New Beginnings

Well, he’s here.  Brandon Michael Garcia was born on his Grandpa Paul’s 60th birthday, August 29, 2010, and that’s why it’s taken me awhile to update this blog.  :)  When the choice comes between holding the baby or doing computer work, there is simply no contest.  So in the quiet of this early morning, while he’s still sleeping, I’m thrilled to fill in the blanks of these past two weeks.
We flew to Sacramento on the 23rd of August and spent the next couple of days enjoying time with both Gabe and Kari and Derek and Julie.  We relaxed, ate some great meals, played games, and generally enjoyed some very “vacationesque” moments.  Though Derek and Julie were with us only 2.5 days, we enjoyed every moment we had and then sent them off to spend a couple of days with his family in Tulsa, OK.  Before Derek left, however, we supported him and Paul as they took on the challenge of assembling the changing table we had bought.  The mission was accomplished, and provided both entertainment (for those observing) and some sanctification for those assembling.  

Breakfast at Tower Restaurant was on the agenda for the first day we arrived and its delicious breakfasts did not disappoint.

Paul, Gabe, and Derek grill up a great summer dinner after a leisurely afternoon at Gabe’s parents’ pool.

Derek and Paul begin the process of assembling the changing table.  So many pieces, so many confusing directions, so much at risk.

30 minutes later...

90 minutes later… mission accomplished, much to the delighted of the non-hired assembly crew.

Before Derek and Julie left for Oklahoma, Ray and Carol Johnston and their crew surprised Paul with an early birthday celebration.  During a lovely breakfast gathering, each of the six Johnstons tributed Paul with their “Top 5 List of Things We Love About Paul Friesen” and it was extremely humbling and meaningful to him.   We continue to consider it such a privilege for our families to journey through life together; we’ve shared close to three decades now.

Ray and Carol Johnston, along with Mark, Scott, Christy and Leslie, honored Paul with lots of affirmation to mark his 60th birthday.

On Saturday, the 28th (his actual birthday is the 29th), John Nugent  (without Marilyn, who is finishing up the sale of their home in Pennsylvania) surprised Paul by showing up at Gabe and Kari’s house midday.  Introvert that he is, Paul wasn’t interested in a big gathering for his birthday, so we’ve tried to celebrate him in a way meaningful to him.  We had a great afternoon with “Nuge” before heading to downtown Sacramento and doing a walking tour of Old Sacramento and the capitol building, etc.  A fabulous dinner at “Mortons” followed, and Nuge had barely driven off to his apartment in Redwood City when Kari announced that it looked like labor was beginning.  That 1.5 hour walk around Old Town worked!!  :)  

We thoroughly enjoyed exploring Old Sacramento together.  Here we’re standing on the bridge over the Sacramento River.

A delicious steak dinner followed our explore.

So, at 10:30 at night on the 28th, Kari went into labor.  It took several hours to convince us it was real labor, but by 3 a.m. we were convinced, so off to the hospital we went.  I have to admit that though we really had hoped the baby would come on Paul’s 60th, we were mentally prepared for him to arrive after her August 31 due date.  Once at the hospital, it was confirmed that she was in fact in labor and they checked her in.  To make a long 22-hour labor “short,” everything went really well until 3 hours of pushing (at the end of 19 hours of laboring) couldn’t get the job done, so Brandon was born via c-section at 8:49 p.m.  At 8#15 oz and 21.5”, he was just too big for Kari’s body to deliver.  Thankfully, though she lost 2 liters of blood in the process, she is recovering really well and we’re all enjoying a really healthy, beautiful baby boy!
We were grateful that we could be at the hospital throughout labor (in the room with them) and delivery (in the waiting room).  God has been so gracious in the timing of Brandon’s birth and in allowing us to experience firsthand so many one-time-only moments.  During part of the wait, I wrote this note to a friend who had just left her oldest child at college and was experiencing both the pain and joy of such passages:
You’ve been in my thoughts especially this month as you’ve prepared to launch your daughter to a new world of independence and exposure.  I’m sure you had very mixed feelings when you left her at college today...joyful anticipation for her future, which is bright and full of promise, and sadness at the changing of seasons for you as a family and for her as a young woman.  I don’t think anything really prepares us for such transitions entirely.  As I write, I’m sitting in the hospital waiting room while Kari, my firstborn, labors to launch into the world the next generation and ushers our whole family into another new season.  Life is full of changing seasons.
I imagine you have some of the same feelings for your daughter now as I have for Kari.  Prior to now, I hadn’t really considered how much I would want her delivery to be much I would hurt to see her hurt, and struggle to see her struggle.  I find myself wanting to protect her from the have her experience the joys of childbirth without the pain of the birthing experience.  I’ve suddenly remembered all the risks and potential complications of childbirth, and of possible problems with the baby.  I don’t want her to have to endure any of that.
I can imagine you have similar thoughts for her as she enters this whole new world - so often hostile to the kind of values and beliefs you’ve helped her embrace.  I can imagine you having some fears or at least concerns about her roommate, her classes, her profs, her Christian fellowship, her decisions, her hopes, her dreams.  I can imagine that you feel as powerless at this point to change the course of any of that as I do.
And that’s exactly where the Lord wants us.  He is reminding me to release her and to trust Him.  He’s reminding me that He is sovereign over all - the good and the hard.  He’s reminding me that He IS enough...for her, and for me.
I am praying that you’ll hear His reminders to you too, dear friend.
With much love- 
P.S.  As it turns out, after 22 hrs of labor..including 3 hrs. of pushing after being fully dilated...Brandon Michael was born via c-section at 8#15oz, 21.5” long.  Too big to get through Kari’s pelvic floor.  We saw him for the first time around midnight last night.  Everyone’s doing really well today, though she lost over 2 liters of blood post c-section.  The feared needed transfusion didn’t have to happen today - PTL - and mother and baby are doing really well.  
So...all my musings of wanting to protect her from pain remind me of how little control I have over so many things.  Thankfully, the Lord has been extremely gracious and so many things that could’ve been haven’t been so we’re all feeling very, very blessed.

Checked in...labor progressing...this is GREAT!!!  Even easy!

Julie flies in from OK around 2 p.m. and clearly hasn’t missed the birth!  Obviously, just waiting for her… At this point, Kari is almost fully dilated so delivery should be imminent.  :)  

Really?  Still waiting?  Water broken at 9:30 a.m., fully dilated, fully effaced.  Let’s get this show on the road!

Around midnight—after c-section—the happy family welcomes Brandon Michael.  All smiles now.  :)

Paul agrees this is the best birthday gift ever.  :)

There really aren’t words to capture the joy of such moments, such miracles, such amazing love.

In the midst of everything, Paul’s birthday was celebrated.  :)  Thanks to technology, the girls “skyped” Lisa in from VA when they presented Paul with a beautiful book of tributes to him from family and friends, compiled in a treasured “iBook.”  The girls each tearfully read their tributes to their unbelievable dad, and I read mine to the guy who’s the best person in my life.  He was so deeply touched by the many expressions of affirmation to him from so many.  It was a birthday he’ll never forget for many reasons.  :)

The next few days, while Kari, Gabe, and Brandon hung out in the hospital, we tried to get things more ready at home.  On Wednesday, September 1, they ventured out into the world en route to settling in their little nest here in Sacramento.  Since then, we’ve had a blast helping them have confidence in their natural instincts and taking a bazillion photos (thank heavens for digital!) of his constantly changing face.  We’ve had the privilege of keeping everyone fed, keeping the laundry clean, baking cookies for the visitors, and regaling Gabe and Kari with tales of Kari when she was Brandon’s age.  

We’ve spent countless moments in awe of the miracle of creation and in giving thanks to Creator God for this little masterpiece named Brandon.  We’ve delighted in getting to know Gabe and Kari in a whole new way as we watch them enter this new season of their lives with so much joyful expectation and wonder.  We’ve thanked the Lord a billion times for arranging the timing of all of this as only He could, in part to bless us with being able to experience all of this.
We all feel beyond blessed.

Kari and Gabe take five-day-old Brandon out for his first stroller ride.

On day 9, they pose for more family photos.  :)

This photo pretty much captures the last 10 days of our’s all about him.  :)

A very prejudiced grandma thinks he’s the cutest thing ever.  :)

Thankfully, this scheduled break followed ten weeks out straight with virtually no “down” time, so we’re recuperating from our full and wonderful summer in this unique and privileged way.  Since no one knows when exactly a baby will come, we left our schedule open until our first studies with the New England Patriots which occur on September 15 and 16.  Paul actually returns to Boston today, because he’s finding Brandon a bit “too distracting” to the work he needs to get done.  I, on the other hand, don’t want anything to distract me from Brandon for another week, so I’m staying.  :)

We did take a quick 36-hour break to drive down to Temecula to join the celebration of Kraig and Eryn Kraning’s wedding on Labor Day.  Our long time friendship with Kraig’s grandparents and parents, as well as having Kraig on staff at CBS several years ago, all contributed to us not wanting to miss this special day, so we did it.  During those brief 36 hours, we drove 14 hours, visited my folks for 4 hours (they relocated to San Diego recently), and were at the wedding for 4.5 hours.  In between, we hung out with Julie and got a little sleep.  We had a wonderful time and pray that Kraig and Eryn will experience the matchless blessings of a marriage lived for Him.

Bob and Carol Kraning were the first ones we greeted at the wedding. 

Kraig and Eryn are served communion by both sets of Kraig’s grandparents.

Outside of Brandon’s world, Julie is settling into her 4th of 7 trimesters at physical therapy school and Lisa is in full tilt as the athletic trainer for JMU’s women’s soccer team, which is off to a great start.  We’ll be with both girls on Catalina Island the weekend of Sept. 17th for another very important occasion, as our lifelong friend Calen Offield marries Amber Clark.

That brings you up to date on our lives.  We are bursting with joy and overflowing with gratitude.  And enjoying this “new beginning” exponentially more than we could’ve ever imagined.