Thursday, July 25, 2013

Precious Challenges

I currently have a snuggly, sweet-smelling 3 week old baby sleeping in my lap. I know I need to put her down and clean something, but who would want to do that?

I apologize for not having pictures up. I am taking them; I just haven't found the cord I need to load the pictures onto the computer. I wanted to at least post a brief update on how things have been going.

Today has been a remarkably peaceful day in the Wittman home. I was able to rock Evie to sleep in our glider (a gift from Uncle Bo and Aunt Candy) and read her a Psalm- 119:105-112. Then I prayed out loud for us, for her daddy, and our home. Then I read new portions of "Eloise a Paris" out loud- more for my own studying than for her entertainment, since she was snoozing.

I gave her a bath in her Tummy Tub. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that well, but together we managed. I kept the lights low, added some lavender oil to the bath water, and played Carla Bruni's new album in the background. By the time she was wrapped up in her Duckie hooded towel, I think we were both more relaxed.

Today I was actually able to think through some things. I haven't had the mind to be pensive in quite a while. Having some quiet time just to process life was an enormous blessing.

I realized that so far, some well-intended "words of wisdom" I've heard in the past seem to be untrue. I always found it frustrating to be warned as a married-with-no-kids couple to enjoy our freedom while we could, to enjoy being able to pick up and go any time and anywhere we wanted, to appreciate sleep in general, because once kids were on the scene, all that would disappear. In a sense, it is absolutely wise. I could kill for a date out with my husband, or a run through the Starbucks drive-thru. But I think those sage words warrant some serious qualifying.

My daughter is a joy, a gift, and an enormous blessing. Coming from the perspective of someone who has lost a pregnancy, perhaps it is easier for me to say that my current circumstances are not about a lack of freedom or a lack of sleep. Those are very small details in a much larger, beautiful picture. So far, in my new role as a mommy, I've found life to be very challenging. But is it any harder than living with infertility or the loss of a little one? I would rather struggle and strive and sweat through parenting than "enjoy my freedom" knowing that I cannot have (or to have lost) what the Bible clearly says is a very good thing: the privilege of parenting. All the times I've been cautioned to enjoy the benefits of not having kids, I honestly think it only served to stir up selfishness and a fear and dread of moving on to the next life stage. Instead, I'd encourage anyone to seek contentment in your own life, single, married, or whatever your present circumstances may be. But if possible, look forward to the precious challenges of parenting.

Of course, a day like today is not the norm around here. Yesterday was sort of the opposite, in fact. So I'm hoping to have more peace-filled days like today. I'm hoping and praying to start developing a healthy rhythm. More prayer, more Bible reading, more peace. And I'm looking forward to facing tomorrow's challenges with joy. After all, Joy is my daughter's middle name.

Natasha W.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Birth Story

Evelyn Joy has arrived!

The answer to our prayers occurred at 5:14pm on July 1st, one day before her due date! She weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces and stretched 20 inches long. After 22 hours of labor, I was in complete shock when she was placed on my chest for the first time. Over a week later, I think I’m still a little shocked. She’s here and she’s beautiful. She’s healthy and she’s big. I mean, I know my stomach was big. But, goodness! I can’t believe she came out of me!

So here’s a brief, condensed version of my first labor experience. It was quite an event! And therefore, even the condensed version is rather long.

WARNING: This post isn’t for everyone. I mean, it is, but if you aren’t game for an actual birth story- if, say, you get grossed out by the idea of a “labor tub”, then you should just look at the pictures and skip the rest of this post!


First, a prelude to labor: 



(After our 38 week appointment, we went out to eat to avoid highway traffic and decided to share a cupcake. Yum! I hope to edit with a picture of of the day before labor as well.)

Micah decided that her birthdate would be June 29th, a Saturday (just a few days shy of 40 weeks). This was decided because he would get the maximum days at home with us while missing as little of work as possible. Also, the midwife said it would be ideal for her to come over the weekend, as she would be on-call at that time. So, Saturday came and went uneventfully in terms of contractions. I did however finish the rewrites on my novel- something I had wanted so badly to do and had nearly given up on in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. Saturday night, I experienced irregular contractions for hours, only to be disappointed when they disappeared. I stayed home Sunday morning, since I’d missed out on so much sleep during the contractions. After church, Micah took me out on what would be our last date before Evie’s arrival! We ate splendidly and had a wonderful time together before shopping for a few last minute baby items and taking our requisite Sunday afternoon nap. Sadly, I did not sleep well during our nap. And later I would be wishing I had.

Labor Begins:


At 7 pm, I started having regular contractions!

Because of the disappointment of the night before, I did not try to time the contractions until 3 hours and 2 long lavender baths later. When I did start timing them, they were difficult to time, but were coming pretty close to 5 minutes apart. This continued from ten pm until midnight, when my water broke. During all this time, Micah was trying to sleep and urging me to sleep as well. I found this a tad annoying, since the contractions were too uncomfortable to sleep and I wanted him to be more excited, less rational. At 1 am, my water REALLY broke and kept “breaking” with every contraction. For this reason, I was stuck in one place while Micah was left to pack the “last minute items” on our hospital bag packing list (yes, I made one). These last minute items took two hours! He was shocked that there was so much to do, and I was frustrated because I’d planned on doing a lot of the packing myself, and couldn’t hardly move. I called the midwife around 1, and we left the house around 3.

Finally at the Hospital:

Once in our room at 4 am, I started spending copious amounts of time in the shower and tub, quickly finding that the warm water alleviated my pain considerably. The only disappointment throughout my labor, (aside from it taking so long, of course) was that the room I was in did not have telemetry fetal monitoring, which would have allowed me to be monitored while moving freely. Instead, I had to lie on my right side in the bed for 20-45 minutes at a time, sipping juice or eating a popsicle to encourage Evie’s heart rate. For some reason, this specific position was absolute torture, preventing me from managing my pain at all during the contractions. Another discouragement during labor was when I saw on the marker board that under “Pain Management Method”, someone had written, “Have a healthy baby!” Honestly, this made me feel a little disconnected from my birth team, because I would have preferred the message to read something more like, “Going natural, all the way!” It was so important to me, and I wasn’t entirely confident that everyone in the room thought I could do it.

The great thing is, I was able to go natural all the way! Evie was in the right position, and doing well. Micah (Husband, Doula, Birth Coach, Best Friend) was everything I needed to get through each contraction.  He did great at helping me get around, keeping the hot water and lavender oil coming, keeping a washcloth icy cold on standby, and giving counter pressure during contractions on the hospital bed (which in my mind, had quickly become known as The Torture Chamber). I survived on his words of encouragement during my darkest moments. He was amazing. :)

Pushing was a relief and a challenge. It was a relief because it started without my permission, and completely changed the feeling of my contractions to where they were one constant contraction, but bearable. It was a challenge because I was utterly exhausted, had no idea what I was doing, and completely lost the urge after the first initial push. It took a long time. Long, long, long, long... But not nearly as long as the rest of labor. I started cracking jokes at this point as well, asking the midwife if a baby was really coming out, and if it was too late to give up at this point. Up to this point, I had been silently asking myself why I wasn’t getting an epidural. Once it was time to push, I was secretly hoping I could give up and get a C-Section! Crazy, I know. But the midwife coached me through pushing marvelously, encouraging me the whole time when I felt I was accomplishing nothing. Next thing I know, Evie was placed on my chest, purple and beautiful! My whole body was so tired, the nurse had to hold her on my chest at first because I didn’t think I could move my arms!


Recovery:

The following two days, I told everyone that I hoped Evie would like all her adopted siblings, because that was all we would ever be having. It was simply too hard, too much, and too traumatizing. There was just no way I could ever survive that again- and certainly no way I’d ever choose it again! Rather than making me feel strong, it left me feeling weak, and continuing to wonder why, oh why didn’t I get an epidural or some other form of medication. Why was it so important that I go natural/unmedicated? Rather than proving to myself that I COULD survive a natural labor, I somehow proved to myself that I could NOT survive it. Weird, eh?

On the third day, much to my own surprise, I found myself thinking, “You know, I could do that again.”

A Few Interesting Details:

1. The whole layout they give you in books and birthing classes about what to expect seems rather silly to me. I was dilated to a 3 a week before going into labor, which is a very common thing. Apparently this occurred during a few mild menstrual-like cramps I had one morning. So here I was thinking I’d have a fast labor once it really began!

2. I never experienced “Transition.” I had prepared for transition. I had prepared Micah for transition. I had warned him that I would be cussing, telling him I was dying, begging for an epidural. This never happened. Actually, toward the end, I had a few silent contractions, to the point that I knew Micah was unaware that I was having them at all. But it was pretty much the same intensity for several hours of my labor- probably the last 8 hours of it or so. And it was absolutely the worst pain I could ever imagine.
I never experienced “the ring of fire” during pushing. It all hurt, but it was more difficult than painful. It was much more bearable than a contraction. I just didn't think I could do it.

3. I did not forget my pain once it was over. It was vividly engraved in my memory. Much of it is gone now, and much of it remains. However, the euphoria once it is over was very real for me. I still can’t get over the fact that she is here!


Okay, time for some pictures:



My brave girl, getting weighed, measured, and cleaned up. :)


Footprints time! The nurses had trouble getting that footprint. Apparently she was as active with her kicking then as she had been in the womb. That's my girl!


Just adoring her. 



Meeting her Nana!

Our first family photo! Me, my doula, and baby. ;)



Taking a much needed and difficult to come by nap in the hospital. That rocking chair was amazing!


This was not planned! Mommy and Evie somehow ended up matching when we left the hospital. ha ha.


I LOVE staring at this angel face. She has so many adorable faces. And after a long night of crying and feeding and diaper changes, it is always so refreshing to wake up and see this beautiful, peaceful face.

She is finally here! God has answered so many prayers throughout her birth and since! An update on how things have been at home since her arrival will follow soon, Lord willing. :)

Love,
Natasha "Mommy" W.