Tuesday, August 30, 2011

before we were 5.

here are some events that occurred before junebug came to be.

my last date with my handsome pre-doctor:

featuring a night of raisinettes, wizards, snakes and the end of an era.  
good-bye harry p.  
someday i will read the books about you.

my last official pregnancy picture, 9 days before labor:

celebrating my birthday with my little family:

featuring blueberry pancakes, balloon hats, princess jewelry, a slap bracelet, a rubber chicken {not kidding}, and the usual birthday dinner at the kid-friendly red robin.

more fun with balloons:

celebrating my birthday with this beautiful friend of mine:

featuring a delicious dinner, an awful movie {because i talked her into it}, and then some amazing gifts with a capital A.  then, because she's the only person i will take crazy pictures with/for, here are some fun ones:  {the last one of me looking less-than attractive is again for 
"those" who have "voiced" that i only allow "flattering" pictures of myself on here}

trying to find leah in her bed after each nap:  {don't worry, we always uncover her face & clean out her bed daily.}

trying out the baby's swing:

and that's a wrap.

Friday, August 26, 2011

caleb and june.

i knew that he would be disappointed when we found out we were having another girl.
he had wanted a brother so badly.

probably because his other sister thrives on driving him crazy.
{and let's just say for the record, it's the combination of 
leah's love of a reaction
and how easily caleb is provoked}

so when we broke the news to him after the gender-revealing ultrasound,
i told him that another little girl was coming to our family,
because he had been such a good big brother to our first one,
and God knew he could trust him to love and protect another one.

i took a deep breath, wondering if that explanation would be enough for him.
and he smiled, and sat up a little straighter,
and said, "okay."

i don't know what God's plan is for our family,
or if that is the real reason that june was sent to us.

but since she has been born,
i've listened to the way he has talked to her,
and how careful he is when he holds her,
and the way he has taught leah to be soft with her,

and i think that maybe the explanation i gave to him
was the right one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

eat, sleep and poop, baby!

before we begin:  i'm well aware that i announced a couple of posts ago that i was going to be going private, and that is still my intention.  but i'm waiting on something.....a possibility, that would actually require me to continue to keep it open....and until i hear from that possibility, i want to keep writing.  so i know it makes me look like a flaky-flake, but i'm a-okay with that for now.

eat, sleep and poop babies.

i had heard that they existed, and had been around several friends who had them, but never believed that i would actually become the mother of one.

i think God knew that if i was handed another colicky newborn, my brain my split in half and i would need a lobotomy to erase the memories of screaming babies just to be able to function.

if you've never had a colicky newborn--i'm not talking about a baby with "fussy times" or a "hard baby" or a "high maintenance baby" because that's just child's play--but an actually colicky newborn, then you might not know of the relief that i'm speaking of when i refer to the blessing that is sweet baby june.

a blog that i absolutely love, written by a girl that i admire, is right now in the middle of a true colicky newborn.  and one of her posts gave me a little PTSD, i'm not going to lie.  she writes about it so honestly that it takes me back to those moments of desperation and sleep deprivation at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m.  praying and walking and tears streaming down my face simultaneously with my child's.  feeling that this was endless, while also knowing that it would eventually come to an end.

she recently wrote a post on things that could help during the months of colic, and boy oh boy do i wish blogs had been all the rage 6 years ago with caleb.  these tips would have seriously helped.  but i'm linking them here anyway, for anyone else who needs them:

anyway, my intention on writing this was supposed to be about gratitude for my soon-to-be month old eat, sleep and poop baby.  

it's not that june doesn't cry.  

one day while driving in utah, she was hungry and holy moly did she let me know!  she was so upset that her loud squawks caused her to start coughing over and over again.

last night, she had some bubbles and was discontent for an hour or two until we got those out.  there was some crying and a lot of squirming.  then after her bath she was cold and angry about it.  then i accidentally bent her foot the wrong way while dressing her and i have never heard that cry from her before, the cry of pain.  it was the cry of pain that with both of my first two kids was the only one i seemed to hear for the first few months.

but here is the difference with june's cries:

i can comfort her.  

and she stops.

to some that may sound like a ridiculous thing to take note of.  but with a colicky baby, there is very little comfort.  it's momentarily, or if you're lucky then the comfort can last a few minutes.  and then the screams begin again.  it's what caused me to do anything and everything in order to keep my babies asleep.  i didn't care about a schedule, i didn't care if their food came from me or from a can of formula.  i didn't care if i had showered, or brushed my teeth, or changed my clothes, or when i had last eaten.  i just cared about them sleeping, and the crying to stop.

i remember when leah was born, for two weeks i was in absolute heaven.  i thought that maybe all of caleb's months of crying had been caused by his other health problems. then when the two week curse hit, and the screaming began, i felt like i had been ripped quickly out of newborn bliss with such a force that it felt like i had whiplash.  

before june was born, there was a lot of anxiety around her coming.  mainly for me, because i wasn't sure how i was going to handle another colicky newborn, and my fear was that those were the only type of babies that i was going to have.  i used to jokingly/sarcastically say, "we're just blessed with hard babies, i guess," but i really believed it.  and that fact quickly changed my dreams of having 5 children down to the reality that maybe 2 was all we would have...or at the most, 3.

it was the reason that i spaced almost 4 years between my 1st and 2nd child, and the reason that if things had been left up to me when planning a family, i would not have even thought about getting pregnant with my 3rd until leah was getting ready for kindergarten.

to be honest, i waited on pins and needles during june's first two weeks.  anxious that she was going to change from this sweet little thing into a screaming banshee overnight.   but those two weeks have come and gone, and i am writing this as she naps away in her bed, which she has been doing for over an hour now.

one of the biggest insults to me during the time of having a colicky baby was hearing people say, "well, the baby picks up on the mother's feelings.  if the mother is upset or anxious or high strung, then the baby will be too."  i listened to those foolish comments and owned them, taking the blame of my screaming child onto myself and trying to calm down so that my child would follow my lead.

but in case anyone reading this has heard the same comments, or carried guilt around that you were the cause of your child's colic, let me just say this:

it's not true.

i'm sure that my emotional state that came after hours of trying everything without relief didn't help my crying baby, but i completely and 100% disagree that a colicky child begins or continues because of the mother's emotions.  i knew that i hadn't started out upset or frazzled or emotional the way that i became after hours of screaming.  it isn't who i am. 

i remember being so sad and bitter about caleb as a newborn.  because i felt like due to his colic and health problems and inability to be comforted, i couldn't be the mother that i felt that i truly was.  i had to let go of the thought that i could just take my baby around everywhere while he was content, or listen to him coo, or get things done while he slept.  i did have to keep living life, or as much as i could while he screamed on.  

but with june, i am the mother that i want to be.  

i can talk to her and sing to her and just lay down face-to-face and stare at her and laugh at her hilarious newborn expressions.  i wasn't able to do much of either of that with my first two.  i can eat whatever i want to while nursing her!  that's a new thing entirely.

the transition from 2 to 3 kids hasn't been too difficult so far, i must say.  but i think that's partly because i was gearing up for battle before june was born, preparing for the worst.  getting everything in order and giving myself permission to become a hermit for a few months, picturing myself pacing floors in the middle of the night and facing the mornings with dark undereye circles.

instead, i have felt fantastic.  physically, mentally and emotionally.  i'm still kind of a hermit because newborns require more time and effort to go out and about, but not the type of hermit i was expecting.  

and june has fit right in to our family.  the two older kids love her, but luckily are just soft and sweet with her.  i was wondering how leah would do, but she's followed caleb's example of talking in a whisper-voice when she is around and giving her stuffed animals to play with.  
caleb absolutely adores june.  he asks about her when he comes home from school and is really helpful with her whenever she needs anything.  such a good big brother.

so anyway, to those who have only experienced colicky newborns, i feel your pain.  i know of the exhaustion and desperation.  hang in there, is the best i can say.  to those who haven't had a colicky newborn....try not to say things that minimize what it is to have one.  just be supportive. and maybe spend an hour or two with a colicky baby.  

then come back and we'll talk.  :)

here is the first post i wrote on the day that leah began to come out of her colicky time, and it describes how i feel about june right now.   

i'm so grateful she's here and for her content-ness.  that for the most part, she just eats, sleeps and poops.  i know what it feels to have a newborn not be this way, and i feel that it means just that much more to me that she is so calm and content.  

tasting the sweet after the bitter is such a lesson on perspective, and gratitude.

and i'm glad that for right now, it's a lesson that i can enjoy while being on the other side of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a life lived, a family fragmented, and the choices we make.

on tuesday my grandma passed away.

she was my only living grandparent, and the one who i had been closest with when growing up.  my grandmother was beautiful, and classy and elegant.  she chose to see the best in people, was generous with everything she had, and loved to laugh.  she had a fantastic sense of humor.  she was a musician, an amazing singer, a graceful dancer.

we went on family vacations with my grandma, she lived in her own apartment in my house for several years.  i used to sit on her couch, eating popcorn and watching the latest trashy show on the lifetime channel with her.  she would fill me in on the plot if i came in late.

"this young girl was raped by her stepfather and now she's pregnant with his baby!  but she hasn't told her mother yet, because her mother's an alcoholic and she doesn't think she'll believe her!"

i wasn't very interested in the shows, but i loved watching them with my grandma.

she was a breast cancer survivor, and had been diagnosed just before the death of her husband.  she underwent a single mastectomy only a couple of weeks after his funeral.  i held onto her hand on the night of the surgery.  she woke up at one point, and didn't know who i was because she was on such heave pain medication.

"who's there?" she asked.

"it's me, grandma," i answered.  and said my name.

"oh, i thought you were an angel.  your hand feels like the hand of an angel to me,"  she said clearly.  and she asked me to stay longer, and hold her hand.

so i sat next to her, holding her hand until it was time for me to go.

i used to sneak up on her, and scare her and she would scream and then laugh we would both laugh hysterically.  her hearing wasn't great, so she would constantly mix up what people were saying and come up with some crazy interpretations.  then i would tell her what had really been said, and she would throw her head back and giggle.  she refused to get a hearing aid though, i'm not sure why.

she always smelled good, and had an amazing fashion sense.  she always looked put together.  i remember many times my friends commenting about how beautiful she was.  she had gorgeous blue eyes, and a fabulous smile.

she was an amazing cook.  the best spaghetti meat sauce i had ever tasted, amazing home made macaroni and cheese, and delicious cakes.  

my nickname for her was "little lady" and every time i called her that she told me how much she loved it.

"please take care of yourself, little lady,"  i would say at the end of every phone call.

"i'll always be your little lady," she would always reply.


the last time we spoke was two weeks ago.  i called her to tell her about the birth of my newest baby, a girl, whose middle name she shared with my grandma and also my mother in-law.  i told my grandma that my daughter was named after two amazing women.  she cried and said how much it meant to her.

i asked her how she was feeling, and she said that she had not been well.  she had been in and out of the hospital for the past month, her lungs had been filling up with fluid.  she was on oxygen all of the time, and she told me she felt like she was dying.  she said she was tired, and felt ready to go.  she said she would endure for as long as the lord needed her to, but that she hoped it would not be much longer.

i wasn't prepared for this, and i cried.  i thanked her for being such a good grandmother to me.  one that was not perfect, but who did the best she could.  i knew that she loved me and i told her how much i loved her.

i was so grateful that i had called.

i mailed out the birth announcement to her right away, hoping it would get there in time for her to see her new great-granddaughter.  it arrived the day before she died.


i went to her funeral in utah last week.

because of mistakes made in the past, my grandmother's family has been fragmented...broken into pieces that only a funeral could bring together.

i watched as we gathered around, bound by blood and a woman who started this chain and legacy of human life.  but there was not much else that was in common, now many of us were strangers. 

there were hugs.  some embraced awkwardly, stiff and forced.  the internal walls that were put up were almost visible.

others were holding on during those hugs as if to say that the time lapsed in between them had been a waste, and to let the past be in the past.  that what had happened wasn't worth the loss.  and bitterness began to fade.

for those who chose it, there was reacquainting.  and laughing.  and apologizing.  and forgiving.  and trying.  and loving.


in church on sunday, a man who was probably a few years younger than me gave a talk that affected me.  normally i'm distracted by children and sippy cups and breaking up fights.  but this sunday, it was just my newborn daughter who was sleeping quietly in my arms.  and i could listen.

one quote that stuck out to me in this man's talk was this:

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

 --viktor frankl, "man's search for meaning"

when he quoted this man who had literally had everything taken from him, it clicked.  and i thought of the funeral of my grandmother that i had been to the day before.

i had watched this fragmented family, and wondered how we had all gotten here.

i mean, i knew the events leading up to the break in relationships.  but in the end, it had really been about choices.

the choice to offend.

the choice to be offended.

the choice to remain a victim.

the choice to be afraid to face things, the choice to avoid.

the choice to remain angry.  the choice to remain hurt.

the choice to stay away.

the choice to lose.

the choice to let someone else's actions decide another's emotions.

but in this life, we are given our free will.  the ability to choose for ourselves.

for the past year and a half, i have been working on this.

i am still working.

what i did see that day at the funeral was that putting the blame on someone else so that we don't have to look in the mirror and be accountable for our own actions and feelings, is the choice to be a coward.

it isn't easy to admit that there are things about ourselves that we don't like.  i know that firsthand.  it's even more difficult to see those things and to work on them.  digging them out where they have been buried underneath the surface, sometimes for years.  and changing them.  some of them are wounds that have literally defined and shaped the person that i was for so long.

but i have the choice too.  the choice to be different.  to not let my past define me, and to not let anyone decide my future except for myself.  how i react, what i believe in, whether or not i choose to be offended.  it is up to me.

i looked down at my sweet baby girl, who was carrying the name of my grandmother. 

and i realized that it wasn't just for me that i have been working so hard.  it's for my children.  so that it might be an opportunity to teach them a different way, through what i have been learning.  that no matter the circumstances, we always have a choice.

to choose to stand up for what is right.

to choose to not be offended.

to choose to trust again.

to choose to not give my power away any longer.

to choose to stop feeling guilty for everything.

to choose to forgive.

to choose to surround myself with those who know who i am, and who will treat me with respect and kindness.

to choose to look for the good in people.

to choose to allow myself to heal.

to choose to let it go.

to choose to let others take their own actions upon them, instead of carrying it for them.

to choose to love myself.

to choose happiness.



i remember growing up, thinking
she would always be smarter than me,
more beautiful,
have more friends,
just over all
than i ever could be.

i always wanted to be around,
tag along,
join in,
{possibly} read her journal on the sly.
because i wanted to be just like her.

now i realize that she is still those things to me:
and over all
cooler than i will ever be.

but she is also
my best friend.

i hope my girls feel the same way about their sister
as i do about mine.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

on how june came to be born in july. {a birth story--watch out!}

it's easiest for me to tell it all at once, so this will be long.  and it's easiest for me, when it comes down to the need for it, to tell it at the time it happened.  to keep facts straight, you see.

it's also important to back up a few days, to tell you how i came to be a believer in acupressure, and quite possibly red robin's spicy wing sauce.  and how i am pretty sure that certain body parts of mine have superhuman powers and are completely immune to epidurals.

a week before my due date, my doctor announced to me that he was leaving the next day for a 10 day vacation.  a vacation he had planned a year in advance, yet somehow managed to miss giving me that detail when he signed on to be my doctor and told me my due date {which was smack dab in the middle of his yearly planned vacation}....oh, about 9 months ago.  he also mentioned at the same time he told me he was leaving, that all of the induction dates were taken until august 2nd.  {my due date was july 28}

now, normally this wouldn't be a big deal.  caleb was delivered without a doctor even present, and leah wasn't delivered by the doctor i had been seeing during regular visits.  i know how these things can go.  i am also very pro-doctor's vacations because i know they work hard.  however, i was {and still am, if you couldn't tell} frustrated that he had failed to mention this to me until 24 hrs before he left.  also informing me that i couldn't be induced by anyone else, even if i had wanted to be.

the week before this, i had asked him about inducing.  i am not the biggest fan of inducing, and said that i'd like the baby to stay in as long as possible.....but, we have ben's brother coming into town from texas on august 2nd, and i was really hoping not to have to be in the hospital while they were only in town for 3 days.  if it happened that way, then fine.  but during the week before my doctor had told me he was leaving, i had asked specifically if i would be able to be induced a day or two after my due date so that i could maybe be out of the hospital by the time the family arrived.  and do you know what he said?   "well sure, that sounds like an option."  and a mere 7 days later was telling me that no, it wasn't in fact, an option.  no possibility to induce until august 2nd, the very day i had told him family was coming!

i was peeved. 

specifically peeved because with the last two children, my body did not go into labor on its own.  not at all, not even a little.  so i'll be honest, i lacked faith in my body's ability to do it this time.

overall, i just felt like my doctor didn't even care about me.  now maybe that's not true, he's a decent guy....but that's how it felt to me.  to not tell me he was leaving, then to not even care or proactively help me when it came to inducing a day or two past my due date after i had specifically asked him to.  anyway.

because of this fact, i came home and researched all of the different ways to help induce labor.  and honed in on one:  acupressure.  ben and i watched youtube videos about it, and each night i would bite my bottom lip & try not to cry out in pain as ben dug his fingers into pressure points on my ankles and feet for 10-30 minutes at a time.  i'm not sure he needed to be as tough on me as he was, but i was the one encouraging him to dig in because i was so desperate to try to go into labor on my own.

but i'm telling you,

it.  was.  brutal.

for my birthday, we went out to red robin.  i tried to order the spiciest thing on the menu, an appetizer of riblets with a side of spicy wing sauce.  but i am a total weakling when it comes to spice, and by the time i was finished with the appetizer, there were tears coming down my red hot cheeks and my nose was running.  i went through 3 glasses of water in about 5 minutes.

ben would take a bite and say, "hon, this isn't very spicy."

which then made me feel hopeless.  because if that isn't spicy, how in the world was i going to actually handle something spicy??

anyway, we kept on with the acupressure every night.  and eventually, i began to feel differently.  the baby had still not dropped, and nothing else along the lines of signs of labor had begun, but those dang contractions that i had been having for almost a month and a half now started to change.  in the more painful direction.  i would wake up at night gripping my pillow and whimpering through a painful one.  but they were irregular, so i waited.

i started to get into what i call "the last time" mindframe.

"maybe this is the last time i'm going to do dishes before i have a baby"

"maybe this is the last pair of maternity pants i'm going to wear"

"maybe this is the last time i'm going to vacuum"

and so on.

but every time i said that, it seemed like i would find myself again doing dishes, again hoisting up the lovely panel of my maternity pants, and again vacuuming.  so i stopped saying those things to myself and went on with daily life like having a baby was actually a figment of my imagination.

on monday night, i went to bed in pain.  everything just ached and hurt.  and my back ached more than it had in a while.  and now we begin to time frame things.

tuesday morning,

3:30 a.m.

i woke up whimpering through a contraction again.  and again.  and again.  finally, i got up.  drank a bunch of water.  lay back down.

5:30 a.m.

i couldn't take the pain of the contractions anymore, so i got up and took a hot shower.  i really felt like this was "it" this time, so i went the extra mile and shaved my legs.  that took some serious effort in our one-man shower.  blow dried my hair.  breathed through contractions.

6:30 a.m.

woke up ben.  who was pretty incoherent, because he'd been working on a paper until about 3, so he was going on about 3 1/2 hrs. of sleep.  this is how our conversation went:

"ben.  hey.  ben.  ben. benbenbenbenbenBENBENBENBEN!!!  WAKE.  UP."

i kid you not, i had to say his name about 47 times, and finally went over to him to shake him.  at that point, he shot up, sitting straight up in bed.

"what is it??"  he asked with his eyes still closed.

"you need to get up and get in the shower.  i think i'm in labor, and we need to go to the hospital."

"oh,"  he said.  then he lay back down.  "well, i thought you were just going to bring it to me...."  he mumbled.

"bring you what? the baby?  you want me to just come back when it's all over?"  i knew he didn't know what he was talking about, and sometimes i do this to him just to see if i can keep him rambling nonsense that i can make fun of him for later.

but he came to his senses after that one.

"huh?"  he sat back up again.  blinking,  and this time i knew he was lucid.

"i'm in labor, this time it's for real," i said.

"wow.  really.  wow.  okay.  wow," and he got up to get ready.

i also texted lisa at this time, my friend who was planning on watching caleb & leah while we were gone.  i told her we were going to go the hospital, but that we would probably leave in an hour or so.

7:30 a.m.

lisa showed up.  my contractions were still going, every 4-6 minutes apart.  still painful.  we got things ready, i went through how things were going for the kids.

8:00 a.m.

the contractions slooooowed down.  to about 10 minutes apart.  i couldn't believe it!  we put our bags back down, and waited.

9:30 a.m.

i lay down on the couch to take a nap.  waking every once in a while to breathe through a contraction.  my contractions were actually more severe and consistent when i was laying down, but i was completely exhausted.

10:30 a.m.

debated about sending lisa back home to rest for a few hours.  but then contractions would start back up again and they were seriously painful.  i was nervous that as soon as she went home i'd have to call her to come back.

1:30 p.m.

finally, finally went to the hospital.  i couldn't take the pain anymore.  i thought that i had been such a rockstar, laboring at home just the way that i had wanted to.  and was thinking that i would arrive at the hospital dilated to at least a 5, if not more.  my fingers were crossed that i would be at a 7.

2:30 p.m.

get checked in, changed into my gown, and wha-lah!  here i am in all of my hospital gown glory:

yes, i did my hair & put on make-up before going in.  go ahead and judge.  i know i'm going to look rough when it's all over so i try to give myself as much of a sporting chance as possible.  go in all clean and shiny, come out with barf in my hair and my face a hot mess.  that's just how it works.

here's another one, a side view shot.  i promise you i'm not trying to look all sexy-like for the camera.  a contraction was actually starting & i was in the middle of telling ben to wait & not take the picture until it was over, and he snapped anyway.  so this is what happened.

also, if you think i'm only going to post "fancy" pictures of myself during this, well.....think again.  there are some very disturbing images coming up.  prepare yourself.

3:00 p.m.

was checked by the nurse and told by her that guess what?

i'm only at a 3 1/2.  and guess what else?  that baby hasn't even dropped one inch yet.

i was beyond disappointed.  all of that and only 3 1/2???  just shoot me now.  knock me out and wake me when it's all over.

which led me to think, do i just have a weaksauce pain tolerance?  how in the world do women get to a 10?  or how do they labor at home while making sandwiches and sewing dresses?  {this of course, is what i picture other women doing.  i have no idea if this is what they actually do.  but sometimes when i hear friends talk about how they "labored at home until they were at an 8," that's what it sounds like to me.  just walking around, baking cookies and dancing to music while they sailed through contractions.  meanwhile, cut to me sweating and breathing and tearing up over a mere 3 1/2!}

i try to give myself credit.  i know i'm hard on myself and set expectations for my abilities a little too high.  i tried to think positive thoughts like,

well!  at least my cervix is doing something on its own!  this is the first time its done that!  way to go, cervix!  way to go little body!  3 1/2 is better than nothing! 

but seriously.  that optimism ran thin pretty quickly as i contemplated what lay ahead if i wanted to continue to be in labor without an epidural. 

once she checked me though, things really started hopping.  that's how it goes with me.  she had said right after she checked me that she was going to have me walk the halls to try to speed things up a bit.  but directly after she said that, contractions hit. hard. 

i tried sitting.  i tried standing.  i tried switching feet back and forth during contractions.  i would tell ben to push on my lower back and then as soon as the contraction started and he would put his hands on me i would yell, "DON'T TOUCH ME!" 

i was all sorts of a mess.

and poor ben.  even though i'm the one in labor and have very little sympathy for his position, i can muster up a little.  i know he felt helpless.  finally he asked,

"is there anything i can do?"

and i said, as kindly as i could,  "please stop asking me during a contraction if i'm okay.  i can't talk during them.  and clearly, i'm not 'okay.'  " 

i know it wasn't the nicest thing i could have said to him, because i know he was just trying to be helpful.  but he would ask me over and over during contractions, and then look at me like he was expecting an answer as i was breathing every last breath of oxygen out and looking at him with eyes that read, are you kidding me right now?

anyway.  i love him.  he really is fantastic, and especially in situations like birthing a child, i couldn't ask for a better guy to be at my side, honestly.  i just mentally couldn't handle that question anymore.  he did fan my face during contractions, which honestly helped quite a bit.  i felt like my face was on fire!

when the nurse came back and could see that i was seriously struggling, she told me that instead of walking, she just wanted to get me set up in a room.  she said that my contractions were much stronger and that she didn't want to send me out walking because it looked like "things were picking up."

so, into the room we went. 

the anesthesiologist came in, a nice lady who walked me through what she was going to do.  i've been down this road twice before, but let me tell you that epidurals still freak the heck out of me.  i hate the thought of them and here is where i always come to this fork in the road: 

i wish i could know that i could handle an epidural-free labor.  that i could look into the future several hours ahead and see that it was painful, but that it wasn't more than i could bear. 

but sometimes i lack faith in myself, you see. 

and so i always cave.  well actually, with caleb i wasn't given a choice.  i was given the epidural because of blood pressure that was so high i was near the level of having a stroke, and my doctor told me that the stress of having contractions could be too much.


4:00 p.m.

i said prayers over and over again while being given the epidural.  and i looked at ben and said coherently, "i don't ever want to do this again.  NEVER.  ever." 

while i was getting the epidural, and also having a contraction, another nurse hooked me up to a penicillin drip because i had tested positive for group B strep.  can i just say, that the penicillin drip was MORE painful than the epidural and the contraction combined?  what in the world was that all about?  my hand and arm felt like they were on fire!  the nurse diluted it after a few minutes and it just became an irritating pain instead of a crazy one.

5:00 p.m. 

we waited.  the epidural worked.  we took pictures.  look at how happy i am.

the baby's heart rate started to go whack-o just like the other two had, so i was put on oxygen and she was monitored closely.  it was clear that when i was laying in certain positions, the baby was sitting on her cord.  so i would have to rotate over and over. 

so hot.

everyone kept telling me to try to get some sleep.  and i tried, i was so tired.  but the nurses kept coming in.  ben snored away, just like he had last time. 

6:00 p.m.

this is where things started to get exciting. 

and by "exciting," i mean that suddenly i could feel....down there....things starting to move.  everything else was numb.  my stomach, my legs, down to my knees.  but in the middle?  right where things count?  it was very un-numb. 

now, this happened last time with leah.  but the nurse had told me it was because i had been because of the cervical softening stuff that they had used and then i had gone right into labor, and that a lot of times they have heard that the jelly will somehow deactivate the epidural or something.  and with caleb, the battery pack on my epidural had run out a good 45 minutes and was not replaced.  so i just assumed that those were the reasons that i felt everything.

but this time, there was no explanation.  i could feel every move of the baby.  i could feel any drop of liquid.  i could feel contractions.  my back and stomach were still mostly numb, but i found myself really starting to feel it, and needing to breathe through contractions again.
"what's going on?  why can i feel this?"  i asked the nurse.  

she wanted to turn up the epidural.  i pushed the extra medicine button one time, but it didn't make a difference.  i didn't want to be any more numb in the other areas of my body, and realized that no matter how much medicine i was given, that area was just not going to be numb.  

i have to say, i really don't like the way that i feel when i'm hooked up to the epidural.  sure, i'm virtually pain-free.  but it's a seriously disturbing feeling to watch the nurse have to move me over to one side, and i can see her hands move my body, but i can't feel them. 

i felt like i weighed 500 lbs.  i told ben i felt like a beached whale.  and then i made this face.  

and of course, he snapped a picture.

7:00 p.m.  

the doctor had arrived.  it's always fun to be introduced to someone who's immediately going to be looking at my goods about one minute later.  he checked me, said i was at a 9.  he also made one of the funniest comments of the night.  when checking me, he looked to see if my water had broken.  it hadn't yet, and he said, 

"well, this looks like a tough old bag of water."

which hit a funny bone with me and as soon as he left the room, ben and i made all sorts of comments about my  "tough old bag" about 20 times and i laughed until i started crying.  doesn't sound that funny now, but i promise it was then.

8:00 p.m.

contractions were painful, i was concentrating on breathing, and i was starting to feel really uncomfortable.  like i was sitting on somebody.  i said i could feel that i was almost ready, and when the nurse checked me i was at a 10. she said she was going to call the doctor to come in.

and that's when i freaked out. 

i looked at ben like this:

and said,

"ben i don'twantodothis!  IDON'TWANTTODOTHIS!!  please do this for me, i don't want to!  please please please pleasepleaseplease!" i'll admit, there was some begging going on. 

and he said, 

"oh honey, you know i would if i could," and then something along the lines of, "you're going to be okay.  you can do this.  you've done it before and you are strong enough to do this."

and then said, "smile! it's almost time!"  and snapped another picture.

8:20 p.m.

the nurse was helping to guide the baby down, and i literally felt her hand inside, moving the baby around.  another completely disturbing feeling.  

but then the doctor came in, broke the tough ol' bag of mine, and 5 minutes later, told me to push.  i don't know what happened to me mentally, but i went to a really weird place.  i was concentrating on pushing, and moving past the pain, and mentally felt like i lost it for a minute.

with each labor, there has been a time where i can feel myself on the edge.  my body is shaking uncontrollably, i am cold and feel weak and like i could pass out with my next breath.  the lines between life and death grow thinner and less defined.  things become a blur, the pain is too much and i just want it to stop.  but just when i think it is more than i can bear, there is something that keeps me going.  some last bit of strength is fighting to stay lucid and bring to pass the soul that is waiting to arrive, that is pushing to be born.

and so i take that last bit of strength, and i breathe in again, accept what is about to become, and count and push.

8:40  p.m.

when a baby is being born, it is like time stands still.  i know that outside of this room, there are other humans coming and going, laughing and crying, fighting and sleeping and existing.  but for me, no one else exists and nothing else is going on besides what i am focusing on right then, and who is with me and what is happening.

four pushes later, the pain stopped, the pressure relieved.

and sweet baby june was born, and cried her first cry, and then lay there quietly.

i looked at ben, with tears streaming down my face.  and saw the tears streaming down his.

there is nothing like this feeling.

it is literally like the heavens open and i feel like i'm given a glimpse of it, for just a moment.  it was there in the sound of her first cry.  in the first time i was able to see her pink skin and tiny fingers and even tinier toes.  as i held her and kissed her and introduced myself as her mother, that glimpse of heaven was there in knowing that here was this little body....this little spirit...that i had been a part of creating, was now in my arms.  that i had carried her around with me for months, whether mentally or not i could completely comprehend the weight of what it was i was actually carrying.

it is in this space that i am given the momentary knowledge of my divine purpose.  i was created to create.  there is something so mind-blowing, and humbling and overwhelming and completely empowering in this realization.


it is a spiritual feeling that i just can't describe.

as they weighed june, and cleaned her up, i lay there and tried to wrap my brain around the fact that this baby girl had just minutes before been inside of my body.  i still can't fully make sense of it, all i knew was that she was here.  and it was over.

and i was happy.  and in love.

if you like labor stories, you can also read about leah's birth here: