Friday, September 25, 2009

Drama and my Kids

I realized the other day that I have never wrote this story down. Although I have alluded to it in several blogs, I don't have the whole story all in one place. And I think that you would enjoy it. I have told it many times at parties. It’s my funny icebreaker story- but to the right people who enjoy a little TMI about a stranger. And not all of it is funny. It has its scary moments which are resolved by God's miracles. So far, there is a happy ending.


It's the story of how my children came into this world. Let me start with a little background. I am a planner. I am a controller. I am a perfectionist. I like to be in control of my perfect plans. At the tender age barely 21, I had a perfect plan for my life. Of course, I was going to do everything in the correct perfect order: graduate from college, get married, and THEN have kids. And my soon-to-be husband and I were practicing Catholics. We practiced abstinence. Except for once. Yep. Just one time we didn't. We slipped. We didn't plan it- it just sort of happened. We were already engaged and less than a year away from our wedding when we succumbed to our weak moment. And you'll never guess what our one weak moment resulted in. Yep, little Gerry was on the way. His due date was our wedding date. God has a sense of humor.

Well, my perfectionist planning self didn't think it was so funny. This little monkey wrench was really messing up my perfect plans that I thought I had control over. This surprise was the beginning of my life long lesson in how I am not in control of my life. So we cried. We sought counsel. We went to the priest who heard our confession, agreed to marry us anyway and moved our wedding date up. In fact, everything kind of fell into place for the wedding. The church was available, the rehearsal hall was available and everyone necessary to throw a grand New Orleans wedding was available. I would have the wedding of my dreams after all. I didn't even start to look pregnant until the week after the wedding.

Also, amazingly enough, I got through my senior recital and my student teaching while planning a wedding and pregnant at the same time. God must have given me supernatural strength. At any rate, the time was approaching for little Gerry to be born. My mother was late with both of us kids. I didn't really have any other family history to base my pregnancy on so I just assumed I would be late too. Three weeks before my due date, I went to the doctor who announced I was 1 cm dilated. Not a big deal but I should stop working and stay off my feet. So, naturally, I decided that evening to go out to dinner and then to Wal-Mart so we could stock up on all the baby stuff. I ate a roast beef po-boy from In and Out and then I didn't feel very well. The po-boy was the mistake, obviously. We went to Wal-Mart and I walked all over the baby section with Gerry and we got all the stuff we needed. And all the while, that po-boy was talking back to me. When we got home, I convinced Gerry to put the crib together so I could take my time getting the room ready (his room was actually our dining nook in our tiny one bedroom apartment). While he was doing this, I gladly went to bed to sleep off this mistake of a dinner.

At about 3:00 in the morning, I woke up and I still didn't feel well. I went to the bathroom and that didn't help. I started to wonder if I was having contractions and I even woke up Gerry so he could time the indigestion. He wasn't very happy with me. We timed it and it was not even close to regular so he convinced me that I was crazy and that I should never eat another roast beef po-boy from In and Out and that he should go back to sleep. And then he rolled over and went back to sleep. At 5:00, I got up to go to the bathroom again. As soon as I stepped into the bathroom, my water broke. Of course, I went to wake up Gerry again. He insisted on a thorough investigation to see if what I was telling him was true. It took him a minute to really wake up and fully appreciate my frantic nature and assess the situation. Once I was sure he was convinced that I was in labor, I decided that I should pack my nice hospital bag. I could be in labor forever, right? At least that is what everyone told me. I heard all kinds of horror stories about how the baby would refuse to be born and the story teller would describe these 15 and 20 hour labors with the ending being a c-section or sucking the baby out with a vacuum. So, since I was in minute 5 of my labor, I naturally assumed we had plenty of time. So I slowly got dressed and started packing my perfect bag for the hospital. While I did this, my husband, who was now fully awake and convinced that we were having this baby, was calling the doctor in a panic because that's what Millers do. During his phone call, the real labor began. I was doubled over in pain. Through my gritted teeth, I was yelling at my panic-stricken husband to tell the doctor I was going to the hospital NOW. And when the pain subsided the least bit, I began throwing my clothes for the hospital in the nearest thing I could find- a laundry basket. Gerry had me ushered out the door and into the car 30 seconds later with our haphazardly packed laundry basket in the back seat. Yes, we were the Slidell hillbillies going to the hospital in Metairie.

Normally, it's about a 35 minute drive from Slidell to Lakeside Hospital in Metairie. With my coaching (which was me screaming for him to go faster or the baby was going to be born in the car), we made it to the hospital in 20 minutes flat. To this day, Gerry won't tell me how fast he drove.  In my memory, it seemed to take forever for us to get to the hospital room. I kept asking the take-in nurse to go quickly. I kept asking for the epidural man all while clutching my poor sad little laundry basket. I remember asking the security guard for the epidural man. I wanted the epidural man so badly. My poor husband was absolutely terrified by my behavior and promised me he would find me the epidural man. We asked the nurses on the L&D floor as they got me out of the elevator for the epidural man. After they examined me, they found the epidural man pronto. When he walked in, it was obvious that he had been sleeping. At least I still hope that is what explained his appearance. He wasn't very happy to see me but I was so happy to see him that I instantly forgave him. He kept asking me to be still. And I kept trying but I was having labor pains so badly that I could barely see straight. And then after what seemed like forever, he was successful. I was numb from the waist down. He was my hero. After that, I felt a lot better so we decided to call people. First, we called Gerry's parents. Gerry was coming unglued to say the least so I thought I would let him hear some parental words of encouragement first. Talking to them helped his mood but I think it also gave him something more to worry about. They wanted to get from Orlando to New Orleans in time for the baby and his poor mother was going crazy trying to figure out what to do. On top of the fact that his father had tickets to the Bay Hill PGA Golf Tournament that weekend and he was going to have to miss it.  Then we called my parents. They decided to start driving. They were 8 hours away so they thought there was a chance they would make it. Then we called Nanee who lived only 5 minutes from the hospital. She said, "Oh, sh**," and then said she would be there in her blue suit asap. She wanted a girl badly so she was still holding a grudge that we decided to have a boy. After the phone calls, the nurse came back in and checked me. Then, she checked me again. And then she got another nurse to come take a look. Then they decided that I was fully dilated. It had only been an hour since we had arrived. So they contacted the doctor who said he was on his way. And we all waited anxiously for the doctor. The nurses kept coming back and checking me and calling the doctor who was always on his way. Finally, he arrived to the great relief of the nursing staff. I now know that they feared they were going to have to deliver the baby with no doctor. At the time, I was so relieved to be numb from the waist down, that I didn't pick up on the fact they were worried. As soon as the doctor arrived, they wheeled me into the labor room and Little Gerry was out in one push. From the time my water broke to delivery was about three hours. Everyone was shocked. Gerry's parents, who hadn't even left the house yet were quite disappointed they missed it. Nanee was the only other family member there for the blessed event. After the delivery, we took our sad little laundry basket and moved to the recovery wing. Visitors came and went. Little Gerry was a delight to everyone he met. It was absolutely the happiest moment of our coon-ass-hillbilly lives.

So now we are going to fast forward 7 years. We are living in Dallas. Please take note of where we are living- Dallas. Mckinney-to be exact. We decide that it is time for Little Gerry to have a sibling. Then one week later, I discover that I am six weeks pregnant. So, we can kind of say that this one was planned. Can't we? I like to think he was planned. Let me have that much. I would also like to think that I am a little more prepared for what is going to happen. I happily explained to my first OB doctor that I delivered my first child in three hours with an epidural(epidural slows labor down). She agreed that I was high risk for rapid labor and we would put together a plan to deal with it. And then, due to the insurance company that seems to think they are more qualified than doctors to make decisions about my healthcare, I had to change OB doctors. I retold my story to the new doctor who assured me that rapid labor was no big deal and we would have a plan in place. I felt better. Two doctors had told me not to worry. I was also in better shape health wise than I was with little Gerry. In the seven years since little Gerry's hurried arrival, I had become a runner. I even ran regularly up until the time I started to spot early in the pregnancy and the doctors told me to stop running.

So, at week 32, I go to San Antonio on an airplane. Now 32 weeks is usually the cutoff date for out of town travel. I was fully aware of this. I asked all four of the doctors in the OB practice if I should go on this trip. They all said yes. They said, "Go and enjoy your weekend with your husband sans children. It will be your last for a while. All will be fine." So we went. We woke up at 4:00 a.m. to catch the flight from Dallas to San Antonio. So, naturally I was tired. I had to walk all over the airports to get to our destination which made me more tired. I started having more frequent Braxton-hicks contractions and I knew it was because I was tired. So when we got to the hotel, I took a nap. Gerry got me up in time to go to the fancy dinner sponsored by a company he did some work with. And I happily went. I walked from our hotel to the restaurant on the river walk. The wine was flowing! I kid you not, they poured at least 7 glasses of different kinds of wine. I had just a taste of each one. I LOVE wine. I am a teacher. When was I ever going to be able to drink expensive wine? So, I had to taste. About half way through dinner, I started having those pesky Braxton-hicks contractions except, now I had pressure. I was a little concerned about it. I kept hoping they would stop. When they didn't, I told Gerry that I wasn't feeling so well and that I needed to leave. So we left. I felt bad crashing the little party but I wanted to lie down. We started walking and the contractions started to get a little painful. I started to worry. And so did Gerry since I had to stop every five minutes or so for a contraction to pass. When we got back to the hotel room, we called the doctor. She told me to lie down for thirty minutes and see if that helped. If it wasn't better, then I should go to the nearest hospital with a labor and delivery unit and have them check everything. I waited 10 minutes and then told Gerry to call a cab. When we got into the cab, we asked the cabbie where the nearest hospital was with labor and delivery. He gave us a swift and free ride to Christus Santa Rosa in downtown San Antonio.

When we arrived, it seemed like forever to get me checked in. Really, in the last 7 years, you would think they would have the process more streamlined. At any rate, by the time I was actually on the gurney in the hospital room, I was already using colorful vocabulary to describe the extent of the labor pains to the nursing staff. They checked me and decided I was 2 cm dilated which meant they could stop the labor. They ordered the appropriate drugs which seemed to take forever to arrive. All the while, my vocabulary deteriorated. I was defiantly not a good catholic witness at the moment. When the drugs finally arrived, they asked Gerry to leave so they could start an IV. I was required to sit still while they inserted the IV which was no easy feat. After the nurse got the IV inserted and turned on, I announced that I had to push. She panicked. She turned the IV off and quickly checked me and decided that I was going to deliver. She yelled at me to cross my legs and ran to the door and started yelling "She going to deliver!" In her brief absence, I disobeyed and pushed. Crossing my legs did not quell the need for me to push. My water broke. No less than 10 people ran into the room with all kinds of beeping equipment. It was like a scene from ER. One of the nurses was going to try to get my gurney ready for delivery when I grabbed my ankles and announced I was pushing again. At this moment, a very young and barely awake resident ran into the room just in time to catch little Ben. Poor Gerry ran in right behind him and almost missed the whole event.

As soon as Ben arrived, he screamed and then I knew that he would be alright. If he had not screamed, I would have come off the gurney in an effort to save him. His scream was one of the best sounds I have ever known. At 32 weeks, he was amazingly developed. He weighed 4lb 11oz which was big for a 32 week old baby. He was breathing on his own. It was a miracle. He spent 9 days in the NICU and 2 days in the special care nursery simply because he was a little too young to eat well. They sent him home a few days earlier than they would have normally because they knew we wanted to get back to McKinney so badly. He had a feeding tube at home for the first week and a half and then every day after that, he was a normal, healthy baby.
So, as you can see, there was much drama surrounding the birth of each child. And it was all the more dramatic since no one anticipated the drama. Through these wonderful, tense, and sometimes humorous events, I have learned to let go. I am not in control. I do not know the plan. I can only have the faith that the one who loves me more than I deserve will take care of me and the ones I love. These events have tested every ounce of my faith. In the wake of the first test, I didn’t always find comfort in my God. I wanted to hold onto my control. I wanted to salvage my perfect plan for my life. After the second test, I couldn’t help but turn to my God. He gave me a miracle. Ben is here by the grace of God. As I look back, the lesson I learned is that these wonderful children are not mine. They are here by God’s will. It is my job to raise them so that they find His love and His will for their lives. It’s a tall order and I ask you to pray that Gerry and I will get it right.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Revelation

Revelation 22:6-21 (New American Standard Bible)

6And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.
7"And behold, I am coming quickly Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."
8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
9But he said to me, "Do not do that I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."
The Final Message 10And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
11"Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy."
12"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
13"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
15Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
16"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come " And let the one who hears say, "Come " And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
18I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
20He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly " Amen Come, Lord Jesus.
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God's Word in the Book of Revelation has had a pivotal influence in my life. It is a confusing book for the lay reader. It is full of imagery and symbolism which proves difficult to understand without formal historical and theological training of which I have neither. It can be dangerous to interpret without instruction. On the other hand, it is so wonderfully written. It describes a grand event that leaves me awestruck. Oh, how I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when that angel visited the Apostle John.

The misinterpretation of the book of Revelation was the straw that broke the camel's back in my journey with the Baptist church. I was a Junior in high school and we were studying Revelation in youth group. Our youth pastor was actually naming modern day churches for the seven churches. Surprisingly enough, the Baptists were not on the list while the Catholics were at the top of his list and that seemed really fishy to me. How could a religion that has only been around for 100 years or so trump the religion that has been around for 2000 years? Why did the Catholics make his list and yet the Baptists get a reprieve? Aren't we all just sinners in the sight of God? I asked these questions. And many, many, many other questions. I wanted to see the logic behind his conclusions. And when I was finished with my questions, the youth pastor was finished with me. Things were never the same after that. I think in part it was because I could find no logic or theology to support his ideas and he knew it. I had debated him into a corner. My drift from the Baptist church began at that time. It would be another year before I felt the call to leave. And then another year before God led me to the the Catholic faith.

This past year, I had the pleasure of participating a bible study at my church on the Book of Revelation. The whole experience was a big God moment for me. A lot of it finally made sense and I had yet another confirmation(out of about a million so far) that the Catholic faith is where God wants me to be.

So why am I sharing all this on my blog? Well, I have been privy to some "revelations" conversations lately. Some of my Protestant brothers and sisters have been making references to the Book of Revelation when trying to describe recent current events. I have even heard some say that Obama is the anti-Christ. And all of this talk makes me crazy because they have missed the point! So bear with me while I add my two cents.

The big main idea I got from Revelation is that we will be judged. We will all be judged based on our works- holy, evil and in between. And we will face consequences- either good or bad. And only the individual knows his/her heart. God will know what category we all belong in based on our works (which is why the once saved, always saved theology has some holes). We must live holy lives, offering each day to the Lord, loving our neighbor as ourselves and dying to our humanity so Christ can live in us and through us. The book of Revelation is a description of what will happen to the evil ones and to the holy ones. It is a plea for Christians to be holy so that we may share in God's kingdom. I chose to include the final Epilogue from Revelation in this blog because it really does sum up what were are supposed to do after receiving this prophesy. We are to be holy and live our lives as if each day on earth was our last. And give our lives over to God's work and all our joys will lie in his kingdom. We are not to add to God's Word or take anything away from God's Word. And foremost, we are to worship God.

So, I challenge all my brothers and sisters in Christ, Protestant and Catholic alike to look at your life- not at today's current events. Jesus will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Our focus should not be on predicting when he will come- that is not the point of Revelation. It should be on living a holy life, loving others and dying to our humanity. I am just hoping my lifetime will be long enough to reach that goal so I can spend eternity with the Man-God whom I have fallen in love with; who loved me despite myself and then taught me how to love.