Sunday, October 28, 2012

Motherhood

Of course, I'm doing a lot of thinking about motherhood these days... well, most days for the last 7 years...

And there are some truly God-honoring things already written about motherhood, so I won't try to create my own phenomenal writing when others have gone before me.  But a few thoughts...

As I struggle to keep my eyes open, stiffle the "I've got an infant" yawns, and find time to go to the bathroom, moms of teens tell me that the "worst is yet to come." As if this period of life with "littles" shouldn't be stressful or challenging, after all, it's nothing compared to the teen years!

Well, every season is unique.  I won't deny that I look forward to going to the bathroom alone whenever I please.  But, I also won't deny that there's such a joy to having a baby whose needs I can readily and instantly meet and having young ones who like to snuggle (sometimes).  I also physically don't look forward to my nearly 9 year old who can't walk or talk being even bigger and heavier and even more complex in her difficult to understand needs and desires. But I also look forward to the season where discussions can move beyond "listen to me and trust me so that you can learn to listen to God and trust God!" (not that any of us truly move beyond that, in a sense!) and into a deeper realm of doctrinal discussions. The season where we can more readily minister as a family out in the community because the children are not at risk of falling into a pit latrine or picking up a snake if I focus too hard on a conversation with an adult and take my eyes off them for too long.

There are joys in every season and we should not discourage each other with comparisons and woe-filled warnings, but rather challenge each other to making each day a mission.

I do not have children to bring joy to myself.  They DO bring joy to me.  But they also require me to die to myself daily, hourly, minutely... My primary job, beyond supporting my husband, is to train up these precious ones.  If all I do is sit with them and teach them all day, that is a successful day.  It's also a day that will certainly challenge my patience, my peace, even my joy.  It's a day that is part of my refining process and sanctification! But at the end of the day, with the head throbbing, the back aching, and the patience long spent, I need to remember (and be reminded when I cannot remember on my own) that this is what God has called me to!

The impact that this has had on the missions field has humbled me.  I have gotten more comments about my motherhood than my doctor-hood or my administrator-hood.  As I live out what I believe being a mother means amongst my friends here in Uganda, a new concept of parenting has entered the awareness of those in our lives.  For some who have been watching us, parenthood no longer means procreating and keeping children alive, fed, and in school until they are old enough to go to boarding school.  Many of our friends are starting to comment about "training" a child, teaching a child about God, being proactive about parenting rather than reactionary.

I'm not saying that I'm a perfect mother, or anywhere CLOSE to where I want to be in my mothering.  But the ministry of Biblical motherhood is reaching farther than being a full-time doctor would as I am able to impact parents who are raising the next generation.

Here are some great blogs that I read today on this topic - much better written than I could write:

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-is-a-calling-and-where-your-children-rank
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-as-a-mission-field
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-is-application
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-is-victory


Monday, October 22, 2012

Mo"th"er

"My mother's mother is my grandmother."
"My mo-der and mo-der eee have goder."
"Nope - say my mother's mother is my grandmother."
"My mo-der and mo-der eee have goder."
"Not quite.  Listen closely, Moses: My mother's mother is my grandmother."
... (half hour later)...
"My mo-der's mo-der is my grandmo-der."
"YES! You got it, buddy!! Now, look at my mouth "th - th - th"... mo"th"er - you say it."
"Th-my th-moTHer and th-moTHer..."
'sigh'
...

Teaching Moses is a whole different ballgame.  He struggles to actually engage his mind to what he is learning.

We're taking a kid who has managed to not learn and not be engaged with the world around him beyond having fun and doing what he wants to do and stretching his mind to all kinds of new exercises.  Listen closely enough to a sentence to be able to comprehend it and answer a question about it.  Manipulate numbers to mean something tangible about the world around us.  Look at a photograph and project your emotions and thoughts into it to give it more meaning.  Listen to questions and answer appropriately.  Speak in full sentences.  Do something you don't want to do.  Remember an instruction and obey even when impulses tell you to do otherwise...

Many of these lessons are lessons that all our children are working on.  But many of these lessons have been repeated every day for months with seeming little progress.

Once I can remove myself from the frustration, bite my tongue, and sit patiently, it's really quite fascinating to see a bright child who is quite lively and personable but can't repeat a sentence back 2 minutes after it was first given (in either of his languages).  We think it has a lot to do with the fact that he was the baby at the children's home.  He was treated like the baby and nothing was required of him.  From what we've seen of Acholi culture, he could have gotten away with very little adult interaction his entire life.

So, now, he's in this family who loves to read, loves to sort through issues, loves to dig deeper and understand - and he can't tell an "m" from an "n," let alone what SOUND each one makes, let alone that letters come together to make words!

Don't get me wrong, he's making LOTS of progress and he's a bright kid.  He's especially good with numbers, especially on an intuitive level.  Through Josh's hard work, he's interested in speaking Acholi again and relearning some Acholi... but it doesn't mean that teaching him doesn't take a dramatic measure of patience! (And I'm so glad that I get the privilege of teaching him!)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Micah's birth story

I've been working on writing up Micah's birth story - I'm not usually one to post such things publicly, but I thought I'd make an exception this time.  If you don't like birth stories, don't read! But I know that Micah's home birth in northern Uganda is of great interest to many, so here it is.  

Micah’s birth story 

Micah’s story is one of a kind… something I never imagined that I would experience… and so grateful that we got to experience! We found out we were pregnant with Micah just about 3 months after moving to Northern Uganda – surprise! Fortunately for us, a missionary friend (Emilie) was already about 4 months into her pregnancy and had done significant research about the options for safe deliveries in our area. The hospitals are very unsafe and unreliable; maternal and infant mortality rates are incredibly high. So hospitals in our region were NOT an option. Waiting around to go into labor in Kampala sounded miserable with a family of four active children. So we were thrilled to learn of Western-trained midwives who run a birthing center in Attiak, just a few hours north of us.

I saw the midwife (Rachel) perhaps three times during my third trimester – otherwise, I checked the baby’s heart rate every Sunday with my Doppler, had two excellent ultrasounds, and that was the extent of my prenatal care!

Rachel did an “induction massage” and swept my membranes (I was 3cm) on Saturday, September 15th, saying that she had a 70% rate of ladies going into labor within 48 hours (or something to that effect). With my history of going late with both prior pregnancies, I figured that I would be in the 30%. Sure enough, 48 hours passed without labor. On Tuesday, September 18th, I went out to lunch with my dear friend, Emilie, who was heading out on furlough that coming Saturday. She invited me to her house that night for a massage and to watch “What to expect when you’re expecting.” By the time the evening came, I was exhausted, dehydrated, overheated from cooking too long in the kitchen, and stressed out by realizing that once again, we were without water, even in our tank.

But I went to Emilie’s house anyway, and had a wonderful relaxing time with Emilie and her sister, Esther. Emilie gave me a foot massage and a belly massage that a midwife had taught her and we laughed at the silly movie. I got home around 10:30pm (WAY past my bedtime these days!) and went straight to bed, waking up by 1am with contractions, but of a different nature than the contractions that usually kept me awake all night. These ones were truly every 6 minutes.

After about an hour, I texted Rachel to let her know and she texted back that she would head down from Attiak. I got to work setting up the room, laying out baby items that would be needed after delivery, setting out medical supplies, checking the solar power, and I emailed family in the USA to start praying for my labor. I walked around the house, reading Scripture and praying for Micah.

Around 3:30am, as labor intensified, I woke Josh up so that he would be awake enough to open the gate for Rachel when she arrived. It hadn’t rained in almost a week, so the roads were very good – praise God! During a rain storm, the road from Attiak can be very challenging! It was a hot week, but worth it for the dry passable roads!

By the time Rachel arrived, maybe around 5am (I really don’t know WHEN she arrived), I was in the labor zone, trying to focus on relaxing through the contractions, listening to an instrumental Fernando Ortego album that my sister-in-law Amy had gotten me for labor. By the time the kids woke up, labor was so intense and I was so exhausted that I could do nothing but lay down, despite my desire to walk and sit on the exercise ball. We had no water so I couldn’t take a shower (which I SO wanted to do!) or bath. (Water had been so great for me during Noah’s labor and I had so hoped to use water again during this labor – God had different plans!)

When I could take it no more, I started pushing… and pushing… and pushing… then fighting the panic that he wasn’t coming as easily as Noah did. I finally was able to flip to my hands and knees and got his head down but then his shoulder got stuck as exhaustion got its final grip on me. Rachel retrieved his shoulder and delivered a HUGE baby! I didn’t grasp how huge he was until some time later when I emerged from the fog and picked him up myself! Where did this huge child come from? By the time I delivered, I had only regained the weight that I was at a few months before I got pregnant. (I lost a lot of weight when I got to Uganda, before I got pregnant.)

By 9:43am, he was here! Josh’s mom heard Micah’s first cry and that was the first sound that the family heard of the whole labor. After a few minutes of continued intense pain, we finished up, got cleaned up enough, and I nursed him so that we could have the children come in. I wanted them to see their baby brother before anyone else and I wanted to witness the moment that the children were all together for the first time. They all dealt with seeing this new addition in their own unique ways. Ana wanted to go watch Dora again (a special treat while I was in labor!). Moses and Noah were fascinated and wanted to hold him. Gracie was interested and glad to see me.

Josh took Micah out to his parents in the living room and I rested, ate pancakes, drank cinnamon tea, and we spent the rest of the day trying to Skype with family in the USA, text local friends, and rest. We loved not having to worry about the hospital scene, caring for our children while we’re away at the hospital, worrying about Gracie’s health while we’re away from her, gearing up to leave the hospital and transition home… a home birth was really nice in those ways. But it was challenging to get rest! I couldn’t have done it without my mother in law! My friend, Emilie, came and helped clean things up (having had her baby at home in Gulu in April, she knew just what to do and was a great help) and gave us several meals. A few days later, our teammates, brought us some much needed meals too.

We didn’t need the generator that we had borrowed in case of emergency – we had neither an emergency nor need for extra power. Our lack of water was not as challenging as I thought it would be, although it certainly would have been nice to have water! The children had a fun day playing with Rachel’s daughter and Mimi and Papa. We praise God for his hand in Micah’s special birth! Certainly not what we expected to be part of our first year on the field, but what a blessed and precious event!

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