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)


Selah's Birth Story - Part 1

(This was us on my due date!  A week and a day before Selah would make her arrival :)

The sacred experiences we are gifted in life sometimes feel almost too amazing for words.  I think what adds to the sacred nature of those experiences in my case, starting with my wedding, is how long I have been praying for them.  I've learned that if you want something to be incredibly powerful in life, pray intently about it for a long, long time.  That's the start of my birth story.  Years and years of prayer culminated in the amazing moment the little girl I now call my daughter came into the world.  I have sat here for awhile, just staring at this screen, wondering how in the world to share the ridiculously powerful moments of giving birth to my first child. 

I do have to preface this with a couple things.  One, it's a looong one to write out, but you have to know up front that we came to be known at the hospital as the "Three Day Induction Couple."  I'm not kidding.  Also, if you've read my very unedited writing...I hate to leave any little detail out.  And I'm noticing more and more that, for better or worse, I insist on internalizing every little second of life. So this might have to come at you in parts.  Secondly, while some parts might seem dramatic, if you know me or have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I'm an incredibly emotional person who puts a lot of weight and heart into most moments and experiences in my life.  And this experience was certainly the most powerful one yet..  While I had a feeling I wouldn't be 4 hr. pop it out kind of girl, (though I was hopeful!), I had no idea what I was really in for.  I might share my humorous point of view about some parts of this story, but please know the painful, wonderful, and deeply emotional parts are not over-dramatized at all from my perspective.  It was a really big, powerful experience for me mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually...one that I'm so thankful for. Then again, I'm guessing bringing a child into the world or becoming a mom for the first time carries much the same weight for other moms as well!

Somewhat early on in our pregnancy we started talking about natural childbirth.  It was not something I strongly desired before I became pregnant, but once I entered into the maternity world it became something I was very interested in and prayerful about.  Kevin was so very supported of whatever decision I wanted to make.  I knew I wanted to take a labor/childbirth class outside of the hospital, partially for a more personal and thorough experience, and partially because I knew we would be less likely to ever take a class like that again.  One thing was very true during my pregnancy:  I wanted to know and experience everything possible.  So I did all kinds of research about all kinds of things.  I knew this would be my only first pregnancy. :)  As I was researching different class options, I realized they were all possibly too expensive.  Then I found one that was way more affordable and sounded intriguing; a 7 week class to teach you all about labor and delivery, including how to prepare and prioritize, with the end result to be fully informed of all our options while prepared for whatever kind of birth we ended up having.  It was called, "Empowered Birth."  I loved the idea because by this point I really wanted to try to go naturally, but was well aware of my mom having a history of an emergency c-section and an inability to deliver differently.  And of course my end desire was to have a healthy baby no matter how it happened.  I also know plenty of stories where how the baby comes is completely out of a person's control.  So I basically decided to prepare for a natural birth while being completely surrendered to whatever was best for the baby.  Some reasons for wanting to go naturally:  I really wanted to participate in the labor process, rather than waiting for something to happen.  I also wanted to be able to walk and move around, rather than lying in bed.  Also, I had never been in a hospital for anything and wasn't too fond of drugs if I didn't require them.  Finally, I didn't really want to decide what my body could or couldn't do until I tried.  I like to make last minute decisions. ;)  We didn't tell too many people about our desire to go naturally because as many of you know, that desire doesn't always get a ton of support.  Most people don't ask, they just tell you to not even think about not getting an epidural.  And I knew I needed to be really positive and stay encouraged, rather than afraid and intimidated if I was to have a shot at it at all. 

So Kevin and I took our 7 week class which was awesome.  We loved our teacher and we learned a TON.  There is so much about being pregnant and giving birth that doctors don't teach you, so we were both amazed.  We also were taught and able to practice different comfort measures, and gain enough insight to know how to go to the hospital ready to make informed decisions.  We read "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin, which is a great book.  I also wrote down the scriptures I wanted to focus on and pray during labor, we prepared our bag of "comfort measures," and we compiled a "playlist" of my favorite songs that I thought would be comforting through it.  In my mind I was prepared to give it 24 hours.  I was pretty sure I could take the, "I can do anything for a minute" mentality for about that long through some painful contractions.  And I thought I'd have a way better chance if they weren't induction contractions, because I've heard enough people in the medical world and in our class tell me those are way more painful.  That was really the one thing I was hoping not to do - be induced. 

So I kind of prepared for labor mentally like I used to prepare for cross-country meets.  I thought it would help to see it as an athletic event.  :)  I knew it would require some serious mental strength, endurance, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.    Kevin grew more and more excited and supportive as we continued to learn.  It just made sense to us and I wasn't afraid to go through some pain.  Obviously, our ideal was to labor for awhile at home, then go in when I was in more active labor.  I tested positive for strep b, so if my water broke I would have to go in right away and would only have 24 hrs to deliver b/c of risk of infection.  So we kind of hope that didn't happen, in case it took longer than that.

It was really great to have a couple friends who had gone naturally- in blog world and in real life - email me encouragement and advice.  That was so helpful for me and much appreciated.  We had learned from the teacher of our class, (a licensed doula), how important it was to have a strong "birth team," because Kevin would need a break.  Basically, we knew this would be hard and a lot for one person to handle.  We couldn't afford a doula so we started praying God would provide just the right person to help us.  One week at church we started talking to our friend Holly, (who happens to have 9 children, delivered several naturally, and was a labor and delivery nurse at our hospital for 10 years!), and she said she would be happy to help.  So we praised the Lord for answering our prayer in such an amazing way!

From what we had learned and prayed about, we were at peace with waiting between 41 and 42 weeks for the baby to come without worrying, as long as everything was safe for the baby.  Now keep in mind, before we got pregnant we chose our doctor largely based on the fact that she goes out of her way to deliver her own patients.  We ended up building a great relationship with her too...but I knew from the beginning that being due in the summer could pose some interesting situations.  Yep - very interesting at our 40 week appt. (on a Wednesday), when she hesitatingly shared that she was leaving town on Monday for a week.  Surprisingly it didn't catch me too off guard.  She was more upset than I was it seemed.  It was kind of our first bump in the road.  And we were at peace that God was in control.  (We also were naive and had never been through it before, so we didn't exactly know what to expect anyway.)  But we all decided I would deliver that weekend.  Ha. We really wanted the baby to come when the baby was ready and in God's perfect timing, so we waited...and enjoyed our time while doing so.  

When I woke up Tuesday, September 6, a day before I was 41 weeks, I knew something was a bit different with me, and I'd had a big contraction the night before.  I even said to Kevin, "I think we're going to have a baby today!"  It helped that we had a doctor appt. and I was sure they would say all kinds of things were happening and the baby was coming!  Well, not quite.  We saw a new doctor who said everything looked good and I was holding steady at 2cm and 80% effaced.  She was willing to let me leave and come back on Thursday or Friday to check again.  But first I needed to do a routine "non-stress" test since I was overdue.  Well, I hadn't exactly remembered our doctor telling me I would have to do that, and I feel like doctors who aren't your own sometimes don't explain things as thoroughly, or know what you need to hear...so for whatever reason I was all the sudden really nervous.  They put us in this little room in a chair and I was supposed to push the button everytime I felt the baby move.  Oh and by the way...I hadn't had a thing to eat that morning because I was in a hurry.  So I was starving.  Anyway, we sat in there and I was getting ridiculously emotional, thrown off and way too nervous.  I kept second guessing whether I felt the baby move or not.  It took forever - over 45 min. for them to get a good reading.  And apparently for a moment or so there was a deceleration of the baby's heartbeat on the monitor.  Now, you never really know why this happens when it's just once...sleep patterns, moving funny, laying on the umbilical cord.  A mystery.  But doctors don't take chances...for good reason of course.  So apparently they had collaborated and said we needed to go to the hospital and be induced by breaking my water!  Like right then!  Talk about coming out of left field.  We were shocked and had really prepared ourselves to make really good choices and not jump to conclusions throughout this process, or get interventions if they weren't baby-in-distress necessary.  So this was confusion point number 1 - what do we do?  (This is when you wish your doctor was in town!!) We talked them into letting us go to the hospital to just be monitored for awhile to see if the decel happened again, because of course we weren't going to take chances with our baby.  But from there we didn't know what kind of direction to take.  Trust me, the people in the doctor's office had to think we were crazy to be pushing back against an instant induction at almost 41 weeks.  (Keep in mind, everything about my pregnancy and the baby had been great up to this point.)  So we made a few phone calls for some wise counsel and to our families, went home, finished packing our bags and cleaning up the house, then went the the hospital.  It was so surreal.  Not exactly how we envisioned our trip to the hospital going.  To say we were praying hard is an understatement.  And that was only the beginning!

(Right before we left for the hospital)

To be continued...


What I'm Loving Wednesday

Today I'm loving...

1. That I took a nap today when this sweet girl did.  Great choice.  Too bad that was the last nap of a semi-fussy day! (For both of us - ha :)

2. That the same sweet girl was so tired that she fell asleep like this during dinner.  So cute!

3. Purple toes.  Um, maybe.  Actually the longer I have them the more I like them.  But in the picture I'm not so sure.  Ha. Can you tell I'm in the middle of an identity crisis?!  Last night I had a little mommy break in the way of a pedicure.  It was the most wonderful hour ever - I go to a place that does the most amazing job, lasts 45 min. to an hour, and costs $25!!  Joy.  Not to mention Kevin recently found an old gift certificate of mine that had $15 dollars left - the other $10 was money well spent.  Sometimes you just need to sit in a massage chair, close your eyes and get some pampering.  I'm usually a  bright pink girl through and through, except for the occasional red.  Until last night.  The choice to go purple for my rather untrendy self??  Myabe a little weird.  I guess it's better than dying my hair black!

4.  Jamie Grace.  The first time we heard her now popular song, "Hold Me" was in Naples on our babymoon in April.  (Now that was some bliss!)  Great music for the sunshine.  She writes some other happy songs too - something Selah and I can certainly dance to.  Like this one.

5.  This girl and the awesome walks we've taken the last few days in the beautiful Fall weather. 

(See how it pays to make friends with the pool ladies before you have your baby...we were gifted this cute knit hat on our walk!  Oh, and she's smiling because on this particular day I was talking to her about chlorophyll and why the leaves and seasons change.  The joys of having a teacher as a mom! ;)

6.  Cloth diapers.  For real.  I've never been a shoe girl, or even a shopping girl.  But shopping for your daughter is a whole new kind of wonderful.  And the cloth diaper world is turning out to be quite a fun one to be a part of.  Who would have thought?!  Several weeks ago I told Kevin I felt like I was playing house.  (He was quick to remind me this in fact is real life:)  So I guess I'm reminded of being a little girl when dressing up my babies in anything was fun!  I started working on my first cloth diaper post today, so details of what's working for us are coming.  I mean just look - isn't this cute!?

7.  This awesome post from "It's Almost Naptime" that my blog friend Ashleigh encouraged me with today.  Just what I needed hear.  Oh, the mommyhood.  What an adventure of beautiful exhaustion!  I love that the writer of this particular post reminds us that the perfect people who make us crazy don't really exist.  So glad I'm not alone in my craziness.

8.  The fact that Part 1 of Selah's birth story is written!!  Coming at you tomorrow.  Guess I better get part 2 finished so I don't leave you hanging for 2 more months!

Hope you had a great Wednesday!


New Mommy Tears

"Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
Isaiah 40:28-29

Being a mom can be overwhelming.  Not in a negative way, just a very real one.  If you are a mom this is certainly no news flash.  I'm finding that it's taking me as far physically, emotionally, and spiritually as I've ever had to go yet.  It's having to surrender that you just can't get it all done and keep up with everything like you sometimes feel an invisible pressure to.  It's loving this little person so much and wondering often if you're always doing and being what is best for her.  Teaching her enough, making the best decisions, just enjoying her.  It's struggling to want to do all of this well and be a good wife or friend at the same time.  I'm in the midst of a brand new opportunity to learn to have grace with myself and need grace from others.  Of course I wouldn't change any of it for a minute...but a highly emotional time paired with physical exhaustion can create some interesting scenarios.  For one, tears seem a whole lot more natural.  Like on Sunday, when I was comforting my sweet girl and we were listening to some of my favorite songs, swaying to them in the living room, I couldn't help but have tears running down my face as I was overcome with emotion.  It didn't help that I was listening to the same list of songs I listened to while I was in the hospital with her. :) Worship is even more powerful now that this little girl who has my heart is living and breathing outside my body, as it reminds me of God's creativity, beauty, and love for us.  And sometimes there are tears because I think, "Can I do it all over again today?"  Then I just do and I thank God for the strength.

The tears also come from loving your child so much...and being faced with the reality that God loves us even so much more than that...which seems unimaginable.  I've been faced with how so very unable I am to grasp God's power and holiness.  I think about this often.  It truly is humbling me and forcing me to face the depth of God's love for my highly imperfect and often struggling self.  I'm just so amazed at the intricate details he created in each one of us.  The care he took as he crafted every unique and beautiful body and soul.  I would do anything for Selah; it's my natural instinct to protect her, provide for her, comfort her, and love her.  It pains me when she is sad, and it delights me when she has joy.  So in a way, seeing God as having these same feelings and attributes as our Father has been what has brought me to his feet the most.  Because now, more than ever, I realize how deeply He wants me to be there...and how much more often I need to go.  It makes more sense than ever to me why God says He'll provide our needs - because He wants to.  How it must hurt him when we take matters into our own hands and try to provide for ourselves.  It takes away from another opportunity for intimacy in our relationship with Him.  I don't always make wise decisions, I'm not always thinking about only what I should, and I often don't love and speak like Jesus.  Then I condem myself for this...until I realize God is not condemning me; he is longing that I come to him for help.

Those first 6 weeks, when I was spending so much time sitting and feeding Selah for even more hours in a day than I do now, I realized how valuable that time was when I had her full attention and heart.  So I started researching some things I could use to bring meaning to those moments and not waste them.  I found an awesome storybook bible on amazon called, "The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers his name."  Love, love this book!!  (We loved it so much we gifted it to our nephew, planning to get another.  Then the most amazing thing happened...Kevin's coworkers at church had gotten it for Selah and written sweet notes in it.  Amazing!  I JUST found out there's a curriculum coming out to go with it in January...hello baby homeschool :)  So I started reading it to her during some of these times...and it had me crying during the story of creation!  (Good thing Selah's still too young to fully grasp her mother's crazy emotional state:)  The author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, depicts the Bible in the most beautiful way for young ones.  But the simplicity of God's truth is something that I've found to be beautifully valuable for myself.  Listen to her account of God creating man:

"But God saved the best for last.  From the beginning, God had a shining dream in his heart.  He would make people to share his Forever Happiness.  They would be his children, and the world would be their perfect home.  So God breathes life into Adam and Eve.  When they opened their eyes, the first thing they ever saw was God's face.  And when God saw them he was like a new dad.  "You look like me," he said.  "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever made!"  God loved them with all of his heart.  And they were lovely because he loved them."

I absolutely love that.  Such a beautiful reminder that God loved us first; he chose to create us and he gave us the best of himself.  THEN, the story of Adam and Eve.  Tears and conviction for me again...

"God had a horrible enemy.  His name was Satan.  Satan had once been the most beautiful angel, but he didn't want to be just an angel - he wanted to be God.  He grew proud and evil and full of hate, and God had to send him out of heaven.  Satan was seething with anger and looking for a way to hurt God.  He wanted to stop God's plan, stop this love story, right there. So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden.  Now God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: 'Don't eat the fruit on that tree,' God told them.  'Because if you do, you'll think you know everything.  You'll stop trusting me.  And then death and sadness and tears will come.'  (You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn't need him.  And they would try to make themselves happy without him.  But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn't be life at all.)

"As soon as the snake saw his chance he slithered up to Eve.  'Does God really love you?' the serpent whispered.  'If he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit?  Poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy.'  The snake's words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison.  Does God love me?  Eve wondered.  Suddenly she didn't know anymore.  'Just trust me,' the serpent whispered.  'You don't need God.'....

Even picked the fruit and ate some.  And Adam ate some, too.  And a terrible lie came into the world.  It would never leave.  It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children: 'God doesn't love me.'  And it wasn't a dream; it was a nightmare."

Whew.  So tragic...such a deep wound.  I'm certainly thankful the story does not end there, and since then God has continued to remind and pursue his children with His love.  And one glorious day we will experience that perfect home that was meant to be.  Yet unfortunately doesn't that lie often still creep up and remain in our hearts??  Have we allowed that great nightmare to continue by believing Satan's angry lies?  This struck me so deeply as I read to my sweet daughter and prayed she would never believe it.  I know that will have so much to do with me not believing it first.  Again, a time for tears...and a desperate reminder to run quickly to Jesus.  Because as I sing to Selah, the words of one of my favorite songs rings true:  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace."

If you're anything like me and experiencing some weary days and wondering even a second about His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love," as Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it, I encourage you to run quickly to Jesus and ask him to remind you.

And just because we're on the topic of tears, I can never seem to get through this song anymore without crying.  Thankfully, I'm okay with that. :)


Two Months!

Baby dedication day!  A big bow occasion for sure :)

Okay, so in all honesty I totally wrote an entire post at 6 weeks...but never finished uploading the pics to go with it!!  Actually I double posted today so it is up because I wanted to document it, complete or not.   Well, when you have a newborn, two more weeks fly right by whether you like it or not.  When I wrote the last post I had a 9lb baby.  Now she is more than a whopping 10 lbs!  Oh my goodness.  My tiny dancer girl is growing up.  And is as precious as ever I might add.  Her chubbier little cheeks are just getting more kissable.  Of course I'm as biased as any mother, but we are so in love with Selah.  She amazes us with something new every single day.  I have written a handful of posts in my head to document it, but they haven't made it to the computer.  I'm blaming it on the fact that my sweet one is still eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. around the clock.  Though last week we had about 3 or 4 days when she would go a 4 to 4 1/2 hr stretch at the beginning of the night.  That was just wonderful.  With the lack of sleep I'm still quite tired, walking around with a foggy head, and just in general feeling lazy.  Those first 4 weeks were pure adrenaline for sure.  Art projects, sewing projects, blogging, baby holding all other hours of the day...definite bliss.  The baby holding still remains as blissful, but everything else has taken a back step to making the bed, doing the laundry and keeping the kitchen clean.  For my sanity. :)

While I'm amazed that I have a 2 month old, I'm still thankful that it's only been 2 months...because though I still might have only a handful of weeks more of wobbly head, tiny body newborn phase, I secretly love all the beautifully exhausting moments and am treasuring every one.  The sleeping thing is minor. 

I am so, so thankful to be home and enjoying this sweet girl of ours.  Some of my favorite things are reading our children's Jesus story bible to her, talking to her and making her smile, giving her baths, dressing her up, singing her songs, taking her on walks, watching her while she sleeps, staring at her while she plays, "playing" with her, feeling her sweet skin, wearing her in one of my baby carriers, talking about how amazing she is with Kevin, dressing her up in cute clothes and cloth diapers...and feeding her.  Yes, breastfeeding is going great! Glory to God for answering our prayers for sure.  After working so hard those first 6 weeks - pumping after every feeding, taking herbal supplements and a prescription, visiting the lactation consultant about 5 or 6 times, supplementing her with formula, being in pain...we finally caught our rhythm at almost exactly 6 weeks.  At her month appt.  the doctor said I would probably always have to supplement.  Which I was a little determined and hopeful to prove wrong.  Then, at a little over 5 weeks, the prescription really started kicking in and I made a decision to not have the option of formula, even when she was fussy at night and we weren't sure if she was still hungry or just fussy and we had to choose how much to give her...which had been the case the first few weeks.  Every feeding required us to be discerning about exactly what she needed and guessing how much she was getting from me.  Whew...a lot of work.  We started supplementing only with the breastmilk I had pumped, and I would just try to feed her again if she was fussy, whether I had anything or not.  Then at 6 weeks and 1 day I breastfed her exclusively all day and all night...and have ever since.  I am so so thankful, and praising God every day for how it has worked out and how wonderful the experience is for us now.  I know that's just my situation and I completely and totally respect all others' because it is a super sensitive subject.

At two months Selah as curious as ever, loving the discovery of the world around her.  She is certainly a pacifier baby, though she is discovering her fingers and thumb for longer periods of time when she has to.  And she always has her hands by her face or holding on to something (like her wubbanub - the best thing ever-more to come on that!)  It's so cute.  I love how it seems daily she is growing in patience and trust, gradually coming out of that more panicked scream stage when she wants or needs something.  It is so sweet to have her smile so big at us now and I can only imagine that will get even more sweet, especially when those smiles turn to giggles!  So far she is quite snuggly and I just love that.  It's a large part of why I struggle to write a post to completion!  A good problem to have though in my opinion.  I'm treasuring it all.  I often look at her intently and just imagine having conversations with her as a toddler, as a little girl, as a teenager, and as an adult!  I pray so much for this little girl and all those precious stages!!  So fascinating to wonder what it will be like and know how significant each step along the way will be.  I am definitely praying that God will lead us each and every step of the way and guide us to build a solid foundation. 

My sweet grandma and her second great-grandaughter!!

I promise I am not quitting the blogging world.  If anything I have more to write than ever!!  I actually have some goals for posts this week.  Like, hello - who wants to hear the birth story?!  Better late than never. :)  Very tough to write about such a sacred thing I'm finding.  Crazy.  Lately blogging has just been a priority/timing issue.  I also desperately need to work out...so when I get a free moment I have to choose...hold the baby, ("pause and reflect" if you know what I mean :), finish a blog post, workout so I can wear at least one pair of pants again...hmmm, I wonder what usually wins!!  For one I feel pretty exhausted with my short spurts of sleep...causing a great lack in motivation.  But most importantly, how could I pass up this precious special time!  It will never be like this again, I am well aware.  My sweet girl had a bit of an eye infection this week and was so super cuddly...so extra snuggling it was.  If God is so gracious to bless us with another child someday, those newborn days will be oh so precious as well...but not quite so still.  Because guess who'll be asking mommy to play in a whole new way??  My sweet Selah girl of course.