Monday, April 16, 2012

A Little Organization is in Order

When I was working full-time, I thought that the house would be cleaner when I became a stay at home mom. I'd be home all the time and would be able to clean all day if my little heart felt like it. How naive I was! Maybe I've contributed to the fact that Natalie likes to be held and likes to be interacted with instead of left to entertain herself for more than 5 minutes at a time, but I want to be a hands-on mom. The problem with that is that I have not discovered how to balance that desire with the necessity of maintaining a home. In an effort to stay on top of the accumulating dirty dishes, laundry (both clean and unfolded and the dirty stuff), and hardwood/tile floor sweeping/vacuuming/mopping, I'm going to try a few new organization tips that I found online recently. Somewhere I read that when you leave a room and pass by something that doesn't belong there, pick it up and put it away. Little by little, things will get put back in place and chaos will start to be transformed. I can handle this.

I also have a bad habit of not picking up after myself. Clothes get piled up when I take them off instead of getting put with the dirty clothes, mail gets piled up on the countertops in the kitchen. I want to set up a system to organize mail into shred, file, and bills categories so that it doesn't just lay in a heap.

The third baby step in my little plan is to take shoes off when we enter the house. We've talked and talked and talked about doing this, but for some reason I'm really bad about it. My hope is that the floors will stay cleaner longer, although having an indoor dog is like asking for dirty floors anyway.

Lastly, I want to try really hard to resist the urge to plop down in front of Netflix or Facebook, Pinterest, or Blogger and veg for who-knows-how-long when in the far recesses of my mind I know that the dishes are calling out, screaming actually, to be unloaded and reloaded into the dishwasher or that basket of clean laundry that has been sitting in front of the dryer since I took it out of the dryer a week ago is begging to be folded and put away. I'm going to tell on myself some more by letting you know that my poor husband wore my socks several days last week because I hadn't matched and put away socks that had been in the laundry room in said basket in front of the dryer for a week. And I didn't bother to tell him that they were in there either. It's safe to say that I'm not going to win "Homemaker of the Year" this year! So, instead of vegging, I want to complete one of these tasks first, and then use computer or tv time or sewing time, whatever is tempting at the moment, as a reward. (Sidenote: While watching Netflix a few weeks ago, I watched the documentary Freakanomics, which talked about incentives and bribery to get highschoolers to succeed. I'm an adult, and am not ashamed to admit that incentives work on me, too!)

So, maybe if I'm successful and can get my act together, I'll share how things are going in a few weeks. And you better bet your bottom dollar that Natalie will learn how to help around the house as soon as she's old enough to match socks ;)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Natalie's Birth Story

I have been wanting to write Natalie's birth story so that I don't forget all the details, but I keep putting it off. Who knows why....maybe because there just aren't enough minutes during nap time? Or because I want to take a nap during nap time? Are you sensing a theme here??? I like sleep, I like when the baby sleeps, and sleep just doesn't happen at night time like it used to. But, this too shall pass and my precious baby will sleep through the night soon in Jesus' name! Hallelujah! Can I get an "Amen!"? :) So...while the baby is napping, here goes:

At 2 am on Tuesday, December 20. I woke up with mild cramps, but was able to easily fall back to sleep. At work, I had a few more cramps, but nothing major, nothing consistent. Sometime in the afternoon, I started having weird back pains that were sporadic. My boss told me later that she suspected I was in labor, but she didn't want to freak me out. I was tired and didn't feel the greatest - I mean, my due date was less than a week away, so I think it's safe to say that no pregnant woman feels the greatest at that point in her pregnancy. As we were all leaving work that day, I told my co-workers, "I love you all, but I hope I don't see you tomorrow!" and I left to pick Layla up from my in-laws. While at their house, I had a couple more back pains, but they stopped on the ride home, so I dismissed them. I cooked dinner and we ate kind of late. After dinner, the back pains started again and got more intense. I couldn't sit on the couch when they came because it hurt so bad, like a horrible muscle spasm.

At 8:40 pm, we started timing the contractions and they were about 5 minutes apart most of the time. Probably around 9:30, we called Mattie, our doula, to let her know what was going on and that we thought I might be in labor. By midnight, the contractions were 2 to 5 minutes apart. We called the hospital and talked to a nurse who suggested we come on in. It's a 45 minute drive, so we wanted to be sure I was in labor and that it wasn't a false alarm because who wants to turn around and drive all the way back home in the middle of the night? Not us. We called Mattie again and she arranged for a driver to take her to meet us along the main highway on the way to the hospital so we could pick her up (She's Amish, so she doesn't drive). Our rendezvous was at 1 am.

We got to the hospital and a nurse made me sit in a bed with monitors on my belly to check my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. The only problem was that all my contractions were in my back, so the monitors didn't pick much up and sitting was horribly uncomfortable. I was only dilated to a 2, so they told me they were releasing me and to come back when I was further along. Just what I wanted to hear! Not! The last thing I wanted to do was SIT in the car for 45 minutes, labor at home for however long, and then sit ANOTHER 45 minutes to go back to the hospital. So, Mattie, Alex and I discussed our options. The town we were in is very small. Smaller than the town we live in. The only place open at 1 am was Walmart, which was just up the road a few hundred feet. My dad also works in this little town, so he met us at the hospital when we arrived earlier. He was so excited to be a grandpa. Thinking back, it was really sweet and cute how he acted. Natalie is his first biological grandchild since my sisters are his step-daughters. Anyway, we were trying to decide what to do. I'm envisioning giving birth in Walmart, like in the movie, "Where the Heart Is" and am mortified. Not happening! So, Walmart was out of the question. Mattie offered to let us go to her house and labor until I was further along, but I hated the idea of the car ride and possibly disturbing her sleeping family. So, the only other option we had was to go outside in the hospital parking lot and "hang out".

Once I got up out of the bed to get dressed again, my contractions started back up again full force. I probably had 10 contractions just trying to get back out to the parking lot. We kept stopping in the hallway so I could squat and hang on to Alex until they passed. Mattie would push on my hips to relieve the pressure and it felt so much better! I climbed in the back seat of Alex's car and I ate a yogurt and some Gatorade, but it was too uncomfortable. So, we got out of the car and walked around in the dark for a while. Thank goodness it was a mild winter or we'd have frozen to death! It was windy, but we found a spot near the loading docks of the hospital where the wind was blocked. This sounds so crazy, and it was! Here we had chosen to drive to THIS hospital so that I could have this certain doctor deliver our baby because he fully supported natural birth and the hospital had state-of-the-art rooms with jet tubs and walk-in showers, birthing balls, etc, and we were in the parking lot! Once we were tired of being outside, we went back inside the hospital near the vending machines and bathrooms. Not exactly the experience I had pictured thus far, but it was still better than sitting in a car or in a bed hooked up to monitors. A few hours after being released and laboring in the halls, we headed back to labor and delivery.

I don't know what time it was at this point...maybe around 7 am. When the nurses checked me, I was dilated to a 4, I think. They agreed to put me on wireless monitors so that I wouldn't have to sit in the bed and could get in the tub instead. I brought my maternity bathing suit along for the occasion, but, just like everyone says, modesty goes completely out the window when you're in labor, so the suit stayed in my hospital bag. The water felt good, but made my contractions stop, so I finally got out and tried something else. They admitted me to the hospital this time since it was clear that I was really in labor. I signed a waiver saying that I didn't want an IV or the hookup in my arm. I signed waivers stating that we didn't want Natalie to have the antibiotic ointment put in her eyes, we didn't want her to have the Hepatitis B vaccine and she wasn't going to get the vitamin K shot. These were all things that we had discussed at length with our doctor and Mattie about and were totally comfortable with waiving. My desire all along was to have a delivery with as little intervention as possible unless medically necessary.

So, for hours I labored standing up, squatting next to the bed, laying on the bed on my side, getting on my hands and knees, sitting on the toilet, sitting on a birthing ball. Following Mattie's advice, we had packed a little lunch box with yogurt and Gatorade and my mom had packed me cheese on cheese cracker packs and peanut butter on crackers, nuts and dried cranberries. I snacked and drank when the nurses weren't in the room to keep up my energy. Someone brought breakfast trays for Mattie and Alex and I shared their toast and juice. I think that having food helped me tremendously since I was in labor so long and otherwise wouldn't have gotten to eat until after the baby was born.

My mother-in-law arrived and helped support me while I labored. A few hours later, my mom arrived, and both grandmas-to-be said they would love to be in the room when Natalie was born, if that was ok with me. Prior to this whole experience, I didn't know how I felt about anyone other than Alex, Mattie, Dr. Miller and nurses being in the room while I was "exposed". I mean, who really wants a lot of people seeing that?! But, like I said, modesty really, truly does go out the window and all you care about is getting that baby out so the pain goes away and you can get to the good part - holding that precious baby! So, I said I was ok with mom and Audrey being there. When all was said and done, it was pretty awesome to see their growing excitement over the newest grandbaby's arrival.

I was growing tired, but progress was being made because the next time they checked me I was a 7! I really wanted the doctor to break my water because I thought that would help things along. My mom had to have her doctor break her water all four times she was in labor, so that was in the back of my mind, too. Dr. Miller came in to check on me on his lunch break, around 1:30, and said he had to do a surgery, but would break my water after that. I was so disappointed that he didn't just do it right then! So, I kept squatting, growing exhausted. At some point when I was checked, Dr. Miller determined that Natalie's head was turned sideways in the birth canal and that was what was holding me up. Mattie suggested I get on my knees on the bed and try and put as much of my head, shoulders and chest on the bed as I could, with my rear end in the air to turn the baby's head. I remember hearing her saying that to me, but I was too tired to move just yet, so I slept until the next contraction or two and then finally rolled over to get on my knees. Her plan worked and the baby's head was in the correct position! This was why I had been having so much back labor.

Dr. Miller finally finished his surgery and came to break my water. I was dilated to a 9! It didn't hurt at all and I remember feeling such relief when the warm fluid came out. More and more kept coming during the next several contractions, but the relief was short-lived - the bag of water had been putting pressure on my cervix to dilate it, and once the water was broken, the pressure was gone and my cervix shrunk back to a 6! I never knew that was possible, so it was soooo discouraging after being in labor for around 18 hours or so. I think it was shortly after this point that I started begging for drugs. An epidural was not tempting at all because I didn't want that needle stuck in my back, but, oddly enough, a c-section sounded good at that time. I asked the nurse what they could give me other than an epidural and my only option was Stadol, which makes you loopy. I didn't want to be loopy, so I decided to just stick it out naturally. Mattie also reminded me that I had to told her not to let me get any medication. Why had I told her that?!

A while after the doctor had broken my water, the nurse thought it might be good for me to practice pushing to help get the baby down further. So, I started pushing. It's such hard work! It took a while to get the hang of it, to push during contractions and endure through the count of 10, but I finally got it. Alex was so strong for me. He held my hand, kept my hair out of my face, whispered encouragement in my ear. He told me later that he cried a few times because he hated seeing me in so much pain and he was overwhelmed when Natalie was finally born. This experience really brought us closer together as a couple.

After pushing while laying on my back, we decided that pushing while on all fours might help spread my apparently-narrow-hips more to allow Natalie's head to come through. That was exhausting after a little while, too, so I went back to lying on my back. I pushed for almost two hours until Dr. Miller came back to deliver the baby. At this point, it felt like she was never going to come out. When her head was crowning, they asked if I wanted to touch it. I didn't want to, but everyone convinced me to so that I would know exactly how close I was to being done with labor. They told me she had a head full of hair, which really surprised me. I kept pushing, but still couldn't get her head out. We discussed the possibility of using suction to get her head out. Mattie and Dr. Miller explained the process and the risks, and Mattie suggested we let the baby get a vitamin K shot since there would likely be trauma to her head.

It was a little scary in that moment, because the last thing I wanted was for Natalie to be injured, but I trusted the doctor and Mattie and trusted that God would see us through. It was only by the grace of God that I'd made it this far! Dr. Miller numbed me and then applied suction to the baby's head. The suction did it's job, along with two episiotomies, and Natalie's head was out. I remember Audrey telling me that pushing the shoulders out was a lot easier than pushing out the head, but I didn't believe her. I still don't, lol. The second shoulder that came out did a lot of damage (I'll leave it at that!), but finally at 4:58 pm on December 21st, my baby girl arrived! Dr. Miller cleaned her off, fixed her hair into a mohawk, lol, and laid her on my chest. She cried and cried and cried forever, even after they moved her to the warming table. I thought she looked a lot like Audrey. Mattie told me later that she felt bad that after all my hard work, my baby didn't look anything like me - she looked like her daddy. I was ok with that because, of course, to me she was the most beautiful baby I'd ever laid eyes on.

The hospital normally keeps the baby and mom skin-to-skin for the first hour after birth, but because of my condition, the doctor had to stitch me up for about 30 minutes and Natalie was taken to get a bath and measured. This is probably the one thing that I hope will be different the next time around. Well, that and having a much shorter labor! I wonder if the problems we had with breastfeeding would have been avoided if Natalie had gotten to nurse during that first hour. Other than that, things really did go well. My doctor had faith that, despite a few minor complications, I would be able to deliver without a c-section, the nursing staff was fantastic and Mattie was a godsend! My dad came to the hospital on his dinner break and proudly held his granddaughter. He has stopped by during labor before he went in to work, but I was screaming and he was overwhelmed, so he left, lol. It was a magical time for Alex and me. In a way, it was strange that this little girl who we had dreamed about for so long was actually real. Natalie's name was picked out 6 years before she was born, and now, she wasn't just a dream. Almost four months later, it still seems surreal. We are so blessed. Thank you, Lord, for this most precious gift. Although You have entrusted her to us, she will always be Yours.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Was it really February when I last blogged? Sheesh! Well, life after baby has finally settled into a more predictable routine, so hopefully that means I'll have some more time to write down what's happening in our lives. We're loving spending time outdoors enjoying the early Spring weather and my creative side has been let loose after a long sabbatical. I've sewn Easter dresses and matching diaper covers for Natalie and a friend's baby girl, a receiving blanket and nursing cover for a baby shower, cloth wipes for Natalie, and a tote bag for my niece's birthday. Pinterest is way too much fun when you have a baby to make things for! I've pinned a bunch of dress tutorials and inspirations for wall art and mobiles for the if there were just a few more hours in the day so that I didn't have to choose between housework and crafting during nap time! I feel so blessed to be able to stay at home full-time and not miss a moment of my precious baby's childhood. Natalie absolutely positively LOVES being outdoors, so we've been taking the dog for walks and playing fetch and swinging on the porch swing a lot lately. Our neighbors all have beautiful red bud or dogwood trees that have been in bloom and make for some gorgeous scenery. One of these days I'd like to plant a dogwood tree. They were my grandma's favorite tree and I've grown to love them, too - especially the pink ones! Alex's entire family went to my parents house for Easter and we all had a really good time. We finally took another family picture, the first once since Christmas,when Natalie was 4 days old!
She was almost ready for a nap, so we couldn't get her to smile!
A few days before Easter, I realized that my focus had been on Easter dresses, egg hunt preparations, housework, pretty much everything except what I should have been thinking about: Jesus. I felt disappointed in myself for once again getting swept up in secular "stuff", for lack of a better word. I don't want to lose sight of what my Savior did for me. I don't want to forget His sacrifice. I don't want to be desensitized, to take anything for granted, to get my priorities out of whack. I want to keep my eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of my faith so that I set a good example for my daughter and am adequately prepared to teach her about the Easter story when she's older. Sure, getting her all dressed up is ridiculously enjoyable and planning an egg hunt for our nieces and nephew is all in good fun, but that should never have been the first thing that came to mind when I thought about Easter approaching. Next year will be different. I'll probably sew another dress for Natalie and plan the annual egg hunt for the kids again, but I want to do those things AFTER figuring out how to incorporate the real Easter story into our celebration, AFTER I stop and thank the Lord for what He did for me on the cross, AFTER I stop to consider all he endured to forgive me of my sins so that I could have eternal life. Hallelujah, HE IS RISEN!