Sunday, September 25, 2011

happy birthday Sommer!

On the final day of summer, we finally welcomed our precious baby girl, Sommer Christiana Negard!

At 5:14am on September 22, after a rapid 1 hour and 15 minute labor, we heard our 8.0 pound, 20.5 inch long, bundle cry for the first time.  What a relief and surprise all at the same time!!  Relief, because Annike was born blue and it seemed like a really long time before we heard her.  Surprise, because we never expected an 8 pound baby after having our tiny 5lb 12oz Annike.  And we certainly never expected her to have all of this dark hair!

I am a sucker for labor stories.  If you talk to 100 different women about their labor experiences, you get 100 different stories.  And if a woman has 5 different children, she has 5 different stories.  They all make me cry.  No matter how they come, delivering a baby into the world is a true miracle.  If you are interested, and like labor stories too, then keep reading.  If not, then I will spare you the details.  Go ahead and stop right now!

After carrying this child around in my womb for way too long, we scheduled an induction for September 22nd, 12 days past my due date.  In my heart, however, I really wanted to go into labor naturally and experience delivery without all of the induction headache.

The night before my induction, I sent out an email to some friends and family members inviting them to pray for us.  I truly feel this was a key part of why the rest of the evening progressed as it did.  God showed up (doesn't He always??), and His fingerprints are clearly evident in all of the tiny details.

Around 4 am, I woke up with mild labor pains.  At 4:15, Christian and I decided we had better head to the hospital.  Because of the scheduled induction, my parents were staying the night at our house, so we did not have to worry about what to do with Annike in the middle of the night.  And, we were already packed.  Praise God for seeing to these details!!  We grabbed our bags and got in the car.

The drive to the hospital would normally take us 20-25 minutes, but somehow Christian made it in about 13.  It was probably because my contractions were already 3 minutes apart, and I had begun to vomit (we are talking about intense pain!)  Christian decided that a speeding ticket might be worth the gamble.  I was checked into Labor and Delivery at 4:45am when they told me I was dilated to 4cm, which I found hard to believe considering the rapid intensity of my contractions.  Twenty minutes later, during one of the 30second breaks I was getting, I suggested they check me again.  Sure enough, I was completely dilated and the baby was on her way.  My doctor was unfortunately not able to make it in time, but another doctor happened to be on the floor.  After, under 10 minutes of pushing, little Sommer made her entrance into the world at 5:14am.  I was scheduled to be induced 2 hours later, which of course, never happened.

Don't be fooled into thinking that my labor was easy because it was fast.  No way!!  I have never experienced so much pain in my life.  It is the most intense thing physically or emotionally I will ever do in my life.  But I am humbled and amazed to see God's protection in it all, despite my own doubts and fears through the process.  He gives women amazing strength to do this this task of bringing children into the world.  I don't know why He chose to make it so painful, but He always shows up, even when we don't have the faith in Him that He desires.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

big and little

This is my 3-year-old.

Both big and little.  We tell her this all the time, and it really means something to her.  "I am big AND little," she will often tell us.  Big like someone who can sit in her own chair with her knees up, but little like someone who still wants to drink milk from a bottle (please don't judge us as parents... we have tried to break the bottle habit, but just haven't found it worth the effort.)

Big enough to dress like Aunt Jilly...

Little enough to find simple, innocent pleasure in a few inexpensive gifts, a toothbrush, and a new doll on her 3rd birthday...

Big enough to want to "help" decorate the birthday cake.  But little enough to not do the greatest job.  She insisted on lots of sprinkles in differing colors.  And she wanted to put all of the candles in a line instead of evenly distributing them like I kept trying to do.  That's okay, I promised she could help.  Part of my birthday gift to her was trying not to interfere with the decorating.

Big enough to have her own opinions, but little enough to need lots of direction from her parents.  Big enough to be somewhat independent, but little enough to need lots of hugs and kisses.

I felt sure that Annike's birthday would be overshadowed by the arrival of Baby Sister, and never imagined that it would be possible to carry this baby 9+ days late.  God knew better, as usual.  Instead of concrete birthday plans, we celebrated as opportunity arose... an extra trip to the fair, a visit from family, a morning at the park, then the beach.  After all this, our exhausted birthday girl crashed in the car midway through her actual birthday, and had the most fun playing by herself for the rest of the afternoon.

It was truly the best way to celebrate a life - no expectations, no planning, no agendas, no fancy details that leave behind a trail of stress.  Just the simplicity of making time to enjoy life as it comes, creating special memories with the people we love.
(Can someone read that last part back to me the next time I try to plan a party??)

Hopefully we will have another birthday to celebrate soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Someone told me it was amazing what you could get done when your baby arrives late.  It's true.

In fact, I am even beginning to see this time as a special gift.  Most of my pregnancy has been insanely busy - with weddings and weekend trips and construction projects and entertaining guests, all on top of the added exhaustion and enervation that is part of being pregnant.

But this final month of my pregnancy we cleared the calendar.  This was not done out of some sort of discipline where we recognized a need to slow down for the sake of our family.  It was done because Baby was about to arrive.  It was done because during my first pregnancy I was very sick in the final month.  Sick enough that the doctor wanted to induce me early, and Annike was born at 5 pounds, 12 ounces.

This time around, we slowed down out of necessity.  Of course, Baby has not come early, and this final month has felt very long.  But in the meantime, we have been given many gifts.

Like today... we spent the afternoon at the county fair, eating ice cream and petting the animals.  Annike's birthday is rapidly approaching and is now quite likely to be overlooked in the hospital madness that is sure to come, so we have seized the opportunity to celebrate early.  Lucky girl, she just might get to celebrate all week long!

And, while we have waited for our little precious bundle to arrive, we have not been idle.  It turns out that there is no such thing as nursery bedding in the colors pink, red, and yellow.  As a self-taught seamstress, I decided to attempt this "minor" sewing project... which quickly turned into a major one.  Each week that went by found me to adding a matching item to the crib bumper, like a bed ruffle, some curtains, a matching pillow, and next up is going to be a diaper holder.  My style of sewing never includes a pattern, so if you visit please do me the favor of arriving with an uncritical eye!

Our spring construction project was reconfiguring this bathroom, and I have finally had a little time to hang the towels and decorate.

These are just a few of the little gifts that have been given in the waiting period.  But the true gifts have been more recently realized...
I finally have the sincere recognition that we should cherish our final season as a family of three.  There was a God-given opportunity to encourage and pray with a dear friend this week.  Christian had the opportunity to speak wisdom into the life of a loved one, uplifting a depressed soul.  We faced Divine appointments with the full attention they warranted.  Encounters that would have been completely missed in the necessarily self-absorbed season of caring for a newborn.

Let's face it, patience is one of those things that none of us are very good at.  But it seems that God often, possibly always, has a plan for us in the waiting period.  I never would have planned this time of waiting into my own life, but I thank the Lord that He did.  And I thank Him for the Divine gifts that were discovered.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

the waiting game...

... not one of my strengths.  Especially when waiting means one more day of painful stretched out body waddling around while trying to entertain a toddler, and one more night of restless tossing, attempting to go back to sleep without getting up to go to the bathroom or eat a snack.

But in these final days (my due date is Sept. 10 - please, Lord, let it be days and not weeks!) of waiting for Baby to arrive, I have the distinct feeling that I am being prompted to set my mind on the long list of things I have to be thankful for.  Because that list is most certainly longer than the list of complaints that monopolize my attention.

Things like...
... the time I have to spend with just Annike in these final days.

... my helpful husband who allows me to take long naps and does all of the bedtime duty with Annike (no short process these days.)

... a healthy pregnancy!  No pre-eclampsia this time around!!

... the perfect sunshiney mid-70s weather we have been blessed with while most of the nation is suffering from flooding, hurricanes, or insufferable heat.

... a huge number of friends and family who care about us, pray for us, and are checking in on us, almost as excited as we are to meet this little one!

... a husband who eats pretty much anything I put on the table.  If I don't put something on, then he finds food to put on the table.

... the motivation we had to finish the final wing of our house before Baby arrives.

... the moments of silence I catch during the day.

... my health, and the health of my loved ones.  This is not said with any generic sense of just looking for something to be thankful for, but with sincere gratefulness.  What a gift our physical and emotional health is.

It is easy to use pregnancy as a license to complain because, after all, everyone understands why I feel low on energy, and physically exhausted.  I think we can all find a good excuse to be negative about our lives.  A difficult job, a disease, a child with a strong personality, trouble with finances, irritating relationships that we are stuck in... they are all great reasons to feel sorry for ourselves.  Everyone understands why we might want to complain about them.  

But being thankful is not only for certain seasons in our life.  It is an attitude we are called to practice.  An attitude I have found really difficult for the past 9 months.  So difficult, that I wonder where my real personality has disappeared to. 

And in these final days of pregnancy, I am reminded that I need to finish well.  Maybe I have allowed the many aches and pains along the way to control my thoughts, but it is not too late to finish well.  No matter what crazy stage in life we are tossed into, each one of us has been given the power to set our minds on things above.  The many gifts we have been freely given that not one of deserves. 

Please join me in laying aside the river of reasons to complain, and jumping into the ocean of reasons to be grateful.

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things... And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." 
Colossians 3