Nora’s Birth

June 14th, 2015

Through out my pregnancy I had quite a few people ask me if being in doula school made a difference in how I was approaching my labor. I wasn’t really sure. I think the biggest benefit was that simply having so much discussion and information in front of my face all the time made it feel much more normal and right when I was finally in labor.

My pregnancy was rough. We really believed it was best to take a longer break after Ella was born, for my health, and also just to give us time to catch our breath and enjoy being a family. When I found out I was pregnant I really struggled with it, clear through my second trimester. I knew that God was in control, that it would be okay, and that love is a choice not a feeling, but I really, really didn’t want to be pregnant. I struggled emotionally and didn’t handle being around people well at all.

 

I was finally doing better by my third trimester (third is always easiest for me. The amazing second trimester is a lie.) and enjoying doing stuff with my kids and feeling more on top of life. I went well past my due date with both Miles and Ella so I was planning on that again, plus Chris was in England working on a project for two weeks in April and got home the day after I was 40 weeks, so baby wasn’t allowed to come before then. I thought of 41 weeks as my “due date” and that was the date I told everyone else as well. I hoped that thinking that way would help me be more patient at the end.

 

With Ella I had zero signs of labor, even at 42 weeks, but this time I’d been having warm up signs and strong contractions for weeks and was beginning to hope that meant this baby wouldn’t wait quite as long as her big sister. I was really thinking May 1st would be perfect, which was exactly 41 weeks, but I knew the chances of getting the day I wanted were really slim. Every day is such a mind game at the end of pregnancy, no matter the circumstances or how hard you work to think properly. Its just hard, and I think it’s supposed to be.

Bex, my sister in law, was going through doula school with me so it only made sense to have her as my doula. It was fun to “practice” together, and besides, we talked about all things birth together so I wanted her there for everything anyway. :) About halfway through week 40 I was “so ready” (if you’ve ever been pregnant you know exactly what I mean). I was concerned because I knew I really could have another week or two to go, but something in me was pretty sure things were happening and it wouldn’t be long. Bex came over and rubbed some oils on some pressure points and did some exercises with me. My midwife offered to strip membranes but I opted to wait til my 41 week appointment. I really wanted to be patient. My appointment was the last day of April and I was so nervous about the results of my cervical check. I really felt like things were happening but I was so afraid to let myself hope.

When Lisa checked me the look on her face was priceless. Her eyes got super wide and she said “Oh! Ohhhh. Oh. You’re…. There’s…. Wow. Oh… You’re a GOOD 4 centimeters, 90% effaced, and baby’s head is RIGHT there. At least a 0 station.” Christina (one of Lisa’s assistants) laughed at Lisa “You should have seen your face! You looked like you were gonna deliver the baby right there under the sheet!”. I had never been dilated before going into labor with my first two babies so we were super excited. It looked like baby would be coming that night or the next day! Lisa went ahead and stripped membranes while she was in there.

Bex had come with me to the appointment and I just gushed to her the whole way home about how relieved I was and how affirming it was to have my instincts confirmed. It really renewed my trust in my body and that I really did know what was going on and wasn’t delusional in my feelings that my body was nearly ready. Once I got home I called my mom and asked her to come clean my house and take my kids for a while so I could get some rest. She is so amazing and made it clear that she was totally on call and ready to do anything I needed during that time.  I had been hoping I’d go into labor at night because Mom was my babysitter, but we were also hoping she could be at the birth, so it would be really nice if the kids could sleep through it. She hadn’t been at the other two, but I decided it would be special to have her there this time.

My husband got home and we spent some nice time together before asking my mom to bring the kids back so we could enjoy an evening with them and put them to bed together. I was continuing to have sporadic strong contractions that I was sure were doing something, but they were not getting closer together so I knew this wasn’t quite it. We watched a Stargate after the kids were in bed and I had a couple really strong contractions. I looked at the clock and started laughing. It was 9:03, and I had started active labor at exactly 9pm with both Miles and Ella. They did spread out again though and we went ahead and went to bed a little before 10. I told Chris to just plan on things not starting til tomorrow, but that I would wake him if I needed him. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it til morning but I really wanted him to sleep while he could.

I slept deeply til 1am when a contraction woke me up. I went to the bathroom and walked around the house a bit before grabbing my phone and going back up to bed. I crawled in and just sat cross legged, waiting. The contractions were definitely stronger and closer but I didn’t have to concentrate much to get through them. I knew I would likely have a fast labor and Lisa had reminded me (again and again) to not wait too long to call her, but I also didn’t want to wake anyone unnecessarily early. I sat on the bed swaying until 2:00, when I decided things had ramped up enough to assemble the team. I texted Lisa, Mom, Bex, and my photographer Lindsey. Then I gently woke up Chris. “I think you’d better get up now” I whispered. He sat up, said “Okay”, got dressed and went downstairs. He was totally not awake yet, and didn’t even stop to ask me what was going on or how I was doing. He just knew he needed to start setting up the birth pool. Ha ha.

I was excited. I did my hair and put my waterproof mascara on (Chris walked by and asked why I was putting on makeup and I told him it was just something I needed to do.) Then I decided to pick up a bit and put clean sheets on the downstairs bed. I was pausing for contractions between activities but on my way from the laundry room to the bedroom with the sheets I stopped and sat on the exercise ball through a contraction and decided I’d had enough of trying to do stuff and needed to focus. I was still sitting on the ball in the kitchen, sheets in hand, when everyone started to arrive. Mom took over making the bed, and Susan (the assistant midwife) started taking my vitals. I wasn’t sure what I would think of having so many people there, but I actually kinda enjoyed it. There were 6 people there, not counting Chris and I, but everyone kept busy and quiet and I think it went well.

I moved to the bed in the guest room so we could get clear heart tones. Baby was being a stinker and didn’t want to be found, though she was wiggling like crazy. I’d never had a baby be that active through labor. She didn’t stop til I was pushing. I did not like being on my back through contractions, and got back on the ball as soon as I could, this time in the guest room. Chris finally came in and joined me, holding a hot rice sack on my back most of the time. The heat felt amazing. I wish I’d tried that with my other two labors. I gently bounced or rolled my hips between contractions and then stopped and leaned forward onto the tv stand to relax and breathe through them. The water heater gave up on us halfway through filling the pool but it didn’t get caught til a lot of cold water had been dumped in, so it took a long time and lots and lots of boiled water to get it warmed back up enough for me to get in. My mom found it super amusing that she was boiling water at a home birth. So cliche. I was not amused, however, that I had to wait to get in the water.

 

All through this labor I was very in tune with what was going on in my body. I couldn’t put it into words per say, but I knew exactly what was happening and where I was in the process. All that birth talk, plus it being my third time around, really helped me to be confident and not have to deal with processing everything as much. The only thing that slightly confused me was that I was much more alert this time (probably because I was so much more comfortable and confident in what was happening) and I was concerned that maybe I wasn’t as far along as I thought because I was still able to talk and was super aware of what was going on around me.

 

I really enjoyed that time with Chris, talking about meeting our baby and being excited together that it was finally happening, though to be honest, there were a few “I really don’t like this part. I really don’t want to do this right now.” comments as well. We were alone in the dark guest room and I loved having that time just the two of us.

Bex reheated the rice sack for us and brought me a drink a few times. Lisa checked heart tones every so often and asked me how I was doing. I felt like I was much better at communicating this time, and was hopefully able to give her a better idea of where I actually was. She always talks about how hard it is to tell what is going on with me in labor because I am so quiet. She has been my midwife for all three babies, and knows what to expect from me. I really appreciate that she just lets me do my thing. She was even more hands off this time around than she had been with my first two. I’m sure that was partially because it was my third. There were quite a few times when I answered questions just as she was getting ready to ask them. They only cervical check I had the whole pregnancy was the day before. Lisa never checked me in labor this time.

Lisa finally told me the pool was ready right in the middle of what I was pretty sure was transition. I was having incredible pressure with every contraction. It really felt like the baby’s head was pushing down directly onto the birth ball. The low, low back pain was getting more and more intense and I felt like I was going to throw up any minute. I was starting to get the feeling that this might be a BIG baby. I just felt so much more pressure and stretching than I remembered ever having with my first two. I stopped to pee one last time before getting in the pool.

 

I love the birth pool so much! Being in the water really helps me to relax, and takes the edge off the pressure and tightness of contractions. It just seems to slightly soften everything. I was hitting that point of feeling slightly panicked inside with each contraction. Lisa checked heart tones and wanted to listen through a contraction, so I was leaning back a little more and trying not to move which of course made things worse. At the end of that contraction I felt a little pushy. I had a couple more contractions, and then felt pushy again and told Lisa it was time to push. She told me to listen to my body and everyone quickly made sure everything was ready for baby’s arrival and gathered around the pool. Lisa said she might have me catch my own baby and I said “We’ll see”. I had always liked that idea but from experience I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make myself move at the proper moment.

 

Up until this point everything had been fabulous. I had felt in control and contractions had been manageable (painful and intense of course, but manageable.) The next few minutes were awful. I had two more contractions where I didn’t feel the urge to push any more, but there was so much pressure I thought my bottom would explode. The urge to push finally returned with the next contraction and when it did my water broke with a nice little pop. I was sitting against the side of the pool with my arms on the sides holding onto the handles on each side (with Chris’ hand on top of the handle on my right.) I suddenly remembered a conversation in doula class about women who do their own perineal support being less likely to tear and managed to get one hand down there cupped around the ever growing opening. I couldn’t make myself let go on the other side and continued to hold on to the handle and Chris’ hand for dear life.  I pushed through a couple more contractions and then had a couple more with no urge. This was so much more painful than anything I’d experienced with any of my labors. Someone told me to touch my baby’s head, and I did, thankful to know she was almost here. A couple more pushes and the head crowned. I purposefully stopped pushing and breathed for a couple seconds as I felt the burning, giving myself time to stretch and silently telling my body to open.

One more big push and the head was out, I was almost done. But as I continued to push the body didn’t seem to be following. At this point Lisa stepped in and began gently tugging and working to help get baby out. The shoulders were stuck and even after she got those loose it took a few more pushes to get the whole body out. Lisa was pulling so hard she lifted me right off the bottom of the pool, and I wa pushing with everything I had. It hurt so bad, and my mind was reeling, wondering why it hurt so much and why it wasn’t over yet. My eyes were closed as I pushed and I was tuned in closely to Lisa’s voice, listening for any note of worry or danger. She was speaking firmly as she told me she needed me to keep pushing, but I didn’t sense that she was scared, which comforted me. Finally the rest of the body squeezed out slowly and Lisa put my baby girl in my arms. It was 5:08, 3 hours after I decided I was in active labor. I breathed for a minute then checked to make sure it was actually a girl like we had been told. I asked for more lights so I could see her face. We all smiled and laughed and breathed for a few minutes before Lisa said it was time to get out of the pool to deliver the placenta. That part is always so comical. Once they got me standing up I looked at the side of the pool and asked how in the world I was supposed to get over it. Seriously. I just pushed this huge child out of my body, and now you want me to lift my leg almost waist high over that edge?  I was sure it had gotten taller since I got in. They told me they would help me so I took them at their word and half fell, was half dragged over the edge and onto the crib mattress set up on the floor. We studied our sweet baby. Nora Renee Ong. She was absolutely covered in vernix. It was everywhere. I even got some on my nose somehow. I held her skin to skin and waited to see if she was interested in nursing yet. She didn’t actually seem that big to me when I was holding her, but there were definitely comments being thrown around about her size.

 

I always dread the after birth process, as I had always bled badly with my first two, and the midwife massaging my belly and all that is always so painful. It wasn’t nearly as bad this time, and I bled a very reasonable amount. I didn’t tear at all either, which I realized was a miracle once we measured and weighed her. We moved to the guest room bed and Nora got her newborn check. I was ravenous and gobbled down a whole box of strawberry fruit leathers and a couple granola bars. Everyone worked together to get everything cleaned up.

 

Nora was 10 pounds 2 ounces, 21 inches long, and her head was 15 ½ inches, and her chest just as big. No wonder I had so much trouble getting her out. She was a chubby, barrel chested girl.

The kids woke up around 6:30 I think and came down to meet their sister. I was really glad Lindsey was still here at that point because we didn’t have our camera til later in the day. My mom stayed a while to let them get acquainted and then took the kids to her house for the day so we could rest. Everyone was gone by 8am and we were able to get some sleep.

 

I love home birth so much. I love that I can stay in the place I am most secure, surrounded by people I love and trust. I love that when it is all said and done I’m home in my own bed and don’t have to deal with strangers coming in and out of my room constantly. I love the personal care of my wonderful midwife who has been with me through the pregnancy and birth of all three of my children.

This has been my easiest recovery by far. I bled so little, and felt pretty much normal within days. I still chose to rest and give my body time to heal, but the process has been so smooth. Adjusting to life with 3 young children has been as hard as I expected, and Nora has been my most difficult baby so far, but we are taking it one day at a time and growing in grace and knowing Jesus better every day because of our sweet kiddos.

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Worth It

September 9th, 2014

I have a friend visiting this week. I have been extra tired and things have not gone quite as I wanted them to. Ella hasn’t slept well and Miles is teething or something and they have needed extra attention. My friend has made many comments over the week about what a hard job I have, not being cut out for motherhood, and how she would never want to do that. Today is a rainy sort of day and I wanted to attempt something fun and adult so I took her and the kids to a coffee shop. I spent the whole time trying to keep the kids from spilling their smoothie or getting in people’s way, Miles threw a fit, screaming at the top of his lungs every 3 minutes about something new, we eventually just had to leave and as I was walking out the door, carrying Ella and the diaper bag and reaching for Miles’ hand before he ran into the parking lot I somehow dropped my still more than half full coffee cup on the sidewalk. After finally getting the kids in the car in the rain I kinda half-laughed and said something about it just being another day in the life of a mom. My friend replied “And this is exactly why I never want to be one.” I know her intention with those comments are only as a reflection on her own life, but in my tired and emotional state I cannot help but  feel that she has looked at my life and found it lacking. Not worth the effort. She sees me live and says if this is motherhood then it is undesirable. That hurts. It hurts even more because I have been fighting those very same whispers in my head the past few weeks. That my life is undesirable. That this mom thing is NO FUN. That it is just too much right now and all I can do is hunker down and survive until it gets better.
But then as I began to take inventory of my life I started to get mad. How dare she say motherhood is not worth it? … How dare I? I know better. My friend may not see those delighted eyes and smiles when Mom walks in the room, or the uncontrollable laughter at a strange sound or sudden movement, but I do. She may be to busy DOING STUFF with the cool people who aren’t tied down with kids, but I get to feel the arms around my neck when Miles is having a hard time waking up from a nap or the sweet little hand when Ella just wants to pat me to say “I love you.” I get to spend every minute of every day (and night) investing in the lives of little eternal souls who are completely dependent on me. My work my seem mundane but everything I do has eternal rewards. Every dish. Every diaper. Every crumb. They all represent an investment in eternity. An investment in a little life that was created by God. It is such a privilege to raise these beautiful little lives, and discover more about our Savior and His love and grace in the process. There is nothing more meaningful. Nothing more purposeful. Nothing more desirable. The rewards are eternal, but they are also prevalent in the here and now.
Motherhood is hard. Super hard. But it is important. And it matters. And it is eternal. And there is no better job out there anywhere.

“My willingness to carry life is the revenge, the antidote, the great rebuttal of every murder, every abortion, and every genocide. I sustain humanity. Deep inside of me, life grows. I am death’s opposition.

I have pushed back the hand of darkness today. I have caused there to be a weakening tremor among the ranks of those set on earth’s destruction. Today a vibration that calls angels to attention echoed throughout time. Our laughter threatened hell today.

I dined with the greats of God’s army. I made their meals, and tied their shoes. Today, I walked with greatness, and when they were tired I carried them. I have poured myself out for the cause today.

It is finally quiet, but life stirs inside of me. Gaining strength, the pulse of life sends a constant reminder to both good and evil that I have yielded myself to Heaven and now carry its dream. No angel has ever had such a privilege, nor any man. I am humbled by the honor. I am great with destiny.

I birth the freedom fighters. In the great war, I am a leader of underground resistance. I smile at the disguise of my troops, surrounded by a host of warriors, destiny swirling, invisible yet tangible, and the anointing to alter history. Our footsteps marking land for conquest, we move undetected through the common places.

Today I was the barrier between evil and innocence. I was the gate keeper, watching over the hope of mankind, and no intruder trespassed. There is not an hour of day or night when I turn from my post. The fierceness of my love is unmatched on earth.

And because I smiled instead of frowned the world will know the power of grace. Hope has feet, and it will run to the corners of earth, because I stood up against destruction.

I am a woman. I am a mother. I am the keeper and sustainer of life here on earth. Heaven stands in honor of my mission. No one else can carry my call. I am the daughter of Eve. Eve has been redeemed. I am the opposition of death. I am a woman.”
~Christianna Reed Maas

A Little Ong Family Update

April 3rd, 2014

So there was a baby born in this house almost 6 months ago, and that is the last this blog knows of our life.
In case you were wondering, she is a cute baby.

 

Our little family has adjusted even better than expected to this little girl who stole all our hearts. She slept beautifully and doled out smiles quite liberally, even from a few days old. Her big brother adores her completely. I love watching the two of them together. As she gets older and interacts more they have had so much fun together. She is the first thing he looks for each morning.

 

We had a lovely holiday season. It is such an incredible blessing to have both sides of the family near by, and to want to spend time with each of them. We don’t take that for granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella is growing like a weed, of course. It amazes me how much faster she seems to grow than Miles did, because we have more to distract us. We turned around one day, and there she was just sitting up. When did she get old enough for that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am loving having a daughter. Boys are wonderful, and I’ve always said I want lots of them, but there is a special bond between a mommy and her little girl that caught me off guard. I can’t wait to be best friends for ever with this tiny beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boy makes my heart smile every day. He is at such a fun stage, full of exploring and generally lots of dirt. He is always thinking outside the box and doing things I don’t see other kids doing. Not that he does much of what normal kids do anyway. We are learning trust and patience when it comes to that kid.

 

We are growing and stretching so much these days. Chris and I are constantly having conversations about all we have yet to learn, and encouraging each other to grow more. Our children are so good for us.

 

Ella’s Birth

November 1st, 2013

I was 42 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and still no baby. It was Sunday, but I had opted not to go to church. I didn’t feel up to facing everyone’s questions and comments, however well intentioned. I spent the day walking up and down the driveway, drinking buckets of red raspberry leaf tea, working on a puzzle, writing a blog post with the truths I was holding on to, and carrying on a constant conversation with God about the baby coming. I think some of the reassurances and conclusions I came to throughout the day helped me to truly be ready for my baby to come. I needed to get to the place where I was at peace with the choices we had made. I had a nagging concern that there was something I needed to do since the baby was “so late” in coming. That day I was finally at peace with doing nothing and simply waiting – trusting God, my body, and my baby for the right timing.

My son Miles had been born at 41w 2d at a whopping 10lbs 5oz. Somehow I never expected to be pregnant longer with my second baby. I was totally fine with going past my due date, but in our state a midwife cannot do a home birth after 42 weeks. As that date approached I started to feel nervous. I had ended up having to transfer to the hospital for Miles’ birth because of too much meconium in my water when it broke, and I desperately wanted to have my home water birth this time. At my 40 and 41 week appointments my midwife had tried to strip my membranes but my cervix had been too far back to reach. I tried a regimen of black and blue cohash with no results. Neither of us were comfortable with the idea of caster oil because I had done that with Miles and we think that might have been the cause of the excessive meconium that resulted in the hospital transfer. We were leaving that as a last option. The day I was 42 weeks Lisa (my midwife) and Tatia (her assistant) came over and we did two enemas, hoping it would have the same effect as the caster oil but in a gentler fashion. Besides some awkward moments, lots of good laughs, and general ickiness they did absolutely nothing. I was feeling that my body just wasn’t ready. We hashed through my dates again and decided that they really did seem to be correct, especially based on the (presumed) ovulation bleeding I had had. The next day Lisa had me go to an acupuncturist. I felt like acupuncture was a nice thing to do for my body, instead of the icky things we had been trying. I felt so good the rest of the day, almost not even pregnant. It was Saturday and we went to my brother’s birthday party that evening and enjoyed seeing all the family. I timed my contractions through the party at 5-7 minutes apart, but they went away before I went to bed.
Lisa said she would give me through the weekend to have the baby and come Monday she would send me in for some tests and we would decide what to do from there. We had multiple conversations about it and we both felt that we had done what we needed to do and there were no warning signs or reasons to take any more drastic measures to make the baby come.

When Sunday morning came I spent the day praying I would have the baby before the next morning. I didn’t want to reach the point where I would have to go to the hospital and fight for the birth I wanted. My poor husband was starting to be worn down by the stress of waiting too. Our lives had been on hold for the last month waiting for this baby and not being able to have any solid plans. He kept asking “Anything yet?” and I’d tell him I’d let him know if there was anything worth telling. When my contractions picked up through the day I didn’t want to get his hopes up. Later in the afternoon I asked Lisa to come over and check me, just because I was curious if anything was changing. It was such an amazing moment watching the grin spread across her face as she was finally able to reach my cervix, did a stretch and sweep, and said I was at a good 4cm. We were all so excited! Lisa kept saying “Oh praise God!” She said she hoped to get a call from me that evening! I said that when I was finally in labor I probably wouldn’t be able to stop smiling because it was FINALLY time.

By 8pm my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart, but not strong enough for me to feel like I needed to get everyone’s hopes up. A little after 9 I finished the puzzle I’d been working on for a few days and we headed upstairs to curl up in bed and watch something. Part way through the episode of Psych (ironically that was what we were watching the night I went into labor with Miles, too) Chris told me I was groaning a bit through contractions. I didn’t even realize. He decided to text the midwife while I went downstairs to the bathroom. I told him I wasn’t sure she needed to come just yet but she said she was headed over. I loved that she was almost as anxious as I was for this baby to be born.

I think Lisa and Tatia showed up about 10:30. Just after Chris said they were coming my contractions completely stopped for 10 minutes, making me super frustrated, but by the time they got to the house they had picked back up considerably and were 2-3 minutes apart and surprisingly strong. That was when I started to get the feeling that this labor might go a lot faster than my 14hr labor with Miles. With him I hadn’t had contractions this strong til at least 8 hours in. I sat on the exercise ball in the living room while Chris set up the birth pool and Lisa and Tatia moved around getting things ready.

My birth photographer, Kira, had conflicts with her work schedule and wasn’t sure if she would be able to make it when the time came so we had also talked to my sister in law Alice and asked her to be available to cover if Kira couldn’t be there. I called Kira and she said she had to leave for work at 1:30am but could come until then. I was disappointed because I didn’t think the baby would come before then, but I told her to come on over anyway. We also called Alice and told her to come around 12:30 so she could take over when Kira left.

Lisa had me move to the bed so she could check me. I was completely effaced and dilated to 6, and she said I could get in the pool whenever I wanted. Chris and Tatia worked to fill the pool. Chris was rubbing my back and giving me counter pressure with contractions for the back labor. I didn’t even have to ask. I felt like I might throw up so I asked Chris to bring me a bucket or something. The feeling passed, and I decided to go to the bathroom before I got in the pool. I had a couple really intense contractions on the toilet. I was starting to worry that if this labor didn’t go a LOT faster than the last one there was no way I could handle it the whole way through. I changed into my tankini top and Chris helped me into the pool. The water felt amazing and took the edge off the intensity. I love birth pools!

The other midwife I had wanted couldn’t be there so Lisa called Judy, a really sweet older lady who Lisa had trained under. I had never met Judy but I loved her right away. Lisa, Tatia, and Judy were hanging out in the kitchen catching up, and Kira and Alice were in the livingroom. Chris stayed right behind me and rubbed my neck and shoulders while I leaned back against the edge of the pool. I found it helpful to rub my finger gently back and forth against my leg during contractions to give me something else to focus on. As with my previous labor, I didn’t make a sound and my best coping mechanism was to breathe as deeply as possible and relax completely. I knew Chris wanted to know what was going on with me so I tried to give some sign when a contraction was starting – leaning back or forward or something. He eventually picked up on my finger rubbing trick too. I also attempted to give periodic verbal updates – more than I had managed last time! They usually consisted of “They are getting stronger…” “I think things are going a little faster this time…” or something to that effect. I was happy with how much I was still able to engage with people around me between contractions at times earlier on at least.

I tried changing positions a couple times as things got a little harder to handle. I thought leaning forward over the edge might feel good, but it was actually so much worse. I seemed to do better leaning back instead of forward. I don’t know if that was because of my back labor or not. With Miles’ birth I hardly felt my stomach contracting because my back labor was so bad. It was still really bad this time, but I could certainly still feel my stomach. These contractions were just much more intense than the last time.

By 1:00 they were starting to be too much. I was freaking out inside that I couldn’t handle them, though I was still totally calm on the outside. I would have a couple really awful ones, and then one that wasn’t quite so bad. Finally the thought hit me that I didn’t have to handle them, I didn’t have to DO anything, I needed to NOT do, to let go. That got me through those last few contractions. I remember telling Chris “These are REALLY intense.” Suddenly I knew I was going to throw up and grabbed the pitcher Chris had brought me earlier. The contents of my stomach emptied with a power that shocked me. I was shaking and hardly able to hold myself up when it was done. Lisa nodded and said something about transition. I was pretty oblivious to anything done or said around me at that point.

Chris got in the pool to try and help support me better. He stood for a minute, trying to figure out how he could best help me and was kinda bouncing on the inflated bottom of the pool. It was just enough to distract me and make me think about balancing to counteract the jiggling. I snapped “Either sit down or get out!” And was surprised at the loudness of my own voice.  Just a couple minutes later I had a contraction and realized I was involuntarily pushing with it. I could watch my stomach push down. It was such a weird feeling. Once it was over I said “Um, Lisa, I’m pushing and I didn’t mean to.” She said ok and came to check me. She said I was complete and could push whenever I wanted. I said “Oh good, because I’m not sure I could do this much longer.” There was a quiet moment as I rested and she leaned over the edge and told me I would meet my baby soon. I was so glad she was there, so glad I was surrounded by people who loved me and my baby. I couldn’t believe I was so close to finally getting the birth I had hoped and prayed for. And then it started.

I have never felt anything so powerful and intense as what followed. My body bore down and pushed all on its own and I just braced my hands on the bottom of the pool and tried to breathe. I don’t really remember pain, just the surprise and shock of the intensity of my body bringing my baby into the world all on its own. By the second push I could suddenly feel the head, by the third Lisa said it was crowning. Lisa told me to take it slow, and I did my best to slow it down as much as I could, but I didn’t really have much control. Chris was behind me cheering me on and sounded as  excited as I remember him when Miles was born. Next the head was out and I remember thinking I never even felt the “ring of fire”. Lisa said the baby was still in the caul. My body took a break then, again, completely out of my control. Lisa said “Whenever you are ready.” I don’t really know how long it was, but I was able to kind of catch my breath before suddenly bearing down again, and out the baby came! The bag of waters broke just as the baby’s feet were born and Lisa put my baby in my arms. I had pushed for less than 5 minutes. It was 1:23am.

I’m not sure if I was more in shock from what my body had just been through or because that was THE moment I had been waiting for, praying for, hoping for, afraid I wouldn’t get, and what I had held on to in those long weeks of waiting – that moment of being handed my baby seconds after birth. When Miles was born the doctor had had Chris cut the cord and handed him to the nurses and I didn’t even see him for at least 10 minutes after he was born. That was the biggest thing I wanted to be different with my second birth.
I just sat there clinging to my baby and trying to breathe, taking in the moment. Chris was leaning over my shoulder trying to catch a glimpse of the baby. After a bit I did think I should check to see if it was a boy or girl, but I wasn’t sure if I could even move yet. We had been waiting so long and I knew everyone in the room was dying to know. (I’m not sure if Lisa had seen when she passed me the baby or not.) Lisa finally asked if I wanted to know and I said “of course!” and finally found the strength to sit up a bit more and Chris lifted the towel that was thrown over us. I’m not sure which one of us announced “It’s a girl!” but I was completely shocked. I laughed. I didn’t really think I had been set one way or another but that was when I realized how much I really did think it would be another boy. I think it took me a couple hours to get over the surprise. I couldn’t believe I had a daughter.

After a couple minutes Lisa said she wanted to get me out of the pool to deliver the placenta. With quite a bit of effort they got us out and onto the floor. The placenta came just a couple minutes later and then they spent quite a while trying to get my bleeding to stop. I also had a prolapsed cervix because of how fast the birth had been. I tried to get my baby girl to nurse but she wasn’t very interested and my back and hips were really hurting from the hard floor. Lisa went ahead and cut the cord and gave Chris the baby so they could focus on me. After a while they got the bleeding under control and my cervix did finally go back up where it was supposed to be. I finally got to move to the bed in the other room and Chris and I got a few moments to be together and cuddle our girl. We talked about her name. We had two girls names picked out and hadn’t been able to decide between them. We finally decided to go with Ella Meredith.

Lisa came back into the room and did a newborn check on Ella. 8lbs. 10oz., 21” long, and completely perfect. Everyone packed up and left us alone by 4:00. It was amazing to be in our own house with our new baby girl. Miles slept through the whole thing and got to meet his baby sister when he woke up in the morning. Kira had been able to stay for the birth after all. Both she and Alice took some amazing pictures. I was in labor for a total of 4 ½ hours.

Over the next few days I smiled every time I thought about Ella’s birth. It was so perfect, exactly what I had wanted. I was so blessed to have such amazing care and support and to have such a quick, perfect birth and to be able to be at home and in the water like I wanted. I am so blessed.

Focus for Today

October 6th, 2013

This morning I enjoyed paging through my journal. So many encouraging thoughts and reminders there. I am choosing to focus on these truths today (apart from the mini melt down in the shower this morning.) I am begging God daily for faith, hope, and courage.

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“Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me.”

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“For I am poor and need, yet the Lord thinketh upon me. Thou art my help, my deliverer, and my God.”

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Life is simple. It appears sometimes to be overly empty and wasted, but I think it is not. This is a season for waiting. It is not that I do nothing while I wait, just different kinds of things. I know I can use more purposefully quiet moments. Doing “nothing” bothers me and I waste still moments with useless activity. I need to learn to wait well.

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I am again so awed by how You work. We asked and asked and waited and waited. At first I was confident in Your will, but the longer it took the more antsy I became. I again asked the questions of how much to pray, and what to ask. Then I was reminded that “Faith in God requires faith in His timing.” So I chose to have faith there as well, confident that I did not need to know a second sooner than You allowed.

I am assured again that as You visibly answer requests like this, You are also answering the unseen ones for hearts, and sight, and life, and knowing.

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I do not want life to stay as it is. I want to do hard things. I don’t want to miss out because of fear. I want more of God, and as I give life I believe I will find it.

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“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

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I know that I am exactly where You want me, that You are active in my life, and that my simple life is eternally impacting. I also know I could have more of You, could see You more, and know You better, and it would make my life so much more meaningful.

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I was talking to Chris’ mom about it and she said it is so easy for us to wish God didn’t let these things happen, but that we often get to see Him more when He lets us fall but has us land in pillows.

Oh Jesus, You are so gentle with us.

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There is good in the little things and beauty in brokenness, but not if it is less than Your best. I need to stop evaluating what I can handle and ask what You have planned for me. I never know if you will have something so much bigger up Your sleeve.

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“You aren’t wasting your life – when you aren’t wasting opportunities to love like Christ.”

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My choices do not make me righteous but are a reflection of my personal walk with God practically lived out. This is what You have called me to. I can encourage others but cannot look down on them because their walk with God looks different than mine. I have nothing to prove, but must simply reflect Jesus to the best of my ability.

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Growing Pains

September 12th, 2013

Its been a hard month. I won’t go into it all, but suffice it to say that it seems like all the hard parts of being an adult in the grown up world are pushing down on us at once, (May I just state for the record that I hate money? Oh, and why is it that dinner must be made every single night? And be healthful? And why, for the love of sanity, can employers not treat their employees like human beings?)  and on top of that we’ve all had head colds.

You know how high schoolers or whatnot complain about how hard life is and always get told “This is nothing. Just wait til you are an adult.” or, “Someday you will wish this was all you had to worry about.” and basically just “Suck it up. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”  But I really don’t think that is a fare attitude. See, humans are constrained by this thing called growth. We weren’t born finished. We have to learn. A runner doesn’t complete a marathon the first time he steps outside his door, but he may work just as hard that first day to run a mile as he does the day he completes the great race. Its all about conditioning and growth and learning. Something that is hard one day will be mindless eventually. We accept these facts when it comes to new knowledge or new skills, but why not with all of life? A one year old works just as hard for those first steps as the runner does for his marathon, a high schooler gives all he has for that 4.0, and without those toddling first steps, and hard studying , and life experience, a “real life adult” will never make it in the world. It is not that earlier tasks required less effort.

So really, the hard stuff in life is just growing pains. Moments designed to push us into greater knowledge of life and God and greater skill to work for His purposes. And as hard as it is, I want to grow. So this hard stuff, its ok. And I know its not too much, because Jesus always promised a way to escape anything that was. Its nice to know He trusts me with more than He did a while ago.

I see this happening big as life before me every day. See?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in those moments when the growing pains just seem to much, and I feel my huge belly might just explode, I look at my little boy who is right this minute crawling up my leg wanting to be held, and I know it is so worth it. I look Miles in the eyes and tell him he was, and is, worth it, worth the emotional upheaval and the physical discomfort, which reminds me that this little one I have yet to meet is worth it as well. And so is true of every area of life. Growing is worth it. It is what we were made for.

Life Today

June 4th, 2013

You know, its funny. I love to write, and blog, and talk, and communicate in general, but somehow as a mama it just doesn’t happen much any more. I was just complaining to Chris how I sat down to journal, purposing to  finally “make it happen” and only got two sentences written before Miles needed something from me, and of course I never made it back to the couch or my cold cup of coffee.

Somehow I always decide I NEED to write just when life is craziest – like this week, when I’m in a wedding this weekend, am going to be away from my little one over night for the first time, need to do meal prep, and clean my house, and go shopping; all before I head out to party with the bride, and then have company next week and somehow get ready for our annual girls retreat next weekend, which I have done next to zero prep for. Help! I am really looking forward to the next couple weeks, but I am overwhelmed too. I think that is usually when I feel the need to express some of the crazy thoughts flying around my head. Maybe if my thoughts are organized my life will feel a little more under control as well?

I feel so conflicted over this wedding! I want to be available and focused to go celebrate my friend and her exciting life change, and be all there for her at this time, but being a wife and mama makes it so hard. I don’t like missing out on so much of the celebrations and I want her to know how much I love her, but I also have a responsibility to my family and know that I can only be away from my little guy for a short period of time, realistically, before he starts struggling.

The Girls Retreat! I can’t believe its that time of year again. These never go quite how I envision, but they always seem to accomplish their purpose. I love to see God work. This year I’m starting to feel a bit panic-y. I somehow feel that I haven’t put in enough focused time with God lately to expect things to go well, but I know this is flawed logic. God will work through and around me despite me, because this is not “my” event, and He always loves to show up and bless those who seek him. Besides, as much as I’d love more undistracted God time, and always try to work toward that, I know that the faze of life I am in makes that difficult, and that I can meet with and worship God in each moment as I go about my day. I still hate feeling unprepared.

Lately Chris and I have spent quite a bit of time discussing our future and ministry and all the things we want to be involved in. There are so many things we would love to be a part of, and needs we would love to help meet. We are praying that God would allow Chris to be able to work from home at some point so we can spend more time serving together as a family. This has been our desire since before we got married – to be able to simply serve together wherever we could, and to make that our life. And yet right now we struggle with that. It seems that life just gets in the way. Chris’ job, Miles’ nap schedule, MY nap sch

edule for that matter (haha). Things like this girls retreat make me so excited, but when they come around I find myself so thankful that it is only once a year. Having a young family is a lot of work, and while I know our family is our primary ministry right now I wish there was more that I could do.

My cousin who has been living in Peru was just here for a visit and was sharing about her life and ministry. The family that she has been living with has three very young children and yet live in a foreign country and head up all sorts of cool programs and ministries. I wonder how they do that. I wonder how I can do that, but also if I should. I firmly believe that my children are my greatest ministry and that I can do just as much to impact the kingdom of God right here in my home as my cousin can in Peru. I know that HERE is where God wants me, and HERE is where He is choosing to use me. I don’t want to miss the opportunities to see Him and serve him that He places in my path each day simply because I don’t think they are big enough or far enough from home. However, I don’t want to limit His plan for me because I don’t think I have the grace to do something bigger. I cannot fathom the depths of His grace, or what He could enable me to do, if He so chose.

 

Here, have a cute picture of my “ministry” eating dirt.

Health and Holiness

April 17th, 2013

My last post was kind of… icky. Well the pictures sandwiched in the middle were cute, but the beginning and ending was icky. I felt I needed to get it all said though, and hopefully it would force me to think through things and gain a better perspective. I have been praying a lot lately about feeling so stuck in my day to day life. Here are the thoughts I have gleaned so far.

I guess it all boils down to focus. I am discovering how wrong mine has been. I have become completely embroiled in the nitty gritty problems of every day life and have begun drowning in the attempt to fix them. It all seems too much. I cannot face it. But really, I’m not supposed to.

Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, being encouraged to go gluten free, and dealing with all the normal ickies of pregnancy, I have felt pretty well drowned in health struggles. My doctor thinks it is best to put any active combating of the Hashi’s on hold til after the baby comes, but I don’t feel that my thyroid dosage is quite what it should be right now. I am tired all. the. time. Ridiculously so. At this stage in my pregnancy I should be having MORE energy, not less, than I did in the first trimester. It seems that as soon as the morning sickness went away I was suddenly so exhausted that I could hardly function. The foggy mind is almost worse. I hate not being able to think. And the gluten thing, ug! I have become so incredibly frustrated trying to figure that out. I don’t even know if it is worth it, or to what degree I need to be off it, or if what I have done is even helping. I have been given so much conflicting information. It seems the only way to be sure would be to go totally, strictly gluten free – aware of any little shred that I might be ingesting and probably even replacing my pots and pans.  This means a total life change. I don’t know how it even works with eating or eating at other people’s houses. I admit I have cried a bit at the thought of having a baby and people not being able to bring me food because of my diet restrictions. I honestly don’t want to face it all and am not being nearly as careful as I should be at the moment. I get so frustrated trying TO avoid gluten, and so guilty if I don’t.

And there are other things, so many other little things that have been blown out of perspective and have overwhelmed me. It probably doesn’t help that I have a cranky, teething kiddo on my hands right now who cries any time he isn’t being held.

I beg God to give me answers with these things, but I have realized this week my focus is completely wrong. My goal as a believer is to draw near to God and pursue holiness. That’s it. That, and that alone, must remain my focus. Everything else is simply a means to that end. It is amazing how much less overwhelming being diagnosed with a disease seems when I think of it simply as a way of drawing even closer to God, or of becoming more set apart for Him. It takes the focus off the “problem” and turns it into a stepping stone. I can handle stepping stones. I am much less overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of such a big diet change when I can simply ask God what would best allow me to draw nearer to him. And instead of eating what I think will comfort me when I am overwhelmed, simply choosing to eat what ever will best equip my body to perform the tasks necessary for pursuing and following after God that day. Simply put, the focus moves from me to Him.

So I am trying to face the tiredness, the fussing, and the decisions with this focus in mind, and purposing ahead of time to ask myself “What will best enable me to draw near?” even when my mind is foggy.

 

April 12th, 2013

I cannot think. I sit here and stare at the screen for way too long. I could give up and do something else like I have so many other times, but I feel a desperation. It has been too long since I forced myself to write, forced myself to express my feelings, actually attempted some sort of higher brain function. I feel that if something doesn’t change soon I will forget how.

Life moves on, oh so fast. The Monkey is no longer a baby, though he still refuses to walk. I can’t say I really mind, though he had better start soon. This kid brings so much spark to my life. He is still as easy going as they come, and full of smiles. As the weather warms he is discovering the great outdoors and is enthralled. I can hardly keep him in at all.

 

Ong Baby Number Two is on the way. I’m nearly half way done already. Can’t believe how fast this is going. Having a little to chase around does make the weeks and months fly. We are so very excited for Miles to be a big brother! I am already dying to know if it is a boy or girl, and I still have to wait another 5+ months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weeks and months may fly but the days, oh, the days crawl right now. I am just so tired, so foggy. I get into a rut of staying home because going out seems so overwhelming, and the less I get out the scarier it sounds and the worse I feel. I know it is bad for me, and I know Miles does better getting out too, but oh, it just seems like more than I can handle. And even if I don’t feel like I can engage people, I need to at least be engaging my brain. Chris and I are working on a children’s book. I could blog, I could read. There are so many things. But most days it seems that I just cannot think. The fog is so thick. I’m feeling trapped in my own body. Starting to feel panicky. I’ve got to push myself to think or I just might forget how.

 

The stages of life are a strange thing. I love my life right now. I love my sweet little growing family. Yet I still want more. I want to breathe. I want to experience it all fully. I don’t want to miss out.

Reflections of Grace

October 3rd, 2012

I have the sweetest, easiest, cutest baby on the planet. Really. He is the perfect child.

 Sometimes I catch myself wondering if we really are super amazing parents and just don’t know it. But then I have to stop myself sharply. Everything good in Miles is a reflection of grace, pure and simple. And any good parenting ability in me is grace as well.

You would think the idea of grace would have been heavy on my mind the past couple months, as I have been struggling with old health issues… again. On those mornings when I cannot get out of bed until 9 or 10, those moments when I’m sure I am a terrible mommy, and those nights when the dishes are still in the sink, supper never got made, the laundry is wrinkling in the dryer, and Chris comes home to find me in tears, those are the days when I should cling harder than ever to grace. Usually though, those are the days when I panic because I can’t do it.  I get frustrated because I want so much to invest in the lives of others but cannot handle my own little life and end up pulling back from people. I fall apart because I’m so scared that I cannot be who God has called me to be and cannot handle the responsibility already in front of me.You would think I’d have learned by now. Really.

I need a reset. I need to stop and purposefully accept the grace of God in my life. I want to be made beautiful by the constant meditation on His beauty, His grace, His strength perfected. Every good thing is from Him. I MUST accept. I MUST embrace.

More of Him and less of me is all that will clean up my mess and give me peace and beauty.

I want my life to be full of reflections of grace.