Journey to Parenthood

I want to be purposeful about journaling during this time in our lives as we watch our miracle micro preemie, Asher, continue to grow and thrive. I began this blog during my month of bed rest at the hospital while I was pregnant with Asher and his brother Titus. We continue to hope and trust the Lord for Asher's future. This blog begins with the story of how both of our boys came to be. They came about after many tears, many prayers, and many months of crushed hopes. On February 2, 2012, our boys Titus Bauer and Asher Mark were born at just 23 weeks and 2 days gestation. My water around Titus broke at 19 weeks, so his lungs were very underdeveloped. Titus lived 45 minutes and is now living a perfect life in heaven as he watches over his little brother Asher. Two and a half years later God redeemed our story of hurt with a precious full term baby brother for Asher. We are humbled by how the Lord has loved on us in our journey through parenthood.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Baby Ninja Has New Moves!

Last week when I posted about Easter, I said how Asher had started rocking and sitting on his own a little. And now he's doing it ALL THE TIME. It's so fun to watch!!! He'll roll, sit, rock, then go down to a roll again to get where he wants to go. And then today, he added this new move! Downward dog? Yoga? I don't know? But it's funny!

Here's a video of his baby ninja moves. I call them that because he is sooo not cuddly, and he just uses his combo attack of roll, sit, and kick- off- the- wall to get what he wants. I first called him my baby ninja when he was younger and wouldn't stay in my arms when I was holding him, he was constantly turning and diving forward or back and at that time he had also started wrestling my arm with his legs when I tried to change him! It can be challenging to change a diaper, and just frustrating sometimes with him for sure!  But, I actually just love to see all that he's doing at the same time! He does NOT want to be still. Ever. No cuddling, no rocking. Just put me down. I got things to do mom. :) 

Here's a few more pics of what he's been up to. 


The vacuum was on- not scared! 

My big boy just sitting and playing 

Dinner out-- on a patio!  

Forgot the placemat for him...oops. So, Bryan says "can we sanitize the inside of his 
mouth??" Ha, we wish. 

So big! 

As far as eating goes...we are doing the same- just hoping to try some higher calorie finger foods in the near future. This week he's had some trouble with throw up, so we haven't been too aggressive the last few days with new things. (New things often trigger throw up.) We've been sticking to the baby snacks and some fruit. BUT he sure did drink ONE OUNCE of water the other night in just a few minutes while I watched and then AGAIN last night! He only takes sips throughout the day, and that first day I actually forgot to offer the water so he must have been thirsty? That's kind of foreign to us because we don't have a baby that ever looks or acts hungry or thirsty. But SUCKING an ounce is a HUGE thing for him! He looked just like a pro- like he'd been sucking on a bottle this whole time. We were so proud. The feeding tube world is full of highs and lows with oral eating so we are thankful for that high this week! 
Just laughing at who know what after doing the oral part of his feeding! This is when I give him some toys and we read books while we wait for the milk to finish going in. And he just had a few things to say first I guess! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place -"By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.." 2 Timothy 1:14

I have to blog about this, because it's something God showed me this week that I think many women can relate to, and maybe need to hear.

In my bible study, we've been studying the tabernacle and God's instructions to the nation of Israel on every tiny detail of constructing it. And the imagery in studying this has been awesome. The tabernacle, then, was the dwelling place of God. Since the cross, we are now a dwelling place of God. We have the honor of housing His Spirit.

"And who has also put His seal on us, and given us His Spirit in our hearts..." 2 Corinthians 1:22

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1

I learned that second verse in my 20's. I always thought it to be talking about physically, as in keeping yourself pure before marriage. It has a new meaning to me today, after hearing it in bible study last night. I think this verse reminds me that my body is a holy place, a place to reflect worship--no matter what is happening in my body, no matter what it does or doesn't do. All of me should reflect the Lord, and all parts of my life. In the last few weeks, I have been struggling with the reality of my body just not working correctly in the area of making, and sustaining/carrying babies.  For different reasons, it all came up again in my mind...what I had been through, and how different my experience was compared to most of the people around me. I think it's part of the grieving/mourning process to revisit this often. And believe me, it's not something I keep wanting to revisit! But because of my experience, I don't think the same as I once did about any of it. It has been tough battling through my thoughts some days.  And being a mother, and having friends who are all mothers, has meant conversations are often about pregnancy, birth plans, baby milestones, etc.  Some days those topics are not sensitive to me. Some days they are, and I try to "tune" out certain parts of the conversation. Some days, those topics are suffocating and like tiny daggers to my heart, and I can't even stick around to try to tune them out.

So many things in motherhood stand as badges of honor for some strange reason. Pride is that reason I guess. And idolatry.  I have so much boasting to do in the LORD when it comes to how I became a mother. But I don't tend to see it that way. I tend to see all the deficiencies in how I became a mother. It's like I wish I could boast in how I had 2 big healthy twin boys, rather than boasting in how the Lord tenderly taught and loved me through the early birth of my twin boys and the loss of one of them?  How through the life of the one who lived, against the odds, and the healing he experienced through God's power encouraged and strengthened the faith of many people.  I want to trade that? Really?? I mean it doesn't make sense. It's a trap I fall into. Like how the nation of Israel wanted to exchange their miracle-making, parting-the-red seas, providing-food-from-heaven God for a life-less, very limited god made of gold. The story God chose for me has so much more for me to be proud of and the best part is, NONE of it is a result of me or anything I did. The trap I fall in to is wanting to experience that "normal" miracle of the childbirth experience. I actually want to trade my extraordinary miracle birth experience with "normal". Really, it doesn't make sense at all. I mean God shows His glory through either experience. But I KNOW my relationship with Him is different, better, and deeper because of what He chose for me. And that is better.  I do believe, however, there is a sense of pride you feel in having your plans turn out just as you wanted. And that's part of this struggle too, for me, is accepting over and over again that His plans were better than mine.

I think that sense of pride goes hand in hand with the lie I believe often, and many do I think, that we had something to do with anything in our lives that was a blessing, was easy, or has gone so perfectly. That those things happened that way because of us. Probably not. I believe that's the common grace of God. None of us "deserve" any of that. Well behaved children. Healthy babies at birth. Babies who sleep well. Athletic kids. Good jobs. Nice houses and cars. All things we tend to claim. Now we do play roles in that, for sure, but I think it's terribly easy to find affirmation and identity in those things, and to glorify yourself in those achievements. It can be easy to idolize those things. So whether it's been easy or a lack of easy--it all points to God. Whether it's 3 babies in 3 years or none after trying 3 years, it points to Him. Whether it's husbands having amazing careers or being jobless, it points to Him. Regardless of the scenario, God can use it and refine us by it.

I also think I've struggled with being so hurt by the whole getting pregnant, having healthy babies thing because since I can't do that well,  I think and believe that my body is not sufficient. Not good enough, and that it's up to me, and I fail at that. This is hard to accept! I don't know how else to say that. The book Ache for a Child by Debra Bridwell, she says "He created us in His image with many of His attributes. It should come as no surprise that we share His desire to create. It's no wonder we can feel jarred and confused when we are unable to fulfill it." But, the truth is, it was never up to me. And, it was never in my control. I should not seek nor get any credit for creating and sustaining a life inside me. I know the root of this struggle is I never truly stopped idolizing that. That's the ugly, bottom line truth. So, I have been praying for God to change my heart- again. For Him to show me Truth, remind me He's better and that I can and should only boast in Him, for perspective, and most importantly, grace for others. It's exhausting to keep dealing with the same ugly emotions again and again. I get so frustrated with that. I mean, Asher is 14 mo old. Shouldn't I be over the trauma of Asher's early birth and the loss of Titus and the fact that I don't ovulate well? The answer, I think, is no. I don't know that I'll ever be totally "over" it. But healed? I hope so. I haven't been good about asking God to continually heal my heart. I've been arrogant to think "I'm done with that." I have had many moments where I have felt healed. But, I can easily forget it's a process. This former teacher likes to check things off the list and move on! Then, something I heard at bible study last night was really the icing on the cake as far as what Truth God has been trying to tell me, over and over again, since I began my struggle to becoming a mother.

Jen Wilkins is teaching the Exodus bible study I'm doing. She is very gifted in speaking, teaching, and communicating with women. You can check out her blog here. Here is the quote from last night's teaching that blew my heart up:

"You are the tabernacle, and if we live long enough, this tent of a body will loose the ability to do things it could once do. What if my body reached a point where all it could do is what it should have been doing all along- giving glory to God, and no longer being able to chase after lesser things? The tabernacle had specific instructions for it's design. It was perfectly made. The bible says 'how lovely is Your dwelling place'. May every stretch mark, wrinkle, every thing that is not working, point to the glory of God because the Lord has made his dwelling in us." 

So, can I think of this body of mine as lovely? This body that fails to do the one thing it was first designed to? Can I accept I was perfectly made? I often thought of those statements as referring to insecurities about physical appearance. It is a new idea to me to think of it in light of how my body doesn't conceive or carry babies well. Does that point to the glory of God? Can crazy cycles, no periods, miscarriages, an incompetent cervix, and pre-term birth point to the glory of God? (Deep breath/sigh) ABSOLUTELY. If I choose to see that and do that. What about your body frustrates you? Getting older? Everything getting looser? New health issues? Extra weight? Stretch marks? The same is true. Perfectly made. Lovely.  A dwelling place, a house of worship reflecting the Lord--with all it's imperfections, pointing to the Lord.

The fact that Asher came from me, came dangerously early, and that we lost 3 babies in the process of trying to have one points to the glory of God -- a million times more than one uneventful pregnancy with a healthy baby would have.  Oh I need SO much grace for my forgetfulness and stubborness! I am also like Israel in Exodus. They were quick to forget what God had done. They quickly idolized lesser things. Pretty easy to judge people who start worshipping a golden calf right? We think, that's so dumb! However, the things that subtly slip into our minds that we worship are just as dumb. Just as ridiculous as that golden calf in comparison to an all-knowing, infinitely gracious God, the gifts He's given, and all He has to offer. How many times can I learn this and forget this? How long will it take to shatter the idol of getting pregnant easily and having full term babies? I guess as long as I choose to believe that's better than God. I'm thankful for His grace as I continuously wrestle with it all. I'm thankful He sticks with me as I have high moments of conquering that idol, and then low moments of letting it rule me all over again. I'm thankful for the Truth that says He has made you and I perfect. Just as He planned. He didn't make any mistakes.

No mistakes here. This little guy and his story were perfectly planned. His creation, birth, and healing point to God alone.

14 months and Easter!

Asher's First Easter at Home! 

Last Easter....3lbs, this Easter 17 1/2lbs! 

Finally! A photo shoot where Asher's sitting skills are better. I've been waiting for this! 

He did so good!! 


 Asher's first time to eat indoors in a public place! Eek! It was a BIG step for us. He loved it! We sat in the corner, so we felt better not being right next to other tables. 

The grandchildren 

Asher just turned 14 months (and 10 months corrected) and he continues to surprise us with new things! In one week he picked up the back scoot, wiggling backwards on his belly, and rocking on all 4's! That is HUGE. AND he figured out how to get to a sitting position from his belly! OH MY GOSH. I don't know if I can explain how exciting these things are because again, it's taken a while, and we have always wondered if he will have significant delays from being so small and being given so many different meds as a tiny tiny baby.  So, we thank the Lord for his progress! 

He did this right after I laid him down for a nap! Of course he's showing off and doing his "no hands" trick-- holding his blankie in his mouth. Mmm...who else likes to show off that I know?? (not me)

And his balance with sitting has improved SO much! I think because we go to physical therapy we are always aware of what's next on development stuff, and what we should be looking for. And because Asher seems to conquer things on the tail end of when is "typical" for his corrected age, I feel like I am always anticipating a certain skill for a long time before we see it. That makes seeing these things EVEN more exciting! I will cry when he crawls. I really will.  I just have to think, "My tiny 1lb, born on the brink of viability baby boy is doing _______ (fill in blank)" and it gets me every time!!  God's miracles don't get old. Especially the greatest and most central to our faith that we celebrated this weekend.... Jesus dying for us on the cross, taking the weight of all our sins past, present, and future. Now that, is overwhelming. That is THE miracle of them all. 

Happy Easter!