Friday, January 22, 2016

One Month Joys and Challenges

Somehow I've found myself with a one month old! Some days it feels like he was just born, and other days I truly can't imagine our lives without him. Each day brings new adventures - physically he changes by the moment and is slowly discovering new things and exploring his surroundings.

I shared with a friend the other day that I never expected motherhood to be such an adjustment. I mean, I did, but I figured that I've always been pretty comfortable around babies, and spent a lot of time babysitting and with my nieces and nephews. However, what I didn't think about was the fact that as the youngest in my family, I never grew up with any babies in the house or around me 24/7!

Really Beckett is a very good baby. He eats like a champ and is pretty happy - but sleep deprivation has been a challenge! Thankfully I've got some pretty great mentors in my life who've been very helpful with advice and encouragement.

I think the most frustrating thing has been feeling overwhelmed about what advice to follow! Everywhere I turn someone has a suggestion about what to do or what not to do! Feed on demand vs. feed on a schedule. Cry it out vs. pick the baby up as soon as he makes a noise. Co-sleep vs. put him in a crib. Slowly (and with a lot of prayer) we've started to discern what works for our little family.

But one thing is for sure - there is no doubt in my mind that I am blessed beyond belief! Earlier this month Brandon and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary. We didn't go out to dinner anywhere fancy, or buy each other lavish gifts, but spent the night on the couch cuddling our newborn son - and we both agreed it was the perfect celebration!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

That Day We Almost Didn't Make it to the Hospital in Time...

I'm honestly not a big reader of birth stories. You know a baby is coming, there is an extended, arduous period of time that is likely filled with some anxiety, exhaustion, and pain, followed by baby's much-anticipated arrival.

Minutes old

Now having gone through labor myself, I have a much deeper understanding of a woman's journey to motherhood and the precious and spiritual gift that labor can bring.

Truthfully, my labor was nothing like I expected (although I really had no expectations...). When Brandon and I found out we were expecting, we were also told that because of my back surgery last year, an epidural was likely off the table. I'd been curious about natural birth before, but wasn't sure if I really had the desire or strength to go for it. Once the decision was made for us, we started looking into how to best prepare for the adventure ahead - physically, spiritually, and emotionally. We didn't feel as though the OBGYN we were currently working with was either the best fit, nor very supportive of natural labor, so we started looking for a midwife. I ended up finding an excellent midwife practice, and if you live in the Twin Cities area I highly recommend North Metro Midwives

Other than selecting a midwife, we didn't make much of a "birth plan." I know alot of women are really into planning things out, but even with my type A personality, I wanted to prepare myself to go with the flow. Because of my back history I didn't know how my body would respond to labor, and I didn't want to get my mind stuck on how I wanted to labor and deliver - instead I wanted to be able to go with the flow and really just rely on my midwife's direction and suggestions under whatever circumstances arose.

My due date was December 21, but at the beginning of December I was 3 centimeters dilated, 70+% effaced, and carrying the baby "extremely low." Brandon and I started preparing ourselves for an early arrival of our little man, although we were vehemently praying that he would hold out until his due date. We both had heavy work schedules, holiday obligations, and my parents weren't able to come to MN until Beckett's due date.

But as I hit weeks 38 and 39 I started feeling so ready for the baby to come! Everything was getting uncomfortable and "natural ways to induce labor" became my go-to google search :)

I wasn't originally scheduled to have a midwife appointment until the 22nd, but switched to the 21st at the last minute so I could schedule a pre-natal massage for the 22nd (so much for that....). I went into the midwife's after work and was 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I didn't get my hopes up. My midwife offered to do some membrane stripping, but said that while it might start contractions, they would likely dissipate after a short time. 

I figured, "why not?"

I left the midwife's office and got back home around 5 pm. I figured I might as well keep moving, so I headed downstairs to walk on our treadmill. After about 30 minutes I stopped because I was starting to feel some regular contractions. I figured they would fade like the midwife had mentioned, so I went upstairs to make dinner. Brandon came home around 6:30 to find a pot of soup ready and me having contractions about every 3 minutes. He wanted to call the midwife - I wanted to eat :) After dinner I called the midwife, who thought the contractions still might wain and suggested we check back in an hour later.

At 8:30 pm the midwife called back. My contractions were still lasting about 1 minute and coming every 3 minutes, but their intensity was increasing. Brandon and I were still hesitant about heading to the hospital though - I figured I still had several hours to go and we had talked about laboring at home as long as possible so we didn't have to sit around the hospital. At some point during our conversation, a contraction hit and I literally threw my cell phone at Brandon so he could talk to the midwife. At that point they decided it would be best if we all headed to the birth center.

It took us about 20 minutes for me to move from our bedroom into the car - and then another 20 minutes to drive from our house to the hospital. Those were some of the longest and fastest 20 minutes of my life! Looking back, I clearly went through transition labor on the way to the hospital - when we were 5 minutes away I started telling Brandon I had to push, and as we pulled into the hospital parking lot my water broke (9:10 pm).

In short, we were brought right into a labor room and my midwife commented that there had been merconium, so the water birth we had talked about at one point was no longer an option (honestly, I was thinking - seriously? You think I could or want to get off this gurney and move into a tub right now? :)) A few minutes later I delivered Beckett while on my hands and knees (another huge blessing of having a midwife who allowed me to labor and deliver in whatever position was most comfortable) - 24 minutes after we arrived at the hospital!

My first thought as the midwife handed Beckett to me was "who is this gigantic blonde baby??"

God's grace was truly on us throughout Beckett's delivery. We had been diligently praying for a smooth delivery with little to no back pain and God graciously granted our request! Another gift was that a friend had recommended Redeeming Childbirth to me a couple of weeks before Beckett's arrival. The book turned out to be an incredible tool in helping prepare my heart and mind for the journey of labor and I can truly say that this experience drew me closer to my husband and to the Lord.

Would I do anything differently next time? Well, the nurses all suggested we get a hotel room near the hospital once my due date approaches :)

9 days old