Why Foster-to-Adopt?

1:12 PM

(A high level + condensed look at why we've chosen to expand our family through fostering.)

We can (financially): While domestic and international adoptions average $30,000+ in costs, foster care and foster-to-adopt costs you almost nothing. (I would say it costs you nothing, but there are a few small fees you will encounter along the way, i.e. buying a fire extinguisher $40-$60, a health and safety home inspection $30, fingerprinting and background checks $40 per person/adult, CPR + First Aid training $35 per adult.)  So basically nothing ;)

We can (emotionally and mentally): The scariest part of fostering for me is giving u pa child that I have cared for and loved for months or years.  But we have been made strong though the grace of Christ to obey Him in things like caring for orphans in their distress,  We cannot do this on our own so "we take our discomfort captive and remember that Jesus gave up all of His comfort for us." -Sara Brawner

We should: Every Christian is commanded to participate in orphan care in some way, but adoption and/or fostering is not possible for everyone.  For us the decision was as easy as we can do it and therefore we should! (To him who knows to do good and does not to him it is sin.)  We have the income, the required space, to care for these children.  We have the health and the energy needed to care for these kids.  Most importantly we have Christ, the One who equips us for every good work for His ultimate glory.

We see an urgent need: "Orphan care is not about us, it's about them." -J. Carr  Recently in Texas there were kids sleeping in CPS offices for lack of open homes.  I have the option of walking away from this, the children do not.  For every bit of fear and worry I might feel about welcoming these children into our home, theirs is 10x bigger at being snatched away from all that's familiar (no matter how sad or painful that familiarity was for them) and brought to live with strangers.  They're living a life that is a direct result of someone else's choices, most of them not good.  And someone who is willing to take them and care for them in the midst of that kind of mess could possibly be life-saving for them.

We too have been adopted and know the Love of Christ: "This is each of our stories.  This is the Gospel.  We were gone astray, wandering, without home or purpose or value and God took us in.  He gave us Himself.  He called us His sons and daughters.  He gave us a home with him forever."  -Sara Brawner

birth story

The birth of my firstborn || Judah Wesley (part II)

9:13 AM

(I've written this out over months and months, and it is rather long and detailed,
more for my sake than anyone else's--so, I'm sorry if it's a little boring or gory for some of you!)

Click here to read part I

"The day I met you
Was the luckiest day of my life
And I bet you feel the same
(at least I hope you do...)
So don't forget
If the future should take you away
That you'll always be part of me."

September 11th | 11AM
When I think back to those 2+ days of labor, it’s clearly divided into 2 separate stages in my mind.  I now know that part one was the prep stage, that those labor pains were only the beginning, that those first 30 hours were just the warm up for the real thing.  Right around the time that I got in the tub is when I entered stage 2 and things started to change pretty dramatically.  Before that I had been able to carry on conversations, laugh and talk in between contractions, etc.  But I quickly found myself zoning out from everything happening around me.  I wasn’t talking except to give short directions to people to let them know what I needed.  Other than my little nap the day before I hadn’t slept in over 32 hours.  All I had eaten in the last 18 hours were a few pretzels and a popsicle because I just hadn’t felt like eating.  The effects of those two things were taking their toll--I was beyond exhausted and knew my body was doing all it could to keep up.  I mentioned before that if there was one thing I could go back and change that it would be to get more sleep, and this is why.  I had no idea I would be in labor this long.  I had no idea how impossibly hard it would be to labor for days without sleep, and how that would affect my ability to cope and stay focused.  I wonder all the time how differently the rest of the day would have been if I had only had a little bit of sleep the day before.

Unfortunately my dream of the tub easing the awful pain in my back was just a dream and being in the tub was an unpleasant experience pretty much from the very beginning.  I couldn’t find a comfortable position to be in no matter what I tried.  Since I was having back labor, sitting in any position that put the weight of the baby more on my back than my front hurt like crazy, but I also couldn’t find a good way to lean forward on my hands and knees and be comfortable enough to relax and try to rest in between contractions.  For a while I was on my knees with my arms and head propped up on the side of the tub, with Josh rubbing my head and shoulders while my mom used the spray nozzle to spray my lower back with hot water.  I kept asking them to please make it hotter because it didn’t feel that warm to me, and all I could think about was water scalding away the pressure in my back, but they had the water as hot as it would go and it still wasn’t hot enough for me.

Josh and my mom kept asking me if I felt like I could eat something, they knew I needed the energy but I kept declining, because I honestly couldn’t think about having to do anything other than focus on breathing through each contraction and I really didn’t “feel” hungry.  I eventually gave in after about 2 hours in the tub because I knew I needed something to give me energy and since sleep wasn’t an option food was the next best thing.  I think I mumbled “turkey sandwich” to my mom in between contractions one time, and when she started to ask where I wanted one from or what I wanted on it I quickly waved her off with a “don’t care” because I literally couldn’t think through answering any questions.  I didn’t realize how hungry I actually was until they fed me that first bite and it tasted better than anything I’d ever put in my mouth.  And I mean that quite literally.  It was SO good.  (It was all I wanted for days after he was born, people could ask what they could bring me to eat in the hospital or at home afterwards and all I could think of was a boring turkey sandwich.  And to this day there isn’t anything I crave more than a turkey sandwich on white bread with provolone, lettuce, and tomato)  I also have to say that I am SO so grateful for midwives that not only allowed food during labor but encouraged me to eat whenever I could.  While I understand why a lot of hospitals/doctors have rules about eating I really can’t imagine having to labor all the way through without eating anything.  My body needed that food badly and I was so grateful that we didn’t have to sneak it while staff wasn’t looking.

That last hour or so in the tub I began to feel things shift into a higher gear once again.  Contractions were coming faster and harder than they ever had before and I was moaning/bellowing through each one of them.  I remember wondering (pre-labor) if women really did make that noise that they always seem to make in movies when they’re in labor, a noise that seemed to be a grunt and a scream and a bellow from their very depths all in one.  And that was the noise I suddenly found myself making.  I couldn’t not make noise with each contraction, it felt like with each one my muscles were forcing everything inside of me out of me, and I could do nothing but let it.

And for the very first time I actually began to panic.  I’d had flashes of panic before this, but so far I had been able to override them with calm.  But now I felt so very tired--I just wanted a break.  I felt trapped in my own body and it terrified me knowing that I was in this for the long run, that it was only going to get harder, and I began to feel like a wild animal desperate to be freed from this awful pain.  I clearly remember thinking over and over that all I wanted was to climb out of my body and walk out of that room for just ten minutes, and after a quick jaunt outside I would come back in and finish things up.  That was all I wanted, just TEN MINUTES please. 

When I first got in the tub several hours before I asked my midwife to check me and she said I was at a 5.  So I’d only dilated one more centimeter over the last 6 hours.  Despite Judah being turned the correct way (anterior) I had only had back labor from the very beginning and it now felt like there were elephants walking around on my lower back.  The contractions felt forever long (they were lasting over 2 minutes at this point) and I was having trouble staying focused and breathing through them to the end.  They were also much closer together so I was getting less than a minute between each contraction to prepare for the next one.  I felt like I was drowning in the ocean, each new wave was coming too fast and hard for me to take a big breathe of air before I was pushed below the surface again.

I hadn’t been talking much at all for the past few hours, my only words were quick and short when I needed something.  Josh had been next to me the entire time, feeding me ice, rubbing my head and shoulders whenever I wanted him to and quietly encouraging me through each one.  I know this was an exhausting time for him as well, he was running on as little sleep as I was and not being able to do anything to help ease what I was going through was hard for him.  I started saying that I didn’t think I could do it, and he kept reminding me that I could do this, that I WAS doing it which was probably the most encouraging thing anyone said to me during all of labor.  It’s easy while you’re in labor to always be thinking of what’s coming, how much more you have to go through before it’s over, how you haven’t even gone through transition or started pushing and it overwhelms you.  You think you can’t do it.  But having someone tell me again and again that I was doing it, right then, I was having our son, I was laboring and moving through each contraction just like I was supposed to was the most fortifying thing for me in those moments.  Mostly because I was truly terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to do it.  Or maybe more specifically the terror came from the knowledge that I had no choice about whether or not I was going to do it and it wasn’t going to get any easier before it was over.

September 11th | 2:30 PM
My midwife came back around to check on me after I’d been in the tub for a little over three hours and I begged her to check me again.  I just knew I had to be getting close with how hard and fast the contractions had been over the last two hours.  She cautioned me that it might be more discouraging for me to know if I hadn’t progressed as much as I hoped or thought I had but I was determined to know, it seemed better than wondering where I was.  So she checked me and with so much sympathy told me “Honey you’re at about 5.5 or maybe a 6 if I stretch you a little.”  And that was when the dam broke for me.  I could not believe that after all of that I’d dilated less than 1 centimeter.  I sat there and sobbed and said I couldn’t do it over and over again.  I knew I had at least 2 more centimeters to go before the dreaded transition began and at the rate I’d been going that was probably going to be hours.  I wanted rest so badly and felt like I was going crazy trying to find any position that I could relax in in-between contractions.

Up until this point no one had mentioned any kind of intervention.  Josh and my midwives all knew I really wanted to try to do it without an epidural and I had begged Josh not to bring it up until I did.  My midwife sat there and told me how good I was doing, how normal it was for a first time mom to progress at this rate, that everything looked good, baby was good, but that I really needed to rest so that I could finish strong.  She asked me what I thought it would take for me to be able to rest for a little bit in-between contractions, and I told her it seemed impossible.  And then she said “I know you don’t want an epidural, but would you consider getting an IV for pain meds that would help your body relax?  I think you might even be able to doze off a little bit in between contractions if you had a little something to help dull the pain.”

This seemed like the logical next step for me, I still wanted to hold off on getting an epidural if I could and really thought that if I could get any kind of rest I’d be able to finish the job.  I was concerned about being too tired to push at the end, and wanted to do whatever I could to help my body get the rest it needed.  The risk of a C-section was also running around in my head, I knew 30+ hours of labor wasn’t unusual for a first time mom, but my mom had all seven of us kids via C-section because she’d never been able to dilate past a 4/5 (she was in labor for 84 hours with my brother trying to have a v-bac after me) and I was concerned that my body might do the same thing.

Getting the IV meant I had to get out of the tub and into the bed, but that was fine with me because I wasn’t enjoying the tub anyways.  Josh helped me get out of the tub and change into a hospital gown and then I climbed up into the big hospital bed clinging to the hope that this IV would mean I was going to be able to relax and rest a little bit.  I hate needles, I had never had an IV before (my glucose test during pregnancy was the first time I had ever had blood drawn) and was petrified that they would have to stick me several times before finding a vein.  It’s silly to think that I was scared of a needle prick when comparing the pain of that with the pain of the contractions I was experiencing, but I wasn’t having very many rational thoughts at that point.  Thankfully I had a skillful nurse who inserted the IV quickly and within minutes I had a quiet drip of medicine entering my body.

September 11th | 3PM
I had been laying in bed for about 3 minutes (since they had inserted the IV) when Josh asked me “Do you feel like it’s working yet?” and I gave my last semi-lucid response for the next couple of hours “I think so, because my tongue feels heavy.”

The medicine took over within minutes, and I did not react well to it.  I had never had any kind of pain reliever stronger than Tylenol and my body did not like whatever it was they had given me.  I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe (the medicine made me feel like my diaphragm was numb) and when I tried to tell Josh that I couldn’t breathe, because I literally felt like I was suffocating, I realized that my tongue felt numb and too heavy to move.  When I tried to talk it just sounded like mumbled gibberish, the way your mouth feels after you go to the dentist and it’s numb.  Then I began to have hallucination-like dreams, the whole room felt spacey and weird, I remember seeing large colorful shapes dancing around in front of me, and it felt like my body was floating.

On top of all of that the medicine wasn’t dulling my contractions at all (like my midwife had hoped it would) but they were just as strong as ever, only now I was laying on my back and completely out of it feeling like I couldn’t breath, couldn’t talk, and had absolutely no control over my body.  I would try to move my hand only to find that I wasn’t even sure where my hand was, or how to make it move.  I began crying uncontrollably because I was so panicked.  My eyes were so heavy--like when you’re dreaming and you know you really really have to wake up but nothing you do to try and open your eyes is working.  I realize now that I basically had a panic attack for over an hour as the medicine ran through my body.  I was only half coherent of what was going on around me, mostly just aware of Josh that whole time, who stayed right next to my head talking to me and trying to calm me down.  I remember at one point being able to mumble through my sobbing “I feel so out of control.  I can’t control any of my body right now” as I tried to open my eyes and focus on his face, and Josh just quietly reassured me “It’s ok, Jesus is in control.  Trust Him, He’s going to take care of you.”

I didn’t know it at the time, because he was being so strong and reassuring to me, but Josh was having a really hard time watching me like this.  He told me later it was awful not being able to help me in any way.  When I finally opened my eyes and was able to focus on him I realized that he was standing there crying quietly, and had been for a while.  I had only seen him cry one other time so for a second it was enough of a distraction to make me forget about what was happening inside my body and try to console him.  “I’m ok. Please don’t cry buddy.  It’s ok.”

After about an hour and a half of IV drugs my midwife walked back in, took one look at me (I was sobbing) and said “Oh honey, I was hoping I’d come back and find out you’d been able to rest a little bit, but it doesn’t look like that’s happened at all!”  She was SO sweet and understanding.  Didn’t act like I was overreacting or being dramatic which was so helpful for me.  She sat down next to me on the bed and started rubbing my leg and asking me what exactly I was feeling.  After I told her how the drugs were making me feel, I told her that I was ready for an epidural if that sounded like a wise decision to her.  At that point I was delirious I was so tired, but all along I’d been making decisions based on several things, one of the biggest factors being risk of c-section.  And while getting an epidural can sometimes result in stalled labor and other things that raise your risk of having an emergency c-section, I also knew that if I didn’t have the strength to push at the end it could go downhill pretty quickly from there.  Josh and my midwife had been so good not to push an epidural on me at any point, which I know was particularly hard for Josh once I started flipping out from the IV drugs.  I had told him over and over before I went into labor “please let me be the first person to bring up the option of an epidural.  Please don’t try to get me to do that before I really feel like I need it.”  And while he personally would have rather I just got the epidural earlier on he was so kind and did just that, the word never crossed his lips until I started asking about it. 

Now, I have to take a little rabbit trail to talk about medicine/epidurals/intervention during labor.  I went into labor saying that I’d like to try to do it naturally, but I had no clue what my body was able to handle so I wasn’t completely shutting out the possibility of an epidural.  After I had Judah and people asked about the birth, a lot of them also asked if I was disappointed or if I had to work through the fact that I had to have an epidural.  And I really really didn’t.   I don’t regret that choice at all.  There’s so much pressure (and then consequently shame) put on moms to give birth one particular way (and then there are so many different kinds of “particular ways” depending on what circle you’re in) that is completely unreasonable and unfair.  Yes, our bodies were “made” to do this, but if by saying that you mean that everyone who has a natural/home/water/whatever-your-cup-of-tea-may-be birth is doing it the right way, you’re leaving out one major factor: sin, and our less than perfect bodies.  Eve’s body was certainly made to carry and give birth to babies in some painless beautiful way.  But once sin entered the world that all changed forever, and praise the Lord for modern medicine that helps to counteract some of those effects.  If c-sections weren’t an option then my mother and I would have almost certainly died in the process of her giving birth to me, and none of my siblings would exist.  I’m a huge fan of doing things as naturally as possible, I see and understand the definite benefits to mother and child when that can happen.  But getting that epidural was one of the best things that happened to me during labor, and for you maybe it was the decision to have a c-section, or episiotomy, or induction, and it would really be ridiculous to feel shame over something like that.  Giving birth to a baby is a miraculous, heart-stopping, wreck of a mess of a job, and I don’t care how you managed to get that baby into your arms—I have only hugs for you and soft pillows for whatever part of your body is now aching.

September 11th | 3:30PM
So, back to me about to get an epidural.  My midwife supported my decision to have an epidural, as she reminded me once again, I desperately needed rest and at this point being pain free for a little while was the only thing that would give me that.  As soon as I gave the go ahead for an epidural the whole room whirred into action.  One nurse left to call the anesthesiologist, my mom was asked to leave the room (only one person outside of hospital staff is allowed in the room while the epidural is given) and the nurses began to prep me.  They told me that while they were inserting it I would need to sit up on the side of the bed and hold absolutely still for at least a minute.  I freaked out, because I hadn’t been able to hold still for hours, every contraction had me rocking and moving constantly.  I kept saying “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” but they assured me that they would have a nurse stand on either side of me to help me hold still.  They would wait for a contraction to finish and then immediately start so that they would hopefully be finished inserting it before the next contraction started.  The nurse who left to call in my epidural came back and told me that when she put my name in they told her I was 3rd on the list and she told them “Oh no, she needs to be bumped to the top, she needs it right this minute.”  I’ve never wanted to kiss a complete stranger as much as I did at that moment.  The anesthesiologist was there within minutes and the nurses helped me scoot over to the side of the bed so my legs were hanging off the side and I could curl my back.  Josh had to go sit in a chair across the room, hospital rules said that all non-staff had to be sitting during the epidural (they don’t want you passing out and hitting your head on something) so he couldn’t even be near me during the process.  I had no idea what to expect but I was shaking I was so scared and they kept telling me to try to relax and hold still.  I had a nurse on either side holding tightly to my arms and shoulders to keep me still, they asked me to tell them as soon as I felt the contraction ending, and then they started inserting the port into my back.  I was SO scared of moving, and kept saying “please hold me still” to the nurses because I really didn’t know what I would do when the next contraction started.  The epidural took kind of a long time to get in, I think they had to pull it out and start over because it wasn’t going in right.  I had a contraction while they were still putting it in and bless those nurses who had me in a vise-like grip, I was able to sit almost completely still through the contraction while they finished the epidural.  It’s effect was almost immediate once they had it in and pumping.  The only side effects that I felt were that my legs got shaky and I got really warm really fast, but that was it.  I felt the medicine move through my body and the feeling in my belly and legs slowly start to fade away.  I never completely lost all the feeling in my legs which was nice, I could move them slowly if I needed to.  Within 15 minutes of them starting the medicine pumping I was completely pain free, relaxed, and happier than I’d been in a very long time.  My mom had left me 15 minutes earlier sobbing and moaning and when she walked back in after the epidural had taken affect I was sitting up in bed smiling and the first thing I said to her was “can someone bring me my make-up and something to eat please?”  Never in my life have I felt as good as I did in those first few pain free moments. 

After I’d had something to eat, put on some make-up and my sisters had come in to say hi, everyone but Josh left the room and I tried to rest.  I never did fall completely asleep,  but it was so nice to relax comfortably in bed, with the lights low and no noise or people bustling in and out.  I laid there and watched my contractions on the moniter (once you get an epidural they have to hook you to a moniter to track your contractions and the baby’s heartbeat) rise and fall and was giddy over the fact that I couldn’t feel anything.  I kept saying “Look Josh!  Look at that one!  That’s happening right now and I can’t feel a thing!”  Josh eventually laid down on the little couch in my room to sleep for a little bit and my mom came in and sat with me while he rested.  The next few hours were pretty boring, but boring never felt so good.

 September 11th | 5:30PM
Josh woke up and I said that I wanted to eat something, I still wasn’t very hungry but felt like I should try to eat a little more before pushing to make sure I had the energy.  They brought me the rest of my sandwich from earlier and Josh and I sat and ate dinner while watching The Mentalist on my laptop.  My midwife came in and wanted to check me, and found that I was still only at a 7.  While that was a little bit discouraging because I really wanted to be done (obviously) it wasn’t that big of a deal to me because I still felt great.  My midwife felt like the epidural was slowing down my labor a little bit and that since my water still hadn’t broken if we went ahead and did that it might help things pick back up.  So she did that and weirdly enough I was sad that I didn’t get to feel what that felt like.  For whatever reason I really wanted to know what it would feel like to hear that “pop” and suddenly feel like I’d lost control of my bladder (I’m realizing as I type this just how weird of a wish this was) but it felt like a right of passage or something that I was now missing out on.  She broke my water and I didn’t feel anything.

 September 11th | 8PM
But that didn’t seem to help much either.  My contractions were plugging along and I had started to feel them again.  I panicked a little bit, having flashbacks to what the first half of the day had been like and not wanting to go back to that.  I told my nurse that since I had chosen to get the epidural I would like to reap the benefits of it so they gave me another dose and within minutes I was back to not feeling anything.  My family had been at the hospital since about 9:30 that morning bless their hearts and so they came in to visit me in shifts during this time and it was nice to have a little distraction from how slow things were progressing.  One of my sisters did my hair for me and we all just talked and laughed for a while.

September 11th | 10PM
My midwife came in to check on me again and could tell that I was worn out, because epidural or no epidural, your body is still doing the work and I still hadn’t been able to fall asleep and get good rest.  She really wanted to help me finish strong and recommended that we do one dose (the smallest dose possible!) of pitocin to see if that would push my body over the edge and help me finish dialating.  I was on board because it felt like I’d been in labor for years and that I would never be done, and it seemed like I really did just need a little bit of help finishing.  They started the pitocin drip and within minutes you could see a chance in my contractions on the monitor.  I was SO glad that I couldn’t feel what was happening other than more pressure than I’d felt before.  My contractions before had been this nice smooth arc, up and down on the screen, slowly building and peaking for a few seconds and then fading away.  Now my contractions were coming much closer together and they plateaud for much longer on the screen without ever really going all the way back down.  It was exciting to watch because it seemed like something was finally happening!

After about an hour and a half of that it seemed like I was moving into transition because while I still couldn’t feel much of the contractions I was suddenly zoning out again and needed to be left alone.  Everyone but Josh and my mom left the room, they turned down the lights and my nurse helped me roll onto my side to get more comfortable.  I also started feeling VERY nauseas and was terrified that I was going to throw up.  Throwing up on it’s own is awful enough, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to do it while in labor, while numb from the waist down and sitting up in a bed.  I laid there for about an hour with a cold washrag over my eyes taking deep breaths and focusing on not throwing up.  The nausea finally let up a little, but then I was feeling the contractions again so they had to give me another round of epidural to help with that, but she only gave me half a dose because she knew I was close to pushing and didn’t want me to be completely numb.

 September 11th | 11:30PM
I felt like I should be almost finished dilating and asked the nurse to check me.  She told me that I was baaaasically a 10, but just barely.  I couldn’t believe it, I was finally there!  I remember not even being all that excited though, because all I could think was, “Ohmygosh, I’m about to have to push this baby out of me.”  The nurse told me not to start pushing yet, because my body wasn’t quite ready but that she would go get the midwife and when she came back I could probably start pushing.  When the midwife came back she checked me and I was still a “small 10” so she told me to “just do a practice push so that you can see what it feels like and I can see how your body responds."  I pushed and she told me that it didn’t seem like my body was quite ready so she wanted me to wait another 15/20 minutes unless I felt the urge to push before then.  I was basically begging to push at the end of 20 minutes, not because I felt the urge to push but because I felt SO CLOSE to the finish line and just wanted to get there.  Looking back now I think it might have been better if I had held off for a few more minutes, since I ended up pushing so long I may have started before my body was really ready to do that.  But who knows, maybe not.

September 12th | 12AM 
But finally, I was going to get to push this baby out of me!  My midwife explained how she wanted me to do it: whenever I felt a contraction begin I would push for 10 seconds at a time (she would count it off for me) lay back for a second and then push again for two more 10 second rounds.  Then I would rest until the next contraction began.  In the beginning they let me push every other contraction so I could rest for longer, but after about 30 minutes of pushing like that she told me I needed to start pushing with every contraction.  At this point my epidural was wearing off on one side and it was getting pretty painful to push.  My mom and Josh were on either side of me helping and giving counter pressure with every push.  And then all of a sudden with one contraction it felt like my left hip had exploded.  Judah’s head must have hit a nerve  so now with every push it felt like my hip was on fire.  Now instead of pushing being a way to work with my body, pushing was what made the pain start and the only relief I would get was in between pushes.  Which meant that I suddenly wasn’t pushing as hard and was almost pulling away from each push instead of leaning into it.  I’d been pushing for about an hour and my midwife could telling I was hesitating with each push and got on to me (in a nice way) for it.  At that point everyone in the room (Josh, my mom, the midwife, my nurse) started cheering for me through each contraction.  Those last 20 minutes felt like the final mile of a marathon with the anticipation and excitement of finishing looming closer and closer.  About 10 minutes before I finished the pain in my hip had become unbearable and right in the middle of a contraction and before I’d gotten finished pushing for a full 10 seconds I laid back and said I couldn’t do it anymore.  I don’t have a lot of clear memories from that hour or so but I remember that moment very clearly because everyone in the room knew how very close I was and the second I laid back and said I couldn’t do it both my mom and Josh without missing a beat put their hands behind my back to push me back up again and said “yes you can!”

 They had been telling me for a while that they could see his head and that I was so close to done and finally I was on my third push for a contraction when my midwife said “he’s almost out I want you to push as hard as you can one more time and don’t stop until I say!”  Those last 20 seconds or so were the worst best part of labor.  Everyone was cheering and yelling and I was pushing so hard it felt like my face was going to explode.  I’ve never felt so weak and SO determined to finish something, and the moment my midwife said “his head is out!” and I laid back to rest was wonderful.  She said to wait a minute while he turned (babies will instinctively turn once their head is out to make it easier for their shoulders to come out—so many cool things about the delivery process that point to a deliberate and thoughtful Creator.)

At that point I thought to myself  that it had taken an hour and a half to get his head out, and I assumed it would take several more pushes to finish the job.  But after I’d rested for a minute and my midwife had checked to make sure the cord wasn’t wrapped around his neck (it was, but it wasn’t hurting him) she told me she wanted me to push one slow gentle push—nothing like I’d been pushing before.  And just like that he was out!  I barely pushed at all and immediately felt his entire body easily slip out, which I totally didn’t expect.

September 12th | 1:38AM
And those next few minutes were a blur of cheering and tears and my baby’s cries.  This is the part that has been the hardest to write out because there really are no words for what those moments feel like.  They were the happiest most awe-filled moments of my life, meeting this tiny human, made up of me and The Boy I love more than anyone, stitched together deep inside me over months by a master Creator.  It’s the moment that makes every hour of labor (and pregnancy!) SO very worth it--I imagine much like seeing the face of Jesus will someday make every bit of pain and suffering here on earth fade away.

 I had asked that they delay the cord clamping and do immediate skin to skin as long as he was ok when he arrived.  So they handed him right to me as soon as he was out but unfortunately his cord was so short that he could only reach my belly.  So I held him there for a few moments while they checked to make sure he was breathing ok and wiped him off just a little bit, and then I asked that they go ahead and cut the cord so that I could hold him closer.  I remember one of the only coherent thoughts running through my head at that time was “I’m done!  I’m done!  And I don’t have to do it again for a long long time.”
 They let us snuggle him for a long time, first I held him and then gave him to Josh to hold before they took him to weigh him, etc.  I cannot say enough how much I loved my nurses and midwives that were taking care of us at that point.  They were so kind and considerate, not rushing us at all or getting in the way, just quietly doing what they needed to do while we enjoyed those first few minutes with our son.  My midwives helped me deliver the placenta (I have no memory of this happening, I was too distracted with Judah) and began stitching me up.  I had 3 3rd degree tears so I did notice when the stitches started because at that point my epidural had worn off almost completely.  One of my nurses covered me with a big blanket that had been heated up and I laid there and watched Josh and Judah get acquainted and I don’t think I’d ever been so completely exhausted and totally happy all at once.

Giving birth was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically and mentally, I can’t sugar coat it and say that there weren’t moments I wasn’t absolutely terrified and spent, (because there were) or that for weeks afterwards I wasn’t telling myself that I could be content with just one baby because I wasn’t sure I could ever do it again, (because I did).  But here I am almost 18 months later about to do it all again because I CAN say for certain that playing a small part in bringing life into the world was the most thrilling experience.  Christ went to the cross and gave Himself so that I might have life, and it is a joy and honor to live out a picture of that here on earth and allow my body to be “broken” to give life to another. 

"On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, "life will never be the same." Because there never had been anyone like you... ever in the world."

p.s. a HUGE thank you to my Elisabeth friend for hanging out at the hospital until the wee hours of the morning to capture these images for us.  I treasure them more than any other pictures I have!