Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Arrival of Tobias Prescott Lehmann

So here's the story, for those of you who want to know. Better late than never, eh?

I'd been up for a normal day on Tuesday, and was contemplating going to bed around midnight, when I started having symptoms that labor might not be too far away. Thinking, "oh shoot, I haven't even slept yet", I put a towel down and climbed into bed. Well that was a big waste of time, as shortly after, contractions started, and I got to spend all night in early labor.

We stayed in bed until things hotted up around 4 a.m., when Chad got up to hook me up to the TENS machine and then toddle down to the living room to start a fire (the primary heat source in our house, how very Little House on the Prarie, no?). By 6 a.m. I was shouting the whole house down while Chad sat at the computer timing my contractions using a handy little online device for just such a purpose. I considerately waited to call my midwife until 8 a.m., and felt a little desperate when she said I should try to wait at home for another couple of hours based on how my contractions were going - the coming 45 minute drive over very windy roads while in active labor looming large in my mind. An hour later I met the required requirements and was told we could head in.

We rolled in to the birth center and I gratefully settled in to my labor room at a respectable 4 cm. Everything was going quite well after a healthy and uneventful pregnancy, but a couple of hours later I got the news that my waters were going a bit green and we'd have to go to the hospital to keep a closer eye on the baby. Saddened to lose my birth center birth, I nonetheless stoically boarded the gurney for my first-ever ambulance ride (standard procedure) while Chad followed in our car.

They got me into the delivery suite and strapped both fetal and contraction monitors to my belly - the latter seemed a little superfluous to me at the time, as I could sure tell you all about when and how the contractions were coming on. Then the fetal monitor started losing the heartbeat during contractions when it was most needed, so we had to "graduate" to a scalp clip to keep a better eye on things. I could have kicked the staff midwife, as it took three tries to get it in, and I was not loving the idea of my baby being jabbed in the head even once! All the vitals were stable however, and I settled into more hard work and waiting - the true stuff of childbirth.

When it was time for the next exam, they found that I was only at around 6 cm, and was starting to swell along one side. This was especially bad news as it had been five hours since I was at 4 cm, and my body thought it was time to transition to pushing contractions. I was using some nitrous oxide/oxygen mix to help with the increasing pain, and fighting hard not to push, but after watching me for awhile, they began recommending an epidural in hopes that my muscles could relax enough to stop trying to squish the baby out a too-small opening and dilate fully. At that point I actually welcomed the idea, as they told me the baby's head was also becoming swollen from the effort.

The only problem with having joyfully accepted the offer of nuclear pain relief, was that it was a very exciting day in the labor ward and took another 40 minutes for an anesthesist to be free to see me - ugh! But in time, they got me all set up and resting comfortably and I must say, a bit more alert to the world around me.

My mental relief was short-lived, as I saw my midwife Julie take the heartbeat readout and take off to get a doctor's opinion on what she saw developing. When she came back with the doc, the first words out of my mouth were, "Am I headed for surgery?", as that was my most dreaded outcome other than Baby's safety being at risk. The team then spelled out exactly what was going on, and why they were concerned, but ultimately left it up to me to choose - for which I was hugely grateful. Bubs was stable, but not in the best shape from the vitals, and it became apparent after some testing, and wait-and-see, that I wasn't going to be able to deliver on my own soon enough to keep him safe, and maybe not at all. With another sigh of resignation, I said let's go for it, and waited to feel crushed and defeated about the whole thing.

What followed instead was an amazingly peaceful and even fun birth, courtesy of God and my amazing surgical team. On a random side note, Chad looks quite foxy in scrubs - maybe he should've pursued a medical career! We all chatted and joked the whole time, and before long one of the docs casually said "Oh boy", to which I immediately said "It's a boy?!?!" She replied, "Oh, well we haven't actually looked yet," but in another minute (6:53p.m. to be precise), Baby was out and seen to be safe, healthy, and most definitely male. Chad went over to see his fine new boy and watch the pediatrician check him out, while I hung out on the table as they put all my internal bits back together. They brought Baby back all wiped off, and with a wool hat to cover his impressive conehead, to let him meet his mum for the very first time (on the outside, of course).

After seeing him carted off to the scales all purply and pooky-headed, I'd remarked how he may not be pretty, but I sure loved him anyway - much to the doctors' amusement. By the time he got back, I decided that actually, he was rather cute, and settled into cuddling someone entirely new. The three of us spent a quiet hour in recovery, where we got to know one another a little bit and have some dinner, and soak up the surreal fact that we were now PARENTS!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boys and their toys...

(Chad here) I generally consider myself a "manly man" inclined to work on the car, split firewood by hand, carry a multitool on my belt (...everywhere...), etc, so needless to say I can appreciate the finer points of "manly" activities. I recently had the opportunity to take part in two stereotypical male-dominated events that I hadn't been a part of before....

First on the scene, the Hamilton 400 V8 Supercar street circuit in Hamilton. Basically they took about 4 square city blocks in the middle of town and put up concrete barriers and chain-link fences and let professional drivers rip around on the pavement that I would otherwise be driving on whilst running errands or heading to work.
During the 4-day event they have all different classes of cars run the track from mini-F1 style Toyota's to stock Porsche's to the centerpiece
which are the Australian V8 Supercars. They race in Aussie and NZ and would most likely compare
to NASCAR except that it's a bit more of a street race than a giant oval. All the cars are massively turbo-charged and LOUD.... good times... =) I didn't get tickets to the event, but our company was responsible for some of the track lighting, so a few of the guys got All-Access Contractor passes so they could getin and maintain the lights if required.
Well, since they didn't ALWAYS need to be on the track "maintaining" said lights, my work-mate and I were able to borrow a couple passes and head
down to the track for a few hours one day. We wandered the whole track unhindered - just flash the "All-Access" we were away! Any grandstand, down in the pits, take your pick! We didn't stay for long, but certainly long enough to get a bit of hearing damage and few shots of the cars racing past. All I needed was an RV and a confederate flag!!!


Then, a few weeks ago a mate from church had his bachelor party - which is known here as a "stag do", the contrast to which would be a "hen's night" for the girls. Anyway, he's a farmer and a fellow manly man, as are his brothers-in-law who set up an afternoon of clay pigeon target practice out on the farm. Yeeeee-HAW! Let's go SHOOT sumthin! There were about 15 guys and four 12-gauge shotguns with target rounds. Two of the guns were 5 shot pump-action, 1 was semi-automatic, and 1 was a double barrell, old-school gun with two
triggers! We all chipped in for ammo and clays and over the course of about 3 hours of shooting we managed to go through roughly 500 rounds ...and sadly not nearly so many pigeons met their fate. Though, for never having done this in my life, I think I shot about 70% - which drew all kinds of fun jokes from the peanut gallery about being a gunslinging Texan who was born with a gun in my hands! (my mom could witness to the contrary =) The groom-to-be wasn't much of a shot in the end, but he had a good time, and the best shot of everyone, far and away, was one of the church elders in his 70's who pretty much didn't miss a single one! (veteran
duck hunter, of course) We were all in awe. Most of the day we had two guns running at a time since the launcher could shoot two pigeons at once, but towards the end with people getting hungry for the BBQ feed and ammo to burn I'm pretty sure they unleashed all four guns at once on two unsuspecting clay pigeons. Poor guys.

Hopefully I'll have more grunty events to share in the future (...WRC RallyNZ in August!), but hopefully this will infuse a bit of testosterone to everyone's reading for today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Carneys, circus folk...nomads, you know...

...or, why my brain has been too fried to write on the blog in over a month. Brace yourselves, it's a novel.

A number of years ago, I watched one evening as some friends got adjusted to life as new parents in their 2 bedroom apartment. At the time I thought to myself, "Wow, I'm so going to wait until I have my own house to have kids." I can just imagine God watching from his eternal perspective and laaaaaaaaughing when he heard that. Why? Because here I am, 6 1/2 months pregnant, and living in a dorm room at a Bible camp on the other side of the world. Life's funny that way.

Another good friend of mine reckons that her life was quite on track until she became a Christian - then all her carefully crafted plans flew right out the window, and she's gone in a direction she could never have imagined before. Such is the wonder and the terror of surrendering control over your life to a perfect sovereign God, who sees the end beyond the sometimes confusing and dispiriting means.

Sometimes people doubt that God is big or strong enough to carry them through the challenges and closed doors in our lives. This is not my problem. No, I absolutely believe in heart and mind that God has the ability to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. My problem is getting frustrated knowing that he often asks me to go through a process of learning and growth (L&G, I call it), instead of just giving me what I ask for right away.

Such has been the case in the unexpected and unprecedented realm of housing this time around. In the first 5 years of our marriage, we rented a grand total of three different places. Though having come to New Zealand only 2 1/2 years ago, we will be soon be onto our sixth place of residence - that's twice the houses in half the time! As we ran off to the Eastern Hemisphere partly to escape the domestication of all our friends by mortgages & children, this nomadic lifestyle was only amusing and slightly annoying for the most part.

But then, somewhere along the path to our 30th birthdays, we got old! We went from footloose and fancy-free to yearning for the house and babies we'd avoided for so long. While those things are all very well and good, what do you do with those longings when you're still in the middle of the itinerant existence? Get pregnant anyway, apparently, then search for a more settled place to live. The second part of that equation has never been a problem before - in fact, we once found a house in 13 days on an emergency basis that turned out to be one of the best and most lengthy tenancies we've had!

Naturally, we didn't anticipate any major roadblocks, since it's not like God didn't know we are extra in need of a house on account of the forthcoming extra dependent. But alas, I guess my hormonally-enhanced self was in need of a good L&G experience right now.

We'd been responsibly working on finding the next house since January (a lease takeover from friends), in order to be sorted when we had to leave our old place in early April. All was cruising along until we got back from our South Island trip in March and found out that one of these friends was unwilling to let us into the new house until a month after we lose the old place. A weeks-long, frantic scramble for temporary lodging ensues. Once that was finally sorted, the bottom really fell out when the owners of the new house, who had previously told us they were fine with us taking over the lease (even the week before), decide that actually, too bad for us, they're going to give it to someone else. Cue big, fat, blue funk on both our parts.

Now I know that God is good, but I was definitely a little cheesed at him in this situation. After all, I had been depending on him, and it seemed the situation was divinely appointed: original timing was good, beautiful spacious house, available long term, helping out our friends, etc. And now looking down the barrel of homelessness, I was fully of the attitude that "I don't want to grow my faith, I'll just take the security and blessing now, please!"

*sigh* All right, all right, I'll commence with the growth already.

While we have definitely had to choose to consider it all joy encountering this kind of trial, we've been gifted in other ways to help it not be too burdensome.
1) The great house that we lost is rather out in the sticks, which could have proved difficult at times approaching my due date and as a new mum.
2) The more we heard about the situation, the owners of that house have seemed increasingly high maintenance and demanding - not ideal, even if you're good tenants.
3) Last but not least, I'm not one who would say that I really "hear from God", other than praying and trying to follow his lead. That said, twice now I've had inspiration for people to contact for help when virtually no one else would that I cannot claim credit for on my own; they really just occurred to me out of the blue.
3a)The first was to ask my old boss about the room here at the camp, which has been soooo helpful.
3b)The second was to ask some old landlords from 2 winters ago if their house would be available again this year. Low and behold, it was! After a delightful lunch meeting with them, we finally have somewhere to go and get set up before you-know-who makes an appearance. It's much more accessible, the owners are obviously wonderful, and it's furnished so we can easily sort through and offload some of our things, which we've been wanting to do anyway (amazing how much stuff you can amass, even when playing at "world traveler").

All I can say is, "Fine, Lord, once again you knew what you were doing all along and I was silly to give into fear and doubt." Oh, that and, "HALLELUJAH!"

Thank you to all of you who prayed for us on this, it was a big encouragement - and to Mom P. & Bethany for the steady stream of reminders of their thoughts and support, even when I know they'd much rather have us home :)

P.S. I'd have added some pics for interest, but thought the types of images around which this post revolves (i.e. shots of random houses we've lived in, and us looking shell-shocked), would not really be an enhancement.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tapas: Spanish for "world's smallest portions"

For those of you who have never heard of them, tapas refers to any small, savory, usually Spanish dish served as a snack or as several varieties together to form a light meal. As I am usually oblivious to all things trendy, I barely registered when this manner of noshing became fashionable a little while ago. Yet last Tuesday when Chad & I were exploring the lovely Southern city of Dunedin, we decided to try some as a classy alternative to our road trip standard of PB&J. As the tapas were fairly cost effective, we ordered three types, intending to put together the aforementioned light meal. What we received was this:

For reference, note that the little serving bowls were 4 in. across at their widest point.

While clearly beautifully presented and crafted from top ingredients, THREE orders of the stuff failed to provide even the caloric intake of ONE regular appetizer. Now, I'm not stuck on loading down my stomach in the middle of the day, but the whole caboodle cost twice as much as most appetizers, and we would have had to roll ourselves to the car on an equivalent value of food from any other restaurant we would normally frequent.

*sigh* I must just be one of the masses when it comes to high fashion and fine dining. Guess I'll have to stick to more lowbrow options like Subway where I belong.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Autumn starts...wait for it...right NOW!

Queenstown, Late February 2009

While watching the weather forecast on March the 1st, the meteorologist remarked,

"You may be worried that the start of Autumn means the golden days are behind us, but we're expecting conditions to stay warm and mild through the end of April."

This statement may not seem odd to you, unless you realize that there is no corresponding astronomical event on March 1st to mark a change of season. That's right, here in New Zealand, the seasons change when we say they do, with no pesky scientific interference from solstices or equinoxes.

Kiwi Summer officially runs from December 1st to February 28th (or 29th in a leap year, of course), simply because those are the months that encompass Christmas and the school holidays. Funnily enough, the weather through to the end of March when the equinox occurs is usually more warm and pleasant than it is in December - but March 21st is so much less tidy and easy to remember, am I right?

It probably came about in much the same way as the recent daylight savings time change. Before 2008, Daylight savings time in NZ ran fairly close to that of other places, including the States (with the springing forward & falling back swapped, since our seasons are opposite) because it was handy enough to do so.
But one day, a few bright sparks said, "Hey! Nobody likes it when daylight savings time ends, so why don't we extend it for three weeks and get some more sun-filled days?"
The government replied, "Oh sure, why not? But just get together a petition and have enough people sign it so we know the idea is as popular as you say it is."
"No worries, mate." they said.
And within a few short weeks they had gathered the signatures and *poof* three more government-certified weeks of daylight savings.

Perhaps it's not the best example, what with daylight savings pretty much being an obsolete figment of the imagination, but it all just goes to show that the power of a government's "Because I said so" can be put to less sinister use - like fiddling with time.

P.S. Dear Jill H., I apologize for not researching the proper grammatical use of quotation marks and dialogue before writing this entry, but frankly, I was feeling lazy.