Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An impromptu afternoon under a tree...

Are there any such better days as these?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sweet Potatoes

I'm not really sure how this whole solid food thing is supposed to go. I guess I assumed that as "healthy" as she is, Lucy would gobble down anything I put in her mouth. We've been at it a week now and she's not really interested. Entertained? Most definitely. But 2 to 3 spoonfuls, a few grins and a look that says, "Mama, why the heck did you just feed me soured pickled jalapenos?" ...and she's good.

Then she usually nurses with enthusiasm as if she thought she may never see my boob again.

Slow and steady I suppose.

At least the sweet potatoes seem to bring out the blue in her eyes...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

6 months ago...

Lucy, today you’re 6 months old. Half a year. I’ve stopped trying to come up with new adjectives to describe what you’re like and what you mean to me. Those words just do not exist. You are simply my most precious gift from God.

As big of a mile stone as today is, it’s also a day remembered for something else. Something that happened a decade ago. You will grow up learning about September 11, 2001. It will be in your school books.

I want to make sure there's something else you learn too.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

When the day comes that I can’t keep you from the hateful, ugly and dirty things in this world, I want you to remember that Love conquers all. From despair, can come hope. From fear, can come faith. From suffering, can come enlightenment, joy, and life. And after 50 hours of natural labor, that’s exactly what the Lord gave me with you.

And that’s what I want to remember today.

I started writing your birth story in the first few weeks we were home and I think today is a great day to share it…

Wednesday March 9th at 3:30am I woke up to a definite HELLO in my uterus. I got up, made note of the time, glanced at my sleeping husband and went back to bed. 4:00 a.m.…HELLO, 4:10…HELLO, 4:20…HELLO, 4:30…HELLO. You get the picture. I decided to wait and see if this kept up for an hour before I woke up Steven.

I woke up Steven at 5am to casually mention that contractions had started. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to really react. We decided to focus on our list of things to do before the baby got here. The list we assumed we had at least another week or two to complete. On that list was for Steven to finish re-tiling the fire place, a project he began just two days earlier. So he first went to the living room to clean up the tools and dust and plastic ground cover and slate tiles. Then he did a speed clean around the house. Did I mention this was the day of torrential down pours that lasted all morning? Steven then ran to Kroger to stock up on snacks and juice for me, only to come back drenched and to discover a flooded basement garage. He found the culprit. In the back corner of the garage was a full on raging waterfall. So out Steven went to dig around the foundation of the house and figure out where the clog was in the drainage. He found it. I wish I would have taken a picture. It was the largest root system we had ever seen, just living in a drain pipe. The waterfall was reduced to a trickle. Where am I through all this? Just contracting is all.

Luckily my contractions did space out and slow down some and after Steven dried off we were able to nap for about a half hour. But by Wednesday late afternoon, they were back to being 8 to 10 minutes apart and getting a little stronger. We were definitely already using the techniques we had learned in our natural birthing classes. We were however able to fit in a trip to the chiropractor and a car wash. I just kept walking in circles in the parking lot, breathing and trying to look normal while Steven vacuumed out the car as fast as he could.

Sometime in the middle of the night, they started coming every 6- 8 minutes. We still knew there was no immediate rush, but I was tapping in to that inner place. Around 2am Steven was able to sleep a couple of hours while I moved from the bath tub to the living room, back to the bath tub, to the kitchen, back to the bath tub, and to the living room. This is when I remember a sense of peace washing over me and I was really able to talk to my Lord. I prayed for Steven and his strength, I prayed for this baby getting ready to meet us and I prayed that God would lead me through this process, a process already testing my strength and my will. Kneeling with my head buried in the couch and Shelby, Callie, and Toccoa, lying on the floor around me, I start singing some of my favorite hymns and just continued asking God to be my strength and my comforter.

Morning finally came and contractions were every 4-6 minutes and intense. I could no longer be even a room away from Steven. As much as I wanted to be able to tell him to go lie down and rest, I couldn’t. I needed him more than I have ever needed anyone. It was pretty amazing how just someone’s presence and the sound of his voice and the touch of his hand, reminded me I could do this. With the rain finally gone, we were able to move my walking path through the house to outside. We were working hard.

Around 2:00 p.m. that Thursday afternoon, March 10th, I felt it was time to mosey on to the hospital. With adrenaline pumping and just the distraction of having to drive to the hospital and being around people, I could tell the contractions had slowed down. But after triage, I was still measuring 6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Not too bad. Once in the room with just Steven and our Doula, Mandy, things began to pick back up again and the contractions were coming faster and stronger. We kept up our routine; birthing ball, walking, squatting, repeat. This is when a lot of stuff becomes a blur. I never really looked at the clock, thank goodness; I just worked from contraction to contraction. And as they became more intense, so did my reliance on Steven. I swear sometimes he seemed to know a contraction was coming before it actually did. I never had to look for him, or call for him, he was always right there, rubbing my back, holding me up. I was also becoming vocal. For the most part I stayed ahead of the contraction. The moment I felt one coming I would take a deep breath and with a low, deep, belly growl I would breathe through it. Every once in awhile loosing the race and gasping and squealing through the end of that wave. I had also chosen not to have any vaginal exams once I left triage. I didn’t want to be distracted by a number. I tried to just focus on the fact that each contraction was one contraction closer to meeting my baby. Time had vanished. I had no idea what time it was, nor did I want to. I did not want any form of “tracking” to enter my mind. This was my process; my body, my baby, my birth. I do remember a nurse saying that we would definitely be having a baby before midnight. Ha.

Sometime after midnight on Thursday, Steven and I decided I should be checked to see where we were. I was just about 10 cm dilated, but my water had not broken yet. My midwife Shannon went ahead and broke my water and then we were just waiting for the urge to push. But it was still just contraction after contraction after contraction. This baby was comfy and cozy and NOT in a rush. While sitting under the spray of a warm shower, I’m still not sure if I truly felt the urge to push or I simply decided, by God this is it! This baby is going to come out!

I remember trying different pushing positions, and by this time my contractions had slowed down. I was so exhausted that I would doze off while waiting to push with the next wave. Mandy was resting her head on one side of me and Steven was resting his head on the other side. We’d get a few minutes of snooze and then like a jolt I would curl up and they’d be at attention and the counting and pushing continued. I seriously will never be able to find words to describe the exhaustion; mentally, physically, emotionally. I literally was tapped in to some guttural, out-of-body strength. With no pain medicine in my system, every cell and fiber of my being was a part of this process, willing my body to free this baby. I finally settled into a position that seemed to be working. The squat bar was set up and Steven crawled up behind me becoming the strength that kept me upright.

After 50 hours of laboring and 3 hours of pushing, an 8 lb 1.5 oz, 21 inch baby took a breath in this world. With Steven’s body curled behind me like a protective shell, his head resting in the curve of my neck, we watched as our baby came into this world. "It's a girl! She's perfect! She's beautiful!! I'm in love!!" Steven exclaimed over and over. I think I managed to muster a whisper, "My baby, my baby..." Immediately she was in my arms; I was in Steven’s. Someone asked, “What’s her name?” Steven and I looked at each other. Without talking about it, without running through our list of options, we locked eyes and smiling, we cried out, “Lucy Pearl!” In an instant the past 9 months flashed before me and it wasn’t a baby inside me this whole time, curious if it was a boy or a girl. It was Lucy Pearl; as familiar and ingrained as if I’d known her my whole life. I felt as if that day I told Steven we were having a baby, that maybe I had already told him that we were having us a Lucy Pearl.

In those next few minutes, the placenta delivered just fine. But my uterus was exhausted and couldn’t quite find the energy to keep contracting and stop the bleeding. Our midwife calmly asked Steven to climb off the bed and he took Lucy in his arms. She explained to me that I needed a shot of pitocin to help stop the bleeding. A shot in the leg and some painful belly massages later, I stopped hemorrhaging and I was okay. Steven, Lucy, and I were then left to have some precious quiet time as a family of three.

I remember lying there, with this warm naked baby, nursing for the first time and looking up at me with big, clear eyes. I praised God. I praised him for the strength that he ingrained inside each woman. I praised him for the mind-blowing miracle of birth. And I knew it was worth it. I wouldn’t change my birth experience for anything. I never once doubted that my body was fully equipped to have this baby free of any kind of medicine. And there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for his design and for the strength I found in Him. I realize that every birth experience is deeply personal and that nothing belittles the miraculous and joyous outcome of new life. But my prayer is that women become empowered by the knowledge that they are fully capable of delivering natural, if they choose.

It was awhile after Lucy was born that I realized it was actually Friday morning; not Wednesday, not Thursday, but Friday. Still in the delivery room, Steven went to go get our bags out of the car. I asked him to get my mom on the way out. I wasn’t quite ready to be alone. Still lying naked in the bed I just squatted on to deliver my baby, I was holding my baby, my baby girl. It was a raw moment to say the least. My mom didn’t hold Lucy. I’m not even sure she touched her just yet. But I remember her standing over the bed, with tears of relief, no doubt praying over her daughter who just delivered a daughter. My dad then came in with Steven and they were all around the bed and it just felt like such a complete circle.

And there you were Lucy; in our arms, bright eyed and ready to meet the world.

I swear sometimes I feel like God whispers in my heart...it only gets better.

I think my heart just might bust if it does.