Birth of Carter James

In case you aren’t aware, I had a pretty traumatic birth with my daughter, Ellie, despite all my intentions for a natural water birth at the hospital.  Before I ever even imagined getting pregnant again, I knew my next birth would have to be different.  No, the length of my labor and other factors wouldn’t be entirely in my hands. Birth is unpredictable…no one had to tell me that!  But, I had to seek out better, more personalized care.  I needed more support and less intervention.  Truly, I didn’t want to be back in a hospital. After seeing so much great feedback from friends on their experiences at Natural Beginnings Birth Center, I had to try that option first.  On May 16th, against almost every odd, I found out I was going to have our second child.  Within a few days, we were touring NBBC.  Thankfully, they considered me to be low risk and a good candidate for having this baby in the birth center. Not sure what a birth center is or how it’s different from a hospital birth? Here are some FAQs on NBBC’s website. From my first visit to the birth of our son, the midwives and staff at NBBC invested into my family. We were important and we were known.  All 3 (well, 4) of us!

In the week leading up to Carter’s birthday, I had tons of contractions but nothing actually ramped up to the point of being active “labor”.  I was trying not to get my hopes up because it was still early and I hadn’t even hit my due date yet.  Ellie came 3 days “late” so I knew it could be a week or two more.  Trust me, I didn’t like the idea of it.  I had a pretty good feeling I was carrying a bigger baby and I was getting pretty tired.  On Tuesday night, January 24th, I took my usual epsom salt bath to relieve some swelling and relax.  It had been a quiet day without many contractions but I distinctly remember standing in the bathroom thinking, “I think my water is going to break tonight. I should text my doula. No, that’s crazy. My water isn’t going to break.”  So, I released the thought, went downstairs and watched “Fixer Upper” with Philip before heading to bed.  I remember waking up uncomfortable a few times with the feeling like Carter had moved into a different position in my pelvis.  I had a couple contractions that woke me randomly.  I even got up and checked on Ellie just to walk for a minute and see if I could relieve some pressure. Still had no expectation of anything happening.

At 4:45am I woke to feeling a strong kick (totally normal, he was insane in the womb) and instantly felt a pop that was distinctly different from the kick.  Before my mind could even finish the thought of, “Hmmm I wonder if that was my water breaking,” BAM!  Warm fluid pouring out of me.  I guess some people have their water break in less dramatic fashion, but there was NO denying what was happening.  The next 10 minutes I wish would’ve been captured on video.  I patted Philip frantically on the back and said, “Philip! My water broke!” Poor guy jumped out of bed, turned the light on and asked what to do. I asked for towels and when he brought them I nervously asked him to look and make sure the fluid was clear.  I knew if there were signs of meconium in my water things would be very different. All these thoughts were rushing into my mind as I tried to figure out who to call first. “What if my labor doesn’t start on it’s own?” “This is not how I wanted things to start. This really could complicate the birth.” “I don’t want to be put on a strict clock to have this baby.” Thankfully, the fluid was clear.

I first called my mom because I knew if things did start up soon, she’d need the most notice since she was on Ellie duty and lives an hour and a half away.  I told her to take her time and shower and I’d let her know how things progress. Then, I woke up my doula, Mary, who was with us for Ellie’s birth and is such an amazing part of my support system.  For some reason, the last of my important calls was to the birth center midwife on call. I think I was nervous to find out what they wanted me to do.  Marcia answered so calmly and encouraged me to clean up and do what I needed to, but if contractions weren’t starting to try and go back to sleep to keep my energy up. She told me I had a full 24 hours before I’d even need to come to the birth center if labor didn’t start and then we’d try natural things for a while to get things going.  I was relieved to hear all this.  I decided since my water was still gushing, that I would get in the shower and stop soaking everything in sight.  While in the shower, I started getting hit with lower back contractions that I quickly realized were forming a pattern. That pattern was every 2 minutes!  WOAH!  They were only lasting 30-40 seconds but I wasn’t getting much break. These were distinctly different from contractions with Ellie that were the classic full on tightening of my whole stomach.

Marcia did mention poor positioning of the baby could cause my water to break like it did and the back labor had me suspicious that Carter was OP – meaning he was head down but facing up. It’s safe to give birth like that, but it can really make for a long and hard labor because it isn’t nearly as easy of a journey out with how everything is designed to come out.  Awesome info on posterior position and what that means here.  Ellie was OP and my labor with her was full of stalls, exhaustion, interventions, and lasted 40 hours.

I was cautiously optimistic that it might still go a little better since my contractions were consistent and close together already. I also felt confident that my team would be on top of things and would be prepared to help us try to shift him or to keep labor going well despite his position.  After my shower we started to pull things together and Philip went to get breakfast since that might be the most complete meal he’d have for a while.  I turned on my playlist of worship music and started really focusing and breathing through the contractions. I also was able to consume a high protein yogurt since I know I tend to get really sick during labor and I wanted to get something in before things got too intense.

Things only got more intense as my contractions moved closer to a minute long and mostly remained 2 minutes apart.  With rush hour traffic on the horizon and a 50 minute drive ahead, we decided to get things moving.  Thankfully Saundra, our pastor’s wife, offered to come to the house if there was a gap between when we needed to leave and when my mom would arrive.  My mom was still about 30 minutes away  but we needed to get going.  So, at 6:40am we headed on the road with the music playing.  The contractions were pretty much awful in the car without the ability to move around.  I did my best to focus on the music and take it one at a time.  My birth photographer, Victoria, and my doula, Mary, were also both on the road to meet us there.

Surprisingly, the car ride didn’t feel as long as it was (50 minutes) because I just focused on one contraction at a time and didn’t really look at where we were on the road much. It was a beautiful but chilly morning. It was 37 degrees when we arrived but over 70 by the afternoon! What a beautiful day to be born. Victoria captured the sun rising so I will never forget it!

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Upon arrival, I worked through some contractions leaning over the bed in the birth suite while the nurses and other staff were getting situated since we all arrived about the same time. Then, I was checked for progress and they listened to little man’s heart. It was the very first time I had been checked since they don’t do routine checks at the end of pregnancy. I loved that aspect of my care. I was kind of surprised to find out I was only at 3cm and thinning. They said they wouldn’t officially admit me in case I wanted to leave and come back at any point but since my water was broken I was welcome to stay. The thought of going anywhere was pretty laughable to me with it being a few hours into contractions coming every 2 minutes or so. 

Everyone was pretty confident he was OP so our goal was to make room in my pelvis for him to turn into better positioning and to move down more since I believe he was at a -1 station. I don’t believe it was too much longer when my midwife Nicole came in to see me. I was so excited because I didn’t think she was going to be at my birth and I felt so comfortable with her (although the other two are fabulous as well!) I do believe she was meant to be there, though. One of the nurses recommended laboring with the peanut ball between my legs to help make that room for him. It was very comfortable for me and allowed me to really rest between contractions because I had no idea how long it was going to be with only arriving at 3cm. My back labor was probably the trickiest part of things because I really needed good counterpressure. Thank goodness for my doula, Mary, who would lean over me and provide that while I squeezed my husband’s hands to provide a distraction for me so I could keep my face and jaw loose through the contractions.


Mary suggested a shower might also help get him moving around. They have a fabulous shower there with multiple shower heads that can be handheld and apply that warm water wherever you need it. This felt good for a while and Mary would reach in and put pressure on my back in there as well. I would try to squat and do some cat/cow stretches but it proved difficult for me in the contractions. Eventually I got tired and decided to head back to the bed to work with the peanut ball some more. But, we used the journey back to get some more good moving contractions using things like the edge of the bed.


Per usual, my team of two were there every moment providing everything I needed to cope.

Somewhere in the 9am hour I asked to be checked again to see if I had made enough progress to get the tub filling up so I could labor in there as I had so desired all along. You don’t want to get in too soon because it can stall labor early on. Not what I wanted either!

Danielle, my wonderful nurse, came back in and checked me again and even though I had only progressed to 4cm, my cervix was paper thin. I don’t remember if she told me what station he was at then or not. All I recall was that I was getting in the tub as soon as it was ready!



The tub felt really great, but unfortunately it didn’t really put enough pressure on my back and so I stayed in for a little bit but decided I felt the best getting the counterpressure from Mary. Got back out for some more time with that peanut ball. Seems crazy looking back how much time I spent on my side like that with the ball but it wasn’t much longer (probably around 11am) that things really shifted.

I distinctly remember a contraction hitting and hearing myself grunting…hard…as if I was already bearing down. But, I wasn’t trying to do that at all! It was all my body! It kinda freaked me out because it didn’t really happen like that with Ellie and I had an epidural at that point with her. I could see Philip looking concerned and I think he even asked what was happening and if I was okay. I believe at that point Mary walked out and I’m sure she was getting the attention of my care providers because next thing I knew Nicole had walked in to check me. Mary told her I sounded “pushy” I believe. Getting checked at this point was purely awful but I was shocked to be told I was essentially at 10cm! She actually said “9 and 7/8” and I can laugh at that now. Nicole suggested that if I wanted to birth in the tub that now would be the time to get in before I wouldn’t be able to. I suspected it would be a little while because I could tell when she checked me that she had to feel a little ways up and so he would need to labor down some. 

I got in the tub and leaned over the side on my knees. Mary and others were making sure I was hydrated and had cool compresses consistently on my neck. I was in another world and couldn’t really answer anything I was asked. I just opened my mouth when offered water or ice.


I remember thinking it was taking forever and that no matter what position I got into, I really questioned if I was making any progress. I never had a thought that I couldn’t do it, but I did say out loud that I missed the drugs! There were quite a few people in the room between my team and the midwife and the students who were helping and observing. But, there wasn’t any unnecessary talking or noises or interventions. I was left to do the work with only some suggestions of position changes. 

This was fine until I kept looking up in my exhaustion and would see Nicole just watching me. In my state of mind I kept thinking, “Why isn’t she doing anything? This isn’t happening. I’m not pushing him out!” 

I decided I would try to feel myself if his head was close. I thought I might have felt it but honestly I had no idea what I was doing. They noticed and asked me what I felt and that’s when I think I made it clear that I needed some assistance. Nicole came over and checked to see where his head was and he was very close. What a relief. She asked if I wanted some help feeling where to focus my pushing and I gladly accepted because for some reason the water was making it difficult for me to push effectively at first. She and my doula grabbed my legs to help me get some leverage to push against and things really started to kick into gear. I could feel what to do and pushing went from feeling difficult and incredibly frustrating to powerful and effective. 

The only struggle became that the water was so wonderful and effective that my contractions were not quite long enough for me to get tons of progress each time. The second the contraction was over my pushing felt completely pointless. I think this ended up being helpful because I never tore. Things went slowly enough that my body had time to work with it. 

Finally, his head came out and it was confirmed that he never did turn his little head and came out facing up at everyone. I knew there was no rush to push the rest of him out because his body wouldn’t try to breathe under the water but because I was working so hard to get his head out, I had no idea how little effort it would take to get his shoulder and body going. Literally he came shooting out into the water. We joke he looked like a kid in a pool who pushed off the side with their legs. He was like a rocket! And I lunged out fast for him and in just a short second pulled him up to my chest. It was crazy and amazing how he entered the world like that. 




Almost to the minute, he was in my arms 8 hours from when my water broke. We got to recover in the same bed I labored in and we were both so healthy. I never had a high blood pressure reading and his temperature and heart rate were perfect. We still can’t stop talking about how much God blessed us with a beautiful birth and a wonderful supportive place to have him. Just a few hours later we were headed home and a family of four. It was so wonderful to be in our own home that same day. What redemption January 25th held for us. Thank you, Jesus!




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Yes.

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The last time I blogged was in January.  I posted the horrifying ultrasound image of my massive dermoid cyst on my right ovary.  The title was “Are You Here to See a Baby?”.  All I can say now, is for the many times I have said or been told “no” when it came to conceiving another child, He (God) answers with a resounding YES. Why did I ever waste my time listening to any other voice?

Let me explain…

If you didn’t know the history of what happened in the last 6 months and you don’t want to read the previous post about it, the short story is this: I went in early December to get a prescription from my doctor for Clomid, the drug that helped us conceive Ellie after many months of trying naturally.  She agreed to prescribe it but did a quick ultrasound and saw a massive cyst on my right ovary.  After about 6 weeks of monitoring it, it had not gotten any smaller and it was determined I would need surgery to remove it.  In removing it, I would lose my right ovary and right tube. There was no healthy tissue to save.  In the midst of those appointments, God even sent me an actual ANGEL to the doctors office to tell me it was going to be okay and that HE was in control.  The miracle did not come in the form of the cyst just disappearing.  I still had the surgery, still lost my ovary and tube, and still had to wait to heal to even think about trying to conceive again.  In the time following this, I was told by 2 separate doctors that I was essentially not going to conceive…or at least not any time soon.  The first was an OB/GYN who had his nurse call me to relay this message when I had a question about my cycle, “Obviously her body is not able to support a pregnancy right now.  Have her call back in a month if she wants an appointment.” Then, I saw an urgent care doctor for what felt like a UTI. I told her I thought I might be pregnant but just not far enough along for a positive test yet (I was). She told me, “I don’t know why you think you could be pregnant.  You only have one ovary. That like cuts your chances in half” I told her that the doctor who did my surgery gave me a different prognosis but she stuck to her opinion.  I was floored.  3 days later I had a positive test.  You’d better believe I called that office and spoke to a manager and said my peace about that one!

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If it doesn’t already sound like a miracle that I conceived the same month I was told these things, let me make it even clearer. I had TWO ovaries and still needed medication to conceive Ellie.  I had that prescription for Clomid in hand ready to take the second my period came in May.  It NEVER came.  I took a test thinking it would be negative. Ellie was running around the bathroom playing with the test wrapper. Philip was grabbing his keys so we could go pick up our dogs from the boarding kennel.  We just wanted to get our fair shot with the Clomid and never anticipated  a natural conception the ONE month we stopped preventing pregnancy (because I was still healing from surgery in February, March, and early April).  You should’ve heard me yelling for him. Neither of us could believe our eyes.  I’ve never been in shock like that. It took a couple weeks for us to even believe it.

My story of how Ellie came to be is an amazing part of my testimony. But this “Lil’ Bit” (as we affectionately call it) has a story too.  Against so many odds, God proved Himself mighty yet again in our lives.  We cannot even comprehend this goodness.  The journey was long in some ways since we thought I’d start the  Clomid in December.  Weeks of ultrasounds and a surgery and hard recovery followed.  But, don’t you see? Without all that, my story would’ve been so different. Sure, a pregnancy is ALWAYS a huge miracle when you think about it.  I don’t mean to take away from conception that comes easily or even inadvertently. God is in it ALL. He just chooses to show Himself strong in different ways in each of our lives.  It seems He has chosen to show his strength and favor in our lives specifically in the area of our children.  So, here I am. Just over 2 years after I shared about Ellie. I am here to say yet again that He will release HIS blessings in HIS timing.  Release it to Him and I promise you’ll see that in your own life. Don’t ever give up hope.

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Are you here to see a baby?

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That was the gut wrenching question I got from a man in his country clothes, white hair, mustache and sunglasses.  He rode the elevator up to my ob/gyn with me. Stood behind me as I checked in. Heard the receptionist say ultrasound. Then he asked that question.  All that was within me wished I could’ve answered yes as I placed my hand over my belly with a smile.  Instead, I had to reply, “No, but I wish I was,” and then sat down to wait.

The strange man in sunglasses smelled like this spiced smell that wasn’t exactly like any cologne I’ve experienced but at the same time it wasn’t really unpleasant either.  He sat down a few chairs down from me but wasn’t with anyone. Seemed odd that this man was sitting in an ob/gyn office without a wife or daughter or female friend in sight.  I nervously just turned to my phone and tried to pass the time.

Going back a few weeks…

I had gone to see my doctor about getting a prescription for Clomid again on December 2nd.  This was the drug that helped us get pregnant with Ellie and we were ready to add/probably complete our little family.  She took me into her office and chatted with me and said she would write the script but that she just wanted to briefly do a scan and make sure everything looked good to start trying again.  I was really frustrated because I don’t have fantastic insurance and I didn’t really want to pay for an ultrasound!  But, obviously I wanted the script for Clomid, so I complied.  She pulled the image up on the screen and the first thing she said was, “You have both your ovaries, right?”  Ummm…”Yes?”  Really? What kind of question is that?!  She pointed out a cyst and before I even looked I thought, “Yeah, there’s always a cyst lady.” I looked on the screen and saw what she was looking at and realized this was like nothing I had seen before.  It wasn’t just a clear fluid cyst on my right ovary but what is classified as a “complex cyst”…meaning it had stuff in it.  What kind of stuff? Well it was a little to soon to know that.  She explained there would be no Clomid prescription and to STOP trying TO get pregnant and immediately start actively trying NOT to get pregnant.  She felt this cyst would be a complication in a pregnancy and certainly taking the medicine to further stimulate the ovaries would be dangerous as well.

Long story short? If this cyst wasn’t gone or shrinking by early January (after I had completed a full cycle), we would need to remove this cyst surgically.  Ok..cool.  That sucks but I can handle surgery.  Then she explained with a little drawing that the cyst had taken up all the good tissue of my right ovary so removing the cyst meant losing the ovary. Oh. Heart sank. Husband wasn’t with me. I just wanted to cry but I couldn’t in front of this doctor.  She was not a “gal pal” if you know what I mean.  She didn’t seem like the type to handle tears over this.  She told me I could still get pregnant. Breathe in. Breathe out. Okay. That’s good news.

So, we scheduled the next ultrasound for the first week of January.  But I met the man in the sunglasses on December 21st.  You see, I found out on the 18th that my bad insurance was going from bad to TERRIBLE on January 1st…meaning if I needed surgery it was going to be REALLY expensive.  So, I rushed on that Monday to get back in and see if we could look at this thing again and decide on the surgery sooner.  So, now I’ve caught you up. Here’s what happened next…

I look up to find the man in sunglasses standing right in front of me.  He asked me if I would tell him my name so that he could pray for me. I won’t lie, this really surprised me.  I still kept thinking…why is he even here right now? He told me his wife had gone through a lot and he could tell I was going through something.  The rest of what he said really encouraged me in the moment…but the details are very vague.  He brought up some scripture and as he was still talking I heard my name called back.  I asked him his name and he said it was Rex. Well, that’s not a name I hear every day. He kept talking to me as I walked toward the ultrasound tech who was waiting on me.  When we reached her, she handed him a disc and he turned around and headed out the door.  Too focused on what was in front of me, I stopped thinking about Rex and went on with my appointment.

The cyst was the same. No change. Okay. Breathe in. Breathe out.  After the scan I headed down the hall to a smaller waiting room and began texting family and friends who were waiting to hear if any change had happened. I texted my dear friend Rachel and for some reason was compelled to share with her the strange sunglasses man named Rex.  Before I could even finish typing the story, I saw her typing back and knew exactly what she would say.  Sure enough, she said, “Britt, he was an angel.”  I started to shake with that feeling of awe and I felt so much peace because it didn’t even matter that I couldn’t remember everything he said to me.  I knew that GOD CARED SO MUCH FOR ME THAT HE SENT ME AN ANGEL TO BRING ME PEACE AND ENCOURAGEMENT.  Woah. And his name? Rex? Well, Rachel looked up it’s actual meaning right away. She share that it meant “king” and “reigning over”. God is in control and he is reigning over all the chaos and fear that I’ve been experiencing. He wanted to be sure I got the message…so he sent me Rex.

Yesterday I had my “real” follow-up ultrasound.  The ultrasound tech pulled up the same image for the 3rd time.  Okay, God. I trust you. You ARE in control.  It got harder to swallow, though, when I learned that this wasn’t a simple out-patient surgery.  That I would have to be opened up. That I would have to be out of work for weeks. That I would not be able to lift my daughter when she cries.  Or jump out of bed in the middle of the night and run to her when she cries.  I cry even now thinking about the things of everyday life with her that bring me joy.  I take for granted that I can physically get on the floor and play with her and chase her when she gives me that grin and begs me to play that sweet game.  But the God that sent me an angel is the same God who will walk with me through the next 6 days as I scramble to get things in order at work and at home.  He is the God who will be with me as I’m prepped for this operation.  He is the God who will REIGN OVER that operating room.  He is the God who will bless me with another child when all is said and done.  He is the God who will be with me when someday I get to have that exciting ultrasound to see MY BABY. Breathe in. Breathe out. Amen.

To my Ellie Hope on your 1st Birthday

  
Ellie,

Today you are a whole year old.  I can’t believe it’s happened so fast and yet I look at you and see that you are becoming a sweet little girl and less of a pudgy little baby.  You have this incredible ability to light up a whole room with your big expressive eyes and joyful personality.  Gosh, I really hope you never lose that joy.

Truth be told, I really can’t grasp that I’m a mother. Sure, I’m your mom and you say mama and I will always break out into a huge smile when you do. However, that responsibility of being a mom is still lost on me.  What kind of a mother will I be to you as you get older? I’m not totally sure.  Here are a few things I want to try for…

  1. I am not your friend.  I hope you have great friends and that you choose very carefully. But, darlin’, I’m your mom.  I have to try to teach you to be a great woman of God and keep you protected from things that might harm you.  That’s my very first priority in our relationship.  I’m sorry if that will mean you don’t always like me.
  2. While we aren’t friends, I am ALWAYS here for you.  I want to be your shoulder to cry on and the person who always makes time to listen to your joys and failures.  Don’t EVER be afraid to talk to me, even if you are afraid I’ll be mad. Ellie, you don’t know this yet, but I’ve made BIG mistakes…mistakes that have hurt me.  I want to help you avoid the ways I’ve hurt myself.  But, I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.  So, please, don’t ever hide from me.  Helping you is far more important to me than punishing you.
  3. Your daddy is the most important person in my life.  WHAT MOM?! DON’T YOU LOVE ME MORE?! Nope. Sorry, kid. I have and always will love your daddy first.  I can promise you right now, if we manage to keep that up, your childhood will be much happier and more stable than mine was.  I never want you to question our love for each other.  We love you because Jesus first loved us and then we loved each other.  That’s how it works.
  4. I want to show you how to be a worshiper.  I want to see you love Jesus with a passion. I hope that you see even in my shortcomings of my faith, that I love Jesus the very most. I cannot wait to watch your journey of faith become all your own.  I want everything your daddy and I do to point you towards a relationship with Jesus–even the screw-ups! We won’t be perfect!

I’ve already seen your little body praising the Lord.  You know Him already.  I can’t even take credit.  He’s created you to love Him.  It’s who you are. Don’t forget who you are.

As I reflect on the highs and lows this year, all that is left is the image of your big smile and gorgeous blue eyes.  All else melts away.

I love you, Ellie.

Love,

Mama

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray.  You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Never take my sunshine away.”

Jesus was in the tub – How I am still “learning to release”

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I haven’t used this blog since posting Ellie’s birth story.  I applaud moms who make time to blog regularly (https://rhaggerty1207.wordpress.com/ is my fav).  I had time to blog in one of the hardest times of waiting in my life…that’s why the title of my blog site is “learning to release”….I had to release my desire to conceive to the Lord and let Him take care of the timing.  You know what’s harder than releasing that?  Releasing your physical child into the arms of the Lord.

By no means has motherhood been a walk in the park so far.  But I wasn’t expecting it to be easy.  I don’t need it to be. This is my heart’s desire.  To be a mother alongside my amazing husband who is the best daddy ever.  I’ll take the good, bad and ugly.  I made vows to my husband to do that in our marriage…when that baby was placed on my chest I committed that to my child as well.

I have a wonderful girl.  She is a dream.  Seriously.  Full of life and smiles…always making us laugh.  Most days go on without a hitch.  Yesterday (Monday) was a daddy day.  He takes the day off since he works Sundays and they have all kinds of fun bonding.  I get funny pictures sent to me.  He tells me how she’s doing and I feel connected to her from my desk at work.  Yesterday afternoon, she threw him a wrench after a really good day.  She wouldn’t go down for her nap and was inconsolable.  She wanted to nurse….and he was NOT the man for the job.  So, I made it home a little early and got her settled into a mini-nap and then we had a fun evening at the dinner table together.  I knew she’d be tired early so we let daddy go to a church meeting on his own at 7.  Since she got to play with food, she was all kinds of messy and I thought it would be fun to take a bath together in our big garden tub.  Hadn’t used it since we moved in and I love a bath with my girl.

Baths are more fun for her now that she’s used to going to the pool with her nanny’s family during the week.  She splashed around…kicked her feet.  She was having a ball and so was I.  In fact, I regretted not grabbing some bath toys..since I think she’s old enough now to enjoy them.  I hadn’t even gotten out the washcloth and soap yet and she was wedged in between my bent knees facing the side of the tub with her hands in the water splashing.  This is where things are a little blurry for me.  It was then that she stopped splashing I think so I picked her up and turned her towards me and she was bending her back so the back of her head was in the water and her legs were still upright (feet touching the bottom). For a quick second I thought she was just trying to enjoy the water on the back of her head.  Then I realized how stiff her body was.  I lifted her head to see her expression was frozen…mouth slightly open and I could see her tongue just sitting there.  Her eyes were open..but I can’t explain it…she wasn’t there…she wasn’t there.  That’s the only way to describe it.  There. was. no. life.  She wasn’t breathing.

In a panic it clicked that maybe she had gotten water in her mouth and choked or something. I stood up and practically flew out of the tub patting her on the back trying to figure out what to do.  I kept yelling her name as if she was asleep and I could wake her.  I have NEVER been more terrified in my entire life.  HOW DO I SAVE HER? WHEN WILL SHE START BREATHING? I was all alone and not even near my phone to call 9-1-1.  And how could I? I was holding her trying to save her life not understanding why she was like this in the first place.

I have no idea how long she wasn’t breathing.  Time was not a concept for me. All of a sudden…LIFE CAME BACK. She started breathing..her body relaxed and her eyes were unfrozen again.  Adrenaline was still pumping as I laid her down on the towel on our bed and studied her to make sure everything was functioning again.  Within moments of rubbing her dry she was smiling and babbling like nothing had ever happened.  I somehow managed to grab my phone and dial Philip.  This is when I lost my EVER LOVING MIND and my emotions finally caught up with me.  He rushed home and while he was on the way I called my mom to pray for me because I didn’t know how I was ever going to calm down.  While she was breathing and acting normal, my sweet girl was still pale and her lips and bottoms of her feet were a shade of blue.  Philip’s presence in the house brought instant relief.

We watched her closely for a while and as I nursed her the pink returned to her face and while I was still silently shedding tears uncontrollably, I knew she was okay.  I felt a voice whisper in my ear, “I have great plans for her life.  Her name means “Promise of God'” and “Hope”.  Don’t you know I have her in my arms and I will protect her?”  GOD THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME SHE IS GOING TO BE A MIGHTY WARRIOR FOR YOUR KINGDOM.

She fell asleep nursing like she does almost every night and I laid her down so that I could walk away and cry some more in Philip’s chest.  I, of course, checked on her so many times.  Placed my hand on her chest to feel it move up and down. She’s sigh in her sleep and I’d feel okay for a while longer.  It’s been a serious battle I’ve been fighting since around 6:55pm last night.  Can I allow myself to hold onto peace and the word the Lord spoke into me or do I keep reliving the series of events and perpetuate my fear and guilt and sadness?  Oh how I hope you will pray for me.  It’s not always easy to live in peace.

I didn’t think I would tell ANYONE else what happened.  I didn’t want to utter the words…or read them to myself as I typed them in a text.  But God has shown me what a MIRACLE has happened here and He asked me to call my Nana (mom’s mom) this morning to ask her to pray.  She asked me to do something uncomfortable…to put myself mentally back in the moment…and to picture Jesus there.  She asked me where I saw him.  I said right there in the tub.  She said to see Him there every time I think of this event that I will surely never forget.  He did not leave us for a second.  He was in the tub.  He was holding my girl’s life and my own.

I had prayed her first breath on earth would be full of the Holy Spirit’s presence…a prayer warrior in my life told me this morning that the Holy Spirit breathed life into her again last night.  Boy do I believe that.

This is the first of many times I release my child.  I need to do it daily.  Every morning when I hear that little voice on the monitor and know she’s awake…”Lord, I release her to You today.  Watch over her and hold her safely in Your arms.  I trust You. Amen.”

The story of your birth, Ellie Hope

Ellie,

It’s been just about two weeks (and really over 3 months now) since you joined our outside world. We have learned and changed so much together in that time…but more about that later. I want to tell you the story of how you were born because it was one of the most important experiences of my life. Mommy and Daddy both thought you’d join us so much earlier than December 14, 2014. While your due date was only a few days before, I’d been having contractions on and off for a couple weeks. It seemed like there was another sign that labor was imminent every few days. And yet, there I was, past my due date and SO very ready to meet you. You see, despite the mental and physical struggles of late pregnancy, I wasn’t so unhappy with being pregnant. Your kicks and hiccups made every day special and I’m sure glad you took every day that you did growing in that safe place. The real struggle of the last few weeks was simply being desperate to hold you and look at your beautiful little face. Oh how I longed for it. I had no idea then what being a mom was like or how I would handle the lack of sleep (still figuring that out). But, every part of my being just wanted to meet you.

I had a doctor’s appointment on your due date that ended in lots of tears and frustration. I was told you were high up and that I was only dilated to 1cm despite the fact that I kept feeling you try to drop down. The day after your due date I started working on every natural way of encouraging you to join us that I could. I scheduled an induction massage for Saturday (the next day) and bought evening primrose oil to take and clary sage oil to rub on my stomach. I had some contractions that night but nothing regular–this was pretty common for us. You wanted to be sure I had lots and lots of practice.  And darlin, I promise I didn’t need that much of it.

Went to bed that night as usual but I woke up at 6am to a different and harder contraction that 5 minutes later was followed by another.  Well, maybe you’d be born on 12/13/14…that would be a GREAT birthday!  I started my phone calls to all the close family and friends once they continued at the every 5 minute mark for a while.  I’m in labor guys!  Get ready! Your daddy was so excited.  He made me a smoothie and started getting things in order around the house while I confidently breathed through each contraction, bounced on my birth ball and did the cat/cow stretches.  I can handle this!!  That’s what I was thinking to myself for the first few hours.  But, then things went in a different direction.  Instead of being harder and closer together, they started coming randomly and less frequently.  Oh no!  Not again!  Cmon Ellie!  So, daddy and I did what we had learned to love to do….WALK!  I’m sure the neighbors had gotten used to the view.  This time we’d walk halfway down the street…hard contraction, lean on daddy, sway my hips, breath….keep walking.  The contractions picked up again when we’d walk and then slow down the second I took a break to stretch or rest at home.  By early afternoon I was SO FRUSTRATED.  People were asking why I wasn’t going to the hospital yet and I knew it STILL wasn’t time.

So, the next step was to change the scenery.  We hopped in the car and drove to my doula Mary’s house.  It was time for a really long walk.  Mind you…I was in slippers because you had my feet SO SWOLLEN I couldn’t wear real shoes.  We walked and walked and contracted and walked.  Still couldn’t really ramp it up enough for me to feel like I was ready to go to the hospital.  I’m glad I was patient on that one…still had a LOOONG way to go.  We got back to her house, chatted some more and contractions slowed down again.

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Well, didn’t want to exhaust Mary too soon so we headed home.  I remember I had quite a few contractions in the car and then AFTER we passed Coldstone Creamery, I decided I wanted some ice cream.  Your dad was quick to turn around and take me back for it.  The rest of the afternoon at home was pretty uneventful except I was mentally and emotionally tired and starting to get physically tired.  Everyone wanted me to be ready to finally get you out and I felt so much pressure but there was nothing I could do.  We drove around and looked at Christmas lights, we played lots and lots of “War” (card game).  Your gigi and uncle matt headed up for the night because I guess they had faith you’d pick up the pace sooner than later and didn’t want to drive to the hospital in the middle of the night all the way from Charlotte.

This is when I hit a breaking point.  I was so disappointed I started crying hysterically.  I cried because we boarded the dogs for the weekend and it seemed like you weren’t going to come and I felt bad for them.  I cried because I was tired of updating people that nothing was progressing.  I cried because my whole body was swollen and I was so tired and uncomfortable.  I cried more than I had in a long time.  That’s when gigi and uncle matt came over to cheer me up.  We watched funny tv shows and youtube videos and told stories and laughed so hard.  I was noticing harder contractions again but I was trying not to over think it and just enjoy the company before bed.

We laid down around 11 to see if we could get some rest.  Your daddy was just as tired and because  he wasn’t in labor, he fell fast asleep.  However, within 30 minutes something shifted and I sensed I should get up.  Contractions were harder and coming about ever 2 minutes.  Okay, I thought, THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT ELLIE!  It’s probably go time now!  So, I decided a shower would either calm or ramp up the contractions so I’d better start by taking one….your dad slept through all this.  While in the shower I was having to push the walls through each contraction…stronger not calmer for sure!  I got out, woke up dad (he was GONE so it took him a minute to process things) and called the midwife on call…my FAVORITE midwife was there waiting for our arrival.  I called Mary and she was at the hospital when we got there….worst car ride of my life.  We were quickly escorted into triage to check my vitals and progression.  My blood pressure was VERY high.  Before I even knew my dilation I was told I would no longer be having my water birth.  Cue huge breaths of disappointment.  This was a huge part of my natural birth plan and I wouldn’t ever get one toe in that warm glorious water.  Next was news I was also unprepared to hear….I had not progressed AT ALL since my appointment on your due date.  Stuck at 1cm despite 18 hours of contractions.  You can probably imagine my heart sunk way down into my chest with all this news.  The only positive words to me at that point were that I would be admitted anyway because my blood pressure needed to be monitored.

Let me say that the walk to my room was hard.  I was fighting a mental battle and my legs were shaking I was already so exhausted.  I knew I probably had a long journey still ahead but nothing prepared me for 22 more hours of labor.  Sensing I needed SOMETHING to go as planned, dad set out some white christmas lights on the window sill and turned down the rest of the lights in the room.  I tried to take a shower, but the water pressure was terrible and I wasn’t staying very warm. So I got back to the bed in a mostly sitting position for the majority of the labor from then on.  The wireless contraction and heart rate monitors weren’t working right and my blood pressure had to be taken often.  I was already so tired that I wasn’t too upset at that point to not have as much free roam of the room as I had planned on.  The rest of the night was a series of breathing through and trying to rest in between.  By the time morning light started to peek in Mary had me get up and brush my teeth to refresh myself.  I just remember being frustrated every time she pushed me to get mobile.  I HATED how much harder those contractions were on me when I was up and moving.  But, without that you may have never come out!  Gravity is always your friend in labor.  I wish I could’ve been more active but I know I physically couldn’t between the BP concerns and the fact that I’d been awake for SO LONG!  And I wasn’t allowed to eat at all!

Next my favorite midwife came in to check my progress after leaving me to labor all night.  I’m glad I wasn’t checked more often looking back because it can be so discouraging–and painful!  I was now at 4cm. Everyone was SUPER happy with that progress in a matter of 7 hours.  They said the longest part of labor is those first few centimeters.  BLAH BLAH BLAH was how I felt about every positive word spoken.  I had become so discouraged and really started to question how much longer I could make it.  OH, and I had also started having bouts of puking.  Add that to a contraction and you have a real party going on!  I just kept a goal in sight to make it a few more hours when the next midwife, Shelley, was on call and she would check me again.  Well, she was VERY busy delivering other people’s babies (NOT FAIR) so I waited…and waited..and contracted…and was pushed into walking…and started groaning and forcefully yelling (low tones but LOUD).

I would guess somewhere around 2pm it was finally time to see how we were doing.  I was I believe at a 6?  Hard to say.  I specifically remember being told you were still now down and engaged and I was BAFFLED as to how you weren’t coming down.  Shelley suggested that I might want to consider letting her break my water to see if that would help pull her head down further.  This was a turning point for me, sweet girl.  I battled with the decision and had to do what I had to do.  And that meant letting her break my water.  I was desperate to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  However,  for some reason having  my water broken was so scary to me (as if that was going to be worse than active labor) and I was SO TIRED and KNEW my contractions would amp up after she did it so I decided I would give in to the epidural.  I can’t tell you how judgmental I was of that decision until I was in my own set of circumstances.  I made it 33 hours in naturally and I will always be proud of that.  I felt strong.  But now, it was time to give my body some rest.  My blood pressure was ever increasing and my contractions were started to spread out again.  As Mary said, my uterus was tired!  We were ALL tired.  So, the man with the plan came in and did the easy process of getting the epi.  No joke.  It was nothing compared to labor.  I laid back and had to decide to be at peace with the situation.  For a little while I felt the relief and got to spend time with my mom and rest.  Then it seemed like more interventions had to follow the epidural…and I knew that would be the case because that’s why I didn’t want it, but it still came as a surprise as new monitors were hooked up and a catheter was put in.  Mercy.  Next check I believe I was at 7.5 but you STILL were high up there.  Couldn’t get gravity’s help anymore either.  But, I just kept rolling with it.

Soon enough, I started feeling the contractions again.  Harder and harder until again I was yelling through them *poor Philip and Mary*.  Sometime later I was seen by a new set of nurses who just came on their shifts.  They were immediately concerned for me at my pain level with the epidural and sent for someone to come fix it right away.  AND YES IT WAS FIXED.  I was literally napping for 45 seconds between contractions and then able to breathe through them MUCH better almost immediately.  Philip still coached me through each one like a champ.  I was at 10cm and you STILL weren’t ready for me to push.  Another HOUR of contractions before they started setting up and helping me learn to push.  Daddy was getting impatient to meet you but I was just so relieved to not be in so much pain that I just kept breathing through and eating my ice chips like a good girl!

Here’s the best part…I finally got to start pushing!  I was so excited because it was time for you to be born and to hear you cry and to see what you looked like.  Once I knew how to push, I was pushing like a champ.  Shelley made mama feel like a rock star.  She and your daddy were cheering me on as if I was running in the olympics or something!  It felt like such a short amount of time but I later found out it was over an hour of pushing!  Crazy part….surprise ending…you were SO TINY.  I’ll never forget that last push.  Your WHOLE body came out together and I have never in my life felt such relief wash over me.  The pressure was gone and I looked down to see daddy cut the cord (wanted to delay that but you had a lot of poo all over you and possibly in your lungs).  I kept saying oh my goodness she’s so small!  I watched and cried and laughed and smiled as they got some of that poo off of you and cleaned out your lungs.  Daddy was right there taking pictures and then they brought you to me, snapped open  my gown and placed you inside it on my chest.  Your skin on my skin.  You wouldn’t stop crying and I just kept saying, “hi baby!  it’s mommy don’t cry!”  It was the most overwhelming thing I have experienced.  Dad and I were in awe of what had just happened (and COMPLETELY exhausted).

I found out right after you were born that you were not in a good position.  You came OP, or “face up” which meant you gave yourself and mama a MUCH harder journey and explained everything that happened in my labor.  The nurse described the situation with a great analogy that I won’t soon forget.  She told us to imagine someone placed a hula hoop at the bottom of the pool and instead of swimming to it and going under it face down like normal, you had to swim down to the bottom of the pool facing up and go under that hula hoop.  That’s how much more difficult it was for you to come out that direction instead! No wonder!

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Soon after being placed on my chest, you calmed down and fell asleep and after I was stitched up and cleaned up they took you to get measured and weighed with daddy while I was changed and freshened up to head down to our mother baby room.  When I came out I learned you were only 5 pounds 3.6 ounces and 19″ long.  So small!!   We all wondered how it happened but you proved that you were healthy.

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Unfortunately, as we were heading to our room we were re-routed back to the labor and delivery room where we were given the news that my last urine sample showed the protein in my urine was twice the normal level and I was considered to have pre-eclampsia.  I was not going to a regular room but to their adult ICU to be put on a magnesium IV for 24 hours so that the neurons in my brain would be calmed and I wouldn’t have seizures or a stroke. We were in shock that yet another obstacle had been placed in front of us.  I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed without a nurse, I had to stay hooked up to the pulse monitor and blood pressure cuff and had the IV line and a catheter still.  Because of this, daddy changed your first diaper and swaddled you up after he was shown how.

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He was next to you for your first bath and handed you to your visitors.  He was amazing already at being your daddy.  I treasured all that time with you even though I couldn’t get up.  Most of it was spent with you skin to skin with me to keep your temperature up.  Everything else goes far past your birth so I’ll save it for a separate post.  I just want you to know that even though it was the hardest 40 hours of my life, it was by far the most worth while thing I’ve ever pushed through.  You will never know how you changed my life and how much love I experienced at 10:16pm on December 14th.  Somehow my love has grown every single day since.  I may not have been able to give you that warm water entrance drug free like I had so hoped and planned…but you came the way you did and you’re my beautiful healthy girl.  I’m so much stronger for giving you life and I am so proud of you.  I love you little Ellie Hope Burton.  Someday you will understand what an answer to prayer you have been.  And someday when you have your first child, you’ll begin to understand this love for you that I’ve tried to explain.

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As I near the halfway mark…

Remember that time I was like, “Hey everybody!  I’m not going to use facebook to talk about pregnancy, I’m gonna do it on my blog!”  Turns out, I didn’t really have time for insightful blog posts to make that happen.  So, I apologize if my posts on Facebook have been either annoying or painful for anyone.  Seriously, I do.  In a very selfish way, I guess I just felt like more would like to see them than not see them….so I just went with it when I felt like sharing.  One thing I will NOT do is complain about the pregnancy or the baby.  I may ask questions or joke about weird little quirks, but this is the biggest blessing of our lives, not an inconvenience or something to take for granted.  I know there are MANY who are waiting for this blessing and the LAST thing they want to see is a pregnant woman unhappy and complaining for 40 weeks of her life.  Not okay.

So, as I hit my 19 week mark today…which is almost half the average pregnancy, I thought I’d take a couple minutes to share.  In case you’ve lived under a rock or don’t see my FB posts, I am COMPLETELY on edge and full of anticipation and excitement for tomorrow’s anatomy scan.  I honestly can’t distinguish if I’m more excited just to spend at least a half hour watching little sprout up on the screen or about finding out if it’s Ellie or Sawyer giving me the cutest little kicks in the world.  Both aspects are thrilling and 9am tomorrow cannot come soon enough.  I am almost as excited as I was right before I married my amazing Philip.  Nothing will top that because under God, he is my priority and I hope to be reminded of that in the coming months.  Husband first.

So many people, both strangers and friends alike, have asked, What are you hoping for?” and I always reply, “Well I think it’s a boy and Philip thinks it’s a girl.”  Y’all, I hate to insult you, but think about that question.  How is it fair?  I’m hoping for this baby to be healthy and carry to term and enter this world in the most wonderful delivery I can give him or her.  That’s what I’m hoping for. I trust the Lord that this is the child He has for our family and that will either be a world-changing little boy named Sawyer or a world-changing little girl named Ellie.  He’s got this, so my preference doesn’t exist.  Even if I had one, I promise I would never tell you.

I’ll conclude with two things. One is fun and one is something I hope you’ll agree with me in prayer on.  Below are some photos to show the bump progress.  I’ve always loved seeing this with other people’s pregnancy, so I’m doing it for whoever out there likes that kind of thing.  Below that is a prayer that the Lord put in my heart back in January around 2am when I had the flu and the cough medicine was keeping me wide awake (yes, I’m one of those that doesn’t pass out with codeine).  I will be hanging this in the nursery because I believe it’s powerful and should be repeated often.  Will you read it and believe it with us?

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God,

Thank you in advance for blessing our family with as many children as you see fit. I promise we will teach them all we can about who You are and your goodness and grace and perfect love. May they walk in your favor and provision and not know a moment that isn’t covered in Your presence and anointing. May you teach us and speak through us as we raise them. Use our mistakes to teach them lessons and protect them from all that so easily could entangle and pull them away from You. May they be encouragers and bring hope to the nations far beyond our biggest dreams. May they use their gifts to bring You glory. May we always show them a real marriage that is centered and grounded in You. I pray that they would have godly spouses and that there would be no divorce in the generations to come. I speak LIFE into their marriages and their children’s marriages. Oh that the curse of divorce in my family be broken with us.
I pray that they would see in the supernatural and that they would worship you and act in their spiritual giftings. That they would always know you as their spiritual Father who will never fail them even when we do. May we never be impatient with them so that they can enjoy the world with child-like faith. More so than anything, may they win countless souls for the Kingdom.

Amen