Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jubilee's birth story...

I wanted to finally post Jubilee's birth story before little Oliver comes. I wrote it five weeks after she was born, and I think one reason I never posted it is because it's not flowery, or beautiful (in the normal sense), or what I would consider lovely writing. But that's ok. It is our story, and the raw truth was that it was one of the most emotionally difficult seasons of my life, dealing with her birth. A year and a half later, I still don't know exactly why. Hormones mixed with disappointment mixed with birth trauma? Maybe. I do hope Oliver's birth is a healing experience,whether it be a successful VBAC or another Csection, and I head into it hopeful. I also know time and attachment principles and God's grace will be there once again if there is more emotional pain to deal with. 
Here it is, then, and if you are a lover of birth stories then just sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy:) If you aren't, I wouldn't even attempt it. Hehe

Jubilee's birth story starts way back, really. It starts when I was still in college. I was working as a research assistant at the military hospital in Hawaii where Joel and I were living. My cubical for one of the studies I was working for was located in a office that followed up with at risk new moms. The nurses provided them with lactation, nutrition, and developmental counseling. It was there that I met my friend Pat. She was a childbirth educator and a doula (labor coach/supporter). She also stocked the office with Mothering magazines, which I started reading and L O V E D, even though it would be years before I was able to get pregnant. During my year and a half there, I pretty much soaked up whatever Pat could teach me. I could sit and listen to birth stories forever! It was during this time that my passion for natural birth and mothering began to grow. She planted the seeds, and I watered them. At the time I had several friends who had new babies and I got to observe their parenting styles and it quickly became obvious that a responsive, attachment parenting type relationship is what resonated with me.
 I had a friend who raved about Babywise. I read the book and then literally typed in , "opposite of babywise" to the computer search engine because I knew there had to be something else out there that guided mamas in a different direction. I found Dr. Sears. I sighed a sigh of relief. (Sorry to mamas out there who love Babywise. I know you can take principles from the book and not go overboard with it. I do it all the time with other books. It's just not my cup of tea.:) 
Anyway, I started talking Joel's ears off about all of this new wonderfulness I was learning about. Co-sleeping! Babywearing! Cloth Diapering! Limiting commercialism! Natural birth! I was so excited about it all. I drank it up, preparing for my role as a mama, which would surely come soon after I graduated college in a year or so. 
Well, as we all know, that was not to be. I graduated college at 22 and had Sam and Amelia when I was 26. During that time, my passion for these things just grew! 
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was pretty concerned about the birth. I knew there was a much higher chance of preterm labor, etc. Sure enough, they were born at 29 weeks by Csection (b/c they were under 3 pounds and Sam was transverse). I had some guilt. If I wouldn't have taken Clomid, I wouldn't have been pregnant with twins and probably wouldn't have gone into preterm labor and wouldn't have had preemies who had to start out life in such a not ideal way. However, my passion for co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby wearing, etc. was taken to another level. It helped our family heal. It helped us bond. I was so thankful that the Lord had led us to attachment tools years before that would be so precious during those early months with Sam and Amelia. 
We decided not to use Clomid again, and thought our family would probably grow through adoption rather than birth and I was really, truly at peace about that. My interest and passion in birth waned and transferred to adoption. We all know, then, how surprised we were when we found out I was pregnant with Jubilee! 
This time I not only knew in theory that I didn't want a csection, I knew from experience. For this baby and for myself, I so strongly desired the opportunity to look into her eyes immediately after birth. To have her feel her mama's skin on her skin, to be comforted by nursing as she entered this big ol' world. To have my body not be numbed and to be alert and really feel the process of labor and birth.
I had a midwife that I felt confident in.  I felt confident that my body could do this (minus two visits with other midwives who bizarrely made me feel anxious about my ability to have a VBAC in the hospital and in my ability to go unmedicated). 
The morning came. My water broke at 5am on a Thursday. I was excited that that meant I could labor through the day at home and hopefully not go into the hospital until the evening came and it was more quiet and calm. A few hours after it broke I took a long walk, but labor didn't feel like it was starting at all. I called my midwife around 10am and told her my water had broken. She suggested taking castor oil and coming into the hospital around 3 or 4 if labor wasn't kicking in. 
Joel and I ate lunch at Cafe Rio, took the castor oil, took another walk, slept a bit. Nothing. I started getting anxious. My midwife called at 4:30 and asked us to go in to the hospital. I thought she just meant to get monitored to make sure baby was ok, but she clarified that she wanted me to start pitocin to get labor going. I couldn't believe it. We headed in, but were still unsure if it was the right thing. I mean, couldn't we just wait until labor started on it's own? I had heard/read SO many stories of intervention leading to intervention. For example, you take pitocin and your contractions come on so strong that you feel your body can't handle it, so you get an epidural. Then you are in bed because you can't feel your legs, your baby's heart rate starts to desat. Many times you probably just need to change positions and get moving to get baby's heart rate back up but you can't....Csection ( I know this is simplifying things a bit, but you get my drift)! 
So we stopped outside the hospital and called to talk with them midwife on call.  I told her how anxious I was about intervention and she reminded me that they weren't going to handcuff me and force pitocin, but it's the best way they knew to get labor started before I got an infection and headed toward a csection. I felt really torn. Joel called a midwife friend we know and trust and asked her. She suggested we go in a start the pitocin. "Think of it as your friend, as a way to avoid a csection." I got that. Our "sit in" was over and we headed up to labor and delivery. We got there and immediately saw a friendly face. My old neighbor Shannon was working and it was great to see her sweet face. Our nurse took us to our room and then quickly changed us to a better room. It was awesome. Such a beautiful view of the mountains, the room was huge, our nurse was the best! I mean, she was SO. GREAT. So calming, so wanting to help us achieve the birth we wanted, etc. I could feel contractions starting to come more regularly. By this time it was probably 6:30ish? She hooked me up to a monitor and I was having contractions every 2 minutes and was 2 cm dilated. She hadn't talked to our midwife yet, and just suggested we get up and moving to get labor progressing. So we did! The birth ball was great. My favorite for sure. Walking was nice too. Getting my stupid IV in was the worst! The nurse had to have the anesthesiologist come get it in because she couldn't. Uggg that was painful. Anyway, as contractions started becoming more painful my I naturally moaned an "oo-ooooo" sort of sing song sound and from then on it came out with every. single. contraction. That and my birth team (mom and Joel) were my coping mechanisms! Mom would sit or stand in front of me, reminding me to relax my body and face and hold my hands. Joel would stand behind me, reminding me gently of the same things and rubbing my pressure points on my hips. They were Amazing with a capital A and I don't know what I would have done without them! The room was dark and quiet, my hymns on my play list were playing, my list of scriptures were on the bed for me to read. Our nurse just came in once in a while to readjust monitors, etc. A little after 12 she checked me again. I was at 4 cm, 80% effaced.We were all encouraged!  The midwife on call got there. She was the midwife who had discouraged me about my chances of a successful VBAC. I was thankful I got to labor a long time without her there, sadly. I could tell she knew our desire though, and she was trying to be hands off which I'm grateful for. My contractions started getting stronger. My body was pretty tired, but ok. Man, labor is painful! I have such a new respect for women laboring!! It is such an overwhelming, painful, beautiful experience. A few hours later, the nurse started the bath water and I couldn't wait to get in that warm water. Oh, it sounded SO good. 

I think around there is when my arms and legs started shaking pretty violently and my teeth started chattering. At first we thought I was just exhausted, but then I could tell I was running fever. Joel checked it and sure enough I was running a 101.5 temp. The midwife came in and said I probably had an infection. They checked me and said I was only at 4 plus cm and 90% effaced and we needed to start pitocin to get the baby out. The midwife said definitely no tub time because she didn't want labor to stall. Up to this point, Jubilee's heart rate had been fabulous. Now it started dipping. The midwife had to put on an internal monitor ( a must when using pitocin with a VBAC). This was HORRIBLE. She said in 30 years she had never had such trouble putting one on. It was incredibly painful and contractions were coming quickly now (we were using a breast pump to make them stronger- holy cow). The combination of my body shaking, hard contractions, the midwife trying to get that stupid monitor was pretty terrible. It got me out of the labor rhythm I was in and I felt like things were unraveling quickly when it had all been going so well. Then Jubilee's HR really started to dip pretty severely with each contraction. The midwife said we couldn't do pitocin if she wasn't tolerating my body's natural contractions, but we couldn't let labor keep going on and on without me progressing because of the baby being likely to get the infection (I think that is why). She said she didn't know what alternative there was other than a csection. I was so, so, so sad and frustrated. I just hung my head down and started sobbing. She said she would give us a minute to decide what we wanted to do. It was one of those terrible positions that I feared in childbirth. I mean, I don't know anything about infections during childbirth or the risk in an infected baby, and this wasn't the time to research it! Her HR was clearly being affected, and changing positions wasn't helping.  So, we said OK.  I think my heart broke a little right there in that hospital room. I don't know why it affected me so deeply, but it did. It may sound selfish, I don't know, but I can't help feeling what I did. They gave me something to stop the contractions. The guy came to give me the epidural. I asked Joel to bring me my list of scriptures because I just felt so. sad. I guess there was a little relief that the pain of the contractions, that had become so overwhelming once my rhythm had been broken, was going to stop . Overall, though, I was just frustrated and sad. Then they said the policies had changed and my mom couldn't be in the operating room with us like she had been last time. Uggg. SO frustrating. Our nurse, who went to bat for us at every single turn, did everything she could but they wouldn't budge. They did let my mom go to the NICU where the baby would be whisked to as soon as she came out. It ended up she could see the surgery perfectly from there. How does that even make sense? Sigh, so many things in a hospital don't.
 Anyway, went into the operating room. I was still having a rough time. Then I threw up all over Joel. The very droll anesthesiologist says that happens with anesthesia sometimes. Nice. They started the surgery. It is so weird that during your baby's birth, which is now a major surgery, you hear the surgeon talking about their son's high school dance, etc. It's kind of the opposite of magical or empowering or beautiful. I'm sorry, but it is. It is sterile, and helpless, and disconcerting. Baby came, I heard her cry and then she was sent to the NICU. I told Joel to go and make sure she was ok. I heard someone say something about 8 pounds 4 oz and a good apgar score. Nothing after that until Joel met me in the recovery room. It's kind of hazy here. 
The next thing I remember is Joel busting in my recovery room saying they were wanting to give Jubilee a bottle of formula because her blood sugar was low. Uggg. Why couldn't they bring her to me to nurse?! Policy. Joel and I were both tired and grumpy and just over the whole hospital experience. By God's grace, our recovery nurse had had two home births and a birthing center birth and knew how frustrating hospital policy can be. She had never let someone go down to the NICU so quickly after surgery, but said if I could stand up and get in the wheelchair, she would get me down there. After some juice and crackers I felt up to it, and we did it! I met our sweet baby girl (though it is hazy in my mind) and she latched right on and nursed for a very long time. Her blood sugar went right up and never was an issue again. Thank you Lord for the gift of the right nurse at the right time! 
She had to be on oxygen and get antibiotics because she did indeed have an infection. We ended up in the hospital for seven days for her to finish her antibiotics. We only got to room together for three of those nights. I walked up and down the halls to the NICU every few hours to nurse those first four days (and nights). I was amazed how quickly I was healing physically. I only needed Ibuprofen (which is all I took with the twins) and could walk easier much quicker than my first csection. Sneezing and coughing were the dreaded duo. Ouch! Emotionally though, it has proved to be a much harder recovery. Maybe because it was less expected? Maybe because of all the what ifs? I don't know. I just felt very raw and like I was grieving. It has gotten better with a few weeks distance, but it's still hard for me to talk about. Talking to our midwife friend was really helpful, and Claudia, I think I may need a few more "birth therapy" sessions! She reminded me that God was sovereign, and could use Jubilee's birth for good (she said that she fights even harder for her client's VBACs because of her own Csection), and that it may take a long time to understand the reasons for it. That helped. 
There was beauty in the midst of all of the sadness. I had been reading "One thousand gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It's about seeing God's grace and goodness in the midst of life's pain. It was so fresh in my mind and I'm thankful for that because it reminded me to look for it while in the hospital. Here are some gifts I want to remember about labor and Jubilee's birth:
* Those hours that I got to experience labor. I will treasure them always. 
* Mom and Joel. My biggest cheerleaders in life, right there with me in labor, birth, and recovery. 
* Our nurse. She was a true gift. 
* Music. I loved hearing truth about God and how amazing He is while laboring. 
* Scripture. It lifted me up. 
* Flavored ice chips during labor. That stuff is amazing. 
* The laughter that came when I snuck an apple to eat and then had to hide from the droll anesthesiologist and then how he came and sat right next to where I had buried it under the covers and I was so afraid it was going to fall onto his lap as he put in my IV. Mom and I got a real kick out of that.
* Being able to move around as much as I wanted during labor, even though I had to be monitored. 
* A healthy baby girl. What a gift. What an unexpected gift our Jubilee is to us! 
* The nurse that allowed us to get to the NICU for that first feeding. She also, almost a week later, was the same nurse who helped me with lactation issues. I had a clogged milk duct and could.not. find any one to help me. Apparently with the down turn in the economy, they cut lactation specialists at that hospital. Now all nurses have "lactaion training". That's nice, until your nurse goes off shift and you never see her again. Wait, I'm supposed to be being thankful!! 
* Ice machine right outside my room. I think I drank my weight in cranberry juice with crushed ice while in the hospital! Mmmmm.
* A program that let me stay two extra days at the hospital with Jubilee, so I didn't have to go home while she was still there. For free. That's right. Amazing. 

So much more. Truly, lots of beauty and lots to be thankful for. Please know that I see that and that I know there are countless people that have loads more to grieve than I do! Still, I just usually stuff things or disregard them and I don't want to do that with this birth experience. So, there you go! Here we are five weeks later. So thankful to be home, to be adjusting to life with three children, to be growing more in love with our sweet girl every day. 

I hope she will be able to look back on her birth one day and know that her mama felt the overwhelming pain and beauty of her working to come into the world, the sadness of being separated from her those first hours after birth, and the healing that God provides through time and truth and attachment. Through it all, it creates a unique story. One all her own. I hope she sees it as a story of love. A bit broken , to be sure, but such is our world. Still, love rises about it...I hope her birth story points her to Christ, who was there through it all and loves her better than any of us can. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

After a day filled with reminders to speak respectfully and with love to each other (ie: mama about to tear her hair out), I hear this little conversation between Sam and Amelia while they color at the table.
Amelia: " I really hope you'll be a good Grandpa to my kids, Sam. I know you will be. I'll bring them all the time to see you, wherever you live."
Sam: " I will be Amelia. I'm going to live in Texas."
Amelia:" well, I'll still be living here, but I'll bring them to see you as much as they want to."
Sam:" I'll bring my kids to see you too. As much as they want to."

Sniff, sniff. That is what my mama heart needed to hear!! They'll get the uncle/aunt grandma/grandpa thing figured out. Hehe

All for now- just wanted to write that down before I forgot it! Jen

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Little garden gnome...

I have birthdays and parties to write about and many pictures to post, but for now I just give you this little garden gnome. Jubilee is so funny, our only babe to really care about what she wears. Right now, this hat of Amelia's (Mammy made:)is a must for her and my gosh is it cute. When we are going out she pats her head and shrugs her shoulders if it's not hanging where it's supposed to be.
Also, a big thanks to Joelie for planting these amazing flowers- they bring us all such happiness. In fact, the kids have cracked me up with their daily " flower report". They go check the bed each morning and then come running, squealing, laughing, to excitedly tell me what new buds are blooming etc. and then we walk out together and take a closer look. Oh how I'll miss it when they don't get so excited about things like new blossoms. Sniff, sniff.
Ok, time for this mama to put the phone down and get to bed.:) Jen

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Oh goodness, the birthday sentimentality is in full force today! Two days until my babes turn six! Gracious. Here they are at almost two, and today at almost six. Artists at work together:)

Monday, April 08, 2013

Comfy cozy....

What a sweet little moment to come across at the end of the day!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Glorious sleep...

Our friends the Cox's came over after the kids' Spanish class, as they often do, and the kids played their hearts out. Running through the house into the backyard, then the front, down to the basement, up to the bedrooms- from the first time our kids met, they have just clicked when it comes to PLAY! Which is wonderful. I think that intense play, along with the sunshine, really pooped them out today. I could tell Amelia especially was tired, and told her that when Jubilee went down she also needed to lay down for some rest. Before I knew it, the two bigs and I were snoozing in the big bed. It was like old times and it was glorious. Ahhhh, nap times with mama, I guess even almost six year olds need them every once in a while:)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Moments from today...

Oh, these days. These days are so rich. Rich with exhaustion, sweet moments, overwhelm, hilarity, frustration, surrender. I don't know how all of those feelings can quite all fit into a day, but I guess that's what growing a life inside of you can do! Today...lots like other days. So, I thought I'd grab a few moments and record them. 

* Beautiful, spring weather. Notice how brilliant the colors of Joel's flowers look in the front bed. Purple and yellow, two of my favorite flower colors for sure. 

* Trip to Sprouts. Jubilee, of course, doesn't want to ride in the cart and persists in whining until I give up and carry her (left her shoes at home...oops). Feeling a bit frustrated for my very pregnant self until I see another mama carrying her toddler and we smile at each other, and I just relax about the whole thing. Funny how that works. 

* All three get balloons as we leave. Jubilee, of course, doesn't want to have hers tied on her wrist. She's basically against restraint of any kind. Hehe. She is very, very excited about her "ba ba" and then we get home and sure enough it floats away into the sky. Sam and Amelia are SO sad for her- Sam even teared up. Precious. She gets over it quickly and moves on to spilling bubbles as we unload groceries. 

* Amelia decides to make something out of her ballet tights that have a hole in them. Dragon lover that she is these days, she decides to make them into a two headed dragon. I come across the "dragon" later in the afternoon and my eyes fill with tears of laughter at her tights stuffed with Easter grass and taped everywhere with googly eyes on both feet. Oh, that girl!

* Paper, there is paper everywhere! We are in the constant coloring/drawing phases and I go back and forth between overwhelm at the colors/paper everywhere vs. delight in their creations!

* The kids "whisper" too loudly and wake Jubilee from her nap. I almost cry. I had literally just made myself lay down to rest and really needed it. The kids run out to the back yard, escaping mama's wrath, yelling their apologies as they run. 

* I decide to try and clean the kitchen. I give Jubilee a sucker to keep her busy. Yep, I did. Next thing I know she is chasing Mama kitty, trying to grab her tail. So, I chase Jubilee saying, " No mam, what are you doing?!" Then I see Jubilee's sucker hanging down from the cat's tail, stuck in her hair!! Oh my. It was really funny, and gross, and thankfully it came out easily. Then, not very cleverly, I give Jubilee some watermelon in her high chair so that I can continue on my cleaning mission. What a mess! I give up on the cleaning idea until later. 

* Sam finishes a coloring page he has been working on for Jubilee for two days. He hangs it in her room by himself. Precious. 

* Jubilee just climbed up on the bed beside me, patted the pillow where she wanted to lay her head and snuggled down. She's a bit of a mama's girl, and I have to say, she's a pretty cute and hilarious sidekick. 

* The evening is winding down. I'm super excited to lay in bed and watch whatever I want to on TV and put my feet up. Joel is off to an awards event (City Weekly gave his outreach team the "Best at helping those in need" award in their "Best of" issue. It was a really genuine, sweet write up and my favorite of the work awards he's been given. Yay Joelie!). I'm going to get this baby in bed, get those big kids read to and tucked in and then my work day is over. I might give myself an award of an Easter basket Kit Kat bar- you know, for pulling a hairy sucker off the cat and things like that. 

Lots of love to you, folks. I hope your days are rich as well, and that we can all giggle when we think back on the sometimes overwhelmingness of daily life. Especially when 33 weeks pregnant. My goodness. Still, so very thankful for this life. So very, very thankful!