Papel Picado

Papel Picado

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Lately I have thought a lot about the ark, the dove and the Olive branch, for obvious reasons. Noah's ark is one of the most told bible stories and one of the first bible stories I can remember hearing. 
I felt God nudge us to name our little girl Olive. He told me the Olive branch was not only a sign of peace, but a sign of life and hope. That she would be a great sign of life and hope and a carrier of peace. I believe this is true. 
Specifically Genesis 8:11 speaks to me. 
"This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone." (Genesis 8:11 NLT)
 The act of bringing a single Olive leaf (or branch depending on the translation you read) brought not just HOPE but a solid knowledge to Noah that the floodwaters were almost gone. 
This is what I pray for Olive's life. That as she grows and gets older  she continues to bring more than Hope to others. I pray she brings a peace and understanding of the Father's heart that people run to Him. A knowledge of God and His reality. That not only is there hope, but there are solutions, there is an answer, and there are miracles. That she brings heaven to earth with acts as simple as her smile. 

I've heard the song below a few times, but yesterday I heard the words "flood waters" and I began to cry. Right now there are so many times I feel like we are in the middle of a flood. Like we can't keep our heads above water. And then we see Olive. 

"Flood Waters" by Josh Garrels 

Higher than the yonder mountain and deeper than the sea
From the breadth of the east unto the west
Is the love that started with a seed

Stronger than the wildest horses and the rising tide
The chords of death hung so heavy round our necks
Will be left at the great divide

Flood waters rise, but it wont wash away
Love never dies, it will hold on more fierce than graves

Farther than the pale moon rises upon the open plains
Past the time of the longest blood line
There shines an immortal flame

Somewhere in between forever and this passing day
There’s a place moth and rust cannot lay waste
This is grace, the face of love

Flood waters rise, but it wont wash away
Love never dies, it will hold on more fierce than grave

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm a Mom: the Micro Preemie Edition

When I was born I was 9 pounds 12 ounces. I was also born with a giant set of lungs to go with it. I was always slightly afraid of the possibility of delivering a 9 pound baby naturally... 
I had no idea how much different my daughters birth would be from mine. She was born a micro preemie, meaning she was born 14 weeks early and weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces. 
Because of this I am not only the mother of a micro preemie, I am also a "NICU mom." A term coined for those moms who camp out in the NICU for months because their baby is not ready to come home. 
Don't get me wrong, I'm not stupid, I realize she isn't ready to come home with me. She needs the level of medical care that can only be given by a high level NICU.  
That doesn't change how I feel. Most days I am so positive and hopeful... But today was a bad day. Olive, my precious daughter, is having trouble learning to breathe, and therefore had multiple significant drops in her heart rate. One was so bad the doctor and respiratory therapist had to step in and it took what seemed like a lifetime to get her back to normal. 
They see this everyday and were seriously more than super heroes, as are the nurses! After that Olive had a pretty good evening, just one dip when she pooped, but everyone strains when the poop, right?
I have only been able to get rides earlier in the day, so I spend a large chunk of my day in the NICU because I afraid I won't make it in to see Olive otherwise. Today one of the nurses talked to me about being exhausted and that she was worried about me. That she thought I should maybe take some time away to sleep more. While a small part of me wanted to yell at her, I know she is right. I am exhausted. For a greater part of 6 months I have been way more dependent on others than I ever want to be again, lost a lot of sleep and have had way more on my plate than I knew I could handle. 
While the thought of not being with Olive 12 hours a day seems like I'm a horrible mother, I need to take care of myself. 
Now, as I try to get a grip on things I have others telling me what I should do. Others who haven't been through this. That I need to be with Olive. That getting my house in order isn't important. I know everyone means well and really love me. It's just that it isn't true. 
One thing I can tell you is I now understand what people mean when they say "you don understand unless you've been through it." Because really, you don't. 
It is really challenging some days not to be angry with women complaining about having a normal pregnancy. About stretch marks. About weight gain. Pleading "I can't wait to get this baby out!" But you know what? I don't understand what you're going through either. I didn't make it to that point in pregnancy. 
So I just thank God for my sweet Olive, my loving husband and the nurses who look out for our whole family. I thank God for the grace to make it though the day. 
I am also so thankful for everyone who prays for our family. We need it. Matt has been such an amazing Jesus to me through everything. He sacrifices for us and is really here for me. 
I have to remember who Olive is. Who God says she is, so I close with this: I hope when you see Olive- you are filled with peace and hope. She is a sign of life. 
"He also released a dove to see if the water had receded and it could find dry ground. But the dove could find no place to land because the water still covered the ground. So it returned to the boat, and Noah held out his hand and drew the dove back inside. After waiting another seven days, Noah released the dove again. This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh Olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone." (Genesis 8:8-11 NLT)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Joy: An Update

Hi everyone! This update has been the most emotional for me to write. God asked me to be completely honest about what I am going through, so here you go. 
One thing I ask is, for my friends that are "non-believers" or "non-Christians" - I realize I am talking about my own faith, but please try to just read through and know this is just me expressing myself. 
It's amazing how easy it is to be positive when you have people cheering you on, supporting you and just being love manifest in your life. It's very easy to seem like maybe you have it all together and you have some sort of hidden strength no one else can understand. 
One of my least favorite things people say is "God doesn't give you more than you can handle!" Or "If God brings you to it, God will bring you through it!" I don't know who your God is, but I fear my God because of His goodness, so while He is my strength- HE did not set the trials before me. Remember- Jesus was not tempted by GOD in the wilderness. 
When my water broke at 20 weeks 1 day I didn't know how to feel or what to do. All I knew was to cry out to Jesus and call my mom. Almost immediately I felt God tell me to be completely vulnerable and share what was going on. Share with not just those close to me, but everyone I knew. 
To be vulnerable is something that is often seen as something we do with just those we can "trust". But Jesus was vulnerable in front of everyone. For me, what being vulnerable with you all did was it created an opportunity to shine light on the darkness that was trying to come against Olive, Matt and myself, and my what a light you all have been! 
The enemy looks like a complete fool. Our Olive is strong, and shall sleep peacefully through the storms. 
It is not just those friends with deep faith, or that just believe in Jesus or even people who share the same Christian doctrinal beliefs as I do that have been a light, though. I have had people of all faiths, beliefs, sexual orientation, race, gender and so on encourage me and have been Jesus to our family when we need it most. So thank you, each of you. 
To be honest, I feel like this journey set before me is like mountain after mountain with rough paths to connect them each mountain and I have no tools or supplies, not even shoes to walk. Then, you all have come in and stood in the mountains and valleys and the roughest parts where my feet would hurt the worst and my legs would be the most tired and you have helped carry me. You helped carry our family, so thank you. 
I count it all as joy. How can I feel weak when there is an entire army of people carrying me along? I see Jesus in each of you, whether you believe or not. You have truly showed me way love looks like. 
In the coming days I am facing what seems to be the hardest part of this journey for me. Once I am discharged (which is scheduled for Thursday) I go home. Olive, however, stays here. Her estimated time left here is 3 months (until her due date), although it could be more or less. There are a few options to stay near or even in the hospital, which is what I want but each one has it's challenges. 
After having a child, regardless of delivery method, you can't drive for a period of time. Even after that period of time is over, we only have one car that we share, which Matt needs for work. Our plan has been to purchase another more baby friendly vehicle, but it just hasn't happened yet for many different reasons.
Also, we live in Buda approximately 19 miles from the hospital, so getting rides isn't a quick little trip. Also Matt works in Bastrop, which isn't close to home or the hospital, making it hard for him to have much time at the hospital. 
On top of it all- Olive really needs my breast milk. They do use donor milk which I am so grateful for, but my milk is best for her. So I have to be able to get it to her. 
I can't help but break down crying when I think about it all. That at a point she should still be in the womb, she is out and fighting, and I can't be with her all the time. I can't protect her like in could if she was in the womb. 
Right now, I am dealing with obstacles. Obstacles I know God has already worked out and once again the love of my friends will completely cast out any fear I have. 
So when you wonder how I can hold it together... Take the kind words, the encouragement, testimonies, the visiting, the gifts, hugs, the empathy and everything each of you has poured out on our family and think of it as my spiritual glue holding me together and helping me glow with Joy. 
I love and pray for each of you. Our little family is eternally thankful. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

This isn't how we planned it, but...: an Update

Olive Elizabeth Monk was born at 1:23 am today (January 5, 2014). She is 2lb 2oz about 12.5 inches long. 
At about 9:30 pm Sunday, January 4, I began bleeding. They put Olive on the monitor and saw that her heart rate was dropping significantly more than normal. Lots of blood work, etc all came back with no sign of why I was bleeding. However based on the monitor the decision was made to deliver via C section. I had no signs of labor (no contractions, cervix closed!) so an induction would take too long and possibly put her in further danger. 
I remember being very overwhelmed. In a matter of hours I went from having a baby that was doing great in the womb, to preparing to deliver. I received a last minute steroid shot, magnesium for her brain function, fluids, lots of blood work and I was off to delivery. There I met the anesthesiologist who was very calm and explained everything. I received the spinal shots (I can't remember what they were called!) and began to go numb. Within a matter of minutes there were 2 doctors, 3 nurses and someone from NICU along with the anesthesiologist. 
Saturday night was going to be Matt's last night to stay before we tested him staying home since he had to work in the morning, so praise The Lord she came when she did and not a day later! Matt scrubbed in and sat with me the entire time. He recorded what he could of the birth, and when they say she's coming... You hear a little tiny little shout! I am overwhelmed each time we watch the video! 
I got a quick glimpse of her and she was rushed off to the NICU. Her daddy got to go with her and said she was making all sorts of noise before they got her breathing tube in! 
She came crying which is great, she was just having trouble breathing on her own. By mid morning we had already been updated that she had her oxygen level lowered, and she had her eyes open and was looking around :) Her tiny little squinty eyes! 
During the surgery, they found I had a placenta abruption and her life source was quickly being cut off. Any longer in utero would have cut off her life source completely. I am so thankful the doctors and nurses acted quickly! 
While I would have loved to have a natural birth 8 weeks in the future I guess part of being a parent is putting aside your expectations and doing what is best for your child. I was definitely terrified of the whole thing- but I remembered something- all pain, suffering and fear was taken away at the cross. I asked Jesus to stand in for me as I was scared, and He reminded me He already had stood I for me 2000+ years ago. I was filled with complete peace. I prayed through the entire procedure. 
Other than a little bit of nausea and strange feelings from the pressure of delivery and being stitched up, it wasn't so bad! Matt was a champ and stayed awake with me all the way through recovery even though he looked sooo tired! 
I am recovering well and the pain has been managed very well by the staff! I got to hold Olive's hand for the first time last night!
She had a good little grip and held tighter if I moved my finger. I can tell her plans are to thrive, and with all I the prayers and encouragement, I know she will. I tell her about everyone praying for her. Her daddy and I bless each one of you! She might not be yours to take home, but know that she will forever carry a part of each of you in her heart! 
I plan to continue to update you all as much as possible! Thank you all again for everything! 
Olive under the lights because of bruising and to help prevent jaundice

Olive's sexy little leg, just like her daddy! I think she may have his big ol' feet(and possibly his full lips!) :)

Her first picture, taken by her daddy!