February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Volume 68

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about man voice, last minute travel, and recording your own audiobook in a bad accent

Last weekend was so wonderful.  I really appreciate all the tips on car rides with a baby!  We survived the trip and even found out that the mall halfway between us has private nursing/diaper changing rooms!  That will forever be a rest stop for us now!  It was so good getting to spend time with my parents and two of my girlfriends.  I just love seeing my mom and dad with baby o, and he just adores them! 

I got together with a friend and her baby this week!  Our sweet boys were born 15 days apart.  Thomas and I met her and her husband when we were pregnant and took a childbirth class at the hospital.  I loved having the chance to hang out with another new mommy and to see Oliver fascinated by looking at another baby.  And yes, I know Thomas and I produced a giant...

I really appreciated reading this article written by a man who identifies as gay.  He wrote about how just because people don't believe in gay marriage it doesn't mean they are homophobic.  It was refreshing to hear his perspective because it seems like more and more these days opposition to gay marriage is equated with being anti-gay.  Here are two quotes that seem to summarize his points: 

"Disagreement is not the same thing as discrimination. Our language ought to reflect that distinction."

"If it’s true that my gayness is not the most fundamental aspect of my identity as Brandon, then it seems to me that someone could ideologically disapprove of my sexual expression while simultaneously loving and affirming my larger identity. This is what Pope Francis was getting at when he asked, “When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” The Pope probably won’t be officiating gay marriages any time soon. But because he differentiates between a person’s sexual identity and her larger identity as a human being, he is able to affirm the latter without offering definitive commentary on the former."

I kind of dropped the ball on the 7 posts in 7 days yesterday, so maybe I need to write two posts to make up for it?  I was busy hanging out with my sweetie pie during the day, and I just didn't feel like writing anything last night.  At least I posted Oliver's birth story this week!

There's nothing sweeter than a man with his baby! I just love seeing these two together. <3

I'm starting my first real job on Monday.  It's so strange to think of myself as an occupational therapist now after years and years of being a student.  I am so excited and nervous and filled with a million different emotions right now!  I would really appreciate prayers for a smooth transition, to make it through the day without crying about leaving Oliver, and for Oliver to do well without me.  Thank you to all those who offered me encouragement on that last post.  Your kind words meant so more than you know! 

My plans for the weekend consist of relaxing with my main men and doing some house hunting (eek!).

And here's a picture of that chunkster, just because...

February 26, 2014

Thoughts on Becoming a Working Mom

Starting on Monday I'll be leaving my sweet boy in the hands of another woman to become a working mom.  

Last week was the first time I cried about it.  I think that knowing I would leave him to work had always been a far off idea, but now that it's closer I'm beginning to see the reality of the new lifestyle that's just around the corner. 

Leaving baby Oliver is going to be hard.  Probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. 

Lately I've been filled with so many mixed emotions.  I am so excited to be starting a job where God has called me to be.  I feel grateful that he wants to use me to share his love, but I also am filled with sadness and worry about being separated from Baby O during the day.  He has such a great caregiver, but I can't help myself from all the thoughts running through my head. 

Nobody knows him like I do.  What if she doesn't understand his cues?  What if he doesn't like her?  What if he likes her more than me? What if he thinks I've abandoned him?  What if me being gone makes him really sad? What if he thinks I don't love him?  What if he won't eat?  What if this changes his joyful disposition? How am I going to manage working and taking care of a baby with cleaning and cooking and exercising?  What if I cry at work during my first week in front of people I don't know? How am I going to manage pumping when I'm new to this workplace? Does having a job make me a bad mom?  (Okay, now I'm tearing up again just typing out those thoughts...) 

At the same time, God keeps giving me reassuring signs over and over and over again that this is exactly where He wants me to be. 

Through this quote from Pope Francis:

"If we live the faith in our daily life, then our work too becomes a chance to spread the joy of being a Christian."

Through the Gospel reading and our priest's homily about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  Our priest's call to share our talents with the world so that at the end of our lives, we're empty salt shakers.  Some moms are called to use their talents to be stay at home moms, but God is clearly calling me to work at this point in life. 

Through this quote from Mother Teresa: 

"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

I know God has given me a unique set of talents and I have felt his guiding hand all along in leading me to occupational therapy and to this particular job.  I know he wants to work through me to share his love and to improve the quality of the lives of others.  Like Pope Francis said, working is a great way to share the joy that comes from our faith.  

Yes, I know all this to be true in my heart, but dang, it's still just so hard thinking about leaving my baby.  

To all the working moms out there, how did you cope with the transition?

February 25, 2014

Oliver's Birth Story

The 7 posts in 7 days challenge is just what I needed to make me finally finish writing Oliver's birth story.  And now I can add this to Grace's birth story link up after reading many of those before Oliver was born! 

I didn't have a birth plan written out, but I am a stubborn soul and I think I'm tougher than I really am, so I had my mind set on giving birth naturally. Well, that didn't quite go to plan! 

It all started Sunday evening, nine days late.  Here I am in the afternoon...looking back at this it's a miracle I didn't topple forward with that gigantic belly (and that soon to come gigantic nine and a half pound boy)! 
Thomas and I went to the Life Teen mass, and I started feeling contractions.  I noted that they were about five minutes apart and that they just kept coming.  I had a hunch that it might really be time because they felt like bad cramps, as opposed to the Braxton Hicks which were just uncomfortable.  However, I also had about 99 hunches during that week that didn't lead to labor, so I wasn't completely sure.  We went to adoration after mass, and my contractions were still coming regularly.  I sat there praying for our baby boy and his birth, filled with both eager anticipation and some hesitation since I didn't want to get my hopes up. 

Once we got home for the evening, the contractions were worse and Thomas and I became really excited thinking it was certainly time for our baby boy to arrive! We started packing our hospital bag and cleaning up the apartment, and we didn't go to bed until around midnight.  I slept on and off through the contractions and woke up around 4am to go to the bathroom.  When I got up to go, it woke Thomas up, so he went to the bathroom when I got back in bed.  All of a sudden I felt the strangest popping sensation, realized my water broke, and sprinted to the bathroom.  I banged on the door and yelled "I need to get in there now! My water just broke!" (Poor Thomas!) 

I called the midwife and she said to take a shower and head over to the hospital. I had to go when my water broke so I could get on antibiotics (thank you Group B strep), so that changed our plans of laboring at home for as long as possible! I savored every minute of that shower while Thomas hightailed it into action and packed up the last minute items on our list.

We got to the hospital around five in the morning and were sent to triage.  Once they confirmed that I was in active labor and that my water broke, they moved me into a room where I was hooked up to keep an eye on the contractions and the baby's heart. We had an hour before the midwife would arrive, so after some time monitoring, the nurses told us we could walk around the hospital until she got there.

At that point, the contractions started getting more and more intense, and I know I was a quite a sight, dropping to the floor in pain in the middle of the hallway every couple minutes.  Several people stopped to ask if I was okay - oh yes, just giving birth to a baby!  I was so embarrassed having the whole hospital seeing me that we headed back to the room.  

When we got back to the room, the midwife arrived and told me I needed to go on Pitocin because I wasn't progressing as quickly as they'd like.  I am a passive person, so I agreed to take it even though I didn't want to. That drug was just horrible, and for future pregnancies I plan on adamantly saying no to Pitocin! The contractions came one on top of the other without any rest in between, and they made me stay in bed for the two exhausting hours I was on the drug.  My midwife then decided it was too intense since I was having continuous contractions, and the nurses took me back off of it again. After that, my midwife told me I was quickly progressing and that I would certainly be having the baby sometime between 5 and 7 that night, which gave me such motivation to keep on trucking through (little did I know the hours and hours ahead...)! 

The next few hours seem like such a blur, although they felt like they would never end at the time!  For the hours that followed, the only thing I wanted to do was sit on the yoga ball and have Thomas push on my lower back as hard as he possibly could (I'm certain I yelled at him a few times to push and not rub, although he kindly recalls that I was very nice to him).  My midwife convinced me to get in the bathtub for a while, and I'm so glad I did because it provided such sweet relief during the resting time between contractions.  The next time she checked me, I was dilated 7cm, and I felt pumped up thinking our baby was coming soon (ha ha ha...).  The contractions felt more and more intense and painful than I could have possibly imagined, but I still felt motivated. 

I tried with all my might to focus on breathing through the contractions, and Thomas was such a helpful labor coach. He was so encouraging, and he constantly told me things like "You are in control of this," "You're doing so great," "I love you," and "we're meeting our baby so soon!"...all while letting me squeeze the heck out of his hands.  Even the nurses and midwife commented multiple times on how fortunate I was to have such a positive and involved husband!  I would have never made it without his support and encouragement.  I don't think either of us expected to fall so much more in love with one another as we did in the middle of that small, dark hospital room. 

Two and a half hours later, I was still at 7cm.  And two and a half hours after that, still at 7cm.  At that point, I was completely and totally exhausted and felt like I had nothing more to give. I was shaking for the entirety of those five hours, and my legs felt like jello.  When my midwife told me I was still at 7 cm, I felt so defeated and asked for pain medication, thinking I might be able to avoid getting an epidural if I had something to keep me going. 

I took Percocet, which was a trippy, trippy drug that made me feel like I was drunk.  It didn't take the pain away, but it took the edge off and stopped my labor shakes.  It made the time I was on it feel like a dream while I was experiencing it, which I suppose was a good thing!  Thomas remembers saying "Look at me - you got this!" to which I replied "I can't! There's two of you!" 

And goodness gracious, once the pain medicine started wearing off, I was still stuck at 7cm.  My midwife encouraged me to get an epidural because I wasn't progressing, and at that point I felt total and complete defeat, and I knew I was going to get one.  I have never been so exhausted and in pain in my entire life, and knowing that I had been at 7cm for over 5 hours made me feel so ready to give up.  

The anesthesiologist came in, and although I was terrified at first, that epidural was heavenly.  The labor at that point was the worst thing I've ever felt in my entire life, and the epidural was the absolute best thing I've ever felt.  While waiting several hours to push, we tried to sleep, but it was just so hard when we were so eagerly waiting for our baby to get there! 

My midwife told me most first time moms take an hour or two to push.  Oh, I pushed and I pushed, and at 6:59 in the morning during the change of shifts, THREE hours later and 37 hours after starting contractions, our sweet Oliver took his first breath of air!  I watched him come into the world with a mirror (which I didn't think I would), and it was absolutely astounding. A true miracle.  I hate to say that my first words (through many tears) when he was born were "Oh my gosh, look at that head!!!" which got a good laugh out of everyone in the room!  
They placed him on my chest and I couldn't stop looking at him and feeling his soft, squishy skin.  He was so beautiful and so perfect.  
Thomas cut his umbilical cord, that last piece connecting us together.  

Holding him for the first time was surreal.  I was in such awe and utter disbelief that he was all ours.  Our precious gift from God.  All those months of waiting and praying for him, and he was finally there.  It's amazing how I looked into his eyes and felt like I'd known him forever. 
Initially I felt disappointed with myself for getting an epidural, but that disappointment didn't last for too long. The whole birth seems like such a distant memory now, and even if it didn't go as I hoped, it doesn't matter.  At the end of it all, I went home with the most beautiful, healthy baby boy that Thomas and I absolutely love and adore! 
God has a different story for each of us, and it was a humbling experience to realize I wasn't strong enough to make it on my own.  It stripped my pride to the very core. I'm sure I'll still try for a natural birth in the future because I want to know what it's like, but if all our next babies take that long to enter the world, I'll keep in mind how awesome that epidural was. ;) 

Thinking back on it all, I am blown away with amazement. Labor and birth is a time of complete and utter vulnerability that forces you to fully rely on God.  A time where you willingly experience pain and suffering that leads to life and overwhelming joy.  It brings you to your knees and points you to the cross.  It has given me a much greater understanding of all the pain our Lord experienced so that we might have abundant life. It's a beautiful gift! 

And that is the story of how two became three.

February 24, 2014

Appreciating Parents More After a Baby

I'm linking up with Jen to write 7 posts in 7 days.  It's my last seven days off before starting my job, so I ought to be able to write a post a day! ;)

I love my parents.  Always have.  Always will.   They are so good to me, and they are so good to our sweet Oliver. 

There's just something about having a baby that's shown me a different side of them, making me love and appreciate them on a whole new level.  Now that I have a baby of my own, I see where they were standing when they brought me home from the hospital 24 years ago.

I didn't realize the amount of sacrifice that comes along with the beauty of a new life until I had a baby of my own. 

Now I know. 

I know about the constant need to put someone else's needs ahead of your own every single day without ceasing.  I know the skipping showers and the passing a baby back and forth through dinner.  I know the sleepless nights.  I know the tears and I know the struggles.  

I didn't realize the amount of love parents have for their babies until I was holding that precious new life in my arms. 

Now I know. 

I know the feeling of loving someone so much your heart could just burst.  I know the feeling that you would do anything for your child.  I know the worries and I know the fears.  I know the hoping and praying for the best in every aspect of your child's life.  

Everything I'm experiencing with baby Oliver, they experienced with me when I was a baby.  Even though I've only been a mommy for a short period of time, I feel like I already have a much better idea of the depth of my parent's love for me, and I know my understanding will only increase as I raise babies of my own.  Parenting is beautiful and messy and exhausting, but above all it's a beautiful example of selfless love.

I look at my parents and I am filled with gratitude.  The days with a newborn are just memories for them now, but for me they mean so much as I think back on what they must have been like.  Thank you mom and thank you dad. Thank you for all of the things you did for me throughout the early years of my life.  Thank you for constantly sacrificing. Thank you for doing more, more, and more for me without any thanks in return.

Your love is a blessing and you are both so appreciated. Thank you for modeling unconditional love and for allowing me to see God's love through your love for me.  

I love you and I'm thankful to be your daughter.