Posted in family, Julie, life

Life After Baby… It’s been a wild ride! Weeks 4 and 5

Chipping Away at my Pride and Making sure my Identity is found Solely in Christ

The night before Julie turned 1 month old I had a very humbling experience. I had a discharge coming out of the top of my gluteal cleft (aka my butt crack, as my doctor put it). When we were at the hospital I asked my husband not to let anyone know, because I was embarrassed about what I was dealing with. I didn’t want to project an image of weakness or needing help from others, and was letting my pride get in the way of humbling myself and asking for prayer. There is not really a dignified way to talk about a problem with your butt crack. It’s pretty much just gross, and I didn’t even want to tell my husband, and only did because I needed him to take me to the ER.

It was scary taking Julie with us to the ER. Of all the places one could take a newborn, the ER is certainly one of the germiest. I prayed for protection for her through the whole ordeal. I was feeling guilty that Brandon was taking care of our baby and me. I was feeling inadequate as a mother again, since I was too sick to take care of her. When we were in the hospital, and then later when we got home, I just felt like I was a drain on our family while Brandon was running around waiting on me hand and foot and taking care of Julie. I knew I had to take care of myself and get healthy, but I felt to guilty not being able to be the main parent taking care of our baby girl.

The treatment for the infection I had was very painful. I had made it through childbirth without tears, but the doctors touching my infected wounds brought me to tears. Whenever it was time for my treatment I would find myself getting anxious about the pain. I started reading my Bible, a lot of Phillipians and Psalms, and trying to focus on the promise that God doesn’t leave me or forsake me. The pain got less each time, but I was still in a lot of pain when we were being sent home, and Brandon was supposed to take care of it for me. He really has lived up to the “in sickness and health” part of our marriage vows a lot already, and I’m so grateful for how he takes such good care of me.

Spiritual Lessons: I am worthy of love because of Christ, even when I feel gross and unlovable. I need to not have pride when doing life with others, but be transparent, even sharing about embarassing things. God wants to use my experiences in my life to change me and help others, so I shouldn’t keep things to myself because I don’t want my own image damaged from what I think it should be. He wants to use my whole life story for his glory, not just the cleaned up parts that I want to share. I feel humiliated when something embarrassing happens when I’m wrapped up in my own image. But when my identity is in Christ, I can be humble, without worrying about how I look to others. My life is about Jesus, and how he wants to use me, not about me.

Going forward: It’s been quite a roller coaster emotionally and physically. Some challenges I expected, most I did not. God has been doing a lot of work in my heart, and I’m grateful to be able to know he’s at work in my life, through all the trials, and that he has a purpose for it all, and he goes with me through it all.

Posted in family, Julie, life, Uncategorized

Life After Baby… It’s been a wild ride! Weeks 2 and 3

Week 2: UC Back with a Vengeance

About the middle of our second week with Julie my Ulcerative Colitis began to flare.  I had such a wonderful, healthy pregnancy, and my UC symptoms had subsided for nearly the whole 9 months!  I had had a lot of fear when trying to get pregnant about how things would go, and if my body would be able to handle a healthy pregnancy.  I wrote more about those fears here.  So, when I felt so great throughout, I was definitely counting my blessings and praising God for such a miracle.  But, I was also hoping that I wouldn’t get sick again after having Julie, or that at the very least I wouldn’t be sick again for a while.  It was really hard to admit that I was in fact sick again, and that I needed to deal with it.

Along with being sick while being a new Mom came a lot of emotions.  I started feeling inadequate as a mother because I didn’t think I could take good care of her while I was having trouble even taking care of myself.  I felt inadequate as a wife, because I was relying on Brandon to fill in taking care of Julie where I was falling short, when I felt I should be able to do it all on my own.  I was struggling to not believe lies about my self worth, and whether I was worthy of love from God and others.  And I was frustrated with God for not healing me, after years of praying for that. I was feeling embarrassed to talk about my health problems with my husband, and others, but I was getting so sick, so fast, that I couldn’t hide it.  I was humiliated to even bring up my symptoms of urgent, bloody, diarrhea. But, I needed help, so I put aside my pride and asked for prayer from friends, and support from my husband. I was grateful my doctor saw me on his lunch hour to try to help me get my UC back under control.

It was a tough week, and I’m grateful for those who prayed for my health to improve.  I’m also grateful for those who prayed against the spiritual attack I was under as I fought off the lies about my self worth and my ability to be up to the task of being a wife and mother.  I’m also grateful for those who prayed for my husband as he tried to help me through my emotional state.  Also, I’m amazed that though I was sick and suffering, I was still able to enjoy my precious little girl, and see her as a total blessing!

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Week 3: Finding Solutions

I went to see my GI doctor to find a solution for my UC.  Going in I was feeling discouraged, not thinking there would be anything safe for me to do differently while continuing to breastfeed Julie.  My doctor gave me a few options, and encouraged me to ask for other opinions if I wanted, about whether the various medications were safe during breastfeeding.  Ultimately, I decided I had to do something to get myself better, period.  Being a brand new mom is hard enough without being sick all the time.  The medications started working remarkably quickly.  I was feeling good again by the time Brandon had to go back to work the next week.  The thought of him returning to work, and me taking care of Julie by myself for 8+ hours a day had been a major source of anxiety that week, so the fact that I was feeling up to the task in a matter of days was nothing short of a miracle!  I was feeling less frustrated with the situation, and with my God and his plan.  I still don’t know why I haven’t received healing, but he does go with me through it all.  I was also feeling less condemned and attacked spiritually thanks to encouraging words from my husband, from friends, and from time reading my Bible and singing hymns. I was enjoying time home with Julie and counting my blessings again.

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That Saturday I had my first outing just Julie and I, to go spend time with some girlfriends.  It went really smoothly and I was amazed how easy she was to take out and about.  But, the drive home was difficult.  It was all going great until we got caught in traffic.  Julie does not like stop and go traffic, and so she cried until we were through it.  It took about 25 minutes to get past the 2 accidents on the freeway. So I was stressed, and Julie was screaming when we finally got home.  I was very glad Brandon came out to help me unload car.

That night I look a little closer at the “bruised tailbone” that’s been bothering me for a couple days.  There is a discharge coming out in the top of my butt crack.  I was quite concerned, thinking maybe it has something to do with the enemas I was taking for UC.  I really hadn’t thought it was any big deal until I looked at it that night, and in hindsight, I’m really glad I decided to stop ignoring my “bruised tailbone.”  So we went to the hospital to begin another adventure.

Posted in family, Julie, life

Life After Baby… It’s been a wild ride! Week 1

Week 1: Amazing Grace!

The first week after Julie Mae arrived I felt amazing, life was so good!  I had a ton of energy, I was feeling healthy, and i was feeling so joyful!  We were taking our baby all over the place to meet friends and family, and having a lot of fun!  I was overwhelmed with joy realizing how blessed I was to have such a sweet husband and beautiful daughter.  I was so amazed at all of God’s undeserved grace that he was pouring out on me.  Julie was truly a blessing, and we were having great fun showing her off.  One major thing I’d been nervous about with having a baby was that I wouldn’t be able to handle the sleep deprivation, but God provided for me in that by giving me extra energy to abound!

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Also, I thought I looked fantastic, which I counted as pure grace, since I’ve had body image issues my whole life.  Looking at my body after having my first baby and thinking I looked beautiful was a total gift from the Lord.  I thought surely I’d just want to avoid mirrors for a while until I was ready to get back into shape, but instead, found myself feeling really pleased with how I looked.  Having my husband think I looked beautiful certainly helped too 🙂

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i had some initial trouble breastfeeding, and could have easily gotten discouraged when the lactation consultant told me that Julie was giving up eating because she wasn’t getting enough from me.  But, God kept me feeling encouraged and positive that we would get it figured out, and that she would get all the nourishment she needed.  I didn’t get down on myself about needing to supplement with formula for a little while, but instead felt optimistic about the situation.

I was amazed at my excessive energy.  I was practically hyperactive when i got up to feed Julie in the middle of the night.  After she ate, I bounded off to the kitchen to get myself a snack.  I totally expected to feel terrible after giving birth, and dragging and have no energy, but instead I was feeling totally the opposite, for which I was very grateful.  I shed a lot of tears of joy, and sang a lot of praises to my God during the first week of Julie Mae’s life.

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Spiritual Lessons: God has drawn very near during this season, and has been doing a lot of work in my heart.  I didn’t really expect for becoming a Mama to be such a sanctifying experience, but I want to record some of the things that God is teaching me during this time.  I thought that getting married had rid me of most of my selfishness, but having Julie revealed another layer.  I found myself upset at times when I had to postpone my needs because I needed to meet Julie’s first, for eating, or rocking, or just being held.  My need to eat and sleep and shower had to fall by the wayside, and my selfish heart was revealed in those moments.  I’m grateful that God showed me my sin and is working on changing me to be more like him.

 

Posted in life

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to your family!  We hope that this year has been full of blessings for you.  We have seen God at work in our lives in a lot of ways this year.  Stephanie was blessed to work with kids in a few capacities this last year.  She was a teacher’s assistant at the Fish Pond Preschool, a Mother’s Helper to a family of 7 we know from church, a nursery worker for Classical Conversations School, and continued to serve with Mars Hill Kids.  All of these were positive and challenging experiences, and she is grateful to have had the opportunity to impact the lives of all the kids.  Brandon began a job with Mars Hill Church as Property Manager this last year.  This role has been very rewarding, and brought many new challenges each day.  Brandon loves working with his brothers and sisters in Christ, on mission for Jesus!  We saw a lot of growth in our church Community Group this year.  We are so blessed with true friends that we can enjoy doing life with, and who have supported and prayed for us through this season of our life.  Recently, we moved to Renton, WA and have enjoyed making friends in our new neighborhood.   Our biggest excitement for the year was welcoming our first child, Julie Mae!  Stephanie had a healthy, enjoyable pregnancy, which we praised God for greatly!  Julie arrived on December 6th, 2012, weighing 9 lbs and 20 inches long.  We have enjoyed spending the holiday season as a new family and adjusting to life together.  It has been a year full of many blessings for us.  We are continually amazed at and grateful for how God pours out his grace upon grace on us!  Happy Holidays from Brandon, Stephanie, and Julie

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Posted in life

January Hospital Adventure

Many thanks to all of you who have been praying for our family during this little adventure. I apologize for the sporadic Facebook updates and random text messages. Things are a little crazy around here. I will give a recap of the events thus far and will post any updates or needs we may have on this page going forward. So here we go:

Thursday – Saturday
Stephanie was complaining of a “bruised tailbone” – we have all had that feeling and it is no fun. She was a little slow getting up and down, but was fine overall.

9pm Saturday evening
Steph was still hurting pretty good with this “bruised tailbone”, but then she noticed a discharge where nothing should be discharging from in her low low back. She said “I think you should take me to the hospital” and thus far when she has said that it was a wise decision, so we packed up Julie and went to Overlake Hospital Emergency.

10:30pm Saturday evening
We are triaged at Overlake. Steph’s vitals looked pretty good. No fever, blood pressure was ok. We are still thinking something is bruised.

10:45ish Saturday evening
There are a couple of “chest pain” patients get some priority (understandably so). The triage nurse comes out to check on Steph who at this point has started to shake a bit. She pulls her back in to check vitals and finds a fever and low blood pressure. We now get expedited to a room.

11:00pm Saturday evening – 5:00am Sunday morning
We have a crazy night in the ER. They closely monitor Steph and get the fever to drop. Julie is awesome and sleeps through most of the night. I was able to feed her a few times with formula that we brought with us. I also successfully change my first diaper in a public restroom.

At this point Steph has pain, low blood pressure and a high white cell count – she is fighting something.

Our night in the ER will require a post all of it own…

7:00am Sunday morning
We are all settled in our room in “5 South” and I decided to run home with Julie to restock our supplies and take a breather.

8:30am Sunday morning
Steph is wheeled off for a CT scan as they want to look at the infection and ensure that the source is external and not internal. Results show that it appears to be external.

10:00am Sunday morning
We meet with the surgeon Dr. Reinke (he removed Steph’s gall bladder). He looks at it and decides we he will clean up the infection the best we can without going into full surgery. That is scheduled for sometime later in the evening.

5:00pm Sunday evening
A PICC is installed for Steph to get IV’s flowing faster for her. She is still hurting, blood pressure is still low and white count is high. We play the waiting game now as they continue the antibiotics. Also, we watched the Seahawks beat the Redskin’s, so in Julie’s world they remain undefeated! Go Hawks!

Thank you to all of our visitors and all of you who have offered assistance. Most of all thank you for your prayers. We serve a great God and He has taught us so much through these trials. We trust His plan and are very thankful for His strength and provision through this.

Plan moving forward (as of 9:00pm Sunday night)
I plan on staying overnight at Overlake with Julie. We are very comfortable and Julie has been a rockstar. She is pretty famous here on 5 South as we make our rounds in the bassinet.

I will update this post as our plan, Steph’s status and other info changes.