Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Same Outfit, Different Year

When our oldest son Seth was born almost 20 years ago our dear friends Duane and Pam Falk gave him the outfit you see pictured below. We had Seth´s picture taken in it when he was 10 days old. A few months later Jake was born and we took him to have his picture made in the outfit when he was 11 days old and so a tradition was born. Since then we´ve had all our kids picture taken in the outfit except David. David was 3 when he came home to live with us so he didn´t fit into it. I seriously considered trying to cram him into it, but I didn´t want him to hate me later. :^) In order to remedy the situation of not having David´s picture in the outfit I took a picture of him holding Mercy in it. We even made Josh wear it even though he was 6 months old when he came home and almost a year old when we had the picture made. Good thing he was tiny.

The outfit has faded over the years, but it´s become such a part of our family that we even brought it along with us to Bolivia just in case we needed it and sure enough we did. In fact it is the ONLY baby outfit we brought with us. Enjoy the pictures of the Holman kids in "the outfit". Also at the bottom I´ve included pictures of Joe as a toddler and me as a baby so you can see where they all get their good looks from. :^)

Seth 1989

Jake 1990

Caleb 1992

Ben 1994

David 2008 (but born in 1996)

Josh 1999 (born in 1998)

Faith 1999

Hope 2001

Joy 2003

Patience 2004

Mercy 2008

Joe 1965 (but born in 1963)

Denise 1966

Monday, October 27, 2008

Inaccurate Mirrors

I have two mirrors that I look in most every day. One is in my closet and one is in my bathroom. There is a slight difference in the image projected from those mirrors. The one in my closet makes me look a bit thinner than the one in my bathroom. Guess which one I like best? I´m not sure if either of them is accurate, but I like the way the one in my closet makes me look. It makes me feel better about myself than the other one. I like to think that it is the accurate one and that the other one is somehow warped throwing off a fatter image of myself. Neither of them are like a fun house mirror...making me look unusually tall and thin or short and fat. They are not way off of reality, just a little. I´m not really sure which one is wrong or if both of them are, all I know is that I like the way one makes me look better than the other.

Yesterday as I was looking at myself in my closet mirror I thought about what the book of James in the Bible tells us. James says that God´s Word is like a mirror. We can look at it and get an accurate picture of ourselves. (James then goes on to tell us that we need to do something with that knowledge....not just see ourselves for who we are, but allow Him to change us into who He wants us to be...but I´ll save that part for another blog.) The Bible shows us what we look like to God. It is the Perfect Standard that reveals exactly who we really are not what we would like to be or what we want to think we are. Many of us might like to have something a bit kinder that makes us look a little better not showing so many (read: all) of our faults. Something like the mirror in my closet. We might not like to be faced with our reality. We don´t like to see that there are things that need to be changed, places where we don´t measure up. I think this is why so many disregard what the Bible says. They don´t like what they see when they look into it, so they decide to use something else to measure their lives by....public opinion, conventional wisdom, other´s ideas or even their own thoughts about what is right.

When I look in my closet mirror I like what I see. When I look at the mirror in my bathroom I see that I have more work that needs to be done. The same is true when I look into the Perfect Law of Liberty. I see that I have lots to change before I look like Christ and the more I look into the mirror of the Bible the more I see in me that needs work. However, I am grateful for the accurate picture of myself presented in it´s pages.

I´d like to believe that my closet mirror shows the accurate picture of me, but I don´t know for sure. I´m glad to know that the mirror I use to evaluate my inner self is without flaw.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caleb´s Idea of Babysitting

Notice his book in the background and the ipod earphones in his ears. :^)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Merci Beaucoup

I took two years of French in high school. Lots of good that´s doing me now in South America, huh? Anyway, one of the first things I learned was "merci beaucoup" or "thank you (merci) very much (beaucoup)". Now I´ve taken to calling my little (or not so little) Mercy a new nickname. I call her Mercy Beaucoup....which could really mean "lots and lots of Mercy" or"very much of Mercy" which we think is appropriate considering her size. :^)

Seriously though after all the jokes we´ve made about how big she is you might think she´s rolls and rolls of fat. She´s really not. She´s a very tall two feet. Yep, 24 whole inches. But since she can´t stand up I guess I should say she´s two feet long. She´s the longest one month old I´ve ever seen. Don´t get me wrong. She does have my double (or triple) chins. But since it´s the only thing she has that looks like me I think they are adorable.

Here´s a couple of recent pics. See how long she is. And yes, she is still the perfect baby (as close as they get) with lots and lots of smiles for her family. She´s beaucoup (lots and lots) of everything....smiles, fun, cuteness and love.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting in Shape

What do you want to look like one year from now? Could you get into shape if you had a year to do it? What if it was your main focus? What if you worked on it every day? What if you worked more on it than you ever have to whip your body into better shape? What part of your body would you focus on? Maybe you think I´ve been thinking about this since I´m 4 weeks postpartum, but physical fitness is not really what I want to talk about. I´ll tell you what part of my body I want to have in shape before next year: my tongue. And let me tell you that is no easy job. I truly believe it would be easier to get the whole rest of my body in shape than to get my tongue under control.

Just look at what James says about our tongues. "People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!"

Wow! "This is not right!" As I read those Words this morning I was terribly convicted. I was convicted about the shortness of time I have. I was especially thinking about my time left with Jake under our roof. That´s what led to the above questions. Could I get my tongue in shape if I focused on it for one year. That´s all the time I have left with year. Will my tongue, my words, to him over the next year be edifying and encourage him on the path he is to walk as an adult or will my words be quick and short and full of selfishness and frustration? How will he remember me? As a mom who controlled her tongue or as a mom who gave quick retorts and poured out judgemental words that tore down much more than they built up?

This brings up an interesting point. Can we control our tongues? James tells us that no one can tame the tongue. I know I can´t. I´ve been working on it for pretty much my entire adult life. I can´t control it. He also says it´s full of deadly poison. Even though it´s a tiny part of our bodies it can do some serious damage to those we love and we can´t even stop it. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to pop off with the wrong thing under stress and how hard it is to say something that edifies and glorifies God? Have you ever noticed how just a couple of harsh words can injure a child´s (or a spouse´s) spirit and melt the happiness right off of their face?

So, what do I do? How do I get my mouth in shape? How do I keep it from hurting those I love? I must surrender it to God. I must admit that I can´t do it. I don´t have any self-control. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit and He must bear it in my life as I submit to Him. I have to allow Him to produce it as I abide in Him. I can´t muster it up on my own. When I try I can do it for a while and then I fail because it´s me trying to do it not allowing Him to produce it in me. When I do fail, when I sin, I must go back to the cross and ask forgiveness from the One who loves me the most. Then I must recommit to abiding in Him and ask Him to control my tongue for me and to use me as a vessel to speak His words. It´s an ongoing process (for me anyway). Please pray with and for me that I will continually seek to surrender my tongue to the Lord, that He would control it and use it to speak words of life not death. I really want it to be in shape!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Something Hope Said.... me the other day: ¨Mom, I love talking to you. It´s almost like talking to an adult."

I´m not sure I have the interpretation of just what she meant, but I´m choosing to take it as a compliment.

Monday, October 6, 2008

At Last: The Story of Mercy´s Birth

For all of you who have been waiting for the story of Mercy´s birth here it is at last. For those of you who don´t care or had rather not know the details, please be patient and I´ll blog some different stuff soon.

My mom and Shelly (my friend from the States) arrived on Wednesday September 10th late. It was the day after my due date. At the airport waiting for them I started having regular contractions. They got to about 15 minutes apart and then just stopped in the night. Another disappointment, but this time it was cushioned by the fact that my mom was here. A little earlier in the day my doc had called and moved my appointment to Friday morning. So we just took it easy on Thursday and let my mom and Shelly get some much needed rest. We were so grateful that they were on Aerosur since American Airlines had cancelled all their flights to Bolivia because of the political turmoil. Over the next few days we stayed mostly inside but ventured out for a little sightseeing, shopping and doctor´s visits as we could.

On Friday I saw my doc who said I hadn´t progressed too much. (For those of you keeping score I was barely dilated and only about 50% effaced.) I had an ultrasound to make sure the placenta was in tact and functioning well since I was already overdue. It was so she sent me home with the sad news to come back the following Wednesday. I was hoping to be induced as I knew Mercy was getting big. We asked her approximately how big Mercy was from our ultrasound measurements. She said about 9 pounds. And believe me I felt every ounce of it. I hoped everyday that week to go into labor, but alas no such blessing. Mom, Shelly and I did manage to get some meals in the freezer so we would have something to eat after the baby came. I went back 8 days overdue on the next Wednesday when the doc told me I had progressed some, but none too drastically. (I was dilated to a 3 and between 50-70% effaced she said generously.) I was really hoping she´d induce me that day, but she wanted me to be a little more ready. I felt ready!! Over ready! She said we´d meet at the hospital for an induction on Friday afternoon. By the time Friday rolled around I was 10 days over due, really miserable and my mom had been here for 9 of her 14 days.

Thursday afternoon we went to a new grocery store here in town as a diversion. I´ll blog more on that later, but you have to understand that this was a HUGE event for all us gringos here. A new grocery store that even had Frappaccinos and some other American products as well!!! My one friend described being as excited as being at Walmart at Christmastime. On the way to the store we stopped at the hospital where I had hoped to deliver. It´s the newest and best hospital here in Coch. They gave us the tour of three rooms and we choose one. They had a semi-private room where I could be with someone else or we could reserve the other bed and Joe could sleep there. They also had a private room with only one bed. The other choice was way better than the rest. It was a suite. They only had one, but it was soooo nice. It rivaled birthing rooms in the States. It even had air-conditioning. Unheard of here. They are window units, but hey it´s freon and cold air!! As far as I know the labor rooms at that hospital are the only hospital rooms in the entire city that have AC. We were excited and asked if we needed to pay in advance. The tour guide/nurse said no, just come in the next morning and check in. Well, that night less than four hours later we received a call from our doc. She said all the rooms there had filled up unless I wanted to share a room with another patient. I didn´t. So, we went to plan B. Another least it´s fun to say although it makes Joe sing whenever he hears it. I called a couple of friends who had been at Copacabana. One had even delivered there. She said it was "more rustic". My other friend used the word "antiquated". These are not necessarily the words I wanted to hear, but at least I was going to be induced the next day. We went back and repacked our bags since this hospital like the rest does not provide any amenities. By amenities I mean toilet paper, post-partum pads, meds for me, diapers, wipes, soap for washing the baby (if you don´t bring it, they don´t wash her), clothes for the baby, etc. If you need it you have to bring it. We also packed food and juice in a cooler as we were told by a friend to do so (thank you Laura for that great tip!) along with a sleeping bag and pillow for Joe and a large mirror so I could watch the birth. We looked like we were moving into the hospital not just going to be there overnight.

The next day, D-Day, Shelly made me a chicken salad to take along for my dinner and I went grocery shopping for the other things I needed. Then about noon Joe, my mom and I headed for the hospital where they put me in the ER and started an IV. Soon my doc arrived and we went up to a room where she started the Pitocin drip fast and hard at 2:00 to induce my labor. From the beginning I had contractions every 2 minutes although for the first few hours they weren´t too bad. There was no box to make sure the drip was consistent so we had to keep counting the drips to make sure I was getting the right amount. (Thanks again Laura for that tip!) My friend Angie came and stayed with us as did another friend Linda who is also a SIM nurse. It was great to have them there. Angie was very encouraging as normal and Linda was a big blessing as she helped with all the medical stuff and intervention with the nurses. My doctor was wonderful as well. She didn´t leave me at all. She stayed by my bed for my entire labor and then of course through the delivery. It reminded me of my midwife in the States....very nice. Of course I was more than thrilled that my mom was able to be there. And last but best was Joe. I know that I never want to try to go through a labor/delivery without him. He´s my rock and my honey.

Around 3:30 or so they gave me an enema (YUCK!!!). Still standard procedure here. It made me very ill. I was having diarrhea and vomiting too. The one good thing about it all was because of the force of the vomiting my water broke....that´s never happened before...the doc/midwife always had to break it in my past labors. So between the diarrhea, vomiting and my water breaking Joe said I had a traffic jam of body fluids. The one good thing about it all is I think it helped to speed up the labor. After my water broke my doc asked if I´d like an epidural. She said it would take about 30 minutes for the anesthesiologist to get there. (Since she´s Bolivian I took this to mean it would take him between an hour and an hour and a half.) So I really needed to make a decision. A couple of different times in the States I´ve had trouble with my epidural where they anesthesiologist went too far and hit my spinal fluid. Once I even got the awful headache that accompanies that complication. I didn´t really want to risk that here since if they don´t do the procedure (blood patch) to cure the headache or if it doesn´t work I could have the headache for up to a couple of months. So I said I didn´t want the epidural. Now for those of you who know me know I LOVE epidurals (I´m the President of the Epidural Fan Club and believe all good "epidural guys" need a big raise!) and have always had one for my other deliveries, but I thought this was the best decision this time.

Things started picking up steam and getting pretty dog gone painful. The pain was intense, but worse was the way the contractions were coming fast and hard...still about 2 minutes apart or less and the peaks were lasting almost a full minute. About 7:00 I felt like I needed to push. The doc checked me and I was only at a 7. Not close to pushing yet. It was about this time I started wondering if I was going to make it and how much longer was it going to be. Earlier I had secretly hoped to go past midnight so that Mercy would be born on Joe´s birthday. But at this point that was the LAST thing I wanted. Since I felt the urge to push the doc decided to go ahead and take me to the delivery room.

They pushed me on down to delivery and parked me in the hall. Joe, my mom, Linda and the doc were all putting on scrubs and getting ready to join me. Now I was all alone and in some severe pain. I remember quoting Psalm 23 and praying out loud as it seemed that the sound of my own gringa voice was comforting. After what seemed like a long time, but I´m sure was only a few minutes I said rather loudly ¨¿Donde esta mi esposo?" Joe heard me and came rushing down the hall with the nurses calling after him that he wasn´t ready because he didn´t have his shoes covered or his mask on. (The nurses really don´t like having anyone in the delivery room and I had a room full. They only allow it for gringos. And only then if the doc approves. My wonderful doc even let my mom and Linda stay with me. Bolivian men still sit in the waiting room and wait.) I was grateful to have Joe back at my side and helping me through the pain. He says he was injured by my tight vice-grip-like squeezes of his fingers, but I think he´ll make a full recovery.

By the time I got into the delivery room I was at an 8 and still wanting to push, but not quite ready. It was burning hot in there. I was drenched in sweat and they had a small heater going to keep the room warm for the baby. The nurses started trying to cover me up and put leg warmer kinds of things on me which I didn´t want since I was so hot. At this point I didn´t really care if I watched the birth or not. I mostly had my eyes closed through the unrelenting contractions. So my mom being the caring and innovative person she is used the mirror to fan me. That helped alot as did sitting up instead of lying down on the delivery table. I finally felt like I was going to make it. Around this time the doc told me I could push. I did about three times then she gave me a huge mediolateral episiotomy (yuck again). One last long push (while the doc was telling me not to push but to wait as she was putting up her instruments from the episiotomy) and into the world came a huge beautiful baby girl. They put her on my chest and I thanked God over and over again for this precious life and gift he had given us. Joe asked the staff to pray a prayer of thanksgiving with us. As usual he broke down with the emotion of the moment.

Mercy Darlene Holman (the Darlene part named after my mom) was born at 8:10 pm on September 19th weighing a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces. She was 23 inches long. And did I mention gorgeous? She´s also as close to perfect as a fallen baby can be. She nurses well and ever since she was 5 days old she´s been sleeping through the night. This is one benefit of a large baby and half and half for breast milk. :^) At 11 days postpartum I was able to get into my pre-pregnancy jeans. This is one benefit of living in a 3rd world country and getting some sort of diarrhea bug postpartum.

A few of fun side notes to make this long story longer for those of you who are still with me:

After the delivery they were wheeling me back to my hospital room and hitting every thing they could along the way (I was never so grateful that I didn´t have a c-section). After I was gone all the nurses and docs left as did my mom, Joe was left alone there with the baby. He called after Linda and asked if someone was going to bring Mercy up to my hospital room. Linda asked the pediatrician who said "Oh, he can take her". Quite different from in the States where there is an electonic alarm on the baby and every nurse and doc must make sure the baby matches the mom and dad´s hospital bracelet. In fact, none of us had a hospital bracelet. As they were taking me back to the ER Joe called after me...."Her name is Denise". That´s as formal as it got.

Speaking of that...when I checked into the hospital I didn´t have or show any i.d. and after her birth we didn´t fill out any paper work, birth certificates, etc. She´s just "under the radar" until we go downtown and get all of her citizenship paperwork. Right now other than this blog there is no record of her existance.

When Joe was making his way back to my hospital room with Mercy first he went back to the locker room to retrieve his clothes. He couldn´t change since he was holding her so he took his clothes and headed downstairs. Of course all the lights in the stairwell were out and it was night time. Bolivians don´t like to waste electricity. He couldn´t see. So he was holding her tightly with one hand and with the other he had a death grip on the handrail (at least there was one of those) and he walked like the old man Tim Conway used to play. He didn´t want to drop the 20 minute old baby.

After I was back in the room I was greeted by a smiling and still encouraging Angie who gave me one of my favorite guessed it.....a real Starbucks Frappaccino in a bottle! Thanks, Ang. A nice topper for a great day!

The staff at the hospital left us alone all night...also unheard of in the US. One time right after I was taken back to my room after delivery the nurse checked my temp and blood pressure. The next day she asked me if I was able to go to the rest room. I guess it´s a good thing I didn´t wait on them to take me. Once before 10:00 pm and again the next day a doc stuck his head in the door and asked if we were all okay. We said yes and he left. We went home 12 hours after her birth and after paying our $200 bill that included the hospital stay, the delivery and the pediatrician. (Our sweet, wonderful Christian doc gave us her services as a gift. We found this out the following week when I went for a post partum check up. God provides again.)

As soon as we arrived home we were swamped by kiddos wanting to see and hold Mercy. She smiled like crazy at them. I´ve never seen anything like it. I don´t know who was the most thrilled. (Kids 12 and under can´t visit at the hospital so they weren´t able to see her until we got home, but as I said it was pretty soon after her birth.)

Later we Skyped my dad with the web-cam so that he could see Mercy.

Back at home we received lots of encouraging emails from friends all over the world. We are indeed blessed.

A short four days later Mom and Shelly left for the States. We were sad to see them go, but so glad they were able to be with us for the time they were here.

Here´s another pic of our newest addition in the cute outfit my dad sent for her.