Teddy’s Birth Story

DISCLAIMER: This is a birth story and is a somewhat detailed recollection. If that’s not your thing, skip on over 😉 Also, I share the intensity of the birth in this blog so if you’re healing from a difficult birth or are pregnant and afraid to give birth, please be aware ❤

Ironically Mother’s Day falls on the same day as Teddy’s first birthday this year. I thought that now would be as good a time as ever to share his birth story. I’ve been sitting on it because it has literally taken me a year to finish writing it. Partly because I’ve procrastinated but also because it’s been really emotional for me to revisit my birth experience with him. It’s still burned in my memory just as Everett’s is but I know that with time, the details will become harder to remember. It’s so important to me to have these to come back and read one day. So without further adieu.

Oh that last month of pregnancy. Somehow hours begin to feel like days and days begin to feel like weeks. Marked by discomfort and anticipation and on the cusp of being in the throes of labor, you’re ready. So ready. You simply can’t wait for your long awaited babe to be placed in your arms and to start loving them and caring for them on the outside. I really enjoy my pregnancies and loved every second of carrying both of my babies. It’s such a beautiful journey and miracle to be able to participate in. The last few months were spent going to and from the chiropractor’s office, rolling my hips on a birth ball, doing forward leaning inversions and any and every spinning babies technique to ensure optimal positioning and to give myself the best chance at having a shorter and maybe even an easier labor this time?

45

My ‘due date’ was calculated to be May 4, 2016. May 4 came and went. Everything was fine. Baby was healthy and I was feeling really well other than the sheer exhaustion and general aches and pains that accompany those last few weeks of pregnancy. I had been having braxton hicks contractions for weeks but they had yet to get longer and stronger and the pattern was still so inconsistent. So we waited (somewhat) patiently for this little one of ours to make his debut. I read birth affirmations and positive birth stories, nested, packed our bags and we enjoyed a few date nights and time with Everett before we added another little bird to our nest. Over the course of the next few days (which then stretched into a week), we took long walks, I bounced on my birth ball, ate all the spicy food and pineapple, had a labor stim massage and tried just about any other ‘natural labor induction’ method that you and google could possibly think of.

Baby boy was undoubtedly cozy.

At my 41 week appointment with my midwife, we had a non stress test and an ultrasound to check fluid- everything looked and sounded good. At that point, we discussed some other methods of natural labor induction. I had to go back for another NST in two days so my husband and I decided to give it until then before we made any decisions. I was now 9 days over my calculated due date and desperate to not have to go the medical induction route.

On Friday morning (May 13), Ben and I dropped Everett off with my parents and we headed to Statesville for our appointment at Natural Beginnings Birth Center. We had another NST and my midwife checked my cervix. I was about 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. We decided to have her do a membrane sweep to try and get things moving along. As we were leaving, one of the girls in the office said “What do you have going on this weekend?” and I responded with “I better be here having a baby!” We all laughed and she joked that she was looking for that exact answer!

Ben and I started toward Charlotte. We made a stop to eat lunch and then went and walked at Target to pick up some last minute things we needed. I was starting to have some really intense cramping followed by bloody show and was definitely feeling like something was starting to happen.

We arrived back home and I made a little concoction to drink that included the infamous and oh so delectable (insert gag face) castor oil, downed it as quickly as I could and laid down to take a nap. Contractions woke me up! These were feeling like some good ones and so my husband and I started timing them. They were 4-5 mins apart and lasting about a minute to a minute and a half. It all started feeling familiar. Labor was officially starting! I texted my midwife to give her a heads up.

We called our videographers because we knew they wanted to get some footage of us laboring at home before we headed to the birth center. They arrived at around 7 PM. They filmed for a little bit and headed home to get rest before we called them to meet us for the birth and we went to grab dinner at Panera.

By the time we arrived at Panera, I was having some pretty intense contractions and had to stop in the middle of my order to breathe through one. The workers looked a little disconcerted that I was in labor and ordering dinner. Carry on, folks. Nothing to see here 😉  The man taking our order said “Oh shoot! She’s about to have that baby right up in here.” We laughed, grabbed a seat and waited for our food. I tried to eat but started really feeling powerful contractions and began to lose my appetite. We headed back home as they started to close the restaurant (10PM).

Things started to really pick up at around 11:30 PM. Ben called our doula and my sister to go ahead and come over. My contractions were getting closer together and were definitely becoming longer and stronger. Shelly (our doula) arrived shortly after and she and Ben were coaching me beautifully through each one, applying counter pressure to my lower back and we laughed and talked in between. I remember my house being immaculate (I did some mega nesting beforehand) and being so happy that we didn’t have to bring the baby home to a messy house! My sister arrived as I had invited her to attend my birth since she was pregnant with her first baby. Things were officially happening! I labored on my birth ball a lot and when I started doing more vocalizing, my doula suggested we go ahead and call Nicole (our midwife). Nicole suggested I get in the tub and see if they intensify. And they did. I labored in the tub for a little while and at around 2:30 AM, Ben called Nicole and we headed toward the birth center.

219

Upon arriving, my midwife checked me and I was 5 cm dilated! We were greeted with so much love, excitement and smiles from our INCREDIBLE birth team. The ball was officially rolling. They began to fill the birth pool and I was getting eager to meet my baby boy. I labored pretty hard all hours of the night and felt certain that I would be delivering my baby before the sun crept up.

Until the sun came up… and my arms were empty.

Seeing the rays peer through the window and not having a baby in my arms was such a difficult moment for me. I think that was when my tears began to fall endlessly. I was about 7-8 cm at this point and my contractions were spreading out but they were oh so intense. One of the incredible birth workers, Meliea had me try multiple positions to help get baby engaged- hands and knees, peanut ball, curb stepping, lunging, squatting, side lying, rebozo lift- YOU NAME IT, WE DID IT.

184

161202

My labor was primarily in my back and my contractions were becoming harder to handle and more excruciating. I was feeling exhausted, so defeated and was finding it difficult to cope through the intense pain I was experiencing in my lower back. Being submerged in water helped but it also felt like it wasn’t doing it’s job to help me relax. So we tried the shower and for some reason, hot water sprayed directly on my lower back/tailbone was really helpful.

179

The weather that morning was exceptionally beautiful and my midwife suggested that maybe I try to go outside and get some fresh air as well as do some walking.

77

As I was walking out of the room, my dear friend, Christan showed up. She embraced me and spoke the sweetest words to me. Christan is such a kindred spirit to mine and has been there for me through so much, not to mention, she is an incredibly gifted massage therapist and she specializes in working on pregnant women. Her touch is so healing.

The midwives noticed that my back was bulging and that possibly due to the positioning of the baby, my sacrum and/or coccyx might be protruding. The back labor I was experiencing was so excruciating that counter pressure was entirely necessary. Christan used her hands to help me. She offered firm yet gentle pressure and loving words. At one point, she and Nicole were both using their hands to bring relief to my back.

I remember feeling so bad that everyone had been up all night with me and that a baby hadn’t come by morning. The morning started dragging into early afternoon. Time was inching by. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I kept checking in with my pregnant sister to see if she had eaten and napped and was apologizing to everyone that it was taking so long. That nurturing instinct was in high gear 😉

183

I remember laboring in the birth pool at one point as Shelly (my doula) was feeding me beef jerky. I looked at her and Ben through tear filled eyes and said,

I really need my baby“.

He will be here soon, Amber. You’re doing so amazing!

No, I need my baby. I need my Everett.

Shelly suggested that Ben call my parents to bring Everett to me. Maybe I needed the emotional release. Maybe I just needed to see him and hold him one more time before life changed so drastically and we welcomed another child into our heart and homes.

There is something so special about the child who made you a momma. The night before my appointment to have the membrane sweep, I climbed into Everett’s crib, hugely pregnant. I cried onto his little blonde head and held him tight. My baby. He suddenly seemed so big. Where had time gone? How were things changing so fast?

Everett walked into the room not too long after my request for him and the peace and joy I felt in seeing him was so healing and rejuvenating. My sweet first baby.

He ran in and wrapped his little arms around my neck.

Mommy, THAT’S A BIG BATH!

His little smile and voice warmed my heart immediately and gave me an instant burst of energy. I’m so grateful for that moment and I will remember it for as long as I live.

159156

I continued to labor. Minutes dragged into more hours. I was dilating but the baby just wasn’t engaging.

Was this emotional? Was it mental? Was I doing something wrong?

Self doubt engulfed me.

What is wrong? Why can’t I do this? Why is this so hard? I’ve done this before- this should be easy. Second babies should come fast. Why can’t I do this? Everyone is tired. It’s taking too long.”

Meliea suggested that Ben and I be left alone for a little while and for me to try to rest in between the surges of contractions. She mentioned me being too tired at this point and that I needed to try and regain some strength. Everyone vacated the room and Ben laid down with me, said a prayer over me and held me as I tried to cope through the waves and rest in between.

206.jpg

After about 20-30 minutes of that, I was at my wits end. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted and so confused as to why I didn’t have a baby in my arms yet. I was either quitting and going home or someone was going to have to just cut me open and prove to me that a baby was in my abdomen.

I needed to stand up and be in the shower.

“Babe, I really can’t do this anymore- I have to get up. I can’t do it. I’m done. I need help.”

Ben asked the Midwives to come back in and I got in the shower while he used the shower head to spray water straight on my back. The pressure was so intense and the breaks in between seemed to be getting shorter.

“THIS HAS TO BE TRANSITION. THIS HAS TO BE THE END.”

It felt like I had been in an eternal transition.

95

My midwife offered to break my water- I was hesitant. Yet desperate. I sat down and let her check me, I was near complete but had a cervical lip. When I stood up, my bag of waters spontaneously ruptured. Baby was coming. It was happening. I made my way back to the bed and started having expulsive contractions but it felt very different from Everett’s. With Everett, I couldn’t NOT push. This felt intense and there was undoubtedly pressure but I didn’t feel like my body was fully doing it’s job. I felt like it was still failing me. It was tired. I was just so tired. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

I will never forget the Midwives looking at me and saying

We know you are so exhausted but you HAVE to reach down deep within you and find your strength. You have to go to the depths of yourself. It’s there. You have it. YOU CAN DO THIS. We believe that you can do this, Amber!”

I had a playlist going and the song “It is Well” was playing. My tears fell profusely and I made a conscious decision.

I had to do this. I could do this. I was made to have babies. He would come and I would have him in my arms.

Quite honestly, giving birth is the most present I can ever remember being. The inwardness and self awareness is extremely powerful and hard to explain.

I had done this before. I COULD do it again. I was doing it.

I desperately needed to hear those words. I needed the boost of confidence. I needed the belief and empowerment.

Contractions came intensely and I bared down with each one, trying to hold my breath and focus on pushing but the pain was so intense that all I could do was vocalize. I screamed.

171.jpg

Fear rushed in. It hurt. I couldn’t. It was too hard. It was too much. Too intense. Too hard. Too painful. Too scary.

Nicole and Meliea looked at me and said “BREATHE and bare down, Amber. BREATHE.”

I couldn’t. I was panicking. It really hurt.

“You don’t understand. I feel like I’m being torn in two!”

“We know but he’s almost here! We can see him!”

Hearing those words gave me the extra energy I needed and in just a few more pushes, he was OUT.

At 3:34 pm. Theodore Sullivan Rhodes was born onto my chest. He was here! All 7 lbs and 13 oz of him. He was real. He was here. It was over.

89
9091

“You’re here. You’re here. Oh you were so worth it! Hi!” 

I couldn’t believe it. I looked over at Ben and tears were streaming down his face. The look of joy and relief on his face I will never ever forget.

He told me shortly after the birth how hard it was on him. He was so strong for me, by my side continually and so encouraging and supportive. He was my rock. The intensity of the labor and birth really affected him and he was probably just as relieved (if not more) as I to be on the other side.

Our boy was here! Healthy and whole. He gave us the most beautiful cry and we marveled at his perfection and beauty. So alert and just so magnificently beautiful.

Bliss washed over me. Until the contractions came in more waves. (Postpartum contractions after a second baby are much more intense than the first btw 😉 But it hardly mattered. We were finally on the other side.

We did it.

Everett came to meet his baby brother and brought him a Teddy Bear he picked out. The four of us piled in the bed together and my heart soared. We stayed at the birth center for a few hours and I remember wanting so badly to go home yet also not wanting to leave.

It was the end of an era. The Natural Beginnings staff has become so close to our hearts as we have been through both pregnancies and deliveries with them. I really can’t say enough wonderful things about their care, compassion and love.

8411382

It took me a year to finish writing this birth story. I have sat down multiple times to write and could only write little bits at a time. It’s still vivid. So vivid. I’ve come to some conclusions as to why it was so difficult but I can’t be completely sure. Maybe my babies just REALLY enjoy my womb a little too much 😉

In any case, I’m beyond grateful to my amazing birth team and to the people who believed in me, provided me a safe place to labor as I needed to and closely monitored baby and I. There are times when I look back and think if I had been somewhere else, I could have easily been induced, had unwanted interventions or been forced into a c-section.

This birth was hard, yes but it was also empowering and beautiful. I didn’t come away feeling traumatized or disappointed. I felt loved, safe, cared for, empowered and supported so compassionately through every high and low.

I can’t believe it’s been one year since our Teddy graced us with his presence. He has added such an amazing element to our family. His sweetness is a blessing and his big blue eyes melt me everyday. It’s a privilege to be the one he calls momma and I would go through every bit of pain and discomfort all over again for this precious little one.

410

A special thank you to Natural Beginnings Birth and Wellness Center for being so wonderful and caring for our growing family so well. We are so blessed to be apart of the NB family. And a big thank you to Impressions by Emily Nicole  for documenting my pregnancy, birth, our newborn and Teddy’s first year so incredibly beautifully for us.

Below you can view our birth video:

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy! Life is richer with you in it ❤

300(17)300(21)300(2)

Advertisements

Everett Benjamin Rhodes Birth Story

It was a typical “overdue” pregnant Wednesday morning for me on May 28, 2014. I had taken my maternity leave a couple weeks beforehand and was thoroughly enjoying full fledged nesting and resting. My due date had come and gone (May 23) and I was content in knowing that our little boy was safe, healthy and still tucked away inside of the safest place on earth. As much as I was over the back and hip aches, heart burn, constant exhaustion and frequent bathroom trips, I truly enjoyed my pregnancy and I was soaking in as much as I could the last few days of it. Every little kick and movement shared just between my baby and I was priceless and savored as I knew the journey of pregnancy was ending and the unknown adventure of motherhood was soon to begin. The excitement in my heart to meet my precious baby face to face was unreal and the fear of the unknown of labor and delivery began to surface. My husband and I did everything that we possibly could in preparing for the birth of our first child. We attended 12 weeks of Bradley method classes, went through books, watched countless videos and documentaries on the natural birth process and we chose a birth center with midwives to deliver Everett at. I felt empowered, encouraged and educated throughout my entire pregnancy as I surrounded myself with an incredible birth team! I was so excited to FINALLY experience the miracle of birth for myself.

At around 10:30 AM on Wednesday morning (May 28), I got out of bed to make breakfast and felt a significant gush of fluid. I immediately thought “DID MY WATER JUST BREAK?” but then started to dismiss this fact as I had learned that only a small percent of women’s water breaks before labor (especially first time pregnant moms). My mother-in-law called me that morning and jokingly said “Is there anyway you can go into labor today so that I can get out of going to church tonight?” We laughed and I said “Hey, you never know!”. I went about my business of bed-making, breakfast eating and experienced a sudden burst of energy which made me start cleaning like a mad person. I was scrubbing floors, walls, counter tops and making sure my birth center bag was packed with everything I needed (even though I had packed it 3 weeks prior), our birth plan was typed neatly and I ensured that we had multiple copies JUST IN CASE today happened to be BIRTH day. Soon after my cleaning craze began, I felt another gush of fluid. I then started to really feel like my water had broken due to the amount of fluid I had lost in a short amount of time. I called my husband at work and informed him of what was going on and then called my midwife who instructed me to come into the birth center right away. I tested positive for GBS (group b streptococcus) during my pregnancy which is a bacteria found in about 25% of healthy, adult women and can be passed to the baby through delivery. It is dangerous for a new baby to be exposed to GBS so I was informed that I would have to have IV antibiotics administered every 8 hours during my labor in order to make sure that it didn’t transfer. This was initially a bummer as we had planned to have a labor and delivery COMPLETELY free of any medicine whatsoever but I trusted my midwives expertise and they assured me that I would still have my natural birth experience. 


At 1:20 PM, Ben and I packed our birth bag and birth essentials and started off to Natural Beginnings Birth Center in Statesville, NC (about 45 mins away from us). We talked excitedly as we drove, Ben prayed over the baby and I and we were so overwhelmed with joy as we realized that we would be meeting our baby boy SOON- the anticipation and excitement was palpable. This was actually happening! I was having minor contractions that were spread out, I could talk through them and I was all smiles so it was very apparent that we were in the early 1st stage of labor. We stopped and grabbed a bite on the way and I was chugging water like a champ! I kept remembering the “eat, drink, sleep, shower and walk” routine and I was definitely killing the eat and drink portion!

We arrived at Natural Beginnings at around 2:15 PM, I was ported and they started the IV drip of antibiotics. My midwife came in and I laughingly said “So, now what?” to which she laughingly replied “you have 24 hours from the time your water broke to go into active labor due to you being GBS positive”. We couldn’t stay at the birth center because you have to be at least 4-5 cm dilated and in “active” labor in order to labor there. She sent me home with black and blue cohosh (herbs used to induce labor) and instructed me on a myriad of “labor cocktails” to try and get things really moving!

Ben and I started back home around 3:00 PM and arrived back home at about 4:00 PM. My contractions on the way home were starting to intensify some but I could still talk through them. I lost my mucous plug at 4:04 PM. started the black and blue cohosh and alternated use every 30 minutes for the next few hours, I did the unthinkable and DRANK CASTOR OIL (YUCK! YUCK! YUCK!), I borrowed a breast pump from my bradley instructor and pumped to try nipple stimulation. Sure enough, my contractions began to come more frequently and were starting to get more intense. There were ones that were difficult to talk through at this point. Ben called the family at 5:35 PM and informed everyone of what was going on. I labored on our birth ball some, laid down to rest and walked a little bit. I lost more of my plug soon after. I was feeling more tired at this point and my contractions were becoming a little more frequent (3-4 mins apart) and I just KNEW I was approaching “active labor” and that I HAD to be dilating. 

 
At 10:00 PM, Ben and I left our house to go back to the birth center for my second round of antibiotics as I had to have them administered every 8 hours during labor. We decided that instead of coming back home if I was not in “active labor that we would get a hotel room in Statesville to be close. I was hoping that I was at least 4-5 cm dilated and that I could just stay and labor at the birth center. I had to be. We arrived at Natural Beginnings at 10:50 PM and they began the second dose of IV antibiotics and my midwife checked my cervix. I was only 1 cm dilated. I was starting to feel really discouraged at this point, my contractions were still intensifying and I felt a lot of pressure in my pelvis. How could I only be ONE CENTIMETER? Nicole (my midwife) was super sweet and encouraging and told us to go to the Holiday Inn express nearby and tell them we were laboring and they would give us a discount. She told us to call her and keep her updated. We left the birth center and arrived at Holiday Inn Express at about 12:00 AM. At this point, I was unable to talk through my contractions, I was VERY focused, serious and did lots of moaning and groaning to get though each one. I tried to lay on my side but was very uncomfortable so I got on the birth ball on the edge of the bed and pretty much stayed there ALL night. My contractions were about 2-3 mins apart and were lasting 60-90 seconds. I was feeling exhausted and just kept wanting to sleep but there was no way I could sleep through them. Ben put pressure on my back, squeezed my hips and coached me beautifully through each one. We had an app on his phone to monitor them and he talked me through each one. He was so encouraging and kept telling me how amazing I was doing and how exciting it was that we were going to be holding our baby so soon! At one point, he looked at me and said “babe, you’re incredible and you are doing such an amazing job and I am gonna be here every step of the way BUT I have got to go and take care of something right now” and he walked into the bathroom and started throwing up! I kinda freaked out a little bit at that point and thought he was getting sick but later learned that it was just nerves and the fact that he hated seeing me in so much discomfort. We laugh about that little detail to this day 😉 Needless to say, it was a VERY LONG night. 
 
Ben called Nicole a couple of times and informed her of my progression. We ended up leaving the hotel at around 5:50 AM to go back to the birth center. I could barely walk out of the room and found myself stopping in the halls and lobby to moan and get through the contractions. I know people were looking at me funny but I didn’t care AT ALL. Ben helped me into the car and we started back to the birth center. I just knew that this was active labor and that we would be staying there! We arrived and Nicole started the IV drip and checked me and I was only TWO cm dilated. At this point, I don’t even think discouragement is the right word to describe how I felt. I was utterly disappointed and so upset. I cried and kept asking “is my body broken?”. I was so sad because I knew that this meant my beautiful water birth experience was not going to happen as we would have to go to the hospital and they would start pitocin soon. Pitocin- the word and idea that I so hated and so planned against. I had heard horror stories. As if the comments toward my perfectly planned natural birth were harsh enough from people who told me “you probably won’t be able to do it without the epidural” there were ones who had told me of their own hell-ish experiences with the agonizing PITOCIN and that is was indeed, impossible. I felt swallowed and trapped. I was trying to breathe through contractions, tears and fears and I was completely overwhelmed. 
 
The ride there felt like an eternal mile and a half. My husband was so precious and kept encouraging me and telling me how proud he was of me and that soon I would have our perfect baby in my arms. We arrived at Davis Regional Medical Center at 7:30 AM and I could still barely walk and talk. They started the pitocin at 8:45 AM and man oh man, did things REALLY start to intensify. I thought my previous contractions were intense but compared to these, they were a brisk walk in the park on a sunny afternoon. These were NO JOKE and they were coming in waves that felt unbearable. I kept thinking how bad I wanted relief and rest- I was exhausted. Ben and Nicole were excellent at talking me through them. They kept saying “that is one more you don’t have to have and one closer to having your baby!”. Some were 1 min apart and others were 30-45 seconds apart. At 10:30 AM, I got in the tub to labor. The water was my friend. I wanted to stay there. I got an urge to push and they made me get out. I started to labor on the birth ball again and my midwife put heat and counter pressure on my lower back during contractions and it definitely helped! I got back into the tub at around 11:45 PM and got another urge to push. I remember wanting to just stay in the water so bad and I was so upset that they kept making me get out when I wanted to push! My labor and delivery nurse helped me out of the tub at 12:30 PM and due to the fact that my midwife had left for a little bit to go to an appointment, she checked me, told me I was 10 cm and that we were getting ready to have a baby! She called Nicole to come back, Ben called all the family who started the track to Statesville from Concord and they began to set up the room for a baby! We were so excited! 
 
My midwife arrived at at 12:50 PM and she checked me and informed me that I was actually only 3 cm. Hello, Natural Alignment Plateau. Within the Bradley Method, we learned of this. It is sometime during labor when there is a ‘stall’ in cervical dilation. Sometimes this occurs just before transition, but can happen at any time when it looks like nothing is happening! It is often misdiagnosed as the all too commonly heard “failure to progress” or “CPD” (big baby, small mama). According to textbooks, a woman should dilate in a specific way, usually so many centimeters per hour after she has reached active labor. However, we learned that judging progress by dilation is totally irrelevant as there are MANY things working together within the amazing human body to prepare for the birth of a baby. Unfortunately, modern medicine and many OB/Gyns will make mothers feel as though their bodies are broken during this time and that they “just won’t dilate” which isn’t always the case (or is rarely the case, I should say) and then it usually ends in a c-section. I am SO thankful that Ben and I educated ourselves and that we had a midwife who was PATIENT, believed in natural birth, encouraging and allowed me to continue to labor. Also, dilation is measured differently by most everyone. It is so tricky to gauge true dilation. I won’t lie to you and say that I didn’t feel discouraged and totally defeated at this point in my labor. Again, I can’t say enough how tremendous my husband was during this phase. He knew what was happening and he kept reminding me that my body was doing what it needed to do for me and for the baby and that I was a champ. These words and reminders were powerful to me during this stage.
 
My midwife suggested that I start trying some other positions and let gravity work with me. From 1:00 PM- 2:00 PM, I labored in many different positions such as hands and knees, the birth ball, squatting, side lying. At this point, I started to majorly doubt myself. I started saying things like “I can’t do this anymore”, “I need relief” and “I think I want the epidural now”. I was crying and really started wanting drugs at this point. Ben and Nicole kept talking me through each contraction and were so sweet and supportive.
 
At 2:00 PM I asked to get into the tub again and after about 15 minutes, I felt an overwhelming urge to push. I couldn’t not push. It was impossible. This baby was coming whether I was 10 cm or not! I knew it. The pressure was intense and the urge would not subside. I got out of the tub at 2:15 PM and sat on the toilet. This is when I hit transition. It was intense. I was shaking, throwing up and crying. Nicole and Ben kept saying, “remember this is the shortest part- you’re doing amazing!”. It felt like I couldn’t go on. Where was I going to find the energy to push? Nicole had me get on hands and knees on the bed again and I pushed a couple of times. I had an intense need to bear down through each contraction. I stayed on hands and knees for about 15 mins and then I wanted to change to the classic pushing position (sitting up with knees back). This detail is funny to me because during our labor rehearsals, I thought for sure I would HATE that position for pushing but sure enough, it’s what I wanted. I started pushing in classic position at 2:45 and pushed through each contraction for a little over an hour. My pushing contractions were way more spread out and I was talking, joking and laughing through them. When they came though, I HAD to push with my body. I remember wanting to groan really loud when I pushed but my midwife kept telling me to focus all of my energy on pushing. She massaged my perineum with oil between and during my pushes to keep me from tearing. I remember feeling the “ring of fire” as the head was crowning and they kept saying “He has hair!”. This was so motivating to me, I wanted my baby in my arms. I pushed through the burning a few times and at 3:56 PM on May 29, 2014, Everett Benjamin Rhodes was born! They placed him on my chest immediately and the most overwhelming sense of joy, love, relief, excitement, happiness and pure peace came crashing over me. Never in my life have I experienced a rush like that. Ben and I couldn’t take our eyes off of him as he nuzzled into me and let out the most precious cries I have ever heard in my life. 
 
We did it! We had birthed our baby as a team and I was so shocked and in disbelief that I made it through without ANY pain meds. I felt like I could literally do ANYTHING. The moments after his birth were precious and I will never forget how precious the skin-to-skin contact and the first time breastfeeding was. It was surely love at first sight- this child whom we had prayed for, prepared for and had already grown to love on the inside came into our world and radically changed our lives in an instant. We were a family.
 
If this experience taught me anything at all, it surely was a beautiful lesson in trust. Trusting the Lord, my husband, my midwife, my body and my baby. I realized that my “plans” were surely secondary and I learned to “roll with the punches” per se. We didn’t get to have the water birth at a birth center that we so desired and planned for but our birth story is beautiful in every way, filled with adventure and is a journey that I would absolutely change nothing about. Everett ended up having a pretty severe jaundice case and we had to stay in the hospital 4 extra days. I was able to stay even though discharged because the hospital was very small and they didn’t need the rooms, the medical staff were complete angels and we were very well taken care of. I can’t say enough how wonderful the entire experience was there. 
 
I am so grateful for everyone who participated in Everett’s birth and especially for the support that I felt in my husband. We were truly a team and I learned that he really did listen to all 12 classes that we went through 😉 We will try for the water birth next time, my body is NOT broken, it IS possible to have a pitocin induction and not have to have an epidural! IMG_9831 IMG_9834 IMG_9811 IMG_9859 IMG_9916 IMG_9924 IMG_9940 IMG_9836 IMG_9922 IMG_9816 IMG_9817
 
The end of the best beginning. ❤ 

 

1 Year.

We just recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary. Really hard to believe. One of my gifts to my husband was this video montage I put together, so we could sort of re-live the moments together. Enjoy.

Careful Hands

“Put your coat on, this city trembles.
Keep your chin up, as you untangle God
From cold blood and bruises.

We are X-rays of something broken.
Cursive bloodlines write every forecast:
An orchestration Of dissonance and innocent surrender.

When our color dies,
We will bury the ashes of time,
And we will earn new eyes.

Wrists get tired rewriting futures.
Our bodies beg us to be creatures of habit.
We are creatures of habit.”

To me, this song says it all right now. I can’t figure God out. I never will be able to. Yet, I trust Him and I am attempting to keep my chin up through all of this. I am learning to see God in the mess, hurt and pain. (Untangling God from cold blood and bruises).

I am broken and shattered and I beg and try to reason with God argumentatively only to come to the realization that all I need to do is surrender. Trials and tests are instruments used to shape and form me.
(Cursive bloodlines write every forecast: An orchestration Of dissonance and innocent surrender.)

I know that one day, in time I will realize the reasoning behind the pain and the purpose for the suffering. (When our color dies, We will bury the ashes of time, And we will earn new eyes.)

I can’t foresee the future. I am human and I am susceptible to the frailties of human nature. I crave stability and I crave comfort. I am a creature of habit.
(Wrists get tired rewriting futures. Our bodies beg us to be creatures of habit. We are creatures of habit.”)

Basically the song is amazing and I just get it.

-ar-

Heart spill.

For a brief instance out of the corner of my mind’s eye I could’ve sworn I saw something so vivid yet so unclear; my future.

It’s as if I ran a script through my mind or watched it move across a screen before my eyes only to be so rudely interrupted by the many distractions that life so unexpectedly brings.

I’m almost grateful that my expectations are not secure just in the confines of my own heart and mind and that I am able to freely discover much greater things that may seem unattainable to my limited hopes and dreams.

But when we dream daringly, seeing no limits and understanding that our minds are of slight dimension compared to His elaborate mind is when we begin to understand to a somewhat moderate degree how much more there actually is. The fact that we aren’t able to grasp the fullness can seem overwhelming yet can be so invigorating and even, comforting.

I seem to be understanding that the limits I put on my dreams and heart’s desires are directly related to the insecurities and fears that I face deep within myself. I’ve been jaded by disappointment but have learned that where faith is lacking, doubt is very present.

To the best of my ability I intend to embrace my current state with joy and gratitude. My aim is to grow. To learn. To dream.

And I feel like I’m finally dreaming again…

Aside
Before and behind us, weaving in and out like rainbows through clouds. Bursts of vibrant color and every now and again a splotch of grey or black is thrown in the mix.
Keeping me alive, yet letting me see the darkness and feel the pains of it, too.
I thank you for that.
Endless fields, vast horizons, the ocean’s edge and Your creation in general has the ability to completely overwhelm me.
The rain on my face feels refreshing and the lights in the sky fascinate me.
Both darkness and light lead me to You. Every time. I do believe I feel closer to You this way.
You dwell withIN and all around.
It really is so beautiful.

Image

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8:3,4

-ar

Before and behi…

“Deliver Me, O Jesus”

“Deliver me, O Jesus:

From the desire of being esteemed

From the desire of being loved

From the desire of being honored

From the desire of being praised

From the desire of being preferred to others

From the desire of being consulted

From the desire of being approved

From the desire of being popular.

Deliver me, O Jesus:

From the fear of being humiliated

From the fear of being despised

From the fear of being rebuked

From the fear of being slandered

From the fear of being forgotten

From the fear of being wronged

From the fear of being treated unfairly

From the fear of being suspected

And, Jesus, grant me the grace

To desire that others might be more loved than I

That others might be more esteemed than I

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I decrease

That others may be chosen and I set aside

That others may be preferred to me in everything

That others may become holier than I, provided that I, too, become as holy as I can.”

(Mother Theresa, A Simple Path)

Notice the first two paragraphs as she is asking to be delivered, she repeatedly uses the words “desire” and “fear“. These two feelings and emotions are probably two of the strongest we, as humans experience and face on a daily basis. We all fear something and we all crave something. I know that I, in my human-ness fear many things such as rejection, disappointing someone or not measuring up to expectations. I desire to be noticed. I secretly desire for my efforts to be praised and I desire to be loved and accepted. I believe we all face and have come to grips with every single one of these desires and fears and obviously even Mother Theresa had. That is why she prayed, “Deliver me- rid me of these desires and fears and grant me the grace to desire that OTHERS be more loved than I and more esteemed than I…etc.” How I desire to reflect this. It’s very easy to pray a prayer similar to this or to post it as inspiration for yourself and others but may it not just be inspiration. All too often I am inspired by something or someone and I leave it at that. May I become influenced and affected to alter my persona and character to reflect what it is that had the power of moving my intellect and emotions.

Deliver me, O Jesus and humble me.

-ar