a change of pace even from down the hall. "Oh... She's pushing."  The doctor said. 

Them met me in the living room and asked if I wanted to stay where I was or move to the bedroom.  I honestly felt conflicted because I knew they had done so much work to get ready!  Devin and Sarah both encouraged me, that I could stay where I was if I wanted.  That's what I choose, so the men set up the plastic on the couch and Devin helped me move over a little bit. 

I felt a release from transition and started pushing harder, staying on my knees, facing leaning over the back of the couch. 

The baby was moving well, but I still found pushing to be good deal of work! 


Then....  POP! 

We didn't know what it was at the time, but it sounded like a shot gun. 

"That's just your bones and ligaments moving" Sarah comforted.

My mom had once told me she fractured her tailbone while she was pushing me out, and I suspected that I had just done the same.  Oddly, as loud as it was, it actually didn't hurt, so I pushed on. 

As the baby's head began to crown, the doctor switched places with Sarah, and helped guide her sweet head out. "Its blonde."  He said. 

I remember giving a big push and her head was born.  The doctor instructed me to pause for a moment.  At that point, I suspected that the chord might be around her neck, after having read that a small pause in pushing can allow it loosen naturally.  Sure enough that's what was going on, but it was not medical emergency whatsoever.  Just a natural process of birth.  After a moment, he freed me to push again, and Lydia passed through very easily, almost as if she fell out of my body. 

Looking at her between my knees, I pulled off my dress and laid down on the couch. They picked her up and placed her on my chest as we bonded. 

"Oh I love you so much."  I said to my beautiful girl. 

Her hair looked a bit more gingy than blonde, to me.  It was wavy but not as thick as Aviel's had been. 

She was so tiny and small and I could hardly believe she was finally in my arms. 


"Get Aviel."  I called out. 

He had so wanted to see her be born, but I just could not labor well with him around, nor was I sure he would do well to hear me working so hard at pushing. 

He was blessed to see his tiny baby sister, still connected to the chord.  That's something we had talked about during he pregnancy and he was quite interested to see it in real life. 


As it was time to birth the placenta, I asked my mom to take him in the other room again.  It was a little slow to detach and I had a little more bleeding than the doctor liked.  He gave me a pitocin shot to help the process along, and everything was fine.  Aviel emerged from the room again, this time with a plastic toy for the baby.  I suggested something softer instead.  His little hear just so wanted to welcome her with a toy, though!  It was precious! 

"Aviel, can you share the baby's name?" 

I had prepared him in advance to make the announcement, but he felt a bit shy.  Devin and I introduced her as Lydia Yael, the first time our family and friends had heard her sweet name. 

We then worked at nursing, knowing that my GD might make for some low blood sugar.  She latched on surprisingly well.

Our petite little Princess weighed in at 2.8 Kilos, or 6 lbs 6 oz. 


Devin dressed her in her first little sack, and snuggled with her while I showered off.  The entire time I was in there, I just wanted to be out holding my little baby girl.


Our doctor stayed with us for several hours, as is the normal protocol for homebirths...  just making sure everything was fine with both of us.  Lydia's sugar was a little on the low side, but nothing alarming.  A few hours after he left, we decided to check in to the hosptial just for extra care in making sure her sugar was fine.  It was a little hard for us to know for sure, so we took some precautions.   I had packed some milk that a friend had pumped for me, just in case she needed some treatment, rather than formula at the hosptial.   Once we arrived, her sugar was was totally normal, and she did not require any extra care.  A little hosptial stay for about 12 hours after a homebirth is very normal in Israel because it allows us to get our "birth grant" and accomplish paperwork a little easier.  It wasn't what I had in mind, but it had its blessings. 

***

In remembering Lydia's birth, I think what amazed me so greatly is how the Lord used that experience to bring a great deal of healing to what had been a hard year or two.  It was hard on our marriage, it was hard on my heart.  The way He brought the story together, and made provision for a homebirth, then the way He moved in my own heart to let go so much of what was painful from the previous season was a true gift. 



Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.  1 Timothy 2:15

Saved, here is sozo, which is a salvation that brings a healing.  While birth is an intense experience, the Lord is so present, and He will meet you with every contraction, and in every rest in between. 

For my readers, Lord, I ask that you would grant this sozo healing salvation as they bring forth new life, even as they go back and remember their own stories.  I ask that you would meet them, and show them how present you are, or were, as they birthed their children.  For all who have suffered, may they not look to this experience with fear, but with hope, that they will come forward with renewed and freed hearts, full of confidence in your ability to be powerful in their lives.  May you bless all upcoming births with peace, joy, and the freedom of surrender.  For all who have suffered, let this day be a marker that "It is finished."  May they go forth as more than conquerors.  Amen. 


Related Posts:
A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Something Special (Part 3) - Aviel's Birth Story 




Friday, November 4, 2016

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (Part 4)

The grapes gave me hope that we were entering into the promises the Lord had for this coming birth, yet I was still waiting on Devin to have the same peace. 

That same evening, our doctor stopped by for his initial meeting with us.


He came over with a very casual, straight of the kibbutz sort of look, and he was much more quiet in his demenor than I expected.  Carly had described him as a "caring and grandfatherly" and I found that to fit. 

We started our meeting sort of getting to know each other.  He shared a little about his professional history, and why he left the hosptial to develop a homebirth practice.  Basically, it amounted to no longer wanting to practice out of fear of his patient.  The liability concerns in risk-based obstetrics led to some ethical concerns on his part, such as not desiring to implement unnecessary procedures if a mother or baby did not really need them.  Also, well studied in the physiology of birth, he believed strongly that women birth best where they feel most safe and secure, whether that's at home, a birthing center, or a hospital.  His desire was to make home a more available option for women who wanted to be home. 

He also asked us some about about why we were thinking of a homebirth. 

For me, I was coming to this decision from a positive place, rather than negative.  Aviel's hosptial birth was a great experience for me.  I did not fear the hospital or feel that I had been mistreated in anyway, although, I could not deny the reality that the two small interventions I had were based on hospital policy and not what my body actually needed to birth the baby.  My acceptance of that was simply based on fact, not on any anger or disappointment.  Also, however, I knew that I labored so well at home.  It was a loving and safe feeling environment and my labor progressed really quickly.  It all went so well, that I often wondered how it would have been to have simply stayed, rather than changing locations!  This time, I wanted to keep that same peace flowing from beginning to end, to have my team join me, rather than changing locations while my hormones were flowing, and then come under a clock again.  On top of that, I had also experienced an intense year of testing for Cushing's Disease, even a brain surgery.  I really just did not want to be in the hosptial any more! 

I was blessed that the doctor did not fear my medical history, whether after learning about my recent surgery, or the Gestational Diabetes. 

We talked through what GD meant in regards of a pregnancy and birth, particularly at home, and he looked over my sugar charts.  We decided to submit my weekly records to him and decide in a few weeks time if I seemed to be managing well enough for a birth at home. 

The doctor left, giving me a some reading from Active Birth by Janet Balaskas about the physiology of birth, and based on the reading, I did some further study on articles by Michal Odent.
 
***

I'm not sure exactly when it was that Devin got fully on board, but he did feel very comfortable with the doctor after our visit.  It was several more weeks before we would nail down a decision for sure though, as we were watching my sugar.  Eventually, the we reached a point where I knew I needed to have an official answer for the sake of my emotional and mental preparation.  The doctor felt I was managing well, so we made a commitment. 

That decision was confirmed a few days later, when a friend graciously donated to cost of our homebirth.  As we skyped, she shared, "A few weeks ago, the Lord gave us a specific amount of money to give to you for your birth.  We wanted to wait until you had decided so that it wouldn't influence your choice.  And I don't really know why it was this amount, because I know it doesn't cover the full cost, but this is what He led." 

When she told me how much they had decided to give, I was awed by God's goodness.  Around this time, I had been working on a graphic design project and decided to commit my earning to our homebirth.  The amount my friend heard to give was exactly - to the shekel - the difference we needed to cover the expense.  If she had given the full amount, I would not have seen the Lord's handiwork so clearly behind this entire decision! 

***

So there are grapes, and there are giants.  Next, we faced a doozy of a Goliath. 

The Ob/gyn I had been seeing through our kupat cholim (insurance clinic), had been on vacation for the last month, which spaced out my pre-natal care with him a little more than what is preferred.  During that time, I had strong reason to believe the baby was head up.  My tummy was much more uncomfortable than I remembered with Aviel.  I could feel a big bulge right under my rib cage that I thought to be her head.  Sure enough, when we had our 5 minute long appointment at 36 weeks, plus a few days, the Kupat Ob/gyn confirmed that our baby was head up, my water was low,  and he believed her to be very small for her gestational age.  He gave us a hafnaya (order) to go the emergency room at the hospital for further testing. 

While it was all a bit distressing, I had a peace because the Lord had granted me a promise from scripture during that same time. 

So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.  Acts 27:25

I trusted that He was leading this way, and we would defeat the giants, for His glory. 

We went in the next morning for further testing.  She was measuring small, but not as small as the other doctor presumed.  Personally, I was not worried, because, well, at 5'2", I'm small!  The staff was rather discouraging about the possibility of being able to turn her, though, due to my low water levels. 

We called our homebirth doctor once we arrived home, and he was very calm about the entire situation.  He recommended that we contact a colleague who had a great record, a world record, actually,  for turning babies for a second opinion.  Meanwhile, I did spinning babies exercises, ate tortilla chips, and drank coconut water, to help increase my water levels, and get the baby moving.  I also spent a lot of time praying for her, and really believed I heard the Lord say that she had not turned because she was fearful!  I prayed against a spirit of fear, and you know what, that little girl is one brave toddler today!  She's also a bit of a gymnast who loves to do flips!  I look forward to seeing the long term fruit of those prayers in the future! 

We made an appointment for our External Cephalic Version (ECV), a few days later, since my reading suggested that it was most successful at 37 weeks, exactly where I was at the time. 

I went into the hosptial, met with the doctor, who told me "drink a lot of water and do not pee" before sending me on to an ultra sound.  The baby had moved about 45 degrees from the spinning babies exercises, but was still well breech.  My water was lower that what I read online that most doctors look for, so I fully expected him to say it wasn't even worth trying.  I was surprised, however, when he said, "Its a little low, but it either works, or it doesn't!"  He was totally willing to try. 

An ECV isn't as earthy as it might sound, someone using their hands to manually re-position your baby.  Its a full on medical intervention.  I was connected to a monitor and given a muscle relaxer.  The doctor told me I'd probably feel nervous as a side-effect.  That was an understatement.  I remember laying there overcome with fear about whether or not this was the right choice.  Devin was extremely reassuring and reminded me that some of my nervousness really was a side effect of the meds.  The doctor came in, and distracted me with conversation. 

"When did you have your appendix removed?"  he asked noticing a scar on my tummy.

"My appendix? Ohhhh.  I didn't.  I had an endoscopic transphenoidal surgery and that's where they removed that fat pad.  I had Cushing's Disease." 

"You had Cushing's disease?!"  Both him and his assistant were shocked and asked a number of questions while he went about turning my baby.  It was quite uncomfortable, but he was successfully able to get her into the correct position.  And for the first time in weeks, I could take a full breath!  It was amazing.  


I stayed in the hosptial for about an hour for observation, and was given instructions to do fetal monitoring the next day, to ensure that the baby was doing well.  At that appointment my water had greatly increased, bu I was having contractions about 10 mintues apart.   I could feel them coming.  I called our homebirth doctor and he recommended napping and calling him if they continued on.  Everything slowed down, and sweet Lydia rested peacefully in her new head down position for another two weeks.  

We faced a giant, but we feasted on grapes.  :) 

Related Posts:
A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Something Special (Part 2) (Aviel's birth story)



Monday, October 31, 2016

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (Part 3)



"Devin, if my glucose challenge comes back positive, what do you think about doing a homebirth with Carly's doctor?" 

I remember exactly where we were, crossing the street near the Jerusalem's Shuk (market). 

My husband was silent. 

"Ok.  You don't have to answer right away.  Think about it and let me know." 

I had not thought much about our birth plan much until it was time to do the test.  Early in the pregnancy, I contacted a homebirth midwife, and she suggested waiting until I got my results before coming under her care, so that I would not be disappointed if I could not birth at home with her.  At that point, I decided to lay the issue aside until later. 

Going in for the test was quite disappointing, in itself.  In the time since Aviel was born, I had been studying and found an number of sources that questioned the accuracy, and even safety of of Glucose Tolerance testing.  Since Aviel was born with such great blood sugar, and a normal size, I honestly wondered if I had been misdiagnosed and was open to alternatives, such as the A1C, or checking blood sugar for two weeks, even substituting jelly beans for glucola.  I went in prepared to talk to my doctor about other options, and was shocked to learn that since I had a previous diagnoses on my records, I'd actually have to jump straight to the 3 hour Challenge.  He was not willing to write a hafnaya (order) for anything else. 

We weighted options - refusing all together, fighting and trying to find a doctor who would world with me...  In the end, I was still sick from the hyperemesis gravidarum, which (for me) is aggravated by stress, and it was not going to improve my birth choice options to refuse the test.  The only benefit would be not drinking the nasty and not good for us glucola. 

So I did the test. 

While I was sitting in the lab, I remembered the day Carly told me about the homebirth doctor and had hope that my options might remain fairly open if I "failed" the test.


And failed - did I. 

My numbers were higher this time, than they had been with Aviel. 

I was frustrated, and my husband still wasn't sure about the homebirth option. 

Lord, why do you let this happen to my body?  If I didn't have this condition, we could go to the natural birthing center at the hosptial, and not have tension in the marriage.  It would be so much easier.  He whispered... 

Because I have something so much better for you.The Lord's response to me was clear, so I clung to Romans 8:28, trust that he would work all of this to the good of our family and our baby! 

***

Being third trimester, it was time to start making some plans.  With Devin's agreement to at least have a meeting with the doctor, I made a phone call - and one that circumstantially held two confirmations that we were headed in the right direction. 

"When are you due?" The doctor asked on the phone. 

"November 15."

"You are exactly 30 weeks today.  That's when I usually first start working with my patients."  That was number 1.  And number 2.  "I'll be in Jerusalem tomorrow, how about if I stop by?"  Said my out of town doctor.   

I was elated.  And that much more so when Devin returned from the Shuk (market) that day with these babies:







On Sep 15, 2014, I posted this caption with the photo on my Facebook Status:  "Devin brought home grapes yesterday and I had not seen them until I packed Aviel‘s lunch box this morning. When I opened the bag and saw these huge huge grapes, it did something in my spirit... Joshua and Caleb style... I am full of belief and hope today!"

Its hard to tell exactly how huge the grapes are, but they are certainly the largest we had ever purchased.  I was awed.  What I didn't share with the world is that I had been praying over this baby's birth, the grapes gave me a great deal of hope that we'd have a wonderful homebirth. 

Following along with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth's series on Joshua at that time, I also had an indication that if the Lord was good to grant grapes, then we might also face giants.  As the giants arose, so would my faith, as I trusted the Lord that this was His plan. 

Related Posts:
A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth
Part 1
Part 2


Something Special (Aviel's birth story)

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (part 2)

Waiting for Lydia to form in my womb was a much longer, and dramatic process than we could have ever imagined.

Falling pregnant by happy surprise with Aviel, I never once thought I'd face infertility, but when Aviel was three years old and had well since weaned,  I was still not menstruating and I knew something was wrong with my body. 

It wasn't just the lack of cycle, but a number of strange changes to my quickly morphing appearance that caused me to wonder. 

I embarked on research and learned of Cushing's Disease, a condition caused by a tumor either on the adrenals, lungs, or pituitary gland, which seemed a perfect explanation for the problems I was dealing with.   Most notably, my face swelled up round and full, but I was also loosing hair on my head, growing body hair, developing a hump on my back, and gaining weight in my upper body and stomach.  After seven months of tests, we finally were able to determine that I did, in deed, have a pituitary tumor.  It was a Beauty Theif, that secreted a hormone called ACTH, which in turn stimulated an over production of cortisol in my body.  The excesses of cortisol  halted all ovulation, but with the removal of the tumor, fertility was likely to return. 

My surgery was successful, and three months later, my endocrinologist cleared us to start trying for another baby. 

It took a little longer than I expected, however. 

On one particularly disappointing day, when we had learned naturally that we did not have a baby from the month before, the Lord blessed us with hope.  During Shabbat services, our pastor was speaking from Acts 16.

One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. (v. 14)

As he read through the passage, and spoke the name Lydia, I remember thinking...

Lydia...  our daughter.  I need to tell Devin.

No sooner had the thought passed through my heart before Devin leaned over and whispered in my ear...

Lydia...

I knew my husband had heard the same!   He then showed me how lovely the name presented itself spelled in Hebrew - as the two words L'yad Yah, meaning next to God.
Exactly 4 weeks later, we learned that we had a new baby on the way!  Joyfully our news was confirmed on Aviel's 4th birthday.  We were blessed to share with our little son that the Lord has placed a baby in my belly for his birthday present!  All three of us were thrilled.

The pregnancy was medically confirmed at my 6 month post-opp Endocrinology appointment a few days later.  I'll never forget the look on my Endo's face when he saw my numbers!  Lydia was celebrated all around, even as pea-sized womb baby! 

***

It was only a matter of weeks before joy gave way to discouragement, even some depression.  If I had thought the nausea and vomiting was hard with Aviel, this was a new giant to face.  I had a severe case of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).  This is nausea on steroids.  I could barely eat and nothing stayed down.  I vomited at least three times a day, if not more.  The vomiting continued on until week 36, and by the end of the pregnancy I had only gained 12 lbs. 

Besides the physical strain on my body, I was plagued with constant mom guilt, knowing Aviel was not receiving the care I felt he needed.  

On top of the HG, again, I received a Gestational Diabetes diagnosis. 

This was a severe disappointment because I was hoping that the neuro surgery I had to remove my pituitary tumor would have corrected my body's glucose intolerance, since Diabetes is a secondary symptom of Cushing's Disease.  The Lord would soon turn this disappointment into a blessing! 

Related Posts:
He Gave Me Lydia - Kindred Grace (for more about Lydia's Name story)
Beauty Thief - Kindred Grace (about Cushing's Disease)

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (part 1)
Something Special (Aviel's Birth Story)

A Story of Grapes, Giants and Homebirth (part 1)



Lydia's birth story has been slow in coming.  That's the struggle of two children, lots of writing adventures, and a year of 4 hours worth of daily bus rides.  As I'm preparing for the birth of number three, the Lord has laid it on my heart to write it out, remembering the sweetness and the love. 

Her story really begins years before she was born,  in the Lord's provision for her birth plan, healing my body of Cushing's Disease that caused secondary infertility, and prophetically downloading her name four weeks before I knew she was in my womb. 

I remember the day I was sitting on Carly's couch (yes, the same Carly from Aviel's birth story, my brand new friend at the time, due a week before me, who graciously threw our baby shower), when the Lord began moving my heart toward a homebirth.

Carly had planned for a natural birth and due to "Failure to Progress" ended up in a cesarean.  I will not tell all the details of her story here, but unconvinced that this took place for no unknown reason, she set out to get answers, and answers she found.  Not only answers, but also a man whom she referred to as "the homebirth doctor." 

We sat and talked, as she shared her heart over her disappointment that the surgery could have been prevented through a few changes prohibited by hosptial policy, and that she was planning a HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean).  This doctor was willing to take her on as a client. 

My eyes swelled with tears.

While I was happy for her, the tears were pouring from a place in my heart much deeper.  I felt she had found something for me, as well. 

My first birth went amazingly well, but having gestational diabetes, my options were limited.  Being granted a high risk status (more on that later) was devastating.  It was scary news for a first time mom.  God was so good, however, and whispered that He would give me Something Special and that He certainly did, which is why my own strength of emotion was so surprising at the news Carly had shared.  The prospect of this doctor caused me to feel quite safe and free, and as if the Lord might have something different for us next time.    Little did I know it would be a few more years before I'd even carry my next child, due to secondary infertility (find a series of posts about my story of Cushing's Disease here). 

Carly went on two have two babies at home with the homebirth doctor during the time span that I waited....  and waited....  and waited... 


Related Posts:
Something Special (Part 1) Aviel's Birth Stroy