hey, who are the crazies that had a homebirth? (part two)

Well, moral of the story in trying to write this story is: don’t wait three and a half weeks. So, note to self, the next time I give birth at home to Samuel, I’ll be sure to blog immediately. Because all of his milestones, and our milestones together, will obviously be able to be relived at any point I desire.

Not.

Sad face.

He’s already so big. He looks so old to me. And Monday night he got a runny nose. I thought my heart had sunk to the bottom of my feet. And at times like that, and during times of baby blue despair, I remember my cousin and her son (click for their story, and pray). And I pick up my baby and I kiss him. And I pray for renewed joy. And I remember that runny noses aren’t so bad. They just sound like the world is going to end. But it doesn’t, and it won’t, and he still cries lots and lots and I still can’t comfort him lots and lots and he still wants to nurse lots and lots and I still don’t go anywhere because we’re nursing lots and lots and crying lots and lots and sleeping in between. Which is not lots and lots.

But he’s here. And he’s ours. And he’s the greatest blessing we have ever known. And the enemy is super crafty with new moms. And I know that. And I know this too shall pass, but I know I don’t really want it to pass because that will mean that he’s growing up. And I haven’t taken enough pictures or video or written enough down for him to do that yet. But he does it everyday. Every stinkin’ day.

Anyway, back to the point. Birth story part two…and I’ll try to break it up again with a few photos. Photos of labor and non-intrusive photos of birth :) Paige came in the afternoon for a few shots and then came back when it was much later in the day and go time.

(mom in law a-readin’ and a-prayin’)

Again, I’m fuzzy with times and details. So we left off in the bathroom. Which is a funny sentence to write. The bathroom was my favorite place to labor. I have no idea why. And I’m not really sure why I’m admitting it. But it was. And around 5ish or so, there sat me and Johnny and Bethany. And Bethany was giving me what I like to call her ‘momma face’ and she meant business. We were at a point when I thought I might as well throw in the towel and go get this baby cut out of me. And I think every natural birthing woman who is not lucky enough to experience the pain-free short labor gets to this point. For me, it was 17ish hours in. You get stuck between a rock and a hard place. You’re in so much pain, you’re so tired, but your baby is still in there. So what is there to do about it? Nothing. You’re either going to stay in that pain forever, or you’re going to do everything you have to do to get that baby out.

(told y’all he held me up…and by the way, this was not my planned apparel for labor…it hit too hard and fast I guess, oh well)

And this was when I lost sight of the end. Labor is totally and completely a mental game. I had been looking at the clock all day—knowing in the back of my mind that average labor for a first time mom is 12-14 hours. I knew that Sam’s position was a problem and I knew that we still hadn’t fixed it and I knew that I was dilating like 1 cm every 100 hours, or so it seemed. So I needed Bethany’s momma face. And boy did she give it to me. I think she said something like: “Look at me. No, (grabbing my face) look at me. Sam is coming. This pain is good. Don’t shake your head no. Shake your head yes. You can do this.” And when I wouldn’t shake my head yes, I’m pretty sure she did it for me. And then she probably read out of Isaiah or something, I don’t know, I was too busy breathing to pay attention to much anything else..

By the way, natural birthing friends, that’s a good trick to keep in the back of your mind. Don’t let the pain make your head shake ‘no’, keep it going forward and backward in a ‘yes’ mentality.

Okay, back to the bathroom. We’re all still there. After the side to side lunging, after the 5 throw-up sessions, after our midwife started to move Sam’s head back and around (or something like that), and after 18 hours of contractions 3-5 minutes apart. At some point our midwife encouraged us to go lay down and let our (mine and John Paul’s) bodies rest. I hated laying down, the contractions were so much more painful that way. But I knew we needed to get off our feet. So we go lay down and we both literally fall asleep in between contractions. I would have to scream the word PUSH for John Paul to wake up and remember to rub my back through the pain. Then, we’d fall back asleep for 2 minutes and repeat. Time for a new position. Walk the hall, maybe? I remember there was one point when John Paul needed to go to the bathroom and tried to get his mom to take over. I thought I was going to die. No one was able to push my back like him. It was all that was keeping me from losing my mind. I thought I was going to be able to be super ‘Bradley Method’ woman and be quiet, relaxed and able to visualize the process to help mange the pain…but no. I was a just have to breath, y’all have to pray (and pray hard), and someone has to push their fist with everything they have into my lower back every 3-5 minutes or this was never going to end kind of woman. Not relaxed, quiet or peaceful. Oops.

I think at this point it was time to get checked again? I don’t remember. All I remember was at one of the last checks, I was told that I was fully dilated on one side, but not on the other. And again she felt all around up in me during a few contractions to see how my cervix was reacting and what Sam was doing. I don’t know if it was at this point or another that it was decided his head had begun to cooperate and we had released whatever was keeping him from not tucking his chin. But at some point, around then, that was decided. Though I hadn’t really believed it. I just assumed we were in this for many more hours without an end in sight. Next we were encouraged to do three contractions lying on my back, three on my right side, then three lying on my left side and repeat in order to get my cervix fully rounded out and completely dilated. And let me tell you what, I despised this routine. It was the most difficult way to labor by far. But, it worked!

I hit transition (8 1/2-9 cm) at 8pm sometime during the laying on one side, laying on the other routine, and I could feel my body start to push. I was not pushing, my body was pushing. It was the weirdest of all the weirdest feelings ever. I kept screaming to our midwife in the other room “Hey, I think I’m pushing! I’m not trying to, what do I do?” She calmly said, just let your body do it’s own thing for awhile…and I wanted to say, hey! It wants to push! I want to push! Let’s push! This hurts woman! Make it stop already!

But I did like I was told like a good little girl and we lay there, not pushing, but still pushing. And then I threw up again. During a not push-push. Worst feeling ever. Not only am I feeling the push, and the intense transition-type contraction, but my stomach is contracting like crazy to throw up again (for the 6th time). Yikes, that was bad.

And some point during this or after this or before this, I tried to walk to the bathroom and apparently all the color drained from my face and I just kept telling everyone how tingly I felt…that sent alarm to everyone except our midwife. She knew what to do. Put a towel over her face! Okay, what? Breathe through the towel…you might be hyperventilating. Okay. Then she checked my blood pressure and all was well. Just a quick hitch, but we got through it.

Maybe this is a good point to clarify that planned homebirths have emergency plans in place. For example, I think we had four different ’emergency’ plans all written down, agreed upon, signed and specific to many different needs. We were ready for whatever, should we have needed to be. And ps—for a midwife who has delivered over 300 babies, she has had very, very few transfers which were all for very, very small reasons. Nothing ever super serious. Just precautionary. Cause what do you know? Turns out giving birth now is just as natural and healthy as it was hundreds of years ago when the human population survived and thrived without medical intervention. Who knew?

I can’t remember what else happened…but at some point our midwife went to her car to get her birthing stool and, from being at Bethany’s birth a month earlier, I knew what that meant! It was go time! Whoop! I had always imagined I would want to push standing up or kind of squatting, it just sort of felt right to me. But it was very quickly decided that after the many hours that had passed, that I was too weak to stand or move to the stool. So there I went, back on the bed. And we got that baby boy out! Hallelujah!

My mom was to my left, Johnny was to my right, Bethany moved all around lots of places helping the midwife out, I could hear Paige clicking away (taking pics) in the background and I think I kind of saw my sweet mother-in-law’s face from time to time. Then, I heard our midwife say, “Okay, with the next contraction, I want you to push. Just push however you feel like pushing.”

And then power came. Like the supernatural presence of God. For real y’all. I remember saying over and over again, “really? I can really push now?” I was thinking: Really Lord? I can really have and hold my baby now? Like this is happening? Are you sure? You’re really giving this to me? Okay. Let’s go.

I pushed, and I screamed, and I arched my back and threw my head back. And as much as it hurt, it felt so good. It finally felt like progress, like I could fight the pain. Like I had some control back. Like I could feel the grace of God physically in my body. And then, I was told to hold my legs, tuck in my chin and not to scream for the next push. And just to keep pushing. As long and as much as I could through each contraction. Well, I did. When you feel where that baby is in a place where something that big should not be, you know how to push it out. It was the best part. And having been to a birth, I know that it’s the scariest part for everyone else. Cause babies seem to crown a really long time, and you think all kinds of scary thoughts and you feel like he should be out by now and you just keep willing and almost yelling “come on! Come on! Push! He’s almost here! Push!” And now having been the person pushing the other person out, I know that we took exactly the right amount of time for us. Cause I gave him all I had and he knew what he was doing. And even though he gave us a scare (don’t want to talk about that :), 23 minutes later, my midwife told me to get ready to pull my baby out…and Sam was here! And the first hands he felt were mine. And the first skin he touched was mine. And all the pain in the world will never take that moment away, nor the moments that followed. And y’all, the Lord was there. You could feel the weight of His presence. He was welcomed by everyone in that room. He was called on by everyone in that room. And He was faithful. So, so faithful. And He gave me the desire of my heart. A healthy baby boy.

He was not whisked away, cut from me, and washed and weighed and stuck with needles. He was with me. He stayed attached to me. He looked around at his daddy and grandmas. He never had that icky eye goop put on him (why? Cause I don’t have an std, therefore, my baby does not need to be protected from it, thankyouverymuch) or had a mean old bath right away. He was warm, held and surrounded by people who adored him from the very first moment he left the womb and entered the world. And for that, I would definitely do all of this all over again. A million times yes.

And why was my labor so long? Well little Sam showed us! He came out with his left arm wrapped around the right side of his face. It was his stinking left hand he must have been holding underneath his chin (which he still does every day, all the time) that kept him from progressing (tucking his chin) and that made his mother and midwife do lots of fun things to help release. Though, he didn’t really release, he just appeased us by wrapping it around his face. The boy loves his hands! But hey, whatever works.

(daddy holding Sam for the first time and later weighing him in a sling scale)

And little did I know then, but my amazing father-in-law had been with us the whole time—outside, in the heat, praying without ceasing. Lots of things happened at Sam’s birth that I don’t have the words for. I just can’t explain it. Something happened at our home that day. Of course there was miracle after miracle keeping Sam’s heartbeat strong and keeping his momma going. But something else happened too. I don’t know what it was and I probably never really will. But the Lord did something. Something for us, something that needed to happen, something that needed to break, something that needed to be restored. Or maybe it was something for someone else. I don’t know. All I know is there was lots of spiritual battles taking place that day and we were not overcome. And it wasn’t just about giving birth, there was something more. Something bigger and greater. Wow, is He is good.

I’ll have to remember to ask Him about that one day :)

My fear in writing this was that I would glorify the pain more than I would glorify the Lord. And in re-reading this post, I know I did just that. But I didn’t mean to. I hope you all know my heart is not to portray myself as some kind of super woman who needs everyone to tell her how awesome she is and all that stuff…my heart is tell you all the story of the battle we have fought this past year. And to document it for ourselves—pain and all. July of 2011 I lost a baby, and I lost hope. I lost lots of hope. And I lost a certain innocence of faith. It’s not a story different from many women, but it was a hard year for me. I had to gain a real faith. I had to find out for myself why and how the Lord was good and faithful amongst death and pain and loss. And July 29, 2012, I battled the worst physical pain I have ever known…but The Lord used that to renew His promise to me, to our home and to our family. And really, that’s why we chose to have a homebirth. The Lord led us that way because He needed us (well, me especially) to relinquish control to Him. Sure you can completely do that in the hospital with an induction and an epidural—that’s not what I’m saying. That’s just not how He wanted us to do it. He needed to grow and stretch my faith. He needed me to experience the pain in order to experience the joy. He needed me to give up my fear of losing Samuel and lay it down. He needed Him to be more important than Sam.

But He’s faithful, and He gave us our Sam. Thank you Father. You alone are good. And you alone are worthy.

And now, click here for a slideshow thanks to the incredible Paige Reaux (click for her photography website). Her friendship is beyond amazing. I’m sad I can’t show y’all all the pics, cause I’m a lady ;) but that’s a quick glimpse into Sam’s birthday. Sam’s very long, very hard, yet joy abounding birthday. And below is a quick note from John Paul…I couldn’t let this story go without his voice. He is Sam’s daddy after all :)

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“Birth…from the other end”—by John Paul

It’s not often you get woken up at 3am with, “Johnny, I want to have a home birth.”  But I did.  Let me first of all say that my wife is an excellent conversationalist… at all hours between 11pm and 4am.  Surprisingly, I engaged in this conversation.  I was never really skeptical, simply because I know my wife, and I know that she usually has great taste in food, clothing, lack of jewelry and people.  In this case, the object of good taste was Midwife Colleen.  And, this was the first time that Rachel’s excellent taste was actually more financially pleasing than the alternative.

Apart from her love for the Lord, what I loved about Midwife Colleen is that she treated my son as though he could fight back.  It wasn’t all about guarding from risks and protecting him, as if he had no chance if we didn’t take every precaution available.  Sam was a person to her, created by God to survive and thrive.  She knew he was tough, and I loved it!

I was never really worried about Sam anyway.  I didn’t know him yet.  I knew Rachel.  So all my worries were centered on her.  Oh, how little I knew about my wife before that day.  I knew she had fight in her (usually against getting out of bed to get ready for church), but I didn’t know what a warrior I had on my hands.  22 hours… with contractions every 3-5 minutes… without any break in action.  She never mentioned going to the hospital (although we both thought of it at that 7-1/2 centimeter mark).

The day was nothing like I expected.  Honestly, I thought we’d be watching football.  I thought Rach would be in some pain in the other room, while the rest of us watched football and ate snacks until things got serious.  I did not consider that there is no football in July.  It just seemed right.  This did not happen.  I was with Rachel the whole time, and there was no football.  My mother had to feed me granola as I held Rachel up.  There was just no time for anything but tending to her.  At one point I figured to break away unnoticed between contractions to use the restroom.  As soon as I reached the toilet my abandonment was discovered, and I heard a violent decree of rebellion that went through all the land.  There was no leaving my wife, and I really would not have had it any other way.

We were constantly seeking the Lord for strength throughout the entire day.  In the middle of the hardest part, I was thinking, “Lord, we are seeking You, but it seems like You’re not helping us.”  I was emotionally and physically exhausted and feared the soreness and weariness of the next day… if we made it to the next day.  But the Lord was, in fact, strengthening me the whole time.  The following day, the day after the most intense physical workout of my life, I had absolutely no soreness or weariness or any resemblance of pain or weakness in the muscles that I had used for 22 hours to support and “push on” my wife.  It was undoubtedly the supernatural supply of strength from the Lord to uphold my wife, literally.

Back to Rachel: I haven’t told her this, nor have I really realized it myself until now, but her perseverance throughout the whole day is what kept me encouraged to finish.  I wish all women could see the fight that she exhibited.  What a champion!  She was a superhero, and has forever changed my view of who she is.  I cannot describe how enriching it is to go through something as intense as that day with the woman I love, for the little man that I love, in the supernatural provision and strength of the God that I love.  It was extreme fullness of life like I’ve never known.  God is a God of life to the fullest.

When Sam was born, I saw the truth of John 16:21.  The joy that came to my home after such a long day of pain and difficulty was unexplainable.  I believe I’ll quote my wife in her last post,

The most incredible day will never be taken away by the most incredible pain.”

hey, who are the crazies that had a homebirth? in mississippi? (part 1)

First of all, if you feel mislead because we did not share our homebirth plan with you, I’m sorry. Many times I was asked what hospital I was going to, what the plan was, etc, and yes, I intentionally curbed the question. Not because I don’t love you, don’t trust you and or didn’t want to tell you…believe me, I wanted to tell you. It’s all I wanted to talk about. But because of how everything was working out with our midwife, we knew going into it that had I gone into labor anytime other than I did, it would have been a hospital birth and then I would have had even more explaining to do. And have you ever tried to explain homebirth to people? It’s exhausting. Surely you can’t blame me for keeping a close circle on this one. Thanks :)

And we’ll go ahead and break up this post with photos :)

(the day before labor began)

So what started all of this? Simple: Bethany and Bergen. My friend and my sis-in-law. Bethany is my natural birth hero and Bergen is a Certified Nurse Midwife who has practiced in many settings, but most recently she was with a homebirth practice in Colorado. Natural birth has always been on my heart, but after miscarrying and trying to conceive baby #2, I was exhausted with emotions and could not focus on anything other than keeping Sam inside of me with a heartbeat. Enter: my doctor. I love her. The Lord used her in mighty ways while miscarrying our first baby and especially during the first trimester with Samuel. So before we go any further:

1. I love doctors 2. hospitals are necessary 3. Inductions/epidurals work out for lots of women and babies 4. CSections happen, and that’s okay 5. The Lord has the time and place for the birth of your child. It comes in many different forms for many different people. I just believe that it’s important to prayerfully walk through your choices and not just follow the herd. Doctors are great, but it’s not the doctor’s baby. It’s your baby. You are responsible for all decisions concerning your child. Be prayerfully prepared. Question what you need to question. It’s okay to push back, respectfully of course. Pregnancy is not a disease, it’s a miracle. It’s natural and good. In non high risk pregnancies, women don’t need to be treated as if this is a life or death medical event. We just need you to be prepared in case it turns into one. And 6. Have I mentioned how much I love doctors and hospitals? K, good ;)

(morning after birthday…Sam’s first pic with fancy camera, taken by a very sore, very tired momma)

So, let’s go over timeline:

Nov 16th: positive preg test, begin prenatal care with our doctor for baby #2

April: Bethany finds a homebirth practicing midwife whom she falls in love with. She leaves the same practice I was going to and prepares for a homebirth with her little boy. I’m super jealous but not emotionally prepared at all for that path. After all, I’m still crazy scared I’m going to lose Samuel at any moment. Homebirth was all I needed to push me over the edge. She asks me to photograph the birth, I say yes :)

June 6: Bethany gives birth. I’m there. At her house, with her family. It was the most amazing/difficult thing I have ever seen. But the beauty was overwhelming. I hope for every child to come into the world this way, with this peace, love and warmth. I’m amazed at the strength of my friend and just completely blessed by the whole experience. The midwife and I start talking that night, I’m 33 weeks pregnant. She said to pray, talk to Johnny, and call her later in the week if we want.

June 7: I wake John Paul up at 3am when I get home and I’m on a birth high. He immediately attached to my enthusiasm as we had just watched the documentary The Business of Being Born two days prior and have become pretty well informed on lots of different hospital/homebirth and OBGYN/Midwife scenarios.

A few days later: I call our midwife, we say we’re ready to move forward with an initial appointment to discuss all of our (and our families) immediate concerns and questions.

At 34 weeks we have our first prenatal appointment with our midwife. We fall in love. We decide to move forward knowing that we would also need to continue to see our doctor should I go into labor while she’s out of town.

July 9-14 (birth could either be at home or hospital, I was full term)

July 15-27 (hospital birth, midwife out of town, I was 38-39 weeks pregnant and showing lots of labor signs)

July 28-Aug 8 (homebirth before induction would be necessary per my doctor)

Small window, eh? Well little Sam made it :)

(during first week…sleeping with daddy)

(week old that day)

So what’s the difference between a doctor and a midwife? There’s lots, but let’s just chat about the prenatal appointment. At the doctor you pee in a cup, get your blood pressure taken, you’re asked a series of the same questions, doctor checks heartbeat, dr asks if you have any questions, you leave–probably an 11 minute process. At our midwife’s home, we do the same routine, only there’s lots more emotional and spiritual questions. Lots of talking about us, our marriage, our strengths, our weaknesses, our families, and our baby. Johnny’s favorite part of every appointment was when the midwife would, as he put it, ‘handle Sam’. She vigorously rubs all over my tummy and proceeds to show me where all his little body parts are and what position he’s in. She shows John Paul and lets him feel around too. Johnny now knows where his boy is and what he’s doing, and Johnny loved that! Then we listen to his heartbeat with a fetalscope (that’s what it’s called, right?), not a doppler. It’s weird, but fun. Then she loads us up on reading information, let’s us chat a little more about our initial thoughts on a birth plan and we’re sent on our way–about 45 minutes to an hour and a half later. Ahhhh. I remember just thinking over and over again–so that’s what prenatal care should feel like. Like someone’s in it with you and for you. Like someone wants to help usher you and your husband from pregnancy to parenthood. And someone is reminding you that this is your baby and your responsibility. That part was a little heavy for us first timers, but it was a good perspective that we needed. We couldn’t depend on anyone but us and the Lord. And He had us.

And now that you know the back story, I guess we can get to his birth? I was showing labor signs for two weeks before I actually went into labor. Like, signs that when I would google them, it would say something like expect baby in the next 24-48 hours. So we were fully mentally preparing for a hospital birth. But something about the weekend of the 28th always stuck out to us. My doctor was leaving to go to the olympics the morning of the 27th, and my midwife was coming back into town that night. And what do you know? I woke up at 12am with contractions. They were 4-5 min apart, but they weren’t that bad, so I tried to sleep through them…

(first day out of the house! no ‘going home’ pic for this family–sad–this is the best we could do…off to the pediatrician on his 8th day of life for a little snip-snip!)

2:30am–couldn’t sleep through them anymore. Throw up session #1 (when I say session, I mean session). Called midwife. Showered. Midwife said to keep laying down in bed, try to get as much rest as possible. I sent John Paul to the couch so he could sleep a bit longer.

4:30am–Texted midwife. Said they were getting stronger. Asked John Paul to wake up and stay with me to begin coaching me through labor.

6am–the shakes started. Contractions stronger. Midwife called, said she would be over at 9. We text our photographer friend and Bethany, we call our families. Mom’s start making their way down to Gulfport. Throw up session #2.

9am–Bethany and Midwife arrive. They encourage me to get out of bed and start doing (or pretending to do) what we normally do when it’s 9am. I try to eat eggs and drink gatorade, enter throw up session #3. Ugh.

9-12pm–John Paul is constantly with me, rubbing my back through every single contraction. My mother in law arrives and immediately starts praying. Bethany takes over the encourager role and reminds me at every rough point that yes, this is good pain and yes, I can do this and yes, Sam is coming. We walk, we sit, we lay down. We try to eat and drink. Contractions continue to be 3-4 minutes apart. They get stronger and stronger and just when I think I can’t handle another one, the Lord’s grace gives me an easy one to catch my breath. Our midwife sits in the background documenting our progress through the sounds I’m making with each contraction. I think surely we’re close…surely we have gotten somewhere between the throwing up, the endless contractions and the 12 hours of labor.

Nope. we’re at 5 1/2 cm. Poo.

 (sweet week and a half old baby..still have yet to take real newborn photos, bad momma!)

This is where labor got hard. I mean, I knew it what going to be painful. I was ready for pain. I was not ready for the length of pain. I was not ready for deviation from the plan. I was not ready for Samuel not to cooperate perfectly. I was not ready for the throwing up. And really, I can’t imagine anyone ever being ready for labor, no matter how they choose to do it. But we march on and John Paul was my strength and the Lord was so faithful. I thought we were going to have candles and worship music playing at this birth, turns out, it’s more like a battlefield. A quiet, intense, heavy, battlefield. There is no talking minus praying and scripture reading. There are no sounds minus the deep low ‘Uhhhhhhhhhh’ you have to make during contractions to keep your muscles loose and the random, pitiful yelps you would hear from me say ‘help?’ “push” or ‘can!’ (can was our word for I’m about to throw up, give me something to throw up in, push was the word I used when John Paul needed to literally stick his fist in my back as hard as he could and ‘help’ covered everything else) I didn’t say any other words. Not ever. Not a one.

Now the timeline gets fuzzy for me. All I know is we’re trying everything to get through the contractions. All types of places and positions. And it would work, and we would get in a groove, and I would think that now this is something I can handle. And then I’d be told we had to move on and try something else. I hated trying something else. Around late afternoon I believe (after throw up session #4), I was checked again. 6 1/2 cm. Poo. But that wasn’t the bad part.

(hello fisher price rock n play sleeper, we like you)

(late night photos with momma and daddy…hey John Paul, nice nursing pillow you got there)

Mr. Samuel was not cooperating with labor. Babies are supposed to tuck their chins as they head down (called a duck and dive). Sam’s head was straight–he was trying to come down in what they call a military position. This does not work. This is where my labor and the birth of my child would have severely run a different course should we have been in the hospital. Instead, we did lots of painful things that took lots of time, energy and faith. First, our midwife pushed his head back up to see how he responded. He responded well, meaning he shook and moved. If he hadn’t have done that, it would not have been a good, workable sign. But this, this was a workable situation. She then would have me go through contractions while she was feeling my cervix and his position. This. Is. Painful. Yuck. Then she did awesome midwifery things like try to spin the baby over to my other side to release whatever was keeping his head in the military position. She did what she could with her hands and the rest was up to me and Sam.

That meant: lots of different movements, positions and lots more hours added onto labor. Enter throw up session #5. Enter despair and hopelessness. There was a point when John Paul and I were alone when I just looked at him and said I couldn’t do this anymore. He encouraged me then, but later confessed that he felt the same way at that point. He got Bethany and she got tough with me. She meant business. And she reminded me that the Lord was faithful. That Sam was good. That this pain would pass and I would hold my baby. And that I could do it. And the three of us sat there, in my bathroom, and breathed and “Uhhhhhhhhh’ed” through the next what felt like an hour of contractions before we moved on again.

I believe our midwife checked me again at this point and could tell that I hadn’t progressed much and Sam still hadn’t turned over to my left side and ducked his head to engage my cervix. She had us continue to contract while she felt all around up in me–again: pain. Then she had me get up and do light side to side lunges. Excuse me, what? I’ve thrown up five times, I’m in my 18th hour of labor and you would like me to, a’hem, lunge? I can’t even walk.

Again, the Lord was faithful. He kept Sam’s heartbeat strong the entire time and He somehow allowed me to lunge. And actually, John Paul not only rubbed my back through every single contraction, but he also held me up while a walked, stood or lunged. He was amazing. Just simply amazing. There is no way I could have done it without him. Absolutely no way.

I guess this is where I will end for now, the last four hours of labor were the most eventful afterall and I’ve already written too much. To sum up, this was the right way for us to go through labor and the right way for our son to be born. The Lord gave us the desire of our hearts and He was faithful to see us through. Do I fondly and gleefully look back upon the pain? Nope. But I do fondly look back on the way my husband held me up, the way our precious friend poured her faith into our family, the moments I opened my eyes and watched my mom-in-law praying with such quiet strength throughout the day, the look of confidence our midwife constantly gave me, the moment my mom walked in the door and continuously reminded me how strong she knew I was, feeling every movement and position of my baby boy, being able to stay in the comfort and warmth of my own home, and all the little moments in between when I realized how the Lord was stretching me beyond what I thought was possible. The most incredible day will never be taken away by the most incredible pain.

(Sam had his Mimi and his daddy, he was a happy little guy)

By the way, just as no one can really ever fully explain what labor is like, I guess no one can really ever explain what caring for a newborn is like either. Geesh, this stuff is hard. But wouldn’t you know that the Lord’s been good and faithful through this phase too? Just when I seem to hit despair, my joy is renewed. Hope and Joy–they come lots. I mean, Sam is all I have wanted for so, so long. I have poured my soul into his. Why does his cry, his nursing habits, his sleeplessness, his weight, and (our favorite, not) his gas have the right to take that away? They don’t. And like I said, Sam is joy. It’s just his momma that needs some work ;)

(sweet baby after a bath and a nicely brushed combover look…pay no attention to his paci that’s all pushed up in his nose, he was breathing, I swear)

Birth story part deaux coming up next. The part where Sam starts to cooperate in hour 18 and we begin to hit the almighty transition phase. And then, we push! Pushing is by far the best part of labor…anyone who tells you any different is crazy. After 21 and 1/2 hours, pushing is your best friend. Like bff for life. And Paigey-love is giving me all the birth photos this week too, yikes. Why am I so nervous to relive it?

Anywho, the Lord? He’s good. And Sam? He was more than worth it. And this momma is getting the hang of things.

Sort of.

baby Sam–he’s here!

Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.

I still don’t understand how July 29, 2012, happened. Like, woah. But before we get into that, I just want to recognize a commenter: Bless you. I see your precious, raw heart. I know that heart. We may not have shared the same pain, walked the same path, but we share something. And I desperately want to talk about it…and the only way I know how to do that is to do it here, on this blog. Which is weird, sorry. Thank you for your faithfulness to reach out, the Lord sees you. And hopefully I can get my thoughts together in the coming few weeks and respond in some way that is worthy to your comment. Well, I will respond–the hopeful part is just whether it will or will not make sense. Anyway, you are heard, and you are prayed for. Desperately.

And for anyone else out there who is looking for some true honesty, to pray in battle with someone you do not know, or to share your own heart as it concerns the sometimes difficult path we walk in trying to work out our faith, click on the About section and read “Confused’s” comment. And take a moment to lift her, her husband and their future family up in real prayer. Thank you.

So, our little man–Samuel John–was born at 9:58pm July 29, 2012 weighing 8lbs 4oz and measuring 20 1/2 inches long. Also, he was born at home. On our bed. With a midwife. After 22 hours of labor. Yikes.

Yes, we were intentionally keeping our planned homebirth under wraps. But to be fair, it wasn’t our plan till late in the game and even after that, there were lots of logistics with our midwife being out of the country during my 37th, 38th and 39th week. I just happened to go into labor 36 hours after her plane touched down. And before you think we’re crazy, just try to think we’re awesome ;) and know we have a sense of humor about it. And know that we’re not trying to push any crazy hippie ideas on anyone. We just felt the Lord calling us to this way, and He was faithful. Boy was He ever. Cause y’all…22 hours. 22 hours. 22 hours.

And hey, who knew how amazing my husband was? I thought I did. But now I really do. Whew. Bless his heart. And bless the heart of everyone involved with us that day, whether your were there physically (which, seriously, you 5 are irreplaceable…you obviously know exactly who you are) or with us in spirit. It was definitely a day full of miracles. Though you wouldn’t have known it to look at me, ha! Until 10pm, that is. Then you would have thought that I had just had a baby or something. What pure, incredible joy.

And here he his…we think he’s pretty cute.

And just because I’m completely unfiltered, I am trying to write his birth story at the moment. Hopefully it will be filtered enough for those who brave to read it ;) ps–have y’all seen Jim Gaffigan’s latest comedy special? The whole beginning is on homebirth and it is PERFECT. We watched it about three days before I went into labor…I actually thought it was going to put me in labor. You must netflix it. You must. Until then, here’s a really, really bad quality youtube video of just the homebirth part.

“we had all our babies at home…just to make you uncomfortable.”

AHHHHHHHHHHHH, that’s my favorite part. Until next time…

it’s a lot…

So…

Not sure where to begin…

Last week, Johnny and I had the lovely privilege to help accompany our church’s youth group to Student Life camp in Orange Beach, AL. There is lots to say on this subject, but I think I feel like keeping it short and sweet. When we were first approached with the idea of tagging along on this trip a few months back, of course I was hesitant. I just kept looking at the calendar and looking at John Paul’s vacation time and thinking that there was no way the Lord wanted this for us. I mean, I was going to be 37 weeks pregs, we were going to use all of our saved up time right before we were going to have a baby, and surely there were better people than us that had more to give these kids during their time of growth and renewal. Now, that last part still holds true. There are definitely better people than us. But I remember waking John Paul up in the middle of the night after we were first approached about the trip and saying to him that there was just no way. There was no way we could fully commit to this in the way these people deserve. We just can’t go. We can’t even try to begin to figure this out. And Johnny just looked at me, told me to calm down, promised me that the Lord would confirm what to do in both of us and He’d be faithful to see it through. Well, that next morning, I knew we were going. I knew it was going to work out. And I knew that while this camp was about the kids,  the Lord had something real for us there. Just for us. And I was all in.

Until…well, until we got there. And I was contracting on and off. And my normal quiet/restful world was filled with lots of noise, lots of bodies and lots of personalities. And I cried (in privacy, at 1 am, of course). And I was ready to go home. But I remembered how the Lord confirmed this trip in us many months before…and I chose to believe Him. And that may sound small to you, but to me, it wasn’t. I think there’s a protective switch that goes off in a woman about to give birth. You just need your space to be ready, clean and yours. You don’t need it to be 2 hours away from home filled with lots of uncontrollable moving pieces. But anyway, we were right. The Lord had something for us there. And I’m so thankful He gave me rest that first night and renewed His promise in me the next morning. It is an unbelieveable privilege to walk alongside young people as their hearts are stretched and broken for Jesus. It’s a privilege to see our youth pastor work in his gift–his truly amazing gift. It’s a privilege to share the word and your heart to a group of people. It’s all just a true privilege. I was certainly humbled. And these precious teenagers of course gave more to me than it was humanly possible to ever give to them. The Lord was faithful to this overly emotional 9month pregnant lady. So, hey thanks Jesus. That was awesome.

And I didn’t bring my camera. Poo. Here are a very few iphone pics…just of me, Johnny, worship, my Kasie, her Jeremy (youth pastor) and one of her two boys. We all shared a condo together, and I’m more convinced than ever that there is a self-sustaining commune in our future. Overflowing with blue bell ice cream. For that is the one thing none of us will ever live without.

So, now that I have talked about that…let’s get to this:

July 10, 2011; July 14, 2011; July 21, 2011; July 26, 2011.

The anniversary of two of those dates were last week. Namely, July 10, 2011. It was the day our first baby was estimated to have lost his heartbeat. You know, that part where a growing baby dies inside his mother’s womb? Is that too much to write and put out there? Well, that’s what happened. And July 14, 2011, was the day we found out in our routine 10.5 week ultrasound. And thus began a whole new world for me.

And let me start out by saying I know miscarriages are common. I know they happen lots and lots to lots of people. I get that. I realize most people don’t openly express the hurt, subsequent depression, and fight back to life like I have and continue to do. Maybe most women handle it better than me, maybe they handle it just like me, or maybe they handle it worse. I don’t know. All I know is my story. And all I know is anytime I have had the opportunity to share our story with other women walking through the loss of an unborn child (especially when it’s the first child/pregnancy), our stories are incredibly similar. And that’s why I feel compelled to write…becuase darkness has power in isolation. The less isolated we feel, the more power we have to walk through healing. I just believe that. So if there’s one woman who will have to walk out of a doctor’s office today and feel her world falling around her and only hear things like “it’s for the best” or “this happens all the time” or “something was wrong with the baby” can find our story and know that she has real hurt, real pain and a real baby, than it’s worth some blog readers thinking I’m crazy. Or too emotional. Or has obviously never had real pain in life for something like this to make her sink as far as she did.

Pain is not comparative. It is personal.

So, July 10th was last Tuesday. John Paul and I decided to set aside some time alone together in the midst of camp to talk, reflect and pray. To try the best way we knew how to honor the life that so quickly came and left and that changed our hearts forever. And to honor the Lord who turned what was meant to only hurt and destroy us into something so beautiful, and so for our good. Cause gosh y’all, He just is so good.

We had planned to go to the beach, as the beach has been ever representative for this year in our lives. It has been where we have gone both together and individually to work out what seemed like unending hurt, overwhelming thankfulness and just a whole lot of surrender. It was where we pleaded the Lord to breathe life back into our first child (creepy to some people, sorry), it’s where He took me when He needed me alone and quiet, it’s where I told John Paul I was pregnant with Samuel, it’s where we recently went as I fully surrendered the birth of our precious baby over to Him completely, and it was where we wanted to go honor the life of our first child. But, sometimes your feet when you’re 37 weeks pregnant have other ideas. And you decide that the Lord is faithful to meet you where you are, so we stayed put on our balcony ;)

I never wanted to forget the view that evening…not that it was spectacular to anyone but us, but I wanted to capture what I saw, remember how I felt and even what I smelled that night on the balcony  as I, one year later, was able to be humbled in gratitude before Him. My God who was faithful. And not because I sit here 9 months pregnant, but because He healed my heart. And He loves my babies. And He didn’t waste this hurt, He made it beautiful.

Our sweet baby,

I know you were with us that night. I know you heard your daddy’s words when he so perfectly described you as our awakening. And when he thanked our Father in Heaven for your precious life. Sweet one, your purpose in our family is so great. You were our awakening. Without you my heart would not be close to what it is today. There is a person, there is a marriage, and there is a God that was before you–and there is a mother, a father, a husband, a wife and a daughter & son in Christ and an Almighty Father that came after you. What you awakened in us will forever be treasured, you will forever be treasured. I feel like I have seen you, I feel like I know you. Your death still stings the deepest part of me, but I know we’re walking in the purpose of your life. Thank you sweet, sweet precious baby. Your momma’s heart is so full. Once it was filled with pain, anger, bitterness and depression. Feelings I never fully knew before you. But peace, surrender, thankfulness and joy have become real to my heart. They are tangible. They are there because of you and because of a faithful, sovereign, good God. We love you precious one. Oh, how we love you.

Thank you Father. Thank you for these two precious lives you have given us. Thank you for your mercy, we are forever grateful.

——————————————————————————————–

And later that night, during worship, Aaron Keyes led us in this song. It could not have been more perfect. As someone whose main struggle through the past year has been dealing with the goodness vs. (even though it’s not ‘vs’, hence the struggle) sovereignty of God, this song speaks so clearly to my heart. Hopefully it will bring a moment of healing to someone else as well (lyrics below):

“Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes

There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting, Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust
Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined, Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens, Reaching down in endless grace
Youʼre the Lifter of the lowly, Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me, Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
Youʼre working for our good, Youʼre working for our good and for your glory

—————————————————————————————————–

So, the end! That was a lot, whew. Sorry.

I guess I still need to update about precious baby Samuel: we’re still in our 38th week. He keeps faking me out with non-progressing contractions and I feel like we will make it at least to full term, if not a bit past due. Or we could go in tomorrow! This is a super weird and fun time…will keep y’all updated, thanks for stopping by and dealing with my emotions ;)

And in case you’re wondering about those other dates I listed above, maybe they are for another post? Or maybe not. Eh, I don’t know. One day though, I definitely want to get into July 26-Nov 16th. I’m pretty specific on dates, eh? Anyway…

quickly, quickly…and other baby shower photos.

I hear that a lot “…quickly, quickly” from the husband. No one can blame him, I tend to be late. But ONLY when it comes to something he’s involved in. My solo stuff, I’m always at least a few minutes early. There’s probably a lesson in respect there that I need to learn..but we’ll save that for post-pregnancy. And actually, now that I think about it, since I have become ginormous and slower than the average person, I really only hear things like: put your feet up, I’ll wait on you, are you tired?, was that one of those fake contractions? you should rest, and (my favorite) oh your poor feet, can I rub them? Yes, yes you can. Always.

Have I mentioned how much I love being pregnant? It’s probably 95% because of Johnny. I’m spoiled. But for the sake of my mother-in-law’s heart, can I just state in black and white that I love him back just as much? K. Thanks.

Anywho, I’m trying to blog quickly. First I guess I’ll update everyone with stuff from the 36th week. Had a much better doctor appointment today, she was back to lovely, accommodating and  open to hearing this crazy pregnant lady’s hardcore questions and plans. Now I’m flexible, but I’m not going to sit idly by without doing my part in research and prayer as it concerns the birth of my baby boy and fully allow everyone else to make decisions for us based off what is ‘normal’. But again, I remain flexible. You really don’t need to give me the ‘all that matters in the end is a healthy baby’ talk…I get it. But I do believe we (as mothers and fathers) are responsible for more. We are responsible to prayerfully walk through these decisions and days…cause you know, I bet sometimes the Lord has a better way. That better way isn’t always different from ‘normal’, but maybe sometimes it is. I guess what I’m saying is you don’t know if you don’t ask, you don’t read, and you don’t pray. Something I know in theory, something much harder for me to do in real life. Especially when it concerns this baby boy…seems like when the prize is biggest, the stakes are the highest, we tend to latch on to anything we can see, hear or touch, and we discard our spirit, our ability to walk in faith. And no prize is bigger than baby Samuel. And at no time have I been tested more. So in a nutshell, my poor doctor has quite a lot on her hands in this patient. But for the whole 7 minutes we saw her today, we were encouraged. And that’s much progress from last week :)

People want to know this stuff, so I’ll just tell you–I’m at 2cm. Up from 1cm last week. I’m convinced this means nothing, but it still makes me feel accomplished :) I’m still in my 36th week and completely content to go another 5ish weeks if that’s what it takes. I’m in no hurry…but I am excited. Crazy excited.

I was going through pics from May, so I thought I’d cover beginning the weekend my daddy came into town to help start all the house projects to get us baby ready. He is a perfectionist when it comes to anything home repair, technology or me related. And I have learned that we can now add Sam to the list of his perfection-itch. Thankfully though, that means the nursery wallpaper (non pre-pasted) is perfection. Perfection in an old, non-level home is tough to do. Especially when his partner is Johnny ‘get it done as quickly and as decent as possible considering the time allotted’, ha! Loves him. Did I tell you he installed a ceiling fan yesterday and actually took his time? And then he did the same thing with the new bed frame he’s building me…so proud.

 He’s so proud…wallpapering really requires the utmost muscle strength.

once it was all done, I had to test how the light reflecting off the new gold metallic background was going to translate in camera…I spend way too much head space thinking about light. Annie thinks so too. She’s excited that a new subject for the camera is coming soon.

Finally the view from our bedroom that I had been dreaming of for what seems like forever. Seeing a baby’s room within throwing distance…my heart, it leaps.

Here we go to baby shower pics…I was so blessed beyond words. Two in Dallas, one here in Gulfport, all completely perfect. I took minimal pics, I wore the same outfit to two out of three (and some maternity photos too…don’t judge), and here we go…Dallas shower #2…

Mom, Sister & Me

This pic is so funny to me…and if you knew this man (my wonderful step daddy), you would think so too.

 Me & Sis again, and adding the lovely Sister-in-law too :) who flew in from Colorado, I might add. And I might add that it made me cry. And I might add that lots of things make me cry…

Had to throw this one in there…

Special person…unexpected guest

(it was mothers day)

Now for the Gulfport shower, my lovely friend Paige took over all photo and blogging duties…bless her sweet soul. I will fulfill all my baby shower, quilt making, maternity and birth shooting for her when the time comes :) For now, here’s just a few from that shower…some she didn’t post. For all the rest, please visit her sweet blog. She’s worth the click. Fo sho. So do it, click here.

Me and sweet momma-in-law & me and sweet sister-in-law (1 of 2…why the other one and I didn’t get a pic is beyond me. But oh how I love her…and her…and her)

This is my favorite pic of the day…worth reposting from Paigey’s blog. This is Bethany. She is lovely. And for some reason I was super interested in her baby boy at this moment, and it makes me giggle. And now that baby is one month old :)

My Kasie…fun fact: she was randomly one of maybe 3 people I called within the hour of finding out I was pregnant with baby #2. I still have no idea why or what compelled me to do that, but it fastforwarded our friendship with lightspeed. And I couldn’t be luckier :) And she’s the lucky winner of a whole week with this preggo lady starting in just a few days, whoop! yay for youth camp…and yay for driving my own getaway vehicle :)

And my fav pic of me and Paige…for some reason she chose not to love it as much as me and blog it herself…so I will do that for her :)

Now I’m caught up through most of May! Yay! Have a happy July 5th and 6th (which is my birthday, by the way…) and I hope it was a happy July 4th as well. Speaking of which, what is the acceptable tolerance for neighborhood fireworks? As in, what time should it end? I always think it should be about two hours before everyone else does…which is unfortunate when you’re 9 months pregnant ;)