Friday, September 24, 2010

Denver's First Weeks

Austin has been faithful to update pictures of Denver to my facebook page. However, I realize that not everyone has facebook. I know I know, it's hard to believe. Yet my husband, my mom, and my dad all do not have facebook, so I know these people exist.

So for all of you that haven't seen many photos yet, here is our handsome little man. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Denver's Birth Story Part III

There I was, at the very end of labor. Pushing and Charley horsing. Charley horsing and pushing. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, Denver’s head was born. This freaks a lot of people out because we had a water birth. “Isn’t that dangerous?” and “Won’t he breathe the water into his lungs?” are two common questions that we receive. The truth is that babies get their oxygen through their umbilical cord. They live in an environment where they are surrounded by liquid for nine months. When his head entered the bathtub, it was just like he was still inside the womb. He was still receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord, and his lungs don’t take their first breath until he is taken out of the water.

After his head was born, Donnellyn looked at us and said, “Okay, during this next contraction your baby will be born.” Words cannot express the excitement I felt in that moment. Austin says that I smiled for the first time in hours. I had a little person halfway out of my body, yet I suddenly felt almost no pain. When the contraction came, I pushed with all my might, and out came our beautiful baby boy. Denver was born at 5:36p.m. Donnellyn brought him out of the water and laid him immediately on my chest. His umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his chest, which explained his dropping heart rate earlier in labor. She quickly unwound it, and after a few seconds he took his first breath. His little purple body started looking more and more pink. I was lying in the tub; looking at Denver, then up at Austin, then back to Denver, so completely overwhelmed with emotion. Within the same few moments, I felt relief that the labor was over, nervousness about being a new mom, exhaustion because of what I had just been through, but more than anything, I felt love for my son and my husband.

God answered so many prayers on September 7, 2010. The labor and delivery were basically complication free. I was able to have a natural childbirth. The entire labor was only 8.5 hours long (many labors are over 24 hours long). My son is healthy. I am healthy.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was anxious about becoming a mom. I didn’t feel ready for our family dynamic to change. I won’t claim that I have totally overcome these fears, but God is truly changing my heart. I am encouraged by what Paul wrote to the Philippians: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (Philippians 3:13) I am excited (yet still sometimes scared) about what God has in store for us. Parenthood is what lies ahead. I expect it will be quite the adventure.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Denver's Birth Story Part II

When we arrived at the birth center, I went straight upstairs to one of the bedrooms/birth rooms. I immediately wanted to lie down on the bed and rest. I had a few contractions in bed, and then my midwife gently reminded me that if I could keep my body in an upright position for a while longer, it would make my contractions more effective and efficient. Gravity would be able to help bring the baby a little faster. So I sat on a birthing ball (basically a giant exercise ball), and labored for a while sitting on the ball. I think I was in that room for about an hour, and then moved to the bathtub. As Austin mentioned in an earlier blog post, we had a water birth.* This freaks many people out, but I can attest that it was an incredible experience.

When I first sat down in the tub, my entire body seemed to say “thank you.” My muscles were able to relax a bit and the contractions didn’t feel as terrible. Then things got real.

I felt the need to use the restroom, and the toilet was across the hall. I walked to the toilet, sat down to use the restroom, and immediately had a contraction that made me think my insides were falling out of my body. I literally fell off the toilet, onto my hands and knees and into the hallway of the birth center. I could no longer support my own weight. At this point, I thought there was a real chance that I was having my baby in the hallway. I didn’t think I was going to be able to move. However, Donnellyn was able to convince me to get back in the tub. I literally crawled on all fours back to the tub, and made it in time for the serious pushing stage of labor.

At some point during the pushing stage, Denver’s heart rate began to drop a little. The midwives decided that the best course of action would be to have me wear an oxygen mask. This pretty much did the trick. I just had to keep taking deep breaths of oxygen, and Denver’s heart rate stayed within a healthy range.

It seemed like a lifetime, but the entire pushing stage was just under an hour long. With about twenty minutes to go, one more element of pain was added to the equation. The muscles on the left side of my rear-end/hip area began to charley horse. But then a contraction would come and I had to focus all my energy on pushing. The contraction would stop, and I’d immediately freak out and writhe in pain because of the charley horse. Then came a contraction. Charley horse. Contraction. Charley horse. Contraction. For about twenty minutes. It is almost funny now, looking back on how pathetic and crazy I must have looked, but at the time, it was certainly not funny.

The best part of the story will be the last, because that is when I got to meet Denver…

*See above picture. My experience was a lot like this. Very glamorous.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Denver's Birth Story Part I

Monday night (Labor day) I began to feel some contractions. I laid in bed that night, looked at Austin and said, “I think this baby is coming tomorrow. I think this is our last night just the two of us.” I was right.

I was able to sleep through the night because the contractions were not very strong yet. A few of them woke me up throughout the night, but I was always able to get right back to sleep. The following morning, I woke up, made myself some eggs and toast, and sat down at our dining room table to eat breakfast and read my bible. As I was eating, at about 9:00 a.m., I felt a contraction that was so strong it made me jump to my feet because it startled me. I consider this the official “beginning” of my labor.

These stronger contractions continued every 10 minutes, so I called Donnellyn (our midwife). She told me that I was in very early labor, and that it would probably be a while before the baby came, so I should try to stay occupied throughout the day and not focus on contractions. I was told to call her back when the contractions were stronger and six minutes apart.

By 10:30 a.m., I was seriously hurting and I called Austin to tell him to come home from work. It was pretty fun to call my husband and tell him that we were having a baby that day. :) By the time he made it home, the contractions were coming faster and stronger. I timed a few of them, and they were already six minutes apart, so I called Donnellyn to update her. She told us to come by her home because it was on the way to the birth center. She wanted to check me to make sure that I was in active labor before going out to the birth center.

We arrived at her house at around 1:00p.m., and at this point, whenever a contraction hit, my body would sort of collapse. I had been told over and over to relax into the contractions and not let my body fight them, so with each contraction, I dropped onto my knees on her couch and swayed back and forth, trying to relax my entire body (not an easy task).

Sure enough, she said that I was in active labor, so we made our way out to the birth center. For months I had been telling Austin that I liked the idea of giving birth while it was raining outside. Well I certainly got my wish. As we drove to the birth center it was storming so hard you could barely see the road. Tornado sirens were going off; it was crazy. More to come later...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Glad To Have My Wife Back

I'm not glad because the last 9 months are over and now I have an un-pregnant wife again, I mean on Tuesday, labor day, I had a few minutes with her here and there but for the most part she was in the zone. And when you're in the labor zone, life is different. You know when you ask your wife a simple question like, "almonds or crackers?" and she just stares at the wall and exhales in rhythm... she's in the zone. And i'm glad that she's now out of the zone and fully able to interact with me again.

I can in no way describe the miraculousness of birth. It is perhaps one of the most basic occurrences in the world and yet most people don't experience it until they're well into life, if ever. Don't get me wrong, giving birth is horrible. There's blood and screaming, moaning and sweat, oxygen tanks and heart monitors... but there's also a baby. There's this precious little person, that was carefully knit together inside my wife, that is coming to meet us. I cried. I cried a few times, but always between contractions and always when Caitlin was collapsed on her side not looking at me because I wanted her to think I was being strong for her. However, in retrospect I could have been laughing or sleeping and she wouldn't have known because she was seriously in the zone.

I can't explain how proud I am of her. The entire labor was 8 hours, which is a 3rd the length of most first timers, and the intense (I mean, get me out of here, let's die - intense) pushing stage was less than half of most. And all of this was the case because of 3 things: 1) Grace, 2) Donnelyn's Guidance (our midwife), and 3) Caitlin's hard work all through pregnancy. To watch your wife go through such pain, and to work through it and triumph over it... I think that's where most of the tears came from for me.

Donnelyn and the birthcenter were amazing. There were 4 wonderful women at our birth just looking for ways to serve us. One girl even washed and dried all of Caitlin's clothes and had them ready for us when we left. Donnelyn really made the whole experience of pregnancy a blessing, brought us closer together and got us more excited than ever to make Denver apart of our family. We would have never known so many things, like a waterbirth was a possibility, if not for these great women. Yes, we had a waterbirth. That means caitlin gave birth in a bathtub. However for a short time we almost thought we were having a hallway birth. You see when you have prepared your body to have a rather quick labor, your body doesn't always leave you time between contractions to go to the bathroom. And there's this stage of labor (right in between the "don't talk to me" and "kill me now" stages) known as the "hope you weren't planning on standing" stage. This moment happened on the way to the bathroom, in the hallway. But alas, we made our way back to the tub. Which i'm a huge fan of now, though originally I thought it'd be weird. Caitlin said it was a TON more comfortable; I liked it b/c it forced a good distance between me and the action. If we were on a bed I would have had the option to see and handle a lot more 'stuff'... I'm glad that option was taken away from me.

I kept telling Caitlin during it all that she didn't have to fear the pain, it was planned and it was with purpose. I like to think this helped but I know she didn't really hear me. I really think giving birth is a huge illustration of life. God made my wife's body to give birth, she can either fight it and make it more painful and more complicated, or she can trust and let go. Not that trusting and letting go is the easier option, it's certainly more difficult, but like the Psalm says: Pain may endure through the night, but joy comes in the morning. And it's kinda ridiculous. "Just let go and let your body rip itself apart... it's okay" ... ? How is anyone going to trust in something crazy like that. But Caitlin sure did it. She is a stronger woman because of it, and her husband has fallen in deeper love with her because of it too.

Night one we got 6.5 straight hours of sleep, and night two 5.5... a lot more than expected. Denver is a cutey, lazier than ever and I would do anything for him. Really the thought of him growing up and doing things and giving me hugs makes me want to cry more. I'm gonna be one of those lame dads that chokes up every time anything happens. I still hate diapers, and baby decorations, and that yellow is considered 'neutral', but i'm a sucker for my boy. He doesn't have to do anything, ever, he's just amazing. And knowing that my amazing wife worked so hard for many months to bring him out to see me just makes me want to work hard forever to be a great father and husband.

I know pregnancy isn't something you should just recommend to people, but man, what an experience.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Baby Update

Family and friends... I know that many of you are just about as anxious and excited to meet this little baby as Austin and I are. The outpouring of phone calls, text messages and emails over these last few weeks has been overwhelming. Thank you for all of your prayers as we wait for our delivery date.

Our official due date was eleven days ago, so this morning I had a "biophysical profile" done. This is basic procedure when a woman goes a week and half past her due date. It means that they perform a sonogram and check to make sure the baby is still healthy. The sonographer checks things like levels of amniotic fluid, the placenta, the umbilical cord, and the baby's breathing patterns and heartbeat. If any of these things appear unhealthy, they recommend inducing the baby. However, thanks be to God, our little baby Hines got a perfect score! The woman who performed the sonogram said that everything looks great, so for now I am going to remain pregnant.

This is the third sonogram we've received throughout the pregnancy, and every time she has told us that she predicts September 2nd (today), as a more accurate due date than August 22nd. So for now, our midwife is pretty much using today as our new unofficial due date. Which yes, means that I could stay pregnant for up to two weeks past today. I hope that's not the case, but I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for that possibility.

Thanks again for all your support! Who knows... maybe our baby is just really clever and is waiting for Labor Day.