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15 Photos of The Loveliness of Nursing

I would like to thank my husband for his support of me nursing, as well as sharing these photographs.   From 2009 to 2013, a range of the loveliness I have experienced in nursing my children until they were ready to wean.

DSCF2096 DSCF2113 DSCF2115 DSCF2132 IMG_1378 IMG_1391 100_1701 100_2850 100_2921 100_3067 DSC06398 100_3206 DSCN7529 DSCN7527

Beauty & BF

Happy World Breastfeeding Month!  I am inspired by the events this week at The Leaky B@@B and am planning three upcoming posts in the spirit of supporting the beauty, health and importance of breastfeeding.  Welcome all who need encouragement and/or are curious!

To start off, today I just want to reminisce….

Twenty Places I Have Nursed My Children

(listed in order of the impact they had on me to be more confident)

20. In the rank bathroom at a restaurant.
19. Sweating under a light sheet covering in a meeting at church — the cover was ripped off by my unhappy nursling and I pretty much flashed another leader guy, who was AWESOME and didn’t even blink twice.
18. On the couch, sweating under a light sheet covering at a Bible study full of single guys (all of whom are either about to be married, are now happily married, or even expecting kids… kinda nice to realize I didn’t scar them forever).
17. Around the corner on the stairs without a cover, at #18.
16. Discreetly but without a cover, sitting fourth row back from the front of church, because I finally realized my church is AWESOME.
15. Discreetly but without a cover, at Starbucks at an outside table.
14. Metro bus (babies don’t wait)
13. At the hospital after C-section birth and VBAC (same hospital for both)
12. In the car after a funeral in the country (dirt roads are bumpy… see #14)
11. In bed while simultaneously cuddling with husband
10. In a living room with other moms and their nurslings
09. At the zoo, with a bunch of nursing moms, surrounded by a bunch of other mammals nursing
08. In a cozy armchair in my pastor’s living room, bought specifically for nursing moms who might visit
07. On the couch, with my almost two-year-old toddler on one side and my newborn on the other (a.k.a. Tandem Nursing)
06. In mixed company, at my house, because it’s hard to get out with a nursling
05. At my Doula (now a Midwife)’s house because she’s awesome and has parties for her Mamas and their families
04. At my in-law’s house, where it has become the supported norm for me to nurse my speaking & walking toddler
03. In the church nursery while helping care for other kids
02. At Young-N-Restless Resale store, where there are chairs just for nursing in
01. In the brand-new rocking chair bought for me by a friend shortly before my daughter was born

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Thank you to those of you who have supported me nursing along the way.  I hope to help others down the line, for the rest of my life!  It has truly been a lovely, wonderful, life-changing, life-giving experience.  I am grateful to everyone who has said “Go ahead!”

Well-Worded Advice

God has seen fit to bless me with a five-year-strong marriage and three beautiful children.

Along with these areas of great blessing, I have had moments of great need — for support, prayer, help, and advice.  Over time, I have found the more incredible words from friends and my heavenly Father building up into beautiful inner dialogues, sometimes battling or encroaching upon my more negative dialogues, even eradicating them, but always consistently energizing me and keeping me going.  Praise God.  These words are as refreshing as a Texas water canal, filled to the brim, gushing into a vivid-green rice field in the middle of our dry, reddish-brown countryside.

Let me share with you some of these reverberating cheers of my soul.

My Mother-in-law: “Leave the crumbs where they are.”  She said this right after my toddler son dumped something all over the floor.  We were all having to walk all over it while trying to serve dinner.  I loved her for that grace, that kindness, and that relaxed attitude about the mess.  I try to extend it to myself when I have chunks of food on the floor, etc. and have so many other things to do…

Our marriage mentors: “Intimacy is not the icing on the cake, but rather the yeast.  And intimacy is not so much about a goal, but about being together.”  How much effort and stress that has saved me in the past few years!  I could say the idea of being together applies to any activity I am doing with my husband, or my kids!  The goal is being together, not just to do whatever activity I have planned.  It helps me to keep that in mind!

My sister in Christ: “One thing I wish someone had told me when I was a new mom… take 5 minutes every so often, and stop, and rest, and breathe.  It’s okay, and the kids will be fine.  I flew around everywhere trying to take care of everything.”  Enough said, right?

The Lord (direct tap): “Trust me.  And ask me first when you don’t know what to do.  I will help you.”  More recently, he also told me “It IS good enough, and so are you.”  I have this posted above my sink now.  Thanks God, for taking my inabilities and making things happen supernaturally.

The Lord (through Scripture): “You are blessed beyond the curse!”  In frustrating, hormonal, or tired moments as a parent, spouse, or woman (pregnant or not), this speaks to me deeply!  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 — “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Blessings, Friends.  Thanks for reading!

Things I Think Of

It’s been a while!  We have been busy with two very important family projects.  My husband started a business of his own (see the link below) and we are also working on building our very own home, debt free (see second link below), Lord willing!  More on those later.

www.ThunderbirdArms.com

www.DaveRamsey.com

So, in the meantime, here is some stuff that I had on my brain last week and made into quickie little illustrations.  I hope they make you chuckle and encourage you to nurture your creative side in this busy life we live.

I love this first one (above) because I often find myself mad about things that I don’t need to be mad about.  I have to take a calming breath and just remember that it’s not about me.  It’ not about how I perform, I don’t need to defend myself, I haven’t messed up, I haven’t failed, and I certainly am not defined by what is going on.  This is all great medicine for my soul.  Thanks God, for freedom from the circumstances surrounding me.

This second one is just my reminder to pop my vitamins instead of going for coffee or sugar intake…. yeah, I just love the drug reference.  I never was a druggie but sometimes I like to pretend I am one, when I take my “vits.”

Here I illustrate my need to remember to congratulate my son on his amazing ability to divide and conquer whatever mess he has aimed to make.  He loves making messes, and of course I can easily slip into “clean-up mode” where I complain about the toll on my house, my energy, my time, etc…. Sometimes that’s all internal and never at him directly, sometimes it is a frustration with him, but I am working (and asking the Lord for help) to be able to just sit and enjoy the mess with him.  There is a spiritual truth in that, for me.  Does God sit and enjoy the mess we make as his kids, sometimes?  Surely he must.  His laughter rolling up from his insides…  Thanks God, for enjoying ME.

Lots of love, dear Readers, and thanks for your time and attention this morning!

Delight in all my Labor

It is easy for me to forget in the daily grind that I am cherished.  Treasured.  God’s special girl.  A princess in the kingdom.

We’re not talking “positive self talk” here.  We’re talking true healing from the frustrating day yesterday, and knowing (and feeling) the tender heart with which God views all my mistakes, trials, and heartaches.

My husband has taught me this phrase: “PROGRESS, not perfection.”  I love it, but it is hard to really step into sometimes.  I do want to be good at my job, my life, you name it.  So, when even PROGRESS seems unattainable, I can be easily and understandably…. erhm…. emotionally constipated or… erhm… runny.  Either one.  Ha!

What I am realizing is that this enemy of my heart works to not only steal my self-worth, he also seeks to steal the joy in my work with this mentality.  I am suddenly just working away for nothing, not appreciated, not worth being appreciated.  The voices start saying: You should never have signed up for this.  You made a big mistake, and you will pay for it for the rest of your life (if you want to be a good wife and mother by not quitting).  

or

Look at the mistake you made.  You shouldn’t share about that with anyone.  They will just look at you sidewise and not want to be your friend.

Then I start filling in: I should quit — to be rebellious against all these voices!

or

I must never make that mistake again.  Let me be as hard on myself as I can so I will learn this time.

These are all tricks of the enemy of our souls!  I know God wants me to just rest in the identity HE has created for me…. it’s all there, in the Scriptures.

I am beautiful.

I am His treasure.

I am His bride.

I am not alone.

There is joy for my work today.

There is new mercy and grace for every mistake I make.

…It just goes on!

Ecclesiastes 2:10b — “My heart took delight in all my labor,  and this was the reward for all my toil.”  Even though the purpose of everything is to know and be known by God, and is meaningless otherwise, I seek to rest in His perspective of today.  I choose to look to Him for the joy and delight in all my labor… as a friend, mother, wife, homemaker (I loved seeing that on our IRS return!), and daughter of the King.

It Won’t Be Like This For Long

“Someday you are going to miss them running around and being this little!”

At the risk of sounding like I complain all the time (although I know I do a lot — I am working on it)… My husband and I comfort each other with that phrase any time the kids are so demanding that we feel our hair frazzling to a dull grey (more recently, during cold-and-cough season, when both my kids required medicine given via nebulizer — basically a child’s version of an inhaler).

"Quack Quack Medicine"

So… 8 times a day I held a sometimes-complacent, often not, child on my lap and administered the prescribed innoculation through the freshly sterilized-between-each-breathing-treatment…. yeah I can’t finish that thought anymore.

"Dinosaur Medicine"

At least the meds worked! But with no time to do any of my normal routine and also no visitors/extra trips out, well — you get the idea.  Some folks can give me a HOLLA I’m sure.  It gets old real fast, right?

So… “It won’t be like this forever.  This too shall pass.”   It helped a lot.  It became our mantra.  We said it the most often when *I* got sick on top of it.

But, I can’t use that phrase anymore now, because of a stupid country song… made me cry my eyes out today.  GRILLED CHEESUS.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.  SIGH.

I was actually holding my 2-yr-old right when it played, after an afternoon of splashing in really cold water and “help” with raking leaves, and herding our family’s new rooster (yeah, I’ll blog about him later) away from the fire.

My awesome child was tuckered out and had just sweetly fussed himself to sleep on my lap.  So the timing… was… hateful.  I did not need that hurt in my heart today!  THANKS A LOT, DARIUS RUCKER.

SIGH AGAIN.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

Overshadowed by Grace

‘…the power of the Most High will overshadow you… For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 
— from Luke1:34-37 (one of my Christmas/Advent readings)

After having my first baby, there came a season of  mental “re-training” — I had to realize that it wasn’t going to be so hard anymore to do things.  My body and brain started coming back, and I had to relearn how to use them in a non-pregnant way.  Anyone hear me on this?

With my first post-partum, I had no idea this issue even existed.  I just did not remember anymore what it felt like to be interested in cleaning, or maintaining some chore. I didn’t know it could be easy anymore to flirt with my husband.  There was no hope for our front porch or any other area which I had signed up to take care of in our married life.

Granted, that is not everyone’s pregnancy story (I don’t want to scare people away from having kids).  Nevertheless I think Snow White’s brain made a much faster return-to-normalcy after her coma than mine did.

It cracks me up: there were moments upon moments of “Aha!  It only took me five minutes to _________, and I’m not exhausted!”   Make some tea, put dishes away, clean an area, play with my child, whatever.  You name it.

So, the second-pregnancy-around, I came prepared.  (I thought.)  I talked myself through decisions to stop caring about my shaved legs by saying: “In a few months, I will do that again, but for now I won’t worry about it.”  I knew that I would return from the ride and eventually be myself again.

Uh…. yeah….. I forgot that this time I would have: “Two!  Two precious angels!  Ah – Ah – Ah!”  (Please tell me you get that reference.)  It’s not that I’m complaining.  I actually, if anything, would complain that I can’t seem to get over the change to two toddler/babies and keep smacking my head like a moron into the wall of “what I WANT to do.”  Again, anyone hear me on this?  I know I’m not alone or stupid in this, but dang.

So… here we are…. seven months in and I am finally getting some progress on my mental switch.  Anyway…. here’s to learning to taking it EVEN EASIER on myself and accepting the new normal.  My Father-God seems to know just how to embrace me in it, too.  I have to work a little at listening to His Voice instead of the inner-critical one that likes to play on me.

So… Proud-a-me?  Yes.

Is progress really that important?  Not always, no, not really.

Is it perfect?  Definitely not!

Is it still good?  Hell-to-the-yeah.

So, thanks, Lord, for helping through this next reprocessing/readjusting phase.  Thanks for helping me figure out the new normal.  And thanks for friends and family (and an amazing husband) who help and encourage along the way.  Help me to rest fully in Your overshadowing grace and love and excitement about my life!

Thanks for reading, Friends.

10 Theatrical Tips for Homemaking

I never would have thought my theatre studies would be almost as helpful as an undergrad in home economics.  Now, before any of my theatre peeps get offended, let me just say I ain’t belittling theatre.  No way.  It just so happens that my studies in theatre have proven most helpful in being a SAHW&M in a single-income family.  Here are my Top 10 Theatrical Tips for Homemaking (inspired by Listverse); maybe they will inspire you, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!

1. Entertain a child with what entertains you.  This is obvious to some, but honestly I go by the children’s theater rule-of-thumb: if the kids are being quiet, it really is a good show.  I use this mindset to gauge how much I like/dislike a program or activity I’m doing with my kids.  If I can’t enter into the fun with them, even by trying, and they aren’t really glued to it either, I let it go… even if it’s supposedly good/made for kids.   No thanks, I’ll teach my toddler how to bake.  The neat thing is, my child often returns the favor, and shows me how to enjoy what he enjoys.

2. A stage trick: Talking softly.  If I talk loudly over a rowdy group of kids, they’ll just get louder too.  The quieter I get, the quieter they’ll get so they can hear me.  It works with my toddler all the time.  Now if I can only remember to do it…

3. When being loud is necessary: project properly, so you don’t ruin your voice.  All those years of voice lessons and voice-for-the-actor really have come in handy in regard to being in touch with my voice.  I rarely hurt my voice.  In fact, if I do hurt my voice, it is an immediate reminder to calm down and take a few deep breaths.  A quick tip for anyone who has a hurting voice right now: Start humming and yawn while you do it, up and down your voice register.  Go sit outside for a minute.  Drink some pineapple juice or chamomile tea, and say a prayer for a bit.  Let God show you how He sees you.  You’d be surprised at how this helps!

4. Know what refreshes you, and do it!  Speaking of voice/music lessons: I love singing to my kids and over my kitchen sink while doing dishes…. worshiping, singing harmony to songs….  The idea here is doing something fun for yourself. I’m not talking about shopping or listening to music, although those are very important!  I’m talking about slowing down and finding life in a personal way.  This might change with the seasons!  Many people push through hard times without finding something to enjoy around them.

5. Don’t overdo it.   Now, here’s another given: as a theatre person, Halloween is a cinch.  That goes for Christmas and Easter… heck, Chick-Fil-A day too.  Now, the problem is that I can easily demand too much from myself in that area, as a result.  So, skip it once in a while (we skipped Halloween this year)!  It finally really depends on how much time/energy I have.  Proud-a-me.  Anyone hear me on that one?  Can I get an ‘Amen!’

6. Teach yourself how to sew.  It’s easy!  Put a needle and thread together and mend something.  You will save yourself so much money!  I can dye and sew from being in theatre  and half the time I can even just slap something together with a homemade design or pattern.  Don’t be afraid to try!  You’d be surprised at how the creative juices start flowing.  It ‘s not always durable or perfect, but it’ll usually work for now.  And it always means we can make that shirt last a little longer.

7. Use Carpenter’s glue.  I learned in theatre that glue is what really holds sets together.  Screws just hold things in place until the glue sets.  So whether you’re making a craft or putting together stuff from Ikea — if you use Carpenter’s glue to reinforce the joints, your work will last a lot longer.

8. It is possible to do really great work on a dime or less.  In theatre it’s called a “gypsy run” — doing a show with the bare necessities: black clothes for costumes, chairs for sets, and a single light on the stage (or whatever you’ve got).  It comes in handy with a small budget.  I do get tired of this at times, but can usually find the occasional recharge I need from some small idea/need I come across.  Sometimes I watch the DIY network while visiting my MIL, but other times I find a spark lighting if I will just sit there and brainstorm: what will work?  What will work?   And if all else fails, try Goodwill.

9. How to do a lot on a little sleep.  It is no secret that theatre people often work all hours to get a show ready.  I know, I know… many college folks and other folks do this too.  But how many of them do it with FUN and an occasional Diva moment?!  HAHA!  Give yourself that flair you want to feel special.  Dress up for the day, or sing songs while you work or play with your kids.  Don’t just trudge through.  And remember, it’s not the hours you put in your work, it’s the work you put in your hours.  Play hard!

10. Allow for a measure of self-acceptance when opening night comes. There is something about that final-moment-before-the-curtain-goes-up that brings a certain glimmer of excitement to the air, even if things have been stressful — and is something to look forward to.  I find myself the most determined, and the most forgiving of myself, the closer I get to being finished.  It’s as though a little fairy-dust has been tossed into the air.. or is it the dust of heavenly grace?  Perhaps it is on the stage I learned that particular art of encouraging myself and others the harder things get or the closer we are to being done.  Then, it’s just “letting go and going with what you’ve been able to get together.”  Either way, I love having that spirit about me as I work at home.  Sometimes, it allows me to just plop down and relax, when all else says I should freak out and scramble.

The End!  So let me sum up… surely others in similar shoes must learn the same skills, whether they tap, twirl or just shuffle along in their fuzzy bunny slippers.  I just happen to love how my theatre background has been what came in handy for me, in this particular role (pun intended)!  Funny, since I ended up studying theatre, but not going into theatre full-time.  God knew, huh?  He is so good.  🙂

Thanks for reading, Friends.

A Good Plan

People have often said to me “I don’t know how you do it,”  with a wide-eyed look at my two-under-two as though I have a brave — or insane — spirit.  I used to do the same thing.  I used to think it was all about having easy pregnancies — the lucky — or insane? — ones who enjoy pregnancy are the ones who are brave enough to keep going.  HA.

I definitely have my moments where I just want to scream and cry.  I love having children, and they are so beautiful to me, but when they bounce back and forth on who is screeching or fussing, or when they won’t go to sleep, or when they must have MAMA… I can feel a little too spread thin and too tired and… how does that line in the book ‘Captivating’ go?  “Too much and not enough, all at the same time.”  Something like that.  My emotions and needs are too much for me to handle, and I am not enough.

Bless her heart...

So as I have gone forward into the fray, I have asked God more and more how to handle these moments.  I have gotten prayer… it’s been a good journey and an exciting one too.

I find there is always one card I can have in my back pocket.  Say I can’t think or I can only cry or I just want to sleep… as happens as a Mommy, especially one who is still not quite fully recovered from pregnancy/birth: I can pray.

When all the ideas on the web and all the Scriptures in the Word and all the great advice FAILS to come to mind, because, let’s face it, MY MIND IS TIRED and refuses to cooperate a lot of the time, I am learning to sit back, relax, let the children scream or fuss or myself be overwhelmed or whatever it is, for a moment, and start to pray.  I go “God, I don’t know what to do.  HELP!”  In the words of Joyce Meyer, “I am such a mess! HELP!”  And I wait.  I don’t act until I hear from him.

It works.

Inevitably, a few moments may pass or a split second, but God shows me the next step.  It’s amazing.  I can calmly try that, and sometimes I have to repeat the process.  Other times, I find myself crying first before I can try anything.  But it works.  God clears up my heart, and fills in the blanks so I am no longer “too much and not enough at the same time.”  He heals my hungry heart for that moment, and walks (or carries) me through it.

It’s amazing.  You should try it.  I bet it doesn’t work for only new Mommies.

Thanks for reading, Friends.

That's Better...

Birth and the Great Beyond

I wanted to write more about my VBAC.  I say “My VBAC” realizing that, to some, it makes it seem like I am focusing on the childbirth experience.  There are so many more things that this was about, for me.  I will admit, I struggled some with feeling like it was more about the experience, much like a wedding…. but ultimately, my husband’s and my childbirth decisions were very closely tied to wanting our baby and me to be safe.

My Daughter and I

For my husband and me, the “curse of childbirth” (in the Bible) is real.  Ain’t no way around it.  We live in a broken world, with sinful people and broken bodies and an imperfect earth.  My husband and I don’t trust the human aspect of this equation as though it is some sort of all-perfect religious equation that can be left alone to work perfectly at all times… and I am not a cow or a dog, able to have the baby in a hall closet and unfortunate to lose if I die.  I am a human, much more important by our standards, and the risks are not just physcial — there are spiritual and emotional ones involved, for my husband and me.

Hubby and I with our Son

I wanted what is best for my baby, and for me (this addendum had to be taught me by others before I would admit it…. I used to think just the baby was important… but I am too).  “Healthy Baby, Healthy Mama,” as the saying goes.  So… my husband and I quickly found ourselves in the midst of a cultural upheaval, to say the least, here in the states, about childbirth.

From the homebirth/natural childbirth side: Many parents are turning to homebirth in the midst of legal-hassle-led and OB-oriented hospital-childbirth.  They want to be able to relax in childbirth (which lends itself incredibly toward healthy childbirth).  They want to know that something will not be pushed on them in the middle of labor or even toward the end of pregnancy, all too common, which could ultimately lead to complications.  Many parents are faced with completely unnecessary surgical deliveries, which can interrupt the nursing process and endanger the incredibly important bond between babies and mothers or lend itself to even other complications.

With my Baby Boy

From their parental standpoint, there are so many things which could go wrong and not be in their control due to the hospital’s or OB’s interference… and if these can be avoided, then childbirth will likely go better overall for the mother and the baby.  Sure, some folks get wrapped up in the childbirth experience itself, but not everyone does… I hope.  But what’s wrong with wanting the best experience possible, sans the risk factors?

Then there’s the doctor and hospital side of things:  they are doing their job with the advanced ability that medicine has to offer!  What could be seen as unnecessary, they still do not have the luxury of taking the chance over — because they have seen and do see the few times when that small percentage of risk became a reality.  Save the Mama and the Baby — that’s their job.  By the way Doc, don’t get sued: cover your rear end.  The risks are likely not to affect THIS patient, so forgive them when they get in your face about your interference, but if something DID go wrong, you are the one to blame.  Poor doctors!  No wonder some of these human beings — because that is what they are after all, not automatons — get into a mode of “do it my way or the highway.”  Why shouldn’t they?  Same goes for the hospital.

Our hospital/church friend with Baby Girl

But in many cases the pendulum swings too far, and before it can come back, the damage is done to hundreds of thousands… parents endure awful birth experiences.  Doctors find themselves incredibly liable — yet many still take that responsibility even if it means they can’t do some of the next advancement of medically proven childbirth.  So there are losses on both sides.

SIGH.

In the face of our first pregnancy, after the debate and the research (which we wanted to make sure was not slanted one way or the other by the source… and we don’t just read stuff on the internet!!!) we decided we did NOT want to take the risk of having a child at home.  Say something did go wrong…. did we want that on our heads if we had to get to a hospital and couldn’t get treated in time?  No way.  So hospital birth it was, and we asked the Lord for a good doctor.  We found one.  He was on the cautious side, but he was a good captain to have for this ship.

Waiting for the end, on bedrest, #1 pregnancy

Labor began.  I happened to go into labor already exhausted from hypertension-watch and intense swelling.  After hours of waiting, painful labor, epidural, more waiting… sleeping and rest, what a gift!  Nothing happened… we crossed the line of time where infection was now a risk… more waiting… our doctor was very gracious, trusting us not to sue his rear end should something go wrong because we asked for more time… finally, a decision was made.

Me and my Doctor

And I ended in c-section for my first birth.  Was it a failure?  No.  My baby was born, healthy,  alive.  I walked away, healthy, alive.  Why did it feel like a failure?  Thinking over a situation to see how you could have done it differently, for future reference, can be good.  However, my thinking over it instantly became a menagerie of second-guessing (as though we didn’t do the best we could with the time and awareness we had).  Add to that an incredible disruption of my bond with my baby due to infection and surgery recovery.  Then it took three months to get him to nurse properly and get him off of formula.  The c-section was hard to recover from, and we moved, which made it harder to really rest.

With my Son after c-sect.

I became obsessed with the fear that my friends who believed in childbirth at home or even just natural childbirth would think I was a fool and caused this all to happen.  I was afraid to talk to them about it, the very people I should have been able to open up to for support.  My fears became supported by their sidelong glances as they discussed their natural childbirth experiences or plans.  Even though they might have just been acknowledging we disagree on the subject, I immediately felt as though I had been condemned to walk a lonely path of never talking about the subject in their company since they could only assume (in my perception) that my c-section was my problem since I didn’t listen to them in the first place (as though any of them even thought that).  Never mind that if they truly felt that way, it was their problem and not mine!  I had a hard time drawing that line.

Working with Baby Boy

My body felt a natural loss over the physical anticipation of childbirth.  Like being told I would be climbing a mountain only to find my leg broken and being carried over it instead.  I didn’t know how to still feel the victory of the summit and descent when my body hadn’t done anything the way I had expected it to do.  Or a better analogy: I learned chess as best I could, sat down to play, made the best choices I could, and still “lost.”

There was this overhanging feeling that somehow I could have been a master of the situation and had a different outcome.  I believe now that is a lie from the pits of hell.  Childbirth is no different than any other situation in life: we do the best we can, learn from our mistakes, roll with the punches, and play the hand we’re dealt.  To think we have some sort of true ability to avoid all mistakes and control the outcome to any extent is fallacy.

Sleeping Prince

Older and wiser women as well as the folks we turned to as experts, all encouraged us that we had done our best and the baby and I were both fine.  But my heart wondered.  I struggled with wondering whether I could have done a better job with my infant if I hadn’t had to recover from a c-section, maybe I could have tried to push harder, maybe the hospital and doctor weren’t really looking out for me, maybe I could have this or that or the other…. and after a year I was still hurting, lost in the maze of disappointment and confusion about what was really best.  I went round and round about it emotionally.

Why do doctors and natural birth folks disagree so much?  I wondered.  Why can’t they work together?  Why couldn’t I be stronger, smarter, more able, more confident, more decisive, you name it?  Add to that the hormones, my God the hormones!!!  Add to that the guilt about struggling about all this, when my Baby is Healthy!  And So Am I!

Still waiting to heal -- inside.

So…. when my next pregnancy came along (yes, we dared try again!!!  Even with all that on my emotional plate)… my husband and I thought we would approach the same safety desire with as much care as we could.  We decided to talk with our doctor, get his feedback, hear his side, and discuss our concerns.  He talked about how he’d done a lot to set me up for a healthy recovery and thought I’d be able to do a VBAC.  He was quick to support my desire to try for a more natural birth.  I wanted to have more support to handle labor, so we hired a doula who believed strongly in natural childbirth but supported our desire to have the safety factor of a hospital.  We asked the hospital and our contacts there for help with managing the post-delivery, no matter what happened.  We asked for prayer.  We got counseling for me with my fears and hurts about the previous experience.  We decided to put it behind us and trust our doctor and ourselves to do the best we could.  And we did.  Thankfully, the VBAC was successful.  I felt incredible, and had a renewed sense of confidence in myself, let alone my body.  The process was very healing this time, even though I think it would have been even if we’d had a c-section again.

With Baby Girl, post-VBAC

We did all of this in the face of many people throwing more info at us about how homebirth or natural childbirth could be the best thing for us… but we stuck to our instincts (which is what they would do in our shoes, right? Even if they chose something else?) and ultimately our decisions.  We even did this in the face of others telling us we were putting too much emphasis on this part of it anyway, that a planned c-section would be better.

My Mom, one of my prayer supporters

As I went through this process, I learned a few things.  I learned that God cared about how I felt.  Even if there are worse things happening in the world!!! I learned I had so much more to learn about birthing, and how births really are all so different — like fingerprints!  Even though I had learned so much in advance of my first pregnancy/delivery, I learned again as much or more this time.  Picking up things here and there, I found my first birth actually, really, indeed, had likely NEEDED a c-section (what an incredible thing to be able to learn, even though I felt I had been able to put it behind me already).  Thank God I was able to have a c-section, then!  I learned how wonderfully my hospital and doctor performed, considering some of the stories out there.

Resting at Home

I learned to come to grips with the fact that there could always be things which I could second guess or have go wrong that I could not control.  Including death.  I learned that the controversy lies far deeper than just a discussion here and there… it will take some very brave people, like me, trying to help blend the middle line so that these two worlds can come together and truly start working together.  I learned how unique that makes me.  I learned how awesome it can be to completely disagree with someone else about birthing choices and still have a great friendship.

I also learned how thankful I am that we DO have the choice to have a hospital birth if we need it, a sterile one, a controlled (to a certain extent) one, a safer one than so many women/parents have had for centuries.

With my Son, one month after Baby Girl was born

I learned how God was there all along, working to comfort me and help heal me of the hurt that this process did to me (here in His originally-beautifully-designed-world which has fallen to brokenness of all kinds).  I drew closer to Him because of it.  And last, but not least, I learned how I can trust Him to help me through the future struggles I may have in childbirth, or in life, just like this, or even if they’re harder.

Thank you, Lord, for childbirth!!!

With my Daughter

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.