Wednesday, December 24, 2014

thoughts on grace and motherhood

Wanna know two ways God likes to show us how selfish we are? Number one: marriage. Hopefully there is no gradual slip-into-marriage-type experience. One day you're engaged and living with your family or by yourself, then BOOM. Your life is suddenly not your life anymore and you're someone else's other half and that someone else probably wants you to make him coffee and wash his clothes. Your brains probably aren't identical, causing the occasional argument. On Sunday afternoons, no less. Pretty soon you start realizing how much you thought the universe revolved around your needs and desires, and cultivating a servant spirit becomes top priority. 

Number two: having a kid. Oh my word. I had no idea. Really. 

The first week we were home with Peter Chris stayed home from work. I was so sleep deprived I honestly couldn't function safely, and of course I was healing, so poor Chris had to handle everything. He was such a wonderful blessing, jumping right in to his daddy role. :) Right around Thursday afternoon I felt this strange, awful feeling rising in my gut. After a moment of contemplation, I realized it was utter terror: Chris was leaving us on Monday and it would be just me and the baby. Now, most of you know I have like zero baby experience. The last time there was a baby in my life was when Charlotte was born and I was 5 years old. I don't work in my church's nursery, and I've not babysat. You can understand how simply changing a diaper seemed like a daunting task. 

Well, Monday came and Chris left and I bawled. I really did feel overwhelmed and it was only Monday and 7 AM. Peter needed to eat every 2-3 hours, needed at least one diaper each session, breastfeeding was a total disaster, my house was filthy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Because Chris was tired from work, I tried to let him sleep through the night and take all the shifts. I lost a LOT of sleep that second week, and with each passing day I grew more and more exhausted and cranky. The day came where I actually felt myself getting angry at Peter for being so needy. Just take your pacy and let me sleep for FIVE MORE MINUTES FOR GOODNESS' SAKE!!!! 

And then it totally hit me. Obviously I knew how dumb and horrid it was for me to be upset at a baby who constantly needs something and has no way to communicate that except by crying. I knew this was my new job and priority. But I had no idea it would be a huge life lesson. I am selfish, and God loves me anyway. I am just as needy and whiny as a little baby, and my heavenly Father answers my prayers every time. The diligence with which I have to tend to Peter's needs is nothing compared to how my Father watches over me and is orchestrating every move in my life. At any hour of the day, be it midnight, 4:30, or 7 AM (Peter's nightly shifts) I can call on Him and He hears me. Not just hears me, listens to me. When I am hungry, either physically or spiritually, He provides nourishment. When I am dirty from sin and guilt, He cleanses me. When I truly need rest, He restores my soul. 

Grace is everywhere. Peter looks at me while I change his diaper, and how can I not fall in love with those eyes? His little noises as he gulps down a bottle make me smile. He kicks his feet and "talks" to us at night and we talk back. He's just starting to smile when we get in his face and make silly sounds. This motherhood thing - the messy, the overwhelming - is showing me so much about grace, about love engulfing and defeating selfishness. I'd much rather keep sleeping when the next shift rolls around, but love gets me out of bed and doing it all again. I'd rather leave the dishes in the sink forever, but love makes me wash again, again, again. I'm not very interested in changing the diapers and wiping down not only Peter, but the changing pad, wipes dispenser, and wall, but love pushes me on and is the motivator for everything. Thank you, God. 

By Him all things consist. If it weren't for Him being the only perfect Father in existence, we could not exist. The very second He decided to "skip a shift" in His care for us, we would completely perish. What cause for thanksgiving! 

This gem was hidden in the monotonous, messy tasks of motherhood, and I am so grateful God allowed me to discover it. :)

Merry Christmas!

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Peter Pics!

I know I've texted or Facebooked a lot of these, but still. :P These aren't all in chronological order. Just a big post of pictures of my little guy. :)

My first pic with him. The face of death after giving life. :P

We were all wiped out after about 36 hours of no sleep.

Poor Chris had to handle the first several awful diapers. ;)

Peter's first doctor visit at 5 days old.

Middle of the night bottles are the best. :P

Well that escalated quickly.

He likes bath time so long as he doesn't get cold. :)

How he tells me he's completely done with a bottle. lol

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

peter's birth story // part two

It was rush hour when we drove to the hospital. This reminded me of one of the reasons why I hadn't planned on giving birth at UIC or Hinsdale; I would NOT want to be stuck in traffic with crazy surges going on! We finally made it to UIC and sat in the waiting room with my midwife. Colleen was about 3 weeks away from delivering her third baby, so when the nurse came in to get me all registered, she walked up to Colleen thinking she was the patient. lol "No, the OTHER pregnant lady!" 

On the way to my room was the first time I really sensed God was going to make all this okay. Our nurse asked if I had a birth plan. I was like, "Whaaa? She's asking for my birth preferences??" We gave the plan to her and she not only entered everything into the system, but made copies for us to give to anybody else who needed them. Right after that, I realized God granted another desire of my heart. I had the room at the very end of the hall, which meant no one would be walking by and peeking in if they wanted! Nurses wouldn't be wheeling carts past my door. I'd have a little handful of quiet and privacy, two things I never expected. :P 

The first nurse and midwife on shift were absolute angels. The nurse was an older lady named Anne, who happened to be my doula's nurse 4 years ago! The midwife was a young, punky girl who was lots of fun. When she checked me the first time, I was already 90-100% effaced, which meant they could start the Pitocin right away. I was thankful to not have anything delayed. So they hooked me up to the IV and Pitocin, strapped on TWO monitors (ugh), and said they'd be back in every half hour. "Try to get some sleep," they said. I politely said "okay" and was thinking "are you nuts" because this stuff they were dripping into my blood made my middle totally implode and that doesn't feel like a pedicure, just saying. 

Chris slept. I did not. [Side note: my husband is totally my hero. I couldn't've done a single bit of this without him at my side. He was there always. He was and is my strength. I wouldn't say my love for him grew, because my heart is already full of forever for my darling, but it certainly deepened through this experience.] All night, from about 6:45 PM till 5:30 AM I just laid there learning to breathe deeper for each contraction. Anne came in every half hour and upped my Pitocin dosage by a unit. In the beginning it was easy. Contractions were no big deal. I was eating popsicles and posting on Facebook, for goodness' sake. The midwife came in at one point and whispered, "You doing okay?" And I just groaned, "I'm soooo bored!!!" She thought that was funny. Yeah, looking back it was funny to say that when the hardest part was still coming, but it was taking forever. 

Fast forward to about 5:15 AM. The contractions were very strong and close together. After realizing I wasn't getting much of a break at all in-between contractions, I decided to text my doula to let her know I wanted her. :) I also had the midwife come check me. My goal was to hold out until I was a 4 or 5 before getting an epidural. (And yes, my plan was to get the epidural if I got induced. I gave myself permission for that one.) When she checked me, I was a 5 almost 6. I was like, "Awesome! Now call the anesthesiologist RIGHT NOW." He came in and told me Chris had to step out. That totally, totally threw me. Chris had been with me for EVERYTHING up to this point and this was the scariest part of labor so far in my mind. I wanted him there. But for the room to be a "sterile environment" or something, he had to go. My body was losing it at this point. I was terrified of being alone with a nurse, the guy, and needles bigger than I wanted to think about. I was exhausted and starving. I started to shake. I was trembling so bad that the nurse had to hold my shoulders to keep me sitting upright and straight, and she asked me my name and what I was doing there. :/ But then the numbness took over and I was distracted by how funny my lower half felt. (Blessing #3: I didn't have any scary side effects from the epidural. Just major itchiness which went away eventually.)

The epidural was one thing that didn't turn out like I expected. I guess I expected to be totally numb down there and not feel a thing. (It's happened to a lot of people that told me their stories.) But I actually felt a lot. I felt each contraction, which ended up being a good thing when it came time to push. 

My midwife came in and checked me. I was an 8 or so. I texted my other midwife, Colleen, and had her come. [SO glad she was there for the birth!!] Around 10 AM I was a 10 and was told to start pushing. Chris tells me I pushed for almost THREE. STINKING. HOURS. There was a clock on the wall opposite me so I guess I knew the time but I for sure wasn't keeping track. Each time a contraction came, I'd push like my life depended on it. It was the most exerting thing I've ever done, and I was running on empty as far as sleep, food, and drink goes. My midwife knew I didn't want an episiotomy, and I for sure didn't want a C-section. Since this was going on and on, she eventually sat down, looked at me hard, and said, "Rachael, you have two pushes to get this baby out." I felt the pressure. I pushed like I hadn't pushed before. Finally his head was out, and I expected the rest of him to come rather quickly, but he was still not wanting to exit and enter the world. His hand was behind his head or something, making his elbow come out with his shoulders. The cord was around his neck, but it was no big deal thanks to my awesome midwife. After a very long struggle and effort, my son was born. :) My birth plan said I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, but somewhere in the moment that got lost, so I looked and they were scrubbing him to death. And that's where what my doula calls my "primal moment" came in. I said (hopefully not too loudly) "JUST GIVE HIM TO ME!" 

They handed him to me and I had a million thoughts running through my head. "THANK GOD it's over!" "No one let me near Eve up there because things would get ugly." "This kid is HUGE and so strong!" "Someone put food - any food - in my mouth now." "Awww, Chris is crying!" "Thank you, God, that he's healthy!" And that really was the most amazing answer to prayer. The epidural didn't affect little Peter at all that we could tell. He was alert from the very first moment. His eyes opened and he nursed just fine. I was so, so thankful and relieved. 

We went home a little over 24 hrs. later. Chris and I couldn't WAIT to get out of the hellishness that is recovery in a hospital room. People came in every half hour or sooner, most of them doing non-necessary, annoying things. As soon as the papers were together, they wheeled me out, we strapped him into his carseat, and took off with the heat blasting. (It was BITTER cold out and snowing.) He slept all the way home (yay). We came home to an "It's a Boy!" sign in the yard, a welcome home message in the frost on our front door, a clean prepared house (thanks, family!) and an amazing basket of goodies and dinner from a dear church friend. It was just wonderful. 

So in the end I am actually telling people I'm glad he was born at the hospital. There were enough circumstances that make me think that if I had tried it at home, it would've been a VERY long, excruciating experience that might've dampened my desire to do it again. :P Now that my body's gone through birth, hopefully the next time will be faster and smoother, and I can have the baby at home like originally planned. But God used this experience to show me how His hand is everywhere. He knew I did everything I could to make what we thought were the best decisions, and when the timing just got crazy, He made Plan B go just as well. I am so humbled and thankful. And it's pretty surreal to look into little Peter's eyes and say "I love you" and have him sigh contentedly. Motherhood is a great gift. None of us deserve it at all. :) 

A picture post is coming soon! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

peter's birth story // part one

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~ Anais Nin

By dates, Peter's due date was October 18th. Once I had my first ultrasound, however, they bumped it forward to the 29th because he was measuring small and they didn't want to categorize him as unhealthy when he was doing just fine. After that, I decided he would come sometime in-between the 18th and the 29th.
Big mistake. :P 

The 18th AND the 29th came and went without so much as a whisper that he was coming. So I found myself at 41 weeks with my endurance draining away. I was done hearing people ask when he was coming, I was done looking like a whale in every. single. thing. I wore, I was done weighing over 200 lbs., and I was done hurting. I stopped going to church because every time I went I got asked, "Where's that baby?!" and because I couldn't sit straight through a service. I had to get up to ease my hips and get some air. Eventually I felt more like a distraction than anything. 

Once you go past your due date, my midwives prescribe two non-stress tests (NSTs) and two ultrasounds a week to make sure the baby's doing okay and the fluid levels are good in there. The first NST and ultrasound didn't go super great so I got super nervous. My BIGGEST fear was that I'd have to have a C-section after preparing this whole time for a natural waterbirth at home. My second biggest fear was having to induce at a hospital. So when he barely moved for the NST and ultrasound, my heart just dropped. I had been feeling him move like crazy and had even had some contractions in the night so I KNEW he was okay, but that doesn't cut it when it's an official test, so.... The second set of tests was totally different. They went so well that I broke down in tears of thankfulness to the Lord for giving my ridiculously worried and emotional self a break. 

At 42 weeks and still nothing, I started all the natural induction methods. You name it, I tried it. Acupuncture, massage, herbs, membrane sweeping, etc. Still nothing. I was starting to think this baby would stay in forever. (Life looked a little bleak like that, let me tell you.) Chris and I had to face the fact that we had to go induce instead of continue waiting until something DID go wrong. We decided Monday we would go.

On Saturday, November 15th, my midwife Colleen came over to do another NST. It went okay, but not great. She told us that UIC (our hospital) had so many inductions on Monday that they couldn't take us, so we had two options: go right then, or go Sunday night at 8 PM. I didn't want to start all the labor process when I was already tired and done with my day, so I said let's go right now. It was such a quick decision. My brain and emotions didn't catch up. I started to pack in a fog. I hadn't even thought through what going to the hospital would require. I grabbed some slippers, some lip balm, pictures some little friends from church had made me for the birth, random things. And then we left. I closed the door after looking at my piles of homebirth supplies and shook my head in disbelief. This was so not what I wanted. So not what I planned. 

But God knew all of that, and had a much different experience ready for us than what I pictured and feared. :)

Peter // 1 Month

 I guess I'm one of those weird people that always feels that time passes slowly. Peter is 1 month old today, and it definitely feels like it's been 30 days. :P Yes, it's been a blur, however. When you're feeding a baby and doing his diaper every 2-3 hours, the days kinda blend together eventually. (What day is it again??) My love for him has grown every day, and he's already teaching me much about myself and the love my Heavenly Father has for His children. 

Peter's Faves:
getting his diaper changed
his puppy vibrating chair
his swing from Grandma
listening to Mommy's Grooveshark playlist
his Boppy Lounger
being held :)


Peter Emile Marsceau!

Born Sunday, November 16th, 12:54 PM.
9 lbs. 7 oz. 21" long

Yeah, let's not talk about how late I am with this. :P I had no idea how much work goes into simply keeping another human alive and clean. More updates (including his birth story) coming soon!