Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gwen's Birth

I have terrible morning sickness the first tri-mester of my pregnancies but once I get to 16-18 weeks my pregnancies have all gone very smoothly and have been uneventful. I am typically walking 2 miles several times a week up until birth.  Eden's birth was our least favorite birth experience by far.  Eric was pretty shaken by her birth and was nervous. I knew we had another good birth experience available to us and I wanted to go out on a positive experience.  Several friends were praying for Eric and I to be able to work as a team and for a peaceful and calm birth.

Following a move on October 31, I was more than ready to have baby #4 by December 3, my due date.  With Simon being 10 days late and Walker and Eden being 12 days late I tried not to get my hopes up.  But I was actually feeling that the baby was going to come pretty near the due date this time.  I text some friends on December 4 saying I was feeling laborious.  I tried something completely different this time. I relaxed and rested and let my body do the work.  I slept very briefly on and off that night after resting most of the afternoon and evening.  After a few hours of regular contractions we asked some dear friends to come over to be with the kids so we could head to the hospital around 6 a.m.  After triage and six failed attempts at getting an IV in my arm for the Hep Bloc my labor basically stopped COMPLETELY by 9 a.m. I was so discouraged.  We had already started my Group B strep meds and I was due for another dose at 12 noon. Dr. Bowen just happened to be at the hospital checking on other patients and stopped in.  I did something totally instinctual and so totally against my norm. I took a nap. I would have typically started walking briskly through the hallways trying to will my body to get back into labor.  But I was determined this time, my fifth and final birth to follow my body's instincts. And my body said it was tired and wanted to rest.  Dr. Bowen came back at noon and offered to break my water. That is a no-no to a natural birth plan and I was very torn about it because I did not want to introduce any interventions.  One intervention often leads to another and that is not how I wanted to deliver this time around.  After texting a couple of doula friends and reconsidering my trust in Dr. Bowen, Eric and I decided to let him.  He was fairly certain it would quickly jump start my labor again, especially with this being my fifth delivery.  Dr.. Bowen also mentioned a few times that he had his office Christmas Party at Ruth Chris at 5 p.m. No pressure!!!

He broke my water around 12:45 p.m. and I started tracking hard contractions at 2:29 and stopped tracking at 3:56 just before I hit transition.  My parents were able to come in to the room just in time to see me push our sweet baby into the world around 4:30 p.m. and Dr. Bowen finished things up and was off to his Christmas Party in hopes of only being a few minutes late :).  

And It's a Girl! Two boys and two girls! How completely blessed are we?!? 

I could not be happier with Gwen's birth!  All of our prayers were answered. Eric and I worked together beautifully, which if you have never had or witnessed a natural birth is absolutely essential. I had an amazing, very experienced nurse who even suggested a different position to me that was super helpful at one point which is nearly unheard of.  Natural birthing moms are often an annoyance to nurses and are highly uncommon but I have found the nurses at Bethesda North Hospital to be very supportive of natural deliveries.   This one in particular was encouraging, calm,  and very accommodating to my requests for a dark and quiet room.  

If you do the math, you can see that my hard labor was very short. It was probably around 2 hours of hard intensive labor.  I was more prepared for this mentally as I transitioned very quickly with both Walker and Eden.  If you've ever gone from 4 cm to pushing in less than an hour you know it is scary because the pain hits you so hard and fast, so fast that I went into shock when delivering Eden. My first natural birth with Simon was long and I experienced hard labor for 8 hours but it built up and was a totally different experience then these last three.  

Gwen's birth was quiet. I always say that anyone is welcome in my delivery rooms but I have learned that I need it to be just Eric and me until I am at the very end.  It was a very special birth and one that we will always cherish.

There is no one I would rather have as my OB than Dr. Daniel Bowen. I cannot recommend him enough! He is so calm! He is so knowledgeable! His statistics for natural and vaginal deliveries are unmatched. I feel very blessed to have had three babies with his practice. He is excellent!

It has taken me a year to write out Gwen's birth but it is something I treasure and want to keep forever.  Her first birthday is in just two days.  I always feel sad when my babies turn 1.  The first year is so special and maddening, exhilarating and exhausting, mundane and eventful.  Gwen is such a sweet baby. She has been so easy and such a joy. Her spirit is very calm and sweet.  She's been on the serious side but I sense she is paying attention.  Gwen has slept through the night a handful of nights in a year.  I'm pretty tired and have more grey hairs popping up but I have had little helpers this time. I have kids that love her and look after her. They entertain her.  It is my greatest joy! You have your first baby and wonder how you could ever love another child as much and then you have another and your hearts swells. My heart is so swollen with love right now it carries me right through the trying times.  Somehow, I have managed to become a very relaxed Mom. Somehow, after four kids I am referred to by others as "laid back".  This is good news folks! The Lord has done a beautiful, purposeful and kind work on my heart over the years. I have asked for more of Him and he gracefully enters. It is my only Hope as a Mother to be able to rely fully on the Lord's strength, wisdom and grace.  It is not perfect and I still lose my patience and get crazy.  I have limits but I have also learned to take care of myself better. I leave when I need to. I exercise regularly.  I rest more than I have ever allowed myself to rest. 

And I am now realizing that I never recorded Eden's birth. Shoot! She'll be three soon. Sounds like a good time to write it out :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

House, House Baby!

It's been 10 months since I last wrote! Boo! I love to write and I definitely desire to dedicate more time to it. It allows me to record things that I want to remember years down the road, things I want to be reminded of.  I guess bringing another baby into our lives is a good enough excuse for the past year.  Being sick and pregnant, trying to sell a house and moving! Yeah, that was enough!

So the house! After years of dreaming of a brand new kitchen at the old 6537 house we kept running into roadblocks. We interviewed several contractors and finally found one we loved at the high recommendation of a trusted friend.  The project went from just a kitchen renovation to an extended dining room and a potential added master suite. The price tag continued to get higher and higher as we received round two architect plans and found out our contractor needed to push our project to 2016 due to rain.  Almost to the day of hearing that news, guess who contacted me to let me know she was ready to sell?  

This sweet woman who lived on our street had been at my house six months earlier at an oil class of all things and said she was planning to downsize. After she left my mind began working, as it often does.  I contacted her via facebook and asked her to let me know if she was ever serious about moving and that I thought we would be interested. During that 6 months I would often drive by and pray about this house.  "Lord, is this something?".  We looked at 6609 on a Sunday and made an offer on Monday that she accepted.  We really did not want to move. We had grown to LOVE our neighborhood and all of the wonderful people in it.  This was an absolute no brainer for us!  We could stay close to our neighbors and avoid a major renovation by moving about 10 houses down on the SAME STREET!

6609. I literally pinch myself. Open kitchen to the family room so I can see my kids while I cook and do dishes.  Large, finished basement with a full bath and a guest bedroom so we can easily host people, especially Eric's parents.  Plenty of bedroom space for all four kids from now until they move out on their own.  I literally cried when I saw the two kids' bedrooms because we like having our kids share and they are huge with room for more kids, if needed ;)  A dreamy backyard with a deck and patio (something our 6 figure reno would not have included).  A master suite big enough for the baby to be in a full size crib in my closet.  Some days I walk around and stand amazed! We were able to get everything we could ever need in a home!  

So now it was time to sell 6537.  So here's the thing. 6537 is in a desirable school district and an amazing neighborhood and I think people liked our home when they came because they felt warmth. We had such positive feedback on our home's vibes. But no offers. It's not fully updated.  It's a Quad level home. It was Fall, the real estate off season.  After 4 months and 50 showings an offer that we weren't prepared to take came in. Then another offer that we didn't want to take but agreed to. Then unforeseen, completely abnormal "issues" that came up at an additional inspection, an inspection my realtor had never seen done in 15 years of real estate.  This was not fun.  It became an issue that would need to now be disclosed but an issue that is not a current issue but could be enough to scare a future buyer. Fear of the unknown, fear of another low offer, fear of how long this could go on led to a sale and a close in February.

Here's the catch. We prayed relentlessly for 6537 to sell. We prayed fervently for blessings upon the buyers.  Maybe I got too Polyanna?  The purchase of  6609 was such a God thing. Literally, if the roadblocks had not happened we would not have been open to moving.  And look what He provided for us? Complete favor. Complete blessing. Why was the selling piece not going well?  We received prayer and cookies from some sweet neighbors one evening who had it on their heart to come encourage us. Eric and some guys came down and prayed over the house one night.  Eric and I were at a healing prayer event and we asked the lady to pray for us and about the sale of the house.  Well guess what? She passed right on over the sale and got to the heart of things. She blessed our new home and prayed for unity in our marriage.  She blessed Eric as the head of our house.  She prayed for our children, even our unborn baby.  She shook my toe (because I was laid out on the ground overcome by the Holy Spirit) and prayed against control and perfectionism.  She was nailing it!  I was trying with all that was in me to control everything.  It made me crazy!  And here I am, just a few months out from the closing and I'm already seeing more clearly.  If I wanted to trust God through the sale, I had to be surrendered and not so freaking crazy!  I mopped the floors and picked up every toy and cleaned each toilet for every showing while we lived there. I knew deep in my heart that there was nothing I could do to coerce the sale but I somehow clung to control.  Does God need to do something in my timing to feel like he's got my back?  Why was my faith so dependent on him following my prescriptive desires on how/when to sell "my" house?  Even more, if all that I have is His, what business do I have even caring or worrying?  The Lord has and will always provide for us and I just witnessed it and turned around to doubt it again.  There was so much noise during that time period. The dreaded feedbacks from selling agents telling us over and over that our house was not updated enough for their buyers.  Our price was too high.  The text message requests coming in 2-5 times a week and having to reorient our lives around these showings.  The decision to buy new appliances, granite and paint the cabinets half way through the process.  There was just so much noise.  So many opinions.  So many differing opinions.  It was all so distracting.  

So many amazing things have happened!  The sale didn't break my marriage. We are actually in a better place than ever.  The move didn't break our family.  And one of the sweetest things that happened was a few friends came into our home and anointed it with oil and prayed over every door and window. This home felt like home from day one and I still smile when I see a little oil on a door post.  I cannot recount how many neighbors and friends and family pitched in to help us.  Pack, unpack, carry boxes, watch kids, paint, feed us.  We moved when I was 35 weeks pregnant and it went smooth.  How does that happen without the help of community?  Eric and I bought this house not just for ourselves but also for others. We have already had opportunities to host his family for Christmas, had gatherings for 30, 40 and 50 people comfortably in our home. That is a dream come true for us!

I want to care less about the little details and be more about being faithful to a God that is worthy of my trust!