Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Encounter

Oh, my. It was a visit nightmares are made of.
No, really. I had multiple nightmares last night and they most certainly stemmed from this whole experience!
I woke up tired and a little cranky yesterday. I don't look forward to new situations and I especially don't look forward to blood work. I can't stand needles and I have small veins that like to dance. I tried to look up the clinic and the doctor and the nurse practitioner to somewhat familiarize myself and make myself more comfortable, but I came up with nothing except a few obscure ratings sites that anybody can contribute to, and no true reviews on those. I couldn't even find a clinic name, let alone a website. It was No-Name Clinic in downtown Richmond. Yikes. That was my first clue things were fishy, but I thought surely the midwife couldn't have steered me that wrong, she's worked with the doctor there for 30 years! So what if it was a little hole in the wall? I often like little hole in the wall places. I was in such denial.
We left early, knowing what fun we'd had in the past trying to find our way in downtown Richmond. As it is, we only got lost once and Lee quickly figured out what the roads were doing so we were actually early. I stalled at the car for as long as possible, but Lee was aching to get in there so I could get it over with and I finally either had to get out or sit in the car by myself, haha.
We walked up to the building, it looked like a very old house with nothing to make it stand out as a business among the houses along the street. It was dark, quiet, and had no. signage. whatsoever. Weird. The door was left cracked open, in "welcome", I suppose. As we walked up I told Lee I wasn't liking this, "Don't worry", he said, "I see files and stuff, it's definitely an office. ". I answered, "Ya? Well even the mafia keep files on people.".
I walked up to the counter and told the lady I had an appointment with Bonnie. She responded by making a dive over the terribly messy desk for the clipboard, knocking off papers and barely catching a plate of food before it could fall to the floor. There were plates of food everywhere, lining the front desk. Classy.
I sat down to fill out the paperwork while Lee and I worked very hard to stifle our laughter. The paperwork said "New Patient Encounter" at the top, sounded scary to me. The clinic name was no where on the paperwork either...hmmm. After a little while the Nurse Practitioner comes in to the office area and gets excited about the free chicken meal. "Ooo! They even have the boneless kind!". "Those are biscuits.", responded the lady at the counter. Yikes! Lee and I were *dying* trying not to laugh at this point. The lady who is about to assess my health can't tell a piece of chicken from a biscuit!
Remember, we got there early. I had my paperwork done before my scheduled appointment time and they had no other patients in the office. We still waited almost 20 minutes past my appointment time, listening to the lady at the counter gagging on something. Her food, I would guess.
At this point I'm peeking at the church across the road mentally planning my escape in case I ended up needing to run for sanctuary!
The nurse finally calls me back from nowhere, I had to follow the sound of her voice to where I needed to go. Now, here is where it gets really fun in a Really Irritating sort of way. I had read on a forum I'm a part of, from a woman who doesn't let the doctor's office take her weight, she just tells them what she's gained. Reading it I thought to myself that it would be a great way to "test" just how much a particular doctor/clinic would allow me to control my care. I mean really, all they need to know is how much I gain between visits. They don't need to personally see it unless they don't trust me, and if they don't trust me, I don't trust them! I am sure that my old doctor would have been perfectly fine with it, even if his nurses had initially balked at the idea. It was also something that would be one of the first things they did and something I couldn't care less one way or the other whether they did it. If they refused my request, whatever. If they went with it, I wasn't losing any information I didn't have myself. I knew I needed to know my heart rate and blood pressure (which were GREAT by the way!) so I couldn't refuse those.
We walked into the hall and the nurse motioned to me to step on the scale. "No thank you. ", I told her, "You can just put down that I've gained 2.5 pounds since the beginning of the pregnancy. She looked at me in disbelief and told me, "No, I *need* to take your weight.". "Alright", I told her, smiling as sweetly as I could, "It was just a test.".
She was pretty quiet until we got to the room, then I must give her credit for being very kind. Even though from her point of view it appeared I could end up being the patient from hell, she did her best to be warm and friendly. I think she may have even realized that she really didn't need to take my weight so badly because her attitude became, "We need to take your blood pressure, is that all right?" and "Can we talk about....". She is also the one who got my blood work done in just 2.5 sticks. I really liked her.
Now, When I had talked to the midwife she had told me I could refuse whatever I didn't want, all I specifically needed was the prenatal panel. I had stressed to the lady I made the appointment with that *all I wanted* was the prenatal panel. I did go in assuming a basic exam was going to be part of it anyway, but as the nurse and I were leaving the room so I could go get her a "sample" she asked, with her nose wrinkled and motioning to the gown on the table, "They did tell you about the exam you were going to need today, right?. I gently but firmly told her that I do not do internal exams in the first trimester, and she didn't push it, win for her!
Even if I was in the habit of allowing exams in the first trimester I Absolutely Would Not have acquiesced in this place. Oh, friends. It was disgusting. Out in the front you had filthy desks covered in food...that was downright clean compared to what we found in the back rooms. I was afraid to touch anything. The used gowns were just thrown in a hamper, like the sort you find at Wal-Mart, behind the door, without even a lid. There was an unidentified fluid in a bio hazard jar sitting right in the middle of the counter in the exam room, and there was crusted pee...I Kid You Not...on the sink in the bathroom where you had to set your cup. I have never seen such filth in my life in a public place and this was a doctor's office! If I had known about the condition of the bathroom first, instead of well into the visit, I think I would have begged to leave! At this point though, I was just so ready be done for good!
Next, I got to meet the Nurse Practitioner I had the appointment with. She was rather quiet and brisk, I think she'd heard about me. She checked my arms and legs for swelling, felt my abdomen and asked if she could do another exam, which I politely refused. I was really trying to go out of my way to smile and be nice. I truly didn't want them to remember me as know what! But at the same time I was there paying them to do certain things, there were unnecessary things I didn't want for Very Good Reasons, like the internal exam. I didn't bother to explain my reasons because I didn't want to start an argument about them. I've done my research and my mind is made up.
"All done!", the nurse practitioner said, making no move to help me up like every other doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse and midwife I've ever had has at least made a move to do. Lee moved forward to help me, as he always does, and Bonnie points to the chair against the wall, telling him very rudely, "I need you to sit.", and then brushed by to get out of the room. I forgot to mention that the exam room was at least half the size of a regular *small* exam room. It was no bigger than our children's bathroom! Tiny!
I went down for my blood work and the nurse practitioner struck up a conversation with Lee, wanting to know "What in the world brought you to Virginia?!" from SC.
When the nurse was ready to take my blood, Lee was my hero and told her I needed him so he needed by, in the new, equally small, room. At that point I was in such disbelief at the experience that I was just too emotionally exhausted to demand anything more, not to mention I was kind of nervous of getting blood work done in such a dirty place! Thankfully Lee stepped up for me. She stuck me once, it didn't work, twice...not she dug around with the needle for a minute that second time and blessedly got what she needed. And I Was Done!!! Yay!!!
We paid our bill and left the building. I declared to never darken it's doors again and Lee said he wouldn't let me if I wanted to. And that was before we learned the whole truth later that evening.
I called Bri to tell her it was over, and that my physician didn't know chicken from a biscuit.
And this is nothing, stay tuned for Part 2...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Homemade Baby Wipe Solution

We emphasize meaningful homemade gifts quite a bit around here. That means we get a lot of beaded necklaces and pipe cleaner ornaments from little ones for Christmas. It also means our older children have continued to be creative as they grow and their ideas and creativity have grown with them. That said, I do believe that the award for Most Entertaining Homemade Gift Idea Ever must go to Abbi! I came out of my room a few days before Peter's birthday to find her "making Peter's birthday present". She had torn several paper towels off of the paper towel roll, gotten out the baby wipe solution that we keep in a spray bottle, doused the baby wipes well and "wrapped" them in paper towels with masking tape.
What a great idea for a gift for such a little one, she was quite proud of herself ;).
Here is the recipe we use for our baby wipe solution:
1 cup of filtered water
1/2 TBS. distilled white vinegar
1 drop lavender oil
1 drop tea tree oil
We keep it in a spray bottle and have specifically designated our baby wash clothes as baby wipes. When we switched to cloth diapers several years ago it only made sense to switch to cloth wipes as well, though we still used paper wipes occasionally until Peter was born. We tried several different brands with him but his skin couldn't handle any of them so I haven't bought a box of paper wipes in months. If we're using paper diapers for some reason we just use paper towels instead of the cloth wipes so we can throw them away with the diaper. Since we've perfected our baby wipe solution and switched to AIO diapers, cloth diapering has become a breeze! Even during this busy, busy season while we're trying to sell our house we've been using cloth diapers. Aside for the five minutes it takes to start and switch the load it is no more difficult than paper diapers! On top of the health benefits and cost savings, it makes a great gift too! What's not to love? Haha :).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Missing Daddy

It has been 7 months since Lee started with his new job and we've been living in two different states. Sometimes it feels like two different worlds! I never imagined it would take this long to iron out at least *some* of the details, though I did have a feeling that the house wouldn't sell right away. Emmi says that when we get to Virginia we're going to lock the door so Daddy can't ever leave again!
One thing that has been a blessing to me is how much a part of our lives Lee still is, even when we get such a relatively small fraction of time talking with him each day. I get to talk to him here and there throughout the day and he leads our family devotions over speaker phone at night. All throughout the day we are talking about when such-and-such happened (back before all of this started and we were still together), or how Daddy would find this-or-that funny and we need to remember to tell him, or the children are reminding each other of how Daddy wants something done, or I'm getting something out of our walk-in closet and my heart sinks again when I'm reminded that he isn't here by the closed dresser drawers. One of my fears was that Peter would forget him. Peter was only 5 months old when Lee started his new job and he's only seen Lee about six days a month since then, but every time Lee comes home he looks at him like, "Where have you been?!" and literally clings to him. It is beautiful, I can't wait to see the bond they have grow even deeper when we're back together again.
Peter's excellent memory has been just one of God's many mercies. God has been so very good to bless us with a husband & father who leads us spiritually, even over so many miles. A husband & father who works hard to provide for us and puts up with things he probably wouldn't if he was only thinking of himself. He has been so very good to provide Lee this job, and there is no doubt this job came straight from His hand. He has been so very good to give us each of our seven beautiful children. They have all "pulled their weight" wonderfully. While the older ones offer more, shall we say, "tangible" help, the little ones offer their help in the form of chubby arms around our necks and carefree giggles that melt away the stress. At least that's how it works when they're not contributing to the stress level, haha :).
I have been learning over the last 7 months. I've always been a little uptight about keeping things pretty clean but, out of necessity as we try to sell our house, I'm learning tricks to get a house even more clean in less time, as long as we maintain it in the in between times. I'm learning that things are usually not as hard as I think they must be and next time I don't need to put off fixing the screen or the railing or changing the color of the front door just because I think it's going to be too hard. It's *much* easier to just change it than to wish you could every time you pass it. I'm learning to be more consistent in training and disciplining the children because there's no one there to pick up the slack when it feels too hard to keep on top of it all. I'm also realizing how much Lee does around here! I will be more than happy to go back to our "I have the babies and change the dirty clean up the vomit and mow the yard" arrangement, haha :).  Most important, I'm learning to rest in the sovereignty of God...notice I said learning, in the present tense. Lee still has to remind me on the bad days, but even on the bad days I *know* it's true, and I *know* that I know it's true because that belief has been tried again and again in this furnace and still I can say with conviction "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." (Psalm 115:3). God has a reason for each and every day this season lasts, whether we realize the reason in this lifetime or not. I have been in places in my life before that I thought could not *possibly* be used for good and I know now I was wrong. That doesn't make the day-to-day any easier but it does make it more full of hope for the future.
Yes, I am really looking forward to moving on, but in the meantime we're thankful for our springtime birthday season and getting to see Lee a little more frequently for a few weeks. I think Abbi put it beautifully one of the last times Lee was home when she sweetly held up some flowers to Lee and said, "I love you as many flowers as I picked.".
...And that was a lot of flowers ;).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Home Birth of Peter Daniel Lee

I woke up the morning of April 22nd cranky, irritable and restless. For many women I've heard that is a sign of an impending birth, but you couldn't prove it by me. I was 15 days overdue and at that point I had been waking up cranky, irritable, restless and pleading with the Lord every morning for over a week that *this* would be the day. Lee took me out for brunch at IHOP, we did some walking, and finished Bethi's birthday shopping. Bethi's birthday was just 9 days away and I was really hoping I would have a baby by then! It seems once I pass my due date, the birth date feels like it has to be getting further and further away when realistically that is obviously impossible.

At 5:12 that afternoon I got a "real" contraction. I didn't get too excited because since my fourth baby I've gotten occasional "real" contractions, sometimes timable even, and awoken the next morning still pregnant. They kept up consistently until I ate supper, at which point they seemed to stop again. Lee was optimistic that if we just walked some more they would turn into something, so while the little ones were preparing for bed we went and walked the nature trails at the nearby park again. It was a nice, romantic walk in the dark with the glow of so many lightening bugs among the trees. On the way back to the car I had some really, really good contractions but once we got home they seemed to spread out and get less intense, though they never stopped after this point. We had our time of family devotions, put the children to bed, and settled down with Ben and Jerry's and a comedy. I had pretty much convinced myself that this wouldn't be the night because with all of my babies that I went into labor with naturally I was in labor by 10:30 at night, and by now it was already after 11 ;). Not more than five minutes into the movie I started having some major contractions and a half hour later I was writhing with pain. I was crying and thinking, "Man, if I can't handle this how am I going to get through the real thing?!". They were still *completely* inconsistent, anywhere from 8 to 23 minutes apart so I was assuming they were "false" labor pains.

About halfway through the movie (Jerry Lewis' "Rock-A-Bye Baby", haha :)) Lee told me he knew this was it and if I was still having contractions after the movie was over we would be calling Jamie, my midwife. I have the hardest time deciding when to call the midwife. A false labor call with a home birth is different than with a hospital birth. If you run in to the hospital to see what's going on, you aren't putting anybody out. With a home birth I know I'm totally messing up someone's night if I'm in false labor. After the movie was over I was still having contractions but they were not timable in the least, they were anywhere from 3 to 20+ minutes between contractions. I got up and walked for a bit, but at this time I was in such pain I knew I was either in labor or something was wrong!

Lee called Jamie and I talked to her a bit. I don't think she was quite convinced this was it either...I wasn't quite convinced yet myself since the contractions were so irregular. I've had irregular contractions in labor before, but nothing like this. In the past there have been ranges of maybe 6 to 13 minutes by the time the contractions were as strong as these. Jamie arrived and watched me through a contraction and jumped into gear. I think at that point she thought we would be having a baby much sooner than we did!

I was blessed that Jamie's daughter, Jessica, who had assisted in my birth with Emmi had Providentially "just happened" to drive up from Charleston to spend a few days with her mom. Brooke, who has assisted with both Abbi's and Emmi's birth was there as well. With Lee at my side I had the perfect birthing team yet again!

At this point I was pretty sure I was in labor but I also suspected it was going to be very different than it had ever been before. After delivering six babies I guess you don't expect to see anything "new", haha. I don't normally care to be checked but I wanted to be sure baby wasn't transverse or something, this just felt so different than usual. So, Jamie checked my progress and I was at a 6...but she asked Jessica (who is a L&D nurse) to check me as well because she had never before seen such a  posterior cervix in a woman in labor, neither had Jessica. That was very discouraging, but I've gone from a 4 to delivered in a few hours before so I was hoping things would correct themselves quickly. My midwife had brought her birth tub to the house a day or two before that, we filled the tub and I got in. Relief, yes! Not as much as I was hoping for, but it did become manageable again, Praise the Lord! My contractions continued to vary wildly, I was even dozing off during the longer breaks.

About this time Emmi woke up. I had been hoping to just let my mom sleep through the night and then call her in the morning. My mom is an early bird and my children are night owls so I figured if we called her about when she would be up she would likely be here about the time the children got up. Lee was able to take care of Emmi quickly, but I was having a hard enough time that I decided it may be better to just have her there right away and I knew she wouldn't mind. I am so thankful the Lord prompted me to call her when I did because they ended up having car trouble on the way here and it took them much longer than it normally would have, but they still arrived before any of the little ones woke up again.

Jessica had taken some Nyquil to help her sleep just before I called that night so she took a nap on the couch for a bit. Jamie realized I probably wasn't going to go as quickly as I had in the past and she went to take a nap as well. Brooke dozed a bit, and found a birthing ball isn't the best place for a nap, heehee :). It was just Lee and I for a while, which is my favorite way to labor. I am so thankful for a midwife who gives us the space we need, while still being very available. About 6:30 that morning the contractions were still sporadic, no closer together and I was getting so discouraged so I assented to being checked again. I was a nine, but baby was still pretty far up. I couldn't decide if this was good news or not, haha :). When 9:30 came and went and there was no change it got really hard, I had thought for sure I would have a baby by 9, all of my natural labors had been over by 9. I got out of the tub for a while and rested on my bed when the contractions started coming further and further apart again. I dozed a bit during these breaks, but I really wanted to cry. I've learned my (comparatively) quick labors with contractions two minutes long and three minutes apart are no fun, but I much prefer them to a slow, unpredictable labor that seems to never end!

I was trying to use gravity and Lee was helping support my tummy, trying to help me get baby in the right position so s/he could slip into the right spot and I could be *done*! About now Brooke put some pressure on my hips as I stood...I wish I hadn't waited until then to let her do that! It helped soooooooo much! After about an hour of that I got back in the tub and soon I felt pushy! Yes! Something was happening! It still took a while and it got harder. At one point I was holding Lee's hand and I bit the poor guy! I have no idea what I was thinking, I just remember thinking, "Poor guy! What am I doing?!", haha :). He told me later that he and Jamie got quite the kick out of that. I am so grateful for a husband with a great sense of humor, haha :).

It wasn't until this point that I actually decided to birth in the birthing tub, I had originally intended just to labor in it. Once things truly started happening, they happened! I felt the baby moving down and decided I was *done*! I pushed Baby out in two contractions and Lee announced, "It's a boy!!!". I asked, "Are you sure?!", haha :). Brooke confirmed baby was definitely a boy ;). I was so thrilled that the Lord had given our son the brother he very much wanted! I had really figured the baby was a girl, we had 5 girls and 1 boy at the time. We seem to specialize in girls ;). Jamie handed our new son to me right away and covered his little self with a towel to keep him warm. I will never forget the first moment I saw him and heard his little mews, he had such dark, dark hair...and a *lot* of it!!!

After just a bit we moved to the bed, I snuggled my sweet new nursling and delivered what I thought was the placenta but my midwife told me it wasn't. I was so thankful when that part was finally over! I found out the next day that the first thing that I had initially thought was the placenta was actually a blood clot the size of a placenta that had been trapped between the wall of the uterus and the placenta. We are doubly blessed to have Peter, not only did the Lord give him to us the first time but He also protected Peter through a somewhat large partial placental abruption . It hadn't happened in labor, it was old enough that the placenta had already healed over, but new enough that the clot hadn't had time to be reabsorbed. My theory is that the issues I had at 14 weeks was a partial placental abruption that compromised the placental site and led to a larger one later. That is purely speculation on my part but it seems to make sense. The placental issues likely led to issues with the amniotic sack and I ended up with retained membranes, that was quite an experience. I also ended up with a 2nd degree tear because of my eagerness to just be done, but thankfully it didn't require stitches.

I cleaned up and finally I was truly done and got to snuggle in relative comfort with my little one. I was so glad to be on the other side of birth! He aced his new baby exam and we discovered an Epstein pearl on the roof of his mouth, something else to make him unique among our babies. They are all so much their own person!

It took us a little while to come up with a name but it shouldn't have, Lee had actually named him the January before but I didn't know it, haha :). Lee had added Peter Daniel Lee to the list of names we had put together and I had never scrolled down far enough to see he had added anything, haha :). After a little bit of back and forth ideas, Lee asked me if I didn't like the name he had come up with and I told him I hadn't even seen it, haha :). I knew that was it right away! I loved the name and I loved that Lee had put it together himself, using Peter because he knew it was a name I've wanted to use since we had Andrew five years ago. Andrew in the Bible brought his brother Peter to Christ :). I thought it could be a neat bond between the two brothers, a strong name for Peter, and a reminder to Andrew of the influence he could have over his brother, influence to be used for Christ and not abused.

Peter Daniel Lee was born April 23rd at 11:24 A.M. His name means "A rock whose judge is God and He prospers him". His verse is, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug." ~Isaiah 51:1. Peter was 8 lbs. 8 oz. and 22 1/2 inches long. We *love* our Peter, I can't imagine life without him! Babies never become common place, even (maybe especially!) #7! I love his *big* smile, the way he scratches his little head and plays with his hair, the way he absolutely lights up when he sees Lee. I love the way he *loves* people, he is a very social baby! I love watching Emmi in her new role as a big sister and to watch the other children love on him. We've all enjoyed watching Andrew bond with his brother, the girls have had a brother for years, but it's a new experience for Andrew :). Peter has also been a great source of joy during this time of uncertainty as Lee is out of work.

7 years ago my "goal" was four children. I am so glad for the Lord's work in our hearts and lives that has given us an Abbi, an Emmi and now, a Peter :)!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Soooo... girls were telling me that I need to do a blog post soon or I'm going to end up with three birth stories in a row...
I guess this is that blog post...haha ;)...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Home Birth of Emilee Alyssa Joy

How ironic that this post comes immediately after Abbi-girl's birth story, perhaps I should rename my blog "The Birth Blog", haha.

To fill you in a bit on what's happened between my last post and now...we bought a house and within a month after that we were blessed to discover that we had a new little blessing on the way. Add to that family walks, game and movie nights, a lot of home education, fellowshipping with friends, singing together, reading together, family worship, laundry, cooking, cleaning, finding a church that we love, and just basically living a good life and you're pretty well caught up.

The night before Emmi's birth I was having regular contractions, about 15 minutes apart. At this point I was not in the least convinced that "this was it", this had become a regular nightly ritual so I was just sure it *wasn't* it. I did wonder just a little bit when I woke up in the morning still having regular contractions. To this point I had been going to bed with contractions and waking up without them. They were still only 15 minutes apart though so I didn't waste too much brain power on it.

I was 2 weeks and 4 days past my expected due date at this point. I felt very blessed to have a doctor who would look at my situation and give me that extra week without suggesting inducing since we were both doing well, especially since you can't legally homebirth in SC after the 42nd week without a doctor signing off on it. I was very worried that even my wonderfully understanding family practitioner may not sign off on waiting yet another week though and I was doing everything I could to bring on labor, from eating gobs of pineapple to walking 8 miles in a day! Aside from worrying about whether my doctor would give me more time or not, I certainly didn't care to have to wait another week! While we were doing well health wise I was definitely ready to be done with the soreness, sleeplessness and exhaustion of the 10th month of pregnancy.

When the contractions were still coming regularly by 10'o'clock that morning I became really hopeful and the nesting instinct kicked into high gear. It is amazing what a 42 weeks pregnant, sore and tired mommy can accomplish when they are preparing their nest for a new nestling. When Lee called and I told him what was going on, and everything we were getting done. That convinced him this was it, though he didn't tell me that at the time, and started working on getting things arranged at work so he could leave early. I was so glad to see him when he came in the door. I was really pretty sure at this point that I was going to have a baby that night, but it did cross my mind how embarrassing it was going to be if he had to go back to work the next day and tell everyone it was a false alarm. It wasn't long after that we had accomplished pretty much everything that I felt absolutely needed to be done and Lee told me to go rest and reserve some energy for the hard work ahead while he finished getting the children fed and ready for bed. 

At this point I was really pretty sure that this was it, but still in that nagging state of doubt. Late that evening the contractions had never stopped and had been coming about every 10 minutes apart for a while so I called my midwife to put her on alert. She called back a couple of hours later and by this time my contractions were coming every 6-8 minutes apart but they were only very uncomfortably tight, not too bad. Hearing about my progress she decided that she and one of her assistants would spend the night at a friends house near us. Lee put the children to bed and I was so relieved to realize that I would be able to labor at night while they slept. We have very good friends who had offered to be there for the children and were prepared to be there at the drop of a hat if we needed to transfer, but I didn't want to take them away from their families unless it was an emergency and I wanted the children to be at home so they could see the baby as soon as possible. I prefer to labor at night anyway, it is easier for me to relax and concentrate in the calm and quiet and I had prayed often that it would work out that way.

Right after the children were in bed labor unmistakably kicked in. Lee kept telling me I needed to call Jami (my midwife), but I kept putting him off. Finally there was no more putting him off, haha :). I called Jami about midnight with contractions 6 minutes apart and *very* strong. By the time she got there just 30 minutes later they were 3 minutes apart and I was having a very had time with them. As soon as Jami was through checking my and Emmi's heartbeats I got into the tub. It did certainly help, not quite as well as it had during my labor with Abbi, but I was happy that it took the edge off. The atmosphere was soothing, the only light was a candle burning on the counter and I could hear Jami and her two assistants, Jessica and Brooke (who had also assisted at Abbi's birth) whispering among themselves as they prepared the room for a baby's birth. That was a very exciting thought!

By about 5 that morning I was getting pretty discouraged. I had been in labor for so long before active labor kicked in that I had been hopeful it would be a quick delivery once it picked up. My contractions were only about 2 minutes apart now and lasting a minute to a minute and a half each time! Emmi kept moving and eventually she was so posterior that Jami was having a hard time even finding her heart beat. The fact that Emmi was posterior explained the longer, harder labor and Jami started helping me try some different positions to get her to turn. Lee was so wonderful and supportive and tried so hard to make the different positions comfortable for me, but in the end any position that took my back out of the water was excruciating and I decided I would rather deliver a posterior baby than deal with the pain of those positions, haha.

Around 6 I finally felt pushy enough to want to get out and I moved to the bed. By this point with Abbi it was very quickly over...not so much this time. Jessica was given the job of keeping an ear on Emmi's heartbeat. Between Emmi's position, my position and the fact that she had to keep a pretty constant ear on her because her heart rate had dropped just enough to need watching (though not enough to worry). I'm sure it was quite a job! Finally Jami told me Baby was crowning! About the same time Jami's other assistant starting saying, "That's a girl" over and over and it confused me because I was *hearing*, "It's a girl" over and over and I thought, "Oh no, she must be breech!". After a minute I remembered that I had made that exact same mistake during Abbi's birth, haha. Next time maybe I'll remember Brooke has a habit of saying, "That's a girl" and I have a habit of hearing "It's a girl" during delivery! Haha :).

Finally I had simply had enough and wanted it over, I didn't even care if I tore so you know I was seriously done. With the next few contractions I really pushed, with one I actually heard and felt a pop as I tore. Jami helped me pace myself so it didn't get any worse and with another few pushes Emmi entered the world outside. Such relief, joy and love as I saw my little girl! Everyone just laughed with pure joy when we discovered we had another little girl! Jami gave her to me right away and she nursed wonderfully. I was reluctant to give her up even after a nice good snuggle, but I was also anxious to have Jami look her over and weigh her. Initially Jami guessed 8 pounds, but later during her exam she had Emmi laying on her tummy as she checked her spine and she just giggled and said, "Look at this fat, this is a big baby!" as she pointed at the back of her neck, haha :). Emmi was 9 Lbs. 2 oz., our biggest baby yet. Her placenta was perfectly healthy, though it showed signs of age. Jami showed the placenta to Bri and Tori later and explained the different parts and how it worked, talk about a home school moment! I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the tear sounded much worse than it actually was and would heal on its own, no stitches, yay!!!

Lee told the children the baby had been born but he was going to save the gender surprise for later, alas for him he kinda slipped up a little and then Jami kinda let the cat out of the bag with Bri and Tori when she congratulated them at breakfast, oops! Haha :). After baby and I were comfortable we introduced the children to their new little sister, one of my very favorite things to do. Abbi was so excited that the baby had a nose just like she did! When we told Andrew is was a baby girl he gave a Charlie Brown style, AAAAAA!", it was hilarious! He didn't really mind in the least, he was just being goofy :).

Over the next couple of days Emmi was too sleepy to really nurse well so I fed her as much as I could and then I pumped and fed her what I pumped with a dropper. Ironically, after having a low heart rate during labor she ended up with a high heart rate for a couple of days afterward that we kept an eye on, but she was perfectly fine and squishy and absolutely beautiful. After the first few days Emmi started nursing better so I could stop pumping and start getting some sleep. I barely slept for those first three days.

Bri told me recently that one of the most exciting things after a birth is when Daddy asks them to get mommy something because they will often get to hold the baby when they bring it. She also said the biggest disappointments are the times when Daddy meets them at the door and they don't even make it in the room, haha :).

I often wondered if I loved my home birth with Abbi just because her's was simply an easy birth. Well, I can now put those suspicions to rest ;). Because of her position, Emmi's birth tied with Andrew's which had been my second hardest, and yet still it was a beautiful birth and circumstances being the same I wouldn't change anything...except maybe get more sleep the day before ;). I am very glad I wasn't in the hospital. During labor I kept thinking of all of the likely interventions an average OB would be pushing at different times.
We named Emmi the next day. I have always loved the name Emily, in fact I had a doll named Emily when I was little (the girls have that doll now). We used the spelling Emilee so we could spell Emmi with an i and it would fit with Bri, Tori, Bethi and Abbi. We chose Alyssa after Lee's grandmother on his dad's side. Her name was actually Alice, but when we ran the name by Lee's dad he told us he wanted us to modernize it a bit. So, out of respect for his wishes we chose Alyssa which is a derivative of Alice. Joy came because it fit so perfectly. So, Emilee Alyssa Joy she became, and she truly is a joy to all of us. Her name means "Industrious, Noble and full of the joy of the Lord ", the perfect Proverbs 31 woman, so I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that the verse we chose for her is Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.".

I can't believe that already she has teeth, she's taking steps and trying to say words. Time just flies and I cherish each day the Lord gives me with my little ones while they are here. I know all too soon they will be grown and starting families of their own. I am looking forward to being a grandma someday but I will miss these days of baby kisses, fingerprints on the window and the giggles of my little ones. I am so grateful for these little ones God has graciously given me and I pray fervently that I would bring Him glory as I mother my little ones knowing they are really His. Perhaps the Lord has more surprises for us, I certainly hope so :).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Homebirth of Abigail Calista Anne

I know it has been a few months since Abbi's birth but I wanted to share her story with you all anyway. I had to put blogging way down on my list of priorities since Abbi's birth last August. Abbi needed lots and lots of mommy care and then Christmas with five littles left very little free time. I'm not complaining though! It has been a very blessed few months!

The morning of August 28th we were up early and on our way to what I hoped would be my last appointment with our midwife who lived about an hour away. I was already slightly overdue and anxious to deliver since SC has legislated how overdue you can be and still have a homebirth, no matter how well things are going. On the way I mentioned to Lee that I was having "different" contractions. I had been contracting for weeks just like I had with Andrew...aren't you all glad I saved you that drama this time...but these were different, they really felt like the real thing.

At the appointment I was given the awesome confirmation that an infection I had been battling for weeks was finally responding to all of the garlic, apple cider vinegar, blueberries and cranberry supplements I had been taking. Whew, that was rough but I was very determined to spare both Abbi and I the ill effects of antibiotics unless they were truly needed and I felt such accomplishment when I finally got through it naturally. While she was measuring my tummy she felt a contraction and all of a sudden the conversation turned from how great we were doing to how soon it was going to be, great news to an overdue mommy's ears! While she tried to not get my hopes up too high it was pretty obvious she thought it would be sooner rather than later.

We left and while part of me just wanted to go home and sleep most of me knew that I would just sit and wait for labor to start if we went home so we stuck to our original plans and went grocery shopping to refill our cupboards before Baby's arrival.  By the time we got to the natural foods store I knew this was the "real" thing, it was almost torture to climb in and out of our 15 passenger van! After we left there we went and got something to eat and stopped by Lee's store. I don't think I said two words to anybody while we were there because by that time I was really uncomfortable. We went home, cleaned the house and started walking. As we were all getting ready to walk, Lee ended up in conversation with our next door neighbor who happens to work for the FBI. Lee told him we were expecting our baby to make an appearance that night and we were having the baby at home. He thought that was pretty neat and offered to escort us to the hospital with his blue lights, on the off chance a transfer was needed. While I didn't expect a problem I thought the offer was pretty neat.

About ten'o'clock that night I called my parents to give them some notice. While a part of me was worried that I was putting everyone on call for nothing I was almost sure I would have a baby by morning. About midnight Lee told me it was time to call everyone. I was still worried about getting everyone here and then having to send them home, it is one thing to make the thirty minute drive to the hospital for a false alarm, it is another to have five different people driving from thirty minutes to an hour and thirty minutes to your home from four different directions for a false alarm! Lee was worried about having to deliver a baby alone ;). I was so glad he convinced me to call because while I was on the phone with my midwife I had some doozies and they immediately dropped from every six'ish minutes to every three! I told her I was afraid of having her drive all that way for nothing but she could tell from over the phone that it was time.

The midwives assistants lived closest and arrived first. I had a couple of really good contractions and then they got a lot more manageable and spread out for a few. I was starting to feel a little silly but the reprieve only lasted for a few contractions and then they kicked into high gear. When our midwife checked me just before 3 in the morning I was only at a 4! I was sooo disappointed! I knew I had been "working" all day and I was only at a 4?! My midwife suggested I get in the tub to help with the pain, which was quite intense by now. I came out to talk to my parents a little bit who had arrived in the meantime and after one more contraction I decided I needed some relief now! I got in the tub which helped quite a bit and I was even able to relax to the point of almost sleeping for a little bit. Lee sat and held my head the entire hour and a half I was in the tub because that was the only way I felt truly comfortable, my hero.

About an hour later I started "losing it". I couldn't imagine what was still in store and I was very tired! What is it about my children and laboring at night ;)?! About the time I had convinced myself, with Lee's encouragement, to just stay calm I started trembling all over and feeling very pushy. Only one and a half hours ago I was only at a four so I was thinking I had several hours left, feeling pushy caught me greatly off guard. I told Lee, and after just one more contraction I was begging him to help me get out and to go get the midwife! She also thought I had many hours left and knew I wanted to be kind of alone so she was out taking a nap. I found out later that Lee didn't exactly believe me ;). He thought I may have just hit that "wall" I hit every time. He went out to the living room and told one of the assistants what was going on and then came back by himself. When he came back and I found out the midwife wasn't coming right then I started to panic. Lee went and got the midwife's assistant and after just one more contraction she flew into gear!

One thing that hit me as so awesome with the homebirth was how everyone trusted me. When I said the baby is coming they didn't say, "Well, maybe, let's check just to be sure...". Those exams during transition are excruciating and I didn't have to go through any, yay!!! I had had many conversations with my midwife about how the pushing stage was terrifying to me. I have given myself up for dead every time, until this time. She had spent a lot of time talking to me about it, praying for me and sharing bible verses with me during our prenatal visits. Isn't that neat?! It wasn't easy, but it was amazing compared to past births! No one screamed at me to "push! push! push!", no one told me to "get mad at the pain" or to hold my breath. I have this coping mechanism of saying something repetitive, when the going gets rough. I find a phrase and repeat it over and over and... Hey, it works! It usually ends up being something like, "Lord,  help me". And He did. He sent some awesome and talented women to support me in labor, he sent my mother who stood in the hall and interceded for me through the worst of it, he designed my body to do this work and most importantly he sent my dear husband who is an unbelievable source of strength and comfort for me when things get tough.

After just 22 minutes of "not pushing", and my water breaking on it's own (a first for me), Abigail Calista Anne was born. I will forever treasure the look on Lee's face when he got to announce that the baby, unbeknownst to us until that moment, was a girl. One of the first things Lee said was, Bri is going to have so much fun. Lee had spent the whole pregnancy telling Bri he just "knew" that the baby was a boy and she kept telling him she was going to think it was so funny when the baby was born and turned out to be a girl ;). And she has had fun with it ;). The cord was cut minutes later instead of immediately to be sure that baby got as much of her blood as possible, but it was cut fairly quickly because she had a very short cord. Her cord was tied with cord tape, it looked like cotton string, it was sooo cute compared to those clunky plastic clips. I did think to myself as she was tying it on, "I wonder what the pediatrician is going to think...". He didn't actually say anything about it, I think he is just used to us doing things pretty counter-culturally by now anyway.

I nursed baby for a while and everyone just sat around and talked about what a great birth that was and what a beautiful baby Abbi was, though at that time we hadn't named her yet. Lee went in to wake up the children and found Bri already awake and bouncing at the end of the bed in her excitement. Andrew wasn't quite sure what to think, he loves her to pieces now though. After we all had had the chance to love on our baby a good bit our midwife and the assistants starting weighing her and cleaning her up. While they did clean her up they didn't actually give her a full bath and all of that good vernix was eventually rubbed in and she had the smoothest skin of any of our babies, ever. She never got flakey like they all have before. I will never allow a bath soon after birth again, I loved her silky soft, smooth skin! The midwife and the other ladies left at about nine and Lee and I collapsed in our bed and snuggled with Abbi and had a good nap while my parents watched the big children until later that afternoon. 

While I was pretty stiff and sore I felt sooo much better than I have ever felt after a birth before! God answered some major prayers when I had no tearing or stitches, just a couple little skid marks. I have never gotten through a birth without pretty extensive stitching, it was awesome to not have to go through that this time!!!

I know that not everyone can birth at home and some situations do require a hospital and I would be so thankful to have a hospital available to me in those instances, but this is definitely the way for me and I think it is the way for a lot more women if they truly knew the difference. Just yesterday I was snuggling Abbi, kissing her sweet little toes and making her giggle on my bed in the very spot she was born and the wonder of it hit me anew. This has been an awesome and amazing journey and I pray the Lord allows us the privilege to welcome a new little one into our home, from the moment of birth, again someday.

Thank you Lord for your good gifts.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~James 1:17

Abbi being weighed in a special baby sling scale...