Frederick's Birth Story: Ending!

Finally, Sunday night around 8 pm Marve came over again to check on me. She said it still seemed like I was in early stages and not progressing so she was going to have to collect her things in case another mom went into labor and needed her. No! I have to have this baby, and soon! I knew I was in labor so I thought well I better play it up a little bit so she will stay, because at this point the contractions were about 6-7 minutes  apart and I could still talk through them. So I said to myself OK I'm just not going to talk any more and make everyone wait until I'm done and close my eyes. So I did that a few times, and Marve said "Oh OK never mind. I think I'll stay." "Thank God!" I thought but I was still nervous that she would leave so while I was laying down I kept asking Marc to time the contractions to make sure they were staying consistent.
We laid on my bed for a few hours and I finally believed that OK this is it and she's going to stay. I think I needed more reassurance that I was doing it and it was working. The whole time my mom kept saying yes in just a few hours you will have your baby "With me it was so fast and you and Sterling were here!" Well I am definitely not my mom!
After a while Marve put me to bed again. AGAIN with the going to bed?!! When am I going to have this baby?! Much later that night/early morning the contractions became more intense. Marc and my mom were a great team and at this point we were all so tired we were laying in our bed together. With my mom on my right and Marc on my left we all tried to sleep between the contractions.  This is a moment I treasure: me in the middle of two of the most important people in my life, all waiting in anticipation for the joy of our lives to grace us with his presence. That was one of the sweetest and one of my favorite moments during my labor marathon.
Finally at about 4 almost 5 am I made Marc go down to ask Marve who was sleeping on the couch if I could get in the tub. I kept asking at what point she thought I could get in. She told Marc " Oh good she's getting pushy she can get in now!" "What?!" I thought, "All I had to do was be a bit more adamant?" 
Let me tell you ladies who are about to have your babies. Get thee to water! It completely changes the game! Seriously, get in a tub, the shower, some form of water, trust me you'll thank me when you feel the soothing relief.
So, I stayed in the tub for about an hour and watched the sun come up. 
Then I decided that I was done and I wanted to have my baby. Now, please! So I told my mom that I thought I needed to push. I got out of the water and went to the bathroom. I squatted a bit and I felt a bit more pressure, but I wasn't sure if it was time to push. My mom frantically got Marc to get Marve. She came upstairs and checked me... nope I was just 8 1/2 cm. Not yet but close. 
She instructed me to visualize the baby in the right position so his head will put the right amount of pressure on my cervix so it will finish dilating. I labored for about an hour and a half more and the contractions started to get really intense. I thought to my self, OK wow, if I was in the hospital I would ask for and epidural! (But on a pain scale it really wasn’t that bad until that moment and I could still cope but I could just empathize with wanting some relief from all sensations.)
That’s the blessing that I think God gives laboring mothers- no real sense of time or reality. There I was thinking I was having a great and lovely labor. I remember thinking I made it to 8 1/2cm this really isn’t that bad! Also, I thought I was the pro giving birth woman! This is so easy and the best labor ever!! Again evidence for not being completely there. I don’t know, it’s like some part of your brain shuts off to help you cope with what your body needs to do to deliver a baby. All I could focus on was what was going on with me. I would close my eyes and know someone was with me but each time I opened my eyes it was someone else- Marc or my mom or Marve but I had no idea when they came or left.  
Marve said that I really needed to concentrate because if he didn't move she would have to move him herself. I really didn't want that to happen (doesn't that sound atrocious?) and I tried as best I could at getting him to move. But sadly he didn't move so half an hour later Marve said “OK get out now; we have to move him!” (Thank goodness she was there! She used her authority and knowledge to deliver my healthy baby.) Marc was trying his best to be supportive and loving, I told him I didn't want to do it and he said OK you don't have to. So sweet. My mom on the outside was sweet too but she told me later that she wanted to yell at me to get OUT of that TUB! No need to do that because Marve just said "OK, get out now!" Although it was said very nicely, I knew I had no choice. 
She did this technique she had learned as a rural doctor in the Amazon among the Yanomami Tribe. She went in and pushed Frederick's head up and twisted him around while her assistant had a sheet draped around my belly and twisted his body from the outside. I'm not going to lie. I think that was the worst part. It was pretty excruciating, but I knew that we had to get him out or I would need to go to the hospital for a c-section. And I was not going to the hospital! (You know unless it was an emergency.) They worked for about a half an hour I'm told. Thankfully it only felt like about 5 minutes to me. So she finally got him turned and through my cervix into the canal. Now, it was time to push! Finally! 
I got back in the water and my mom started to cry a bit. I told her not to cry because I needed to concentrate and if she cried I would cry and I wouldn't be able to pull it together so I needed her not to loose it! I tried pushing with each contraction while squatting. That was too hard and I needed support so that didn't work (we were all too tired) so I pushed the remaining time on my hands and knees. I thought that when it came time to push I would push for about 5-10 minutes and be done. Wrong again! I pushed for about a hour and a half. Luckily I had breaks, I only pushed when I had a contraction and my body was pushing, but still it was a looong time. I said "How long is this going to take?! On TV and in the Movies they push for less than 5 minutes and then they are done!" Naomi suggested I not watch anymore TV. 
Marc was so sweet he stayed by my side and encouraged me each time. As he was applying cold cloths to my forehead he forgot to ring them out. I said "Marc?" "Yes?" "Although that feels really nice and I thank you for being so helpful, will you please ring out the water before you put it on my head? It's dripping water all down my face and it's uncomfortable!" "Oh! So sorry honey!" "Wow!" Naomi said "You are the nicest woman in labor! You didn't even yell at him!" My mom laughed and said I know... and she keeps saying "please, thank you and oh excuse me let me help you find the baby's heart beat!" I just really didn't feel like yelling or snapping at anyone, I was so tired! 
So I pushed and I pushed and I really didn't think I was really going to have a baby. But, finally I hear exclamations "Oh! we can see his little head!" "Really?!" "Yes! Feel it!" So I reached down and felt the top of his sweet head and he had hair and a lot of it! I was so surprised! I just really didn't think he would have hair. 
I thought OK I'm almost done. If we can see the top of his head then we are so close.  With the next contraction I used everything I had left and with a scream (the biggest scream of my life, I really couldn’t help it) he was out! I had to wait a second while Marve took the umbilical cord from around his neck and that was the strangest feeling: to be able to differentiate a neck, but then I was able to push his body out and that was so much easier. 
It was still astonishing when Marve said "OK catch your baby!" "Baby?" (It's really like you think you'll never have one.) "Yes! He's floating to you!" So I looked down and there he was! I picked him up and out of the water and the first thing I said was "Oh hi! Wow, you have my eyebrows but my mother-in-law's expression!" He was looking around and started to whimper a bit. "Oh! Don't cry!" And we sang him the first song that was sung to me "Yes Jesus Loves Me." He had heard that song quite a bit in the womb so he quieted down and I nursed him.   
One of the best most astounding days of my life.  


The One True Hope of a New (Year's) Day

To be honest 2011 wasn't my favorite year. Although, yes, there were some very good moments: we went to Boston (Frederick and I braved public transit to visit Harvard while Marc was working), a few friends visited us here in Vegas (love quality time with friends) and most importantly Frederick turned one.

As December started to close and a new year was upon us I started thinking about what really mattered in life and where I wanted to be in 2012. I was thinking what many of us think: "Oh I can't wait until the 1st, it will be so nice to start over and have a clean start." Then I really thought about it and realized umm, NO. No no. Nothing is going to change drastically but the year in which we mark time. What a lie! 

I feel like New Years is false advertising. We think that a dawn of a new day and year will make everything sparkly clean and new. When really nothing really changes but the date. You're still the same person you were 10...9...8! seconds ago with the same problems, hopes and dreams. It's like thinking if you move to a new place your problems won't follow you there...

The only momentous event that changed my life was when I allowed God to bring me back to Him and surrendered my whole life over to Him. All my hopes, all of my hurts, and my present life, as well as my future. Truly our only hope is in Jesus and the life He can live through us as we have relationship with him. 

As any relationship it's a process. There are times when we feel really close and others when I let things (always very stupid mundane things) get between me and Him. But always, ALWAYS, does he draw me closer and remind me that without Him life means nothing, I am nothing without Him. Following Jesus doesn't mean that life will be perfect, but it does mean that you have a hope for the future and a trust in God that you belong to Him. And THAT my friends is a reason for living. 

When you find yourself in February or even today maybe, the 3rd, not able to keep your New Year's Resolutions; I ask that you ponder the meaning of YOUR life and seek Truth. I promise that if you really seek you will find what you are looking for. Seek Him you won't be disappointed.

This year I hope to trust more in Jesus and to love Him more to be obedient. It really is the only way! I'd rather have Jesus and do something uncomfortable than to be comfortable and be miserable in my own doing. He knows what is best for me (and all of us) and life in His will is the best to live. I'm just a very minuscule part to his story anyway, and it's not about me! It's about His Glory! 

Cheers to Twenty Twelve and may we all find what we seek.  


The Waiting Game: Days Two and (Part of Day) Three

I woke up from a deep sleep and no contractions.
When I woke up. I excitedly went down to breakfast and texted my friends: "My water broke! He'll be here soon!" And then I waited. 

The contractions at this point were sporadic and sparse. Maybe I'd have one in twenty minutes and then five but maybe not again for an hour or maybe two. I was still in contact with my midwife who was monitoring me and came up with a plan. Walk, stay hydrated and call her when it gets more intense and she will come over.
So all day Saturday more of the same. Sporadic contractions and no baby. 
We walked outside, I walked inside. 
We went to Whole Foods again. 
Do not pass go do not collect your baby. 
Marve said "Nope, not real labor yet!" I was thinking, "Well, what is real labor and when am I going to have it?!!"
Naomi, Marve's apprentice came over late Saturday night to check on me and the baby and our progress. While she was here I only had contractions while I was up and moving around. She said that it indicated to her that my body was still not quite ready. So go back to bed. Yes, I had to go to bed again!
Sunday came and so did Marve finally to my house. She brought all of her equipment to help deliver the baby safely along with a liquid herb to help make the contractions more consistent. She also advised us to keep walking and to preform nipple and clitoral stimulation (blushes) in order to stimulate uterine contractions. (Sorry if that was too much information!) "Have fun with it!" She said. I can tell you that while it did work to stimulate contractions it was not fun nor enjoyable.
I needed to walk but we live in the middle of the dessert and it was a billion degrees outside. Marc decided to take me to Fashion Show Mall. Do you know where that is? It’s on the Strip... in Las Vegas, across from my favorite most classy hotel/casino The Wynn. So, there I was in the mall having contractions. I'll just let you think about that for a second... 
This was the height of my embarrassment. We walked around for maybe a half an hour and I would stop every 5-10 minutes and have a contraction in the middle of the mall. People were looking at me like I was crazy to 1) Be on vacation on the strip when it was apparent I was having a baby soon and 2) Is she that committed to shopping that she's about to have a baby in the busiest mall in Las Vegas and did I mention it's on the strip?! So I told Marc to get me out of there because I hated that mall and everyone in it! I would walk at home in the 100-plus degree weather, at this point I hated everyone's face. 

We went home and I walked our stairs.


Frederick’s Birth Story: Day One

Dear Frederick,
This is the story of how you came into the world or as your father’s godmother likes to say: “How God stopped the world for you to enter.”
Your first birthday was absolutely thrilling. I felt like it was my day too! (And it really was... I was the one who after three days of laboring brought you into the world!) Your Grandmother reminded me that on my birthday she would say it was her birthday too. I don’t remember that... I’m sure I ignored her thinking “Whatever Mom! It’s my day!” which I’m sure you’ll do to me as well, feel free. It really is about you.
It was so fun thinking about the day that changed my life forever and brought me you. 
For the first-time mother, labor really is a thing of mystery. You really have no idea what is going on, and what is going to happen next. It’s really like riding a roller coaster blindfolded. Each step is different than the next and you have no idea what is happening. You’re just hoping that maybe? you’re pretty sure? there is a baby but it’s still a surprise that yes this is really happening and you will be holding your baby soon. (Don’t ask me, I know it doesn’t make sense. Because obviously you get bigger every month and you’re body doesn’t feel like yours anymore. But the surprise is so profound like oh my gosh a BABY!!) 
 I started having contractions on Friday, July 9th... we waited and waited and waited for you to get here. You arrived on the 12th.
All day Friday my contractions were about 10-12 minutes apart. It wasn't bad, I could hardly feel them. My mom (your Grandmother) was with me and every once in a while she would say "Mary Lou? Are you having a contraction now?" I waited to see if I was and sure enough my stomach would squeeze and become as hard as a basketball. You could actually watch it get hard and then soft again. 
All day Friday we just continued about our day thinking any minute it would start to get more intense and we would soon be welcoming you into the world!  But did I tell you I was wrong? And you didn't come for another 3 DAYS?! 
We went grocery shopping to pick up food for us and our lovely midwife Marve. So there I was in the middle of Whole Foods stopping by the milk, by the deli, by the organic doughnuts having contractions. But, little did I know that this would be the least of my embarrassment.
Later, your Dad and I went to a party and everyone was amazed that I was there and in the beginning of labor. Gramps (whom you are lovingly named after) called your Grandmother and asked how everyone was. She said, "Oh, Marc and Mary Lou are at a party!" Gramps said "What! I thought you said she is having contractions?!” My mom replied "Well, she says they don't hurt yet and you know how social her and Marc are!"
After the party we came home and played Wii with your Aunt Brooke and Uncle Sterling, then we went to bed. (We played a game of our own, you see I was hoping to push things along.)
Then at around 11:45 that night my water broke.
"Marc! My water just broke!!”
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! I felt a tiny pop and a bit more wetness!" I hopped off the bed in a bit of panic and just stood there frozen. Then we watched as liquid started to trickle out.
"Get my mom and a towel!"
Marc ran off and soon both of us were looking (yes we were a little panicked) at my mom. What should we do? So, we called Marve.
Marve said that we were just in the beginning stages and not yet in active labor so go to bed. "What? Go to bed?" "Yes," she said "We have a lot of work ahead of us and it's best you stay rested. Try to relax and call me in the morning." So I went to bed. I tried to sleep but with my now leaking amniotic fluid I had lost some of my cushion around the baby and started to feel the contractions a bit more. "Ooh. Ohh...." I breathed.  Marc “tried” to “encourage” me. "Mary Lou try to relax! Marve said you should go to sleep!" "I'm trying to relax! But it's not as easy anymore, but I'll try harder!" Rolls eyes.
So I tried to sleep and sleep I did. 


Frederick’s Birth Story: Preamble

Before I get into Frederick’s birth story I wanted to give a little background and explain some of my thoughts about the decisions we made. When Marc and I decided to allow God to have control of our family planning (read: no contraceptives) I was both nervous and excited. One month later I was very surprised to have a positive pregnancy test. It is a total blessing that we were able to have children and so quickly. I really thought it would take at least six months to get pregnant. And technically we were not even trying! Like I said, it’s a total blessing from God and we were so thankful. 

I knew I wanted to have a home birth. The first thing I did was look up midwives in my area and educate myself on what to look for in a midwife. I interviewed a few midwives and looked at a numerous websites. We choose Marvelys Lopez, CPM for many reasons. The way she treats her clients is great, each person gets about an hour every prenatal visit and she takes her time explaining and talking about everything from what is going on with development at each stage to nutrition. She is also a doctor who became a midwife, not to mention she is a mother as well.  We absolutely adore her!  Her website is: www.sweetmidwiferycare.com  

One of the reasons why I knew I wanted to have a home birth is: I really hate hospitals. I have too much baggage with them and physicians, who in my experience, never take the time to step out of protocol and treat each patient as a person and not just another number. I also think that the way birth is handled here in the US is mismanaged and antiquated. Not to mention run by men who have never and will never have personal experience in giving birth. If you want to learn more about how birth is handled here in our country, a good resource is the documentary by Ricky Lake and Abby Epstein “The Business of Being Born” and their follow up book Your Best Birth. Granted the documentary is biased on the side of natural child birth, but they do a good job in their book of just explaining how things are run and giving you choices. Especially after seeing the documentary and reading the book both Marc and I were set on the path to have a natural home birth with a midwife. 

Overall, I had a great pregnancy (with great care), hardly any sickness, (just about 5 days when brushing my teeth made me throw up) and before I knew it it was July and my due date was rapidly approaching. 


Celebrating Baby ZJ!

Saturday I had a great time hosting my dear friend Dedra's baby shower! We can't wait to see and love sweet baby ZJ!


Renouncing Our Road Trip Crowns

So, I should have written about this a while ago. What can I say? Life just keeps going and new days keep dawning. Although, I am very grateful for each day presented to me that I can praise our Creator!

Back to road trips...

Marc and I became the road trip King and Queen while dating. As we started to seriously date he had just graduated from the Air Force Academy and spent an extra year in Colorado Springs, so his time was up and it was time to move. Thankfully he moved not too far away to Alamogordo, NM. A very small city probably most famous for White Sands National Park. (Transformers was even filmed there!) It was about 8 hours away and about every 6 weeks Marc would drive to visit me back in Colorado Springs.
(This is at White Sands taken when we were dating. The sunsets were always so beautiful!)

I'm sure you're wondering why I didn't just move there. (Are you?) Why all the driving? Well 1) we weren't married or engaged yet, and 2) I was still in college! I had about two more years to complete. So, thus began our road trips.

Since then we got married and continued to drive and drive and drive.

When we lived in Alamogordo we drove to:
Colorado Springs (missed my mom and a city with decent food and shopping!)
Our longest road trip ever to Pensacola, FL (I had never really been to the south before so we took about 2-3 days each way and had what I like to call a "Southern Experience" trip)
Lots of others (I won't bore you)

I'm telling you we were the King and Queen!

Now that we live in Henderson we drive to California often enough. L.A. is about 4-6 hours away (4 pre-Frederick and at most 6 with Frederick) and that is about as far as I will go happily.

The trip that did us in?

A 17 hour road trip to Colorado Springs for Christmas. Granted we did it over two days, but it's supposed to take about 12-13 hours driving. We drove because we like the time that it gives us to talk and laugh and think and be together. Also, we can bring our dog Sugar. My family loves Sugar and Sugar really loves them. We were going to be gone a long time so it was cheaper and less burdensome on our friends to take her. But no LONGER! I'm sorry Sugar you will no longer be coming with us unless it's a trip that is shorter than 4 hours and you are welcome to a house that loves dogs too. (OK enough about Sugar, but you just needed to know that she was a part of the reasonings behind the crazy.)

With a baby and a dog we were filled to the brim of our rented Jeep! 

Our last trip was fun though! It was beautiful driving through all of the mountain passes and seeing all of the fabulous resorts. Frederick's first Christmas was magical and I can't remember the last time I had so much fun at Christmas. I've now discovered that holiday's are so much more fun with children!

 Marc and I played a ton of Wii with my brother and sister. I was able to share some sweet memories with Cameo and Gramps. (One of them was Frederick's bath time, he is very serious about kicking his feet!)

Overall it was very lovely trip (I'm just flying next time) and a great one to hang up our crowns!


Mary Lou