Birth of Vienna Joy

IMG_0237In spite of my best efforts to get a natural labor going before my induction date of July 13th. Monday the 13th dawned without even a hint of anything beyond the random surges and bh contractions that I had been experiencing for weeks. But let me back up…maybe its best to start with an explaination of the choices we had made that lead us to where we were.

After Preston’s birth I was a little shaken in my ideas and beliefs about childbirth. In all the hundreds of birth videos I had seen none had been anything like what I experienced. I watched women TALKING while in labor, swaying gently back and forth and smiling at their husbands behind the camera. It baffled me. The pain I had experienced had hit like a sledge hammer and not let up until Preston was here. I couldn’t see how what these women were doing was even possible.

I also felt betrayed by my body. And I wondered if I had done something to bring it on myself. Maybe the panic that I felt that Preston was getting too big and that he needed to come out now was nothing more than the natural mama’s urge to not want to wait any more. Maybe all the “natural Induction” technics that I insisted we try inspite of my midwife’s reluctance had actually added to the trauma of his birth. I swore next time would be different. I would let nature take its course.

But Preston had been awfully big, the 4th degree tear I had sustained still caused me pain. And I felt caught between a rock and a hard spot. If I was listening to what my body was telling me my gut feeling and a strong one at that said it was time and he needed to come now natural or not. So what was I to do?

When I found out I was pregnant again I called Richelle, I had loved having her as my midwife before and wanted her again. She however was unable to take me so the search began for another midwife. I called and spoke to 3 or 4 and felt teary and unsettled about each one. The decision seamed huge and overwhelming. IMG_0215

We went in for our ultra sound to find out how far along we were. We were 7 weeks. Dr. Chappell sat us down after doing the ultra sound and talked to us about his philosophies about birth. Everything he said peaked my intrest and increased confidence in him. I decided to throw something at him to see if I could shock him with something “crunchy.” I plan to eat my placenta, I told him. Would you be ok with saving it for me?

“Absolutely! I wish more women knew the incredible benefits of doing that. The placenta contains everything a woman needs to recover from a birth. Its amazing stuff” His response baffled me and I threw out every other crunchy natural birth belief that I had to see if I could get a reaction. Nothing phased him, there was nothing he was unfamiliar with. The only thing he didn’t agree with me on was when an induction would be required.

“I think that since 42 weeks in technically full term, the baby deserves that long if its what she wants” I said.

“41 and 3 is as long as I am comfortable with going” he told me. I laughed a little. What was he going to do come to my house and drag the baby out of me?

We left the office and as we walked to the car I felt as though the matter was settled. I wanted a home birth, I wanted a nice warm, motherly midwife. I did not want a cold sterile hospital, medical procedures and a handsome young doctor who looked more like he should be chatting it up with some pretty nurse from Grey’s Anatomy than coaching me through the most difficult beautiful and sacred experience of life. And yet I felt at peace and as though the decision had already been made.

“I think he should be our doctor” Joseph and I said the words at the same time.

We laughed and that was that. A few weeks later I found myself crying over the decision. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I vented to Joseph. “WHo knows how many times I will get to experience childbirth?” I told him. “i don’t want to waste a birth experience on a hospital birth. I want a home birth, I want a midwife and I want to feel comfortable about my choice!”

His answer was simple “well then lets get a midwife! I will support you in whatever you decide.”

Again I called 5 or 6 midwives and each time I got off the phone feeling confused, flustered and teary. I simply couldn’t choose one. Finally I prayed about it. And the answer was simple. I already had the answer. I just hadn’t accepted it yet. Dr. Chappell was the best option for our doctor.

Fast forward to July. We continued to go back and forth about 42 vs 41+3 as an induction date and we finally decided that since we had felt strongly about him being our Dr. we should be willing to take his advice so we scheduled an induction for the 13th. In the mean time I did a lot of walking, relaxing and talking to the baby about what her needs were and listening to my own body and mind about what might be holding her up. On the morning of the 12th I woke up and took Preston for a walk we walked about 1 mile including going up and down the long steep hill by our house 3 times. It was Joseph’s birthday and I really wanted him to get his wish of having her born on his birthday.

But Sunday came and went and Monday morning we got the call to go to the hospital. They started the pitocin at 10 AM and the count down began. Our nurse Marianne was incredible. She started by going over our birthplan in complete detail with us and even asked if there was any wording we wanted her to use to help us with our hypno birthing. Dr. Chappell had agreed to only use pitocin to kick-start the labor and that we would turn it down or off as my own body took over creating the surges. Instead of the usual procedure of increasing the pitocin every 30 min. Marianne would ask me how I was feeling and together we would decide to increase, decrease or leave it.

The surges were rolling right along at a regular two minutes a part. They were comfortable and even exciting at times. I loved having the chance to work with my body. I found that there were things that I could do to make them easier. I found ways to move deeper and deeper into relaxation during the surges and I honestly looked forward to them.

My doula Natalie was there and she was amazing. Supportive as a doula, comforting and knowledgable as to what would help but there just as a friend to hang out and keep me company otherwise. My mom was there and Joseph was there and we just had a nice long visit. We listened to music and Natalie introduced me to a couple of songs titled Vienna. I thought how fun it would be to tell VIenna that this is what we listened to while I was in labor with her.

Mother brought us some lunch and then around 4 pm Marianne told me that Dr. Chappell would be coming soon and that he would break my water. I was a little annoyed that she would talk about it as though it wasn’t my choice and my body. It wasn’t a question to her but a statement. I let her know that I didn’t want my water broke and she dismissed it with a quick well the doctor will talk with you about it.

When Dr. Chappell arrived sure enough he told me he thought it would be a good idea tao break my water. I told him I was uncomfortable with that and would like to look at other options. He suggested that we could just continue with the pitocin but turn it up to get things moving since I was only at a 7. So we turned up the pit and the surges suddenly became waves washing over me, and threatening to swallow me. I got in the tub and labored for the next few hours there. THings got a lot more intense at that point. Natalie was teaching me how to go deep and dive under each surge moaning low and quietly and just let it wash over me. IT was helping and I was just starting to get the hang of it when two new nurses came and replaced my wonderful Marianne.

THey wanted to check me and although it seemed impossible to me at this point since I literally had almost no breaks between surges I agreed against my better judgement. The nurse put on a long plastic glove and shoved her hand at me blindly poking around trying to find what she was looking for. It hurt and I screamed (and maybe even swore) at her to get out of there. A few minutes later we tried again and she informed me that I was at a 10 and needed to get out of the water and start pushing. I didn’t want to, I didn’t feel the urge to push but once again against my better judgement I went along with it. I assumed that maybe my hesitation was fear of reaching the pushing stage.

Pushing hurt and left me unable to focus clearly on relaxing through the surges. I thought maybe I was pushing wrong so I suggested we get a scarf and Dr. Chappell did some tug of war pulling with me. IT helped but we still were making no progress. I was beginning to panic. I needed this to be over. I didn’t feel like I could go on much longer but we still weren’t even seeing the babies head.

Finally after an hour of pushing Dr. Chappell checked me again. I was expecting him to tell me that the babies head was right there and that a few more pushes and we would be done. INstead he looked a bit flustered and even disappointed. Well, you are actually just at a 7 and 90% effaced. I was shocked and wanted to cry. When we had started pitocin that morning I was 90% and at a 5. It was now almost 11 pm and I had apparently only progressed by two cm!

I asked everyone to leave so that JosephIMG_0197 and I could talk. I told him that I know we wanted a natural birth but I needed an epidural. I couldn’t go back to laboring for hours. I had told him before hand to remind me of all the reasons I wanted a natural birth when I asked for an epidural but when he tried I wouldn’t listen. I felt like I truly was beyond the point of no return and I COULDN”T do this any more. Dr. Chappell had turned off the pitocin to let me have a minute and THe surges had pretty much stopped. I insisted that I needed the epidural and asked for Dr. Chappell. He agreed and sent for the anesthesiologist. He was there within a few minutes and after a quick jab in the back I was pain free. It was really nice. REALLY NICE!!!

Here's Joseph cutting the cord. Obviously this was a new experience for him!

Here’s Joseph cutting the cord. Obviously this was a new experience for him!

We thought I could take a quick nap but when Dr. Chappell checked just 30 minutes later the baby was there ready to come. She’s got hair he told me. A few quick controlled pushes and she was out. I reached for her even as her legs and feet were still sliding out and Dr. Chappell let me pull her up on my chest. She was perfect and healthy. They left me alone with her as I had requested and after more than an hour when I had bonded and cuddled and loved on her they came to cut the cord, and measure her. She was 20 inches long and8lbs 4.5 oz.

It was a good birth. I got to experience a lot of the elements of birth that had been missing with Preston’s birth. And as crazy as it sounds…I cant wait to do it again! IMG_0242

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10 Ways you will know you have reached (or exceeded) your due date

1.) When siting, standing, walking, laying down, kneeling, squatting, standing on one foot etc. just hurts.

2.) When sleeping with 6 pillows is no longer enough

3.) When you find yourself looking longingly at a bottle of castor oil

4.) When you no longer care what people think enough that you will sit down in the middle of an isle, road, or room full of people because….well you have to sit!

5.) When you watch your babies bottle of milk spilling on the floor of your car and don’t even make an effort to pick it up because you know there is no way your making it down that low.

6.) When all it takes is someone making a helpful suggestion of something that you might do to make the baby come or to make the wait more comfortable and you feel as though your inner monster has been unleashed and you just might take their head off.

7.) When you cry because…well insert pretty much anything here and it works.

8.) When you find yourself doing the toilet dance (if you’ve been there you know what I mean) in an effort to make each visit more productive and possibly give you a full twenty minutes between visits.

9.) When remaining pregnant another day becomes worse than all possibilities, fears and outcomes of giving birth.

10.) When despite the fact that your brain knows it’s an impossibility you find yourself in tears over the VERY REAL possibility of you being the first woman to ever remain pregnant FOREVER.

You will know you have reached your day. And if the baby doesn’t come today, than maybe tomorrow, or the next day… or….or…..

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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

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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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…

My Year of Miracles: A review of my tenth year as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

10 years! I remember it like it was yesterday; the day I got baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I felt so lost and out-of-place I wondered if I would make it through the week. I felt strongly that I had made the right decision…but boy was it going to mean big changes for me; many of which there was no way to be prepared for.

Since that day each year on the anniversary of that day I spend some time alone, thinking, pondering and reviewing my choice, my commitment, and the consequences of that choice, be they good or bad. Every year I look back filled with gratitude, sometimes sadness, but always in awe of what has transpired since that time and most especially in the most recent year.

This year more than any other year I see so clearly how that choice I made ten years ago continues to grow in its impact in my life. Almost every single decision I made this year…and I made some big ones, was in a large way influenced by my decision to join this church.

So here is a year in review:

May 2013

I arrived in Uganda just 1 day before my 9th anniversary as a member of the LDS church. That first week was hard. Really hard. It took some getting used to, it was fun, it was an adventure, it was eye-opening to see a way of life so different from my own. That month I learned to live without so many things. I ate strange foods and even insects (check out the video!)

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This was my bed.

I went way to long without showers because of a lack of water, met so many new friends, learned to sleep in spite of the lizards crawling on the walls, and the mice and rats fighting over food remnants in our kitchen. I used pit latrines, carried water in a jerry can, was smothered in love and dirty hand prints by dozens of children who all wanted to hold my hand and have a piece of my attention. I felt completely overwhelmed by all of it. Especially the stifling heat. Oh and I didn’t know it then but I met someone who would change my life forever. It was a good month!

After adding a few of my things and scrubbing vigorously!

After adding a few of my things and scrubbing vigorously!

June 2013

I agreed to go on a date with Joseph Ssempala. That date colored the rest of my month. I saw him or talked to him every day after that. When he told me he loved me after just a few weeks I responded by teaching him a new phraze…”take a chill pill.” fortunately he isn’t one to give up easily and while he did give me the little space that I needed, he continued to make me feel like the most amazing woman alive. He showed me so many things and we had some amazing adventures that month. I realized I was falling in love in a strange country with a strange and wonderful man who took my breath away. It was a great month!!

Joseph and I on our first date.

Joseph and I on our first date.

July 2013

After traveling to Rwanda and having some crazy adventures there. I accepted a proposal of marriage from the man of my dreams and after only dating just two days shy of a month. Joseph and I began planning our wedding. At first we planned for the wedding to take place in October. But it wasn’t long before we realized that, that plan wasn’t going to work and we moved the date up to the 27th of July. It gave us two crazy weeks to plan for the day I had waited my whole life for. It was nothing like I had imagined but all the important elements where there with the exception of the attendance of family and friends. I was head over heels in love with the man I was marrying, I wore a beautiful white dress, and the end result was that I found myself a married woman and so blissfully content that nothing else mattered. What can I say, it was a phenomenal month!!!DSCF1436

August 2013

As July turned to August I learned many new skills. Like how to shower outside with a bucket of cold water, how to cook on a charcoal stove, and how to have an argument and still stay friends with your new husband. I planted a garden, created a home, met some wonderful new neighbors and took a pregnancy test that turned out to be positive! What more can I say…My joy was complete and it was the month of my dreams.

September 2013

September came with its own challenges and joys. I learned that morning sickness is NOTHING like being car sick but just in the mornings like I used to think it would be. I ate less and threw up more than I would have dreamed was possible. I spent most of my day resting and trying to help my body create another human being! I started teaching piano lessons, getting more involved at church, and just tried to survive being really sick. I also got to travel to South Africa where my new husband and I went through a very special ceremony where we were sealed together for time and all eternity in the house of the Lord. One of the most sacred and special moments of my life was when this man who I love so much took my hand and led me through this process that would bind us together for eternity. Eternity wouldn’t be long enough for me. It was a legion…wait for it….dary month!  (a little How I Met Your Mother reference for those of you that love Neil Patrick Harris).

October 2013

With the blush of spring and the warmth of summer past, October saw me traveling home alone. I needed to eat and rest and get strong for the baby growing inside me. I needed my family and I needed to be back in America. I would come, work on getting Joseph a visa, finish up my last two semesters of school and prepare for our coming baby. It was a long and lonely month.

November 2013

I turned 32 this month and being married took the sting out of being another year older, the day passed and aside from having a wonderful Skype session with my husband I hardly noticed. I prayed for a mild winter, worked and waited and waited some more. I found an apartment for us to start our lives together in and my mother graciously helped me to furnish and make our little two bedroom apartment feel like a home.

December 2013

Began to realize that Joseph wouldn’t be coming as soon as we had imagined and tried to adjust to a new kind of loneliness. With Morning sickness easing up significantly and the second trimester under way I felt like a new woman and I couldn’t believe my growing body. We had an ultra sound and discovered that our baby was a boy. We agreed to name him Preston Joseph.

January 2014

Started my final semester of school!! A degree 8 years in the making finally looking like it was coming to an end. Began a new job at Cedar Fort planning events. Life began to settle into a routine.

February 2014

As I moved into the third trimester, things began to get a bit more difficult. Preston became heavier, my belly got tighter and I felt sure my skin was going to pop! The miracle that takes place in a pregnant woman’s body on a daily basis never ceases to amaze me! Our baby was moving and growing and I was experiencing sweet moments that I had only ever dreamed about. I never dreamed that I would feel them alone, and experience my first pregnancy in such a way but I learned some good lessons about love, communication, patience and not taking things for granted. I learned about disappointment as Joseph’s application for a visitors visa was denied and we continued to wait for his immigrant visa.

March 2014

After passing out at work, and showing significant signs of impending labor I went on bedrest to keep from having our baby prematurely. This month I learned about accepting help even when you want to do things yourself, about exchanging independence for kindness, about learning to let go of expectations and about trust as I had to realize that this baby was going to be born without Joseph being here. My entire pregnancy was going to come and go without Joseph getting to be a part of any of it. On the other hand my exhausted body was grateful for the rest and the time spent with family. It was a very long month.

And Finally April 2014

And now we have come full circle. With my baby 13 days over due I find myself sitting down to write this review of what might possibly be the most eventful year of my life so far. April was long and exhausting, Big changes in our family. Joseph still unsure of when he will be able to join me and the anticipation of the nearness of a new life have left me a bit of an emotional basket case. I cry almost daily for no good reason. I sit, I stand, I walk, and I lay down in an effort to find a position where something doesn’t hurt. Then I give up until 5 minutes later when I will try it all again.

I am eternally grateful for the child growing within me, for the husband that I trust, love, and adore with every part of my being, for a family who has carried me through this incredibly difficult time. But more than anything else I am grateful that I followed my heart, the direction that I felt from the spirit that day ten years ago. I am so grateful that because of what I know and love about the gospel of Jesus Christ, this year and everything I have experienced in it has been worth it. It has been so wonderful, hard and overwhelming. But I have grown and never once have I doubted that my Father has a plan for our little family, that he brought us together and he can keep us together if we draw close to him. I haven’t doubted that he loves us, that i am exactly where he wants me to be and that I can approach him in peace knowing that in spite of my imperfections he is proud of me and so willing to help me. I love my Lord, I love his church, I love my husband, my baby my family and my life. Every year so far has seen blessings and adventures. But this year, this year that marks a full decade in the church…This year was big…

this year was beyond description!!!