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Friday, February 26, 2010

Mikey Update 2/26/10

Mikey is almost four months old and he barely holds up his head and won't even try to do mini pushups. He still turns his head only and abruptly to the left and he hasn't nursed since January 1st. Dr. Ross (chiropractor) and Dr. Sue (cranio-sacral therapist) have jointly agreed that Mikey does not appear to be in pain anymore (if he ever was). They want him to see a neurologist. I took Mikey to Dr. Jones (pediatrician) for his blessing and a name, as well as the name of another cardiologist for a second opinion (Dr. Sue's idea) and a cream for his eczema rash. The rash cleared up with a dose of over-the-counter hydrocortisone. I didn't get to call the cardiologist. I called the neurologist, and the soonest appointment is April 27th, more than two months away. In the meantime, Debbie (lactation consultant), told me about a naturopath who has a neuro consultant on staff. She and her daughter have experienced amazing things under their care, and she's heard other amazing stories. I called the office and spoke directly to the doctor. I really want to give him a try, but Mike is hesitant. His treatment ideas can't hurt, so we may give him a try if we can't come up with another neurologist in the meantime. The doctor gave me some ideas for improving my body's lactation functions, so I'm going to try those to try to tip the balance back to more milk than formula.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Challenge Update

I can tell you right now my office isn't getting done this month. The laundry room, however, is right on track! We bought all the shelving last night, cut to size, complete with hardware. Now if I can just get Mike to install it...

I also bought lots of (cheap) clear plastic bins for sorting things on the higher shelves, like Mike's tools. I'm hoping they are see-through enough that we can spot what we need from down below. I found them, by the way, for buy one get one free at CVS tonight! $13.00 for four medium and 8 shoebox. Score!

Busy Mom's Bible

I was lucky enough to be selected as a tester for the new Busy Mom's Bible by Zondervan. I got my beautiful Bible in the mail today, and I am so excited! (I need to be totally honest here and admit that part of my excitement exists because the Bible is pink.) Zondervan has asked that we try out the bible for a month and then post our reviews on our blogs by March 26, 2010. Keep watch for my review! The Busy Mom's Bible will be available for purchase in March 2010. Thanks to Money Saving Mom for the heads up on the freebie!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is anger okay?

Since my long chat with God about how angry I was, I've felt quite liberated. I feel as though I've broken through a wall in our relationship. I really feel closer to Him and more able to hear His direction than ever before.

On a related note, I'm reading Body Clutter by Marla Cilley and Leanne Ely. One of the missions, or assignments, is to write down everyone with whom you are feeling angry and then tear it up. Because I had a two-year-old helper trying to find something to do at the time, I didn't get to the writing-down part, but I did take the time to really think about people in my past who still rub me the wrong way when I think about them. Once I accepted that my ill feelings were actual anger, I was able to let it go.

I have no problem saying I'm angry about strangers' behavior. I have no problem admitting when my husband or toddler makes me angry. Why can't I call it anger when it's a family member or friend? I can say they hurt my feelings. I can even tell them directly that they hurt my feelings, as one family member recently found out. Do I think it's wrong to be angry? Do I think I will be admitting something negative about myself if I acknowledge anger?

Especially for Christians, anger is considered something that you shouldn't allow.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger...

But none of those tells us not to get angry. Also, God Himself gets angry when appropriate, but if we are to try to be like God, we should be slow to anger.

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness...

Does that mean anger is wrong, or that we should make sure it is warranted?

I don't think anger is wrong. I think how we handle it makes all the difference. Admitting I'm angry is the final step in my understanding of many situations. If admitting anger makes me quicker to forgive, am I wrong to allow it? However, if we are slow to anger, we are allowing ourselves time to process the situation and possibly deal with it, as with a miscommunication. Also, we give ourselves time to listen to God and turn the situation around in a way that glorifies Him.

What if anger is warranted? Does that give us the right to act on it? I don't think so. Of course, sometimes action is required, like if we witness someone or something being abused. That doesn't mean that we go in guns a-blazin' and take out the bad guys, though. Maybe we interfere, if it's necessary, but then we should let God lead our actions and words. When it's personal hurt that fuels our anger, it's important to take as much time as needed to talk to God and fully understand the situation. God wants us to control our anger and act out of love.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

It's okay to ask for help, from God and from friends and family. The Duggars use a method they borrowed from a friend: when someone observes a family member getting fired up, they touch their arm to remind them to cool down. A kind, personal touch is a loving way of holding each other accountable for our anger.

Anger blinds us. (Have you ever heard of "white rage?") If we have a habit of getting angry, we don't often notice it creeping up on us, and it can sometimes creep very quickly! Since I have always had trouble with anger, maybe I'm afraid to admit it because that means I allow it, and then I lose control of myself. Maybe that's part of the reason I never felt comfortable even exercising the idea of being angry with God. I have enough self-control issues without throwing the angry-with-God log onto the fire.

That brings me back to the start of this article. Now I've seen how confessing anger can help me deal with it, whether that be reigning it in and reevaluating a situation or forgiving someone for the real reason I'm upset. I'm not generalizing all anger as acceptable, but I'm not generalizing it as taboo, either. God created us with the ability to get angry. God gets angry. God even acts out of anger when the situation calls for it (but note that it's His call!). Anger is part of our existence, and we should accept it and allow it, with God's help and guidance.

Here are more biblical perspectives on anger:
Ephesians 4:26,31
Colossians 3:8
I Timothy 2:8

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I have been issued a challenge...

...and I have accepted.

A wonderful resource, I'm an Organizing Junkie, has issued a challenge to her readers to organize and, thus, transform a small space and/or a whole room during the month of February. I happened upon this challenge late (today) because my computer was in the shop the first half of this month. I'm not behind, though, because I had actually set a goal for myself to organize one of my rooms this month anyway!

I can't promise that I'll finish the room this month, but I'm going to really try. I can promise to finish my small space, though, since I've been planning it for months! Well, I will if I can get my hubby to hang shelves for me. Below are pictures of the two spaces. I regret not taking pictures before I started, but they're bad enough that you'll get the idea.

My first space, which I consider a small space, is my laundry room. I have great plans for additional shelving in here, since there is A LOT of wasted space. I want to get all the supplies off the floor for two main reasons: safety and ease of cleaning when water ends up on the floor (like when we bathe the baby or the dogs or when we soak clothes). I would also like to move the laundry-room trash can into the laundry room. It currently resides just outside the door. As a bonus, if we could find a home for the shredder in here, I would be able to lock it away from the children while keeping it accessible. My greatest challenge will be finding appropriate storage for the loose items, like the mops and handheld vacuum (which is oh-so-safely stored right under the previously-described-as-generally-wet sink).

(Note the overflow into the hall.) I should also explain here that the reason so much laundry is lingering rather than being put away is because I'm in the process of reorganizing all the kids' clothes. Unless I want to be naughty and throw all their clothes on the floor in the hallway upstairs (as I've done in the past), I will have to tackle that challenge simultaneously.

My second space, which is a whole room, is my office. This room has been tackled time and time again, often with the help of my mother, only to end up the family dumping space again (and, admittedly, my stash-n-dash room). I've been better about not just tossing things in there, and I all but threatened my hubby about putting stuff in there, so it hasn't gotten worse in a long time. I also spent a few hours on it first thing this month and made a huge dent, getting through everything that was just tossed in there (versus being placed in the room because that's where it goes, not that that system has worked very well, either). I have donated and tossed hundreds of pounds of clutter from this room, and I know there are hundreds - if not thousands - more to go. Purge, baby, purge!

(I want to note that the papers strewn about the floor of my office are courtesy of my dog, who got into them because - gasp - they weren't properly stored.)
I have to add this last picture to better illustrate the domino effect that clutter has caused. Because my crafting area (office) has become a dumping ground, I have to do (and store) my crafting at the kitchen table. It's a good thing we have a dining room table for meals!
I'm very excited to have this deadline looming so that I'll get in gear. I'm also excited to know I've been doing it right! Okay, I know there is no "right" way, but my instincts have had me doing it her way, so I feel good about my progress.
Wish me luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mikey Update 2/15/10

We saw the cardiologist early in the month. They did a follow-up EKG, which was normal, and a follow-up ultrasound, which revealed a new problem. Actually, the tech spotted the problem during the first ultrasound, but they wrote it off as poor imaging due to the fit he was throwing. Here's the short version (forgive me, medical people, if I botch the names). The aortic arch in the neck normally goes to the left, but sometimes goes to the right. This isn't a problem in and of itself. The blood vessel that goes to the right arm usually comes off the right of the arch, but sometimes comes off the left. Again, not a problem in and of itself. When both of these less-common conditions occur, the two blood vessels form a loop and can encircle an organ, constricting it. If this is the case, surgery is required. His lungs don't appear to be trapped; he's never had any problem there. His esophagus, on the other hand, could be in the loop. It's hard to tell with babies because they consume only liquids. However, Mikey has shown signs of reflux without having reflux, and this could be causing that (or that could be circumstantial). Additionally, Mikey has shown some signs of aspiration, but all these symptoms overlap, so we don't know what's causing what, if any of these is the problem. We were scheduled to have a modified barium swallow on 1/28 to check for aspiration, but he was doing better, so we cancelled it. I'm glad we did, since the cardiologist is requiring one for the blood vessel issue, so we'd have had to do another one. This one, on 3/25, will check for everything. If anything shows up where the blood vessels are concerned, he will have an MRI. I guess they can check all of this with a CT Scan but don't because of the radiation. On top of all this, the doctor has changed his opinion from being 90% sure Mikey won't need surgery for the hole in his heart to 60-70% sure. He's still asymptomatic, but it is not getting smaller.

The neck and back issues are still issues, though they are very slowly improving. The craniosacral therapist is making progress, but Mikey isn't responding like babies typically do; he fights the therapy.

Mikey is a happy, healthy boy, though. He laughs and smiles all the time. Today he let out a series of belly laughs in his sleep! He adores his sister, even though she inadvertently tries to kill him daily. Ellie never smiled or laughed so readily (we literally had to throw stuff at her to evoke a laugh). It's an instant ego boost. :o)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hard times are relative

I noticed that the sadness I felt about pumping (and not getting enough milk) lessened when I started thanking God for every drop of milk. I felt guilty every time I complained about pumping and getting enough, so I started thanking God. Now, when I start to feel sad or frustrated about what's coming out (or not coming out), I take a breath and thank God for every drop, and I feel completely different in that instant. Today, I was reading more of the Duggars' book, and Michelle shared a moment of being emotionally and physically spent. She said she was folding laundry at 1am and crying. She laid all her burdens on God, and He had a reply. He said that it's easy to praise Him when times are good, but can she praise Him now when times are hard? She started to sing in praise, and the burden on her heart lifted. I've heard that question asked many times, but I never felt it applied to me; my times hadn't ever been hard enough to qualify, I thought. This is why we are told to study God's word daily so that it's stored away in our hearts for when we need it. Thank You, God. I praise You, now and always. Oh, and I thank You for allowing me to be angry with You and sad, even with hope. And I thank You for that eternal hope. Thank You for my new, healthier attitude of hoping but not waiting in this situation. I need to stop waiting for anything, knowing You will reveal Your plan in Your time.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I can't put a name on it

All of the emotions about pumping/not nursing came to a head a couple of weeks ago. I moved from the less-than-comforting comfort of my bed to my closet (where I have strategically placed a chair for quiet and privacy) for a good cry out. I talked to God. I told Him that I completely believe that He only does good, but that does not mean I don't sometimes wish for and want things to be different. I want, desperately, to see what good will come from this struggle, to understand why. I begged and asked and - to be honest - blubbered on and on, incessantly and painfully cycling between my beliefs in God's goodness and my desires. (I'm pretty sure I remember hearing that we should make God's desires our desires, but obviously I'm not there yet.) Finally, as I stripped away more and more of the reasoning I had been doing in an effort toward self preservation, I reached a truth that would have, earlier in my walk, scared me, made me unsure of my relationship with God, my trust in Him and my faith in His goodness: I was angry with Him. I let it out. I said it out loud. I owned it. I embraced it. Why should I be afraid to tell God I'm angry with Him when it's the truth? I should tell him because it's the truth. He knows my heart. He knows I believe in Him, His eternal love, grace and mercy. He knows I believe He allows every hardship for the purpose of good. He knows I'm sad and scared of losing something wonderful on this earth (a breastfeeding relationship with my child). He knows I'm stretched with my motherly duties, which now include pumping, and not enough milk to boot. I let it all out; every word that crossed my heart poured out my lips.

Until I ran out of words. Suddenly I was silent. There were no more words, no more tears. There was silence. There was calm, around me and inside me. I felt different, strangely so. I crawled back to bed and tried to digest this nothingness. It wasn't emptiness, no, but a comforting absence, as if I'd unwittingly been filled with turmoil and was now without. I thought about this almost sense of satisfaction (as after exercise or the completion of a large task) for many days. I tried to understand what had happened in my heart. I marveled at it. I thanked God for it, though I didn't know what it was. I knew it happened because I'd been totally honest, put everything on God ("Let go and let God"), and reached a new understanding within myself (with the realization and admission of anger). I've never been so complete in prayer. I figured this is just how you feel when you completely unload your problems on God.

Today I put a name on my "condition." I felt peace. Jim Bob Duggar told me what it was, or at least he wrote it in their book. He said he prays about situations over and over, and often, when God is ready for him to make the next move, he feels a peace after his prayer. (I love it when God slips resources in right under our noses.)

Thank You, God, for sending me peace by your grace. Thank You for telling me, over and over again, in a hundred different ways, to be completely vulnerable with You and You will bring me peace. Thank You for sending me such examples as the Duggars to help me draw closer to you, to challenge everything I've grown to accept about the world. Thank You for drawing (and often forcing) me out of my comfort zone again and again to change my perspective. Please help me to hear Your voice and have the courage to follow it, because You will lead me only where I need to go.