Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stationery card

His Story Birth Announcement
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Big Sister meets Baby Brother

A nurse let Josh bring Susie into the special care nursery for a few seconds to see her brother.
Holding Baby Chip for the first time.  The kisses were plentiful.

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Welcome to this world, Baby Chip!

Our baby boy was born into this world unexpectedly on May 9th, 2011.  This is the story of how he came to us.

For the last several weeks, my doctor had been concerned that my baby was not growing like he should be.  I was measuring smaller and smaller at each appointment, and was not gaining much weight.  We had multiple ultrasounds to determine his size, the amount of fluid, and general health of the baby.  The conclusion kept being that he was small but healthy, so nothing to be alarmed about at that point.  I went in every few days (and last week, every 2 days) to either have a non stress test done or have him looked at via ultrasound.  I also did kick counts at night.  My doctor was GREAT -- she was concerned but not freaking out, and just really stayed on top of the situation.  She called me on her cell phone after updates, she was super attentive and involved.  I am so thankful for her -- the Lord, in His sovereignty gave us this wonderful woman who cared for me and my baby.  

I will say during that time when I was going to so many appointments and having to do the kick counts, the Lord was very gracious to keep us from worrying.  For the most part, I did not struggle with fear, but of course that did come from time to time.  Over the weekend, I could tell his kicks were not as active.  He moved, but it was more like flutters, and took a bit longer to count to ten.  Continually I prayed and trusted the Lord with our child, who He created -- he is the giver of life, and all things belong to him.

Monday morning we went to another ultrasound at the hospital.  The doctor said "so you're getting really close -- what is your delivery date?"  I told him May 31st, and he said "no, this report says delivery at 36 or 37 weeks."  Josh and I were very surprised.  At my last ultrasound, the doctor had not told me that was his recommendation, but apparently put it in the report.  Immediately our minds were whirling.  The ultrasound showed what I had suspected by the kick counts -- that he was sort of resting, and focusing blood flow to the brain.  His BPP was good, and he appeared totally healthy, but the specialist doctor sent me to see my OB and have an non stress test done.  At her office, she saw the same thing playing out on the non stress test -- a consistent heart rate, but a flat line, no big accelerations.  She said we could deliver that night or the next morning, and if it were in the morning, I should stay at the hospital overnight for monitoring.  Well, with that being my choice, I chose that night of course!

She let us go home to pack our stuff (after we were able to wake the baby up a bit and get him to act up a bit more), and make our arrangements.  I had to be checked into labor and delivery by six for an eight o clock c-section.

I tried to enjoy the time with Susie that afternoon, and not be anxious about my baby's condition.  Truly, the Lord was near, and I had peace.  I did feel relived once we were at the hospital and the monitor on the baby showed a normal heart rate.  My blood pressure started to rise shortly before the surgery, and I'll never forget the feeling of tension -- sort of a feeling that I couldn't make small talk.  I asked the Lord to give me grace and help me to relax, and again, that prayer was answered.  I felt really calm during the operation -- much better than during Susie's c-section when my body sort of went into shock.  

Shortly after our little guy was pulled out -- we heard it!  A cry!  I couldn't see anything, of course, but Josh was narrating for me.  He was teeny, but just fine.  "Go take a picture of him!" I said so I could see him, but I didn't need to worry about that.  They let Josh bring him up by my to see him nice and close.  I had been prepared for our baby being whisked off by doctors and nurses as soon as he was born, but here he was, snuggling by us.  He weighed a tiny 4 pounds 5.2 ounces!  That was smaller than the last ultrasound had even indicated, but he looked just like Susie did -- fully developed with a cute face.

Our wonderful doctor
After my c-section, Dr. Nusz came over and gave me a hug.  I was crying and hugged her so hard, and thanked her.  She showed me the placenta and umbilical cord after that, because they confirmed her suspicions that there was a problem there.  The placenta was small -- about 2/3 the size of a normal one, and the cord was not normal either.  Dr. Nusz told me that when she tugged on the cord, it detached from the placenta pretty easily.  All the nurses and doctors were gathering around to see, and kept telling me I was lucky I hadn't gone into labor.  I was overwhelmed by God's providence.  None of this was our plan, but it was His, and He was so good to us! Since then, I've learned that the placenta was analyzed and indeed, it was beginning to wear down, and that is why my baby had slowed down growing.  Like the Psalmist says in Psalm 139 "my frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth". 

My biggest hope was that I would be able to hold this baby during recovery since I had to wait so long to hold Susie after she was born.  I wanted to try to nurse him if I could, but kind of expected he'd be gone by then.  But I was wrong!  Once they wheeled me into recovery, the special care nurse brought my baby Chip into me to hold skin to skin (this hospital does kangaroo care) and try to get him to eat.  I'm not sure how long he stayed with me, but probably about an hour.  I was able to rest after that, satisfied that I had seen my baby first!  

This week has been long and trying at times, but mostly just sweet.  The Lord gave me the song "O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus" -- I like the Sovereign Grace version from the album "Come Weary Saints".  The words are so beautiful and comforting when passing through murky waters.  "Oh the deep deep love, all I need and trust, is the deep deep love of Jesus".  I've listened to this song over and over these past days.  I trust his deep love for me, and I can trust his care for us.

We named him Charles Altman.  Charles is Josh's great-grandfather's name, and Altman is his mother's maiden name.  We chose Charles because we wanted to call him Chip -- after Chip Stam, a man we love and admire, and we pray our son would grow to be like him.  As Chip Stam led many to worship Christ, we hope our baby Chip will proclaim Christ and lead others to worship and adore him.  Even through his birth and young life we hope people will see the sovereignty and goodness of God and marvel "such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it."

Charles "Chip" Altman Neisler born May 9th, 2011, 4lbs 5oz, 17 inches long.  Rejoicing over God's goodness to us in this precious gift!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Thinking more about Chip Stam

My mind is full of memories these days.  When someone passes away, I love nothing more than to reminisce about them.  I think many people in my church felt this way -- the night Chip died, it seemed that Facebook was flooded with Cliftonites and former members posting thoughts, videos, and memories of this dear man.  We had a little online memory fest, and so many quotes that were posted I could hear coming right from Chip's mouth, in his tone and style.  

I don't have any pictures of my own to add to the mix, but I did want to pull out a few memories, things that I have tucked away in my mind as special and significant.  Here are some ramblings in no particular order:

1. One Sunday night Chip led us in the song based on the poem by William Cowper "God Moves in a Mysterious Way".  He said something along the lines of "you can't sing along this time unless you have suffered and seen the Lord to be faithful" (I think he was semi-joking).  At that point, I felt like I had not actually ever suffered in my life, and realized that the words we were singing weren't as significant to me as they were to him.  As time moved on, however, this song became one of the most significant songs I knew.  Shortly after my mom died, I read a biography of John Newton that told in depth about the poem Cowper penned and the truth of God's sovereignty over human suffering resounded in my heart as never before.  Over the course of the next several months, when I was gripped with fear these words would come to mind when I needed them most, for instance when Susie's heart rate dropped while I was in labor.  I am so thankful for Chip teaching me not only this incredibly precious song, but how to embrace the truth in its words while in the midst of trial.

2. My first service back to Clifton after my mom died, Chip led the congregation in "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and told a story about its author, Thomas Chisholm.  Chip's grandfather knew Chisholm back when they were both Gideons, and told about how this man had become nearly destitute as he cared for his ailing wife.  How sweet the words to that chorus were -- "all I have needed Thy hand hath provided".  My sisters and I had sung this song to my mom while she was in the intensive care unit just a few weeks before, and singing it with my church family that night, I felt as though the words were bursting from my soul.  Indeed, the Lord had provided the faith and grace I needed to walk through that dark valley.

3. Being in choir.  REALLY wish I could have a memory session with so many friends who have moved away about the zany shenanagins that went on under Chip's leadership. . . often due to his leading.  He never ceased to crack me up with his careful use of words when we were singing TERRIBLY (Chip was so talented, and really had to deal with quite a ragtag choir at times!).  If someone slipped in without their binder of music, and just tried to look off someone else, Chip would berate them with the comment "I hate sharing!" Hahahaha!!!  We all loved it when Chip would get off track and start telling stories or reading limmericks or dancing with his wife.  It was flattering to be the one he teased or praised or welcomed back after a time away from rehearsals.  I loved it when he would call me to ask me to read Scripture or light the Advent candle in an upcoming service -- I have one such voicemail saved on my phone from recent months in which Chip cheerfully told me to call him at home, since he was home from the hospital, but felt like he'd been run over by a train.  Wow.  LOVE that guy.  The other night I told Josh I wished so bad to have back one of those Wednesday nights of rehearsal just to experience it again.

4. When my grandmother died, I e-mailed Chip to tell him we'd have to miss the Christmas communion service because we were driving to her funeral.  His e-mail reply was precious, and the fitting words have remained with me all this time "May Christ be your portion".

5. Chip's cap -- somehow Chip lost his scholar cap that he wore for every graduation and convocation service on campus.  And for several years, I was in the process of getting him a new one.  SOMEHOW every time one came in, it would not fit.  Too big, too small, yada yada.  He would borrow his daughter Clara's high school mortarboard to use in the meantime, or we'd lend him one of the extra rental caps with pink tassels.  Sometimes he'd try to remove the little year charm attached to the tassel, sometimes he'd just leave it there.  Oh my.  How did we NEVER take care of that cap situation?  Not that he seemed to mind too much!  It was all a big joke, always one more hurdle to jump over in our path to finding a cap that fit!  

6. Fast e-mailer -- in recent years and months when Chip was going to the clinic or in the hospital frequently, you could count on his e-mail replies coming in about 90 seconds.  I must say, I really appreciate that sort of speed.  I found an old e-mail in which he must have responded to me in record time because I said to him "Wow, that was the world's fastest reply."  I can only imagine the scores of people who have received answers from Chip via e-mail in this fashion.

7. Singing and playing -- love this video of Chip and Doris singing love songs together last year at our church's Valentine talent show.  Not only is it cute and funny, it shows a bit of his musical talent.

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me a little.  If you have a good Chip memory to share, please post it here!  I'd love to hear it!