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I talked about my natural birth on Friday. It was only after this birth that I realized the passion I had for natural childbirth. The empowerment you feel as a woman is something that cannot be described, and not in a way that you feel like you are better than anyone else, but in a way that you realize your body CAN do it, that God so perfectly made our bodies to do what is needed to birth your baby and all you have to do is follow your instincts. The intense bond you develop with your newborn baby is another thing that is indescribable, actually feeling this new baby make its way out of your body is a beautiful thing.  Another thing that cannot be overlooked is that the healing is so much faster. Just minutes after my natural birth I was up walking into the bathroom and changing back into my own clothes, only to be able to sit with family members as we recalled the miracle that just occurred. Now don’t get me wrong I had three other fully medicated births and those were all perfectly beautiful moments in my life. But I will say that if I knew how birthing naturally was I would have done it from birth number one. Please know that I am not passing judgment on any mamas out there that choose to or have to birth differently than me. I know it is not for everyone. I know that some women for medical reasons or personal reasons choose not to. However, I would LOVE to pass on some of my tips to those even slightly interested.

1. Mentally prepare yourself– I found that not only did I have to read books (I will discuss that in tip number two) but I first and foremost had to mentally prepare myself for a natural birth. With my baby girls birth I told people I wanted to birth naturally and not have any medical interventions, but when I would explain that I would say I am going to TRY my hardest. In saying that I believe I was setting myself up for failure. I had to assure myself that I could do this, I had to talk like I knew I was going to and truly believe it. I had to convince myself that it was possible and that my body was MADE for this. I had to truly believe it, and I had to start that from day one.

2. Do your research– Going along with mentally preparing yourself is doing your research. Now I fully believe that you shouldn’t read every book that is out there, concentrate on one book you feel goes along with your personal birthing style. I chose to read Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method.  This book goes through each trimester answering any questions you may have about diet, exercise, and doctor appointments. It gives you tips and techniques on how to get yourself into a hypnotized state during birth through breathing and meditation, and also takes you through each stage of childbirth informing you of what you should be expecting, feeling, and experiencing. The book also will give you ideas on your birth plan, not only what you wanted to happen during your birth but after.  This was something I found truly helpful because I had never really thought about what I wanted to happen AFTER he was born. I now know that having everything after the birth happen as natural as possible is just as important as having the actual labor and birth be natural. Now I will say that I was not a complete hypnobirther(at least not by the book)…I was definitely more vocal and tense then I probably should have been, but I found the tips helpful and used many of them. Hypnobirthing may not be for everyone but find a method that works for you, study it, go to classes, or research it as much as possible.

3. Find a good Doctor/Midwife– This one is key. I had a hospital birth, and if you choose to have a natural hospital birth this one is going to be SO crucial. If you are going the homebirth route find a midwife who you personally click with but thankfully you wont have to find one that supports natural childbirth, since they all do. So…back to you hospital birthers. I cannot stress enough how crucial your doctor choice is going to be. You need to find a doctor who you are comfortable with and who also supports your choice. I had a wonderful doctor, one who was with me during my miscarriage and was so tender and understanding, so I chose to stay with him. He was all on board with allowing me to birth the way I wanted to but that is not to say he didn’t make comments the entire time saying how much easier it would be with drugs or that he could “get things going” for me. Thankfully I didn’t labor in the hospital, I labored about 97% of the time at home only to get to the hospital in time for the actual birth. So, my doctor wasn’t present during the laboring phase, and funny enough, didn’t even make it in time to deliver him. Had my experience been different I don’t know what the outcome would have been. So please, I cant stress enough to find a doctor who appreciates your choice and fully supports you.

4. Have a good support team– You need a good support system, one who appreciates your choice, one who will be there in the way YOU need them, and who can encourage and help you through the moments where you think you can’t do it anymore. I didn’t have a doula, so to speak. My beautiful friend Carrington worked as my doula through text. My husband wanted the room to be quiet and peaceful and to be intimately us (even though the actual delivery was chaotic and rushed…HA goes to show things NEVER go as planned). Carrington was there for me to ask questions before birth and even during labor. She sent me messages of encouragement, answered any questions I may have had, and prayed over me when I was feeling like I was struggling. That was really enough for me in the sense of having a doula, she did above and beyond anything I would have expected from a doula and it was within MY comfort level, I am a very introverted person when it comes to times like this, I don’t like people waiting on me, touching me or rubbing my back, or being right next to me. So, for me, this worked perfectly. Again, find what works for you. My husband was also a WONDERFUL coach/birthing partner. Like I said I really don’t like people waiting on me, it makes me uncomfortable. He gave me my space while I needed it and was there for me when I wanted him to hold me and breathe with me through contractions. Finding a good support system that meets your needs will make the entire experience easier and more enjoyable for you. In a time where you are going through something that is consuming your every thought and every ounce of strength you don’t want to have to be telling people what you need, you need them to just KNOW what you need.

5. Figure out your birth plan–  This tip has a little note attached to it, figure out your birth plan BUT be willing to deviate from it. I wrote out a birth plan, with the help of my Hypnobirthing book.  I knew what I wanted: No medical interventions, no breaking of my water, to be checked internally as little as possible, no monitoring, to have quiet peaceful room while birthing the baby, to have baby placed immediately skin to skin, to not cut the cord until it stopped pulsing, to hold baby while I delivered placenta naturally, to not wipe or clean baby down until a few hours after birth. And the list went on… However if you read my redemptive birth story then you know for a fact the room wasn’t peaceful when he was born, that room was so chaotic with people running around all over trying to get ready to catch him.  But, obviously in that moment I didn’t care what was going on, I just wanted my baby out! Write a birth plan, but be realistic about it, don’t have your birth completely mapped out not allowing for interruptions, God will plan the perfect birth for you and as long as everyone is aware of what you are wanting things will happen NATURALLY just as they should.

I hope that these tips help give you the confidence you need to know that you can do this. Your body was made for this, and if you set yourself up for success it will happen. Mind over matter, and just remember the end goal, a safe healthy beautiful baby in your arms, that is really all the matters:)

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I shared this story on my sweet friend Carrington’s blog a couple months back but this story holds such a special spot in my heart that I had to share it here.

In August of 2012 I took a pregnancy test and saw two little lines. Two lines that terrified me and also blessed me. Two lines that would forever change our family of five and my heart. You see this pregnancy came almost immediately after I lost my angel baby. The Lord had just begun healing my heart and now I was opening it up once again. I was terrified that this one could so quickly end like the last and also terrified to be hopeful that it wouldn’t. The thought of loss consumed me for the first few months and then I began to allow myself to be hopeful, and with that hope I knew I wanted something different. I wanted this pregnancy and this delivery to be different then all the others because it was already different in so many ways. I cherished my belly, I cherished the baby in it, and I cherished each day that passed with that baby still there. So, after having three routine hospital births that were fully medicated with Pitocin and epidurals, I knew I wanted to FEEL it this time, to really feel Gods miracle, to appreciate it and to be able to remember every tiny piece of it. So this is his story.  The story of the magical day that he entered this world.

I was almost 39 weeks and it was the night before mother’s day. I had been having false labor for two weeks and was just sitting on pins and needles not knowing if he was going to be early, late, or right on time. I began having contractions but once again wrote them off as false labor and went to sleep. These were different though. They continued throughout the night and into the morning. Though they weren’t strong enough to keep me awake they were regular. I didn’t mention anything to anyone because I was tired of getting everyone excited about nothing. We went through the day cleaning the house and getting ready for our mother’s day barbeque. Later that afternoon I finally broke down and mentioned that he shouldn’t have any beer that evening because we may end up at the hospital. He looked at me and laughed but said ok, then asked how I was feeling. I just remember telling him that they didn’t stop when I was doing things around the house unlike all the other times.

Everyone came that evening and the contractions continued. Although again, I chose not to say anything because I didn’t want to get anyone excited. We went around and did a pool of when baby boy would come and I chose Monday at 8:00 pm. everyone laughed and asked how I was feeling so I FINALLY told them I had been having contractions all day. No one believed me because I hadn’t been in pain but I knew that was because it was early labor, and my early labors have ALWAYS been horribly long! The night went on and the contractions continued. I ended up being able to sleep through them until around 3 am when I was woken up by a really strong contraction. I began to get excited thinking things were finally happening. Things kept moving but I was able to fall asleep between contractions until around 6 am when all the other kids woke up. I asked John to help me get the kids to school and hang close.

That’s when I felt I jinxed myself. He went into the office and I did things around the house only to feel like the contractions became less intense and further apart. I tried pumping, which only seemed to slow them more. By this point I was frustrated and thought for sure I was experiencing false labor again. I text my hubby and told him no rush that I didn’t want him to get to excited in case they stopped but he didn’t listen of course and came home and took the kids off to school. When he got back from that I had already gone for a walk and tried to rest. After a short nap hubby asked if I wanted to walk again so we did. I think the nap was what my body needed. After that rest things started moving. As we were walking I had to stop every 3 or so minutes and breathe through the contractions, they still weren’t strong but they were definitely picking up. He began to get excited telling me it was time to go to the hospital and called my dad for baby girl. I WAS NOT ready to go. But he wouldn’t listen, and I was too tired to put up a fight. So I stalled as long as I could until we finally left.

We got to the hospital and got checked into triage, I knew it wasn’t time because I wasn’t in a huge amount of pain and I was still in a good excited mood. The nurse came in, and oh let me tell you she was a gift from God for sure. She hooked me up to check out the contractions and the baby and then checked me, only to tell me I was dilated to a 3. I knew I needed to inform her of our birth plan so I wouldn’t get hooked up to IV’s to “get things going”.  Once I explained to her that we wanted to do this naturally she told me how she had had all her babies naturally and loved the experience. She then told me to get as far away from the hospital as possible and to stay away as long as possible. Hubby did not like this idea at all. We sat and talked for a while about it and she gave him specific instructions on when to return.  My contractions needed to be unable to be breathed through and like that for an hour and a half, and then we should return. He again let it be known that we should just stay.

After she called my doctor and reassured us, we headed home. We laughed that we were heading back (the drive is about 30 minutes one way) and I had a snack and rested until we got home. Once we got home, around 1:30 I hopped in the bath and turned on some music.  That’s when things began to change. I noticed after a little while that my music was starting to bother me so I decided to get out and try and rest again. After I got out of the bath things really started to pick up. I began having really intense back labor and just couldn’t find relief. Finally, after we figured out some different counter pressure techniques I was able to relax into them. I labored in bed with John putting pressure on my knees to relieve the back pain for a while but eventually I couldn’t handle lying down anymore. At that point I just kept pacing the house and bending over anything I was standing by when a contraction came. They began to feel like they were coming one after another with no break in between and that’s when I knew we should start thinking about heading back to the hospital. By this time all I really remember is continually asking John how long they had been feeling intense. I felt like it had been forever and not long enough all at the same time. I kept going back and forth asking to go to the hospital then saying we should wait a little longer. My sister in law was supposed to be there as a secondary labor support but was stuck at work. She finally arrived around 4 pm and as soon as she walked in the door and saw me she said it was time to go. I just wasn’t ready to commit to going back because I didn’t want to hear that I wasn’t dilated. After she got there and settled in for a minute I decided I needed to get back in the shower. As soon as I started getting ready to get in a really intense one hit me and I looked at her and said it was time. I got dressed and got out into the living room and was caught off guard by another really strong one. Everyone was insisting we go but after I made it through that one I again said we should wait. My sister in law decided to go get some drinks for the hospital and left for the gas station. As soon as she left I knew it was time as I was beginning to feel a little bit of pressure with each contraction. She got back and I remember looking at the clock telling hubby I made it… it was 4:23, it had been an hour and a half of strong labor pains and I felt accomplished and at peace with leaving.

We got in the car and let me tell you I will forever remember the craziness of the car ride. I realize now I was definitely in transition while we were in the car. Contractions were unbearable because I was stuck sitting. If only I could’ve been standing up I think I would have been in more control. With each contraction I would push myself up off the seat and lean back, anything to get off my butt. I just kept telling him that I couldn’t wrap my mind around them anymore because they were so close together, I wasn’t getting any rest in between and I was in the most uncomfortable position to be laboring. We FINALLY made it to the hospital. As soon as I got out of the car I was hit with one that was so different than the rest. After that I made it halfway down the hallway only to be hit with another right next to a couple and their baby (what a sight I must have been)! We finally made it to the check in desk and the man asked what we were there for. I looked at him then had yet another crazy intense contraction that brought me to tears; the pressure was just becoming unbearable at that point. He asked if it was my first and we said no our fourth and he directed us straight back without any other questions. I made it about two feet only to have another one as we were being checked into the nurses’ station, they commented about just having sent me home, only to look at me and say head right back to room 1. The sweetest triage nurse came in and asked if she could ask me a few questions and hook me up to the monitors. I begged not to have to lie down because at this point anything touching my butt killed. Hubby answered the questions (which she rushed through as she was watching me labor) and then she asked to check me. I was then told I was only at a 6. A SIX! I asked if it was fast from a 6 to a 10 because these contractions were so intense. We told her we wanted to deliver naturally and she then asked if that meant we didn’t want my water broken, we answered no to the breaking of my water because we wanted that to happen when it was supposed to. She then stepped out to call my doctor and I had a contraction and felt almost a bubble and then a BURST. My water broke, but it was crazy because it honestly felt and looked like an explosion. John called for the nurse and that’s when I began to feel him move down. With each contraction a gush of water would squirt out and I could feel him drop lower. The nurse ran back in and said it’s time to move to the delivery room. She asked if I wanted a wheelchair and I said no way, because the thought of sitting down terrified me, I told her I would walk. She so sweetly told me she didn’t want my baby to drop to the floor so she would push me in the bed if that was okay.  I climbed up and she proceeded to run down the hallway to the delivery room. That must have been a sight because I was definitely becoming a little more vocal with each contraction. We made it to the delivery room and I had a brief break in my contractions, it was surreal, just like everything I had read, my body was taking a brief rest before the grand finale;) The sweet nurse that had seen us earlier that day in triage (the one that sent us home) was still on shift and came into our room and said she knew she would see me and she was so proud of me. I looked up and asked her if it would hurt. Pushing is what I was the most scared of. The thought of feeling him coming out scared me. She said that was the easy part and that my body would just do it for me. I immediately had another contraction and with that one my stomach began pushing him out, I heard everyone yell she’s pushing, then heard everyone tell me to stop. I kept saying I’m not pushing I can’t stop; my body was literally pushing him out on its own. That’s when John said he could already see his head. They began to move me down and I kept on pushing, or I should say my body did. I didn’t start pushing myself until I felt his head was out and then I did one big push and my baby was born. They immediately put him up on my chest and he stopped crying instantly. It was the most beautiful thing to see my baby just so alert and looking right at me.  They left the cord intact until it stopped pulsing and John cut it. They also left him skin to skin with me until I delivered the placenta. All these things I had told the first triage nurse I wanted but didn’t have time to tell anyone else, so I know she relayed all this information quickly to everyone, what a blessing she really was. My birth plan, even though it wasn’t discussed with anyone because of how fast everything went, was followed more perfectly then I could have imagined.

To give you an idea of how fast everything truly went, we arrived at the hospital a few minutes after 5, we were checked into triage and my water broke at 5:18, and baby boy was born at 5:26. We were also told that if my water had broke in the car I would have delivered him before we could have ever made it to the hospital. Crazy, but beautiful. I had a completely drug free natural childbirth where I labored 95% of the time at home. This birth was more perfect then I ever could have planned for.  This experience have truly healed my heart. Our family is now complete and I got to experience childbirth the way I wanted to. I hope if any of you are interested in natural childbirth that you truly give it a shot. It will be an experience that you will never ever forget.

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2 John 4-5 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father has commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

 

This verse screamed out at me this morning. I don’t know if it was because it was saying “dear lady” and I took that as though He was talking directly to me, or if my heart and soul were trying to tell me something. I think it was a mixture of both. As I meditated on this verse and began to journal through it this blog post was formed. I asked myself two simple questions. How do I demonstrate Gods greatest command, loving others? And how do I bring this command down to my children’s level?

 

I will be the first to say that I struggle with this daily. Throughout the day my temper wears thin, my patience runs out, and I place other things in front of my children.  That is why I believe this verse jumped out at me so clearly today, this is an area of motherhood that is a constant struggle for me. How do I show love?

One thing that I have learned the most through raising four completely different children is that each child speaks and feels love completely differently. If you haven’t read the book, The 5 Love Languages, I strongly suggest you do. In this book you are taught that there are five different languages of love, that we each show love to others by the way we feel loved. Needless to say I see this in my children. My love language is completely different then each one of theirs yet in order for them to truly be filled with love from me I have to show them love in the way they feel it. Kind of a complicated thing to say, and also do, when you have four different children with four completely different needs.

To show my children love I have to be intentional, I have to see life through each one of their eyes, and no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may be for me, I have to show them love the way they feel it. Whoosh! Friends that isn’t easy. I fail daily. But that is the beauty, God shows His grace to us through our children (at least in these early years ;) ) We as mothers are constantly learning, messing up, and doing good, only to have these little people still love us in spite of our flaws. Don’t let the devil step in and consume you with mom guilt. That is probably one of the biggest spiritual attacks us moms encounter. You my friend, are a good mom. You are learning and growing and if you care enough to feel guilty then you are doing a darn good job.

So, here is my challenge (and trust me I am taking it with you!) In showing our children love like they feel it we can help them show love to others. Challenge your kids to do something that is out of their comfort zone. It may be saying Hi to the old lady next door, taking in your neighbors garbage can, holding the door open for a stranger, or even better, have them hug and pray over a sibling that they fight the most with (this one is totally for me ;) ) In doing this, you will mold and shape your child through the years to love others in ways those people need to be loved, without your child awkwardly having to learn it when they are our age (like me). We are called to train these babies to be disciples of God. What greater way to do that then to help them love like Jesus. I promise you that YOU will learn more than them along the way!

 

Luke 18:17 I tell you the truth anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

 

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