Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Exodus Part 1 - The Cry

I love the exodus story. I think one of the things lacking in our modern practice of Christianity is the remembrace of the major events in the history of the people of God. We sometimes forget that their history is our history, and without it our faith, our rituals, our understanding of God has no root.

Many things in Exodus parallel the Christian walk. No, it's not perfect, and trying to make things match up too closely cheepens both the history and personal experience. Still, when you look at both side by side it can be facinating. It shows we're all connected. The Exodus sotry isn't something tha thappened to a people group long long ago, it is a living story, told by the living God, that has happened in lives for generations and continues to happen now.

It begins with a cry:

Exodus 2
23During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25God saw the people of Israel--and God knew.

Most of us have heard a message at one point or another about how we are slaves to sin and can't free ourselves, but if we cry out to God He will hear us, forgive us, and break our chains. That's what God does, that is what He has always done.

The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for a long time. In fact, the ones in this story weren't even the ones who had originaly gone to Egypt. They were born there, they did not seek out slavery, they found themselves in it. The sin that we need to be saved from isn't just the sin that we do, it is the sin that we find ourselves in. If people try hard enough they can stop doing most things, at least for a time. Still, there is something deeper holding us back, and we are bound to it.

When the Israelites called out to God it could be they didn't know who they were calling to. At that point there was no Law, no rituals, no commandments, no religion as we see it. But there was knowledge of something greater than them, something bigger than the gods of the Egyptians. Something their forefathers had known and had experienced. They themselves had not experienced Him, they only had the stories, which seemed, I'm sure, more myth than anything else. And still they took a chance.

It saddens me that as a whole, the Church seems to want to hide God away, to keep Him only for those inseide its walls, for fear of wasting Him on those who haven't experienced, who don't understand. We're afraid to talk about our experiences with God for fear of someone thinking we're crazy, or that it's only legond, stories etc. I feel any knowledge of truth we can get out there is better than none.

And so the exodus begins. People cry out to God, and God answers. Something so simple, so easy, and yet so complex and difficult. From that moment, everything changes.

The Wilderness

Last year around this time I was praying. I was thanking God for all that was happening, for my friends, for my ministry, for my pregnancy, for the opportunity to reach out to the people I worked with.

As I prayed, I started falling asleep, and as I started falling asleep, I heard God.
"I love you my child" He said
"I'm going to lead you through the wilderness"
"No Lord" I responded
"Yes child, I'm going to lead you through the wildreness"
I started crying, repeating no no
"I will be with you and will meet you on the other side"

I woke up with tears streaming down my face, shaking and sobbing. I knew it wasn't a dream, I knew it was real, it was true, and still I refused to believe it. I tried to pass it off as just a dream and forget it had happened, even though I knew it ws real.

As the year went by, it was rough, it was excrutiating. At the same time I was drawn to expand on an idea I had used for a prayer night, paralleling the exodus events withthe Christian walk. I couldn't do it, however, without looking at the wildreness.

In my stubborness, I went through a lot of things alone, and felt more pain than I needed to, I'm sure.

The wilderness is seen as a place of fear, a place of death. I've learned that's not all there is to it. It's also a place of provision, a place of faith, a place to be refined, to grow, and to learn.

I'm through the wilderness now, and am learning the lessons. God did lead me through the wilderness, He was with me then and has met me on the other side. The new me, a different me that I am still getting to know, still growing into.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A lot Learned from Bad Advice

Those of you who (somewhat)regularly read have probably already read about my bad experience trying to nurse Hana. This post might sound a little familiar to you.

I have the privlidge of participating in the Breastfeeding Carnival, the topic being Breastfeeding advice. I was told they wanted the good, the bad and the ugly.

Well here's my attempt at giving nursing advice. It feels like an odd thing for me to do because I'm not nursing. Perhaps its one of those "those who can't, teach" situations. This is my story, and I think it definitely falls into the "ugly" category, but I hope it will be able to help and encourage someone.

When I was pregnant with Hana I was so excited about being a mom and everything that goes with that. I was especially excited about breastfeeding. For me it was something special, I was going to be the first woman in my family to breastfeed. I'm sure my pride over this soon-to-be accomplishment rivaled that of those who were the first in their family to do to university or own their own business. I was nervous, excited, and had my heart set on things starting out right.

As my pregnancy progressed, things weren't going exactly to plan. At 32 weeks Hana was still breech and my OB was concerned about her size compared to my size. There was mention of a c-section but there was still lots of time. I knew a section could possibly have an effect on a nursing relationship, but I knew lots of people got through that hurdle, and we could too. The next bump in the road was being unable to attend my breastfeeding class because I was still working. It was frustrating, but I was assured I'd have access to a lactation consultant and we'd have plenty of time to work on nursing if I happened to be in the hospital recovering from surgery. I was told not to worry about it, to relax because, after all, breastfeeding is natural and it won't be a problem. That's where the bad advice all began.

Hana was born November 3, 9:54 am, butt first. My section went well, no complications, and I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. The only problem was minor, the spinal had been a bit too effective and I couldn't feel anything from my toes to my collar bones, so I was told to wait about an hour before trying to nurse her that's bad advice #2, just in case you're keeping track).

Over the next four days in the hospital we continued to have issues. We had latch problems, I was bleeding, but the LC assured me we'd get it right if we kept trying. She showed me another position, it still didn't quite work, but she had to run to another appointment. One of the nurses told me I had to supplement because Hana was loosing a lot of weight and getting dehydrated, so we gave her a cup and I pumped. I was told I only needed to pump until she started nursing for more than 20 minutes without pain.One of the doctors came in and assured me that even a drop of my milk was better than any formula, and to keep going. That was the most encouraging thing I heard, and I wish I had remembered that doctor's name so I could have called her back for more encouragement.

The night before I was to be discharged my milk started to come in. I can't tell you how happy I was to see the little white drops in the corners of Hana's mouth, I cried with joy, just knowing things were going to be ok, that we would make it work. That night she nursed for over an hour. Then a nurse came in and told me she had been nursing too long and I needed to supplement. She said that Hana wasn't getting enough and if she nursed any longer she would burn too many calories. At that point all my joy, all my hope, all my confidence in my ability to provide for my daughter melted away. I cried, they offered to take her to the nursery so I could sleep, and they gave her a bottle.

I kept trying to nurse every two hours. In my anxiousness and fear I had a hard time latching her. She would get frustrated, I would get frustrated, we would both end up crying and the blisters were getting worse. After my first night home we were visited by a community nurse. We had decided to supplement Hana that morning because I didn't think she was getting enough (she had nursed for over an hour again). The nurse supported that decision and suggested I keep supplementing and rent a pump to help get my supply up. She also suggested that I stop nursing for a few days to give myself a chance to heal. Just as they were almost healed I was checked for a blood clot and told not to nurse for 48 hours because of the dye used for the CT scan.

That was really the end of our nursing relationship. I didn't know it at the time, but it was. The six days of not even being offered the breast caused nipple confusion. She would scream every time I put her to the breast, no matter how hungry or content she was, no matter what position I tried. The hospital grade pump I had rented wasn't very effective and I could only pump about two ounces per day. The medication that I was on gave me headaches and (I believe) caused depression. I began to resent Hana every time she cried, knowing she was hungry and I couldn't satisfy
her. I felt chained to my pump and wasn't getting any results. The support and encouragement I had received was beginning to turn into concern about my supply and questions about my commitment to nursing. I wasn't offered natural remedies (like fenugreek or blessed thistle), and neither the LC nor any of the nurses I met with (5 over the course of 3 weeks) offered nipple shields or a supplemental nursing system.

It was a painful thing to pack up my pump and stop trying to put Hana to the breast. Within 36 hours I was dry and it was over. At three weeks old she became exclusively formula fed. I slowly stopped crying when I fed her, and she slowly stopped screaming with hunger every hour. We started to bond, I started being able to smile at her. The depression lifted and she started thriving.

Now she's a happy, healthy, wonderful and beautiful 4 month old, and I am an attentive, loving, relaxed mother. It still hurts to think about what was lost, writing it out is both therapeutic and excruciating. At the time, switching to formula was what needed to happen, but had I known better and not been given such bad advice (over and over again), I know we wouldn't have gotten to that point. Now that I know better I know that next time I will be able to nurse, and that will help heal the loss of a nursing relationship this time around.

My advice for new nursing mothers - keep doing it. A nursing relationship is a choice and a right. There is help, there is support, there is a solution to every problem you can face. It is your right to nurse your child, but unfortunately you might have to fight for that right. Talk to people you know who have nursed. Go to La Leche League meetings. Meet with a LC before your baby is born, especially if anyone in your family has had nursing issues in the past. Let everyone around you know that you want to nurse, and tell them that if they aren't going to support it that you'll wait to talk to them until after nursing is going well. Get a baby carrier and keep your baby skin to skin as much as you can. Take baths and relax with your baby. Fall in love with your little miracle and know that you have within you the ability to provide nourishment for body, mind and soul. When someone tries to undermine this ability (be they nurse, doctor, mother, mother in law, sister, friend or even husband), seek a second opinion and protect yourself with people who will support and encourage you. It might not be easy, it might hurt, both of you might cry, it might seem like the most unnatural and awful thing in the world, but you can make it work.Trust me, it will be worth it.

Read the other posts in the carnival:
The Lactivist: Exclusively Pumping: Good Advice is Hard to Find
Motherwear Blog: The Fifth Carnival of Breastfeeding: Good Advice, Bad Advice.
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: How to Get Good Medical Advice on Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Mums: Good Advice/ Bad Advice
Mama Knows Best: Breast Feeding Advice

Guest entries for the month can be found at the Black Breastfeeding Blog, Mocha Milk, Cairo Mama, The Twinkies, and The Baby Gravy Train

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Look Ma! No Hands!

Look Ma! No Hands!

Yes, that is Hana, standing in her cib all by herself

Here's the story

Hana LOVES to stand up. When we pull her hands (to lift her into a sitting position) she turns into a plank of wood and just stands up. She has really good balance and can stand holding our fingers or the side of her crib for about a minute. So she was playing in her room while I put away her laundry, and I thought I'd see if I could get a picture. I got the camera, held it with one hand, got her standing and had my other hand beside her just in case. The idea was to move my hand out of the frame, take the pic, and then move my hand back, just in case. Like I siad, she can stand holding her crib, so I wasn't too worried.

So I got her standing, smiling at me, I move my hand, I take the picture, and then the flash goes off.

I hadn't thought of that.

It scared her.

She moved her hands.

She lost her balance

Remember that going like a plank thing I mentioned? Yup. Fell stright back like a board.

So I reach out for her and get my hand behind her head just as it hits the mattress. She lookes up with me with this "what was that?" look, and then lets out a scream.

I pick her up, she stops crying, I start crying and frantically checking her over. She didn't hit anything but themattress, so she wasn't hurt at all, but it did scare the crap out of her. I felt so awful!

But it did make for a good pic and a funny story!

Friday, March 09, 2007

4 months old

Ok, I'm a little late posting this. Oops?

Hana is 4 months old. She's starting to giggle. She tries so hard and when she manages to get one out it's the most beautiful sound in the world. She also babbles ALL day long (just like her mommy!) and loves to stand up. She hasn't quite gotten the hang of sitting yet (she usually ends up falling forward) but she's trying really hard. She's got so much life and personality. She loves to play and loves to snuggle up to go to sleep. Every night she has some nekkid time which she loves, she lays in her crib and coos and kicks (and pees, 3 times in 15 mins tonight!).

I can't express how much I'm in love with her. It's amazing to think that this person came from me. She's got so much personality, she loves to smile and move around. I can't wait to get to know her - what she thinks and feels. I'm so excited for our families to come visit this summer, she'll be so much fun!

There's some new pics of her at

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rough Week

- got a phonecall I really didn't want to get

- Still not sleeping

- have to take Hana to get shots next week

- Ben's on night shift

- still not sleeping

Sunday, March 04, 2007

When Ministry Hurts

I'e been fighting with myself about posting this for the past few months. Having a public blog that isn't anonymous makes things like this a little tricky - do I allow myself the time to debrief and express how I felt in the situation, understanding that those reading may come away with an inaccurate view of what happened, or do I keep silent because people know people and have ideas about things and it'sbetter just to not bring it up.

So I'm writing this with a disclaimer. These are my feelings and perceptions about what happened. I learned a long time ago that feelings are not always an accurate presentation of reality. At the same time, I need to be able to express and validate how I felt. Also know that I understand circumstances had a lot to do with how I felt, and I always give others the benefit of the doubt. I don't think anyone was intentionally doing thigns to make me feel that way, but more I was a victim of circumstance and miscomunication. Either way, it still hurts.

When I was on my internship I fell in love with the Summit. I fell in love with the people there, I fell in loe with the city, I bought into the vision and goals that the church had set out. When Jess and I talked about me coming back to be on staff I was excited and at peace about it. Ben and I both knew this was where God wanted us and that He would take care of us.

When we moed out here we were both anxious and excited. It was nice to be able to reconnect with people after being away for 5 months and so much changing. I wanted to jump right back into ministry. I was looking forward to support, encouragement and mentouring from those around me.

Unfortunately, as time went on, that's not what happened. Relationships became strained and something didn't feel right. Instead of being encouraged and supported I was feeling alone and isolated. Instead of people helping me to succeed and achiee my goals it felt as though they were waiting for me to make mistakes. No one came along side me to help, instead they stood at a distance watching, and talking. More than once I was told that expectations of others had not been met. The thing was, no one told me what the expectations were, or that they even existed.

I felt hurt, judged, and isolated. I felt as though no matter what I did it wouldn't be up to standards, because no one would tell me what those standards were. I tried to reach out to people, I made it clear that I was struggling and needed help, I asked for help and it was promised but never given. I got burnt out.

I admit most of this happened during my pregnancy when I was hormonal, emotional and super sensitive. I admit that could have affected how I was percieving things, but I'm not alone in how I saw things. Other people could see the strain in a few relationships and could see the undue pressure being put on me by others. I was told I just had to deal with it, that it was who they were, and to keep reaching out to them and once the relationship changed it would be better.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. Every event or project or responsibility I had put a tremendous ammount of stress on me. Added to that was the idea that I was the one who needed to deal with it and fix it. I thought that was just wrong, but there was nothing I could do.

When it came to the point I was loosing sleep and not functioning because of the stress I had to step back. I went on a break to destress and prepare for Hana's birth. It made me happy, it took the pressure off, and in my mind I was able to ignore the rift in relationships and work harder at rebuilding them - it was much easier now that there was nothing left for them to judge as far as my professional responsibilites.

When the church closed it was a blow, but not entierly a suprise. There were problems that I suppose I shouldn't discuss here. It was sad, it was hard, and the timing was horrible. Hana was born two days before the last service. I was still in the hospital and she was no where near ready to be discharged. People were organized to bring us meals the first week we were home an dit was wonderful.

After that, we were all alone. No phonecalls, no visits, no connectuon to anyone. I suppose I'm just as much to blame, I didn't call them as often as they didn't call me, but I was at home all alone with a new baby. And it wasn't everyone, a few did keep in touch and still do, and that's wonderful. But what about the others? Especially the ones who had been there and knew what it was like to be alone with kids? The ones who I had seen gather around others, having dinners, making phone calls, helping with advice and experience.

I think that's what hurt the most - ralizing that the relationships we thought we had were no more than professional. The relationships from the church melted into nothing the same way the relationships from my other job did. Ben and I both experienced isolation and rejection. Again, not from everyone, but enough that it still stings.

So maybe that's why I'm so happy being a stay at home mom. Maybe I'm scared to go back into ministry. Maybe thats why I feel as though the church closing is a personal failure.

Just so you know, I have forgive and moved on. I hold nothing against any of those from the summit. I understand life is busy and things happen. This is just part of the healing process.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Beautiful Moment

I'm part of a playgroup here. It's wonderful, I et out of the house, spend time with other moms and et to see lots of adorable children.

Yesterday while there I saw the most beautiful thing. A mother was nursing her two dauhters at the same time. The younger was 11 months and the older was a little over 2 years. Both were curled up with her, the older in her lap, the younger beside her. The older sister was playin with the younger ones hair. I was struck by how simple and wonderful it was. A beautiful picture of the bond between mother and daughter and between sister.

And it got me thinking

And it made me a little sad.

I won't have that experience. I wonder what Hana will think when I start nursin her future siblings. Will she remember all the struggles we had? Will she wonder why they don't get bottles and she did? What will I do if she wants to try nursing too?

All questions that I can't answer now, things that just have to stay in the "wait and see" pile. So I'll leave them there and just remember what a beautiful thing that was to see.

Did I mention

insomnia sucks?

still can't sleep


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Things you can learn from a baby

- When something happens and you're not sure how to react, smile or make a funny face

- taste everything you get your hands on, you never know when you'll find something good.

- it's ok to pout as long as you let people try and make you happy

- nap and enjoy it

- spend as much time as you can exploring

- talk to the people you love, even if the words don't make sense

- if all else fails, kick your feet and flail your arms, you'll at least make someone smile