One month with Rosemary.

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Rosemary Drake Buchholtz made her world debut on October 17, 2016, a month ago today.  She was nine days late, but just a little thing, weighing 6 pounds and 2 ounces.  We went to the hospital on Sunday night, October 16, at 5:00 pm, loaded with movies to watch and a take-out pizza.  We were to spend the night in the hospital for an early morning induction.  I received a medication to prepare my body for delivery at 7 pm and my water broke at 9 pm.  No induction necessary!  Needless to say, we did not watch movies that night.  Thank goodness I did eat pizza before all the excitement started.

By 11 pm I was dilated to a 5 but crawling the walls in pain.  Part of me was hoping I could deliver without medications but I quickly decided against that.  I received an epidural at about 11 pm and another in the middle of the night.  Two for the price of one.  Scott and I both slept some and by about 8 am I was ready to push.  at 10:02 am, Rosemary Drake was born.

Scott counted to 10 approximately 1000 times in those two hours of pushing.  He was brave, peaceful and constant.  The nurses were encouraging and made me feel strong.  My doctor gave me a huge hug after delivery and was such a wonderful cheerleader.  The experience was one I will never forget.

It felt like eternity between the time she was born and when my doctor said, “its a girl!”  I burst into tears, turned to Scott and told him what a good daddy he was going to be to a little girl.  And he is.  They cleaned us both up, took our first family-of-three-pictures and our larger family came in–my dad, mom, sister, and Scott’s sister.  We cried and marveled at her perfection.  I have never seen God’s faithfulness exhibited so clearly as when I held that baby girl in my arms.  And introducing her to those who had prayed so diligently for her was a distinct pleasure.  Holy moments.

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We named her Rosemary mainly because we both agreed on it pretty easily.  Rosemary is used in wedding flowers as a symbol of fidelity and faithfulness.  I come from a family of gardeners and naming her for something that generations of my family has harvested just felt right.  We call her Rosemary and Rosie.  Drake comes from my dad, who was a DJ and newscaster before he went to law school.  Because Gary Thornton was a bit nasal, Dad went by Gary Drake on the radio and television.  Those who knew my dad in college call him Drake.

Because I opted for an epidural, I expected labor to be a fairly passive process. I don’t know what I was thinking, but even with the epidural, turns out, pushing a child out of your body takes a ton of work.  My body hurt from the effort for days.  My voice, my arms, everything.  I have a friend who told me labor (without meds) was similar to a spin class for her. A spin class is much shorter than what I experienced, but the pushing part did feel a little like that. I took it one contraction at a time (hill, song, or effort from a spin class) without looking ahead to the next. It was more manageable that way and helped me feel strong.

I had a fever when Rosemary was born, which meant that both Rosemary and I had to receive antibiotics, which meant time in the NICU for Rosemary–26 hours.  She had an IV in her head.  I went there to nurse her around the clock until she finished her antibiotics and could join me in my room.  Those 26 hours were long.  I got lost in the hospital each and every time I went to the NICU.  They need arrows on the floor for bleery-eyed, directionally challenged people like me.

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We went home on Wednesday and home has never felt so good.  Megan (Aunt Sis) made the best meal of my life: Holiday Spaghetti, Caesar salad and red wine. Heaven.

Rosemary is very kind to us.  By the second day home, she would sleep for a few hours at a time, sometimes longer.  She eats well and as of today, has gained 3 pounds, mainly in her cheeks.  She has her fussy moments, and life is not all happy moments, but it is so, so sweet.

I think what everyone says is true.  The days are long but the years, or in this case, the month, is short.  It doesn’t seem like it has been a whole month.  Scott stayed home from work for two weeks.  He loaded the dishwasher, made coffee, ran errands, helped me get naps, and spent time learning Rosemary.  We loved having him home and he has been a rockstar daddy.  The day we came home, he put Rosemary in the jog stroller (with infant carrier, don’t worry) and took her for a walk.  He puts her to bed, changes diapers, talks to her sweetly and is tender toward her.  I have never loved him more.

Our village of love has supported us well.  Mom/Leelee spent two nights with us and still comes over to help me almost every day.  She made healing food, made me lay low in the first weeks, and cared for me well.  We have binge watched Call The Midwife.  She came into my house, took command of my kitchen, held the fort down, and I didn’t get sick of her.  I am still not.  I can’t imagine becoming a mother without my mother to show me the way.  I call her each day to basically ask when she is coming over.

My sister/Aunt Sis has been a regular and such a huge help.  She runs errands, brings food, dotes on Rosie, buys her the best hats and eats her up.  My dad/Papa comes over most days to remind Rosemary who will spoil her.  We FaceTime with Scott’s mom who comes home from Paris next month.  When nothing fit Rosemary, Bonnie sent little french onesies that fit perfectly.  And of course, a host of additional family and friends have celebrated Rosie’s arrival so richly.  We feel rich in love; my heart is overflowing.

Rosie and I have tried to find routine.  In these groundhog days, I have wanted to reintroduce parts of my pre-Rosie life with intention.  I started to read the lectionary again for my quiet time.  The first time I opened it, I was directed to Psalm 139.  I read it aloud to Rosemary and wept.  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139: 13-14.  And yesterday’s scripture: ” May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful….”  1 Thes. 5:23-24.  The scriptures are coming alive to me as blessings and instruction to someone I love and feel responsible for forming.  I pray over her and just cry.  I just can’t believe she is ours.

I rock Rosemary in the middle of the night and while sometimes I am simply thinking, “please, please, please go back to sleep,” I am filled with gratitude for having the chance to be this little girl’s momma.  I am grateful that I get to be the one she will want when she is sad, who knows her looks, noises, and preferences, and who gets to teach her about Jesus, how to be kind, and how to be a strong woman.  I am honored to do this along side Scott, who will be her first love, who will teach her how to have high standards and how to change a tire, how to rub some dirt in it and be tough, and who already loves her so well.

God doesn’t give us everything we want.  I don’t know why he answered our prayer for a child and he doesn’t for all people.  I know I have prayers in my heart that he will not answer.  But today, with our Rosemary, he answered so, so richly.

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Jane, Rosie’s oldest cousin, gave Rosemary the redbird in this picture.  It is a sweet reminder of our Meemaw, who loved redbirds.  It’s appearance in monthly pictures will provide a nice measure of Rosie’s growth over the next year.  Meemaw always told us, “we don’t cry over anything buys back.”  And while she meant not to cry over stuff that we lost or that broke, I am reminded by her saying now.  Over the last month, I have cried so many happy tears for a gift that money can’t buy. Praise be to God.

The last days before baby.

October 8th, the due date of Baby Bucky, as we are affectionately calling this kid until we know more, has pretty much come and gone.  The nursery is ready for an occupant.  We are as ready as we can be to meet this little person.  Our families are anxiously awaiting.  I feel like we are in stage that seems so typical and cliché.  Just waiting on a baby, happily.  I don’t mind it he/she stays put for a few more days.

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Throughout this experience, I have made some observations and acquired some favorites to share with others who are headed down this path.  I thought I would share them here, and a few pictures of the nursery, which is really a room for my delight more than anyone else’s.

First, Le Tote.  This is a clothes rental service in which you pay a monthly fee ($70) and they will send you 5 things at a time (two are always accessories).  While they have a “normal people” track and a maternity track, I think this is mostly beneficial for maternity clothes that one only needs for a short time.  You can wear each once, 5 times, whatever, and return dirty.  Then they will send you your next batch.  I subscribed to this for my last two months of pregnancy, rather than sitting in my closet each day having a tantrum.  I have averaged about 4 “totes” a month—I wear each item about once, throw each item in the return envelope dirty, and at the end of the week return, only to acquire the next one by about Monday of the following week.  It has made dressing for work so much easier.  I highly recommend it.  If you want to try it, let me know and I will send you a “free tote” online.

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Also, safflower oil.  In the spring, Mom, Megan and I went to Santa Fe for a quick trip.  It was glorious, especially the few hours we spent at Ten Thousand Waves Spa.  The spa used safflower oil as massage oil and it doesn’t smell at all.  I have been particularly sensitive to smells during pregnancy (and most of life) and I have used this each morning as moisturizer to avoid stretch marks.  It has worked so far.  Scott says stretch marks will come when I “shrink,” so I will report back then.  I love that guy.

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Babylist is another favorite.  This is a registry site that allows you to curate your registry from all corners of the web-world.  I registered for things on etsy, Nordstrom, Anthro, etc., and I think it made the registry process much more fun!  Of course most still love to buy from Amazon (me too) but branching out a little has been really nice.  

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I have observed just how different it is for each person to be pregnant.  I actually really enjoyed it.  I have felt pretty good.  I don’t have to wash my hair as much.  People tend to be pretty nice.  I have less guilt about ice cream.  I can unapologetically eat in every single meeting I have during the day.  I had to replace two tires and they just gave them to me for free earlier this week.  I think I looked a little too large and crazy.  The tire dudes were a little freaked out.  I have had reason to celebrate with friends, and be with my family more.  Scott has checked so many house projects off our list.  There is sort of something natural to talk about with people.  There is excitement in the air.  It has been fun!  (And weird!  But mostly fun!)  But I know that is not the case for everyone, and I am really sympathetic to that.  It is different for everyone.  And that is really okay.

Mostly, through this whole experience, I am grateful.  Grateful for the experience.  Grateful for friends who have celebrated this baby.  Grateful for family who is excited.  Grateful for the prayers of our big world to pray us into parenthood.  Grateful for a husband who is steadfast and kind.  Grateful to God who is always good. 

When Breath Becomes Air

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Admittedly, I have had a reading dry spell.  I have gone to bed earlier and napped when I would typically be reading.  But I have recently managed to work When Breath Becomes Air into my rigorous sleeping schedule and am so glad I did.  I finished it about a week ago and still find myself thinking about it.

First, I don’t read much non-fiction.  I prefer to escape in stories that are not real.  So a non-fiction book has to be highly praised and really grab my attention before I consider it.  This one came onto my radar through the Cup of Jo Blog.  Joanna Goddard, who writes Cup of Jo, is the sister of Lucy Kalanithi, who is the wife of Paul Kalanithi, the author of When Breath Becomes Air.  Once Joanna started talking about the book, it seemed like I saw it everywhere.  And now it is a New York Times best seller.

The book tells the story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon diagnosed with late stage cancer in his last year of medical training.  Dr. Kalanithi writes about his life, his training, and the transition from doctor to patient.  He dies in the end; you should know that from the beginning.  But the beauty of the book is in his approach to death and his insights along the way.  Most of the book is not about death.  It is not depressing to read.  It is beautiful, smart, fulfilling and very enjoyable.  Read it and give it to all your friends.

 

God’s faithfulness.

Thirty-eight months after beginning our “maybe we should try for kids” journey, we finally heard the news I truly never thought we would hear. A positive pregnancy test. And more than anything, I am struck by God’s faithfulness in all 38 months. He is constant. He doesn’t change. And that faithfulness was and is enduring.

I have shared our struggle on this blog, here and here. We left off with a few questions to the world. Inquiring about international adoption. Inquiring about fostering. Inquiring about knowledge of a young girl seeking to find a forever family for her child, perhaps without using an agency.

Many graciously reached out with their own experiences. Those that shared, provided insight that helped Scott and me guide our next steps. I heard from high school friends. Long lost friends. Friends of friends. I am grateful for each contact. They made a significant difference. We did not know what we were looking for, other than something that felt like the right thing. We were looking for God’s guidance through his people.

A few of my observations from the experience:

The calling of a foster parent is no joke. My respect, admiration, and love for those super heroes runs deep. But that calling is not ours.

International adoption takes years. And lots of trips elsewhere. And well, there were a lot of reasons why it did not feel right to us. But my goodness, the steadfastness of those waiting for children overseas is inspiring! But it is not for us.

I won’t talk on the blog about all the ins-and-outs of how we got to where we are, other than to say that God was creative and good to us to reveal an avenue to carry a child, thus having a much needed gestational period for a much needed opportunity to get used to the idea of a child coming into the mix. If God made a gestational period for anyone, he made it for us. And I am grateful.

So here we are. Fifteen weeks pregnant, scared to death about caring for a little human, with gratitude coming out our ears. We utilized the help of Texas Fertility Center and just had to do one round of IVF. This one round opened my eyes to those who suffer multiple unsuccessful rounds. All the shots, the prohibitions, exams, blood work, and appointments could be endured because of our end result. It just seems like salt in the wound when a baby doesn’t reward all that junk. God bless each one who has endured that heartache.

October 8 is our due date. That gives us plenty of time to wrap our brains around all this and avoid mosquitoes with a vengeance.

Thank you to each one of you who has diligently prayed for us, encouraged us, and loved on us in the valleys of these 38 long months. We have felt prayers from all corners of our world. Thank you for lifting our names to God even when we really didn’t know what to pray. Keep it up because I think we will need all those prayers and encouragement as we make this transition to parenthood.