Saturday, February 10, 2018

Lessons to learn

Today we took our kids sledding for Paul's second birthday. Poor Paulo, he hated it. I mean, he was okay with sitting at the top of the hill and watching everyone else go down but going down himself was not his cup of tea. He went down with Ben once on the promise of getting hot chocolate if he did and he screamed and cried the whole time.

Lesson learned: sledding is not too much fun for kids under four years old.

I thought it was just a Simeon thing because Simeon is so sensitive and our other two never had a real snow/sledding experience as two year olds... but legit, Paulo did not enjoy it.

I tried to bring Jethro but that lasted all of 15 minutes and I tried to zip up my coat over him while wearing him. The only thing I succeeded in was breaking the zipper on my favorite coat.

It's okay it was only $10 from Savers. But I still loved it. :(

Ben and Aria went to a father daughter dance this evening. I love getting to dress her up and send her with her daddy to feel special. What a blessing to have a husband who loves her and takes such good care of her.

I also got to share the evening with my four boys, my plan was to take them out for ice cream after dinner. Thankfully we had our surrogate grandparents along for the ride, I don't think I could have made it to Culvers without them.

Paul was a bit of a mess all evening. He didn't want to eat his dinner, he didn't want to put on his boots or his coat either. It reminded me of when Simeon turned two and he cried the whole time. It felt like such a struggle.

Ben and I call it the year of deep dark sadness. Communication is difficult, they get into so many things, there's lots of crying and you telling them "no" and them telling you "no" ... it's basically a really tough year or so. I remember when Levi turned the corner and became a pretty agreeable little three year old and it was such a relief. Now with Paulo being our fourth two year old I feel like I have hope that this is just a season and things will get better. For now I'm praying for patience.

Please Lord, help me to choose my battles wisely, help me to nurture and love and be creative. I need Your guidance Holy Spirit, I need wisdom from You. Thank You for leading me.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

It's Been A While

Hello Blogesphere (I don't even think that's how you spell it or if that's truly a word... whatever)

I can't tell you how many times I've thought about blogging lately. It's just hard to find the time to sit down and write. 

We are on child number five now. 

Five kids. I used to be overwhelmed by two, then three, then four I felt like I was catching my stride. But then we had all kinds of issues with Simeon and his speech (he didn't really learn to talk until he was almost 3). Then we became elders at our church. Then we took a disciple into our home. Then we bought a house adjacent to our pastor, more like friends and had three more people living in our house with us. Then one moved out and two more joined the crowd. Believe me, it's a crowd. :) We like to laugh and stay up late and have early morning Bible studies and basically run on fumes. Then we left for India while I was 6 weeks pregnant with our fifth child and left three of our kids with our disciples (two 21 year old girls who got a crash course in being a mom/homemaker). 

India was amazing y'all. You don't even know. I still don't even know and look forward to going back. 

Fast forward to having our fifth child. We have a huge house but because of having 12 people in it hardly anyone doesn't share a room. Dan, our 76 year old adopted grandpa has the basement and Jethro our newbown occasionally sleeps in the closet (but mostly in bed with me because that's how he likes it). Our four other kids are in two bunk beds in one room. Mostly I love it that they all sleep together. It was tough teaching little Paul to be in a big boy bed at the age of 22 months (I say that because he felt super young and had no idea what was going on. He mostly wanted to share a bed with Simeon and didn't understand why he had to sleep alone in this huge bed with a railing, no one else had to have a railing and why did he have to sleep on the bottom? He wanted to be on the top.) Also, he puts himself to bed by banging his head on his mattress and making loud "ah" noises. 

Paul's pretty much the cutest thing I've ever seen. He's also the most exasperating of all the kids. Two year olds are like that aren't they? They grow out of it eventually. I just try to enjoy what I can about him. 

This week was a huge lesson for me. 

I enjoy housework. I like cleaning and doing the dishes and sweeping the floors. I feel like the Lord has put that in me. I like having a clean house. I don't like leaving things left undone and the dishes in the sink and all that. 

However, the other day I felt like the Lord was telling me (and Ben had said this earlier) to focus on the boys. The three youngest are 4 and under. So instead of diving into cleaning the kitchen after the older ones left for school I decided to sit down and play with Paul and Simeon. We got out the cars and set up the race track and just played for a while. I enjoyed them for a good 20-30 minutes and then I started cleaning the kitchen. I tell you what, they got along so much better after that. I used to get so frustrated with how much I had to stop cleaning and go settle fights or discipline. 

I also had another moment that morning when I was in my room cleaning and they were playing on their bunk beds and had thrown the comforter on the ground. Normally I would be upset at the interruption (because I have a tendency to be selfish like that) but instead I threw it on and started tickling them. Soon we had a stuffed animal fight, throwing stuffed animals at each other because that's what you do with little boys. 

After a bit I told them it was the last time and they were ok with that. Wow. 

I mean, the morning wasn't perfect and I still had to discipline and stuff but God really showed me how to enjoy my kids and still get things done. 

Lord, help me. I continue to be in need of You and Your Holy Spirit to lead me. Help me to listen to my husband, help me to love my kids and take care of our home. I want to do my best as unto You.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Jethro's Birth Story

We weren't expecting to see little Jethro so soon. He was due on the 6th of December and the past three normal, vaginal deliveries were fashionably late. I was thinking he would come around the 10th.

At 37-38 weeks pregnant I may have been doing too much. Taking care of four kids, doing laundry, helping to host a worship retreat, playing and singing at church on Sunday mornings and Monday nights... doing yoga, going on walks. I may have over extended my boundaries. But I thought after Simeon's delivery being a week late several years ago and me going on walks every day that how could I possibly overdo it? Maybe it's because I'm older. I'm all of 33 come Friday and I was more like 29 then. You twenty somethings, you don't know this but your body changes when you hit the big 3-0. I'm sure if you're 40 you're thinking, "you have no idea Jody Hefner" ... totally. I will someday though. Lord, help me to age well. Teach me to love aging and to be gentler on my body as it ages. Teach me to work hard at every age and to follow Your Spirit as You lead me where to go and what to do.

Anyways, on Tuesday night Ben had to go work on some website stuff with one of our pastors so I put the kids to bed and started to head to bed myself. It was about 9:30 so I decided to do some bedtime prenatal yoga. I was about 3 poses in when I felt a gush. Oh no, I must have broken my water. I went to the bathroom and was even more shocked to find that it wasn't water but blood. If you are easily queasy, don't read the rest of this paragraph. It was seriously so much that it looked like I had just started a very heavy period. I kept bleeding and started to panic so I called the doctor.

The doctor said to head to the hospital as soon as possible so they could check me out and make sure I was okay. I called Ben and told him to meet me there. This is when living with eleventy billion people has it's perks. I asked Dan, an elderly man who lives with us, he's very much like a grandpa, to drive me to the hospital while LauraMae and Veronica stayed with the kids. Our other two girls who live with us would be home soon and they have been home, holding everything together since. I am so thankful for each of them and the role they fill in our household.

When we got to the hospital I wasn't in any kind of labor. I've been in natural labor three times before (I never made it into real labor with Levi since he was breech) so I knew what labor actually feels like. I honestly just felt a little crampy but no real contractions.

They didn't know why I was bleeding. It could be the cervix, it could be my placenta detaching from my uterine wall, it hopefully was not some sort of uterine rupture. This birth seemed to be laced in fear. So much fear of the unknown of what could happen to me or my baby.

Having to VBAC means you have to keep monitors on your belly the whole time. One to monitor your contractions and one to monitor the baby's heart rate. Uterine rupture is a big deal, I mean like there are tons of risks, one of them being death of you and/or your baby.

Thankfully a lot of our friends and family were praying for us.

We opted for me to spend the night and be monitored.

In the morning I had slight progress from 1 to 2 cm and from 30-70% effaced. If you don't know what this stuff means, it basically means I took a baby step towards climbing a mountain of labor. Yippee.

It didn't appear to be uterine rupture since Jethro's vitals were awesome all night and I didn't have any abdominal pain. The bleeding decreased but didn't go away altogether.  We decided the best option was to get Jethro out of me as soon as possible since there were so many unknown factors.

So they put me on pitocin. Super fun drug that starts your body into labor and tends to make contractions pretty painful. It didn't work so they decided to break my waters. That definitely worked. I do not recommend it. I felt a lot more pressure at that point but then started to have real contractions that I had to stop and breathe or moan through (yes, I moaned, don't judge me).

I'm sure I've said this, but the only say to describe labor pain is that it feels like your body is trying to rip itself in half starting with your pelvis. There you go. I'm sure you wanted to hear that.

During all the struggle of dealing with contractions, dealing with an IV and being monitored I turned on this song: Upper Room This is How I Fight My Battles and it ministered to me. All the fear that was surrounding the unknown of Jethro's birth. Then all these other songs were coming on about how Jesus overcomes our fears and how we can rest in Him. There were many moments when I was in tears, many moments when I wanted to get off the train, but I knew there would be a reward at the end.

The time for pushing was coming near after a few hours. Even after pushing out 3 other babies I still don't feel comfortable knowing when to push. I think I always want to push too soon, mostly because I want to be done. My midwife checked me and I was only 8 1/2cm and you need to wait until you're 10. So I needed to wait and labor down. This is the hardest thing because there is no comfortable position to be in. I basically wanted to flee from my own skin. I wanted to get off the train and not have a baby anymore. My midwife was so perfect though cause she would smile at me and say, "Jody, you can do this, you're gonna have your baby so soon!" I was totally freaking out, wishing I wasn't a hardcore natural birther. Several times I thought, "why don't I get an epidural??" It was too late by then. Also, I don't get epidurals because of all the risks, I'd rather just endure a ridiculous pain level in order to avoid those risks.

Finally, I pushed little Jethro out. Ben caught him. Every time I see my baby come out I think in my head, "This human was inside of me? I can't even believe it." It's like they are so tiny and so big all at the same time. I even had lies of thinking he wouldn't be okay or that he wouldn't be alive. Seeing him and knowing he was okay, this was a huge relief. I laid back in the bed and they put him on me and there we were. I had my reward.

They looked at my placenta later on and found that it had been separating from my uterus. This explained the bleeding I was experiencing. If we had left it unchecked it could have separated all the way and Jethro could have died.

I'm thankful that we chose to induce labor. It definitely did not go the way I would have chosen. But when do we ever get to special order these things? Out of five births now I can really only look back at Simeon's and go, yeah, I would totally do that again. But the Bible is true that when that baby comes the laboring woman forgets the agony as she holds her new little baby in her arms. Literally, that's what I'm doing today. I'm so thankful for this new little addition to our family. I'm looking forward to seeing how he will change our family and the role he will play. I am also looking forward to seeing the man he will become.

Lord, Thank You for this precious gift!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Paul's Birth Story

I love blogging about my baby's birth stories. Usually the down time in the hospital is the best time and place :)

For starters, we missed our due date. I was kind of okay with that because I wanted to be a part of a recording with my church that weekend and was hoping he wouldn't be on time. My track record so far has been two weeks early with Levi, Aria was three days late and Simeon waited a whole week to come out. I was pretty sure I was just going to be later and later. It was a bit of a joke for me. 

I made it through the recording on Saturday praising the Lord. 

On Sunday morning Ben seemed to be getting sick so I went downstairs and started making him breakfast. Suddenly I felt a small pop and a leak. Oh dear, I don't think I peed my pants, I think that might have been my water breaking. I went upstairs, changed and put on a pad and prayed. Then I told Ben. And we kind of laughed. Of course, right when he's not feeling good. Then there was the debate in our minds as to whether or not to go to church (I would be playing the piano) or not. My body didn't seem to know it was supposed to be in active labor at that point so I hoped that maybe getting out and doing something would help it to kick in. 

Church was awesome, the Lord really spoke to our hearts and getting to worship Him in the fellowship of believers is always a beautiful thing. My heart hurts if I have to miss church. I had a few good contractions but nothing regular at all. I told a few of my friends about my water being broken, some of them thought I was crazy but I just asked that they would pray for me. That we would have wisdom about when to go to the hospital and that my body would start to pick up into a regular pattern of contractions. 

Now, I'm going to take this moment to explain that I am Group B Strep (GBS) positive. Since the beginning of the pregnancy I've had that curse upon my records. I've tried probiotics, komboocha, yogurt, garlic, GSE, and even in the last stage of pregnancy I cut out all sugar, refined flour and caffiene. All to no avail. 

I've done a lot of reading on GBS from both camps of medical and natural. We've been praying and with the .5% chance that it could kill him, I decided that I would sacrifice my desires for a more natural labor for the sake of my baby. I'm not trying to look like a saint or say I'm awesome or anything like that. I remembered how with Simeon's birth I walked in and just delivered him in 15 minutes and it was awesome and I would totally do it again. I knew I had to be at the hospital 4 hrs beforehand in order to get the antibiotics, I would have to be on the monitors (curse those uncomfortable things!) I would have to have an IV or heplock of some sort. These are things I did not want. But I came to the conclusion that if we could, we would try to get there early enough to administer antibiotics. 

In my reading I knew that a broken bag of waters would up his chance of infection, so I knew I couldn't wait a super long time. 

We went home after church and took a nap (the best sleep is usually in your own bed right?) Then I took a couple laps around the block and just still wasn't getting a regular. 

We decided to go to the hospital around 4:30, I know that's a long time to wait, but I just wasn't sure what the hospital would do to me. I'm a natural birther and words like pitocin and epidural give me the willies. 

I checked in and they confirmed that my waters had broken and I was slightly leaking, but not much. As it turns out, he had a second bag of waters... who knew? We didn't until he was descending, but that's for later. 
They finally got around to the antibiotics at 6:30, apparently hospitals like to dilly dally around and make you sign 10,000 pieces of paper and ask you a million questions, some of them you have already answered if they would just look up your records. 

The nurses were on the phone with my midwife whom I truly love. She is so gentle and kind and uplifting. She's a glass half full kinda gal and seems to know her stuff and is pretty lenient about stuff. So I knew when she suggested pitocin, she was right. I was in so much fear but I knew something needed to happen soon. 

The nurse told me she was going to give me a "whiff" of pitocin. For any of you who know about this stuff it was on a 4. I learned later that a normal dose is more like a 12-15. After about an hour of more consistent, more difficult contractions they bumped it up to an 8. This is maybe what drives me crazy about hospitals, she didn't really ask me. But I dealt with them. I will say that they were getting harder to breathe through and nothing was very comfortable. I am thankful that we get breaks between contractions. I distracted myself with Facebook and Instagram for a while, listened to music, and attempted to listen to my relaxation tracks. But even that eventually didn't help. 

The four hours passed a lot faster than I thought they would. I knew I needed to wait until 10:25 top deliver, but who in the world has control over those things. I think it was around 9:45 when I asked if they could stop the pitocin. By that time my body was in full force labor and I was having minimal breaks. 

Honestly, I was terrified to push him out. I'm just being honest. 

I didn't know how much more pain my body could handle and I just wanted a break. I told them several times, "I don't want to do this anymore!" "I'm so scared!" Ben and my midwife and nurse were all reassuring that I was doing great. I kept praying and breathing. 

I was asking what time it was and knew it was about time for me to push, I could just feel it. I got up on my hands and knees because I knew this was the best way not to tear and started pushing with each contraction. It was really difficult. All you want to do is get your baby out and at the same time you want some kind of respite from the pain.

Then finally, he was here. Ben got to catch him and then I turned over and they put him on my chest. He was so tiny and yet so big at the same time. He was here! I couldn't believe it. We got to wait to clamp his cord and then Ben did the honor of cutting it. 

It was finally over. All that pain and difficulty, but I got to hold my reward in my arms and marvel at this new tiny person. 

So many prayers were answered. I didn't have to get an epidural, it was almost 4 hours after receiving the antibiotic that I gave birth. I also was able to play the piano for our church recording and was able to go to church on Sunday morning.

This birth is a huge reminder that not everything goes according to plan, but God is still good. He is still in control.

:: edit ::

I hesitated to share this post because it looks like everything went successfully and smoothly. We have one other hiccup in the road now. Paul has come down with a fever and there are a few things that are going on with his health that makes it look like he might have contracted my GBS after all. Thankfully we are still in the hospital and he is receiving treatment, however, it looks like he will have to stay here another 2-7 days. I was just discharged and they are allowing me to stay as a guest for as long as they have a bed. Our hospital stay has turned out to be very good and I honestly have all good things to say about Centegra and their care.
I do have a longing to go home. I also want to be able to hold him without all the wires attached to him. I know this will happen soon, but it's just hard right now. I miss my other kids and my husband. Praise God, my mom is in town and being a huge help at home, but how I long for my own bed and some sense of normalcy.

More than anything though, I know that God is in control and we are in His faithful, capable hands. Lord, thank You for allowing us to trust You, thank You for difficult situations where we get to lean on Your everlasting arms. Help me to be faithful, help me to rest and trust in You.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Name Of Our Fourth Baby

I haven't posted in over a year.

No better time than now I guess.

I wanted to post about the name of our fourth child.

We have experienced so many changes since coming up here to Crystal Lake. The Lord has slowly but surely been cutting away our flesh and teaching us to walk more fully with Him. We have very much poured our lives into our church and our community around us. God has slowly been cutting away our flesh and helping us to lay down lesser things. Little things for me like TV shows that I loved or a laziness and maybe a bit of a complaining spirit. Little things that weren't big yet, but He's just shown me that I don't need those. So much of it is in the heart and maybe not always visible to others, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

The Lord likes to rid those things from us.

I won't cover what God's done in Ben's life, he could tell you if you ask him :) but it's always good and it's usually difficult.

So each of our children's names have significant meaning for what the Lord has been doing in our lives. Ben and I like to say that they are our monuments for the Lord.

Levi's name means "to unite" I felt like as our oldest child he would be the uniter of many children. The Lord was calling us to lay down birth control at the time (which terrified me) and I didn't know how many kids we would have, so leaving that up to the Lord I was trusting Him that He would number them.

Aria's name means wind or air. She was conceived around the time there was a Holy Spirit revival at our church and we saw a tremendous move of the Spirit. Our prayer for her is that she would be Spirit-filled and on fire for the Lord. You can read about it here

You can read about Simeon's name here

We have felt like the Lord was calling us higher into His Kingdom, closer to Him, more responsibility in our lives... all of that.
So we were looking for names that meant strength or ascension or high calling or something like that. None of them seemed right. Until one night Ben and I were on a rare date and talking about this little boy we knew we were having and the name Paul came up. He was a leader of the church and it's also Ben's dad's middle name. The interesting thing is that Paul means "small" it doesn't necessarily fall into the categories we were looking for. But then, it suddenly made sense... when God calls you higher, He also calls you lower. He calls you to greater humility, greater servant hood.

A few days later I heard this scripture:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to become first among you, let him be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a random for many." Matthew 20:25-28

So with this fourth child, we are understanding that God's desire in our lives is not to be served, but to serve all the more.

We are naming his middle name Allen after my dad''s middle name which means "noble stone" and really, I'm super pumped about this addition because now his name Paul Allen means "small, noble stone" A friend commented, "And what can God do with a small, noble stone?" Ben and I responded in awe, "He can slay a giant."

I love it that the Lord chooses the small things, the insignificant things of this world to glorify Himself.

Lord, may we become less so that You can become more in our lives.

All glory and honor to God.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday Aria

*** I meant to post this back on January 8th when Aria turned three, but I seemed to have forgotten. I'm sorry sweet girl.

Dear Aria,

Wow, you are growing up. You are changing from a crazy two year old into a delightful three year old. And I love it. I love you.

When you wake up in the morning it's usually a joyful experience. Your hair does something crazy against your pillow all night and you have an enormous fuzz ball at the back of your cute little head. It definitely means you slept well.

You love to suck your thumb and stick your finger in your belly button. It's your safe place, your security. I see you go for it when you are in a new situation or when you're getting tired or insecure. You love your little thumb in general. So much so that your teeth are starting to shift around it. This habit needs to be stopped so that we don't pay $10,000 in orthodontia in the future.

Did you know that you have the most beautiful eyes? I love them. They are almond shaped and mysterious. So many times when I look at your china doll face with your perfect round cheeks I just want to kiss them.

I'm sorry I don't always do a very good job at cutting your bangs. I know sometimes they are slightly uneven, but I try. Maybe by the time you start to care then I will be better. You also wiggle a lot when I'm trying to cut them, so maybe I'm not fully to blame.

Aria, you are a treasure to me. Happy Birthday my love.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A request for prayer

I am writing to just ask for prayers right now. Ben is having to decide between two very different jobs in these next few days, or it might be decided for him, we are still kind of in the waiting and I can't explain all the details… but if you could pray for wisdom for us, I would very much appreciate it.

Lord, You are our ultimate provider. We look to You for everything. Thank You for calling us to a life of faith. May we live it fully for You. I don't want all the treasures of this world, I want You and Your Holy Spirit and I want to do whatever I can to be more and more dependent on You. Ben and I are finding more and more that the things of this world are not satisfying and the only thing that will ever fill us to completion is You. We want to follow You wherever.

We need Your direction Lord! Open doors or close them, we are Your sheep, the people of Your pasture.