Monday, July 15, 2013

Singing a New Song

Ava's birth story. Part VI of my story about birth and mothering. I had planned to write this a week ago, so it is overdue in true Ava fashion!

I was surprised at how ready David was when I got out of the shower. "Still coming?" "Oh yes! This is it." I found something to wear (not hard since I was down to two shirts that fit), got my iPod, grabbed a reference book. Now I was having to pause and bend over with the rushes. David rubbed my back for me. I could already sense that we were working together as a team. He was taking care of logistics and supporting me. I felt secure. He had made me a breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and blueberries. I ate it all. I was hungry and I knew I would need the energy.

I called Mom again on the way. I had to pause during the conversation. The closer we got to our destination, the more intense things became. I felt I was in active labor. David wanted to know if we should skip the hotel and head for the hospital. I said no. We stopped at 4 hotels. They were all full! No room in the inn due to the holiday weekend. The last option had one room available. We set up camp. Immediately upon arrival the contractions lost their intensity. I knew this was normal for the new location and what not. I stayed on my feet, emptied my bladder, used accupressure points and did anything else I could think of to encourage things along. The rushes were still steady, just not strong enough. I again reviewed how to help a posterior baby turn during labor.

David and I were both hungry. We headed out to find food. We timed our route to the hospital. 12 minutes. I ate curly fries but didn't feel like anything heavier. Back at the hotel, I found myself still able to talk through contractions. I laid down to just rest and got on the internet for a bit. I sat with David and we kissed for a while. I cried because I was so frustrated that things were not intense enough. We prayed for things to pick up and asked God to go before us.

David told me to find my shoes. He said I needed a change of scenery and a place to walk. I said no to Wal-Mart and Lowe's but half-heartedly agreed to Michael's. We got there about 3:30 pm. I could feel the rushes intensify after walking around for just a few minutes. I tried to not give them any notice but it wasn't long before I was finding a secluded spot to hold David's neck and slow dance with each wave. He timed them instinctively and told me they were moving from 4 to 3 minutes apart. It was when I had to find the restroom that I knew my body was finally in active labor.

Now I was moaning with each wave. We picked up a kit to help me learn to knit, some yarn, a tap measure, and some pens for writing in the baby book. I told David we needed to go. The line looked too long. I went outside to call the midwife. My phone said 4:41 pm. Helen said she had been waiting for my call all weekend. She told me she was there all night and there was coverage the next day too. She didn't want me to worry or be in a hurry. I told her a short summary of my labor so far. We talked 8 minutes and I had only 1 contraction. She said to wait, just to make sure it wasn't too soon. She suggested I go back to the hotel to shower and call her back when I needed to. I agreed.

David wasn't so sure. Now I was beating the car door rhythmically with each wave. Things were finally picking up! I felt calm and confident, thankful for our answered prayer. David reluctantly drove back to the hotel. The rushes were close together again. Once we got in the room, I stood over the bathroom counter and dropped to a squat with a contraction, just like in my dream from the night before. David was VERY concerned. "It is time, Rebekah. I think your body may tell you to push soon. I'm going to pull the car around." I told him I wanted to lie down long enough to get my focus. He said to be ready when he got back.

In the car at 5:30 pm, I called Helen again. I hurriedly said things were moving along and we were on the way. She said to come through the ER entrance and she would be waiting in L&D. I called my family and told them to hit the road. David and I realized we didn't really know how to get to the ER entrance. We had planned to go straight to L&D but this was the weekend so things were different. We parked and made our way through some bushes and back parking lots. It was really quite a trek. I had to stop every 2 minutes, grab a concrete post, and bend over. You should've seen the looks from bystanders. I thought the baby may fall out in the parking lot and I guess they thought the same. As soon as a rush was over, I would look at David and say, "Let's go!" We would run (literally) to the next post, where I would stop and get through another one. (Looking back at this I can giggle.)

The ER staff wasted no time. I was on my way to L&D in less than 2 minutes. They got me to the door in a wheelchair. Just as they called the desk to get the door open, I jumped out of the wheelchair and said, "Sorry! Can't sit there any longer!" The escort seemed so relieved she could leave me. I think she was envisioning a birth on the elevator. The L&D unit was really quiet, what with it being Sunday afternoon. We were greeted with warm smiles. "So you're contracting, right?" "Uh, yeah!" Things were getting more and more intense, and fast. I was coping. Here things start to blur.

I do remember that I never had to tell anyone that I was hoping for a natural birth or anything about our birth plan. I knew I would have continuous monitoring. That was the first thing to do. Baby was great. I wanted IV access but no fluids. They were on the same page. I was in the bed long enough for a baseline monitoring strip, vitals, IV access, and a cervical check. 6 cm, 100% effaced, baby at 0 station. David and I high fived. We had accomplished a big goal of ours: staying out of the hospital until well into active labor. Helen felt my belly and said she thought the baby would weigh about 7 pounds. She told me to get out of the bed and move about. I enthusiastically agreed with her suggestion.

It was about 6:15 pm. I asked for a birth ball and moved to the side of the bed. I answered admission questions and signed all kinds of consents. I felt nauseous and shaky. I knew it was transition because the rushes were very strong and right on top of each other. Still, I was coping. David was right by my side. He was amazing. Helen and the staff were all so impressed with him.

In walked a CRNA with the apparent goal of convincing me I was stupid for not wanting an epidural. I will skip the details here, but this conversation ended with me asking to have a spinal if I did have to go to the OR, to which he responded, "Oh, if you have a C-section, it will be an emergency and you WILL be under general anesthesia and this guy (David) won't be in the room." I was shaking even more now. I signed a consent to have no anesthesia and he began to walk away. This was a serious blow to my confidence and I began to feel panicky.

Helen walked in immediately. David says she made a comment about standing up to the guy. I didn't hear her. The pain was getting to me. I was losing my focus and losing my ability to cope. I was also angry and tense. I became vocal with each contraction. A staff member walked in right away. "She sounds complete." Helen wanted to check again. 9 cm. I stood on my knees and held onto the back of the bed, rocking my hips and groaning (this word sounds nicer than yelling) with each wave. I wanted to vomit so badly, but I just couldn't.  Someone asked if I wanted my mother. "Yes. Send my mom!" I kept my eyes closed for the most part.

Mom was shocked because she had no idea that I was THIS much in labor. She stood by me as I hummed the Marine Corps anthem. "Rebekah, what are you singing?" "I don't know, Mom, just whatever I can think of." "Is it, um, patriotic?" "It's 'From the Halls of Montezuma." "That's what I thought." I could feel my baby moving down with every rush. It was so intense. I began to feel disconnected from all that was going on. When I heard people talk, it was like I was dreaming. "She's pushing!" "Is everything ready?" "Do what you need to do."

I could no longer cope on my knees. I got on my right side. Helen broke my water and I immediately had to push. I vocalized every thought I had. Loudly. I didn't mean to. I just did. I heard, "Oh, she's right there!" "We see her head!" "She has dark hair!" While these things were meant to be encouraging in response to my cries of "I can't do this!" they instead sent up red flags. "I don't believe you," I sobbed. Puzzled looks spread across the room. My mom leaned in closer. "That's what they said with Nora, Mom." She hurriedly explained to everyone what I meant. My midwife spoke. "We do not lie. She is right here. She is coming." David was to my right. He looked at me intently. "Rebekah, everything about this is different."

Someone walked in with a mirror and I demanded that they take the thing away immediately. But before they could I realized that my baby was indeed coming. She was crowning. Someone set up a fan to blow on me, since I had yelled that I felt like I was suffocating. I saw the OB walk in. She had a strange look, arms crossed. I remember saying, "I don't want this anymore."

"Rebekah! Rebekah!" "What?" I looked up to see my husband donning a gown and gloves, hands held up in front of his face. "I'm gonna catch her!" "I DON'T CARE!" I wish I hadn't said that. I did care. David took it in stride. The OB came over to my right, where David had been. "You want motivation? I've got motivation. I can do your C-section right now." I didn't know how to take that. A threat? I didn't have much time to process it. A rush...I closed my eyes and let go, pushing with all my might. Something changed dramatically. "What was that? Her head?" I looked up at the doctor who had just pushed me to finish my task. "Oh my gosh!" "You have to get the rest of her out!" I pushed a little and felt my baby being born.

7:50 pm. "Praise God! "Praise God! Praise God!" My husbands heart poured out of his mouth as he caught his brand new daughter and lifted her onto my abdomen. In an instant some switch deep inside my innermost being flipped. This was out of this world. This was my baby, hot, wet, squishy, lying on my abdomen, looking up at me. My fear and pain had melted into love and awe. I could not bask in the beauty enough. Everyone in the room surrendered to the joy.

"That was amazing! I did it, Mom!" Later that night, as I sat in our dark, peaceful room and quietly studied my baby, it all came crashing down on me. I didn't do this. I had done nothing! God did this thing! Oh, praise God! Praise God! Praise God!

Praise the God who hears!

Praise the God who cares!

Praise the God who heals!

"I waited patiently for the Lord; 
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit,
Out of the miry clay.

He set my feet upon a rock,
He established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth-
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord."
(Psalm 40:1-3)

Sunday, July 14, 2013


This post is Part V in my story about birth and mothering.

After weeks of prodromal labor, starting and stopping and starting again, I thought my "labor engine starter" might be broken. I was getting no updates on my cervix from my midwives, and I think that helped me stay somewhat sane. The date I had guessed came and went...and went further. A week after this date I went in for my weekly appointment. David came with me since I was (once again) having contractions I could time.

The midwife did offer an update on my cervix this time, and also offered to sweep my membranes. I consented. With Nora I would have refused this procedure, but I had been subtly warned that I was on a tight time table to avoid pressure to schedule a repeat C-section. There would be midwifery call starting the next morning at 8 AM. (This was a stressful issue for us as the midwife I had sought out had moved out of state as I neared term. Now the practice was short, and the midwives couldn't cover call 24/7.) My midwife said she would see me back in five days and would have to do an ultrasound to check fluid levels then. I think she saw the look on my face, and on her way out the door she said, "I feel sure you will..." her voice trailed off but her experienced and slightly reassuring tone gave me hope.

Friday morning David decided to stay home from work. That day we did all we could to encourage labor. It was so hot out, we decided to go to Lowe's to walk briskly. I had every sign of labor. I was just waiting on a contraction to stop me in my tracks. I knew the start and stop labor pattern was most likely due the baby's position. She seemed to be lying in my womb the same way her sister had, and my midwife had agreed with my assessment. I prayed she would turn.

Saturday morning I woke up still pregnant. We had plans to spend the day with my family as my brother was home. I appreciated distraction, but I was battling with discouragement. It was looking like I might make it to that next appointment, where I would have to fight for things. David and I walked in the yard and prayed. "God, go before us. Make the path straight. This is our request, Lord. We give it to You."  I had begun feeling contractions again. I decided to do my best to go about my business and not despair.

David and I decided to make plans to go to his sister's house the next day. We thought the pool would be a great distraction. That night we drove to town. I found a bathing suit top that fit my 10 month pregnant belly. David bought a road map to have just in case. His sister's house was about an hour away from the hospital if we knew the back roads. Everyone thought we had lost it, but we packed everything just case labor showed. According to my guess date I was now 41 weeks and 3 days. I figured labor may never come anyway!

Throughout that night I dreamed very vividly. Oddly, at some random points, I would see myself in my dream, dropping to a squat in the peak of a contraction. I woke to go the bathroom at about 5 AM. I thought it might have been just after a rush. I was able to go right back to sleep. Sometime around 7:30, Nora kicked me and I woke in the peak of a rush.

I knew it was labor but tried to stay prepared for the possibility that it may fizzle out again. I told David. We timed them at 4 minutes apart. I called Mom to catch her before she left for church. I called Grandma too. We made plans to get Nora to them before they left the house. I was hurried to get her ready. Contractions were still coming, even stronger. I was convinced this was the day! I watched Nora toddle over next door. She was holding her daddy's hand, Susie doll in the other. She was my heart. I felt a tear surface as I lost sight of her pink plaid dress, pink bow, pink shoes. "God, help her with the adjustment. Don't let her feel that I don't love her." Peace washed over me. I was ready.

Friday, July 5, 2013


This is part IV of my story on birth and mothering. I journaled this on June 25, 2012, at 39 weeks pregnant with our second baby.

I want control of this situation.

No words I could speak or write would convince you of the importance of this matter to me.

I WANT a healing birth.

I have spent the last year preparing for this experience, now a matter of days or even hours away.

I have dug deep, I have searched and researched implemented and prepared.

I have worried and lost sleep and stressed.

Now I feel one thing, because I have come to the realization that I am not the one in control.

I am scared.

I am not in control.

Is there something more I should do?

Have I missed some preparation?

What will happen?

How will I respond?

I am scared.

Who is in control?

I feel anxiety growing stronger.

Where do I turn.

Oh, Lord, YOU are in control.

You are in control.

I am sorry for holding onto this for so long.

Tears fill my eyes as I surrender.

Take this from me, Lord.

It is too much for me.

But in Your hands, it is a tiny matter.

"No mountain, no valley, no gain or loss we know
Could keep us from your love...

How high, how wide
No matter where I am
Healing is in Your hands
How deep, how strong
Now by Your grace I stand
Healing is in Your hands."


This is part III of my story about birth and mothering. 

One day in October 2011, I came home from what I would still call the worst day I have ever had at work. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. David and I were supposed to be leaving Nora with my mom the next day. We were headed to a Zac Brown Band concert in Charleston. I was so looking forward to having a date with my husband. Despite the fact that I had blown through approximately 27 pregnancy tests (can you say money money money?) in the last month or so, David suggested I take a pregnancy test. "Okay, whatever. It will be negative like the rest of them." But in the face of my pessimism, the line turned pink and my frown turned upside down!

I called my old OB office with the news. I had labs done and filled out the paperwork. One day before my first appointment, I called David on the phone. "What am I doing? It is crazy to think that I can repeat the same "experiment" and expect a different outcome." We had to have a conversation about money, since changing place of birth and care provider meant more money for insurance deductibles, co-pays, gas, etc. The conversation wasn't very long, because we talked about the impact that having a couple more c-sections would have on our finances. David and I were in agreement. Things had to be different this go-round if the outcome was to change. So the search began. I felt like I was back at square one, only this time I had experiences and a scar to guide me. I set out on a mission, like a mad woman, to learn as much as I could about natural birth and to surround myself with people who would support me.

I found myself at the doors of Covenant Birth Center, accompanied by my husband and 16 month old. I knew I was not a candidate to birth with these midwives. I knew DHEC regulations. But I didn't know where else to turn, and a "You have not because you ask not" glimmer of hope guided me to this place. I opened the doors, and there stood both of the midwives. I had come unannounced. They were busy preparing for a photo shoot, yet they welcomed us into their beautiful facility, even as my toddler cried and whined to be put down for a nap.

They offered me a quiet place to nurse. The halls were painted with photos-happy photos- of families who had birthed there. I also saw several beautiful plaster forms of pregnant curves hanging on the walls. In the quiet room, there were toys, a Bible, a comfortable chair, a fetoscope, an exam table. Nothing about the room made me feel as though this was a place to handle a medical condition. Instead, there was warmth and joy. I wished I could hide the scar on my torso and be "allowed" to birth here. Regret filled my mind again as I thought back to the phone call I had made to the birth center when I first learned of my pregnancy with Nora. David helped me focus. This was about the future, not the past.

"She was born by Cesarean." Their faces fell. "We cannot. DHEC has said..." "I know. We came here hoping for advice, guidance. Do you have any recommendations?" The initial stiff feel to the conversation gave way to warmth and encouragement as I shared some of my story with these ladies. Out of the blue, one of them explaimed, "Oh! She needs Jennifer!" They wished us well with much sincerity and we were on our way.

Jennifer was a nurse midwife about 45 minutes from my house. According to the licensed midwives I hear about her through, she was very natural birth minded, a professional to whom they referred their mothers who "risked out" during pregnancy. I was able to speak with her on the phone one evening for about half an hour. After listening to my story, she said she believed that I had a great chance of VBAC. I was surprised at how encouraging she was. I felt like I was talking to someone who cared about me and my family. She had faith in me from the get-go. I needed that.

A new place of birth and a new care provider was just the beginning of what was different about this pregnancy. I began reading books. The Birth Partner, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, to name a few. I watched The Business of Being Born. I looked for a comprehensive natural childbirth education class, but didn't find one in the area. I chose to order the Hypnobabies home study course and started working through it at about six months along. I was also seeing a chiropractor certified in Webster on a weekly basis.

I was bursting with new ideas and information, but I still had doubts. After all, it didn't work the first time. Every time I got down about this, David would say, "Rebekah, everything is different this time." But was I doing enough? I felt the weight of every decision I made.


This post is part II of my story about birth and mothering.

When my baby Nora was eight weeks old, a very dear friend of mine passed away suddenly. She was working for the Lord in a children's home in Malaysia at the time. Before she left the country, she had come to see Nora and me in the hospital. I didn't know that would be the last time I would see her. Her birthday was the day we brought the baby home from the hospital. I couldn't make the party, so Joy had tried her best to arrange a time for us to get together before she left. It never worked out because I was too wrapped up in myself and my baby to make time for one last visit. I now live with that regret. But then, in the summer of 2010, I lived in a state of shock and disenchantment. I walked on, but I didn't feel. I didn't stop to think.. I had one more year of nursing school, and I set my eyes on the goal of finishing.

There was a day when I finally sat down and thought. I wrote ferociously. Things didn't necessarily make sense, but at least I was beginning to feel alive again. Joy had been the truest friend I had ever known. She pursued me when I did not want to be pursued. I had chosen not to obey God's Word and had become a mess of a person, but Joy never stopped ministering to me. Even when I tried to keep her at a distance or said hurtful things to her. She lived for eternity. What was I living for?

I had this to ponder. I also struggled moving on from Nora's birth. Another day in February, I began writing again. This time I wrote about birth. I was doing my final clinical rotation in the hospital where Nora was born. Every time I passed by the maternity unit, my heart would beat faster and my palms would get sweaty. I began having flashbacks of the moments just before the c-section, the moments I had experienced my first anxiety attack. I realized that I had things to deal with. Writing it all down was the beginning of the healing process. I still had a long way to go, but I felt ready to move forward.

David and I had always said we wanted a big family. We had never put a number on how many children we hoped to have, but we both felt it would be more than two or three. Because I knew having a cesarean scar on my uterus put a possible limit on the number of children we would be able to have, we didn't spend much time thinking about repeat c-section vs vaginal birth after cesarean. We also knew I was a great candidate for VBAC, especially if we were to wait a little to have another baby. We had plenty to distract us during this wait as I graduated and began learning the ropes of working as a RN. It wasn't long before we were officially hoping to see two pink lines.

I remember this season of my life as a time of questions, a time of searching for answers. I prayed to my God, who works things we can't understand for our good.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Day for Celebration

Last night as I was putting Nora to bed, we kissed and hugged as usual. I turned to walk away but decided against being hasty. "Nora, I need another kiss. This is the last time Mommy will be able to kiss two-year-old Nora. Tomorrow is your birthday!" Nora's grin peeked from behind her paci as she stated, "Tomorrow I will be 3 years old, Mommy." Three years. Time flies, but it really does feel like she's three, if not older, because I have forgotten what day-to-day life was like before Nora came along. It seems like she's been mine forever.

Today was a day to celebrate Nora. It was a day to bask in the simplicity of being a little girl as I stood wishing I could play pin the tail. It was a day to realize I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. It was a day to be thankful for helping hands and willing hearts. And now, before I lay my head down, it is a day to reflect on this day three years ago, the day I became a mother.

I woke up at 4 AM on June 22nd, a giddy 20-year-old with big hopes and a belly full of baby. I would fall asleep again 24 hours later changed, with a baby in the bassinet next to me and a heart full of emotions it would take me months to process. It was one of the longest days of the year and the longest day of my life.

My God is faithful. The story I am beginning to write here is one that is still unfolding. Really, it is just a smaller part of the story of my life. Three years out from the beginning of this smaller story, I can see now that it was, in fact, just the beginning of something. This smaller something is still being written, but I am far enough out from its beginning now to see that it is something that required a sovereign Author.

My very first semester of college, I elected to take a seminar in women's health. I still remember how much writing I did for that little one credit hour class and how much I learned. The professor assigned a big group project for the end of the semester. My group chose to compare outcomes of hospital births, birth center births, and home births. We spent hours looking at research and compiling our project. At the end of our presentation, my professor looked at me and asked, "So if you ever have a baby, where will you choose to give birth?" I did not hesitate to provide my answer. "I will give birth with a midwife in a birth center."

When David and I found out we were expecting, just 4 months after we married, I felt two things. I felt sure I was having a boy and I felt sure that my body was meant to grow a baby, bring it forth, and continue to feed it. When I went into labor 9 months later, I knew I was having a girl and I was filled with a lot of questions of "What if...?" I knew that labor and birth were normal and generally safe, so I would try to keep it as natural as possible. I didn't want a lot of interventions, but what if?

Because of little doubts and on whims of convenience, when labor day came we had already made several decisions that decreased our chances of having a natural birth. We were ill-prepared and had set ourselves up, so to speak. To make matters worse, though we didn't know much about how it would affect my labor, the baby girl was not optimally positioned. I refused induction in the days leading up to my due date. I chose to go home from the hospital so that I could move about and eat while I was still in early labor. But that was about the extent of our natural labor and birth.

Once I felt the first pain of active labor, I swore to David and my mother that I would no doubt have an epidural. As soon as possible. I was scared. I was so so scared. I was scared of the pain and scared of the unknown. I was scared of being told to be still in the bed. I was scared of having to speak up for myself. I was scared of surgery. My mother had three C-sections. I felt scared that I would have a C-section, too, and I was scared of surgery.

The epidural led to immobility as I napped for hours. That initial intervention was closely followed by several others, but things seemed to be moving along just fine. Then after two hours of pushing there was a vacuum extractor, a baby blanket on my chest, and word sent to the family waiting, "It won't be long now."

But it never happened.

They took the baby blanket away. No more pushing. Pain. Calling in the OR staff. Sign on the line. Don't worry. The anesthesiologist is coming. Pain. Vomit. Anxiety. Fear. Panic.

I was scared of surgery. My greatest fear was coming to be real. And my epidural was no longer working. I tried my best to communicate this information. I heard a conversation about what drug to give now. I spaced out. I was tripping.

I blinked. I saw blue. Lots of blue. I saw lights swirling in big circles. I heard voices. I felt a hand on mine. "Your husband is here." I felt a moment of focus. "I am having a C-section. What happened? David? Did I tell you I love you?" I heard a baby cry. (This is the part of the story that is the most difficult to write, but it is the part that ultimately impacted my perspective of birth.) I did not know whose the baby was. I knew I heard the cries of a baby, but I did not know the baby was mine. It was 11:30 pm. David says they checked her out, then put her on my chest. I don't remember the moment, but we do have photos that the anesthesiologist took for us. I do remember her face being really close to mine. They untied my arm so that I could touch her. I said something about how swollen her lips were. They took her to the nursery. David went with her. I fell asleep a second later.
(I realize that not every mother who has a C-section feels so disconnected from her baby. The medication I was given, Ketamine, induces dissociative anesthesia and causes hallucinations.)

I slept for nearly three hours in the PACU before finally meeting Nora. The nursery nurse, bless her, did not give the baby any water, formula, or pacifier. When we were finally united, Nora nursed like a champ and never looked back. Despite the odds being against us, we were able to breastfeed without difficulty. That was God's grace. I didn't know at the time how vital that relationship would be, helping me bond to my baby I didn't know had come out of me.

Nora weighed 8 pounds and 9 ounces. She had a head full of rather long, dark hair. She had blue eyes and eyebrows that looked like they had been perfectly drawn with a pencil. I studied her. I was amazed at how intricately designed she was. I tried to soak in every little detail. She was beautiful and yes, she was mine! A good gift from God. In the coming days, we would spend hours together, nursing and cuddling. And I would spend those hours reflecting.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

While I Have Just A Minute

Our little Ava has decided that she is fascinated by computers. She loves to grab the screen and punch at the keys. I have tried to take the laptop up out of her reach and go about my "necessary" business, but her little lip curls and she wails, usually followed by her pulling up on my chair, putting her hands on my knees, and saying, "Mama, mama." Well, I turned the laptop off, closed it, and put it away. Nothing on this screen is that important. Of course it's just a season, but for now the blog posts will be sporadic and the e-mail may not be read every day. Just know I'm folding laundry, reading books, and playing tea party.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We finished the new room the last week of April. There is still a good bit of organizing of the rest of the house left to be done, though. The last weekend in April we went to Topsail Beach, North Carolina, where I attended a 4 day Passion for Birth workshop while David, his mom (affectionately known by all in our family as "Mil"), and the girls had a nice little vacation in an oceanfront condo. David was surprised by how enjoyable the trip turned out to be, and I was amazed at all I took away from the workshop, which was also quite enjoyable. I am in the process of becoming a certified childbirth educator, and this workshop was one of big steps I had to take before I take the exam in October.

Immediately upon returning home from our dreamy vacation, Nora began sneezing and sniffling. The next morning she had a fever. I was just thankful we had all been well for six weeks. Little did I know what was to come. We ALL got sick. Miserably sick. And because Ava couldn't breathe to nurse, I developed a nasty case of mastitis. After two weeks of fevers, snot, and coughs, we are all better again. Thank You, Lord!

After the PfB workshop, I set out to begin writing my curriculum and progressing toward teaching. Since I needed to find a way to gain experience teaching childbirth classes, I called a local ministry asking if I could volunteer. I was hoping to offer prenatal classes to mothers with unplanned pregnancies. I did NOT expect to be asked to teach 5 days later, but God knew what was needed. Despite how sick I had been, I was able to teach my very first class on labor and birth to a group of 5 girls. Next week I am going back to teach about breastfeeding. This is a new chapter, which is always exciting, but it's even more than that. There is something really special about this opportunity and I am thanking God for the ministry He has set before me.

Last but not least, we are getting ready for a new family adventure. We are getting dairy goats! I have been wanting goats ever since I realized that a cow is a little much to feed. David is busy planning how to shelter them. Our buck was born a few weeks ago. We have named him Percy. Our two girls are a little older. I am not sure about their names yet, but David wants them to begin with the letter "G." They are all Nubian goats, and I think they are just so sweet. They come home in June. In the meantime, I have to go to work a little to pay for them and their fence. TTFN!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The New Room! Sneak Peak...

Nora eating breakfast at her table-with-a-view

We are counting this extra space as a big blessing. Nora thinks it is the neatest thing ever.

What does Ava think about it? She is just about as excited as I am!

"Mom, I just love this floor! I can scoot like a champ in here!"

So the room is not quite done, but will be within the week!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Short & Sweet: Concerning My Undying Love for David

Some mornings, I wake up and stumble into the kitchen to find the cup-at-a-time coffee maker all set up with freshly ground coffee, water, and my cup (with a sweet message written in the chalkboard space) ready to go. All I have to do is push the button and I can then hear that comforting sound and smell the best part of wakin' up. This may sound ridiculous to some. Sure I CAN make my own coffee. But I sometimes gripe about how I wish I had a coffee infusion at my bedside, ready to be plugged into my vein each morning. This way I wouldn't have to open my eyes, speak, or move prior to coffee. This is not for my sake, but for the sake of those I live with. It's not that I like my condition, but I am NOT a very nice person in the morning PTC (prior to coffee). But really, truly, this little thing he does just makes my day. I love it when he does that.

And now I just have to brag. Yesterday he surprised me by thoroughly cleaning every cabinet in the kitchen. They are white. They were looking pretty bad. It had been on my to-do list for a while. But when one must choose between wiping down cabinets and something basic like taking a shower, one will usually choose taking a shower. He is so thoughtful.

David and I started dating six springs ago. This time of year always brings back those sweet memories for us. So, I have a hot date tonight. ;) Oh, I do love David Oliver.

Monday, April 8, 2013

It Takes Time

Ava is 9 months old today! One day in the hopefully not-too-distant future I plan to write a series about her birth. What? A series? Yes. It will take more than one post, because I cannot share her birth story without starting years earlier, even before Nora's birth. So, like I said, one day...

But today, we celebrate Ava being 9 months old, which means she now has an ever-expanding vocabulary which includes the following words: Mama, Dada, Bye-bye, Hey. Okay that's only four words, but she talks so much I was sure it was going to look like more when I got it written down. Ava Pearl has just one oh-so-cute tooth. She is quite the eater, preferring ANYTHING including old crumbs, coins, and pine straw to milk unless she is sleepy. I would love for her to nurse more, but there is no forcing...errr...persuading her.

Ava has a very speedy army crawl. That baby can get around! All the activity is slimming her up, but she is still quite chubby. She still has the sweetest temperament, though she has learned to have little fits every now and then. She seems to be trying to change her routine, dropping one of her three naps. She loves to clap her hands for anyone who will sing to her. Oh and here is her new trick:

When babies are born we think their sleepless nights and total dependence is the end of our lives as we know them. While it is true that babies change us, their state of total dependence is so short lived...they just grow and change so quickly. Yes, it takes time for a newborn to become an independent being, but there is such fun and beauty in the process.

This is what I have been learning.

I wanted the room addition on our house done months ago.

I want my house out of its current state of chaos. Yesterday.

I want to see my career goals become a reality next week.

Daddy always said, "You're wishing your life away."

I am an extremely goal-driven person. As God would have it, I married a man who enjoys the scenery along the way. I really want to stop wishing for tomorrow to be here today. It sounds so simple, but apparently I have a difficult time adopting simple concepts. For me, even learning that things take time takes time.

I am excited to say that the next time I post I will have photos of the girls' new room, which will be done this week! Yay!

A picture of the girls for your enjoyment. Yes, I am well aware that the bow on Ava's head makes this photo comical. Thanks to Aunt Michelle and Madison for the outfits!

Friday, March 29, 2013


This Friday morning...colder than most mornings in December. Our breath is huge in the air. There is frozen water. Is it really spring? Why is it taking so long? Why does this late-to-show spring remind me so much of my life?

                    sickness   sorrow    mistakes
                heartache   suffering   weakness

Not quite...

see it's Friday... Sunday is coming.

"And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." -Revelation 21:5

Hold on!
Have faith!
For the hope of spring.
For the promise of new life.
There will be a resurrection.

Oh I need a resurrection! Don't you?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How Changing a Cloth Diaper Changed Me

***There isn't much going on around here to make for good writing material, unless you wanted me to write a comedy about Nora, puke, and diarrhea (Round 2). Ava did cut her first tooth last Monday, March 18th. I feel that it adds to her cuteness. But see, that's all there is to say about that. So let me write about something unrelated to current events!***

When David and I found out that we were expecting our first baby, we were not exactly well off, financially speaking. In fact, we were both in school and working part-time. When people asked me how we would manage, I would tell them that I planned to breastfeed and cloth diaper. I then received all kinds of funny looks from everyone but Grandma, who said cloth diapering was the only option available to her and it worked out just fine.

 Well, we were blessed by numerous showers and gifts during my pregnancy. I had more diapers than I knew what to do with. They literally were stored in the attic for a while. Nora was almost 3 months old and we still had not had to think about purchasing diapers. Then there came the day when I realized we were down to the last box. Where do we go from here?

It was during this very week that I realized we would soon have to buy diapers that we had dinner with our then acquaintances, now dear friends. Our baby girl was about three months old, theirs seven months, and would you believe it...they used cloth diapers! Of course I was thrilled to talk to another mom who could encourage me to try it out, and even had experience to boot! After a few days of thinking and calculating, we ordered our "stash" (don't you just love that word?) of cloth diapers and have never turned back. Now that isn't to say I haven't LOOKED back, but we haven't TURNED back. See the difference? Okay moving on...

Cloth diapers started out as a purely economical decision for us. But it didn't take long for the novelty to wear off. First there was a transitional diaper rash. Then it took me months to figure out the perfect wash routine. We would (still do) forget the wet bag. While I was in nursing school, we would run out of clean diapers and have to wash at odd times of the night. Nora started eating solids and things got messy. Then there was the stink issue...It didn't take longer than six weeks to realize that this was certainly NOT less hassle than disposables. I almost threw in the towel. But I just couldn't. (And, for the record, things have gotten lots easier as I've gained experience!)

Baby Ava in one of my favorite newborn cloth diapers

Cloth diapering has seriously changed me, in more ways than one. First, they have helped me find my way as a mother. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I can explain. I still haven't figured out how the "baby industry" finds an expectant mother's mailbox, but once they do, there is a flow of solicitation. Coupons, savings, samples, advertisements...having a baby means a huge list of THINGS you have to buy. Diapers and formula are just the beginning of the commercialism, but separated from the necessity to purchase those items, I have found simplicity in motherhood. It seems the only thing my newborn baby really needs is her mother's presence, arms, love. We can both survive, even thrive, without the bucket list of accessories.

Second, cloth diapers have changed my lifestyle. One day during one of the previously mentioned "we're out of clean diapers" episodes, I changed a disposable and went to toss it in the trash. I don't know what came over me, but I HATED the way I felt throwing that diaper in the garbage. It wasn't just the money. See, using cloth diapers was my first real experience with novel ideas like "reducing waste" and "re-using." Tossing that diaper in the trash just felt wasteful, and I didn't know how we would handle a situation where we didn't have reusable diapers and ran out of disposables. What if the store wasn't open? What if there was a shortage? What if we fell on hard(er) times? Cloth diapers gave me a sense of security. 

I like to say that I want to live a simple life and get back to my roots. I have a long way to go, but I have come a long way, too. Using cloth diapers was the first step I took toward that goal. In fact, cloth diapering led me to set that goal. I haven't always been into this kind of back-to-the-basics lifestyle, but using changing a cloth diaper has changed me.

And who doesn't love this sight...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sister Act

Colder Weather

Well the weekend was BEAUTIFUL! We had perfect, pull-out-your-shorts kind of weather. Saturday morning we had friends join us for some garden work. Which basically means my friend and I watch our four girls play together while our husbands garden. I did work on transplanting our little tomato seedlings into separate containers so their roots will have more room to grow. We have about 40 tomato plants, in three different heirloom varieties. Looking forward to giving them away when they get a little bigger!

Yesterday was even warmer in a perfect Sunday kind of way. Then there's today. Woke up to Monday morning, cold and cloudy. Got this spring loving girl a little down. I think a pot of potato soup is in order, and maybe even the smell of a fresh loaf of bread. Those things feel like they may help us cope with this colder weather we're stuck in for a little bit longer. Spring is coming!

We are now a very eager and excited beekeeping family! Actually, David does all the beekeeping. But we support him 100%!

Busy bees

Their new home

Ava Pearl, the baby beekeeper
Well the girls just dumped an entire can of baby "puffs" all over the floor so I think my blogging time is done for the day!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why You Should Never, Ever, EVER Store Your Vacuum On The Back Porch

So, this post will disappoint those of you who want photos added to this blog, like, yesterday (Hey, Mom, I'm talking to you!), but it is sure to be helpful to you if you should ever find yourself trying to decide where to keep your vacuum cleaner OR if you just need a laugh. Now, photos are coming. I promise.

I live in a small cottage. After years of struggling to enjoy trying to find a place for all the belongings of two, then three, then four people, I have finally come to the point of embracing day-to-day life in a small space. I have learned that I don't NEED a bunch of the STUFF that finds its way into my home. I have learned to appreciate life apart from the big dream house with its wraparound porch and gracious Southern drawl. That house is tucked neatly inside a three ring binder in my hall closet. It may come out of its binder one day, but it doesn't necessarily have to. God has shown us that success is not measured by the size of the roof over our heads.

Now, as I say all this I need to offer a disclaimer: My life has just been made easier by the purchase of a 10'x12' storage building. In addition, I am counting down the days until the contractor comes to start transforming the back porch into a second bedroom. This is actually what brought me to this post today. David has been out cleaning off the porch, getting it ready for said transformation. I stood out there with my camera posed for some "before" pics, and I could not stop thinking about the night I brought that vacuum cleaner in off the back porch. Here goes...

Ava was a little baby. I decided that it had been much too long since my house had a good floor cleanin'. Nora is terrified of vacuum cleaners, so David decided to take her outside while I ran the machine. Ava laid sleeping on our bed. I retrieved the bulky machine off the back porch. (My house lacks a space for the thing to hide, and I really don't want a vacuum cleaner as living room decor.) It came right on and ran beautifully. I admired the clean(er) carpet and decided to clean the bathroom rug too. Just as I wrapped up my vigorous vacuuming of the bathroom rug, I saw it...

A huge spider on the wall! Well I am not, I assure you, as terrified of spiders as my mother. But I do not relish them inhabiting my house. So I thought it best to turn off my vacuum cleaner and kill the spider. Easy enough, but a little messy too. I walked to the kitchen for a rag to clean my wall. Picked up the rag. Turned around. Saw movement just beside the vacuum cleaner. Wait...what eyes....OHDEAROHDEAROHAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH....A RODENT....there is a MOUSE and this is NOT okay!

A million thoughts ran through my head in less than half a second. I thought about the night I sat around a campfire in Botswana listening to the high pitched squeal of a mouse in a burning log. Any sympathy I felt for the little critter soon faded as this mouse, I kid you not, ran out of this log and straight toward me. The mouse ran UP MY LEG, seeking refuge in my skirt. I will never forget that creepy feeling as long as I live. I shudder even writing this story. Adrenaline is pumping through  my veins. Fight or flight. Okay back to my living room...

"There is a mouse. Where are my kids? Oh yeah one is outside. One is sleeping soundly on my bed. The door is shut. The mouse cannot get her. She is fine. I'm fleeing!" I ran out my house, yelling loudly for David to get his tail back up the road and into the house to do what has to be done. I got up on the hood of the car and held my knees, rocking back and forth. Spiders are okay. Most animals are okay, but not mice. Mice are my vice.

Well of course the mouse ran and hid just as I slammed the door behind me, figuring his home in the vacuum cleaner was no longer safe. David wasn't able to locate him and finally coaxed me back into the house, but I assured him I would not be able to sleep without him taking some further steps.

The story ends this way: we rode to town to purchase a mouse trap, which proved very efficient at its duty. I sold the vacuum cleaner at a yard sale for $10. We have since purchased a Eureka Quick-Up, which is a solid crumb picker-upper in a very sleek package. Sleek enough to fit INSIDE my house.

That, my friends, is why you should never, ever, EVER store a vacuum cleaner on your back porch. Especially if you live in the woods. Don't think they're not around. They are, and they're looking for a comfy home!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ava Pearl

Yesterday Ava turned 8 months old. Today she clapped her little chubby hands for the first time. She wants to play patty cake over and over and over. As I write this she is sitting in the floor, singing and clapping her hands. She also learned to make noise come out of a recorder today. Exciting, but not quite as cute as the hand clapping.


Nora and I have been reading The Year at Maple Hill Farm. We both love this book. It explains what happens on a farm each month of the year. I was hoping to read just one month per day, but of course Nora wants to hear the book from cover to cover each time we open it.  

"March is a windy month. It is still cold outside but you can tell spring is coming. There are signs of spring in the barn. March is windy and rainy, but when the sun does shine, it shines more brightly and the days are longer. There are signs of spring everywhere."  

The page is filled with illustrations of baby animals and melting snow. When we finished reading about March, Nora was chanting, "Spring, spring, spring! Yayyyy spring!" I couldn't agree more. We talked about things around our house that mean spring is coming. It's not quite a farm, but there sure are many signs that winter is giving way to something new. Here are a few:

David is out working the garden soil with his new broadfork.

The baby chicks are growing bigger and bigger, getting feathers on their wings.

The beehives have a piece of ground to sit on, and come Tuesday they will have inhabitants!

I have the urge to clean my house, up and out. And this year I can not blame it on "nesting!" As an added bonus, I have energy this spring because I am not running the halls of a telemetry floor full time and pregnant! (Hmmm...I need to remember where I've been when I get too caught up in the woes of stay-at-home mommyhood!)

Some of our summer vegetable plants have sprouted from their seeds and are growing bigger and bigger every day. There are four different types of heirloom tomatoes, two varieties of peppers, and six different herbs. These herbs are the sprouts I am most excited about, because last year some of them did not germinate. We have lavender, chamomile, sage, oregano, thyme, and basil all showing promising signs of growth. 

I share Nora's sentiments. "Yayyy spring!"

"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." -Isaiah 43:18-19