Sunday, January 29, 2012

Losing Pregnancy Weight part 3

I was going to blog yesterday but then I got pretty sick... thankfully with the help of some essential oils, vitamin C, apple cider vinegar and honey, tylenol and sleep, I am feeling much better today. :) Colds are something that I throw everything at and wrestle to the ground with a vengeance. You have to jump on them as soon as they come or else they ruin your life.

Well, today I wanted to talk about something near and dear to my heart: breastfeeding. I know I talked about it last time and how to get your supply up and everything, but today I want to convince you of the beauty of this gift God has given us in how we feed our babies. :)

Some of the benefits of breastfeeding are:
-Immunities for your baby. Your baby is born with no immunities because they haven't been exposed to all the crap you have been. These immunities are passed on to the baby through your breast milk. This is especially important in the early phases 0-3 months because they are so small and their bodies are not very strong. Eventually they will need to develop their own immune system, but while they are still growing and developing it's very good for them to borrow yours.
-More intelligent children. Levi's pediatrician said that the way the baby has to get milk out of the breast makes their brains have to work harder and then creates smarter babies over bottle fed. (He knew of some study, but I don't know all the details)
-Extra calories burned for mama. ... Okay, I'm going to sort of explain this a little better. I got a comment on my last post about this one and so I've been mulling it over for a few days. Like I said in the beginning, everyone is different, metabolisms are different, bodies are different. I'm going to speak from personal experience, what I've heard from a majority of women and what I have researched. Maybe this will make things clearer.
When you breastfeed your body supposedly burns an extra 500 calories a day. I'm sure this varies from woman to woman depending on her metabolism and maybe how much/often she breastfeeds. Okay, so let's think about that, 500 calories ... it's kind of like going for a 5 mile run except you just get to sit and hold your baby instead. :) (Okay, I know not exactly like a huge run because that exercise is doing something to make your metabolism higher in general, so maybe more like a 3 or 4 mile run).  Now think about the fact that 3500 calories burned is a pound of fat and so you have 7 days a week, that would be about a pound a week. It's not anything huge and drastic or miraculous, but it is something. I added on walks with Levi and I lost about 60 pounds in a year. Granted, some of that was baby. It was a slow, gradual process but it happened.

Now I'm going to write about my experience of breastfeeding along with regular moderate exercise. I breastfed a lot. We probably had about 8-10 feedings a day. If you are a new mom and that terrifies you, don't worry, your baby will become much more efficient in the feeding process. Honestly, during that year I remember telling Ben that I felt like I had the metabolism of a teenage boy. That sounds weird, I know. But I was hungry all the time. I was hungry when I should not have been hungry, like an hour after eating a meal or in the middle of the night. The good thing is that I could live with that kind of hunger, pregnancy hunger is way worse to try to live with. Pregnancy hunger is like, if I don't have something right now I'm going to faint or puke or something like that, this kind of hunger was just the regular stuff. My other confession: I ate a lot. Now, I didn't go on any binges, I also didn't eat huge meals all the time, but I definitely still ate ice cream (in moderation of course), I kind of lived off of peanut butter in the afternoons when I was busy cleaning the house and getting ready to fix dinner and Levi was at my feet. I could just grab a spoonful and it would help for a little while until we got to dinner. I was always surprised when I stepped on a scale because I didn't expect myself to lose the weight because of how much I was eating.

My main goal for weight loss was to just keep nursing, drink plenty of water, eat a variety of fruits and veggies, exercise 3-5 days a week, try to just move more by cleaning the house or playing with Levi or doing laundry, don't feel guilty about eating sweets, don't watch much TV (it's way more fun to keep TV and movies "special" that you would just watch with your husband.) ... and I think that's about it.

Another thing that I think effected how well I lost weight was my age. I'm just going to say this for all the girls out there who got pregnant in their twenties: you're going to have an easier time losing weight than if you waited. I am 27 years old, so I don't know this from experience but from what I have heard your metabolism changes around the age of 30. No, I'm not saying it plummets like a rock, but I have heard that it's more difficult to lose pregnancy weight after the age of 30. What does that mean? If you are in your 20's then be thankful for your higher metabolism and don't mess around, lose it while you can. If you are in your 30's it just means you will need to be a little more careful.

I think the problem with saying that breastfeeding makes the pounds just FALL off is that it can be misleading. No, you can't eat yourself into oblivion and lose all the weight, (in most cases) but it is a helpful tool in losing weight. It's just one more thing to raise the metabolism.

One more note to new first time moms: if you are struggling with breastfeeding, you are not alone. If you are struggling, know that it will not always be like this. For some reason when your newborn baby comes out they can be terrible at breastfeeding. They can't hold their heads up, they can barely see, they don't know where the breast is, they are not in control of their little arms so they will knock your boob away without knowing what they are doing. It's not easy. Plus, your nipples are sore, you are exhausted because they want to feed ALL night long, they take forever to burp and you are just not sure about this whole process.
Trust me, it gets better. Hang on for at least 6-8 weeks. Keep putting on that lanolin gel the lactation consultant gave you every chance you get and just persevere. Learn how to nurse while lying down in bed. (I like to have a pillow between my legs and one behind my back to help support. You can pretty much sleep while your little one just nurses away). At first the feedings will last 20-30 minutes on each side, but after a while they will be down to 10-15 minutes. You will eventually be able to nurse in the dark and it will be the easiest, most natural thing in the world.

If you really want to be a nurser I would suggest getting some good, comfortable nursing bras, a nursing cover and a good pump if you are going to work, or a decent pump if you are staying home.

here is THE BEST nursing bra, so comfy and underwires, no way jose. :)

here is an awesome place to get a good nursing cover.

The best brand to get a breast pump in is Medela

Gotta go, Aria is calling. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Losing Pregnancy Weight part 2

Wow, comments that get my juices going already. Lord, help me in this. Aria seems like she might wake up soon, but I still want to attempt to write some thoughts.

What is it about being a mom that suddenly makes us want to be healthy? Maybe it's the fact that we have children who are depending on us, completely dependent in some cases, suddenly we realize that our bodies are not meant to be trashed. At least that was my realization. I think when my body was just my own I thought, "It doesn't matter what happens to me, I can do whatever I want to my body." Then when I got married I realized it also belonged to Ben and it mattered to him. Now that I have babies, it matters to many more people than just me. :)

Another thing is just the fact that I want to teach my children to be healthy and how can I do that if I am unhealthy? Especially having a daughter, I want her to grow up knowing how beautiful she is and that she doesn't have to look like the girl on the cover of a magazine. I don't want her to struggle with binge eating the way I did and hate herself the way I did. I think I'm just going to have to pray about that one.

For some reason this thought just came to my mind, I don't know, maybe someone reading this just needed to hear this. Speaking of magazines... I want to encourage you NOT to look at magazine covers. I want to encourage you not to watch television shows with perfect looking, anorexic women whose hair and makeup is always amazing. I want to encourage you not to go looking through your friends perfect pictures on Facebook... I don't know. What I mean is that we as women have this horrible tendency to compare ourselves to other women. What I want to do is start looking at reality. When you are in line at the grocery store and have a tendency to gaze at those stupid magazines of women in their tiny bikini's (who really wants to see that anyways?) or how this movie star is "looking better than ever" I want you to just look up. Look at the old lady in front of you, look at how amazing her wrinkles are, think about how much life she has lived and pray that when you are that age you won't regret throwing away this season wishing you were someone else. Look at the guy who is checking the groceries, think about how he has a family and he is doing his best to provide for his wife and kids, pray for him. Look at all the different amazing shapes and sizes of people around you, listen to the tones of voices that God created all around and just be amazed at the creativity of God.

I want to stop looking at what Hollywood or whoever it is that is telling us what is or isn't beautiful. I want to start listening to what God thinks and sees as beautiful and worship Him in that place. I guarantee that if you leave the grocery store thinking about how great God is rather than thinking about how fat you look you will be less likely to go home and be depressed and just want to eat everything.

Okay, sorry, that was a little preachy, but I just had to say it.

I'm also going to post some advice to nursing mothers on keeping up a good milk supply. It will really help with the losing weight thing if you can be sure and nurse a lot. Make sure and drink lots of water. Drink drink drink. If you don't drink enough water then your body won't be able to make enough milk. Another way to stimulate more milk production is to just nurse a lot. Every 2-3 hours at first and make sure they nurse for 20 minutes on each side. Sometimes I even think of myself as a human pacifier, that when Aria is not happy I will just nurse her. She wants to suck, all I'm really doing is just hanging out, so why not nurse? I feel like sometimes Dr's look to just giving the baby formula too quickly and don't try to get the mom's milk supply up. I remember when Levi was about eight months old we went on a two week vacation and for some reason he decided that he suddenly wanted to nurse every two hours even through the night. I was waking up about 4 times a night to feed him. It was ridiculous and had we been home I would have just let him cry in his bed, he was eight months old for crying out loud. But we were with friends and family in close quarters so I just did it. By the end of the two weeks my supply had dramatically increased. That was about the time when Levi was moving from the 30-50 percentile up to the 75 percentile. It's amazing how God designed our bodies to produce milk, enough milk for our babies.

Another recommendation is to eat oatmeal, that helps milk production, get plenty of rest, don't eat anything too spicy in those first months, don't worry, they will get older and you will be able to eat whatever when their little intestines have developed better, maybe around 4-5 months old. Drink lots of water, did I say that already? :) A good resource for information is La Leche League. It's an organization of moms who breastfeed, like a support group. They are all about breastfeeding and how to help moms who are struggling with breastfeeding. Just look for when and where your local chapter meets.

Whew. I think I did it. Can't wait to post more.

Losing Pregnancy Weight

Okay, I have really been thinking about what I am going to post on here, this is a sign that I will have much to write about. :) Get ready for a 30-part series. :):)

I am a naming expert. I honestly decided to call it this so that people will just know exactly what I am talking about. I am so boring, I know.

Weight loss has always intrigued me... or maybe I should say distracted me... or maybe I should say been an obsession. The obsession part was more earlier in my life and God has been faithful to heal me in that area. You can read about that in The Redemption of My Physical Body series if you want.  This series will kind of be a tag along to that one, except it will specifically be my postpartum journey. I want to recognize on here that each person's body is different. Metabolisms are different, shapes and weights and numbers are different... what I hope to communicate on here is what has worked for me, what I am learning about myself and my body.

I am not going to have "fat pictures" or measurements or weekly weigh-ins. This is not your typical weight-loss blog. I don't know that I will share my exact "meal plans" or caloric or fat intakes...

Why? Isn't that what you have to do in order to lose weight? I say, NO

Because I have crash dieted before. It doesn't work. At least, not for long.

Often when I hear people talk about diet plans I tune them out. I'm not going to be so bold as to say I have tried everything and nothing works. What I am going to say is that I don't want to have meal plans and restrictions and good and bad days for the rest of my life. I'm tired of the guilt and I don't believe it is necessary to lose weight.

I have thought about it and I think I will include some numbers. Just want to be honest and I feel the freedom here to talk about my weights in the past and about where I think I am today. These are some physical markers for me. These are all roundish, but just to give you an idea.

My heaviest weight that I've ever seen on a scale has been around 205. I'm 5'7" ... I think that was sometime in college. I met my husband at about 190 and we began dating (I couldn't believe he found me attractive, but he always said he loved my smile and my spirit, he said I was his dream come true. He is a sap and I love him.) By the time we got married seven months later I might have been down to 180 and when I found myself pregnant a year after that I was around 170. It was a slow weight loss, but for the first time in my life I wasn't crash dieting and had a much healthier view of food than ever before. I attribute the weight loss to the fact that we didn't sit around and watch TV and eat. (Watching TV has always been the way I binge, it's very difficult for me to just sit and eat at the table and binge, but when there is a television to distract me from the vast amounts of food I am eating, it is very easy to do so.) Another thing I will attribute my weight loss to was the example I found in my husband. He often knows when to stop, he doesn't eat dessert after every meal, and he wants to have at least one vegetable at dinner. He is not perfect, but he has been a good example for me.

When I got pregnant with Levi I didn't know what my body would do, so I was pretty careful about how I ate. I had two motivations: I didn't want to gain 70 pounds like I had heard of people doing and my other was that I was no longer just feeding me, I was feeding a little life inside of me. He was my motivation to make sure I ate enough and that I ate healthfully. Ben was also good at getting me to go on walks. I walked a LOT with my pregnancy with Levi. I would walk 3-5 times a week anywhere from 1-3 miles depending on how I felt that day. In the first months I only gained about a pound or two per month. Towards the end however, I did jump further up the scale and ended up gaining about 35 pounds. I think I made it up to 205 again.

Now, my mom had always said that if I nursed the weight would just "fall off" of me. She would gain a lot of weight during pregnancy but then lose it really easily by nursing and she would even get under weight because of it. Her key: drink lots of water. That's what she told me. Drink about 16 oz every time you nurse. If you are nursing every 2-3 hours, that is a lot of water. :) She said that she could eat more than my dad and still lose weight by doing this. I thought she was maybe remembering with rose colored glasses, but I was definitely going to take her advice and drink as much water as I could. It makes sense because the water helps you metabolize the fat into milk.

Well, I nursed and I walked and over the course of a year I lost 60 pounds. I was down to about 145. This was a dream come true in a lot of ways because I never thought I would see anything below 160 again for the rest of my life. I now knew that my body could do that, it was possible. Honestly, I think at times I would restrict my eating a little bit, and then other times I indulged. I'm not going to say I ate more than Ben all the time, but sometimes I would. I just had to listen to my body, allow myself to experience hunger, try to eat healthy, exercise when I could and nurse.

Then I got pregnant with my little Aria. Since I only weighed 145 I kind of laxed off in the eating area. I thought, well, maybe I would just gain about a pound a week and then gain 40 pounds, at least I wouldn't weigh as much as I did with Levi. I'm just going to say that at the hospital they weight you before you check into your birthing room, I was 198. This was a victory in some sorts because at least I didn't break 200, ha ha!

Now that she is out of me, I'm pretty sure I weigh less than that :) but I don't own a scale so I don't know by how much. I figured I will find out at my 6 week appointment how much I could stand to lose. You can read about why I don't own a scale here.

I wonder what it will be like trying to lose weight with baby number two. I am older, will my metabolism be slower? Will I have the time to nurse? Will it be more difficult to get out and exercise? Will I want to eat out of stress of dealing with a two year old who has a will and wants to use it? Or will I have a healthy distraction in my little boy from the food that can call my name when I'm bored?

More than anything, I want this journey to be one that pleases the Lord. I learned a while back that this is a process that He can be invited into. I want Him to be the focus of my attention, not food, not dieting or weight loss. Apart from Him I can do nothing. He created my body, He has blessed me with two beautiful children and He is the one who allows me to walk in freedom above the pull of food.

Lord, help me. I am in desperate need of You in all of this.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Series

I was trying to take a nap and just couldn't fall asleep. It was probably that leftover coffee I drank around noon... I should have known it wouldn't let me take an afternoon nap. Darn it.

My babies are sleeping though and it feels so peaceful in the house right now. The dryer is going and some banana bread is baking in the oven. I wanted to make the bread with Levi earlier, but things really fell apart this morning. It was one of those mornings where you feel like your child will never be happy, everything you did was wrong, you lost your temper (more than once), and nap time cannot come soon enough.

I had to apologize a lot to Levi this morning.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what "series" I will start next. What is currently going on in my life that I just want to share. Lord, help me. I want this to come naturally and flow from You. I am struggling with this because I know that certain people regularly read my blog and sometimes I write with them in mind and then other times people will mention that they read my blog and I'm like, "Really? You?" I am surprised that they would be interested in my thoughts.

Maybe the most surprising is when I get a random email or message from someone I don't even know who says, "Reading your blog makes me feel like I'm reading from my own journal." That they are encouraged by the fact that they are not alone out there. That might be one of my greatest motivations for this whole thing. I'm not a "cool" blogger, I don't have cool pictures or amazing projects that I'm working on and stuff... maybe I should try that someday... really, I just blog what is in my heart and that's it.

Honestly, I think I'm going to start a series on losing post-pregnancy weight the second time around, what my expectations are, what are the differences, what are my challenges... I don't know what I will call it. I'm terrible at coming up with titles, I hate titling/naming things. I'm never clever with them, as you can see from my past titles :) If you have a suggestion, feel free to toss it out there, maybe I will use it or maybe I will shoot it down. I don't know. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My VBAC Postpartum

So it's been eleven days. Eleven days. Aria has been outside of my body for eleven days. It kind of feels like she's always been here. She just fits right into our family like a puzzle piece, like she always belonged or something like that. I guess she really has been a part of our family for the past nine months but at least now we get to look at her little face and hold her in our arms. I get to see that she got my grandma's super long fingers and toes, she got my nose, Ben's mouth and has a little dimple on her chin that we think might have come from Ben's grandma. I get to hear her little unique cry and other noises she makes, I get to see her soft smile as she is sleeping and touch her soft little ears... it really is amazing.

Okay, so what I really wanted to post about is just everything since the VBAC, the difference between the C-section and the natural birth, the recoveries and other thoughts or revelations I have had since then.

I must say, I have learned a lot. :)

Last night my sister and I were talking about my labor and how it never really took off the way people say it will. For instance, after the Dr broke my waters she was expecting me to have contraction on top of contraction and I really didn't. It was like my labor just continued. It was just as painful and I still had a minute or two between contractions, it was just slow and steady. Slow and steady. She said that in her Bradley Method book they call that labor "the putterer" ha ha! We laughed last night, I don't know that I would have laughed had you told me that when I was in labor. :) But I was thinking about it this morning and I wondered if since my labor was going so slowly that it was in fact good that I didn't get an epidural, that maybe that would have caused me to stall out completely. I don't know. But for the first time I thought, "I'm glad I didn't get one." Seriously, because before that thought occurred to me this morning I was thinking, "that hurt so bad, why did I so want to experience a natural birth?" But thinking about it this morning I thought, I could have had another C section. I don't know. I'll never know, but it did make me thankful I was able to VBAC.

Maybe some of you are wondering about recovery as far as my physical body goes. To be honest, they don't tell you all the stuff that happens when you push a baby out. I'm putting this out there for women who are going to have babies vaginally, honesty is my only policy on this blog. So, I'm going to be honest about my experience. I tore in three places. The Dr's comment was that it looked like grenade went off in there. My perineum also was also very swollen, I also had hemorrhoids. On top of that, I am beginning to think that my pelvis was kind of bruised from all the pressure. I'm not sure. All that to say that the first several days I couldn't sit down. Thankfully the hospital beds have this nice reclining function and they also gave me a little kiddie inner tube to sit on if I needed to use a chair. I couldn't walk very far and when I did it was kind of a waddle. About day three I was sitting there crying, thinking, I'm going to get better! I just wanted to feel like a whole person again. I don't know why I didn't expect this, but honestly, I was expecting to come home from the hospital after having this amazing natural birth and then I could roll around on the floor with my little boy, go on a walk, just do stuff and here I was, worse than when I was pregnant. It was rough.

Okay, I think what happened to me was a worst case scenario. Now that I have scared all the women out of ever having a baby or getting pregnant.

I'm going to give glory to God right now and say that it's been eleven days and I'm almost back to 100%. Yeah, I'm still a little sore, little tender, little hemorrhoids still, but I think the healing process is going much much quicker. I don't remember everything about the recovery for the C-section, but I do remember not wanting to wear jeans because of my scar for some weeks. I remember not being able to really use my abs for several months, just trying to take it easy on them. I want to say that I could still feel the scar, especially in my last trimester and that was about two years later.

I would say the difference between the C-section and the vaginal delivery was that the VBAC was probably a higher degree of pain but for a shorter amount of time, whereas the C-section didn't effect my sitting as much as it did my walking and I think it was a longer healing process.

Wow, it's 2:30 and a wave of exhaustion just hit me. I'm going to go now. If you have questions, feel free to ask. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Aria's Birth Story part 4

We got to the hospital around 11:30 am on Sunday. I had been in labor ... well, that's hard to say because we would call what happened all day Friday and most of Saturday "early labor" and so it doesn't really count. I'm going to kind of count it though because what all that early labor did was fatigue me. I hadn't gotten a full night's sleep in three nights. I was exhausted. I just wanted it to be over. I thought it would be over as soon as we walked in. I sort of had it pictured in my head that we would walk in, check in, and then I would have her an hour or so later. Nope.

I kept telling Ben to call my mom. We were walking across the sky walk at Baptist Hospital and I kept telling him we needed to call her. I didn't want her to miss it. Then I wanted him to call Diane and Lindsay... I was sure I was about to have her. He said he would call when we got up to the room and got settled. Okay fine.

This was another thing that was specific and special about Aria's birth, I wanted the women of our family to be there. I have been thinking about home births and how it is so cool that you can invite people to your birth. Can you imagine that? Being invited to help welcome a new little baby into the world? To witness their first cries, to really see, not just on a TV but in person, a baby being born? I thought that was pretty cool so I decided to invite all my sister in laws, moms and sister to Aria's birth. Two of my sister in laws were not able to make it since they are in separate cities but one did. My younger sister (who is not yet even married) decided that it might be a little too much for her to witness. I thought that was cool and we decided she would come in after Aria was born:). The cool thing is that each one of the women in the room have experienced natural childbirth. I told them they were not allowed to joke about epidurals and I knew they wouldn't be pushy, but I just wanted them to be praying for the process and just to be there... with me, with Aria as we went through this process.

When we got to the hospital the nurse checked me and I had made it to a seven. For those of you who don't know, you need to make it to ten centimeters before you can push your baby out. Only three more to go. Really, I wanted it to be over NOW. I'm just being honest here. You don't know what labor is like until you have experienced it. It's kind of a holding on for dear life kind of thing. At least for me it was and I think I am going to credit that partially to my fatigue. But the other part I'm going to credit to the fact that you are pushing out a baby. And it's hard. Your body is doing a LOT of work.

I'm pausing here because I'm wondering how much detail I want to put out there. I'm going to assume that if you are reading this you want to know some detail and you have an interest in what happened at the birth... okay.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. :) This is a sarcastic smile. My birth plan said that I only wanted to be monitored intermittently. To be monitored means that you have to wear these elastic bands around your huge belly and you are only allowed within a five foot radius of this machine that tracks your contractions as well as the baby's heart rate. Intermittently would mean that I would be on them for a little bit but then have them taken off if everything looked fine and I could labor on my own for a while. I was informed there was a new hospital policy that I had to be monitored continuously since I was a VBAC patient, birth plan shmirth plan. This meant that every time I went to the bathroom I had to be "unplugged" and then someone would carry the cords and follow me to the restroom. Fun.

I'll also say this about the monitors. Sometimes you just want to get up and change positions and there were so many times that as I was changing positions I felt like I was going to trip on the cords and then to have a contraction on top of that... I cursed the monitors in my head a lot. I knew that it would do me no good to complain about them out loud, but there were so many times when I cursed them.

At some point I made it to a nine or almost ten cm, I remember the Dr coming in and checking me. I don't remember if I brought it up or if he did, but I definitely wanted him to break my waters. I didn't care if contractions would get more painful and intense, I just wanted to get through this. All I wanted was to survive and for it to be over as quickly as possible.

It was pretty desperate at that point. Contractions were hard and very close together. I kept thinking, maybe I can get in this position and it will make me more comfortable... I thought, "maybe an epidural would be a good idea." I finally suggested it and Cora was like, "Jody, you are at a nine, you are almost done sweetheart, you can do this." I knew she was right. Thoughts crossed my mind, "A C-section would be WAY easier than this, if they could just cut her out of me this all would be over." A few days after giving birth I was talking to my good friend Katie who has been a Labor and Delivery Nurse for several years and she said that almost every woman who delivers naturally has a breakdown moment where they are just like, "I don't want to do this anymore, get me out of here, I don't want to have a baby..." That's really what I was thinking. I was thinking, this is never going to happen and if it does I don't know if I want to be around to experience her coming out of me...

But really, the only person who can give birth to her child is the mother. I was the only person in the room who could do that for Aria. I had to go through with this.

So I got on the birthing stool and began to push. Well, my body pretty much told me to push. She had been so high that it took about an hour and a half to push her down. Man, I'm giving a lot of details here... Or maybe I'm just picturing everything in my head and so many things are coming back to me.

Towards the end I realized I needed someone to support my back, someone to lean against as I just surrendered to my body's pushing. Ben, yet again, came to my rescue. He sat on the edge of the bed and supported me the whole way. It was so beautiful in that he was taking part in giving birth to Aria. It was beautiful and ... rough for Ben. He said I would reach back and pull on his neck through a contraction and pushing. I was so unaware of my movements at that point. I was so tired, almost delirious ... and Ben was right there with me. At one point I started screaming as I pushed, it actually hurt my throat I was screaming so loud. The Dr looked at me and said, "Honey, I want you to take all that energy that you are using for that scream and just use it to bear down and push." It really did help. Dr Simmons is an awesome Doctor.

Maybe the coolest part about my mom and everyone being there was just the fact that they could see Aria coming out and them saying "I see her!" "There she is!" and the excitement on their faces gave me that extra energy to really push her out. I remember Ben crying tears of joy as we looked down and saw our little baby. There she was, after all that time, all the pain, all of everything... she was finally here!

This was the moment, the reason why I survived all of that pain. To see my little baby, to have her put on my chest as I get to lay in bed and just cherish those first moments with my new little one. This is why I wanted a VBAC, this is why I chose not to have any drugs or epidural, I wanted to be present, I wanted to be in the moment, I wanted to do everything in my power to be able to deliver her vaginally and for her to just be with me skin on skin and just have those moments.

And now she is here. She is finally here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Aria's Birth Story part 3

Let's see here, I think we are at Saturday night now. Amy left with the advice to get as much sleep as I possibly could that night. Go to bed early, take an Ambien, try to relax... usually women's bodies will pick back up around 4 or 5 in the morning. She said we could call her at any time throughout the night and she would come.

That evening my contractions definitely became more intense. Ben and I watched a Bill Cosby rerun, I never realized that he was an OB and he delivered babies. So we had some good laughs at some of that humor. We decided to go to bed around 8:30 (usually we are in bed by 10) with the hope that my half an Ambien would knock me out. Actually what it really did was just make me feel really good. If you have never taken one, I think different people react in different ways. A friend of mine said Ambien made him really angry, but for me, Ambien makes me really happy. I can take it and within about 10 minutes anything that I think about is just amazing. Our marriage is great, my son is precious, our room is beautiful, my bed is soft and wonderful. And that's how I fall asleep. I kind of love it. The problem was that I didn't really fall asleep. I don't really remember what happened exactly but I do remember Ben saying, "This isn't working." We tried to go to sleep anyways, but I woke up a LOT with contractions. I took another half (should have taken a whole to begin with... hindsight is 20/20) but it didn't do much to me.

Around 12:30 my contractions were becoming pretty painful. I was really at a loss as to what to do so we called Amy and asked her to come. That's the bad part about being a doula or midwife or OB, babies don't just come between 8am and 5pm, they come whenever they want.  Amy came around one am and was able to check me, I think I might have dilated to 3cm, the good news was that Aria had in fact turned! This was why my contractions had become more intense, because her head was actually pressing on my cervix the right way. We decided that maybe I should labor in the bathtub, it would help lessen the intensity of the contractions and maybe I could rest. Let me just tell you though, it is very difficult to sleep in a bathtub. And with contractions on top of that, nigh impossible. But I will say that I did rest and that was good. Ben slept on the bathroom floor (we have carpet in our bathroom, but still, he is pretty hardcore) so that he could get me more hot water when the tub got cool and just to be there to make sure I didn't drown I guess.

By this time I was completely resolved to the fact that this would be a very slow labor. I had talked to Cora on the phone earlier that night, she had called to check on me. She was with her other client who had stalled out at a 5-6 cm, which is not good and they didn't know what to do. I think they were heading to the hospital soon, or maybe were already there. I just decided to take the opportunity to pray for the other client who was in labor, her name is Summerset (I think that's how you spell it) and just that the Lord would open her up. It's a very interesting thing to be praying for something for someone else that you want for yourself. Knowing that she was further along than I was (though, I wasn't stalling out like she was) and she would probably get through it quicker than I would... I don't know. It's good to take your eyes off of yourself though and just surrender it all to God. Okay, I'll just tell you, she gave birth 2 hours before I did. :) But I kind of just knew she would... I just knew it. And looking back I'm totally okay with it.

Wait, this is Aria's birth story isn't it? Sorry.

After being in the bath for several hours I got out and took a shower. I had used some oils in the tub and put a little too much in (it was dark and I couldn't see very well) and they started to burn my skin. So I got in the shower. It's weird when you are really water logged to get in a shower. It just is. My friend Debbie said that she draped herself over her birthing ball in the shower and it was a good way to deal with contractions, so Ben got the birthing ball :). It was good. But eventually I had to get out, enough with the water, I was becoming a prune.

I got in bed after that and tried to sleep. Laying down my contractions were more painful, however, so it didn't last long. I don't remember when Ben and Amy changed shifts, but I think it might have been around 4, yes, now I remember. Ben took Amy's place in the guest room and Amy came in and slept on the recliner in our room with me in the bed. I think I made it to about 6 trying to rest. Then Amy and I got up and went into the kitchen for some breakfast. At this point I didn't want to eat anything because it's really hard to breathe through a contraction with food in your mouth, plus, you are so distracted by pain that nothing sounds good. But I knew I NEEDED to eat something, I needed strength and energy. I think I ate an orange and a granola bar and maybe some cereal. I had had some yogurt earlier in the night.

Ben woke up around 7:30 (very glad he finally slept) and we called Debbie to tell her my status. Amy said my contractions were "good" meaning: you can't walk or talk through them, you can only breathe or moan. "Good." Debbie dropped her kids off at church explaining that I was in labor and no one would be there to transition them from first to second service (when you play on the worship team, you are there all morning and this is completely normal.) I think someone ended up taking care of her kids between services for her... she stayed with us and took pictures for the rest of the day. The rest of the crazy day.

And so I kept laboring. We turned on my "Birth Playlist" for Aria. It started out with Christy Knockels "Healing is in Your Hands" and "Mighty Fortress" ... it was a time for me just to sing and weep before the Lord. If you haven't heard of these songs I would encourage you to look them up and just worship the Lord with them. Then this song came on:

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alley way that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
But little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
And no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
Every beat of her beautiful heart
Was a labor of love

Noble Joseph by her side
Calloused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
On the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
Every beat of her beautiful heart
Was a labor of love

It's called Labor of Love by Andrew Peterson and in that moment everything was so real to me. I understood Mary's pain more than ever before. I realized the pain that it took to bring Christ into the world and what that meant.

Really, I wish I could just push my whole playlist through the internet to you... if I was tech savvy I would put it on my website for you to listen to as you read this. I'll talk to my husband about that one.

The next hours were just a blur of labor. Amy made me go for a walk, which was really just up our little street and back. I complained the whole way, or made jokes, being sarcastic and just making light of everything does help. Whenever I would feel a contraction coming on I would tell Ben and he would support me as I breathed through it. I don't remember how far apart they were, maybe 5 mins, it felt like 2 mins though. Sometimes you feel like you have no time in between.

We got back from our second "walk" (Amy got me to go because she promised she would check my dilation when we got back, that was my reward:)). So we got back and she checked me. I think I had made it to a 5-6, I rolled over, had a contraction and literally fell asleep. I woke up with the next contraction with "I can't do this!" and Amy said, "Jody, you fell asleep." I was like, "Really?" and then I fell back asleep. I asked Ben to support me through my contractions while I slept in between. It was a good thirty minutes of him holding me through several contractions. Again, Ben was my rock that I was standing on, leaning against... he was right there the whole way. When I didn't have the strength he did.

I got up from my "nap" and I just wanted to go to the hospital. I just wanted to transfer. I said I didn't want to go until I was at least a 7 but I just wanted to leave. I knew my contractions would only get worse and I couldn't imagine the car ride to get there. Amazingly enough the car ride was not bad at all, I just had a few strong contractions but none during bumps and Ben was super careful as he drove.

I am sorry, this is going to have to be four parts... I am so tired right now, but I want to just go ahead and post. I will finish soon, I promise.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Aria's Birth Story part 2

I think I left off on Friday night. We weren't sure what my body was doing and I knew I needed to get some rest. I knew I did... I just wish I had really really known. I decided to take half an ambien after trying to fall asleep on my own. (Really hard when you are excited about labor plus your body is contracting plus you have sleep issues.) The half an Ambien worked pretty well until about midnight. I was awake again so I took the other half. Maybe the smartest thing I did all weekend. Sleep was what I needed.

Woke up the next morning probably around 5... I just couldn't make myself sleep any longer. Just so you know, if you have never experienced contractions, they are not comfortable. :) The good thing about them is that they are gradual, they start out uncomfortable, maybe slightly painful and then gradually increase in pain. As everyone was telling me that if I can walk/talk through a contraction then I probably am still in early labor. Thanks. That was somewhat discouraging when I would hear that because I knew I still had a long way to go. Why was my body taking so long? Was she ever going to come out? Would my body open up? I only made it to three cm with Levi when we found out he was breech, they said my cervix was soft so I had a good chance for a VBAC. I kept thinking about all the women who were not able to have successful VBACs and thinking I might be one of them. It's crazy how your mind goes to all of these places of doubt so quickly, so automatically.

We didn't want to just sit around our house all morning so we decided to go to my parents house and visit Levi.

Oh yeah, there's a huge detail here: Cora, my doula had another client who was due on the 8th. I was due on the 5th. Leading up to the birth we talked about the possibility of  her needing a backup doula in case we went into labor at the same time. I told her I would love to work with her backup, Amy, I had Amy at La Leche League and ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and my friend Debbie (our photographer) loved Amy. Amy was supposed to be the midwife for Debbie's home birth about a year ago but happened to be out of town when Debbie went into labor. I remember Debbie saying she was really disappointed Amy didn't get to be there because Debbie loved Amy so much. :)

But really, what are the chances that we would go into labor at the same time, doing the same thing? Apparently, pretty good. :)
Friday night Cora's other client went into labor. It must have been the excitement of the Hogs game, Cora said they were big Hog fans and that she really hoped she wouldn't go into labor that night because they didn't want to have to watch the game on a tiny hospital TV. :) If that says anything. Ha! I love it.

So Saturday morning I kind of got passed on the Amy. This was the providence of God. Let me explain, Amy is training to be a midwife, she has delivered several babies, had 6 natural births of her own, she knows her stuff technically about positioning and such. Looking back, we really had the best of both worlds. Cora is very hands off, we weren't sure if Aria was posterior and we were just going to wait and see. Cora was great though, during the really intense labor, she is a masseuse (I think that's what it is, gives massages and has been to school for it and everything...) and she knew exactly where and how to rub, she just touches you and you relax. It's amazing. But Amy came in vitally when it came to really looking at positioning and calling a spade a spade. Amy had more practice at feeling around on bellies and feeling for exact positioning of the baby. Sorry, I am jumping way ahead of myself here...

Okay, so back at my parents house... We ate breakfast and the guys decided to go for a walk, I wanted to go to help with getting labor going but I was pretty tired after not sleeping tons the night before. So I laid down and slept for about an hour and had a couple of contractions in between. I woke up, we were all sitting in my parents living room and I just began to cry. So many doubts going through my head. I had doubts even before I experienced my first contraction, just about the fact that I would open up at all, but now I had been in labor for 24+ hours, not active labor, but still regular contractions that I had to breathe through, I was tired. I didn't know if I would make it to delivery if delivery would ever happen... The beauty of that moment and being there with them was just the opportunity for mom to pray over me, Ben to hug me and Levi to just come and cuddle. I was able to surrender all over again. I was yet again lifted up. I remember leaving their house and thinking, I'm glad we did that. I'm glad that is part of this birth story.

The next stop was the grocery store. My contractions definitely picked up then because I wasn't able to walk through them. I remember standing next to the oranges and telling Ben to wait a minute so I could breathe.

On the way home I called Amy and she talked my through a lot of my apprehensions. We decided it would be a good idea for her to come over and assess the situation as far as positioning. She came and said I might be at 2 cm. Yep. Been contracting for about 36 hours at this point and had only made it to a two. Her encouragement was that my cervix had come far forward and that those contractions had been doing a lot of work. She was able to even feel inside of me and determine which way Aria's head was facing by feeling for her seam lines in her skull. (In case you don't know, the baby's skull is divided up into three separate plates so that it will fit through the mama's (tiny) birth canal. Crazy, I know.)

Amy knew exactly what to do. She had me get into a position called Deep Knee Chest. I had heard about this and oh how scary/hard it is. Basically, you are putting your face to the floor, supported by your shoulders/chest and knees with your butt in the air. The idea is that gravity will pull the baby's spine down during a contractions. Amy explained that she wanted 20 minutes in this position and at least two or three good contractions. I would have stood on my head if it meant turning the baby. I did it without complaining. I wanted to know if I should do it again. Between the Deep Knee Chest positions we did pelvic rocks. Pelvic rocks are where you get on your hands and knees and rock your pelvis up and down. Every pregnant woman should do pelvic rocks every day. Birth Works recommends that you do a hundred every day. You can break them up, but they want a hundred. I didn't do a hundred every day and look what happened to me :). Haha!

We felt like it would be okay for Amy to go home and tend to her family at that point. (She has six kids, did I mention that?) I would be okay and we were ready for another evening of labor. I would take half and Ambien again and the other half midway through the night.

But before we did that we decided to go out to eat just to take our mind off things and have at least one good hurrah before we entered baby world. We went to this new place called Big Orange in the Promenade. We split a burger, fries and a milkshake. As you can tell, we knew it would be another while and we were getting settled into this whole waiting thing.

I think I'll leave it there. More to come. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Thing

So, I'm taking a pause in Aria's birth story because there was something that was laid on my heart this morning, has been laid on my heart for a while and I just have to share it.

How do I explain this? Where do I start? I wish I could start in the middle and explain out from there...

I've been looking forward to this time of being at home. Since about week 20 I've been wanting my life to just stop so that I could just be at home and enjoy my kids, have no responsibilities, and just dive into the Word, dive into the Spirit of God. Sounds pretty good huh?

When I had Levi (granted, all I had was a little baby to care for, so I had time) I was able to listen to so many sermons and podcasts, I was able to memorize scripture and just be in the presence of God. I worried that I would struggle with postpartum depression because I was already prone to depression as I grew up. I had struggled with wanting to end my life and I thought, "how am I going to handle this time of being alone and all the hormones ... " But God was faithful. I also had to make some choices on my own to stop any kind of depression heading into my life. I did not watch any TV, I knew that it brought on feelings of inadequacy and discontentment. I also just made the decision to listen to whatever I could that would uplift me while I nursed or cleaned my house or whatever you do in those first months of baby-ness.

Okay, I'm also going to explain that this past year has been a struggle. It was so good when our church was having revival prayer services and I was being swept away in the Spirit and hungry for the Word... and then Satan attacks. He attacks brutally and without mercy. I definitely fell. I went back to some old sin patterns that I thought were conquered, I struggled with depression and more than anything, I struggled with shame. The strange part is that during all of this I was pregnant with Aria. She was definitely conceived during the good part, but the rest of the pregnancy was tainted. I'm sorry I can't give more details, I just don't feel led to in this story. About midway through the pregnancy we found out she was a girl, this was a shock to me, I totally thought I would have another little boy to wrestle on the floor with, but no, she was a girl. We began to think of names... I will also say that in this time God began to do some serious healing in my life. Certain other believers (isn't is good that we are not alone in this walk) began to speak into my life and I just received freedom from the shame.

I'm just going to throw this out there for any believer who has struggled with sin and shame. Scripture is powerful and true. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2 ... actually, just go meditate on that whole chapter.

Okay, so we were looking for a name and God was telling me that there would be new birth in my life along with her new birth. That He was going to show me things about Himself that I had never known before. That's where we came up with Aria. You can read about how we came to name her here.

Coming up on this period of new birth I have just been looking forward to the days of just barely getting by with a little bit of sleep and cuddling and nursing my new baby. Lots of time spend in the arm chair with her in the middle of the night and just lots of time at home in general.

My goal... maybe it's my New Year's resolution, I don't know I have never been big on resolutions, but my goal in these next few months, maybe longer, will be to memorize 1 Peter.

Yup. That's what I want to do. "Wait a minute," you say, "that's a whole book of the Bible, are you sure you can memorize that much? Why 1 Peter? How long will this take you? You must be good at memorizing."

I'm not good at memorizing. I don't think anyone really is, it just depends on how long it's in front of you. It depends on how many times you go over it in your head, meditate on it, take it apart, write it down, say it out loud...

I'm also going to say this, not in a bragging way, but in a way that says, yes, this is possible, it's difficult, but it's possible. two summers back I memorized Colossians, I didn't make it past chapter 3 though, but it was still SO good. I cannot tell you how many times I have been able to recall scripture from Colossians at key times in my sharing at the Crisis Pregnancy Center or when some Jehovah's witnesses knocked on the door.

So my goal is 1 Peter this time. I can never get over this book. Every time I read it I have to go back. I have a few lone verses from it memorized, I know some generalities about it, but I would love to have the complete book written in my heart. It's a lot about suffering and submission. Not very popular topics these days, but I want them. I want to know them.

I'm really going to post more on this. I have to go right now, but I'll be back soon.

Aria's Birth Story part 1

Let me just start by saying that Aria’s birth was long and hard fought for.  Levi’s birth came upon us as somewhat of a surprise, he was two weeks early and we were expecting him to be late as most firstborns are. He was breech so we had to do a C-Section, he was out of my body and into the world in what felt like the blink of an eye. 
With Aria we were ready. We were bracing ourselves for the VBAC, hoping, praying… three and four weeks before her due date we were focusing in on what the birth would be like, me practicing relaxation techniques, using oils, doing lots of yoga, making sure and getting a good amount of sleep at night… I had all of her clothes washed and ready, her bassinet in its place. All of this gets you psychologically geared up to… wait. And wait.

So my due date came, January the 5th and I had barely dilated, had not effaced, nothing seemed to even be getting ready. I thought, "my body's not going to go into labor, they are just going to have to go in and take her out." So many women had told me about how they would experience contractions early or how they would go into their Dr's appointments and be a 2 or a 3 ... I just wasn't really believing that I was going to have a baby.

The next morning, it was sort of still morning, around 1 am I was woken up by contractions. I tried to go back to sleep but they kept waking me up, so I decided to go hang out in the living room, listen to some relaxation music, post on facebook and time my contractions. When Ben finally woke up I asked him if he wanted to have a baby today. We were both excited, my body was actually kicking into labor... this was unbelievable. Ben called in to work (thinking we would have a baby that day) and took the day off. We decided to bring Levi to my parents that afternoon in case things really took off.

I thought they did... we laid down for a nap and I started to have harder contractions closer together... it was exciting. I thought, "we are going to the hospital soon and we are going to have a baby today!" Was I ever wrong.

We got up and started cleaning. Ben said he was doing it because he was just restless and wanted me to have plenty of room to labor. He is a sweet, wonderful man.

I called Cora, my doula, (you can read about Birth Works and doulas here) and she came over around 5 or so. We also called our friend Debbie, who is a professional photographer, she came over to take pictures of early labor. She photographed Aria's whole birth, but I'll talk more about that later. It will be kind of cool to show her documentation of her birth someday...

So they came over, we felt for positioning to make sure Aria was head down (we weren't going to make that mistake again!) but Cora couldn't tell if she was posterior (which is not good) or anterior (which is preferable, it means the baby is facing the mother's spine). We thought she might be posterior which would be why my body wasn't kicking into heavy labor yet, when babies are posterior many times they won't apply the correct pressure on the mother's cervix. I was also having pain in my lower back, which is a sign of a posterior baby. Side note: if you are getting ready to have a baby you need to learn about this stuff, I am also going to highly recommend a doula because I think I would have ended up with another c-section had it not been for the wisdom of my doulas to stay home and just try to naturally turn the baby. We would have ended up in the hospital for days had we gone in when I thought I needed to go in. I would not have been able to eat and probably would have labored in the bed the whole time with monitors on and only ice chips to chew on. We were very thankful for Cora (and Amy who comes later in the story)'s wisdom.

With the back labor I called the chiropractor. John Vincent with Chenal Chiropractic if you are an expectant mother he does techniques to help align your uterus and pelvis especially for delivery. He told me not to hesitate to call him, he would come to my house and adjust me if I felt like I needed it. With lower back pain, I thought, "he told me not to hesitate." Even with the Razorback game coming on he still came :). It helped, but I think she was still posterior. I needed to do something more proactive to really turn her.

Ben also had asked out neighbor, you can read about him here and he said his spiritual parents were coming over to watch the game and they would come beforehand and pray for me. So then these people I didn't even know came in and just prayed over me. They anointed me with oil and just asked that the Lord would make it an easy delivery. This is where I will say that we can ask and pray for something, but in the end we have to surrender to God's will. This delivery would be far from easy. The beauty of that moment when they were praying over me was just the fact, and I started crying, when he was just proclaiming the glory and the holiness of God. I remember being so filled with awe at how perfect and good and true God is.

I was also just tired. I had been in "early labor" since 1 in the morning and it was now around 7 at night. I just wanted to get through this.

I'm going to pause here, I'll talk about the next day later. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pregnancy again. :) part 30

Well, I'm going to say it... Happy Due Date Aria. :) We all thought you would come before now, but maybe that's just not in your plans. I got to hear your little heartbeat today and it sounds like you are doing just fine. You haven't been moving in there as much, but I think that's because there's not too much room left. I have this feeling that you won't mind being late to places and will have an easygoing personality. This is just a hunch and I'm not going to pinhole you into this, but just know that if you are going to be late, give your daddy a little grace because he likes very much to be on time :).

According to the Dr I'm one little centimeter dilated and only 25% effaced. Big heavy sigh. I haven't dilated this whole time, so this actually might be an improvement. I was hoping for more, since she has dropped and I can just feel her soooo low. This makes for more room for my lungs and less heartburn but it also makes for far less bladder space... yikes. And let me just tell you that I'm taking my fiber pills to help head off any other problems that this very low baby could cause :).

After hearing that I hadn't really progressed and just the realization that I would most likely be pregnant for a few more days ... it was just rough. You start to think, "will my body ever kick into labor? What if I don't dilate? Will I have another C section?" I think all of this just hit me after the Dr left the room and I just started crying. Ben was there, I was so thankful for him in that moment. I had to pull myself together so that I could go out there and schedule my next appointment before leaving. And true to Cornerstone nature, I would probably see someone I knew. Crud. I hate this Dr's office. Just kidding. But sometimes I do because it's awkward when you see your friends mom there. I don't know... I saw two of my friends moms today.

I'm praying for patience. Praying that my body will just open up so Aria can come out. Praying her head will engage. I went on a walk today and had a good long talk with God. Just singing about Jesus being my tower and my rock I stand on. Singing about how I am weak but He is strong, I know I must learn to wait. The lyrics of that song maybe could not have been more applicable as I was just singing this through held back tears. By the end of it I was thanking God for the good things about this pregnancy and how it compares with my last one.

I'll just list them.
She is head down, Levi was breech.
We have made it to forty weeks, she won't have as much difficulty as Levi since she is full term.
My blood pressure has remained low, with Levi it shot up at 37 weeks.
I'm 10 pounds lighter than I was with him.

Other things I am thankful for:
An on call chiropractor, he said that if I am having any kind of trouble and feel the need to be adjusted I can call him and he will bring his table to my house and just adjust me.
An awesome doula who has herself gone to 41 and 42 weeks with pregnancy, she is totally laid back about stuff and is knowledgeable about positioning.
An amazing husband who will be there with me every step of the way, he is my rock.
A clinic that is VBAC friendly, a hospital that is VBAC friendly.

Lord, I will give thanks to You because You are good.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
Let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34:1-3

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pregnancy again. :) part 29

I used to be annoyed by those women who would complain in their last days of pregnancy. In my mind I was like, "come on, it can't be that bad... what a wimp."

I'm a wimp.

It's easy just to complain though. I don't need to complain, I don't need to complain... I just need to keep living my life, loving my husband, loving my son, eating, exercising, cleaning my house... but it's really hard to do when you have this watermelon in your belly.

Why do these last days have to feel so long?

Ben and I were talking about how we are in an interesting place because with Christmas our schedule was thrown off, there wasn't much regularity or routine... and now we are just getting into a routine again with him and work and me and Levi... but that's all about to be interrupted. The thing is, we have some idea of what this interruption will be like :) I remember with Levi I had no idea how your life comes to this screeching halt and how difficult those first days were. I now have a vague memory of everything and I am just expecting for life to go into survival mode. I feel like I'm bracing myself for the roller coaster ride, wondering how Aria will be as a newborn. I'm wondering how Levi will take having a new little baby around to share his mommy. Am I going to feel like I have no time with my husband again? How will nursing go this time around? How big will she be? Will she want to cuddle or will she cry tons like Levi did?

That's the problem with these last days. You just want to get in there and figure it out. You know the storm is coming, you know it's going to happen soon and you just want to get in there and DO it. But you have to wait. In the meantime, get exercise and rest. You don't want to wear yourself out too much just in case you go into labor, but you do want to keep walking and active because that will more likely cause you to go into labor... Sometimes it feels impossible to get comfortable, so resting can be limited as well. I keep asking God why He made it like this.  I know partially because it is all childbearing and we live in a fallen world, but still, this is HARD. It's a difficult, long thing to bring a child into the world.

Babies are born all the time, I know, but it is still a huge, sacred process. Pregnancy can be some of the longest months of your life. I keep telling myself it's only been forty weeks and I wasn't even aware of the first five of them, so really, thirty five weeks... but still, it's waiting and waiting and growing and keeping up with your health and gaining weight and eating for not only yourself but for a growing little baby inside of you... stopping medications that you may have been on, being sick with morning sickness, the prenatals not helping any of that, then there's the heartburn or the constipation... all of it is great pain to bring a life into the world.

But really, it makes total sense. Why would it not be the hardest thing you could ever do? Why would it not feel like it's taking forever? I remember holding Levi for the first time and realizing that he is an eternal soul that Ben and I helped create together. He has some of Ben, some of me and a lot of himself. He would someday become a man. I remember holding him and the awe of that fact was just overwhelming. He would be a man who would make an impact in the world. He might get married someday, he might have children, I pray that he comes to know the Lord and does incredible things for Him. Really, mothers are the gatekeepers, our bodies are vessels for bringing human life into this world. How sacred and amazing is that?

Lord, help me in this process. I want to keep this kind of perspective. I want to be set on You and how You are the one who ordained this birth. Please, please give me strength.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pregnancy again. :) part 28

Aria refused to be a tax deduction this year. Mom said Ben needs to get used to it because girls are just more expensive in general :)... also, she's probably going to be late for the rest of her life. But really, she's not late, Levi was just early and the problem with all these last weeks is that the baby could come at "any time" so really, you are waiting for like a month before the baby actually comes. I guess that's okay though because I feel much more prepared for Aria's birth than I felt for Levi. Maybe I just needed those extra two weeks.

We had chili dogs tonight for dinner, I had a few pretty good contractions, but my body has pretty much calmed down by now. I'm praying it will open up perfectly when everything is ready.

To do before Aria is born: potty train Levi. Haha! I think Levi definitely knows when he is going to poop and if he doesn't have a diaper on he will ask for one... This week I'm hoping to have him without a diaper on as much as possible. It will be sort of a last-ditch effort in that arena. I won't be messed up if he's still wearing a diaper when she's born. I'm trying to just take everything in stride.