{Mommy Journal} Eli’s Birth Story

Elijah’s birth story was so different from Caleb’s! You can read Caleb’s birth story here

There may not have been anything particularly out of the ordinary about Elijah’s birth, but every single birth is miraculous and points to the incredible design of our Creator. I am so thankful for the birth story that God wrote for us yesterday. So…if you’re a weirdo like me and love a good ol’ birth story, enjoy. ;) If you’re squeamish….read at your own risk. ;)

On Wednesday, December 14, after a restless night of sleep full of Braxton Hicks and numerous dreams about my water breaking, I woke up at 5:40 AM to a painful contraction. It hurt in my abdomen and wrapped around to my back…I immediately knew this was different. I timed a few before waking Andrew at 6:15 to tell him I was pretty sure labor was starting. We were so glad he had been able to take his last seminary final a day early, just in case!

As we hurried around the house gathering our things, the contractions ramped up quickly in intensity and intervals. By the time we were in the car around 7:00 and dropping Caleb off with our friends, the contractions were coming every five minutes, lasting about 50 seconds, and were pretty painful but totally bearable.

We met my wonderful midwife Rachel at the Ventura Birth Center (an hour drive from home) and were ecstatic to learn that I was 3-4cm dilated! Since I was still in early labor, she left to allow us to settle in and labor alone until we wanted her support.

It wasn’t long before the contractions died down. I was discouraged, but glad not to be in the hospital, where I likely would have been started on pitocin at this point. We went on a walk to the mall a half mile away and Andrew got his hair cut! I never had “early labor” with Caleb, so the notion that I could be laboring at the mall while my husband got a haircut was hysterically funny to me. Throughout the afternoon, I enjoyed a sweet time with Andrew as we rested, ate, worked through sporadic contractions, and waited for labor to pick back up. Around 3:30, it did.

The contractions were really painful, but I felt in control as I rocked and moaned through each one. Andrew provided counter pressure on my back or let me sway with him while I contracted. He encouraged me constantly. I was beyond grateful not to be experiencing back labor this time! What a difference!

Between 4:30 and 5:00, things became really intense and a lot more painful as I hit transition. I got super emotional and began crying between contractions, and I lost that sense of control and had a hard time dealing with the pain mentally. Rachel and her assistant, Sue, both showed up within about five minutes of my water breaking (gushing!) with a contraction around 5:30. Now the contractions became seemingly unbearable. I felt trapped in the pain. I got in a warm tub and labored there on my hands and knees. I was now 7cm dilated.

I remember thinking, If I were in the hospital, I’m pretty sure I would be begging for an epidural right now. I kept telling Andrew I couldn’t do it and telling him how bad it hurt as I swayed back and forth in the water. He kept telling me I could do it and that I was doing amazing. Rachel and Sue kept encouraging me as well. The contractions were super close together and sometimes I couldn’t tell where one stopped and the next began. The heaviness  and piercing pressure of my baby on my pelvis was tremendous. As the urge to push came on, I started to do so. For some of the contractions, there was less pain when I pushed through them. On others I just writhed and couldn’t push. Rachel checked me…I had one centimeter to go. She used a technique on the next push to help my cervix fully dilate. It felt excruciating but was so worth it!

I wanted to crawl out of my skin with each contraction, as I’m sure everyone does at this point in labor. ;) I yelled or groaned through most of them. The thought of a baby coming was no longer comforting because in my mind I truly didn’t believe I would ever be able to push him out. With some pushes, I felt the beginning of the ring of fire burning. I knew I could be close, but I kept remembering how I’d pushed for almost four hours with Caleb, and my heart sank. Andrew prayed aloud for me as I cried.

Then Rachel said she could see hair! I got out of the tub and sat on a birthing stool. They continued checking Eli’s heartbeat between contractions. Suddenly Sue said something like, “The baby’s in a place he doesn’t like now. On the next contraction, you HAVE to push him all the way out. Don’t worry about tearing, just push with everything you have and make sure he comes out!”

With Caleb, I had followed Rachel’s (my doula that birth) wise instructions and slowed down at the end when I felt the ring of fire, allowing his head to stretch me and thus, evading a bad tear. But now, I trusted Rachel and Sue’s expertise and did the opposite, giving every last ounce of energy to pushing my baby out. The ring of fire passed very quickly as I felt Eli’s head slip out. One more hard push and his shoulders followed, and there he was in my arms. My slippery, squirming, crying baby was against my chest and he was absolutely perfect.

An indescribable wave of relief and love swept over me as I clung to our baby with Andrew right beside me, taking in his precious, pudgy face. He was perfection. Rolls and hair and pudgy cheeks and big, dark, beautiful eyes that stared right into ours. It was 6:59 PM when he entered the world.

The midwives explained that Eli’s hear rate had dropped and then spiked, indicating he may be in distress. When he came out, his cord was over one shoulder. It had likely been briefly pinched in the birth canal, causing the change in heart rate. I got a second degree tear and needed ten stitches, but I was so thankful that my midwives erred on the side of protecting Eli, and thankful the tear wasn’t worse!

Following birth, I got to take Eli to bed with me and just snuggle as long as I wanted to. I experienced violent, uncontrollable shaking for over an hour, and the subsequent stitching process was uncomfortable, but cuddling our new baby overshadowed everything unpleasant.

When I finally turned my sweet Elijah Steven over to Sue for his measurements, we were shocked to learn he was nine pounds, 20.5 inches long, and had an enormous 15 inch head. He was well over a pound bigger than Caleb!

There are so many things about this labor to praise God for. That I was allowed to let my body “do its thing” and not get rushed. That I could labor in water. That I was supported tremendously, emotionally and physically, by my encouraging, steady, rock-of-a-husband. That I was in excellent hands with the intuition and genuine care of my fabulous midwife team. That I was able to relax and enjoy my prize following labor, and take him to the comfort of our home just four hours later. That God watched over Eli’s heart and oxygen levels and kept him totally safe. That God provided me with the strength to push Eli out when I needed to. That I had no back labor or pitocin, only had about two hours of active labor, and only pushed for 19 minutes! So spoiled!

Every single birth story is amazing. Every single baby is a gift. I am so grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to witness God’s wondrous miracle of birth again, with all its agony. The prize was worth every bit of the pain and I am SO excited to get to know our sweet little boy in the days and years ahead. “Every good and perfect gift comes down from above.” Thank You, Father.

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Never a Time that Wasn’t a Child

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the news that has surfaced regarding Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts. (To be clear, the gruesome murder of these babies is disgusting and evil whether their organs are sold or not.) I hope to write more about this in the future, but for tonight I simply want to promote this short, poignant speech by one of our country’s senators. Stupid movies go viral every day; let’s encourage Americans to watch something that really matters. These unborn children have no voice, so I’m thankful that bold politicians like Senator Lankford speak for them.

“You can’t say in one moment that’s not a human and then sell it for the next moment as a human organ and say now suddenly it is…There was never a time that wasn’t a child.”

{My Photography} Ordinary Joy Photography Launch

I’m excited to officially launch my little business, Ordinary Joy Photography, specializing in maternity and newborn photography. I love the delight that can be found in everyday moments, and my middle name is “Joy”, so those pieces combined to create the name. I have had a lot of fun practicing on various patient subjects, and although I still have an amateur skill set and very limited equipment, I think I am ready to do some “official” photography on the side. Here’s the link to my Facebook page…please give it a like to see my work and to stay tuned for deals and other info. =)

Note: Pricing packages have changed, please check my Facebook page.

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{Mommy Journal} Tips For 1 Bedroom Apartment Living

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Today I thought I would share a few things we have learned about sharing a one bedroom apartment space with a new baby. It’s actually quite manageable and has a lot to do with mindset. Therefore, my first point is…

1. Recognize that you will give up your ideal tidy living room/bedroom scenario and turn every room into a bit of nursery.

DSC_0349-001At first it was really frustrating having so much baby stuff everywhere with nowhere to store it away when it wasn’t being used. But now when I look at the activity mat, baby swing, car seat, diaper bag, and boppy that dwell in our small apartment living room 24/7 and get in the way of our book case and TV, they don’t look like a mess anymore, they look like they belong. Because they do, and that’s just how it is.

2. Use a travel sleeper until the baby outgrows it. 

We didn’t think of this until Caleb was about 8 weeks old, and it made such a difference! Previously we’d been taking the pack n play up and down and moving it back and forth between the bedroom and living room, or ended up having him sleep in our room at night to avoid the hassle. (But then we didn’t sleep as well.) Now, put Caleb down in his little sleeper in our room and when we are ready to go to bed, we lift the whole thing and move it out to the living room without disturbing him. He also takes his naps in our room, and we can take the sleeper other places, which has been great for naps when we are out. I highly recommend this!

3. Get a changing table that doubles as a dresser for storage. 

DSC_0337-001I love our changing table, which we found on Craigslist. I use the three baskets for onesies, bath towels and cloths, and accessories (shoes, socks, and hats.) The two drawers hold all his current sizes. (The basket on the ground has bibs and burp rags.) Don’t waste space on a changing table without drawers, you really can’t afford to in a small apartment. The ones with open shelves won’t work nearly as well for keeping folded clothes organized.

4. Get creative in where you keep your other stuff to make room for the baby stuff.DSC_0342-001

For example, I wouldn’t normally want a big all-in-one printer in our bedroom, but using the top of one of my dressers frees up space elsewhere for baby equipment.

5. Pick a corner or wall in one room to treat as a nursery. 

You shouldn’t have to give up all the fun of decorating for baby just because he doesn’t have his own room. We had fun making the wall above the changing table the “nursery area”. We even squeezed a glider rocker into our bedroom, and when my sister-in-law gave us an adorable handmade pillow, our nursery corner was officially complete.

6. Consider storing some things in the trunk or back seat of your car.

DSC_0343-001Our stroller stays in the hatchback exclusively, and I usually keep the Ergo carrier in the car as well. I also have an old “spare” pack n play that we plan to use when Caleb outgrows his travel sleeper, and we store that in the trunk of our other car.

 

{Mommy Journal} I Knew I Was a Mom When

pic2-001Life is so very different since November 15. I’ve found myself doing or thinking things that have made it hit me in afresh: I’m a mom now. It’s a strange and wonderful “new normal”.

I knew I was a mom when…

  • I suddenly enjoyed being up almost every morning by 6 AM.
  • I nearly cried when my baby outgrew his newborn clothes.
  • I found myself brushing my hair for the first time that day while walking into a doctor appointment.
  • I got to board the airplane ahead of “normal” people.
  • My nice sweater got spit up on while in public and I didn’t even care.
  • When remembering the worst pain of my life, I knew I would do it all again in a heartbeat for my little man.
  • I had to start emptying my phone’s storage regularly due to photo overload.
  • I stopped using an alarm clock and started waking to my baby’s hunger cues instead.
  • Just making the bed made me feel proud.
  • I qualified for the carpool lane without having someone ride shotgun.
  • I found myself thinking, “the days are going by too fast” just a few days after Caleb’s birth.
  • I stared at a sleeping baby for hours without getting bored.
  • A humorous yet sentimental three-minute YouTube video about motherhood made me cry.
  • I lost my hairbrush and my mother-in-law found it in a Pampers diaper box.
  • I found myself watching movies of my baby while holding him.
  • A solo trip to the laundromat sounded like a relaxing little “outing”.
  • I went all day desperately needing and wanting a shower but never got one.

Likely to be continued…

{Mommy Journal} The Merriest of Early Christmas Mornings

IMG_4055Christmas morning, shortly before 5:00 AM. This festive tree was my view as I fed my precious 5-week-old baby boy. I was seated alone in my family’s (for once) quiet living room with no illumination but twinkling lights. It was in this very spot that I had experienced the joy and childlike excitement of Christmas morning with my brothers for most of our growing up years. Here my grandpa had promised me one of his new heifer calves. Here my parents had sat one year holding their stockings, eyes barely open, because I had decided to awaken the entire house before 6:00 AM to start the festivities. Here my brothers and I had read a letter containing the news that we would be getting our sixth (and last) sibling. Here we had opened a BB gun, a kite, and a football, all hand-shopped for by my dad. Here I had gone bonkers over the stockings my mom had filled with our Christmas morning breakfast of little yogurts, string cheese, satsuma oranges, and individual boxes of cold cereal.

Now I sat here with my own child, looking ahead to sharing many of the same joyful traditions and memories with him as he grew. My heart could have burst right then and there with the nostalgia and happiness of it all.

I am so excited for the future Christmases, Lord-willing, we get to spend with Caleb and any future children God gives us. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is amazing.

But most of all, I can’t wait to share with him the good news about the baby who spent his first hours in a lowly manger, and what He came to accomplish.

Christmas is merry, indeed.