Birth of Judah Samuel

37072422_10216732927140117_3677192299793612800_oThe wild card birth. How many times have I heard that in the last year? Yet, in my mind, that meant you’d come fast and furious. I just thought for sure I’d be a pro at this and you’d just come right out! After all, Carter’s labor was less than 1/4 of the length of Ellie’s! Surely that trend would continue. Why did I EVER think I had this figured out? I guess you wanted to be memorable. A completely unique journey from your siblings. There’s no distinct beginning to your story in the traditional sense. I wasn’t in labor for 2 days, but I also labored for 2 days. On and off. Kind of. Confused yet? Me too. I still don’t know how to write this story. So, here we go.

On Monday, July 30th, I was on the couch and got hit with a coughing spell (I didn’t have a cough) that made me instantly sick to my stomach. I had to run to the bathroom and had (sorry TMI) an extremely violent puking situation. I guess I’d mark this as a sign of my body preparing for early labor because I ALWAYS vomit in labor. Philip came home from work to take care of the kids while I rested. Nothing really happened until around 1am. I kept waking to contractions from then on throughout the night with the frequency and intensity increasing. When Philip’s alarm went off, I told him I had been up in early labor and I wanted to shower to see if things would speed up or slow down. They instantly sped up and grew in intensity. Because I assumed my labor would be fast, and the birth center was an hour away, I called the midwife on call (Tiffany). She told me to come in when I felt ready. So, we got the kids ready for daycare (well, Philip did).

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I took one last photo with Ellie thinking it would be our last moment before I saw her with Judah in my arms. He took them in (this was their last day anyway since it was supposed to be my last day of work) and came home to get me. We went to the chiropractor on the way for one final adjustment. It was then that I noticed things were slowing down a bit, but my doula and photographer were already on the way and I figured as soon as I settled again it would resume. (Nope)

I got to the birth center and found out I was only 2cm dilated. Which is what I was at my last appointment. CRAP. So, we decided to go to the nearby “mall” and do some walking and see what happens. It was determined Judah was OP (sunny side up) just like my other two babes. So, the goal was to turn him if possible. Labor and pushing would be much more effective and simpler if he did. I wasn’t convinced my body would birth a baby in ideal position, though. I knew I could do it either way.

We met my doula, Mary, at the mall and walked all over that stinky, hot place. I’d stop for a contraction and lean on Philip and sway back and forth while all the mall walkers stared. It was…great. LOL After a short while, I decided I wanted to go back to the birth center and spend some time resting on the bed with the peanut ball. Contractions were still spaced and not as intense and I was feeling frustrated and discouraged and tired after being up most of the night. By noon I was checked again and had maybe progressed to about 3cm. I decided I wanted to go home, rest, and see my kiddos.

That night after trying to go to bed, contractions started picking back up. Again, I took a shower. This time, I had to get out to throw up. I thought for sure THIS was my transition to early labor. The contractions were 2-3 min apart. We couldn’t get a hold of anyone to answer their phone to come stay the night with the kids. We finally tried our friend Emma. She was able to come sleep on our couch. Again, we headed to the birth center and so did the rest of our team. Tiffany was still on call and met us there. We arrived around midnight. To keep this story moving, I’ll summarize the next 5 hours. We did lots of different techniques as I worked through contractions. Rebozo, hip squeezes, peanut ball, in Philip’s arms, in the shower. Eventually, as things started to fizzle again, we were given an hour to try and rest and see if giving ourselves a break would allow things to intensify again. I slept in and out through contractions and then was checked for progress. I was sitting right at about 5cm. You’d think I would’ve been in decent labor there. NOPE.

**all photos from here on out were taken and edited by Amber of Amber Denae Photography and Birth Services.

Now we were faced with a decision…did we want to go all the way home or get some rest at a local hotel and see what would happen? We decided we didn’t want to journey all the way home yet. The kids would be getting up soon and we were completely exhausted. We went to a hotel and slept for a few hours. I kept waking up randomly with a really strong contraction but things weren’t speeding back up. We went back to the birth center to get my vitals and dilation checked. When we left earlier I had had a slight fever. We suspected it was from dehydration so I had been drinking and snacking as much as I could handle. I was nauseous the whole journey, though.

My vitals were good and I was still sitting at 5cm. No surprise there. We left to head home…again. My midwife Nicole told me she was going on call (she attended Carter’s birth…so I felt super comfortable in her care too!) and that I should keep hydrating and take a Unisom and try and sleep as long as I could. Philip somehow managed to care for the kids and got them out of the house so I could just sleep. I slept about 4 hours but still had those random hard contractions waking me. I spent time with the kids resting on the couch since I was still a little drugged feeling from the Unisom. Around dinnertime, those hard contractions seemed to pick up. I was leaning into my couch and loudly working my way through them and very much confusing Ellie. She kept asking what I was doing. Philip had to explain to her as best he could and told her not to talk to me when they were happening. I was so down emotionally and so tired that I was honestly mad that I was having to deal with these contractions. I wasn’t in the mood. At all. I decided I was going to get in the bathtub and dump as much epsom salts in there as I could in hopes that they would stop and I could rest. I was in complete denial about the fact that labor was ramping up.

Philip came in to check on me and I was very stern with him when I said I was NOT going to the birth center and if I was going into labor and not going to get a good night’s sleep, then I was going to the hospital for an epidural. I was NOT going to have a natural birth that night. I was dead set. Philip tried to talk sense into me because he knew my true heart’s desire. I didn’t give a crap.

He got the kids in bed and it became painfully clear that these contractions were too much to do at home any longer. We got more help with the kids for the night and I called my midwife. She told me I’d be having that baby if I came in. We’d break my water if that’s what I really wanted. PS I kept saying the whole time that I thought he’d come if they just would break my water but everyone felt strongly my start and stop labor was him trying to get better positioned and that breaking my water would keep him from turning. I told Nicole I wanted an epidural and she later told me she knew I was going to have him because of me getting so defeated. Midwives know, y’all. They know.

Surprisingly, my amazing photographer, Amber, and doula, Mary, made the trip out there for the third time. They were completely supportive angels through this whole thing and never once made me feel guilty or like an inconvenience. Everyone had so much respect for whatever my birthing journey was going to be. It was wonderful.

We arrived at the birth center and Nicole had the tub filled and warm. I laid down to be checked and I swear you could’ve heard a pin drop in that place. We all held our breath. 7cm and thinned out. I felt like I had won the world series in that moment. It was FINALLY going to be time to have this baby! Somewhere along the way I had resolved to stay at the birth center and go with my natural birth as planned. God gave me supernatural strength. That’s all I can explain after this long journey.

Labor for the next hour and 45 minutes went from joking in between intense contractions in the tub to needing complete silence to recover in between. I labored a lot on the toilet (never understood why people liked that in my last two labors but this time it REALLY worked for me). My bag of water was bulging but by about 11pm it still had not broken. I was past 8cm and was frustrated sitting there laboring on the toilet. My midwife came in and suggested I bear down and see if my water would break. I did this and she went to help push the lip of my cervix a little bit during a contraction and POP water finally broke. It was time to get in the tub and have this baby. I could sense he was close now.

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The next 15 minutes were the longest probably of my life. He moved down so fast after my water broke that I thought my back and hips were going to break in half. There was no break between contractions. I didn’t even distinguish when they were happening I was in such intense agony. Everyone in the room was cheering me on. Telling me I could do it. That he was coming and I’d be meeting him soon. I reached down and felt his head after I sensed that ring of fire feeling. He was right there! I was kneeling at the edge of the tub pulling against Philip holding his hands. I felt the progress of my pushes and was so SO motivated just to get him out. I didn’t want to waste anything and pushed as much as I could. A few minutes later (felt like hours), he was out and Nicole was lifting him up to my chest out of the water. It was 11:18pm on August 1st.

He was so peaceful in his transition from my womb to the world. He just looked around. We waited what seemed like a long time, but I’m sure it wasn’t, for his first breath. I felt such great joy seeing him breathing and content in my arms. What relief it was. It’s amazing the strength that was inside of me to endure through those days both emotionally and physically. I know my team and God’s hand on me were the reason it was possible.

My recovery was amazingly easy (other than the fact that after birth contractions are 10x worse the third time around) and I was home by 3am. I can’t express how wonderful it was to be home in our own bed resting so soon. I love Natural Beginnings Birth Center so much!!! This last labor was a true test that was hard to make it through, but I look back grateful for my support system and that I stuck with it and got to have the birth I desired. Judah Samuel, my surprise but not at all an accident, we love you with ALL that we have. We can’t imagine our family without you in it!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/283097513″>Birth of Judah Samuel</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user14084234″>Amber Rhodes</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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#HLA

It’s been about 3 weeks since I received the shock of my life at work. I feel very different than I did 3 weeks ago, but part of me is still as terrified.  Let me back up..

I have a BEAUTIFUL family.  In 2017 we’ve had a lot of changes and challenges…to say the least.  In January, Carter was born.

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Victoria Brown Photography

He was our child miraculously conceived without any medication (which was needed for his sister) a couple months after I lost my right ovary. It became quickly apparent that his temperament was nothing like his sister and he cried most of his days and nights for months. I eventually cut out dairy, gluten, and beef trying to soothe his tummy.  Nothing I did seemed to entirely fix it. We rarely slept. Then, an unexpected blessing came our way.

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My husband got a call out of the blue from a friend and connection at the church where we met years ago with a job offer. Not long after, we were listing our house and looking for a place to live in Concord.  As happy as I was for my husband and moving closer to my family, I had to leave behind my job that I loved and friends that had become dear to me. Everything was so overwhelming and it wasn’t helped by my son’s 24/7 screaming and our lack of sleep. At 4.5 months postpartum, I was hit with the most terrible anxiety and depression I’ve ever experienced.  I couldn’t function. I couldn’t get out of bed.  I dreaded seeing my kids in the morning. I was scared to mother them. Every time Carter so much as whimpered my nerves would feel like they were in a fryer. It took weeks of trying medications and therapy in the midst of all the logistics of moving to get some semblance of balance back into my body. Thankfully, I eventually started having more good days than bad. Carter started doing better on formula even though he still didn’t like sleeping. We moved. Twice. It’s a long story. But, we found our home.

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In late August, we tried a new technique with Carter, and at 7 months old, he finally learned to SLEEP. All. The. Praise. Hands. I had a new job and started working 2 days a week. Balance. That’s what was finally happening. Things falling into place. Sleep. Laughter. Memories. Family FUN. And…then 3 weeks ago happened.

I woke up to my husband coming out of the bathroom. I had just been dreaming the most crazy dream. I was in my friend Rachel’s home (did I tell you that detail, Rachel?) and I was taking a pregnancy test in her bathroom. The second I looked down it was a blazing positive. I was shocked. Next scene I was with Philip trying to convince him it was true. He made me take two more tests to believe it was real. Again, I woke up from the dream and it was time to get ready for work. I shook off the dream and went on with my routine. At work, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. “I can’t be pregnant, though. We didn’t even go near each other when that could have happened. Why was that dream so vivid, though?” So, I took myself to Target on my lunch break just to prove it wrong. I picked up a test and decided since it most definitely would be negative, I’d just quickly take it there. At work. In a stall. DUMB IDEA. As soon as I set it on the back of the toilet that line appeared. Blazing. I won’t tell you all the words floating through my head. I almost fell into the toilet. My whole body was shaking. This is INSANE. I DO NOT GET PREGNANT ON ACCIDENT FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I’m not ready!!!

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I shoved the test inside my bra (because that’s a normal response) and grabbed my phone and headed outside to call Philip. Thankfully, he was able to pick up right away. I practically yelled at him to get alone. I think he thought someone had died. I’m not sure exactly what he was feeling when I blurted out, “I’m pregnant!” But, I’ll tell ya. He didn’t hardly believe it either. In fact, he asked more than once that day if it could be wrong. No, darling. False positives aren’t a thing. But I’ll take a couple more for ya! (Sound familiar? The vivid dream! WHAT!?)

As you can imagine, I left work…and tagged along on a video shoot with Philip for the afternoon because I needed to be with him.  It still doesn’t seem real some days. But, God has ALWAYS had far better timing than ours, so we are in a place of trust here! We don’t have a car that will suit 3 car seats…this babe will live in our room for quite a while…our house is definitely not meant for a family of 5…but people do a lot more with a lot less!

For now, I’m thanking God for a relatively easy first trimester so far. No nausea for once! Excited to share with everyone…well…most everyone. I’m somewhat pained knowing there will be people to find out and will feel such a pain and heartache in their own journey of trying to start or add to their family. To have this happen unintentionally when I’ve also been the person who needed medication to get pregnant…it’s weird. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to those who are waiting and waiting and wishing and wanting. But, I just trust that God’s plans and timing and blessings are just as good for them too. Praying for the release of their sweet babies as I type this. As much as I’ve felt all kinds of emotions, I’ve never once been ungrateful. This IS a blessing and inheritance from the Lord. And we are excited to find out who will complete, yes COMPLETE, this family!

PS, #HLA is what we’ve been calling this little bean. It means “Happy Little Accident”.  Here’s the onesie used to announce to family:

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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!

Victoria Brown Photography

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!




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.”