Monday, November 29, 2010

God of Miracles

As you all know, this pregnancy has been rough. Tougher than I ever expected, and admittedly, I've had a hard time appreciating it. But I was thinking today, and one of my favorite things about being pregnant has been to watch how God works in the life of my son to show His power and mercy and glory. God is doing miracles through baby Matthew's life.

The very way Matthew came to be our son is a miracle. The way God crossed our paths with Sheila and Beau was incredible (in a nutshell, she and I had both been in contact with Nightlight already and decided on EA for our families. We "met" on a Christian Infertility Support website and ultimately, they approached us about adopting their embryos. For both families, using Nightlight was a non-negotiable, which is pretty unusual in a self-matching situation.)

The fact that Matthew has been frozen for 6 years and is now (as in RIGHT NOW ;) ) kicking up a storm in me is a miracle.

The fact that July 4, I had some sort of unexplained hemorrhage that could have easily been fatal to him but wasn't is a miracle.

The fact that he's growing and thriving and perfectly healthy after 7 months of malnutrition and heavy medication is a miracle.

Embryo Adoption in itself is a miracle, and Matthew's life is a constant testament to that.

This weekend, we had another one. On Thursday, I started having some minor discomfort and contractions, which I assume(d) were Braxton Hicks (they still may well have been, I just don't know). I had some more on Saturday. They were mildly uncomfortable, but moving positions and stretching out seemed to help. On Sunday morning at church, I was buzzing around hanging Christmas decorations and I started to feel some. I wasn't terribly worried. But they started coming more frequently and lasting longer. I sat down during service, figuring they'd die down when I settled down. They didn't. They continued to increase in frequency and length.

After I'd had 15 or 20 over two hours, and I was getting light headed and crampy, I thought "hmmm, I think this is more than the max number the doctor said I should have without being worried." I wasn't uncomfortable or alarmed, but I figured I'd call him because he told me I should. I reached him and asked what the "concern" number was. He said "6 in an hour." I said, "Um, I've had several more than that." I gave him the quick details and he said "that's more than I'm comfortable with you having. I'd like you to go over to the hospital and be checked." My doctor is very conservative and non-interventive (as we know) and when I called him, I honestly expected him to say "no big deal!" So I was slightly concerned when he wanted me to go to the hospital but I still wasn't nuts. I really think this in and of-itself was a God-thing because I'm generally a freaker-outer. But I was just like "hey, let's go to the hospital! Hope I'm done in time for kickoff!" ;)

I had told a friend of mine I'd take her and her hubby's picture after church. So I wanted her to know I was leaving early. I slipped her a note and just asked her to pray. No big deal, just a "hey, this is what's up and I'm not flaking on you." We got in the car and went to the hospital. I had a couple of more in the car on the way.

We got to the hospital and they did an initial check in. They couldn't find Matthew's heartbeat at first but assured me that it was probably just due to positioning and that they'd probably find it easily in triage when I was lying down. I answered a lot of questions and realized that I was feeling 100% normal. I got back to triage and they strapped me to the monitors and found his heartbeat right away. I was on the monitor for almost an hour and a half, and during that time, I had....

0 contractions. Not only did I not FEEL any, the monitor didn't even detect little ones. Matthew's heart rate looked great, mine was fine, my blood pressure was great-absolutely no signs of anything amiss. She tried to do a cervical check to see if I was dilating or effacing and then she said "I can't even FIND your cervix. That's a good sign that it's high up and no where near getting ready for birth." They kept me on the monitor for a good long while (I think about an hour and a half?) and then checked me out and sent me home!

On the way home, I called Cindy (friend from church) just to update her. She told me that she had passed my note to another friend, who passed it to the Pastor. I guess that at the end of service, he gave everyone a quick update and asked people to break up into small groups and pray for us. Well I thought back over the morning's events, and the time they would have all been praying was exactly the time I had my last contraction. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!

I came home, rested the rest of the day, and have had absolutely zero contraction activity ever since. God continues to overwhelm us, to bless us, and to speak and work in unmistakably-HIM ways. Glory to God.

And can I just say how much I love, love, LOVE our church? Every time I get frustrated with the politics and the business of things, I remind myself that this group of people loves on each other better than any church or group of people I've ever been a part of. I just love that we were in need, and their immediate response was prayer and love. The body of Christ is just so COOL (sorry, I lack a more sophisticated way to describe it!)

So, that's our excitement for the weekend! God and Matthew make quite the pair in keeping us on our toes! But they always give us such wonderful stories of God's goodness to tell.

It's interesting to think about in the context of Advent. I've thought about Mary a lot in recent years, especially having experienced loss of children immediately before the last two Christmases. I've thought about what I imagine must have been her pain, her fear, her surrender, her unknown, her loss. But this year I think about what it must have been like to have a front-row seat to that kind of display of God's glory. To know that God gave her this precious Son, through which He'd change this world. How full her heart must have been! What a privilege it is to watch God working in and through the life of your child to demonstrate His own power and glory!!! I am so grateful God has already given me so much of that! My heart is full! I marvel at His goodness! It also makes me more keenly aware of the magnitude of His sacrifice.

So, lots to think on!

Here's what's going on with Matthew this week:

Your not-so-little-one is just a bit closer to their birth weight and height at around 4 pounds and 17 inches. With each added layer of baby fat, your baby's skin starts to look more and more like it will when they finally get to see the light of day. The heavy news: you can expect your miracle-gro muffin to gain about a half a pound of weight per week from now until about two weeks before birth. Great. That's just what you needed. Even more weight to carry around!

Your baby's still-developing immune system has gained substantial strength over the past few weeks getting them in full gear to face our disease-ridden world o’ wonders. Obviously, a large majority of your child’s immune strength will be derived from exposure to breast milk as well as the outside elements. Their cute little noggin’ (which could already be covered with luscious locks or just purty peach fuzz), is still soft because the skull bones have not yet fused together. As much as that sounds a little too vulnerable, their “skull softness” allows for a much smoother passage through the birth canal during labor—something both you and your little swimmer will appreciate when it’s finally time to “go!” Also, some babies will have that “soft spot” on their head for up to one year after birth.

And here we are yesterday before church. I can see now in looking at the picture that I was pretty puffy in the face yesterday morning, but I didn't realize it at the time and none of that swelling was present by the time I got to the hospital.

Had Bradley class tonight. I'm convinced that given our personalities, it was probably not a very good investment of our time and money. Content aside, there's so much in their methodology of research and instruction that I just don't respect or agree with. It makes it hard to filter through a lot of what we think are bogus research techniques and teaching methods and hear what is true fact. I'm still praying that despite our frustrations with it, the classes will prove to be useful in the end. They did do something tonight to give us a good laugh. They gave the husbands a list of things to say to their wives during childbirth. One was "Think of yourself as a leaf, floating on a stream." Corny, but I guess if you're into that visualization stuff, it might be peaceful for you. But the one they said that really made us all laugh was "Picture your cervix, opening like a flower." I told DH that while I've never been through labor, I'm pretty sure that in the interest of his own safety, he probably shouldn't say that to me. ;) They did have other things on the list like telling your wife she looks great, she's doing well, baby's almost here, etc, but that one really gave us a laugh! So, pregnant friends, here's to us and our lotuses! :D

We have our hospital tour tomorrow--eek! And our baby shower is on Saturday. My sweet friend hosting it for us told me today that she has 44 people coming!! And a girlfriend tonight told me she's coming but hasn't RSVPd yet, so it's 45! I am STUNNED! We are overwhelmed! One of my favorite parts of being Matthew's mommy is seeing how many people already love him. And these are just two more things in the "Oh my goodness, this is REALLY happening" category! DH is taking me...somewhere on Friday night, but his lips are sealed on where! Next week we have another doctor's appointment--we're in to biweekly appointments now! So much is changing so quickly! This is really happening! :)


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  2. Hurray for SO much good news, dear friend! Can't wait to see you on Saturday!!! :)

  3. You look beautiful as always, inside and out. You're such a wonderful testament to your faith Jen! So often when people talk about how God is working in their life, it sounds hokey or uneducated. You're able to express your thoughts so eloquently and intelligently, I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

    I want to add one more way that God has used you, and all of your babies to do wonderful things. I know I have personally told at least a dozen people about embryo adoption after I learned about it from you. I would imagine most of the people who know you have done the same thing. By now, surely we have told at least one person who has extra embryos about embryo adoption. Maybe there are unborn babies somewhere out there that owe their lives to you sharing your story.

  4. Praising God that you have had no more contractions and all is well with you and baby Matthew! Yes, his life is a miracle and He is loved by more than even your visible friends...your blogger friends love him too! :)

  5. I read something cool this morning that made me think of you in regards to this post - there is a brand-new movement in childbirth education called "Bradley Reborn". It is (in my opinion) an overdue and really exciting update to traditional Bradley teaching (which can sometimes be aggressive, rigid, etc.) If you're interested, you can take a look at an outline of their new workbook here:

  6. Jen, I am so glad the contractions ceased. What a wonderful testimony of support and prayer as your church prayed for you : )
    Your photo looks wonderful as always : ) Baby showers & hospital tours?? Yes, you are almost there!!!

  7. What a great testimony! So glad everything is going well now. He will be here SO soon!

  8. I am so bummed you are having a bad experience with Bradley...:( I totally understand the outdated stuff, but I think my teacher filtered a lot of that out and we had an amazing class. They taught Ian very specifically to look for signs of my discomfort and tensing and then how to help me relax..they gave him tons of tools to know exactly what was going on in my body to be my advocate when I couldnt speak for myself and I think best of all, the classes gave him such a peace and understanding of the whole process that he wasnt a hinderance but a great help in the midst of what others might have seen as unexpected/nervous circumstances (first breech, then turned posterior birth). I am definitely going to look into the "Bradley Reborn" movement...that sounds right up my alley :)

  9. What an awesome story! I love it when God does miracles like that - when the timing is such that there is no mistaking His hand!
    I enjoy reading your blogs and hearing your faith play out in your life - it's so encouraging!