Thursday, January 21, 2016

Adelaide Kate: A Birth Story

Darling Lady,

Your entire 13 month existence has been a series of unexpected surprises. From learning you were coming, to our time together just you and me, to your appearance earthside, you have delighted us, scared us, and stretched us. Your arrival has made our family just that bit more complete and your never-ending supply of smiles makes us all feel as though we could conquer the world, fueled only by your grin. 

We did not think we would be bringing you into our family quite as quickly as you came and though it was surprising, we would not trade you, now, in this moment, for any darn thing on earth or elsewhere. 

My pregnancy with you was very different from that of your brother. I was much sicker in the first trimester, and in the third, I had quite a bit more pain in my sciatic. We realized in the last few weeks leading up to your birth that that was because you had cocked your head so that it was in my right hip, resting right on the nerves that activate that piercing pain. I was so nervous that you were going to stay that way, making giving birth at home, a little more difficult. Still possible, but more difficult. 

In our last month together, I was feeling all sorts of different stress, from the pain to my midwife and your grandparents all traveling out of town in our "window". I was terrified you would come and all of our support team would not be there. I started having Braxton Hicks contractions about two weeks before you finally came, while everyone was gone. They were so bad one day there was nothing for me to do but put myself on voluntary bed rest because I REFUSED to go into labor until everyone was home. Thank God for our friends Becca and Karla, who rallied to help watch your brother so Mama could rest with you and keep you safely in your little cocoon. We are so grateful for their willingness to drop everything and support us in that way. 

Finally, everyone returned home and I felt as though I could relax again. We had an ultrasound in that last week, just to confirm your position, and you had turned again so that you were head down! I was so relieved. Your Papa and I were ready for you anytime, though we did really want you to wait until AFTER our anniversary on September 17. Which you did. We thought for sure that as soon as we came home from our celebratory date, you would decide THAT was the time, but you didn't. You were kind enough to allow a few more days to pass, to put a little extra distance between the two events. :)

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, we dragged ourselves out of bed and got our behinds to church. It had been a few weeks since we'd been and I knew that if we didn't go that week, it was likely we wouldn't make it back for quite awhile. I also knew I needed to be refreshed and renewed at the Table of Christ before I would be fully prepared to bring new life into the world. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable that morning, and apparently, it was obvious. Pastor Leslie joked with me and predicted "You are gonna have that baby tonight!" She must have the gift of prophecy...

We came home that afternoon and Papa made the last of the freezer meals we wanted to have on hand to make post-partum easier on us. I painted my toes. We savored a few final hours as a family of three. We put Milo to bed and after Papa and I played a game, we decided it was time for us to go to bed as well. Papa had been asleep for about 10 min and I was *just* getting ready to settle in and relax to go to sleep when, at 10:58 PM, I felt the first of my no-kidding, real and true, contractions. It felt exactly the way it did when labor with Milo started, and I knew it was happening. There was no question. I sat up and nudged Papa awake and said, "I'm pretty sure I just had a real contraction. I'm going to the bathroom". Apparently, this is the first half of labor for me...sitting on the toilet. It sounds gross, I know, but it's the reality of labor, and your Mama is not one to sugar-coat that subject. Labor and birth is magical, but it should not be mysterious. 

With both you and your brother, I spent a good deal of time at the beginning of labor, on the toilet, with cramps that feel like the worst period cramps I've ever had times about 10, having what many will affectionately (sarcasm font) know as "period poops". It is the only response my body has to those initial body is preparing itself to deliver you, by cleaning me out and simultaneously opening me up to efficiently and effectively bring you earthside. A woman's body is a thing of great power and strength, don't you ever forget that, Adelaide, and don't ever buy the lie that your body is something to be ashamed of. 

We waited for one more contraction and then Papa immediately called Fawn, our midwife, while I called your Mamie and Papi. We knew, after the quick arrival of your brother, that you would be even quicker, so it was time to leap into action. About 20 minutes later (during which time, I managed to take a shower and Papa got the bed ready), Mamie and Papi arrived to pick up brother. I walked into his room to say my goodbyes to him and just as I bent over to pick him up out of his crib, I felt a little trickle down my leg. I knew it was my water breaking. I grabbed a towel and shoved it between my legs, while I said a quick, heartfelt goodbye to Milo, and then Papa went with Mamie, Papi, and Milo to load up in the car. I went back into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet, knowing there was more work to do there. 

Fawn arrived as Brother and Mamie and Papi were leaving, and she and Papa walked in the door at EXACTLY the same moment as my water broke with a gush into the toilet. How convenient. :) Fawn came in and immediately got out the doppler to listen to your heartbeat and there we were, me on the toilet, Fawn sitting on the bathroom floor, listening for you. You were doing great.

So fresh!
A few minutes later, I knew I was done in the bathroom and I felt a desperate need to get on all fours and rock. I crawled up onto the bed and buried my head in the pillows while I rocked and moaned through each contraction. At this point they were one on top of the other, with hardly a break between them. Papa was there next to me the whole time, alternating between giving me sips of water and patting my neck with a cool washcloth. Although, there was a moment when he disappeared and Jamie, the apprentice midwife, who had arrived at some point, took over rubbing my back. Papa apparently got a little light-headed shoved into the corner and needed a minute to regroup. I remember being very upset that he had left, but I had nothing in me to question it. All I could do was focus on making my contractions as productive as possible. He returned and came to sit on the bed next to me. A few times, I thought I wanted to try to turn over on my back, but I could never convince my body to move. We were staying on all fours and it became evident that that was how I was going to bring you earthside. 

Labor with you was much more visceral than it was with your brother. It was primal and animalistic and beautiful. Fawn and Jamie more or less stood back and let me do the work. I didn't need much was just happening. I was extremely vocal during labor with you and I still wonder if the neighbors could hear and what they thought. Home birth is so fun. :) The contractions were coming, fast and furious, and I remember thinking at one point, "HOW do women with 24 hr+ labors DO THIS??? THEY are the real warriors!" I also had the proverbial, "I can't do this anymore" moment, but I knew that just meant we were almost there. 

And suddenly, I was pushing. This was a bizarre experience. With Milo, Fawn asked me if I was ready to push and then we all prepared together for me to do so. With you, Adelaide, I had absolutely no control over it and there was no stopping it even if I wanted to. My body was just doing it, completely on its own, with zero input from my brain. It's hard to describe, other than simply, my body was doing it for me. Papa didn't even realize it was happening at first. Fawn and Jamie quietly and calmly encouraged me through each contraction, mostly just saying things like, "Good. Yes, slowly...gently." I have no idea how many times I pushed and I had absolutely no sense of how much time was passing.

Eventually, your head was born. And because I was on all fours, you were looking up at the ceiling. It took what felt like an eternity for the next contraction to come, so there we were, with you just hanging out (literally, ha!), staring at the ceiling. Papa couldn't believe how bizarre and surreal those few moments were (though it was likely less than a minute). With the next contraction, at 1:08 AM on Monday, September 21, 2015, I pushed one more time and the rest of your body was born. Jamie caught you and I immediately turned over and brought you to my chest. There were tears and laughter and I just kept saying, "Look at you! Look at you!" over and over. You had a FULL head of DARK hair, which was entirely unexpected. You were a little rattly in your breathing, so we rubbed your back to get as much of that out of your lungs as we could and Jamie suctioned you a bit. But you were perfect and healthy and beautiful, at 8 lbs even, 20 1/4 inches long, with a 13 3/4 inch head.

Bright-eyed beauty.
Fawn and Jamie let us be alone, just the three of us for about 30 minutes, and those moments I will treasure forever. This is why I love homebirth. We were in our own bed, comfortable and safe, and left alone to bond. That is an invaluable gift. They came back in and I delivered the placenta. We left you attached until all that good blood made it's way into your body and then Papa cut the cord. Beginning to end, labor was 2 hours and 10 min. Fawn and Jamie were only there for 5 hours altogether, which was less time than labor took with your brother. I didn't tear and that made all the difference in my recovery.

The three of us slept together in our bed and after awhile, Mamie, Papi, and Brother came to meet you. Brother fell in love with you right away and the two of you have been best buds since. You are never happier than when he is near and no one makes you laugh more than he does. Your relationship is already teaching me so much. 

Meeting Brother, Mamie, and Papi
Lady Kate, you have brought joy and peace to our home. You are so relaxed and and chill, which is such a nice contrast to Brother's constant motion. The two of you make a great team and I love watching the love and laughter blossom between you, with each passing day. We adore you with everything we are and our home is warmer, sunnier, and more alive with you here. Thank you for choosing us and thank you for letting us bear witness to your life.

All my love,


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letters to Milo - Month 3

Milo, my love,

Three months already. Three months you have been in the world and three months the world has been better for it. You have changed so much this last month.

Mike Wazowski towel...sometimes you are a caricature of cuteness.
You are a regular pro at laughing and smiling and so many things make you happy. Squirm time, having your diaper changed, Mama and Papa's silly faces, Mama singing (horribly) to you and her goofy dancing in the kitchen while she cooks dinner, raspberries on your tummy, and being wrapped up in a towel after bathtime. Papa and I will do just about anything to make you smile and never gets old and we just can't get enough of it. 

You are so, so strong now and very nearly have complete control over your head. You hold it up and crane your neck around constantly to try to take everything in. You are so close to being able to roll from your back to belly and your squirminess has gotten to the point that we may have to start using the seatbelt on the changing table. You love to stand and your legs are really strong. You're not too fond of sitting yet, though you are slowly beginning to figure that out. Usually you'll stiffen your legs and arch your back anytime we try to put you in the Bumpo seat. We'll get there. 

#orangmilo is thrilled to be a Champion
This month, you were the San Francsico Giants rally baby and you saw us to our third World Championship in five years. We can't wait to take you to your first game next season. #orangemilo

Cloth diaper bums are the BEST
We officially started cloth diapering this month, which I think has been one of the best decisions we've made for our family. You are SO much happier in them and you have virtually no diaper rash anymore. Plus, they couldn't be cuter. It's so nice that you don't scream as though being tortured when you have a wet diaper and when we change you anymore. You just really hated those disposables, little love. I'm glad we found something that works better for us.

Milo, Papa, and Tootles having Tummy Time
You've finally started to notice Tootles and sometimes you're quite enraptured by him. He's still unsure of you...we think he might think you're another pet so that means that he can do whatever you get to do (like hang out around the dinner table while Mama and Papa eat). We're working on that with him. He's certainly curious about you though. I'm looking forward to watching the relationship between the two of you flourish and grow. 

At this point, you are sleeping like a champ at night. You typically go down for the night, with very little trouble, between 8 and 9 and will sleep anywhere from 9.5 to 10 hours, usually getting up for the day between 6:30 and 7. Naps during the day are a bit more unpredictable. You will go down in the crib easily and sleep for about 45 minutes before waking up. And once you're awake, you're awake. If I hold you, though, you'll sleep for 2 hours! For awhile I felt like I needed to "fix" that, but then I just decided that since you're sleeping great at night and generally a happy and healthy kid, who does sleep when you're tired, I didn't need to "fix" anything. Not to mention, the window of you actually wanting to snuggle and sleep on my chest is so very small in the greater picture of your life, that I should (and really want to) take advantage of it and enjoy it while I can. And boy, do I. You are the sweetest little snuggler and neither one of us is more content than when we are laying on the couch together while you sleep. We're all gonna be just fine. Mama's gotta trust her instincts. ;)

It's ridiculous how quickly you have grown over the last three months. I find myself looking back at pictures and watching videos of you from your first week of life and missing that tiny newborn phase. But watching you grow and learn and being able to interact with you more has been so much fun and such a joy, for Papa and I both. We are trying our best to soak in every minute we can with you, to be present with you in the realities of each stage, and to respond to your ever-changing needs with love and grace. We know we screw up (and will only continue to screw up) but we know that if we can model grace for each other, for ourselves, and for you, you will have a much better, innate understanding of grace as you grow. We want you to know that you are always covered by it and by love. These are two of our greatest values as a family - grace and love...and silliness. If we can instill in you an understanding of the vitality of grace, love, and silliness, and the ability to resist shame, we know you'll be alright. Better than alright. We love you so much.

Your cuteness is overwhelming.

To the moon and back, baby,


Letters to Milo - 2

Milo, my love...

Mama dropped the ball a bit on writing you a letter for two months, and even with the three months, she's several days late, so she's putting one up right after the other. 

On the party bus to follow all the runners we were there to support.
You slept through the entire thing...all the craziness of the Chicago Marathon
and a Buckman Party Bus. You might just be the perfect baby.
By the time you hit two months old, you had already been on your first flight and had your first experience at Camp Buckman. (When you're a bit older, you'll realize that time spent at Camp Buckman is exactly that - an experience - and something worth noting.) The three of us flew to Chicago to support your Papi as he ran the Chicago Marathon (his first at age 52! we are all so proud) and to have an opportunity to introduce you to some of the most important people in Mama's life. You met the Buckmans, the Dibbs, and the Peters...all of whom loved you deeply from the moment you were born and were just delighted to finally meet you. 

We spent a day downtown with the Buckman kids. Man, oh man, did they love you.
While there, we learned that you require time to squirm, free of any restraints. With so many people dying to hold you and love on you, you were passed around quite a bit. You were an angel and so accommodating, but by the end of the day, when we would take you upstairs for bed, you were done with being held and would cry until Papa and I let you have some time to wiggle and squiggle before swaddling you up for the night. It is now one of the first questions I ask when you are fussy: are you hungry? is your diaper wet? are you tired? do you need some squirm time? The fussiness can usually be solved by one of those things. You continue to only fuss if you need something, otherwise you are an incredibly happy baby. 

Babywearing on the plane! 
You were an absolute dream on the flight. I wore you through the airport and on the airplane and you only fussed to eat once. Changing your diaper in the airplane bathroom was an adventure, but who doesn't love a good adventure, right? It's so important to Papa and I that we help you become a good traveler, because travel is a big part of our family life. We don't ever want the stress (perceived or real) of traveling with kids stop us from having adventures as a family, so we knew we had to just do it and prove to ourselves that it can be done. And it can!

Before we left for Chicago, we took you to your 2 month appointment (which was really more like a 6 week appointment due to the timing of the trip) and you had your first round of shots. You took them really well, all things considered. At that time you were still in disposable diapers and you would cry harder when they got wet than you did when you got your shots. It was still rough on Mama, though. You weighed 10 lbs 9 oz and measured 23 3/4 in long at six weeks. Big boy!

Hipster Milo
At that appointment we decided to finally move fully to formula, because our days at home, just you and I, with me pumping had become so difficult for both of us that it just didn't seem worth it anymore. You would scream and cry when I tried to pump and that made me feel just rotten. I kept asking myself why it was a good idea to not be able to pick you up and comfort you just to give you breast milk when there were other ways to feed you. There was only way for your Mama to hold you and comfort you when you cried, and the pump strapped to my chest was literally getting in the way. It was taking its emotional toll on all of us and Papa and I just decided that what was best for our family was to have you on formula. I had to mourn (and am still mourning) the loss of the perfect image I had of us blissfully bonding over breastfeeding for at least a year, but I still feel confident that we made the right decision. 

Two days after that appointment, we noticed some blood in your stool so back to the doctor we went. Turns out you have a cow's milk allergy so we had to switch over to a hypo-allergenic formula. Once we did that, everything was much better. It is way smellier and much more expensive, but it feeds you and keeps your tummy happy, so we do what he have to do. 

Once we returned from Chicago, we moved you into your crib in your own room and we were amazed at how easy that transition was for all of us. You haven't looked back. This month, you are sleeping so well at night and only waking up once to eat. Way to go, baby!

Meeting Auntie Kristi and smiling for her. This makes my heart explode.
You coo and smile and interact so much now. You even started laughing in your second month. Oh my heavens, is it just the most infectious thing. I know now why J.M. Barrie wrote that baby laughs create fairies. It makes perfect sense. Right now, it's a high-pitched squeal (which really freaks Tootles out) followed by a guttural intake of air and accompanied with smiles for days. It is just the best and my most favorite thing in all the world. You laughed for the first time the day that Auntie Kristi came to visit us for a night, and I know it was because you were just so excited to meet her.

At the place Papa and I took our engagement photos in Millennium Park.
What a trip to be there 3 1/2 years later with you.
Sweetheart, Papa and I continue to fall madder in love with you. You make our days so bright and our lives so full. And it's not just us. Most people you encounter can't help but smile. You are such a light in the world already and Papa and I will do all we can to help you cultivate that gift as you grow into the person you are meant to be. 

To the moon and back, baby,


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Letters to Milo - 1 Month

Milo, my love...

You're a month old today - mine and Papa's third anniversary. We are in awe of how much richer your presence has made our lives; the ways in which we have fallen hard for you and the ways in which watching the other care for and love you has made us fall harder for one another. Our family has been on such an adventure already, in the month since you made us three, and our future together promises many more adventures. Papa and I can't wait to show you the world.

In our first month together we have already seen so much of both myself and Papa in you. You stretch and reach and yawn just like me. Nearly everything else is your Papa. My favorite is the way you move your hands; in particular, you will loosely ball up your hand in a fist, save for your index finger which points out with a slight curve, which is a mannerism all Papa's. I love how much you are like him already. What fun it will be for me to watch the two of you become best friends!

You have grown so much in a month! You had us worried there for the first couple of weeks though. You and I struggled quite a bit with nursing in the beginning and you were not getting enough to bring you back up to birth weight and you just kept dropping. We finally had to supplement with formula for awhile to pack on some calories and get you bulked up. Once you were getting a full tummy, though, the weight piled on in no time and you haven't stopped since. You are now strictly getting breastmilk, though it is still through a bottle, and not 100% my milk, yet. Someday, I will tell you about the beautiful gift that your Uncle Luke and Auntie Jen gifted to us, but for now just know that your sweet friend Felicity is watching out for you.

Already this month you have rolled several times from your belly to your back. Unfortunately, I missed the very first time because I had hidden myself away in my bedroom to pump, while your Grandma and Grandpa Ford, Auntie Liz, and Papa were all playing with you during tummy time. I vowed I wouldn't let pumping stop me from missing out on anything else! At first we thought maybe it was a fluke, but you have rolled over several more times since then, so I really don't think it was.

No small thing, that head of yours.
Impressive that you can hold it up for so long already, kid. ;)
You are so strong already, baby. You can lift and hold your head for several seconds, maybe even minutes at a time, and you have even started to gain some control here in the last few days. You are SO alert and I think you suffer from a case of "don't-want-to-miss-out-on-anything-itis".

Also in the last week your social smile has started to make an appearance. It is the most heart-meltingly sweet thing I've ever seen. I have yet to capture it in a picture because I just want to soak it in when it happens. You've even started to interact with us a bit. Kisses and raspberries will elicit that smile right now.

Overall, you are an extremely content baby. You mostly keep your cries to just letting us know you have a need. We are so thankful for that. You eat about every two hours during the day and you go for a couple of four hour stretches at night. Which, again, Papa and I are very grateful for. 

Baby-wearing is a Mama's best friend!
When we go out, Papa or I will wear you and we are all loving that; all three of us love the closeness it offers and Papa and I love the ease and hands-free-ness of it. I'll even wear you at home so I can get a few things done while still giving us some great bonding time. Three cheers for baby-wearing!

I am loving being at home with you during the day. I'm struggling a little with figuring out the best way to feed you, pump, feed myself, and take a shower. But this is only the first week of just you and I hanging out while Papa goes to work. For the most part, it has felt pretty natural for me...after all, this is THE thing I've dreamed about and wanted for as long as I can remember. I am just tickled pink to finally be able to BE a stay-at-home-mom. And not just any SAHM...YOUR mom. 

Darling boy, we can't say it enough, but we love you with all our hearts and souls. Our first month together has been an absolute dream and we are deliriously happy to have you here in our arms. 

To the moon and back, baby,


Monday, September 15, 2014

Milo Andrew - A Birth Story, Part 2

My little Lost Boy
Read Part 1 of our birth story. Even more words in Part've been warned.

It was time to push and only half of the birth team was there. You were coming so fast, love, that Mama & Papa weren't sure Jamie, Fawn's apprentice midwife, was going to make it in time. There wasn't a lot to be done about that were coming with or without her.

Fawn asked Mama to move from her position on the bed on all fours to lay on her left side and try pushing like that. Mama moved into position and when the first contraction came she bore down and felt you starting to come down. Papa was right there, holding Mama's hand, in her ear encouraging her and vocalizing his belief in her ability to do this. You and Mama and Papa worked together in this position for about 10-15 minutes, before Mama decided it was no longer comfortable. So she moved to a sitting/half-reclining position and this was how you were ultimately born.

At some point during the pushing, Jamie arrived. Everyone was relieved and so happy she had made it; Mama and Papa wanted their team there! 

Mama's water had still not broken at that point and (thankfully) Fawn never even suggested breaking it. Clearly, that didn't need to happen because labor was progressing so quickly. The midwives and Papa could see the bag of waters bulging out every time Mama pushed, which was a trip, according to Papa. Fawn and Jamie knew that when it did break it was going to make quite a mess, so they were prepared with PLENTY of chux pads. About halfway through pushing (which lasted a total of 1 hr 15 large part because the bag of waters was acting as an airbag for you and your big head), Mama felt (and heard) a giant POP! and yelped as the water gushed. Fawn, Jamie, and Papa all jumped back. Everyone laughed (in the middle of pushing, can you believe it?!) and knew that things would pick up at this point. Mama later described the water breaking as a Super Soaker spraying out from...well, down there (again, apologies for the embarrassment, but it's part of the story). 

Mama continued to work hard to get your big 14" head out. About 7 minutes before you were born, Fawn listened to your heart-tones and found that they had dropped quite a bit and were not coming back up. Mama had to get you out right away. So for 7 straight minutes she pushed with all her might to bring you into the world. There was a moment where she felt she couldn't possibly keep pushing (not because of the pain, but the stamina it required to push for 7 min straight) but your Papa was right there, with absolute faith in her ability to do it and he wouldn't let her give her up. Fawn and Jamie were also so encouraging and worked to help Mama get you out. 

At 8:02 AM, you emerged and Mama and Papa heard your sweet, plaintive cry for the first time. Fawn brought you up to Mama's chest and Mama was just in awe of you, sweet boy. She laughed and cried and Papa also cried. Mama and Papa spent the next 20 minutes in a cocoon of wonder while they got to know you and fell in love with you. You were perfect. Beautiful. Unbearably sweet. And HERE. You had finally arrived. Mama and Papa had waited for you for so long and they could hardly believe that you were actually in their arms. 

Twenty minutes later, Mama delivered the placenta and Papa cut the umbilical cord, which was quite long. They were in a haze of love and peace. Everything was quiet and Fawn and Jamie just went about their business and mostly left you with your Mama and Papa to get to know one another in peace. The Ford family of three were given their space to process and be together. It was beautiful and exactly what your Mama and Papa had longed for when bringing you into their world. They are so grateful to have been given that gift, one they do not take for granted.

After about an hour, Fawn and Jamie came back in to weigh you and measure you and take all your other vitals. You were a hefty 8 lbs 12 oz, according to their fish scale (ha! Later that day we had you weighed on a real scale by a lactation consultant who said you were 8 lbs 8 oz. That is your "official" birth weight, but there will always be a bit of a debate on that. ;) and 21 1/4 inches long, with an APGAR score of 9. Just so perfect. This was about the time we finally decided on your name, Milo Andrew. 

The midwives then stitched Mama up (she had some very light tearing, from that big ole head of yours) while you and Papa spent some time bonding skin-to-skin. It was still so quiet and peaceful. When that was finished, they gave Mama some tips to get started nursing, but you were not terribly interested. You just wanted to sleep. You were so tired from your journey. (You and Mama continued to struggle with nursing for the next week and a half, even with the help of Fawn and the lactation consultant and the pediatrician, but this is a story for another time.)

When the midwives were done with all of that, they cleaned up and packed up their supplies and left you and Mama and Papa alone together to continue to get to know each other, with the promise to return the next day to check in. And just like that the Fords were no longer two, but three.


Some reflections:

Those last 7 minutes of pushing were experienced quite differently by Mr. Ford and I. Leading up to our due date, Fawn had encouraged me as we talked about what to do should we need to transport to the hospital, to just focus in on my body and my job, which was to continue to breathe and work through each contraction and to let her worry about everything else. So, when she said we needed to get Milo out now, I just went into that mode. I focused on what I needed to do which was push. I wasn't worried at all. I had absolute faith in my midwives and trusted them entirely to make the right call. And in return my whole support team had faith in me and my body to get the job done. The level of trust and belief in one another in that room in those moments was something unlike I've experienced very often. I knew we were all going to be just fine. 

Mr. Ford told me a few days after Milo was born as we were continuing to process the birth experience together, that in those moments, he was scared. He trusted Fawn, but I think he had a better idea of the urgency that was behind her words when she said "We gotta get him out now". We have since decided, after processing together and also debriefing with Fawn at one of our follow-up appointments, that it was good for him to have that sense of urgency because it spurred him to give me the encouragement and final nudge I needed to bring our baby into the world. 

And here's why this moment actually reinforces my belief in home birth, rather than scares me off of it: I think that had we been in a hospital, my water would have been broken for me even, though it was entirely unnecessary. More than that though, I really believe we would have ended up with a vacuum extraction or forceps intervention...or worse. None of these things were necessary and my midwife knew that. She knew that I, my body, and my determination was strong enough to get him out and she knew that we were not in a crisis situation. What was happening, though not necessarily normal, is not an uncommon occurrence in childbirth. She knew what she was doing and because of the relationship we had built throughout pregnancy, she knew I could do it. And she knew that Andrew would encourage me through it, so she and Jamie could focus and do what they are trained to do. To be frank, I felt safer and more confident being at home than I think I would have in a hospital. 

I have lots more to say on midwifery care and home birth and why we chose it as the right thing for our family, but that warrants its own blog post (and I promise that will come soon). I will say though, that it is not for everyone, and that is more than okay. More than that though I recognize that the fact that we even had the option of a home birth is a result of a great amount of societal privilege. It's a disparity that I would love to see remedied...I would love to see more women and families even have the ability to choose a home birth. As Jamie said in one of our birth classes, I am an advocate for home birth, but more than that I'm an advocate for women being empowered to make the informed choice for themselves.

Ultimately, our birth experience was just what we had dreamed of and hoped for. We are acutely aware of the reality that this was not guaranteed to us and that not every family is afforded that same opportunity...Milo's birth stands in stark contrast to that truth in a very real and raw way. We do not take the gift of his birth for granted. 

That moment in our bedroom, in the early morning quiet, when our two became three was a thin place where the veil of heaven was lifted and we glimpsed the holy. In that moment I physically FELT and knew in my bones and in the rawness of my body the core truth of my faith: resurrection. It is imprinted on my soul, my heart, and my story. I am forever changed. I'll be peeling back the layers of how my body embodied resurrection in a deeply human way for a long time to come. 

In childbirth, I was given the gift of being fully present in my womanhood and I came out the other side more completely inhabiting this body and the beauty of my womanhood. In this way, I also more viscerally understand the incarnation of Christ in a human body and in the motherly nature of God. In childbirth God has affirmed my identity as a woman and that my personhood as a woman has something to teach the world about God's character and God's nature. I can only assume that Motherhood waits to teach me ever so much more about those truths and so many others. I am changed on a soul-DNA level.


Milo, you are loved and you are enough and you are loved you are loved you are loved. So deeply and truly loved. To the moon and back, to infinity and beyond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Milo Andrew - A Birth Story, Part 1

Warning: SO many words ahead. 

Darling boy. 

Finally, finally you're here. 

From the moment they placed you on my chest our world and our hearts cracked wide open to welcome you in; to share in this little life we have built. It's a simple life, but it's ours and it's beautiful. And now that you're here, it's a more complete life. 

Will you let me tell you a story, baby doll? The story of your entrance into our world? I'll try not to embarrass you...

First family selfie
During our 39th week together, Mama started to get really anxious to meet you. She knew she needed to be patient and let you decide on your own when you were ready, but that's not to say she didn't do a few things to encourage you. She started walking more, swimming at Mamie and Papi's house (they bought a house with a pool in anticipation of you, darling. They, and Papa, can't wait till your big enough to play in it), and taking Evening Primrose Oil. Several days passed with no sign of your pending arrival. 

At 39 weeks, 6 days Mama and Papa had a great dinner at Mamie and Papi's house and watched a few episodes of Jen Hatmaker's reality show on HGTV. Mama started to feel really tired and uncomfortable so they decided to head back home. When they got home, they got distracted by a puzzle they had started earlier in the day to pass the time till you came (your parents are super cool people). Mama was increasingly more uncomfortable as they sat there and worked on the puzzle, but it never crossed her mind that it could have been the first signs you were on your way. She's still not sure if that's what it was. Finally, they decided to go to bed.

At 1:57 AM, Mama jolted awake with what she was 85% sure was a no kidding contraction. It felt like a really bad menstrual cramp (I realize that will never mean anything to you and probably just embarrass you, but there it is. It's part of the story.) She got up to go to the bathroom and then waited to see if it would happen again. About 10 minutes later, sure enough, another contraction. She waited through a few more contractions, which were about 10-15 min apart, over the course of an hour. At about 3 AM, she woke Papa up to let him know that you were coming to greet us. They called their midwife, Fawn, to let her know labor had started and to make sure that the light bleeding Mama was having was normal. (It was.) She told us to try to go back to sleep which Papa thought was a great idea. Mama knew that was not gonna happen. 

What you can't see is that this is a cat puzzle...
I think we thought we were being clever as we are NOT cat people.
It wasn't long before she realized that this was happening and happening quickly. You were not wasting any time in finding your way to us. Mama woke Papa up again and let him know that he needed to start to prepare the bed. He also started timing the contractions.

I suppose I should interject here that you were born at home. More on the whys of that choice at another time.

Mama spent the next hour and a half laboring quietly and peacefully, in the dim lights of her bedroom. The only position that was really comfortable for her was bent over the edge of the bed, swaying and breathing through the contractions. Occasionally, she would lean on Papa's chest and they would slow dance. Papa was the most amazing coach and partner. He was right there for every contraction, rubbing Mama's back and encouraging her through each one. Between each contraction, he rushed around to prepare the bed, and he did his best to get the birth tub ready. They soon realized they would not have time to make use of the birth tub. 

Fawn and her apprentice, Jamie, had told Mama and Papa that when contractions had been consistently 4 minutes apart for an hour, that was when they should call to have them come. By the time the contractions were consistent for an hour, they were 3 minutes apart, so at about 5:15 AM Papa called Fawn to let her know that contractions were 3 minutes apart and she should probably come. Fawn sounded a bit skeptical that Mama was already that far along, but she said she would come. Fawn arrived about 5:45-6 AM and she checked Mama to see how far along she really was. Everyone was surprised to find out that she was already fully dilated after about 4 hours of laboring! Fawn asked Mama if she was ready to push to which Mama replied "Not yet!" She needed time to process that this had happened so quickly and mentally prepare to push and meet you. After about another 30 minutes, it was time to push and help you make your entrance into this big, scary, and wonderful world.


Just a few reflections on the story up to this point (part 2 to come later in the week).

We spent MONTHS in pregnancy preparing for what we were expecting to be a 24 hr/30 hr/LONG labor. Everything we read and everyone we talked to said that for first time moms, this was normal. We took a Bradley Method course to learn and practice techniques to get us through the long labor successfully as a team. Everything we do in life is a team effort, from the mundane things to the major life moments, so Bradley was tailor-made for us. Mr. Ford dove into the role of support head first. He amazed me all through pregnancy at how involved and curious he was about the whole birth process and the role he could play in helping the birth of our child be the successful, natural, intervention-free home birth we desired. I fell more in love with him in pregnancy as he sought to serve his growing family in this way, and we drew closer together than ever before. 

So when labor actually started and progressed as quickly it did, we were surprised, to say the least. We ended up not needing most of what we had learned and practiced and only used a fraction of the birth kit we had assembled. It certainly helped to be so prepared, though, because it felt as though we were just trying to mentally keep up with what my body was doing. Being so prepared allowed us to just default to what we had practiced without having to think about it too much. 

Catastrophically happy.
It all felt very dreamlike and surreal, as it all started in the middle of the night and I felt very outside of myself the whole time. The contractions were certainly difficult, but again, I had prepared for something much more painful and HARD, so it was strange to me to not be too phased by them. It's hard to describe without sounding nonchalant and dismissive of the very real difficulty of laboring through contractions, which I certainly felt. It just...I don't know...felt NATURAL for me to be experiencing these labor pains. I don't know if it was because I was just trying to mentally keep up with what my body was physically doing that I didn't have time to really FEEL the pain, or what it was; it just felt as though I was always meant to DO this thing. I was so ready and it just felt...natural. Yes. That's the best way to describe it, I think. I felt peaceful and in control and capable and strong. Frankly, I FELT the truth that God has embedded on my heart and in my soul that I AM a Woman of Valor. There are just not sufficient words to explain it and I feel as though I'm grasping at them now, so I'll just leave it be. 

Stay tuned for Part 2. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tiny Child, You Are Loved and You Are Enough

Tiny Child at 20 weeks. He's a squirmy one.
I'm not even gonna try to play catch up. The most important thing and the reason I'm even here to write today is this...

I'm Pregnant.

At this point, we are 24 1/2 weeks along, with a little boy who, for now, is going by names like Tiny Child, Little Dude, and Baby Boy Ford. We are still trying to come up with just the right name, but likely he won't actually receive a name until we've had the opportunity to meet him and get to know him for a few seconds, minutes, hours...whatever it takes. We're also guarding all of our potentials as though they were the crown jewels, so don't bother asking. :)

We are planning a home birth, with our incredible midwife, Fawn, attending. We could not be more thrilled at the prospect of welcoming this Tiny Child into our lives while in our own home. I believe with all my heart that this is one of the most sacred moments we will ever experience, a thin place, a moment where the veil between heaven and earth will be lifted just for a moment, and I want to do everything in my power to mark it and protect it from anything that might interrupt or tarnish it. For us, this is the right thing. I'm happy to talk about it more, so you CAN ask about that. 

As you might imagine, I've had lots of time to think about and talk about what parenting for me, for Mr. Ford and I, might look like. After a conversation with my mother the other day, I realized the two marks by which I will consider myself having successfully parented. 

1. That my child(ren) have instilled in them, even now while still in the womb, that they carry with them the Imago Dei by mere virtue of their existence. Because they take breath on this earth, they are marked with the Image of God and thereby are LOVED, and WORTHY to be loved, fiercely and madly by the God who created them and the parents that God allowed to play a role in that creation. Full stop. They are loved, and fully worthy of that love, no conditions, no matter what, because they carry Imago Dei.

2. Because of the truth of number one, they need not give into what I believe is Satan's greatest tool and greatest lie - shame. If my child(ren) know intrinsically that they are enough because of their identity as an image-bearer of God, they will be more able to resist the lies of shame that tell them they are not worthy or not enough or, even, too much. A life clouded in shame does not have to be their story. They can live free of it and if I do my job well, they will grow up with a strong resistance to shame.

My prayer and my hope is that their Father and I can begin, even now, to impress upon our child(ren) these two truths; that they are Image-Bearers of the God of the Universe, thus making them loved and worthy of love, and that because of that identity they can know that shame is NEVER from God and ALWAYS from the Great Deceiver, regardless of whose mouth is speaking that shame. I pray that I can practice my own shame resilience, my own consistent, "Get behind me Satan" when he sends his shame gremlins to attack, in such a way that I can impart and teach my child(ren) their own shame resilience. If I can accomplish these things, than I will know I have been successful at having parented.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord.


PS - Even posting today is me practicing shame's been so long since I blogged, it'd be easy to let myself start down a shame spiral about it. But I refuse to. I hope you're paying attention, Tiny Child. :)