April 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Gianni!

The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind, but before it all escapes my foggy mommy memory, I'm going to try to write it all down...  ;-)  This is probably WAY more information than many of you want or care to hear, so be warned now... These are all the gory details!  If all you want is the photo version, well, skip to the bottom and check out the first few preview photos from our birth photgrapher.  But for now, here you go:

Friday night was a pretty normal evening for us.  We all went to church (Alejandro, Danny, my Mom, I and my big ol' belly) and enjoyed a typical evening with Yahweh, family, friends and good food.  Most everyone's greeting to me was, "What!? You're still pregant!? You're not supposed to be here!"

After about 3 weeks of contractions, I wholeheartedly agreed!  ...But I'd also reached the point of resignation and reluctant patience.  My mom's birthday is May 2nd, so I decided that maybe if I started hoping he'd wait and be born on her birthday, that then he'd go ahead and come early.  Ya know... reverse psychology with God.  'Cause that always works well.

Hardy har har.  Be careful what you wish for!  ;-)

Another friend said she didn't want to see me next week, and then my mom piped up and said, "Oh, she'll go have the baby and be back in church by next week!"  Well, that just might happen, folks.

Because after an extra late night chatting with friends, a stop at the gas station on the way home, and a late night snack of olives, chocolate and cheese - hey, I was very pregnant, people - I laid down to sleep for all of 2 or 3 hours.  At 1:20ish in the morning, I woke up after being kicked REALLY HARD by my sweet 2nd boy.  I groggily thought, "That was hard enough to break my water!"  Actually, he'd been working at breaking that bag of waters at church while I walked to the car. I dozed off again, then woke a few minutes later feeling some fluid seeping and thinking, "I wonder if he really did break my water."  Another few minutes and a snooze later, I woke up and realized it was more than just a trickle.

1:28 a.m.:  "Ale! Wake up.  My water just broke."

The 30 seconds that followed were absolutely comical, as a totally sleeping man flew out of bed, came around to my side, and tried to find a towel, which happened to only be at the foot of the bed, but it took 3 times telling him where, before he could locate it.

Then I made my way to the shower and stood there as fluid gushed out of me.  That is the WEIRDEST feeling.  I always wondered what it felt like, because with Danny's birth my water was broken after an epidural.  It's WEIRD. Anyway, my contractions weren't any harder than they'd been the past 3 weeks (yet) so I calmly called our doula and our photographer and told them my water had broken.  Then I started to get dressed, enjoying the hot shower and knownig it was probably the last time my muscles would feel totally relaxed for quite a while. It was a slow process, because my waters didn't all come out at once, but rather would come in gushes and then I'd have to hurry to the toilet and/or change my pants. By 2 a.m., contractions were a minute and a half apart, lasting about 30 seconds, but still not super uncomfortable.  By 2:30 a.m., my hair was done, I was dressed (for the 2nd or 3rd time), my make-up was done (oh yes, I did) and I was gathering the last few items to put into my suitcase.  And by then, I was having to stop and breath through each contraction.  Things were getting serious.

We left the house at 3a.m.  By then I had quit chatting about anything I didn't have to and I'd started being bossy about how to help me through contractions.  We checked into Labor and Delivery by 3:15a.m. and I was shaky and breathing hard.  I knew I needed to remember how to relax my way through contractions, but I couldn't remember what to do and I really just wanted my doula's help.  After a few minutes, Nicki (doula) arrived and she and Alejandro switched places (because they only allow one person in triage with you).  Her presence was immediately calming.  I was able to express my fear about a few things.  I remember saying, "I need to relax and I don't know what to do." I remember telling her I was scared.  When they checked me, I was only 3 cm dilated and she could tell that had me worried.

Then I remember her telling me how to breath.  I remember her reminding me that an epideral IS one of the tools in my "tool box" and it WOULD NOT mean failure.  I remember her calming voice and gentle touch and being SO GLAD she was by my side.

After another 20 minutes or so, during a hard contraction, I caught my breath and had the urge to push. I told the nurse that I didn't care that only 2 people were allowed in the triage room, that I didn't want Alejandro to miss a moment and I needed Nicki's help, so they admitted me to a room.

From here, the timing of things gets fuzzy... I know we tried several positions and I struggled to ever find a way to relax.  Contractions were coming so hard and so fast that the nurses hardly had a chance to check me.  After 3 tries, they finally gave up on trying to get an IV lead into me. I ended up delivering without it. When they finally did get a chance to check me, I'd gone from 3 cm dilated to 5. It was about 4 a.m.

Nicki looked at me then and said, "Ok, it's decision time. You're half way.  If you want an epidural, now's the time.  If you wait much longer, they won't give it to you.  I believe you can do this.  But it's up to you."  I now SO appreciate that she had this conversation with me.  It was so empowering, and it also really helped me pace myself.

But, "I don't know if I can do this," were the thoughts that came to mind. According to Alejandro, I voiced those thoughts out loud several times, as well.

"Let me think," I said.  Two contractions later, I had the urge to push and had completely forgotten about the epidural.

After that, I just remember everyone yelling (well not really) at me, "DON'T PUSH!!! YOU CAN'T PUSH!!"

I had to pant really hard to keep from pushing, and even then, I couldn't keep from pushing a bunch of times.  I went from 5 cm to 7 cm in the next hour.  Somewhere in there, maybe about 4:45 a.m., without warning, I GOT UP ON THE BED, turned around on my knees and hugged the back of the bed.  (Picture a hospital bed that sits up and I'm kneeling where one usually sits and leaning over the back of it.)  Alejandro sat behind the bed and held my hands, while Nicki put all of the weight of her tiny frame into my tail bone to couunter the pressure.  She kept telling me not to push and Alejandro held my hands and squeezed as I squeezed his hands and panted through more contractions.  I kept telling her to put more pressure and she was giving Alejandro looks like, "I'm pushing as hard as I can!"

"DON'T PUSH, RENEE! YOU CAN'T PUSH!" she kept saying.

Desperately, I cried, "I CAN'T NOT PUSH!!!  I CAN'T!!!"

And then in a moment, the Holy Spirit caused me pause and said, "YES, YOU CAN!"  And I started saying, "I can do this.  I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I can do all things through Yahweh the Messiah who strengthens me."

Then I had a cheering team and I do remember the nurse saying, "You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!"

At about 5 a.m. they told me I was at a 7 and I said, "Is this transition!? Please tell me this is transition!!"

"Yes, sweetie, this is transition.!" Nicki said.

With the next contraction, I absolutely couldn't keep from pushing, and I yelled, "HE'S COMING!!" 

The doctor had arrived - I have no idea when - and the nurse said, "We've got to get her turned around NOW."

In seconds, I turned around and sat down, they checked me and told me I was at 8 cm, and the bed was taken apart to prepare for delivery. I told Nicki to grab the camera and to start shooting pictures!! (Little did I know, that at that point, my dear sweet photographer, Sharayah, was running around the hospital, begging the security guard to let her through the door!) There was no time for anything else, and Alejandro started (somehow) snapping pictures and holding up my leg at the same time, while talking to the photographer.

FINALLY I was told I could push with the next contraction.  I'd gone from 8 to 10 cm dilated in about 15 minutes and I gave 3 hard 10-second pushes with that contraction.  It felt SO good to finally be able to do that!!

Then time stood still, as the doctor - who was absolutely fantastic - looked me in the eyes and said, "Renee, you're doing amazing.  You are doing so great!  I need you to hold back and not push SO hard next time or baby's going to come shooting out too fast.  So just hang back and don't push too hard, okay? You're doing fantastic."

With the next contraction, I pushed 2 or 3 more times.  I remember the doctor saying, "That's great!  That's amazing control.  Way to go! He's coming!  Keep pushing through the burn!"

And then he was out!  Just like that.  His head came out with the first or second push and then his body slipped out with the next one.

"He's out!?" I said, unbelievingly.

"His head is out!" they said.  After the last push, they put him up on my abdomen and all I could do was look and cry and say, "I did it!  I can't believe I did it!"  And then I talked to my newest boy and watch as Alejandro cut the cord and enjoyed a few minutes with him on my abdomen and took in all the afterwards moments.

He weighs 7 lbs, 14 oz and he's 20 inches long.  I have a 2nd degree tear, which is not a terribly bad one, considering how fast it went. Gianni is nursing, filling his diapers and sleeping like a champ.  I am sort of in awe that in 4 hours I went from my water breaking to delivering a baby and how great I am feeling not even 24 hours after the birth.  I'm super proud and blessed to have the support to have the natural birth experience that I always wanted.  And above all, I am in love with our baby boy.

Gianni means, "God is gracious."  I am so filled with the knowledge and peace that He is indeed, so gracious.

April 25, 2013

Dear Danilo,

Well, baby, it's almost time. You almost get to meet your baby brother, and you are awfully excited about it! Though I still call you baby, you are far from it! You are getting pretty close to your 4th birthday, and you show perception, maturity, self control...

- ok, except when you're being goofy - 

...wisdom and perseverance each day. It's pretty amazing getting to do life with you.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the past few months:

2/9 You took your first train ride on ”the red train” (the San Diego trolley) with Grammy and Grandpa Shaun.That same day, you brought your Grandpa Shaun a package of cookies and said, ”One for you, one for me!”

One of my favorite things is when you say, ”I got a 'dea.” Then you launch a two-minute monologue presenting the various advantages and innovations of your idea and you finish it off with, ”Tha's a good 'dea!” I giggle and nod and then you say, ”Let's do it!!”

You reached up and got down your backpack from the hanging pegs in your room by yourself.  "When did you get tall enough to reach that by yourself?!" I said. "You grew up!"
"Yep! I grewed up," you said.

2/27 You said, "I want mocha cheese fer lunch." (mac n cheese)
Then you said, ”I could have a cheese apart, mom?”
”Cheese apart? What's that?”
Holding up pretend string cheese to demonstrate, ”You know, you hold up the cheese and you pull it apart and you and you eat it!”
”Oh cheese apart! Yes, you can.”

Your first morning's words were, ”Mama, this monster truck is for you to play with, and this one is for me to play with.” And then you drove trucks over pillows and blankets.

Later that day you spent half an hour working out how to make a bridge that would support pillows and your weight safely. You did it all by yourself!

3/8 The day before my birthday, Papa told you that the next day was going to be my birthday.  You were so excited!  You grabbed my head, pulled my ear to your lips and whispered, "We're gonna birthday cake and candles and surprise present and it's gonna wrapped and it's a superman for Danny!  And it's blue and pretty!!"

Your new favorite phrase is "VERY COOL!!!"  Whenever you are excited about anything, this is your exclamation.  When Papa installed the shark shower head in your bathroom, you ran around and yelled, "VERY COOL VERY COOL!!" about 15 times!

I volunteered in your classroom for picture day.  It was so fun to watch you play and learn among the other kids.  You generally follow directions, and let's transfer that stellar skill of cleaning up to our house too, okay?

My favorite moment of the day? You spelled your name to me:

Danny - "B"
Me - "Capital D."
Danny - "Capital D...." (Looking at the A.)
Me - "A"
Danny - "A. N. N. Y!!"
Me - "You did it!!  That's awesome!"

3/15 For the first time we had a conversation about what makes Jesus' heart happy and sad, but how not everybody knows Jesus, and may not always do what makes Jesus' heart happy. We talked about how you can show them. I almost cried.

3/17 ”Mom, I want my baby brother to come out.”
”Me too, buddy. Buddy I don't think he's ready yet.”
”I know! I'll put this (the baby bouncer chair) right here (next to me) and he will jump out!”

3/19 ”Ogurt is my best food, Mom.” (talking about yogurt.)

4/15 You sang: ”We love brothers, all daaaaay! We doooooo!” Oh, eat my heart out!

You get dressed all by yourself now. You pick your clothes with coaching. ”Go pick some pants. Now go pick a shirt.” And then you put them on by yourself, including underwear, socks, shirt, pants and shoes.

It's official! Your napping days are over. Mine are not! But yours are. Instead, most days, we enjoy quiet book time and an afternoon video. This has made bedtime MUCH, more smooth lately, so I guess that means you were ready!

Of course, quiet is a relative term.  :)  Your songs and stories are so precious to me.

You wanted juice, so I asked you to get it out of the refrigerator. It's a big container, and it only barely fits wedged under the shelf above it. As you struggled to get it out, you quoted your favorite book about a little train that pulls dolls and toys over a mountain for another train that broke down. As you pulled on the juice container, you said, ”I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!”

About a week ago, we switched you to a twin bed, so that Baby Brother can have the crib/toddler bed. You got to pick your own comfortor set at Target and you LOVE sleeping in it.  You LOVE even more, that now your Papa and I can crawl in and cuddle with you.  We've already taken advantage of that more than once. ;)

Some of your favorite activities these days include building with Legos, playing with your wooden train set, shoveling snow around the back deck, cooking, anything involving trucks, playing with water, playing games on Grammy's iPad, watching Dinosaur Train and playing with friends.

You love to run, be barefoot and wear pajamas all afternoon.  You often say, "That's not my favorite," when you don't like something.  You rarely are excited about putting on your jacket, unless it involves going outside to shovel snow.

Grammy says you're quite the chatterbox. Instead of asking, "why?" you ask, "How you do that?"  When you say, "D'ya like ta swim?" (or play, or sit on the floor, etc) what you really mean is, "Would you like to swim with me right now?"

This week, several times you've spontaneously kissed my tummy and once you said, ”Baby brother's ready to pop out!” I agree, baby!  But he seems content to sit tight for a little while longer.

You are the spice of my life, baby.  I love you to pieces.


April 24, 2013

39 Weeks - Unedited.

Well, okay... 38 weeks and 6 days.  But close enough, right?

Unedited because that's all this prego-brain can manage at the moment.

I finally gathered everything for my hospital bag a few days ago. Nothin' like waiting until the last moment, huh? It's not all IN the suitcase, but at least it's all in one place. And I have a list of last minute things.  It is ridiculous how difficult it was for me to get that done. I had the most insane mental block about it.

I'm down to 2 pairs of pants, 2 dresses, and 6-ish shirts that fit me now. They live on a table next to the hospital bag.

Would someone care to please come duct tape my hips and pelvis back together? They seem to have split in half.

I've cut out all obligations at this point, but the Lord is reminding me that I still need to stay productive and occupied.  Or at least distracted.  I need to rest, but I also need to fill my mind with all things true, noble, right, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, admirable... (Philippians 4:8) Which is actually much easier said than done, because it's sort of hard not to hold my breath - physically and metaphorically.

The past few days have been frustratingly confusing.  I mean I know it's not that big of a deal for the rest of the world and really pregnant women around the world experience the same frustration every day.  But when it seems our life is on hold and we're anxiously and excitedly awaiting, false alarms are no fun.  All day yesterday and this morning I was having contractions that seemed to be fairly consistent and gradually closer together.  Then all of a sudden this morning, they stopped completely.  :-|  For about 8 - 10 hours.  My doula was starting to consider her schedule.  My photographer was making arrangements for a sitter.  And then boom.  Nothin'.


I will wait on God's timing.  I will wait on God's perfect timing.  I will TRUST in God's perfect timing.  

Contractions have started back up again this evening.  And granted, my doctor says I'm at 2 cm and the Baby's head is fully engaged in the pelvis (as opposed to floating back up when he pushes on him like last week). So there IS progress.  Just not as much as I'd thought.

Apparently, patience is a lesson this Baby's going to be teaching me this week.

Baby Boy, I can't wait to see your precious face and know your beautiful cry.  I'm more and more curious each day to know what you are like, to smell your fuzzy (or will it be bald?) head and feel your baby skin on my lips.  So, as my good friend, Ashley, said so eloquently tonight, "SWIM DOWN!  SWIM DOWN!!"

I love you already, Baby.  See you soon.

April 22, 2013

A Lovely Weekend

A little over a month ago, I wrote about a group of my best girlfriends who'd be coming to my house for the weekend, several of whom I'd never met before. The group was formed to help Sarah collaborate on her book 31 Days to Lovely, but after the project was finished, we all had fallen in love with each other and decided it was too good a thing to end!  So we didn't!  Sarah re-named us The Lovelies, and we've been doing life together online ever since. 

Until last weekend, when 6 of these ladies came in from around the country to spend the weekend at my house and do a little life in 3D.  You'd have thought we've known each other for years, if you heard the excited screams and giggles as we all met.  Christi drove from Louisianna to Texas and joined Beth.  The two of them drive north to New Mexico to pick up Sarah and Cindy. Then the four of them drive further north to my house.  I missed getting pictures when they showed up... I was too busy hugging and jumping and yelling.  ;)  Shortly afterwards, Jennifer (who also lives in Colorado Springs) met us and then we all made our way to the airport to pick up Tiff, who flew in from Washington.  

(pics by Sarah)

We started the weekend with a late night dinner at the Melting Pot.  

(pic by Sarah)

This is Blake, our server.  He bantered with us and blanched when he realized that we weren't kidding when we said I just might go into labor right there at the table and that I was already having contractions.  We told him that if I give birth on the dinner table our meal would be on him, and he said that was fine, so long as we name the baby Blake. 

(pic by Sarah)

And then we prayed over him.  He probably thought we were the weirdest group of women he'd ever served, but it was a divine connection and many of us have been praying for him ever since.

The weekend was filled with so. much. fun.  This is Tiff, doin' her photographer thang.  

There was spontaneous group prayer.  Lots of it!

On Friday morning, we heard screams of excitement from the basement and those of us who were upstairs waited for those who were downstairs to come up and fill us in.  And guess what!?

Yup!  Christi's pregnant!!
Show us a good prego-pose, girl!

Calling her husband:  

The best part for me?  Alejandro had prophesied this pregnancy when God spoke to him about it at Sarah's house 4 months ago.  

Beth brought each of us little glass chickens, because this post had us all in stitches one evening and we've been joking about it ever since.  I echo Tiff's words in warning you that the views on marriage expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the values of the Lovelies. Nor does the use of the F-word. You have been warned, if your kids can read, keep them off your lap while you check this out.

My kitchen has never been so full or so busy.  This is Tiff, man-handling an actual chicken.  

See what I mean?  Full. of. food. 

Saturday we celebrated Shabbat (Sabbath) by sleeping in super late, 
staying in our pajamas all day and studying scripture.  

I've never had an experience like this before.  We studied for about 4 or 5 hours.  No joke.  It was SO rich!! And not the least bit tiring.  It was AMAZING!

Please note... we all look twice as wide in the following picture, due to the panoramic iphone app.  But it's a cool picture. 

(pic by Tiff)

Then we worshipped as Cindy and Sarah led us.

And then we sat around and laughed and studied and worshipped and talked some more.  'Cause that's what six moms do on a weekend without their kids and only their best girlfriends.

Yes, of course, worship, wine and hysterical laughter go together.  Didn't ya' know? 

Our dog, Toby, was spoiled rotten.

Jen and her sweet self: 

Tiff and her gorgeous smile.

On Sunday my boys returned home while the girls were stll here, so Danny, Tiff and Beth conquered monsters for a while.

Somehow, I think Beth became the monster at some point.  
Here they are waking the sleeping dragon.

Finally, sadly, it was time to say goodbye.  So back at the airport...

...we circled around and prayed one last time, while looking down at 5 pairs of feet and one large belly.

And we thanked God for one of the richest weekends and best set of girlfriends any of us has ever had.  

I miss you, my Lovelies.