8.17.2016

Micah's Birth Story

This will be the third birth story I've posted on this blog. That's three babies in juuust under five years. Kyle and I always thought we wanted to have our kids close, but I think we blew our own expectations out of the water.

Every birth has been completely different. No matter how hard you try to duplicate - or avoid - certain aspects of previous births, without fail a curve ball is thrown. The encouraging part is with each birth you get a little better at handling curve balls, a little better at expecting the unexpected.

Here are Zeke and Evie's birth stories for those, like me, who are obsessed with these things and can binge read them at 2am when you're up for the second time breastfeeding your newborn.

On to Micah:

***
We'll start with a photo because, let's be honest, that's why most of you are here. Our dark-haired and dark-eyed beauty.  Kyle's Cajun genes finally won the day! 


I woke up Monday, the 8th, four days past my due date. As I was getting out of bed my water promptly broke, or at least I thought it did. My water had never broken with my previous two - both times they had to artificially break it right before pushing - so I wasn't sure, exactly, what water breaking looked like. It is crazy how ambiguous labor can be until all of a sudden it very much isn't.

For the past week or so I had contracted on and off for a few hours at a time, nothing regular and nothing too painful. This, also, was different from my previous two births. Zeke and Evie had very clear "start times." I would have a few Braxton Hicks, but once I started painfully contracting, that was the beginning of labor.

Not so with Micah.

Fortunately, I had an OB appointment already scheduled for that Monday morning so I went in and had my doctor check to see where I was at. I was dilated at a 3 and 60% effaced. Which in labor terms is good news. My body had done a lot of work in all this "pre-labor" contracting.

My OB was sure my water had broken. I still wasn't having regular contractions so she sent me home and told me to do everything I could to get the contractions going by that afternoon. If not then I would go to the hospital and they may try to get the contractions to start with pitocin.

I really wanted to avoid that as I've heard pitocin can make labor more painful - so I went home and walked.

And walked.

And walked.

And then went to Chick-fil-a. And then walked some more.

And the contractions finally came and picked up in intensity. Here's a text I sent soon after, that definitely falls under the "things you thought you'd never say" category:

"Finally! They're getting more painful!"

Kyle and I went to the hospital around 6.00, and by 6.50 I was signing off on paperwork to get my epidural. I had decided to get one this time and felt good about the decision. (My first had been a non-medicated birth, my second I got an epidural.) Leading up to the birth I had the thought that it would be good to be mentally prepared in case there wasn't time for an epidural, or something crazy happened like say, it not working...

Somewhere around 7.00 I began feeling incredibly nauseated. By the grace of God my friend popped in right at that time to drop off some cookies for the L&D nurses, and I mentioned in passing that I was feeling pretty queasy. She called Kyle after she left and suggested that I ask the nurses about any anti-nausea medication they could give me. So I did and... medication, man, it's crazy. It knocked the nausea out. Which is nice because the last thing you want to be doing during a contraction is throwing up.

After the anesthesiologist finished up the epidural around 8.00, I immediately felt relief on one side - but only one side - of my body. The nurses told me to give it about 25 minutes to kick in, and if it hadn't then we'd try a few things to see if we could get it to work fully. This wasn't too bad because the contractions hadn't hit the major leagues yet. Let's put them at the "exquisitely uncomfortable" mark. I was just getting ready to start transition. I knew this because I was thinking, "I cannot do this. What if this epidural doesn't work?" And in general feeling very non-committal about wanting to push this baby out of me. I started sweating like crazy and became incredibly hot. This is difficult to do in a hospital delivery room because I'm pretty sure they keep those things at a balmy 50 degrees.

Around 8.45 or 9.00 things got serious. I had my first two contractions that were officially, absolutely, certifiably insane. It's a surreal feeling. It's like before hand your body was just practicing, and all of a sudden deep inside you feel something (let's call it your baby's bed pushing through your pelvis) shift and you think, "This baby is coming." The pain escalating tips you off, but it's how your entire body seems to respond to the contractions that let's you realize that you're about to meet your little one very soon.

They called the anesthesiologist to see if he could come redo the epidural because the pain hadn't alleviated, but he was tied up in the OR. The nurses did a good job of keeping my hope alive, which I probably needed more than the truth that Micah would likely show up before the anesthesiologist did. I tricked myself into getting through the next hour one contraction at a time. Even though the epidural only worked on half of my body, it helped a little bit. Better half the pain then all of it, eh?

During this time I vaguely remember my OB coming in and mentioning that Micah's heart rate was dropping during contractions. I was in a haze of adrenaline, but they gave me an oxygen mask to help get oxygen to Micah. At this point the contractions were coming alllmost right on top of each other. A few contractions later, I realized that this whole "fixing" the epidural thing wasn't going to happen, and this didn't change the fact that I was going to have to push her out. I think I moved out of transition at this point because all of a sudden my emotions clicked into place and I was ready to do this.

So I cursed the anesthesiologist in my head and wished upon a star that I was close to the pushing stage, remembering from my first birth that once you can push the pain eases substantially.

Maybe it was around 9.30 or 9.40 when I said I felt the need to push. My OB was amazing, she oversees a lot of unmedicated births, and at that point I was incredibly grateful I had a doctor who was used to navigating a birth without pain medication. She knew exactly how to tell me what to do and how to do it.

I floundered for the first several pushes because I was pretty out of practice. The nurses really stepped in and helped me push more effectively. "Don't scream while you're pushing, put your energy into actually getting her out," being the most helpful reminder.

My first had to be vacuum-extracted because of his positioning, so even though I didn't have an epidural, I didn't experience what it felt like to well... push a baby out of you. My second's epidural worked amazingly well, so though there was a lot of pressure there was no pain and no feeling. Feeling Micah every inch of the way was probably one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. This may have been a weird labor thought, but I remember being kind of bummed that Kyle would never know what it feels like to do this. Looking at a mom in labor from the outside, not many would want to trade places with her, but it really is an incredibly intense experience that's amazing to think about - once you're done.

Using an epidural kind of emotionally disconnected me from the whole birthing process. It had no effect on me attaching to my second born, but the birth itself felt significantly more like going to the grocery store than bringing a human into this world. Not so when you feel everything. Your mind clues in to every single detail and responds accordingly.

After I was able to fall into the groove of pushing well, I realized that the epidural at this point had worn off completely, but I was able to hone in on every contraction and push effectively. Micah came out in about four or five pushes, all 9 pounds and 11 ounces of her. Somehow, by some miracle of nature, there was no tearing. She was my biggest baby by 10 ounces and she was the easiest on my body.

At 10.02pm Micah Justice came into this world with speed and power. Once she finally made up her mind to come, she didn't waste her time doing so. It's surprising how many quirks they have as a newborn that turn into personality traits later on. Zeke was unpredictable and fascinated with the world. Evie was playful and cuddly. Micah, so far at least, makes her presence known loudly and immediately. I assume this will serve her well as a third child.

My sisters reminded me of this verse after the birth, and it's been impressed upon my heart when I think about the way she came, quick and steady like a river, combined with what we chose to name her.

"But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" Amos 5.24

Kyle and I had almost no issue when picking Micah's name - from the first time we said it out loud, both of us experienced a deep peace about it. The verse was a sweet confirmation and reminder that the Lord has his hand even in the tiniest details.

She's here, and beautiful, and the Lord has used her significantly in my life already. I can't wait to see what she'll bring to our family.

8.04.2016

Trying Not to Build a Tower



"One day, everyone was talking and they came up with an idea: 'Let's build ourselves a beautiful city to live in! It can be our home. And we'll be safe forever and ever.' Then they had another idea: 'And let's build a really tall tower to reach up to heaven!'

'Yes!' they said, 'We'll say, 'Look at us up here!' And everyone will look up at us. And we'll look down on them. And then we'll know we are something. We'll be like God. We'll be famous and safe and happy and everything will be all right.'" - Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible

***

My due date for our third child is today. According to any given news outlet at any given time, the world is ending next year no matter who is elected to the office of President in November. As you can imagine, this stirs up feelings of being so completely okay and fine about bringing another child into this word. *sarcasm* 

I read that excerpt from The Tower of Babel story in my kids' Bible the other night. With the political fervor of the past two weeks stirred up from the conventions, and the news cycles predicting absolute gloom and destruction and worst-case scenarios... those two paragraphs comforted me. 

The familiarity that comes with realizing humankind has always been the same helped me realize there is nothing new under the sun. We've always tried to control our lives. We've always run to places or people or things to give us the security we crave.

For the past several months, I have looked at the two candidates set before me with a lot of frustration, but also confusion. How did we get here? How are they the two top choices? We could talk a lot about the faults of a two-party system and the media and whatever.

At the end of the day, though, I think it's because humans want to feel safe, even at the expense of other humans actually being safe.

And that's how we have these two people standing before us, promising us two different versions of safety and security. We throw our voice behind their voices. Not so much because we agree with them but because what they're saying sounds like the most reasonable way, between the two choices, to guarantee the kind of life we want to live.

They tell us peace and prosperity are somehow our birthright, because of the national boundaries in which we were born. They promise safety, security, happiness, greatness, and complete freedom and complete control over our bodies. They tell us these are not only things we should want, but we should be angry if we do not have them.

Maybe, even, we should sacrifice morality and conscience if we're not getting them.

I'm not sure how those who don't follow Christ will choose this November. I don't know how those who do follow Christ will choose. But I have come to one conclusion: fear can have no part in my decision.

Fear of what either candidate says will happen if the other takes office. Fear of violence. Fear of war. Fear of the daily reality of so many in this world catching up with us... America; that what we see going on overseas could become our reality too. It's biting at our heels and we are losing our minds.

I'm not saying, "Things aren't that bad," because there are several things that really are that bad.

I'm not saying we shouldn't feel fear because there's no legitimate reason to feel fear.

But fear cannot be the driving force behind something as important as who we think would make the best leader of our nation, and because we live in the nation we do, one of the most influential voices in the world.

As a Christian, I certainly hope and pray that the will of God will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. I believe if that were to happen we'd see a lot less heartbreak and I believe taking part in the political process is a significant way we can live out the faith we claim.

But I also know that we will have trouble in this world and voting, though significant, is far from the most important or the most guaranteed way that the will of God will be worked out in this world.

The fear of who our next president could be and what that person could do is never, ever, ever a reason to throw our support behind another who blatantly encourages things that have nothing to do with Jesus. As I read yesterday, "Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."

Are we bold enough to "throw our vote away" when our only choice is evil? Can we trust Christ enough to risk perceived security? This election represents a unique opportunity for Christians. I think we can paint more clearly what it is we are going on and on about: the restoration and redemption of all things through Christ alone.

We have reached a time where people are so exhausted from attempting to build crumbling towers to heaven, from attempting to build up edifices that guarantee safety, that they are putting their tools down and looking around for another answer.

Can we step away from our own towers and meet them with Jesus?

May it be so. May Christians choose our Great Hope instead of fear. May we be able to recognize our own desire for safety and security and surrender it to Christ. May we be brave enough to trust God over the empty promises of men and women.

May we stand on the truth that no political platform can guarantee that war and violence and disease will never cross our borders. May we recognize that this desire for a place free of these things is God given, that what are hearts are collectively gasping for is heaven.

May this desire drive us to the One who can drive out war, death, disease, pain, grief, and darkness. In fact, He has already done so.

It is only for us to wait in the tension, in the "already-but-not-yet" of Christ's Kingdom and proclaim that we have no need of towers. 

2.06.2016

Good and Pregnant

Kyle and I are expecting our third child.

We're a little late to posting something about it online this time. Both of us are what you like to call open books, so it came as a surprise to me that we were slow to get the news out.

Except I was also laying on the couch and trying not to vomit for the first twelve weeks, so maybe it's not that much of a surprise. My first two pregnancies were walks in the park, actually. This one has been a bit different. I'm sure Zeke and Evie are glad to see the mom they once knew emerging from a haze of fatigue and nausea, and I am too.

So now that we're three kids in, I have come to the conclusion that motherhood is extremely ordinary. At least, mothering little ones is, for me.

I've never been one of those, "a kid at heart," people. So being in a child's world hasn't been magical or uniquely fun. I love helping my kids learn new things, definitely, but I can only play trains or tea party for so long. I think my capacity for kid-world is a smidge smaller than some.

Which was hard for awhile. I felt guilty, like my kids would be robbed of the glittery, Elf on the Shelf, Pinterest level, bento lunchbox toting childhood that would (obviously) guarantee them a successful adulthood. Hormones made me think this.

Fortunately, I am finally learning that all of this "all moms are different and that's not bad" talk is, um, true.

I have read book after book after book after mommy blog that all said it. "We're different people, so of course we're going to be different moms. Quit looking at your friends elaborate birthday parties and start looking at what you're good at!"

Thus, I have come to the content place of realizing that my giftings don't flow seamlessly with the little years. They require a little creativity, to be honest. I love history and literature. I am passionate about theology and justice. I am emotionally salivating for the day when my children will finally be able to understand (on the most basic of levels) the plot line to the Chronicles of Narnia.

Until then we read The Jesus Storybook Bible, and we talk about God, and we pray for the Syrian refugees. We work on understanding the concept that others who are smaller and weaker should be met with compassion, not with taking their toys because they can't fight back.

And I celebrate each new stage that opens the door to new activities. Zeke is old enough to stand on a step stool and "help" me cook or bake. They color their Dusty Crophopper and Daniel Tiger coloring books and I read. They play outside while I try to keep my garden from dying.

The amazing things about little kids is that almost anything can be a game if you are excited enough about it. Even cleaning their room. The other day Zeke organized his toys to color coordinate with the bins he put them in. My administrative, organizational loving heart almost exploded.

Once I got over myself enough to admit that I wasn't a "certain" type of mom and that this wasn't going to scar my children, I stopped comparing and started learning from the moms who make each day special, and awesome, and an opportunity for joy. I have unashamedly ripped off ideas from random facebook friends. They are so good at it! Thank you, childhood-whisperer mothers, for helping the rest of us out who would solely rely on Daniel Tiger and Curious George to relate to our children.

To someone who loves and prefers adult world, a child's world is pretty ordinary. Broken crayons, dirty faces, laundry, diapers, etc, but a child's world is also (believe it or not) quiet - there's no deadlines, very little stress. It's soothing. It is filled with contentment. 

I have always struggled to be content. Watching my small children be satisfied with crayon nubs and a cheese stick has taught me a lot about being at peace in any situation.

For the first time, I am really looking forward to the newborn stage, in spite of the anxiety and sleep deprivation it brings. It also brings rest, and simplicity. It brings celebrations over the smallest things. A smile, small fingers wrapping around your hand, older siblings learning how to be gentle, a clean bathroom for the first time in two months.

Motherhood is ordinary, and it is good. It's good in the full sense of the word. Not the watered down one, the, "well it's good, but not great," kind of meaning; but rather the same kind of good the Lord saw when he looked at the fullness of His creation for the first time. The kind of good that brings wholeness, and deep peace.

We look forward to meeting our third child come August, and the ensuing dichotomy of chaos and rest that only a child can bring. It will be so good.