Friday, July 31, 2015

The Time Thief

It's a quarter to twelve and I'm sitting on the sofa, surrounded by animals, blankets, a mostly drained coffee cup and a bottle. Nearby, there's an unread chapter in a book, an unfinished grocery list and a magazine I can't seem to make it to the end of. And in my lap, there's this. This little time thief, who has stolen half the day.

I had things to do today. I was supposed to have been to the grocery store and back. I was going to clean the bathrooms and the floors (normally Andy's chore, but since it's his birthday weekend, I wanted to do it as a gift to him) I have got to fold her laundry and I need to get the rent check into the mailbox by pick-up time. But this morning, all I've been able to do is sit and listen to her sounds. I've grabbed her hands and done "I love you's". I've swung her between my legs and sung "fly like a butterfly." I've taken a ridiculous number of pictures.

She has snatched the time away again. She's taken nearly two months now and stored them away in her tiny pockets.

So there's dust in the corners, not much food in the fridge, and laundry in the dryer. As for me, I've yet to shower. Yoga pants and t-shirt are today's outfit and make up is definitely not on the agenda.  I get Parents magazine now. It came free with a purchase at a maternity store. On the cover of one of the issues is this slim and perfectly put-together woman, sitting on a white carpet, leaning against a white sofa, holding a book in her hand. She's bare-footed (I guess to make it look more relaxed) and perfectly pedicured. Beside her is a little girl doing the same. Maybe somewhere out there is a real woman and a real child who look like that. Maybe somewhere out there is a unicorn having lunch with a winged-pig.

There's part of me that wants to chase that image. But I've chased a unicorn before (remember, Jack and Preston?) and they always out run you. So I'll just sit here and smile at my time thief. I'll listen to the cicadas and watch the sun slide across the sky. And maybe I'll put some of this time in my pockets, too. That way, when school has started and life is busy, I'll have something to pull out and look at- a cluttered sofa in a sun-lit living room, sleeping dogs and the baby girl in bright pink who stole my heart and all of my time once upon a summer morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

One Month with Story Lamm

Okay, before I write this blog, I want to go ahead and let you know that this is not how I typically write. My mom suggested keeping track of Story's growth and development on my blog so that friends and family who live in other places can keep up with her. And I agree it's a good idea. So, please forgive me if baby blogs make you want to punch a wall. This will probably be a once a month thing. :)

How Story came into the world:

At 2:30 AM on June 11, I woke up in the middle of the night. My water had broken. My due date was June 30, but Andy and I had been asking God to let Story come earlier for two reasons. 1) My doctor thought that I would need a C-section if I went to full term and 2) We wanted to have a few more weeks to spend with Story this summer before I return to work in August. By 4AM, we were checked into the hospital, and I was elated that it seemed that God had said yes to our requests.

My labor & delivery story goes like this. Epidurals are awesome and St. David's North Austin is fantastic and everyone should have their baby there. Andy & I spent the day watching "Fixer Upper" on HGTV and chatting with our awesome nurses. There were a few moments when I felt scared, but Andy & I would pray together and I would make it through the fear. I ended up pushing for a little over two hours, and, even though it wasn't painful, it was exhausting, and I began to fear that I would end up having a C-section, after all. Throughout that time, God gave me verses of scripture and lyrics to hymns that popped into my mind and encouraged me. At one point, when I was feeling particularly defeated, I called out to God for endurance and strength (not out loud, just in my mind) and He gave me this thought in reply, "Remember, Meredith, that I am your Deliverer." I love that God can be punny. Shortly after that prayer, Story was born. 7 lbs. 14 oz, and 20 and 3/4 inches.

One of my first looks at my girl. 

Andy's first moments as a Daddy

Coming home: 

Labor & delivery was pretty breezy, but the next couple of days were not. After 24 hours, Story started to turn yellow. Her bilirubin was too high, and she had to go on UV therapy. We couldn't hold her unless she was in the "bili blankets", which are not really blankets at all, they're more like stiff heating pads that glow with UV light. They're supposed to break down bilirubin in jaundiced babies. They also make babies super lethargic. They made little Story so lethargic that she wasn't really eating. She lost over a pound. It was a tough time for all of us. We were asked to stay in the hospital an extra night, and then yet another night. This was the first major challenge Andy and I faced as parents. The pediatrician on call wanted us to stay Sunday night, but Andy and I had a feeling that we needed to get Story home. Sunday evening, when the nurse told us that we were not cleared by the pediatrician on call to go home, Andy asked if he could talk to the pediatrician. Andy & I are pretty big on being discerning when choosing medical providers, and then trusting their judgement. But the thing was, the pediatrician on call was not our chosen medical provider so we doubted her assessment of the situation... sorry to those healthcare providers out there who are cringing. After Andy talked to the on-call pediatrician, she said we could go on home, provided we got into our doctor's office first thing the next day. She gave a fair warning that we were likely to have to return to the hospital and those glowing blankets, but we took the risk. Mercifully, when we took Story to our pediatrician's office the next morning, our doc confirmed that she was more concerned with weight loss than anything else and told us to feed, feed, feed, which was exactly what we were inclined to do. Story started eating better and better, and was back up to birth weight in ten days time. :)

My favorite picture of Andy from the hospital. Thank you, Robin, for taking this picture on my phone. 

Even though the bili blanket saga was trying, we did have some sweet memories in the hospital. First and foremost, my mom and DAD, were able to come to the hospital, something that I did not expect to ever happen. They actually had their car packed up to drive to Texas the night I went into labor, but they were expecting to come down and spent the weekend with just Andy & me. My Dad planned to fly back to NC that Monday, leaving my Mom in Texas with me until Story came. But God allowed Story to come so that my Dad got to hold Story in the hospital, which was an honest-to-goodness dream come true. We also got visited by sweet friends, who brought food and gifts. :)

When we got home, we found that my Mom and Dad had put up a "baby girl" banner on our mantel, had displayed an abundance of baby gifts they had brought from NC around the hearth, and had turned on the little lamp with the pink shade in the nursery. It was such a sweet sight, and it felt so good to be home with our girl.

We were so tired after three days at the hospital that no one felt like posing for a big welcome home shot. But, Lacy made me promise to take at least one picture of her coming home. Thanks, Lacy, you were right. 
Gifts from my shower in February finally arrive in Texas. 
One of the funniest things to us about the first 24 hours at home with Story was Daisy's reaction. We
thought that our doggy-baby would pout or be angry about Story's arrival. We weren't really worried about Gatsby. He's more steadfast that a lot of humans. But Daisy is another situation entirely. To our surprise, though, Daisy has pretty much fallen in love with her baby sister. Every time Story cries, Daisy has to check in and make sure she's doing okay. It's common to see Daisy standing on two paws, leaning into Story's rock-and-play or stretching up to see the top of the changing table. Even as I write this, Daisy is staring at Story from her perch on the sofa.

Gatsby will enjoy Story a lot more when this little hand can throw that little ball. 
Busy Baby: 

Robin set up a Care Calendar for us to make sure we were fed well this summer by our Hill Country family. We've had too many wonderful meals and visitors to record on here. It's been such a blessing and THANK YOU to everyone who has come to visit us. We've also had a weekend visit from our cousins, Alissa and Dan and their two boys, who drove down from Dallas to meet baby Story. And my Dad and brother flew in for 4th of July weekend. And gifts from aunts, uncles and friends who live too far away to drop by Dijon Drive have arrived almost daily. Our cup overflows.

Alissa and Benjamin visiting with Story. 

Uncle Grant

Granddaddy's girl
My Mom and I love to get out, so shortly after Story was home, we were out for walks and short shopping trips-probably more than the average one month old gets out, but, so far so good. We ventured out to church this past Sunday, and Story stayed in the nursery with her friends Becky and Rebecca, for the first time.

We paused for a picture after returning from our first time at church as a family of three. 
One of my favorite places we've gotten out to is our Square One class. My friend and BSF teaching leader Holly Thurman invited me to come to this class for new moms  that meets at her church. We'll meet for a few weeks this summer and discuss some of the blessings and challenges of becoming a mom.

Story and me after our second Square One class
Andy & I have even gotten to go on a date. My mom babysat last Friday night while Andy and I went to see Jurassic World. I confess that halfway through the movie, I whispered to Andy, "I miss Story," but I was able to totally focus on Chris Pratt and that GMO dinosaur the rest of the time, and enjoyed getting to be with Andy and the entire Drafthouse experience (Thank you Patty McMullen, for the gift card as a"baby"gift- you were so right on)


Everyone says that parenting comes pretty naturally when it's your own kid, and, for once, everyone is pretty right. A couple of weeks ago, Andy summed things up well when he said, "She belongs here. It's like she's been here a long time." But let's be honest, Andy and I don't know much about babies, so we're trudging up this learning curve. Here are a few of the rookie mistakes we've made.
  • That one time when I was one the phone with Lacy and came back into the kitchen after about thirty minutes to find the baby sitting in her little vibrating seat at the table, lights off, and no one around. Everyone had forgotten about her, and I think she had been sitting there alone for like ten minutes. Thank God she doesn't move yet.
  • That one time when I pinched her thigh into the car seat buckle. Sorry, Story. 
  • The many times that I've forgotten to move all clothing, socks, blankets, etc. out of the line of fire when changing diapers. Good thing we have LOTS of onesies. 
What's in a Name: 

Over the past few months, a lot of people have asked us about the significance of Story's name. I usually give them a spiel about how we met a family at the Austin Stone who had a child named Story and we liked the name, but, in truth, there's a little more to it than that. This seems like a good time to expand on why we chose this unique name.

So I did first hear the name Story at the Austin Stone. We knew of a family at that church who had adopted a little girl and named her Story. I thought the name was cute and unique, but I wasn't sure how a name like that would suit a person as they got older. Then, last year when I taught A&P, I learned about the Human Brain Initiative. One of the lead scientists on the Initiative was a woman named Story Landis (she has since retired) Seeing the name on a distinguished neurobiologist made me stop thinking of it as only a cutesy little girl name.

I usually stop at that when explaining the name to people, but there's a little something more to our choice of this particular name. The power of the narrative is an amazing thing. Think about how stories have lasted through history in ways that few other things have. Technologies are improved upon and become outdated. Governments rise and fall. Traditions and rituals evolve or disappear entirely. But stories remain. In teaching, I've learned that if I can wrap a lesson in a narrative students will always remember what they've been taught better than if I just try to present facts. Why is this? I suppose it has to do with the fact that God is an Author, the Greatest Story-teller of all. His Word is one Story, composed of many smaller stories. But, as the Jesus Storybook Bible reminds us, all of those little stories come together to tell a love story about a Hero who loves with a Never-Stopping, Never-Giving-Up, Always-and-Forever love. Stories make life beautiful and meaningful. They're how we tell our own history. I love that God is the Author of our stories, but He also lets us participate in their telling. Sort of reminds me of a choose your own adventure book. I'm excited about the story that He can write with my little girl's life. I pray every day that it will be a good one. I pray, too, that she will choose to write with Him, and that together they will make something truly beautiful.

Incidentally, Story is the only girl name that Andy and I ever considered. We had a list of boy names (which we thought we were going to use because we thought for weeks that we were surely going to have a boy). When, to Andy's disappointment, we found out that we were having a girl, Story was the only name that ever appealed to us.

Story's middle name is Lamm, which was my maternal grandmother's maiden name. So Lamm is not an attempt to spell a cute animal name in a weird way. It's an homage to my Scottish heritage. Every time I say it, I think about family and the Lamm-Scott reunions I grew up attending in the North Carolina sandhills.

Cherishing the moment:

Since my mom has been here since Story's birth, I've had plenty of time to bond with baby girl- what a gift. Mom, I cannot thank you enough for taking care of laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping so that I can focus on Story. I've also been so encouraged by a few friends who have new babies who have instagrammed reminders to enjoy each moment because they won't stay little for long- Anna Goetz and Katie Monaghan, I'm in your debt. Here are some of my favorite things about being Story's mom.

  • Listening to Story's noises when she is full and sleepy. 
  • Watching Story stretch her neck when she's just waking up. She turns her head to one side, juts her chin out and purses her lips together, all while clutching her hands in little fists that she lifts high over her head. 
  • Reading Story the Jesus Storybook Bible and praying over her. 
  • Stroking the back of Story's head and her cheeks. Softest ever. 
  • Watching Story's startle reflex- come on, you know it's funny. 
This is probably my favorite picture of me and Story

Totally cheesy, but we are matching on the 4th of July. If you look carefully, you can see that we're both wearing a blue and white anchor pattern. 

And a Little Child Shall Lead Us:

One of the best things about becoming a parent is the way that it's challenging me to be more dependent on the Lord. There have been so many moments in the past month whenAndy, my parents and I have gone straight to the Lord in prayer, because we did not have what we needed to meet Story's needs. Here are a few of the lessons I'm continuing to learn.
  • The only control God gave me is self-control. I heard this at Catalyst conference two years ago (Thank you Joy!) and it has stuck with me ever since. Whether it was dealing with Story's bilirubin count, her sometimes fickle eating patterns, or frustrations over my post-partum physical health, I am realizing that God is in control. I'm learning to ask God to give me patience, peace, gentleness and love, and having to consciously stop trying to control things. It helps to reality-check that I do not have control anyway. 
  • The US Women's Soccer team just won the World Cup, and one of the things that stood out to me about that victory is the way that the women celebrated for and with one another. It's a really cool thing to watch an entire team come together in a huddle to celebrate a goal- even though just one of them scored it. I want my marriage to be like the US Women's Soccer Team. I'm seeing how tempting it can be to get frustrated about who-does-what with the baby or around the house. It's easy to want to start keeping tab on all that I am doing to keep things functional around here, or to think that everyone should do things just the way that I do. But that's selfish. Imagine if the US Women's soccer team did that. What if, when Carli Lloyd scored her third goal, instead of celebrating with her teammates, she looked at them accusingly and said, "Why do I have to do everything around here?" Or what if Alex Morgan stomped off the field pouting because Carli was getting all the goals? That would be ridiculous. And it's ridiculous for me to criticize or resent others who are part of Team Story, especially Andy. I'm trying to look at each challenge as something we're facing together, and to think of ways that we can overcome it as a team. We might not win a big gold cup or get on TV, but if Story is happy and healthy, then that's victory enough.
And here are some of our ongoing challenges and prayer needs. Thank you to those of you who will ask God to help us. :)
  • Consistency in eating and sleeping patterns for Story. 
  • Wisdom about childcare for Story. 
  • Comfort and strength for me after my Mom leaves, especially during Andy's drill weekends. 
  • Some time, energy and focus for me to begin gradually preparing for the school year.