40 and fabulous, I mean tired.

Monday, November 2, 2015
So, I turned 40 this year. And I’m tired. I’m so tired. And I’m sick of hearing myself respond to people when they ask how I am that I’m freaking tired. So, I set out to NOT say how tired I am. Instead, I’m writing about it. Nobody cares. We’re all tired.

I really wasn’t worried much about turning 40. I just didn’t want a surprise party. A surprise party is exactly what my husband wanted for himself (although he never would have said that), so that’s what he got. Me? Don’t you dare. He knew better.

I wanted to treat myself to something fulfilling and personal and meaningful and all that. So, I bought myself a weekend retreat at the MS Homestead Center, keynote speaker Glennon Melton of Momastery. Don’t know her? You totally should.

I interrupt this riveting account of my life to describe to you the scene. I have just returned from the 3rd in my Trifecta Series of speaker events. Anne Lamott. She is a spaced-out, Jesus loving, liberal, ex-junkie, radically loving writer, who said GO WRITE. If you can’t do 45 minutes right now, today, then you are never going to do it. So, here I sit, trying to peck out my first blog post in years and my children are acting like maniacs. Day is on the floor of the bathroom in my direct line of vision crying because I won’t let her go to bed at 7:56 PM. The ONLY reason she has any desire to go to bed right now is because I am on my bed and she cannot stand the fact that I am doing something that does not involve her. Wren has totally ignored my demands requests that everyone leave me the hell alone and is playing a game on her phone about 3 foot from my right ear. It’s loud. She insists that it stays that loud. She can’t HEAR it. Dear, God, I am tired.

Back to the Trifecta. Glennon, Jen Hatmaker, and Anne. These girls make up who I am. Or who I’d like to think I am. Or who I want to be. Jen was hilarious. Glennon was every bit as funny and sweet and real in person as you’d imagine. Anne was challenging and relatable and refreshingly honest. Theme of each being authenticity, wholeness, healing, community/sisterhood and humor. Speaking my language.

And I suppose that 40 lends itself well to reflection and new vision and shedding old crap, nurturing the good stuff. So, in the spirit of authenticity, here are my current struggles and insights…

1) Religion is hard. I want to find a place where my kids are happy (we have that) and where I am not at complete odds with the doctrine/theology. I love gay people. I’m not into punishing people for sins or even wasting much time feeling guilty about our humanity. Politically, I don’t fit the mold at our church, but really? I’m thinking church should not be a political atmosphere anyway. But I love the people. And what is any church but a bunch of messed up people anyway? I’m searching.

2) Parenting is hard. Right now Wren is crying in time-out for spitting at her sister. I don’t like time out. It makes me sad. But, I hate spitting. And Day is crying because Wren is in time out. Nobody wins. Just freaking tears and yelling and bribing and trying our best. I have moments when I really want to stay at home and just raise my kids and homeschool and get this shit in order, but then I have one single day with them all by myself and think, I am crazy. I am completely crazy. This shit is hard. But damnit, it’s hard because we are all crazed and the pace is too much and the schedule is too much and the demands are too many and we are all freaking tired. (I know, who cares?)

3) Marriage is hella hard. If you’ve been married 14 years and have 2 kids under 7 and you tell me that marriage is easy and that you get along with your husband/wife, I will call you a liar. I’m bitter about it. I guess I really did expect it to be easy-ish. You’re laughing right now. Because you know. Or you have no idea what I’m talking about it. In that case, I can say I don’t know you. I don’t get your life. Wish I did.

In spite of these struggles, plus about 62 others I shall not bore you with, I do feel like a new season is creeping in, a good one. I finally don’t give a crap about being anybody but me. It may have appeared at other times in my life that I didn’t give that particular crap, but I assure you, I did. I was faking. Not faking any more. I’m trying to figure out which parts of myself I’ve fabricated and which parts were there all along. It’s a good process. A cleansing process. But it does hurt. I’m not going to lie.

Here’s what I want to remind my 40 year old self: Your beautiful daughters are worth every struggle to figure it out and make it better. You are worthy of love and respect and kindness – ALL of the time. You have so much to offer but no obligation to offer it. Either gift it to the world or keep it to yourself. Don’t offer for approval or applause or ego. This is your one beautiful, wild, life. LIVE IT. Stop waiting until the house is clean or the debt is paid off or you finally figure out how to work part time or until you aren’t so tired. Get over yourself and get on with the business of living. Look up every day. And who cares that your boobs are enormous and your stomach sticks out. You’re 40. Who really cares? Just BE here. Pay attention. People are good and fascinating and hurting and confused. LOVE them anyway, including yourself.

And now, off to get some sleep…

Jen Hatmaker with Joedee

Glennon with Heathers and Erin

Anne with Leslie
Happy Birthday to me! You're old.

OH! And I also touched a sloth this year. DREAM COME TRUE!

The Hardest Lesson

Sunday, August 24, 2014
I'll never get the image out of my mind. She was completed submerged in the pool. Struggling with all her little might but going nowhere. My brain would not process. My legs and arms would not move. I was paralyzed with fear. My friend Terri was closer to her and pulled her out and handed her to me. My sweet Wren. My brave, fearless 2 year old. She cried. I cried and shook. We held each other as if that might make it all go away. Her big sister was there, trying to touch her, fighting back tears.

Three weeks ago today friends of ours lost their 3 year old in a drowning accident at the river. At the funeral, I felt like it was Wren. I came home and squeezed them both tight, vowing to cherish every moment. We know that life is a gift and that we aren’t promised life on earth forever, but there are moments when that “knowledge” becomes visceral. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was watching my children. But what does that really mean? I know I’m not alone in becoming comfortable while watching them, relaxing into a false sense of security. Otherwise, how would we live? There were no other obvious distractions at the pool that day. I wasn’t on my phone. I had not left the pool. In fact, my friend and I were the only ones there. The kids were in plain sight. And yet I didn’t catch it. She walked from the baby pool, to the big pool, down the stairs, and into the water. All while I was watching. You know what Terri and I were talking about? Our next Sunday School lesson. Distractions aren’t just those things you “shouldn’t” be doing.

I’m pushing back the guilt. I’m choosing to focus on the precious gifts that are my children. They are what makes my life delightful and lively and interesting. Honestly, they are why I want the world to be a better place. Not for me, but for them. Don’t all parents feel this way? And yet, accidents happen. To the best of us.

Oh, God. Please protect the hearts of those parents who saw their worst nightmare realized. Please remind them that they are worthy of being entrusted with His most precious gifts. Let my experience be a nudge to others that we ALL find ourselves distracted and inattentive when raising children. Let us be ever vigilant in protecting them.

I think sometimes we act like brave 2 year olds at the pool who can’t swim. God is training us, and we feel ready. We can do this without Him. We know enough. We’ve had enough practice. So we get in over our heads. And we find ourselves drowning and surprised and terrified. WHY did this happen? We. Were. Not. Ready.

Yesterday was a lesson in obedience for me. And a lesson in trusting His timing. When I feel ready to conquer the world and ready to jump in and get things done, I pray that I will look to Him first. My brave fearless 2 year old is a lot like her mom. We’ve GOT this. And while I want my girls to feel powerful and unstoppable, I first and foremost want them to know that it is NOT because of their own strength or ability that they are such warriors. It is because they are creations of a loving God who equips them with that strength. They are nothing without him. And if they (I) can learn to be obedient to His timing and trust in His training techniques, then and only then will we be saved from drowning.

You Had Your Baby WHERE?

Friday, January 18, 2013

I didn't start out wanting a homebirth. I didn't even start out wanting a natural birth. I started out wanting a vaginal birth. That’s all. A chance to experience childbirth like most women experience it. Through my vagina. Weird, huh?

After the birth of my first daughter, via cesarean section (or rather via inducesarean as my friend and fellow VBACer likes to call it), I wasn't sure if I would have any other children. I was ok with that. After all, God had just granted me the greatest blessing I could ever have imagined. There was a long time before when I thought I’d never have that blessing of motherhood at all, so I was filled, fulfilled, content.

The circumstances surrounding the delivery of my first born are not dramatic. It was not an emergency. At the time, I was made to feel like it was my only option. And it probably did get to that point, but the reason it got there was not because my body wasn't doing its job or because my baby couldn't tolerate labor. I am certain that the necessity of my section was a direct result of the unnecessary interventions that I allowed in the hospital. I’m pleading ignorance, but that really doesn't change things. Bottom line is that I could have had a vaginal birth the first time if I had known more about birth. Sad, but true.

That’s not always the case. Some people’s bodies just follow the textbook guidelines without ever having read the textbook. But please be assured, there is in fact a textbook. And if your body veers too far outside the guidelines provided, you will be treated accordingly. I’m sure all of these interventions started out as a way to ensure safety. And I’m sure that in a lot of cases, they do just that. But I’m afraid that in the meantime, doctors and hospitals have come to rely on these interventions as tools of convenience.

I had a healthy baby the first time. Why would I want MORE? Why wouldn't I just do a repeat of the first birth? To me, that question is so ingrained in who I am that it makes it hard to answer. I am just as baffled by the question as those who are asking it are of my desire to do something different. I wanted a vaginal birth the first time. I assumed it would happen. I assumed that the ONLY reason I would not be able to provide that for my baby would be in the case of an emergency. I was wrong. So, it just never crossed my mind to NOT try again.

At my very first OB appointment, I shared that desire with my doctor. I was unprepared for his response. I was na├»ve going into that discussion. I thought it was going to be as simple as checking the box yes or no: Do you want to try for a vaginal birth this time? Well, sure I do. Instead I got dealt the “dead baby” card. Apparently, it is played often to mothers who want a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) in hopes that they will not bring those “risks” into the hospital. It had the opposite effect on me. It didn't shut me down. It raised tons of questions. I wondered what in the world I was asking for! Surely I would not desire something that would result in a dead baby! Of course I wanted to do what was safest. What mother wouldn't  Didn't ANYONE have VBACs? I was so confused.

So, I started reading. And I started asking questions. And I started looking at research. And I talked to real people who had been there. And I read books and books and books. And I spent a lot of time praying, really praying. And the conclusion that I reached was that what I wanted was NOT crazy. It was completely reasonable and completely SAFE. Maybe inconvenient from a hospital’s perspective, since all births are unpredictable, but not at all a death wish!

So, first I hired a doula, then I fired my OB. And guess what? The 2nd OB was completely supportive! From dead baby to sure thing! How can it be so different from one doctor to another? With a supportive physician on my team, I started asking questions of the hospital and the nurse staff about the policies and protocol. Here’s what I learned on that leg of the journey: even if everyone involved wants you to succeed, “the way things are done” really weigh more in determining the outcome.

I knew I needed the following things in place to have a successful and safe vaginal birth: freedom of movement, peace of mind, minimal interference, as much time as I needed to give birth, and most importantly, I needed supportive people around me who believed I could do it. As it turns out, the hospital where my *very supportive OB practiced was not going to provide all of those things. And as a side note, although completely worthy of a blog post on its own, that particular hospital reported an 85% csection rate in 2011 and a 78% the year before. Again, not something anyone offered to tell me at a prenatal appointment but available information for consumers who want to find it.

As it turns out, my best shot at having a vaginal birth was to have a natural birth. My body was going to need to be able to move and adjust. I realized that in order to maintain mobility, I would have to say no to all mind numbing drugs and an epidural. That was a terrifying thought at first. It slowly turned into a challenge until finally becoming an opportunity.

And then slowly I discovered that my best shot at having a natural birth was to have a homebirth. One of the first real reasons why homebirth sounded like it might be the best option for me was that in order to DECLINE pain relief, you first had to be OFFERED pain relief. I didn't entirely trust myself to decline. No one was going to be able to offer me an epidural at home!

I didn't immediately jump on the homebirth wagon. More like it kept stalking me. Everywhere I turned there was some subtle or not so subtle reference to HOME and the peace that it brings. I “coincidentally” met actual friends who had had homebirths. Red flags were flying everywhere about epidurals and interventions. Friends were joking, “You should just have that baby at home”. And instead of laughing it off, I would imagine what that would be like. Looking back, I am amazed that it took me so long to put it all together. But the beautiful thing about that process what that it unfolded naturally, just like birth! Nobody made the decision for me. I didn't even intend to make it! It wasn't forced. It just unfolded.

I was already well into my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. I couldn't switch care providers AGAIN! (Could I?) The few weeks leading up to that final decision were quiet ones. I spent most of my time just getting really honest with myself. Making sure my motives were in check. Making sure I wasn't going to do this for anyone else. Wondering about all the times I didn't question things and maybe should have. Reflecting on all that women are told to do, because that’s just what’s expected.

The least I could do was TALK to a midwife. That would help me make a decision.

It’s weird the scenes that stick in your mind, but the first time I talked to Norma I was on my way to Kroger. I expected a 5 minute conversation. Instead, I spent 45 minutes in my car in the parking lot talking and listening. She answered ALL of my thousands of questions, never once recommending homebirth. Just answering questions. When we hung up, I realized that she had just spent more time with me in that one conversation than both of my other OBs had through my entire pregnancy. And I didn't owe her a penny. She prayed that I would find some peace, since that was what was most important to my baby. I hung up the phone and was flooded with calm. For the first time since the dead baby card, I felt like I was on solid ground.

My worries turned into excitement. I released all of the fear that I could. When fear would sneak up on me, I would just let it in, then let it right back out. It never stayed long. I knew with every fiber that this is what I was supposed to do. And the amazing thing was that the journey to that level of peace became just as important to me as the birth experience. I think THAT’s what it was all about for me. And I know that I never would have gotten to that place without a homebirth.

Wren was born December 2011, at home, and my world changed. It had been changing all along, but this moment… this I DID IT moment altered the very person that I am. It has changed me in a way that my first birth did not touch. I went from ignorant bystander to active participant. From a set of symptoms to be treated to a biological miracle unfolding.

You can read that story here: (Wren’s birth story)

It’s taken me a while to tell this part of the story. More than a year. I was not traumatized by my first birth experience. It was a slow process, but I came to realize that I had not been given the best chance to do something that I didn't even know was so important to me until later.

And this experience has started translating so beautifully into other areas of my life. Here’s the formula: Something shows up on my radar that “surprises” me. Instead of pushing it aside, I try to think about it. I give it the “greed” test. (Greed = stay far, far away.) I check my fear level. I step over the fear and I settle, knowing that I don’t have to fall in line and do “what’s expected” in order to be worthy. In fact, sometimes what HE expects of me is much different than what the world expects. I’m learning to better distinguish between the two.

Our homebirth was my catalyst event. It changed me in ways I am still discovering. It has empowered me. I regained the power to think for myself in ALL areas, not just the ones where I am already comfortable. I regained confidence in my ability to trust God. I have reclaimed my rightful place as a woman and as a mother. This journey was designed for ME. And it was/is perfect for me. My first birth made me a mother, but my second made me a woman.

And if you STILL don’t understand why I would want this experience in the first place, please read this:

* My friend and fellow VBACer that I mentioned at the beginning of this story was being seen by this same “very supportive” OB. She remained very supportive until the end of her pregnancy. At her LAST appointment before her due date, she started listing the reasons why a csection would probably be the best route to take. It’s called Bait and Switch. Not uncommon, but who would EVER think to question? Luckily, my friend went into labor and stayed at home until she was ready to push. By the time she got to the hospital, all there was time to do was catch a baby!

** I didn't mention Ken in this story, but not because he didn't play an important role. He was completely supportive of my decision and patient with my doubts, questions, and worries. His journey was different, and I can’t tell it for him. But I can say that I learned a lot about his love for me along the way. He gave me space to work it out, just enough challenge to keep me honest, and total respect for my experience.

One Year Old

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
She is ready to walk. Standing up by her big girl self for a few seconds at a time. Not wanting to miss out on a single thing. I'm afraid my baby might be morphing into a toddler. There. I said it. Now, let me go cry a little.

On The Daily

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Already there is the 2nd child syndrome. Fewer pictures, fewer blog posts, etc.

Wren is an awesome sleeper. My biggest irritation with new motherhood the first go-round is not even a blip on the radar. Thank GOD! But, I will reiterate what others have told me: adjusting with 2 can be harder than having the first. That's SO true in some ways. Not because Wren is difficult, but because I can't devote 100% of my attention to her. But she's a good sport.

We've established a pretty nice rhythm. I'm working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and I'm home with the girlies on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Honestly, I worried about being home alone with them ALL day. What would we do? What if I needed help? How would I get anything done? Should I be doing activities? Playdates? Surprisingly, none of that matters. We just do whatever. Usually, I have ZERO plans on those days except to wash diapers and pack bags for the next day of work/school. And I've even checked the grocery-store-in-the-rain-with-both-kids box (one of whom had a poopy diaper during the event).

Wren started daycare without ever having taken a bottle. "Good luck!" I said as I walked out the door.  It's not that we had been anti-bottle. It's just that I hadn't left her for any length of time and so we hadn't needed a bottle. Well, daycare got a big fat refusal from Wren. For 2 whole weeks. They fed her with a medicine dropper... like a baby bird!! That girl. She's so easy going and smiley. I was surprised that she drew such a hard line in the sand. Since then, she's gotten the hang of it. The teacher that finally got her to take it said that Wren was so proud!! It's like she wasn't convinced the bottle would actually feed her until she "accidentally" drank from it. Then the light went off... "HEY! I can get full when Mommy's not even around!" She's still very much attached to nursing and more than makes up for being away from me on the days that we're home.

Day is so verbal that I have a hard time remembering that she is barely 3 years old. (For example, right now she's making up her own version to the Barney song. Hers goes, ""I like you. You like me. We're a big fat family.") And she tests and pushes every boundary I try to establish. CONSTANT pushing. On things that seem to be so insignificant. "NO! I want three pancakes, not FOUR!" And don't DARE throw off her nighttime routine. Must have a minimum of 3 books. Mommy must bathe and read, not Daddy. Ever. Or there will be flailing and snotty face tears. She can be vicious. She tells me she loves me about 100 times a day. Then she says, "We say I love you TWENTY times!" And she has this grovely inflection that I'm sure has mutated from the early days of growling her words. I love to hear her talk. And I stay amused with the things she comes up with.

Early this year we lost Chloe. That deserves it's own blog post, but I'm not sure I'm ready. After all, she was my first baby. On a lighter note, we now have three hens. Day named them Sheila, Fannie May, and Snappy. Perfect.

Here they are entertaining themselves/each other while I do laundry (the girls, not the hens):

And one more for your entertainment:

Wren's Birth Story

Friday, December 9, 2011

There are really 2 stories here. One is the actual labor and delivery and one is the journey to it. I’ll cover the first here in case it just gets too long to bear…

Disclaimer: This is a very personal story. I wrote it because the details were already getting fuzzy and I wanted to hang onto every morsel. And I wrote it for Wren. I didn't filter, so prepare yourself for the whole truth.

I’d had cramps for 2 nights (Thursday and Friday) and had a feeling things were moving along. Mind you, this was right after my last OB appointment where I was still 1 cm and “no progress”. Saturday night I had contractions all night but nothing terribly painful. Still, they were consistent and kept me up most of the night. I called Mom Sunday morning and asked her to come get Day, that I wasn’t sure if anything would really happen that day, but that Ken and I needed to spend some time together and rest because it was likely things would happen “soon”. I didn’t realize just how “soon”. I got off the phone with her and lost my mucus plug. (side note: mucus plug and bloody show are about the grossest descriptions of anything pregnancy related. I wish there was some other phrase for that.)

I had contractions all day Sunday. They were not painful, just uncomfortable. I called my midwife (second half of the story) and doula to let them know what was going on. Both said to keep them posted on any changes. Ken and I went to breakfast at Tinn Lizzie and I chowed on some greasy truck driver food. We napped, watched TV, took a walk, just had an easy day. All the while, contractions were about every 10-15 minutes. Around 4:30 PM, I needed a change of scenery so we went riding back roads. Although it was so nice to get out and ride in the country, the gravel got to be too much and we came home. And guess what… STALL. Nothing happened. No contractions for an hour, then two, three. I called Norma (midwife) and Toni (doula) to let them know that it looked like Wren had changed her mind.

I decided that if I was not going to have a baby that night, that I at least was going to have a glass of wine. Being Sunday, my only option was to bum some wine off somebody. Luckily I have a large group of wine drinking friends and knew I could score some good red wine… and likely in my neighborhood. So, we went over to the Gavin’s house, me in my ugliest maternity knit pants, feeling a little like I’d just had to drop out of a race that I’d been training for months for. We visited for a while, than came home to go to bed.

I woke up about 10 PM with a contraction that I knew was different. It didn’t necessarily take my breath away, but it certainly got my attention. I had a couple more, woke Ken up, got in the bath, and we talked about what to do. The contractions were requiring a lot more concentration…. I no longer wanted to talk through them. We called Toni and Norma, who both upon hearing of the change, started on their way here.

This is where things get hazy. Sequentially, it’s hard to say how this all happened. I couldn’t concentrate on timing anything or on what time it was. I was just getting through the contractions. Toni arrived about 30 minutes before Norma and was timing the contractions. She updated Norma when she got there. Norma checked on me, then left to go get her husband checked into a hotel who had come with her from Grenada. This was a little confusing to me because I felt like I needed attending. But as the night progressed, I learned to take cues from Norma as to what was happening and at what pace. She has a gift for being able to watch and know how slowly or quickly things are happening without even touching me.

She was back around 1 AM and checked me for dilation at my request. ONE centimeter. This news was tough. To me, it meant all the pain I was feeling was for nothing. This very struggle was one I had with myself the entire labor. It was a mental challenge not to allow myself to get discouraged when things weren’t happening the way I thought they “should” be. Part of my life-issue… needing to control the situation. Well, God certainly used this experience to drive home a point in that area of my life! Norma, Toni, and Ken were all great about keeping me focused and encouraged. Toni kept reminding me that EVERY contraction was bringing me closer to my baby. That EVERY sensation was progress. That labor WAS happening.

Norma said that we needed to all try to get some sleep. Ken and I got in the bed, Toni insisted on sitting on the floor next to me (I promise I offered her a chair.) and Norma went back to the hotel for a couple of hours. I’m pretty sure at this point I was starting to moan through the contractions. I also needed a hand to hold and squeeze, so Toni and Ken woke up with me every 5 minutes or so and let me hold onto them through the contractions. Around 3 AM, I was feeling a LOT of back pain and was having a harder time managing the contractions. I’d been in and out of the bath and few times, tried getting comfortable in the bed, tried walking, but I was just restless and tired at the same time. We called Norma and she came back to stay.

Between 3 AM and daylight, it was just one contraction after another. Sips of water or ginger ale or juice between each one. I’d feel the contraction coming on, grab somebody, Toni would push my back with her magic doula hands, and I would climb to the top of the hill, all the while wondering where the damn top of it was. And eventually, it would crest and I’d feel it recede. I had to really just lock myself into my own head during the contractions because they required so much effort. A few times during the peak of the pain, Ken would let out a big cough and I would startle “awake”, glare at him, lose my focus, and get pissed. He was such a great sport about my complaints. He never stopped trying to help, he never retreated or got his feelings hurt. He stayed with me through every contraction (well, except when he was cooking breakfast or getting a break from time to time.)

Wren had turned into a posterior position at some point. My guess is the week before when I had that horrible stomach bug, because after that I felt her movements in different places than I had been feeling them. Posterior means her back was more to my back than to my front. Bottom line is this is not the ideal way to labor and causes a lot of back pain. Toni The Magic Doula laid her blessed hands on my back for EVERY SINGLE CONTRACTION. This woman has a physically intense job. She never complained, never took any deep exasperated breaths like I’m sure I would have been doing if I was her. She never gave any indication that what she was doing was difficult, or even work. She was simply offering her service with love. Wow… what a lesson. I’m going to be processing on that one for a long time to come. Norma had me working in a few different positions to coax Wren into an anterior position. And they worked but only temporarily. Wren insisted on getting back into a posterior position every time.

At daylight, we all went into the kitchen and had breakfast. But because Ken can’t cook “just” breakfast, we also had baked chicken breasts, rice, and salad to go with our eggs and biscuits. I couldn’t eat much but I knew I needed the energy.

At this point I had no idea how much longer we had. There were a hand full of moments through the process that I really had to just let it out and lose myself. I would cry and plead for somebody to just tell me how much longer, give me an attainable short term goal, give me ANY indication that this was going to happen soon. But in true natural birth fashion, Toni and Norma insisted on letting me work all that out without pacifying me with half lies. They didn’t know how much longer. Only God was in control of that. My only short term goal was to get through the next contraction, and their response to how likely I would be holding my baby soon… likely, but what does soon mean???

I remember asking Toni, how likely is it that this will happen today? Very likely. How likely before noon? Possibly. How likely in the next few hours? Hard to tell. You get my point. They allowed me to work through those frustrations on my own, and they did it with love. I’m so glad they did. It was one of the greatest lessons in all of this. And a repeat of a life lesson that God has been trying to teach me for years… STOP trying to coordinate things and allow them to unfold. It is HIS plan and HIS timing that we ultimately want anyway. Not ours.

Back to the event… I started feeling “funny”. I was shaky and thought maybe this was transition. Looking back, I think it was more that I was losing my energy and had just exhausted myself. I asked Norma to check me and I was 4-6 cm. Norma is a smart lady. I’m sure she could have narrowed it down to a specific number, but she didn’t. She left me the option of freaking out because I was “only” four or rejoicing because I was “already” six. I didn’t do either though. At this point, I was surrendering to the process and just riding it out. I know now that surrendering like that allowed me to progress much quicker for the last part of the labor.

The contractions were intense. I was squatting on Norma, hanging on Ken, clawing on Toni, hands and knees, standing up, lying on my side, just surviving each one as best I could. Moaning through them became crucial. And the tone of the moan made a difference in how I was coping. Norma and Toni helped me keep my tones low. When I would start to feel out of control and the tones would elevate, I could feel the pain worsen and my energy would just pour out without a direction.

My body started pushing before I realized I was even doing it. I had no choice. The moans became grunts and growls. Everything turned primal. Norma told me to wait… that I could damage my cervix if I pushed before I was fully dilated. And remember, she had just checked me at 4-6 cm. But the problem was, I couldn’t NOT push. Even the thought of damaging my cervix was no match for the instinct to push. Norma checked me again and said with a smile, “You’re ready. That was fast.”

I pushed for about 2 hours, but I only remember bits and pieces. I remember biting the headboard (told you it got primal) and I remember Toni and Norma telling me to keep my energy LOW…. to tuck my chin and make a letter C around the baby. I had been pushing on the bed on my hands and knees, sometimes just kneeling, but when it came time to get her out I had to stand up. So there I was, standing at the side of my bed, gripping Toni and Ken, grunting like a wild animal. I was pushing and she was coming down but I remember fighting with myself. In my head I could not imagine how anatomically this was going to work. Even after all the reading, researching, birth stories, videos, etc, I still had a mental block about it actually happening.

Toni and Norma started cheering me on, saying “Come on, Ivey! Push your baby out! Her head is going to crown with this next push!” I wanted to believe them. I really did. But I was still unsure. And then it started hurting so bad I got pissed. I gave it my all. This is where Ken says I yelled out the Indian Squaw scream, “Lililililililli!!!” You’ll have to get him to reenact that one for you. It’s priceless. And at that moment, her head came out. Sweet Jesus! Physical relief and in my head the FIRST physical proof that this shit was actually going down! Norma told Ken to reach down and feel his baby’s head. When he did, Wren did a 180 and flipped anterior. When she did, she pointed her shoulder and just spun herself out. I didn’t have to push again. Ken caught his baby.

And Norma helped him support her, get me turned around, and handed me my Baby Wren. We had done it. She and I together. And she was perfect. And I was so present. And God was there smiling. Telling me “I told you that you could do it.” And I did. I really did. The light was angelic. I rubbed her back and watched her magnificent body oxygenate itself. Her color spread from the touch of my hand to her fingers and toes. She was squawking like a little bird (appropriate). We had the blinds open and I looked outside for the first time. It started raining. And I started nursing. All the build up just slowly faded. Calm and peace set in. Norma was busy tending to me and Wren, Toni was snapping pictures (thank you for remember to do that!), while Ken and I just looked back and forth from each other to our new baby in complete AWE with what we had just witnessed. It was birth as God intended. It was holy. It was sacred. And we had been there. Just overwhelming gratitude.


As things started to return to normal, we ate (damn that baked chicken was good), cleaned up a little, smiled at each other, got settled in to rest a while. Norma kept a check on how I was feeling and I was still floating on adrenaline and all of those heavenly chemicals your body produces in childbirth. I felt like a million bucks. Wren nursed for over 2 hours. She knew immediately what to do.

Around 3 PM, Norma checked me again and said she wanted to look closer at a tear. It turned out that the tear was more than she was comfortable repairing. She suggested we call Magnussen’s office to see if they could stitch me there, but they were in Columbus that afternoon. It started to look like our only option was going to be the ER for stitches. I was SO tired and all I wanted was a bath and a nap, but Norma convinced me they needed to be repaired that day. She was so concerned about me having to go to the hospital after all that we had been able to do at home, but honestly it never took away from anything we had experienced up to that point. I knew it’s what we had to do, and nobody was in real danger.

After we had decided that Ken would take me and Wren to the ER, we started to get ready to go and I started bleeding again. More than Norma was ok with. She told Ken to go ahead and call the ambulance then she quickly took my face in her hands and peered into my eyes and told me not to worry, that I was fine, but she did not want me passing out in the car on the way to the hospital and that it looked like I might. I tried not to get alarmed, but the energy changed. Toni was getting me dressed and packing Wren a bag. Ken was on the phone with the paramedic and shortly after that we heard the sirens. I’ll say this, it is strange to be picked up in an ambulance when you feel like a million bucks. I was still so high from the birth that I was doing the princess wave on the stretcher coming down our front steps for all the neighbors. I regret that my friends and neighbors had to piece together what must have been happening and I hate that they were so alarmed. I would have been, too. But all was well. The hospital staff stitched me up and my bleeding stopped by the time we got there.

Fast forward 4 days later. My biggest physical complaint is the nagging cough Ken gave me (plus stitches, put that together why dontcha). Wren and I have been waited on hand and foot by Ken and my mom. Big sister Day is totally in love (although she’s having a hard time understanding why we can’t take Wren to the playground or push her in the toy grocery cart). Our friends and family have been in and out visiting us in the very room she was born in. All is just as it should be.

The Nest

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baby Wren’s room is ready for her! Although it’s not likely to be used any time soon. I’m sure she’ll be in our room for a long while, just like her big sister was (um, is). But, it’s such a cute room!

Craft #1 was the door panels. Paper and watery glue (can’t think of what that’s called – baby brain). If you have not discovered pinterest.com, go do so now.

Craft #2 was the lamp and shade. My friend Brandi gave me this great lamp and I knew I wanted to use it in here, so I painted it white and recovered the shade. Again, pinterest.

Craft #3 was the mobile. This is not where it will hang permanently, but I’ve been instructed not to climb the ladder. So, just to give you an idea, I hung it from the fan. Thanks, pinterest.

Craft #4 was a gift from my friend, Terri. She painted these panels to match the bedding. Are they perfect or what? All for Baby Wren. Sweetness! And the 2 prints next to the closet door I found on Etsy.com... Another MUST if you want to feel creative.

Now, all nursery projects and tasks are complete. I threw away the list. Let’s do this!