Letters to Phoebe: Birth

Dear Phoebe,

You had your own ideas about your birthday, didn’t you?  I feel like it’s unfair to you, but it’s difficult to not assume that you’re maybe just a little stubborn (you’d come by it honestly, at least), based only on when you were born. And even though I made jokes about it and I was tired and frustrated, and ready to hold you, I secretly cheered for you when you waited until the last second to decide on your birthday. That’s my girl!

September 15. That’s the date I came up with the day I got a positive pregnancy test. That’s the date my midwives told me waaaay back in February when I went to my first appointment. That wasn’t your birthday. And neither was the 16th. Or the next ten days after that. It got to the point that we started talking about trying to help you out.  I went to my midwife on Friday, and we set up the induction for Saturday. And I got home and I cried a little. Because I was hoping you’d come on your own. I was really looking forward to the experience of labor happening on its own this time around, and I was a little disappointed.  I felt silly for feeling like that, because I was also very, very excited to meet you. And very, very grateful that you were healthy. By the evening, after a lot of praying, and a lot of encouragement, I was only excited. Exhausted, but excited.  It was a funny feeling, after months of waiting and weeks of waking up wondering if it would be your birthday, to go to bed knowing that you would be born on Saturday.

I guess at this point, I’ll mention that I had been having contractions on and off throughout the day on Friday, but that was nothing new. It had happened a lot of other days only to stop and leave me a little bummed that we wouldn’t be meeting you yet after all.  I timed them while your daddy and I watched t.v. and they were about 10 minutes apart, but not really painful.  I made sure all our bags were packed and I went to sleep.

I woke up around 2am from painful contractions, but I honestly thought that I was imagining them. And I really wanted to be well-rested for labor, so I tried to keep sleeping. I dozed between contractions for the next two hours, until they got so painful that I had to wake your daddy up. “Sweetie, my contractions hurt really bad. I think…” He fell back asleep before I even finished the sentence. He woke up to me trying to make it through the next contraction on my own and failing. “I’m sorry, David, you have to wake up. We’re going to have the baby now.” They seemed to be coming about 8 minutes apart, so I decided to take a shower. Very quickly, the contractions got a lot closer together and stronger. We finished getting things together, called your Auntie Kelley to come stay with your sister, and left for the hospital.

I was so happy the entire drive to the hospital. You were finally on your way! I felt pretty sure that we’d be holding you by lunchtime. I was so excited to meet you and so grateful for the gift of a labor that began on its own. Over and over throughout this pregnancy, the Lord has continued to remind me to trust, to rest in his grace and his goodness. It was no different in labor.  I hope and pray, sweet daughter, that you will learn this lesson when you are younger than I am.

We got to the hospital at 5:15am, and met up with your Nana and our Midwife, Isabelle.  Part of the deal with the hospital was that I had to agree to monitoring for the first 30 minutes, so they hooked me up, and we started waiting. Isabelle started getting a room ready for us, and came back in towards the end to see how things were going.

7 centimeters. That’s how they were going. Apparently weeks of contractions and waiting had paid off. We headed down the hall to my room and I hopped right in that lovely tub. It was probably around 6am when we got to the room.  Contractions continued to pick up, and your daddy did such a wonderful job helping me through them.  The time between contractions was nice.  It was restful and for a while, we chatted about your arrival.  Itbecame clear that you would be born long before lunchtime. In fact, before we were even scheduled to be at the hospital for the induction, I was holding you in my arms.

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Isabelle helped me think about and work through my labor, and when I decided it was time to push, just about 2 hours after we got to the hospital, she helped your daddy catch you. You were born in water at 7:43am. September 27, 2014. 8 lbs. 10 oz. 20.5 inches. Our sweet Phoebe Evangeline.


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Dark hair, and big gray-blue eyes, just like I had imagined. Your daddy handed you to me right away, and I just looked at you, cuddled you, and kissed your sweet face.  It was so precious to have those two sweet hours to hold you and get to know you, to introduce you to your big sister.  She came right into that room, took one look at you and said “PHOEBE!” She climbed up next to me, kissed you, held you and played little piggy with your “toesies.” Like us, she had been waiting so expectantly for you. I pray that sisterhood will be a blessing for you both throughout your lives.

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Sweet Phoebe, we are so grateful for you. Our prayer for you is that you will be an example of and a glad witness to the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” We pray that you will radiate the light of the Lord our God–that you will love the light, walk in the light, and give light to others as a city upon a hill. We pray that the good news of Jesus Christ will shape everything about you and that you will choose to devote her life to the advance of his kingdom.  We love you, sweet girl, and we’re so happy to have you in our family.

Love,

Momma

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when you kind of can’t believe it…

A week ago, I didn’t have “Bradley Conference” marked on my calendar.

A week ago, I was wondering what I was going to do with my free time.

A week ago, I downloaded an application and forgot to read the fine print.  I was thinking of how I should come up with $400 and realized I needed 4 X $400.

A week ago, I set up a crowdfunding website with shaky hands and a tummy ache.

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A week ago, I think I started a pretty exciting adventure.

I have tried to be honest through this whole process. I hope I haven’t suggested that being a childbirth educator is something I dreamed about doing when I was 5 years old. It wasn’t. I hope I haven’t suggested that I feel like God woke me up in the middle of the night and said “Lindsey, learn to teach The Bradley Method.” He didn’t. (It’s Ellie who wakes me up in the middle of the night.)

I hope I’ve communicated that The Bradley Method had a profound impact on my life, on the way I think about birth and pregnancy and hospitals and doctors. I hope I’ve communicated that I care deeply about future mommas and daddies and their babies.  I hope I’ve made it clear that this isn’t just a job or a hobby to me–it’s an opportunity to love, care for, and serve people in one of the most important times in their lives.  I hope I’ve made it clear that this isn’t just something I thought up one day.

The thing I think I love most about this adventure is that I didn’t sit around looking for an adventure or waiting for one.  I was going along, living my life, trying to be faithful to the things I think Jesus cares about, and something just started to happen.  I was talking with a dear friend smack in the middle of this fundraising adventure, and he kept commenting on how this just seems to make so much sense for me, for David, for our family. It just seems to fit. And that’s what I love.  I love that this is like a great-big present that the Lord has said “Here, open this. I want you to be a blessing.”

You know what else I love about it? You. You people. You generous, encouraging, caring people. Who have loved me through some of the hardest parts of my life, who have prayed with me, cried with me, laughed with me, and read my blog.  The last week has brought me into contact with many of you.  Thank you. Thank you for being generous. for sharing your time. for sharing your stories. for sharing encouragement. for sharing your prayers. for sharing your money.

I am so grateful you were willing to participate in the crazy-exciting thing the Lord is doing in our lives.  Each time I hopped on my computer and another one of you had taken the time to share a story with me, each time I saw that little green bar go a little farther, each time one of you sent me a piece of encouragement, I thanked God for you. I thanked God for his faithfulness.  In addition to making it possible for me to embark on this adventure, you have been a part of the Lord’s work in my life as he heals my heart and teaches me what it actually means to obey. I am humbled by your obedience to whatever the Lord prompted each of you to do.

Thank you.

I feel like I can only end with yet another quote from Eliana’s story Bible.

“Well, Jesus did many miracles. Things people thought couldn’t happen, that weren’t natural.

But it was the most natural thing in all the world. It’s what God had been doing from the beginning, of course.  Taking the nothing and making it everything. Taking the emptiness and filling it up. Taking the darkness and making it light.”

To the praise of his glory.

Is this getting old yet?

If you’re just joining us. 

If you just missed out on yesterday. 

If you want me to shut up.

And today, I recruited my daughter to shamelessly manipulate your emotions.

See that little “P” (for Pinterest!) button at the bottom of this post? Go ahead and give it a little click.

5 days left, friends!

Gracias.

And muchas gracias to those of you who have already donated/shared/encouraged me! Seriously, I’m so encouraged by the words many of you have shared in the last few days.

seriously. srsly. for reals.

Help a Momma help other Mommas

A Letter to Ellie: From Your Daddy.

Today, I am blessed to share a letter my husband wrote to Eliana in celebration of her birth.  While it’s not a traditional birth story, it is beautiful. Something I love about The Bradley Method is the emphasis it places on the role of Fathers in the delivery room and throughout the pregnancy.  When people ask me how I gave birth without an epidural, my answer is always the same: because of David. 

Dear Daughter,

So.  Let’s be forthright, shall we?  I love you.  I love you more than words can say.  I remember very fondly the morning you came into the world.  I stood at your mom’s side (her right-hand side, in case you’re interested in that sort of thing) with the nurse at her other side and the doctor at her feet.  I like to think my eyes saw you first: you came out on the final push curled up and on your left-hand side, facing me.  If you had opened your eyes at that moment, you would have seen me.  Who’s to say you didn’t?
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Before the nurses picked you up and carried you away to be wiped clean (or washed clean, in which case it could be called a sort of firstfruits of the baptism that you will, I pray, one day undergo in the Lord), you were set in your mother’s affectionate and protective arms.  I wish I could describe for you the look I saw at that moment on your mother’s face, but it transcends language.  It was joy mixed with gratitude mixed with exhaustion–and probably mixed with pride.  Pride in bearing you those nine months and giving you birth, gratitude to the Lord for his great kindness and care, joy at your life and at your entry into the world we inhabit only for a time, exhaustion and love suffusing it all.
I hope my face showed something similar.

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Since that day you have grown quite a lot; you now are probably between 13 and 14 lbs and 25-26 inches long (from 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20.5 inches at birth).  You are, by the numbers, tall and thin–like your mother.  Today, at nearly 16 weeks of age, you can hold your own head steady, sit in a supportive chair, lift your head up off the ground if we set you on your stomach, notice and follow toys or other objects, smile in response to our own smiles, and more generally show recognition of certain faces.  We suspect you will start to roll over soon and not long after that begin to sit up and (too fast!) crawl.  What progress you’ve made!
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I feel a keen sorrow almost daily–whenever I think that I spend too little time with you.  I work full time at a job that doesn’t allow me to bring you with me.  Your mother, on the other hand, works as a nanny, and therefore gets to take you with her to work.  This arrangement has its upsides and downsides, of course, but it means at the very least that she spends more time with you than I do.  I know, I know–this is normal in families like ours.  But I wish to God that I had more time with you.  How it feels to have your head resting on my left shoulder while I hold you with my right arm and touch the back of your head with my left hand–it fills me with happiness that I never knew before I had a daughter.  You, Eliana, enrich my life and edify my heart.  And you give pause to my mind; you make me weigh, make me consider what’s important and what, among the various goods I possess, can be let go.  I remember in Gilead, my favorite book, Ames talks about grace as something that takes life down to the essentials.  In that sense you are grace personified for me.  That makes me think of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places,” in which Hopkins says that Christ is “lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.”  Yours are the limbs and eyes (and the smile!) through which Christ, right now, makes himself known to me.
Okay, that’s a good place to stop.  Child of my heart, hear my heart beat for you; know its affection for you, its desire that you grow up to be a woman who knows the Triune God and expends herself to the uttermost for His great glory.
Love,
David, your Father
*If we are successful, David will attend the training with me and will have the option to help teach classes as he is able. Click here to become a part of our journey. 

A New Adventure: And a Request.

Giving birth was a wonderful experience for both David and me.  We’re not sure what it was like for Eliana, but it seems like she’s glad to be here.  When I was pregnant, I spent hours researching everything from diaper bags to epidurals, and I was starting to get overwhelmed. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of just throwing myself at the mercy of the doctors, but I also didn’t love the idea of hiring someone to come to my house and ordering an inflatable pool to have my baby in.

Enter Dr. Bradley and his book Husband Coached Childbirth.  I read most of this book on one of our typical dates to Barnes and Noble. I was surprised to find that, after reading, I was actually looking forward to childbirth.  Being the introspective person that I am, I asked myself why– why was I actually excited about something that is “marketed” to women as a horrible, awful, terrible experience that is only good because “you get a baby at the end”?  Here’s why I was excited:

The Bradley Method strongly advocates the role of the husband (or other support person) as necessary in the labor and delivery process.  I deeply wanted David to be an active part of the labor and delivery of our daughter.

The Bradley Method stems from the idea that birth is a natural process that our bodies were made for, but that we also need to train for.  Dr. Bradley referred to his patients as “obstetrical athletes.”  According to The Bradley Method, you train for birth like a runner trains for a marathon.

The Bradley Method isn’t unreasonable. It leaves room for medical intervention when necessary for the health of the mom or the baby.  For this reason, with the proper preparedness, it’s 100% doable in a hospital setting. Even one that isn’t natural birth friendly (like my hospital).

Because of our experience with the Bradley Method, I am eager to educate other women about childbirth and provide other couples with the information I received prior to giving birth to Eliana.  As a Christian, I only found myself agreeing more and more with what Dr. Bradley wrote because I believe that God made our bodies to have children. My birth experience was not only a rewarding experience athletically, but spiritually as well.  I would treasure the opportunity to share the Bradley Method with couples who are interested in making informed decisions regarding the birth of their child.  Birth doesn’t have to be something that women just suffer through.

I am asking you now, dear reader, if you are interested in helping me do this.  I can’t manage this alone. The Bradley Class for Childbirth Educators will prepare me not only to teach The Bradley Method, but also to assist couples in the delivery room.  I have just 7 days to reach  my $1600 goal, which will take care of the 4 day training conference in September and the rest of the 9-month academic program.  I will then be able to join the one other teacher in my city in providing Bradley Classes.  At this time, you would be making a pledge– if I do not meet my goal, your donation will not be collected.

I have been thinking of what work there might be for me to do after realizing that classroom teaching is not in the Lord’s will for me at this time.  I feel confident that this is something that he has given me both the passion and gifts to accomplish.  This will not only be a job that I will LOVE, but it will help us out financially while allowing me to care for Eliana full time.  I realize that a number of my friends are in a financial position similar to my own, so if you are able to share this, I would appreciate that as well!  You never know who might find it!  If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to share more with you!