Thursday, January 30, 2014

Xavier's Birth Story

In honor of Xavier's upcoming first birthday, I am sharing his birth story.  I am being very vulnerable here, so if you aren't interested in labor and delivery, or if you are going to read with a critical spirit, please stop here.
The same year we brought Ephraim home, we were eager to have another baby.  We were so excited, and had no trouble getting pregnant with Eden, so we thought it would be the same this time.  I was healthier than I had been in a long time. I was running, staying away from caffeine, and eating a healthy diet, so I was shocked when I had a miscarriage.  It happened while at a D6 conference, and I was crushed.  Two more followed with me being 7 weeks along with the longest one.  My heart was heavy, and I wondered what I had done wrong, but truthfully I knew that I had done the best I could to take care of my body.  I was devastated because I dreamt of Jacob and I on an airplane to China with our three children, the youngest being a baby boy about 6 months old.  Once was painful enough, but three times was almost more than I could bear.  I couldn't understand this because in between the second and third miscarriage, I dreamt that He gave me three more children to comfort me for the ones I had lost.  I felt hurt and cheated when the third one happened.  After that, we decided to try one more time, but mentally I was done.  Driving home from work one night, I was a week late, and decided to take a test when I got home.  I hadn't said anything to Jacob, because I felt pretty hopeless.  As I was driving, I cried out to my Father telling Him, "You know my limitations, and You know that I am done.  If I am not pregnant, You must have some other plan for me.  Help me."  I began to try to think of what I would do after I found out that the test was negative.  I would start running again, get to drink coffee, etc. I got home, greeted Jacob, and made my way to the bathroom.  With the three previous times, I had sporadic tiny sharp pains in my right side that were alarm signals that something wasn't right, and my other symptoms were intensified.  This time, I didn't have that, so when I saw that plus sign, I felt a glimmer of hope.  With mixed emotions, and trying to keep a straight face, I made my way into the living room, sat in Jacob's lap, and said, "guess what?"  He said, "what?"   without a clue.  I said, "I'm pregnant."  "What?!"  Excitement, then instant concern came over him.  The next nine months were filled with the same with scary spotting, a sweet ultrasound finding out he was a boy, my Dr. retiring a few weeks before his birth, and panicking my coworkers with contractions at 34 weeks.  I had to be induced with Eden, and, after being a labor and delivery nurse for 2 1/2 years, I didn't want that again.  I begged Father to let me go into labor naturally, and, wanting to be in control, I did everything I could think of to help it along, except castor oil, ewww.  Some of my methods included evening primrose oil, walking for miles, accupressure massage, a chiropractor visit, eating spicy food and dates, and even acupuncture.  I thought, "hey, we are going to China.  Why not try one of their methods!"  But, it was not to be.  Finally at 41 weeks, I had an ultrasound that I requested to make sure everything was okay, and to see if I could wait a little longer.  It showed calcifications on the placenta and estimated him to weigh 10# 4oz.  Between those two things, the Dr. scheduled me for induction the next day.  Frustrated, I asked Father to help me go into labor that night, but that didn't happen.  So, I asked Him to help me deliver as naturally as possible with as much choice as possible.  That night, I tried to relax and be at peace.  I loaded my iTunes with inspiring music to help me through.  The next morning at the hospital, as I was getting in my gown, I felt a moment of panic.  I wanted to do this with grace.  I asked Him to help me do this with grace, to be an example to those around me, and to make my husband proud of me.  As I walked out, fear overcame me for a moment, knowing what was coming when I saw that bag of pitocin, but then I felt the Father's strength and peace bestowed on me.  Jacob, my Mom and sister were there.  I started out with the night shift nurses, and got three sticks before they got an IV in.  I had drank about 32 oz of water, so I knew I wasn't dehydrated, but these things happen.  Unfortunately I had forgotten to communicate with the Dr. that I did not want high dose pit, and that was what he had written for.  The nurses were very gracious with my refusal of this except for insisting that we start it out with it at 2. I reluctantly agreed, and got in the rocking chair after about 30 minutes.  Not long after that, I had a few late decelerations.  If you know anything about labor and delivery, you know this is not good, especially to start that way.  After laying on my left side, they went away, and his heart looked happy again.  My day shift nurse arrived, whom we requested.  She was the wife of someone Jacob worked with, so very sweet.  I had a few high blood pressures, but turning down the lights, listening to music, and calming myself made them go away. The Dr. arrived to break my water only an hour after being on pitocin.  I was not excited about this.  I wanted to labor longer, and let the baby have time to recover after the decels, but he thought we should get things going.  I was 3+ centimeters at the time.  I held my breath after he broke my water for a moment, watching heart tones and waiting to see if I was going to end up with a crash C-section.  Thankfully it looked fine then, but soon after and for the rest of my labor I struggled with finding the right position to help with variable decels.  During early labor, I mostly changed positions in bed, swayed standing up, and bounced on the birth ball.  My contractions were getting more regular and intense, and, while, on the ball, my Dr. Showed up.  "Your contractions are looking special.  Still want to do it natural?," was all he said.  "So far,"  I said, knowing that anything could change.  The baby had more variables, so I got back in bed and tried side to side, and hands and knees.  Then, a nurse came in and helped me sit straight up.  This worked the best.  I was 5+ at this point, and knew that I was over half way, and that things would probably go quicker.  If I hadn't been changing, I would have caved and had an epidural.  If I remember correctly, the highest my pitocin got up to was 12.  At this point, I wasn't talking much, focusing on my music and breathing.  After an hour in this position, I was 6+.  I decided since the baby's heart was looking good, I would try to turn on my sides to see if I could get things moving.  Baby didn't like that, and I had to sit back up, but I was 7+ after those few minutes.  Instantly after sitting up, I had extreme pain, and could not contain myself from moaning.  Up till that point, several people that came in the room talked about what a calming relaxing place it was.  The nurse checked again, and she said my cervix was a lip, but reducable.  I knew what that meant.  This baby was coming, and the Dr. was not here.  I panicked, and told her to hurry and call the Dr.  I was trying not to push, and I let out a few screams because I had never felt anything so intense in my life, and the nurse reminded me not to scream and to breathe.  I knew this, but this information left me for a moment.  I had no idea how my family was doing till the nurse asked if one of them was okay.  I looked up to see them crying.  They knew he was almost here.  It became too intense, so I told the nurse I had to push.  She said, "that's okay, just push and grunt at the same time."  So, I did.  Then relief overcame me, when the Dr. arrived.  I was able to push calmly.  The baby's heart tones went down again while pushing.  I began to breathe deeply, and the nurses then gave me oxygen.  I didn't notice, but apparently during this time, the Dr. asked Jacob 3 times if he was sure he wanted to cut the cord.  Finally, he was crowning, and the Dr. said, "That's as close to out as he's going to get."  I paused for a moment to wait for the next contraction before giving a final push.  His head was out, and they told me to stop, so the Dr. could suction.  That moment seemed like forever, and I finally asked to push, and a nurse said yes.  Then he was born on January 31st, 2013 at 1306 all 9# 3oz and 21 inches of him.  They laid him on my chest, and I held him for a moment, but wanted them to take him so he would get "pink" faster.  His apgars were 8 and 9, but he was healthy and beautiful.  In those next moments, tears followed from me and my family.  I praised Him for giving him to us.  I remember a nurse telling me, "Good job.  You had such great control."  It was nice to hear, because it didn't feel like it for a few moments.  It truly was one of the most powerful moments in my life.  I was thankful to have made it through without a C-section and without pain medication, wanting to experience the weight of the curse since the garden of Eden, wanting to remember the whole experience this time, and wanting to make my husband proud.  He had given me that and given me grace.  In the moments that followed, I held Xavier Luke, and a burden was lifted and joy restored to my broken heart.  Six months later, to the day, I was on an airplane to Beijing with my husband, Eden, Ephraim, and my six month old baby boy.  Joy unspeakable.  And I look forward to the day when I see my other three children.

Showers of Blessing:
Joy after sorrow
His plans are better than ours
Having choices in unpredictable birth
Kind nurses
Sweet eternity to look forward to 
You give and take away, Blessed be Your name
How deep the Father's love for us

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fruit That Will Last!

Ephraim Napping
Allow me (Jacob) to brag on my son, Ephraim.  He recently joined the family and he's been telling  me he wants to learn more about the Father. Today we started Day 1 of, "Secrets of the Vine Book Study: Breaking Through to Abundance" by Bruce Wilkerson.  Ephraim was really engaged during the study especially because his name means "fruitfulness" and this is a study about eternal fruit.  

Here is the bragging part: almost every day for the past 3 years Ephraim has had to take an afternoon nap. Maybe half of each time Sarah or I tell the kids, "it's nap time" there is some sort of protest but not today!

As I had Xavier strapped in the Ergo and was walking him to sleep, I was thinking of how I should approach Ephraim's nap time in light of what we studied today. I called Ephraim to come have a walk with me and we simply reviewed today's lesson. I asked him, "Who is the Vine? Who are the branches? and Who is the Gardener?"  He answered correctly to each question.  Then I asked him, "What kind of fruit does the Father want us to produce? Good or bad?"  He answered, "Good" and explained in detail his understanding of good and bad fruit.

Then it was time to bring it all home. I said, "Ephraim, after learning about producing good fruit and if I told you "it's nap time".  What would you say to me?"  To my reluctant ears, Ephraim said, "Yes, Daddy!" 

Then I proceeded to tell him, "It's nap time, Eph." He simply said, "Ok".  I was so proud of him that I started to cry and gave him a big hug.  I told him how proud I was of him and that he just produced good fruit today...fruit that will last!  I told him to go potty and get in bed.  He saw the huge smile on my face and he said, " Are you smiling, Daddy?"  I told him the Heavenly Father and I both are smiling at you and gave him another hug and kiss good-nap.

I love my son and look forward to many more of these times with him!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Party with Class 5

Catching up again.  We finally got to have Jacob's adult professional class over for a party a short while before Christmas.  There were only about seven of them this time.  I made a veggie tray, breadsticks with marinara, sand tart cookies because they aren't very sweet, and Christmas cookies.  We had it in the afternoon, so I didn't serve a meal this time.  I was concerned about the Christmas cookies being too sweet, and sure enough, one of Jacob's students, K (mentioned in previous posts), ate hers with a breadstick to cut the sweetness!  I honestly didn't get to spend a lot of time with this group because Xavier was fussy and needed a nap.  Jacob, however, was able to share the real Christmas story with them.  
They played a game where they put the story in correct order, and they played dirty santa.  We were given gifts of german chocolates, honey, tea, oranges, and a night light in the shape of a famous building.  I was sad not to be able to get to spend much time with them.  This was their last day of class, and the program won't be available next semester.  I gave them each my phone number, so they had an opportunity to contact me.  One of them later texted me to wish me Merry Christmas.  There were three of them that I especially connected with, and am hopeful to meet again in the future.  
Showers of Blessing:
Funny moments of eating breadsticks with Christmas cookies
Sharing the real Christmas story
Student giving us a card with Merry Christmas in Chinese and English
Chocolate to make chocolate chunks for my baked goods