My Birth Story

20170811_155511

Laboring at home

I know several people have been waiting for this, and I’m finally finding the time to write since Little One is FINALLY napping, so here goes.

Every expectant mother has an idea of what they want their labor and delivery to be like. They show up at the hospital, birth plan in hand, praying for the best. Yet a birth plan is just that: a plan.

I had always wanted to have a water birth at home, but insurance wouldn’t cover it. So, I hired a doula, read multiple books on how to have a natural, drug free labor and delivery, exercised regularly, and ate well. I ran my list of questions through the multiple doctors that could be on call when I went into labor. I had everything planned. Or so I thought.

20170811_130325

Dallas comforting mama.

Friday, August 11th, one day past my due date, my water broke at 3:00am. Casey called my doula who had me monitor contractions and came over at about 9:00am. I labored at home until 5:30pm and then headed to the hospital.

They wanted to start me on an antibiotic since my water had broken so long beforehand. I signed a refusal form. I was doing this the natural way.

Hours passed.

Each time they did an exam I was afraid I’d be discouraged by the progress.

I was.

I remember at one point I told the nurse not to tell me where I was dilation wise. I pushed through the agonizing pain, walking around the room, sitting on the birthing ball etc., only to find out I was not that far along.

20170811_185646

More hours passed. I was progressing but VERY slowly. My body was growing weary. There came a time where the pain was so intense, my body was shaking, and I had the uncontrollable urge to push. “It’s COMING!!!! Where is Dr. Den Haese?!?!” I yelled. They legitimately thought I was in transition.

Still 6cm dilated and at station -2… This was after 32 hours of unmedicated labor! The doctor expressed his concern and explained that in his 15 years of practice, mine was the longest labor he’d seen. He recommended a c-section but knew of my desire for a vaginal birth, so suggested I get an epidural and pitocin to try and speed up the process.

I agreed to an epidural. I agreed to the minimal amount of pitocin. Both drugs I had read so many horrible things about. Both drugs I swore I didn’t want and wouldn’t take. . .

20170812_093429

My doula, Rachel Layman, helping me through the contractions before the epidural.

After the pain of the epidural placement, the pain went away, but with it, I was unable to feel or move my legs. They assured me they could turn it down for delivery, as I wanted to feel the pushing—feel the process of my baby entering the world.

Hours passed. Still 6cm and -2 station.

They increased the pitocin to intensify contractions.

Hours passed. Still no progress.

That is when my doctor came in to have the talk with me about a c-section. He once again reminded me that how the baby enters the world isn’t nearly as important as how you raise him or her. He called me a tough cookie, saying most women are begging for an epidural at 2cm dilated but I made it to 6cm (for quite some time). I was tired. I agreed through the tears.

Would I connect with my baby? Would that bond be there since the hormones that are released during a vaginal delivery won’t be released? I had read about all of the complications with bonding and breastfeeding after a c-section. I had skipped over the chapters about the surgery because I wasn’t going to have one…

IMG_8229

At 5:55pm on Saturday, August 12th, Shiloh James entered the world. I remember hearing him cry and tears filling my eyes. My doctor held him over the curtain so I could kiss him. I still didn’t know the gender until my doctor said, “Dad, tell Mom what it is!” (It was in my birth plan that I wanted it this way). Through the tears Casey said, “It’s a boy!” and my tears flowed all the more (I had been hoping for a boy). 🙂 They laid him on my chest and as soon as I was stitched up and taken to recovery, he was handed to me to breastfeed. I couldn’t believe it. Finally, after 9 months, after 38 hours of labor, my miracle was here, and I didn’t have any issues bonding with him. ☺️

IMG_8236

The days recovering from major surgery were long. Due to all of the operations I have had, I wasn’t able to get much pain relief which SUCKED. BUT…I was healthy, and I had a healthy, handsome boy.

When I reflect on my birth experience, and how pretty much everything in my birth plan went out the window, I am reminded of a verse in the Bible:

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

I believe through this experience the Lord taught me that no matter how much I try to be in control, I am not. Thankfully I went into this pregnancy with an open mind that IF things didn’t go as planned and I ended up needing a c-section, I wouldn’t suffer from depression over my birth plan not going as planned. I shed a few tears before the surgery and got over it the minute I laid eyes on my healthy boy.

I had also planned to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible and read books about that as well as the complications caused by giving a baby formula (not always). However, I’m not able to produce enough so have to supplement with formula (granted, it’s organic formula from Germany that is supposedly the closest thing to breast milk). 😉

I have learned a valuable lesson in all of this: hold onto your plans loosely.

20170812_191231

So here it is, pregnancy and infant loss awareness day, and a year ago I was blogging about the baby I miscarried last May, yet today I am writing about my miracle child—my rainbow after the storm. I just looked at the pictures that my doula took of my labor at the hospital for the first time and this was the very last one . . . A faint rainbow just outside of the Women’s Center. How perfectly fitting.

20170812_193257

217A4657-Edit

My perfect little angel . . .

Advertisements

Worship in the Waiting

IMG_5489

It’s been awhile. 😀 There have been times I have been moved to write but let the urging go dormant. I am 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. The above picture was taken at 29 weeks and 3 days. My belly is a LOT bigger needless to say.

I’ve never been so happy to greet August again. It’s the birth month of my precious Babe, my rainbow baby—the promise after the storm. It’s 9 days until my due date, and I am finding it difficult to be patient. I’m so anxious to meet my Little One, yet I know that it’s all in the Lord’s hands, and I must continue to worship while I am waiting. I am praying for a natural birth without any intervention, but I am trusting the Lord with the process. Healthy mama and baby are key.

hello-august-image

I am overjoyed because the Lord has really been doing a work in me throughout this pregnancy. Initially I was gripped with fear of how I will care for a child without the support system most people have, on top of my disability, Casey’s work schedule, etc. Then I began worrying about having the birth I desire in the hospital after running my questions through several of the doctors that may be on call when I go into labor. I broke down in tears three times with one of them . . . Insurance won’t cover an at home water birth or birth at a birthing center. So, I hired a doula who will help me to labor as long as I can at home before heading into the hospital.

Then it hit me . . .

I wasn’t trusting the Lord with all of this. I was frantically trying to have everything in my control, and the thought of it not being in my control sent me into a spiral of fear and anxiety (which of course would hinder any chance of a natural birth). With each day that passes, each day that I choose to worship Him during this period of waiting, I can feel the fear chipping away and peace like a river washing over me. He is faithful. He has brought me through SO much, and He will see me through this. That is key to breakthrough—remembering what He has already accomplished in your life.

The fear has turned to sheer excitement for what is to come! I no longer focus on what I am losing by becoming a parent (sleep, freedom, etc.) but on all of the JOY to come! I can’t wait to see life through the eyes of a child (and play with toys without looking like a weirdo, particularly Calico Critters)! 😀 The best truly is yet to come!

20264958_10159214522390531_8939098028456227045_n

So, what is it that you are waiting for? Perhaps it’s financial breakthrough. Perhaps it’s a restored marriage. A marriage period. Perhaps you are waiting for a child of your own after many miscarriages or years of infertility. Perhaps it’s a new job opportunity, or a loved one coming to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Perhaps you are in the process of adopting a Little One in need of a loving home. Perhaps it’s physical healing . . . Whatever the case may be, know that you are not alone, and that the more you worship in the waiting, as difficult as it may be, the more peace you will receive, and the easier the waiting will become. Trust. It all comes down to trusting the good, good Father that we have. He loves you, hears your every prayer, and hasn’t forgotten you. Worship while you are waiting my friend. That’s all we can do. ❤

 

Hiding Place

psalm-32-7

Do you ever feel like you need a hiding place? A temporary escape from the word? Let’s face it, at some point in our lives (maybe several points), we may find the refrain from Ray Price’s “Make the World go Away” playing through our heads.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times I need a hiding place. Often times I will just get in the car and drive to no place in particular, tears streaking my face, asking God questions I need answers to. Yesterday was one of those days. It was my “first” Mother’s Day, as I am carrying life in my womb at 27 weeks and 4 days, yet it was the first day fear began to grip hold of me. Will I be a good mom? Will I have meltdowns in front of my child? Will I have the help I need raising this child with Casey’s work schedule and family relationships that aren’t as close as they once were? What about mom’s care and all I do for her?

IMG_4762

The truth of the matter is that yes, I have my faith, but none of us have “arrived” yet. I am a lot better than I once was, but there is always progress to be made. I understand that being human isn’t an excuse to act fleshly, but it takes the pressure off of expectations that we so often place on ourselves. Do I trust the Lord, yes. Am I constantly being given more opportunities to trust Him, you bet.

During my devotional time this morning I was reading Psalm 32 and verse 7 stopped me in my tracks:

“You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

My eyes scanned the verse several more times. Hiding place. Protection. Songs of deliverance. The Free Dictionary defines deliverance as “rescue from bondage or danger.” So first the Lord will be a hiding place for us. I think back to when he hid Moses in the cleft of the rock with His hand. In Him we will find protection, and He will proceed to sing songs of freedom over us. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from depression. Freedom from fear. Freedom from guilt and shame. Freedom from whatever it is that is keeping us in bondage. The song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music comes to mind. I know I have shared it in the past (It’s one of my FAVES), but I feel like it needs to be shared again.

“I am surrounded, by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded, with songs of deliverance. We’ve been liberated from our bondage. We’re the sons and the daughters. Let us sing our freedom.”

We have a Father. We have a hiding place. We have FREEDOM. Thank you Jesus. And thank you Mical for sharing this song with me way back when. ❤

Take Courage

FullSizeRender 14

Photo I took Wednesday at Pass-a-Grille beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. The water was so still, so calm . . .

It’s been about and hour and half since my phone rang at 4:20am. Since I have it set to “do not disturb” where only certain numbers come through, I knew who it was: Mom’s nurse at her assisted living facility. She went to the hospital last week after laying on the floor most of the night after a fall. This morning the nurse said she had a laceration on her arm and her knee but was confused and didn’t recall falling. She also told me there was blood in her room on one of her figurines . . . (Mom had called the nurse from the bathroom).

She asked mom if she wanted to go to the hospital and she said no. So, she asked what I wanted to do. I advised her to keep an eye on her and I’d call in the morning (later on in the morning) to check in. I had just talked to mom last night and while she has been having issues remembering little things and I knew she is still sick and weak, she seemed “okay”.

I laid there in bed attempting to fall back asleep, holding my belly, feeling Little One move about, and my mind started going a million miles a minute. I thought about mom and all that is going on with her. I thought about my ankle and the pain I have been experiencing from day-to-day activities. I thought about my baby and the troubles he or she would experience in this life.

Then the Lord took hold of me. (Really, He never let me go.) I kept hearing the chorus of a Bethel Music song run through my mind, “Take courage my soul. Stay steadfast my soul. He’s in the waiting.”

Wait-on-the-lord-495x490

I began to recite Psalm 23 in my mind. I began to meditate on the hope believers have in Him. Life is but a test for what is to come in eternity and how we navigate through this life will determine how eternity is spent even as believers, as we will stand before the judgement seat and give account for all we did good and bad (1 Corinthians 4:5; Revelation 22:12). Oh how I long to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

But I must take courage. You must take courage. Mom must take courage. We ALL must take courage in this life.

And with that, I hear the first bird singing morning salutations. It’s as if he or she is shouting, “Take courage!” May you find the courage you need in the One who is above all things and worthy to be trusted. Enjoy this song, and this day!

Save

Promise After the Storm

img_1810

Rainbow over my neighbors house. She recently lost her husband and I texted this to her.

“Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” -Genesis 9:14-15

It’s been awhile! I thought I should pop on for a quick post to update my follower’s on what is going on with me. I am back in school another semester but this will be my last . . .

My promise after the storm is on its way . . . I am 14 weeks pregnant! Casey and I saw the heartbeat at 7 weeks on December 22nd, and at 11 weeks and 2 days I heard baby’s heartbeat through a fetal Doppler! We are super excited and trusting the Lord completely as we know that we aren’t in the “clear” until that baby is in our arms.

img_3580

Our announcement on New Year’s Eve!

The Lord has really been working on me lately as I did a 23 day fast from FB and have been practicing spiritual disciplines from classes I am taking in school (Old Testament Survey, Theology 2, Evangelism & Mission, Christian Spirituality, and Isaiah). I’ve had so many “God moments” that it’s overwhelming at times. I want those moments to become so commonplace for me that to not have them is cause for concern.

God is good. And He is faithful.

No matter where you find yourself, no matter what storm you are going through right now, don’t forget the promises of God. He loves you. He is for you. Keep your eyes to the sky and watch for the slightest glimpse of your rainbow. It’s there just beyond the clouds. I’m looking to the sky intently until my rainbow appears (around) August 10th. Be blessed! ❤

img_4517

Save

Lizard Shenanigans

65059539

Photo credit to http://www.wdw360.com

These little (sometimes big) guys are everywhere. If I let Dallas out on the back porch before going out and scaring them off, he’s sure to catch and kill one . . .

Yesterday I spotted a little guy (not THAT little) on the wall in our bedroom . . . I went to the kitchen, got a Tupperware bowl and a thin magazine in hopes of trapping it and sliding the magazine between the wall and bowl to contain it in order to release it outside.

I had no such luck.

The thing was so fast and I was afraid of squishing its fragile body with the rim of the bowl. It disappeared behind the wardrobe closet . . .

Once Casey came home he tried to find it with no luck. Bummer.

There have been many times over the years that I have found a dried up lizard around the house while cleaning. I know. It’s just a lizard. But it still stings a little. I think about the suffering it endured. The pain and fear of not knowing where to go, or how to get food or water. It is a slow death for the lizard.

This morning while getting ready my thoughts returned to the lizard. Where was he know? Did Dallas find him in the night and eat him? Is he still cowering in fear somewhere?

If only he would have trusted me to catch him so I could return him to his home.

I know what’s best for him. He needs to return to the great outdoors so he can be among other lizards and have food to eat.

2673801262_9e29be58a2_o

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

But he thought he knew better, and in running from me, was running to his death.

This hit me hard this morning. How many times has the Father tried to gently, carefully, capture our hearts—our attention— to bring us home to our identity in Him, but we run in the opposite direction out of fear and misunderstanding? We run to that which won’t bring life, but instead will bring death, either physical or spiritual (or both)?

We compromise our faith by moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend before marriage in order to save money. We stop attending church because we feel too convicted and aren’t quite ready to take up our cross. We don’t tithe out of fear of not having enough in the future. All the while Papa is saying, “Come to me, I want to help you have life and have it more abundantly.”

I can relate to all of the above examples I gave. But I can attest to a life changed when I finally decided to let God capture me and to live a life obedient to His word. Casey and I didn’t move in together until after our wedding day. Our wedding night was our first night in the same bed. I used to avoid church because I knew I wasn’t living a lifestyle that brought honor or glory to God. Now I want to be in church because if there is anything in me that isn’t bringing Him glory, I want it to be brought to light so I can deal with it. I used to not tithe because I feared not having enough. Ha! Let me tell you . . . that’s a whole testimony in and of itself, but ever since I started tithing faithfully I have never been without. I’ve heard it said that tithing isn’t giving, it’s simply not stealing (10%). God has given us all that we have, and the only time He says to test Him in the Bible is with tithing. Casey and I are stepping out in faith and deciding to give more beyond the 10% God asks for. He is faithful. It all belongs to him anyway, and we can’t take it with us! 😉

flat,1000x1000,075,f.u2

I’m not perfect. Trust me. However, I am constantly examining my life, my motives, my words, and my actions so that I can be more like my Savior, my Lord. I want nothing more than to reflect His love to the broken world around me. I want to remain captured by His love, and I have found that a life lived in obedience to the Father is a life full of peace, joy, and blessings. Do I still mess up? You bet, but my identity is not in my current circumstances, but who God says I am. I repent, pick myself back up, and continue running the race in the right direction and with the best coach.

So I want to ask you today, are you that lizard that is out of the environment you know you are meant to be in? Are you running from the Father who truly desires to help restore your identity and return you to where you belong? If so, don’t merely slow down, but STOP. Stop running. Listen for His voice. He loves you and is ready to upgrade your life in ways you can’t even imagine. ❤

f3785ed77f3bd57ffb1a13ba346e7092

Building Blocks

building-blocks

It’s been awhile since I have blogged. I’ve had lots going on amidst the miscarriage, my trip to Texas for Premier’s National Rally, and the recent vacation in Wisconsin visiting family that I just returned from. I’m trying to get back on track though! 😉

The beginning of June I got my acceptance letter for Southeastern University, a Christian college in Lakeland, Florida. I attended for a semester in 2012 but due to the hour commute and decrease in BAH (housing allowance from the government) I returned to the University of Tampa to finish my degree. However, since I have graduated from there, I decided that it was time to return to school for something I feel called to do, and that is lead worship.

13346625_10157028212960531_3152593622299980332_n

I didn’t find out about needing to apply to the music department and submit a video audition until about a week before the deadline. I was a bit concerned about all of the scales I had to do, as I wasn’t used to doing scales. I had some questions and was given the email (during the summer) of the associate-professor of music. He was very good with emailing me and helping me choose a classical selection as well as answering any other questions I had. He also told me not to worry about the scales, as they will be removing that from the requirements! Praise the Lord! (God wink 1)

Furthermore, I was in communication with the school and discovered that they extended the deadline by two months! (God wink 2) Thankfully, I was able to get my application and video submitted 4 days after the original deadline of July 1st.

July 12th I found out that I had been accepted to the music department and I cried so many tears of joy. I have sang on worship teams for the past 6 years or so, but was never really given the opportunity to grow in my gifting. This was now becoming a reality. Furthermore, Casey and I returned to our old church in March, and I am back on the team there, and will be singing this coming Sunday. 😀

13631485_10157180004735531_6384956045401053141_n

Tears of joy when I got my acceptance letter into the music department!

I’m going somewhere with this. While in Wisconsin I called SEU to find out when the music theory placement exam was going to be, as I can’t register for my classes until I take the exam. I told the gal that I spoke with that I couldn’t seem to get a hold of anyone in the music department when I called there. She gave me the number to the chair of the music department as well as someone else I had tried calling several times. I decided to call the chair.

He apparently had JUST walked into his office (which is why he answered rather casually). I asked about the exam and he said they would be sending out an email with details on it. The conversation could of stopped there, but I proceeded to tell him of my concerns with music theory, as I never was good at it. I explained how I made first chair in orchestra years in a row and was accepted to Blake High School after auditioning, but was put in with beginner’s once they learned I didn’t know theory. He told me that he would be my advisor (God wink 3) and proceeded to tell me what I needed to study for the exam: augmented and diminished triads, how to build major and minor scales, key signatures, etc. (God wink 4) Anyone who knows music theory probably knows that this is what will be on there, but I am CLUELESS. He said if I didn’t do well on the exam it could add a semester of remedial classes to my degree. I have about 9 months of free schooling left on my GI Bill, which is about three semesters. According to my calculations I will have my degree in that time—without the remedial classes.

circle

I’m amazed at the grace I have been given with this whole process, and the “God winks” of being directed to the right people at the right time. My Music Theory for Dummies book arrived yesterday, and I plan to get to studying. On the cover I noticed it says, “Identify the building blocks of music.” Hmmmmm, This could be important, especially if I want to write music . . .

g0ecz0tsw4roch650x24

Building blocks. I know how to sing, am good with harmonizing, intonation, etc., but I know nothing of keys, note names (what is what), etc. In orchestra I could see a piece of sheet music and play it without a problem. I knew where my fingers needed to go on the neck board based on where the notes landed on the staff, when to rest, when to hold half or whole notes etc., but I really knew nothing of what the notes were called or anything else for that matter. That is why I got an F in orchestra in high school when we studied theory, decided to drop the course, and sold the $900 viola Dad had bought me.

So, I am in for a challenge. There is so much more to music than simply doing what you know to do. When I began teaching myself guitar and learning chords I remember how proud I was of myself. I also remember my brother who was in a band look at me and say, “Whoa, you’re actually playing the cords!” I laughed and asked, “How do you play guitar?” “Power cords,” he answered. (Whatever THAT means.) LOL.

What about our faith? We can know how to treat others with kindness, attend church, tithe a portion of our income to the church, etc., but not know the building blocks of our faith. So what are they?

TTW2011

1.) Salvation: We must know God’s true character, that He is loving, and always speaks truth. We must also believe that His only son, Jesus, was crucified for our sins, buried, and raised to new life on the third day.

2.) Study: We must know the word of God by reading His truths in the Holy Bible. By doing so, we will be able to apply what we have learned to our daily lives and interactions with others. Lies that we have believed about our identity will be replaced with God’s truth about who we are in Him.

3.) Prayer: We must pray to God on a regular basis thanking Him for all we have, repenting of our sins and asking forgiveness, and presenting our requests to Him. People can’t be in relationship without communication. The same goes for relationship with our Father.

4.) Speak: We must speak to the mountains in our lives and tell them how big our God is. There is power in our words. God spoke and light appeared. Jesus spoke and the sea was calmed. The disciples spoke and demons were cast out.

5.) Act: We must act on the word of God making it a reality in our lives rather than a feel good message we hear on Sunday morning. This goes beyond applying what you read to your life. This is intentional life changing action which means going out of your way to minister to a homeless person, or acting on that Holy Spirit nudge you feel to do something or say something to someone that will take you out of your comfort zone. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He wants to make disciples of us so that we can disciple others.

Matt28_19

I may be able to sing well without knowing music theory, but it won’t go much beyond that. I don’t know the history of music, or how to help someone else better understand the art because I don’t know the building blocks. If I want to be able to lead a team I need to know more than simply how to sing. Granted, helping others enter into the presence of God is the goal of a worship team, but it would be difficult to make that happen if everyone was singing and playing instruments in different keys! (Hey, it would be making a joyful noise!)

I know this was a long post and I’m truly not trying to make up for lost time, lol. This is something I have been wanting to share as I think knowing the building blocks of faith is so important. I’m sure others have different building blocks, but these are ones that I find to be important to better understanding our faith. We can’t build a sturdy house without a solid foundation—so we must study and know the foundation.

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'”—Isaiah 28:16