Hope, a birth story

She was such a special baby, such a timely gift.

I guess since this isn’t titled “A pregnancy story” or “The life of the mom and dad story” I’ll start as close to her birth day as I can.

Just a few hours old
Just a few hours old

Our little Hopey was due on January 1. She was our first baby and we were ecstatic about having her! At a mid-December appointment, our doctor predicted that we would have her by Christmas. I was already dilated at least two to three centimeters.

I was feeling great and if I experienced any Braxton-Hicks contractions I wasn’t aware of them. We were busy with Christmas preparations, Paul’s responsibilities at the church, and my piano teaching.

Christmas was on a Tuesday that year and several things had been planned for the days right before the big holiday. Some friends were having a Christmas party on Saturday night. A man had planned a special Christmas service on Sunday afternoon for the inmates at the local juvenile justice center, and my brother and his family were going to be in town. My sister was also coming in from a few hours away and would be staying with us.

On Friday, a friend and I went to Target to do some Christmas shopping. While there something abnormal happened which I would later realize was what they call “losing the mucus plug.” Lovely. Right before the Christmas party on Saturday, we dropped by Barnes and Noble to pick up some other gifts. (Seriously, Christmas is a great season for staying active and doing things to help you go into labor.) = ) While there, I began to feel quite poorly and felt a great, sudden need to use the restroom. It seemed to go away, but when we got to the party, I knew I wasn’t quite myself. After sitting down on the couch, I did not want to move. Usually the independent one, I was quite content to have Paul get my food and refill my drinks. I started to notice that every so often I would feel really bad. So I asked my sister on one of those occasions what time it was. When it happened again, I would ask her again. It didn’t take long to realize that the “bad feeling” was happening every fifteen minutes. Later, I would realize, duh, the contractions were beginning. That was around six pm on Saturday night.

We went home when the party was done and stayed up late. I was wrapping Christmas presents for bus kids and Paul was assembling some nightstands I had just bought. I kept careful track of how often the contractions came. They worked down to seven or eight minutes apart, but never felt unbearable. When all our work was finished we went to bed.

In the morning, the contractions were still there. But as they weren’t really that hard to take, we got up, got ready and went to church. I was definitely walking different. My pastor’s wife took one look at me and said, “Are you in labor?”

“I don’t really know.” I answered. “Maybe?” Ah, first round ignorance. I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal since the pain was not that bad.

I played the piano for the church service noticing that every now and then it did take some extra concentration if it was during a contraction.

We ate lunch at my parents house with all the family. I remember walking in the door and my brother saying, “Hi, Labor Lady!” It was decided that my sister would play for the service at the justice center.

This was great for me, because I still hadn’t found the perfect Christmas gift for Paul yet. So where did my sister-in-law and I take off to? The mall! I happen to be a very picky shopper so we literally walked through every department store of the mall. I found the right gift and then headed to Walmart. Of course it was crowded, we had to park very far away, and once again, did quite the walking regimen.

By now I knew I was in labor. I didn’t know if it would be it for sure, but the contractions were regular and a little more painful.

We went back to my parent’s house to switch cars and people. Paul and I and my sister headed back to our house. At this point, my sister had a movie she wanted us to watch, so we did. It was horrible. There we were on the couch and my contractions were consistently every six to seven minutes. Sometimes I would look up at the ceiling or breathe really hard through one of them and Paul and Laurie would look over at me and ask, “Are you okay?”

After it passed I would look back at them and say, “Yup.”

This went on until the end of the movie (for which we all rejoiced). = )

I decided that I would go to bed. If I could fall asleep, then there was obviously no reason to go to the hospital, but if the pain kept me up, then we would go from there. We made sure the right phone numbers were on the refrigerator and headed to bed.

At about 1:05 AM I realized the contractions were too painful to sleep through. I told Paul that I was going to get up and call the hospital. The contractions were five minutes apart so the hospital told us to come in.

I remember having a great quandary over what to where to the hospital to have a baby. I didn’t want to go out in my pajamas, but it seemed silly to get dressed. I ended up wearing some of Paul’s basketball shorts and his Duke sweatshirt.

My sister came with us. We were all very excited. I kept wondering if this was really it.

We arrived at the hospital around 2:30 am. The people did not take us seriously at all. They nonchalantly called for someone to wheel me up to the maternity floor. That guy wasn’t the greatest; he laughed at us and said, “If you were going to have a baby tonight, she’d be cursing.”

I don’t remember too much about the first little bit of being there. I think I was only dilated to four centimeters. Thankfully we had an older nurse who thought it’d be great for us to walk around a bit. So we walked around the floor while the contractions continued. Once they were too bad to continue walking, we went back to the room. Again, I don’t remember too much; only asking for a ball to sit on, trying it and realizing it would never work for a short girl like me; and being very hot. Paul and my sister would take a washcloth and wet it with cool water to put on my forehead or neck. This felt amazing.

For some reason, I climbed up on a loveseat and kind of leaned my arms and torso over the armrest while kneeling on the seat. The pain was very bad. I rocked back and forth a little bit trying to do different things with my breathing to just stay in control and not give in to the pain. It was kind of like a zone. I knew other people were there, but still felt all by myself.

The next time the nurse checked me I was at nine centimeters!  We all cheered. Apparently, the weird rocking on the loveseat experience had been “transition.”

From there I stayed on the bed.

Again, the exact details here are a little sketchy. I think the nurse asked if I wanted to try to push. Of course, I did and she gave me this long explanation of what to do. I was excited as everything I had heard was that labor was bad but pushing was good.

Well let me tell you, not for this girl. I tried pushing a few times and stopped. That was not for me. To this day, I hate the pushing part!

Through all of this, my water had yet to break. They said they would call the doctor to come break my water. Then we found out that our doctor would not be there, he was out of town.

This didn’t seem like a big deal. A doctor’s a doctor, right? We’re pretty laid back.

I remember somewhere around five or six in the morning telling Paul that he needed to pray for me. I’d been doing pretty good, but was beginning to lose my trust in God. Why is this taking so long? It really hurts!

When the doctor walked into the room, a new wave of confidence was given.

He broke my water, which I thought was pretty cool. If nothing else, childbirth is a feast for curiosity.

I started trying to push again and was miserably unsuccessful. Let’s just say I push like I’m trying to play a trumpet or something and all the force does not go to the right place. And no, another explanation of how to properly do it will not be helpful, thank you.

The doctor gave the nurse a look and she told me they were going to do something to numb it because he was going to cut.

For some strange reason, this bothered me not at all. I don’t remember feeling any pain until recovery.

A few more pushes and there she was. (I have to say that the moment when the baby comes out is really cool! I thought for sure that that part would hurt quite badly, but for me it really didn’t.)

In just a moment, there was a beautiful red and purple skinned, dark-headed screaming baby on my chest.

“Hi! Oh, you’re so beautiful!!” I said to her over and over again.

I looked up with tears in my eyes at Paul and saw his first proud daddy smile.

“She’s here!”

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Happy can’t even describe how we felt.

They took her and cleaned her up all while Paul followed and watched.

I remember being sewn up and not even caring. (Whatever they did to numb me worked really good!)

When they brought her back to nurse, it was so precious. She latched on beautifully and I watched in amazement at what was happening.

She was six pounds even and nineteen and a half inches long. Such a little peanut. An absolutely perfect little peanut to me.

One funny memory from after delivery is when the nurse informed me that I needed to get up and try to use the restroom. I looked at her like she was crazy and thought, “Hello, just had a baby! I don’t need to get up and do anything!” 

But sadly, I discovered, that yes, I did have to do something. And from there the pain and annoyance of recovery began.

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We spent the first Christmas of our married life in the hospital. It was great. Everyone was being so sweet, bringing us gifts and miniature trees. All the while I was thinking, We just got the best Christmas present of all! Nothing can top this.

We held our sweet little Hopey and tried to take in all that she was. I was so surprised by how many faces and expressions and noises she already made. I had never been around a newborn before.

She was such a sweet baby, nursing and sleeping so well.

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All the pain of delivery didn’t seem to matter anymore. I was thankful and surprised to have gotten through without any medication. While it certainly isn’t for everyone, setting myself up for it to be really bad and trying to breathe and concentrate through the pain seemed to do the trick for me.

I will say that recovering from the episiotomy was very painful and unpleasant. To this day I have no idea how many stitches I had. I didn’t want to know and didn’t ask.

Also, unexpectedly painful were the contractions that returned with nursing during the first week. I was totally caught off guard by this and a little mad that no one had told me about it.

Baby

The whole experience was only about half as bad as I had prepared for. Someone had let me borrow some Lamaze magazines and much of what I had read in there was helpful for ideas on how to breathe through contractions and for the overall “You were made to do this!” mentality. It wouldn’t be true to say that I followed it completely and I think that some women have a lot harder time than I do, but overall what I read  was helpful.

I remember the week after we had settled back down at home my sister-in-law sitting down and saying something like, “So tell me the birth story.” As I talked it out for the first time, I realized just how special it was and how special it was to be able to share it with someone else.

Even as I’ve written this I realize how many details I’ve already forgotten. But at least what I still remember and what was really important about those hours is recorded here. I can’t wait to write out Sophia’s! Hers was quite the whirlwind.

 

Girl or Boy – my feelings heading into the ultrasound

“Are you hoping for a boy?”

“Do you keep trying for a boy?”

“Is Dad going to get his boy this time?”

imageIt’s only normal for people to wonder. And it’s only normal for us to wonder how they can’t see how much we love our all-girl life.

“How’s your husband do with that?” every last talkative stranger has asked.

“Actually, he loves it.” I reply. “He is king of the hill around our house. Those girls adore him.”

But when you know there’s another baby in your belly, and you don’t know what it is it yet, your mind does begin to wonder what it would be like.

Thoughts of ease, of keeping things how they are, of a new adventure, something totally new, of insecurity, of really dirty bathrooms… all run through your head.

But after five months of waiting, the time is finally here. Lord-willing, this morning we will find out if our newest little baby is a boy or a girl.

And this is how I feel about it:

First, I will just be happy to hear that sweet heartbeat and see that tiny baby moving around in there. We are not owed anything, and should we discover some bad news, it would be our place to give thanks for the joy this child has already brought and receive with trust and joy whatever plans God has for the future.

Second, if it was a girl… I would be so excited. I can’t say it enough, we love our all-girl life. Each one is so uniquely wonderful and adds so much to our family. Their love for their dad and for each other is enough to fill my heart to overflowing. I can’t even imagine the fun another one would add.

Third, if it was a boy… I would be so excited. And scared. And then excited again. What would I do with it? How would I talk to it? I have no idea!! It would be so much fun to figure out! I have a name that I really love that we would get to name it. We would get to welcome a whole new set of toys into our home… trucks and dinosaurs and army men. We would have to figure out a whole new family dynamic.

imageSo which one do we want? I’ll admit there have been times where I strongly wanted another girl and other times where I really wanted a boy; but right now… I really don’t care.

Every time I try to imagine either one, it’s just really exciting.

New little baby,

I can’t wait to find out what you are. But I want you to know that I couldn’t love you more if you were different in any other way. Your sisters are already crazy about you. And Hope, Sophia, and Mckayla will love you so much even if you are a girl. Just look at how much the older ones love Mckayla. And Gracie, bless her heart, if you are a boy… she will learn that not all boys are dirty and stinky and mean, she will love you very much. 

Stay safe in there, okay? Your sisters all pray for you and your Daddy and I, too. We love you so much and can’t wait to see you. 

Love,

Mommy

P.S. Enjoy the calm while you can, because once you are on this side you will be in for the adventure of your life! xoxo

Amanda: In God’s waiting room

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope that you all have enjoyed the stories that have been shared here this week as much as I have. Janine and Kristin, thank you again, so much!

Today’s story is so special to me! Amanda and her husband have been a huge blessing to Paul and I. Their friendship is completely accepting and always uplifting; we learn so much from them. Amanda, I know this wasn’t easy for you to do, but I am so grateful and humbled that you shared. Thank you!

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

I have to remind myself of this verse often because I tend to focus on the things I don’t have instead of the many wonderful blessings the Lord has given me. This is especially true as Mother’s Day approaches. Mother’s Day is a wonderful time that allows us to celebrate and honor the sacrifice and impact our mothers have had on our lives. However, for me it is an emotional day that is bitter sweet because I long to be a mother.

Anyone who knows me would probably describe me as “planful and organized.” I enjoy seeing a goal and developing a plan to get there. I usually have Plan A, B, and C; I guess you could call me a control freak. So of course I had a “plan” for when my husband and I would start our family. My “plan” was for both of us to finish school (my husband was in Law school and I was completing my Master’s) and then we would begin our family. Little did I know, God had HIS PLAN.

In December 2009, after seven years of marriage, we began trying to get pregnant. Month after month we were met with disappointment. After a year and a half, we decided to undergo medical tests to determine the cause of our infertility. After many tests (sometimes I felt like a science experiment) and several cycles of Clomid we still didn’t get pregnant. I remember completing the last cycle of Clomid to no avail and discussing next steps with my doctor. She basically told me there were no physical reasons for our infertility and offered advanced medical procedures to help. We didn’t feel comfortable with that, so we decided to stop all tests/medications. I was so disappointed that the Clomid didn’t work and I felt I had failed as a woman because I couldn’t fulfill my purpose—to be a mom. Deep down I had hoped we’d find some medical reason so we could have a quick “fix” for our infertility and move on with “my plan.”

It has been almost three and a half years since we started trying to have a family and we are still waiting. The question that keeps coming to my mind is, “Will you trust the Lord even if He doesn’t give you the desires of your heart?” I want my answer to be, “YES, I will trust you Lord no matter what!” However, I’m ashamed to say that there are days when I have a “pity party,” feel sorry for myself, and begin to question the Lord–“Why me, Lord?” It’s humbling to see your true character as you endure a trial. Sometimes I deceive myself and think that my motives are pure and righteous. However, that is far from the truth. What I didn’t realize was that my deep down assumption was that the Lord “owed me” and I was entitled to have ALL of my desires met. After all, I had obeyed, followed, and served Him, so why wouldn’t I have a child like everyone else? I just expected Him to make it happen according to my plan.

I am so thankful for the Lord’s patience and renewed mercies each day because I am in need of them every minute! Even in the midst of my “pity parties” and my child-like demands, the Lord continues to love me and reveal Himself to me. Each time I’m at the end of my rope, He encourages and convicts me, whether through His Word, in a song on KLove, or through the words of a close friend. I stand in awe of his detailed care and love for me even when I am so undeserving!! I have discovered that His timing is always perfect.

I’m not going to say that every day is easy (because I still have my pity parties), but through lots of prayer and studying His word I’m beginning to see that He’s using this trial to purify and change me. I now know that “my plan” wouldn’t have allowed me to experience His grace. It’s His grace NOT my strength that allows me to get through each month. As I focus on Him, I can see that my purpose in life is not to be a mother or to have ALL my desires fulfilled. Rather, my purpose is to glorify Him even if I have unfulfilled desires and experience things that are painful. As I take my eyes off of my plans and desires, I can see that He is orchestrating every detail of my life for His purpose. I am beginning to see that sometimes we have to endure trials so that He can put us on display to show Himself to others. He has used this broken vessel to encourage those experiencing infertility and share Christ with women whom I wouldn’t have normally been able to reach. What a blessing!!

As I focus on HIS PLAN, I’m also learning to celebrate and appreciate the gifts and blessings he has given me, like my wonderful husband (who has been my rock), my family, and all my many friends. I have so much to be thankful for!! As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, I am anxiously awaiting HIS PLAN for me and I am confident that it will be perfect–whether he chooses to bless us with a child or not. My prayer is that He will strengthen me so I can continue to give Him control of all my desires and rest in HIS sovereign PLAN. For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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I want to encourage all the mothers on this Mother’s Day to not take for granted the children God has given you. They are a blessing and a responsibility. May we guide them with a constant awareness that we are stewards and not owners. Also, be aware of those around you. Friendships with people in different stages of life are so healthy, especially within the body of Christ. May our hearts reach out with love and compassion, knowing that we are also in need to receive the same. 

For first time moms

my first sweet little girl

Recently we were at a birthday party where I got to meet a friend of a friend who was there with her two week old son. I would say it brought back a lot of memories for me, but actually I have very few memories from what I fondly call “the black cloud.” The black cloud in it’s strictest definition ranges from the moment of coming home from the hospital to approximately six weeks, varying by person. The black cloud can also quite accurately describe the moment of coming home from the hospital to the first full week a baby sleeps through the night. All that to say, I don’t really have memories of it. Just memories of memories; which is kind of weird.

Anyways, I guess I got to thinking about what it’s like during that time. The girl kept saying, “It’s just so weird to be thinking about something else besides him for like thirty seconds.” And I totally understood that. I also totally understand what it’s like to be walking down a dark hallway really wondering if you just fed the baby or if you were on your way to feed her. And the list could go on.

It really is so weird because you feel like you’re functioning; everything seems “normal” as far as your perspective of yourself and time and conversation. But then afterwards it’s just completely blank.

Skipping to another new mom topic here: this advice is given frequently, but this is the way I say it: When someone offers to help you, the answer is yes. Yes, you can take my plate to the trash. Yes, I need some water. Yes, yes, yes. Believe me, you will have your chance to be helpful or strong or capable later on; just accept the help.

It was so fun for me to watch this girl and try to think of what she needed and how to be a help. I’ve waited and prayed for the time when I could be on the other end and in a small way, it came. As the evening progressed you could tell she got more comfortable with being the “babied” one. That’s so good! For all first time moms everywhere, you are so special. Don’t worry about not

savoring every moment or about getting it all right; it will all end up in the black cloud anyhow. That’s just how it goes and it’s okay.