Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

“Stay with us, Lord Jesus, stay with us.  

Stay with us, it soon is evening.

Stay with us, Lord Jesus, stay with us, it soon is evening and night is falling.”

I tend to think in song lyrics sometimes.  I guess it’s part of being a musician.  I have songs from when I was a kid all the way to now stuck somewhere in my head.  When something reminds me of a song, the lyrics pop in my head and are there all day.  Most of the time it’s just simple songs.  Lately, it’s been kids songs since that’s all I sing with Selah.  On certain days, however, my heart takes over and reaches for songs like “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” or “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”  Recently, the song that’s been in my head has been one that we sang in Sanctuary Choir at church.  The lyrics come from Luke 24:29, “But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.”  Somedays, all I can think over and over again is “stay with me, please stay with me.”  The days when my Dad was really sick and the months after he died, I begged… Please, night is coming and I need You here.  Please, stay.  After Selah was born and I struggled with breastfeeding… please stay with me.  Every time I hear of a new tragedy that has happened around the world, when I think of children who have been separated from their families through war, when I become burdened with the darkness in this world… The list could go on… Please, Lord, stay with us.  

 When I was younger, I did my best to put myself in others’ shoes.  For whatever reason, the older I got the more emotional I became over other people’s burdens.  Part of it is growing up and having my world-view widened, I suppose.  As we grow up we, hopefully, become more aware of what’s going on and in turn, our hearts are opened up to the needs of those around us.  I believe the other part is teaching and motherhood.  Ever since I started teaching, I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of my students.  Some of these kids have lives and struggles that I’ve never seen or experienced.  Before Selah was born, Taylor and I used to watch crime shows like Criminal Minds.  It was one of my absolute favorites.  The closer I got to the third trimester the less I wanted to watch them.  I would start to cry and feel anxious anytime there was an episode involving children or families.  

Now, the news comes on and there’s another story about some tragedy and my heart just breaks.  I just don’t understand how we can be so cruel to each other… how can there be so much suffering… how can families be separated, children be bullied, people be persecuted for any reason someone else can find?  I often become so overwhelmed with these feelings that all I can do is repeat these song lyrics over and over again.  

Stay with us, Lord Jesus.  I plead over and over again, please, stay with us.  I know we make mistakes.  I know we are cruel to each other.  I know we are not taking care of Your world, of Your children, of our brothers and sisters… but please.  Please, stay with us.

I search for hope in everything.  A song I’ve been singing this week is called “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” by the Secret Sisters.

“Black clouds are behind me, I now can see ahead
Often I wonder why I try hoping for an end
Sorrow weighs my shoulders down
And trouble haunts my mind
But I know the present will not last
And tomorrow will be kinder
Tomorrow will be kinder
It’s true, I’ve seen it before
A brighter day is coming my way
Yes, tomorrow will be kinder.”

On the days that I’m particularly bogged down, I try to sing this song.  It gives me a hope.  Some people are good at recalling Bible verses and I do wish I was better at it, but I am thankful that songs come to mind first.  Singing these lyrics over and over again assure me that there is hope for tomorrow.  There will always be hope for change in this world, for improvement, for love, and for compassion for others.  

It is too easy to become burdened, weighed down, and saddened in this world.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I think allowing ourselves to feel for others makes us better human beings.  It becomes a problem when the sadness takes over and keeps us from action.  I pray that we are able to find something to hold onto each day, whether it’s Scripture, a song, a saying, a picture, a memory, or a simple hope that allows to look forward to the future and to know that even in the nighttime, Jesus stays with us.  

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A Letter to Selah About Commitment

Just something I’ve been dealing with and thinking about lately…

Selah,

I know at this point in your life, you haven’t made any commitments, but one day I want you to understand how strongly your Dad and I look at commitments.  The definition of commitment is “the state of being dedicated to a cause; and engagement that restricts freedom of action.”  I assume that when you read this I will still be teaching choir (hopefully in a middle school), but who knows… I could get tired of dealing with commitment issues and choose another career path.  Being a choir teacher gives me a different outlook on commitment.  I feel like I’m constantly begging kids to commit to something.  “Be a part of the choir! Please come to the concert!  Please wear the right clothes!  Please sing out more!  You committed to this class back in August and you signed a contract saying that you would be at this concert! Don’t give up on me now!” If I ever seem a little frustrated after a day at work, it’s most likely not you that I’m irritated with.  I’m most likely tired of trying to win kids over.  I’m tired of trying to get them in my class.  I’m tired of trying to motivate them to do something just for the fun and excitement of it rather than doing it out of the fear of getting a bad grade.  I cannot tell you how many times in a year I hear… “is this for a grade?”  “what happens if I don’t show up to the concert?”  “Do I HAVE to be there? Or is this like… an optional thing?” I want to sit down with them and say… “Look, you’ve been working on this stuff since August.  Does that not make you feel like you’ve wasted all this time if you don’t go to the concert?  What was the point of all that work?”  I’ve even gone so far as to say things like, “If you don’t show up to the concert, that would be like skipping on end-of-year tests or going to all the practices for your sport and then not showing up for the game.  What is the point of class if you’re not going to show up for the concert?  If you abandon your teammate on a football field, the WHOLE team suffers.  It’s the same with choir!  If I’m missing 4 altos on the night of the concert, the choir simply will not sound as good as it could.”

Dearest Selah… to be quite frank.  I am sick and tired of having to compare choir (or any other art for that matter) to a sport in order for it to get the respect it deserves.  I’m going to stop myself there because that’s a different letter for a different day.  Here is the point that I am trying to make… In your life, when you make a commitment to something… HOLD THAT COMMITMENT.  I don’t care what it is that you’ve committed to.  If you’ve promised to meet someone for lunch, do it.  If you’ve said you’ll be there at soccer practice, do it.  If you’ve said you were going to help someone out with homework, do it.  For the first 18 years of your life, my dear, you will not have a choice.  Your Dad and I will be making that decision for you.  You can be mad at that (and I’m sure at some point in your life you will), but I think it is going to teach you a valuable lesson; a lesson that my parents taught me and I am so grateful for that.  

Academics come first.  If you are in a class and there is a test, field trip, choir competition, science fair, etc… you WILL complete it.  I don’t care if the choir concert is the night of your best friend’s 16th birthday.  You are not going to that party until AFTER the concert.  (Also, side note… what are you doing have a best friend who isn’t in choir???) I don’t care if the basketball championship game is the same night of the science fair that you entered in months before you tried out for the basketball team… you WILL compete in the science fair and then I will do my best to rush you over to the game.  I was an athlete in high school.  I get it.  I loved having sports as an outlet, but what my parents taught me was academics came before extracurriculars.  Always.

Church comes before academics.  I know, I know.  I said academics come first.  My brain was tired, it’s Friday.  If it’s Sunday, we’re at church.  If it’s Wednesday night, we are at church.  Even if your Dad wasn’t a music minister… we would be there.  You would be going to youth choir, Bible study, Sunday school, etc… This isn’t a choice.  It wasn’t a choice for me for 18 years and I loved it.  I loved going to church.  The minute I started struggling with church was the first Sunday I chose not to go in college.  Some parents may not like the fact that I force you to go to these things, but as my parents told me… They’re not your parents.  I am.  If you decide to play sports or be a part of a club or band in school and they have practice/rehearsal/meetings on a Wednesday night or Sunday afternoon, you will just have to miss it.  I won’t apologize for that.

I understand that there are always circumstances beyond your control.  I understand that last minute emergencies happen.  I understand that sometimes people get sick.  I understand that some days… you will just have a poopy day.  You won’t feel like coming home from school and then leaving again to go to church on Wednesday night.  You won’t feel like going to soccer practice when it’s 40 degrees outside and raining.  You won’t feel like spending an hour running around a gym after you’ve been up since 6am in a classroom doing work.  You won’t feel like spending an hour in a choir rehearsal and then coming back that night in a nice dress and standing up in front of people to do it again.  I get it.  Everyone has their days, but as long as you are healthy… you will be there.   You wanna know why?  Because you SAID you would.  If you join WHATEVER club or extracurricular activity, you will do it knowing that if it conflicts with church, you’ll miss it that day.  If it conflicts with an academic event, you’ll miss it that day.  You will join knowing that if your grades start to slip and your performance in school is falling, you will quit.

Your commitment to things is good practice for your commitment to relationships.  Will you always be there for your best friend?  Will you always support your significant other? Or… will you, the moment its tough, back out and say, “Do I have to do this?”  and I hope I will always be there in your head asking, “Did you say you would be?”

Here’s the deal, my girl… I came home tired today.  I drove home thinking about how frustrating it is to listen to students say, “I can’t go to this because I have (insert sports event here) that night.”  I drove home thinking about how I wanted a student to do something simply BECAUSE they committed and they cared… not because they were going to get a bad grade.  I drove home thinking about how I didn’t want my child to be like that to her teachers.  I drove home thinking about how I wanted you to understand how much teachers and other adults who lead students commit to those students’ lives and how disheartening it is to hear students say that they basically don’t care.  I came home thinking about how I wanted you to be a student and eventually an adult who commits to things…who gives their word and people believe them.  I want you to be a person who other people trust when they commit to something.  I want you to be dependable.  I want you to be honest.  I want you to be dedicated.  And if I have to make you mad along the way, I’ll do that for you.  

The Beginning of Selah’s Birth, Pt. 3

Selah was born 4 months ago today so I think it’s only right that I do my best to finish her birth story today.  When we got to baby & co, I basically spent all my time in the shower or the huge tub.  The hot water helped considerably, but I did not like the fact that I was unable to move in the tub.  The shower was wonderful, but at some point it became difficult to stand.  During the last 3-4 hours, the pain increased and it became more difficult to keep my head clear and above water… figuratively and literally.  My mother had arrived at this point and I asked if she would read some notecards that I had written verses or motivational statements on.  There were three that I tried to keep repeating in my head over and over as the pain became too much.

  1. This pain is just a moment and it will pass.
  2. Philippians 1:6 – He who started a good work in you will carry it to completion.
  3. Isaiah 66:9 – In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.

That last one especially stuck with me and I’m pretty sure I began to cry at this point.  Like I said, things got a bit cloudy from here.  So, what I am saying is… here is either the bits and pieces that I do remember or it is second hand information from Taylor or my mom.  At some point, my sister, her husband, and their two kids got there, as well as Taylor’s mom, dad, and sister.  I think he went out to say hello and update them once, but I really did not like being left alone, so he stayed by my side throughout everything.  (more on Taylor’s just sheer amazingness later…) So… there are a few different stages of labor and in my birthing class I remember them saying that the last part of labor is the toughest.  The contractions are very close together and they are the most painful.  I do remember, however, that there are supposed to be breaks between contractions, just not very long.

At this point, my water STILL had not broken and it was around 3-4am?  I was in what they call “transition” and my contractions were the worst they’d been and very close together.  I began to have what I later learned were called “rolling contractions.”  This basically means, before the first one is over, the next one has already started.  So, the first one reaches its peak and as it’s coming back down the hill, the next one picks up.  I would have about 3-4 of these in a row before I’d get about 20-30 seconds of rest.  This was more mentally tiring than physically.  I knew they had to end, but at that point in time, it never felt like they would.  I would begin to feel relief and it would start hurting again.  My sister has told me that she was in a room down the hall feeding her daughter, and she could hear me moaning and whimpering.  (I vaguely remember this because the next morning in the hospital with Selah my throat was soon sore.)  My brain was wearing down, I was leaning over the bed on an exercise ball with Taylor trying to support me.  This is the point where I began saying and believing, “I can’t do this.  I can’t do this.  It’s too hard.  I can’t do this.”  Taylor, being amazing (I’ll get to that later, just kept saying, “yes, you can.  You ARE doing this.  You’re so close.  You can do this.”  I tried to keep telling myself, “This has to end at some point.  Just hold on.  This has to end.”

At some point in this miserable cycle, my water broke.  It was not at all like I expected it to be and I know it surprised Taylor, but it FINALLY broke.  I became a little more excited and energized at this point because I felt like now she could come out and all this pain wasn’t happening in vain.

I’m going to take a quick pause here and talk about Taylor.  He has always been great at being a supportive person when you are in need.  He was wonderful when my dad died and throughout that whole grieving process.  He was just amazing.  There is no other way to put it.  I never doubted how he would handle labor.  He has this way of becoming completely calm and logical during stressful times.  The whole time we were at home and I was dealing with contractions, he was right there rubbing my back and being encouraging.  We got to Baby and Co and he stood in the shower with me, helping hold me up, rubbing my back, handing me a bottle of water and forcing me to drink.  When I was in the tub, he was sitting on the floor next to it, holding my arms, squeezing my neck, reminding me to breathe, and once again, forcing me to drink water.  When I moved to the bed, he was there, rubbing my arm, reminding me to breathe, forcing me to drink water, etc… He was always telling me I could do it, asking questions when I couldn’t, just being present. In the words of my sister, “I remember how amazing Mom said Taylor was.  She bragged on him for days.  Telling how he stayed right with you and didn’t leave your side for anything (even to change his wet clothes).  She said he was always so confident and encouraging.  He was seriously your biggest fan and coach all in one.”  He had not left my side.  So… here we go….

My water broke, I asked him to go and get Alice Ann, he did.  He came back and Alice Ann came in after him.  She took one look at the floor where my water had broke and said, “Okay.  So.  This isn’t an emergency, but that’s definitely meconium.  That means that baby has pooped in utero.  We want to make sure that she hasn’t ingested any because if she has, she could be sick.  This is one of our reasons that we transfer moms to the hospital.  This is a non-emergency, but we do need to begin that transfer, okay?  Do you understand?”  Now you see why we really like Alice Ann.  She’s honest, forthright, but she makes sure you understand that everything is okay.  She was very much like Taylor.  I nodded my head (all I could manage at this point) and she left the room.  I started to cry, partially because of exhaustion, partially because of pain, partially because I was afraid that everything was falling apart.  Taylor assured me that everything was alright and that Alice would have said differently if it weren’t an emergency.  My mother cried at this point, I believe.  A few minutes later, Alice Ann came in with a wheelchair and wheeled me out to the parking lot.  Taylor got in the driver seat of our car, I got in the passenger seat, and Alice got in the backseat.  We drove over to the hospital, Alice reminding me to breathe the whole time.  Ya’ll… sitting down while having contractions is the WORST.

We got to the hospital 3 minutes later, they wheeled me into the elevator and took me upstairs.  It was about 5am-5:30am.  They got me into a room, onto a bed, and Alice Ann talked to the doctor about the rest of the delivery.  They immediately let me begin pushing.  Let me just say… they told me that when you started to push everything would change.  It certainly does. The pain of the contractions basically disappear because now you have a job and that’s exactly what I needed.  I desperately need a job, a purpose.  As soon as they let me start doing this, time flew by and I actually felt like we were getting somewhere.  Looking back, it was so exciting.  She was coming and soon.  They told me that they could actually see her.  This wasn’t something I had made up.  There was an actual baby and she was being born within the hour.  It took about an hour of pushing and when she was born there was such a relief.  I have never felt relief like this.  They lifted her up so that I could see her and then they took her to the other side of the room.

Because there was meconium in my water, they wanted to make sure she hadn’t ingested any.  She had to be suctioned and then they washed her off and handed her right back.  It was 1-2 minutes max, but it felt like eternity.  We laid there and she immediately just curled up on my chest.  She was warm and smelled lovely.  Her skin was perfect, her nose was perfect, her adorable little body was just perfect.  They moved us to a different room and as they wheeled us down the hall, the hospital played “Brahms Lullaby” to signal Selah’s birth.  I, of course cried, because that’s what my mother used to hum to me when she would tuck me in at night.  About 30 minutes after we got to the room, Taylor came over to the bed and said, “Are you okay? Do you need me?” and I must have made a confused face because he said, “Can I use the bathroom?”  I burst out laughing.  I hadn’t even noticed that he hadn’t used the bathroom, but I should’ve known.  He had been with me since 6pm the night before and now it was 6:30am.  I told you he was wonderful.  I spent the next day or two just laying in bed with Selah and watching Selah lay on Taylor’s chest.

Baby & Co continued to be supportive in the next day or two and even the next several weeks.  I have called and facetimed several times since she was born for many reasons.  I will always recommend them to anyone who is looking for great women’s care.  I cannot tell you how beautiful this whole process was for me.  I know it’s different for everyone, but despite all the pain and the last minute change of plans… it is so incredibly worth it.  I’ll end with another special memory from my sister: “When I first came into the room, I saw her sweet little angel face and I saw in my mind the first time I met you in the hospital, and I knew how amazing and special this moment was, so instead of going straight to my niece, I hugged you first.  I knew what you had done to bring her into this world, I knew how hard you had worked, how scary moments had been for you, and I knew all the flurry of emotions you were experiencing (and would experience in the next 8 weeks to come).  At the same time, I could see you at that size and I was so proud of you, I thought my heart would burst or overflow.”

The Beginning of Selah’s Birth, pt. 2

There will probably be one more birth post after this.  It’s a long story, so I’ve tried to split it up.  This one is a bit long 🙂

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The week or two before Selah was born, I had already begun to have Braxton Hicks.  I was never confused about whether or not they were real contractions, partially because my brain was like, “hey, she’s not coming yet.  It’s not her due date.  No way.”  and also because, they really didn’t hurt too bad.  They would occasionally make me catch my breath, but it wasn’t painful.  Friday, October 14th was my last day at work.  I came home and collapsed on the couch.  I slept as much as I could that night and on Saturday, we woke up and went for a walk.  I remember sitting in Selah’s nursery, folding baby clothes and organizing her books (AGAIN) thinking about how I wanted her to come first thing Monday morning… like I had a choice.  I was working 4 days before she was born.  I was on my feet for 8 hours, leaning over a piano, trying to get middle school boys to sing on pitch (which is hard enough without being 9 months pregnant).  I think if I had quit working earlier, I would have been miserable.  

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I was ready to not be pregnant, especially by Sunday the 16th.  I knew she had dropped.  I was having what is apparently called “lightning” pains; and no, I don’t mean “lightening” pains.  Two entirely different things.  Lightening (from what I understand), is when the baby drops and is ready to go.  Your heartburn sometimes goes away (mine def did not), your stomach feels lower and heavier (why did they call it lightening you may ask?, idk.)  “Lightning” pain is a shooting, sharp pain that goes downwards after the baby has dropped.  I would be walking and all of a sudden have to stop and kind of bend over for a second.  It happened every once in a while at school and I could see the fear in my students eyes.  The last thing they wanted is for my water to break and for me to go in labor during class.  I, however, didn’t have that fear.  I remember the class we took at Baby & Co. talking about how it NEVER happened the way it does in the movies.  It’s not like, your water breaks and BAM here comes the baby.  Oh man, would that have been nice.  Anyways… Sunday morning, we got up and went to church and everyone asked that question that no pregnant woman ever wants to hear… “So, when is she coming? Is she gonna come yet? Tell that girl to get out here!”  Something about being 9 months pregnant… let’s just say that’s never a good question to ask someone who desperately wants to get the cantaloupe out of their stomach.  

At church, people were asking Taylor, “So, when is she coming?” and he would answer, “well, she’s a Vancil so I’m thinking she’ll be right on time.  On her due date, nice at early in the morning.”  I’m pretty sure Taylor’s spiritual gift is prophecy.  We got Mexican food that afternoon and a part of me was hoping that the old wives tale of spicy food would work for me.  I was way ready, but nope.  It didn’t give me anything except a giant case of heartburn.  I went home that night, feeling slightly better about the fact that I didn’t have to go to work in the morning so I could at least sleep as much as my belly would let me.  Selah, at this point, had slowly stopped kicking and had moved to more of a pushing/stretching motion.  She was running out of room.  Mondays were Taylor’s day off, so we both got up together, double checked to make sure that the house was ready, and then proceeded to be complete bums all day.  I’m sure at some point we went for a walk.  I was doing anything to pass the time.  

Tuesday rolled around, Taylor went back to work, and I woke up, double checked everything in every room (nesting, much?), vacuumed, swept, mopped, went for a walk around 8:30am (yes, all of that happened before 8:30am; I should have known) and took the dog with me.  On the walk, I was having Braxton Hicks, but nothing was consistent or more than what I had felt so I didn’t think anything of it.  I was so deeply lost in thoughts about wondering when she was going to come and what it would feel like and if everything would be okay that I almost didn’t recognize a woman from church who stopped to talk to me.  She was out walking and said something like, “I see you trying to walk that baby out.”  I very incoherently mumbled something and nodded.  She quickly realized that I was confused and let me know that she was from church and said something about her mom doing the same thing and how it worked.  I smiled and nodded again (still a little lost in my thoughts, sorry Lakena.  Promise I wasn’t being rude.) and kept on walking.  

I got back to the house, ate lunch, walked around the house again.  I thought about painting my nails and I’m not sure why I didn’t.  That would’ve been a good moment.  I slept a bit, watched TV a bit, and waited for Taylor to get home.  Taylor got back around 4pm and I was really feeling antsy at this point.  I asked him to go on a walk (again; come on Sarah, get a clue) and he agreed.  That was around 5ish?  We went for a walk and on this walk, the Braxton Hicks (silly me) really picked up.  They were really starting to hurt on the way back up the hill to our house.  We got back, I got a glass of water (I was listening in my birthing class!) and sat down in my chair in the living room.  I kept having what I thought were Braxton Hicks, but then all of a sudden, something changed.  It was like … she dropped even more than what I thought and the contractions I was feeling, left my lower abdomen and dropped even lower.  I waited for about 20 minutes before I said anything to Taylor.  After it had happened a few times, I told him that something had changed and that the feelings I was having were not the same.  I decided to get up and get a shower.  I had a few more of these feelings (what I now know were contractions) while in the shower.  I got out, sat back down in my chair and Taylor tried to get me to play a video game while I sat there. While it took my mind off of it for a second, I very quickly became irritated at sitting still.  I remembered the midwife saying something about “sleep while you can” so I went downstairs to lay down.  It was probably around 7pm at this point.  I went downstairs, turned on season 1 of Friends (my fav season) and downloaded a timer for contractions.  I started using it and while the contractions weren’t super painful yet, I felt like they were too close together to still be in the first stage of labor.  They didn’t feel like active labor, but they were close together.  

When they started hurting bad enough where I realized that I wasn’t going to sleep, I texted my mom (always).  I was worried that maybe my pain tolerance was better than I was hoping and that maybe I was already in active labor.  She told me the wise thing… call baby & co and ask.  I called for Taylor to come downstairs.  He said the same thing.  I called Baby & Co and one of my favorite midwives, Alice, picked up.   She was calm and kind and asked me if I was having a contraction over the phone and I said yes.  She told me to call back when I couldn’t talk through one.  I hung up, french braided my hair and Taylor and I both went back upstairs.  My go-bag was by the door, I had my labor gown on and was, by this point, bending over the kitchen counter during a contraction.  Taylor was giving me “friends” trivia from an app on the iphone.  It was keeping me occupied; that and him rubbing my back.  In between contractions, I was having time to recover and felt fine.  The contractions were about 30 seconds long and a few minutes apart.  When it came to the point where I couldn’t talk through one, Taylor called Alice and she said to come on in to Baby & Co.  We live about 20 minutes from Baby & Co so I wasn’t too worried about the drive.  (once again, silly me) We grabbed the go-bag (and by we, I mean Taylor) and I hobbled to the car. (10pmish?)  Our neighbors were out on their front porch and yelled over, “IS IT TIME???”  Taylor said something like, “I sure hope so.” and we got in the car.  I kept the seatbelt as loose as possible the whole way there and squirmed and rode backwards and laid on my side… I’m pretty sure if a police officer saw us, we definitely would have been pulled over.  I’m also pretty sure that if one HAD pulled us over, he would’ve given us an escort to Baby & Co, either because of Taylor begging him or because of me giving him a death glare for making Taylor stop the car.  

We got to Baby & Co, pulled in the parking lot, I finished having the contraction I was right in the middle of, rolled myself out of the car and just left Taylor behind.  He, being the wonderful person he is, got the bags from the car and followed in after me.  From the walk from the car to the door which is all but 20 feet, I started having another contraction, pushed the doorbell and leaned up against the wall.  Alice Ann came to the door and said “No shoes, huh?  Well, that’s a good sign!”  I looked down at my feet, like… what’s she talking about??  I had apparently walked out of the house in my socks and didn’t even notice.  Alice walked us back to the room that we would be in for the night and said she’d be right back.  There was apparently another girl in labor that same night and her baby was about 2 hours from being born.  Taylor said that was fine.  I asked permission to get in the shower and turn on the tub.  She laughed at me and said, “Please, do whatever you want to get comfortable.”  

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(This picture is from their website HERE… they are so wonderful.  This was my room, but they have a few different rooms.  We, somehow, took NO pictures whatsoever until after Selah was born.  I am 100% okay with that because I’m sure I looked miserable.)

Another reason that we chose Baby & Co is because of all the options you have while in labor.  The 20 minutes I was sitting in the car on the way there were HORRIBLE.  I couldn’t get up and walk around or use heat or stretch or anything.  I am not one to judge anyone’s birthing choices, but I don’t know how anyone copes with the pain in the hospital, unable to move around or eat or drink.  Baby and co has a huge shower that has detachable shower heads, a huge tub, a queen sized bed, an exercise ball, an exercise ball that’s in the shape of a peanut, bars on the wall that you can hold on to… all sorts of things that are helpful.  I immediately got into the shower and used one of the shower heads to put hot water on the place where I felt the most pain.  The immediate relief was amazing.  The pain (obviously) didn’t go away, but the hot water helped me get my brain out of the cloudiness and fear.  I got back on top of what was happening and was able to cope.  After this point, things got a bit fuzzy, but I’ll try to remember what I can (with the help of Taylor).

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This is all for tonight.  I’ll post the 3rd (and hopefully last part) later this week.  Enjoy!

 

Not What it Was Supposed to Be… but When is Life Ever?

I sit here with tears in my eyes at the end of a very long and hard week. I know I’m supposed to be uploading part two of Selah’s birth, but I just don’t have that in me today.  There are dirty bottles in the sink (as well as one that I cannot find; it’s somewhere around here).  The baby bath is sitting out, still full of water, baby blankets are covering every sitting space in the house, even though she only uses one blanket at a time.  There is an empty pizza box on top of the stove.  There’s a full trash bag in the trash can, waiting to be taken out.  Poor Leo (our dog) hasn’t had a good run in a week or so.  The floor could probably stand to be swept and mopped.  I’m pretty sure there’s even a dirty diaper sitting on the kitchen counter (leftover from bathtime).  It is very important to me that I say all of these things.  It’s like admitting you have a problem.  I like to live in a world where my house is constantly in order, the cloth diapers are always washed and ready to go, Selah’s things are always folded and put away, all the bottles are filled and in the fridge ready to go, and there is NEVER a diaper sitting on my kitchen counter.  This is rarely ever the case… or if it is, it’s only this way for an hour until Selah wakes up from her nap and the mess starts all over again.  

Back to the beginning… Why do I have tears in my eyes? (OH, btw.  I completely realize that everything I’m about to mention are 100% first world problems, but they are weighing heavily on me so I’m doing my best to get them out.)  Monday morning, I woke up at 5am, got ready for work, cleaned the bottles, got everything ready for Selah’s day, packed my lunch and went to work.  I got home at 3:45pm, fed Selah, played with her for about 45 minutes and then she was ready to go back down for a nap.  I laid her down, ate a snack and just as I was about to clean bottles and pick up the house, she woke up… that’s right… 30 minutes after I laid her down, she woke up.  How dare she? Didn’t she know that I had things to do? I ended up leaving a little while later at 5:40pm to go teach the musicianship class I teach at Charlotte Children’s Choir.  By the time, I got back, she was down for the night so I just looked at her on the baby monitor until I fell asleep.  Tuesday went very much the same.  I got home from work at 3:45pm, fed her, laid her back down, left at 5:45pm to go back to work since my students had their choir concert.  When I got back home, she was laid down for the night (deja vu?) so I stared at the monitor until I fell asleep.  That night, Selah decided to wake up at 2am, 4 hours we had given her the dreamfeed.  Taylor, being the saint that he is, woke up and fed her so that I could sleep.  Exactly 4 hours later, she woke up again at 6am.  I took her upstairs to Nana so that Taylor could sleep and so that I could get ready for work.  Nana fed her and she had a great day.  Wednesday night, I got home at 3:45pm, fed her while she was being fussy, not sure if she wanted the bottle or not, laid her down and she slept until 7pm, woke her up, took her to church, fed her and sat down for choir practice. (Taking Selah to choir practice is another post for another day.)  When we got home from choir, it was time for her to go to bed… proceed with the usual staring at the monitor.  Thursday, wake up, work, come home, try to feed her, lay her down for a nap, feed her again, lay her down for the night.  

This morning she decided to wake up at 3:30am and then again at 7am.  At that point, I was already gone for work.  I got home today at 3:45, tried to feed her, but she apparently wasn’t hungry.  She’d had a rough day with the girl that takes care of her on Fridays.  I had no idea what was wrong with her because I hadn’t been with her all day.  I didn’t know when she had eaten last, when she had slept today and for how long, when her last diaper change was, or anything.  After attempting to feed her multiple times this afternoon and getting barely an ounce in before she gave up and cried, I decided at 7:30 (which is usually her bedtime) that I was going to give her a bath.  She always likes baths.  It’s like a reset for her brain.  I got her in the bath and cried as I washed her.  She laid there, perfectly calm, and somewhat sleepy after her fussy afternoon.  I gave her one more ounce of milk while in the bathtub, she burped on her own, I wrapped her up in the towel and all of a sudden she was snuggly and sleepy.  This sweet little angel, that I had been crying over all afternoon, was fine.  She was more than fine.  She was content and sleepy.  It was at this moment that she looked up at me…

So now I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes because I haven’t known one day thisweek, what my child needs when I get home.  I haven’t laid her down one day this week to go to bed for the night.  I haven’t had one snuggle, one successful feeding without tears.  I haven’t had one hour this week that we’ve laid and played together and I know what she wants or what she needs before she gets upset.  I’ve had something every night this week and this is when the mommy guilt sets in.  For those of you who have never had mommy guilt, it’s the worst guilt I’ve ever felt.  I feel guilty when I stay at home with her, because I miss my job.  I feel guilty when I’m at work, because I miss my child and I don’t feel like I know what she wants.  When I’m with my child, I feel guilty because all I want is for her to sleep so that I can sleep, or shower, or eat without interruptions.  When I sleep, shower, or eat, I feel guilty because I feel like I should be cleaning the house or preparing for when she wakes up.  When I sit down at the end of the day, I feel guilty about not exercising because I desperately need to get back into shape.  

I’m doing my absolute best to stay present and not strive for perfection, but so far I’m failing.  I’ve been reading two books that talk about the importance of grace and not perfection.  But there’s a problem with that for me… I feel like if I read the books and master the art of grace and not perfection, THEN… I’ll be perfect.  But… that defeats the purpose.  I haven’t read those books in a week because every time I read them, I try to be BETTER at being present.  I strive for being PERFECT at giving myself GRACE and that is not helping the situation.  A friend of mine once told me, when we were talking about kids and jobs and family, etc… that “you CAN have it all… you just might not have it all at the same time.”

This week has been a great example of that for me.  I’ve tried to stay on top of things and be perfect.  I’ve washed bottles, been a mom, been a teacher, cleaned the house, started a load of laundry at 6am, while eating breakfast.  I’m trying to do everything and it’s simply not working.  I’m failing at trying to be perfect.  I’m doing my BEST to be the best I can be and that’s not the point.  The point is for me to be here.  To see Selah.  To give her what I can.  To do what I can.  It’s easier said than done and I wish I could wrap this all up in a nice pretty bow and tell you how I’ve overcome my perfectionist mindset, but I haven’t so I can’t.  I’m still a perfectionist and I’m prepared to struggle with that for my entire life.  Right now, all I can do is trust that GOD will continue to change me… to help me realize my imperfections and be okay with them, to help me realize what my priorities should be in life, and to help me present not perfect.  To give and want Grace over perfection.    

The Beginning of Selah’s Birth

My next few posts will be about Selah, pregnancy, and her birth.  I’ll try not to be too graphic and I’ll give you a warning ahead of time if something is going to be TMI.  This one’s pretty safe 🙂

When I found out I was pregnant, I honestly had no idea what I was getting into.  I would like to say that I kept it to myself and came up with a great way to surprise Taylor with the news.  I would like to say that I started journaling from Day 1 and kept record of every tiny little feeling, thought and emotion.  I would LOVE to say that I was 100% prepared for the changes about to happen.  However… as soon as I found out, I walked into the other room where Taylor sat and said something like… “I think I’m pregnant.”  Instead of journaling, I had a baby notebook that I went back to a month after each pregnancy milestone was hit and did my best to remember what had happened.  Instead of being prepared, I probably read 50% of Mayo Clinic’s What to Expect.  I didn’t even buy that book.  My insurance company sent it to me for free.  My best friend will tell you that I read one chapter ahead of what I needed to know for that week of pregnancy.  I was too afraid to read too far ahead.    

I am usually a very prepared person.  I like planning ahead.  No… I love planning ahead.  I like making plans even more than I like doing the actual thing I’ve planned for. (Nesting was a serious problem for me.) With pregnancy, I think ignorance was bliss.  Not knowing what was going to happen in the months ahead actually made me a) enjoy it while it was actually happening b) not stress out about it or think about it too much ahead of time.  

I had a relatively easy pregnancy.  (I know, I know.  You’re never supposed to say that.  But, hey.  I’m being honest here, right?)  During the first trimester, I had very slight nausea.  I hadn’t figured out what to do about it until one day at work, we had a hot chocolate bar.  There was a little bowl filled with red hots and I grabbed a handful.  I ate the red hots and sipped on a ginger ale and BAM! Immediately, the nausea was gone.  My students noticed I was eating a lot of red hots and started bringing them to me at school.  Once I got to the second trimester, the nausea went away and heartburn took its place.  I couldn’t even look at a red hot without getting horrible indigestion.  Today, I have two huge jars full of red hots because I’m too afraid to eat them.  

Around 8 weeks, I couldn’t keep the secret anymore so Taylor told our parents and a few close friends and family.  Then we naturally let the word spread. I posted a picture of Selah’s ultrasound that had her footprint.  For whatever reason, that picture of her little foot stuck with me throughout the rest of the pregnancy.  

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As she began to grow inside me, there were many thoughts that touched me.  I took communion every Sunday at the Lutheran church I attended in Dallas.  For whatever reason, taking communion with this child growing inside of me made me super emotional.  It was a very intimate, spiritual moment every single Sunday and I will never forget how special that way.  

We also decided along the way that I didn’t want to deliver in a hospital, but a birthing center.  If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would choose, I would say, um… hospital with all the drugs please! Then a few years ago, my best friend recommended I watch this documentary on Netflix.  It was about birthing centers.  It was extremely biased and that was evident, BUT… it started me thinking.  I was still pretty set on hospital and all the drugs, but I thought home births or birthing centers were pretty beautiful.  Then I read a blog written by a friend of mine who chose to have her baby at a birthing center called “Baby & Co.”  The idea of birthing in a hospital became less and less appealing.  Not being able to move or eat or go home when I wanted, not being able to feel when I should push or not, not being able to feel how far along I was just made me feel NOT in control… and I HATE not feeling in control.  I started doing some research and found two Baby & Co’s in NC.  The great thing about Baby & Co… let me change that… one of the many great things about Baby & Co is the fact that everything is so relaxed.  The baby’s health is paramount, you have choices, they don’t treat you like a patient.  They treat you like you’re an actual person.  I never had to get there 30 minutes before my doctor’s appointment.  They ALWAYS scheduled me after work so I wouldn’t have to take off work to be there.  They were so kind and friendly.  At the time, I was unsure where we would be living, but I was hoping it was within 30 minutes of Baby & Co.  

By the time we moved back to NC, I was feeling Selah move and kick and stretch.  I could feel her move when I was singing or when there was a loud noise.  The heartburn was in full gear and I, often, couldn’t tell the difference between not being hungry and fear of eating because of heartburn.  After we got back to NC, time flew by.  I started working at Stanley so I had something to keep me occupied during the day.  After work, I’d be on my feet for HOURS, just nesting.  I was unpacking things, washing clothes, vacuuming the nursery for the 10th time that week.  It was 10:30pm and I wanted so badly to go to sleep, but I seriously could not.  There were clothes to be folded and I wanted to put the car seat in, and fold blankets, and sterilize bottles, and do everything I could.  

I packed my birthing “go-bag” at like… 32 weeks.  I packed the diaper bag that same week.  I was soooo ready for Selah to get here.  I had originally planned on working until I went into labor.  Then I got to 38 weeks and started to doubt my perseverance.  

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Can you see it in my face?  Kill me now, please.  I’m so done with this.  At 39 weeks, I said, “That’s it.  Friday is my last day.  I can’t do this anymore.  My feet hurt, I’m tired all the time.  All I want to do is clean the house and make sure everything is ready.”  So, I took off on Friday, October 14th.  I slept as much as I could on Saturday & Sunday and that’s when the fun started.  

Part 2 coming soon!