Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Birth Story Part 2 and a Surprise Blessing

Continued from Part 1

My midwife finally arrived at about 6:20pm.  As soon as she got there, I lost my zen.  I don't know if it was the presence of someone else in the house that I wasn't familiar with, or if it was another transition in my labor.  The pain was reaching it's high point.  Another thing that didn't help was her psychotic ring tone that kept going off. If you've ever watched Kill Bill, you will know how wrong it is for a nurse midwife to have the song the female assassin whistles as she walks through the hospital dressed up as a nurse ready to kill the main character as she lies helplessly in bed. Eric and I exchanged looks of horror as we heard:

The contractions kept getting more and more unbearable and I was slightly disappointed with myself for not being able to keep my cool. I had read so much about not tensing up for contractions that I knew I was not heading down the right path.  Midwife checked my cervix (the second and ONLY time in the entire pregnancy- Thank you midwives!) and I was only at 5 centimeters.  She praised me, but I knew it was not good enough.  When the birth assistant came, my midwife met her at the door and unknown to me, said she had plenty of time to get things together since I was only at 5.  It's a good thing I didn't hear that! 

While she was out of the room, I prayed for a quick resolution to this labor since I was reaching the end of my wits.  I started making noises that I didn't think I would make while everyone told me I was doing great.  Not so much, I thought. I'm losing it over here!

 Eventually,  I succumbed to the pain.  It was unbearable. I was tense all over and couldn't relax.  The contractions spilled over from one to another and there was no rest in between.  My birth assistant told me to try to relax, and I desperately wanted to.  She said, "You need a break between contractions, try to relax." I remember wining like a five year old child, "YES! I need a break!" I knew something needed to change- either a position change, or to sit in the hot shower, or something. I couldn't do it very much longer.  I said another prayer as I lied there in my bed shaking from the tension.

Then suddenly, I felt the need to push like the most intense uncontrollable bowl movement ever. I keep telling people it was like a bowling ball moving at 50 miles an hour through my body. There was nothing I could do but push.  I screamed, "I need to push!" mostly because I didn't believe it myself.  The midwives had only been there for an hour (my birth assistant is also a midwife).  I didn't think they would let me push- not like I could do anything about it!  Eric didn't think it was time for me to push either.  "BREATH SARAH, BREATH!" was his response. So I breathed, then I pushed. I screamed, "I'm PUSHING!" again, to my astonishment because was surely, it couldn't be time.  The midwife was still not in the room at this time. She was on the phone- not believing me, I guess.

After the second push, the birth assistant called for the midwife to get in here, right away!  My husband recounts this part with hilarity.  There was a tone of urgency and bewilderment in her voice.  No one believed that I was actually pushing the baby out only about 45 minutes after having my cervix checked at 5 centimeters. So she calmly told me in voice like you talk to a small child "sometimes it feels like you need to push, but the cervix is not quite ready". The next contraction came and again, there was nothing I could do but scream and say "I'M PUSHING!" They finally believed me and ripped my pants off. The baby's head was crowning.

The next contraction, her head was out. The cord was wrapped around her head and the midwife told me to push her out.  All this time, I had been pushing involuntarily with the contractions, and I knew another one was only a few seconds away. I knew the baby could wait a couple more seconds, so for the next contraction, I pushed her out.  It was 7:17pm.  My water hadn't broke, so the midwife pulled the water sack off her head and unwrapped the cord. She was perfectly healthy.  She had some fluid in her lungs, but nothing to be concerned about.  To my amazement, I didn't have any damage due to the fast and heavy pushing either.

The baby was placed in my arms, but I didn't have the strength to even hold her. I was completely drained. I recall with amusement the placid epidural births when the doctor would tell me to push and I calmly pushed with a smile on my face.  Then afterwards, I would hold my baby and feel completely normal as if I just went for a walk in the park.  This time, I lay there, shell shocked- from the adrenaline, the pain, and the exhaustion. It was my first experience of raw, unadulterated child birth. It was a good feeling and a proud moment.  I also couldn't believe I just screamed that loud.  The pain from pushing was more than I expected and I had been screaming at the top of my lungs; now my voice was a bit hoarse.   If I had been in the hospital, I think I would have been humiliated.

After the baby was clean off and I could hold her properly, she latched on and was breastfeeding fine.  I caught sight of her eyes and they looked very different- almond shaped.  The birth assistant came in and asked if I had any questions. I knew what she meant. "Do you think she has Down Syndrome?" She nodded and walked over.  "Yes, she is very, very special", she said.  I wasn't disappointed, just surprised.

Earlier in the pregnancy, an ultrasound showed a spot on her heart, which is a marker for Downs. Since she had no other problems, and I'm only 31 with my husband even younger, no one thought much of it. She was given a 1% chance.  Who ever thinks they will be the one who gets the 1%?  Looking back, I'm glad were given the heads up.  It was the chance we needed to mull the idea over in our heads and come to terms with it- IF it would ever happen- which we didn't think would.

So when Eric came back in the room to see the baby, I told him she has Downs Syndrome.  He took it very well. I don't remember exactly what he said, but he told the story of his friend's brother who had Downs and almost killed him with a bear hug.  He only saw it as a blessing and still does.   Of course, we are nervous about the unknown.   The thought of her going through any pain is hard for us, but fortunately, she doesn't have any health problems that we know of.  Her heart appears to be functioning well, as is everything else about her.  Her muscle tone is a little low, but that's it.  She is a very low-key baby. She sleeps more than my other babies and only cries when she's hungry.  I tell people she's TOO good!

After the birth, Eric went to get the kids and Ginny came over to make us food.  While we ate our dinner, the midwife did all the newborn measurements on the bed with me while the kids watched.  It was such a peaceful and happy time.  We were filled with so much gratitude for a good birth and a healthy baby.  The children couldn't stop smiling at their baby sister either.

Afterward, Eric put the kids to bed and the midwives and Ginny hung out in the kitchen eating and talking while finishing up last minute things.  Eric's parents drove into the driveway at 11:00pm, just as everyone else was walking out.  They talked for awhile in the other room before going to bed at midnight. I was left alone in the bedroom all this time with my baby.  Too exhausted to move and too exhausted to sleep. I had so much on my mind.  I think I only got a couple hours of sleep even though the baby slept very well. 

I feel very blessed to have such a special baby.  One of the first things Eric said about her having Downs is that she is going to help us get to heaven. I said, "Yeah, it's going to be pretty hard to screw this one up!" If there's anything we knew about people with Downs is that they keep their beautiful, child-like innocence all their lives.  We both felt from the beginning that she was given to us as a wonderful gift from God. How else do you explain the surprise, but anything but being chosen for a special purpose?   I admit to being completely naive about what it's going to take to raise this special child, but for right now, I want to keep it that way.  We will take the challenges as they come.  It's all in God's hands- her life and ours. No one knows what the future brings, but for those that trust in the Lord, He will be their strength.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas From All of Us!

photos by Lori Elizabeth Photography

The Clay Rosary Girl

Someone got her Christmas wish from last year. Remember when she asked for this?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Faustina's Birth Story- Part 1

Faustina's foot while being weighed. photo courtesy of Ginny

This birth was to be a lot of firsts for us.  After being stuck in the hospital for three days before my last baby came for a scheduled delivery, my husband and I were ready for a change of scenery this time around.  Despite the fact that I've always wanted to have a natural birth, for my hospital births, somehow I've ended up being hooked up to IV's, pumped full of pitocin, stuck to an obnoxious baby monitor that threatened me with every dip of the baby's heart beat to have this baby or have a c-section that I knew I didn't need and had my cervix checked more often than I cared.  That's not natural- not a natural setting, not a natural feeling and just plain uncomfortable.  This time I was ready for the "hand's off" approach, even if it meant I couldn't have an epidural. I've always had epidurals even though I tried not to. I would go as long as I could without one, but I would cave at the end when my cervix was going no where and the baby's heart rate was going down. 

I'm not going to lie, if it weren't for all my cool friends around here having babies at home, I don't think I would ever think about.   Thankfully, they all went through it first and had tons of great advice. Having a baby at home was so different on a few different levels. First, you have get so much ready at home for the baby and midwives. I spent an entire week cleaning and organizing my house. It's never been so clean! Second, there is different level of responsibility the midwives give you vs. the obstetrician. In many ways, I felt more in charge of this birth than ever before.  From being in charge of my own charts in the office to making all decisions about the birth, to being responsible for the supplies- surprisingly, I liked it better this way. I don't know if I would have liked it for the first, or even second birth when I didn't know what to expect. But this time, the doctors and nurses weren't having this baby- my husband and I were.  The midwives were along for the ride.

Now on to the birth. I started contracting on Tuesday morning at 4:00am.  They started off good- about 10 minutes apart.  I called my husband who was at work. He was more than happy to come home early. We spent the day preparing for a possible birth that day, but then the contractions slowed way down. We ended up running errands, doing last minute cleaning and driving around to see Christmas lights with the kids. It was a nice way to spend a day before the baby came.  I had checked off everything I wanted to get done before the baby came and now I could relax.

I have to say there is something about being mentally prepared to have your baby. With my other births, I've always gone 10 days over- the longest time the obstetricians will let you before being induced.  This time, I only went three days over and it was the first time I didn't need an induction. I was surprised it actually happened on it's own this time.  I attribute it to being able to mentally welcome the whole birth experience- pain and all. Letting go of the fear and anxiety of child birth was only made possible by all the reading up I did on natural birthing. The reading material led me to believe I could have a good birthing experience by welcoming contractions instead of dreading them. This was mostly true... there's a point, however, that no matter how much relaxing you do, the pain finds you and takes over. It's all good though. Having something to offer up is helpful at this point! 

For me, being spiritually prepared is essential for giving birth. I like praying the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary with the meditations from Immaculee's Our Lady of Kibeho.  It's the third time I prayed it while in labor and it always gives me the right mind set for making the pain a spiritual offering.  This time, I prayed for the conversion of family members.  We received word that one person in our family (whom we were unsure of) went to confession two days after the baby was born.  I don't know if it's related, but we thanked God for the sign of hope that was given.

Back to the birth...The next morning was Wednesday 12/12/12, the contractions started strong again at 3:30am. This time, they didn't go away as soon as I got up and I was sure this would be the day. We sent the kids off to my friend's house continued to make last minute preparations- finding the perfect music and getting the bedroom ready with the bed sheets put on the right way, so that after the birth, there would be clean sheets ready to go.

When it was about 1:30, the contractions started slowing down again- from 10 minutes apart to 15 minutes apart and they were weakening. We decided to pick up the kids again.  The plan was to  have dinner at home, put the kids to bed and maybe have the baby the following day. But as soon as the kids got home, things picked up again! My two year old was crawling on me when I had a huge contraction. I yelled for Eric to take the kids away and he brought them to another friend's house.

While he was gone, I called the midwives and told them the labor was picking up and to think about coming down soon.  15 minutes later, I called again and told them they better head down. Things were picking up faster than I thought.  That was at 4:00pm and rush hour was at its worst.  It would take them at least two hours to get to Fredericksburg from D.C. I prayed they would make it on time.

For the next hour and a half, Eric and I worked through the contractions with Yanni and whatever other cheesy new age music Pandora could find. It's not my typical listening choice, but it was good for relaxing. I laid on the bed on my side with the lights off and Eric massaged my back the entire time. I wouldn't let him leave for a minute. I was working hard to stay in my zen and I knew the minute he left, I would lose it.  From all the birthing books and advice we learned, to have a successful natural birth, relaxation is the key.  Eric recited some hypno birthing relaxation scripts, which were somewhat useful. I knew I wasn't going to be able to enter any sort of state of hypnosis, but at least I could try to use them to relax. So he talked about rainbow colored mists and opening flowers while putting pressure on my lower back to counteract the pressure from the contractions that were getting stronger and stronger.  Now they were only a minute or two apart. 

To be continued...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Baby Faustina

Mary Faustina Guadalupe Harkins was born on 12/12/12 at 7:17pm on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is so sweet and we just love her. More info to come, but here's a fun list of firsts with this baby:

1.  First baby to be born sans meds
2. First home birth
3. First midwife/birth assistant birth
4.  One more surprise, but I will explain that later.

God is so good!  He has answered all our prayers for a good, natural delivery and a healthy baby. He has blessed us beyond our expectations.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

St. Andrew Bead Jewelry

I'm on a role here with putting new jewelry in my shop! These were all made with my purple star kaleidoscope beads that I used for the St. Andrew Chaplets (which is underway this advent!)
 This was a special request necklace that turned out so well, I decided it needed to be in my shop too. Thank you to Sherri for the inspiration!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Those Antiqued Butterfly Beads

I went through quite the experimentation and thought process to transform my marshmallowy butterfly beads into something more appealing.  In the end, I think the burning process is too hazardous, so I will probably not be making more of these beads. Here's what I did to make the butterfly bracelet beads:

First I sliced large pieces of the butterfly bead and rolled them to make nice little marshmallow looking balls.

Then I took three colors of the Liquid Polymer and mixed them to make my antiquing color.  I rolled the balls into the liquid and then baked them.

I think I re-glazed them after the first baking because I didn't like the color.  Then I baked them some more at a hotter temperature than recommended and cooked them longer than recommended until the liquid polymer started smoking.  Then and only then, the liquid polymer transformed into a glassy glaze with an antiqued look. 

So you see, slightly hazardous, but very pretty.  These will likely be the only ones I will be making.

Oh, and the glaze clogged up the holes, making it impossible to string anything in them.  My husband had to drill holes through them. So from start to finish- it was quite the process.  The photo doesn't show how shiny these beads actually are- but take it from me- they are niiice and shiny.

Butterfly Rosaries and Folk Art Rosaries, Servite Rosary

I finally put my butterfly beads to good use and made two new rosaries with them.  The first is all clay- which is my personal preference.  I think the all clay rosaries (with clay cross and centerpiece) are nice because there are no metal parts with potential for tarnishing, or snagging. The feel of an all clay rosary is more comfortable to me than the cold metal parts and I definitely prefer it for sleeping with- if you like to sleep with your rosary as much as I do!  In the end, it's just a personal preference, which is why I provide both options.
 I used three coordinating colors to outline the butterfly beads and gently rounded each bead to give it a nice, finished look.

Now, my favorite rosary: the Folk Art Rosary.  I have two options for this rosary as well.  Remember those flowers I made to put on the rooster beads? I dug them out and reconfigured them into snazzy beads for this rosary (and also the jewelry set for girls).  The combination of the folk art flowers with the folky rooster beads is my personal favorite rosary.  I didn't think I'd like the turquoise glass beads with this rosary, but I ended up loving them!  If you'd prefer a metal crucifix with this rosary, I also have that as one of the options.

Lastly, I put the Servite Rosary, or the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary back in my shop with my lastest black roses.  I guess there was something on EWTN recently with Immaculee and this devotion because several people have asked about this chaplet, so here it is:

Butterfly Jewelry, and Loads of Girl Jewelry

Quite a lot of new things in my shop- just in time for Christmas! Some of my favorite pieces ever, I think.

Here's one of my butterfly necklaces- I have four different kinds! Check them all out here.

And for the girls, Butterfly Jewelry. Click here for more.

More Jewelry for little girls: Children's Immaculate Heart Jewelry.  These jewelry sets are very affordable.

Here's my daughter wearing the Immaculate Heart necklace. She loves it so much.
Folk Art Jewelry Set for girls with matching bracelet:

Guardian Angel Set for girls with matching bracelet:

Did I mention these sets are very durable and affordable?

More earrings added too!