Friday, April 24, 2015

Levi's Birth Story

On Tuesday, January 27th Hyrum woke up as common around 7 a.m.  His dad was in the bathroom getting ready for the day.  I walked over to talk to Riley and Hyrum put his little arms up to have me pick him up.  As I picked him up, I felt a gush in my undergarments.  It wasn't a significant outpour as when my water broke with Hyrum, but it felt like more than just a little lack of bladder control.  Upon examination, and after a little fb consult with my indie birth friends I determined that it was indeed the start of my waters breaking, although only a leak as opposed to an entire break.  I didn't assume that meant I would be in labor that day though, as it was only a leak.  

I continued to leak throughout the morning, especially when I would pick up or interact with Hyrum.  At around 10:45 I noticed what I thought might be my first official contractions.  I noted them and sure enough, every 10 minutes or so I would have a contraction.  They weren't painful, just a steady moving pressure for about a minute at a time.  I had a hair appointment for later in the afternoon and I was hoping I would be able to make it :).  So I didn't worry about the contractions too much, I figured they could stay this way for a long while yet.  

While putting Hyrum down for a nap at around 11:30 I felt like it would be a good idea to call Nicole to see if she could possibly take Hyrum for the afternoon.  I didn't want to call in the troops yet and since I figured I had all afternoon I thought it would be nice to be alone and have time to meditate and prepare mentally/spiritually/emotionally.  I called and she said she'd be happy to take him.  I called Riley to let him know what was going on, but also to tell him that I didn't want him coming home until the contractions were closer together.  

Amazingly, a little while before Sharon had called and asked what I needed to do to get ready.  Riley had told a number of people on Sunday that we thought Levi might come on Tuesday.  It is my Grandma Boot's birthday, so we joked that it would be a nice gift for her.  I am not sure if that is why Sharon felt impressed to call and come help on Tuesday or not, but either way she was certainly inspired!  She came over and helped me clean up and prepare my room.  So in terms of physical space, I felt peaceful and ready!

I decided I had better get some good food to have on hand, should I actually go into labor anytime soon.  So I placed an order with the raw food shop around the corner.  At 12:15 I walked over to the shop with my dad.  On the way there I had a very powerful contraction.  The contractions seemed to have jumped from 8-10 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart.  I decided I should call Riley when I got home.  

I got home at 12:30 and gave Riley a call to let him know they were coming more quickly.  He said he'd head straight home.  My contractions went back to 8-10 min apart and I was disappointed that I had called Riley and given up my quiet alone time since the contractions were far apart again.  

But of course, by the time he arrived the contractions had become a little more painful and I was grateful he had come.  I bustled around the house getting a bag together for Hyrum when I got a text from Evy saying that she was the one coming to get Hyrum.  Apparently she had been at Nicole's house when I called and wanted to be the one to come get him.  I had often thought that should I want a doula at this birth I would call Evy.  She isn't trained as one, but she is such a peaceful loving presence that I had actually before contemplated having her there. 

When she pulled up at 1:30 I was feeling the pressure and the pain of the contractions and was ready to be upstairs, no matter how long it took.  I went up and started a bath while Riley handed Hyrum off to Evy.  I was starting to think this little guy might come sooner that I expected, so I asked Riley to ask Evy if sh wouldn't mind watching Hyrum at the house for just a bit, on the off chance that the baby came soon.  I felt like it would be good for him to greet his little brother as he came into the world.

I hadn't thought I would do a water birth, but once I got in the tub at around 1:45 I realized I wasn't likely to get out again.  The water was just so soothing against the pain of the contractions.  They were getting closer together, probably about 5 min apart, and really powerful.  It felt like no time at all, perhaps only a half an hour later, that I started feeling my body push.  Woah!  I tried to slow it down, but it was doing its thing and not about to slow down.  I felt my cervix and it hardly felt open at all.  I was very confused as to how my body and this baby thought they were going to come out of that very small opening.  I don't think I had more than 5 pushing contractions, each stronger than the first, 3 min apart and lasting
perhaps 2 min each.  I felt that little body move down and his head pressing against my cervix.  I knew he was coming and scrambled to get into a position where he could.    With one fiery, massive push, his little head was out of my body!!!  I told Riley to holler down the stairs for Evy to bring Hyrum up.  

I just rested for a moment, holding his little head in my hand under the water.  Then, perhaps a minute or two later, just as Riley came back to the tub from calling downstairs, the rest of his precious little body pushed out!

At some point, I don't remember when, I told Riley that he could call my mom and tell her that if she wanted to come home for the birth, she could.  Apparently she had arrived at 2:35.  So at 2:41 she bounded up the stairs with Hyrum.  I had just sat myself down and was pulling Levi up out of the water and into my arms when they arrived at the tub.  

His cord was around his neck, but because of what I had learned, I didn't worry for a moment.  Riley quickly reached in and unwrapped the cord.  Levi sputtered and cried as I placed him on my chest, a good solid infuriated cry.  Then he and I sat back in the tub and cuddled as Riley cleaned some of the blood off of Levi.  

Grandma cried, Hyrum looked on shyly and Riley and I marveled in this sweet, tiny creature.    He was so small!  Long and tiny, much less filled out than his brother was.  But everything was in working order!  All fingers, all toes, all in place.
A little while later I noticed what looked like a large blood clot in the tub.  Although I had looked at pictures of placentas as I prepared for birth, I couldn't figure out if this was part of the placenta or not.  So instead of waiting, I tugged just a bit on the umbilical cord and kind of pulled the placenta out.  

After about 20 minutes of cuddling in the tub with Levi, we made our way to the bed where baby and I both passed out for 2 hours.  When we woke Riley cut the umbilical cord.  Despite a good deal of snorting (which he still does occasionally,) Levi latched and ate just fine. 

So, those are kind of the clinical details of what happened.  Strange for me to tell a story this way because I am such an emotional storyteller.  But I experienced this birth just the way I have described it!  Yes, there was emotion involved.  But I was so aware, so in the moment, so completely focused and in charge whilst simultaneously perfectly allowing myself and my baby to be in God's hands that every detail shows up in clear definition in my mind.  

This experience was such a contrast to my birthing Hyrum eighteen months earlier.  Hyrum was born at home with a midwife I trusted.  But I didn't trust myself.  I understand why--it was my first birth, I didn't believe that I knew what I was doing and each pain, each sensation, each part of the experience felt like it was happening to me.  The pain was scary, the amount of time it was taking tired my body out and I spent a good amount of time wondering if I really could do it.  I looked to the midwife to tell me when to push.  I looked to her to tell me that things were going perfectly.  I looked to her to know how much longer, to know how to breathe, to help me through the pain.  When H was born I felt exhilarated and exhausted.  I had done it!  I believed I could but I certainly doubted as it became difficult.

With Levi's birth the experience was so vivid but the emotions were much more calm.  Peace rather than exhilaration was the blanket that rested over all of us.  Not the giddyness of making it through a traumatic experience and finding the beautiful blessedness on the other side--the godly reward in the trial of faith.  Rather the sweet and steady security of knowledge.  I knew I could and would birth this perfect little boy perfectly.  I knew he knew how to be birthed.  And I knew that God would be helping me in this most sacred of experiences and that I could trust myself, trust baby and trust Him.

I want so much for every woman to have this knowledge--that we were born to give birth.  And we know how!!   I was so impressed when speaking to one of my best friends just a few weeks later.  She gave birth to her baby in the hospital and felt impressed to go to the hospital early even though she knew they would try to send her home as she "wasn't dialated enough".  She ended up having an emergency c-section and everything worked out just as needed--because she listened and she knew what she needed to do.  We do know!  We can listen!  To our bodies, to our babies, to our intuition.  We can trust ourselves and the still small voice more than our caregivers or any other voice.

I am so grateful to my precious Levi boy for partnering with me in this perfect, empowering birth.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Open the eyes of my Understanding (pt 2)

Um, I got on here to post a birth story.  Of my second birth.  With Riley, my husband.  So, yeah, I guess it's been awhile since I've posted anything and I simply must finish the story that I started what, 3 years ago?  Even though no one reads this blog...
So, I spent a good 45 minutes in that stream looking for Riley's phone.  It most certainly was NOT where he left it.  I checked that spot over and over.  I prayed, again.  I looked, again.  I got REALLY frustrated that no one was answering my prayers.  After all, I prayed, I visualized the outcome I wanted, I was doing everything right.  I DESERVED to find that phone!
In frustration I was about to give up.  At that point I realized that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about where we had left the phone.  I humbled myself.  I told the Lord that I was willing to be wrong and asked if He had any guidance for me.  I received the thought to go back to the very beginning where we first got into the stream.  Although I knew full well it wasn't there, I went there anyways.
And, of course, there it was.  Easy to find, bright as day.  And I was humbled.  Oh how often I do this!  I did then and I STILL do, although 3 years later I am wrong so often that I am much quicker to humble myself and ask the Lord where He thinks it is and allow for an answer rather than get stuck on something needing to be where or how I think it is.
Actually, it is interesting now to finish this post three years later.  Because I notice that the first part of the post I mentioned that I wasn't sure about Riley.  Our courtship (and marriage) was very parallel to this experience.  I always knew what the man I was going to marry would look like.  The image was so clear in my head that it took me years to see what the Lord saw and the Lord knew.  I had to move forward with His eyes in choosing to marry my darling Riley.  And now, 2.5 years into our marriage, I am only beginning to see.  I get glimpses of how astoundingly perfect this match is for me.  But I still have to stop often and choose to see what God knows over what I think I know.  And now, as I did that day at the stream, I bow my head in the humblest gratitude for God guiding me--in the little things and the big.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Open the Eyes of My Understanding (Pt. 1)

On Sunday I was fasting.  I have, of all things, some questions.  Seemingly big questions that knock around in my head day in and day out.  I love Riley.  I think he's who I want to marry.  I love Riley.  I don't think he's my best match.  I think the Lord blesses our choice to be together.  I think the Lord wants something else.  I think...I might be confused. 

About a month ago Riley and I walked down the creek behind my house.  Let me clarify--we walked IN the stream, of course.  Knowing our history with creeks and the inevitability of being pushed in when we're together, at some point on our journey Riley took his phone out and placed it on the bank of the river.  I couldn't quite feel like this was a good idea, as the area is wooded and all looks very similar.  But I took a photograph in my mind of the spot--noticing the particular bend of the bank and an orange plastic tie attached to a tree exactly opposite of where Riley set down the phone.  That would help when we came back to find it. 

As it turned out, at the bottom of the stream I realized I needed to hurry if I was going to make the appointment I had for the evening.  So I got out and ran up the road to my house.  Riley went back along the river to look for his phone. 

When I returned home that evening I saw that I had a note in my door.  Although he looked for over an hour, Riley had not found his phone and asked if I might spend some time looking for it in the morning.  I'm sure I rolled my eyes and thought that even though I pointed out to him some important markers to help him find it, that he hadn't paid attention.

 So the next morning, confident in my finding skills, I headed down to the exact place where I knew he had left his phone.   Not before praying first, of course.  Because I knew that the Lord cares about things that are important to us, even if they are small and not important in the bigger scheme of things.  I knew that praying in faith and believing fully helped me help a young lady find a gold earring in a cloudy lake once during girl's camp.  He would without a doubt help me find this phone.

What I didn't take into account however, was that the thing that was important to me was finding the phone quickly so that I could feel self-satisfied with my ability to be led by the Spirit and work with the Lord and then have the opportunity to show Riley how this faith thing is done.  Strangely it appears that this desire of mine was NOT important to the Lord...

(Apparently I am dividing this up into two parts, namely because I've run out of time and want to avoid the tendency I have of half-writing posts and then never finishing them...)
Pt. 2 to follow, hopefully later today...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lessons learned on a nude beach in Romania

I kinda feel like I'm hitting my head against a wall. Over and over. Except I'm not. That would require effort and I feel like I'm not doing anything at all!
I have a belief that I can be gainfully employed in doing the work I care about. I felt great guidance and direction (despite fear) pull me back into film last fall--and almost immediately was hired to work on a project that pushed me and grew me and blessed me financially. Since it ended however I have been looking for work in my field and have gotten to a point of (what feels like) dire discouragement. I had the thought to share this story a week or so ago, and so even if I am late, I am hoping that it will provide a little hope or clarity for me as I write it out.
 In Leslie Householder's FTMP program she tells the story of finding her daughter in the pool. (You can read about it here: http://www.positivethinkingtips.org/the-truth-about-failure-how-to-prosper-anyway/) She wasn't breathing and Leslie kept trying different things to get her to breathe. The outcome--that her daughter survive--was crucial and without question in her mind. To Leslie, there was no other alternative. And so when she tried something that didn't work, there wasn't time to worry about the failure, or to feel badly and judgmental about herself for trying something dumb or ineffective. Nothing mattered but helping her daughter to breathe. And so there was no hesitation, only adrenaline and inspiration and immediate response to inspiration. And as a result, she was able to revive her daughter.
It is SO EASY to waste time giving up because it appears that that which we hope and work for has failed to come together. But we all have these experiences--often life and death experiences--where our instinct and natural humility kick in and we rely completely on the Lord and dedicate ourselves completely to only one outcome. Not having her daughter Bethany as part of the family was not a possible option for Leslie. It was not in her reality. So she did anything and everything, acted on every thought until she got the outcome she needed.
When I was 19 I backpacked Eastern Europe on my own. It was an amazing experience, one I had dreamed of for years. This was in the late 90's--before paperless tickets and debit cards and for me, common sense about certain things. I was reaching the end of my trip and had ended up at a beach on the Black Sea in Romania, about 4km from the Bulgarian border. It was a tiny town without accommodations and there was one daily train. By the time I realized it was a nude beach (not exactly my cup of tea), the train had left for the day. My only option was to camp out on the beach. So I headed as far north on the beach as I could to avoid the masses of naked humanity as much as possible.  I swam a bit (in my full one-piece, something I'm not sure if those folks had ever seen before ;) ) , and then fell into my sleeping bag in a stupor of slumber. For the first time in my month and a half trip I had failed to put my money belt back on before I fell asleep.
It was a cold and uncomfortable sleep. At around 5 in the morning I had a thought come into my mind that said "Check your bag". I was cold and didn't want to pull my head out from my sleeping bag and I grumpily told myself to stop worrying and just go back to sleep. I had the same thought, this time louder. I angrily ignored it again. Finally it was a shout in my head--CHECK YOUR BAG!!! Frustrated, I pulled my sleeping bag down from my face, and lo and behold, my bag was gone. Stunned, I looked around me. Could it somehow have been caught by the surf and dragged out? Of course not. I ran up to the ridge of the hill at the top of the beach but I saw no one stirring, no sign of the bag snatchers. My bag was gone and with it my money, my airline ticket, my clothes, my camera, my journal, my passport, even my shoes. I had only what I was wearing--a bathing suit, a sweatshirt, a pair of jeans with a hole in the bottom--and my sleeping bag.
I've told this story so many times before, and with so many different emphases. Usually it is for the humor of it all, or to mention the profound reality of knowing you have nothing, absolutely nothing and recognizing in that moment your utter dependence on the Lord and the goodness of strangers.
 But this time as I thought of this story from my life, I realized something crucial about my mindset, or my reality. Yes, I was in this situation because I had not listened to the Spirit warning me to check my bag. One could also argue that my lack of planning led to the inevitability of such a thing (although my spirit of adventure might dispute that…) I had made a mistake. I had gotten myself into a rough strait. But hanging out on a nude beach in nowhere, Romania for the rest of my life was not an option. There was only one option--that was to figure out how to get back home. Now, my parents at the time were in no financial situation to send me money and buy me a plane ticket home from Romania. Plus (which I didn't know at the time) I would need someone who knew me to identify me in person at the embassy in Bucharest before I could get a new passport to travel home. And those were all considerations to be dealt with once I even figured out how to even get all the way to Bucharest. Not to mention that I had no idea where I was going to get a pair of shoes…
But again, my apparent lack of resources in no way deterred me from what I knew to be true--I was a young American citizen who despite her wanderlust belonged back home and that is exactly where she was going to go. Failure to figure out how to get that to happen was not an option. And what opened up for me were amazing people both in Romania and at home who gave me the resources I needed to make my way home.
I guess what I am trying to figure out in my current circumstances, is how do I see the life I want to live in the same black and white surety as I did the fact that I had to find my way home and that I would? What was inherent in that recognition? I knew who I was and where I belonged. I trusted completely in the Lord because my own awareness of what to do and my physical resources were non-existent. That trust motivated me to move, and to do whatever I could figure out to make my way home (begging on a nude beach, anyone? Excuse me, do you have a leu or two on you? I mean, not on you obviously--I can see that…) I also knew that even though in my mind my parents did not have the money to help me, for them it was not an option to have me wandering shoeless the streets of Bucharest. I knew they loved and valued me and would do whatever it took to get me home. No question. And the experience ended up being one of the most beautiful and meaningful of my young life. I never even took time to fear. I was guided in peace and certainty.
 I want to know with surety what I am about now, just as I knew what I was about then. If I am so clear about my life path, I will not hesitate to throw my arms into the Lord's mercy--knowing that even with my seeming lack of resources I will be inspired and led to the ideas that will show me where to go. I will also be quicker to make connections with people, trusting that they want to help me. I will also trust in the reality that the people in my life want me to succeed and that I can ask them for help. And I will know I will be led to those who have the ability to help me get where I need to go. And I will do it all with the sense of adventure and peace that I had on my Romanian Beach Adventure. This is my hope.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Directed

I've heard it said before that your mess is your message (attributed to Leslie Householder--bot sure if she said it or was repeating someone else.) Well, I don't really have any messes except for the clothes that I failed to put away and the dirty dishes that need cleaning. But every once in awhile something happens to break through my barrier of seeming togetherness. This time it was the realization that I'm holding back on my dreams, on what I am all about because of fear. I realized yesterday, in the midst of my two month unemployment spree that the difficulty here was that I know deep down that I am a director but I haven't been presenting myself that way. Amazingly everyone else seems to be able to see this. Its time I did, too. No, I may not know what exactly I am supposed to do next--but I do know that whatever these fears are inside me, I have to push through them. And so I will.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mission

Before Steven R. Covey wrote about living a principles centered life in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he wrote a book called The Divine Center. I thank Ms. Sarah Grainger for sharing that book with me as it's main concept has stayed with me and even now is changing the way I am choosing to live my life. The idea is that we each choose something to be at the center of our lives. It may be family, money, self, church, leisure or any other thing from which our actions, thoughts and beliefs spring. As Christ, however, is the source of truth, the source of light by which we can understand truth and the very rock of our redemption, He is the only thing/person on which we can center our lives securely. Even family and church, as human as they are, can lead us away from the source of truth if we choose to place one of them at our center.

This passing week has held incredible amounts of revelation for me. I have come to realize that my most recent career path--as an elementary school teacher--although wonderful is not in alignment with who I am and what I have come to this earth to do. I have had profound moments of remembering--wherein moments past were brought to mind. Each of these involved me giving my will over to my Father in Heaven as well as sharing with Him my desire to be an instrument in His hands, to bring His children closer to him. And time and again throughout my life I have felt impressed and desirous to do this through creating life-changing media. And so this is what I will be doing once again, and I am dedicating my full efforts to this mission of mine.

Discussions with Amelia, with my mom, with Amy and others helped me to recognize that I needed to get back into film. But it was the Genius Bootcamp workshop that I attended, hosted by Shantel McBride and created by Leslie Householder that created the space for personal revelation and the re-understanding of what I was born to do. These two women are amazing and Leslie in particular has helped me through her various programs to learn more about how to trust inspiration and to achieve our goals and dreams. As a matter of fact, I have done her Family, Time, Money, Freedom goal setting course a few times in the past few years each time with the same goal. I expected to focus on the same goal at the Genius Bootcamp and was surprised to feel pulled to another.

The goal I had been focusing on was the goal of marriage: of being and doing all I could to find my companion and start our family. What could be a more noble goal? It has been the focus of my thoughts and dreams steadily for the last few years. I want to progress and marriage is how I want to progress. I want to learn more about love and I want to create and bring beautiful babies into this world to teach and raise up in the ways of righteousness. As I have focused on this I have assumed that in fact this is what my life is about. I have had so many rich experiences that have helped fashion me into an amazing companion and mother. And now (now being every day for the last few years) it is time for me to contribute that amazing life to the creation of my own family.

As my mission to bring souls to Christ was returned to me this weekend, I realized that I have not been living a Christ-centered life. He has not been the focus of my thoughts, no matter how many times I have prayed to Him. No, this elusive family has been. Along with the strivings and the pains at not having it.

I now declare that I was not put on this earth to become a wife and a mother. My purpose is to become like my Heavenly Father. What He wants from me is my heart and my service and my passion dedicated to the building up of His kingdom. Raising a family up unto him with my wonderful husband is part of that of course, but it is not the goal and it is not the focus. It is a blessing I will in perfect time receive to help me fulfill my mission: to do the Lord's work and glory.

I admit this is all a little scary and in some ways ambiguous. But it is also incredibly exciting and liberating. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Things

I am or have been reading the following in the last little while:
Killing Sacred Cows
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Portal to Genius
What Color is Your Parachute
The 4-Hour Work Week
etc.
The watchword is value creation. My whole life paradigm is being shifted. It appears, as I study and learn and apply that I have in fact been living more of this ideal lifestyle than less. I have in fact been living my dreams. And each new element I am receiving and learning is unlocking more opportunity and more dreams! I live a successful life! What an amazing thing to realize!

I'm Trying (old posts)

Well, here I go again. Thoughts and things to share. I want to give this whole blogging thing a try and can't quite divorce myself from the attempts I have already made. So here is a link to the posts on the blog I created while I was in London. There aren't that many, but hey--they cover some thoughts from 2008-2009.
:)

http://anamericaninlondontown.blogspot.com/

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