Sunday, December 3, 2017

Lillian Joy Spencer

It's been over a year since I wrote on the blog.  What better way to return than with another birth story?   We'd like you to meet...

Lillian Joy Spencer
Born November 16, 2017
8.5 pounds, 20 inches

Miss Lilly Joy kept us all on our toes last month.  My due date was November 5, and my mother-in-law arrived in Taiwan on November 7, and we excitedly waited...and waited...and waited some more.  

On the morning of November 16, I was desperate for some fun distraction from the fact that I was still pregnant.  So we decided to put up the Christmas tree.

During that project, I was having some strong contractions, but nothing progressive.  My midwife had explained that the baby was in a posterior position, which could be preventing labor from starting.  I tried doing the exercises she recommended.  Kalan headed up the tree decorating crew (no small feat, if you've ever tried Christmas decorating with several little helpers ages 5 and under).  ;)

Last photo as a family of five!
After that, Kalan's mom took the kids to the park and Kalan and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to see if that would help get things going.  (We were so thankful to have Grams here with us.  She was a huge help with the kids and we all enjoyed getting to spend time with her!)  After lunch I did those exercises again.  Finally I felt like I was really in labor.  Around 1:30 pm we went to the hospital and I was surprised to find out that I was only 3 cm dilated.  (With the previous three babies, I was always at 5 or 6 by the time I felt I was really in never occurred to me that baby #4 would be so different!)

My Taiwanese friend Daisy (a trained doula) met us at the hospital.  Her presence was calming and reassuring, especially since the hospital midwife wasn't available that day.  Kalan and I were so glad to have her there!  Not only did she help me cope with a labor, she also helped us fill out all the Chinese paperwork.  She made our first hospital birth a great experience.

Daisy and I after Lilly was born
Around 3 pm my water broke and the contractions got more intense.  The birthing pool was almost filled up, and I was on my knees nearby, using a birthing ball.  The doctor came to check on me and said I could go ahead and get in the pool.  Then she left.

A few minutes later (not yet in the birthing pool), I told Daisy I felt like pushing.  "Ok," she said, "That's fine.  Good job...wait, wait, stop pushing...stop, Kayt....STOP!"  But after all that waiting around, there was no stopping her now.  Lilly was born right there.  Again, we were very thankful for Daisy!  I vaguely remember hearing Kalan run a few steps out the door shouting "Yisheng!  Yisheng!"  (Doctor!  Doctor!)  

As Daisy later described, "It was like going for a slow walk and then suddenly finding yourself riding a rocket!" (是一個從慢慢走瞬間變成坐火箭的概念!) 

The next day Grams and the other kids came to meet Lilly Joy.  Just one look at their faces and I knew we had chosen a fitting name...

The hospital director also visited to wish us congratulations, and then asked if he could send a photographer to take our family photo to use for hospital advertising.  (Our first year in Taiwan I would have found that super weird.  But seven years later?  Sure, why not.  It still makes me laugh to think about it.)

Two days later we got an early discharge and settled into life at home as a family of six.  It's been chaotic and exhausting and full of laughter and snuggles.  We wouldn't have it any other way.  

Lilly Joy, welcome to our family.  We love you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Life in Sanchong

Today is our Taiwanniversary!

Exactly six years ago, we arrived in Taiwan.  We were two months married, jobless, homeless, and didn't speak a word of Chinese.  (Looking back now, it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen...but by God's grace we're still here!)

To celebrate, here are some pictures of our new neighborhood in Sanchong.

On the street in front of our apartment building is a traditional market, a grocery store, a convenience store, and lots of small food stalls.  Buying groceries or eating out is super easy!

Where I buy pork and chicken
Corner dumpling shop
The grocery store has a play car outside.  It's cool but makes our shopping trips twice as long.  ;)
This sweet lady gives us chunks of watermelon almost every day.
We've met lots of our neighbors, who have been very welcoming.  The couple who run a shop downstairs often give us mangoes from their mango tree.  Mmmm.

This park is just a 5-minute walk away, and we go there most mornings after breakfast (before it gets too hot).

In the late afternoons the kids and I often go out exploring.  Over the past month we've been finding useful places, like the local pool and post office.

We've also stumbled upon a few surprises, like this giant reindeer down the block...

...and a pen of unattended, hungry goats on the riverside.  (?)

Public transit is not that great here, so I got a new bike.  I can ride this one with all three kids!

Walking around Sanchong still feels overwhelming sometimes (at least to me!), but our new apartment already feels like home.

I love that we have space to sit around the dining room table.
It's a refuge from the crazy.  :)  And we've enjoyed having lots of friends over to play.

We sure have come a long way in six years.  We would not be here without you--friends and family who have prayed for us, supported us, and helped us in practical ways.
Thank you!

A mighty fortress is our God; a bulwark never failing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Moving Time

We're moving one week from today!  While I was typing this our moving company delivered this huge load of boxes.  This is getting real.

We're moving to Sanchong (三重), a district just outside of Taipei City that has the lowest number of churches per capita in all of northern Taiwan.  We're excited to settle in, learn a lot, and continue on our church planting journey there.*  

We're sad to be leaving this apartment which has been our home for three years.  This little space on Chaozhou Street holds many special memories for our family.  
Here we grew from a family of 3 to a family of 5... 

...and celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

This is the home where Keira learned to talk.  This is where Jude took his first steps.  Here's the bathtub where James was born!

We're even more sad to be leaving this neighborhood that's been our home ever since we moved to Taiwan six years ago.  You'd think that when you live in a crowded city, you'd feel detached from your 3,000,000 neighbors, but to my surprise the opposite is true: your city block is like a small town.  Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.  

The man that runs the corner cafe knows exactly how I like my coffee and has offered endless words of encouragement as I've pored over Chinese textbooks at his counter.

The security guard on our street invites us in for tea every time we walk by and always brightens up our day.

The convenience store clerk always gives pop rocks or chocolate to my kids.  Our meat and vegetable vendors at the market always give us the "regular" discount or throw in a few free lemons.

The grandpa who lives across the street always brings out freshly baked cookies when he hears us coming, and remembers all our names.  A neighbor a few doors down brought us food every day for a week after James was born.  

Not to mention all of our "park friends," and our friends up on Xinyi Road!

We're going to miss you all.  Thank you for blessing our family.  
We'll be back to visit!

"We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.  
We recount your wondrous deeds." 
Psalm 75:1

Now...time to start packing.

*If you want more info on why we're moving, or want to join us in praying for Sanchong, please message or email me.  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

James: 5 Months Old

It's about time James got his own blog post.  (Keira got her first one at 1 month, Jude got his at 3 months, and James is 5 months...I'm seeing a pattern here!)  Well, it's not because we don't love him to pieces.  It's because we're so busy surviving soaking up every fun/crazy moment (which we've realized pass way too quickly!)

James loves to smile and from a super early age (like a month old) would seek out our faces and surprise us with huge grins!  He charms everyone we meet and makes new friends everywhere we go.

At a rest stop while hiking.  James especially has a way with Taiwanese grandmas.  ;)
Making friends in the church nursery
In keeping with his extroverted ways, he enjoys sitting up at the table with us during mealtimes...

...and is pretty happy to tag along on whatever adventures our day holds.

He loves sucking his thumb (and toes)!  

And takes the prize for best sleeper in our family.

He was baptized at the beginning of the month.  

He loves big sister and brother, and lights up when he hears their voices or sees their faces.

We gave him the Chinese name 聖安 (Sheng An).  安 means peaceful, calm, content, safe.

James, you are SO loved.