Wednesday, August 16, 2017


At 8:00am my boy is all grins and giggles as I lay my hands on his head and pray blessings over him. I’m thinking that he’s the best baby in the world. By 11:00am he’s spent most of the morning fighting against napping and consequently against me. I inform him that the cute little elephant on his jammies should be something more applicable like a tasmanian devil and that I’m going to cross out the cute little “I love mommy” phrase scrawled across those same jammies and in sharpie I am going to replace it with “I am a punk.” How quickly the tides of mommyhood can turn. Being a mom is hard. It’s so worth it, but it’s so darn hard and I’ve only been doing it for 4 and a half months!

 In college I took a class called “History of the Modern Middle East”….it was taught by a Muslim Turkish woman…it was hard. I woke up at night in a cold sweat dreaming I was being chased by either the Sunnis or the Shiites. But that class doesn’t hold a candle to the brain exhaustion of trying desperately to keep a million details of feeding schedules and sleeping schedules in my head and trying to make them add up to 24 hours at the end of every day. Try as I might I can’t get it to add up neatly with no remainders and just when I think I’ve got it, my little guy will throw me a curveball and wake up an hour early from his nap.

When I was a new mom, ya know, like 4 months ago, I felt like everything was a crisis and everything was going to be forever. He screamed in his car seat. I thought, “Oh no! He’s going to hate his care seat forever!”  He screamed when I laid him down in his bed. I thought, “Oh no! Too many people have held him or rocked him to sleep and now he’s never going to sleep in his bed again!” The first time I gave him his daily vitamin I tried nursing him immediately afterward to get the nasty taste out of his mouth. He didn’t nurse well and I thought, “Oh no! He’s going to scream about this everyday forever and have a negative association with nursing linked to this stinkin vitamin!” Well guess what? If there’s one thing that I wish I could have told myself 4 months ago it's this: for better or for worse, nothing is forever with this little boy. He sleeps fine in his crib now and even better in his car seat. He takes his vitamin in the bath every day like a champ (although he still makes disgusted faces at me) and nurses like a pro. Just because he didn’t nap well yesterday doesn’t mean that he won’t nap well today and just because I nursed him to sleep every single night in the tent in Lake Tahoe for the sanity of everyone in the campsite, it does not mean that he won’t be able to get to sleep on his own in the crib now that we’re home. Nothing is forever. It’s just for right now, in this very moment.


But the reverse is true too. Just because he’s going down for naps without a peep this morning doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll do it forever. Next month me may go through a growth spurt and we could be back to lots of crying before naps. And that’s okay because sometimes babies just cry. I have a vivid memory of an older friend who had raised several grown children coming over for dinner when Charles was 4 weeks old. He cried from the other room all through dinner and I was feeling pretty self-conscious as I scurried around trying anything to get him to stop. I remember him telling me, “Kate, babies cry. You don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed. You’re not doing anything wrong. He’s just a baby and babies cry.” His words stuck with me. Whatever Charles is doing or isn’t doing in this moment, it doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong, and it certainly won’t last forever. All I need to do is just get up and comfort him just one more time and try again tomorrow. Nothing is forever, and this precious little boy won’t be a baby forever either so even on hard days I want to be filled with gratitude for the gift of this moment: His round little cheek against mine, his even little breaths and gulps, his soft fuzzy hair, his perfect little lips, the way he arches his back when I pick him up from sleep and raises his little nonexistent eyebrows. I am filled with gratitude to be his mommy. So I guess I’ll let him keep “I love mommy” written across his pajamas…just for today.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Genesis 1:26

"Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness'" 
                                                                                            - Genesis 1:26

Before going to the ship, I remember watching video clips of the work Mercy Ships does and, quite honestly, I remember turning my face away or closing my eyes sometimes. Some of the patients were just plain hard to look at. I'm a fairly squeamish person and I wasn't sure what it would be like when I actually got to the ship and saw people in real life, not just on a screen, with bowed legs, huge tumors, burns and other disturbing maladies. I am here to tell you that although I admit to turning my face away from the videos, NOT ONCE did I ever feel the desire to turn my face away from an actual person sitting next to me or in the hospital bed in front of me. That HAD to have been Jesus giving me His eyes. There's no other explanation. It should be harder to see it in real life, but the opposite was true. It was impossible to look at these people and not see the beautiful image of God in them. So, I want to share these beautiful faces with you in hopes that you too will catch a glimpse of the image of God; in hopes that perhaps one day you too might consider volunteering onboard the Africa Mercy where you will have the privilege of standing face to face with people like the ones who are shown here and bask in the beauty as God leads your eyes past all else to look on His children who He loves and created in His image.













































Saturday, June 24, 2017

Charles' Birth Story

You’re here! You’re here! You’re here! One week ago right now, Daddy and I were getting ready to head to the hospital! I spent time earlier in the day getting a pedicure with Granny, napping, and eating a delicious dinner made by Nana. I was feeling a little scared and nervous, but mostly excited to get to meet you so soon! Daddy and I drove 10 minutes to Memorial Hermann Sugarland and went up to the 3rd floor. I got in my hospital gown and got hooked up to an IV. My nurse was Claudia and she was awesome! She carefully described everything that she was doing so that I wouldn’t feel nervous. She checked to see if I was dilated at all and I was 1cm dilated on the outside, but completely closed on the inside so she put in some medicine to start getting my body ready for you to be born. Since I’ve had high blood pressure this week, they put a cuff on my arm to monitor it every few minutes. By the time we got everything settled, it was already getting late. Daddy and I stayed up talking about how excited we were and also about what to name you if you had been a girl because we hadn’t made a final decision! Daddy prayed for us and then we both tried to get some sleep so we would be ready for what was coming.




At 4:00am Claudia came in and started the Pitocin. This is the part that I was the most nervous about because I didn’t know how long it would take before I started feeling contractions and I knew that Pitocin could make those contractions really strong. Claudia also introduced me to my new nurse, Dorys, who would be with me for the rest of the day. She was so sweet and kind and was a huge blessing to me throughout the day. I could see on the monitor that I had little, sporadic contractions throughout the night, but none that I could really even feel. Well it didn’t take very long for me to start feeling some contractions after the Pitocin started. At first it wasn’t very painful, just pretty uncomfortable, but after she turned it up, I almost immediately started feeling some strong, painful contractions. I really wanted to wait until I was a few centimeters dilated before I got the epidural because I knew that the epidural would slow things down. Daddy held my hand through each contraction and told me as soon as they started going down. At 7:00am my OB, Dr. McDonald, came in and broke my water, then the contractions really started to pick up. At about 9:00am the contractions got bad enough that I couldn’t help but start crying. Dorys had told me that I could get the epidural whenever I wanted. She checked me and told me that I was 3 centimeters dilated and that the pain I was experiencing was causing my blood pressure to escalate and that was probably offsetting any benefit from waiting around before getting the epidural. She told me not to wait until the pain was killing me because it would take about 45 minutes to get the anesthesiologist. I told Daddy to go tell the nurses that I was ready for the epidural and Dorys had the anesthesiologist in there within about 5 minutes. They wouldn’t let Daddy stay in the room while he put in the epidural, but Dorys held both my hands, reminded me to breath, and reminded me that I am strong and powerful and that she was praying for me and that God was with me and I was going to get to meet my baby soon. I was trying hard not to flinch, but it was head because at the same moment, I had a contraction, the anesthesiologist put in the needle, and my blood pressure cuff went off! I felt a little cold running down my back and then within 10 minutes I couldn’t feel any contractions anymore. Hallelujah! They turned up the Pitocin and even though the monitor said the contractions were really big, I couldn’t feel anything. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, but I ate a lot of ice chips.





I was feeling pretty good again and about that time Granny, Nana, and Papa and Aunt Kristen came over to wait with us. After a while, Aunt Kasia, Uncle Ryan, Riley and Mason came to say hi too! They were all so excited to meet you! After a while I started feeling some contraction pain on my left side again. They said it was a hot spot and they had to turn up the epidural a couple of times for me. The nurses came in to check me and I was dilating really quickly. I remember Nurse Rachel coming in and saying, “she was only 2cm dilated? Now she’s 6!” Not long after that she came back in and announced that I was at 8cm! They turned down the Pitocin a little. I was feeling the contractions some on my left side so Daddy helped me by pushing really hard on that side of my back every time they would come. I actually fell asleep for a few minutes, but just a little while later a whole group of nurses came in and asked everyone to go to the waiting room so we could start trying to push. I couldn’t feel anything because of the epidural so it was really hard for me to push, but the nurses kept explaining to me what to do and they said I was doing a really good job. They even brought in a mirror so that I could see the very top of your little head. I remember Dorys telling me that she could see that you had a good amount of hair! I would take in a deep breath and push really hard for 10 seconds. I would do that 3 times in a row and then rest for the next contraction. It was really hard and I was getting so tired! I actually fell asleep in between pushes at one point! Daddy kept encouraging me and helping me count and telling me what a great job I was doing. He helped me breathe through the oxygen mask when I wasn’t pushing. The nurses told me that you were trying to come out with your eyes and forehead facing up instead of the back of your head and that was making it really difficult for you to come out. The charge nurse came in and said “okay Kate, Dr. McDonald is out there sharpening her knife, so lets get this baby pushed out right now!” Dr. McDonald said that we could try to push for another 30 minutes before going to c-section. We tried and tried and finally the nurse said, “I don’t think this baby is going to come out. Lot of things can stretch inside you, but not bones, and this head is not going to come out this pelvic bone.” She said we could try one more set of pushes, but Daddy knew that it wasn’t going to happen and he and said, “let’s just go get this baby out.” I totally agreed.






Everyone started bustling around getting ready to go to the operating room. They gave Daddy some scrubs and a hair net to put on. Dorys gave me some medicine to help me with nausea and warned me that it wouldn’t taste good. She said, “just drink it down like a tequila shot!” I downed it, but then about 30 seconds later I threw it all back up. No fun. Dorys gave me a nausea patch to put behind my ear. I have vague, in-and-out memories of what was happening as we went to OR. I don’t remember much about being rolled down the hall. I couldn’t see very much once we got in there either. I remember the anesthesiologist talking to me by my head. I was nervous because I didn’t feel pain, but I could still feel a lot of pressure on my abdomen. A few of the nurses used some kind of board or gurney to move me from my hospital bed onto the operating table. I remember Dr. McDonald getting everyone to make a prediction about your weight and I think I said 8lb 7oz. I was so incredibly sleepy. I was trying so hard not to fall asleep but I think I was coming in and out of sleep as all this was happening! How can you be sleepy when you’re being operated on and you’re about to meet your baby?! I don’t specifically remember Daddy coming in, but soon he was right there by my head. The nurse was very nervous that Daddy was going to pass out I think, because she kept asking him to sit down and he wouldn’t! He wanted to see you! I thought I would know when Dr. McDonald started operating, but all I remember was a lot of what felt like her pushing hard on my abdomen. Then I remember Daddy saying, “I see a head! I see shoulders!” I heard you start crying and I said, “Is it a boy or girl?!?!” Daddy looked at me and smiled and said, “it’s a boy!” I still couldn’t see you though, but I could hear your strong lungs. Daddy left my side for a minute so he could go over to where you were being weighed and measured. They said you were 8lb 12 oz! Wow! Big boy! Daddy brought you back over to me and laid you on my chest. I couldn’t see you very well from lying flat, but I remember you looked perfect and I kissed your little red cheeks. I remember immediately seeing that you have dimples like your daddy. I gave you back to Dad and the nurses picked me up and moved me back to my hospital bed. We wheeled back down the hall to our room. Daddy went to the waiting room and told everyone that we were healthy, but that they had to wait to find out the name and gender until I could tell them. Dad and I got about an hour with you in our room so that I could feed you and kiss you and we could get to know you a little before everyone came in. We immediately loved you more than you can ever know.





Finally all of the family came into our room and I said, “IT’S A…. BOY!” Riley and Mason we’re jumping up and down and everyone was so excited. Then I said, “His name is Charles Winslow White!” You are named after your great granddad, Papa’s dad, who passed away just a couple of weeks before you were born. He loved you so much and he wanted to wait so he could meet you, but it was time for him to go be with Jesus and with Great Grandma. Before he passed away, Daddy and I got to call him and tell him that if you were a boy we were going to name you Charles after him and it made him very very happy. He kept it a secret like we asked him to and he was the only person on the planet who knew that was our final choice for boys name. Your middle name is Winslow, originally after your great great granddad, Joshua Winslow, who was killed in action during WWII in France. Winslow is also my middle name and Grandma Cuckoo’s middle name. Everyone comments on what a great, strong name you have. You are named after some pretty amazing men. Nana, Papa, Granny, Uncle Ryan, Aunt Kasia, Riley, Mason, Aunt Kristen, Aunt Cynth, and Uncle Rob were all there to greet you. You have such a big extended family who are all over the moon about your birth too! We can’t wait to introduce you to everyone.



That evening we moved to the 5th floor and got a new room. Granny and Aunt Kristen came back over for a visit and Nana and Papa brought Daddy some BBQ because he hadn’t eaten either since he’d stayed right by my side the whole time! We spent 2 nights in the hospital. You had absolutely fantastic nurses at Memorial Hermann. Dorys came upstairs the next day to check in on us and say hi! We also had a great nurse named Amber for both the night shifts that we were there. The first night you slept a whole lot. We kept waking you up to try to eat. The second night though, you started screaming around 10:00pm and didn’t stop for hours no matter what we did. Daddy and I felt so tired and frustrated and we finally called Amber in and said “What do we do about this crying baby?!” Amber asked if she could take you out with her to the nurse’s station so we could get a couple hours of rest and we said yes. She wrapped you up really tight and took you out in your bassinet. The next thing I remember was several hours later and you were back in our room sleeping totally soundly. She was a lifesaver that night.

Recovering from a c-section takes some time and the first few days in the hospital were hard, but I was recovering quickly and we were eager to get home with you. Once I had the catheter taken out, Daddy would very carefully and very slowly let me grab around his neck and help me walk to the bathroom. One night Daddy was so sleepy that he didn’t wake up even though I was calling his name loudly from my bed. I just pushed the button for the nurse to come help me instead. :o) Your Daddy is a rock star though! He was right by me and helped me through every single second of this delivery, not to mention this pregnancy. He has the biggest servants heart of any human I know. He is already my hero and I know he will be your hero too!

Two days later we got to be discharged after Daddy helped me practice walking up and down the halls of the ward to make sure I was strong enough to go home! We put you in your “Tiny Texan” onesie, loaded you into your car seat, loaded me into a wheel chair, and headed out of that hospital! Daddy drove so slowly so it wouldn’t hurt my incision. Everyone was so excited to see you when we got home. There were even flowers and a beautiful door wreath from Nana and Papa and Aunt Kasia! Nana held you so that Daddy could help me take my first shower in days and then it sort of hit me that this was the beginning of our new normal! So crazy and miraculous to be done with the hospital scene and actually have you home!




The afternoon that we got home, I laid down to take a nap. All of a sudden, I felt someone touching my arm to wake me up. I looked up and there was Aunt B! I was so dazed and confused! She was supposed to be on a ship in West Africa! How could she be here? She and Daddy had been planning this trip since last October and I had no idea! What an amazing surprise! And the best part is that she got to be here for two whole weeks to hang out with us!



Before we left the hospital, you had to have your bilirubin levels checked several times. It was a little high, but they let us be discharged as long as we brought you back the next day to have your levels rechecked for several consecutive days. The bilirubin number kept going up just a little each time and on Monday, we went to see your pediatrician, Dr. Chauhan, and she sent us back for another check and they decided that you needed to be admitted to the NICU to be under the bili lights for a night. I was sitting in the backseat with you at chick-fil-a when we got the call and I totally lost it when I heard. Daddy assured me that you weren’t in any big danger and that you wouldn’t have the spend very long in the NICU, but I couldn’t stand the thought of having to take you back to the hospital and leaving you there overnight without me. We drove back to the hospital and I tried to put on a brave face, but of course as soon as I had to face the nurses in the NICU, I started crying all over again, but they hugged me and told me that he would be just fine. We got to be in an isolation room, which was nice because Daddy and I could play music and have a big chair to sleep in. Once again, you had amazing nurses! What a blessing. Kim was the charge nurse and Kartar was your own personal nurse. She was so wonderful and she taught me how to use my breast pump so that you wouldn’t have to take formula even though you were in the NICU. I stayed with you while Daddy went home and got pillows and his computer. I fed you and watched you in your little bassinet under the bili lights hooked up to the monitors and wearing your little eye covers and tried to be brave and not to cry. Daddy and I decided that he would stay with you through the night while I went home and slept and pumped milk for you. Granny drove bottles of milk over to the hospital through the night so that Dad could feed it to you every three hours. It was so wonderful that Aunt B and Granny were here to help! Aunt B slept with me to help me with pumping through the night. We got up at 4:00am and watched Dancing with the Stars while pumping. :o) When I woke up the next morning, Daddy had sent me pictures of you guys together and told me that you were out from under the lights! You looked a lot better! I brought coffee and doughnuts over to the hospital and Daddy and I stayed with you until 3:00pm when you got discharged to come home!



Your first 10 days have been a whirlwind! We have gotten a lot of nice down time to spend time at home holding you, but at times it has felt pretty crazy too. Between all the Doctor’s visits for you and for me, your first day that you didn’t have to get in your car seat was your 8th day of life! You sleep a LOT! We often have trouble waking you up to eat. We usually have to take all your clothes off, change your diaper, squeeze your little feet and sometimes put a cold washcloth on your back to get you awake enough to eat! We think you are a night owl like your Daddy! You sleep most of the day, but at 10:00pm you are awake and ready to go. You usually start crying a lot late at night. Daddy is good at rocking you and your pacifier helps too. We’ve been on several walks in the neighborhood and we’re going to give you your first bath today! Daddy takes you upstairs every evening for phototherapy and he likes to take you outside to sit by the pool with him in the evenings. You hiccup more than anyone I’ve ever seen and you always sneeze twice in a row. You are such an awesome baby and Daddy and I are so in love with you. We pray for you every day and we can’t wait to live this adventure with you! I love you my sweet baby!


Love, Mommy