Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thoughts from Eowyn's Birth

Writing everything up again with the perspective of hindsight and the additional knowledge & experience I now have as a doula-in-training, leaves me with a few thoughts I'm filing away for next time (i.e. gulp!- 11 weeks from now):

Lookin at her perfect face, 3 days old
-- I'm excited about having a home birth midwife (Lord-willing) attend me next time, because she'll be with me most of the time.  I would like to hire a doula for the same reason.  While my hospital midwife was great, she just wasn't there for the first two days of my labor-- while I'm sure her partner told her about finding Eowyn's head descending in front of the cervix rather than directly over it, since she wasn't there, there wasn't much she could do about it.  Had a midwife (or even a doula) been with me, we probably would have been doing various things to encourage Eowyn to rotate, from the rebozo technique to fetal stroking to side-lying to sitting in warm water to doing strategic back massage (to relax the back & pelvis so it was more comfy for Eowyn).  I also doubt that pitocin would have been recommended, since the problem wasn't "inefficient" contractions (the monitors were showing them nice & strong, and I sure was feeling them loud & clear!) but rather a baby in a position keeping the cervix from dilating.  Pitocin would probably have only made things worse, tiring me even more, tensing me up, possibly requiring me to stay in positions that did NOT encourage fetal rotation & descent, and stressing Eowyn.  Had she not shifted who knows where we would have ended up.  I'm so thankful that the Lord had her move!

-- I'm so thankful I wasn't induced.  While my labor was long, my body knew when to take breaks, both for my sake and for Eowyn's.  My contractions eased so I was able to sleep for 4 hoursish, and then were spaced enough at various points throughout the next 12 hours that I was able to rest and refuel.  Once you are on a pitocin drip, your uterus is essentially being forced to contract without any regard to the signals the rest of the body (and baby's body) is sending-- such as "we need to rest!"  While some doctors are willing to turn the pitocin down and let a mom sleep, most do the opposite and keep turning it up until a baby is out (especially if your water has already been broken).

Very tired, but happy 1 day after birth (with Ryan & his mama)
-- It's not a bad thing to go home from the hospital and try again later. :)  For one thing, you can eat as much as you want!  If you're hungry, it's because you need the calories... your body knows when to stockpile.

-- Hydrotherapy, counter-pressure, emotional support, and moving around are the best ways to avoid thinking about pain meds for most moms.  Also having an environment where they aren't even mentioned-- like I said, I never even thought about them.  Now if I'd been alone, in a bed, told to lay on my back, told I'd probably need meds soon... that would have been different.

-- While much of my family was in town, since they drove there wasn't the pressure of being on a timetable lest they miss meeting the baby.  This is huge.  As a doula, one of my first recommendations to my clients is:  unless you want your family member helping you IN labor, tell them to schedule their trip 2 weeks after your due date.  That way, they're sure to meet the baby, and you won't be pressured or anxious to have the baby in a certain time frame!

-- I will remember to keep my pitch "low" next time.  Now I know that it's instinct for most first-time moms to tense up with each contraction and let out these higher-pitched moans & screams, but these just serve to keep mom's whole body tense.  Far better to keep a lower pitch (my tagline is usually "try to sound like a cow...a very feminine, sexy cow") which leads to relaxation.  Had someone been coaching me to do that-- to keep my mouth loose and my pitch low-- I may not have torn so badly.

-- In future I will try to push to the "ring of fire" and then stop and pant/blow.  With Eowyn I was so tired of being in labor, and just so tired in general, that we were all just concerned with being done! and I didn't really care at all about how much pressure or burning I felt in the process.  Having gone through the recovery now, I'll (maybe) care a little more. :)

Was she really this small??
-- We got a surprise when Eowyn's physical exam came back saying her estimated gestational age was not 41 weeks 1 day, but 39 weeks!  I'm skeptical that she actually was early (look at the size of her, come on... and the fact that my body was preparing for her to come by dilating 4 cm), but it's quite within the realm of possibility that she was just a "crock-pot baby."  Babies develop at different rates OUT of the womb (sitting, rolling over, grasping, etc. at different ages)... why not IN the womb, too?  This is yet another reason I'm glad that I was never pressured to induce labor.  Had I been induced on my "due date" I would have been pushing out a baby as mature as the average 38 week-er.  With brain and lungs being what develops most those last few weeks, I'm glad she got to have the time she needed.  As long as fetal heart tones are strong and fluid levels are fine, there doesn't seem to be any reason to do anything but wait and let Baby say when he's ready to come (it's also not uncommon for due dates to be miscalculated by 2 weeks or even more).  I'll be preaching this to myself once it's June, I am sure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eowyn's Birth Story, Part 2: Settling in for the Long Haul

Finally, Ryan gets to hold his daughter!
Day 2:  Settling in for the Long Haul
(read Part 1 here)
Once home, contractions slowed enough for me to think I might be able to sleep through them.  Mom fed me a little food, heated up the water bottle one more time for me, and propped it against my back with pillows.  Ryan slid into bed beside me and within 20 minutes the house was still and quiet.  I awoke 4 1/2 hours later and updated the blog & FB, and curled up in my blue recliner to try and pray.

I was quite frustrated, and told the Lord so.  :) Hadn't I felt like she'd never be born?  Why tease me like this?  I just want to see my baby... what is going on?  In His kindness, He met with me in my fear and unbelief and comforted me with His Word:  "Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water." (Ps. 114: 7-8)  Ok, Lord-- if Your presence can make hard rocks refreshing, You can make times of waiting sweet.  Your nearness is enough.  I'll be content to sit with You.

By this time, Ryan's mom, step-dad, sister, and grandparents were all en route from Georgia & Virginia, as they'd been told we were headed to the hospital the previous evening.  Our small house got very full, but everyone was very respectful and quiet.  Ryan's step-dad hung the new curtains Ryan's mom had made for us, the two grandmas-to-be made a roast (my request) with plenty of potatoes.  People asked me questions, and I found myself unable to answer.  I'd hit my wall with decision-making.

Meanwhile, I tried to follow my midwife's advice and rest as much as possible.  "In my experience, walking doesn't really help much with getting labor going-- it just tires you out.  When you're ready, your body will start back up again, and you're going to wish you had more rest!"  With my abs already feeling like I'd done 100 too many crunches, I believed her.  Contractions continued throughout the day, many of them strong and semi-regular, but we resisted the urge to time them.  I worked through them with breathing, swaying, rocking, and spent most of the day lying on the couch or on the birthing ball.  Reading back over my journal I'm reminded at just how many people were praying for me, and how the Lord kept me trusting Him, at peace in His plan, His will, His timetable.  Ryan & I went to lay down for a nap for about 2 hours in the afternoon.  I couldn't actually sleep, but being just the two of us in the dim quiet was good for my nerves.  By dinner time I devoured two plates of roast & veggies (my mother in law later admitted she was shocked at just how much I ate!)-- my body knew I'd need the strength.  I was SO glad I wasn't in a hospital with someone telling me I wasn't allowed to eat!!

By day's end (9 pm) I had a head-ache and sciatic nerve pain during contractions-- still plenty of contractions, many of them strong, but no change in frequency. .  I couldn't resist running up and down the stairs a few times around dinner, but gave that up fairly quickly as a stupid idea. :)   I called Beth again, at my family's insistence, and she assured me that neither headache nor nerve pain were cause for alarm. "The headache probably has something to do with the fact that you didn't get any sleep last night!" she chuckled.  She recommended hands-and-knees to try and shift Eowyn off whatever she was pinching.  And then she encouraged me to go to bed.

Intense Labor, Round Two
Of course, as soon as I lay down, Little Miss Drama Queen decided it was a good time to be born after all.  I couldn't take it lying down, either, so Ryan & I back to our old standby of walking through contractions.  As soon as I'd feel one starting I'd lean on him, we'd slowly walk with him keeping my breathing deep and even, until I told him it was over. Between contractions I usually rested on all fours or leaned on the birth ball or against the bed.  We kept the lights low and paced slowly, around, and up and down.  I remember the calm, yellow-golden light, the gentle burnished glow of the hardwood floor, the feel of the beige blanket on my cheek, and the pattern of blue plaid on the bedspread.  I was most happy moving through contractions.  Hardest for me was remembering to breathe deeply and to relax instead of tensing up during a contraction-- so counter-intuitive for me.  Ryan helped so much at this point, helping me relax, reminding me to breathe slowly, and pressing against my back & hips as I requested. 

Mom worked quietly keeping the hot water bottle filled & applied, and timing contractions.  I lost all track of time, life becoming a routine of contractions and strength-gathering.  I vaguely remember Ryan calling Beth a few times-- I asked him not to tell me how close or far my contractions were. It was all I could do to just work through the contractions one at a time, without worrying about "progress" or how much longer it would be. 

By 3 am we re-packed up the car (forgetting much more than the first time), tiptoed through the house to avoid waking sleeping family, and drove to Clark Memorial again.  Again we went to triage.  Again I got hooked up to the cuff, the monitors.  This time I spent very little time in the bed, though, and  spent the next 2 hours walking the halls.  All night, I sang to myself "When through the deep waters I call you to go/ the rivers of sorry shall not overflow/ for I will be with you, your troubles to bless/ and sanctify to you your deepest distress." and praying "Lord, I want to meet my baby.  Please help me meet my baby."  I cried at times, but nothing uncontrollable.  The hospital felt so bright and white.  Ryan, who had been up with me two nights in a row now, bearing much of my weight, was so tired he laid down in my bed, asking us to wake him in a half-hour.  We let him sleep. :)

Day 3:  Begging for Mercy

I think it was around 5 am that the nurse on duty checked me.  All that labor and still only 4-5 cm.  Again the check was very painful;  Eowyn was still descending in front of the cervix, meaning all these contractions weren't dilating me much at all.  They were strong & regular, but not getting harder or closer together.  They were also on the long side-- about 1 1/2 minutes long.  (all signs of an unevenly or malpositioned baby)  Beth advised me to be admitted and start a pitocin drip, concerned that without getting the contractions closer together, I would labor another 24 hours and be too tired to push.  Ryan & I asked everyone to leave so we could decide what to do.  I totally fell apart.  So much was at stake, and I was too exhausted to make this choice... but no one else could.  I knew I could manage these contractions, but wasn't sure about the pitocin-augmented ones.  Worse, the nurses informed us that their portable fetal monitors were malfunctioning, meaning I'd be tied to the bed, since continuous fetal monitoring is a must once drugs get involved.  No way did I think I could handle pit contractions in a bed, without the option of hot water to ease the pain.  I saw a clear slide from pitocin drip to some form of pain killer to ...C-section?  I cried & cried and begged Ryan to pray for us.  We asked for wisdom, for peace, and for God's mercy to move Eowyn so that my body could work on its own.

It took about an hour for the room to be readied, for me to get a Hep-lock for the IV, for the paperwork to be finished.  The Lord's peace fell on me; I knew I could trust Him, and that He is Good.  By 6 am we were in our new home.  I met my L & D nurse, Judy, who turned out to be an amazing help-- totally no-nonsense, capable, yet motherly and reassuring.  I trusted her right away.

Our first "miracle" came in the form of a nurse bustling in, saying "let's see if we can't get this telemetry (portable fetal monitor) unit to work!" My heart leapt-- if they could get that working, suddenly I had the option of laboring in a tub again, not to mention unlimited movement.  My miracle-worker fiddled a bit, then, presto!  It worked!  I couldn't stop thanking her, or God.  Then, Judy told me it was time to start the pitocin drip.  Something told me to wait.  "Please, just wait until my midwife gets here-- she's on her way-- just let me check her one more time, ok?"  They agreed.

Within 10 minutes, Beth arrived and I felt myself relax even more. It's amazing what feeling like you are safe and in good hands does for a body!  She checked me, and for the first time I screamed-- "please!"  Beth "emerged" with a huge grin:  "You're not going to need that pitocin!  You're at 8 cm, and I just stretched you another 1/2!  I can break your water right now if you want!  That'll probably speed everything right up!"  Breathless with disbelief, I asked "you can reach the cervix?"  "Yes! No trouble at all!"  God had answered our prayers.  Eowyn had moved, and in one & 1/2 hours, my body had dilated 3 1/2 cm, when 36 hrs of labor had progressed me less than 1.  I was so thankful I was almost giddy, and I said "yes, yes! do it!"  I'll spare you the details of having your water broken, but I didn't much like it. :)

On to Transition

Now, the real fun began.  Steadily, the contractions grew harder.  I got louder, actually yelling, to tell the truth.  Judy helped me get control of myself, making sure I was one top, riding the contractions instead of being pulled, dragged, behind them.  I found a huge difference between vocalizing (yelling) as a way to keep focus and as a sign of losing control.  I often stared into Ryan's deep brown eyes, and he'd breathe with me.  I remember doing what my mom had told me she did in her labors, and crying out Jesus' name-- and having Him help me.  He kept giving me the endurance for one more contraction, never failed.  We kept the lights low, my "labor mix" playing, and I hung little E's white eyelet dress as a visual focal point.  Out the window was a pro-life billboard featuring one of my preK students as an infant in his father's hand, and that was another encouraging focus point.

By 9 am I tried getting into the labor tub.  The warm water felt great, but I got frustrated at how slippery I found the tub-- no hand-holds or places to push against.  I tried a few different things, but felt so insecure, like I'd just slip all the way under the water.  I remember begging Ryan "help me, please!" and drawing on his calm unflappable strength.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure this is when I hit transition.  I made my way back to the bed, and I remember asking Ryan "how many more do I have to do?"  "Just a few more, Baby, you're almost done."  "You don't know that!  You're just saying that to make me feel better!" "No, I really mean it- I promise."  (Internally, he was praying, "Lord, don't make me a liar!")  I remember thinking "women who do this more than once are clinically INSANE... yeah, I'm sure I'll be one of those insane women eventually..."  Once I think I shouted that I was going to DIE... but not once did the thought of pain meds cross my mind.  I was way too busy getting through each contraction as each came.

Beth & Judy suggested various labor positions.  Some helped, but being on my side was unbearable.  We tried it twice, since this often helps malpositioned babies rotate and descend, but I completely fell apart each time.  Something about childbirth is so intimate and precious-- the utter vulnerability you have in your nakedness and pain, yet the amazing power and confidence you feel as you alone must- and can- bring forth this mingling of you and your husband.

Final Phase:  Pushing!
11 am found me dilated to 9 1/2 cm, and Beth had me push a little bit as she stretched me the last 1/2 cm.  A few pushes later, and my body began giving me that unmistakable, undeniable urge to push.  It took me a little while to figure out how to coordinate pushing, breathing, resting, and the urges-- I actually did find it helpful for Judy to count once I started pushing with the urge, with me not stopping pushing for 10 counts.  Some women dread pushing, but I loved it.  It was like the pain of lifting weights vs. long-distance running.  With running, there's a persistent pain, but all you can do is keep going, confident that the pain will get you where you want to go.  With lifting, there's a specific pain of muscles giving all they have, with the sweet release of rest in between and the knowledge that that specific pain just accomplished some thing.  Also encouraging was watching the "baby team" assemble around me-- that meant she was close, right?  Between contractions, I collapsed against the pillows, with Ryan spooning ice chips into my mouth and my mom putting cool cloths on my forehead.  When another contraction started, I sat up, Mom snatched away the cloths, and I grabbed the squat bar and pushed with all my might.  Hah!  I just remembered Ryan's live-Tweeting of the event.  He would grab his phone and type a few words, then as soon as I sat up, rush back to my side.

By noon, Eowyn was crowning.   I gave a last huge push and her head was out.  I watched her be born, finding it fascinating that the grey mass suddenly became a face-- one looking straight at me (hah! THAT's why she took so long to come out-- she was "posterior" or "sunny side up").  Beth kept her hands ready to catch and coached Ryan on where to grab as I gave another push and she was out!  "How do I grip her? She's so slippery!" he laughed, and she was slippery!  I've never seen such a vernixy baby-- she looked like she was a wedge of white-rined cheese!  I reached down and caught her too, and pulled her straight up to look me in the eye.  My mom somehow snapped a picture of us staring at each other-- her mouth open in a cry of her first breath, mine in amazement that she was here, in the air!  12:09, and my family waiting outside the door heard a healthy lusty cry, and my amazed "Daddy!  We have a baby girl!"

It was another miracle to see the pink spread throughout her body, starting with her face & chest, and moving down to her grey-purple perfect fingers and toes.  The cord was long enough for me to cradle her and kiss on her easily, and she quieted down in my arms very soon.  I was totally blissful.  One of my favorite parts of natural labor is how amazing Mom feels once Baby is out, and how awake Baby is!  (This is how "high" I was:  soon as she was out, in my arms, and nursing, I turned to Ryan-- this is as they are still delivering my placenta, mind!-- and grinned "Let's do that again!" Apparently I'd already forgotten that an hour before I classified such "repeat offenders" as "clinically insane."  Yeah... endorphins, my friend.  They really do a body good.)  Delivering the placenta, being stitched up (2nd degree tear, 11 stitches), whatever!  I had my daughter in my arms!  She latched on and began to nurse very quickly, and as soon as she did my uterus started contracting again, stopping my bleeding and allowing me to forgo even a shot of pitocin.  Ryan cut the cord once it stopped pulsing.  We got a shock when the scale told us she was 8 lbs 10 1/2 oz!  "Where were you hiding her!?" Beth asked me. I remember Ryan saying that the family wanted to see the baby, and I freaked out "no! don't let anyone in!"  My modesty was returning, heh.  He assured me that no one would come in, but he did hold her up at the door so they could catch a look at the first grand child.

I remember crashing (energy-wise) as I was on the phone with a friend, telling her the good news.  All of a sudden I just wanted to sleep for days.  I was wheeled to recovery holding my baby, and was so proud to get all the compliments in the elevator-- could she be any more perfect?  Once we got to our room, Ryan took sleeping 2-hour-old Eowyn to the nursery for her observation & hearing tests, etc., and I pretty much passed out on the bed.  Sleep felt like ice cream... yummmmmm. :)  (Note:  we opted out of all newborn interventions except the Vitamin K shot, blood screen, and hearing test)

I'll just add that the one thing that I found surprising was how painful recovery was.  I'd expected a painful labor, but no one had told me how bad the renewed contractions would hurt every time I nursed Eowyn.  Nor did I anticipate a very bruised pelvis, combined with overall exhausted-muscle pain, and swollen "everything else."  It made moving very difficult and sitting impossible.  Thankfully I'd brought my own pillow and we had plenty of others to work with. :)  Oh yes, and good thing my reward was so precious!! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eowyn's Birth Story, Part 1: Just Getting Warmed Up

This has been so long in coming (Eowyn is 2 1/2) that many might be wondering why I'm even bothering at this point.  I have always wanted to write it-- I have written it down in my personal journal-- and since it was a labor on the longer, more difficult side, I have recently been thinking that it might be encouraging to others... thence this post.  I'm also heading into the homestretch with pregnancy #2, and Lord-willing I'll be going through the childbirth miracle again in the next 3 monthsish to meet little William face to face.  Thinking back over Eowyn's birth has come naturally to me as Liam's approaches.  Oh yes, and I finally have some time. :)  Moving 4 states away from your friends & responsibilities helps clear your social calendar!

I'll warn you:  this will be long.  My labor itself was long-- 43 hours long, so a write-up isn't gonna be any paragraph affair. :)  I'll warn you also:  this isn't going to be graphic, but it IS about childbirth.  If you don't want to read it, don't. :)

Day One:  Just Getting Warmed Up
One of my "nesting projects" was this pillowcase
A very hot September was coming to a close-- I was gaining and losing up to 5 lbs of water a week, starting to swell and feeling generally uncomfortable in the sweltering heat.  I feel sorry for cows in the summer now.  My mom flew up from South Carolina to be with me right before my "due date" (Sept 17th), and we had a blast cleaning, doing projects and enjoying Louisville.  I remember having that "nesting urge" to tie off all loose ends; I finished 3 t-shirt quilts, made a pillowcase for my body pillow, and made a dozen "reading pillows" out of donated towels for my preschool classes.  We also cooked and froze meals and tended the last of my garden.

I finally allowed my midwife, Beth, to "check" me the day before my due date-- 2-3 cm dilated, 80% effaced, baby at a -1 station.  While this was certainly not discouraging news, I didn't really put much stock in it. First babies come an average of 8 days past their due dates, and I myself (a firstborn) had been no exception!  I had frequent practice ("Braxton-Hicks") contractions so I knew my body was preparing for labor and was committed to waiting until Eowyn let us know she was ready to meet us.  (Evidence points to hormones indicating a baby's brain is fully developed being the trigger for labor-- so I didn't want to try and rush her before she was ready!)  A week later (6 days "overdue") Sept 23rd, Beth found me to be 4 cm, 90% effaced and E had dropped further to a 0 station (that means she was really low in my pelvis).  A fetal non-stress test revealed that she was doing great, and amniotic fluid levels were normal.  My midwife commented that she didn't expect me to make my next appointment (a week later), and that with my body type & level of physical fitness I'd probably have a short & uncomplicated labor any day now.  If only... :)

Trying to stay cool at 41 weeks pregnant
I remember finding the "not knowing" to be the hardest part of waiting.  When will the baby come?  What will labor be like?  For someone who likes planning... my planning had stopped.  Now I was forced to wait on the Lord's timing.  I found comfort in reading Psalm 139, where David marvels that not only did God knit him together in his mother's womb and KNOW HIM THEN, but that God had also ordained every one of his days.  God knows Eowyn's birthday, I kept telling myself.  I remember asking my mom "how will I know when it's real labor?  I mean, I've been having tons of contractions for the past month."  (I know now that this is a real "novice" question, hehe)  She just smiled and said "oh, you'll know."  I was also getting advice on how to start labor from every corner of Facebook.  I've since learned not to EVER post on an expectant mom's page anything remotely resembling "still no baby?"  (To which the response is "No, duh.  And don't I know it.")  Instead, I appreciated the comments that encouraged me in the waiting, assuring me that no one stays pregnant for ever, and that God was in control.  When I asked for labor-starting tips and got them, I appreciated those, too.

Out to Indian food the night before labor started
Wednesday September 24th was a bright, hot sunny day.  I noticed I was having regular contractions (10 minutes apart) at around 5 pm.  We finished up dinner and decided to walk across the park to church for prayer meeting, thinking that maybe these would keep the contractions going and maybe jump-start active labor, if I wasn't already in it.  As we left the house, I told my mom to go ahead and pull the locked front door shut behind us at the exact same moment that Ryan realized his keys were inside.  So there we were, locked out of the house with a contracting, overdue woman toting a birthing ball.  HAH that's a recipe for labor, huh?  Ryan sent my mom & me to church (carrying the birthing ball, as I didn't want to sit on anything else), and he set off as fast as he could to our friend Ashlea's house, keeper of our spare key.  We got to church and set up shop against the wall, me swaying on my birthing ball with each contraction, which intensified with the walk and kept coming right at 10 min apart... and realized, for the first time in recent memory, Ashlea (who worked night shift) was AT CHURCH.  She set off to her house, intercepted Ryan on his way back, and tracked down our key... phew!
Big belly= personal table

Throughout the prayer service, contractions stayed regular and fairly intense.  I thought back to my mom saying "you'll know" when they're the real thing, and thought "you know, this DOES feel different.  These kind of hurt!"  I went to the bathroom and ran into two friends, one of whom (Athena) is a doula.  A contraction hit while we chatted, and I kind of zoned out for a minute, leading them to ask "are you in labor right now?" I smiled and said I just might be!  We took our time leaving church, and made it home around 9 pm, 4 hours after I'd realized my contractions were regular.

Once home, labor continued to pick up in intensity.  I wanted all the lights off but one dim one in the living room, and one dim one in the kitchen.  If you've been in our house, you know that the downstairs is one long rectangle with no halls but just rooms one behind the other.  We fell into a rhythm:  during a contraction, I'd walk from one end of the house to the other, breathing deeply, singing in my mind the song "Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners"; once the contraction stopped, I'd sit on my birthing ball in the small pool of light in the living room, with my mom holding a heating pad to my back and Ryan watching the clock.  My contractions were very soon about 3 minutes apart, so he would tell me when I hit the 3 minute mark, and I'd stand up to start walking again-- walking made the contractions more bearable, but trying to stand up DURING a contraction was absolute agony.  At some point in the night Ryan began walking with me during contractions, with me leaning on his back, my hands over his shoulders so he bore some of my weight.  During some contractions we'd stand still and just sway together, like a slow dance.  I wanted to be in the dark during contractions.  Mom kept the hot water bottle as close to boiling hot as she could as that provided good relief.  By 2 am I was unable to talk through contractions and was crying in between them.  I wanted Ryan to take me to the hospital. He, however, had been noting my contractions and didn't think they were regular enough, varying in duration and spacing.  Looking back, this was the first sign that Eowyn was not in an optimal birthing position (facing my back), but was either uneven (her head cocked) and/or facing my tummy. Since he didn't want us to get to the hospital too early and be put on their clock, he told me he'd take me in an hour if labor hadn't slowed down.

In triage- attractive gown, huh?
An agonizing hour later, Ryan agreed that we should head to the hospital, with contractions at most 4 minutes apart, 1 minute or more long, for over an hour.  I had a few contractions in the car (no fun), but could tell they were slowing down a little as is usual when switching locations.  We got to the ER, and had a funny moment when the night staff asked "how far along?" and Ryan answered "a few hours."  Seeing their confusion, I answered "41 weeks" and they got hopping.  I will say I was unimpressed by the admission nurse.  She seemed to think it was fine to ask questions during contractions and take all the time in the world to fill out forms (though all my records had been sent over and I was already in the system).  Clearly, she'd never labored in a hard chair in a glass-enclosed room!
Half of my tired labor team (my Mom)
Finally, I made it to triage.  This was a surprise to me.  Somehow I'd never really understood that upon showing up at a hospital, you don't get immediately taken to a room.  Instead, you go to "triage," a holding area where you are monitored and if you are in enough labor, you are admitted.  I got hooked up to a monitor that registered how strong my contractions were, as well as my heart rate & BP, and Eowyn's heart rate.  I remember HATING having to contract while in the bed!  Talk about the most painful way to labor!  I ate a Popsicle at some point so they could watch E's heart rate rise and fall.  The contractions were showing up fairly strong.   As soon as I could I got off those monitors and began walking the halls.  Mom came with me, and I'd squat and breathe whenever a contraction hit.  The midwife on call (not Beth but her partner Allison) came and checked me... to my immense discouragement, I was only 4 cm dilated... i.e. the exact same as earlier that morning, before all the labor!  Why? Eowyn's head was actually descending in front of the cervix, making it almost impossible for Allison to even measure.  The check was so painful to me that my labor slowed and then completely stalled out.  By 6 am, my midwife told me they could admit me-- my contractions were strong enough to be considered "real labor," but that would mean no food, a Hep lock, etc.  I was already starting to feel hungry, and tired from the night of walking and contracting.  One look at my mom & Ryan, both of whom looked ready to fall over made my decision for me:  if we went home, we could all sleep.  So, as UN-fun as it is to leave a hospital with no baby, we headed home.  By this point I'd been in labor for 13 hours. 

Tune in next time to read Day 2:  Settling in for the Long Haul...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Third Trimester Already?

Blogging has been pretty difficult these days (as you've likely noticed)... I usually have to nap 2 days out of 3.  My only chance is while Eowyn naps (SO thankful she still naps 2 hours!), but that's also prime blogging time, prime reading time, prime muffin-making time, prime unpacking breakables time... Being sick the first 3 weeks since our move didn't help.  Anyway, enough about that!  I'll have to try and put up some pictures of our Greenville adventures- story-time, parks, Nina & GB visits, princess dresses, and lots of family get-togethers- as well as our house as it shapes up out of boxy chaos (I'm particularly excited with Eowyn's play areas!).  This post, however, is to be about little Mr. Liam-in-the-making.

The numbers: I'm almost done with week 27, which means I'm inching into the third (and final) trimester of pregnancy.  I weighed myself this morning, and have gained 2 lbs since my last visit (at 24 weeks), putting me at 151 lbs.  I've had fun comparing this pregnancy with my last ever since I got my full medical records file from my midwife (for the move).  So far I've gained weight faster than I did with Eowyn... probably because I haven't been as sick, AND I've been able to rest!  Hopefully I won't gain more in the end, hehehe-- we'll see!

New Challanges: Shortness of breath, renewed fatigue, and signs of a slightly racing heart-- I'm surprised it's kicked in this early; I wasn't expecting it until 32 weeksish, but oh well. Hopefully it'll let up soon too.  Mild heartburn when I eat cooked tomatoes.  (The past week has been a strange one.  I think I may have been working through some soy contamination, or maybe fighting off a virus.) Putting on my boots (or anything involving trying to bend in half-- there's just something in the way now!). And most lately, being pummeled from a new angle.  William had been laying fairly comfortably, with his head down, his little bum tucked up against my left side, his feet perfectly positioned to kick my right-sided organs... just like his sister did.  Then two nights ago, he did what looked & felt like barrel rolls, and I have no idea how he's laying now.  All I know is that I and my organs are NOT as comfortable!  I hope he realizes that he was happier as he was.  Anytime now. 

Reliefs:  I've found relief from the hip/sacrum pain that was plaguing me.  YIPEEEEE!!!!  Chiropractic adjustments combined with the stretches my new chiro taught me have taken care of it! I'm so thankful.  A Groupon also enabled me to have 2 half-hour massages over the past 2 weeks, and that's been so nice in relaxing tense upper-back and neck muscles that don't appreciate sleeping on my side.

My favorite part of this week:  as he gets bonier and stronger, I can actually feel his joints & head clearly under my hand on my belly.  It's fun to gently poke him back and feel him move in response.  He definitely kicks other kids.  Eowyn was sitting on my lap Sunday evening and he started kicking her, and her laughing reaction "He sayin'- Get off me, Get off me!" was so cute!  I also was holding a friend's 4-day-old baby (Levi), curled up on top of my belly, and Liam started kicking Levi's feet!  Levi was NOT impressed, but I assured him he could get Liam back in about 3 months.

I've just interviewed my final midwife today (Amy at Blessed Births), and I am now trying to pick one from the three wonderful ones I've met!! (The others run Upstate Birth Center and Carolina Waterbirth). I'm so thankful for the abundance of midwives and birth options around here! Every midwife I've interviewed has taken as much time as I wanted to answer every question I had, has treated me like a person (not a to-do checklist), and has had wonderful insight into birth! Now to just pick ONE! Arg, so difficult! (but what a great conundrum to have!!)

It's crazy how fast this past month has gone by.  Just 12 more weeks and we'll be meeting our little guy!!  I know it will be here before I know it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Marveling at Adoption

A good friend of mine from my college days, Kyle, recently released his first book, The Dream Key (a children's adventure/sci-fi novel) on Amazon as an ebook.  He's offering it free right now, so I snagged it.

It's a fun, fast read, with cool nuggets of poetry and truth throughout-- stuff that got me thinking.  One such snippet describes one aspect of life under the harsh religion known as The Order:

"Adoption is illegal here. It isn't theologically sound, they say. If someone receives new parents, they are receiving what they have not earned. The Order dictates that you must earn all that you receive, and since orphans cannot earn new parents, they must remain detached from any family life."
Think about that.  Adoption really is totally NOT merit-based.  No child could ever earn parents-- not their love, not their provision, not their care. such a reminder of why what we have in the Gospel (adoption by the King of Heaven!!) is so amazing, precious and undeserved!  (as is everything else, if you think about it... what if our religion, too, was based on earning?)

Those of you who've been Adopted, like me, just let this sink in:
"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."  (Rom. 8: 15-20)
Not only do we get to pray to God as His kids (no way are we holy enough to come into His presence otherwise!), we can look forward to receiving EVERYTHING THAT JESUS, His Perfect First Son GETS!!!!!  Enough that Paul, who was beaten within an inch of death many times, who was permanently scarred & disfigured by his whippings as a preacher, who was shipwrecked and imprisoned, could say "it's not even worth mentioning compared to what's coming After."  Talk about undeserved.
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." (Gal 4:4-7)
God sent His One Son, Beloved from before Time existed, to be born to a life of suffering, then to die a death of utter desertion... why?  So that we-- hateful orphan urchins-- could be adopted as equals with that perfect, beloved, always-obedient Son.  How many of us would willingly do that to gain siblings?  How many parents would willingly send their children to do that?

And one more that I especially love:
"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:13-14)

As is so often the case, it's children's literature (and/or the fantasy/sci-fi imagination-stoking genre) that leads me to worship.  Story has such power to teach!  What a beauty the "baptized imagination" is!!  (that's a CS Lewis reference to George MacDonald's writings, btw)

Parents,  kids, kids at heart, go download the book (if you have an iPhone but no kindle you can get it on your iPhone through the Kindle for iPhone app)!  Apart from a few very minor editorial glitches it's really good!  My only complaint is... it's a cliff-hanger ending!!  Sequel, you'd better be on your way!!

[if anyone is wondering why a Christian girl like me would spend time reading- no, reveling!- in fantasy or sci-fi literature, please check out these 4 posts on the topic:  In Defense of Magic, The Defense, ContAddendum to the Defense, and What About that Scary Ghost?) Two other great short quotes from GK Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers might help too.]

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Our Going-Away/Ryan's 29th Birthday Party

I finally had time to upload and edit the pictures from our "Photo Booth" at our super-fun party a few days before we left.  It was in our church basement, and we tried to treat folks to the best of everything:  bouncy castle for the little kids, door prizes, games like Pin-the-Ponytail-on-the-Ryan, good food (even Comfy Cow ice-cream!!), a note-writing station & a Photo Booth complete with kooky props galore.  We LOVE looking at all the pictures.  Those of you who made it a point to come by, THANK YOU!!! It meant so much to us.  I will make a little slideshow soon, but in the mean time you can see the pictures here.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Moving In

The Cutie taking a bath at Nina & GB's (I was sick in bed at the time)

Getting our new fridge (it has an ice-maker and built-in filter, wow!)

View of our back deck (and the blinds guy =D)

Ryan's office... it isn't a true "before" shot, as the primer is already on the walls, but at least you get the idea. 

Our living room

Ryan's newest gnome, now gracing our front porch =D

She is SO in love with back yard!  The first day we were here she was literally running around in circles, laughing fit to burst

Also loves her new "gi-girl bed" (big girl bed).  It was once Daddy's.

Our guest room/my craft room (my mom's already broken it in!)

My craft closet (off the guest room)

View of the craft-room half of the guest room (see the craft closet off to the right)

Main upstairs bathroom

The nursery

Our bedroom

Our master bathroom

I just love this of her stretched out on the fireplace.  She loves her new home; we all three do.  So thankful.
I've gotten requests for "Before" pictures of our not-quite-moved-in new home.  Since I am still battling the tail-end of a sinus infection (which followed the double-ear infection, following the stomach virus, following the upper respiratory infection, which followed the move), those are all I have the energy to upload. :)  Suffice it to say that my mom & aunt have been life-savers, coming over every day to unpack my kitchen, make me food and let me sleep... so thankful for them!  So far I'm recovering from everything, haven't needed any drugs and am feeling much much better.  Now if these Braxton-Hicks would just let up...