My First Cloth Diaper Post!!

I am so excited about this post.  It is my first, but will certainly not be my last.  To be honest with you, I'm amazed and delighted at how much I am enjoying and having fun with cloth diapers.  Who would have thought!  I strongly disliked always prefacing during pregnancy that I was going to try, but knew it might not work out.  I wanted to be truly committed from the beginning.  And I've quickly learned about parenting - a lot of it is definitely making choices for your family, and sticking with it.  Then being flexible when something's not working.  Raising kids is so personal and different for everyone, and I think that's what makes it fun - especially when we support and share with each other what's working and what's not.  Anyway...

  First, here are pics of everything I started with.  I also had another pack of g diaper disposable inserts, but I took these pics at 1 month old, after we had gone through a pack and a half of those inserts, using the tiny g diapers and disposable inserts about half the time, and disposable diapers the other half.  I wish I would have kept better track of how many disposables we used.  We didn't buy any because of what had been gifted to us, but we went through about 4 packages of Pampers newborn swaddlers.  We filled up one of those diaper genie type things at least 3 times.  Those first days are crazy!!! :)

This is what I started with for my cloth diapering journey.

Newborn G diaper bundle, (gift), plus a pack of 6 cloth inserts (gift card)

This is the tiny G

This is the size small G diaper, with an example of a one disposable insert and one cloth.

Two Best Bottom shells, (one was a gift), and 2 inserts (one small, one medium) to try

You can snap in the inserts and just change them out if the shell doesn't get dirty and can be wiped clean.

Three Tots Bots Easy Fit diapers (My first ones - a gift from my mom at a baby shower - SO exciting!:)

The pocket type insert is attached.

One Bum Genius Elemental All-In-One

7 Indian Unbleached prefolds, because they're cheap and I thought they would be good extra inserts for the G diapers.  (They were actually too big - only used these in desperate, diapers in the laundry moments)

Bum Genius Odor Remover to break down stinky bacteria on poo diapers, Thirsties bottom cleaner to use with cloth wipes if we chose, Shake It Up pail freshener by Rockin Green, Grovia Magic Stick - a cloth diaper safe bottom treatment/barrier

A Planetwise Wet/Dry bag (smaller than I thought, but good now for in the diaper bag)

Rockin Green Laundry Detergent

In this post I'm going to do two things; first, explain a couple different diaper options for those who don't know.  (Lots of people in my life).  Please know that if you don't know anything about, or don't care anything about cloth diapers, this might sound overwhelming and a bit complicated.  But it's not, I promise.  Secondly, I'm going to talk about what I liked, what I didn't, and how this starting "stash" worked for us in the newborn phase.  We went to cloth diapers completely full time at 1 month, when we were better established at home, and I refused to open any more disposables or buy any.  (We got over $200 in gift cards by returning some gifted disposable diapers!!)  Then I'll touch briefly on what we're doing now and how I like it.
Okay, so the basic different types of diapers I've worked with (keep in mind Selah was 6 lb 14 oz when we brought her home):

*Hybrid diapers/All-in-2 (can be used with cloth or disposable inserts, usually has 2 or 3 parts)
G diapers are an example of this.  Some can also be called "All-in-twos" because you snap in an insert and can often just change it out if the shell doesn't get dirty -

This was a regular size small G diaper at a little less than one month - I don't know if I have a pic of a tiny G - bummer!  They were so cute and fit perfectly for a little more than a month.  Then they were too small.  But definitely an economical way to cloth diaper a newborn.  Best Bottoms are also an example of a hybrid diaper, which I couldn't get to fit quite right with the snaps in the beginning because of her bigger belly and tiny legs.  We have since gotten one with velcro that I love - more on that later.

*All In One - this means the diaper is all in one piece, you just put it on and take it off, like a disposable diaper.  This didn't fit quite right because of her tiny little legs until more like 9 or so pounds.  It's also a "one size," which means it's adjustable from birth to potty training, so it saves money though sacrifices a more perfect "sized" fit.

*Pocket diaper - this means you stuff the diaper with some sort of absorbant insert.  These are usually a little less expensive than all-in-ones, and the absorbancy can be changed based on your needs.  You do have to stuff them out of the laundry though. 

The Easy Fits are one kind of an example of this, also they are also an all-in-one, as the pocket is attached, which makes for easy stuffing.  This is an awesome diaper for sure, though on the pricier end.  When I started I didn't have a traditional pocket diaper, though I do now, so I have some opinions. :)

As far as how it was cloth diapering a brand new baby, mostly with disposable inserts, and 6 cloth inserts - totally doable.  Now technically if this were a full time plan would it save money?  Not exactly.  The g diaper disposable (and cloth!) inserts are pretty pricey, and I won't buy more when those run out, unless we're traveling.  G diapers also only come sized, (for a trimmer and cute fit).  But this makes them way more expensive.  They definitely are cute. 

Do I think we would be able to do cloth from the beginning next time?  Yes.  Only because we won't be first time parents and I'll be use to doing the extra load of laundry every one to two days.  (and Kevin will know how to do it ;)  We'll also have more to work with.  This time, because she went through so many at first, I didn't have enough to give it a try (full time) even with my one size diapers. 

At about 1 month old I started really enjoying the g diaper inserts, especially because occasionally we could just change out the cloth insert and only sometimes the plastic part.  (With breastfed poo it's often both parts).  Then, once I had used them for about a month as our main diaper, mixed in with the 3 Easy Fits, 1 Bum Genius All-In-One, and a Fuzzibunz, they got really annoying to have to "assemble" (snap in the plastic part, stuff in the cloth insert) every time I got them out of the wash.  And while it was nice they weren't as bulky as the one size diapers, they also seemed to get smaller faster, because our little girl is long and has a bit of a belly.  We also had some leaks.  When she was about 2 months old, I ended up getting a few more diapers and put the g diapers away.  I might have even liked the g's better and longer if I had more cloth inserts - but I didn't want to spend money on those.  So right now I still have just enough diapers to do a load every 24 hrs. or so. 

Right now I have 11 pocket or all in one diapers, and 5 hybrid/all in twos, (a few of which I mostly use when we're out and about or doing laundry. I don't have a lot of hybrid inserts, so I don't use these to their full potential right now)  To do laundry every 2 or more days I'm thinking it would be ideal to have 20-24 main diapers.  I didn't invest in a large amount from the beginning because it's just too much fun to research and buy them one at a time! (For me) And they are always coming out with something in the cloth diaper world.  Since I don't plan on making it financially not worth it by buying more than we need just for the fun of it, (though that's tempting!!), I'm taking my time with the budget we will invest in them.  

The newborn g diaper bundle was a great buy though, and it was half gifted to me by my mom. It was on sale at diapers.com for $125.00, and I used a promo code to get another $25 off. There were 12 tiny g's and 6 small size g's in there. So $100 for 18 diapers is awesome. (So is a mom who likes gifting things to her new grandbaby!) I also thought I could get more for my money by using prefolds as inserts...that didn't work so well, mostly because I don't like messing with prefolds. (Old fashioned diapers) A LOT of people out there love them with "snappis" and covers because they're so inexpensive. Not so sure how daddy friendly they'd be though!
A cloth diaper averages between $15-$20, which is often the cost of a pack of diapers that you throw away.  So if you make sensible choices, it is a huge money saver.  Obviously the start up cost is where the bulk of the money goes.  There are many great websites that have done awesome cost breakdowns and charts.  Since math is not my thing, I'm not interested in doing that.  I will point you to those instead!!  Softbums has a great little diaper pdf/booklet that shows several charts of different diaper types, cost comparisons and breakdowns for their own as well as other diapers.  It's a great resource! Here and here are also great resources for comparisons.

Here are other webistes I also really like and visit often:

Dirty Diaper Laundry (tons of awesome video reviews)

As far as the laundry, I don't mind it a bit.  We often (not always) spray each dirty diaper with the Bum Genius odor remover so it starts breaking down the stinky bacteria.  I also have a larger wet bag and an antibacterial pail liner that I put in the Diaper Dekor.  We don't have any problems with stink at this point.  When I'm ready to wash, I take the pail liner or wet bag that we have filled with the dirty diapers, do a cold rinse, a cold wash w/ two scoops of Rockin Green Hard Rock and an extra rinse, and finally a hot regular wash.  (Sometimes I do a cold wash with a scoop of detergent, then a hot wash with a scoop of detergent, then a cold extra rinse.)  Then I dry them on extra low.  While it is probably better to line dry them, I don't currently have enough diapers (or sunshine!) to wait for them to dry before I need them.  But this system is working great.  Also, I am sometimes using the g diaper cloth inserts in my other hybrid diapers as back ups when I need them.  Because we are breastfeeding we don't yet need a diaper sprayer - but I have enough money left on a Babies R Us gift card that I'm going to use to invest in one of those soon.

So I'll tell you/show you what I have now, and follow this post up with some cloth diaper reviews!  Fun!  I have read/watched so many diaper reviews on line that I've lost count.  It is just so fascinating, (for a new cloth diapering mom anyway:).  Kevin's trying to convince me to do a video review of some of them.  We'll see.  Sounds intimidating.

Here's my current "stash" (that's the term the cloth diaper world uses - I think it's funny):

-3 Bum Genius Elemental All-In-Ones  - organic cotton inside (Two I got during the cottonbabies.com seconds sale - cute, trim, and super simple - but they really do take a long time to dry.)

-1 Bum Genius 4.0 pocket diaper artist series - stay-dry micro suede inside (good quality, really durable diaper, pretty trim):

-1 Rumparooz in tulip - stay dry micro chamois inside (GREAT for breastfed babies (internal gussets), soft inside, starts fitting when they're tiny, fastest for me to put on, never leaks, great colors; they are a bit bulky):

-1 Fuzzibunz Elite in tootie frootie - stay dry micro fleece inside (Trim and cute - love the minky instead of microfiber insert, but it's so trim that it can be difficult/annoying to stuff):

-3 Tots Bots Easy Fit - bamboo inside (easy to use, great fit, well made, soft bamboo inside, trim):

- 2 Little Bee Diaper Co. pocket diapers  - bamboo or micro suede inside (Awesome christian company and mission, and these never leak!)

-1 Softbums in pink giraffe - stay dry micro fleece insert (an all in 2 - this is super soft, has a great sizing mechanism and is a neat diaper!):

-3 Best Bottom shells  - stay dry micro fleece insert  (2 snaps, 1 (strong!) velcro; 3 snap-in inserts - never leaks, great gussets!)

(I call this her soccer player diaper :)

-1 Grovia shell (30% off discontinued cosmos color) (no grovia inserts - cute and trim diaper):

(This has a flip insert in it, which makes it not so trim!)

-6 g diaper cloth inserts (babies r us gift card)
-3 flip inserts (to use as inexpensive extra inserts in the Grovia and Best Bottoms)

 Oh, and we do use disposable wipes.  The cloth wipes were a little weird for Kevin and a little annoying for how many diapers we're currently changing.  I tried to make my own out of paper towels, but that was a serious fail.  I do prefer the chlorine free Seventh Generation or Earth's Best (my favorite).

I keep wanting to decide on a favorite diaper, (which is also why I didn't want to buy all of one kind), but there is seriously something I love and often something I might change about each diaper.  They all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses.  Though at this stage of the game I'm growing more and more fond of my Rumparooz, (because it has many features I love), and it's hard to go wrong with a Bum Genius!  I'm looking forward to trying a new one they have coming out soon called the Freetime.  I also am loving the Little Bee Diapers.  They never leak and for every diaper you purchase one is donated to an orphan.  I love that.  The Tots Bots Easy Fit was my first 'love,' and is Kevin's favorite.  It has a great fit and a bamboo inner, which is soft and antibacterial, but not stay dry, so the baby feels wet.  Selah doesn't always like that.  Still, it's a great diaper and one I would provide for babysitters, because of the one step and velcro.  For travel I've had great success with Grovia and Best Bottoms shells (because they're easy to clean by hand and dry), with Flip disposable inserts (inexpensive!). 

Who am I kidding - I love them all! ;) I do think it's nice to have a variety for different needs and occasions.  I'll go into more detail when I do some reviews of them.  Also, at the beginning I was sure I'd prefer snaps for their strength.  While this is mostly true now and might be true in the long run or with a toddler who can take velcro off, I have to say I like velcro in certain brands because of its ease of use (and for this age).  I definitely prefer snaps in pockets and all-in-ones, and velcro in all-in-twos/hybrids so far.  (Best Bottoms, Grovia, and Tots Bots have great velcro).

 Overall, I do seem to think that Bum Genius, Rumparooz, and Tots Bots are great companies and definitely know what they're doing - they make great diapers.  And it is important to me that these diapers last, as I hope to use them for multiple children.  From what I can tell so far, my opinions are continually tweaked as Selah grows.

What things do I base my decisions on?  I would say reviews, materials, (snaps, strong velcro, soft and durable inside, etc.), colors/patterns, (having a variety also allows for greater enjoyment of all the cuteness!), and fit (if it leaks it doesn't matter how cute it is).  If a great diaper is at too high of a price, I'd rather wait for a sale or discount rather than get a cheaper diaper that might not last as long or work as well.  I guess I prioritize quality over quantity.  But I'm also willing to do the laundry.

I will say, before I started I was concerned I wouldn't want to deal with stuffing pockets at all.  I have found that really isn't too big of a deal.  It's kind of like matching socks.  Now, I have to be honest in saying I have been able to avoid unstuffing dirty diapers so far, as they have agitated out in the wash.  (Except for the Oh Katy).  Technically your supposed to pull out the insert before washing.  I am afraid I would forget to do this on occasion if I always had to. 

Some of my favorite online cloth diaper stores and blogs:

Wee Little Changes (Free Shipping, friendly owners - You can click on the button on my blog)
Itsy Bitsy Bums (Free shipping over $35 - great selection, very informative)
Cottonbabies (Free shipping, company that makes makes Bum Genius)
Abby's Lane (Free shipping, also good selection)
Mom's Milk Boutique (Free shipping over $25; frequent deals and specials)
Nicki's Diapers (Free shipping on pocket diapers and Best Bottoms diapers)
Sweet Bottoms Boutique (free shipping and a friendly, small, mom owned company)
Sweet Angel Diapers - (Free shipping over $11, always great discount codes, often freebies)
Kelly's Closet - (one of the bigger cloth diaper sites, not great shipping for small purchases, but often offering a free diaper with purchases over a certain amount - I've never done this, so I'm not sure what kind of diaper is the free one!)
The Green Baby Store (They had good black friday sales, good selection, and I used the code DSMAMA for $2 shipping.  AND I got a 30% off code for another purchase when my diaper came!)

Keep in mind, I haven't bought from all these stores, but when you buy one diaper at a time, you do get to try out the service of many! :)

I also always check diaperpin.com and look under the sales/announcements section to get discount codes and sales for online diaper sites.  They also have a review section.

So that's my first cloth diaper post!  I realize it might sound a little crazy to those of you completely uninterested in the cloth diaper world.  But for me it's been a fun part of being a new mom.  It's hard for me to decide who to think of when I'm writing this post, because that would definitely affect what kind of info. I'd include.  Please ask any questions you may have - I'd love to answer them with my very limited experience in a follow-up post!


A Life Lately List

My cute and wonderful and growing and beautiful baby girl!!

Well, being a disciplined blogger is a skill that is majorly alluding me lately.  No really great excuses, just a whole lot to say and the lack of discipline to spend the time it takes to say it!  I'm also thinking a super fun baby girl is a pretty good reason.  I do get a good start on a post in my crazy mind nearly every single day, for what it's worth.  As a person who struggles with structure and routine even with a lot of sleep, getting it together with sporadic sleep is not easy.  So here goes nothing...

1. That birth story.  Whew.  Kinda long and crazy, huh?  So here are my abbreviated thoughts on the whole thing.  Would I change it?  Of course not, because it's our story and I love how God worked in it and loved us through it.  Do I wonder what would have happened if we would have just let them break my water right away?  Yes, but we'll never know and we don't regret it.  And the whole thing was an experience I'm so glad I had.  Will I try to go natural with future pregnancies?  I don't think I can say until I get there.  But I wouldn't give it a thought if I once again did not go into labor on my own.  Meaning I wouldn't be induced without an epidural.  Not ever again, thank you very much.  The contractions are too crazy.  I also wouldn't go natural for longer than 12ish hours, I don't think.  Too hungry, too tired, too pregnant.  Of course if the Lord is so good to bless us with future children we will pray and surrender how they come into this world as well.  By the way, thanks so much for reading it if you did, and thanks to you sweet ones who encouraged me with comments throughout and after!  Sorry to leave you hanging so many times! :)

2.  My precious girl.  Okay, seriously....this little baby bundle just gets more and more fun.  Every single day I'm amazed at a new development.  I was so scared to see those sweet first tiny days go....but every day brings even more joy from her than the day before.  Major changes in the last 4 weeks, as she's gotten so strong with her kicks, 'jumps,' grasping, and head control; so much more "squishy" and wonderful to kiss and squeeze, and even increasing her incredible ability to light up a room.  She gets so excited and her eyes are so bright.  And she just loves to hold on to something...a finger, a shirt, my hair, her elephant wubbanub.  I'm amazed at her ever growing communication of preferences, beyond basic needs. It's so wonderful to see her discover the world, look so curiously around, and enjoy longer stretches of reading, singing, and playing.  Her beautiful personality is just coming to life!  Our 3rd anniversary was November 16th, and she blessed us with the smallest, but greatest laugh!!!  We scared her half to death with our excited reaction, so that was the end of that.  It was so awesome to hear.  Wow.  It wasn't until Saturday that her giggly little self came out again...and in a big way!  I SO wish I had gotten a video.  I actually tried, but then the camera was just too distracting for her.  She actually laughed several times in a row as I made the craziest faces and blew on her belly, and I was beside myself.  I'm quite certain I've never heard a more lovely sound than the utter joy coming from my daughter as a response to a crazy, silly mom!

3.  Blog fans/fears.  Is it weird that the more people in my life tell me they read my blog, the more nervous I get to "let it all out there?"  I've been thinking about this lately, maybe because I've gone through some pretty major emotions and thoughts during this transitional stage of life.  If you read my blog you know I err on the side of transparency, mostly because that's just who I am.  I'm not good at faking it.  I always hope it's an encouragement to others when I'm honest and real with the good, bad, lovely, and ugly of life, but lately I've become all too aware of the vulnerability of it.  And in real, non-cyber world life that is something I honestly do struggle with.  I'm actually quite a private person when all is said and done, though my heart does tend to live on my sleeve.  And while I'm finding I'm more and more cautious of my words because of my potential readers, I also don't at all want to be non-existent or leave out reality.  I think I'm just the least interested in unsolicited judgment or criticism as I've ever been.  All that to say, I am so thankful for the encouragement and kindness, and that anyone would take the time to read what I write.  It means a lot.  While I tend to take the positive outlook approach to blogging, please know that there's all kinds of not so wonderful, "nitty gritty" I leave out all the time, for obvious reasons on a public blog.  Just know that no one's claiming to having it all together here!  I actually often feel like I struggle more than most.

4.  Treasures in Heaven.  My iphone died.  Like, recovery mode, only can restore, everything will be deleted forever died. (which is why, if you have been trying to text or call, I've been m.i.a!!!) It's for certain too, as even the geniuses at Apple confirmed it.  Though I still am holding out for the techno angel who can take it apart and make them reappear. ;)  Trust me, before you think it or say it, I've learned the difficult lesson of making sure to back up/update your phone.  Procrastinators never prosper.

Amazing how easy it is to put so much trust in a little piece of technology.  I haven't had a phone for 3 weeks because I've been sad and in denial about losing my first 2 months of iphone Selah pics (seriously hundreds) and the pics and video of my grandma teaching me to sew, among other photos.  (I told her we need to restage it:)  Of course I have a thousand other ones on my camera, but sentimental me treasures those intimate ones in the hospital and our first days at home that I took with my phone.  Okay, you should know...I'm pretty much a photo hoarder.  I struggle to delete.  Ha.

Even if in the big picture it's a minor thing, it has definitely thrown me into some serious reflecting, as many things that hurt me do that.  I've had to realize and surrender how tightly I hold to the small and big things of this world, especially when they're meaningful and wonderful.  But of course my memories of precious moments are not held in photos...they're held in my heart.  And joyfully we are making so many more that I can't capture them with pictures quickly enough.  I often struggle to let go of the past or believe life is moving so quickly.  I often so desperately want to hold on so tightly to the moment that it's hard to fully make it to the next.  Yet I'm constantly reminded that first of all, I don't want to remain back there and miss what's right now.  Secondly, this is only the beginning.  Eternity awaits.  All the physical and concrete that I've held precious here, in my desperate attempts to hold meaning and joy tangibly in my hands, will vanish like a vapor.  Nothing reminded me of this more than being at a Hillsong worship concert a couple weeks ago, and witnessing thousands of people, hands in the air, voices only, singing, "I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who paid it all.  I'll stand, my soul Lord to you surrender, all I have is yours."  Love, love that song. We sang the chorus over and over and it. was. AWESOME.  I closed my tear-filled eyes and imagined that very scene in Heaven, around the throne of the Lord, worshipping him without tiring.  Forever.  Sounds like losing everything in my phone wasn't entirely a bad thing after all.

5.  Post baby/new baby stuff.  12 weeks later, I'm honestly really tired.  Sweet girl had a great week last week, sleeping 8 hrs. the night before Thanksgiving, and 5 or 6 hours for a few nights after.  Now we're back to eating every 3, from start to start, almost around the clock.  I don't mind that part at all, it's just the struggling energy that comes with it.  Selah's awake times are much more full, fun, and frequent, which I love...though it increases my craving for a full night's sleep.  Oh well - I'm certainly still not going to wish these unique and wonderful days away.  And I'm hopeful we'll be turning a sleep corner soon.  But I do keep waiting for the motivation to clean my house, work out, and be productive, even with little energy.  I finally got a clue that the motivation is not going to just show up.  It's simply going to have to be a choice.  Speaking of working out, the weight thing is hard.  I've literally been every size at some point in my life, so this path is familiar to me...though post pregnancy is new.  I laugh my head off at anyone who has said that with breastfeeding it will "fall right off."  Not the case with my body, I'll tell you that much.  I also try to pay no mind to those who "slip" into their old pants shortly after giving birth.  Also not the case for me.  I've always had to work like crazy for every little pound I've ever wanted to lose, and this will be no different I'm certain.  I desperately don't want to be vain, but struggling with squishy volume in places I've never had it before in addition to where I always have can be a bit discouraging...but only when I have to wear something other than yoga pants.  Ha ha ha.  And when I'm around skinny people.  Just kidding.  But if you've ever looked at a mom and judged her for her weight, repent.  I'm just saying, that post-pregnancy muffin thing is for real.  It's totally goal time for me.  Mini-marathon maybe?  (sounds exhausting-ha)

One thing's for sure, leggings and dresses have changed my life!  I'm determined to get healthy without getting crazy.  Because I can do crazy workout, super strict diet girl...it's just exhausting and I haven't done it for a long time.  Obviously too long. Ha.  Twenty-somethings without super wonderful metabolisms, listen carefully...just keep moving.  When I get my groove back, (whatever that is), you can be sure I will try to keep it.

(update: between writing this post and now posting it, someone actually asked me if I was pregnant again!  In my beloved dress and leggings!  Good news - I considered the source and therefore cared much less.  Other good news - I didn't cry.  Ha ha.  But still I mean, seriously?  I have a 3 month old in my arms!  So f.y.i. - no, I'm not)

6. Speaking of motivation...the nurseryI was seriously on the roll of a lifetime that first month of Selah's life.  I was so close.  Now I'm thinking of hiring the finishing touches out.  Though the job wouldn't pay.  ;)  Does anyone else find it easier to get more done when the sun is out??  Maybe I'll post the unconventional work-in-progress post and take your opinions on how to complete it.  Now that would be helpful!! (Easier to filter advice and ideas online rather than in person, you know?)

That's about it for now.  I could go on and on, but then I would never post what I've written...again.  I do love that it's Christmas time, and that you all are posting the merriest of Christmas-time things.  I am in awe of the beautiful decorating that goes on in your all's homes.  Wow.  Such beautiful style so many of you (online and in my real life) have to share with the rest of us.  So thank you!

*Coming soon: first cloth diaper post (it's finished!), 3 month Selah stats, Christmasy happenings here*


Selah's Birth Story Part 3 - It's a Girl!!

So here we go - Part 3.  The very best part of the story of course.  I had finally gone back to sleep, and the doctor had said she would check me at 6.  So she and the nurse came back, I woke up, and was pleasantly surprised to find that while I still couldn't really move my legs, I did have some sensation in them...so I could at least feel that they were there!  Kevin stood next to me, exhausted as ever, and the doctor checked me.  Brace yourselves...

9 cm and complete!!!!  Are you kidding me?!  This was amazing moment number one.  The doctor said so nonchalantly that we would start pushing in an hour.  We were going to have a baby!!!  I cannot even tell you the smiles that were on our faces.  You can imagine, after the two days we'd just had, that the joy was for real.  This next hour was FUNNY.  I was suddenly in the best mood of my life.  I couldn't feel the pain of my contractions, and I wasn't as freaked out by my numbness.  I started thinking about how I needed to get ready for this baby's arrival!  I asked Holly if she could please get me a cold washcloth and my makeup.  I mean, I knew this would be a highly photographed event, and I'd been crying my eyes out, on top of no sleeping.  I thought a little prep wouldn't hurt.  I mean, I was about to meet my baby!!!  Kevin decided to take a shower and change.  Yes, this was all so hilarious. 

We called our families, telling them to come to the hospital right away, and we called our amazing photographer.  We were all smiles and excited nerves.  Kevin started taking a couple pictures, and the birth team came in, prepping the warming bed/table thing for the baby - it was all just so neat.  It was the first time since we'd been there that the looming reality of becoming a mom for the first time actually felt like it was going to happen.  We were certainly praising God for His faithfulness...and I was SO excited I was actually going to get to try and push this baby out!

At this point our nurse was Rose, who was the sweetest, most adorable and helpful lady.  She had been a nurse for a long time, so she knew what she was doing.  Our sweet nurse Jessie didn't want to miss it after all that had happened, so she even stayed past her shift!  My mom came in, looking as nervous and excited as could be, having never seen a baby being born before.  We DEFINITELY did not know what we were in for.

7:00 came quickly, and the doctor checked me again.  Okay - I now know that 10 cm is completely undeniable.  I felt like a bowling ball was about to fall out of me, and if I looked under the blanket I would surely see the baby's head!  (Sorry for being graphic, just don't know how else to describe that!)  Of course it's not quite that easy...just such a weird sensation.  So Jessie sat at my feet, I asked for a mirror, (graphic and crazy, but I HIGHLY recommend this.  AMAZING), and she had me start pushing.  This felt a little counterproductive to me, as the epidural was continually backing off, but I still didn't have any sensation of pushing.  I felt like I was just scrunching up my face, holding my breath, and waiting until they got to 10.  Ha.  It was weird.  But she kept saying good job and that it was going well.  The doctor would step in every once in a while to have me push and gauge how we were progressing.  We did this for over 2 hours.  The fastest 2 hours of my entire life.  I've always heard about people pushing for lots of hours, but I never could have imagined how fast the time goes.  But it is EXHAUSTING.  So many things were happening to me, internally and externally.  I started throwing up, which they said was normal, and actually would help get the baby out.  I also felt like I was having FUN.  Isn't that crazy!  Seriously, though, it was so amazing and I felt like I was living a dream.  Up until this point, I had no idea how strong having a baby this way was a desire of my heart.  I am so thankful God graciously was letting me have the experience - because I loved it.  It was also interesting how I could tell when a contraction was coming, although I didn't have pain from them...but this helped me know when to push.  By the end of the two hours I felt more in control of my pushing, which I was hoping would help, but the doctor said the baby would start to descend then go right back up.  My little one was quite cozy apparently!  Everyone also knew my mom's history of not being able to birth a baby, and I think the doctor even mentioned it, knowing that's what I was afraid of for myself.  So she became very sensitive to being aware of my fears, and communicating that she wanted to get me there. 

We also knew, from our doctor and this one, that they wouldn't let me push more than 3 hours.  Apparently they feel like that's not good for mom or baby.  So I felt like we were racing the clock, and I was giving it everything I had, Kevin and I both cheering for that baby, and praying he or she would come.  Dr. Evans kept saying things to the nurse like it was really tight and the baby wasn't coming down, etc.  I was trying not to get discouraged.  Around 9:00 she suggested that we try one more thing.  Since I had gone from 51/2 or 6 to 9 cm so quickly in those couple hours, she said we would have everyone leave the room, I would lay there and relax for a half hour, and the nurses would flip me over every 15 min., to encourage the baby's descent.

I call this the hour of intercession.

We had come so far, had endured so much, and believed so fully that the presence of God had carried us through it.  So we called on him now, more than ever, to complete this amazing process he started.  I asked Kevin to play the song "Waiting Here For You," by Christy Nockels on the Passion 2011 cd.  I LOVE that song, and it's all about waiting in expectation for God to come. 

"If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move; we come with expectation, waiting here for you, waiting here for you.  You're the Lord of all creation, and still you know my heart; the Author of salvation, you've loved us from the start...waiting here for you.  With our hands lifted high in praise, and it's you we adore, singing hallelujah.

You are everything you promised, your faithfulness is true; we're desperate for your presence, all we need is you; waiting her for you."

Believe me when I say we had our hands lifted in that hospital room desperately pleading for him.  Kevin prayed out loud next to my bed, and I laid there with tears running down my face, my hands on my belly, praying like I never had.  I have tears as I write this because it was powerful.  What's awesome is that I could feel that sweet baby so very low, and with every contraction I was willing him or her to move down.  There is no experience of my life that comes close to the magnitude of those moments.

9:30 came, and it was time to push again...if the baby was coming, this was going to be it.  The doctor played a little bit to my competitive side, saying she had tools to help if she needed them, (forceps, etc.), but knew I didn't want that, so I needed to push with everything to get this baby out.  I am SO thankful that the epidural had worn off like it had, because while I couldn't feel pain from the contractions, I felt like I had control over my pushing, and I could sense how hard I was trying.  So I gave it everything I had, started throwing up again, which I believe with all my heart totally helped this baby come, because it helped me involuntarilly push several times with pretty good strength.  The doctor was completely patient with this.  Holly and Kevin kept wiping my face, Kevin would hold the little bag, and he just kept saying he loved me, was so proud of me, and that I was doing great.  He and I both, at different times would say, "Come on baby!"  We were sure we could convince him/her to come out.

I will never forget the moment I saw that little head of hair.  In that moment I truly believed I was going to have that baby.  There is just no better motivation than seeing your little one and desperately wanting to meet that sweet face.  I also was a little freaked out about the baby being stuck there or something.  Ha.  I remember Rose and Dr. Evans saying, "Look at that beautiful hair!"  I looked at that hair and seriously tried to decide whether that was a little boy's head or a little girl's head.  I was aching to find out!  Everyone was cheering for me, and I remember Dr. Evans saying, "You're going to have this baby!"  I can't tell you the feeling in my heart once I knew the baby was actually coming and this was how it was going to happen. I looked at my mom, and said, "Are you ready?"  She said, "Oh, I'm ready."  Everything happened so quickly, and as I'm pushing with all my might during every back to back contractions, Dr. Evans said to everyone, "Remember, they want to find out what it is themselves!" 

At 9:45 Kevin's staff was having a prayer meeting and praying for us.

At 9:47, our precious baby was born.  I was laying flat on my back, so I had my head lifted up as far as I could.  Once I gave that final push, the baby came out so fast, and it was amazing how the doctor pulled her out and turned her right around and upright.  I saw it all happen, and I loved every second.  She lifted the baby up for Kevin to see, and he said, "It's a girl!"  I was so afraid, after all this time, of committing in my heart to what this baby was...so I kept saying, "It's a girl?  Is it a girl??"  The doctor laid her on my chest and I put my hands on her and held her so close, kissing her little head and telling her I loved her.  I started balling.  It was amazing.  More than I could have ever imagined.  Her little body was so tiny, and her eyes were wide open, looking right at me.  The Kevin cut the cord.  It was just so, so awesome.  I remember the nurse saying, "Oh, watch your hand, she just pooed all over you."  I thought it was the sweetest thing to hold this naked little brand new life.  Wow.  I could re-live that moment over and over.

They took her to weigh and measure her - 7lbs 4oz, 20 1/2 inches long.  Then they wrapped her tight and gave her to Kevin, while they took care of me and were doing all kinds of things I don't remember.  I just kept looking at him and saying, "Can I have the baby back?"  Ha.  It's funny how clear that is in my mind.

It was so, so fun.  Once the doctors and nurses had everything cleaned up they all left, and Kevin went to get our family.  It turns out my older brother, who I'm very close to, hadn't wanted to be as far away as the waiting room, so he had been sitting in the little room between the delivery room and the hallway the entire time, listening to everything.  And weeping.  I had no idea he was out there.  He said it was so amazing to hear the process of this beautiful baby coming into the world.  At this point my mom (and Darin) were the only ones who knew it was a girl, and no one knew the name.  So he drew the curtain closed, went out to get his parents and brother, and they stood at the door waiting.  Needless to say, both of our families had been waiting anxiously and excitedly waiting for her arrival for 2 days.  Once they were all there Kevin said, "It's a..,"  pulled back the curtain and together we said, "Girl!!"  I announced her name - "Selah Page."  Everyone came close to see her, gathered around my bed, and Kevin prayed the most beautiful prayer for her, and praising God for her arrival.  It has been such a powerful experience to feel and know both of our family's joy for the pregnancy and birth of our first child, since the beginning.  My mom has been beside herself with joy for me, seeing her own daughter now become a mom to a daughter of my own.  And she was certainly changed forever by seeing Selah being born.

That was the beginning of the privilege of being parents to our amazing little daughter.  The whole time I've been writing this she's been in my lap napping...and I still marvel at every intricate little detail God chose to create her with.  I have a feeling I'll never stop.  I remember looking at everyone of her features those next couple days in the hospital and thinking about how I'd prayed for each specific one.  It's such a fascinating experience to meet this new little life and see this new little face and have to learn and memorize the details...though it feels like you should know them already.

Once everyone left the room and it was just the 3 of us, we had such peace in the midst of total and complete exhaustion.  Selah laid skin to skin on my chest, I tried to eat a little something, but couldn't keep it down.  So between letting friends know she had come, and sharing some details, we simply rested.  It was so sweet.  Worth every last second of the process of getting her here.

We were in the hospital until Saturday night, a total of a little over 4 days.  Our time there was so special.  I particularly loved the three full meals a day, and when it was quiet and just us.  I didn't particularly like when they would take her.  Rip my new mommy heart out!  On Friday night Kevin was resting on the couch and she was in the nursery for some tests.  I thought it was weird that I'd never seen this nursery, so I decided to go find it and maybe take a photo.  Keep in mind, I hadn't been out of bed for a few days.  So I slowly made my way down the hall, and what did I see through the window?  A nurse pricking her little heels and making her bleed!  Not sure that was a good choice on my part. :)  Then I got her and started pushing her little bassinet down the hallway.  With every step I felt worse.  By the time I got to the room I said to Kevin, "I don't feel good at all," and I started crying while he hugged me.  It's so crazy what your body goes through, and I felt so weird, physically and emotionally.  He told me I shouldn't have escaped while he was sleeping.  Ha.

While we spent those first 48 - 72 hrs. getting to know her, Kevin and I would take turns breaking down in tears and saying, "I just love her so much."  Kevin kept looking at her and saying, "You're my daughter.  I'm your dad."  And it was truly so hard for me to grasp that I had my very own daughter.  That God had entrusted us with this life.  Those were the most emotionally overwhelming days ever.  Between the physical fatigue and tough recovery, the shift in hormones, and now having this vulnerable little baby now outside my body, it was a lot to take in.  For many days after as well.  Apparently I get overwhelmed really easily, because in the rare moments when it was just Selah and me in the that hospital room, I would just hold her close and let the tears fall.  Those were precious, priceless moments.  I didn't want to sleep and miss any of it.  Though on two occasions while we were there and the nurses had her for tests/procedures, I took half a percocet and slept well for a couple hours.

On Thursday night, after family had left, we sat on the couch/bed and read to her, "On the Night You Were Born."  It was so fun saying her name out loud, and now having a face to go with it.  One morning while Kevin went to get something to eat, I listened to our labor playlist, singing to her and couldn't help but cry thinking of all the years I had dreamed of her, and dreaming of all the years ahead of us.  Another morning Kevin had his quiet time and was reading the bible to her.  So sweet.  It was all just so emotional, and I was so very thankful.  From those very first days Kevin starting telling her our story and teaching her of God's faithfulness throughout.  Even when we struggled with being faithful ourselves.  She often had her eyes open, and rarely cried those first sleepy days. (Unless she was dirty or Daddy was changing her, which he pretty much did the whole time we were in the hospital!)  OR unless the lactation consultant was teaching me how to breastfeed.  Neither one of us really enjoyed that.  Ha. It is fascinating, as I'm telling this story, how I start to leave out details like the pain of recovery, the weird and CRAZY 80 yr. old type of problems from 3 hrs. of pushing, (that I still kind of have), the pain of learning to feed my new baby, the world of ice diapers and sitz baths, the random bouts of crying, and the fatigue of it all.  Amazing how that fades.

We had sweet friends and family visit during those couple days, anxious to meet this little life they had prayed so often for.  It was neat to introduce her to all these people who had each loved us in some way during the last crazy 10 months of being nomads, pregnant, homeless, and carless at times!!  Our gratitude is greater than we could ever communicate in words.  What an incredible season of life.  All I know is that God redeemed those long months of waiting with a beautiful, amazing outcome.  I simply adore having a daughter, and being a mom is an absolute dream come true.

The beginning of our little girl's life was a crazy, lesson-filled time in the story of our lives.  I could have never in a million years predicted that it would be written like that.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  Because that is the start of our sweet Selah's story.

Thanks for sharing our joy...and for reading this, especially if you made it all the way through! We are so, so thankful and we give God the glory for it all!!


Selah's Birth Story Part 2

Okay, so we headed off to the hospital, totally caught off guard and having no idea when or how the baby was going to come.  (Kind of like a lot of other people who have a baby :)  We registered at the front desk in labor and delivery, which really did take a long time even though we had pre-registered.  We were told that would happen.  I even politely asked the lady if the process was the same for women in active labor who obviously wouldn't have been able to sit there that long.  Apparently it depends.  Anyway, we went back to triage like they were expecting us, and realized the doctors hadn't even called to say we were coming.  Ha!  It was so weird.  The nurses even said, "Well aren't you just going to be induced?  You're almost 41 weeks!"  We knew it would be difficult to not just go through the hospital motions, but it was even more so than I would have guessed.  It's not that we didn't trust the doctors; we just really didn't want to jump into anything without thinking and praying it through.

They checked us into a room and our first nurse was Karen.  Now, all our nurses are a crucial part of the story because they were AMAZING.  Something I will never forget.  Having never been admitted in a hospital before, I was in awe of how patient they were with me, how kind they were in conversation, how they cared for us, and that they laughed at my jokes.  Seriously - loved that.  We talked to the doctor on call and asked her our alternatives to just having my water broken.  We wanted to take the least invasive route at first, unless it was necessary to do otherwise.  She very hesitatingly told us about cervadil, which is supposed to be very mild and doesn't always throw you into full blown labor, but it's not as aggressive and no turning back like pitocin.  While she wouldn't change her recommendation, (because of the heartrate decel earlier in the day), she said it was an option.  So we decided that would be our best choice throughout the night, to see if it would help me better go into labor on my own.  We got to the hospital between 4 and 5, and they were going to start the cervadil at 10.  This whole time we were hooked up to the monitor and the baby's heart rate was great.

I knew that once you get checked into the hospital for labor and delivery they don't let you eat or drink....and I had NO idea how long this was going to take.  So I begged  nicely asked Karen if I could have one last meal before we got all of this started.  She was so awesome and saved me a hospital meal.  I ate every last bite out of fear that the baby and I would starve during this crazy process!  So we prepared to get everything going, praying the cervadil would be enough to put me into active labor.  In the meantime Kevin noticed there was an empty room with a window.  And guess what Karen let us do.  Yep, we moved.  Hilarious.  By the end of it though, I was so glad we did have those windows.  At this point my mom was in town and everyone was pretty much waiting for a baby.  I was certain we would have a baby by the next day, 9-7-11.  I thought that would be funny and every year we would take the baby to a 7/11 for a special treat.  Ha ha.  We were nervous, excited, and still naive to the process ahead of us.

They started the cervadil at 10, and by midnight I was having painful contractions that lasted about 45 sec.(on average), and were 2 min. apart.  Sometimes both of these numbers were a bit more or a bit less.  Being at hospital and laboring naturally during the night is a fascinating thing.  All is much more quiet, the lights are down, and the nurses really don't bother you much.  We had a sweet nurse named Jessie, and she was so encouraging.  We joked about how she would be working the next night too, and would love to see us but hoped she didn't. ;)  Kevin helped me get through the contractions for a bit, then he tried to get some sleep - (which is extremely difficult when you're listening to your wife breathe loudly in pain, saying the same things over and over to get through her contractions!)  While this was my first experience with painful contractions, it also felt pretty special to me, feeling like I was working towards meeting my baby, and having to rely on God and prayer to get through.  They were mostly too painful for me to lie down, so I did a lot of sitting on an exercise ball, walking the halls with my portable monitor, and standing and swaying.  I also remember being so focused on the baby's heartbeat all night - it's so crazy to see how the numbers change when little ones sleep.  Kind of scary if you have no idea what you're looking at.  But she was doing great.  Sometimes I would turn the monitor up louder so I could focus on that.  I also listened to my hospital worship playlist, which was an awesome part of my whole labor experience.  Music is very powerful for me, and it definitely helped me relax.  I was also so amazed at how much the bible verses I had brought were the most helpful comfort measures of all.  One of the ones that got me through the most was, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  (Exodus 14:14)  At one point I remember lying down, being exhausted and hungry, and trying to catch a little sleep between two contractions that were about 4 min. apart.  Ha.  If you've ever tried to sleep for 3 min., it doesn't work very well.  I also fixated on 'contraction master' on my iphone, which helped me think more about the minutes and less about the pain.  Once the sun came up I was really glad so I didn't feel like I needed to be so quiet anymore.  I had a couple really bad contractions that Kevin really had to get me through.  The doctor checked me and I had progressed another centimeter, which was encouraging to me, though I was hopeful for more.  But in my heart I knew my contractions hadn't grown in length or strength all night, just basically stayed the same.  So they took the cervadil out, (they leave it in for about 12 hrs), and we were going to see what my body would do on its own.  Unfortunately, the contractions lessened to a few an hour, though they were still really painful and I still had to stop and work to get through them when I did have them.

At this point I was on penicillin for the strep b, just so my body would have enough by the time the baby came, whenever that would be.  We were still so torn as to how this was going to go and what the best thing to do was.  The night before, we had even talked about going home at this point if the baby wasn't coming on his or her own. Yeah right. Between being 41 weeks, knowing the baby's heartrate had been enough for them to send me there even for a second, and having the doctors and nurses looking at us like we were crazy already for delaying the inevitable, I didn't have the emotional strength to make a decision like that. And the doctor knew it. She came in, told me I was in labor and what we needed to do next...some method of stronger induction. I will admit, we were going to try the breastpump first as a natural way to do it...but I hated that. Seriously, having never breastfed or pumped before, having been up all night, having the nurse there watching me, and being the private person that I am - it all about put me over the edge. So rather than having an emotional breakdown I quickly dropped that idea. We decided on a low level of pitocin, so I would still have a chance at being able to get through those kind of contractions. 

We had to wait a few hours for the whole process to begin, so for a couple hours that afternoon I had a few quiet moments to myself to rest.  It was very surreal, and very peaceful, lying in that bed and praying/wondering how this little baby in my big belly was going to make his/her arrival.  At this point I was so tired and so incredibly hungry - but not yet discouraged.  Like I said, I had prepared myself for 24 hrs and we hadn't hit that yet.  But the not eating thing was the worst.  I was exhausted.  At this point our nurse was Pam, and she was also the sweetest person ever.  Never once did I feel like she thought we were crazy for taking our time with every little decision.  She could tell I was nervous and scared to do the wrong thing, and was so great at reassuring me. 

They were planning to start the pitocin at about 4:30 or 5, and about 4:00 Kevin and I had some cool moments together.  We kind of felt like this step was the big one...we were definitely going to have a baby now.  We also knew it was about to get way more painful, and this is what we had prepared for.  He was awesome.  We prayed and got excited, trying to surrender and trust more than ever.  But we still had no idea what we were in for.  We took some final "before" pictures, figuring that was the last time we'd be smiling for awhile, and knowing our next pics would probably include a baby!  Holly also got there, and my mom had been there for awhile.  We quickly realized it would be way too hard for my mom to see me labor naturally for so long, as far as helping to coach me through it.  It's not an easy thing to watch your daughter do.  Once they started the pitocin it took about an hour or so for my contractions to pick up.  Now that was the start of some very real and much more harsh pain.  Holly and Kevin got me through every single one, which was amazing.  I was hoping I wasn't a moaner, and though you really can't help it sometimes, my best coping came in the form of rhythmic and deep breathing, and saying the word, "Okay" over and over, rhythmically as well.  (Ohhh-kay)  Swaying or rubbing my leg also helped at times.  There was even a chunk of time where I would rhythmically pat the bed to get through them.  That helped too.  Sometimes I would stand, and sometimes I would sit on the birthing ball, but Kevin pretty much held me through each one, and Holly coached and encouraged.  Again - they were both just incredible.

 My contractions were about 45 sec. long, and about a minute or 2 apart.  When we started I would re-engage in conversation after every one, sometimes even making a joke.  So we knew we weren't quite in the heat of it yet.  At about 7 or 8:00 on Wednesday night they checked me and I had gone from 4 to 5 cm.  We decided to increase my amount of pitocin, to see if my contractions would get longer and stronger, and because I was getting through the ones I was having.  They were really bad, but they weren't getting worse.  Well, this started working.  At this point there was no more light conversation - it was becoming survival through each one.  This is going to sound crazy, but it was a really cool experience.  It was so amazing to be helped through them by my husband and our friend, and the process became very rhythmic.  And there was some definite gratification from working so hard.  Focusing on the verses was so powerful, and when Kevin and I would walk the halls and stop for each contraction (and I would squeeze his neck or shoulder really hard), it was sweet.  One of the best experiences of our marriage by far.  A real lesson in learning to rely on and sacrifice for one another.  I know he was tired, but he stayed strong.  I was definitely getting so tired and was extremely hungry...I can't even count how many popsicles I ate to try and help.  I also have every cute, framed baby picture on those walls memorized. :)

During those hours of contractions I had some really sweet moments with God as well.  We had my music playing on the ipod, and during one of the really painful contractions Kevin was holding me, and the song "Be Still" by Steven Curtis Chapman came on.  I remember holding onto him, breathing and focusing, all while the music was playing...and I smiled and cried right in the middle of it...because it was amazing.  I was so weary and so hungry, in so much pain - but God was carrying us through it.  We were doing it and I was just overcome with thankfulness.  The same thing happened one other time when the song, "How Deep the Father's Love For Us," by none other than Selah came on during a different contraction.  When I think of it now I think of it as a "beautiful pain," because in those moments I took in the depth of it all...that it was just us in that quiet hospital room with the sound of our baby's heartbeat in the background, that God was bringing this baby we had prayed so much for into the world, that we were getting through those difficult contractions, and that my husband and friend were loving me and lifting me up in the gentlest way.  I was just so, so thankful and felt so very loved.  The power of the Holy Spirit felt very alive and present - and while it really hurt, it was also really cool.

The real drama starts here.  We had spent a couple hours getting through much more severe contractions, and I was just sure I would have made significant progress.  So my heart was set on it.  The doctor checked me at about 10 or 10:30, and I hadn't progressed at all.  Kevin would say that was the real start of my heart getting discouraged.  I had now spent over 30 hrs. laboring in some way, with no sleep, no food, and having to make one difficult decision after another.  My heart, mind, and body were exhausted.  The doctor said that we should really break my water.  I have no idea why this was such a difficult decision for me - I guess I had just built that up in my mind to be the scariest option.  For some reason I think I felt like the baby would be more vulnerable than ever.  At the doctor's office they had said something about my amniotic fluid getting lower, and the doctor had said a lot of times at 41 weeks there's meconium in the water.  (There wasn't)  All I know is, when she broke my water, it felt like my spirit broke too.  I started crying at that point, and didn't stop for a couple hours...through the most painful physical experience of my life.  Breaking my water set my body into motion...and on top of the pitocin, it was like torture and fire in my belly all at the same time.  It got really awful really fast.  Breathing, chanting, swaying, music...none of it did any good anymore.  A contraction would come and I would literally scream as loud as I could through the whole thing.  This is no joke.  It was crazy awful.  All I could do was lay in bed, squeezing Holly or Kevin's hand while the other one rubbed my back and tried to talk me through it.  I kept my eyes closed and just cried, praying for it to be over, but feeling like it would never end.  I finally understood what people had said about being in labor and not being able to talk, but hearing the conversation around you and feeling like you were participating.  So weird. 

Here's what you do need to know.  We knew it would come to this.  We had learned that many women who labor naturally get to that place where they say they quit and they can't do it anymore...which usually means the baby is coming.  We had talked about this and Holly had asked how committed I was - what to do in that situation.  I had told them to just keep getting me through one at a time, minute by minute, hour by hour.  Well, I was at 5 cm - the baby wasn't exactly crowning.  And I knew in my heart and mind I just couldn't do it anymore.  I was so fatigued and famished, and emotionally broke.  So I started begging for them to give me something.  I said, through tears, "I don't want to do this anymore, it doesn't matter, please make it stop!"  It was so awful.  This was not a beautiful pain.  Then came what I can only describe now as what felt like a super dark hour of my life.  It was around 12am when I was desperately, more than ever wanting it to stop, and Kevin and Holly decided to try to get me to 1am.  They really didn't want me to regret it if I didn't keep going.  Well, it was a nightmare.  I just remember screaming through each contraction, and in between begging them in a million different ways to please let me stop.  I remember thinking about two things (that I never voiced): that the nurses had to be able to hear me, and that I was worried about scaring the baby.  Kevin and Holly kept coaching me to get through the next one, and just make it until 1, when the doctor was going to check me again.  I would look at the clock and become so discouraged because I just knew I would never make it.  It was excruciating.  While my eyes were closed and I was pleading with them between contractions, I could hear them whispering about what to do.  I could tell Kevin was a wreck, and he kept reassuring me he was listening to me.  I mean, I was going crazy.  Saying things like, "Why are you doing this to me," and "Please, I change my mind," and "I don't even care anymore, just please let me stop," and "Why aren't you listening to me??"  I am totally laughing while I writing this...because it was AWFUL for everyone.  I still can't even believe it.  They were sincerely trying to help me and do what I asked.  Well, somehow they got me to 1:00am and I was a MESS.  At this point I was done with Holly and Kevin and just begging the nurse to get me something, telling her I was 30 years old and I don't care what they say.  Ha ha.  CRAZY.  (You didn't expect anything less from me, right??)  What's also funny is Jessie, our nurse from the night before was back and had requested me.  She is in her twenties, and was so sweet, but because she was so young I felt so embarrassed for her to see me screaming like that!)

I think the doctor checked me, I don't remember, and I don't think I'd made anymore progress.  They gave me Stadol because it was the fastest and she said it would take the edge off, (until they could get me the epidural), but my mind might feel funny.  Ha.  I hadn't eaten or slept, and I'd labored for 30 hrs. - I had completely lost my mind.  That started working and I at least felt like I could breathe again, yet I was so upset from the whole experience.  The anesthesiologist came in around 2 or 2:30 and I would love and hate to have a video of what that interaction was like.  I kept apologizing to him that I was such a mess and telling him how much I appreciated what he was doing and to just do it quickly.  I didn't care about needles or anything at that point.  Though I did ask for a low dose - because after a day like I had I wasn't exactly afraid of some pain.  It started taking effect, and I found myself telling Holly thanks for helping and she could go home if she wanted.  Like we were done.  So crazy.  The next thing I remember is my mom and brother, who had been in the waiting room the whole time, coming in and through tears I said, "I don't ever want to talk about this again.  So make sure no one asks me about it."  They told me they loved me and were praying for me, and they were proud of me.  It turns out Kevin had gone out to give them an update and just broke down.  He was so emotionally and physically exhausted, and it was like nothing he'd ever imagined seeing me in pain like that.

I felt so defeated.  And I went into maybe the deepest sleep of my life.

It felt like a long time, but they came in to wake me up and check me at 4am.  (Thursday morning, September 8.  We had gone into the hospital on September 6)  Well, the drugs felt pretty heavy at this point, and I had only slept for a couple hours.  When I woke up I completely panicked because instantly I realized I couldn't feel my legs.  This was awful, horrible moment number two.  This may seem really obvious to you, but I have no idea why I had never thought about how scary that would be - and I was terrified.  I hated it so much.  It felt as awful to me as the pain had, but in a totally different way.  Poor Kevin.  I cried and cried and said, "I hate it - I can't move, please turn it off!"  They came and had to flip me over and it was just awful.  For lack of a better term, and for whatever reason, I was having a panic attack.  Well, they all knew it would take a couple hours for the effects to decrease, even if they turned it down.  But I insisted.  So the anesthesiologist came and cut it in half.  To make matters worse, I was only dilated to 6cm.  I knew, and Kevin knew that I had to calm down or I would never make it.  So he helped me through some deep breaths, and I kept crying, but I started praying like crazy.  And this whole time I saw Holly, sitting quietly by my bed, praying.  She was absolutely an amazing part of this story.  The doctor and nurse left, saying they would check me again at 6.  I asked Kevin to turn on my Bebo Norman cd - the Ten Thousand Days one. (Which, if you've listened to it, has some pretty amazing lyrics for what I was going through).  It's a mellow and beautiful cd, and I knew it would help me relax and try to go back to sleep.  The first song says, "Walk down this mountain with your heart held high; follow in the footsteps of your Maker.  And with this love that's gone before you and these people at your side, if you offer up your broken cup you will taste the meaning of this life."  The third song on the cd is one of my absolute favorites, "The Hammer Holds," and equally as powerful in this situation.  It says, "Dream a little dream for me, in hopes that I remain.  Cry a little cry for me so I can bear the flames.  Hurt a little hurt for me, my future is untold.  My dreams are not the issue here, for the, the Hammer holds."

I laid there crying, placed my hand on my belly, and prayed like crazy.  I worked to get my focus off my legs, and just asked God, in the name of Jesus, to bring this baby out.  I believed He could do it and I desperately asked him to.  But I also laid there thinking, "What am I doing?"  This is the point when I started thinking of all the other girls recently (or ever!) who had had babies and how I was making it way too complicated, when I knew the doctor could take me across the hall and get the baby out.  At this point I was completely surrendered because I had no other choice...and I couldn't see an end. 

By God's grace alone, I went back to sleep.  If Kevin were telling this story, he'd say it was during this time that he wept in prayer like he never had.  It was such an emotional experience, and we felt, more than ever, our total dependence on God for how the rest of the story would go. 

This is where it gets good.

To be continued...

(Coming up - Part 3:  It's a girl!  Part 4:  Reflections and what I really think of how this all went down)