Tuesday, February 16, 2016

He's Here and He's Lovely

It has been a while since I've written and for good reason.  Lucas Joshua Tuininga arrived in all his glory on Sunday, October 4 at 11:08 am.  He weighed a whopping 9lbs and hasn't stopped eating since.  He is now four months old and weighs in at 15lbs 2 oz and is showing more of his personality everyday.  We are so blessed.  Sometimes I look into his big blue eyes and marvel at his perfection.  God is good.

You want the birth story?  It's pretty straight forward and everything I prayed for it to be even with a couple of complications near the end.  I'll spare you the details!  I wasn't sure what going into labour without being induced would feel like so early Sunday morning when I woke around 5 am I thought, "mmm, these could be contractions".  Yup, they were and they progressed quickly.  My mom was summoned, another pastor called to preach (because of course, Lucas knows his daddy's Sunday mornings are generally busy) and our midwife waited for us at the hospital.  A friend came to the rescue to watch the two big kids and we were off.

Everything progressed as it is supposed to -- I even was able to read my book between contractions for an hour or so!  Around 10, I heard my midwife on the phone with the anesthesiologist saying I didn't need an epidural.  What?!  She said I could do it without and in hindsight, she was right although that last hour was pretty intense.  My water was broke and labour continued in all seriousness.  The next hour was excruciating ... but ended with a baby who decided a few more minutes in the womb would be good accompanied by a few minutes of panic but resulting in a beautifully perfect wee man born with his fist tight to his head and placed on my chest.  There was a few more minutes of action before everything settled down and I was encouraged to hand back the laughing gas -- which by the way, doesn't reduce or numb the pain but certainly made me breathe through it all.  It was over and my baby, my SON, was here without blemish and in excellent health.

We were able to come home the next day once his blood sugars stabilized and it's been non-stop since.  Lucas, while adorable and handsome, is a fussy baby.  For the first two months he wanted to be held almost all the time and often even when held, he cried.  I was exhausted and give thanks to God for an amazing husband, mostly well behaved big kids and family and friends who brought food and kept me company.  I am especially thankful for our moms who came for days at a time and kept my household going.  But through it all, all I can think of is how amazing this small person who dominates my world is.   

I am so in love with this baby and fall more in love with him everyday.  He smiles with his whole body -- especially his eyes.  My husband calls him, "My boy!" and is a natural with this tiny human.  His big sister adores and mothers him gently encouraging him to talk and smile (always asking me to, "watch this mom!") and is always willing to hold him even if he is crying.  His big brother squeezes his legs and whacks him with stuffed animals eliciting belly laughs from both boys.  I watch all with a full heart.  

But three kids ... whew! 

~ I wondered how my heart would be able to love a third child as much as the first two. 
            It does.
~ I wondered how I would be able to put all three kids to bed on my own on occasion.  

            I do.
~ I wondered how I would have the strength to get through each day in one piece. 

            I do (mostly).
~ I wondered how my arms could hold three little people.  

           They do.
~ I wondered how groceries and meals would appear in my fridge and on my table.  

            They do. 

Everyday is a gift from God and while I still wonder about a lot of things, I know that He is by my side through both the intensity and calmness of motherhood.  Each day is an adventure and we are getting the hang of being a family of five.  
 
Lucas is here and he's lovely. 

April







Wednesday, November 11, 2015

God's Grace and Beauty

Here is the link for the post I wrote on a friend's blog a couple of months ago.  It is complete with the gorgeous photographs she took of my family while we took some much needed rest up at our trailer near Bracebridge.

Please click the link and enjoy.

Blessings,
April

http://kristinpeereboom.com/2015/09/22/guest-post-expecting-beauty-muskoka-maternity-family-photographer/

Monday, May 11, 2015

You Won't Believe It

Sometimes I still don't believe it. 

I AM PREGNANT.  Yup, 19 weeks -- almost halfway.  This is unbelievable news ... I still feel funny saying that we are expecting a baby even though we've been praying and hoping and waiting and aching to announce such news for a long time.  Even though my belly is rounding out nicely and my regular clothes no longer fit.  Even though I can feel little pokes and jabs from the baby wiggling around inside me.

Of course, there is much more to this statement.  As per usual in the journey of building our family, there are many more people involved.   

We have the incredible privilege of being chosen by a selfless couple to carry and parent their child.  We are pregnant by way of embryo adoption.  

The reactions have been varied but always positive.  Most often our news has been met with, "Wow!  That's awesome!" followed closely by, "What is embryo adoption?"  In a nutshell, embryo adoption is like a regular adoption except nine months sooner.   Neither the egg nor the sperm belong to us biologically so this child is completely genetically unrelated to us - but I have the privilege of carrying this child in my womb until he/she is ready to make its appearance on or around October 5, 2015.  We consider it adoption because our donor family chose us based on our homestudy and family profile and we accepted based on much of the same information available to us.  We worked with a social worker via our adoption agency and a lawyer to finalize and legalize our adoption of the embryos we now have in our care.  We plan to have an open adoption with our donor family for which we are thankful.  

Did we plan on building our family this way?  Did I ever think I would have the amazing experience of being pregnant again?  Did I ever think I would be preparing for labour and delivery and recovery again?  NO!  After Jude we firmly closed the door on further treatments believing that God would have us build our family through more traditional routes of adoption.  We had hoped to never see the inside of a fertility clinic again.  This just goes to show me again that God is in control.  

And I am surprised - again

I am blown away - again - by this incredible and awesome plan for my life that I couldn't have imagined possible.   

I am overwhelmed - again - by God's answer to the thousands of prayers I have prayed over the past ten years for children.  

I am humbled - again - that God has allowed my body to be the life-giving source of this child's growth and that this child will call me "mommy".

I am thankful - again.  Over and over I am rendered speechless by gratitude and thankfulness to the creator of the universe for answering my prayers in a way that I could not have dreamed about in the most outrageous of dreams.  


Wow. 

April




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Praying Like Crazy

I started a prayer journal.  So often people ask for prayer and I quickly say that of course I will pray for them ... but then, do I?  Getting the idea from a friend (who said I was the first entry in her new prayer journal!!) I decided that this new year was a good time to start writing down the names of people who ask me to pray for them as well as needs that I see in my family and community.  In just the act of writing down their names they get at least one prayer uttered from my heart.  And then as time goes on, I hope that I will be able to go back over the list and jot down notes as to how those prayers were answered or if they remain on my list.  

Interestingly, as we continue to wait for a child, at least five other families have asked me to pray for their process of adoption as well.  Some are joyfully welcoming new children into their families as I write ... others are feeling the burden and opposition of waiting and still others are anxiously awaiting approval of documents and test results.   

On the other hand, many friends have told me that they are, and I quote, "praying like crazy" for us as we wait with hopeful hearts.  I am blown away.  I need prayer.  Everyday.  Or the feeling of sinking slowly but surely takes over.  Isn't it amazing how we can gather around each other and support and encourage each other so simply?  It is because of these crazy prayers that I feel like I can continue to wait well. 

What does it mean to wait well?  I am not sure.  

Does it mean being so busy there is no time to think of what you don't have?  
Does it mean to surround yourself with people and get lost in their lives?
Does it mean to ignore the feelings of your heart and the thoughts of your mind when
     really all you want to do is obsess and rationalize the wait?

Does it mean that you talk yourself out of the importance of what you wait for? 
Does it mean to submit to the burden of waiting and wallow in it? 


I am not sure.  For me, I don't want to miss life while I wait.  I want to enjoy the things God has given me today.  First and foremost I want to enjoy the children God has given me.  To be honest, after our infertility diagnosis, I didn't think I'd ever be the mama of a newborn but God has given me not one, but two children --- given to me at their births.  Amazing -- for that reason alone I can wait well.  Second, there are so many people who need me and who need my prayers, my company, my gifts ... there is much work for me to do.  Not necessarily to distract me from my waiting but to fill my life with good things, with good relationships, and with hobbies and activities that I enjoy.  

Anxiety, worry, nervousness, guilt ... these are not things that I enjoy experiencing and so I pray myself out of them.  And if I can't pray for a release from these feelings myself I've got numerous people, "praying like crazy" to help me out. 

Please ... pray like crazy for someone today.  You have no idea how far the ripples of that prayer will go!  

In prayer, 
April





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Building Families

Once again, it has been a long time since I've written.  To be honest, I've felt a little stuck.  Our adoption road passed the year mark of being approved and fully registered at a private adoption agency and not even a bite on the hook.  Discouraging to say the least.  

BUT ... 

There is hope.  Families are built in lots of different ways and I am realizing that I am privileged to be privy to many exciting family building stories.  These stories serve as not so gentle reminders for me. Reminders to continue to trust in the Lord, to trust my gut instinct on the path we are on, to be happy - no ecstatic - for friends, family and acquaintances who share their news of children joining their lives. 

Let me share some of these stories with you ... to give you hope, to make your heart happy and to know that even when you feel your world is crumbling, there are children going home to their forever families everyday. 

Young friends of ours were recently chosen to adopt two children from a local children's services agency.  Talk about crash course in parenting! 

Church friends who were given a less than 1% chance of ever getting pregnant recently shared with us that they are indeed expecting a baby -- au naturel! 

A friend's sister and her husband, after experiencing many years of wanting to be parents, were chosen by a birthmom this past summer.  They rushed home from vacation to be at the birth of their son. 

Long time friends decided to give fertility treatments one more go and recently gave birth to a healthy (and adorable) little boy. 

Seminary friends, after experiencing the international adoption of their son, are adopting embryos with hopes of being able to experience pregnancy and birth. 

An old friend, after experiencing fertility issues early on in her marriage, just announced that she is pregnant with twins! 

A pastor wife friend was able to travel overseas with her whole family to add a fourth child to their brood. It hasn't been easy but checking out their family photos it is clear that this child is finally home and thriving.

The stories and announcements will keep coming.  Of course, I know many couples who are waiting -- us included.  We are waiting for the day that they get the phone call that changes our lives forever.  I don't know when your phone will ring with good news or when the test will come back positive but I want to encourage you to hang in there.  No one can promise you that the dream of adding a child or two to your family will come true but you can be sure that there is a God who loves you and who cries those aching tears with you.  He is holding you in the palm of his hand.  He has been faithful in the past and he will remain faithful in the future.

Yours in waiting, 
April  








Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I am Pro-Life

There, I said it.  No apologies. No surprises. 

But, what does it actually mean to be PRO-LIFE?  I have been thinking a lot lately about this question.  Lots of ideas and thoughts have gone through my mind and I want to try to articulate some of them so bear with me as I sort through some of them (this is just the beginning!).

Clearly it means to protect life ... to advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves.  It means to make life a priority despite the challenges and difficulties that surround that life.  I suppose much of it depends on what your definition of life is.  I believe that life begins at the moment of conception.  The union of one egg with one sperm equals life despite how tiny and incomprehensible it is.  So even at this very early stage, I am pro-life. Science has made this question of life confusing and complicated which I think confuses and complicates how we articulate why and how we are pro-life. For me it is simple: protect life. 

Here's a question: what are YOU doing to protect life?  There are many answers I think and part of the reason for writing this post is to share some ideas on how you and I can actively protect life.

The easiest and least complicated is to simply give of your financial resources to pro-life organizations.  These include pregnancy crisis centers, counseling agencies, provincial and nation-wide groups that advocate for pro-life (ie. the Campaign Life Coalition).  I am sure there are right to life groups in your geographical location.  They do great work and they are always in need of funding.  They often offer counseling to moms and dads who don't know which direction to turn in, they help with the material needs a baby brings (diapers, clothing, formula, etc.) and they educate people.

Another relatively easy way to actively show that you are pro-life it to come along side someone who is fostering or adopting.  These folks need support.  They need emotional, mental and spiritual support as they deal with the ins and outs of the 'system', as they communicate with social workers and other professionals who work with the children and the birth families and as they love and parent the children they are fostering/adopting.  This support could come in many forms: a phone call, a note of encouragement, an offer to babysit or even a play date! Sometimes they need financial support ... fostering and adopting can be expensive! 

You could also come alongside a young mom who has decided to parent her child.  Give thanks to God that she has chosen life despite how difficult a decision it was for her.  Tell her that you are thankful she chose life for her child.  You may not agree with her life choices but this is definitely one decision you can be glad she made.  Encourage and support her whatever way you can.  I am continually surprised that as pro-lifers we breathe a sigh of relief when a woman decides to carry her child to term rather than abort it ... but then what do we do?  Often, nothing. We need to do something ... anything but leave her to fend for herself in a world where even two parent financially stable families struggle to raise kids. 

A harder way to show you are pro-life is to foster or adopt a child.  According to Focus on the Family there are more than 30,000 children in Canada waiting to belong to their forever family.  The majority of these children are older (ages 5+) and there is a huge need for families to take these children into their hearts and homes and give them what they have not yet received in their short lives: a place to call home, forever.

And finally, education and awareness is key.  Talking about being pro-life is one thing, doing something about it ... actually DOING something, is another.  Be bold ... go out on a limb and I can guarantee you will be blessed. 

What will you do?  Do it today. 

Blessings,
April



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Waiting ...

I am waiting.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  And as I wait, I recall that I have been in this spot many times before.  

... Waiting for the lab to call on the results of the most recent blood test.  
... Waiting for the clinic to call to schedule the next appointment.  
... Waiting for the pharmacy to call to tell me my stash of drugs for the next fertility treatment has arrived.  
... Waiting for the adoption practitioner to schedule the next in a series of meetings.  
... Waiting for a birthmom to choose me to be the mom for her child. 

And now, right now, I am waiting ...

This poem helped me through each of those times of waiting and it is helping me now.  If you are someone who is waiting for something ... I pray that it will give you words that your own heart and mind cannot form.  I know it has for me.  

Blessings,
April

Wait

by Russell Kelfer
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait." 

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign. 

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply." 

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?" 

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."