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Posted on Dec 28, 2012 in Devotional, Fertility | 15 comments

My God has Answered…

My God has Answered…

When I suddenly found myself jobless in May of 2010, I knew what to do.  I had actually taught classes on getting into the job/career you were made to do.  I had also worked in the Career Services office at my graduate school.  I had a great resume and future ahead of me.  But instead of jumping into an aggressive job search, I did the exact opposite.  I stayed home and prayed.  But I didn’t even pray for a job.  Instead, every time I opened my mouth to ask God for a job, what came out instead was a deep cry for a husband, children, and a home of my own.  The closest I could come to praying for a job was to pray for provision.  I half-heartedly sent out resumes and responded to job openings, but I did none of the things I knew to do to get the good job I was educated and experienced to do.

I ended up working for a friend, helping her take care of her large home and family, all the while paying off my graduate school student loans and trying to keep down the inward groan.  I loved her children and was thankful for financial provision, but struggled at times to deal with the humbling nature of the work.  I often reminded myself that this was the best training I could ask for if I truly wanted to be married and have a family.  I learned an incredible amount of hands-on, practical skills for family life during that time.

My friend had books of baby names that she used to as references in the name search for her many children.  The meaning of each child’s name was as important to her as how it sounded and what others might think of it.  One day I was flipping through one of her books and I decided to just look at what each name meant, looking for something that might mean something to me.  As I searched, I ran across one that stopped me suddenly.  “My God has answered.”  My heart was gripped.  It was a promise that took my breath away.  I had been begging God for a child, and to be able to name that child, “My God has answered,” would be amazing.

I looked over at the name, nearly wincing.  What name might match with this meaning?  I was afraid to look.  But then I saw the name and my heart did a little leap.  Beautiful!  I loved it, even though I didn’t think I’d ever heard it before.

Eliana – my God has answered my prayer.

Sleeping HandsEliana.  Eliana.  Eliana.  (El – ee- ah – nah)  The name rolled off my tongue, making me smile.  It was similar to my mother’s name, Elaine.  For days I walked around smiling and repeating the name, getting used to it.  And then one day I realized with a laugh that I have a cousin who named her daughter by the same name.  I had  heard it before, but it hadn’t registered in the same way.  I decided I was okay with giving my grandmother a second great-grandchild named Eliana.  If I ever were given the gift of a daughter, I would do my best to convince my husband that the best name for her would be Eliana.

When Rick and I discussed it, he liked it too.  We agreed to honor his mother by giving her the middle name of Rose, his mom’s middle name.  Eliana Rose – My God has answered with a beautiful flower.

When the doctor said, “It’s a girl!”, we already knew her name.  My heart swelled with thanksgiving to God for the blessing of this child, this daughter.  She is our answered prayer.  And I have a feeling we’ll be correcting people for a long time.  No, it isn’t Elaina (Ee – lay -nah).  No, it isn’t Ellie.  Please call her Eliana.  Please give the honor back to God every time her name is spoken aloud.  She is our precious answer to years of hopeful and heart-felt prayers.  Our beautiful flower.

The song that I find going through my mind repeatedly these days is the Edwin McCain song, “I Could Not Ask For More.”  I could not ask for more than this time together/ I could not ask for more than this time with you/ Every prayer has been answered/ Every dream I have’s come true/ And right here in this moment is right where I’m meant to be/ Here with you here with me…

“For this child we prayed, and the Lord has granted us our petition which we made to Him.”  I Samuel 1:27.

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Posted on Dec 26, 2012 in Fertility | 0 comments

It’s a Girl!

It’s a Girl!

2012-12-19 18.59.49I’m so happy to finally be able to announce the arrival of our precious daughter on Wednesday, December 19, 2012.  Eliana Rose Wyse was born at 2:15 p.m., weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and measuring 21 inches long.  She has a head full of dark hair and the most beautiful little face I’ve ever seen.  I know I’m the mommy, so that’s a natural response, but really…  She’s absolutely perfect.

The doctor decided to induce labor, due to my high blood pressure.  Thankfully, she was born via natural delivery and no c-section was needed.  While I cannot write that I enjoyed the process of labor and delivery, I’m thankful to write that it was a breeze compared with pregnancy.  I was terrified of the experience that was before me, but on the day I kept hearing the comforting voice of the Lord assuring me that He was already in every part of the experience to come and would be with me.  I felt such peace and calm during the process and was thankful for the presence of the Lord I felt in the room.

Rick handled the entire process as I fully expected he would, with grace and calm and support.  He was beside me the entire time, doing whatever he could to help.  From the time I received the first medicine until the time she was born was around 23 hours, but active labor only lasted around four hours.  I did opt to receive the epidural, but due to the fast way I progressed at the end, I didn’t have the benefit of the full effect of the medicine.  It did take the worst of the pain away though and allow me to make it through delivery in a fairly calm way.  (You’ll have to ask Rick if I was really as calm as I think I was…)

When the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!”, I was shocked.  I really thought it was a boy, and although I had prepared for either option, my mind took a while to adjust to a girl.  I was absolutely thrilled though, thinking of all the sweet little dresses and all the girly things she and I will do together.

Rick’s parents live close by, so they were able to visit within a few hours of her birth.  My parents drove in from Virginia on Sunday and have been with us all week.  We are expecting plenty of other visitors over the next several months and looking forward to introducing her to every one of them.

Mommy and BabyShe is a good baby so far, eating and sleeping wonderfully.  I’m thankful that she doesn’t have colic or reflux or any number of other problems.  We are truly, truly blessed.

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Posted on Dec 13, 2012 in Devotional, Fertility | 5 comments

Waiting…

Advent is a season of waiting.  The whole world seems to hold it’s breath in anticipation of the birth of our Savior, preparing for the holy night with decorations, parties, gifts, baking, and family gatherings.  We put up Christmas trees and lights, make special treats, and shop for the gifts we hope will thrill our loved ones.  This year, in the middle of all these preparations and celebrations, Rick and I wait for a child of our own.  Advent seems like a very fitting parallel to our time of waiting.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more full of expectation and hope – waiting for pain.  As Braxton Hicks contractions begin again this evening, I wait to see if they will increase in intensity.  Will there finally be pain with them this time?

It’s interesting to me that the thing I feared for so long during this pregnancy, the pain of labor and delivery, has become the thing I most want  (sort of…).  I certainly hope that it’s pain I can tolerate well.  I’ve done all I know to do to prepare myself for the big event; but it is pain that I’m looking forward to, nonetheless.

Mary was a young girl who had ridden a donkey for miles, guided by a husband she had not been intimate with.  She didn’t have her mother or sister with her when she went into labor.  She had no place to go to give birth to her child.  (It puts into perspective my feelings about the few things I have left undone in the nursery!)  When they finally settled into a bed for the night, it was in a dirty stable, a barn, with animals and hay.  There were no fetal monitors or nurses to attend to her.  She didn’t have an epidural, a spinal, or even a Tylenol.  She gave birth to Jesus, laid herself bare, with this man who had never touched her.

Yet Mary knew that the child in her womb was the Son of God.  How must that have felt?  She knew that the pain she endured, the lack of facilities, the lack of even a crib or bassinet, was all a part of how God was choosing to bring His child into the world.  Did she feel the arms of God wrapped around her as she labored?  Did she feel that tremendous sense of peace that only comes through His presence?  Did she long for delivery in the same way I long for it?  Oh, just to meet this child and see that sweet face?  And how much more, knowing she was looking at the greatest miracle of all?

These thoughts are tugging at my mind as I wait for my own little miracle.  The questions about if we’ll make it to the hospital on time or if I’ll have all the things I “need” with me when the time comes seem to lose their edge in light of what she went through.  Come quickly, sweet baby.  We are really looking forward to meeting you and holding you in our arms.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Posted on Dec 10, 2012 in Fertility | 6 comments

Uncomfortable

With 16 days left until my due date, I find myself amazed at how good I feel.  The earlier misery of this pregnancy left me absolutely terrified of how I’d handle the end.  Instead, I’m elated to no longer be suffering from constant nausea, to have only gained four pounds through the entire 38 weeks, and to have a bit of my old energy back.  I actually look pregnant, rather than just a little chubbier than normal, and can enjoy the experience of feeling the baby kicking, rolling, and punching in there.  The idea of Braxton Hicks contractions (“practice contractions”) also caused me anxiety.  I didn’t relish the idea of being in pain for weeks leading up to delivery.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that those contractions don’t actually hurt, but are just a bit uncomfortable.

Trying to sit up too straight or bend over makes me uncomfortable.  Because my lungs have been pushed up so high, my capacity to breathe has been diminished.  That can be frustrating at times, especially when trying one of my favorite activities of singing.  I can’t eat too much at one time because my stomach doesn’t have much space to expand.  All these things are uncomfortable, but not miserable or intolerable.  THIS is what I was expecting pregnancy to be!  I can handle “uncomfortable” a lot better than miserable.

I wonder how often we become scared and full of anxiety at the beginning of a journey and give up.  The thought did cross my mind at week fourteen.  Nine weeks of constant misery had me so full of frustration and despair that I caught myself with the horrible thought of ending it all.  As soon as I recognized the thought, I was saddened and shocked by my own weakness.  I told Rick that I had to do something different, had to find help somewhere.  The next week I found some relief through an acupuncturist.  A few weeks after that, I learned the trick to the anti-nausea medication.  I wanted an all-natural pregnancy, free of medication.  I thought I was tough enough to handle whatever difficulties pregnancy brought my way.  Instead, with hyperemesis gravidarum (click the link to read an article written by someone I relate to well), an all-natural pregnancy might have caused me to severely compromise my health and the pregnancy with dehydration, malnutrition, and other complications.

When I heard that Kate Middleton/Princess Katherine of Wales had been hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, I felt a huge sense of something like relief mixed with compassion for her.  Someone else has what I have, someone who can bring some light to the little-known disease, has what I have!  I wouldn’t wish this horrible sickness on anyone in the world though.  I wanted to scream when I saw someone suggest on Facebook that she was getting special treatment for “morning sickness” because she’s royalty now.  While approximately 70% of pregnant women have some morning sickness or nausea, most women do not have this monstrous difficulty.  The thing that’s been especially hard for me is feeling like others have judged me as weak, not physically fit enough to handle pregnancy, or too old.  I have certainly questioned myself about those things.  But here comes tiny little Princess Kate, a picture of health and fitness, young and strong – hospitalized for it!  My own mother, pregnant with me as a fit 24 year old, also suffered in the same way.

Unlike many of the women I’ve read about as I’ve researched this disease, my doctor was a God-send.  She didn’t bat an eye when I told her I needed anti-nausea medication and was willing to help however she could.  The first doctor I interviewed said the only way he gives medication is in extreme cases where the woman has already lost 10-15 pounds.  Otherwise, he suggests not drinking with meals.  Seriously?  Several medical professionals I’ve dealt with during this time have suggested that I probably wouldn’t have gotten gestational diabetes or high blood pressure if I hadn’t been so sick at the beginning.  My entire body was thrown out of whack by the constant, violent vomiting and other side effects.

And so I continue, one day from my 38th week of pregnancy, to unashamedly take the medication that has allowed me to function and survive this ordeal.  I embrace the discomfort of this late stage of pregnancy, even the four-times a day needle sticks to test my blood sugar.  Even the twice weekly non-stress tests that monitor my baby’s heart rate, movements, and my health.  Even the long days of bed rest, bland meals, and constant alarms going off to remind me to take my medication.  I embrace it all, so very grateful that it is just discomfort these days.  And soon I will hold my heart’s desire in my arms – a baby, a rich reward for the days of misery and discomfort.  And yes, I think I may even try this all again someday…

Uncomfortable is a condition I can handle, a condition I can even smile through.  Thank You, God, for feeling uncomfortable!

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Posted on Dec 1, 2012 in Fertility, Marriage | 3 comments

Mine

Mine

I have a little confession to make.  I’ve allowed myself to indulge in a bit of fantasy over the years, dreaming of the day when I’d have a family of my own.  Becoming dependent on a man for everything never appealed to me so I wanted a career I could rely on if I ever needed to take care of myself, but I also wanted to get married and be a dedicated full-time mom to a house full of children.  (Talk about conflicting ideas in one head!)  I guess the only way I could get both things was to do what I did – focus on education and career, then get married and have babies later.

I couldn’t just want my family without having an idea of what I was getting into and how exactly I could be THE BEST mother and wife possible when the time came.  Strange as it may seem, I began reading books on parenting and marriage while I was still in high school.  I listened to radio programs that centered on healthy family dynamics.  I watched other people – how they handled their marriages and children – and made mental notes:  do this, do NOT do that, research that option further…  I went to counseling and learned what family systems I had grown up with that were healthy and unhealthy.  I worked hard to become someone who could have thriving relationships with others, free from insecurities and false notions of what normal family life is.  By the time I was in my late-20s, I felt like I’d gathered enough information to do a pretty decent job and had come to the conclusion that every parent and spouse messes up in some way so I could pretty much count on that too.

I spent a lot of time taking care of other people’s children.  I worked part-time as a nanny for an agency, meeting many different families.  I babysat for the children of my friends, deciding to love the children God had put into my life and enjoy the love I received in return.  And for about 18 months before Rick and I got married, I helped a dear friend take care of her six children and run her large household.  I filled my empty heart with the love of these dear friends and it made the loneliness much more bearable.

Part of my indulgence in fantasy included pretending like the kids were mine when I was out with them in public – driving, shopping, playing at parks.  For a little while, I’d allow myself to pretend like I was the mom, allow the strangers around me to believe what they wanted, and think about what my life would be like if it were true.  Car seats, French fries ground into the carpet, toys everywhere, germy little fingers – all of it!  I imagined they were my responsibility, not children I had borrowed for a few hours but ones I had nurtured from the beginning.  And most of the time I was happy to give them back at the end of the day or the outing, allowing their parents to deal with the long nights without sleep and the difficult discipline issues.

Much of the joy and wonder of this pregnancy has been eclipsed by the way my body has rebelled against it’s intruder.  All the love I have for this unborn child has somehow not been picked up by my digestive system, which has fought us every step of the way.  Surviving the next day has become a bigger concern than dreaming about what’s to come and there have been very few fantasies about my life after the baby arrives.  Instead, I’ve faced a lot of fears.  Why was I so confident that I’d be good at bringing children into the world?  I’m not nearly as tough as I thought I was.  What if this baby is as difficult to manage as this pregnancy has been?  Can I ever handle another pregnancy again?  What if I lose this baby after everything I’ve gone through?

As the end of the pregnancy has neared, my fears have calmed significantly.  It’s easier not to be afraid when constant vomiting and nausea aren’t your daily companions.  Much of my energy has returned and I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Even if the baby were to come at this point, the pregnancy is viable and the baby appears to be thriving in my womb.  We have nearly everything done to our home in preparation, and the joy of this long-awaited Christmas season is starting to sink in.

120312131207Yesterday I was able to drive myself into the nearby town to drop something at the Post Office – a pretty exciting outing for this bed rest mommy.  As I got out of the car, I noticed the infant car seat strapped securely into the back, just waiting for it’s occupant, and I had to stop to catch my breath.  Tears sprung to my eyes as I realized that anyone passing by would assume – and rightfully so – that the baby seat is for MY baby.  It isn’t pretend any more.  I don’t have to give this child, this car seat, back to the woman whose been blessed to call this child her own.  I am the one who has been blessed!  Never again will I face that awkward moment when the child calls out to me by a name other than “Mommy” and those around us realize that I’m the aunt or the babysitter.

I remember once when my nephew was just a tiny baby, someone confused him as my child in front of my sister.  She was thoroughly annoyed and quick to correct the offender.  I was a little taken aback by her reaction until she explained.  She said after everything she went through to bring him into the world, all the pregnancy discomforts, plus the sleepless nights and countless dirty diapers, she wanted all the credit for him.  She did not want to share it with anyone else.  I get it now.

I’m grateful to God and to Rick for giving me the opportunity to be a mother.  I’m also grateful for all the research I did in a time when I had the energy and focus to do it.  The day that Rick and I actually put our new baby into his or her car seat for the first time and drive home will probably be one of the best days of my life.  I’m so excited about this new little person who I will have the privilege of calling my own.

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Posted on Nov 20, 2012 in Devotional, Fertility | 1 comment

Taken Care Of

Taken Care Of

Bed rest.  That is the newest development in my pregnancy story.  My only job between now and the birth of our child is to stay still, preferably by laying on my left side, and keep calm until the baby is born.  High blood pressure and gestational diabetes have led to this prescription.  I’m allowed to sit up a little, go to Sunday school, drive myself to the doctor once a week, and even go to a wedding this weekend (as long as I’m one of the first guests to leave and I only stand and walk when absolutely necessary).  I am NOT allowed to do laundry, dishes, cleaning, unnecessary walking, or eat too much sugar or carbs.  I am to stay home, watch my diet, and remain calm.

The first weekend I had to endure bed rest, I thought I might lose my mind.  I’ve spent the last 30 weeks or so resting a lot, but for much of that time I’ve at least been able to prepare simple meals, keep up with the laundry, and get groceries.  It was hard to do those tasks, but at least I accomplished something.  Weird pains, back problems, swelling, and so forth plagued me, making me question why anyone does this to themselves willingly.  Amazingly, since I’ve been confined to the couch, most of that has gone away.  I lay here feeling pretty good, blood pressure and sugar in check, struggling not to get up and get a few things done.  There’s a baby coming into this house and there’s a lot that still needs to be done!  But when I do get up, I’m immediately reminded of why I’m laying down.  High blood pressure doesn’t FEEL good.  If I want to feel good and have a healthy baby, I have to deal with the stillness.

I’m an independent, get-it-done kind of person.  My parents still tease me about my favorite phrase as a toddler:  “I do it myself!”  Apparently an independent spirit is built into my DNA.  I dressed myself in backwards and mismatched clothes, refused to crawl until after I had learned to walk, basically potty trained myself, and so forth.  Always in a hurry, always sure I could handle the task, and ready to push past anyone who might try to slow me down…  I moved to Nashville when I was 22 years old, with no job or relatives or friends, determined to make a life for myself.  I was tired of living under the shadow of my rock-star pastor father and wanted to experience life on my own.  In the thirteen years I was on my own, God really dealt with my independent spirit.  Not only did I want to be independent from others, but I wanted to be independent from Him.  I tried to love God, but I didn’t really trust Him to take care of me.  I was pretty sure I could handle my life better than He could and I learned the hard way that I’m prone to make a big mess of things.

A few years ago, something changed inside me.  All the trying and fighting and independence suddenly felt like a huge burden I was carrying alone.  Through a series of events that might not have seemed to be a big deal at the time, I learned to let go and let God take care of me.  I learned that He is trustworthy.  To let God handle things for me wasn’t to place too big a burden on His shoulders.  I didn’t have to apologize for needing God.  All I had to do was relax and He would make a way.  When I lost my job and had no prospects of employment, God reassured me that He would provide for me.  And He did.  I had everything I needed and more.  I began to understand what it meant to be cherished and loved, and in turn I became able to accept the love and support of those around me who I had pushed away for so long.  Many of my walls came down and I became a grateful receiver.

I had no idea that God was preparing me for marriage and family life, but then I got married and moved away from all I had built for myself.  I quit making an income and had to rely upon my husband to provide for us financially.  Our pre-marriage counselor, a man who has often been the sole provider in his family, blew my mind when he told me that many men are honored to provide for their wives in this way and see it as a way to rescue and be the conquering hero.  Even though I was capable of providing for myself, he suggested I gratefully receive Rick’s support and allow him that boost to his ego.  When Rick agreed with him, I whispered a prayer for God to help me trust my husband and to still my fears, and He did as I requested.

I moved to a rural community where stores aren’t open “normal” city hours.  If I needed cold medicine after 9:00 p.m., there was nowhere within a 12 mile radius to get it.  But amazingly, my mother-in-law lives right down the road and often had what I needed.  How strange to suddenly rely on parental figures to provide what I needed after so long in a place without family.  I had a hard time asking, but she delighted in helping and another wall came down.

And then I got pregnant.  I had enjoyed keeping the house nice and preparing hot meals for the man who was supporting me.  It was my job as his wife to find ways to make him happy and have our home be a place he enjoyed walking into and hated to leave.  Soon I could do very little of that.  Constant vomiting and sickness turned me into a needy, whiny wife who demanded he drive fifteen miles away to pick up whatever specific food I was craving, then promptly threw it up and couldn’t stand to look at what was left.  Through even that, my husband chose to became more of a servant to me.  He cleaned up my vomit and learned how to use our new-fangled appliances, did his own laundry, and kept the bathroom clean.  When the daily vomiting stopped, things got better.  I was able to pick back up some of my previous responsibilities.

And then I was put on bed rest.  I have been humbled, then humbled some more, than humbled some more after that.  Here I lay, feeling fairly decent at this point in the pregnancy (as long as I’m laying down), and watching as others step in to care of me and the things that concern me.  My sweet mother-in-law has taken over laundry duty – ironing, washing, folding, and helping me get all the new little things ready for sensitive baby skin.  Rick’s parents have made sure we have meals, groceries, and supplies.  Other friends have brought us meals and helped ease the monotony by spending time with us.  The nursery walls have been decorated and the house is free of dust, thanks to Rick’s friends who have been so welcoming to me.  We’ve received countless gifts for our new baby from friends and family, helping ease the financial burden of preparing for this precious child.

My husband has shown me love and devotion in more ways than I can count.  After working long days in the fields, he comes in to serve me.  He keeps the dishes done, sweeps the floors, brings me medicine and snacks and whatever else I think I need.  And after all that, he still looks at me with love in his eyes.  He encourages me when I’m down and reminds me that I’m doing important work while I lie here feeling useless.  He tells me I’m beautiful and that I look just right, in spite of my feelings to the contrary.  (It’s hard to keep up with a normal beauty routine when you have to lay down all the time.)  My love for him grows daily and I’m continually amazed by this wonderful man God gave me.

Being taken care of is a gift I am trying very hard to appreciate.  It’s a struggle not to be the strong one who everyone else can look to for strength and support.  It’s hard to lie on the couch while someone else dusts your furniture and folds your laundry.  And yet it is a tremendous blessing.  God has blessed me with a network of beautiful people who have become His hands and feet to minister to me.  I’m grateful and humbled by their support and embrace.  Lastly, it makes me wonder why I ever felt the need to do it all myself.  I placed such an unnecessary burden on myself for so many years and I’m forever grateful that God made it His business to lift the burden and teach me another way.

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