Friday, March 15, 2013

Among Women

"Blessed Art Thou..."

I became pregnant in March 2012, almost a year after having a second trimester miscarriage. I had thought I would not have any more children, though my children often assured me and prayed that I would. Sitting alone in my bathroom, looking at the positive test strip, I was terrified,and overwhelmed.  My heart raced, and I paced around as my mind ran in circles.  Could I really be blessed miraculously, so many times?? Could God be THIS merciful?  Could I, Me,an undeserving, unsure nobody be SO LOVED?  I was afraid to be happy.  I called my midwife immediately.  I needed someone to confide in.  She praised God, and told me to give thanks.  My midwife helped me during pregnancy to process this pregnancy in light of the previous one.  She was my counselor and friend.  We found that my mind had great power over my body. I began to study Hypnobirthing, the practice of using hypnosis to invite labor and contractions and relieve pain naturally.

A Blessing:

I exercised, and enjoyed myself during pregnancy.  I loved being pregnant!  I was very aware that there was a small person inside me, paying attention to all of my words and feelings.  I tried to be a good person, and I spent a lot of time in prayer. I felt close to God, and hoped for a spiritual birth and rebirth.  I worked hard, and did anything I would have done were I not pregnant.  Maybe that was a mistake.  At 33 weeks gestation I went into preterm labor. I was put on three weeks of bed rest. I found myself trying to use hypnotherapy to halt progress and stop labor, not at all what I had practiced.  I moved in with my mother during the last two weeks of bed rest, and she mercifully took care of the children and me.  I was still hopeful that I would make it to 40 weeks. My husband had told me all along that I was going to have a Thanksgiving baby, in spite of my guess date of December 9th or 10th. He could see my belly growing, and was certain I was farther along than I thought. I told my midwife that I intended to go into labor on Saturday evening, and give birth in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Everyone else laughed, but Wanda took it seriously.  She knew all too well the power of intention in a pregnant woman.

Two weeks after I was able to come off of bed rest, my Mother's family had a large family dinner party that lasted well into the evening. It was November 24th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The party was about 40 minutes from my home. The drive home was difficult. I was by myself with the three children, and I was having a hard time staying awake. The constant Braxton Hicks that had been coming during dinner didn't help my concentration.  I kept wanting to close my eyes, and had to slap my cheeks to stop myself.  Miraculously, I reached home safely, and after the kids were in bed, I very, very exhausted! My daughter climbed into bed between my husband and me, and I didn't have the energy to protest. I fell asleep at 11pm. 

The Intercessory Prayer

At 1am, I awoke to "rushes" involuntarily causing me to groan and rock. I was TIRED. I did not want to be awake, and tried to go back to sleep. But at 1:30 I decided I had better wake my husband. With some difficulty I roused him and asked him to carry our daughter to her room.  He spent a few seconds complaining that I ALWAYS do this in the middle of the night.  I lay still for a long time, not wanting to get up. I was still exhausted, and I knew it would be a LONG time before I slept again.  I was lying down resisting Labor, and it hurt!

 My husband insisted I call the midwife, so I dragged myself out of bed. I didn't really think I could be in labor because I hadn't lost my mucus plug or had loose bowels, something that had always happened with the other births.  But my midwife could hear my breathing, and knew it was time.  She was on her way.  I got into the shower to relax, but the opposite happened! I felt a surge of energy

With each rush I became more and more awake and alert!  I began to smile and laugh!  "YES, COME, You are welcome here! We love you." I got out of the shower and dressed. My rushes were about 1-2 minutes apart.  Each time I felt a rush coming on I would call out in my heart and mind, "Thank you Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending me a miracle!" I relaxed and released, and the pain dissipated into nothing.

I felt better moving around, and busied myself tidying and doing things around the house. My husband set up the room and birth pool, I set out scented candles and we got mood music going. My midwife, Wanda Smith arrived about 45 minutes after I called her. I was washing dishes and chatting with my husband at the time. I was happy and delighted to be having a baby, but was certain we were in for a long, slow labor because I felt so calm and wasn't in any real pain. Wanda laughed, "You are smiling through your contractions!" I felt wonderful and joyful. 

Wanda checked my progress and I was then at 5 almost 6 cm dilated. I was amazed! I thought for sure she was going to tell me I was at a 2 or 3! My doula Ann arrived shortly after that. I asked Ann to finish washing my dishes. Soon, she and Wanda began setting up the room for delivery.  Kevin and I held hands and went off for some alone time. We laughed, cuddled, and kissed. I felt so loved and in love, giddy and excited. I tried not to think about having to push the baby out, and instead enjoyed each moment as it came, savoring each sensation as a gift.

Kevin and I went to a quiet place and privately he gave me a blessing, and we prayed, inviting the Spirit in.  I felt warmth enter our home, and felt my Father's support.  I felt safe and ready for what lay ahead.

The Table Is Prepared:

When Wanda and Ann were ready, we were invited into the room. Birth supplies were neatly laid out, all prepared for us.  I had a glow in my heart. I couldn't stop smiling. 
I wanted to save the room for when I was ready to lie down, so I opted to keep walking around a bit. My mother arrived soon after that, followed by my other midwife Crystal. All was going as planned, except for a mishap with the pool. [Kevin and I were enjoying being together so much, we forgot about it completely, and it filled up with cold water.] I felt my body beginning to tire. I knelt down and lay over my husband's lap, and told him, "I can feel my body slipping into transition!" Which meant I felt I was about 7 cm along. I was happy about this, and focused on opening, relaxing, and inviting. I asked my husband to remind me of heaven, and we talked about what heaven looks like, feels like, etc. We rocked, and with his strong arms around me, I felt like I could do anything! I was in heaven at that moment.

When I felt it was time, I entered the bedroom. Wanda suggested I spend some contractions on the toilet. As I did, Kevin sat next to me and held my hand. I focused on giving thanks and letting my cervix open unrestrained.  Pain would come, then release and disappear as I focused on relaxing and opening.

Into the Beautiful Garden:

As we sat there, my 6 yr old son Peter peeked in. We told him with smiles that we were going to have the baby very soon! He was excited, and wanted to know what to do. I sent him to find "Ooma" and get a snack, and promised we would call him in when it got close. I was surprised that I could still talk and smile between contractions! My mother came in and relieved Kevin briefly, and through a couple rushes she held my hand as I breathed, swayed, and invited my cervix to keep opening. She and I were both excited that this birth was going so well and smoothly, and the hypno-birthing literature I had been reading during pregnancy was helping me to take the majority of the pain away. This was a very special moment for me to share with her, and I will remember it forever.  At that point, I sensed that I was at about 8cm.

The soft music and candle light invited a spirit of peace and tranquility. I felt beautiful, empowered, and loved. Some people talk about getting irritable in labor. I was the opposite. I was in love with everyone, and no one could do any wrong. Every person I saw was my sweetheart. I couldn't imagine anything getting me down. 

"Take this cup from me":

Quite suddenly, fatigue began to overcome me, and I knew it was time to get to the bed. I would have liked to get to the pool, but it was too cold, and it would not be warm in time for the baby to come. I could feel that I was ready to go through the 9th cm, and knew I would need some extra support, so I asked for Ann, the doula to come in and talk me through some rushes as I lay on my side  in the bed. She walked me through relaxing every muscle in my body, and while we lay there, I began to feel 'pushy' and antsy.  My heart began racing, and I looked around for something to change.  My midwife asked if I wanted Kevin, and I DID!  Then Wanda read scriptures I had prepared to be read. I felt a warm presence enter the room, as grief began to creep up on me. 

Some time during this, Peter decided he didn't want to see this after all, and ran away. He spent the rest of the birth talking to himself, running circles around the living room.  Back in the bedroom, we spent some time moving my position around, which was difficult because my pelvis was so badly out of alignment (something a chiropractor appointment or three could have fixed.)  I began to feel fatigue, great sorrow and emotional and physical heaviness.  I didn't want to do this anymore.  I began to feel sorry for myself.

I knew when I was fully dilated and ready to push.  I was involuntarily pushing, and grunting loudly through surges. I fought it, I begged in my heart not to have to go through this.  My mind was saying "No! No! I can't do this!"  I didn't think, I KNEW I couldn't do this.  I didn't know how i had done it before, I couldn't remember anymore.  I just remembered that it was going to hurt, and I knew that I wasn't up to this task.  I started thinking, "Don't make me do this, God, please!"  I expressed my fear, and needed the support of those around me. My midwives spoke words of comfort that helped me tremendously.  I had to go through some grief for awhile, getting my tears and fears out so I could get back to giving birth. I thought about all the time I had spent wanting this baby, and I cried because I didn't feel ready to do this.  I cried because in so many ways I felt that I was still a child, and I was too weak and tired and small to continue. I grieved for myself, I grieved for my child, and with every tear, I let go of more tension holding me back. 

"Not my will, but Thine be done":

I was flooded with words of empowering and comfort from Crystal and Wanda, some practical position support, and my God supporting me, lifting me up.  Something changed completely inside of me. I felt my grief dissipate, and the sun began to shine again. I felt my joy returning and bubbling over. I felt strength enter my soul, and I suddenly wanted to laugh.  It was time to meet my miracle!  I smiled, raised my face to heaven, and found peace.  Wanda was asking if I wanted to change positions again, but I stopped moving.  I wasn't comfortable, but I knew this was it. Hanging off the bed was allowing my lower body to move freely, making up for the poor alignment of my pelvis.   I knew the baby was extremely close, and I silently gave thanks again, and waited for the end.  

"Into Thy Hands"

I felt the baby crown.  I whispered, "Get Peter!" Because I knew he had wanted to see this part, but they all said Peter had run off, and opted not to be there. I panted, trying not to push, as instructed.  The baby came out quickly, with no pause between the head and body. I caught  him, and with some help from Wanda, I pulled my baby to my chest and embraced this SCREAMING little angel. As I was moved onto the bed, the memory of the pain was already fading as the love hormones overpowered all other senses. I was on my back. The Joy was overwhelming, and I could do nothing but glow and smile.  I was in love again, with everyone.  After about 5 minutes, I lifted the blanket, lifted up the baby's leg, and asked Kevin what he saw. (I was flat on my back and couldn't see.)


We laughed and celebrated!  I had another beautiful, perfect baby boy! He was born on November 25th at 5:22am. After it finished pulsing, I asked my mother if she wanted to cut the cord (Kevin didn't care to, he had done it before.) She said she would be honored. The cord was very thick, and took some sawing to get through. The baby was weighed and measured, Apgars done: 8 and 9.  7lbs 8oz, and 19.5in long. His head was 13in around. My largest baby by far! He was completely healthy except for some difficulty breathing around the amniotic fluid in his lungs.  


I was given a baby-moon.  Everyone left and allowed baby and I to bond and nurse for the first time, unhampered by voices or commotion. My baby and I rested and looked at one another.  He began to look for a breast to suckle. Once nursing was starting, and my uterus contracting, (OUCH!) we got to work on afterbirth. My placenta was pushed out.  It had broken, and a small piece was still in me.  Wanda pressed on my tummy and massaged my uterus, and I kept the baby skin to skin, which helps the placenta to continue to separate from the uterus.

After an hour, 6 yr old Peter came in to meet his baby brother. Peter was glowing and grinning from ear to ear! Kaylee, my 8 yr old daughter woke up a few minutes later, and came in. She had really hoped for a sister, but had to admit the baby was awfully cute! She was immediately in love. I said, "You still get to be the family princess!" She decided she liked it this way, and accepted her role as big sister to three brothers immediately. Then Kendon, age 4, came in to meet his baby! Kendon was thrilled! He was so sweet and gentle. He said he was so glad to have a new baby brother, and he asked if I was going to nurse him. 

A couple hours later my mother took my kids to church to get them out of the way for awhile, and Kevin, the baby and I slept and nursed, and changed LOTS of diapers. 


The baby's breathing was labored, but his color was good and he wasn't in respiratory distress, so we let it be. But some hours later, Wanda came back and listened to his lungs again. There were some whistling sounds she wasn't comfortable with, and she sent us to the ER. We were disappointed to have to go to the hospital, but we wanted him to breathe properly, so we spent the next 4 hours in the ER with lots of specialists, students, and doctors fussing over him. Amniotic fluid was sucked from his lungs, and he began to breathe better. After some time of observation, my husband poked his head out and demanded we see a doctor because his wife needed to get back into bed! They got moving and released us with the understanding that our midwife would be seeing the baby the next day. The day had been so long, and I knew the night would be even longer. I didn't catch up on my sleep for many days. But all the time I remembered what a difference it made to give thanks and invite and not resist, and applied this concept to the sleepless nights. 

My labor through delivery had lasted 4 hours, 22 minutes, and had gone exactly as I had planned, except for the birth pool. The children who were not wanting to be at the birth slept through it, and only the one who wanted to be a part of it woke. I was blessed with exactly the timing I had desired, having the baby in the wee hours of the morning on a Sunday; only the date was two weeks sooner than I had expected, though my husband was not surprised at all. 

A Name Of His Own:

When the baby was three days old, we named him. The children picked out the name Seth, after my older brother that died as a teenager. We had wanted to name the baby Luke or Lukas after the baby that died, but that became confusing very quickly, and in the end, we gave this baby a new identity all his own. So we named him Evin, which means "God is Good." And He really is.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Family Home Evening

Our church has a tradition of putting family as a high priority in our daily lives.  A practice that has been stressed to us is a once per week family night, when we take time to discuss our religious and family beliefs, and re-establish a connection with one another.  We have been told that this will keep our families from falling apart, and protect our children from being pulled away from us.  We are promised that if we will uphold this tradition, we will find our values being transferred to our children much more deeply, and our feeling of family love and unity will be given greater strength, and bring us greater joy.  Family night is generally set aside as Monday evening, when the church schedules no events, and asks that the local congregations (wards) and members do the same.  The actual practice of this is left up to us.  Some families are better than others about observing this tradition.

I find that TV can kill a family night faster than anything.  Even if it's our great plan to watch something together, at least someone will find the show choice dull and go off alone.  It's not very interactive, and we don't feel any closer after doing it.  So last night, when my husband came home and turned on a movie, my first instinct was to whine, complain, stomp off, etc.  But I didn't, because something in his manner had been so gentle, so loving, I had no fight in me.  Kaylee and I put some cookies in the oven for our treat, and we all ate cold cereal and milk and fresh peaches for dinner so I wouldn't be wasting family time cleaning up the kitchen.

After the movie was over, the kids started to scatter, my husband started to channel surf, and yet again, I had an opportunity to whine, stomp, complain, feel sorry for myself, say that no one cared but me, etc. etc.  But I didn't.

I asked my husband if he minded if we had a quick lesson.  He called the kids back in, we sang a song, had a 3 minute discussion about a subject of Faith, read a scripture, and we sang a song again.  Then we prayed, played a game (The Hokie-Pokie,) followed by a family hug.  I felt a warmth begin to grow inside.  The children settled down, and were so happy and excited to have our attention, they seemed in those minutes, more confident and secure.  Then we all enjoyed some cookies together, served by my daughter and me.  I could feel us connecting as we smiled and enjoyed one another.  Our home felt peaceful, loving, and warm.  We felt a stronger loyalty and love, and get this, it only took 8 minutes!  When we went to bed, I felt powerful, confident, and calm, and the children settled down nicely, even though they'd just had cookies.

Taking Back Our Power

Instead of being yanked around from one mile marker to the next, Family Night teaches first ourselves and then our children that WE are in control of our lives.  A feeling of strength enters us and our home, and a sense of security begins to evolve.  There are many things that can ruin this feeling, but this is a tool for connection and most importantly, re-connection.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Babies Don't Keep

The other night Peter slept next to me. It had been a hard day.  We had gotten lots of work done, but I had pushed him a lot, and I was anxious that he still wasn't catching on to reading yet. I felt tense, and worried, unsure and a little frustrated. I knew I needed to see my son with fresh eyes.

I gazed at my 6 year-old-boy and expected to see what I always see when I look at my little ones sleeping.  You know how they look just like babies when they sleep...but instead, this time, I suddenly saw him mature, and he looked about ten years older!!  I inwardly exclaimed, "NO! I'm not ready!!" And I frantically held him fast with my eyes thinking maybe if I can freeze him in time he won't grow up so fast!  Then I really looked closely, and realized...Hey! He's going to be a wonderful 16yr-old!  I have nothing to worry about. Still,  I must enjoy him now, laugh and cuddle, memorize him and love on him, as much as I can, because he will grow up and move away from me, and I will never have this time with him again.  I thought of my 3 children, each such miracles in their own way, each so unique, and yet so similar. I thought, "Am I enjoying them? Am I enjoying this journey? Am I giving thanks?"  I feel as though my Heavenly Father was sending me this message:

Dear Daughter, 

I see you and know what you're doing. Stop rushing and fretting. Let Go. Bask in grateful love right now!!  I am with you.

Love, Father

Then a few days later I came across this on :

Babies Don't Keep

Mother, O' Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek - peekaboo.

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Monday, June 20, 2011

Goodbye Floyd

I have recently said goodbye to my home in Floyd, moved to an apartment in Roanoke, and will soon  be moving to a home near Troutville, VA.   Do not mistake 'home' for ''house.'  The house was only a shell, a means to reach my TRUE home.  The loving people I met in Floyd - the feeling of warm, family-love and goodness - the kindness of strangers - the common-mind mentality and most of all, the soul-shaking humility and everyday honesty.

I resisted, I struggled, I cried for hours, days on end. I came to Roanoke, lost, and without direction, feeling as though I were waiting for my life to begin, holding on to the life I had left.  I felt empty and unholy.  I felt alone, and nearly crossed the line to regret.

Yesterday, for Father's Day, we went home to visit Kevin's folks.  I felt, as we drove, a part of my heart re-opening. The closer we got, the more shackles fell away, and tears came again and again, as I received a cleansing feeling of relaxation and relief, so happy to be home again, and also the twinge of pain and guilt, feeling like I haven't made them proud.  After only a few weeks away, my empty cup filled to overflowing as I sat through church and enjoyed the love, spirit, honesty, and openness I didn't know I was starving for.

I felt that old feeling telling me to stop and reach deep down to the source.  I felt a window inched open in my soul, and the Holy Ghost Himself calling to me plainly a truth I knew, but forgot:  That my happiness is in my own hands, and no one and nothing can take it away from me, but ME.  I felt the call to FORGIVE.  I knew that the PEACE I long for is only a moment away, when I can release my resentment and anger, and I cried again, knowing that with my Floyd Family in my heart, I can do it.

 I am an emissary, a missionary, a soldier called away.  I squeeze their memory close to me for warm consoling hugs as I step into the unknown. My distance from them only strengthens my love, it only solidifies my resolve to make them proud.  To be the kind of person who could say, "I'm from Floyd," and have my fellow 'Floydians' be glad I said so.

Their faces, their lives and their examples flash before me constantly, and today I rise to make them proud, to live as a monument to them.  To be ever-changed, to become more like them--more like my true self, reflected by honest eyes and unassuming natures.  My spirit reaches out to them, constantly enlarged by them, and the feeling is indescribable.  I swell with gratitude.  I weep with joy at God's mercy, and such great, great love for me, to allow me to rest in their bosom, and love them so fully, and then to leave them, so that they will be with me, inside of me forever.