Tag Archives: Babies

Where do Babies come from?

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We were just having an ordinary lunch at home when my 5-year-old asked a random question.  Out of the blue she says, “So, when you’re married, does God sneak up on you and put the baby in you?”

Fork suspended in mid-air between my plate and my mouth, I had to force myself to look at her with a straight face.  “Why yes, my dear, that’s exactly how it happens.”  I’m a good mom, and I didn’t want to traumatize her with more information than I thought she could handle at age 5.  After all, we still don’t use the anatomically correct names of the body parts in our household.  Imagine explaining the Birds and the Bees with vocabulary that includes “nibbies, yoo-hoo, and cheeky monkey”.  I don’t think so.

But the Apostle James wasn’t so concerned about the tender innocence of his readers when he wrote his description of how a “sin baby” is born.  In James 1:14-15 he wrote:

“The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us.  We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lusts.  Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby:  sin!  Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (The Message Version)

Other versions say when we are dragged off and enticed by our own evil desires, then sin is conceived.  God does not tempt us.  Satan has been around long enough, watching the human race, that he’s an expert at where to find our weaknesses.  With a little depth sounding and poking around, he quickly finds your pressure points.  That’s when he attacks… not head on, but from the side, all sly and sexy, easy and secretive.  “Did God really say you couldn’t eat of ANY fruit in the garden?”  That meanie, old God.  He doesn’t want you to have ANY fun.  Bait and hook, you’re caught.  Then he can drag you away and rape your spirit.

When, because of your lusts and desires for more, you open your mouth and swallow that hook, you are impregnated.  As a zygote turns into a baby, so a tiny lust grows into sin.

God told Cain, brother of Abel and first-born of Adam and Eve, “Sin is crouching at your door waiting to pounce on you, but you must master it!”  In Abel’s case, a bad attitude led to jealousy and hatred of his brother which led to murder.  When sin becomes an adult, it becomes a real killer.  It may kill others, but it will always kill you.

You can’t hide that Sin Baby behind your little fig leaf.  God sees all.  God knows your thoughts even before you do!  No, the only way to kill the Sin Baby is to expose it.  Throw it out from the shelter of your warm embrace.  Repentance is the only thing that can stop this deadly spiritual cycle.  “Repentance” is not a popular word, but it is the only cure for the hook you swallowed.  Tell Father God what you’ve done.  Tell him you’re sorry and ask him to forgive you.  God draws near to the broken and contrite heart.  A bruised reed he won’t break off.  Repent and He will forgive you and heal you.

Yes, she’s Mexican and yes, she’s supposed to be that color.

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In the hospital, we were all excited to finally have our little Lulu in the family. Notice that they didn't give me a hospital gown. They told me to change back into my own clothes. Weird.

Today is the 5th birthday of our daughter Lucy, our little Mexicana.  Lucy was born on Labor Day, May 1st in Mexico City.  When I tried to explain the pun that I was in labor on Labor Day, it just didn’t translate well.  My friends just smiled politely at me.

Having a baby in a foreign country was the biggest set-up for culture shock that anyone can experience, in my humble opinion.  It was like having a baby in the 1950s with all the modern technology of the 2000s.  I was totally unprepared for my own intense reactions to “the way things are done” in my new country.  Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, maybe I was just at the brink of “losing it”.  It’s not an experience I recommend to anyone.  I was just glad that I had done this before in America.  I knew what was medically necessary and what was just local traditions imported into a modern medical facility.

The hospital we chose was one of the best private hospitals in Mexico City, and really, they had all the most modern equipment anyone could want… it’s just that not everyone knew how to use it!  For example, my doctor who had studied in America for a while and finished his degree in Spain, had a new 3D ultrasound machine right in his office.  For each visit, I received a DVD with a copy of his ultrasound exam for that week.  It was really cool… but I quickly got the feeling that he didn’t really know how to read the thing and was just playing with his new toy- testing out new features of the machine each week.  It was amusing, but it didn’t raise any red flags yet.

My first hint that this was not going to be the smooth sailing that I planned was when we had our final visit before our due date arrived.  Sitting in his office he said to me, “So, do you want me to do anything else while I’m in there, like tie your tubes or give you a tummy tuck?”  I sat there with a blank look on my face as I contemplated, “how the heck to you do THAT from THAT angle?”  Not that I was opposed to a tummy tuck, but that’s when it occurred to me that we were talking apples and oranges here.  Apparently in our socio-economic class ALL women schedule a cesarean birth, for the convenience of everyone involved and for the esthetics of being bikini ready just days after birth.  I said, “What do you think you’re going to be doing IN THERE?  You just show up and catch the baby- I’ll do all the work.”  Because he was eager to please his only American patient, he nervously consented.

The night that I went into labor, my doctor was on a plane returning from a conference in San Francisco, California.  He begged me to hold on until he arrived at the hospital.  I obliged.  We met him at the hospital and though he was cheerful (and a bit more excited than I expected a doctor to be) he scolded me a bit.  “See this is why we schedule it, so the doctor doesn’t miss it.”  I thought, “I’m sure I could have managed this without you.”

I DID like my doctor though.  When he was in the room, I was sure to get my own way on every detail.  I wasn’t a diva about the whole thing, but I knew that certain things were not necessary so I refused to consent to them- you do not need to be totally naked nor shaved anywhere in order to give birth naturally.  Then I would hear the nurses in the hall way complaining loudly.  When the doctor left the room, the fear of the nurses gripped my heart.  It really is the nurses that kill you or keep you alive.  I knew that.

Sparing the details, at the hour of delivery I had to point blank tell everyone that I wanted my husband in the room with me- so MAKE IT HAPPEN NOW!  They balked, I threw out my trump card:  That’s how we do it in America.  So Josh was suited up and ushered into the room just moments before the anesthesiologist leaned down to me and asked, “do you remember how to push?”  I smiled and said, “watch me.”  I asked the doctor if he was ready on his end and in one push, Lucy popped out.  When my doctor said “WOW!” very loudly, I wondered if this was the first time he had ever seen that done before.

I didn’t get to hold Lucy, they showed her to me and then whisked her off to the nursery and threw me into a recovery room all by myself.  After about an hour I decided I wanted my baby and started asking for her.  About 6 hours later, someone brought her to me.  I kept saying, “I want to nurse her”  and they insisted that I didn’t make any milk yet.  I counter-insisted, “bring me a baby and I’ll show you!”  What they meant was, women in your social class don’t nurse their babies.

At some point the nurses wrapped my stomach and my legs in very tight ace bandages.  I wondered if they could see that I didn’t have any stitches on my stomach… and the legs, well, if I didn’t die of a blood clot then I would surely succumb to heat stroke!  When my feet swelled up and turned purple I took off the bandages.  My nurse about had an INFARTO (heart attack).  I just persisted in telling them that I don’t want them or need them so quit worrying about those dumb bandages!  What they were telling me was that women in my class care very much about looking skinny.

The nurses also told me that Lucy was looking a little pale and I should lay her in the sun.  I told them, “I’m a white woman- this is the color of white babies.”  I couldn’t wrap my brain around that one.  I just shrugged.

In addition to all of this, a lawyer came to our room and filled out the paperwork for Lucy’s birth certificate.  That was very convenient for us, but she was terribly confused when we didn’t want to give Lucy the traditional Mexican last name of father’s family name + mother’s family name.  We debated and then stuck to our guns, we are Americans, she will have an American first, middle, and last name.  It about threw that poor lawyer into a fit.

Later in the day, I found myself all alone in the room.  There was a knock at the door and in walked a tiny woman in a Catholic nun’s habit.  She asked me if I would like to take The Lord’s Supper (Communion).  Being a Christian, I knew what that this was part of the Catholic heritage of Mexico, but it was also part of MY religious heritage too.  I gladly accepted.  She gave me the elements (a tiny cracker an a plastic cup of juice), said a prayer and then I took over.  I grabbed her by the arms and burst out in worship to the Lord- the Spirit just took over me!  I started praying in the Spirit.  This poor woman was clearly shocked and overwhelmed by what I was doing.  But I couldn’t help it, I worshipped.  When I released her arms, she left the room shaking from head to toe.

I needed that moment with God to sustain me for the rest of my time in the hospital.

The next day and a half was filled with more new Spanish vocabulary than my sleep deprived brain could absorb.  Hospitals come with their own language and if you don’t know what a Tamiz is (a lab exam for the baby) or a Dia de Alto (discharge day) then you won’t learn those words any faster when someone yells them at you like you are deaf.  Speaking louder and faster does not explain the definitions.

Eventually I broke down and cried, “I just want to go home!  Someone bring me my baby and let’s get out of here”  After hours and hours of asking the nurses to bring Lucy to me, we finally called the head nurse to our room and asked what the hold up was.  Apparently, no one had told us that we must PAY FOR OUR BABY before we would be allowed to have her back.  Josh had to find the person who had our hospital bill, go down to the administrative office and pay the bill, return to the nursery and show the head nurse the receipt, THEN they would start the check list to discharge me and the baby.  No one had explained this to us.  It did not occur to one person that we did not know the hospital procedures.  Not one person bothered to explain step by step what was required of us.  Live and learn.

Even if someone had warned me in advance that this would be a traumatic experience, I think I would have believed that I could handle it.  The next few months were filled with more culture shock moments than I could have anticipated.  Being a new parent in a foreign country means opening yourself up to all kinds of “helpful” advice and vicious criticism.  You will never “do it right” in the eyes of others if you “do it” the American way.  It’s amazing to me just how much culture is subconsciously packed into the theme of parenting.  But that, my readers, is for another blog another time.
She is a child with dual citizenship.  She is a “Third Culture Kid“.  We have had more trouble than you would imagine crossing borders with this child who looks American but whose passport says she was born Mexican.  It’s just a difficult concept to grasp when the color of the kid is “wrong”.  But through this whole crazy experience, our family was blessed with our Bonus Baby Lucy who is turning 5 today.  It’s hard to believe that we have all survived this long.  🙂  My baby is growing up.  We love you Lucy Lu!

Our friends Nely and Izi visit Lucy on her first day home. We violated tons of cultural rules within the first few weeks of her life. It's amazing the child didn't die of a draft! :0)

Guest Blogger and Investigative Mother Jodi Abbott: Gross.

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Yes, this is actually the photo she sent to me. My options were a photo of her, of poop, or of a llama.

My Guest Blogger today is a long time friend (in real life) and someone guaranteed to make me laugh every morning when I read her Facebook status updates… no pressure, Jodi, no pressure.  But get ready to giggle at this story.

Gross.  I’ve learned in my 10+ years being a mom, that gross to one isn’t necessarily gross to all.  My son, Sam, who is almost 11, cannot stand cleaning off dishes after supper…the thought of rinsing and loading them into the dishwasher….his little eyes get red-rimmed and the gagging noises start deep inside him…to him, that’s gross.

To my daughters, nothing is too gross.  Smushed earthworms, picked boogers that resemble smushed earthworms…nothing.

But to me, “gross” are the questions that have to be asked all too often: 

“Poop or chocolate?”  “Poop or CHOCOLATE?”  “POOP OR CHOCOLATE???”

“Why is my baby crawling on the floor at church, chewing on….chewing on someone’s used piece of floss??”

“Where did you stick that q-tip to make it that brown?”

“What do you mean, your head has been itching for days??”

“What do you mean, your tummy was upset, but you’re all better now….and why are you in my bed?”

“How did you find out the cat doesn’t like to be touched there?”

The questions could go on and on…every day it seems as if I’m astounded at how gross my children can be…or maybe how sanitary I’ve become?  My husband is, luckily, the one with the steel stomach.  He can smell the vomit erupting and have his hands ready for the catch.  I, on the other hand, find myself in another room, dry heaving and mad because it’s quite possible I’ll now have TWO areas of vomit to clean up.

The grossest gross for me would be after the birth of my third child, Suzannah.  She was born on a weekend so I had Sunday morning, in the hospital, to be with just her and not one visitor, cause they were all at church listening to my husband preach.  I decided that I would give Suzannah her first bath.  I got all the stuff ready…shampoo, clean towels, new outfit, little socks.  I got the water all nice and warm, got her completely undressed…and just as I was lowering her into the sink, an elderly man burst into my private bathroom, completely naked and plops down on my toilet and starts having the grossest, smelliest, noisiest bowel movement I’d ever had the privilege of experiencing.

Poop was flying everywhere, he was grunting and groaning, going on and on about how those nasty nurses had him chained to the bed and wouldn’t let him poop.  In the meantime, I’m pulling every switch and nurses call buttons I can find.  Suzannah’s howling at this point, having been partially submerged and now cold and wet.  My hospital room quickly fills up with nurses and doctors…and one very nervous nurse’s assistant who was supposed to watch the older gentleman.  The Haz-Mat team had to come and swipe the man’s poop off every thing…it was so gross.

The smell…the visual…the residue left in my mouth…it wasn’t chocolate, that’s for sure.

“These are a few of my favorite things” (did you just sing that in your head?)

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Oprah isn’t the only one who has a list of her favorite things.  Just because Fridays are supposed to be light and fun, here are a few of the things in life that put a smile on my face:

1.  The color turquoise.  Is it blue or green?  I don’t know, but it just makes me happy all the time!  I love that color.

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2.  Daisies.  I like all kinds of flowers, but daisies are the most cheerful, in my humble opinion.  If I could combine the shape of daisies with the fragrance of lilacs or gardenias I would have created the perfect flower.  I like Daisies so much that I named my daughter Emma Daisy.

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3.  The smell of wet dirt.  Think rain, think watering the lawn with a sprinkler, think gardening, think spring.

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4.  Kissing a baby’s head.  I can think of nothing more heavenly than kissing the soft, downy hair of a baby’s head.  Unless of course the baby is dirty, in which case, that’s not a good smell.

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5.  New shoes.  Sometimes I just walk through a shoe store and inhale deeply.  And getting a new pair of shoes makes me unreasonably happy.  I don’t know why.  Probably just because I’m a girl.

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6.  Art.  Looking at it, making it, talking about it, appreciating it- I was made to love art.  It’s the language of my deepest soul.

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7.  Books.  I have a Kindle because I live in a Spanish speaking country where English books are hard to find.  I love my Kindle because I can still read with it, but I vastly prefer books.  The cracking-spine sound of opening a new book.  The smell of paper and ink.  Turning a page and feeling the progress of one side being heavier than the other side.

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8.  Laughter.  I love laughing until I cry or until my tummy hurts or until I make a croaking sound or something equally silly and laugh inducing.  I love people who make me laugh.  I love movies that make me laugh.  I love every kind of humor from slap stick and junior high humor to dry, intellectual wit and sarcastic banter.  I love it all!  I have no problem laughing at myself either.

9.  Naps.  I’m a 20 minute power napper.  I’m a much nicer person after I’ve had an afternoon cat nap.  Every mommy loves nap time.  Even though my kids have out grown naps, I still want one every afternoon.  I just wish I had a hammock.

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10.  Coffee.  And again in the morning, I’m a much nicer person after my cup of happy goodness. Sweet and creamy is my M.O.  The smell of coffee is better than… anything!  They should make coffee scented car air fresheners and coffee scented deodorant and coffee scented breath mints and -OH- I could go on and on and on!  It’s the best legal addictive stimulant around.  Coffee makes me happy, happy, happy!  I usually feel invincible after 2 cups, so I just stick to one in the morning and go about my regular Wonder Woman way.

Of course there are many more things that could go on this list.  Beaches, fall leaves, camp fires, baking, cats (no haters!), compliments, baby animals, dark chocolate covered almonds, date-nite with my husband, my kids, traveling, learning new things, teaching, coconut lime sugar cookies, the list goes on and on.  The world is full of things that I love!  Eat your heart out, Oprah.

Born in Prison

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A group of ladies from the language school here in San Jose, Costa Rica spent the day ministering at a women’s prison.  We worked with a group of about 30 women who all had children living with them in the prison.  The women are allowed to keep their children until age 3, then they go to live with other family members or go to an orphanage.  After the children leave, the mothers are transfered to another part of the prison where the rest of the 500 women live.

I held a baby that was 5 days old, born in prison.  And I thought about the message that God might be sending through his little life.  If I believe that all babies are a gift from God, then that includes this baby.  Born under less than ideal circumstances, to a mother who has made less than ideal choices, why would God do that?  But as I watched those mothers kiss and hug their babies, I realized that God was sharing his love with them through these little babies.  These children bring joy into sad lives.  They speak of a second chance for women who have made so many bad decisions that they have landed in prison.  They are pure love, loving their mommies who (to the world) are not very lovable.  For some of those women, the love of a mother for her child and a child for his mother might be the purest form of love they have ever experienced.

Is it hard having a baby in prison?  I image so.  There’s no Dad to give Mom a break when she’s exhausted and frazzled.  There’s very little privacy, so everyone hears when a baby cries through the night.  There’s no clean space to let the babies learn to crawl.  I don’t know how they get diapers, I doubted that several of them were even wearing diapers.  There’s a torturous good bye after 3 years.  And when Mom leaves prison, she has another mouth to feed.

But this baby also represents a fresh start, of sorts.  A clean slate.  This baby doesn’t know about the mistakes his mom has made, and he doesn’t judge her either.  Mom, who probably has her own issues with how she was raised, now has the opportunity to either repeat mistakes or do things differently.  Having a baby is a chance to practice making right decisions, making decisions for the good of another.  Some of the mothers seemed like naturals- they had strong maternal instincts.  Others seemed like they thought of their children like little dolls or like a mini-me best friend- that’s not a natural motherly role.  But regardless of whether I thought they could use a parenting course or not, God has chosen, in his omnipotence and mercy, to show these women how much he loves each of them by giving the best gift imaginable (aside from forgiveness of sins).  Not only does he forgive them, he blesses them.  Now that’s an amazingly loving God.

I thought about these things as I held this 5 day old baby, born in prison, and wondered about the meaning of his life.  I wonder who this child will grow up to be.  And I marvel at the risk God takes each time he trusts us with one of these precious little gifts.

Here’s the 5 day old baby that I got to hold. Imagine, being born in prison.