Let It Be Big

Almost 25 years ago a very dear friend of mine passed away. She was more than a Grandma, different than a mother, she was so special to everyone who knew her. I had never experienced anyone that I was THAT close to dying. My great grandfather had died, a cousin who I knew a little and was my pen pal had passed, but nothing that left a gaping hole and searing pain. I wondered if I would cry forever.

My little brother was 10. He was far closer to her than I was. She was old and he was young and they were the cutest little pair. He spent every moment he could with her and everyone knew he was her special boy. They took care of each other. We all worried how he would face her passing. 75237550_575550279855486_1372923980209455104_n

He was a rock. He never cried, he hardly seemed to notice.  For a little boy he was so good at “controlling his emotions.” She had insisted that he have violin lessons when he asked for them. She even bought the violin herself and paid for lessons. Every day they would sit together and listen to Itsak Perlman play the violin. At her funeral he stood and played her favorite lullaby for her and his expression never changed but tears streamed down his cheeks. When it was all over this 10 year old boy tried Marijuana for the first time to ease the pain he was feeling but not expressing.74632400_10156702074110658_1778550204996255744_n

He became heavily addicted after just one use. More and more it controlled his life until he couldn’t function without it and the other drugs that had followed. 5 years later our grandma and great grandma were hit by a truck as they were attempting to cross the street. A few weeks later another close friend of his passed away. His drug use escalated to cocaine and heroin.

Soon he was homeless, in prisoned, in and out of rehab programs, wasting away in every sense of the word. No one could trust him and no one wanted him around. He tried many times to over come it and failed. One by one his friends died from overdose or suicide.74476302_949229395437421_677341992123891712_n

Then one day at rock bottom he found The Other Side Academy. It changed his life and brought back my baby brother. He was fun again. Witty, so intelligent, motivated and gifted. They were teaching him a lot of life skills that he desperately needed. After almost 4 years of being clean and almost 25 years from the first drug use our Dad passed away. 74692524_10156677868035658_6111927079991771136_nThis was only 3 months after the devastating murder of our brother Paul 67345058_10162107659460344_1553556358920404992_nand just 4 months from the passing of our oldest brother Doug from cancer. 1483058_10152047951465859_505552891_nIt was big…too big. He turned to drugs to dull the pain once again and after so long being clean he overdosed and passed away.

I sat in my living room after hearing the news and sobbed. All I could think was that it was too big and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lose him and yet I had no choice. He was already gone. That night as I prepared for bed all I could think was that I wanted to take some Nyquil. Nyquil is safe. Its legal. It would make me feel numb and help me sleep and that sounded SO good. But a little voice in my head asked is that really different than what he did? Is numbing out the emotion and sleeping through it any healthier of an approach?

Something that I believe about our society in general is that we are not very emotionally mature. We don’t really know much about emotion. Most of us try to “manage” or “control” our emotions.

Before I had kids I was pretty good at controlling my emotions. I almost never cried in public, and I laughed at the sad parts in movies. I DID NOT understand people who stood to give a talk in church and cried. It wasn’t my thing.

Growing up I had a fierce temper and I learned to control that too at least to some extent by shoving those feelings of anger down so deep and dreaming of a revenge that I would never enact.

When I had my third baby, I had an experience that changed me. I had gone to the hospital to have her even though I had planned a home birth, so my midwife was there as a doula to help me through it. I was on pitocin and things were moving slowly. As labor progressed a little at a time I started to have some feelings. At first I felt frustrated at the hospital and the doctors for trying to pigeon hole me into doing things the way they always did them, then I felt angry at men for not bearing the brunt of the difficulty of pregnancy and child birth, then I felt annoyed at God for the overall plan and my limited understanding of his role for women. Next I felt a primal urge to seclude myself in preparation for what was coming, then I felt fear at something that was too big for me to accomplish and finally I felt overwhelming joy at bringing a new life into the world.

At each stage I acknowledged to my midwife what I was feeling. It felt more like an observation. As I observed each feeling it would come into focus, and then grow small and pass from my body, finished, complete, and without leaving anything behind. Later when the baby was finally coming and I started feeling the urge to push I was so afraid that I would tear and I buried my face in the mattress, I felt the need to hide the fact that I was pushing, the pain became intense and I began begging for an epidural.

Later I realized that the minute I stopped communicating my feelings those feelings became too big for me to handle. Pain and fear surpassed my abilities and the only apparent way out was to medically remove my ability to feel anything.

For 17 months I pondered that experience, learning from it, applying it to other aspects of my life and it wasn’t until I was preparing for my next birth that the full impact of what I had discovered hit me.

I was carrying twins and the pregnancy was uncomfortable. My midwife suggested doing a body code session to help. I did and enjoyed it so much I did one each week for the rest of the pregnancy. Body code is essentially finding imbalances in the energies of your body that are cause by trapped emotions and releasing them. Those imbalances can cause physical pain and discomfort. Each week I was releasing a dozen or more trapped emotions that had been cluttering up my life and my body with undo stress.  Each session left me feeling like I had cleaned out my overpacked closet. I felt fresh and free. As each emotion would come up the practitioner would ask me if I was ready to release it. Sometimes it was easy to release, other times it felt too big and I would ask myself has holding on to this pain served me in anyway. When I realized that it had only caused pain and stress I would take a deep breath and let it go. Each time I felt relief.

When it came time to birth the twins I had opted for a natural birth at home. In moments of the birth where the pain felt too big, where fear entered my heart, where the babies crowning felt more than I could do, I said what I was feeling, I allowed that feeling to enter my body and my mind and I let myself feel it, endure its purpose and let it go. As I did it all fell into place and became manageable. Or rather I realized that i didn’t have to manage it, My job was just to experience it.

Since then I have thought a lot about the words we use to describe emotions. Emotions feel to me more fluid. Love is directly tied to sadness. The more you love the greater the potential for sadness. There can not be one without the other, and both are ok.

I wish that I had spent more time learning to just experience the emotion and let it pass through me rather than trying to control it. I think my emotional closet would be a lot less cluttered. So here I am with yet another experience to teach me how to experience emotions in a more healthy way. My brothers passing feels just too big. My already raw, bleeding heart can’t handle this much pain. So just like the birthing of my babies I’m trying to allow myself to feel the pain and acknowledge it and let it pass. I’m not good at it yet. But I CAN do this. I CAN move forward and even thrive. I CAN do hard things. I can let it be big.

It’s not a thing

We crowded our little family into the tiny sterile room. I sat on the table looming in the center and my husband took the chair while our three kids lost no time in opening the bag of toys and snacks I had brought to keep them company during my prenatal appointment. The nurse took my vitals and then proceeded to open a drawer and pull out the things the doctor would need for the GBS test.

“He is going to do the GBS test today,’ she told me not bothering to even look up at me, “so undress from the waist down.” She handed me the paper sheet to put over myself and started to leave the room.

For those of you lucky enough to not know the GBS test is its a test that is routinely done on pregnant women. Its simple enough really, a swab is taken of a woman’s vagina and other unmentionables down there. Its really pretty simple a little q tip is swiped quickly over the areas and then the secretions left on it are tested for a type of strep common to pregnant woman that can cause complications for the baby.

I had it done with my second daughter and as you lay on your back with your legs in the air feeling completely vulnerable and exposed, some (usually male) doctor does the quick swab and in that briefest of moments you feel so little, and powerless, and just the tiniest bit violated. At least I did. I tried to shrug it off as part of pregnancy but I hated it. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal, he would be doing a lot more than that in a couple of weeks when I gave birth. But this was different and I couldn’t quite say why.

My next child, I was under the care of a midwife and when the time came for the test she simply handed me the long handled q tip explained what she needed and sent me to the bathroom. In that moment I knew what the difference was. I was totally capable of doing this myself. If you can wipe your butt you can do this test. And yet women are told to undress, present their most private parts to a complete stranger to let him do it for them as though they were as helpless as the baby they carry.

I understood then that it was violating to me simply because it was so unnecessary and because it wasn’t presented to me as a choice but as an order. “Undress from the waist down, the doctor is going to do this now” Could you imagine the tables are turned and that doctor or any man for that matter were told to lay on his back and present his genitals so some woman could wipe them down for him! I don’t know about the men you know but any of the ones I know would laugh in your face.

But lets go back to the doctors office. As the nurse handed me the sheet with her flippant order to undress, I stopped her. “Actually, can I just do it myself?” I asked, feeling shame even in the asking. Why did I have to ask some woman if I could do this for myself. I felt like a child asking to play outside.

She looked at me as though I had lost my mind. “Thats not a thing.” She said, just undress the doctor will be in in a few minutes. And she left the room. I sat there dumb founded. thats not a thing? Is that the reason she was giving as to why this couldn’t be done by me in the privacy of a bathroom? I’m surprised they didn’t demand to watch me give the urine sample for testing too.

A few minutes later she came back in the room.” I saw Dr. Burgett and asked him about you doing this yourself and he said it was fine!” She seemed blown away by the novelty of this strange concept. But handed me the supplies and I headed to the bathroom.

Her words and the result of that doctors visit have stayed with me though. “Thats not a thing.” In other words, no one does that, therefore it can’t be done. Well I did it, and now its a thing. If another woman were to dare suggest they could do this on their own she would be one nurse who would know that THIS IS A THING!

We aren’t children that need permission. We are adult women, equal to our male counterparts, as smart and capable (although admittedly without the knowledge or degree) as that male (or female) doctor. How many things do we do, or don’t do, subject ourselves to or live without because its not a thing. Ladies its time for us to start making things, THINGS! Birth is ours, our bodies are ours, our choices are ours! We can own this and be women or we can undress from the waist down and wait for the doctor.

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

 

The Birth of Jaiden and Jarom

  • Warning: This post will contain pictures that are somewhat graphic. If that makes you uncomfortable I suggest you skip this one. And on that note here is a shout out to Salt City Birth Photography for the great photos. Rowan was amazing. I didn’t even notice her taking pictures and she got so many great ones. It was hard to choose which to include in this post. https://saltcitybirth.com/

A recliner isn’t a horrible place to sleep. But after several weeks of sitting propped up with pillows in an effort to feel reclined without actually reclining for half the night and then in a desperate attempt to snag some sleep before the sun fully rises moving to the bed to try to sleep in my nest of pillows only to find that, an even more uncomfortable option I was done and desperate for some relief.

The last four nights I spent a good portion of the night trying to decide if I should call my midwife. Every time I would lay down surges would start. They would get harder and harder until I could no longer deal with them in that position and I would wriggle and worm my way to the edge of the bed and then using one hand to push my belly ahead of me and the other to catch it on its way over I would use my legs to attempt to propel myself over the edge of the bed. If that didn’t cause round ligament spasms or painful abdominal strain, it usually resulted in getting me off the bed. Upon getting to my feet I would give my body a chance to adjust to the weight that settled down in my middle and onto my hips, give my bladder a chance to register the fact that a mere teaspoon was inside and causing a desperate urge for a potty break and I would make my way to the bathroom waddling across the darkened room all the while feeling deeply envious of Joseph’s deep breathing as he peacefully slept away the hours nestled in his burrito blankets and soft pillow.

As the sun rose Tuesday morning March 19th I knew I couldn’t keep this up much longer. I gave my pelvis a break by pushing my arms down on the sink and letting my belly hang. I looked at my tired face in the mirror and thought “just one more day Vilate, just do one more day” I knew the only way this was going to be possible was if I spent the day finding and enjoying things that eased the pain I was feeling. The first thing on the agenda was a bath in Mother’s jacuzzi tub. I felt an exhaustion I hadn’t before, for the first time I felt like I didn’t really care anymore how this birth turned out. I just wanted it done.

I tried to talk myself through it, reminding myself of everything we had invested into being able to have a healthy home birth. I reminded myself of all the reasons I had made this choice, I wondered if I would feel as though I had given up, None of it mattered. I had truly reached the capacity of all that I had to give.

Later sitting in Mother’s tub I talked it through with my sister who had also given birth to twins, I weighed all my options, talked it out with my mom and several others, thought through my motivations and reasons for doing what I was doing and finally came to the conclusion that I was ready to go to the hospital and get this done. I was happy to say that I didn’t feel fearful about the decision. I felt what I had felt from the beginning of this pregnancy which was a deep and sure feeling that all would be well but that it was time to take some action.

I called the OB. Dr. Burgett couldn’t get us in until thursday, That meant an induction on Friday at the earliest. That wasn’t an option. Joseph came to pick me up and I told him we are already half way to the hospital lets just go. I bet if we show up to labor and delivery at this point they would just start us. We started driving and I realized I didn’t have any ID with me. We drove home to get the ID and decided to let Johannah have a nap, pack a bag, find a baby sitter and go prepared to stay.

In the mean time my midwife Richelle called. “Do you want me to come try a natural induction?” she asked. I almost said no. I had worked through the emotions of settling for a hospital birth and was going into it so tired I just wanted all the help (and pain relief) that a hospital had to offer. I didn’t feel strong, motivated, or empowered. I almost said no but I thought about all that she had put into making this home birth successful as well and decided that we all deserved one last effort.

She suggested that I do one last emotion code session while I was waiting for her to get here. I called Dani and we did the session. If you aren’t familiar with the emotion code I wont bother trying to explain it because I won’t do it justice. If you are, I will say that the practitioner, Dani found that because of severe morning sickness early on in the pregnancy the physical (energetic) tie between me and the babies had broken and that messages that my body and their bodies were ready for labor were not connecting. She reconnected us and released several energies that were stopping things from progressing. I left the session feeling fresh and excited to try the induction even though I was not very convinced it would work.

Richelle arrived around 2 and we got started, things were crawling a long and if nothing else I was occupied and resting, as well as actively doing something to bring an end to this pregnancy so I was happy.

At around 7 pm the Relief Society president in my ward messaged to check on me (can you say inspiration) she offered to take the kids for a while. She came and got them just as Richelle and I were trying a procedure that required me to lay down for 30 min. Every time I had lain down in the last 4 days I had hard surges so it was a great time to have the kids gone. By the time the 30 min. was over I was having surges hard enough I found myself making birthing noises to get through them. About this time the kids were just arriving home and I called my mom to tell her that things might be moving along but that I didn’t know, and she could come if she wanted.

As soon as my 30 minutes were up and I got up the contractions stopped and labor felt miles away. It was around 9pm when my mom got there. I felt silly for having called her because nothing was happening. She and my sister got my kids put to bed and Joseph arrived home to help Richelle get the tub set up. We wondered if it was premature but set it up anyway. I didn’t want to suddenly go into labor and need it and not have it.

Around 10 it was set up and filled and I was having pretty regular surges. I hadn’t bothered to time them but they were coming more frequently and a little harder although not yet uncomfortable. I got in the tub and breathed a sigh of relief at how good it felt. That lasted about 2 minutes because the next surge came and hit hard. It reminded me what labor feels like and I felt my first twinge of fear.

“I’m scared,” I told Richelle. Thats what has to happen to get labor started my mom reminded me. “This is what you’ve been wanting.” I imagined myself being grateful for the pain but it was a bit of a stretch. One more surge and I needed a potty break. By the time I finished in the bathroom I was pretty sure this was it. I messaged the birth photographer and told her I thought she could come now. It was 10:20 and Richelle sent her other midwives a text saying “I might need you tonight. I will let you know.”

When I came back from the bathroom I didn’t want to get in the tub just yet. I wanted to stand and move as long as possible. I did one or two more surges standing at the side of the tub, swaying my hips and breathing deeply. Then it became too hard to stand and I got down on my knees and leaned on the side of the tub now making low moaning sounds as I tried to think and breathe my body low and open. _DSC1064

10:40 Richelle sent another message telling the midwives to come now. It was becoming harder and harder to stay low. Joseph and Mother started hip pressure. I could hear the sounds of labor progressing in my voice. I began to dread each coming wave. As the pressure began to mount and the tightening increased I would take a deep expanding breathe while repeating over and over in my mind “I can do all things through Christ…,” at the crest of the contraction I lost myself a little in the intensity of it and just made tiny low moaning sounds as I tried to keep from losing focus. Then as the contraction would ease off I would think “Who strengthens me.” Then I would take a minute to regroup and tell myself “that was one down, this wont take very long and I will be done! My babies will be here and I will have accomplished this just as I had dreamed of.”

When I could no longer focus enough to do that, I told Richelle I was scared, and I needed a break. I was starting to feel like I couldn’t do this. She walked me through visualizing breathing in white light and breathing out blue pain. If nothing else it was something new to focus on, it was something to think about and try. It was something to get me through a few more waves.

Sooner even than I had imagined, and almost before I was ready for it I started feeling my body bearing down and pushing, I could feel everything opening, I remembered Richelle telling me that doing “horse lips” would slow things down and keep me from tearing. “Its coming,” I said and then started doing my best to do horse lips. It was harder than I thought because my body insisted on pushing and I couldn’t push and do horse lips at the same time so it came out in little short puffs that sounded more like I was spitting watermelon seeds.

I widened the space between my knees and fought the urge to freeze up and just scream. I knew i wanted to catch my baby so i made myself reach down and cup the round bulge emerging from my body. As I marveled at holding my babies head in my hands it burst sending water cascading through my fingers and down onto my thighs. The bag of waters had just burst and soon after the real head started to emerge. _DSC1090I held it in my hands and continued to try to slow down the urge to push.  As the shoulders came out quickly followed by the rest of the body I caught the baby in my arms and the midwife reached around me to unwrap the cord from his neck before I pulled him up to my chest. I couldn’t believe that I had caught my own baby! What a dream come true for me.  Jaiden was born at 11:02_DSC1097

 

At that point I wanted to lay back and enjoy my baby. I wanted Joseph with me. He got behind me and supported me as I laid back but just then the second baby started to make his appearance. _DSC1148-2Two little feet came first and I reached down in time to feel a skinny little leg. I held it in my hand for just a moment before things got a bit more intense. At that point the midwife had to step in and do a little maneuvering in order to get the second baby out. My position on my back on the floor wasn’t ideal for delivering a breach baby. I simply got through it by telling myself this is it, we are almost done. Joseph was reassuring me and doing his best to comfort me. There was a good amount of screaming and then just four minutes after his brother was born baby Jarom made his appearance.

 

Things get a little hazy in my memory after that. I recall watching the midwife perform mouth to mouth on Jarom but I never worried. I knew she would get him breathing and he would do great. I nursed Jaiden, and Joseph did skin to skin with them while I delivered the placenta and moved to rest on the couch.

The last I remember was feeling more tired than I ever have in my life and then I guess I went to sleep because when I woke up, the room was dark, everyone had gone home and the babies were upstairs sleeping with Joseph. The sun was just coming up and I felt great! I couldn’t believe the incredible birth I had just experienced, as I replayed it over again in my mind I couldn’t think of one thing I would change. _DSC1504-2_DSC1514_DSC1539-2_DSC1671

Jaiden was 6 lbs 13 oz and 20 3/4 inches long.

Jarom was 6 lbs 12 oz and 20 1/2 inches long.

They appear to be identical.

I don’t know if I will ever have another baby but I feel so great knowing that everything I experienced and learned through each of my births brought me to a place where I could experience such a powerful, peaceful, natural home birth of twins.

Filled to over flowing

Early in 2017 I discovered that I was once again expecting a baby. I was really excited about this one and felt prepared although when I took the test and saw those two lines that meant positive the excitement pretty quickly dissipated as the reality of the months of morning sickness and the difficulty of the pregnancy that lay before me became real.

We decided that since we had one of each already we would not find out the gender and would let it be a surprise. I felt confident it was a boy; the last little boy from the dream that I had a few years before. Joseph also felt like it was a boy. But when we told the kids they were adamant it was a girl. Preston insisted it was a “Vienna baby.” Here is their reaction.

Joseph had started a Masters program at UVU so he was extra busy with classes and work. We also brought Joseph’s mother out to visit and we took a trip to Nauvoo and to all the church history sites along the way. Toward the end of the summer we took a trip to California to the beach. The kids thought they were in heaven and we got some cute pictures.

Finally at the end of October after several false starts and thinking that we were actually going to get our baby, our Sweet Johannah Rose was born. On the way to the hospital Joseph and I decided that we had better talk about possible girl names on the off chance that it was a girl. So her name wasn’t decided on until the very last second.

2018

We had been preparing for a long time for Joseph to get U.S. Citizenship. I taught the kids the pledge of Allegiance so that they could say it along with their dad. Here is their version of it.

Finally in July the paper work came through and we went for the naturalization ceremony. Joseph’s mother came again and was here for the occasion. And several good friends and family came for it as well.

 

It was about this time that I started to experience some symptoms that caused some concern for me. I kept feeling sick to my stomach. My first thought was that I was pregnant so I was relieved when the test came back negative. However the sickness continued for weeks and after awhile it was accompanied by extreme exhaustion and some minor heartburn.

I took another pregnancy test feeling pretty sure I knew what the results would be. But even then I wasn’t prepared to see those two lines that meant our life was about to change once again. It was all so fast!

I went that same day to see the doctor to get something to help with the nausea and vomiting. He did an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and to discover how far along I was since I had no way of knowing. When the screen came up I saw the usual little bubble that meant a baby was truly on the way but it didn’t look quite right to me and I couldn’t tell just where the baby was. The doctor as well seemed a little taken a back and paused for just a second before he began looking closer at the little smudges and blobs on the screen. 51193491_1214037798759111_904266447474130944_n

He turned off the machine and I half feared he had bad news for us. Well, he said you are definitely pregnant and its too early to say too much… but it looks to me like there are two babies. Joseph just started laughing and I was stunned. TWINS!

It turns out I was already almost 8 weeks along so we only had 4 more to wait until we could confirm that it was in fact twins. I was happy and overwhelmed, and nervous and excited all at the same time. The 12 week scan confirmed two healthy babies.

8 more weeks went by and we went for the 20 week anatomy scan. All was well and it turns out we had two little brothers for Preston on the way.

Today, as I sit here looking back at my life less than six years ago. And the contrast to where I am now it is unbelievable that so much has happened and that my life has changed so much. I look back on the loneliness, the longing I felt to have a family and I remember the image I saw of myself at the vending machine hopelessly putting in my dollars and waiting to no avail. Now it seems that all those treats came tumbling out at once and my arms are full to over flowing.

I look back at the dream I had of my children and I see their faces before me. I hold them in my arms and marvel that they are here and I am living this reality. I feel blessed beyond measure and I know that the names we have chosen for our babies couldn’t be more perfect.

In the next 5 to 9 weeks. Jaiden Scott Ssempala (whose name means God has heard) and Jarom Ivan Ssempala (whose name means Prosperity) will be joining our family. I would love to invite you to share this journey with us as we prepare for their arrival and for the craziness that is sure to follow.

 

Living the American Dream

2015

In April we moved from our little apartment in Spanish Fork to a three bedroom apartment in Lehi. It was a much needed upgrade and was a perfect fit for our growing family. In May I finally finished my degree and graduated from UVU with a bachelors of science in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. I walked with a huge pregnant belly less than 10 weeks before my daughter was born.

Vienna Joy made her appearance into this world on July 14th narrowly missing her dads birthday. The Joy that she brought to all of our lives is incomprehensible. She was a much needed addition to our family and her enthusiasm for life is often hilarious to watch. She is vibrant and strong willed and everything I hoped my daughter to be. Her birth story is here.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/birth-of-vienna-joy/

Later that summer Joseph and I decided to start our own company building websites and custom software. Ssemco Technologies was born that summer.

In October Joseph got a job with Oracle. It was our first real Job with benefits, health insurance and an income that we could actually live on.

In December we bought a van and finally had a second vehicle. I became a mini van driving mom of two.

2016

Joseph was attending classes at UVU early in the morning and one morning as he was driving to work in a heavy snowstorm he lost control of the vehicle and it spun out leaving him facing oncoming traffic on I-15. He was in the emergency lane and called the police to help him get turned back around and back our into traffic. The officer arrived and told Joseph to stay in his car and wait for him to stop traffic and give the signal to pull back out onto the road. While he was waiting he looked up just in time to see a truck barreling toward him head on. His life flashed before his eyes and just in time the drive swerved enough to hit the passenger side of the front of the car before careening on to hit the police officer and two other vehicles before coming to a stop. Miraculously Joseph was fine

I woke up that morning to a message on my phone telling me he had been in a car accident, but was fine but the car had been totaled. We were back to being a one car family after less than two months.

Later that spring Joseph graduated with a bachelors of science in Computer Science. I was so proud of how hard he had worked and how well he had done. And mostly I was just glad that he WAS done.

We had been planning to buy a home and our timeline was for the following spring. But because I am the kind of person that cant help myself I was looking at all the homes for sale long before we were actually ready. I wanted to know what the market was like and what was available in our price range and if there was anything that had everything on our wish list. In late May the perfect house come up for sale. It had everything on our list was less than three miles from Oracle, and was exactly in our price range. I looked longingly at the listing and then moved on since our plan was to continue to save for a down payment until the following spring.

Every day I checked the listing knowing there was no way that it would still be available in another year and then one day it was gone. I was devastated. That was our house! I knew it the second it was gone. I felt like I had missed out on our destiny. A couple of weeks later though it was back and the sale had fallen through. I showed it to Joseph and he liked it as much as I did and we decided it wouldn’t hurt to at least look. We called our realtor who took us to see it and we put an offer on it. One month later Joseph was sgning the last of the paper work and I took the keys to our knew home and went right to work painting so that we could move in that weekend. We were officially home owners living the American Dream with two children (A boy and a girl) a mini van and our very own home.

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2014 A year to remember

2014 was a year that would change my life forever and while it wasn’t my favorite in all the years I have experienced so far in my life it had some of the biggest and best moments of my life so far.

I desperately wanted Joseph there for the birth of our baby so we filled for a visitors visa hoping he could come for a visit right at the time the baby would be born. US Immigration stated that one could file for a visitors visa even when there was a pending immigration visa, but that it would be up to use to prove adequately that he would return. We gathered pages and pages of documents, everything we could find showing that he had every intention of returning back to Uganda after his visit to wait for his visa, and really it would have been ridiculous not too since by not returning it could make him ineligible for the immigration visa which would not be issued unless he appeared at the embassy in Nairobi. However, when he went for his interview he was denied without the embassy official even looking at his thick envelope of evidence.

I was so mad. They simply told him that there was nothing that would be adequate proof that he would return. It seemed so wrong and cruel to me to state that we could apply (and pay the $175 non refundable fee) if we could prove he would return, only to then turn around and tell us that there was nothing they would consider sufficient evidence that he would return. The injustice of it burned.

It was around the middle of February I believe when I was sitting at work in a marketing meeting and I started to feel extremely light headed, hot, and nauseous. Afraid I was going to be sick I tried to leave the room but only made it as far as the doorway before everything went black and I felt my legs give way beneath me. When I woke up I was lying on the floor and I heard someone shout for someone to call 911. I begged them not to and assured them I was ok.

But in the days and weeks that followed this episode repeated itself several times and I found I was having a very hard time carrying this baby and getting enough blood to my head. I decided that maybe this could work in our favor and I called US Immigration to explain the situation and to ask if there was any way to hurry along Joseph’s process.

The man I talked to was extremely helpful and he filed a petition to expedite based on medical emergency. It was all done over the phone in a matter of minutes and about a week later I received a phone call. The man told me that Joseph’s visa application had been denied. I was stunned. How could they deny my husband the right to enter the country and what would that mean for me and our baby?

I started to cry and the man quickly tried to console me. Its not a permanent decision he told me, You simply don’t have the proper seal on your marriage certificate. You need to get your husband to go back to the government and get them to put the seal on and then reapply. My head was spinning and I couldn’t hardly breathe. Start the process all over reapply meant after 7 months of waiting and over $1000 in fees we were being told we had to start over. I started to blubber like a baby. I grabbed the envelope with our documents off the dresser and looked for the seal. It was there however slightly off center at the top of the page. It’s there Im looking right at it I told the man. You can’t deny him. Our baby will be here in a couple of weeks, you can’t do this to us right now I begged.

There was silence on the line and then he spoke. If you send me an email with a scanned copy of your certificate right now while I am on the phone and I can see the seal I will approve the visa, he told me. Quickly I scanned the document and waited for him to receive it.

“Its there I see it” he told me. I began to breathe a sigh of relief. “In the next few days you will receive a letter telling you that his application was denied. You can ignore that letter and and shortly after that you should receive another telling you it has been approved. He told me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A minute before my whole world had come crashing down and I didn’t know if I would ever see my husband again and now he was telling me that we were done. That his visa had been approved and he could come home!

It wasn’t quite as simple as that. He still had to travel to Nairobi, have his medical exam, his interview and vaccinations and receive the actual visa. But the hardest part was done.

I began to hope he might make it in time for the babies birth. But it wasn’t meant to be. On May 9th just before he was scheduled to travel to Nairobi our baby boy was born with his father watching over skype. That day was one of the best of my whole life. It was the day I first became a mother and I will never be the same. Every dream, every hope I had ever had about having a baby was surpassed when he entered this world. His birth story is here.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/birth-of-baby-preston/

it would end up taking another 10 weeks before he would actually receive the visa and fly home to meet his son for the very first time. That day was another best day of my life kind of days. I wrote about it here.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/families-can-be-together-forever/

He arrived ironically on July 17th, further endearing the number 17 to us and establishing its significance in our family. a couple weeks later on the 27th of July we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with a delayed wedding celebration with all my family and friends. 10635706_10154585285035344_1044551109458445231_n

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The months that followed would be full of change and adjustment as Joseph adjusted to life in a new and very different country, a new culture, a new wife and a new role as father. I adjusted to a new husband, a new way of life and my new role as a stay at home mom. It was a lot and I wont lie and say that it was fun or easy. There were moments I wondered if we had made a gigantic mistake. But with time we worked through some of those things.

Joseph got a drivers license, a job, and enrolled in school. I settled into raising our baby and keeping house, only to discover when he was just 4 months old that I was pregnant once again. We weren’t really surprised as I had felt the spirit of a girl present through out the first pregnancy and wrongly assumed it was a girl. Joseph had heard a little girls voice saying she was coming soon and so when Preston had been born and truly was a boy we knew that a little girl wasn’t far behind.

As morning sickness settled in with a vengeance I wished that I had a little more time. I felt guilty that my son was being robbed of his position as the only chi`ld too soon. As I kneeled in front of the toilet day after day losing what little food I had managed to get down he sat on the living room floor screaming in fear not knowing what was going on. It was a hard time for our little growing family.

I love you 17!

After finding out I was pregnant with Preston it became a battle to stay healthy. After fighting infection after infection as well as the morning sickness I finally decided it was time to go to the hospital and get some help. They put me on three different types of antibiotics and I had to go in every day for an IV antibiotic treatment. I still couldn’t keep anything down and I felt like all life and energy was slowly draining from my body. I seriously started to worry that if I didn’t go home I might lose the baby.

I asked Joseph what he thought and he wouldn’t give me his opinion. All he would say is “its up to you I will support whatever you decide.” I was angry at him. This was a huge decision that affected him as well as me. If I went home it meant we would be separated for months if not years. It meant that he would miss so much. IF I stayed it could mean the loss of our baby. Or maybe everything would be ok. I didn’t want to make the decision alone but Joseph wouldn’t weigh in on it.

One day we were talking and Joseph took me in his arms and started dancing with me. “We cant dance without music,” I laughed.

So he started to sing. “I love you one I love you two I love you three I love you four.”

Thinking to one up him I interrupted with “I love you infinity!”

“Ok if you don’t want to hear the rest of the song “he told me.

“No finish” I begged. So he kept going until he reached I love you 17. I was confused. “Why 17?”

“Because thats the day we will go to the temple to be sealed” he told me s”o to us that number represents eternity.”

He was right, a few weeks later we were sealed on Sept. 17. Ever since then 17 is a special number to our family that represents an eternal love.

A few days after the sealing I knew what had to be done. I had to return home. Not just for the health of our baby but to start preparing a place for us back in America. I was afraid to tell Joseph. I wasn’t sure how he would react. When I told him he sighed and said “I’m so glad. Ive known for awhile that that was what you needed to do.”

“Why didn’t you tell me then!” I shouted. So frustrated at finally hearing his opinion after agonizing over making the decision on my own.

“Because, I didn’t want you to ever feel like I chased you away or didn’t want you here. IF you left I needed you to know it was because it was whats best not that I didn’t want you.”

His thoughtfulness and understanding took me by surprise. He was right I needed to come to this decision on my own and know that it was necessary. When he dropped me off at the airport he left me with two letters. “The first you can read on the plane he told me the other wait until you are home in your parents house to read.”

Leaving him was so hard. And would have been harder still if I had known he was standing right outside the window watching me until he couldn’t see me anymore with tears streaming down his face.

I sat on the airplane feeling dazed and alone but peaceful about the decision to go. Finally after we got in the air I opened his letter and read it. It held words of comfort and love and promises that he would follow as soon as possible. He told me to take good care of our baby and to prepare a home for us.  The tears flowed freely and I didn’t even care what the long haired tattooed man sitting next to me might have thought of me.

Its interesting that the following months could have been incredibly difficult for me but they really weren’t. I missed Joseph. But the loneliness I felt without him was nothing to the hopelessness I had experienced before. He was there, I knew his face and his name, I knew he loved me, I carried our baby in my womb and I felt more whole and complete than I had ever dared to hope.

2013 ended with me living in a little apartment in Spanish Fork, working at Cedar Fort and waiting for my husband to join us.

One Step Closer

2013 began with a completely clean slate for me. No plans, no future, no nothing. While it felt barren and cold it was also a perfect time for new beginnings and facing the unknown. I had put my things in storage and sublet my apartment. I was traveling every week as a nanny and crashing with friends and family on the weekends. I was preparing to do an internship over the summer and while I didn’t have one lined up yet I knew exactly what I wanted. It had to be a paid internship, I wanted it in a big city, out of state but still within the country. I was leaning toward Washington DC.

One day while sitting on the couch at my mom’s simultaneously browsing facebook and visiting with my sister I saw an ad for an internship. I clicked on it and read a bit about it and in that moment I saw my future. I knew this was what came next. It was for a nonprofit organization in Uganda ( I didn’t even know at the time for sure what continent Uganda was on), It was not paid and not in a big city. It was in a small town called Lugazi. I would be working with a group of single mom’s writing their stories, taking pictures and videos of them with their children and writing blog posts about life in the area. It sounded like a dream come true and a perfect escape from the plateau I found myself on.

I saw myself having grand adventures and forgetting all about men, dating, marriage and my seemingly hopeless situation. It would also delay the inevitable move to the mid singles ward. It was perfect. I applied, was accepted, packed my bags and by the first week of May I found myself on a plane headed for Africa. I felt more confident than ever that this was the Lord’s plan for my life at this time. I wondered what I would do or experience there that would be important enough for him to give me such clear direction but I was excited to find out.

Uganda was exotic, exciting and everything I had hoped it would be. My first Sunday there I attended church at the new branch that had just been organized in Lugazi. It was their first meeting in their new chapel. It was small and I felt how much I was needed there. The following Saturday the counselor to the branch president called to ask if I would gather a bunch of the primary children from their homes and take them into JInja to a stake primary program. We would travel by bus about an hour and a half and I would need to teach them to sing a primary song on the way as most of them were so new to the church that they had yet to learn one and each branch was supposed to present something, It was a tall order and came after a difficult night. I wanted to refuse but I said yes and went.

When I was there sitting up front playing the piano for a group of children I saw a man sitting at the very back. His bright smile and the light shining from his eyes caught my attention and I wondered what kind of life he had lived and if he had been happy. I wished that I could know more about him. After the meeting he approached me and introduced himself as Joseph Ssempala. He asked my name and if I was named after Vilate Kimball. We had a short conversation and in the days that followed he called to invite me to go on a date. I went, excited to hear more about him and his life but not thinking that anymore would come of it.

That date was unlike any I had been on. I left it feeling that my life would never be the same. I saw him again and again until I knew that I could never stop seeing him. I wrote a number of blog posts about it. Here are some of my favorites.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/my-whirlwind-romance-part-ii-i-think-i-like-him/

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/my-whirlwind-romance-part-iii-the-mazungu-white-person/

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/my-whirlwind-romance-part-iv-are-you-gonna-kiss-me-or-not/

We were married that summer and I canceled my plane ticket home. A week or so before the wedding I realized that I should probably give him a heads up about a diagnosis I had received a couple of years earlier of endometriosis. The doctor told me that it usually causes infertility and that if I was able to get pregnant it would probably take some time and effort. I didn’t think it would change his feelings for me or his desire to get married but I thought he should know before taking that step.

I told him and he looked confused. Well thats simple he told me. Either Heavenly Father has children in store for us or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t than he never did and diagnosis or not it wouldn’t make a difference so the way I see it. It makes no difference at all.

The Sunday after we were married I was sitting in RS when I thought I felt the tiniest of shocks as though someone had touched me and released a bit of static electricity and at that moment the thought popped into my mind. “There, now you are pregnant.” Honestly I hadn’t hardly even had time to realize that pregnancy was now an option and I thought surely that s not possible. I thought I would give Joseph a little shock. The next morning as we were lying in bed I said, “What would you say if I told you I think I might be pregnant.”

“I already know” was his response. On Sunday as I was seated in Priesthood meeting a heard a little girls voice say “Daddy Im coming soon.” Then when I woke up this morning and looked at you still sleeping you just looked different and I knew.

Even though we both felt like we knew we had to wait until I had missed a period to take a test. Joseph took me to a clinic as he didn’t know where to buy a home test. The clinic was dingy and dirty and a rude man handed me a dirty cup and told me to go to the outhouse and fill it. As I entered the outhouse huge black cockroaches scurried around oblivious to my presence,  there was no light and I couldn’t bear the thought of closing myself in in the dark with all those roaches so I left the door open a crack and trying to balance carefully over the hole in the ground and still make it in the cup while holding the door partially ajar took some skill but I made it happen. I had nothing to wash with and was embarrassed to hand the man back the cup when not all of it had made it inside. He didn’t even notice and took the cup in his bare hands without even blinking. We waited 10 or 15 min and when he still hadn’t come back we went looking for him and found him in an office seated at a desk. We are just wondering about the results of the test we asked.

“There’s nothing there.” he told us.

What do you mean? I asked

“You are not pregnant, there is nothing in there. ” was his rude reply.

We waited a few more days and in the meantime Joseph found a home test. He brought it to me early one morning and sure enough this time it was positive. Here is our announcement. It brings back all those feelings of awe and joy just reading it again.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/the-funny-thing-about-mathmatics/

It took a lot of courage to move forward so quickly with the marriage and to be open to having a baby so quickly, With every step I told myself don’t try to figure it all out. Just take one step. I am so happy that we did. I had waited too long to continue waiting once I had found what I was looking for. Joseph and I have always said if there was a sound track for this time in our lives it would be this.

The End? Or the Beginning?

If you are new to A Cow in the Ocean thanks for stopping by and I hope you will stick around. Follow us here or on facebook. If you are an old reader happening back and wondering what inspired a post after such a long silence well I’m getting to that. And I hope you too will stick around to see whats coming. I think its going to be exciting! Since its been so long since I wrote regularly and so much has changed I thought perhaps it was time to consider a new name, But in the end we have been A Cow in the Ocean for so long it just didn’t feel right. So over the next week as we start the new year I will be doing one post each day telling the story of this cow in the ocean and getting you all caught up and ready for the new journey we are embarking on.

There is an old story about two catholics and a protestant living side by side. The protestant holds a bbq every Friday and the Catholics struggle with the smell of cooking steaks while they dine on fish. Finally they convert the protestant and the priest sprinkles him with holy water stating you were born a Protestant, you were raised a protestant, now your a catholic. But when Friday rolls around and the sweet aroma of cooking steaks reaches the two catholics They race out to remind their friend of his obligation to only eat fish only to find him sprinkling the steak with salt and repeating you were born a cow you were raised a cow, now you’re a fish. Very often in my first few years as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints I felt this way. I felt as though all the dunking in the world couldn’t make me a “Mormon.” Growing up “FLDS” I was taught strict rules about the interactions of men and women and that dating, developing feelings for a member of the opposite sex would only frustrate the process of finding the spouse that God had in store for me. A process that would be arranged largely by parents. As I sat in my singles ward pretending that I fit in, pretending that I knew what I was doing and that the idea of being asked out on a date wasn’t absolutely terrifying, pretending that I had gills and fins and a sleek slim tiny body like the rest of the fish in the ocean I still felt like a cow. I made fish faces and swam with the school pretending that my hooves and utter and hair covered back belonged. But no matter how you looked at it I was still in fact a cow.

As the years went by and through many of my blog posts I shared with you some of my awkward, funny, and terrifying moments of dating and life in happy valley singlehood. Here are a couple of my favorites.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/its-not-me-its-you/

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/creeper-101/

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/where-are-the-sean-connerys-and-harrison-fords-of-the-world/

In my Facebook newsfeed this morning a picture showed up. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. It brought back a rush of difficult memories. This photo was taken at my best friends wedding. We had been room mates for six years and this moment was just the beginning of the complete unraveling of my world.

A relationship I had held out a lot of hope for had just ended for good and the hole that it left in my heart would forever leave a scar. At the same time my friends relationship progressed to marriage and my little band of room mates forever disbanded retreated to different cities and plans for the future. I seemed to be the only one left behind, with no plans, no friends and no sense of direction. I had just turned 31 and my time in the singles ward had expired. I was officially a marriage failure, a menace to society and unwanted. My desire for a family remained so strong I often felt strangled by it. The loneliness felt like a huge shadow threatening to engulf me and swallow me whole. I picture myself standing ragged and starving in front of a vending machine full of snacks putting in my dollar and pressing the button to no avail. Over and over again I put in a dollar, press the buttons and wait but nothing comes for me and dejectedly I walk away until the next time that the hope of a family becomes so strong that I try once again and the taunting machine full of forbidden sweets laughs at my hopeless persistence.

At some point just a few months before this I had a dream that gave me just enough hope to hold on to. It wasn’t the dream itself as much as it was the feeling it left me with. In the dream I was sitting on my bed pouring out my heart to Heavenly Father about how much I wanted a family. Suddenly the door opened and in walked a strapping young man, He was tall and strong and so handsome. He looked at me with the greatest love in his eyes I had ever seen. I felt safe and protected and honored and loved. He wrapped me in his strong arms and promised me that he and his brothers and sisters where coming to me, that I needed to be patient just a moment longer and to not give up hope. I had always thought about having infants or small toddlers, never a strapping, tall young man. But the love that I felt for him and from him could have never been described except as a mothers love. I knew in that moment I would willingly without hesitation give my life for him. He comforted me then he left.

As he did, a girl entered the room. She had so much spunk and fire that I could feel it in per presence. Her dark bouncy girls and bright eyes sparkled with a love of adventure and enthusiasm for life. She shared some of her hopes and dreams with me enough for me to feel pride in this powerful spirit daughter of mine. She was everything I had ever hoped for her to be.

Next to her stood a quiet, peaceful little boy. Tow headed and quiet he simply filled the room with his love and presence. I knew of his love for animals, for the down trodden, for the forgotten. I knew he had a heart that would talk for long hours with his sister and I about his hopes and dreams for his future but for now his intelligent, open heart and mind were absorbing likes sponges everything around him. I begged them not to leave me but when the time came they left me with promises that they were never far away and that it wouldn’t be long now. Waking to loneliness was exquisite pain after the heart full to bursting that I had experienced. I found myself counting the short years from 31 to 40 and thinking that my window for having three children was closing fast.

This was me six years ago. Between jobs, between wards, between roommates, at the end of a relationship, finishing my last year of school with no clue where I was headed. Oh how my heart ached. This was the same month that I wrote this post.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/its-only-the-beginning/

I wrote it in hopes that writing it would help me feel it but It seemed like the end of everything.

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Birth of Johannah Rose

After a great hospital birth with my second baby I was ready to try another home birth. I had met a woman at a birth conference a year before that I knew right away I wanted as my midwife if I ever got pregnant again. I was excited to call her and make plans as soon as I knew I was pregnant. Maria delivered at Beautiful Mountain birth suites but also gave the option of coming to your home. I loved having the option left open to me to choose as things progressed.

I knew that my babies like plenty of womb time so even though my 40 week due date was on the 14th of October I wasn’t even going to think about giving birth until the 28th. Maria told me early on that she was going to be out of town the week of my due date and asked if I wanted to consider one of the other midwives being my primary but I told her there wasn’t a chance I would have the baby on time.

About two and a half weeks before my due date my siblings and I got together for a family portrait. It was a long day with a lot of standing around. I started to have a few contractions but I always have a lot of Braxton Hicks during the later part of the pregnancy so I didn’t even hardly notice. Later we went to my sisters for dinner and as I relaxed in her recliner I started to notice that the contractions were pretty regular and getting harder. I got a large glass of water and drained it twice to make sure they weren’t being caused by dehydration. They kept coming. About this time my mom noticed something was up. I was starting to shiver and my breathing was fast. I was shaking and starting to feel the need to cry. Something in the back of my mind started to get excited that maybe this was it and I wasn’t going to have to go to 42 weeks this time after all.

“If I was your midwife I would at least want to know this was happening” my mom told me. I called Maria and had a contraction while I was on the phone with her. She could hear it in my voice and offered to come right away. I told her to wait, let me get home and get in the tub. If this was real things would speed up. If it wasn’t the contractions would ease off or stop all together.

After just a few minutes relaxing in the tub everything had stopped completely. I was a little disappointed and the door had been opened to hope. The next few weeks there were a lot of contractions leading to nothing. It started to get really hard to be pregnant. I spent a lot of time sitting on my ball rolling my hips, breathing and visualizing my ideal birth, visualizing everything opening.

40 weeks came and went and 41 weeks as well.

At my 41 week appointment I was 80% and dilated to a 4. She stripped my membranes (although she said there really wasnt much still attached.) She told me that it wouldn’t take much to push me over the edge and into labor.

We decided to try castor oil. I drank a wicked concoction of almond butter, lemon verbena, castor oil and a few other ingredients. I had to laugh at the insanity of drinking something so nasty to bring on something as difficult as labor all so that I could have a new born baby who was going to keep me up nights for months and would grow into a energy filled two year old racing through my house like a banshee and growing all too fast into a teenager with all the unknown challenges that I had yet to experience with that stage. It made me marvel at the sheer number of humans in this world.

I few hours after taking to caster oil I went for a walk to see if I could get something started. I stopped at a friends house and had a nice little chat. While I was there a storm was brewing and I think that helped get a few contractions going. by the time I got home they were pretty regular and pretty close but also still pretty comfortable. Maria texted to see how things were going and I told her that they were about 4 minutes a part lasting about a minute but not very strong. She decided to go a head and come.

A few minutes before she got there things started to get intense enough that I didn’t want the kids there. I called a friend who came and got them. My sister Johannah was going to be at the birth to take some pictures for me so I called her to just give her a heads up and she decided to just come as well. So the whole team was there. And little by little the contractions petered out until it became clear that nothing was happening.

I was discouraged and wanted to do somethings to get labor going. Maria checked me and suggested that we wait a few days and try and get the baby to turn since it was posterior and then try again. She gave me some instructions on how to turn the baby and everyone went home.

For three days I followed her instructions and I felt the baby move into place. On the third day I was sitting in our family playing with my little when my 3 year old son stood next to me “MOm, when the baby comes out its going to die.” he told me. My heart stopped. How did he even know what death was? Because of an abnormality that they had seen in our ultra sounds we knew that the was a possibility that this baby would have downs syndrome. I knew that it was a little risky doing a home birth if the baby was going to be born with downs but I had felt confident that all would be ok. This statement coming from such a small child frightened me. I went to see Maria that day for my appointment we were planning to do another round of castor oil. I sat in her office and cried like a baby because I just wanted it all over and wanted to know the baby was ok. I told her about what Preston had said. “I think you need to consider just going to the hospital she told me.” Ive had some concern about doing this at home as well and you are obviously at the end of your rope. Im not sure how good it would be to continue to wait.”

I called Dr. Chappell and we set an appointment to see him later that evening to transfer care to his office and to schedule an induction. He had delivered my daughter and had seen me early on in the pregnancy when the morning sickness had been extra bad and he was prepared that this might happen. On the way home I cried. I just really wanted another home birth. I hated that I was giving up. I finally turned around and went back to Maria’s office. “LEts do the castor oil again I told her and if it works great I have the baby today and get my home birth. If it doesn’t than I go to Dr. Chappells tonight and we have the baby tomorrow in the hospital.”

She agreed and I took the castor oil. All day I waited for contractions and nothing. We drove all the way to farmington to meet with Dr. Chappell, he scheduled to induction for the next day and we were on our way home. About have way there I started to have contractions. By the time we were getting to Lehi they were getting kind of intense and I felt like I might just have this baby before I had a chance to get induced. We went to pick up the kids from a friend who was watching them. By the time we pulled into her driveway I was gasping and groaning with the intensity. I thought if I can just hold off long enough to get home and get the kids in bed than I can have this baby.

I called Maria and told her this is the real deal you better come. I was trying to focus and stay calm so the kids wouldn’t worry. I got them tucked into bed, made several urgent trips to the bathroom and with each one the contractions lessened. By the time the kids were settled and Maria was there they had stopped all together. I felt defeated but at peace with the idea of the induction because I felt I had given it absolutely everything I had in me. A home birth just wasn’t in the cards and I had to be ok with that.

The hospital called at 7:30 the next morning and we headed to the hospital. We got checked in and our nurse got things set up. She insisted that I wouldn’t be allowed to eat during labor, she insisted that I must wear the obnoxious monitors, she insisted that the pitocin had to be increased at specific intervals every 30 min. Several times I felt that she dismissed my intuition and knowledge of my body for what her machines were telling her. At one point I asked her to turn up the pitocin. I wanted to get things moving and I wasn’t feeling much of anything yet. Let me check to see how your contractions are first she told me looking at her awful machine. I can tell you how they are I told her. But she didn’t seem interested in my opinion. They are nice and regular she said so there is no need to increase it yet.

A couple of hours later she wanted to check me for progress. I don’t even feel like Im in labor I told her. I’m having a few contractions but they are nothing yet. But true to form she wanted to check anyway. I let her but told her I didn’t want to know how far I was.

She checked and then proceeded to prepare for delivery. If you want anyone else here you better call them she told me. I couldn’t believe it! It seemed like things were progressing but I honestly felt great. I had been lazing around in the tub, chatting (and eating when she wasn’t around) and overall just enjoying a break from the kids. This didn’t feel like the real deal.

Maria had come to the hospital with me and promised to stay through it all. She pulled the nurse aside to find out how far dilated I was. She kept telling me how amazed she was that I was doing so well. I kept insisting that I wasn’t doing anything. It hardly seems fair to take credit for being amazing when you aren’t even trying.

Dr. Chappell arrived, the nurse had called him in for the birth. He came in to find me comfortably seated in the tub chatting away with Joseph, Maria and my mom. Should I check you myself just to be sure he asked. Given that the nurse had made a mistake on my previous birth that had derailed my whole birth it seemed like a great idea. When she checked an hour ago you were at an 8 he told me.

He checked and I knew the news wasn’t good when he really had to reach in far. So you are actually at a 5 he said. I wanted to say I told you so to that awful nurse who insisted that her dumb machines knew more than I did. “Can we turn the pit up then to get this show on the road I asked. HE agreed and before long we had it at full strength.

Dr. Chappell suggested breaking my water and Joseph and I decided we would rather wait and labor for awhile first. He left and we continued with the waiting. About 10 pm I started feeling myself getting closer emotionally. I started to notice myself holding back because I didn’t want to descend to that place where I felt I had no control. I felt like I needed to process some things and I couldn’t with an audience so I asked my mom and sister to take a walk. I talked some thing through with the midwife and just spent some time in quiet contemplation.

Joseph and I did some walking. Shift change at the hospital meant we got a new nurse and it saved me from firing the one we had as I had about reached my limit with her. She kept saying all this stuff that she couldn’t let me do. Looking back I realized that she was saying “SHE couldn’t let me.” meaning I could do it she just couldn’t allow it. I wish I would have just kindly informed her I know you can’t but I can and done what I wanted. But at any rate once she was gone I took the new nurse aside and explained that doing this without pain medication was really important to me and that I couldn’t get in my zone and do it with a nurse in my face and that infernal monitor on my belly. I asked her to please do whatever she could do to help me find a way to have the birth I really wanted.

She told me that since I had a great support team of my own she would just stay out of it and to call if I wanted her. I didn’t see her for the next 4 hours and it was heaven. Anyway back to my processing. After working through some feelings I started to feel this primal urge to hide. I wanted a closed secure cozy place to have this baby and I needed to find a position I felt comfortable enough to lose control in. I was having a hard time finding it. Maria intuitvely knew I needed privacy and she left for a nap in another room. Joseph and I talked and hugged and prepared for what was coming. Finally I found my safe place laying on my side in the bed with him holding my hand and rubbing my back.

About this time it was 12:30 just after midnight. I told him to get the doc I was ready for them to break my water. They brought in the on call doc to do it and called Dr. Chappell to give him a heads up. She broke my water and the first contraction afterward had me making gutterall birthing noises. My sister heard me from the hallway and thought it was the baby. I quickly got to my knees and leaned over the back of the bed (It was all the way up) Maria heard me yelling from the other room and she came to do counter pressure on my hips. After what seemed to me to be about 5 minutes but was really about 30 I started asking for an epidural.

Joseph suggested ( like I had asked) that we turn the pit down instead. WE turned it down and I tried a few more contractions. Soon I was begging again. So we turned it down again. At this point I wish I had had Joseph up by my head. He and MAria were doing counter pressure on my hips but looking back I think I needed him closer to my face. Finally I was quite sure I couldn’t take another contraction. give me something else than I begged, remembering at this point that this was what I wanted, if I truly needed something I wanted to try something else before an epidural. I don’t know what was happening but it seemed like no one was responding to my request.

I was starting to feel the urge to push and I was afraid that I couldn’t get through this part. I was scared. Looking back I wish I would have voiced that I was afraid of what came next instead of just thinking it. By voicing it, it allows me to process and allows others to more fully support me. By just thinking it it was causing me to lose focus on what I should have been doing which was relaxing through the contractions.

Joseph came right up to my face and held me in his arms, you can do this. He told me you are almost there. Do you want to try? His tenderness, and the earnestness in his voice was almost enough to give me the strength to do it and had he stayed with me a little longer I probably could have but as another contraction hit he faded away and I felt lost as it washed over me.

I started to feel like I was pooping the biggest poop of my life. I was pushing and I couldn’t help it. Looking back here I also wish I had told someone, requested a mirror and got in a position where I could have my hand down there. I think it would have helped me engage in the process better instead of allowing it to happen to me.

My head was in the mattress and a sheet was over me and I don’t think anyone realized I was pushing. I begged again for the epidural, this time directing my request specifically to Dr. Chappell. He got the guy in there to give it to me in less than three minutes. I kept begging them to hurry knowing that I was going to push this baby out any second and not wanting to do it.

I was laying on my back they had me all scrubbed up and were instructing me to hold perfectly still so that he could insert the needle. When Maria suddenly said, “She is pushing!” They pulled off the sheet and sure enough the head was right there half way out. I pushed a couple of times and shouted “it burns” just like almost every woman I’ve ever seen give birth and then I felt the head come out and the shoulders turn inside of me. I could feel the shoulder bones slip out with the next push and then that gush as the rest of the body slipped effortlessly out and I heard Dr. Chappell say “Its a girl!”

At that point the pain in the birth canal was as intense as the contractions had been. I remember hearing the nurse instructing me that the baby was on my chest I needed to hold her and rub her dry. But I felt frozen in place and in agonizing pain. I kept screaming, It hurts so much! Finally they took the baby away and cleaned her up, weighed her a did what they do. I guess they let Joseph cut the cord but I don’t really remember. I just couldn’t figure out why the pain wasnt stopping.

After awhile they brought the baby back and tried again to get me to hold her. This time i made more of an effort and with her in my arms the pain seemed to lessen and my focus was on her perfect little face.

I never did find out why I had that kind of pain. Its something I want to understand before I have another baby. But I do want another one and can’t wait for this whole crazy experience all over again.

We hadn’t picked out a name yet, but Johannah was in the running as that was my sisters name who had been there and it was also the name of a very special family friend. It seemed like the right fight for our chubby little 8lb 13 oz bundle of joy.