Wednesday, December 23, 2015

And Then There Were Five


James August Spencer
Born December 19, 2015 
8 lbs 5 oz, 22 inches

The Story

It felt like we had been waiting forever to meet this sweet little boy!  After I went on bedrest at 34 weeks for preterm labor, we all expected James to make an early appearance.  But my due date passed, and still no baby.  Every week my doctor said, "I just can't believe you're still pregnant!"  Furthermore, I had frequent, strong contractions daily in the weeks leading up to his birth...more than once I was convinced labor was starting only to have it subside hours later.

On December 18th, my midwife came to check on me and see how things were progressing.  "Sorry," she said, "but it looks like you'll have to wait until next week for this baby.  He'll be a Christmas gift!"  I told Kalan when he got home, then added, "But the good news is, we can go see Star Wars this weekend!"  We booked movie tickets and a babysitter for the following night.

The next morning was clear and sunny.  Kalan got up with the kids and let me sleep in.  Around 8 AM I started having contractions every 5-10 minutes, but I didn't think much of it.  After all, it was similar to what I'd been experiencing for weeks!  Kalan went to the market for groceries while the kids and I read stories and built a train track.

Morning of December 19th
Around 10 we set off together for Daan Park (our church has a monthly kids outreach there).  After just 15 minutes of walking, I told Kalan that I wasn't feeling so well and needed to go home to rest.  He and the kids continued on without me.  On the way home, I had to stop and lean against a road sign during a particularly strong contraction.  Hmmm...could this be it?

At 10:30 I called Mai-Li (our midwife) and told her that "I think I might be in labor."  (Ha!)  She said she'd come right over.  Then I called Kalan.
"Should I come home?"
" and the kids should stay and play.  I'm okay.  We can wait and see how things go."
"How about I leave the kids here with our friends and come home?"
"Well, okay.  That sounds good."

Twenty minutes later, I was so relieved to see Kalan walk through the door.  The contractions were coming quickly and strongly now--this was it, and I needed his support.  He held my hand and helped me breathe.  In between contractions he got things ready and kept me laughing so I wouldn't get too stressed out:  "Of course he finally decides to show up on the day I'm going to see Star Wars!"

I also remember focusing on different Christmas ornaments and listening to this song as I labored.

At 11:30, I said (a bit panicked), "Kalan, I want to push!"
"Okay," he said, appearing completely calm, "I'll go wash my hands."
He called Mai-Li, who was looking for a parking space.  She parked as soon as she could and ran over to our apartment, arriving around 11:45. 

They helped me into the bathtub and James came into the world shortly after at 12:10 PM.  

Our friends brought Keira and Jude home an hour later and they got to meet their new brother for the first time.  Then we all took an afternoon nap.  ;) 

Over the past few days, we've been so blessed by all our friends who have come to help and visit.

 Some of our neighbors have been bringing me traditional postnatal recovery foods nearly every day.  Yum!

Keira: "Mom, can I have the chicken foot?!  Pleeeeeeease?!  It's my favorite!!!"
Our midwife makes regular postpartum visits.  Here she's checking James' weight.
She's the best.  :)
James is eating and sleeping and growing like a champ.

We love you so much already, baby James.  Welcome to our family!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Surviving Bedrest: The Week in Review Vol. 21

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us during this past week.  
(In case you missed it, I was put on bedrest two weeks ago due to preterm labor).
It's been hard, but we have so much to be thankful for...

Role reversal!  First time going out in the wheelchair.
1. Our baby appears healthy and is nearly full-term.  I will be 36 weeks next Tuesday (37 is considered full-term).  According to ultrasound, our baby already weighs nearly 6 lbs, and the doctor seems confident that he will do just fine, even if he's born a little earlier than expected.

2. I get to go outside!  A friend lent us a wheelchair, and the doctor approved for me to take short trips outside each day (if someone is pushing me).  Getting some sunshine and fresh air feels so good!

3. We have amazing friends.  This past week, our church family started bringing us meals, which takes some of the cooking burden off Kalan.  Friends came to visit me almost every day, which was a huge encouragement.  Others have called or texted to check up on us.  And of course, Chelsea continues to bless us with all her help.

Five foreigners--two in a double stroller + one in a wheelchair + two pushing us all along--we're quite the sight for our neighbors!
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Halloween, Bedrest, and the Best Sister-in-Law Ever

Happy belated Halloween!  We attended a Halloween party at the school where Kalan teaches English.  The kids got to join in the activities, including trick-or-treating at a few stores around the block.  (Halloween isn't celebrated in Taiwan, but English schools here often organize special activities.)

According to Keira, Halloween is the "best day ever" because she got to dress up like a princess and eat candy.

Halloween night took an unexpected turn, however, when I went into preterm labor.  No one saw that coming!  After a bunch of tests, my doctor prescribed medicine/bedrest and sent me home.  I'm 34 weeks along now, and we are hoping baby boy can wait at least three more before making his appearance.

That means I'm pretty limited in my activities for the next few weeks.  Providentially, Chelsea (my brother's fiancee) is here visiting until November 19.  She has been wonderful, jumping in to help watch the kids, wash the dishes, fold laundry, and do whatever else needs to be done.  We are so thankful for her cheerful, serving heart.

Movie night!
Kalan has also been awesome about cooking, cleaning, taking the kids out to play, and generally keeping our household running.  It's hasn't been easy while balancing work, Chinese class, and church commitments, but somehow he does it all.  

And so, even though this past week did not turn out as I expected, I'm incredibly grateful for how God provides, especially for things we don't even know to pray for.

"The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his sovereignty rules over all." Psalm 103:19

Friday, October 16, 2015

A 3-Year-Old, a 3-Day Weekend, and 3-Cup Chicken: The Week in Review Vol. 20

Keira is three years old!  Thanks to all our family and friends who sent packages and celebrated with us.  She loves playing pretend, dressing up, singing, dancing, making new friends at the park, dumplings and dou-hua, kittens, bubble gum, making up stories, reading, and the color pink.

Keira's birthday is right before Taiwan's birthday, so we had another 3-day weekend.  

A new friend (a neighbor) came over and taught me how to make 3-Cup Chicken (a Taiwanese dish made with soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil).  Yum! 

My brother's fiancee arrived for a visit.  

We're so happy to have her with us!

This little guy has been keeping us laughing recently with all his new words and love for climbing, jumping, and.....diving.  (?!)

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Moon Festival and Typhoon Dujuan: The Week in Review Vol. 19

Yay for long weekends!  Thanks to the Moon Festival holiday, we got to spend extra time with friends last week.  

Above: Dahu Park
Below: Finishing our Moon Festival BBQ with giant marshmallows.  It was my first time roasting a marshmallow while holding an umbrella.  :)

I should probably explain this picture a bit.  We went to a barbecue at a friends' home.  They share an entryway with some neighbors, who use that space for their family shrine (the table behind us with the family gods).  This is relatively common in Taiwan.

The next day Typhoon Dujuan roared over northern Taiwan, and our three-day weekend turned into a four-day weekend.  Fortunately, we didn't lose electricity or water at all this time.  Here's what the storm looked like from our balcony:

When the sun did come out later in the week, we were excited to get out and play!

Keira's been practicing on her bike, and I finally feel comfortable letting her ride alone while I push the stroller right behind.  Can you believe our sweet girl will turn three this weekend?!

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Week in Review Vol. 18

Last weekend we went on a church retreat.  It was really fun to get to know new people in our church.  On Sunday the kids did a special song for us.  It was Keira's first time being with the "big kids" and she really enjoyed it.

We're still really enjoying homeschool preschool.

Especially since it sometimes involves blueberry muffins...

...and playing at the park...

...and counting rocks!

(No matter what cool playground equipment or fun toys are around, my kids will always choose things like rocks or clothes hangers instead...anyone else notice this with their kids?!)

This past week we went walking in the area where we plan to church-plant.  We'll be making regular trips there during this coming year as we pray about where to move next summer.

We can get there easily by MRT (subway).

This week Keira had a modeling job.  It involved sparkly headbands and twirly dresses and flowers.  "Mama, I like this modeling!"

On the home front...remember how I had 100 eggs delivered to our apartment last week?  Well, this week I had 20 pounds of rice delivered (plus some buckwheat and millet to grind into gluten-free flour).  Yet another thing we don't have to haul home from the store--score!

And finally, a pregnancy update...this week began the 3rd trimester.  A friend came over and gave me this cookbook of traditional confinement foods.  I'm excited to try some!

Have a great weekend.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Autumn Sunshine, A Hundred Eggs, and Phubbing: The Week in Review Vol. 17

"The sun,--the bright sun, that brings back, not light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man--burst upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory.  Through costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray."
--Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

We experienced this sunshine, hope, and freshness over the past week.  Thank you, praying friends.

In other news, I have a hundred eggs in my refrigerator.  Yes, 100.  I have yet to find a cheaper (and still delicious) gluten-free breakfast, so our family goes through an average of 8 eggs per day.

Kalan: "If I order a lot of eggs, will you deliver them to my apartment?"
Gary (the egg vendor): "Well, how many do you want?"
Kalan: "A hundred."
Gary: "What?!  Do you own a school or something?"
Kalan: "No...we just really like eggs..."
Gary: "Well, if you order that many we will deliver them for free!"

So we received our first shipment this past week. Our meat and vegetable vendors have offered delivery services, too.  It's such a time-saver (and energy-saver...walking with two little people to the market and then making the trek back--laden with groceries--is quite the task when you're nearly seven months pregnant.)  ;)

Speaking of those sweet little people, Keira and Jude started sharing a room.  The bedtime monologues we overhear are hilarious.  

"Jude, you my BEST friend!"
"Jude, I sing you two songs, then time for sleep, ok?"
"Jude, why you crying?  You have a new tooth?  You want a nuk (pacifier)?  Don't worry, buddy."
"Jude, you too noisy, hurt my ears!"


In closing, I'll share a funny new English word I learned this week:

For the first time ever (and probably the last), I actually understood a Chinese sign better than the English translation.

Phubber = phone + snubbing = someone who looks at their phone and ignores real life around them.

Have a great rest of the week!