Sunday, April 27, 2008

Making a Difference

Jami, wonderful and artistic, not to mention talented designer and creator of our family’s beloved pouch sling, has posted an email that I sent to her on her blog. You can check it out here. I want to encourage everyone to use their gifts and talents! What a HUGE difference they can make on such a LARGE scale, even if it seems it is only one person, family, or community at a time. That is how impacting the world for the betterment of humankind begins. That is how God is glorified!
Here are some new pictures of Brielle in the pouch sling, it’s awesome, we LOVE it!!! Thank you Jami!!!!And of course, to check out more about Jami’s line go to the website she sells them on:

Morning Walk to the Bus stop

It was too hard to decide which photos to choose!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rivers and Spires Festival

The boys graduated in the "mock graduation" after going through each grade at each respective tent set up. We were so proud.

Brielle takes a breastmilk bottle from Mommy. Hey, it was a little chilly out!

And I thought that breastfed babies wouldn't take bottles from their mothers! This girl is so determined to go against the flow!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blue Jean Dress


My little snooze button

Brielle has been sick the past five days. Just a common cold, I suppose, but for our already finicky, feisty, and demanding little girl: well, this has only magnified it all. I feel so bad for her little nose, which is constantly draining while she’s awake, and her throat and of the congestion that sounds so clogged up. Her watery eyes, red cheeks, and her irritated nose all look pitiful. Not to mention her fussiness because of her inability to take her PACIE. And I have to suction her nose before she eats (which has to be done while she’s sitting up). I could go on and on…which I never intended to do.
What I meant to tell you about was our sleep patterns lately. I think she is getting up frequently because of all of this congestion and she’s even starting coughing, which may wake her. Well, the night before last I think she woke up about 7 times. It seemed that every time my head hit the pillow and I really started to doze (sometimes I’d actually sleep a while of course) she’d wake up! It felt just like hitting the snooze button all night long!!!! Therefore, I have dubbed her “my little snooze button” this week. Even despite all of that, she still took three very short naps all day yesterday. Then last night (thinking she’d REALLY sleep now) she was up every two hours. Strange as it may sound, that was actually nice! Ahhhhh…..I try not to think of babies who sleep through the night at this stage of the game! Brielle does very little “by the book.” I have to search the “special sections” sometimes. That’s okay, I just love her for all of her uniqueness and all she teaches me about motherhood.
(Brielle reaching for coffee after a restless night's sleep.)

Hat Parade

I realized how much I really love having a GIRL when I discovered hats and hairbows!

Stroller rides seem to exhaust her.

Julie is Back!!!

Julie is Back!!!
Julie has been gone for four months. She works for the Red Cross and has been on deployment in Iraq. She is one of my good friends, as well as a beloved sister in Christ. When she left for Iraq, she had her household goods moved into storage and the last I’d heard from her (we had communicated via email while she was in Iraq) she was returning to her home state upon arrival into the U.S. Then, she wasn’t sure where the Red Cross was going to send her. Well…I didn’t even know really if she’d made it safely back to America!
So………you can imagine my surprise when I go for coffee with the girls on Girls’ Night Out and there sit Julie and Tiffany: casually chatting over a few brews.
“JULIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!” I exclaimed, “I thought I may never see you again and HERE you ARE!!!”
I love surprises! Well, good ones like this! Another good surprise is that she is going to be living here for a while too! Apparently she was back to work those necessary things out, but returned to her home state, Iowa, and now she is back to soon return to work. I’m very excited because she adds so much laughter and spice to my life, and such a serious and insightful presence to our church group gatherings.
So, here’s to Julie and her return! And a big thanks for what she did in Iraq to help support our women and men there!

Monday, April 7, 2008

All of my many blogs below

Confession: I blog a lot now. Now that I’ve discovered how much I actually like it, and how it really does provide a creative outlet for me to you. I blog a lot. The problem is that I don’t have internet connection. So I can’t get my blogs out as fast as I type them on my trusty here laptop. So, I am posting older blogs, which you will read below. And…of course I couldn’t leave out re-posting Brielle’s birth story over here too. I hope you’ll take note that the following posts were written at different times, in different places of my life.

And...because Brielle has been so very gracious today (as I've promised her that we shall now go for a walk on this beautiful day!) I've added pictures to the following blogs that were taken around, if not exactly ON, the day that I typed out the blog.

Also, here are some very recent ones of her in her favorite place to be; Brielle and I LOVE this sling from !!!

Capturing these moments

These pictures were taken 3-31-08. The day after this blog was written.

I am sitting in a house that is empty…besides myself. I would say it feels weird. But it really doesn’t. It feels normal. Yes, my days are filled (24-7 mostly) with my children, and especially with Brielle, now four months old. But for the past 4 ½ years (since Tyler went to kindergarten) I’ve had moments of solitude by myself. Four years is much longer than four months. I am enjoying this moment. It’s going to fly by. I enjoy my moments with my children too. They too, fly by.
I realized today the irony of what I try to do with my capturing moments and memories. I take a ton of pictures, I scrapbook, and I journal about everything. And while those are wonderful things, nothing will every quite bottle time for us. The moments I want to capture and remember cannot be recorded with my camcorder, nor written down. They are too hard to describe. They are felt. They are the moment. Being older with a new baby has a different perspective. No one has to tell me to enjoy it now, or how time flies. I hold her and rock her to sleep. I can’t recapture how she feels, so perfect in my arms. I can’t capture her wonderful smell, or how she looks at me. A picture would never do the moment justice. I’ll never be able to recreate her nursing as she is now. And I will probably never nurse another baby again. The games she sometimes plays, when she is in the mood. Our sweetest interactions sometimes come when she is fresh from nursing, and draws back just to look at and talk to me. Sometimes it will be so random or unique that I’ll throw back my head and laugh. Then I look at her, seriously. Time turns over. This is our moment. How it happens, that is what I want to capture. Burn it to my memory. Savor every moment. Close my eyes and breathe it in. No, don’t close my eyes or I will miss it. How her soft sweet foot feels to press it to my cheeks and my lips over and over again. To watch her discover new things, about herself, about her surroundings. I discover some new things too. About me, about my life. She makes me pay attention to her. She makes me pay attention to our time together. She allows me to interact more with the boys in our family, and even strangers greet us when we are out. (Mostly when she is in the pouch sling -which she still loves.) We know she is beautiful, but people still tell us that all of the time. Everywhere we go, people say, “oh, she is so beautiful.” Not cute, not precious, not sweet, not even adorable-just beautiful-- maybe that is normal for all baby girls.

Brielle 4 months old: 3-28-08

Today Brielle is 4 months old. I told her. She is still so big, and yet still so small, something I say quite often. She is holding her head up quite well, and likes to pull her feet in close. Sometimes she pulls them into her mouth, though the boys noticed today that she has a harder time getting hold of the left foot. She smiles so much. Two days ago she had her well check up and shots. I hate shots. The first set (at two months) I bawled through, these we both did better at. She slept for hours afterwards. She weighed 15lbs 7ozs. What a chunk! She has rolls on her arms and legs that the creases never see the light of day! Her skin is improving, but I still have to cover four different special areas with four different special ointments and creams. Seems as if she will have this condition for a while. She is definitely more able to calm herself now. She also gives us warnings before she cries. She coughs, grunts, rubs her feet together furiously, or fusses for a bit so that we now have a chance to get her before she is raging mad. Changing scenery still works well with our little social butterbug. She still cannot stand for clothes to go over her head, or to have her arms forced through her shirt. The boys do wonderfully well with her. Just today Josh fell asleep with her on the futon in her room. Just like that. A nap sounds good to me right now. She was wide awake at 6:00am this morning, and that was the 5th time she had gotten up during the night. I counted…somehow. I think I could nap better if the neighborhood kids weren’t outside yelling (i.e. playing) in our front yard. It sounds horrible to be quite honest. I thought the sounds of kids playing was supposed to be beautiful. I guess not when they reach middle school and constantly scream as a part of their recreational outlet.
I love nursing (now-I wouldn‘t have said that a few months ago!). No bottles, no yucky formula (she spits up), and no bottles to prepare and wash. That’s just the anti stuff. What benefits have come with breastfeeding too! I love providing her nourishment. That she knows me, that she wants me, that she can see, smell, and even sense me is wonderful. Most of the time she actually fusses around me, and maybe it’s because she is hungry. Everyone else gets smiles from her when she sees them. But, that is okay. And while nursing bonds us, she is in no way particular about who has her or who holds her yet. I hope it stays that way. I hope she feels secure, snug, and loved so much that she is comfortable around everyone. She knows who loves her. And I know that one day she will have to be aware and cautious, but let that day be a long time away.
She has begun to grab everything. Every day she reaches for more. Soon we will no longer be able to hold things for her grabbing them. It’s amazing now. Now. She grabs my hair all of the time. She pulls me close to her. I don’t mind. I smell her. She smells like the most wonderful baby smell in the world to me. I kiss her soft cheeks and smile at her. I undo her feisty grip on my hair when it begins to hurt. She shakes her body. I love her. We all do.
I rock her sometimes to calm her in my arms when she is tired. I know that they say by this age that you should put a sleepy baby down, not a sleeping baby down. But sometimes I just want to hold her a little longer. I close my eyes and find the soft rhythm. She is so precious, asleep in my arms. I hope she doesn’t outgrow the bassinet soon. I don’t want her to sleep in the other room. I know they say she is supposed to be sleeping in her own room by now, but why? I can get to her faster in the middle of the night if she is right next to me.
Her daddy is nuts over her. He will do anything for her. Tonight he was on his way to shower and I asked him if sometime he could assemble her bouncer, and he just did it right then. Mumbled complaints at me the whole time, but I know the truth: anything for his baby girl.
Both of these pictures were taken on the day this blog was written, March 28th, her 4 month old day, while in her beloved Aunt Kelly's arms.

Brielle 3-14-08

I was reading over some of my journal entries into my laptop while I was in fact looking for poetry to print out for Brielle’s scrapbook. Talk about tearing up! I want to print it all out and make a journal just for her: that is about parenting her! Maybe I should save it to a disc though? Think of technology advancing. Will she prefer it on a disc or printed out? Will she even want to read it? I would! I mean, I do! Seriously though, I would love to read anything that my mom wrote about me, or even wrote about anything during the time I was a baby. Yet, I’m pretty sure not much exists. Now watch, I write and write about my daughter and she won’t be interested. Maybe though, it doesn’t matter. I post some of it on the internet for anyone to read. I think it is good to share our experiences with one another.
Tonight as I was putting her to sleep in my arms (I am wearing a tank top) she was running her silky smooth hand all along my arm, chest, and shoulder. It was calming her as she was falling asleep. I thought it was one of the most precious things a baby could do. Ever.
She is still very much a private eater. She does not like loud noises when she is eating. We sleep with the Vaporizer fan on all night (every night) because she sleeps best with it on. She takes her pacifier a lot and sometimes wants it over me. I don’t take offense. I can’t turn on the light attached to the headboard of my bed. She won’t eat with it on, and not because the light is distracting her. I really believe she thinks the lamp is something! I don’t know what, but she arches her head way back, extending her neck, and gives it the strangest most curious look! Even if I turn it off, once she’s noticed it, it’s too late. It’s something. She is but 3 ½ months old but she loves to try and sit up and stand up. She’s an active baby alright. But, she always has been, even in the womb. She likes to just lay near me and kick and push me with her feet. She’s very physical. She loves to hold my hand with her hands on her chest. She loves to feel things. She listens to everything. I can get her to laugh kind of now. It’s such a beautiful sound. She’s recently discovered her voice. And she likes it, of course. I’m no longer surprised, though still say over things, “the boys didn’t do that……….” HAHAHA She’s our unique little princess. She’s exactly what God designed and had in perfect mind when He created her attributes. She’s perfect, particular, and so wonderful. She makes us all smile. The boys think she knows more than it seems she should, and they are probably right.
She’s sleeping now, and I’m thinking I should be too.

About blogging and a funny breastfeeding day

I sort of made a mistake. I typed in a few of my “favorite” books from recent years. That was fine, not the problem. The mistake came when one day I clicked on one of my favorite books and realized that it took me to other blogs that also had that book listed as a favorite. That meant that other people not only enjoyed the same reads as myself, but that they also had some similar beliefs. And they were blogging about them. Not only were they blogging, but they were researching and sharing, while also incorporating their own real-life experiences into it. Interesting. So…the problem came with my desire to read all of it! Some of it was very new to me, some so full of true emotion that I actually got misty-eyed reading it. I was impressed at the ability of some bloggers. I wondered if they were paid, some were so good. Of course, my free time feels very important to me, so I only took the time to read what seemed of value. Which was a wonderful option, I might say, to pick and choose. To click away or scroll down. Ah, how I marvel the notion that I never discovered the enticement of blog reading before. It is probably going to be a necessity that I pray for guidance, discretion, and discipline *before I log on to my computer now. Lest I forget also that my darling daughter will not allow me much time online as it is.

I have thought about this several times with amazement: The same exact spot where Brielle was born is the same place where she now rides in her car seat . The back seat is also where I spend time nursing her (it is so much easier to nurse her there than try to find some place indoors, especially since she prefers to eat in peace). Which brings me to the subject of nursing in public. I am totally fine with nursing her anywhere, even in public. But Brielle makes it quite clear that she does not prefer to eat with so many distractions. I guess they overwhelm her. Sometimes so much noise puts her to sleep, but it doesn’t work the same for eating for her. I have tried and it ended up resulting in quite an ordeal. We were at Opry Mills, and I was searching everywhere for a place that I could at least get her to latch on in private before people came near enough to notice she was nursing. Well, I certainly wasn’t wearing the correct nursing attire, and I certainly didn’t feel as comfortable as I thought I was in my head. Not to mention it was a Saturday evening at Opry Mills, meaning it was jam packed in there. I tried to nurse her while standing in the Nike store, she ate a little., just enough to force her stomach to make more room, resulting in a diaper blowout (I had to change her clothes at the nearest bathroom). I tried to nurse her while standing in the bathroom. Too noisy. There was a horrible smell that overwhelmed me in there. I went to the hallway and nursed her there with my husband and children standing by. Again, I was frustrated by what I was wearing, not thinking it would be this hard to accomplish something that we’d done hundreds of times already at home. She ate a little more. We walked on. Then, she’d really had it. She had to be hungry. She began to cry. The boys went into the toy store, I said, “I’ll be on that bench over there.” I sat by two women who I hoped weren’t going to give me a hard time, blocked myself with the stroller, again scolded myself for clothing choices, and tried to help Brielle latch on. She wanted to, I think, but the distractions were just too much. I kept trying, but it just wasn’t working. I put her back in the stroller, and she didn’t cry. Actually, she fell asleep for a while. When she woke again I was using the bathroom, so I tried to nurse her in there (she eats best when she first wakes up) but nope, the cleaning people were too loud, though the shoppers were becoming scarce. So, I put her back in her car seat into the stroller and we rolled out to the car and drove the hour home. She never fussed. Go figure. I don’t know. We take every day as it comes. And just when think I may have her figured out, she changes that on me too.

Thank you for Breastfeeding!

Thank you for Breastfeeding!
Determined to breastfeed, I thought it would be far easier than it began. Then I thought it would naturally get easier. Then I realized that this was the way it was, in part due to the nature of my baby. Through the past few months, when I’ve been discouraged, I’ve sought images in my mind of all the women I’ve seen breastfeed their babies, or have talked or written about it. This has inspired and continuously motivated me on our own breastfeeding journey. So…I just wanted to thank those women here!
Thank you Holly for breastfeeding Isaac when you came to visit. Thank you Jamie, who used to live in Springfield, TN, for breastfeeding your toddler. (Both of these women I met online years ago.) Thank you Tammy, my cousin, for nursing your three children, including twins. Thank you Stephanie for breastfeeding your toddler and Lisa for nursing your baby (both of these women did so at our church’s life groups a few years back). Thank you Alicia for breastfeeding your babies (a daughter, then twins-an image that always inspired me.) Thank you to the lady on the pool deck at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, for nursing your baby right beside the pool under a towel. Thank you Kelly for nursing Dustri as a baby and through her toddlerhood. Thank you for giving me so much support about it. Thank you Rachel for nursing Hays and now Trice and for giving encouragement to me during this time. Thank you to the lady who breastfed at the park during the military picnic. Thank you to all women who support women who breastfeed and all the women who do it!
These are all of the women that I’ve actually seen breastfeed or talked to about breastfeeding specifically up until now. Which is crazy that I can remember them all, isn’t it? I guess it’s because I DO it so much that I think about it a lot, and I’ve really needed encouragement about it, since I have such a high-need baby. I wish there were more women on my list now that I look at it…but I’m really just grateful for the women that I‘ve remembered that have breastfed. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

On colic, seborrheic dermatitis , breastfeeding, and reflux…

On colic, seborrheic dermatitis, breastfeeding, and reflux…
There are things I thought I knew about babies. I have learned that I did not know nearly as much as I thought I did.
Like- I had heard about colic, and thought it sounded like a nightmare. I didn’t really want to know about it, and I never in a million years dreamed that I’d have a baby that had it. I also knew a little about seborrhea (cradle cap) since Tyler had it mildly. I knew about little about reflux because Joshua spit up like it was something normal after each feeding. I also thought I knew about breastfeeding since I had breastfed (along with supplementing bottled formula) Tyler for the first four weeks of his life.
All I have to say is HA HA HA HA HA to all of that which I thought I knew!!!
Then I have to say:
Colic is NO Joke!
Breastfeeding is NO Joke!
Seborrhea NO Joke!
and Reflux is (you guessed it) NO Joke!
I could tell you all of things that I’ve tried over the past twelve weeks that have failed, failed, and failed some more. But that would just be long and grueling (although if you are interested-call me and I’ll tell you all about it). I’ve heard tons and tons of advice (tell someone you have a fussy baby and they have some sort of solution for you). So far though, I’ve been able to find a few things that actually WORK, and those are far more important to share.
Breastfeeding was my first reality check. It wasn’t like I remembered it, and I did not know that each new baby was a new nursing relationship, unlike the last. It hurt! And it was very time consuming. You never know how much a baby is actually eating, so therefore I had to keep offering the opportunity to nurse to her (just in case). I don’t even have any really good advice for this yet (except: hang in there!). I am so glad that I stuck it out, because I was seriously considering the bottle. I love nursing at nighttime best because it’s so convenient and she eats so well. We still struggle with daytime feedings because she is such a private eater, she loves to eat in peace! Accommodating that is often frustrating or just plain hard sometimes. But I try to do it anyway. Whatever works.
Colic was a surprise as well. She cried a lot. She cried when we were holding her, when we put her down, while we rocked her, in the swing, with a pacie, at morning, afternoon, and especially in the evening. We were exhausted. Fortunately she slept through the night. How weird though. I read through my baby books, talked to my midwife, and our pediatrician, then I diagnosed her with colic. Which just means “cries a lot.” I was pointed to a book called, “The Happiest Baby on the Block: How to calm your crying baby and help them to sleep longer.” Or something like that. In it, he describes several reasons why he feels babies develop colic in the first place, then what you can do to help them in their first three months. Which turns out to be basically simulating the womb. Which makes sense. So, we swaddled, held her on her side, jiggled her around, shushed her with the fan on the vaporizer, and gave her a pacie. Just like the book said to do. And yes, it usually worked. I also put her in her pouch sling that this wonderful lady, Jami, made for us. She has always loved curling up in there, like she was in the womb, and for some reason noise tends to bother her less in there.
Let me just say our girl has no problem hearing!
I had no idea what the seborrheic dermatitis was until I took her into the Pediatrician for it. I thought she was allergic or something (possibly giving her the stomach problems too and adding to a painful reflux). She was covered in red bumps all over, and where there weren’t red bumps there were dried up crusty patches covering her skin (on her shoulders spreading down to her hands, on her ankles up to her knees, on her side, her chest, and of course on her head an face). It was insane all over. So I took her back to the Pediatrician, since the first time he’d just recommended the usual: change detergents, soaps, use head & shoulders on her scalp, and hydrocortisone on the really rough patches. The next time he was really aware of her skin condition and how intense it was covering her body. And he finally made a suggestion that worked: a product called Aquaphor. I bathed her, covered her in it (the only thing she doesn’t cry when I apply it to her skin) along with the hydrocortisone cream as well, and we’ve seen great improvements. Only thing is that I have to apply it daily in order to keep in from returning! Hydracortizone 1% cream also works well, and I put that on the really scaly patches. (We’ve also discovered that Desodine (by prescription) works well on the really blotchy patches, but only the Hydracortizone can be used on the face). And A & D creamy ointment works well in the rolls of her skin, where there are creases that never see light or feel air.
Reflux is something that some people say all babies have for the first few months of their lives. Perhaps some babies react harsher to it than others (hence why some spit up more than others, though sometimes the food doesn’t always come back up and out). Well, she would be eating (this happened a lot) and I could hear her stomach clucking kind of, then she would get kind of choked up, not breathe, then start coughing. Oh, I just felt so bad! I would just want to cry every time this happened. But now as I type this, I realized she does this much less than before. I’ve tried cutting out much of my dairy to see if she might have milk allergy or intolerance. This may be part of what is helping her, who really knows though. It may be that she’s getting older, that I am much more aware of her temperament now, or it may be the dairy. Regardless, she shows improvement, but still has days/evenings that remind us that she is our high-need, demanding, colicky baby.
So, that has been our adventure thus far! I just checked out a new book, “The Fussy Baby Book,” to find out ways that I can help her eat without being so distracted by every little noise around her. But, I am sure the best suggestion is going to be: find a quiet place to feed your baby. Ah, how much there is to learn. I thought I would still be able to “do” things after having a baby. Well, I am, but maybe in small increments. And it is getting better, thank goodness. She is now growing more able to calm herself and can be distracted when she’s fussy. Her older brothers can amuse her occasionally (Halleighlujiah!). But I’ve suspected all along that I would never had spent this much time with her (24/7) holding her, comforting her, feeding her, and experimenting with new ways to console and satisfy her needs had she not been born with the personality that she has. Nor if I weren’t breastfeeding her. She demands I put everything on hold for her. And that is absolutely fine. I love her. Many times I’ve told her, “I’ll give you anything you want, if only I just knew what it is you want.” My arms have been filled with her so much, and I know that I would not want this time to go by and it be any other way. So, despite the trials, I am so very thankful. I feel so much closer to my baby because of the very things that have had my head spinning! I should have expected this, knowing how active she was in my womb, and the way she came into this world! Now, I can only watch with joy and anticipation as she grows into the beautiful individual that God has created her to be!

Baby blues 12-30-08

Inside of me I have been itching, itching, itching to type. It’s like playing music. I’ve never played a piano before, but I’d imagine it to be something similar when fingers flow together in this perfect rythym to create something beautiful. Not that I’m at all capable of creating beauty. But it feels so good.
I came to a wall today with Brielle. I wanted to throw my hands up, no, I wanted to lean back, cry, and just forget it all. But she was crying, which was frustrating, and also demanding. So I couldn’t just leave her to her own devices at that moment. She’s so small! So, I cried. Will took her. I took my first walk outside by myself in 4 ½ weeks. I really needed it. I feel sometimes as if these walls are closing in on me, things scream for me to do them, there is no time to do them, and then my one month old baby demands, then demands more.
On my walk I decided that the fresh cool air was definitely helping, and that I needed to pour out my soul, thoughts, and feelings to the One who really cares about it all. So I did. I can’t understand at times about this life that He is giving me to live right now. I always imagined myself single, a writer, living along the shoreline somewhere. Now, I am a mother of 3! I feel stretched at the least to say that a newborn’s demands are much greater than I anticipated, and I was already partially dreading those demands during my pregnancy. Now I have to find the time to give my older children attention (because they will just run off and play-which is nice sometimes, but I have to rope them back in so as not to loose my connection with them). I think I have lost sight of my efforts to trust in the One that has brought me to this. I see this very small picture of how I don’t know that a fussy one month old can do much in glorifying God. It just doesn’t feel that way right now. I understand that it’s extremely niave and ridiculous of me to question God like this. And yet, it’s so hard, when I can’t see past the cries and middle of the night feedings, and the poopey diapers, one right after another. I sound so ungrateful! I don’t understand it. Many people would love to be going through what I’m going through right now. Why am I so unappreciative of this amazing gift? I do appreciate my daughter, I think she lovely, wonderful, amazing, smart, beautiful, precious, and a genuine blessing from the Father. I really do.
I just don’t understand why God has called me to all of the OTHER things that having an infant contains.
And so on my walk, I just laid this all out to Him, along with my fears for the future, including my abilities to parent a daughter (especially with the dysfunctional mother/daughter relationships that run in our family). I go back to the time when I found out that I may have been pregnant. Nothing but faith then. Nothing but confidence in Him. Nothing but willingness to do what He’s called me to do. Anything less, or any wavering, and I would fall into this awful trap. That’s the place where I find myself now. It’s the enemies trip up, he uses it easily on mothers with new babies. It can send them into something called Post Partum Depression. Easily. But I won’t have it. And I type all of this not only to share with you, but to warn, to help us understand, and to prepare for battle while loving life simultaneously.

Why I loved my midwife! 12-06-08

Why I loved my midwife!
I guess I should say “midwives” since I had quite a few of them. It began with Sharon, who is a midwife at The Farm in southern Tennessee. She talked with me about so many issues and questions I had over the telephone in the early stages of my pregnancy. We also met with her in June, when we were trying to decide where to deliver the baby (actually Will & I were in complete disagreement with each other about where). She talked to me via phone for the next two months, and I called her my midwife after I made up my mind to have the birth there at The Farm. Then, in August we found out that financially it just wasn’t feasible to for us to take out another loan and have the baby there. So I had one finally conversation with Sharon, and as always, she was very confident and reassuring about what would happen and how fine it would all work out. So, I began to search for other midwives in our area that accepted Medicaid insurance. That’s when I learned about the Vanderbilt midwives. I called them, and they answered my questions in all the right ways (Can I decline tests? Will you help me have a natural birth? etc…). But then I was told that they were not accepting patients at the Women’s Center, and if I wanted a midwife I would have to go to the Vinehill Clinic. That sounded nice. So I made an appointment with them. Then I realized that they were located in a not-so-great part of Nashville (it sits across the street from the “White Trash CafĂ©”-which I’m sure really does serve great food). I wondered how these midwives came to be here.
Inside the Vinehill Clinic I became amazed. I heard several different languages and accents and saw people of every color it seemed. Some old, some babies, some in between, some crippled, some capable, some pregnant, and some sick. And some with their heads covered in the Islam dress were almost always in there. I liked seeing and hearing so much diversity in such a small waiting area. No one noticed me. I noticed everyone.
The team of midwives that work out of the Vinehill clinic consists of five wonderful women who have devoted their professions to assisting and empowering women to care for their bodies and to birth their babies. One can have all of their natural birthing desires advocated for them by these midwives, or one can have a completely medical birth. Of course if I’d have wanted a medical birth, then I would still have been in Clarksville seeing and OB/GYN there. The drive to Nashville was more than worth it. I first met Melissa, who was perfect. She answered all of my questions, never made me feel like she was in a hurry, and truly listened to what I was saying. I saw there the first few times, but she would not be delivering my baby. She didn’t give be any hassles about my wishing to decline all of the tests that are standard procedure in the U.S. (even the ultrasound). Then I met Lisa, who was perfect. She whirled her chair right up in front of me, to look directly at me, and asked me lots of questions about myself. And she really listened to my answers. I wanted her to deliver the baby. Then I met Bess. I was having an emotional day when I met Bess and I was only a few weeks from delivery. She asked me if I wanted to talk about it. Since it was personal, I assumed it wasn’t relevant to Bess, so I said, “no.” And Bess let it go. But later, she asked me again, and I just opened up and let it all out. And Bess said that it’s all relevant, and she helped me with some of it, saying that was part of her job as well. That’s a true midwife. Next I met Erin. Erin was busy that day and I wasn’t really sure if she and I truly connected like I’d hoped we would. But she was nice and I liked her too. In the beginning I had worried about having so many midwives see me that it would be harder when it was time for delivery and only one of them would be on call. But I reminded myself that even if you see your own doctor through your prenatal care, you can still end up being delivered by the doctor on call. And I would much rather take my chances in ending up with any of these wonderful women that I’d met so far, rather than a doctor I didn’t know. I had also learned that Melissa had sent out an email to this team of midwives about my desires for a natural birth and my wishes for immediate post partum care.
It ended up that Erin would be the midwife on call that wonderful day. Of course, Bess and Melissa were on the phone with Kelly (my doula who was in the care with me) while we were driving to the hospital, because of the baby’s urgency to birth herself. And when we arrived at the hospital’s emergency entrance, Erin was right there waiting for us. It turned out that she was the perfect midwife for the situation that had evolved and she jumped right into the vehicle and delivered the baby. She had about five or more emergency persons behind and around her, but she was in total control and command. She handled it all wonderfully, and exactly to my wishes.
But I don’t feel like it was just Erin who assisted in the delivery of Brielle. I felt like it was Erin, Bess, Lisa, Melissa, and Sharon. A wonderful combination of dedicated and true midwives who chose their profession out of a desire in their hearts to help women bring forth their babies to the best of their abilities. Bess took care of my postpartum needs, and also helped us with our breastfeeding struggles. I saw Melissa at my check up, she had also sent me a card, and Erin had sent an email. I called Sharon to let her know how everything had transpired. What wonderful women can do! And what a wonderful thing to have midwives in this area that aid and assist women like myself. It took a little bit of researching on my part to find them, but obviously it was more than worth it. I wish everyone could have the prenatal, labor, birth, and postpartum experiences that I had with all of these wonderful midwives!

Brielle's Birth Story

Brielle’s Birth Story
Before I begin the story of our baby’s birth, I feel it is important to share a little background information first. I am 31 years old, and have been married for 12 years. My husband and I have two boys, who just turned 12 and 9 years old. We were never planning on having more children; we had never even considered it. We were using a form of family planning birth control and it had worked well: for 8 years. I had returned to college after a 7 year lapse, and was just finishing my sophomore year. I was also working part time at a preschool, where I had been for four years. Obviously, we had a huge SHOCK!!!
My first two experiences with birth were very medical. With both I had epidurals and with my 2nd I was induced, given pitocin, and pretty much spent the entire 6 hours watching a machine print out what my contractions would have felt like, had I felt them. After having my 2nd (I was clueless about birth with my first) I felt weird. I felt like I had just gotten jipped. Shorted. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and I sort of felt guilty because everything had went so well, and my fear of a cesarean had not come true. He was normal and healthy and fine, it seemed. But something had been missing. So, as time passed and I reflected and talked to other women about birth and the medical aspect of it, and how some women longed to reclaim it by promoting midwifery, I made up my mind as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I was going to have a my baby at home. I felt confident. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t as confident in that idea. So…I searched for birthing centers. None. I kept searching. I found a place called “The Farm” and learned everything I could about them. I called them and set up an appointment. I spoke to the midwife there several times over the phone, and she answered so many of my questions with a strong, encouraging voice. She understood what I wanted. I wanted to go there and give birth. We drove the 2 ½ hours there and had our first prenatal exam. My husband and our boys heard the baby’s heartbeat at the same time I did for the first time. We discussed our desires. My husband’s fears were eased quite a bit after meeting our midwife, and I felt good that this was going to work. The biggest concern was the length of the drive there. BUT I planned to have my baby late remember? So I would plan to be there before my due date. I was getting excited. Then we had a financial fall out. We were unable to get the loan for the cost of the birth, and we were qualified for state insurance. I resisted and tried to figure out how to work around this. But nothing seemed to fall into place. I started searching for midwives who took state insurance. I found one group. One. In all of middle Tennessee. (Note: The cost of a homebirth including prenatal care is now 1/3 of an OB/GYN visit and hospital birth). I set up an appointment because I knew that I needed to get my lab work done regardless of where I went. Fortunately, I found a wonderful group of midwives that were working from a branch of Vanderbilt in a little clinic called Vinehill. They were so amazing, and I couldn’t believe that I was actually coming around to the idea of them, because I really didn’t want a hospital birth. I was still in denial. In fact, when I finally called Sharon (my midwife) to tell her, I was crying so hard and she was working so hard to help me understand and encouraging me to pray for peace over this. I did. And I realized that it didn’t matter where I had my baby: in my home, at The Farm, or in the hospital. My baby would come. And that was all that mattered.
So…I continued to research, to learn, and to ask my new midwives (a team of five) a million questions. I declined almost all of my tests, including the ultrasound. (I had to sign waivers of refusal). I prayed a lot. I drew up an extensive birth plan. I revised and shortened it. I printed it, along with directions to the hospital and contact phone numbers, and passed them out to the three other women who would be involved (my sister, my doula, and my very close friend). Every new midwife I saw I liked, and each had been informed about my desires by the other. I drove myself to the prenatal visits, which were an hour away. The last one I went to was on a Monday. I met a new midwife that day and she said that I either had a small baby, or I still had a few weeks to go. On Tuesday I should have worked, but I had decided to stop working a week earlier than planned. I tried to do a lot that day, but my body kept telling me to stop, I felt so tired. Everyone had kept reminding me to “rest while I could.” And so on that day I did actually listen to my body and laid down to rest several times when I wouldn’t have normally done that.
But I still felt some hesitation in me, something that I was afraid of that kept bugging me. I felt I could have it all planned out, and still, nothing would be in my control. I feared hospital medical interventions and cesarean section rates. I feared not being able to bear the pain. I feared not fully releasing all of this fear to God. But I knew that it was necessary. At one point during that particular day, I remember thoughts of labor/birth really gnawing at my brain in a negative way, and I knew that they would just continue to get worse as time went on. I felt like the enemy was finding a way into what should be a wonderful experience. I knew that I had to give up everything fully to God and trust Him and know that His plans never fail, they are always good and He will sustain me. I decided that whatever His plans were, they would have to be totally fine with me. Whenever baby was due to come would be the perfect time, and the circumstances surrounding the event (here I was releasing my hospital fear mostly) would glorify God, and that was all I wanted all along. I felt so much peace settle around and within me. I didn’t think much more about it, I just felt better. I fell asleep on the couch (a rarity for me) around 8:30pm that night, then got up and went to bed at some point.
Sometime in the late morning hours of the next day I began to feel these small waves of what felt like cramps in my lower abdomen. They barely woke me, and I wondered about them, but I would just fall right back to sleep after they were gone, and I think they were about fifteen minutes apart. At 5:41am however, one woke me up for good. It didn’t hurt or feel very strong (they actually felt kind of good and I remember smiling about them). It was definitely “something” and so I began praying. More came, about every ten minutes for the next hour and I just lay there experiencing them, thinking “what an interesting sensation!” I mostly expected them to go away. Honestly! Here I was eleven full days before my due date, having expected to go right past it! But when my husband got up to go to work, I heard myself say, “better keep your cell phone close by today, it might be the day.” He said, “Noooooo, it’s not until December 9th. Remember?” And he got up and got ready for work. The contractions didn’t cease, and I wasn’t really aware that they were intensifying, only that they were consistent. I sent our older son to school with the warning that he may get picked up early. He laughed when I told him why. He said, “No….it’s not even December yet Mommy.” I assured my husband that he could go on to work, that this would probably take hours to progress, if it was even the real thing. He was hard to convince, but he finally left. That left just our younger son who I walked to the bus stop, walking and praying right through two contractions. He had seen a couple at home just before we left and he said “I just might think you are going to have a baby today now that I see how you are.” I walked back from the bus through a much stronger contraction, while praying, then called my really close friend. She decided to come over, saying I didn’t need to be alone right now. I said, okay if you insist, but take your time….
I tried to do some strange things at that point. I attempted to record a little video for our video journal (?) Then I began rocking in a circular motion through contractions. This was not strange of course, it really helped and felt good. But surely I would have realized this was real labor at this point. I thought I would just take a shower. I started throwing everything on my bed that I would be taking with me to the hospital, and called my doula and my sister. Neither of them answered, so I left messages to call me back. For some strange reason I was still in partial denial and didn’t want to tell them that this was it, so I didn‘t leave that particular message in their voice mail box. I got into the shower, which felt nice I think, because I don’t remember much of it, only that I thought I should be getting out soon. My doula called me back and said she would be getting ready to come over, then I called my sister back at work and told her it was time. When she called back a few contractions later, I told her it would be a good idea for her to go ahead and pick up the boys from school (as we were planning on them attending the birth). I couldn’t imagine trying to check them out of school in my current state! I heard the doorbell ring, and still only partially dressed, tried to make my way down the stairs, but I just had to stop and kneel on the stairs going backwards, trying to take each step one at a time. After the rush passed, I opened the front door but there was no one there. Then I heard someone come in through the backdoor. It was my very close friend. She began gathering stuff from upstairs for me. I was crawling on all fours in my living room, holding my pants (trying to put them on) and my hair pic (trying to brush my hair) very frustrated that of all days I didn’t think to use conditioner! I never could get my pants on. I was on my knees for almost every contraction, and my hands were either on the floor or the couch. I tried to do stuff in between contractions, but they were so intense and close together that I felt like all I could do was rest in between them. She helped me get dressed and I told her I felt like it would be best if we could start moving the stuff out from the house and into the Durango. I felt that would help me to know that we were progressing. All the while, the contractions were increasing in speed and intensity. I felt like I could not focus, I tried to relax, but mostly all I could do was pray. And I felt pretty incompetent at that too. I had planned on praying scripture and had even preplanned prayers for certain stages of this labor. All I could do was cry out, “God, Father, Please, I cry out to You. Please help me.” Earlier, while I had been gathering stuff onto my bed prior to my shower, I had laid my pocket bible onto the bed, then picked it right back up, thinking I would need something from the Word to take with me for the upcoming moment (thinking I’d be reading a lot more along the journey of the labor). I opened to Psalm 17 and read this:
I am praying to you because I know you will
answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
Show me your unfailing love in wonderful
By your mighty power you rescue
those who seek refuge from their enemies.
Guard me as you would your own eyes.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
I began to reach for that verse and parts of it would come to me while I was praying. The best was that during a contraction, or even between, I could envision God coming near to me to listen to my prayer and rescuing me through His mighty power. I am so glad I opened my Bible at the moment I did, because I never got another chance.
I grabbed a jacket and put my summer shoes on, despite that it was chilly outside, and we started out of the house and into the truck. My husband had been calling off and on for the past hour checking on me. The last time I talked to him was right before I got into the shower, and he knew that my close friend was on her way over. I told him to just go onto his job site, which was on the way to Nashville anyway, at Exit 24 (about halfway from Clarksville to Nashville) I told him we would pick him up on the way down. My sister arrived at the house with the boys. I remember wanting so badly to hug them. They got out of her car and were walking so very normally towards the house, where I had just come out from. They had their backpacks on, and Josh asked if the door was already locked. He wanted to go inside and change into shorts. I remember thinking that was incredulous, but at that moment another rush hit me and I turned and knelt onto the concrete porch steps for another contraction. I decided then that the boys should probably not ride with me in the Durango on the way over to Nashville. We were in completely different states of mind, and I wasn’t quite sure what I would do. So they got in with their aunt, and I climbed (on all fours) into the backseat of the Durango. My left knee was on the hump on the floor in the middle and my right knee was up on the seat. My left hand was on the seat behind the passenger’s and my right hand held the back of that seat. This is the position I maintained for most of the journey.
The worst part of the entire trip was the back up out of the driveway and the drive down my short street, a left onto the next short street and down that street. It was during a contraction and though it was probably ½ mile total, it felt like the bumpiest ½ mile of my life! Then we were on the parkway and my close friend who was driving my vehicle asked if my doula knew we had left. I said, “Oh no! Call her!” She did, and we were passing her at that time on the parkway. They debated on where to leave her car, at the nearest gas station or back at my house. I remember thinking I’d be willing to go back over that nightmarish ½ mile if it was the only way she would get into the vehicle with me. I yelled, “I need her in the car with me!” She met us at the nearest gas station and climbed in the front seat. She immediately turned around and began to see how I was doing. She stayed turned around for the entire rest of the ride, I think. I was still having contractions that were closer and closer together and this part of the ride (to get to the Interstate) took forever. I would pray, moan, attempt to relax through the rushes, and try to rest in between them. My doula would rub my lower back, pray out loud and encourage me through each contraction. Very early in the morning I had been so hungry and thirsty that I had drank a small cup of orange juice and a few bites of bananas, all of which came back up now. Thank goodness my friend had grabbed the plastic bag I had almost used in the house and my doula was there to hand it to me! The midwives were aware that I was on my way to the hospital. I had contacted one of them, who was working at the clinic that day and she had let me know who was on call for deliveries and would meet me at the hospital.
On the Interstate I began to feel more intensity and frequency with each contraction. I realized later that a lot of what I had read and had learned about how to work through contractions I had been doing, which had been obviously working to both ease and progress my labor. The best book I read was entitled “Christ Centered Childbirth” by Kelly Townsend and I had just finished it recently. I was really aware of my need to depend on Christ to carry me through each rushing wave. I knew I had to release myself to Him in order for Him to hold me, and I would pray “Lord, be my strength for me.” There were times in the middle of a contraction that I would remember this, pray this (or my doula would), and release myself to Him, and it was totally amazing what would happen. I could feel (and she can testify to this too) the tension and fear releasing its hold on my body and myself surrendering to the Almighty. How amazing He was! He was carrying this for me, every moment I that I would surrender to Him. I could hear my doula praying at the most intense moments when I was unable to speak or even think and I felt God’s touch, both strong and soothing at the same time. We were experiencing and witnessing amazing things happening!
At one point I began to get very hot in the jacket I was wearing and I thought there’d be no way I could take it off, so I just cracked the back window and the fresh air smelled so good. I focused on the sound of it and the coolness of it. I wanted it get closer to the crack in the window and I probably even would’ve put my face out of the window if I could have reached it.
In between two specific contractions I straightened up my body to rest and felt a very strong sensation come upon me. I could feel (and see) the baby on the left side of my belly almost like clench up and push itself out away from my body and I said, “Oh no! Baby don’t move! No, no, no, no…” because baby moving during the contraction was extremely more intense. I didn’t realize that at that time the baby, submitting to gravity and by extreme will, was moving itself down into the birth canal. I’m not sure at what point the girls called the midwives at the Vinehill Clinic, but my doula was talking to them sometime around here. I was aware of the passing vehicles, sometimes they were passing us, sometimes us passing them, and I wondered if they could see me and what I looked like to them. But I didn’t really care, I mean, why would I? I just thought it was interesting.
The contractions that followed the baby’s decent were much different than the ones that preceded it. I felt a burning sensation and thought about the “ring of fire” I’d read about. I thought that was crazy because I didn’t think that would be happening yet, did this mean I was close? The next contraction I felt the urge to push. Now that was really crazy to me, because I couldn’t really believe this was the stage of labor that we’d reached! The girls up front asked me if I wanted to pull over or drive on as I informed them that I thought the baby was coming now, or at least very soon. I kept saying, “the baby’s coming” immediately after a few of those kinds of contractions. My doula said later that my eyes were huge when I told her it was time. She was relaying this to the midwife and her and my close friend were conversing while we were moving. I couldn’t hear any of it, which was a good thing, because of the wind noise. I just wanted to make it to Exit 24 for my husband, sister, and the boys to be there for the birth! But we drove past Exit 24. But when we did I was okay with it. My sister & boys were going to pick up my husband and meet us at the hospital.
The urge to push was getting stronger and sometimes uncontrollable. I asked my doula why my water hadn’t yet broken if we were this far along in labor. She said, “it’s because you have strong membranes.” I thought that was a good reason. I’d always had my water broken by someone before. The very next contraction my waters broke and I said, “okay, there it is.” I was relieved and I remember being glad because I’d always wanted to know what that would feel like! I felt the vehicle speed along faster (I found out later she started going about 90-100mph at this point). She was doing a great job though, speeding in and out through traffic, I felt like it was all under control and I didn’t worry about that part of it. I knew she would be praying like crazy and that God would protect us to all the way to our destination. We did pull over along side the Interstate and I had to take off my pants (good thing, because I did envision trying to have the baby with them on, having no idea how I would take them off by myself). My doula ran to the back and grabbed some wet wipes as I was soiling every thing (my favorite blanket was under me L ). But I was glad to have my favorite pillows and blanket surrounding me, even if we did have to trash them afterwards. They had slept with me every night for my whole pregnancy. It was homey and comforting (as could be given the circumstances).
I thought we were going to deliver right there alongside I-24, and I wondered why we didn’t pull more off away from the traffic and onto the on ramp that was visible from where we were parked, so I said so. So we got back in to move the vehicle and surprisingly just kept driving down the interstate. My doula had me switch positions so that in case the baby did come she could see and catch it. I put my pillow behind my back and was mostly sitting up, but kind of reclining against the back seat door behind the driver’s side. She was still in the front seat, turned around, on the phone with the midwife. They told us to drive on and to have me pant through contractions and to resist the urge to push. I had no idea how that was going to work out, since I now felt very ready to have my baby. I remember thinking, “I’m actually going to give birth naturally! I really am!” And I was so glad. I had been singing the same line of the same song through most of this labor. It was Shawn McDonalds’ “Open Me,” asking God to open me. And He had!
When I saw the Nashville skyline on the horizon I felt hope at reaching the hospital. I began to feel so different. I felt more aware of everything going on around me and much more relaxed between these contractions. I was able to resist the urge to push on most of them, though I could feel the head crowning on a few (and I could hear Kelly telling Bess on the phone that she could see the baby’s head emerging) but I was closing up between contractions with all my best efforts. I laid my head back and rested against the window pane. As we neared I-65 and I felt the sun on my face as the road turned South. It felt so wonderful, so warm, so bright and brilliant. I just basked in it, very aware of each breath I inhaled. We had reached the part of the road that I didn’t think I’d be able to handle because it is extremely rough where the interstates meet. I’d actually thought about this while traveling to my prenatal appointments. But we flew over it and I felt as if we barely touched the bumps. We had closed the window in case the baby came so it would be warmer inside, but since it was apparent we were probably going to make it and I was burning up, we cracked it again. I remember my lips and mouth being so dry that I could not even close them together, as I tried to moisten them. I got one contraction here that I was attempting to pant through but on the tail end of it the pressure to bear down was too intense and I felt a groan escape me that was totally involuntary and I bore down. I felt the head crown big time that time. But we were almost there. The city was on our left and my friend was doing a great job of whipping through traffic while my doula was still praying and panting with me through contractions, keeping me focused on what I was trying to remember to do. I honestly think if she hadn’t been there reminding me, I would’ve just pushed the baby out. She did remind me that people have birthed unassisted plenty of times over the course of history which did help to alleviate any fears I might have of just simply having my baby. I was okay either way. I looked up and we were in the lane heading down I-40 at the split and I yelled, “get to the right!” She looked back over her right shoulder and whipped it right over onto I-65 in just the nick of time. She had been so busy maneuvering through traffic and skillfully weaving in and out of it, that the split had come upon her quickly. I can’t believe I had even noticed what was about to happen, but it felt like something right out of a movie! Right afterwards we were off of the Interstate and on Charlotte Ave, which presented it’s own set of challenges and traffic. She just drove right around and through it, she honked through stoplights and drove the SUV like it was an Emergency vehicle.
When we reached the hospital’s ER drive-up I saw my midwife walking out in her blue scrubs. She looked like an angel to me! She was carrying something in her hands, and I remember thinking, “That’s not who I expected.” I had just seen this particular midwife at my prenatal appointment two days prior. She came in through the passenger side back door and assessed the situation. I couldn’t get out because I was having an intense contraction. I think that actually having arrived and seeing my midwife was like permission for me to give birth and I felt the head crown and not go back in this time. She asked me if I could scoot myself back onto the stretcher that someone had wheeled up behind me. I was still having the contraction and was shaking my head and asked, “Like this?” incredulously. That would just be too weird with the baby partially out of me. She said very calmly and confidently, “Okay, we’ll have the baby right here then.” She got something set up and Emergency medical personal came out of nowhere. Every door on the SUV was open, but there were people in and surrounding the vehicle so it didn’t feel cold at all. Someone said something about what to do with the baby after it came out and my eyes must’ve looked stricken. I said, “Oh no. Please don’t take my baby from me!” I felt like I would close up and put the head back in where it came from if they were planning on taking the baby, as that had been one of my greatest desires, to hold baby directly after having it. My midwife knew this was a great desire of mine and said, “Baby goes directly onto Mom. That’s the warmest place for him to go. Get blankets ready to cover them up after he comes.” I relaxed immensely. Then she looked at me and said, “Okay, you can push your baby out now.” I said, “Now? I don’t feel the urge until the next contraction.” She said, “You won’t tear right now. Baby’s head is almost out. Go ahead and push your baby out.” So I pushed a little. Not much. And out came the rest of the head. I was a little scared that the rest of the body would hurt coming out (I thought this was where I was supposed to feel the “ring of fire.” I should have read this part over better, obviously. I remembered though that I had a “small baby: 6-7lbs“ (this is what everyone had told me) so I thought that would make it easier.) Then I felt the shoulders and chest come out, then the bottom, legs and feet. It didn’t hurt at all! It felt incredible! So, baby came out in three parts kind of, but I don’t remember actually pushing the last two out. Baby just sort of emerged out of me. Which was an awesome feeling to have something come out of your body like that and to be aware and able to feel every movement on the inside and the outside! Baby came straight up onto my stomach and chest area and was immediately covered up with heated blankets. Someone from the ER said something about cutting and clamping the umbilical cord and my midwife said, “I’m not going to.” They told me to hold baby and back up onto the stretcher behind me so they could wheel us into the hospital. I did back up, but all I could think of or focus on was this incredible life that was now on top of me, that had just been inside of me for the past nine months! Baby was so warm and wet and I could feel so much strength in its little body as it squirmed around on me. It felt absolutely wonderful as baby lay directly on my skin. Someone said to keep rubbing his back. I think they wanted to hear that he was breathing and okay, but I could see very clearly that baby was fine. I wondered why they had said “he” though. Had they seen something that I hadn’t? I had no idea what the sex of the baby was, and as far as I knew neither did anyone else. It didn’t matter. Baby was healthy, born beautifully, and felt like a miracle lying on top of me. I was fascinated and mesmerized. I couldn’t keep from looking at that beautiful face and black hair. I had no idea what was going on around me. I don’t know where I went when I came into the ER, who I passed, whether they looked at us or not, and I didn’t care. We were moving along in our own little world, baby and I. It felt like a dream.
We finally reached the room that they put us in. I had no idea if it was even in the labor & delivery ward. It didn’t feel like it was. It felt like an “extra room.” But I didn’t care. My midwife took a look at the baby and cleaned her up a little with a towel, saying we both looked good. She put the baby to my breast and it began to somewhat nurse. I don’t think it really was, but it seemed to be trying to figure out what to do there. Then she delivered the placenta, which was a weird sensation. I was surprised at how big it felt like it was. I began exploring the little body all over under the warm blankets: arms, hands, fingers, back, legs, feet…and then discovered that this baby was a girl. I had to check again. A girl. I had to look to be sure. A girl. Will & the boys arrived about this time and I told them. It’s a girl. They all three smiled. A girl.
When the umbilical cord eventually stopped pulsing she clamped it. She offered for Daddy to cut the umbilical cord, but he declined (as he had twice before as well). Our younger son would like to do it though, and so he did, making Daddy nervous that he would cut me, and me nervous that he would cut the baby. But of course he didn’t cut anything but the umbilical cord and when it bled a little he said, “See Mommy, that doesn’t even bother me.” Our older son pointed my husband to the bowl where the placenta was and where they were trying to get the baby’s blood out to determine her blood type. He said, “that’s nothing compared to that over there! Look Daddy.” Will looked and is still to this day haunted by that image (I never saw it, though I meant to look at it, but according to the boys it was “cool” and was called the “meat looking thingy.”) The other girls that were supposed to have been there for the birth came in.
All the while the baby stayed on top of me. I was afraid to move her or let anyone else hold her because I thought that as soon as I did they would whisk her away to the nursery to be measure & weighed. So we just stayed there like that, me on the stretcher bed, baby girl on me, our family and friends surrounding us. I was able to maintain skin to skin contact with my baby for 2 ½ hours! Then they put some other laboring mom into the bed next to ours, after closing the divider curtain of course. Everyone said that I looked really good, and Will said I looked better than I had after having the boys. I felt wonderful. Exhilarated. (I never even went to sleep until midnight that night.) We finally moved to a postpartum room and baby went to the nursery, where daddy stood for two hours and watched her lay under the warmer and get her first “bath.” Then she came back to me in the room and stayed with us the entire rest of our hospital stay there. I think they thought we weren’t very compliant patients and maybe took offense to the fact we didn’t let the baby go back to the nursery. With seven babies on in the postpartum ward she was the only baby who didn’t go to the nursery. They all asked us if we were first time parents when they came to our room to check on me or the baby. We just smiled and said, “No. She’s our third child.” We even had to debate with them to be allowed leave the next day, and even then they didn’t release us until the late evening. I’m not sure why they wanted to keep us there longer, but despite it all most everyone was still nice to us.
We named her Brielle Jenae. She was 8lbs 5ozs and 21 inches long. Brielle comes from the name Gabrielle which means “God is my strength.” How so appropriate for this girl. God was certainly my strength during my pregnancy with her and especially during my labor and delivery of her. It is my prayer that God is her strength throughout the entire journey of her life. I’ve truly witnessed the strength that He has already given her, as she moved so much while in my womb, and the strength she exhibited while she was on her way into this world.
We are so glad that everything turned out the way that it did. I could not have contrived a better Birth Plan than this wonderful story that God choose to be ours. His timing is perfect and His Hand was on it all. It remains to be so this day as we enjoy our beautiful blessing, and experience His gracious giving through this joy He lights for us through our daughter. The boys are wonderful big brothers, of course. When they stop to look at her, kiss her, or let her wrap her fingers around their finger they say, “I just love her.” We love each of our children so much and know that they are unique gifts from God. We are so blessed and amazed at the goodness of His Love.
So, even though I was unable to have a home birth I was close enough to home in the back seat of our 5 ½ year old vehicle surrounded by my own comforts from home. I was a little sad that not everyone was surrounding Brielle and I as she came into the world. But as my good friend said, “It happened as it was supposed to happen. God was there.” And though I had really set my heart on having the baby at The Farm (a community in Southern Tennessee), there was no way that would’ve happened even if I would’ve went ahead with the plan for that. God knew that. He knew exactly when baby would be born,. He knew I would never have been at The Farm 11 days prior to my due date (I was planning on going there to stay for a week starting on two days prior to my due date - back when we had decided to do have the baby there last July--), nor would I have made it for the 2 ½ hour drive with only 4 hours of waking labor. But, how beneficial it was to have considered having our baby there, and meeting such a wonderful midwife, who gave me priceless wisdom and confidence in myself that I continued to hear throughout it all, and even now still. How much better it is when we surrender our dreams to our Father! He knows everything, and works out everything in order to His perfect will. I’m so glad that I relinquished control to Him, something He allowed me to experience quite a bit while I was pregnant also. He is the Creator and Designer of birth, who else better to depend on through its amazing process?
While my story still amazes me to read and recall it, I know that I have been given it in one way as a gift to share with you. There are many choices that women have in birthing decisions and also through prenatal and postpartum care of themselves and their babies. It is really knowing those choices and knowing that how making those decisions will effect the outcomes both physically, emotionally, and psychologically of mother and child. No one really tells women about their options or the risks. The information and the answers must be sought out by inquisitive women who desire something more profound for their birthing experience. Our birthing experiences impact us,and we tell our stories of them again and again. Seeking information requires us to no longer act in innocence and be reliant upon doctors. We become responsible for ourselves, for our babies, and we take part in a higher way of deciding, instead of allowing another to choose for us. We take our birth experiences back that way. And even though the most detailed birth plan may totally never work out (I laugh when I reread mine) it doesn’t matter. Have one anyway. Know why you choose what you choose and what the consequences of those choices may be. Then, in wisdom, trust your body as a woman, to believe that it knows exactly what to do. Because I am testifying to that truth. It does. And it’s an amazing experience just waiting to happen.