Monday, February 18, 2013

motherhood

I'm writing this while I should be doing the piles of laundry that tend to accumulate quickly these days, while trying to clean the apartment... these times are few and far between these days as I struggle to balance my time between taking care of my baby and taking care of my home. Jaden isn't the best sleeper yet, so I have to make the most of my downtime. I have "thank you" cards to write, forms to submit, laundry to be folded, closets/drawers to be organized, etc etc... but I just want to write today.

I will admit that being a mom to a newborn is hard. A lot harder than I thought. We have struggled in the last few weeks with Jaden having what we are convinced is colic. He cries for long hours of the day... sometimes up to 3-4 hours non stop. He is fussy when he is awake and really the only time he is peaceful is when he sleeps. The times he has been peaceful and awake have been few and far between. So it has been really hard to enjoy our sweet baby during those times. We have tried everything to help him... I have changed my diet (since I'm nursing), we have used several different remedies, but our little love has an irritable tummy and it has been hard on everyone, especially him. It hurts us to see him in pain, but as we have made certain changes, it has gotten a little better. Night times are the hardest, as he is usually inconsolable from 7pm-11pm, give or take a couple hours.

However, Jaden had a great weekend on Friday and Saturday... he got his weekly chiropractic adjusment (they do not "crack" his bones- don't freak out) to help with his tummy and we could tell that he felt tons better. We had planned on going on a date on Sunday so we could celebrate Valentine's Day and Jordan's parents were going to keep Jaden. They got over here and he was hysterical... I felt horrible leaving. I cried when we left, feeling guilty for leaving him when he was so upset. But my husband and I desperately needed some time together, just the 2 of us. Jordan's mom was so sweet in sending me pictures and texts to let me know everything was fine and that he had calmed down. About an hour and a half into the date, I got a little misty eyed and realized I missed the little guy. I'm so used to him being close to me all the time, either holding him, wearing him, or him just asleep in the next room.

As hard as this has been, I am in love with my child. I missed him so much while we were gone. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jordan and am so so glad that we got some time to ourselves... I don't know why it was so strange to me that I missed Jaden. All I have wanted the last few days is a break- 5-10 minutes where he didn't need me or where he wasn't crying... 45 minutes to go to the grocery store without worrying he would have a melt down... 2 hours where I could nap and there wasn't so much to be done around the house. A night out with my husband...

A lot of people gave me negative experiences about having a newborn and I didn't listen to them and I'm glad I didn't. My heart in writing this isn't negative or full of regret. I just want to be real about what we're experiencing. For instance, NO ONE told me how hard nursing would be. That we might have issues latching, or about engorgement and how painful it is, what a time commitment it can be, how it feels like you're just being used as a milk hose at all hours of the day. I never even thought this would be a challenge and so far it has been tough. (but we are finally seeing the light! yay!) A lot of people told me babies sleep all the time... no one told me what to do if your baby doesn't sleep. ever. I didn't realize how overwhelmed I would feel the day my mom left to go back to Atlanta and I was left taking care of the baby on my own. I didn't know how my emotions and hormones would be in OVERDRIVE and I would be crying all the time over nothing... seriously nothing.

I have been learning so much these last 3.5 weeks. I have learned that it's okay to ask for help. I have wanted to do everything on my own and not ask for anything or feel like I was burdening anyone. But really, I didn't want to admit or believe that I couldn't do everything. I was/am prideful about asking for help. I have tried to be supermom/woman for the last few weeks and it finally sunk in that I just can't do everything... and that it's okay and that people want to help. I have learned patience like I never knew before. Waking up 4 times in the middle of the night to a crying baby when you JUST got back into deep sleep, being in the middle of showering and having to get out because your baby is waking up and crying... I have learned that it's not about me when I have to choose to feed, carry, change, rock, soothe my baby when I have needs that aren't met, the house is a disaster, and I need a shower and to make myself lunch.

BUT... I have also learned love like I have never known before. To be the only one that can soothe my baby... to sing to him and hear his cries and breathing change and calm, to be the one that he wants all the time, to be the one sustaining my baby's nutrition, to have such a protectiveness over someone, to hear his precious coo's and noises when he's full and content and falling asleep. I am in love with this kid. I am in love with being a mother. I am more in love with my husband watching him be a father. I have learned more about God as my Father now that I am a parent myself. I have learned that Jaden is having to learn right along with me, that we are in this together.

It has been a challenge, yes. But these days are short and few. The sweet moments always outweigh the hard ones. Today- Jaden woke up at 8am and it is now 1pm and he's been asleep for 30 min after crying all morning. I have laundry all over the place, I haven't showered, and our grocery list is forever long. I finally asked for help and my mother in law is coming over in a bit so that I can go. I feel peaceful in knowing that I don't have to be perfect... that I am not failing at being a mother. Although I want to be, it's impossible and I can't hold myself to that standard. I am in a couple online mom's group with a bunch of "supermoms" and I have held myself to that standard because I thought everyone else did too... but now I believe that all of us moms (and dads) truly do the best that we can everyday. We take it minute by minute.

Please don't misunderstand that I am being negative by any means... I am being honest about my experience. I would not trade it for the world. I am exhausted, but my heart is FULL FULL FULL. I love everything about being a mama. I know that the Lord has called me to be Jaden's mommy and so He will equip me.



**PS. I have a lot of friends who are getting ready to be new mama's. One thing I would recommend (especially if you have a history of anxiety or depression and are worried about post-partum depression) is getting your placenta encapsulated. It was the best thing I did thus far. I know it sounds gross and weird, but if you can find someone around you that does it, the benefits are unreal. It helps to balance out your crazy hormones (seriously, I noticed a HUGE difference when I forgot to take it), helps aid in milk production, gives you a little more energy... and the nutrients that are in it are amazing. They just dehydrate it and crush it into powder and put it in a capsule. If you deliver at a hospital, you'll have to be really adamant about them giving it to you. Ya'll may think I'm super crazy, but it worked for me and a lot of other mama's and I highly recommend it to everyone!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

announcing our PERFECT son.

Jaden Christopher Gray was born on January 24th, 2013 at 11:15 am. He weighed 9 lbs, 10 oz. and was 20 inches long. He is absolute perfection. We are IN LOVE with our son and the joy that he has brought to our life already is immeasurable.




Several people have asked me to blog my birth story with Jaden. Honestly at first I was hesitant to share it, because it is a very intimate, private thing, but also it was intense. So intense that I wasn't even sure what to make of it afterwards. It was AMAZING in every sense of the word, but intense. However, no words will ever retell accurately the intimacy and the peace that was so present in the room with Jordan and I when he was born and the presence of the Lord that was so heavy and the calmness that our midwives exuded. SO, I will share, but my words will never be able to do justice how perfect the entire day was.

The Tuesday before (the 22nd), I went to my midwife appointment to find out that I was 4cm dilated. Excited, but knowing it meant NOTHING, because I had been 3cm for 3 weeks prior, I tried to get it off my mind. The Wednesday before, (the 23rd), I went about my normal daily routine. I ran errands, tried to do a lot of walking, went to the chiropractor, made dinner, went to the gym and walked a mile, and then laid down for bed with Jordan. I didn't feel anything different... I'd been having intense, consistent Braxton Hicks for weeks, but nothing had changed.

I woke up about 2:15 am with really painful cramping and back aches and tried to just go back to sleep. I realized after having 3 of them that they were consistent and about 2 min apart. I decided to get up and walk around and see if they went away... they increased. Everyone always tells you that you will JUST KNOW when you're in labor, that it will feel different. I just knew. I went to the living room and read one of the books we were given at our shower called, "On the Night You Were Born," which for me, was super emotional because I knew I was about to meet my son. So then I got in the bath to see if there were any changes as well, they continued to get longer, stronger, and closer together... the things my midwife told me to look out for. I started to get REALLY excited.

We called my midwife, Ann, and she wanted us to be able to labor at home as much as possible, as did we. We lived about 40 min away from the birth center, so we wanted to get there before labor got too intense because I didn't want to be laboring heavily in the car. We labored at home until about 4:15 am and then packed our bags and headed to the birth center. My contractions continued to increase. **I had solely back labor. I would not wish this on my worst enemy! Incredibly painful, especially to sit.** Once we got to the birth center, one of our midwives, Michele, checked my cervix and I was at 6cm! A little over half way there. I immediately got into the tub, as the water helped alleviate some of the pressure on my back. In between contractions I felt incredibly relaxed and excited... I was laughing and talking through my contractions. We had worship music playing and Jordan never left my side. Michele and Ally (one of the assistants) did not stay in the room with us and let us have our time to labor together. An hour or so later, Michele checked me again and I was at 8cm. already in transition! I knew I had to be in transition because I was super nauseous and even threw up. I was in serious pain at this point, but was still able to maintain some sort of relaxation in between. I didn't want to tire myself out before even pushing. Michele called Ann to head up to the birth center, as we knew that the baby would be here soon.

Somewhere between an hour or 2 later, I was still at 8cm and Ann discovered I had a cervical lip. So she decided to break my water to move things along a little bit. (PS- weirdest feeling ever when your water breaks!) Once my water was broken, my contractions got increasingly more intense, as I expected they would. I started to get extremely hot in the water, so I got out and bounced on the birthing ball while Jordan applied counter pressure to my lower back (bless his heart- he did this for about 6 hours). It was starting to get harder and harder to stay ahead of my contractions and breathe through them. (I was more like yelling through them- definitely LOUD noises coming from my mouth that I have never made before). Truly, if an epidural had been available for me, I would have probably had to be convinced not to have one. It was pain like I had never known. I even remember saying, "I'm never having anymore children!"

My desire was to have a water birth... so once I started feeling the need to push, I got back in the water to try and push him out. I couldn't push effectively because I felt I couldn't bear down enough. Also, with the cervical lip, it made pushing much more difficult and made things take a little bit longer. Ann suggested I get out and push on the bed so that with each contraction she could push the lip over. That was even more painful, but it was necessary. I instinctively just had to push.. I didn't even have to try at first, I just couldn't NOT push. But the frustrating thing about pushing was that I'd take 2 steps forward and then 1 step backwards.

For me, pushing was the most intense, exhilarating, and most powerful thing about the entire process. Pushing took 1 hour and 45 minutes. There were times that I didn't think I could push any harder or any longer. My back labor was still so intense in between contractions that it was more of a relief to push through them than it was to try and relax in between them. I remember feeling like I wasn't making any progress and Jordan said, "BABY, I CAN SEE HIS HEAD." They handed me a mirror to look and sure enough, a teeny piece of his little head was showing. I touched his head and it was like... I gotta get this baby out. Each little push brought the head further and further down. I could feel him moving down and the pressure and pain was unreal in my back. But I just knew I could do it. I kept saying, "Lord, please help me." and my midwife was speaking prayers and blessings over us the entire time. Amidst all the messiness of labor and birth, there was such a peace that was evident. I started to feel confident that I was going to get this baby boy out and soon. I remember asking Ann how much longer and she said about 45 minutes... HA. that seemed like FOREVER.

At one point, we started to make some serious progress. I was pushing like I had never pushed before and when I thought I couldn't go anymore, I kept on pushing. PS- The "Ring of Fire" is every bit of what everyone says it is ;) I could see and feel his head still... I had my husband encouraging me, my midwives cheering me on and finally, his head came out. Right before this, the midwives explained to us that when his head came out that we were going to have what was called a "silent birth." They were going to be quiet and Jordan and I were to speak so that our voices were the first that he heard when he came into the world. After his head came out, all I remember is wanting to continue to push and I kid you not, I pushed harder than I ever have in my life and probably made noises that didn't even seem human and his body SHOT out.

Jordan was the first person to touch and hold the baby. Daddy got to catch his baby boy :) He picked him up and immediately placed him on my chest for skin to skin contact. We sat there and cried and kissed and just took in every moment of what had just happened. I was in shock because I was no longer in pain AT ALL. It was euphoric, truly... We laid there for a few minutes in absolute awe of our son and each other and the Lord.

He laid on my chest for about 10 minutes or so and then they told me I had to deliver my placenta and was going to have to push again. Haha, you can imagine how that thought did not thrill me. a couple of pushes and out it came. They placed it in a bowl next to me so that Jaden could have all of his cord blood pumped back into his body before we cut it. I believe it was 30 min or so after birth that his cord was cut. Jordan got to do the honors. Another proud daddy moment! We also weighed him and thought he would probably be in the high 8's... you cannot imagine our faces when Jordan weighed him and he was 9 lbs, 10 oz! We were shocked!

Afterwards, Jaden and I were both a mess, and we got to take an herbal bath together. It smelled SO good and it was so relaxing for both of us. He laid in there and we got to wash his hair and just take in the sight of him... I have never fell in love with someone so quickly. It was the first time I recognized how much he looked like his daddy (I am so glad! my hubs is HOT). Perfect bonding experience for us as a family.

The first couple hours after I was super lightheaded. I had lost a lot of blood- Ann said most women lose about 250cc of blood and I had lost 800cc. THANKFULLY, our awesome midwives ordered IHOP for us and we were able to eat and I felt better. Other than that, I felt amazing. We were able to leave the birth center 3 hours after Jaden was born and head back to our own house. I had a ton of energy on the way home and was on a "birth high" for a couple of hours before crashing.

My entire experience was amazing. I am so thankful that the Lord was faithful about our birth. I thought I would be disappointed not getting to birth in the water, but I wouldn't change anything. It was a desire of my heart to have an intervention free birth... There were a lot of people who told me horror stories about the pain and who said I was too little to have this baby naturally, but I trusted my body and I trusted the Lord. I KNEW I could do it. It was truly a supernatural experience. I have never felt so accomplished... to bring a little person into the world. I have never known the Lord's faithfulness like I do now and I have a confidence in myself and my body that I never had before.

I could not have done it without my husband. He was my constant support and my team mate. He was just as much a part of the labor and birth process as I was. I have never felt more connected to someone as I did to him while we were laboring and delivering our son. Such a sweet moment for husbands and wives to share. He deserves the highest reward for all that he did for me during my pregnancy and during our birth experience.

My midwives were incredible... Ann, Michele, & Ally. angels... all 3 of them.

We are so blessed as parents. I would love to do this all over again, the exact same way, but not for another couple of years :) If you're pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant and would like to know more about natural birth and the experience as a whole, I'd love to talk to anyone about it. Regardless of how your labor/birth end up, it's the end result that matters- a healthy baby and mommy. I am blessed to have been able to have the birth I wanted and to have a healthy, perfect baby boy.

some snapshots our AMAZING birth photographer took: www.keriduckett.com