Monthly Archives: April 2011

Introducing . . .

Gabriella Caroline Cowan born Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm. She’s 8 lb 8 oz, 20 inches long.

It was either the longest or the shortest labor of all – I’m still not quite sure. Well, let me explain.

I may have mentioned (whined, grumbled and complained about) the painful contractions I was experiencing from last Thursday afternoon. After writing my blog post on Monday, I began to have regular contractions – every seven minutes for more than two hours – and we started to make plans to go into the hospital when they got to five minutes apart.

Which didn’t happen.

By midnight I climbed into bed contraction free. I was angry, depressed and just generally feeling like I was destined to be pregnant forever. It as a completely irrational response and should have been a hint to me that something was under way – if I had been able to look at my irrationality rationally.

Tuesday morning I got up late and started my regular Tuesday morning chore of sorting laundry. The contractions came back and I just decided to ignore them. I got a load of laundry started and took the children outside to play. By this time I was having a hard time doing anything but breathe when I’d get a contraction which were continuing to be maddeningly irregular. My cheesedoodle chose the middle of one such contraction to – for the first time ever – run onto the road in front of a car (thankfully driven by our friend John, who is both gracious and conscientious) and I sent Jonathan an SOS.

“Help me with the kids.” It said.

He arrived home to find us all piled on my bed reading stories. I stopped, mid sentence, and the mackerdoodle turned to him to announce, “Mama’s having contraptions so we’re reading until they go away.”  45 minutes later we were in the van on the way to the hospital. The doctor’s office had said that as I was past my due date, if things stopped again they’d just go ahead and break my water and progress things for me.

I arrived at the hospital and was examined and pronounced to be at 4 cm – having been at 2 the day before – with contractions coming anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes apart with neither rhyme nor reason to the spacing, but more and more pain. As they admitted me they told me the orders my doctor had given: Make her comfortable, and then break her water to get those contractions regulated and things progressing.

An epidural made me comfortable, and the nurse stepped out to fetch a resident to break my water. With the next contraction, just as the resident entered the room, my water broke on its own. I was thrilled. So was the nurse and the resident. I was also delighted to hear that just under two hours after being checked in admitting I was now almost 7 centimeters, and the contractions were, indeed, regulating.

All of that relief, combined with the sudden lifting of the pain fog, meant I slipped into a nap for about 20 minutes. When I woke up I was convinced the contractions had stopped again. There was nothing on the monitor for the last 20 minutes. I hadn’t woken up with the pressure of contractions. I just knew I had made the wrong decision having the epidural.

“They’re going to have to give me pitocin anyway!” I wailed to Jonathan. “I’m not going to have this baby for HOURS! I just made the wrong call!” It went on this way for another 30 minutes until the nurse came back in, told me the contraction monitor had slid off  during my nap and declared me 10 cm. Then she said, “Oh good. You’re doctor told me he didn’t want to miss it.”

I was so touched!

From then it was pretty straight forward. We turned off the epidural and did our thing, and my beautiful girl was born 40 minutes later. She’s my only non-pitocin baby, my only non-vacuum delivery, and so far my easiest recovery.

So if you count labor from beginning of dilation, it’s my longest labor at 5 days, but if you count from “Get me some DRUGS! I can’t handle this!” it’s my shortest delivery at 5 1/2 hours or so. Either way you count it, it’s a great ending to this season of our lives.

Tomorrow I’ll post about What the Pediatrician Told Us the Day After (a. k. a. Why Changing a Snickerdoodle Diaper Requires a Degree in Engineering.)

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Still Here

Well, it’s the due date. I’m ready. She’s not here yet. I’m still waiting.

I’ve been more impatient with this pregnancy than with the others, and it got to a point on Thursday and Friday that I was just angry that she wasn’t here yet. This was primarily because of the painfully intense (and yet irregular and thereby inconvenient) contractions I have been having. Knowing that I hadn’t progressed at all, I kept feeling as if all the pain was useless, as if I was “suffering” for no purpose at all.

On Sunday our pastor preached on Matthew 16:21-23. He phrased Peter’s response to Jesus this way,
“Can’t we have the Kingdom, have this life you’re promising us, without the suffering and the pain?” Doesn’t that just define western contemporary culture? It certainly defines too much of my outlook on life. I was convicted about being angry with my contractions. They are serving a purpose. At the end of this I will have a beautiful daughter who has been created uniquely by God for specific good works. That’s certainly worth a few contractions, isn’t it?

Finally, I was further chastened when I was informed in my weekly exam today that I have in fact dilated to 2 cm. “I guess those contractions are starting to do their job.” he said to me, unaware that he was being a further voice of the Holy Spirit to me.

So I wait out the irregular contractions, hoping that this one will be the beginning of the real thing, and I am reminded of Romans 8:21-23

. . . the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that(B) the whole creation(C) has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have(D) the firstfruits of the Spirit,(E) groan inwardly as(F) we wait eagerly for adoption as sons,(G) the redemption of our bodies.

The pain of this world, just like the pain of my contractions,  is not useless. It reminds us that this world is not our permanent state. Unlike the pregnant woman who is waiting to deliver someone else, the pain of this world reminds us that we are the ones waiting to be delivered into a perfect kingdom.

I’m waiting to deliver the snickerdoodle.

I’m waiting to be delivered.

I’m still here.


Praising Him in the Storm

A little more than four years ago, before the mackerdoodle was born, before so much of what defines my life right now even began, I wrote a blog post about how we had survived a series of storms and tornadoes that swept across the South.  Today I am writing to tell you the same thing about the storms that met in St. Louis.

On Friday night two super cells formed east of St. Louis county. One was right above Jonathan’s new Chick-Fil-A, the second was further south. Each of the cells spawned several tornadoes as they traveled toward St. Louis county and city.

One passed only miles north of us, doing the damage to Lambert Airport that you’re probably seeing on your news today. It also destroyed several residential neighborhoods, including the house of a fellow seminary student and his pregnant wife. They are safe and healthy, but temporarily displaced right in the midst of final class projects for his last semester.

The second passed to the south of us, also damaging neighborhoods and spawning tornadoes.

Both storm cells met each other miles east of our home and continued to sweep toward first the city and then Illinois.

Because of the way the storms traveled, our little seminary apartment sat in a protected storm-free wedge. We didn’t even get strong winds – just a lot of rain. Once more we are praising the Lord for his deliverance for our little family, understanding, of course, that even if we had woken up to devastation it would also have been the Lord’s plan for His glory and our good.


What’s a Daddy to Do?

One of the things I love about Aldi is that I can usually  find everything on my list without being bombarded by thousands of distractions – like an overpriced, low  quality toy section.

One of the things I dislike about Aldi is that they will periodically carry random items that don’t appear in their weekly flyer, so the only way to know they’re there is to come across them accidentally.

Monday afternoon I was in Aldi with the mackerdoodle, minding my own business, trying to make sure I had the house stocked with staples for when the baby comes and answering the question, “Oh my! When were you due?” every aisle. Suddenly I was assailed with the sounds of the mackerdoodle saying, “PRINCESS BARBIES! MAMA! PRINCESS BARBIES! PINK PRINCESS BARBIES! CAN I HAVE ONE? PLEASE?!?”

Oh. What to do? They were, in fact actual Barbie dolls with genuine Disney Princess endorsement on the box, but at Aldi prices (ie: half the price of the same doll at Target). But half the price is still a price, and the mackerdoodle’s daddy has a pretty strong opinion about Barbies. So I did what every good woman should do in that circumstance.

“That’s a question for Daddy, sweet girl. You’ll have to ask him.”

Dodged a bullet! By the time we got home she had forgotten about the Barbies.

Wednesday afternoon the entire family was at Aldi because I have pregnancy brain, so this time I brought a list.

ANYWAY! We were back at Aldi, and the second we got into the store, the mackerdoodle’s barbi-dar was activated and she dragged her daddy to the tiny display with remarkable tenacity. I won’t go through the entire discussion. All you need to know is this:

And that’s when the unexpected happened. As the mackerdoodle selected her pink princess barbie, the cheesedoodle, never one to be left out, boldly approached the display and selected a yellow one. Jonathan looked at me in a bit of confusion. “Where are the other toys?” There are, of course, no other toys; no trucks, no action figures, not even a Ken barbie – just princesses and the cheesedoodle has chosen a yellow one and put it in the cart.

So what did his daddy do?

When sharing this with some of his male friends at mid-week, Jonathan received this response from our friend Kevin, who is a PhD candidate in Church History at Berkley (yes. That Berkley.) “Just remember that variation does not necessarily mean deviation.”

We all laughed.

Including Jonathan.


The Beginning of our Family Birthday Season

Jonathan’s birthday kicks off a run of birthdays for our family. He’s in mid-April, his mother (and soon the snickerdoodle) is late April, the cheesedoodle is the beginning of June, I’m the beginning of July, my dad is the middle of July, and finally my mom and the mackerdoodle are the beginning of August. There are some other family members in there too, so it’s sort of an active four months for us.

Anyway, Jonathan kicks it all off, and after learning the hard way that he likes his birthdays quiet, we have a family celebration. This year especially, after working more than 50 hours at the Chick-Fil-A grand opening the week before, all Jonathan wanted in celebration was a quiet meal at home with the family. In fact his requests for his birthday were: lamb, a good salad (not one from a bag), black forest cake and a better translation of Calvin’s Institutes. Really. So I looked after the food, and thanks to the generosity of my parents he also got the last item on his list.

The mackerdoodle was skeptical that this was his true birthday desire. She suggested to me while making his birthday card that maybe he would like a pinata, or a party at the church with everybody. She was consoled when I told her she could help me make the cake.

Its Black Forest Cake . . .

. . . and we helped.

They really did help, actually. The cheesedoodle emptied the ingredients into the bowl, and the mackerdoodle stirred until it was time for me to use the beater. What you don’t see in this picture is Jonathan standing just behind me with a suspicious chocolate ring around his mouth and fingers too. I mean, that’s the best part about baking the cake at home, right?

The meal turned out really well, the cake (which according to my research wasn’t a real black forest cake because I couldn’t find any cherry liqueur) was a big hit and we were able to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday the way he likes it, with no hoopla, no pinata, just great food and family time.


In Which I Channel Star Trek and Wave My Geek Flag Just a Little.

In every episode of Star Trek (original generation) the Enterprise encounters some sort of mechanical challenge or needs to escape from some especially vile villain, and Captain Kirk coms engineering begging Scotty For. More. Power. Scotty invariably responds with, “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!” By the next commercial break, however, Scotty has managed to work a miracle and pull just enough more out of the warp core to enable the Enterprise to make a miraculous escape.

At the beginning of last week I felt like at the slightest demand of energy, my body would say to me, “I’m giving you all I’ve got, Captain,” and like Kirk (this may well be the only time I compare myself to Cpt. Kirk EVER.) it wasn’t enough. I still had one task I wanted to complete before the baby arrived and it wasn’t a super small one either. I really needed my warp core operating at peak efficiency for another few days before shutting down all systems but life support and basic propulsion. (Is the metaphor wearing thin? Sorry.) I wanted to move Jonathan’s study into the toy room and the toy room into the study.

I know. You’re thinking, “Why? What’s the urgency?”

The reason is two-fold: first, the study is also functioning as our guest bedroom and when my parents come in the first week of May to meet their newest (and last, unless my sister has a surprise birth event) grandchild they will bring a fold out couch with them as our guest bed. As I began to look at the room, I realized that there really wasn’t enough room for everything plus a couch and there really wouldn’t be any room to fold out that couch.

Secondly, I cycle the children’s toys, putting a portion of them away for periods of time, so that when they come back out it’s like having new toys. I had left the current toys out longer than usual because I thought bringing out “new” toys right before a baby comes might be a good idea. Packing up the current sets and taking out the old ones is like moving, so if I was going to change the rooms out, that would be the time to do it.

Finally, I got more bookshelves, because Megan is moving to Oklahoma, and I put them in the toy room because there was no room for them in the study. (see “first” above)

Those bookshelves mocked me emptily for four days, sitting in the middle of the toy room floor with my kids using them for obstacle course practice and hide and seek. It seemed that just looking at them gave me contractions and I would begin the day with great intentions of doing something, but end it with the sound of the bookshelves’ laughter echoing in my ears.

Then, on Friday morning Scotty worked his magic. The warp core came on-line. I didn’t hurt all over. I got off my ever growing duff and started by moving some paper. Once I got started, the doodles began to pitch in. They carried every book they could reach from one room to the other, stacking them on the new book shelves which I had moved against a wall. The mackerdoodle sang “Stacking, stacking, who doesn’t love stack-I-I-I-N-N-N-G-G-G” repeatedly as she trotted back and forth between the two rooms.

By Saturday, the former toy room was a study, with a clear wall just waiting for a couch, and even some empty shelves, meaning I could ask Jonathan to bring those last few boxes of books up from the basement! The toys are in the other room, and the doodles played together in that room for an hour and a half yesterday afternoon without so much as a “MAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Help ME!” or a scream of protest.

Today I’m back to hurting when I sit, stand, lie down, roll over, play dead – oh wait, maybe not that last one – but it doesn’t matter. All I have to do between now and when the baby comes is basic housekeeping maintenance – dishes, vacuuming, laundry. That can be performed on the “life support and basic propulsion” setting to which I have been temporarily reduced, and I don’t care any more.

I don’t Need. More. Power.

I would be happy to unload my cargo bay, however. 🙂


“Just Hold On!”

This week has been Grand Opening Week at the newest Chick-Fil-A. At the last grand opening, Jonathan was just on loan to a new location, and he felt it, but this time around it’s with his operator and his manager and the management staff he knows and appreciates. It feels like a family event.

They knew they were going to have a good grand opening when people were knocking on the windows of the store last week asking if they could buy chicken, but no one anticipated the opening they actually experienced yesterday. They sold $8000 more in product than their best estimates. They ranked within the top five openings ever nation wide. They literally sold out of everything and put in emergency orders for more food, more packaging and more people for today.

In the midst of the whirlwind, the general manager and the store’s operator managed to send a message specifically to me via my husband as he came in after midnight last night. The message was, “Ask her to hold on! I know she’s close and uncomfortable, but please, ask her to hold on! We really need you.”

We’re delighted for Mark (the operator) to be so successful in this venture, but it’s pretty flattering that the impending birth of our daughter is even included in their thoughts right now.

And as far as holding on, I’ll do my best, but babies tend to have a mind of their own. Despite the best laid plans.