Friday, July 11, 2014

Jude's Birth

I won't go into a long drawn out story of Jude's super easy birth, but I wanted to be able to share a few pictures for those who might be interested and figured this would be the best way, rather than imposing them on all of my facebook friends. I will share a few things leading up to his birth though...

First of all, the whole time I was pregnant with Audrey we pretty much assumed she would be our last. We were still a little freaked out about having 4 kids and weren't sure how or IF we would survive! But, as soon as Audrey was born we were just so in awe of our little blessing and how amazing her birth was. I loved being pregnant, loved the relationships I had built with so many new people through the whole process and I actually loved giving birth! We decided right away that we wanted to have just one more. We didn't expect to get pregnant as soon as we did, but we planned on not waiting too long. By the time Audrey was about 8 months old I started dreaming of having a little boy. I just knew we would get pregnant again and it would be a boy. We really wanted Timothy to have a brother and were kind of curious about what a boy we made would look like!

Almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started worrying about everything. What would people think? Audrey was only 10 months old and this would be our 5th kid! And then I worried that something would go wrong and we would lose the baby. Got through the first 12 weeks and started to relax a little. Then I started worrying that something would go wrong and I wouldn't be able to have a home birth again. I pretty much worried about one thing or another the entire pregnancy. As soon as I would relax, something else would cause me to start worrying again. I'm usually more laid back and not one to worry about much, so I tried to figure out what my problem was. Was it mommy intuition? Was it just unfounded fears? Was it pride because I was "the home birth girl" and if something went wrong then I was wrong for choosing that path? I really tried not to worry. I had my friends praying for me and my midwife reassuring me. I hate that I wasted so much time worrying, but how do you make yourself stop?

So, skip to the end and, of course, everything turned out perfect. Not just ok. But PERFECT. I mean, it's like God heard every one of my fears and answered every prayer. Right down to the very last detail. The biggest thing to me was to get to push him out in the birth pool and pick him up out of the water myself .

My friend Susan took pictures for me and every time I look at them I am reminded that God is so good. Not that He wouldn't have been good if things had not gone my way. Because He is ALWAYS good. These photos will be a reminder to me that I can cast all of my anxieties on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  And that He really does give good gifts to His children.

So, here are my pictures. Jude actually came on his due date. I woke up at 2:48 am exactly with my first contraction and he was born at 10:56 am. I could not imagine an easier labor than I had with Audrey and was hoping for a much shorter pushing time! (almost 2 hours of pushing with her) My water didn't break until right at the end which made labor much easier than I imagined and he was born in the water after about 3 pushes! And I got to pick him up out of the water myself. It was such a beautiful experience!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Anna Christine

Four years ago, on Friday the 13th, my little Anna was born. I wish that I had a fun home birth story to tell about her birth, but I wasn't there. On Friday the 13th 2009 I was somewhere else, completely unaware that my 2nd daughter was coming into the world.  I don't have any pictures of her birth or even her sweet little newborn face. Another woman had the privilege of carrying and delivering my sweet girl. And while I have been so blessed by adoption, I am most aware of the pain and sorrow of it on days like today. While I mourn that this little girl did not come from my womb, I have had the joy of celebrating every birthday since that very first one. But the woman that gave birth to her, while she got to be there for that first precious breath, has not seen a birthday since. I always think of her on my girls' birthdays and Mother's Day.  I wonder if she remembers what today is. I mean, who could forget the day you gave birth? I know I couldn't. I do not judge her. I'm not angry with her. I grieve for her. For I can only imagine the pain that days like this must bring to her. I pray for her on days like today. I pray that she will know the joy that comes from the freedom that Christ offers. That she will accept His free gift of grace and be healed from her past hurts. I know she has many. Though I've never met this woman, I love her so much. She gave me two very precious gifts. Sometimes I wish I could call her up and tell her thank you. Not that that would bring any comfort to her. It's a selfish wish, really. I just wish she could see how happy her little girl is and how much joy she brings to people around her. I am reminded today that while adoption is a beautiful thing, it is beauty that God has made out of ashes. The fact that there are orphans in the world that need to be adopted is another product of the fall of man. I am so very thankful that our Father is making all things new.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Home Birth

I decided to write about my birth story for 2 reasons. #1 Some of my friends wanted to hear my story because they were intrigued about home birth or they knew how much I have always wanted to have a baby and wanted to hear how it went. #2 There are a lot of misconceptions about home birth and I have become passionate about bringing awareness to it. It's kind of long because I give the back story of why I wanted a home birth in the first place.

I have always been a little obsessed with babies, pregnancy and birth. Even during my 8 years of infertility, I didn't shy away from reading about it, watching those tv shows about it or listening to other women's birth stories. I've pretty much always wanted to give birth naturally and then, after living with a home birth midwife for a while and my best friend having 2 of her babies at home, really wanted to have a baby at home. Of course, I thought that I would have my first baby in a hospital, just to be "safe" and then, if the first birth went well, have the rest at home. This was before I knew it would take me 8 years and 3 adopted/foster kids to get pregnant!

When we found out we were pregnant we decided, after much thought and discussion, to go ahead and have our baby at home. For 1, this may be our only pregnancy and 2, by this time, I had read enough about it that I was fairly confident in my ability to give birth and I wanted to be sure I could do it my way without any interventions. There were moments at the beginning when I didn't think Tripp was going to go along with this home birth thing, but after watching a few documentaries with me and meeting our midwife, he was as convinced as I was that this was the way we should go.

Backing up a little bit... I had been given the impression by someone when we first moved to Georgia, that home birth was frowned upon here. So, I wasn't sure if I could even do it. I used to joke that if I ever got pregnant we would have to go back to Texas so that my friend could deliver our baby. I was thrilled when I found out that a friend at Bible study had all three of her children at home. So, when I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did was email my midwife friend in Texas and ask her what to look for in a midwife (what to ask her in an interview, etc), thinking that I would interview at least 2 or 3. I was surprised to discover there was only one home birth midwife in our area! Thankfully, I had 3 friends that swore by her and she turned out to be pretty amazing. It was our first meeting with her that really set Tripp's mind at ease about having our baby at home.

One of the things that I loved about having a home birth is the prenatal care. Honestly, I had a really easy pregnancy, so I didn't require a whole lot more than the routine stuff. But, if I needed anything or had a question about something, I could call my midwife directly. I didn't have to call and leave a message with a nurse and wait for a call back. I've actually even facebook messaged her several times! Not only that, but my visits/appointments were never rushed. Often times I would be there an hour just talking to her. By the end of my pregnancy, I was completely at ease with her. She felt more like a friend or part of the family than a healthcare provider. I think that and being educated about birth really helped me during labor. If she told me I needed to do something, I didn't question her. I just did it. I trusted her. I knew that she wouldn't put me or Audrey in danger and that she would be honest with me if something was wrong.

I loved being able to labor and deliver at home. My labor was fairly typical, from what we learned in our Bradley classes. It started out slow and gradually progressed. When my water broke, I was at home with the kids. I called Carlene (my midwife) and Tripp to let them know that I thought labor was starting. I was able to feed the kids lunch and eat lunch myself. My friend Danielle came over to help me with them and get the girls settled at a friend's house. She was able to stay and help us with Timothy. Tripp and Danielle set up the birthing pool, but we didn't think I was far enough along to get in it, yet. If you get in too soon it could slow things down. Danielle and Tripp timed my contractions and I was able to walk around and find different positions to manage the pain. I couldn't lay down at all. This made my contractions more painful, so I walked around, sat on my exercise ball or laid my head down to rest a little. I took a shower, thinking that the warm water might help. I remember thinking when I was in the shower that the contractions had been manageable and then remembering something someone said in a documentary, "Oh honey, they're going to get much worse!".  I tried to eat a little, but by dinner time I wasn't hungry. When the contractions got really strong, I got in the bathtub for a little while (by that time I was in transition). That's the first time I remember thinking that I didn't know how much more I could take. Carlene was at another birth when I had called her earlier, so I just managed the contractions and waited for her to come. Since this was my first baby and I had still been at 1 cm when Carlene checked me that morning, we figured it would take a while. I was in labor for about 9 hours total, but it really didn't feel like that long. You just take each contraction as they come. I think the best thing for me was that I had tried to educate myself so much about childbirth and I wasn't afraid of it. It really helped that I had read books and watched documentaries about other people's birth stories (Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and More Business Of Being Born). Helpful things would come to my mind at just the right times.
Carlene sent help until she could get there, so I had a wonderful group of women (plus Tripp) to help and encourage me. Looking back, that was one of my favorite things. I had Carlene's assistant (her daughter - who I had met several times at my appointments and felt really comfortable with. She's a lot like her mom and I think I relaxed a lot when she got there.), a NICU nurse that wants to be a midwife and attends births with Carlene sometimes, a mennonite woman that came (with her own sweet baby) to check me to see how much I was dilated until Carlene could get there, Carlene and then my friend Danielle. I was surrounded by women who had all given birth and witnessed birth. I almost felt like I was on The Farm! (Ina May Gaskin's birth center/commune) The birthing pool felt amazing! I've heard people say that it's like a natural epidural and I believe it! But, for me, pushing wasn't very effective in the pool, so I ended up getting out (and back in and out again). Audrey ended up being born in our room, on our bed instead of the pool. By the time Carlene got there I was ready to push. Pushing was the hardest part for me. I pushed for almost 2 hours. I remember thinking at one point, "This is crazy! Why do people do this more than once? I'm never doing this again! If we have any more kids, they will be adopted for sure!". When Audrey was born she was immediately laid on me while Carlene suctioned her out and did a quick check, we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, I delivered the placenta (no, I didn't keep it or eat it!) and Carlene stitched me up (I had just a small tear). Tripp cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing. Carlene examined her, weighed her, cleaned her up a little (don't have to wash off the vernix. it's actually good for their skin) and got her dressed all right there in my room with us. Audrey never left my sight. Carlene stayed until she was sure we were both okay, called a few times to check on me the next day, came back a few days later and she's been available to us if we had questions since. She'll do my 6 week check up soon. The whole thing was amazing. I've said it a few times on facebook, but it really was the most amazing day of my life and I would do it again the exact same way in a heartbeat! (just not right away, of course!)

Since giving birth, I've been looking in to becoming a childbirth educator. I love talking to other women about it and encouraging them, not just to do it naturally or at home, but so they are not afraid of it.
I used to think it was funny that two of my friends said that they loved giving birth, but now that I have, I feel the same way! It's true that you forget the pain, but it was the whole experience that was so amazing to me. 

Here are some pictures!
Tripp trying to offer "hands off" support

Danielle timing my contractions

Tripp helping me through a contraction

Sitting in the birthing pool (maybe between contractions)

Audrey Caroline 

Carlene and Audrey

Getting all cleaned up

Getting weighed (8 lb 4 oz)

Baby and mommy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tripp and Christy's Amazing Adventure

Tripp and Christy met in Memphis, Tennessee at Visible Music College in August of 2001. They had a brief conversation at orientation when Tripp commented on Christy's Poor Old Lu t-shirt and Tripp thought to himself, "You know...if it doesn't work out with the other girl that I followed here from the ATL, I could probably marry her.". 

As the year went on a friendship formed which led to love and when school was out Tripp and Christy left Memphis for Texas, where they got engaged and in December of that year, married. They decided that the big city of Houston was not for them and headed for Green Acres... trailer park, that is, just outside of Atlanta where they made a cozy little home. A few months there and it was back to Texas, where they continued to grow restless until a friend said, "Hey, come back to Memphis!".  So they did. They spent a whole year in Memphis, working and making friends until they decided it was time to have babies and Georgia was on their minds. So they packed up and headed back to Georgia. Macon, Georgia, this time.  They established their careers there and bought a house, preparing for the baby that just wouldn't seem to come. A few years of this and they decided that maybe adoption was the plan for them and so they quickly went from 2 to 4 when Michelle and Anna joined their little family.  Their hearts were now full with these two beautiful little girls and you would think the story would end here, or at least slow down and get pretty boring. But, wait! There's more...

After a few years as a family of four, they decided it was time for their family to grow again. Maybe adoption in the future, but for now they wanted to love on those that may be only half orphan... foster children. Babies to be exact. Because Christy had still never had an itty-bitty one and her heart longed to snuggle a squishy new baby. A few short months after they began this new journey, 2 month old little Timothy came along. And oh the waves this little brown boy would make! But, they loved him as their own and decided to adopt him, if they could. Little did they know that something else was brewing. Something very itty-bitty. Something wonderful. A little miracle from their loving Father... they were finally going to have a belly baby!

Now this little adventure was getting kind of scary! Two babies! What would they do with two babies? How would they manage doubling their family in less than 9 months? Oh... but God had this all planned from the beginning. He knew they would eventually come to see this as the most beautiful time in their lives. Two beautiful babies would join Michelle and Anna and their little family of four would become a family of six. Big baby T in March and little baby Audrey in December, born at home (Christy's dream birth) 11 days before their 10 year anniversary.

This is not the end of their story. They have many happy years and adventures to come. Maybe more children or maybe something entirely new.  One thing is fore sure, the first 10 years have been the happiest and the most amazing years of their lives.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

From an Empty Nest to a Full Quiver

I was awakened out of a nice deep sleep at 5:30 this morning by a little voice calling "Mommy" from the other room. It turned out that both girls had had wet the bed so I set to work changing sheets and clothes and by the time I was able to lay back in bed I was wide awake. As I laid there, trying my hardest to go back to dreamland, it hit me how blessed I am to have those two little beauties in the other room, the sweet little boy that, as I was thinking about this, started to cry and then drifted back to sleep and the round belly that caused me to have to get up (yet again) and go potty so I didn't have to change my own sheets. I've told the story about how we came by the first two blessings, but I've been so busy and so tired that I haven't made time to stop and tell how we came about the other two. And since I'm already awake and it's on my mind, might as well get up and do it now!

We had always talked about adopting again once the girls were settled. We began talking more seriously about it late last year. In January, I turned in an application to our local adoption agency and then a few weeks later we felt, yet again, that the Lord was leading us back to DFCS (Human Resources, Division of Family and Children Services - foster care). This time we decided (mostly because I really wanted a newborn) that we would foster instead of foster-to-adopt like we did with the girls. By fostering instead of fostering-to-adopt we knew that we would be more likely to get an infant, but also that we would most likely not get to adopt the first baby that we were placed with. We were mentally preparing ourselves for this as well as preparing the girls, as best as we could.

March 8th we got the call we had been waiting almost two months for. They had a 2 month old, African American baby boy. I quickly started making calls and getting things together. Even though we had been planning this, we still didn't have some basic necessities. I went to pick him up at the DFCS office and he immediately took to me. "Uh oh.", I thought, "You cannot get attached to me, little guy, because this is only temporary!".  I brought him home, survived a week of sleepless nights before we finally got to meet with his caseworker. She informed us that it already looked like his case was going to go towards adoption. At this point we really felt like we could adopt him. She was thrilled to hear that we wanted to keep him if he went up for adoption and put our name in big letters on top of her notes. We were completely unaware of what challenges we were about to face.

As the second week of having Timothy went on I was getting more and more exhausted. I had never had a baby this young before, so I thought I was just tired from late night feedings and taking care of him and two very active girls. By the end of the week I was starting to think that maybe it could be something else. My period was now almost two weeks late. I still wasn't thinking that I was pregnant (I had long since given up on that notion), I just thought that maybe something was wrong. By Sunday evening, as Tripp was playing drums at church and I broke down under stress and exhaustion, my friend took all the kids from me and strongly suggested I take some time for myself and even more strongly suggested that I buy a pregnancy test. So I did. It was positive. I couldn't believe it. I showed Tripp when he got home and he DIDN'T believe it. He made me take another one. It was positive. The next day he called me from work and told me to take the last one in the box. It was positive. When he got home he took me to the drugstore to buy another box. They were both positive. We were in shock! After 8 long years were we FINALLY having a baby?

Why now? Here we had this little baby boy that needed us and we were having a baby. I was so tired and eventually felling so sick all the time that I could not imagine taking care of TWO babies plus a 5 year old and a very, very active 3 year old. Add to that the opposition we were getting from a few family members because of Timothy's race and we were just so overwhelmed that we didn't know what to do. During this time Tripp and I were stretched beyond what we thought we could handle. We were worn out physically, spiritually and emotionally.

As to not drag this story out too much, I'll give you a brief overview of the few months between then and where we are now...
God has graciously shown us our own sin and selfishness through this little boy. He has shown us how to give up our own desires for the needs of another, how to love those that are different than us, how to love those who oppose us, how to stand firm on what you believe in, how to persevere through difficult circumstances and much, much more. Timothy's case is still pending, but we already love him as our own. I can't imagine not having him as my son. I would go to the moon and back for him. I will be devastated if we lose him.

God is so good. Who would have thought 8 years ago when we started this journey of trying to have a family that we would be where we are now. Who would have thought that Tripp and I would have 4 children in 3 years time! Who would have thought that Tripp Freeman would actually entertain the thought of having 5 or 6 children? Not me!

One of our good friends encouraged me with a verse when we were in the most difficult time of our infertility struggle. Isaiah is speaking of the barren woman when he says in Isaiah 54:2 "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." He may not have known at the time that this was prophetic as we have had to do this very thing this year! We have had to make room in our tiny house for all the children that the Lord has blessed us with! Another verse that the same friend encouraged us with as we were struggling over whether or not we were supposed to adopt Timothy is Psalm 127:3-5 "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

Thank you, Jesus, for our full quiver. Or, maybe it's not quite full, yet.  :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who has time for this stuff anyway?

So, I am ashamed that this is my first (real) post of 2012.  It's actually the first post in many, many months.  I have been so busy with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), running Michelle to ballet and soccer, chasing Anna (who is running right towards the terrible 3's), getting ready to be a foster parent... whew!  No wonder I haven't had time to write!

I started this blog at first as sort of a way to journal; just to get my thoughts out of my head and send them out into the void.  Then, I realized that I have family all over the US (the world, actually) that wanted updates on our family and this would be a great way to share with them what was going on.  It turned out, instead, to be a way to sort of flesh out my spiritual growth.  I realized after writing a few months that fleshing out my spiritual growth for the world to see is not that easy.  I got kind of embarrassed.  Spiritual growth (from now on I will call it sanctification) means that you are constantly changing and that what you say today may seem so silly tomorrow.  I sat down one day and decided to write about all the things that God was teaching me and how much I had changed over the last 10 years or so.  Thankfully I accidentally hit the wrong key and somehow erased the entire thing right before the autosave.  I was frustrated and had to walk away from the computer and stew over it for a few days.  That's when I realized that some of the things that I was saying might alienate people that I loved, and not necessarily in a godly way.  It was a good thing that didn't get published!  After that I was kind of blog shy.  I love to write, but I just didn't want to anymore.  Then I got busy, like I mentioned  at the beginning.

So, like I said in my most recent "hey, I'm still here" post, I went to the Created for Care retreat and felt kind of ashamed that I hadn't been keeping up with my blog and felt like I needed to come home and update.  But... I came home in the middle of God doing something to challenge me.  I was so ready to write about how I was frustrated about this and frustrated about that and how dare people treat me like that, etc.  I was feeling pretty good about myself and how much I had grown and all the things I was "doing for the Lord".  Then comes Tuesday (my BSF Leadership day) and the new lesson.  We were now in 1 Corinthians.  Paul is calling out the Corinthians for their spiritual pride and God called me out on mine.  It hit me for the first time how I sounded.  "How dare people treat me like an outcast!"  "I'm doing just fine!  I don't need their pity!"  Wow!  I had no idea how bad I sounded.  I was embarrassed that I had actually said all this stuff out loud to my friend, Susan.  Ugh!  And He didn't stop there.  A week later I am having to humbly call a friend and apologize for acting like a fool.

Pride stinks.  Nobody likes to be around a prideful person.  But, I've been avoiding dealing with my pride issue for years!  I was beginning to think that maybe God was just going to let me slide on this one!  I really did not want to deal with it.  It's one of those soft spots that is just to sensitive to deal with and too hard to overcome.  But, here I am, right in the middle of sanctification, and God wants it all.  I think I forgot for a moment that sanctification never ends.  That there will always be something that needs to be purged out.  It sucks sometimes, but Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:14 "I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children."  I am God's child and "the Lord Disciplines those He loves" (Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6).  The verse that I have been holding onto for the last year is this... Philippians 1:6b "... he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  I am nowhere near done with my battle with pride, but I believe that God is more gracious to me than I am to myself.  I pray that I will begin to see the needs and concerns of other people more important than what I feel like I deserve.