Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sticking Around

Last year Joe and I thought about closing out our time with NMSI at the end of 2012.  It would make a total of 3 years which is typically considered one term, and I was really feeling ready to go 'home'.  But as 2011 came to a close and 2012 began, it became more and more prevalent to us that if we left before finding replacements for our respective positions, we would both be leaving large holes in our departments.

Even though I only work for 2 office hours a day, the role I fill is something that would add far too much work to the other members of Organizational Systems in Human Resources if I left.  It doesn't seem to me like I do a whole lot but it is a lot to add on top of everything else my team members do.

Joe would leave an especially large hole if he left.  In our last newsletter you would have seen the quote from our CFO Susan Caple that includes the line "The whole mission is in a better place because of what Joe does in the Finance Department!"  While the other members of the finance team all have the experience of working in a Finance Department of an organization, Joe brings his formal education as well as his organizational skills and a realistic viewpoint.  He has brought MANY changes to the Finance Department as well as how it interacts with the other departments at the CGO.  I think Susan would be lost without him at this point.

However, it has been made clear to both of us that 2013 will be our last year at the CGO.  Please be praying with us about replacements for both Joe and I to come in in time to go though Orientation, finish support raising, and get back to the CGO before we leave.  We would like them to arrive before we leave in order to give us time to train them on the job.

We thank you so much for your prayers.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Year in retrospect

Yay! After nearly a year on hiatus, I'm back to blogging! Hopefully I can keep at it. I'm sorry to have left you in the dark but my reason is a good one, and her name is Ezra.

This past year has been a crazy one full of 3am feedings, diaper changes, and baby giggles. I won't fill you in on every detail of the past year as that would surely put you all to sleep! But I will give a quick little viewing into what this past year has looked like.

The first few months of new parenthood were HARD! I don't think anyone ever really prepares you correctly for just how tough those first few months can be. You always hear the sugar coated version that ends with "But it's all worth it in the end!" This is true. Of course it's worth it to have this amazing little person in our lives...but that doesn't negate just how difficult it is to deal with a little crying baby who has no real way of telling you what's wrong and screams and screams all while you are in an extremely sleep deprived state.

Ezra was exclusively breastfed so there was no need for Joe to get up with all the feedings during the night. This might lead you to believe that he had it easier than me but you would most certainly be wrong! He had to work full days at the office then come home to a tired and crabby wife and an often times screaming baby. At which time I would quickly hand Ezra over to him so I could breath a moment before getting started on supper. I'll never forget the evening when Joe walked in the door to find Ezra in her swing in an all out wail and me sobbing into my pillow on the bed. I could almost visibly see his head swivel from side to side trying to figure out which one he should go to first!

It wasn't until months later that we found out she was colicky! Once we found that out, I finally felt like I could understand and things seemed to begin to get ironed out. We got to settle into a semblance of a routine (a necessary part of life for this OCD mama) and over the summer I finally got to go back to work!

I started out with one hour a day to go in to the office then do what I could from home while Ezra was napping. Our good friend Deb comes to our house and watches Ezra while I'm at the office. Then just a couple of weeks ago I began going into the office 2 hours everyday. I don't really do much office work outside of those 2 hours now so when I'm at home I'm completely dedicated to Ezra and keeping this house somewhat in order.

Our growing girl!
Just last week we celebrated Ezra's first birthday! I can't believe it's been that long already! It seems like just yesterday we were driving to the hospital with me not 100% certain I was in labor only to find out I was dilated all the way to a 9!

Here are just a few stats about our little girl. We haven't been to the doctor since her 9 month appointment so I'm afraid I can't really tell you how tall she is or how much she weighs but she is a small one. Most people who ask us how old she is don't believe us when we say 1 year. She still isn't even maybe 18 lbs yet and was at 25" both at her 4 month and 9 month appointments. But she does seem to have finally hit a small growth spurt! :)

She has a head full of dirty blonde curls! So curly I'm getting nervous about how I'm gonna take care of that hair someday!

She has six teeth now! She got her two front bottom ones when she was six months old then we didn't see any again for quite a while. Around the time she was 11 months old we started seeing the front top ones coming in. But it was all four top fronts ones! All at one time! She was a very grumpy baby there for a while but she is finally able to chew a few more foods.

She can crawl at lightning speed, pull up on just about anything, and cruise her way around the house. She doesn't seem to show any real interest in figuring out how to walk just yet, but once she does I'm sure I will be getting plenty of exercise chasing her around.

She doesn't always want to learn things right away but once she decides she does, she typically picks it up and masters it in no time at all.

She loves eating fruits, meats, and breads. Like most little ones she used to love anything I put in front of her but she's suddenly decided to stop liking veggies! I'm sure this is a battle we will not see the end of for a very long time!

At about 10 1/2 months Ezra started sleeping ALL the way through the night, from bed time to morning. She now sleeps straight from 7pm to about 7 or 7:30 am! I love it!

No matter how you try you just can't put an entire year into a short message. Future messages shouldn't be so long. I don't want to lose any of you! We still love our jobs at NMSI and are very excited to share some of the great things happening in ministry around the world!

We love you all!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Parenting and Work

Phew! Parenting is not easy...well of course we didn't think it would be but no amount of studying and taking advice can truly prepare you for parenthood!

Ezra is growing like crazy of course. She's no longer the little 6 pounder we brought home. These last three months have flown by! She holds her head up fact I don't remember a time when she didn't hold her head up. I don't think I was ever able to put her on her belly flat. She would automatically lift her head. She can roll from her belly to her back, though I don't think she does it on purpose as much as just flops over when she loses her balance. When on her belly she kicks her feet, ready to move! I think she will be one happy baby when she learns how to crawl.

One difficulty has been sleep. Not night sleeping, for Ezra is usually in bed by 7 or 7:30 and I don't see her again until 4am. Our problem is daytime sleeping. For some reason unknown to me for quite a while, Ezra would not sleep well during the day. She would only take 3 maybe 4 half hour naps a day. This wouldn't bother me if she were rested and happy but she wasn't. She would get crankier and crankier throughout the day until she was absolutely inconsolable. It wasn't until yesterday that I learned she's actually colicky. I have been using Dr. Marc Weissbluth's book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I highly recommend this book. It was given to me by a couple down here who take in foster kids and say that this book has saved their lives with every kid who has been with them. I had been reading this book and using the advice from the main section about babies Ezra's age but she was not able to sleep well during the day (though she did get a little better with naps getting up to one hour). Finally yesterday I realized I had skipped over the section on colicky babies telling myself that Ezra wasn't colicky. But when I gave in and read that chapter in desperation to find some sort of solution, I found myself reading the signs of colic and saying "Yep, that's Ezra." over and over again.

This has been a huge relief to know that the problem is just colic and not me doing something wrong. It's great to know that this will probably wear off in another month or two. This is also the reason I have not been able to return to work until now. She was so sporadic with her sleeping, eating, and fussiness, that I didn't know when would be a good time of day to spend in the office. However, with Ezra's naps beginning to take an hour, though still sporadic on when they occurred; my upline and I decided that I would begin doing some of my work tasks again online from home. We have had one other person join our department so some of the tasks that were previously mine will now go to her and I will take on about half or so of what I was doing before, along with maybe a small project here and there.

I LOVE being a mother! And I love that I am still able to contribute to NMSI and the work they do around the world.

Exciting News!!! The three of us will be making our first trip north since Ezra was born at the end of next month! We will start our time in Michigan as Joe is to be a groomsman in a wedding in Kalamazoo. We will then make our way to my parents' place in Iowa and stay there for a week. Independence Day and the days surrounding it will be time for Joe's family to meet Ezra. We will then spend about a week in the Maryville/ St. Joe area until we leave sometime around July 11th.
Can't wait to see as many of you as we can!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome Ezra Nichole Lohman!

Lots of you want to know the story of Ezra's birth. So here it is!

First of all, I thought there was no way I would go before or even on my Due Date. I figured it was certain I would go after that date (Feb. 20th). Because I was labeled with gestational diabetes, I was suppose to be induced if I did go over my due date.

On the morning of the 16th, I went in for my weekly prenatal checkup. We talked with my midwife (Diane) and we all agreed to put off my induction date to that Friday, the 25th, in hopes that I would go on my own before then. This was also the first appointment when Diane was going to check my cervix to see if I had begun to progress towards labor. She also said she would go ahead and sweep my membranes while she was in there to try and help move things along and make sure I went on my own. She saw that I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. Once she swept my membranes she said, "You know, I probably didn't need to do that. You'll definitely go before the 20th." Even though she's the expert, I didn't believe her and figured I'd still not go until half way through the next week. Then I went back to work for the morning (I was working 1/2 days at that point) and home for the afternoon.

I started making supper a little before 7 and right around 7 o'clock I started feeling funny. For you women out there, I felt very much like I was about to start a heavy period. It got intense enough that I went to the bathroom to lay down on the floor like I have done in the past with heavy periods. I had supper on the stove and gave instructions to Joe on how to finish. He finished making supper but I couldn't eat it. The same feeling persisted for me but began to come in waves. They were not the stomach muscle cramps I expected to feel, but it was an intense feeling that I could time when they started and stopped. They were only about 5-6 minutes apart right away. None of this hours of pre-labor stuff. They were immediately 5-6 minutes apart and quickly moved to 3-4 minutes apart.

While I'm feeling these, I am not convinced that they are contractions just because they did not feel as I had expected they would. But they were coming in waves so I had Joe pack our hospital bag since we had not done that yet. I called my clinic and asked what they thought. They said since I had gotten my membranes swept, it could just be uterine irritability and to keep an eye on it and go to the hospital if I thought they were contractions. She said "You'll know when they're contractions." Whatever! I never was convinced they were contractions before I got to the hospital.

At 8:30 I finally became concerned enough that I thought we should go to the hospital to get checked out and if it wasn't labor then at least they could tell me that for sure. We got a few last minute things put into our hospital bag and packed up the car. I felt like we were packing up for a vacation, I had so much stuff! Joe got me to the car then walked over to one of our neighbors to give them our house key in case we needed some one to get into our house while we were at the hospital.

We left for the hospital at around 8:55pm. We drove the 7 miles in about 15 minutes, getting us to the hospital at around 9:10pm. I had 4-5 contractions while in the car. We got up to the Labor and Delivery floor and checked in with the front desk. The woman there gave me a small piece of paper to fill out a few tidbits of information. I'm glad I was pre-registered because I would not have had time to fill out all the original paperwork. But I did have a contraction just while trying to fill out the 5 lines of info needed on that small piece of paper.

The nurse got me back to triage to determine if I was for sure in labor. She got me in the restroom and into a gown then to the bed in triage. There, she tried to have me fill out some more paperwork. I kept signing papers but having contractions every minute or so. The nurse finally put the paperwork aside and got me in the bed. She checked me and said, "You're at a 9! You're having this baby!" She got some more nurses into the room to help her quickly get me ready to go to the labor and delivery room. She got the IV put into my arm and the blood sample taken from that. They tried to get me to finish signing my pre-labor papers but contractions made signing impossible, so after one paper they gave up on those. They did not get any of the bracelets on me that most women get put on them during the first parts of being in the hospital. I asked if I could lay on my side to try and slow this process down. They let me, and it did seem to help, but my body started bearing down during the contractions! It was all I could do to make sure I didn't push the baby out in the
triage room.

We had three or four nurses surrounding me worried my midwife wasn't going to make it in time and that one of them were going to have to deliver this baby. They went running around looking for a wheelchair. They had a hard time finding one and I heard them say that they would wheel the triage bed into the L&D room if they needed to. They finally found a wheelchair. Helped me into it and jogged me down to the room. Joe was at my side this entire time. I remember him holding my hand and running alongside the wheelchair. They got me into the delivery bed and let me lay on my side again as Diane was still not there. While my body was bearing down and I was breathing through the contractions to try and slow things down, my water burst. I did not hear this but Joe later told me that he heard one nurse turn to the other and say, "yeah, I can see the head!" So the baby was already crowning and Diane still wasn't there!

Just a bit later Diane finally came running through the door and said "Miss Brittney, what are you doing here?!" She wasn't expecting me to be there that soon any more than I was. They rolled me onto my back, Joe came to my side and held my hand and Diane started letting me push. After what was probably only 10 or so minutes of pushing, Diane had Joe walk to her end and catch our daughter as her lower half slipped out into this world, then she handed Joe a pair of scissors and he cut the cord. After wiping her off and setting her on a warmed blanket, they set her on my chest and I was able to meet Ezra Nichole, face to face for the first time! It was 9:42pm!

She was perfect! She still is. We are greatly enjoying being parents to this amazing little creation of God's!

And I am praising Him that I took after my mother and grandmother with having quick deliveries! You can't beat a total of 3 hours of labor and only 30 minutes of it in the hospital!

Friday, February 4, 2011


I felt quite silly today when I received a package from Amazon. It was not that I had received a package (though that alone is enough to make me giddy). It was what I found inside that package. I had not ordered anything so I was very excited to see what somebody had sent me from my Amazon baby registry. Once I opened it, I gasped in delight to see the Breastflow Bottle starter set I had added to the registry. I was pretty happy just to add these to my registry, then to have somebody actually get them for me made me so much more ecstatic! I am very excited to use these...or rather have Joe and others use them. :D

These are bottles that I have found come the closest to mimicking real breasts. So switching from breast to bottle and back is not as difficult for the baby. For those who may not know, it is easier for a baby to nurse from a bottle than from a breast. So sometimes when a baby gets used to a bottle, it is much harder for that baby to come back to the breast because he/she has to work harder to get the milk. But these bottles are designed in a way to make the two experiences very similar, making switching easier. So now Joe and others can feed our baby, expressed breast milk with these bottles, giving me a break, but it will not make it difficult for me to take him/her back to the breast when it's my turn!

Wow! Where am I in life that baby bottles representing real breasts get me this excited! :D
The entire Kit: 2-5oz. bottles, 2-9oz. bottles, 4-lids, 4-caps, 1-snack holder

A De-constructed, 5oz. bottle

Showing the different parts of the nipple

Showing how one nipple goes in side the other so the milk will "let down" just like a real breast!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In the home stretch!

This is a week for benchmarks!

Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of when we pulled into the drive of our new home and began our lives here in Ft. Myers, Florida! We were new and had to learn what our roles in the office would be, we had a new house we needed to unpack, and we had no idea how long we would be here. One year later, we are well established into our rolls and very much enjoy our work, we now consider our house (and yes even Florida) a home...we still have no idea how long we'll be here, but now that's okay. :)

Also this week marks the first week of my 9th month of pregnancy! Sometime in the next month we will meet our little baby face-to-face! We are very excited, anxious, and a tad bit nervous. We are excited and ready to be parents, yet what first time mother or father doesn't question their ability to be a good parent? Will I know what to do? Babies are so tiny, how will I hold him/her without doing any harm? Will I really know what each cry, whimper, and squeal means?

I am comforted when I read verses about children in God's word. He ALWAYS has only good things to say about children and those who have them. He even uses child bearing to show His blessings! Abraham lived for God and He blessed Abraham with children that equaled the number of stars in the sky. Christ has a special place for children: "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14).

My one desire for this child is that he or she grows up to be completely Christ's! I may bring him/her into this physical world, but he or she belongs to Christ and for His Glory! I am excited to see what God has in mind for this little one! These days I pray daily to remind myself that I have completely handed this child over to the service of Christ. That does not mean he or she will have a great and painless life; but I pray that he/she will have a much closer relationship with God than Joe or I have and that God will bless him/her. I ask that you pray these things with me as well! I want my children to know the awesomeness of God. Prayer for this would be the greatest gift any of you could give us right now.

"Anyone who causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea." Mark 9:42

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's that time again!

COAT has begun again!

Three times a year, a group of new affiliates comes to us for 8 weeks of training and orientation called COAT (Community, Orientation, Assessment, Training). Joe and I look forward to these times as it brings several new faces to campus and new friends to get to know.

Joe enjoys being able to spend time with these new missionaries and their families and make new connections. Our group of friends who were once limited to the southern Iowa/northern Missouri area now spans the globe. We have friends in California, Texas, Ohio, Mexico, Asia, Costa Rica and several other locations.

For me, when a new COAT class comes it means I have more children coming to me wondering who I am and what we're going to do together all day. It's a new group testing the waters and trying to figure out if they can trust me. Another group of kids to let know they are loved and wanted here. That the NMSI community accepts them and loves them. It also means I get BUSY!!! Because I work two jobs; I'm trying to put time into the lives of these children who may be confused and scared about the changes occurring in their lives, and I'm already helping our next set of COAT participants get everything set and ready to begin their own adventures in ministry. I love my two jobs!

Between COATs the office can be a little quiet. Especially this year with all the Regional Conferences carrying a large portion of our office staff all over the world. There were several weeks when there were barely 10 people staffing the office. During this time we got very settled into our jobs but at the same time wondered if the office would ever be full again. :) We tried to make the best of this time by connecting more with our local church and our co-workers who were in the office. We left here in the office made a couple of lunch runs (mainly to the local mall food court) to have lunch together. At one of these lunch get togethers, we dreamed up several ways the 10 or so of us could have a fun office day. Several things were thought up such as trips to Disney World, camping, boating and a beach day. In the end we decided an afternoon ice cream party break was much more appropriate for a professional work place. :)

We certainly enjoy our jobs year round, but those 3 eight week COAT classes are definitely highlights of our year.