The Lady with the Baby

Dear every passenger I am sharing a plane with this weekend,

I am sorry that I am here. Really I am. I would not be the person you just prayed wouldn’t be on this plane if it weren’t for this broken world where death touches us all. I know the second you saw me you thought, “why me?”. I thought that too when I got this ticket. Well maybe not right when I got it because then I was thinking about the loss of my Nana, but don’t worry my selfishness crawled back and I thought, “why me?”.

I know you don’t want me here. You and me both. You think it is hard to have a baby on your plane? Trust me when I say that I really don’t want to be the reason you have a terrible flight. I currently feel the weight of your day starting out well on my shoulders.

Are you worried about being on this plane during cold and flu season? Me too. My 5 month old has a terrible immune system. She has already had 4 colds and 1 ear infection in her short life. I am terrified of what this weekend of winter travel will bring her.

Are you uncomfortable because I am nursing my baby? Well it is a picnic trying to fit feeding my baby into this ever so small plane seat while you give me dirty looks. Trust me if it didn’t require being in physical pain and possibly losing some milk supply I would have brought bottles.

Are you terrified to the core of your very being that this plane will crash and you will have to face death? No? Well there you go, at least you have one up on me. I am terrified of planes. TERRIFIED. I have yet to sleep more than an hour the night before I fly. I have subconsciously tried to get out of flights by leaving my passport in a different state, losing my wallet, leaving my purse in a locked church and getting physically ill. These stunts were BEFORE I became ‘the lady with the baby’. I am currently praying that the part of my heart that knows the peace of Christ would punch the part still battling my anxiety disorder in the face.

I promise that I will do everything I can to keep my baby quiet and happy, show as little breast as possible while nursing and keep only to my fair share of space. I am sorry if it doesn’t all work out, babies are a little unpredictable. I sincerely hope I am not on your next plane, but I hope if that plane does have another ‘lady with the baby’ you will give her some grace. Trust me, between the two of you, she will be much more worried about that flight than you.

That mom with perfect hair, designer clothes and a baby who sleeps peacefully the whole flight…Oh wait that is the mom in my Parenting magazine. I mean that mom in yoga pants who smelled like spit up, didn’t brush her hair, has never heard of make-up and looked on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Clara’s Nursery

I was sure this pregnancy was a boy. From the minute I thought we could have possibly conceived a child, I KNEW it was a boy. Until we had a party where almost everyone wore blue, and we cut open a big pink cake. It was a very exciting pink cake, but it crushed Shane’s dreams of a Super Mario Brothers room, and meant I needed a new plan. I wanted something different than the typical pink ballet room (which is what Emma Grace has by the way). I became inspired by the shows I had been working on while I was pregnant, all of which were based on children’s books. Children’s literature was a GREAT nursery theme. I also wanted some new colors. Shane and I went to JMU, and loved every minute there. It is the place we met and fell in love. It is the place that we made incredible, life long friends. Purple and yellow are great colors for a nursery. And so Clara’s purple/yellow/gray literature nursery was born…

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The first wall has shelves with different paraphernalia representing different books. The wall above the futon has book themed alphabet flash cards I made. The futon is there because Clara’s room is also a 2nd guest bedroom.

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This top shelf is incredibly special to me. It has pieces that represent all three shows I worked on this past year. I choreographed Narnia and Charlotte’s Web and directed Willy Wonka. I absolutely love my job and I remember parts of my pregnancy based on what show I was doing at the time, so it is really sweet to have these reminders in Clara’s room.

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I did not work on Alice in Wonderland, but these souvenirs came from that show. My favorite part is the illustrations. I painted the frames to match the room and absolutely love the way it looks.

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The last shelf is part theme/part practical. The owl lamp was bought to represent Hedwig because this nursery had to have a piece of Harry Potter somewhere. Notice how the owl can actually be used for a night light. I love it! The box has some books to read and some bibs and burp cloths for middle of the night nursing.

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These flash cards took a lot of time, thought and help from friends on social media, but it was well worth it. Emma Grace loves telling Clara about all the different characters on her wall. It is precious.

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This corner is why the room wasn’t ready until now. I wanted to put some photos up from Clara’s newborn photo session. There is one of just Clara, as well as one with each member of the family. Yes we did dress to match the room colors. Judge if you must.

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Just like with Emma Grace, my mom made Clara’s bedding. I love being able to pick out my own fabric combinations and have exactly what I want. My girls have the best Nana ever!

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One of my very dear friends made these letters for Clara. She was the only one we intentionally told the name to before Clara arriving. I love having a piece from her in each girl’s room because we don’t get to see her very often.

I am thrilled with how the nursery turned out. Shane even comments regularly on how much he loves it, and he pretty much could not care less about design anywhere else in the whole house. I hope you enjoyed the tour.

A Letter to My Favorite Big Sister

Dear Emma Grace,

Exactly one month ago I accidentally tripped you before the last time I put you down for a nap with your sister in my belly. You scraped the entire length of your shin and you sobbed the whole time I read to you before bed. I held it together long enough to wrap your leg, sing you a few extra songs, and pray. Once I left your room I sobbed. It wasn’t exactly the happy, sweet, feel good time I wanted to leave you with before I left for the hospital. I do look back on it fondly though, because you were so tired and in so much pain that you clung to me. You are a very independent toddler, and it was like I got a moment of you being my baby one last time. I am so thankful for that moment.

Life is completely different now. You were already a big sister that day, but now that means so much more. A month ago you could give ‘baby sissy’ a kiss on my belly and then drag me wherever you wanted without hesitation. Now that baby is out of my belly, and often keeps me from chasing after you at your whim. I know that’s hard for you sweet girl. I know that because it is hard for me too.

You are the most amazing big sister in the world. I am sure every mother thinks that. I am sure they are all right. I know that is actually not possible, and usually I am against that kind of attitude, but I make an exception here. You love your sister so much, even though you often get told you love her wrong. You want to hold her, but she cries because you aren’t quite strong enough. You want to hug her, but you get stopped because you lay your whole body over her face. I am sorry there are so many rules to loving, it feels unfair. Despite the many times a day you hear ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and ‘wait’, you continue to love. Clara loves you for that. She lights up when you lay down next to her and talk to her. She finds you in a room anytime you are talking. She is so blessed to have you.

I know that despite your smile and loving ways, you are struggling. I want you to know that I see you. I see the disappointment when I can’t sit on the floor and color because Clara has to eat AGAIN. I see your longing when I come into your room to get you up from your nap, and Clara is in the place you long to be, my arms. I see your frustration when we try to do an activity that gets cut short because Clara starts screaming. I see these things not just because you are quicker to break down, cling to me more than you have in a year, and ask me to put her down. I see these things because I feel them too my love. I hate that I can’t always hold you, play how you want to play and try a new adventure. We had so much fun doing those things for 2 1/2 years. I miss that time. I miss you too.

I want you to know that this time is short. Clara will grow quickly. I know because you did. Before we blink you and Clara will play together. You and Clara will be best friends then hate each other then be best friends again in a matter of 15 minutes. One day, you will probably want to hang out with her much more than you want to hang out with me. This time is hard for us both, but it will get better.

My sweet Emma Grace, I am so proud of you. You are so helpful. You listen so well. You have so much fun when we play, but you are so patient when we can’t. You aren’t perfect. You disobey, get bossy and throw tantrums. You have to go through skipping a meal, going to your room and having things taken away. Please know that I see all of the good first. Sometimes I am surprised by one of your poor reactions because I am so spoiled by how well you have been doing.

My big girl, I know you are trying to learn how to handle this change. So am I. We were so used to it being the two of us during the day. We had a good thing going, and I am learning how to make this new thing better. In the meantime, please be patient with me. When we pray before nap and bed we always pray that you will know how much I love you even when I fail you. We pray that you will know that Jesus loves you more than me, better than me, and perfectly. That is my prayer always. I cannot love you perfectly because I am far from perfect. I can love you fiercely every day. I can try to love you better tomorrow than I do today. I can trust that Jesus loves you in all my failure, and He will continue to grow my already giant love for you. I know that because today I love you more than I ever thought possible, and tomorrow I will be surprised that I can love you even more.

All my love,

A Day In the Life

Getting used to a day with two little ones is a big change. It is much more physically draining than one, but much less emotionally draining. The first time around every single decision felt like life or death. Now it is more like, “Are both girls still alive?…Yes?…GREAT!” Each day looks a lot like this…

I spend the morning with happy, beautiful girls. One sleeps a lot and the other is full of so much joy and energy that I cannot get enough of her.

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Oh and it starts with coffee. ALWAYS.
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While Clara sleeps, Emma Grace and I spend a lot of time listening to music (she still asks to see Tarzan daily), coloring, gardening and sometimes crafting. Today we listened to her Tarzan Pandora station while making a count down chain for Peter Pan. The girl CANNOT get enough musical theaterūüôā

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Clara played during her small window of not sleeping and not eating.
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However after lunch things start to go downhill. Clara’s naps get shorter. Emma Grace starts to get needier. I get tired. After starting most days like this…
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By the time Shane gets home it looks like this…
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No shower, dinner left cold on the table, both girls crying and mama not far behind.

Every morning I have plans for what I am going to accomplish after bedtime, but by the time bedtime rolls around you can bet I am doing nothing but watching TV and going to bed. Right now, that is ok. I enjoy my mornings with my girls and tv with my hubby. Everything else can wait.

Running Out of Time

Recently someone told me a story about the birthing class she attended when pregnant. ¬†The nurse told them that some of the women in class would end up with a c-section, but she didn’t want them to feel like a failure when that happened. ¬†The nurse pointed out that when each woman found out she was pregnant, she was excited to hold her baby. ¬†The newly excited pregnant women did not say, “Oh, I am so excited for a vaginal delivery.” ¬†I laughed and thought it was a cute story, but in the last few days the Lord has really replayed this in my heart. ¬†

I am 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant, so this morning I was checked and have still made ¬†NO PROGRESS. ¬†If baby girl has not started her journey by late tomorrow afternoon I will check in, have a gel put in to make me ready for induction and stay the night in the hospital before being put on pitocin in the morning. ¬†This plan is not what I want. ¬†I want baby girl to come on her own. ¬†I don’t want extra things introduced into my body. ¬†I don’t want the higher risk of c-section and other unwanted things that come with induction, however small those chances may still be. ¬†I know many people who have had successful and peaceful inductions, but it is not ideal. ¬†I am frustrated. ¬†I am scared. ¬†I don’t know why my baby girls (because this is not our first time in this position) seem to not have any interest in leaving my body, ever. ¬†Emma Grace came after the gel insertion, which was a huge answer to prayer. ¬†It also may be why I completely missed early labor and why she came so fast that I tore every which way. ¬†However, Shane and I did not celebrate over upcoming spontaneous labor. ¬†We do not talk to Emma Grace about how baby sissy is going to come all on her own and we can’t wait. ¬†We are looking forward to our baby girl, not her perfect entrance. ¬†When it comes to baby girl, we have already been so blessed.

God has blessed this pregnancy in many ways.  He has given me a doctor that I trust completely and has been open to me going a full two weeks past my due date.  He has given me a baby who seems to still be thriving in my womb despite being so far past her due date.  He has given us extra family time, sleep and time to prepare.  We are blown away by the goodness He has shown us during this pregnancy.  It is that same God that has a perfect labor plan for us, whether I think it is perfect or not. 

We believe that God is good whether I start spontaneous labor in the next 24 hours, or we have more go wrong than we could ever imagine in the next 2 days. ¬†It is not things going as we planned that is the symbol of God’s goodness. ¬†It is His son, His sacrifice, and our place in Heaven that is goodness. ¬†We also believe that God can and does do beautiful and amazing things in our lives. ¬†So we will continue to pray for spontaneous labor and a very healthy baby girl. ¬†We ask that you pray for those things as well. ¬†We know that God can do those things, but we trust that He is in this process even if it doesn’t go as we hope.

Little Chef

Toddlers are the best. I know most people would disagree with me, but oh my goodness I LOVE having a toddler. Does she have complete irrational meltdowns? Yes. Does she need to be taught how to share 10 times an hour when we play with friends? Sometimes. Does she sometimes talk so fast without a full vocabulary that I have no idea what she is trying to tell me? Absolutely. BUT SHE IS THE BEST. Yesterday I was at the doctor for SO LONG to make sure everything was ok with baby girl, so I could hold off induction for another week. My little toddler ended up with 2 different babysitters over the course of almost 3 hours. When I came home it was time for lunch, during which Emma Grace insisted on holding my hand while we ate. She didn’t cry when I was gone. She didn’t freak out when I came home, but she missed me and just wanted to hold my hand. The sweetness is overwhelming.

Not only is my little toddler ridiculously sweet, but she is actually able to help with chores. She helps me with laundry, dishes and making beds. Would it be faster if she didn’t? Absolutely. Would it be done a little nicer if she didn’t? Probably, though housework isn’t exactly my strength. Would I enjoy it half as much without watching her figure things out and look at me with a proud smile? Not a chance.

Our favorite thing to do together is cook. Probably because I love cooking and the result is way more fun than the laundry. You may be thinking, “How on earth does a 2 1/2 year old cook?” Well we have developed a system that allows us to have a good product and some fun. If you have been trying to figure out how to get some cooking/baking done with your little one at your leg, please give this a try.

Emma Grace gets a chair to stand on at the counter (clearly I should invest in a stool, but the chair works fine). Next to my dish or bowl, she gets her own. As I scoop, chop, and shred ingredients she gets to pour them into “Mommy’s bowl.” After the correct amount has been put into my bowl then Emma Grace gets a small amount of any non harmful ingredient to pour into her bowl. She cannot take the spoon out of Mommy’s bowl or eat anything out of it, but she can do both of these things with her bowl. Most of the time she is actually my little chef. She pours everything in for me, stirs and scrapes the real stuff. However, when she gets ancy and wants to be a little messier or eat right then and there she uses her bowl. As long as she gets the same ingredients mommy is using then she is happy.

Today we made an applesauce cake sweetened with honey and dates. She put all of the ingredients for the actual cake in my bowl, stirred and helped pour the batter in the pan.

She also ate from her bowl which had a small amount of the whole wheat flour, cinnamon, pecans, dates and applesauce.

My little chef had SO MUCH FUN baking with me. How could I not let her help?

Disclaimer: In one month when my toddler is freaking out because we can’t send the baby back, please don’t point me to this post and make fun of my love of toddlers. I reserve the right to change my opinion. Thanks.

Not All Bad

Today I am 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. That means every day I stare at my stomach and attempt to Jedi Mind trick this baby girl out of my womb…clearly the force is not strong with me. We are very anxious to meet our baby girl and get this sleep deprived show on the road, but being late isn’t all bad. I thought I would share some things that have been great about these last couple weeks.

Family Time…Due to directing Willy Wonka and choreographing Charlotte’s Web, I didn’t have a free weekend from January 3rd through Memorial Day weekend. I did have off over Spring Break, which we used to drive up to Poughkeepsie for time with the whole family. This means that it had been a long time since Shane, Emma Grace and I got a lazy Saturday for the 3 of us. We LOVE the 3 of us, and we are soon to lose that forever. We have used the last couple weekends for trips to the park, farmer’s market and even ice cream (something I have given Emma Grace exactly 3 times in her life). I am so thankful for the little bit of time we have gotten before we add another member to the family.

Emma Grace Time…I know this sounds similar to the first thing, but it is more specifically the time I’ve gotten with my girl during the week. I wasn’t done working all together until 38 weeks pregnant, but for the last 3 weeks I have had nothing to take me away from Emma Grace. I was nervous I would be so tired that I would just let her watch too much TV and try to make it through. By the grace of God I have had a decent amount of energy and an incredibly joyful toddler. We have had more fun playing in the last 3 weeks than ever before. I can’t believe how beautiful, funny and creative my girl has become, I truly cannot get enough of her. It is such a reminder of God’s faithfulness, love and plan to think about how far we have come from colic and depression to enjoying every minute together.

Awkwardness…When you tell people how close you are to your due date they immediately want to tell you all of the ways to get the baby out. There is nothing like having the parent of your student, or even better a random stranger in a store, tell you to go home and have sex. Thanks for the advice, it’s like you think I don’t have the internet or season 8 of Friends. Please.

Making people uncomfortable…I wish I could take a picture of the face of every store manager when I respond with, “2 days of ago” to their question of when I am due. In that moment I go from an adorable pregnant woman to the reason they are going to have an ambulance at their store and be covered in blood in the next 15 minutes. I am not sure why people think due dates are magic days that cause 10 minute public labor, but that seems to be a common assumption. It is awesome.

A Clean House…Well to some people it is probably not clean. I don’t really do bathrooms right now, so Shane could probably stand to do that. However, knowing that at any time I could have to leave and my parents could be living here for 2 days before I return has inspired me to keep the house at ‘ready’. Some days are better than others, but no days are as bad as 36 week pregnant tech week.

Sleep…I don’t sleep well every night, but since work has been over I have slept much better. The combination of not running over things to fix in musical numbers in my head and my back not killing me from dancing on bad floors has improved what I thought was just pregnancy insomnia. I still have some bad nights, but most nights I sleep fairly well. Ignorance may be bliss, but my lack of newborn ignorance allows me to appreciate every minute of sleep I get right now.

Date Nights…Shane and I love to date. We are pretty good at doing so due to a child that goes to bed at 7, and awesome family who is always willing to spend some time with Emma Grace. Unfortunately our dates were not quite as frequent in the last 6 months because of my job being a night time/weekend thing. In the last couple weeks we have been able to go out for dinner, lunch, go to a show, take a few walks and play some basketball together. I know we are about to go into survival mode, so I am incredibly thankful for the time we have spent together these last few weeks.

Appreciating the (potential) last time…It is possible this will be our last pregnancy. I suppose that is always true, but most people assume that due to our age and love of being parents that this is not our last. We are not turning around and making a permanent decision next week, but we are seriously considering this being our last biological child. There is so much involved in that choice, as well as the fact that often things happen outside of our plan, so I COULD get pregnant again. However we are leaning toward avoiding that, and knowing this might be it gives me graduation goggles. I appreciate every little baby movement, extra scoop of ice cream and spontaneous foot rub a little bit more than I did last time.

It is true every morning I wake up annoyed I am still not in labor. I am anxious to have this sweet girl and start this new chapter in our family, but I am thankful to be able to appreciate these small pleasures of this long pregnancy.


Lately I have been seeing and hearing a lot of things about real men. ¬†Both Christian blogs about ‘biblical manhood’ and secular blogs about ‘real men’. ¬†I don’t think I have heard so much about this topic since every guy I knew was reading Wild At Heart my freshman year of college. ¬†I don’t know why this is creeping up everywhere, but it has reminded me (and brought up again) a question I get asked from time to time…

“Is it hard being married to someone who isn’t the spiritual leader in your home?”

My answer, “I don’t know.”

I think people ask this because Shane is incredibly quiet. ¬†He was never leading a team or bible study in our college ministry, and would rather do almost anything before he would talk to someone he doesn’t know. ¬†While being the person in front telling everyone about Jesus is a wonderful thing, I think we have mixed up personality type with ability to lead. ¬†Shane is an introvert through and through, but why should that mean he can’t lead me? ¬†According to the Bible the FIRST WILL BE LAST AND THE LAST WILL BE FIRST. ¬†Yet how often do we look at the quiet person serving and think THAT is how you lead? ¬†We don’t. ¬†Paul says a man should love his wife as Christ loved the church. ¬†When the church expected Jesus to stand up, yell and vanquish their enemies, Jesus died. ¬†Jesus is our leader because he scarificed everything so that we could live. Why then do you assume that my husband cannot lead me because he struggles to have idle conversation?

I have a husband who works all day then comes home and goes straight to Daddy mode. He does bathtime and bedtime and then does the dishes, so that I can have a break.  You know what that tells me?  It tells me that he values my time.  He gives importance to the fact that I care for our daughter all day, do housework, cook meals and prep for my part time job. Shane goes out of his way to affirm what I do for our family.  LEADER.

I have a husband who remembers others and where our help comes from. ¬†When we pray together I spend about 5 minutes asking for things I want and trying to remember a few needs of others. ¬†When it is Shane’s turn I end up listening to 15 minutes of every prayer request we have been given directly, heard through a friend, read on a facebook update or saw on the news in the last 6 months. ¬†He may not talk to you much, but he talks to God for you all the time. ¬†Just listening to him pray reminds me of his compassion for others, reliance on God and love for our family. ¬†LEADER.

I have a husband who puts my comfort ahead of his own daily. ¬†I am 39 weeks pregnant which means I haven’t slept for approximately 33 weeks. In the beginning I was sick, now I am in pain and from time to time I have terrible panic attacks. He holds me, prays for me, gets me water, helps to ice my back and anything else I could possibly need.¬†I told him that he could sleep in the guest room, so he would be better rested for work. ¬†He never considered it. He knows how much it helps me to have him and that matters to him. ¬†LEADER.

I have a husband who supports my interests, even if he never would choose my activities on his own. ¬†Shane had never attended an arts event before he met me. ¬†Not a play, concert or a museum visit unless it was a field trip. That same man has never missed a performance that was important to me. I don’t just mean coming to my performances or things I have directed. ¬†I mean if I want to see a friend on tour he will drive to another city with me, so we can support her. ¬†LEADER.

I have a husband with a heart for people, even ones he doesn’t know. ¬†Shane hates presents, but I LOVE to give presents. ¬†Shane drives by a few homeless people on his way to work every day. ¬†So this year for Christmas Shane asked if I could have people give him things to put in supply kits for homeless people. ¬†LEADER.

I have a husband who has faith the size of a mountain, while mine is barely the size of a mustard seed.  I am a doubter.  I doubt my faith.  I doubt my salvation.  I doubt goodness and mercy.  I lay awake for one night with more questions than most people ask in a lifetime.  Shane answers every single one that he can.  He points me to scripture.  He prays for me.  He reminds me of all of the amazing things God has done.  He reminds me of the lies in my thinking and the truth in the Bible.  He does not waiver, but he never makes me feel bad for my doubts.  LEADER.

I have a ¬†husband who stands up for me. ¬†I am someone who often goes against the grain of my ‘group’. ¬†I am Christian in the arts. ¬†I often don’t vote Republican, but I believe strongly in reformed theology. ¬†I have changed the way we purchase food and clothing based on how those things came to our store, which means we spend more money than on those items than most. ¬†Shane supports me in all of it. ¬†He listens to my reasoning, searches for truth and always affirms my thinking, though not always my conclusions. ¬†He does not say much in a big bible study, but I will never forget feeling attacked by every single person in the room on an issue and Shane speaking up for me.¬†Not because he was trying to tell anyone they were wrong. ¬†He didn’t care that they disagreed. ¬†He was angry because those disagreeing with me kept repeating ‘my words’ incorrectly. ¬†He was frustrated that I was being yelled at for saying something I didn’t say, rather than listened to for my concern. ¬†Shane doesn’t talk in groups often, but he will always stand up for me. ¬†LEADER.

I am not writing this because I want to brag about my husband, though clearly I have done that excessively. ¬†I am writing this because I want you to rethink judging anyone’s spiritual strength and leadership. ¬†Many times people have roles at work or at church because of their PERSONALITY TYPE not because of their SPIRITUALITY. ¬†The person standing up front may be an excellent leader, but their ability to speak in front of people is a very small part of that determination. ¬†If you feel insecure in your spiritual gifts because you don’t fill that mold, please know that God values the way you serve Him. ¬†He made you exactly as you are and He doesn’t want you to ‘fake it till you make it’. ¬†He wants YOU.¬†If Shane could stand in front of a group of people and talk really well, but left me feeling unheard, disrespected, forgotten, not valued, alone, below him or weak then what kind of leader would he be? ¬†On that same note, what if I ignored all of Shane’s incredible ways of leading me because he doesn’t speak up in bible study, enjoy going to social events and start his own ministries? ¬†What kind of partner would I be?

For the First Time in Forever

I am a crier. I have watched the Kristen Bell sloth interview at least 10 times and have never heard it said better than, “If I am not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying.” Happy, sad, moved, excited or scared, if the emotion is strong I am crying. Since the age of about 14 I have cried everytime a mother held her new baby in any show or movie I ever watched or birth story I read. EVERY.TIME. That magical, blissful moment when all the exhaustian and pain melted away in the eyes of her child was so beautiful. And then I had Emma Grace. I had all of the pain and none of the magic, and for the last 2 years and 5 months those scenes and stories have caused me to cringe, be angry or go numb. They have not made me cry. Until today.

Today I ended up on the blog of someone I have never met or even read before. I read her birth story for her second child, saw the pictures of the tiny new born and tired mama and I wiped a tear from my eye. I longed to hold my baby girl. I may not get that magic moment. I may be back to cringing in a day, or week, or more (PLEASE DONT BE MORE), but for the first time in forever I am excited to hold my brand new baby girl.

You Don’t Get a Medal

When you are pregnant (the first time) ¬†you read A LOT. ¬†You read TOO MUCH. ¬†You read about ultra-sounds, birth defects, what food you should eat, what food your baby’s size is equal to, what exercise is best, how to sleep, how to keep from vomiting on someone in church who is wearing perfume, what nursery colors are best for eye development, what car seat is the safest, what car seat is the lightest, why you should or shouldn’t put your baby on a schedule, why you should breastfeed, and of course about labor. ¬†There are so many people telling you what is wrong with every modern aspect of giving birth from the position used, to the doctors that are ‘interested in speed’, and even being at a hospital itself. ¬†The one and only thing that stuck with me was the reliance on drugs. ¬†The incredibly unlikely, yet very real, risks involved with epidurals didn’t sit well with me. ¬†Therefore we decided that we would try for a drug free labor with Emma Grace.

Once we knew natural labor was the goal, I of course read everything I could find on natural labor.  I was sure that preparation was the key.  I walked 2-3 miles a day, took a weekly prenatal yoga class and did a prenatal pilates dvd at home.  I was armed with a list of breathing, focus and position techniques to help manage pain.  I had a husband ready to help in every way he could.  This was going to be painful but beautiful and it was going to start off my journey in motherhood feeling attached and accomplished.

Honestly all of that preparation paid off for the first 8 centimeters. ¬†Shane and I blasted NSYNC pandora and literally danced it out through contractions. ¬†When I couldn’t handle being up I used the birthing ball and Shane massaged my lower back. When that lost it’s effectiveness we moved to using a massaging shower head with hot water on my lower back through contractions. ¬†Each one of these things worked wonders. ¬†Did it hurt? Yes. ¬†Was it unbearable? ¬†No. ¬†In fact Shane and I would both admit that it was a pretty cool bonding experience for us. ¬†The problem came sometime between 8 & 9 centimeters when I no longer had the strength to hold myself up in the shower and I left the hot water. ¬†My first contraction out of the water was a pain I will never be able to explain. ¬†I collapsed while screaming and Shane had a doctor in to check me immediately. ¬†In a matter of 45 minutes I had gone from 6 cm to 9 cm, and though the water had been amazing once I was out the pain was beyond my anything I had feared. ¬†I went from thinking, “This is painful, but what a wonderful choice” to thinking, “I AM GOING TO DIE RIGHT NOW AND NEVER SEE MY CHILD. CURSE YOU HIPPIES.” ¬†In the last 30 minutes it is possible I said those things out loud. ¬†I know I told Shane I quit and he would just have to deal with never having his daughter. ¬†I did not yell that I hated him, so that was a win.

I read that epidurals make you more likely to tear because your muscles don’t get the message to relax and push the baby out. ¬†I tore in 3 places. ¬†THREE sets of stitches. ¬†THREE.

I read that epidurals block the hormones responsible for you bonding with the baby. ¬†We don’t need to rehash this, I pretty much did the opposite of bonding.

I read that natural labor makes for easier recovery.  Maybe I just had the wrong expectations, but I could barely walk for two weeks.  It took me 4 or 5 days to have my first bowel movement, which was so painful I sobbed for 20 minutes while having labor flashbacks.

I am not trying to say that natural labor is evil. ¬†As I said, it started well and eliminates some very rare but real risk. ¬†I just want to share a story that isn’t all rainbows and butterflies because I never read one beforehand. ¬†Every natural labor account I read talked about all of the good and none of the bad. ¬†It was even once equated to orgasm. ¬†ARE YOU FREAKING JOKING ME? ¬†Even if you are happy with your choice, let’s be honest that the pain in the end has to be equal to enemy torture. ¬†I am pretty sure only Jack Bauer could do worse to me.

I was sure that I was going to be eliminating so many problems that I ended up having, and you know who didn’t have any of those problems? ¬†A number of my friends who used epidurals. ¬†I just want to remind any woman making a birth plan that it could go exactly as you planned, and it may not ¬†solve a single problem. ¬†Having a child is incredibly difficult and there is not one right way to do it. ¬†If you want to try anyway, please do. ¬† Just know that you may still have depression, you may still have a terrible recovery, you may still have breast feeding problems, you will experience pain unlike anything you could imagine ¬†and you will not be given a medal.