On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We’re Having a Baby (#2)!

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward... Psalm 127:3 (NASB)

Caedmon came into the world with quite a flair, being fashionably late, requiring induction to begin the process of labor. However, our little girl must have some of her daddy’s rebelliousness in her because she decided to come early on her own. Libby was born at 39 2/7 weeks. I (Lynette) wanted her to have a strong professional name in case she was to enter the professional world as an adult. Libby's name holds the meanings of “God’s promise” and “servant of Jesus”. The story of her delivery follows below.

My original due date was at the end of June. Both OB doctor and we assumed that she would be like her brother and need to be evicted. An induction date for mid-June was chosen after Tom, the consummate planner, pow-wowed with OB doctor. This way we could have childcare set up, Tom’s & OB doctor’s work/call schedule would be worked around it and all could be smooth. OB doctor was also willing to do this because of my prior thyroid issues. A few days before the chosen date, my exam indicated that L-girl had no interest in leaving mommy as we had planned. If we went forward and nothing happened, I would be sent home from the hospital after 24 hours of induction (which gave me flashbacks to Caedmon's induction of being very, very slow and painful!). Instead of taking that chance, the induction was postponed to a week later... and we resumed our planning every detail to make sure that all would be taken care of without a hitch. If all happened according to plan : 1) My next appointment was to be just one day before the actual induction day and we were praying that there would be some progress with my body which would help the induction to go more smoothly (than it did with Caedmon). 2) Tom’s mom was already in town blessing us with her cooking and help with Caedmon. 3) By the induction day, Aunt Heather would be here to help with Caedmon and Tom’s parents would be off to Arizona to celebrate Jonathan and Josiah’s 2nd birthday. 4) The two doctors work/call schedules would be minimally impacted and the delivery would go off as they had planned. However, God had quite a different plan (of course!).

That Sunday, I did not sleep well at all. I was feeling like my body was starting to get ready to deliver and was hopeful that the Tuesday appointment would reveal some progress. Besides being tired and a bit cranky on Monday, all seemed normal. Caedmon and I met up with friends at McDonald’s for one last pre-Libby play date. In the course of our conversation, my other preggo friend Erin and I were questioning A about whether we would recognize true labor if we were blessed to reach that point without induction. A assured us that we would know... Later that night, I got to test out what A said.

Around 12:30 am, I was startled awake from a dream. The dream had something to do with Caedmon and his two friends from the Mickey D's playdate swimming but part of it also had to do with me being in pain. After the second feeling of “dream-pain” came, I realized that maybe the pain in my dream was real and got up to use the bathroom. When I got up another bout of pain struck and I thought maybe something was really happening. Instead of awakening Tom, I decided to walk around the room and see what happened. However, Tom realized that I was up and he awoke too. He asked me what the rule was for determining true labor. I remembered something about 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long, but Tom decided to Google some answers?!? I walked around downstairs while he “googled it”. He determined that we needed to start timing the contractions to see if they were consistently 5 minutes apart, with each contraction lasting 1 minute long, for at least a continuous one hour. In the meantime, we were making sure that we had a hospital bag packed (I had started it several weeks ago but wasn’t really expecting to need it until Wednesday night when we would go to the hospital for the induction). An hour later, we realized that it was probably time to call OB doctor. He too was in agreement and we were to head into the hospital. We knew that sometimes labor was a long process so we spent almost another hour at home showering and sending emails in preparation (Tom’s dad was flying here in the morning and H was arriving the following day - pick ups from the airport had to be arranged). Finally, Tom awakened his mom to let her know what was happening and we hopped in the car for the drive to Methodist Medical Center. It was really uneventful and relaxing (except for the labor pains) compared to what TV and movies make it seem to be. Tom even mentioned that he always wondered what it would be like in real life, and for us, it was much less dramatic than people make it out to be. It was 3 am when we arrived at Methodist, we stopped by Tom’s office to check on his schedule for the next day and even made another stop to drop his work things by the OR. When we finally made it to Labor & Delivery and started to get checked in, the reality sunk in and I felt quite emotional. In triage, we were really pleasantly surprised to find out that I was already dilated to 4-5 cm and 80% effaced by the time we got there. They moved us on to the labor suite and we settled in to prepare for the next phase. By this time it was at least 3:30 am. We were blessed to be placed in the suite that had a beautiful view of the illuminated nighttime skyline. My nurse, Cheryl, got me hooked up on the monitors and we settled in for the long haul. My blood pressure, which tends to be low naturally, was on the really low side (80-90/60’s) and Tom mentioned that it would have to rise a little prior to placing an epidural safely. It stayed low for a while and at one point, he said that perhaps I would not be able to get that epidural. Aaagh! That did not sound like a good option to me, especially as the pain was starting to radiate down my inner thighs. I asked him what he thought about IV drugs and he reminded me that I don’t handle medication well and it would probably make it so that I wouldn’t remember anything about L-girl’s birth. I decided to tough it out and pray that my blood pressure would cooperate. I found it helpful to watch the monitor as I had the contractions. There was something slightly comforting in watching the contraction curve go up and then come back down. God answered my prayers above and beyond my expectations throughout this whole experience. Around 5 am, one of Tom’s partners who was on-call, came to place my epidural. Fortunately, I couldn’t see what he was doing or it may have seemed worse than it was. I think the process took a half hour as I was stuck at least 4 times with the epidural needle! For me, the pain of being stuck wasn’t as bad compared to the sound of the crunch of the ligaments and soft tissues as the needle pierced its way through the layers of my back in between the vertebrae - it was like having dental work when you can hear the drill and other weird sounds but can’t feel the pain. Of course, the occasional contraction also added to the experience. However, the epidural worked and before long, my legs were feeling quite numb and the pain of contractions was greatly diminished. My left side was especially affected and eventually although I could feel my leg, I could not lift it at all! (I recall thinking to myself that this somewhat akin to what my sister, Amy, has to deal with on a daily basis.) My contractions slowed a good bit after the epidural and the nurse commented on how that was not uncommon. We were pleasantly surprised when she checked me at 6:30 and I was 7 cm dilated. I kept wondering if my water would break spontaneously but OB doctor had to break it when he arrived around 8 am. Two hours later, I was fully dilated and effaced and ready to welcome L-girl into the world. My nurse, Eileen, was great! She is a believer and one of the first things she commented on was the Christian music that we had playing in the background. She talked a lot with me about her kids and especially the joys of having a daughter. She was really good at explaining what would happen and how to push while at the same time being comforting. Eileen had me do a few practice pushes in preparation. However, those practice pushes already had L-ibby crowning so things moved into high gear and the room was fully prepared for the final delivery. Once everything was set up, I was gearing up for lots of pushing. Tom had told me to be careful not to push too hard and maybe I could avoid tearing (like I did with Caedmon). I pushed twice and Libby was out and placed on my belly before I had the chance to process what had just occurred! It was like someone had greased her because it took very little effort. In fact, Tom almost missed capturing it on video because she came so fast! She came out so fast (even from the start of the labor at home) that my anticipation did not build in the same way it had for Caedmon.

The whole experience was completely different from my labor and delivery of Caedmon. I do remember OB doctor saying that it is only fitting that L-girl had blonde hair like her mom. I thought it was a joke, but when I saw her I realized that her hair is really very light compared to Caedmon’s. After Tom cut the umbilical cord and I held Libby for what felt to me a really short time, she was whisked off to be weighed, measured and tended to. Meanwhile, as a small tear required stitching up, my cell phone rang and when Tom handed it to me... it was preggo friend Erin, who was shocked to find out that Libby had been born minutes earlier and she was talking to me while my OB was still stitching! It seemed like some time before Libby was finally returned and I got to nurse her. It was then that I suddenly realized that I hadn’t brushed up on any of my previous nursing techniques. Fortunately, it’s kind of like riding a bike and Libby and I quickly figured it out. As I was nursing her, we realized that Libby had a huge poop which covered not only her but also the blanket and my hospital gown. She was quite a mess so it’s a good thing that they would bathe her in the nursery, where she was taken for about 5 hours once we finished nursing. Suddenly my labor suite was empty except for Tom & I. We had to stay there until my epidural wore off and they had a post-partum room ready for me. The epidural took much longer to wear off than we expected. The nurse came back after an hour and we we were all expecting to be able to move to the new room, but when I tried to lift my left leg, I found that it was still a ton of bricks. Eventually, the epidural wore off and we were moved to my next temporary home. We had an uneventful time and I was feeling fantastic for just having given birth. Libby seemed to be doing well, too, so we were fully expecting to go home around noon the next day. Since we delivered at Methodist and our pediatrician doesn’t have privileges there, we had to use a hospital pediatrician while we’re there. When Caedmon was born, we had a run-in with the same pediatrician since we left way earlier than she wanted. It is surprising that for some reason we didn’t think to ask OB doctor to pick someone different. Again, she was not too pleased that we wanted to leave before 48 hours, but she agreed as long as Libby’s bilirubin levels were checked before we left (Caedmon's never was checked when he was born there 2 years earlier!). We continued to prepare to leave and OB doctor discharged me around noon. However, when Libby’s levels finally came back the pediatrician determined that they were too high and she had to remain in the hospital under phototherapy lights until the levels decreased. We were surprised and VERY disappointed.

I was more than ready to return home for a number of reasons. First of all, the hospital was not restful at all, especially with the nurses taking vitals every few hours. Secondly, I hadn’t seen Caedmon since Monday and hadn’t really prepared myself or him for that. Even though everyone said he was doing fine, I felt like it really wasn’t fair to him to make him be without mommy and daddy for so long. We were told that the earliest we’d head home was probably Friday and we could possibly be there through the weekend. Aagh! God was once again teaching us to let go of our plans and trust Him... and once again, He proved to be faithful above and beyond what we could ask or imagine. Tom was able to bring Caedmon, his parents and Heather to the hospital that afternoon to visit. Caedmon really was doing amazingly well. In fact, he seemed to be more comfortable with Nai-Nai and Ye-Ye than he had ever been before. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to interact with Libby because she had to stay under the lights. We still aren’t sure what they made of the whole experience...they must have thought she was an alien under those blue lights or seriously ill or something. Libby handled the situation like a champ. She didn’t seem to mind even though she couldn’t be swaddled. She did seem to treasure the time in my arms while I was nursing her and would snuggle right in. Around 4 am on Thursday, they drew her labs again and when the pediatrician checked her first thing in the morning, we were pleasantly surprised when informed that the bilirubin levels had surprisingly dropped so quickly and that Libby could go home with us that day. What a huge blessing!! Heather already had plans to leave C-boy with preggo friend Erin and daughter to play so she came in to pick us up and by mid-morning, we were saying farewell to the hospital.

Libby is only a few days old, but we are already starting to see her personality shine through. She has been an easy baby but she is very strong and gets quite feisty when she’s hungry or when we change her diaper. In the hospital, during her first 2 days of life, she was a great sleeper...however, now that she’s home, we’re starting to learn her sleep habits. Like most babies, nighttime is the most difficult. She seems to have a wide awake, fussy time from about 10 pm until at least midnight. Of course, after two nights at home, this is probably not a fool proof observation so we’ll see how it goes. When she is awake, she is quite alert and seems to be looking around trying to take in whatever she can.

It’s already apparent that Caedmon loves his baby sister but he’s also trying to figure out how she fits into the family, especially in regards to mommy’s now divided attention. We can’t wait to see how Libby continues to grow and develop. It is amazing to look back over the past 2 years of Caedmon’s life and how he’s changed and also in some ways remained the same. It’s exciting to think of all we have to look forward to as she begins to grow, as we raise our two unique, precious children.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Highlights From Caedmon's 1st Two Years

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.(Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

Since we are just starting this blog, we decided that we should backtrack and share some events from Caedmon’s first years of life. Life was anything but dull and boring these past two years as we built a house and continued to travel the world so it seems only fair that we share the highlights.We brought Caedmon home before he was even 24 hours old against the wishes of the hospital’s pediatrician. By the way, Caedmon was delivered at the hospital where Tom worked by his obstetrician friend. Since our pediatrician did not have privileges at the hospital, one who worked at the hospital evaluated Caedmon during his first day of life. There was some ridiculous policy about having to wait 24 hours before you could take a baby home, so Tom’s “rebel” part kicked in and we left early. In hindsight we should have stayed the additional night to get some rest. Caedmon had been circumcised that day, and by the time we got home, the local anesthetic was beginning to wear off. He essentially cried most of that first night and there wasn’t much we could do to comfort him. For the first 4-6 weeks, we were in for one great roller coaster ride in getting to know our newborn. We used to call him “the baby bird” because when he cried he would open his mouth as if he were waiting for a morsel of food to be dropped into it. During the first 3 months Caedmon had a lot of “colic” and had nightly bouts of crying when he was nearly impossible to console. That was until we were shown how to bundle up a baby in a tight swaddle and also found an all-natural product called “Gripe Water”. Ah!, the magic tonic would relieve many potential GI-caused crying spells, and learning to swaddle along with cradling him on his side while holding him in one arm like a football and making “shhh- shhh- shhh-ing” sounds into his ear, would settle him right down and put him off to sleep. From about that time on, he began to sleep essentially through the night. Our sleep deprivation torture had finally ended.

Caedmon also had jaundice which lasted longer than expected. However, our pediatrician told us that it was not uncommon for Asian babies. Caedmon initially settled into a breast-feeding routine, but after 4 months he seemed to fall out of it. He was taking 45 minutes or longer to feed and not too effectively (still wanting more after 45 minutes!). Lynette tried to continue the feedings, but after 6 months, he was switched over to organic formula. We decided that we would give him the blessing of a predominantly organic diet when it was time for solids. If we could start his life off by eating (organically) well, perhaps he would have a health advantage later in life. What an amazing eater he has become to this day (Caedmon loves having rice along with meats such as beef from grass-fed cows, chicken, pork, or turkey. This is mixed with some of his favorite vegetables when in season include: bok choy, spinach, zucchini, carrots, garlic, peas, string beans, broccoli. His desserts consist of organic fruits : mangos, papaya, grapes, pineapple, apples, cantaloupe. Some of his favorite meals to eat at restaurants include : mac & cheese at the Central Market Cafe, beef stew noodle soup with bok choy at King’s Noodle, and of course... pork & napa dumplings at Jeng Chi in China Town!).

His language development began early. Every week from the age of 5 months, Lynette & Caedmon would attend a class taught by a certified American Sign Language instructor. She thought they would be in a group class but instead received one-on-one instruction. It seemed for months that the only person learning anything was Lynette, but amazingly Caedmon began to sign over 100 words! It was great to finally be able to communicate with him before he could talk. Of course, he seemed to learn to say the words almost as quickly as he signed them, but it was still very helpful for us to translate his early unclear speech by using the signs. Caedmon’s oral language skills also took off quickly. At his 1 year old appointment, the doctor wanted to be sure he knew at least 2 words. Lynette could only think of two at that point - dada and yay! (and also E - I - E - I - O when we were singing Old MacDonald). However within 3 months his vocabulary had expanded to over 50 words and by age 2, he was speaking in 5-10 word complete sentences. Also, at 6 1/2 months he began swim lessons, continuing to this day. Lynette and Caedmon go to Emler Swim School once a week for a half hour class. The class was a mommy and me class so Lynette suited up every week and the two of them learned songs, skills and swimming. Caedmon quickly learned to go underwater, working his way to holding his breath for 10 seconds. For the first several months, he took it all in stride, swimming fearlessly. However as he grew, Lynette has had to deal with his bouts of crying and fear that lasted a few weeks at a time. By age two, he was becoming quite proficient and fortunately, was promoted to the next class so Lynette no longer has to get in the pool. Caedmon loves to be in the water... Tom has not ruled out the possibility of him being an Olympic swimmer someday!

One thing we had promised ourselves was that we would not limit our lives because of a baby. In tune with the popular saying from the Nike slogan in the 90’s, “Just Do It!”, we hoped to pattern ourselves after our good friends, Tom & Maureen (rumor has it that they brought just ONE suitcase with them while vacation traveling to Japan as a family of 4!). Prior to Caedmon (in our 1st 3 years of married life), we had international journeys to London, Madeira Portugal, Ireland, Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Okinawa), Scandinavia (Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki), and closer to home... Kauai, Hawaii and British Columbia and Banff, Canada. Being thusly determined to keep on with life’s adventures with child in tow, Caedmony had his passport picture taken when he was but 2 weeks old. We enrolled him in the American Airline AAdvantage frequent traveler mileage program and he embarked on his first plane flights in the heat of July when he was only 2 months old. First, we flew to Pennsylvania for Lynette’s best friend Stacy’s wedding (Lynette was the matron of honor). We also spent a few days with Lynette’s family and Caedmon met Auntie Amy, Great Gram and several other family members. Next, we flew to New York City, where Caedmon met Tom’s Grandma and Great Aunt Jenny. Finally, we spent some time in South Carolina, visiting Great Aunt Clare and Great Aunt Vivian. All these airplane flights were accomplished over 7 days time. The flying frenzy continued as we took him to Seattle (4 months old), returning back to the beautiful island of Kauai twice (5 months & 7 months old), Peru (14 months old) for 10 days on a medical mission with Tom’s surgeon friends (and also got to experience Machu Picchu. Caedmon was a great ambassador to the native people and everyone’s beloved baby on that trip!),  Taiwan (17 months old). It was a challenging trip traveling with Tom’s parents, but worth the cultural experience to see where Tom’s family originated and where he was born, ... 2 months later, we embarked on a 3000 mile roundtrip drive from Texas - South Carolina - Pennsylvania - Texas to surprise our families for Christmas. Interspersed through these trips were some visits flying to Pennsylvania & Seattle as well. Some people could not fathom it, but by then Caedmon was a traveling pro! Besides our travels, we were able to play host to many friends and family who came to visit us in Texas as well. Of note, Tom’s parents were able to share in Caedmon’s dedication ceremony at church on Tom’s very first Father’s Day. The guest-wing of our current home has become a revolving door for both Tom’s & Lynette’s parents. We feel so blessed that they have taken the initiative to visit so often that Caedmon can develop these bonds with his grandparents. He has also learned much Chinese from Tom’s mother!

We created a “Top Things” list of Caedmon’s Life from birth to age 2:

TOP Things We Love About Caedmon
  • Rolling all around the room
  • Trying to crawl but only rocking back & forth, and finally... walking!
  • Laughing at silly words we said to you: kung-fu!, scooby doo!, silly giggles!, bodacious!
  • Sleeping 10-12 hours/night from age 6 months
  • Saying “dada” first and eventually saying the long awaited, “mommy!”
  • Sporting a mohawk
  • Imitating an ostrich hiding in the sand - sleeping with your butt up in the air
  • Melting into our arms like dead weight at the end of the day
  • Being mommy’s exercise buddy as she worked off her pregnancy weight
  • Running to daddy for a great big hug when he returned home from work
  • Saying, “Where da backhoe loader? I dun-no where it is” – when u turned 2, “Santa Claus say HoHoHo!” at age 1.5, “Tom eats… hotsauce!”, “Daddy wants a labradoodle!”
  • Infatuation with friend E (Yo! Emewee)
  • Being a great worldwide traveler
TOP Things We Could Have Done Without
  • 26 hours of labor
  • Colicky crying 0-3 months
  • 45 minute long nursing sessions
  • Always trying to get into dog crate
  • Excessive drooling while teeth were coming in
  • Our little beaver - gnawing your crib rail
  • Separation anxiety - screaming in church nursery
  • Trimming those tiny baby nails without hurting you
  • Early morning wake-ups (anytime before 6 am is still night time...how do we teach you that?!)
  • Getting into cabinets, drawers
  • Tantrums when transitioning to a big boy bed
  • Poopy diapers

We have met many people along the way and some have become dear to us. Especially for Lynette, who had to adjust from life in Pennsylvania, she began to feel comfortable in her new life as a Texan through Church (and it’s programs - Bible study classes, Women’s small groups, MOPs programs), book club (formed through connections in her women’s group at church), Baby Boot Camp (an exercise program that mommies and babies can attend together), and Emler Swim School, Play Group, & Music class for Caedmon. The friends she formed along the way are some of her favorite people to spend time with : Ashley and Amy and their son Hudson (our neighbors & fellow custom dream home building buddies). Caedmon loves to go across the street and play trains with Hudson while Lynette enjoys the fellowship with Amy. Miss Gretchen & son Charlie - Lynette & Gretchen met through connection group and they have enjoyed a great friendship as their families begin to grow. When Gretchen was pregnant, she was a blessing to us as she watched Caedmon so Lynette could get in shape after the pregnancy. (She was the first person Tom would allow to babysit Caedmon!) Now Charlie has come along and Caedmon enjoys him, too! Miss Betsy & son Quinn - Lynette & Caedmon met these friends through Baby Boot Camp and now enjoys seeing them at playgroup & MOPS also. Lynette & Betsy formed the playgroup made up of friends met through various connections who all have boys around the same age. Miss Chris & son Jack - Lynette met Chris through a bulletin board on Babycenter.com. They enjoy weekly play-dates and the benefit of her inside scoop on Central Market (where she works weekends). Miss Nancy & son Reese - Lynette & Caedmon met these friends through MOPS and they became part of the playgroup, too. We love meeting at parks to play and Caedmon can’t get enough of playing in Reese’s sandbox. Miss Erin & daughter Emery - Erin & Emery started as swim buddies but became some of our favorite friends. Caedmon & Emery took swim together for 8 months until Emery advanced into the next level. Caedmon has been working very hard to swim well enough to move into Emery’s swim class again. Currently, Erin is due with their second baby girl, only 3 weeks after Libby is due to arrive. We are excited to encourage that friendship, too! Miss Adrianne & sons Stone and Grant - More swim buddies! Stone was also in swim with us. Stone and Emery are neighbors and Caedmon really enjoys playing with both kids...all the mommies enjoy each other, too. Grant is too little to join in the fun, yet, but we anticipate that someday all the boys will play trucks and the girls will gravitate to dolls. Play-dates will then take on a whole new look! We matured more and gained much knowledge, conviction, and insight during this time of great change as we became homeowners, passed our newlywed years, entered parenthood, sold our city home after living in it for only 3 years, and endured one of the biggest trials of our lives in building a custom dream house (that Tom likes to call Dream House #1, much to Lynette’s consternation!), and are soon preparing to welcome into the world our daughter, Libby. There is no question that the past 2 years have been filled with God’s blessing us with the privilege and gift of Caedmon. He has opened our hearts to a love we have never known. So, it is with much anticipation that we go through these remaining few days before Libbyl’s arrival. We feel prepared, but we know that once she is born, our hearts will blossom even more and we’ll be adding onto the amazing adventure that is our life-story. It was and remains our faith that ultimately God is in control of everything that anchored us through it all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dear L-girl

Dear Libby,
It is with great anticipation that I await your arrival. When your mommy was pregnant with Caedmon, she was wondering how she would ever raise a boy (since she came from a family of girls). Now she is a pro with Caedmon. However, now I am the one wondering how am I ever going to raise a girl (since all I know is being a boy)! I am so glad that your mommy and I are in this amazing journey of parenthood together because I would be in big trouble without her. In time Caedmon is going to be so happy that he will have a playmate and someone to teach and to protect. You will have big brother to look up to and also to keep him on his toes! Your mommy has dreamed of having a little girl since she was young and now she will have that chance. It is just a short time now... in a few days or so, in God's timing, you will change our lives forever. We will be Tom & Lynette, Plus 2 and we can't wait! Love, Daddy

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day Reflections

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord... Ephesians 6:4 (NASB)

As Father's Day is here again, I (Tom) reflect back upon the last 2 years...

During the 1st year of Caedmon's life, I had made up my mind that money was not worth the sacrifice of time away from Lynette. I paid away almost all of my overnight 24 hour call shifts in order to "be there" with them. In that year, I almost left the practice due to a sense of betrayal between my group and I. I wanted to work less and become a part-time employee. They would rather me leave the practice than to work part-time , and they would not allow me (if I became a solo practitioner) to go work with my surgeon friends whose business we were too short on manpower to cover anyway. We did not see eye to eye regarding these issues. I learned that business and friendship were not mutual. It was ultimately all about money and survival of the business. However, I've made a complete reversal in the past year. I've taken more 24 hour call than ever, more than anyone in the practice. Lynette actually finds value in having me home all day when I'm post-call, even if I do spend a portion of the post-call day sleeping in order to re-coup from the toll of the work. It has allowed me to help with Caedmon and give her a small break in her daily routine. I actually found that I could withstand the physical & mental onslaught of the 24 hour shifts, knowing that it was being done in order to actually have more time to be with them... working more in order to have more home time, weird huh? It is because by working a regular full day, Caedmon may already be asleep by the time I get home. I could potentially go days without him seeing me. However, if I take call, I get out a bit earlier the day before and I get off completely the day after. So at the expense of not being home for each 24 hour call, I essentially get a day and a half to spend with them. I came to understand my place in the practice and adapted my mindset. I now work amongst these so-called "friends" with my guard up, do the job, and get out. The practice was more financially sound this past year as the hospital paid us a stipend for our work there. This boosted our incomes and has been an unanticipated but needed blessing for our family. Much money was required as we paid to live in a hotel for 2 months prior to settling into and completing our new unfinished home. We bought allergy-friendly non-toxic Amish-made solid cherry beds and also a new solid maple crib, all natural latex mattresses, and organic bedding for all of us (including Libby). We also changed our diet to a predominantly organic one, and purchased a new Honda Odyssey minivan. With the economy in impending recession and prices for consumed goods going up, as well as gasoline and airline fares, we did not fly at all this year. This offset a portion of the expenses we incurred thus far. The income I am earning allows us to continue living a very comfortable lifestyle, eat healthy, pay down our mortgage at a faster pace (which was much higher than we had planned, but due mostly to our builder's incompetence, lies, and several months delay in finishing our home), and to continue saving for our future (including for Caedmon & Libby). It will probably take another 10 years of working like this, but someday, I do hope to slow down and find a practice that truly cares and is not ultimately about money. My hope would be that when we are debt free in the future and look back to these years, I will not have compromised on quality time with them and have regrets. In retrospect, if I had gotten my way with the practice and became a part-time employee or was allowed to leave and work as a solo-practitioner with my surgeon friends, we would have struggled financially. I am not sure why I stayed, but sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side. At the time, I did look for a job - and found almost an ideal one that met my desired qualifications. However, in the end I decided to stay put in a place where I knew what I had, and who I was dealing with... rather than get into a new situation where I didn't know how things worked. I did find a sense of peace in that. By the end of this month, I will have been with the group for 10 years (3 as an employee, 7 as a full partner). paid off ~$150,000 of medical school debt after the first 5 years of working in Texas, finished paying off my sister's law school debt one year ago, supported my brother for a few years when he was still with Campus Crusades for Christ, paid my dad's expensive year of premiums for being in a high risk insurance pool before he was able to qualify for Medicare, paid off 2 cars entirely and purchased our current one in cash fully up front (a practice we will try to instill in our kids... to never finance a vehicle purchase), started a family, bought and sold our 1st house and build a custom dream house (which we still owe a mortgage on, but it is the only debt we have). God's ways are not our ways. In the midst of what we feel to be life's trials, (since we are not getting our way) we may not feel that His will is being done... but the fact remains - He is always right and true. His care for us as He continues to weave our story is something we can never comprehend - "And we know that God causes ALL things to work together for good, to those who love God,to those who are called according to His purpose."(Romans 8:28) Without trials we are not truly living. Without trials we are not tested and refined. Without trials we do not grow and move towards God. Without trials we do not overcome Satan. Wholeheartedly embracing the role of provider and protector these past 2 years has not come without exacting a price on my part. In no way do I equate providing for family with my losses. Physically I have had no regular exercise workouts since entering parenthood. This has been one of the things I regret most as I have for most of muy life been physically fit. Spiritually I have fallen in this past year. It has been more out of laziness and personal ease (all things that Satan can subtly tempt me with). My readings have diminished. Church going has declined greatly and we are not involved with Crown classes currently. I have no regular Bible reading/study. My prayers are routine and without heart. The pastor, John Piper, has a 3-part sermon on Romans 8:28-32 called, "All Things For Good" ...




I found comforting and inspiring some words in his sermon, ... "If you are a believer, then you will not respond to this message and to the truth of Romans 8:28 with passivity toward the devil and resignation toward evil and a casual attitude toward American consumerism and materialism. What you will hear in Romans 8:28 is a battle cry. If all things work together for my good, then I cannot be ultimately defeated in the cause of Christ. This is a call to take risks to spread a passion for God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples. This is a call to go to a hard place or do a hard thing in the cause of love. This is call to spend yourself for Christ and his kingdom. This is a call to do something radical and crazy in the eyes of the world. Take Operation World and read the needs of the world. Then let your heart dream how you might invest your life to move toward need and not comfort. Romans 8:28 is a trumpet call to follow Jesus in the risks of love no matter what it costs. Because whatever it costs will work for your good." ... "And nothing can stop everything from working for good for you because, just as God took the initiative to call you omnipotently to himself from the dead so that you love him, so he will take the initiative to keep you spiritually alive and finally glorified in the presence of Christ. Everything will work for you to get you there... But someone may say, with fear, but what if I give up? What if I stop believing? What if my love for God grows cold and dies? The answer is: it will not happen for those who are called. And the reason is NOT that it doesn’t matter if your faith fails and your love dies. The reason is that the God who calls, keeps. The God who, by his sovereign grace, called you, will, by that same sovereign grace, keep you believing and keep you loving."

This past year has been an amazing year as Caedmon has grown and exploded with his speech and communication skills. His amazing development has been a testimony to Lynette's amazing mothering and teaching abilities, expecially in light of the fact that she spent the past 9 months pregnant with Libby. I don't know how she finds the energy & patience to spend everyday take care of our household while chasing a toddler! Mommies are very special. I can only hope that I will continue to grow as a father, to be a good spiritual leader, to give Caedmon (and soon Libby) the foundation for choosing Christ someday, and that I may impact them such that they can someday look back with fond memories of these times with daddy & mommy and think what a wonderful life we tried to provide them.

Goals to strive for the coming year, changes starting with myself:

1) Make sure Caedmon and Libby know and see my love and affection for Lynette

2) Make time for Bible reading/study

3) Find a church we can call home

4) Join Ashley in starting a neighborhood Bible study

5) Begin regular exercise program

6) Read more to them

7) Bible memory verses (for me and them)

8) Take them outdoors more, to the park, play more

9) Take more time to help Lynette with them (so she can have a break and rest)

10) When tired post-call, don't just go to sleep... go to their activities (such as swim)
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