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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

It’s Christmas Eve and the landscape outside my windows changes from a thicket of green to a blanket of white.  My babies are sleeping, at least for now, and there is nothing like big snowflakes falling to put me in the mood to write my long anticipated Christmas letter.

This is the year that has changed everything.  Last Christmas my mom asked me if there’d be more grandkids at Christmas next year.  She knew we had been trying to get pregnant for awhile and so my response was : “it depends how hard you pray.” Pray she must have!  What a shock to find out we were expecting twins this year (and my sister also became pregnant with her 5th child).  Indeed our family is blessed with life this year!

We started our year with a trip to Ryan’s parents’ in Florida in January as we often do.  This trip was highlighted by a trip to the zoo, trips to the beach, crocodile spotting, and lots of pool time. When we arrived home we switched Rayna’s childcare to a preschool-like daycare called Treehouse.  Treehouse has become a wonderful experience for Rayna.  She loves the circle-time learning, crafts and art time, and the many friends she gets to play with.  Even as I am now on mat-leave Rayna continues to attend Treehouse 3 days a week which gives me a break and gives Rayna special time away from our home.

In February we found out that we were pregnant.  The pregnancy started off challenging and the answer to these challenges arrived at our 9 week ultrasound when we found out we would be having 2 babies! (You can read my blog for further thoughts on that surprise) With my twin pregnancy limiting my energy we had a bit of a quieter year.  We did go out to find snow in February with a trip to Manning Park and hiked our last real hike for probably a while up Lindeman lake also in February.

Highlights of our spring and summer include a get away for 3 nights to Las Vegas where we slept in, relaxed and enjoyed our last stretch of solo time; extended family time at Harrison Hot Springs Resort (Rayna’s favorite local get-away); and a week at the Shuswaps with 3 other families of close friends.

Ryan has become addicted to playing pickleball at every opportunity and attended a number of tournaments in BC, Toronto and near Seattle this year.  He is in withdrawal as family demands limit his current playing time!

Now our family is learning what the new rhythms of life look like.  Nothing is simple! But we have been able to enjoy the Christmas parade, the Christmas Train and a Christmas party with friends and we plan to travel to Florida in February.

As my baby awakes I shall close by sending you all the Merriest Christmas wishes.  May you find joy and blessing in this wonderful season.

Much love from the Rosteks,

Ryan, Cheryl, Rayna, Garrett and Allison   

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Advent Letter 2015

Advent Letter 2015

This year as I ponder the advent season I am drawn to think of Mary’s story of Jesus’ birth.  With the story of my newborns’ arrival fresh in my mind, Mary’s story takes on a new quality for me.  I think of this amazing blessing that Mary was granted: to be mother of the Saviour. Yet, I can only imagine that Mary had to deal with thoughts like: “Why was I chosen for the virgin birth, everyone thinks I’m crazy!”, then when at full term I can hear what I would have thought “Seriously, the census has to be now!?”, and then arriving in Bethlehem, “Really!? There’s no room in the hotel?  Look at me, there’s a baby ready to pop out of me.  Are you sure there’s no bed?”  Perhaps Mary struggled with these thoughts. I have to think that she had to have. Yet, despite all these hardships and struggles we hear the bible announce the birth story of Jesus as the biggest celebration ever experienced.  And Mary was chosen to be center stage in it all.  In all the craziness there was joy incomparable!

This season of my life is full of its own craziness.  Strangers and acquaintances dote on my twins with oogles and ogles with comments like “how wonderful!” and “how perfect!” (even as Allison is screaming her head off) They don’t wake at midnight, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the morning to the needs of very needy babies.  They don’t have to face the cries of a baby that you can’t attend to because you are already attending to a crying baby.  They don’t have to type their Advent letter with one hand because they’re nursing a babe in their other arm!  When we first found out we were having twins Ryan got tired of people being exuberantly congratulatory.  His response: “Congratulations or condolences, both are accepted.”  It was just yesterday at an appointment when I first felt like I could fully enjoy the excitement a stranger had over my twins.  I have tried very diligently to focus on only the positive in these days where I am stretched thin. (And it has paid off! I look back and don’t know how I made it through these weeks! And praise God for the graciousness and patience He has granted me!).  This season I choose joy.  I am sure Mary had to choose joy and embrace what the angel spoke on announcement of her pregnancy: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” We too are “favored” when we celebrate that we are children of the Lord. And there is no other season where it is more apparent that the Lord is with us.

Whatever your story this advent season, I invite you to choose Joy.  It can be hard in the darkest places; but, consider this: we join as believers to celebrate a Saviour who came to show His humanity a better way to live, and gave us an invitation to be freed from the sin that weighs us down.  If nothing else we can rejoice that we are not alone. The Lord is with us and we are a family of Christ-believers who celebrate this season collectively.

What joy fills my heart today as I focus on the gift of my family, my blessed, God-given family! Where is your joy this season?  Find it, embrace it, and celebrate it as you ponder on Mary’s joyous story of Jesus’ birth!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Garrett and Allison: A Birth Story

Garrett and Allison: A Birth Story

We joyfully welcome the arrival of our healthy twin babies.  After 8 and 1/2 months of pregnancy I was ready to meet my babies and discover what life with twins would be like.  Here is the story of the day of their arrival.

Monday October 26th at 37 and 1/2 weeks pregnant I was booked for labor induction.  There was a turning point the Thursday prior where my comfort level dramatically plummeted. So, while I had some apprehensions about the potential "risks" of induction, I was also very ready to tackle labor.  Ryan and I arrived at the hospital at 8:30 in the morning.  "We've got a reservation for Rostek." Ryan says to the maternity ward clerk.  I was settled into an assessment room where I was to wait until the 2 mommas laboring on the ward delivered their babies at which point my induction would begin.  Around 10 AM I was 1cm dilated and Dr. Ross, my GP inserted the cervadil to begin the progression of labor.  It wasn't until noon after my obstetrician Dr. Smith came to exam me (rather vigorously) that I actually started to feel like I was starting labor.  By 3PM I was 3 cm dilated and Dr. Smith moved me to the high risk delivery room (essentially an OR on the ward for emergency c-sections) where I would be delivering the twins.  At that point Dr. Smith broke my water ( which really hurt!) as I squeezed the nurse and Ryan's hands tight as can be.  The nurses laughed that my water broke all over Dr. Smith (he did not seem so amused)!  Then REAL labor began.  I'm not sure the exact time; but my contractions were starting to feel more and more intense with little break in between.  In fact many of my contractions were coupled such that a second contraction started before the first had finished.  At this point I asked for the gas to help with pain.  The nurse said it was a bit early, but found some for me.  I started using it sparingly.  However, it didn't take long until the pain became intense, much more intense than my labor with Rayna.  I couldn't believe the pain was this severe, especially because I thought I wasn't even transitioning yet.  I had decided the week prior, after discussion with Dr. Smith, that I would get an epidural. This would allow for manipulation of Allison's position to prevent c-section if she turned after Garrett was delivered (both were head down prior to labor) which would be too painful for the Dr. to perform if I did not have an epidural.  So I knew it was time to get the epidural and at this point I was so glad that relief would be coming.  I was examined and was 7 cm dilated and told I would have to wait fifteen or twenty minutes for the anesthetist to arrive.  I made those minutes fade away by sucking back on the gas almost constantly so I could pass into a sleepy stupor.  It was around 5 PM when I got my epidural. Everything changed at this point.

I was so grateful for the pain relief. I relaxed.  Dr. Smith came shortly and assessed me at which point I was 10cm dilated.  I gave a couple pushes but Dr. Smith wasn't satisfied enough with the progress they gave and so instructed me to wait and let the baby descend naturally since I was now comfortable.  I found this rather odd, but indeed I was comfortable and relaxed and the awesome nurse I had at this point assured me that this was the best way to proceed.  I was reassessed about an hour later, Dr. Smith consulted with the OR team that he wanted in place for the delivery, and I was told it would be 45 minutes until they were ready.  So again I was to wait.  Ryan was chatting away with the nurse and at some point asked if it was ok if he grabbed some food to eat.  I looked at him incredulously thinking that he wanted to head to the cafeteria at which point he clarified and asked if he could pop out to where our stuff was (since we were in the OR we didn't have our belongings with us) and eat a granola bar.  This request I granted.       

When the OR team was ready Dr. Smith along with a nurse for each baby, the pediatrician, 2 residents and a medical student came to finally deliver these babies.  Dr. Smith had been in the habit of not fully informing the other staff of what he was up to (he was in charge after all) and so while my GP was just outside the delivery room doing paper work while we were waiting, he ended up missing Garrett's delivery!  With the epidural it was a bit difficult to tell when I was truly having a contraction.  So when I thought one was coming I would double check with the nurse who would then coach me on pushing.  Dr. Smith chose to use forceps to help with Garrett's delivery (I'm not 100% sure why, though apparently he is extremely skilled at using them; and he had asked me prior if forceps were ok or if I preferred a c-section) It didn't take long for Garrett to arrive at 9:59 PM.  I didn't realize at the time, but he had the cord wrapped around his neck.  He let out one brief cry as he was born and so he was given to me immediately.  However, he began turning blue and wasn't crying so he was whisked to the pediatrician for attention.  At this point Dr. Smith was assessing the position of Allison.  I'm not entirely sure if she remained head down or if Dr. Smith had to manipulate her position; but she was presenting head first for delivery. Dr. Smith broke Allison's water and again used forceps with her delivery.  She came out in very few pushes as well at 10:16PM.   She didn't cry immediately and so was shown to me, but taken immediately to be attended to by the pediatrician.  Seconds later I heard her cry.  I was relieved.  Both my babies had been born without a c-section!

At this point I remember thinking also," that felt way too easy".  Modern medicine is indeed lovely!  It had been a long day; but with the pain relief and in comparison to my 27 hour laboring experience with Rayna, I felt great!  Both the twins at this point had been taken to the next room for brief observation until the pediatrician was comfortable with them being handed over.  I had just delivered twins and yet it felt so surreal, especially because I didn't have my babies yet.  Ryan was able to go at this point and have some skin-to-skin time with the babies.  Minutes later he came back holding Garrett.  Allison was given to me to hold.       

Eventually we made our way to a recovery room where I was able to comfortably breastfeed the twins.  Garrett looked like he was starving, sucking on Ryan's arm, and so at the advice of the nurse I fed him first.  He was given 20 minutes, then Allison was given 20 minutes and then I fed them both together.

And so twin life has begun in the Rostek house.