rhiona and ricky’s birth story

i read this awesome story in my inbox recently and went to respond to the mama by saying “holy cow! that sounds aaahhhhmazing!” it’s extra awesome when first time parents have amazing births- i think it sets families up for health in many, many ways.

rhiona and ricky took my essentials for childbirth class and are a super fun couple. we have mutual friends, which is how they came to find my class, and i am so thankful they did! we wanted to work out a doula situation as well, but our little fam was heading on a trip to sri lanka (i know…right?!) right around her guess date- so i got them set up with a sweet sweet awesome doula friend of mine, alisa okamoto. her care provider is super loved in our community and we are really thankful to have a care provider like Dr Damon Cobb here! ENJOY this beautiful story, told by rhiona to her sweet little dash.

———————————————————————————————————

Cliff Notes Version: perfect birth and so grateful ūüôā

                                                            Dear Dash,

It was Wednesday July 9th at 10pm when I decided we needed to go for a walk on Moonlight ¬†beach to try and get you moving out. My due date was Monday July 7th, but I kind of wanted to keep you in my belly forever so I hadn’t done much (or anything really) to help you come out. It was an emotional walk because I felt you were coming soon and I knew I needed to be¬†ok¬†with that. Walking on the beach has a way of releasing emotions for me. I wasn’t scared to birth you necessarily, I just felt like pregnancy had zoomed by. I wanted more time with you so close to me. There were only a few other people on the beach; it was very dark and the cool crisp air felt so nice. The waves crashing calmed my mind. We walked a while and then I made your daddy take a picture of my belly before we got in the car to go home. I’m so glad we have that photo to remember our night because it turns out you were ready to meet us way faster than I thought. It’s the last photo of you in my belly and I will cherish it forever. We went home and around midnight I went to the bathroom and had blood. I was so excited, nervous, shocked! I was skeptical I was in labor, but it kept coming and it was pretty evident I had lost my mucus plug. I¬†texted¬†my¬†doula, Alisa, and she of course told me to sleep if I could. Ha! That wasn’t happening even if I wanted it to! I had an overwhelming feeling of anxiety pass through after I realized this really was active labor. I kind of wanted it to stop. I think I told your dad “I’m not ready. I don’t know if my body can handle labor.” I was afraid. Majorly. He went to sleep and tried to make me do the same. I laid in bed wide awake and a little terrified. At this point the surges weren’t really surges. My back would just kind of tense up and have a little ache every 20 minutes or so. All through the night it continued getting closer and closer. At some point in the dark of the night I started to feel more calm and in control, or was it that I was not in control?! I let my body take control and do it’s own thing. I guess I just took control of my thoughts. I was surprised I never even shut my eyes but morning had now come. Morning changed things. I knew I needed to shower, so I did that. Things slowed down a bit after moving around and showering. I thought I could get a nap in, so I choked down a bowl of oats and laid back into bed. I tried so hard to rest, but things just kept progressing! It felt very rapid. I quickly found that being on my hands and knees was my position, as it just made me feel the best. I was starting to get nauseous and I remember not liking it. I felt like I could handle the surges with ease, but the nausea was so annoying- totally cramped my style. By 11am your dad decided to call the¬†doula¬†to come over because he thought things were getting serious. I thought he was being silly but didn’t have the words to express this, so really, he was right. Ha. My surges weren’t that regular or consistent. They were kind of all over the place the entire labor. Sometimes they were many minutes apart and sometimes seconds apart. They were also quite long. I had a few 4 minute long ones and lots of 3 minute ones, which was super weird. When Alisa arrived, things slowed down a little. Alisa had me try smelling peppermint oil, while laying on my side leaning my leg off the bed to start things going. I wanted to kill her. ūüôā Whew, those surges felt strong. Crazy how positioning can change things so fast! I continued laboring until around 3 or so. We weren’t that sure how far along I was because of the inconsistency, so Alisa suggested going to Dr.Cobb’s office to get checked. I then started getting back to back surges. We decided to just drive straight to the hospital, and quick. In the back of my head I was slightly bummed that we were going to the hospital “so soon”. Looking back, this is hilarious to me. If we didn’t have a¬†doula¬†I probably would have accidentally birthed you at home. Oh, the car ride. I had dreaded this. We live in¬†Encinitas¬†and the hospital was in¬†Poway. That’s a bit far when you are deep into labor! Things got very intense for me while in the car. I closed my eyes the entire time. I pulled down hard on the handle above the window with each surge. It was a great release. I also pounded my hands on the roof of the car with some surges. The car ride is also where I first started what your dad calls my “yeti call”. Lots of strange sounds were coming out and I just had to let them. Looking back I now know I was transitioning. In the car. Joy! The car ride apparently took 30 minutes, but labor does weird things to your concept of time! Your dad kept saying “we are almost there” and then “I can see the hospital!”. My eyes were still shut, but this was slightly annoying to me because I knew we were still far…that is, until I actually felt the familiar speed bumps in the parking lot. I opened my eyes and saw we were there and couldn’t believe it. It felt like he did a magic trick. The car ride felt like 5-10 minutes at most to me. Alisa came and got our car to go park it while daddy and I walked into the hospital. It was a slow walk with a few breaks to ride out the surges. We got into the elevator and rode up to the fifth floor, the birthing floor. As soon as we got out of the elevator and onto the floor I took a step or two and threw up all over. “Hey guys, I have arrived, and look! I am ready! Sorry about the mess.” We walked to the nurses station and they just walked me right into a room…and gave me a barf bag. We met our nurse, Diane. She said she needed to check me. I was nervous because I had never been checked for dilation and was told it would hurt a bit. It didn’t hurt and I was EIGHT centimeters. I smiled so, so big. I knew I would have to get the standard IV or at least a saline lock next, but didn’t really want one. Nurse Diane came in and said I didn’t need either and I proceeded to give her a high five (I really just wanted to kiss her) while telling her how much I liked her. It was just a little thing, but for some reason being completely free of that was important to me. So far things were off to a great start! Nurse Diane was supportive and amazing and gave me so much peace because of that. I felt in control of my birth. She monitored you with a fetal monitor for a bit. It wasn’t really working well, but we could see you were well, so she let me get in the tub. She trusted my body and I loved her for it. From this point until you came out, my eyes pretty much remained shut. It helped me to stay connected to my body, your teeny body, and the great work we were doing together. We were in our own little world. The tub felt really nice. I was in there for a long while and I wish I could have just birthed you in there. I was starting to feel an urge to push. I said “push, push, pushy, pushing” a lot and that’s when I realized I had lost my mind. ūüôā The nurse called Dr.Cobb who was finishing up appointments at his office. He wanted me to get checked again to see how close I was. This meant I had to get out of the tub, which was no small feat. I tried and failed, a lot. Like a real lot. Somewhere in there, my water broke. I have no idea how long I tried to get out of that tub but it must have taken at least an hour. I may have used a bad word or two, but my lovely Alisa just said “I¬†knoooow¬†Rhiona.” I told Alisa that I just needed some help and she started saying encouraging things about how I didn’t need the help, I was strong, etc. That’s when I said “No, just help me out of this tub.”¬†Haha. I finally get out of the tub and make it a step or two but end up on the floor on my hands and knees. I needed something to lean on and your daddy got right down on the nasty hospital floor with me to support my head. I have never loved or needed your daddy more in my life. I gently rubbed my face into his neck and it felt so wonderful. I hadn’t pictured needing him like this, but I so did, and here he was. After a bit, Dr. Cobb arrived and I only knew it because I happened to open my eyes and see two man-sized bright red Nike shoes. That Dr.Cobb is so fancy. I eventually make it to the bed to be checked, what a journey it was to get there! Dr.Cobb asked if I wanted to know where I was at and I said yes. I only had a little tiny lip left to open. I tried laboring on my hands and knees and I started to notice a very primal energy coming over my body. The yeti call was back! The grunts that came out of my mouth…I cannot explain. The nurse kept asking if I was pushing and I accidentally ignored her…every time. I wasn’t so much pushing, it was more of a bearing down and it felt very good and very right. Dr.Cobb came back and watched me for a bit before suggesting a new position. He tied a sheet to a squat bar and had me pull myself in as I pushed. Pushing and pulling felt like a great release, kind of similar to what I did in the car ride. After a while he suggested the stirrups. I was kind of against stirrups, but trusted him. I started more controlled pushing in sets of threes. I was amazed how strong the desire to push was. It was like a huge wave coming over my body. It continued to feel intense, but good. Slowly it started to feel more intense and then ¬†for the first time in the entire labor process, I will say there was pain. But this was good pain, because then your head was suddenly out! The pain passed so quickly. Next, I felt lots of pressure and everything was just a blur because things got so intense and heavy. And then? You were on my chest!!! A big wet baby. You felt like a slippery fish ūüôā You were cute! Way cuter than I could have¬†imagined! It felt unreal. I smiled so big and didn’t stop, no tears, just smiles. We did it! It felt like I had won the best prize ever (probably because I did!). I looked to my right and there was daddy, weeping in a new way I had never seen. You were here. You were ours. So pink, healthy, and BIG! On July 10th, at 8:22pm my 9lb 3oz baby boy, you became ours. Forever and ever. And ever.

Love,
Mom
———————————————————————————————————–
i get goosebumps every time i read this story! what a sweet entrance into the world for little dash, and what an amazing set of parents he has! thank you SO much rhiona and ricky for sharing this beautiful and encouraging story with us. love you three!

if you or anyone you know is in San Diego and is interested in childbirth preparation classes, or online childbirth classes, please feel free to check out my website for more info, along with doula support and placenta encapsulation information, and a small online shop for all kinds of birth/postpartum related goodies!

www.beautifulonebirthservices.com

Advertisements

shay and kevin’s birth story

oh hey guys. i’m still here. slowly (like really, really slowly) getting back in the blogging groove. i wanted to start it out with a bang, and this sweet birth story from shay and kevin will do just that!

shay and kevin took my online essentials for childbirth preparation class (another blog post soon to reveal more about what those classes are all about!) when i first made them public in february. they live in arizona and are friends of friends, who both had crazy schedules. online classes were a perfect solution for them, so we connected and made it happen for them! here is the story of the birth of their little girl, jules.

hey kelly,

she’s here! jules was born 2 weeks ago weighing 9lbs 1oz and 21 in long. i was 41 weeks and 2 days when I had her. i never would have imagined i had that big of a baby inside me, but i guess knowing that kevin was 10lbs 3oz when he was born should have been a warning, right? !!! i wanted to thank you so much for the virtual classes we took, kevin felt super prepared with message techniques and positioning ideas to help me get comfortable, and i just focused on breathing the entire time. you were right though, it WAS my job to just breathe. when i focused on that, my surges weren’t insane. when i wasn’t focusing for whatever reason, i could feel it. that was motivation enough to start going inward and just realizing my one job was to breathe for me and for jules.

the story:

i woke up around 3am with a dull lower back ache and needed to use the bathroom. i had been having surges on and off all day prior, and i really did feel like tonight would be the night. but then i fell asleep and assumed it would be another day. as i was walking to the toilet my water started leaking (i thought i was peeing myself like you mentioned, but a gush happened soon after!). i was so excited labor was starting, and i got kevin up. he told me to go back to sleep, or at least get rest. so i put on a movie and “rested”- even though i was so excited. my surges weren’t intense yet, but i did have to breathe through them. around 7am kevin got up and made us breakfast. while he was cooking the eggs i had one HUGE surge that basically brought me to my knees. i had been surging consistently ever 5 minutes or so since 5am, but i was laboring just fine alone before he woke up. when this surge hit at around 7:45am i had been using him to help give me some hip relief and lower back relief too with some of those pressure skills you taught us. this one surge was so intense and out of the blue, and i started shaking a bit. i immediately thought, not only is this go time, it is GO time.

kevin grabbed our stuff, including our breakfast that he put in tupperware quickly, and we headed to the birth center. we live about 30 minutes from there with no traffic, thankfully it was a weekend morning so we didn’t have to deal with that. i began feeling like i needed to sway more deeply and moan more manly-like while we were in the car, which was hard to do swaying wise, but i was in the backseat grinding my hips around trying to find comfort amidst the bumps on the road. kevin was probably driving about 100mph on the way there. i had planned music for the car but we ended up listening to some 80s at 8 radio thing, which, by the way, it was kind of awesome to labor to “i’ll tumble for ya” : at the very least it made me laugh in the middle of my now super intense surges.¬† when i breathed i felt powerful over the surges, when i got caught up in the intensity, it felt like they owned me. it was crazy. i just kept telling myself to focus on breathing, that i could do anything for a minute, that i was going to get in the tub soon. i gave myself a pep talk as kevin said a few encouraging things, but i honestly don’t remember what those were. thanks though, kev!

we showed up to the birth center and it took me about 6 surges to get from the car to the room. slowly but surely. they checked my cervix when we got there. 9cms. WHAT?! i hadn’t been laboring that long, it was intense but i was managing it well enough, and i hadn’t gotten to the part where i was thinking “i can’t do this anymore!” i was so encouraged by this news i started laughing. yup, laughing at 9cms. who would have ever imagined me, who cries when i hit my funny bone, would have laughed during labor?

well, it wasn’t all fun and games. as i progressed i did feel a bit like “i can’t do this anymore” as i was at 9cms for 3 hours. let me tell you though, getting in the water was a godsend. i jumped (well, i didn’t jump, obviously) into the tub soon after we arrived and it was exactly like you had said- took the edge off and helped me find peace in the waiting. after those 3 hours of sitting in the tub and being in different positions in there, i felt something new. uggghhhh. i was bearing down. i couldn’t stop it. uggghhhhh. it felt good but intense but hard but wonderful all wrapped into one.

midwives came back into the bathroom to check what was happening after kevin yelled “i think shay is going to have this baby in here with no one to catch it. and i think i’ll drop it!!!” they encouraged me to put my hands between my legs. part of her head. oh dear Lord, relief yet intensity yet more relief. almost there. still bearing down and i couldn’t help it. my body just did it.

3 more of those and out she came! the moments when they pulled her up from the water and onto my chest went in slow motion. i think i was the highest i’ve ever been in my whole life (well, i’ve never been high on drugs, but i can imagine the birth high is a million times more addicting than any other drug). her placenta was stubborn and stayed in a long time, i eventually had to get out of the tub and birth it, which wasn’t hard i guess i just needed a new position.

your classes and encouragement were a huge part of our birth story, and will forever be a part of our family’s story. when i read in your “about me” that you believed in the power that a birthing story has in the life of a family i didn’t quite get it. but now i do. and i agree, it is powerful. thank you for preparing us well and giving us the tools and encouragement we needed to trust the process and alleviate my anxieties. i can imagine her birth would have looked a LOT different if i didn’t prepare in this way. thank you forever and ever.

—————————————————————

congratulations shay and kevin! such a beautiful story and a total encouragement to my soul to hear that you now see the power that a birthing story has in the life of a family. just so inspiring! thank you for your kind words about your experience with the online classes as well, great to have “my baby” be well received!

and i couldn’t agree more. that birth high. something else.

if you or anyone you know is interested in online natural childbirth preparation classes, or group classes in San Diego, please feel free to check out my website for this info, along with doula support and placenta encapsulation information, and a small online shop for all kinds of birth/postpartum related goodies!

www.beautifulonebirthservices.com

the birth of selah

okay, so here we go. i often share my students’ stories here, and i thought it was only appropriate to share selah’s story as well. it is one that rocked my heart in the best way possible, a story that lights my husband’s heart on fire..for birth, for me, for his children. it is one that really served to heal some previous hurts, and give me encouragement for the road ahead.

remember when i went on and on about my love for my chiropractors? well, on thursday september 12 i went in for one last adjustment, as i felt baby’s back was on my right side and i really wanted him/her to flip over into a more straightforward LOA position (oh the things birthy people know…). i left my adjustment feeling great and met my family for lunch. i felt baby shift over to LOA soon after lunch while i was walking to my car…little victories!! keaton went over to my mother in laws, as he does on thursday afternoons, and i came home. i napped and cleaned like a crazy person when i woke up. around 5ish i started feeling a little different- a little nauseous (i had been dealing with some third trimester nausea previously so assumed it was just that), and just a little off. i even texted my doula to tell her that i was hoping things would start to happen, only to later text her around 8:30ish that it was wishful thinking.¬† trevor got home from work late due to a work dinner, and keaton was dropped back off at our house around 8:30. he went right to sleep and i kissed him before i left his room…i kind of felt emotional leaving, as if i knew it would be the last time i would kiss him as my only child.

trevor turned on duck dynasty and i headed to lay down in bed and watch a movie on the ipad. we both needed to just zone out- him after a LONG week at work, and me because, well, i knew something was coming i guess. before i got into bed i brushed my hair (never happens! ha!), washed my face and put on a little makeup. what?! i got into the outfit i wanted to wear while laboring. i told myself i was jinxing myself, but i could not NOT do it.

around 9:45 i felt a pretty intense surge that wrapped around from my lower belly into my lower back. it wasn’t painful or anything, just really tight- even moreso than the other warm ups I’d been having. told myself not think about it and started watching my movie. about 5 minutes later i got up (to clean a little bit more in our closet, i couldn’t help myself!), and i felt a warm trickle down my leg. hmmm. peeing myself. great! i walked to the bathroom and bam. gush. definitely not peeing myself! this was exactly how keaton’s labor began, i was comforted by that in many ways. i knew it was time now finally, one way or another, we were gonna meet this babe. after LOTS of warming up in previous weeks, it was game time at 40w+4d (there was a huge part of me that knew i wanted my water to release as my first sign of labor, as i did with keaton, because i waited so long for keaton that i was nervous all of this warming up was going to mess with my head too much). trevor was stoked, i was stoked. we turned on some good tunes and just started talking. about the baby, about keaton, about life. i paused every like 5-8 mins or so and breathed through my surges, but they were honestly easy at that point. really tight, but nothing i couldn’t just focus on and breathe through.

i let my doula, midwives, and photographer know that my water had broken but that there was no rush for anything at that point- labor was in the early stages and was easy at this point…it would be a long night…right?! trevor tried to sleep (it was going to be a long night…right?!) and i just got comfy on my ball and got lost in the music that was playing. about an hour and a half later, my surges became more intense. still breathable and manageable, but i noticed a shift in how i was experiencing them…how i needed trevor to push on my back to alleviate the pressure. how i needed to make some deep noises to work through them. i was doing it and handling it just fine, but it was new. i let my doula know, and apparently she knew more than i did- we told her it would be too early to come to us, but she listened to me and read between the lines…she was going to come by and say hi. she told us to call the midwives to tell them the same. the midwives said they were on their way too…i almost felt bad, since honestly i felt like i was so early in labor that they would be missing out on a night of sleep by coming to me. i labored on the birth ball, leaning over our bathroom sink, and leaning over our dining room table (which happens to be outside on our covered patio…it was a beautiful night and laboring outside felt great).

funny being on this end of a birthing mama instead of the doula end.

everyone showed up around midnight, and we decided to call our photographer a bit after that because i was finally at the point where i felt like i was in “active labor.” my doula has the sweetest voice and i just focused on her telling me to keep¬† breathing, to let the last one go. she was exactly what i needed. trevor was the muscle of the operation- pushing on my back and eventually into my hips for each surge while i swayed back and forth, gently moaning with each tightening. jenna was the sweet voice i needed at the moment i needed it. it was exactly what i wanted it to be.

i had some music going in the background and had some cards with scripture written on them out for me to read. amazing how many worship songs and how much of scripture talks about surrender. these were the good words that i needed to keep surrendering to God, to the process…to stay calm, to trust.

the midwives wanted to check me around 12:35ish, just to see what kind of progress i was making. i really REALLY didn’t want to lay down on my back, but made it to my side on our bed and felt a bit better. i remembered then how much i really don’t like those checks. no fun! but, good news. i was 8cm and totally soft. what?! labor only really just began?! it wasn’t THAT hard, certainly not transition kind of work quite yet. 8cm. let’s fill the birth tub up with water! yes, perfect idea. my tub was pretty deep (too deep!), and would take a while to fill up, but we started filling it then and i was encouraged to go sit on the toilet or labor in the shower till it would be ready. i thought in my head- i bet i have about an hour more of labor before meeting our baby. totally could handle that, then totally didn’t expect what came next! literally minutes after being checked and being 8cm, i needed to push. i hadn’t made it to the toilet (thank goodness!) and knew, with that instinct, there was no way i was going to make it in the tub. i grabbed onto my doula and bore down with my breath. one good moaning downwards and i felt that all familiar burning/opening. wait, baby?! already?! no no, that’s crazy talk. i remember thinking, perhaps even saying, “you guys don’t understand!” … i felt like they didn’t understand what i was feeling (they did), or that the baby was coming (they did).

my body took over and i went along for the ride. i instinctually climbed onto my bed on hands and knees. welp, there’s part of baby’s head! that natural expulsive reflex came and went, giving me breathers in between. baby popped back in once i got on my hands and knees and i made my way down to laying down on my side on our bed and that little rotation was exactly what baby needed. baby was popping right out, even with a hand up near his/her chin. i was so hot. so so hot. i was wearing a headband (that i thought would look SO cute. haha!), and i threw that off and my doula got me a cold washcloth. ohhh the sweetest of all sweet reliefs.¬† i kept trying to close my legs, even though i knew i wanted to be as open as possible…shout out to the midwives/their apprentice for dealing with my leg! haha! my breathing got off and i kind of “lost it” slightly at this point- but got it right back when i was reminded of the fact that i was safe, that baby was here, that i just needed to breath. i caught my breath again and had such a sweet moment of trust. i closed my eyes for one final encouragement for baby to come out, only to realize that baby was just about to. trevor kept telling me “open your eyes, you need to see this!!,” our eyes met and his face was beaming. my midwife encouraged me to bring my hands down to lift up my baby onto my chest. what a feeling- that little slippery, tiny, warm body making its way out of my body and into the world and into mommy’s hands. unparalleled honestly. i tried to bring baby up to my chest and was met with a very short cord.

1233406_636718436368273_31555118_n

1185464_636718499701600_657227781_n

i laid baby on my belly and just stared. in awe. we had a baby. already. i was just barely laboring?! and baby is here now?! what?! on our bed?! in our house?! while keaton sleeps?! it all started to settle in.

1176107_636718539701596_1031206520_n

i looked at baby’s sweet face and my GOODNESS was it keaton’s twin (just fewer chins!!). baby didn’t even cry. not for quite a while. baby just breathed slowly, the thick umbilical cord still pulsing and helping, and baby just looked into my eyes and looked around. so mellow, so chill. taking it all in. our eyes caught each others’ for about 15 seconds straight, and as i talked to baby, her (we didn’t know she was a she yet!) eyes got wider and breathing got more rhythmic. this was the type of birth i dreamed of¬† and prayed for for my baby. gentle, loving, dimly lit, warm, hands off, and surrounded by safety. 12:47am, september 13. about 2 hours and 45 mins after labor began. only about an hour after feeling like i was actually truly really actively laboring.

1175257_636718833034900_630744423_n

1237821_636718793034904_1223397918_n970031_636719009701549_1294479094_n1239475_636718986368218_1163241560_n

i labored so quickly and unexpectedly that our photographer (Labor of Love Photography. Amazing captures, right?!) came literally as baby was being born. for a moment i felt bad about not calling her earlier, but then it was exactly what it was meant to be- and i never ever would have guess in a thousand years that i would have gone that fast, or been that far along, so there was no reason to call earlier. but praise God she made it then, as she captured some of the sweetest moments of our entire life- meeting our little one.

we spent time oohing and aahing over baby, talking about how quickly that went, and just cuddling with our babe. we realized about 10 minutes after the birth that we had no idea if we had a girl or boy! what?! trevor lifted up the blanket we had over her and stared for a little bit. “it’s a boy!!” oh wow, a brother for keaton! how exciting! and then cue some silence from the midwives…ummm…you might want to look a little more closely. trevor lifted up the blanket again. “what? i can’t really tell!” haha. it was dark, things are swollen, the cord was still attached…eventually he put it all together. a girl! a GIRL!! keaton knew from the moment we told him he was going to be a big brother that he was going to have a little sister. he just knew.

526545_636718413034942_1048923333_n

i tore a bit and had to be stitched up after my placenta finally decided to come on out…not my favorite thing in the world. honestly even after i just birthed a big baby, the stitching was…bleah. selah’s hand was up near her chin and i think that’s what did it, that and the fact that she just powered her way outta there! but there wasn’t that much to be mended and it was over quickly and it healed really easily, i was really not uncomfortable at all afterwards, and no swelling at all. score.

i got up to pee and was encouraged that all was well. haha.

our midwives and doula cleaned up, made me some food (almond butter on toast never tasted so good!!), and were just such an encouragement. as they began to pack up i realized something…i just had a baby. on our bed. and now i get to sleep in that bed. with that baby. with my husband. and be comfortable. it was a glorious thought. it was a glorious reality.

998972_636718973034886_1033071536_n

as everyone started to leave a couple hours after the birth, our sweet doula stayed to pray with us. we thanked God for His provision, for His goodness, for our sweet daughter. it was one of my favorite moments to thank God for His willingness to provide this desire of our hearts to not only have a home birth but have a healthy, happy little one.

we got to sleep in our beds with our little girl, working on breastfeeding again (so different since i was so used to nursing a toddler last time i did it!!). trevor and selah slept, but i was on a high. the oxytocin flowing in that room was unparalleled, and i was just riding along with it. i went in and out of sleeping a little bit that first night, but didn’t really get to sleep till the following night. birth high, i tell ya.

1176108_636719039701546_602195496_n

keaton came into our room the next morning as he always does and was met with his baby sister. what a moment! he climbed into bed with us and was amazed at all of baby’s little features. “baby has hands!! and eyes!! look at baby’s ears!! and nose!! wowwww!!”

trevor made us all breakfast, and we just hung out until we were ready to tell our family later in the day that we were ready for them. it was exactly what we wanted.

this story of selah’s quick entrance into our lives is one that we treasure greatly. it not only served to remind me of how inviting God purposefully into our experiences is such a sacred thing, but it reminded me of the sanctity of life and how precious the first moments of a new life truly are- to that baby, and to that entire family. it reminded me of why i do the work i do. it reminded me of why i have such a heart for women all over the world.

thanks for reading our selah girl’s story!

for more info in our super fabulous birth team:

doula: Jenna Anderson

 midwives: San Diego Midwife

photographer: Labor of Love Birth Photography

sometimes

i can’t count how many posts i’ve made where i’ve mentioned how crazy it is that my son is growing up so quickly. i guess i won’t ever stop thinking that. even when i am watching him drive away for the first time on his own, or heading off to college, or getting his first career job, or dancing with him on his wedding day, or crying with him when his son or daughter is born…i guess my thought will always be- wow, how time has flown!

77092_10101324447732954_161942085_n

i don’t really want it to fly though. not necessarily because i treasure these moments so much (i do, i wish i could bottle them up and keep them forever), but moreso because i don’t want that to be my life. “where did the time go?!”

this year, after looking at pinterest at the end of last year, i decided to take note of little joys that happen each day in my life. not only does this help me see joy in sometimes unexpected places, but it helps me take some time out of being preoccupied with busy-ness and focus on the sweetness of life. grace.

some days the joys are easier to spot than others. keaton happy, mama happy- yes, good things just seem to burst forth like a well.¬† but some days i don’t want to leave the house and keaton is running me ragged and i just don’t know how i’m keeping all of the balls i have in the air up so high. but those days are when this practice is so needed. where is my joy? in my circumstance? dependent on my day to day experiences? dependent on the choices my son makes to obey or disobey? where is the joy in that fickle-ness? how can i be IN the moment when i feel overwhelmed by it?!

those are the days i need the reminders of sweet grace in my life. of taking on a project and seeing it to completion. of writing hand written cards to friends and sending them. of bringing up old jokes with my husband that we had forgotten how they used to make us laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe. of being intentional in my discipline with my son but deciding to focus more on connecting than correcting. of finding even small ways to bless my family. of doing something sweet for my husband that reminds him that no matter how many kids or jobs or crazy things that happen, that i always strive to honor and love him well because, well, i love him.

thinking about these sweet graces in my life and shifting my perspective is helping me reclaim my joy. and it’s keeping my footing strong. and helps me stay in the moment, enjoying the moments rather than letting them dictate how my life will be, or how i will engage in that life. yes there are times when i’m stressed, and overwhelmed, and wondering how in the world i can take any more in that exact moment- but in that same exact moment there is still joy to be found. it takes a lot of intentionality to find it, but it’s there. and i’m learning to find it. to enjoy the moments of my life rather than let them slip by unnoticed. it’s making me a better woman. a better wife. a better mom.

a few days ago was a rough day with keaton. he wasn’t giving me a hard time, he was having a hard time. or at least i kept telling myself that.¬† i wasn’t feeling well, i didn’t have a lot of energy to play with him, and i was getting the brunt of his frustration. we could have gone on all day like that. a few minutes of giggles followed by some alone time, followed by tears and frustration, followed by some giggles and so the pattern could have just repeated all day. i decided instead to make the best of it. his sweet little laugh was all i needed to keep going. we made, out of the blankets on the bed that i was laying sick in, a pretty awesome fort. i had keaton run and get books and toys and he brought them in with him, as if he was entering disneyland or something, with a huge smile he says “mommy this is VERY cool!” add on a flashlight and some shadow puppets and there you go…day turned upside down. a shift in my perspective to be present and meet his needs while needing to meet my own needs as well…took a bit more effort than just turning over and thinking “woah is me…”

and it was one of those moments that will go down on a piece of paper for my little joys of the day for the year. and when the year is up and i look back on it through these papers, i can smile and say- yup, that WAS very cool.

it’s the little things

i am not much of a new years’ resolution kind of girl, but i do appreciate the newness that a new year can bring. (how many times can YOU use the word “new” in a sentence?!)

i like the feeling of a blank slate. of an easy to utilize way to being truly following hard after what has been serving your heart well, and easing off the things that were holding you back the previous year. it just feels like a fresh start when you look at it that way, and a good bench mark to feel yourself out- where am i? where is my heart? what am i striving towards?

in 2013 i want to focus more on contentment.  not complacency, but contentment.tumblr_lsrie3me6l1qiqf01o1_500

ever heard that phrase before? it is something i have hanging on my corkboard above our home computer. it is something i need constant reminding of. i can, almost instantly, go from “ohhh, i feel beyond thankful and want to serve others, etc etc!” to “ahhh! i’m discontent! i am not good enough, smart enough, busy enough, a good enough mom, a good enough wife, a good enough friend, i don’t have enough cute clothes!” woah. that’s quite the shift, right?! all from how i choose to look at things. when i am coveting things, when i have pieces of envy and jealousy that are shrouding my view on the world, i immediately am small. not good enough. i don’t measure up. but guess what? that’s not where my heart should be focused at all, and i don’t need to believe the lies. but what i do need is to take my thoughts captive. to CHOOSE my outlook, to CHOOSE joy, to CHOOSE contentment.

i have been thinking about just that recently- taking my thoughts captive. i was washing the dishes the other night and was kind of bitter about it- why are there ALWAYS dishes?! why do i always end up doing them?! ohhh poor me, why oh why?! and then i asked myself why i am doing them in the first place. yeah, i don’t like a messy kitchen…but really…why. well, it’s because it serves my family well. it allows for our family to focus on being together. sometimes the things that we need to do aren’t the most fun, but they need to get done. when i started thinking about the fact that even the act of doing the dishes, something i was bitter about just moments ago, was actually serving my family well- woah! i was done with the dishes in no time and off to find another project to help keep the flow of our household going. this is a small example, but a huge heart change.

i am not always the greatest at taking my thoughts captive on my own. i am GREAT at encouraging others to do so- family, friends, students, doula clients- I can remind them that they can get to a place where they are focusing on the truths instead of the lies. and they often do. but i’m not so great at doing that on my own. but guess what?! more great news! we weren’t meant to do this all on our own! travel partners were created for this journey.

i’m learning more and more about my need for community. not just friends or people i chat about things with, but real authentic community that builds me up and i help build up too. the type of relationships where you come to serve but in the process are also served, and even if that had previously made you a little uncomfortable (raising hand), you accept it because that’s what we are there for…serving each other well. i’m not always great at (i swear this isn’t a “i’m not always great at!” post!!) asking for help when i need it. i can do a lot of things on my own, i CAN do it…but should i? that’s a question that’s been on my heart. 2013 is going to be for focusing on contentment. contentment found in this kind of community. i’m thankful for a church that focuses so hard on community and doing life with one another, without that i think it would be easy for me to feign this. fake it a little, pretend like friendships are real community, and call it a day. that’s not what i want! real, authentic community. and in that, an encouragement towards contentment.

contentment, as i mentioned, is such a choice. for me, another way to actually CHOOSE this kind of joy and contentment is to notice the little things, to HONOR the little things. like soaking up the times when keaton gets a case of the giggles and can’t stop laughing. or when i see trevor and keaton running around the house- keaton chasing him growling and saying “i’m a lioooonnn!!”, or even the bigger things like the big conversations trev and i have about our future, our family, mission work, whatever (or the asinine conversations we have that leave us both cracking up for no apparent reason). soaking up those things. enjoying those things. when you soak up that, there’s much less time to think about what is lacking. and honestly, in those moments- there isn’t much that’s lacking at all!

i’m not saying i don’t want to strive for more. or that learning or gaining new skills or knowledge is bad. not at all. or that i don’t want MORE from life. because i do, and i will. but the MORE just looks different to me than what conventionally it might look like to others. contentment is not complacency.

i know i will struggle and fail at this, and while i am encouraged by the first couple weeks of the year, i know that there will be weeks where i am just not. i hope by simply pressing “publish” here this serves as a reminder to me of where i’ve been and where i want to go. and what i hope for your hearts as well.

how are you doing? what are you hoping for this year? where is your heart focused? let’s get real here and encourage each other in this.

and, i leave you with some of the small things that make my heart full. just a small conversation, but a sweet part of my heart. contentment in this giggle.

call the midwife

i am really really REALLY hoping y’all are watching “Call the Midwife” on PBS. Ugh, SO good! It’s available online and on their app if you don’t have access to it on tv.

for a million reasons i recommend it.

Image

the births are really realistic- not the screaming “i hate you!!” births like we see in movies, but hard working mamas helping their babies into the world realistic. there are really deep emotional pulls to each of the moms we meet, and to the young midwife the show centers around (although there is a great supporting nurse/midwife cast around her as well).

the first episode in and of itself explained so much of my heart…i was amazed. it drew parallels to the journey of birth and the journey of life, and how so much of midwifery and birth in general is the STUFF of life. i really feel like i have been made more alive and more passionate because of my experiences and awareness of birth, and this show totally taps into that. it shows a lot of natural and normal the birth process is, but also how simple skills and goods can be the difference between positive and negative outcomes. and how education for families and communities is KEY. the young midwife i mentioned is from a wealthier area and decides to take a job at what she thought was a small hospital in East London back in the day…but it really was a convent, and East London wasn’t what she expected…

She was used to cleanliness, used to order, used to rules…not used to what she was seeing in the lives of the moms she was now serving: dirty homes, unkempt kids (and lots of them), not a lot of supplies to keep things sanitary as the birth moves along at home. at one point in the first episode she breaks down and says “i didn’t know people lived like this!”

that rang in my ears.

i mentioned a while ago about my draw towards international work, in particular international birth work. birth work in the areas of the world where access to care is severely limited or potentially non-existent…birth work in the areas of the world where the difference between life and death is a skilled attendant, proper prenatal and postpartum care…birth work in the areas of the world where all one truly needs is a sanitary spot to bring life into the world- for their sake and their baby’s sake.

“i didn’t know people lived like this.”

there was a time when i didn’t know people birthed like this.

or like the stories from this area.

or this.

awareness is one thing. doing something about it is quite another. this is not out of pity or out of superiority, this is person to person, mother to mother LOVE. being united in this world for the betterment of lives, of families, of hearts. providing services and goods that can allow fear to be released. lives to continue on. babies to be loved. families to be treasured.

there is so much about this show that speaks to me. start watching if you haven’t.

let me know what you love most about it! what has your favorite episode been so far? favorite birth shown? (breech birth, sayyyy whaaat! tears!!)

unexpected love

one of the unexpected side effects of taking our hypnobirthing classes last year was meeting an incredible group of women, and falling in love with their little babies (and our beautiful friendship and support system, of course). we are different, but in so many ways we are the same. these women seriously kept my head on straight for those early newborn days (and still continue to do so), and are always quick to encourage and inspire me.¬† i love the way they love me, and how much they truly love keaton. we get together as much as possible, and this summer has been great since schedules have been easier to work out. such a great blessing to do life with them. whether it’s an on the fly play date (like the text message i just got), or a planned big family bbq or beach day, it is a really beautiful thing.

i love that these babies will grow up together, and will be able to say that they knew each other when they were in our bellies!

we always try to make sure we capture great group shots when we are all able to get together.

and, particularly since they have all become so mobile, it often quickly turns to wonderful baby chaos!