I’m a Mom! Preston turned 6 weeks old yesterday and I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I am a mom. This isn’t just a temporary experience that will one day go away this is the real deal. The truth is that I have mixed emotions about that.

As I have seen so many others have babies i mostly saw just the good parts. The blissful mother sitting quietly rocking her sleeping baby wrapped sweetly in a blanket. My experience has been a bit different or at least there were things about being a mom that I never saw with other people.

I never saw…

how sometimes you don’t realize until the end of the day that you never combed your hair. And then when you do realize it you also realize that you really don’t care.

how many times I would find myself racing to the bathroom because since the birth I literally have seconds before its too late; and I never knew how many times I would have a nursing baby in my arms at the same time because he would scream if I tried to put him down.

those moments at 3 am when the baby hasn’t slept all night and just won’t stop screaming and you feel like challenging him to a match to see who can cry harder.

I never knew the “joy” of nursing a baby while milk from the other side drips down your belly and onto your baby.

But there was no way that anyone could have prepared me for the feeling that I would get when my finally satisfied baby looked up at me with milk dripping from his chin, opened one eye and grinned.

I couldn’t have foreseen how much joy I would get from hearing him finally poop after it has been a few days and I am worried.

And nothing compares with laying in the bath tub with my baby laying next to me, his arms and legs wrapped around me like a little monkey and his little face propped up so that I can see his wide open eyes, his fat chin and pink lips propped up on my chest looking as content and happy as I have ever seen him.10564793_10154365362515344_1384080184_n

I lay awake at night marveling at the tiny pink balls that are the undersides of his perfect little toes, the tiny dimples on his little manly hands and his funny elf shaped ears.

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His one little curl that WILL stand up in the center of his head and the little muscles of his arms make me just want to squeeze him.

He loves to cuddle and he sighs in contentment when I am close to him. Its so amazing to know that he loves me so completely and that I am the one he wants above all others. I never new I would sit and cry just because I don’t know what else to do with all the love I feel.

It scares me a little to love someone so much. Especially someone so vulnerable. Before I had a baby, I was never really afraid of much because the worst thing that could happen was that I would die… and that didn’t seem so horrible. Now there are dozens of worse things that could happen and all of them make my blood run cold with fear.

What if he gets sick and I don’t know how to make him feel better?

What if He gets hurt? I could get in a car accident, I could drop him, he could fall off the bed, he could choke, he could just stop breathing in the night for no reason, he could have any number of complications that would be outside of my control and the thought is horrifying. Nothing is worse than the thought of losing my baby or of seeing him suffer.

I have always heard stories of soldiers laying dying and calling for their mothers with their last breaths. Now I have a little son and suddenly that becomes the most heart breaking thing I have ever heard. I pray every day with all of my heart that the Lord keeps my little one safe. 10551783_10154365363500344_372717421_n

Grandma is worried about how empty the house is going to feel when this little one goes home.

And I am worried about what I am going to do without all the help taking care of him.

Being a mother is scary, difficult, exhausting, wonderful exhilarating, fulfilling and indescribable…

So I guess I better stop trying. Besides I think I hear him stirring…

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Yep! I’m A Mom. You Can Tell From The Stale Milk On My Shoulder

Families Can Be Together Forever

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The experience I had today was indescribable. So since words can’t do it justice maybe pictures will have to do.

Surprisingly the morning flew by. I had so much to do to get ready that I was rushing to make it to the airport. I wanted everything to be perfect.

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Hannah made posters…

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even one for Preston!

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although he didn’t seem to impressed. She even bought him a little suit to wear for the occasion complete with a pocket handkerchief and a tie.

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We all had a job, Mother’s was to hold Preston so that when Joseph and I met my arms would be free. Hannah was the designated photographer (so you can thank her for all the great pictures) Esther did video (you will see that later) Aliyah was well…the life of the party as usual. Keeping us all entertained and even singing the utah song as we waited for Joseph to arrive.

And me well my job was to well, I guess just be there and be ready.

On the way there Mother asked me if I thought Joseph would cry. I told her he would for sure. She asked if I thought I would. I told her I didn’t know but I didn’t think so.

Hannah asked me if I thought Preston’s suit was a bit over dressed. I assured her that Joseph would be wearing a suit if I knew him at all.

We didn’t have to wait long. The first couple of passengers started coming down the stairs. And then before I even knew it Someone shouted “there he is”

and I got my first look at my handsome husband.

10564747_10154365404025344_808493899_n 10545011_10154365405105344_1815029229_nIt wasnt until he was nearing the bottom of the stairs that he saw us. I thought surely I could wait for him to walk the short distance to me but I couldn’t I was shaking and then I started to cry and before I knew it i was running into his arms.

10551936_10154365443310344_810365907_n10536642_10154365473790344_138386708_nHe hugged me so tight and remained dry eyed as I cried like a baby.

When I Had pulled myself together Joseph saif “Lets go get my luggage. I think you are forgetting there is someone you need to meet I told him.

And then Joseph met his son for the very first time.

10555017_10154365485065344_305551745_n10545014_10154365497550344_1598288390_nDoesn’t he look like a movie star! Even though I had seen him often on skype I had forgotten how handsome he was.

10563603_10154365503555344_1600455400_nAnd then we went home…

10554933_10154365514090344_507155516_n 10559345_10154365534135344_2054781788_nAnd lived Happily Ever After

10566313_10154365528865344_1539194882_nDuring this long seperation I have come to know first hand just how not interested I am in a heaven where Joseph and I won’t be together. It makes the covenants we made in the temple in South Africa 10 months ago just that much more meaningful.

 

The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn

My sister came to me the other day and told me she had a song that I would love. She warned me that it would make me cry. I shrugged it off. Not much makes me cry these days. I’ve kind of found a way to turn my emotions off…at least for the most part. Her song caught me off guard. I was crying within seconds. Almost every word of that song could have been written directly from the sentiments of my heart. I found myself wanting to turn it off so that the tears would stop and at the same time I wanted to listen to it over and over again; amazed at how perfectly it described what I have felt over the last few months. The song is called Can I Do This On My Own.

Deciding to leave Joseph in Uganda was one of the most difficult decisions. I agonized over it for weeks. I knew I was pregnant, I knew I wasn’t getting what I needed there. I knew that if I didn’t give my baby every chance at making it I would hate myself forever if something went wrong. And yet I thought about that day in Rwanda when Joseph refused to leave my side. When he promised me that somehow we would figure things out and get us both home together. How could I leave him now?
We had just been sealed for time and all eternity and the first thing I was about to do was leave; not knowing when I would see him again. Joseph promised me it would be a short separation. I will be home by Christmas he told me. I feel confident we can get through this in three months. The Lord will help us.
I will never forget standing in the doorway of the airport trying to figure out how to walk away. Turns out there is only one way to do it. You just have to make your feet move and take one step at a time. Time was slipping away and I knew I had to leave. I tried not to look back knowing it would only make it harder. I took my bags and struggled to get them onto the conveyor belt. The woman at the counter told me to open it so that they could search it. I opened it and lying on the very top was a framed picture of Joseph and I on our wedding day. Was that man your husband the woman asked when she saw the picture. I nodded that he was, closed my bag, took a deep breathe and headed for the stairs that would lead me to the area where we would board the plane. I had no idea then that Joseph was still watching. Standing outside behind the big windows he stood there tears streaming down his cheeks as he watched until he couldn’t see me any more.
I didn’t cry. Not then and not until I was seated on the plane. Joseph had slipped me two envelops as I had left. They both contained letters to me. Once I was settled on the plane I read the first one. The second I would save until I arrived and had to go to bed alone at my parents house the next night. I knew I would need it then.
I arrived in Salt Lake on October 3. When I finally reached the pick up area of the Salt Lake airport I was exhausted. I didn’t see me sister who had agreed to pick me up. After a few minutes though I randomly ran in to someone that I knew. She recognized me. And as she said hello I burst into tears. She asked if something was wrong and if I needed help. I was crying to hard for her to understand. “I left Joseph in Africa!” It was all I could say.
Three months went by. Christmas came and went without even the slightest hope that Joseph would make it home. I hang on to hope that he would make if for the birth of our baby in late April. I felt that I really couldn’t get through that without him. The weeks slipped by one after the other. And one day I had to acknowledge that he wasn’t going to make it. It was a horrible moment trying to imagine going through the pain of childbirth and experiencing the joy that follows as that beautiful, perfect child is placed in your arms; and all of it without the one person that I wanted most to share it with. It was almost worse imagining the first weeks and possibly months of our child life going by without his father being there to see him. The thought of it was too hard to swallow. So I didn’t. I just took it a day at a time and somehow the day came for our baby to be born and we got through it. 10527720_10152185296310658_1792769584445851377_nHis first month passed and then his second and we got through it. Now what? Well they say the darkest hour is just before dawn. I think its true.
Because on Thursday July 17th I will be at the Salt Lake airport once again; standing in the pick up area. I will probably be crying again. But it will be different this time. I will be crying tears of joy…because my Joseph is FINALLY coming home!!!

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My Dad

In our house everyone alwaNielsen Family 021ys referred to my Dad as Father. Even the Mothers called him Father, at least when us children were around. So it was natural that as a small child of about three years old I thought Father was actually his name. One night as I lay in bed my brother Marcus was in the same room with me. “Want to know a secret?” he asked me.

Yeah

“Father’s name,” he paused for dramatic effect, “isn’t really Father!

You’re lying! I said Yes it is,

Not its Ivan

“Ivan, I said the word over to myself and suddenly had recollections of hearing people call him that. I knew Marcus must be telling me the truth. I felt betrayed. My parents had lied to me and told me that his name was Father. That is one of my earliest recollections about my dad.

I vaguely remember him taking me and my sister Liz to the park next door to our house. I remember having his 50th birthday party and how excited I was for that. I remember him always whistling as he came through the back door after work. I remember him finishing his breakfast in the morning and taking off the bib that he always wore when he ate folding it up and crossing the ties on top. Then he would settle his hat on his head and do a big wave and say see you later alligator! Then he would do a little jig as he walked down through the long kitchen to the back door in the playroom.12303_10150150985230344_1710961_n

My dad rarely if ever spoke of his feelings for us. I don’t think I ever heard him say I love you until just recently. But we all knew. I think every one of us knew without question that he loved us. He was my hero and was and still is in my eyes pretty near perfect. One of my friends, after meeting him, described him as a mix between an apostle and Santa Claus.

One day I was getting ready to go to Japan. In the weeks leading up to my departure it had seemed to me that every time I saw my dad he had something mean to say to me. “Isn’t it almost time that we get to get rid of you?” He would say to me at dinner time.

Or do you think we could pay those Japanese to keep you?”

It hurt my feelings. One day I realized that it was only his way of covering up his tender feelings of love for me and his having a hard time letting me go so far away. I went to the family room where he was sitting in his chair. I sat on the arm of the chair and put my arm around his shoulders. “I’m sure glad that I understand when you say things like that to me that it’s just your way of saying you love me. Otherwise I might get my feelings hurt.” He was quiet for a minute but I saw tears brimming in his eyes. “Yep”, he finally said “its a good thing you know that.”

I remember one day I was throwing a fit of some kind and mother had about had it with me. She took me to Father. “I know exactly what she needs” he said, “she needs a little sugar to sweeten her up.” And he pulled a box of ding dongs from the closet and gave me one. then he let me climb up on the bed next to him and cuddle while we watched tv. 149692_449132820657_467824_n

I think my dad always knew that if he showed me he trusted me my guilty conscience wouldn’t allow me to disappoint him. I loved him so much that the thought of disappointing him was worse than any punishment I could be given.

I was never a touchy feely kind of person. I didnt like hugs except from my dad and because he was the only person that I would accept hugs from I wanted them all the time. He would always ask me how I was doing on getting my quota of hugs for the day. One day I was about 20 years old I was working in the kitchen when my dad came to me. He put one arm on each shoulder and looked me right in the eyes so that he had my full attention. “One day I’m going to die,” he told me. I started to protest but he cut me off. “You will come to my funeral and see me all laid out in the casket in my white clothes.” He walked me through the whole funeral finally he said, ” when you are standing at my grave side I want you to wait and when everyone has gone I will be there and I will give you a hug.”Thats my dad. I love him with everything in me. He is my rock.

1002636_767888493221636_1477277037_nAs I grew up and I made choices different than what he would have wanted me to make I have worried that I would disappoint him. One day we were riding in the car. He had had a stroke and the doctor had told us that he could go at any time. we were driving and he told me ” Im glad that we get to spend some time together, I know ive never said it much but I wanted to make sure that you knew that I love you.”

I do know that. I told him. But I worry that I have disappointed you in some of my decisions.

He knew exactly what I was talking about. Vilate, he said, You decided to be a Mormon, so just be the best Mormon you can be and I will never be disappointed in you. unnamed

AS my dad’s health continued to decline I worried that he would never see me get married, never get to meet my children. But he has continued to hang on, continued to pull out of each stroke that he has had. When he came in the room just an hour or two after my baby was born and held him I thought my heart would burst. When he knocked on my bedroom
door later that night because he wanted to tell us goodnight I was touched at his sweet affection for us. I smiled when he held Preston in his arms and called him puddin head. It had been awhile since I had heard him call anyone that.

I know that one day my dad will leave this life, and leave me behind. But until that day I will enjoy every minute I have with him. I will tell him how much I love him, I will enjoy watching my baby play with him and I will know that when he goes he isn’t very far away. I love you Father!wykDibs6NOvmOTTC3Ie7KV3eCo3zUGcmahsy_M-G4Yk,3dCQrrcEuJYpMAneLr7gi3dqsuzXu7FqPZ6qNxlGerw

 

Good night Grammy enjoy your sweet reunion!

Life and death are so closely related that you can’t separate one from the other. As I watched a dear friend and family member pass from this world tonight I was stunned at how similar death is to birth. When Preston was born there was a sacred quiet to the room. Spirits from the other side were present to see my son safely into mortality. I’m sure as happy as they were to see him start his chance at mortality there must have also been a moment of sadness at his loss from that world. The happiness he has brought to me, his daddy and so many others in this world is indescribable.

When Mother Annette slipped peacefully from this life, her breathing simply getting more and more shallow until it stopped. I know there was celebration on the other side of the veil as she reunited with her mother, father, her dear husband and her siblings. I know many were there to welcome her just as we were sending her off with heavy hearts and comforting ourselves in the knowledge that she has simply passed through a door into the loving arms of those that wait for her. Her life isn’t over, just this portion of it.

And yet we grieve because we will miss her. Because our experiences with her here are over. There will be many days filled with tears for those who knew and loved her best. There will be sweet memories to cherish. We love you grammy! and we won’t say good bye but we will see you again one day when we too make that journey.

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Birth of Baby Preston

When Thursday May 8th rolled around I was 41 weeks and 6 days. I was so tired and achy, crampy and just plain miserable. I had really wanted to allow my baby to choose to be born on his own. I believed it was better, I just couldn’t take any more emotionally or physically. Joseph and I had talked about me needing to get more exercise. So he cheered me on via Skype from the top of the wheelchair ramp at my parents house as I walked up and down the ramp. Later that day I went for a mile long walk. Coming down the long dirt road that leads to my parents house I almost sat right down in the dirt and cried. Every foot step hurt and I was afraid this baby was never going to come out. I came home, got in a tub of warm water and had a long talk with my baby.

The next morning I woke feeling even worse. Joseph skyped with me first thing and encouraged me to go walk the ramp again. I told him I just couldn’t do it. I was too tired and hurt too much. He encouraged me to do it just one time. I did it three times and was so proud of myself. As I walked back into the house a contraction started. It was however unlike the surges that I had been having for weeks. This one hurt! I was completely unprepared and it left me almost in tears. My sister-in-law was doing some office work for my mom who was out-of-town and she asked me if I was ok. I assured her I was it was probably nothing and then she asked me if I would check on changing flights for my mom who was desperately trying to get home in time for the birth.

It was 11 AM. I went upstairs to get my phone to call my mom to get details and just as the phone was ringing another contraction hit. This one was worse than before and as I tried to talk to mother about her flight she could tell something was wrong. Vilate she said, you are in labor I can hear it in your voice. call your midwife right now.

I called Rochelle and she told me to time the contractions for 15 min. and then call her back to let her know how far apart they were coming. As I got off the phone with her and got in the tub another one hit. The pain was so intense I couldn’t move I just hunched over the side of the tub in kind of squatting position and tried not to scream. I kept thinking that I needed to get in a comfortable position and practice the hypno birthing skills I had learned. My computer was on the counter next to me and I thought about putting one of the recordings on but the thought of any noise made me crazy.

The contraction stopped but the pain continued in my lower abdomen so intensely that I couldn’t quite tell if the contraction was over until another one would start and I would realize that in fact the pain had been a little less. Joseph was still on skype with me and was begging me to talk to him. “Sweetheart, look at me!” He would beg me when the pain would get so bad that I would start to scream. I tried to focus on his face but couldn’t manage it for very long. Finally I called Rochelle again. “I can’t time the contractions, I told her. I can’t focus. Please just come now.”

“What? I’m having a hard time understanding you she told me.

I repeated my request. Again she couldn’t understand me. Finally, she said, ok I get it you are in labor! I will come right now.

I got off the phone with her and there was a knock at the door. “Vilate are you ok?”

It was Ashley, my sister-in-law. “Please come in I begged.”

The door was locked so she had to find something to pick the lock and then she came in. She called my friend Jana who lived down the street and the two of them stayed with me, holding a bucket for me while I threw up and talking to me in calm soothing voices. I felt like I had lost all control and the contractions were running over me like a runaway train. Several times I tried to lay down thinking that if I could just get more comfortable I could relax but each contraction would send me bolting back into my squatting position leaning over the edge of the tub and burying my face in a towel. I asked Jana to call my sister Ruth. Ruth had been to quite a number of home births and I knew if anyone would be helpful as I waited for the midwife it would be her.

I felt rather than saw her enter the bathroom. She breezed into the room in the down to business sort of way that only Ruth can and grabbed my head in both hands squeezing my forehead and the back of my neck. It was soothing somehow and made me feel like someone else was in control and I didn’t have to do this alone. She encouraged me to bring my voice to a low moan instead of screaming.

About 1 PM my midwife’s assistant arrived. She got down by my face and started humming a low moaning kind of hum. I instinctively knew I was to copy her. It was hard but it gave me something to focus on and actually helped with the pain. I don’t know when Rochelle got there but I remember looking at her face as she spoke to me. I remember her telling me that I was going to get through this. My body had started pushing about this time and it wasn’t long before I felt/heard a little pop and there was a rush of water. A dark yellow and brownish fluid flowed out into the tub. This was familiar, this was finally something that I had seen in the countless birth videos I had seen. It meant progress, it meant the baby was coming. It was a small moment of joy amidst the pain of the contractions. I remember thinking how cool it was that this was finally happening to me!

It didn’t take Rochelle long to see that the position I was in wasn’t the most ideal. I didn’t want to move but she encouraged me to get out of the tub and try the birthing stool. As soon as I was seated on the stool I knew it had been a wise choice. I felt I could handle the contractions better from that position. Ruth and Nat (the assistant) were pushing on either hip during the contractions and bringing me ice, monitoring the baby and doing who knows what else in between. Rochelle stayed in front of me holding my hand and encouraging me.

At one point I started yelling “I can’t do this” over and over again. Nat looked at me in a calm and somewhat chastising sort of way and said. “You know what you are doing this. You are doing it right now so you can just stop saying that.” I knew she was right but I just would have given anything to get the pain to stop even for just one minute.

I was starting to feel the outside world closing away. I felt like I was in a small closet like space, just me and my body. I could hear what was going on around me, I could feel people pushing on my hips, I could even feel myself standing on occasion and swaying back and forth but I felt a bit separate from it all, like I was living completely in my head.

It was about this time that Renae finally arrived. Renae had planned to be there with me and had taken all the classes with me. She was as prepared as I was for a nice, peaceful, quiet, water hypno birth. As she was leaving her house to come to mine she had grabbed a book on her way out the door thinking I might like her to read to me while I was in labor. She drove to the house and as she pulled into the driveway she imagined walking into my bedroom to see me in an all white night-gown resting peacefully as I breathed through the surges, the midwife knitting away in the corner. She rang the door bell and before anyone even opened the door she could hear me screaming. That was her first clue that she would not be needing the book she brought. She walked into the bedroom to see me sitting on the birthing stool a small puddle of blood under me on the floor. I was pushing and screaming and Rochelle took one look at her and said great you’re here push on that other hip as hard as you can. She was shocked to see no recognition at all on my face when she walked in. It scared her. But she was needed and had to go right to work. The coach in her kicked in and she started pushing me to do more than I thought possible.

Finally Rochelle told me that the baby was too big to fit through my pelvic bones. “I’m going to reach inside and push those bones a part so that he can come through she told me.

Alarm bells went off in my head. That was going to hurt, even more than it was already hurting. “Please don’t I begged. It hurts so much.”

“If we want to get your baby out I need to help him” She told me.

I nodded and with the next contraction I felt her hands working inside me to open those bones. I  begged her to stop and I could feel a feeling of defeat settle in the room as the contraction ended. Nat was monitoring the babies heart and would periodically call out numbers. I noticed that the numbers were dropping. Each was lower than the last. I knew I had to swallow the pain and let Rochelle do her thing. Ok let’s do it I told her when another contraction started. She pushed, I pushed Ruth and Renae pushed and somehow with all the pushing the pain retreated. As long as I was deep in my body pushing with everything I had I could no longer feel the contraction.

You can feel the babies head. It’s just inside” Rochelle told me. I felt but it didn’t feel like much to me. Just a slimy wet spot.

Nat was monitoring the baby again. “There’s no tone” she said.

Try a little lower Rochelle told her. He might just be down further.

“Nothing”

I didn’t feel panic, It wasn’t entirely clear to me what was going on. But I felt like I had reached the end of my rope and I wanted someone to just make it all go away.

“Rochelle, I can’t do this. I begged please help me. Can’t we just go to the hospital? I felt like a quitter even as the words left my mouth.

Rochelle was very serious. Yes, we can go if that’s what you want but if you let me help you we can get this baby out in a few more minutes. If we transport it will be extremely painful and it will be a lot longer before you get relief. Your baby needs to come out now. She told me.

That was the moment when reality hit me. There was no way out of this. No one was going to come fix it, even the hospital couldn’t make it better at this point. I simply had to do it. I had to push I had to deal with the pain and I had to get through this right here and right now.

Another contraction started and my world swirled away as I pushed and pushed, contraction after contraction came, and we pushed. I knew I couldn’t last much longer. Then suddenly I heard singing. It was quiet and peaceful. It was low and beautiful. The words to the song were encouraging the baby to come, to be born. It sounded like everyone in the room was singing. I wondered how they all knew the same song. Breathe for your baby Vilate I heard someone telling me and I took large gasping breaths through my nose. Someone put oxygen on me and some one was holding my legs. I was pushing and I could feel burning. I knew the baby’s head was coming out. I wanted to quit but I knew I had to keep pushing. I remember begging God to help me and thinking that it was strange that I would refer to him as anything but Heavenly Father, but that’s what came out of my mouth.

Finally he was born and somehow I was lying on the floor instead of the stool. I was shaking and someone was putting warm towels over me. I kept asking for the baby. We had discussed that I would be the first to touch him, the first to hold him if at all possible. I wanted him on my chest as soon as he was out. Rochelle’s back was to me and I couldn’t see him, but when I started asking for him she turned and I saw blood on her face all around her mouth. She was leaning over the baby, her mouth covering both his nose and mouth and she was breathing for him. It registered that, that was a scary thing but I didn’t feel scared.

Finally he took the tiniest of breaths and she put him on my stomach. He felt wet and heavy. I pulled him up closer to my face where I could see him. He was still kind of blue and not really moving. I knew I should be rubbing him and talking to him, but I was so tired. I remember feeling relieved that he was here but all I could really think about was the pain I was still feeling. You need to talk to your son Joseph I heard someone say. I heard his voice, sounding so far away. 983679_10101406238653439_8503409202436140728_n

“Welcome to mortality, my son, he said and then he started to bear his testimony. As he did the baby started to squirm and make little noises. He started to turn pink. After the placenta came we put it in a bowl and everyone helped to move me, the baby and everything onto the bed. Once I was wrapped in warm blankets with the baby in my arms I finally started to feel like the little bundle in my arms was a baby. I looked him over, I could see blood on his head and on his side. His big eyes were just looking at me. His feet resting one across the other next to my belly. I held him and talked to him for hours while Joseph looked on over skype. Everyone left the room and gave us a few moments to enjoy our baby together.

During this whole process Joseph had been pretty much left on his own. Occasionally when things were slow someone might explain what was happening or move the computer to make sure he could see but mostly he just watched quietly, prayed and wrote a letter that he would give me later. Here is a little of what he wrote.

“Being with you on skype for several hours through labor has been incredible. I gazed at you not knowing what to say but to pray for you and the angelic Midwives that were VERY supportive in this process. I prayed for almost every second that the Lord would give you courage and believe that you can do it.
Most the times in between, the only words I would say were “You can do it Vilate” I know you can, we are almost there. He is coming, you are doing great but all this, I wasn’t sure if you were hearing me. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH sweetheart.

You had gotten tied and were asking to go the hospital but from no way, you received strengths to push from unknown source and the Midwife told you to touch the Baby’s head, which you did and you got more strength. Has you got closer, they told me he has dark hair and I smiled but a little because you were still in pain.

I have a lot of things to say but I am just so excited, I have never been so happy in my entire life. I wanna thank you for the Midwives you choose, they are so courageous. They worked so tirelessly through this all process. I not sure what to say to Rene but she is so wonderful, I was so happy to see her there, to give you all the support you needed.”

Later he added these words and sent the whole thing to me as a letter of appreciation.

 “Today when I think about that day, I see everything throughout the birth being miraculous. The LORD  was on our side and I am eternally grateful that everything worked out perfectly. When I saw our son after is born, he had lost his breath but I never noticed cause of the new sensation of a feeling to be a father finally. I have no words to describe how I feel from that day, but to be grateful to my wife. I love you so much honey, my love for you has been broaden through this all experience.

I am grateful for the LORD who trusted us and granted us the opportunity to experience the miraculous creation of another human being.

I knew that Vilate was special the moment I first laid eyes on her. It was a dream come true on the 4th of July 2013 the day she said, “Yes!” Now that she is a mother, I feel more of the specialness in her eyes. By just taking a few moments of each day to fulfill the needs of our marriage, I and my wife can feel like newlyweds for life!”

Our baby recognised his father from the very beginning and when we had to leave him on the bed for a few minutes, we turned the computer so that Joseph could watch him while the midwives were taking care of me in the other room. We heard him start to cry and then suddenly stop. When we came back in the room he was lying on the bed looking at Joseph on the screen while Joseph sang I Am A Child of God. It was so beautiful, I could have cried. 10251972_10154146971230113_7509768183492358967_n

I had a 4th degree tear and need to go to the O.R. to get stitched up. My sister kept the baby over night while I was in the hospital and brought him to me when I was released the next morning. It was a crazy adventure, one I don’t plan to repeat any time soon. I know Preston needs a little sister but she may need to wait a little while, while I put myself back together both emotionally and physically. I was a little “torn up” about how different this birth was from what I had planned for and expected. It may take me awhile to wrap my head around what happened and how I handled it.

Somewhere between life and death there is a veil that separates this world from the spirit world. As I held my baby and realized that just minutes before he had crossed through that veil I realized that part of the birth process is allowing the mother to approach the veil, probably closer than she will be at any other time in her life. Close enough to reach through and take her child by the hand and help him to cross into mortality. Those moments when I felt so distant from everything around me, I believe were the moments that were the sacred beautiful parts of birth in which there is hardly any separation at all from the spirit world. I know there were angels there that day helping in the process. There were angels from this side of the veil who pushed me, held my hand and sometimes literally carried me through the process. But there were other angels too. Angels from the other side. I’ll never know what work they did but I felt them there.

In the end it was all worth it. Baby Preston Joseph Ssempala born May 9th 2014 at 3:05 pm weighed 9lbs 5 oz. and was just over 21 inches long. His 14 inch head matched his 14 inch chest and he is pretty near perfection. He is alert and starving pretty much all the time. He is my world and I love him to distraction. 10251991_10101406518367889_8721184558482869022_n

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My Perfect Birth (Preston’s Birth Story)

The last picture that I took before Preston was born. This is with my niece Aliyah on her birthday. We had hoped that Preston would be a birthday present for her.

The last picture that I took before Preston was born. This is with my niece Aliyah on her birthday. We had hoped that Preston would be a birthday present for her.

I’ve been dreaming of writing this post for what seems like forever and now that the time has come I don’t hardly know what to say. Birth rocked my world and changed me forever. It was nothing like what I imagined, it was nothing that I could have ever prepared for, it was truly nothing short of a miracle. One big giant miracle.

Preston was due on the 25th of April. So when I started having some pretty good surges during the first week of march we were concerned. I was watching tv with my mom when I felt the first one. It felt exactly like what I had imagined and prepared for. It started as a crampy feeling in my lower back and increased with intensity as it wrapped around my belly and washed over me in a way that made a surge a really good word for it. Than it stayed for a while and retreated the way it had come. After a few of these I started timing them. They were coming about every 10 minutes.

After about 90 minutes I told my mom what was going on and asked if she thought I ought to call my midwife. She suggested that I try taking an herb that she was familiar with that has been very effective with stopping premature labor. I took it and the surges stopped. I called my midwife the next day and told her what had happened. She came and checked me and found that I had dilated to a 1.

When I started leaking amniotic fluid the next day we decided that I needed to do bed rest. I stayed down for the next 6 weeks or so and then at 37 weeks we felt it would be safe if I were to have the baby. I expected him to come any day. I felt crampy and achy and had sporadic contractions every day. But no baby came. My due date came and went and at 40 weeks and 5 days I went to see my midwife and we decided to schedule a natural induction for that weekend.

That night the surges started again. This time they were just 8 minutes apart. I was excited. They continued for about 5 hours and then stopped. I went to bed disappointed. That weekend I drank castor oil, we stripped my membranes, used essential oils and messaged pressure points. I took black and blue cohosh. The surges started around 6pm. They were exactly 4 minutes apart and continued that way until about 10:30. At that point they started coming about every two minutes. I thought we might be getting into active labor. Around 2 AM just as the surges were starting to get intense enough to hurt they suddenly stopped.

My midwife went home and we decided to just wait awhile and see what happened. At 41 weeks and 6 days I called my midwife in tears. I felt I couldn’t take another minute. The cramping and aching and pain I was feeling was just more than I felt I could handle much longer.

Just a little something that we did to pass the time while we waited for Preston to "pull the plug."

Just a little something that we did to pass the time while we waited for Preston to “pull the plug.”

She agreed that if I had not had him in two more days we would try a natural induction one more time if it didn’t work this time we would go to the hospital. I really had my heart set on a home birth and so I sat and talked with the baby for a while encouraging him to come.

Many people have asked me why I was so set on a home birth. I will try to explain.

I think the first reason is simply that I have seen (not actually SEEN, but been aware of and close to) hundreds of home births that all went just fine. One of my moms was a midwife and I was used to seeing her head out to deliver babies and come home to tell us that so and so had given birth to a beautiful baby boy or girl.

I had watched my mothers, sisters, friends, cousins, in-laws you name it. Everyone around me has been having successful home births for as long as I can remember. It makes it difficult to buy in to the fear that home birth is dangerous when it is so common place and successful in my experience. I have not personally known of one case where either the mother or baby was seriously harmed or died in attempting a home birth.

I had seen a few who attempted to do a home birth but found they were having complications and decided to transport. But I was comfortable with that idea.

The concept that birth is a natural function of biology came easily to me. I am not anti doctors I just like to use doctors for medical emergencies not for naturally occurring and healthy processes, which I consider birth to be.

Another reason that I was set on home birth is because of the comfort. No where is more comfortable than at home in my bed, with my music, my clothes, my family and my smells around me. To not have to get in the car and go somewhere when my time came and to not be at the mercy of hospital staff coming in at all hours of the night for routine check ups and blood work, to be just a part of a process, and decisions made based on protocol seemed like a pretty good reason.

Another reason was that I wanted to labor and give birth in the tub. I had read so much and talked to other woman who had done both and they said that the water birth was significantly easier and more comfortable. I just couldn’t stand the thought of giving birth on my back with my legs pulled up under my chin, the space in the birth canal reduced by 20% and pushing till I’m blue in the face. I had seen many videos where the woman gave birth in a tub and she seemed so calm and peaceful, you could hardly notice her pushing as she carefully “breathed her baby down and out” and that’s what I wanted.

I did not want an epidural, I did not want pitocin, I did not want to feel rushed or that I must progress at a certain rate. I did not want to be “checked” for progress throughout the labor. I just wanted to have my baby in peace and quiet of my own home.

Also one of the biggest reasons is that I wanted to have time with my baby un interrupted after he was born. I wanted skin to skin time with him as soon as he was delivered. I did not want his cord cut or to have him weighed, measured, bathed or anything until I had, had several hours with him.

I had taken a hypnobirthing class and had been listening to the recordings and practicing since the day I found out I was pregnant. I felt SO prepared and excited for this experience. I believed that fear causes tension and tension causes pain and I felt like I understood what was going to take place in my body, and I was not afraid. I was so excited to finally be experiencing for myself this incredible experience of childbirth.

An important part of the preparation was choosing a midwife. I talked to a friend who was a doula and asked her to recommend a few midwives that she felt were good. I was looking for a couple of specific things. It was important to me that I have a midwife who was confident in her own skills. I wanted a midwife who was willing to work through difficulties. I wanted one who knew how to handle complications so that our only option wasn’t to just transport. I asked my friend which midwife she had seen in the scariest situations remain calm and have solutions and pull of a successful home birth in spite of complications.

It was also important that I had a midwife who wasn’t too prideful to realize when she was in over her head. I needed someone who I felt confident would know when and how to get medical help if I needed it. For both of these my friend recommended Rochelle. I wanted a midwife who would encourage me in my decisions when I felt like I couldn’t do it any more. I wanted one who would push me beyond my limits or what I believed my limits to be.

When I called Rochelle and spoke with her I told her of the Ugandan doctors prediction that I would not be able to give birth naturally and that I would have to have a C-section. She assured me that she believed in my body’s ability to birth this baby. When I met her in person my initial reaction was to want to hug her. I knew right away I had found my midwife.

Joseph was a little hesitant at first, mostly just unsure of how the whole process would go. But when we did the home visit and skyped him in to meet Rochelle and her assistants he was sold. We knew we had found a team that would see us through whatever would come. Once we knew that Joseph wasn’t going to be home in time for the birth we had decided that my friend Renae would attend the birth to help me. She took the classes with me and was prepared to help me remember the relaxation skills that I had learned. My sister Hannah would be there to take some sweet photographs that would capture the beauty of the birth. And my mother and other sister planned to be present as well. We had it all planned.

I wanted a birth that was comfortable, safe, and loving for my baby and I wanted a birth with as few interventions as possible for myself. I know that in birth as with everything in life things rarely turn out they way we expect them to. I couldn’t have ever anticipated how my birth would actually turn out.

To Be Continued…