Friday, November 30, 2012

5 Question Friday! 11/30/12

5 Question Friday!  Link up!

1. W
hat do you give teachers for gifts?

My kids aren't school-aged yet, so we haven't had this issue.  However, as a piano & voice teacher, I can tell you what NOT to get for teachers.  I've had a few interesting gifts in my years of teaching.  ;)  Homemade stuff is cute but it does get thrown away. (Sorry!)  Since most teachers get bombarded with similar gifts (read: mugs, hot chocolate, etc.), which aren't awful, but when you have a bajillion mugs, then it's a bit much.  One family I teach give me potted flowers every year -- they decorate the front of my house all spring, summer & early fall!  I have a couple that give baked goods (some teachers don't appreciate this, but I do) and if I get too many at one time, I freeze some.  Since school teachers get lots of gifts, when in doubt, a gift certificate for the local coffee shop is something I think everyone would appreciate, whether they drink coffee or not!

2. Do you text? One finger texter or total pro?

Since I'm normally holding a child or two, I use one hand.  It's amazing the proficiency I have when I can use BOTH hands!

3. Do you give back during the holidays? If so, in what way/which is your favorite charity?

I wouldn't say we 'give back' during the holiday season any more than any other season.  We give as we see and hear about needs all year long. 

4. If you would've been the sole winner of the 575+ million dollar Powerball jackpot, what would you have done with all that money?

This is always an interesting question!  Almost everyone says, "Give to charity!"  And yes, I would give to charity and tithe a large portion of it.  Other than that, I'd buy a larger home.  Not that we really need it, though.  And I'd buy my husband a newer motorcycle.  The rest would be invested in various places.  But, I'd never win the Powerball because I know the statistical chances of winning and know my money would get a better return invested elsewhere. :)

5. Will you please take just a moment to spread the word and pray about my friend's missing family members? There still is no news, and I can't imagine their pain and worry. Facebook prayer page: Prayers for Trista, Shy and Matt.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Can't Get Enough

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 100% Snuggly

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Visit from Midwife India

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Friday, November 2, 2012

The Birth Story of Mylo Kenneth

This is the birth story of my son, Mylo Kenneth.  If you want the short, clean version, he was born  -- in a hospital, with the caul, was posterior, and caught in the water, by me, his Mama. :)

But, if you want all the details, including pictures, please continue on to read this lengthy account!

You can believe me when I say, that at close to 42 weeks pregnant, I was ready to meet my baby.  It's not that this pregnancy had been horrible or I was 'so over it', because that wasn't the case.  I actually felt OK considering it all.  It's that I'd been having prodromal labor for weeks and that was driving me crazy.  To spend hours a day wondering "Is this it?" and  "These contractions are getting closer and closer" or "OK, these ones are taking my breath away, surely, this must be the real deal" was emotionally exhausting. 

So yes, after a couple weeks of this happening, I was in a constant state of ready, ready and ready!

Not only that, but I was feeling pressure to be done with this pregnancy.  Not from my midwife, she was chill about it all and confident my body would birth in its time, but because of schedules.  People around me were canceling and rescheduling things constantly and I was feeling guilty.  Everyone was on hold for two weeks, waiting for me to give birth!

I prayed and prayed.  Worshiped and worshiped some more.  In spite of all that, I snapped at my husband and felt like I was living on an edge.  Again, this didn't have to do with going a bit longer in my pregnancy, but because I knew my time of support from my husband was coming to a close with every day that passed.  His workload was piling very high and he was super stressed because he couldn't delve into much of it.  He really wanted to take a week off of work to help me after the baby was born, but with all the work continuing to snowball as his busy season was starting, it wasn't looking promising. 

When I woke up on the morning of August 13th, as I was getting my daughter and I ready to go to work (yes, my kids come with me to work - awesomeness!), I once again got everything ready at home as I was having contractions.  But this morning, for some reason, felt different.  I had an awful night, but I woke up feeling refreshed and for the first time I felt like it wouldn't be much longer. 

I remember checking the clock around 9am, knowing that contractions were present even before that.  I went out to work as normal and started timing contractions around noon as they were getting slightly uncomfortable.  They were lasting about 45 seconds to a minute and coming at different intervals. 

I still timed them, just like I had so many other times, just in case.

Around 2:00 PM, I text my husband, "Prodromal labor freaking sucks. Idk why I get my hopes up every.single.time."

Because of the start-stop pattern of the contractions, I was frustrated.  I wasn't feeling very positive.  My sister, Selena, painted my toe nails as a special treat for me.

At 2:55 PM, I text Dallas again: "Leaving work soon. Contrx 5-6 mins apart, def feeling them"

We talked on the phone after that and I told him to go about his afternoon plans, just keep his phone nearby.  After all, we had been through this and I wasn't about to ask him to rearrange his schedule again.

I went home and got a few things together, played my labor playlist on Spotify, and got caught up on a few Facebook messages.  I was feeling a little more chipper! 

4:18 PM, text to Dallas: Lasting longer than a min now & the peaks are longer.  Just so you know & are aware.  (Meaning, keep going about your work, just want you to know.)

I decided I should tell my sister, just in case.

5:51 PM, I text her that something may be going on. Again, I didn't want her to change her plans (for the umpteenth time), when I didn't really know if this was it.
*Side note: Maybe you remember that I was having a hard time deciding on who I wanted at this baby's birth?  Well, I decided on my sister.  She was the best photographer and back-up support ever! :)

Dallas came home and I decided to take a nap and practice some visualization techniques during the contractions.  All this time is a bit of a blur because I'm not convinced I'm having a baby.  My contractions are too light, even though they've been going on ALL DAY!

At 8:55 PM I text my sister asking for prayer because I'm frustrated, I'm not convinced this is it, and I had visions of fast labor.  It's been at least 12 hours of back and forth and who knows if this is anything.  By this point in India's labor, I was definitely feeling it!  I'm worried I have a long ways to go.  I was losing the tiny bit of confidence that I had.

Less than hour later, everything changes!  I sit with my daughter around 9:45 PM, as I'm now pretty sure that this is the real deal.  I take some pictures with her, snuggle with her between contractions and get some final belly pics.

Look at our bellies! 

My daughter & I enjoying our contractions together! ;)  Look how the baby is sitting way to the left.

 I take one last belly picture.

Almost 42 weeks pregnant! 

Around 10 PM, I text my mom and told her I was in labor and it was time to come and get India.  I then moved to my bed for the rest of my time at home.  I was now trying to slow the contractions down as I didn't want to go to the hospital before midnight.  I could hardly believe how quickly things changed in a little over an hour.

10:06 PM text to my sister: Contractions are now 3-4 minutes apart and I seem to have turned a corner!  But I have back labor!  ACK! 

She asks if baby is posterior (sunny side up) but I don't respond because I don't want to even entertain that thought!  Maybe that's why my contractions seemed to double and then would slow?  I know and have heard stories of long, arduous labors with posterior babies!  My mom's second baby and my sister's second baby were both posterior.  Coincidentally, all of our first labors were nearly identical and being that this was my second baby, I didn't want to follow suite!  

My sister says she's packing up and getting ready to go. 

My Dad came shortly to get my daughter and I cried a bit, knowing life was going to change drastically for her.  It was bittersweet to leave her.  India and my midwife, Anne, both adore each other and Anne had asked at a prenatal appointment if India would be coming with to the hospital for baby's delivery (yes, my midwife is that awesome).  I had contemplated having India with me during labor and delivery, but at that point I was glad she wasn't sticking around because I only wanted to be touched on my terms and my 2-year-old daughter wasn't understanding that.  I think she would've been fine watching me during labor and she is very compassionate and loving, but she doesn't understand 'Mama does NOT want to be touched right now!'    

My Dad, who isn't used to seeing women in labor, or me laying quietly in bed while IN labor, suggests I go to the hospital.  Bless his heart, the hospital I birth at is 50 minutes away and he's worried about me.

"No, Dad.  I'm not going yet.  I don't know when I'm going, but it's not time yet.  Don't stress me out, I know what I'm doing.  It's not time."  All said in love, of course! :)

10:39 PM, in desperation, I text my sister to come join me and also to pray against the shakes.  I had them horribly with India's labor and they made it very difficult because I couldn't relax between contractions.  I was starting to have them again and I didn't want them!  My number one request, hope, wish, prayer, and desire was that I didn't have the shakes during this labor and wouldn't throw up between contractions. 

Around 11:20 PM, my sister arrived to find me breathing slowly through contractions.  Worship music is playing and my house is quiet and dimly lit.

Dallas laid behind me on the bed and put counter-pressure on my lower back during contractions.  This helped SO much with the back labor and made contractions very manageable.  

In labor dreamland...

I breathed and visualized relaxing scenes (I honestly can't remember what they were now, but I know there were thoughts about rainbows and gently floating down the river in the sun) and felt like I was entering another world.  Enveloped with prayer, I feltl little to no pain, which is incredible. Things would get a little intense at the peak of the contractions, but I maintained my composure.  I wasn't my usual self, but instead very soft spoken, contemplative and restful. 

My body pillow didn't leave my side until I got into the tub at the hospital.
I had to pee constantly.  And pee I did!  Every couple of contractions, I got up and fully peed.  I have no idea where all that urine came from!  Holy moly!  Since I was trying to slow the contractions, I didn't enjoy getting up because that means two contractions, pretty closely spaced.

I would lean on Dallas when having contractions while standing.  He had shaved earlier and the lingering smell of shaving cream made me very sick!  Every scent, sound and touch is magnified whilst in labor.

On and off since my sister had arrived, we talked about when we would go to the hospital.  I'll be honest and say I was NOT looking forward to the car ride.  Reminiscing on my labor with India, my contractions were so intense (and I wasn't even 2cm dilated!) by the time we left for the hospital that I thought I was going to jump out of our fast-moving vehicle. I threw up in the car and was shaking.  I didn't want anything remotely similar to happen again.

Getting up out of bed for a trip to the bathroom
When we passed midnight, I knew it was time to let my body go.  No more trying to slow contractions.  I started thinking (maybe saying) that I wanted a baby by 2 AM!  I went to the bathroom (again) and felt like 'it was time' and we left for the hospital around 12:30 AM. 

The ride there was quite manageable!  It was NOTHING like the ride there during my previous labor!  I could tell my contractions were intensifying and it was harder to stay composed during them while in the vehicle, but it was nothing awful.  I remember laying there, thinking, "Things haven't been 'bad' yet...I wonder when that's going to start..."  Dallas and I were hoping and praying that I was at least 3cm dilated and 4cm would warrant a celebration.  I was mentally preparing myself for hours and hours of labor since I wasn't feeling even a fraction of what I felt with my first labor.

We arrived at the hospital around 1:15 AM.  But first, I have to pee in the parking lot, which is a lot better than puking in it like I did last time! :) 

My husband, walking me into the hospital
While my husband talks to some people at the hospital, I sat in the entryway, with my sister.  As a contraction or two hit, I leave my post leaning on the wheelchair and lean on her through them.  She is into natural hair care as well, but the scent of some product in her hair made me nauseated, especially at the peak of my contractions.  But I decide I'd rather be with her than labor alone.

Waiting to be admitted to the hospital and staying composed under fluorescent lights in the hospital's entrance.
We probably get to my room around 1:25 AM.  With this labor, it feels better for me to lay on my left side during contractions.  My last labor, I think I would've punched you in the face if you made me lay down during contractions as I had to be standing.  When I get to my room, I'm so happy to lay back down with my body pillow! 

A nurse asks if she could monitor the baby real quick, to which I have no objections.
Checking on Baby

The nurse asked to check me, to which I say, "YES, please!"  In some circles, vaginal exams during labor aren't a welcome thing, for many reasons.  I didn't know if I'd want any internal exams while in labor and was going to play it by ear, but for my own morale, this time I wanted to know exactly what my sweet cervix was up to.

She checks me, says "OK", and then I don't hear the rest of what she said.  I think my sister and I both asked her to repeat herself, to which she replied, "7 centimeters and 100% effaced." 

You cannot imagine my elation!!!  Do you know how HARD I had to work to get to 7cm with India?!  And here I was, doing pretty well (definitely in labor though), with little to no effort! 

I immediately said, "Fill the tub and get Anne here!" 

With big hugs and kisses for Dallas, tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face, I was thrilled! 

7 cm dilated!  Tears of joy, lots of hugs and kisses and I was ready for what was next!

I asked the nurse to take the fetal monitor off.  While waiting for the tub to fill, I remember talking some in between contractions.  I don't remember things being painful (yet), but things were still manageable.  I answer questions as needed and my ever-faithful, rock of a husband, supports me gently through each contraction.

Laboring with my faithful husband

Things were unbelievably peaceful.  No one was rushing around or freaking out.  I was nervous birthing in a hospital as a "42-weeker" (or thereabouts) and I was worried about unnecessary pressure or procedures.  No one bothered me a bit.  I had a nurse that listened to what I wanted -- "take off the fetal monitor", "fill the tub", "call Anne" -- all said nicely, of course, and she had no issue with any of my requests.  With all the time I spend "in" the natural childbirth realm of the cyberworld, I hear lots of hospital horror stories and I have to say, this birth, just like my last one, didn't resemble anything like the awful tales I've heard.

Happy and at peace in labor!
Once the tub was filled, I decided I would go to the bathroom one last time before getting in.  As I was finishing up, I felt a wave of pressure, welling up.  I remember leaning on Dallas as the contraction hit, looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing my midwife there.  I was very happy to see her!  She was going on vacation and even though my old midwife (she came out of retirement to help Anne out) would be covering for her, I had become very comfortable with Anne and wanted her there.  I threw my hair up in a messy bun and apologized as I hugged her for making her get up in the middle of the night, on top of some already VERY busy weeks for her. 

I felt bad, but she graciously said, "It's no problem...your birth is one I didn't want to miss."

I may not look it, but I was so happy to see my midwife!  I think this hug was mid-apology!

I took off my wrap-a-round skirt and my shirt and enter the birthing tub around 1:50 AM.  I remember its warmth and comfort and ease on my body, but I'm also hit with a surge of 'this is it' and 'I'm ready'!  There is no going back!

Relaxing in between contractions
I told Dallas to turn my music on and the first song that plays is my favorite worship song right now, "Encounter Me" by Citipointe Live.  I've listened to it countless times, in preggo/hormonal desperation, so it has great meaning to me.  As I've begged God to let this precious little one come naturally, on his or her own time, I also prayed for sanity and strength. 

Encounter me
Let all of Heaven collide with

All that's inside me
Encounter me
Just one glimpse of Your glory

Spirit take over me

Laboring in the tub

I try to relax every bit of my body in between contractions.  Encounter me... 

As contractions start up, I mentally tell my body that it's doing its job, that I CAN do this.  Let all of heaven collide with, all that's inside me... 

When at the peak of a contraction, I wonder how I will continue.  Just one glimpse of Your glory... 

As a musician and worship leader, I want to sing vocally, as that is sometimes how I best communicate my soul to God.  Spirit take over me... 

Dallas prays silently
The room was silent, except for my music.  Gentle lights are turned on over the tub.  I alternate between leaning back or resting forward, mentally relaxing all of me, especially my jaw, in between contractions.  Steady and slow breaths leave my mouth.  I fill my mind with prayers and promises...

I've done this before...
My body was made for this...
I can do this...

Waterbirth belly

I am calm, confident, at peace, determined and feeling fierce.  I am quiet.  Focused.  When a new wave comes, my eyes open, and I'm brought from my peaceful birthing land and reminded that this is real.  I make eye contact with Anne, looking for her support, and she gently gives me advice.  "Relax your shoulders", she says.

The thought of an epidural or any sort of medication to relieve pain never crosses my mind.

I move as I please, listening to what my body wants. I find myself most comfortable in the position I preferred during my daughter India's birth: kneeling upright, with my arms holding my husband or the side of the tub. 

My position while the contraction wave hits
There doesn't seem to be that many contractions, at least compared to last time but each contraction is getting stronger and only at the peak do I question things -- just for a second.  Anne reassures me with her eyes. Dallas' breath and gentle physical support is enough to power me.  My sister quietly snaps photos and at the end of a contraction adds, "Good job, you've got this."

One of my favorite pictures of me & my support team in labor.  My sister is taking the photo, and as I relax in the tub while my husband and midwife surround me with gentle support.

At one point, a song I listened to a lot in high school, plays through my phone -- Jennifer Knapp's "Faithful to Me (Reprise)".  I hear my sister sing along a bit and everything in me wanted to join her, harmonizing just perfectly as we have done for hundreds of hours before.  I sing a bit, but the quietness of the room and the echo of my voice on the water makes me realize I can't control my voice enough.  I guess even in labor, I'm a perfectionist.  Mostly I just let the words permeate.

I see the nurse (who I don't think I even noticed she was in the room until this point) grab something.  I make eye contact with her and instinctively, I feel like it's something I don't want any part of.  She sees me staring and hides whatever she has behind her back.  My sister later tells me it was an amnihook.  She offered it to Anne later (I didn't see this happen), but thankfully, Anne refused it.  I would've been a mad little cookie had someone try to break my waters.

Things are starting to change.  While kneeling and contracting, I periodically feel for baby, as I know he or she is close.  I enjoy one long period of rest, dreaming, while my husband holds me.  I think we both know what is coming next.

Resting right before giving birth

What happens for the next five minutes is the labor I remember with India.  Where I had previously been calm and composed, suddenly I was up, moving and VOCAL.  The water was no longer tranquil as I moved about, trying to find any position that would ease the pressure.  For about five minutes, I only got brief periods of reprieve in between contractions and it's hard for me to gather strength and focus in that short of time. 

I find myself kneeling, with no time to sink back down into the warm water between the waves.

I give into the pressure as my body tells me. 

I feel confined for a few seconds and feel the urge to get out of the tub.  I say, "Get me the ____ out of here!"
I grunt. 
"Oh God, *expletive*, *expletive*!  Jesus!  Help me!"
The rest of the room is still quiet and calm except for the occasional encouragement from Anne, Dallas or Vanessa. 

I feel like I'm all alone in a mad trance but yet at the same time I feel the support of my team as well.

I KNOW I'm close.  I reach down and feel my baby's head.  I can clearly recall exactly what India's head felt like as I birthed her with my own hands, so I know something is distinctly different.

My little one's head is still enveloped by membranes and call out with joy, "It's still in the caul!"

I'm invigorated by this fact - I've always wanted a caul baby!  It's a rare thing (some sources say 1 in 1,000 births, others say 1 in 80,000 births are born with a caul) and caul babies are considered exceptionally blessed!

I know I'm so close to meeting my little one.  My body is at full force.  I mention the ring of fire and feel lots of pressure.  I scream out to Dallas, "Help me!"  He remains calm, patient, gentle and steady -- like always.  I mention (again) that I want him to announce the sex of this baby, like he did with our daughter.

For these five minutes and maybe four pushes, it HURTS.

But I can't stop and I use my hands to check my progress constantly. 

In the next instant, with another push, I say "I've got the head!" and I catch my baby!

Catching my caul baby

As I hold the baby's head, still covered in membranes, a little arm breaks out.

"I have an arm!"

Quite possibly my favorite picture!  Catching my posterior, caul baby, in the water, at a hospital, all by myself!!!

In this photo, his little hand is free, but the caul is still covering him.  My midwife is reaching in to remove the membranes as I bring him up out of the water.

Feeling the warmth, relief, and release, as a little body slides out of me, I lift my baby up out of the water and support its little bum...

Bringing the baby out of the water.  I'm pretty sure Anne, my midwife, was making sure the caul and anything else was removed so baby could breathe.

And I smile and laugh!  As Dallas tries to see the little one's gender, I had already clearly felt that it was a boy!  He looks to tell me the gender, "It's a ..." but before he could continue, I smile and said "Boy!"

It's a boy!

Talking to my son!

While I lean back into the tub, someone asks about the time and the nurse says, "2:34."  It couldn't have been timed better, spending less than an hour and a half at the hospital while in labor.  I'm overjoyed and Dallas and I spend time sharing our love for each other and our new son!


I'm still feeling very contemplative and, I don't know, complete, I guess.  The peace and quiet that accompanied me throughout my labor is still lingering.  I sit in the tub with him, while we wait for his umbilical cord to stop pulsating.  "We have a son" is said repeatedly and we don't even notice what is going on around us.
My peaceful little boy, who spent the next several hours staring at me!

I deliver the placenta as I am making my way from the tub to the bed.  Dallas held our son for a minute while I walked to the bed. 

Daddy holds his son for the first time

I tore a little, but opted to skip out on stitches.  My midwife is in agreement.  We shared some jokes about the TV show Friends.  I apologized for yelling and about pairing my choice of cuss words while I was crying out to God for help.  I'm telling you, I make the best pastor's wife. ;)

Anne told us whenever we were ready we could head to our room and/or weigh our little caul baby, but there was no rush.  But we spend the next bit of time talking, staring at him and I nurse him. 

In awe of our little man!

About 45 minutes after he was born, as Anne was preparing to leave, I am ready to see how much he weighs and get settled into my room to get some rest.  He was 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 20 inches long.

I'm brought to my room, still on a high from all the details of Mylo's birth and once again, amazed at what my body had just accomplished!  I am forever empowered by my two different, but yet incredible, birth experiences.

Nursing Mylo
As we settled in, we were overcome with emotions and an amazing sense of love that comes, in the most supernatural way, when you become a parent.  How do we deserve something so beautiful, so amazing and so miraculous?  What will he become?  How will God use him to make a difference on the earth? 

While holding our perfect son, we thanked God for his provision on my labor, the safe delivery of our son and the new addition to our little family!

In love.

I want to express special thanks to my midwife, Anne, for her gentle encouragement, her 'hands off' approach, for not breaking my water during labor (and letting me have my caul baby!), and for believing my body would birth in its time.  I know it's rare to have support like that in a world where most births are pressured and controlled. 

Thank you also, to my sister Vanessa, for knowing just what to say at the right times.   These amazing photos are all courtesy of her -- one of my most cherished gifts ever!  It was her first time photographing a birth and she did an excellent job!  I'm already claiming her for my next baby. ;) 

Of course, the most thanks to my partner, best friend and the most wonderful labor coach anyone could imagine, my husband, Dallas.  His steady presence, never escalating into even the slightest bit of panic, really set the tone for the entire duration of Mylo's peaceful birth.  Even though he doesn't care to know all the details of labor and delivery, he always trusts me with my decisions and believes in me.

And, I want to thank you, my sweet, faithful readers for your encouragement throughout this pregnancy, for waiting patiently for this birth story and for reading all about the birth of my beautiful son!

Read about how Mylo got his name.