NEXT

I wasn’t going to do a word for the year this year, but then God just sort of dropped this in my lap and was like Yes you are.

The first way the word “Next” came to me was because I was wondering what this next chapter of our story would be. We have overcome many of the major life hurdles that we have encountered over the past 4 years. We found a house to rent. We had our 4th and final child. My husband completed school and got a job that is an actual career. I feel like we are entering a new season of life and are ready for the NEXT chapter.

Then the word came to me again in something that my Children’s pastor (from way back when) wrote in a comment that she left when I shared my birth story. She said how proud she was of my “determination to just do the next right thing”.

Just do the next right thing.

I had never heard of this quote before, but I have been mentally chewing on it ever since. It fits the scenario of my birth story so well because I had to focus on each thing, step by step. The baby was going to come so I acted on it. After that her head was out and I knew I needed to do one more push and get her body out. After that I knew I needed to wrap her up. After that put her on my chest. After that call the hospital and so on.

There was no planning it out. I was just doing the next right thing. It’s all I could do.

Since then baby Elle has been diagnosed with hearing loss and there is so much that we don’t know. Will she loose all her hearing? Will she have hearing aids? Will she need therapy? For how long? I can’t see the whole picture at all. No one can. It drives me crazy. What I can do is rely on God and just do the next right thing. So there is that word again. NEXT.

Lastly, I feel like the Lord has also prompted me to get help from those NEXT to me. When SJ was diagnosed we had just moved. All of my friends were far away in another state and it was tough. Here we are nearly four years later and I still have friends far away, but I have so many friends that are close by too. All of these women have been texting me, praying for me, and encouraging me. I need that more than anything! I need those neighbors, partners, allies to come along side me and walk NEXT to me as I go through this uncharted territory. 

The next season of life. The next right thing. The people next to me.

NEXT.

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I can’t wait to see what happensas I continue to unwrap the word and all that it holds for 2016.

By | January 4th, 2016|My Life, Pregnancy & Birth, Uncategorized|9 Comments

Elle’s Birth Story

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When I planned to have my baby at a birthing center that was an hour from our house I got a lot of different reactions from concerned people thinking that would be too far of a drive. However, this was my 4th baby and all three of my other pregnancies and deliveries were pretty consistent. So I felt like I knew my body well enough to get there with time to spare.

Monday (November 9th) gave me NO indication that I was anywhere close to being in labor. It was nothing like my other births where I had mild contractions that built all day long. Nothing was happening. Not even braxton hicks. Plus I was only 37 weeks along.

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That night I fell asleep earlier than usually, but I woke up at 10:30 pm and that’s when things got weird.

I was confused by the signs. I had lower back pain and some pressure, but I hadn’t had any contractions. I told J (my husband) that I didn’t feel good and then I felt the first contraction at 10:41 pm.

I called my parents to come stay with the kids who were asleep in bed. I had only had one measly contraction at this point, but my parents live an hour and a half away and I just knew something was up! I tried to relax in a bath which is supposed to slow things down if it’s false labor, but instead I just started freaking out. Not because of contractions, but because I felt pressure. I felt nauseous. I was trembling and it looked an awful lot like transition!

I told J that I was scared and I wanted to go to a closer hospital. I had no idea where or what that would be. I felt so confused and panic set in. J said we just needed to get in the car and go, but I was insistent that we couldn’t go because I didn’t want to bring the kids.

At about 11:40 pm we loaded up the van with our partially packed bags and three groggy kids who were all in footie pajamas. My parents would have to meet us at the birth center. The contractions were strong, but they were still only 10 minutes apart and I was relieved because I assumed that meant we would have plenty of time.

About 11:50 things started getting intense. I was praying out loud. I would sing worship songs through contractions and really tried to stay focused.

Moments later the contractions were coming one on top of the other. As soon as one would stop another would begin and I vocalized this to J. Then we began to pray. I started praying with authority

“Lord, you are in control. I trust in you! I will not have this baby in the car. We are going to make it to the hospital in JESUS NAME. Labor has to stop until we get to safety!”

I was declaring very specific things and I can look back and laugh at it now, but I was serious about it. I have never wanted an unassisted birth. I was not comfortable with the idea of having the baby in the car.

Then when we were about 15 miles away I knew God wasn’t answering my prayer in the way I was hoping. The baby was coming. There is no fighting it. I had done this before and when the baby is ready to be born you can not stop it. So I gave in, and let me tell you the grace and peace of God was all over that van. My mindset changed to being very assertive. It’s weird. I became my own midwife and I narrated everything that was happening out loud. I can’t tell you why I did this, but hey, it worked out.

Here is the dialogue that transpired. J and I were both completely calm. It had to have been the Holy Spirit because even the kids were calm (one was asleep).

Me: Okay. I feel the urge to push. I am taking off my seat belt. I am going to have to take off my pants now. 

I had on a long T-shirt and a sweatshirt, and I quickly removed my cotton sweat pants. I was in the front passenger seat with my body slightly tilted and right leg lifted up and apart from my left. Luckily I had brought a towel and had it under me.

J: Do you want me to pull over?

Me: No, by the time the paramedics get here we would have already been to the hospital. Just keep driving.

Plus it was a dangerous freeway and dark and rainy. We both felt this was a safer option given our proximity to the hospital.

J: Do you need any light?

Me: No.

Then I reach down to see if I am imagining it, but I do feel the top of the baby’s head crowning.

Me: Okay I feel the head.

After another contraction her head was out and I had my hands gently cupping her head.

Me: The head is out. Alright. We need the body to come out now. Come on baby girl with the next contraction I am going to push the body out.

Another contraction and a slight push from me. I felt the shoulders and the body being pushed out. I kept my right hand under her head and my left hand scooped her up under her armpit and behind her back.

Me: I am going to wrap her in my pants and put her on my chest now.

And I did

J: She is crying. Good. Does it look like she’s okay?

Me: Yes, she’s fine.

I looked over at my husband as I held my now calm daughter who was so peaceful and perfect. Everything was quiet as we rode along in the dark .

Me: Is this real? Did that really happen… or am I in a dream?

J: Yes. It’s real.

 

After that we called the birth center (which is inside of a hospital by the way). This was at 12:27 am. There was a team of nurses with a wheel chair waiting for us at the entrance. I felt like a million bucks as we rolled up and they congratulated me and helped me get my shoes back on. I was fully prepared to hop out of the car when it hit me. The adrenaline drained from my body. I was light headed. I felt pain. My “super powers” were gone and I was bleeding. I know that sounds so dramatic, but it really did happen like that.

Since I couldn’t get out of the car they had to put me on a stretcher and roll me into the hospital where a Doctor would check on me and the baby. That’s when I delivered the placenta.

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They reminded me to breath and as I did I felt relief. It was over and we were both doing fine, but I knew it would be a while before it all really sunk in.

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My parents showed up shortly after that. We all chatted in the hospital room and watched in awe as they washed, weighed, and measured the miraculous little package that had turned our world upside down.

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I didn’t expect her to be 2 weeks early. I didn’t expect the labor to be so fast. I wasn’t prepared for any of it. Still, God is Faithful and in the end I am really glad our entire family was together in the brand new mini van that no one is allowed to even eat or drink in! It was really special.

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So that’s my fourth birth story.

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There’s the one at the birth center, the one in the bathtub at home, the one at the hospital, and now the one in a moving vehicle. Yes there are more options for birth locations, but I think that’s enough adventures for me, at least of this nature.

 

The End.

Or in Ellis’s case the beginning.

EllisEvelyn

By | November 15th, 2015|My Life, Natural Living, Pregnancy & Birth|50 Comments

The Final weeks of Pregnancy

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Whoa… it’s almost baby time! This week is all about preparation because next week I am gong to be full term. Actually that’s not true. I used to think that, but turns out that is “outdated” information. Things have already changed since my last baby!

As USA Today reports (2 years ago)

“Generations of mothers-to-be have heard that babies born any time between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy were “at term” — neither too early nor too late. But that is now officially outdated wisdom.

A pregnancy is “full term” only in the narrower two-week window that starts at 39 weeks, under new definitions published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology and endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.”

Here is the new rundown

• Early term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks, six days

• Full term: Between 39 weeks and 40 weeks, six days

• Late term: Between 41 weeks and 41 weeks, six days

• Post term: 42 weeks and beyond

I found this to be interesting. 37 weeks is still significant though because if I went into labor this week it would be considered “preterm” and therefor high risk. So I would be admitted to the hospital. If I went into labor next week it would be “early term”, but low risk, normal, and healthy. I would have the green light to give birth at the birthing center as planned.

So this week is all about getting stuff done in preparation for baby girl (whose name I am still anxious to announce. I might cave!)

  • Sunday- Clean out freezer and refrigerator. Stock freezer. 
  • Monday- Look at mini van options
  • Tuesday- Research Study (this is not pregnancy related, but it’s an appointment I was already committed to)
  • Wednesday- Appointment with Midwife, GBS test, scope out hospital and hotel routes with mom
  • Thursday- WIC appointment (I am getting Ezie, the baby, and I signed up for the women, infants, children nutrition program)
  • Friday- Appointment at birth center to finalize preregistration paperwork and discuss birth plan!
  • Saturday- Dad watches kids so J and I can have our “baby moon”

So I have something scheduled everyday and most of it is all baby related. Next week I’ll be packing my bags getting the house ready!!! Hopefully we will have a van by then because that is the last major necessity that has to be taken care of ahead of time. We have a major prospect lined up, but we still have some praying to do before we pull the trigger on it.

Chances are I won’t have the baby until 39 weeks, but I would rather be prepared ahead of time. At least to the best of my abilities, nothing ever works out exactly like I plan. It’s just like when I throw birthday parties. My mind is reeling with to do lists and I think I am covering all the details, but it never fails that I am frantically trying to pull it together at the last minute! It always works out though. This is just another birthday. It’s the birth day and I can’t wait to find out when and how it will all take place.

By | October 27th, 2015|Pregnancy & Birth|3 Comments

How Do I Know I am Done Having Babies?

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J and I always wanted a big family. We were in agreement, but we never set a number. It seems for a lot of people they have always known exactly how many kids they wanted, but I never did.

Yet, here we are at baby number 4 and suddenly I know that I’m done.

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This is actually SJ. I don’t have a sono of baby #4 yet.

It’s not that frazzled hair, bug-eyed mom staring blankly into space whimpering, “No more. Pleeease make it stop!”. I mean, I might look like that mom at times, but that’s not how I feel about it.

I’m going to be extremely candid and uncensored with my personal thoughts and feelings here, so please keep in mind that they are just that- personal. Every couple needs to follow their own path when it comes to bearing children; when, if, and how many. And sometimes that path is determined for you for various reasons. I don’t want my words to be hurtful, I am just expressing how it’s worked out for me at this point. That’s all.

There are a lot of reasons I feel like I am done, but the biggest is that I don’t want to birth children when I am over 35. There I said it. I said it to someone the other day who gracefully mentioned that ALL of her children were born when she was over 35. I hope I did a decent enough job of pulling my foot out of my mouth when she told me that, because I really do think she and other women like her are awesome. I know lots of people that have gone that route and I am all for it.

For me though, I will be turning 33 this month and so as far as I’m concerned this is it. Given my fertility history, if we continued having children I would be at least 35 when the next one would be born. I know that pregnancies after 35 are considered “high risk”, but that’s not even why I decided this. I just had a peace about having closure at this time. My body has been either pregnant or nursing for 8 years. After this baby I will have committed a decade of my life to using my body as a beautiful and miraculous source of nourishment. I feel a little sad about moving on from that season, but I know I’m ready. It’s not just about pregnancy either, these children grow up and I am considering my age when they graduate, and potentially have my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Only God knows the future. Children, health, and lives in general are all very unpredictable. So I realize my planning is somewhat futile, but I still like to dream about what lies ahead.

I look forward to soaking up every last bit of this pregnancy and turning the pages slowly as I close the chapter on this era.

I like that I know so many other moms that are at the same stage as me. I feel like there is a bond between us. If you know me, you know I never let conformity determine my choices AT ALL, but I have a lot of women I can turn to for support about this decision. And that’s a nice feeling.

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Me and one of my closest friends when we were pregnant with our oldest sons (8 years ago). She has had 6 pregnancies and I’ve had 4. We are both feeling  the same about the next step.

The thought of missing the tiny toddler voices makes my heart ache, but I get a burst of excitement thinking of being able to ride bikes as a family, or travel and minister together, and play board games on a level that is fun for everyone involved.

My mind continues to waltz through visions of each season; from enjoying regular date nights with my husband again when we are in our
40’s, to planning weddings and welcoming grandchildren in our 50’s, maybe seeing the world in our 60’s, and then perhaps great grandchildren?

Who knows what will happen. Plans change. Circumstances change. Feelings change. Proverbs 27:1 says “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” As far as what J and I have discussed though (and there was a lot of prayer and discussion), this will be my final pregnancy. The million dollar question is always How do you know when you are done? The answer is simple for me.

I know I am done because the thought of it is comforting.

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By | June 2nd, 2015|Family, Motherhood, Pregnancy & Birth|15 Comments

Ezie’s Birth Story

 

October 1, 2012
“Honey. Wake up! I don’t feel good. I’ve been throwing up. I think we should just head toward the hospital” 
It was 3:00 am and we had only been asleep for a couple hours, but all I knew was that I was already at least 4 cm dilated (according to my last check up) and had been having a few mild contractions. We live an hour away from the hospital. I didn’t want to take any chances.
The bags had already been packed and loaded up the day before and my parents were watching the kids, so we just hopped in the car and headed to Lexington. When we got there at 5:00 am we had no where to go. I wasn’t in labor yet, but at least we were now a safe distance away from the hospital if things did progress. We parked outside of one of our favorite restaurants and slept in the car until they opened at 7:00. After breakfast we headed to the midwives office to have a little meeting about where things were at and she encouraged us to head to the hospital. We spent the next couple hours of early labor shopping and timing contractions, which were around 6 minutes apart at this point. I was pumped.
We finally checked into the hospital and after getting poked and stabbed a few times for my IV and blood tests I took a nap thinking it would be a good idea to rest up before show time. I did get some rest, but I also felt like afterwards my body had decided to call it a day and close up shop. I wasn’t feeling any contractions at all. I started to panic, but the midwife came and J and I talked to her about my fears of being rushed, and how I was worried that they were going to break my water. The medical team reassured me that I could take as much time as I needed. So against their recommendations I declined having them break my bag of water, but I thought it would be okay to strip my membranes since I was already at a 5 anyway and it was a such a minimal form of intervention. If I didn’t progress any further and decided to check out this would not prevent me from leaving the hospital.
At around 6:30 pm things started to get a little more serious and I called in the troops (my midwife, mom, and sister in law).
This labor was completely different than either of my other two, but I was grateful to have been prepared with knowledge and research as things progressed almost completely by the book.
First my contractions were coming 3 minutes apart. I could talk, but I had to focus. During this part of active labor J massaged my back.
I stood up and rocked frequently. I danced the baby down taking breaks to sit on the labor ball which relieved a lot of pressure.

I wanted to pace myself and allow gravity to work on our behalf before moving into the tub.
About an hour later once I finished getting my 2nd round of antibiotics for the GBS I decided I was ready to get in the tub. My midwife encouraged a kneeling and leaning position since Ezra seemed to be laying a little twisted and not quite straight up and down.

I was glad to be in the water, but within a few contractions I felt nauseated and they brought a bag for me to throw up in. Vomiting during and in between contractions was not pretty or fun, but as I trembled and felt so depleted I was also encouraged. This could only mean one thing. Transition.
At this point I was praying and visualizing as I went from one wave of intensity to the next trying to groan and moan instead of quit, which wasn’t an option anyway. I felt like this next stage of intense pain was taking too long, but between each contraction I would relax and soak up the moment of rest before opening up to the next one. Remember the closer they come the closer you are to the end I told myself. All the while J was there telling me how amazing I was, how beautiful I looked, and reminding me to breath and keep my lips loose. He was my hero! The best labor coach anyone could ask for, and we never even studied the Bradley method. At this point I was so uncomfortable I was at the point of swearing off anymore children and I told myself I would count down 10 more contractions. I don’t know what my plan would be after that, but I was just trying to break it down into sizable intervals and distract myself like when you are running long distance.

After about 45 minutes of that transition stage I felt it. The urge to push. I started to smile. I almost laughed. My body was working FOR me and I was grateful to it.

 It is such a feeling of empowerment, but before we get to our happy ending I had a few strong pushes where I was bearing down with everything in me and then came the next stage which I was familiar with, but had never quite experienced to this degree.
The ring of fire.
This is the intensely excruciating climax of childbirth. Still, I knew that this meant it was about to be over, except I pushed a few more times and it wasn’t over. Still no baby. This is when I lost control. I had followed all of the rules and thought I knew each stage, but why was a I still feeling like my innards were being ripped out of me!? I heard the midwife and nurse whisper something to each other. Finally I screamed “What is going on!?” I am not usually that typical pregnant woman you see in the movies, but I needed information! I needed to know if something was wrong and if not I needed the encouragement that I was about to meet my baby. Luckily I got the latter answer. A couple of pushes later I felt his head and body come out all in one swoop. At 10:35 pm Ezra was born.

The relief was instant, as was the love and adoration that I felt for my son. I can write paragraphs and tell stories about the birth, but no words can describe the emotion that comes with bringing a new life into this world!

The 24 hours leading up to Ezra’s birth were a lot more intense than with my other two. It wasn’t easy, but it was a privilege.

By | October 6th, 2012|My Life, Natural Living, Pregnancy & Birth|4 Comments