Friday, February 24, 2012

Beautiful Birth Story

  Get your tissues out, because if you love a good birth story, this one will get you.  This story is chock-full of some of our favorite Beautiful Girls.  Kim, the gorgeous, funny, amazing woman who has been eagerly anticipating the birth of her second child.  Courtney, the vivacious, multi-talented, clever Vanderbilt student, studying to be a midwife on the mission field.  And Eden, our newest, littlest, miraculous beauty whose very existence made this story possible.  

  Courtney, at Kim's prompting, wrote this letter to baby Eden, after she was able to settle in and ponder a most miraculous night.  Sitting down?  Got your tissues?  Here we go.....

   Eden Vanessa- your name is as beautiful as you are.  And how you came into this world was pretty incredible, just like you.  It all started when your mommy and I said how cool it would be if I could catch you when she went to the hospital.  She wanted to have you all by herself, so we were going to stay at home as long as we could. Funny thing is, you had your own plans. Or I should say, God had His own plans.  You see, He gave me one week off, which happened to be the week that you were due.   But it didn’t seem like you were going to be ready to come out anytime soon. That is, until the exact hour I crossed over into Lynchburg.  Your mom sent me a message to let me know that she felt you stirring things up.  I went to bed Sunday night thinking that I was going to get to meet you late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.  Four hours later, I got a phone call from your mom telling me that her contractions were regular, but really short.  I still wasn’t convinced that you were ready.  But at three o’clock, we decided it would be a good idea to check on your progress and then we could all go to bed while we waited for you to make up your mind.  So I took my time packing my things for what I thought would be a long wait…little did I know that between 0300 and 0340 you would become tired of your little room. So tired that you decided to burst your own bubble to let us know that you meant business.  And that is how I found things when I arrived at your doorstep on a freezing February morning- an excited dad, an eager baby, and one incredible momma. As soon as I walked in, I knew you were ready to see your parents, and when I checked, my suspicions were confirmed.  Your dad went and started the car while I took your mom into her room to help get her ready to go. But as soon as we got to her room, we realized that we were being silly.  The hospital was no longer an option- we had to choose between the house and the car.  We opted for the stationary, warm house :) 

          Did I mention your mom was amazing? Well she was. And your dad was so amazing that he had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and granola bars packed for the hospital by the time I got there.  But like I said- you were ready, whether we were or not.  Since we couldn’t go anywhere, we decided to call in the EMS for backup. About this time, as I was watching your little head try to poke out, your mom decided to ask me if I was okay with letting you come out at home. Would it have mattered if I wasn’t?? I couldn’t tell her “no” then- but I knew that your brother had been so big that he had to be helped out.  I didn’t think you were as big as he was, but all I could do was pray for the Lord to use my hands and to bring you out as miraculously as He created you.  Well, pray and go over ways in my mind to get you out if you did happen to get stuck.  It was more comfortable for your mom if you came out while she was on her hands and knees- however, this was foreign to the EMS team. As they walked in the room, they asked me what we were doing.  Umm…playing checkers?  What did it look like we were doing?  Before I knew it, I was coaching your mom to help you come out slowly so she didn’t get as hurt as she did the last time.  She did great!! And the next thing I knew, your perfect head was in my hands and I was easing your shoulders out, bringing your little self into my arms.  I got to be the first to know and to announce to the world that you were a girl!  Did you know that you were the pinkest baby I have ever caught?? And that you opened your eyes and stared at me right before letting out the most heartwarming cry that I had ever heard? Handing you to your mom was the most surreal thing I have ever done…did that all really just happen?  As I write this one day later, I still don’t believe it. Our God is quite incredible.

           Writing your story is taking me longer than it took you to be born :) In fact, your dad asked me if that was it- it took your brother over 30 hours to come out.  The funny part is, we didn’t have anything ready to welcome you into the world, save some gloves. Your daddy had to go find me some bath towels to wrap you up and the EMS had to go find some clamps for us.  You got all the nutrition from your little food bank, and then your daddy cut your cord. With a scalpel. Do ambulances not have scissors? Then again, a man pulled it out of a bag- and why not choose the sharpest, pointiest, shiniest object you can find? But there you were- cradled in your mother’s arms with your dad staring at your beautiful face, and the EMS still not sure what really just happened. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure either.  And while we didn’t have any medicines on hand in case there was too much bleeding, you took care of that by being the world’s quickest and most amazing breast-feeder I have ever seen.  All I could do was laugh. The Creator of the universe still holds even the tiniest of us all in the palm of His loving hand.

          The rest is history. We took our time enjoying you, your dad held you for the first time, I helped your mom shower, the EMS helped your mom to the car (which was still running in the driveway…whoops- at least it was warm), they left, and your daddy carried you out to the car bundled up in towels.  You and your mom got checked in at the hospital, and everyone agreed with what we already knew-you were perfect.  After you were all settled in, I left on adrenaline. I used it to go back and clean- all I could do was laugh and sing His praise in total amazement...the only song running through my head had the lyrics "God is bigger than the air I breathe, the world we'll leave. And God will save the day, and all will say, My Glorious".  Did I mention that I still couldn’t believe you were born at home?

             I finally made it back to my bed in total exhaustion, but before I could sleep I wanted to read something to give Him thanks before I slipped into unconsciousness. So I opened His word to Psalm and happened to land at Psalm 138- “I will give You thanks with all my heart…I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your loving-kindness and Your truth: For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. On the day I called You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul…the Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your loving-kindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”  Oh how this sung the very words on my heart! All of this right before the chapter that tells you how you were created. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. For my frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.” 

                He created you for something so special, little Eden. I am already praying for you- that you will come to know this amazing Lord as your Savior at a young age. That you will realize just how much He loves you- so much that He died for you and then rose again from the dead so that you can walk through this life holding the hand that intricately formed every part of you.  Seek Him and Him only and you will never lose your way in this world. And you will spend forever in the presence of the God who has never and will never stop thinking about you.  That is how special you are.  And I love you.

                                               The privileged hands that held you first-
                                                                                     Your midwife,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beautiful Baker

   A few years ago, Cindi and I decided it would be fun to learn to decorate cakes.  At the time, our friend Wendy was a Wilton representative/teacher at Michael's.  So we took the class and learned the stuff and had our fun, and then we started making cakes for our kids and for baby showers and wedding showers.  We don't charge money to our friends, because we never know how the cake will turn out and we want free reign over the design!

  Then we did it.  We offered to make a wedding cake for a dear, beautiful girlfriend.  What were we thinking?  We made fondant and pretty leaves and bought a tiered stand.  It turned out fine, but as we finally set it on the cake table and stepped away, I turned to Cindi and said, "I will never do this again."  

  Then another dear, beautiful girlfriend of ours got engaged, and asked us to make her cake.  We lovingly made each miniature sunflower, hundreds of them, out of fondant.  I set them on my table to dry overnight.  The next morning there were tiny ants all over them.  I cried, threw them away, and we lovingly made hundreds more miniature sunflowers, and when we set the finished cake on the table I turned to Cindi and said, "I will never do this again."  

(that's Tanner 'helping' me in the picture, not Cindi! haha!)

  A couple of months ago, Cindi and I both received bouquets of roses to our doors....from a dear, beautiful girlfriend who has recently gotten engaged.  She wants her cake to be square and covered in fondant.  In a few weeks I'll be rolling out that sticky stuff and covering the holes with flowers and ribbon and maybe I'll cry, and when we set it in the car to be delivered to the church I am sure I will turn to Cindi and say, "I will never do this again."  

   But I've decided, I can cry and complain and hate making cakes, or I can count my blessings.  Oh, how I love all the beautiful girls we have made cakes for!  We've shared in the celebrations of their lives, marriages and babies and engagements and birthdays!  How fortunate we are to be in the middle of that kind of event!  And the appreciation of these beauties when we 'unveil' their cakes...always grateful, always in awe, no matter what state the poor cake is in.  Our girlfriends are our biggest fans, and we are their's.  

  Also, the blessing of getting to spend time with my great friend while we are complaining and eating icing off our fingers and covering up mistakes and making awful-looking roses (me) and beautiful, perfect roses (her), and even starting all over.  We laugh, we talk about what's going on in our lives, we just spend time together.  We're busy, cakes give us an excuse to take a break from life and just hang out together.  I don't love making cakes, but I love the women whose life events the cakes represent, and I love making cakes with my friend!  

  And how about the appreciation I now have for my friend Wendy?!  She's gone from cake decorating teacher at Michael's to full-time business owner cake extraordinaire!  

  Wendy owns Coffey Cakes, and she does all kinds of cakes, but I am most impressed with her wedding cakes.  Weddings are, hopefully, a one-time thing...and brides (and brides' mothers!) can be hard to deal with!  The cake has to be perfect for the perfect day, and THAT is pressure!  Wendy takes it in stride, though, because Wendy loves what she does!  She loves to meet the newly engaged couple and be around the energy and anticipation they bring to the planning, she loves seeing the look on the bride's face when she sees the finished product, and she especially loves spending the extra time with her husband...he helps her with some of her deliveries and is her right-hand-man!  

  Even though Wendy is no longer our teacher, she is still teaching us.  She gives us tips and encourages our work, even though we are nowhere near her level.  Wendy is a Beautiful Baker!