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Category Archives: Random Inspiration

What makes a woman smile, tick, survive, and thrive.

The Beginning of the End

cover[1]A really good read! Enjoy. I ordered it on Kindle so I wouldn’t have to wait for it to be shipped. This well-studied novel is a blend of End-Time Prophecy, economic predictions, sustainability, and (of course!) romance. Grab some hot chocolate, a Bible to cross-reference, a grain of salt, an open mind, and some coffee… because you might find yourself unable to put the book down!

http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-End-Michael-Snyder-ebook/dp/B00CNKRHRE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389241481&sr=8-1&keywords=the+beginning+of+the+end#reader_B00CNKRHRE

gentle waterbirth

1012437_10200942920629534_1359398350_n[1]It all started on Monday night. Telltale contractions that promised a maximum two hours of sleep, followed by a sleepless night of early stage labor. Michael slept through all the excitement, and with morning I was exhausted and disappointed as the night of 10-minute intervals settled into a day of infuriating nothingness. I tried to keep up my spirits, reminding myself that every contraction counts, even if it is not yet true labor.

That night I gratefully settled down, hoping to make up for lost sleep. Once again, however, I felt things moving along as they had the night before. I groaned, knowing that I would wake up at 2:00 AM “for nothing!” I poured out my hormonal heart to my husband, declaring that I felt this baby would never come, and that on this, the eve of my due date, I would once again be subjected to a night of sleeplessness, unrewarded by a baby by morning. Indeed, from 2:00 AM and on, I tossed and turned, paced and rocked, clutched a hot water bottle to my lower back until the skin was raw from heat, and was generally miserable.

My two previous births had been at the hospital. I loved giving birth, but hated the constant interruptions, bright lights, and rules about how I must deliver my baby. My cousin Jenny, a certified midwife, would deliver my baby this time, and I was excited to deliver peacefully in the comfort of my own home. My married sister is a seasoned veteran of homebirth, having delivered all three of her boys at home with midwives. She had promised me that midwives go the extra mile, getting into uncomfortable positions to monitor and assist during labor, rather than make the mother move around and be strapped to uncomfortable contraptions.

The bedroom had been ready for the last 4 weeks. Supplies lined up by category, candles ready to provide dimmed lighting, and the birth pool ready to be inflated and filled. It was calming, knowing that everything would be ready when the moment should come.

I texted Jenny an FYI on that Wednesday morning, with a “not to worry, nothing is actually happening yet,” update. Jenny got a few more details and by 10:00 AM had decided she would stop by that day to see for herself. I did not think that was necessary, but she seemed to have her mind made up. I was too uncomfortable and tired to argue further.

I danced to my Zumba music and got a good hour workout, losing my cool only a few times with my children, as I retreated farther into myself. The more I exercised, the less real labor was to me. I seemed to be at odds with the whole world.

Michael came to the rescue, as he often does. He took the little ones berry picking for three hours. I was obedient to Jenny’s suggestion to take a nap they were gone, and actually slept between contractions, waking up just in time to hop out of bed to moan and rock before each contraction hit.

This being my third baby, it was quite normal that contractions were irregular. The posterior position of the baby, however, made the few contractions especially painful. The long minutes between them furthered my resolve not to get my hopes up, but my composure wore thin as the pressure on my lower back mounted.

Jenny and her intern Gabby arrived, and I served them a late lunch. They greeted me, exchanged glances, and politely ignored the fact that I hadn’t bothered to wear pants. A woman may neglect to look her best when she feels irritable enough, but heaven forbid she fail to feed her guests. Later they told me that my lack of modesty was their only indication that I was truly in labor. I was trying to act as normal as possible, convinced that this was just Day 2 of the same old nonsense. That was my logic, anyway.

When they asked if I would like an internal check, I agreed, saying I was very curious. Joy! 7 centimeters, and I had not yet even broken into the Labor Aid cubes.

The next few hours were a blur of preparing the room and setting up the birth pool. I tried to work out a little more as people began to trickle in, but the distraction of dancing was no longer possible. Contractions were too close together, although still irregular.

My mom and sisters arrived at the moment I broke down emotionally and collapsed on the bed in pain. Gabby had been helping me with counter pressure on my back up until then. I was invited to get in the birth pool.

Feeling suddenly weightless in the water, I was comforted when Michael got in the water and held me close. The pressure in my lower back was still intense. With every contraction I required Michael to be quiet and press on my sacrum. Gabby, my mom, and Jenny also helped with that. After some time I could hear Jenny clearing the room. Things were intense, but I was distracted and not progressing as I should. Only the essential people remained in the room.

There was a brief interruption as I heard voices in the hallway. My sister Elisa greeted unexpected visitors who had come bringing baby gifts, and asked them to come back at a later time! The house quiet once again, I resumed focus on my labor.

My memories are fuzzy. It was la-la-labor land at that point. I shushed, yelled, and slapped my husband if he talked or moved during contractions. Apparently those in the room laughed silently (my eyes were closed.) and signalled Michael not to worry. Husbands commonly take the brunt of wifely emotions during labor. In retrospect I wish I had requested a video of the birth so that I could see the comedy that took place.

The water was getting cold. Our home’s hot water heater had been maxxed out, and pots of water were being heated on the stove. Every time a sister came in with hot water, I could feel tension being eased in my body. Once, Elisa came in with her little baby strapped to her front, carrying a huge pot of water ahead of him. I looked up and laughed at the look of shock and joy on his innocent face as he looked curiously around the room.

I asked my mom to read Psalm 27 to me. For two weeks previous to the birth, I had been stuck on that Scripture, going over it every day. In labor it was a comfort, and she read it several times before I tuned out her voice and moved deeper into myself.

My mind grasped wildly, tryinig to reason with the pain, “What?! I want more kids after this?! Who does this!? No more kids. Hmmm. There is no way out. I want to remove the feeling from my back. I am at home, there is no epidural available, and if there was, I would refuse it. Therefore, I want to die. Yes, I could just die! Except… The baby is not born yet, That means I have to live and deliver this baby.”  All the while, Jenny assured me that it was not much longer, my mom held my face above water, and Michael supported my back.

And then Maureen, the backup midwife, was instructing me to assume a froglike position to enable the posterior baby to pass through. Suddenly I could push and feel the baby moving. Alert in every way, I felt baby’s head progress and retreat. Every sensation was vividly clear. Jenny tried to keep my energy on pushing and not on sound effects, but I was not able to master my voice. For moments at a time I could hold back my voice while pushing, then I would lose it. My 4-year-old later told me she heard me and knew I was pushing out the baby because of the noise I made.

I reached down and felt the baby’s head at two knuckles. I could feel her precious head protected by the sack and a small amount of amniotic fluid. I was encouraged and pushed harder. There was a briefest crown, then she went back. I pushed again and felt the sack burst. She was coming!

I planted my hands down and pushed hard with Jenny guiding me. Michael tried to feel for the baby but I yelled for him to stop; I wanted his hands supporting my back for the next contraction.

“OK Laura, let this next contraction build before you start pushing, and then you’re going to have a baby.” Jenny’s voice seemed like a dream. I waited as long as I could and pushed. It felt so good to push. I felt the baby’s head coming out in what seemed to me like a contraction lasting several minutes, They were checking her neck for a cord. Pushing her body out was the strangest sensation, as I felt limbs and belly coming quickly through.

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The next thing I knew I was upright on the other side of the birth pool, supported by Michael, and the little baby had been passed through my legs and into my arms. I sagged against Michael while he held me and the baby up. She took her first breaths and i exclaimed, “look at her cheecks!” Her chubby little face was blue and perfect. She began to mew like a kitten and I sagged in relief. It was 8:45 PM. At long last, it was over. Thankful tears welled in my eyes, quickly replaced by euphoric smiles.

Adrenaline rushed into my being, although my body was limp againts Michael. For the next few minutes I rejoiced and beamed as pictures were taken and people poured into the room. My younger sisters had dressed Archangela and Abigail for bed, and now they giggled and reached for their new sister. Abigail, 2 1/2  years old, asked if someone could get Mommy out so that she could get in and sit on Daddy’s lap. Archangela just smiled brightly and commented that she had been waiting so long.

Michael had been scolded  soundly by me every time he tried to crack a joke in the pool, but now he boldly went for it again. “Hey, I’m like the quarterback and Laura is the center, handing off the football!” I didn’t really get the analogy, as I am completely clueless when it comes to sports, but I was finallyn willing to let Michael talk and enjoy his moment with his appreciative audience.

Time stood still in the pool. Together, my husband and I held onto that precious little girl. When I was finally helped onto the bed, I could not stop smiling. I looked at her beautiful face and thought, “Of course! That is why I went through labor. That little face is worth it. I wanted to die, but I am glad to have gone through what I did for her. I would do it again. I will do it again. Children a beautiful gift, well worth the pain of childbirth. I want more.”

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In the days that followed, my oxytocin levels remained at a constant high. I had almost no pain, thanks to the gentle birth at home. The water had virtually bypassed any tearing. The necessary post-partum cramping was eased by the herbs and pain relief reccomended by my midwife. I was happy to a fault, and found myself thinking how meaningful it was to give birth to a new life. Recovery was amazingly fast, although Jenny and my husband had to get after me to rest properly. I felt so good and happy it seemed natural to be up and around right away. The time right after birth, however, is meant for healing, resting, and bonding with the new baby. She doesn’t need mommy to be off doing dishes while she is alone in the bassinet; she needs her mother relaxed, holding her, and being mindful of both their needs for at least a week. It is a time to reflect, pray, and enjoy the priceless gift.

And I stand by it; If the only thing I ever did was give birth to this baby, my life will have had great purpose.

Slow Down, Mama

frazzled mom picI have 5 weeks to go before the due date of our 3rd daughter. I feel so high-maintenance sometimes I want to scream. (If I follow that instinct, however, my kids will join me, and then I’ll be really upset.) Take the way I sleep, for example. 4-5 pillows!? And I still can’t find a comfortable position. Standing and sitting are no better. The only time I feel good is when I dance, which only lasts as long as I can keep my heart rate low enough. And my emotions! They are about the same as they have been for the last 35 weeks, plus some. How does a mom stay emotionally consistent with her kids when she is not herself?

Enough of my drama. You know the feeling of being overwhelmed!  Most likely, you are not pregnant. Some of you are not mothers. But we all know that when we feel overwhelmed, we are still required to act in a Godly way.

How to cope? I say, take inventory of what consumes your energy (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) and simplify.  A few examples:

  1. I vow that for the next 5 weeks, I will worry less about feeding my family the perfect diet. If my 4-year-old wants to make us peanut butter crackers for lunch (rather than my usual combination of the food groups and probiotics) then let her go to town–and give her a tip for her money jar! That way she’ll do it again. One less thing for me to think about = more time for me to gather my senses and control my emotions.
  2. I will stress less about not overdoing it on the movies, just for now. I am tired! Yes, the kids will probably be even  more crabby after watching their 3rd movie this week, but at least I get to take a nap. A cheerful mom is more important than cheerful kids. Kids depend on mom’s state to shape their attitudes for the day, not vice-versa.
  3. Makeup–what?! Who? Did someone say I have to look a certain way? I will pay just enough attention to my appearance to feel good about myself, and respectful to others (e.g. my husband!) After all, 20 minute smoky eyes and blowout hair really is passé.

I will take a break from striving so much.

When 5 weeks is over I will decide if I care to resume my normal standards. In the meantime, it is so much more important to simplify in order to conserve energy for what is really important.

Blessings, cheers, and hugs (It is Hug Day!)

Western Woman

Stretched

stretched.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rubberbandball.jpgReady to snap? Hasn’t this been going on way too long? Oh, how I wish I knew what was going to happen.

No.

Last year, if you had told me I would spend over a year living at my mother-in-law’s house while my husband worked the North Dakota rigs, followed by a (hopefully) 6 weeks at my parents’ very small house, and still have no solid prospects on the house search; (My family? Practically homeless!?) I would have asked you, “where do I sign off!?” To know too much is to risk giving up.

One day at a time. A person can do anything one day at a time. During these times, don’t look back; also, don’t look too terribly far forward. When you are on a tightrope, focus on what is at hand and keep your cool, or else you will fall.

How do we cope? A cup of coffee with a loved one, a good workout, and time in prayer keep me going. What works for you?

I still don’t know what is going to happen in the next 5 weeks. Will we finally sign on a house? Will we explore options B, C, or… Z? All I know is that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear. (1 Cor. 10:13)

If I am a rubber band, I am equipped to stretch until God says, “Enough.”

 

Until then, my friends, one day at a time.

Western Woman

An Ode to “Mis Papis”

mom & dadMy Mom taught me to save money by hanging laundry to dry on a clothesline, keeping healthy to avoid doctor visits, using food instead of throwing it out, tending a garden and poultry, and mending hand-me-down clothes.

I say, why wait until a person is gone before eulogizing them? (May I insert here, that my parents are spring chickens and have a great many years left in them!) Appreciate them now! Craig Hill said it right in his series “Ancient Paths.”

I raise my hands and call my Mom blessed. She is a perfect mother to me and my 5 siblings. She is quirky, creative, extremely generous, and smart–probably a genius.  She taught me so many things; for example, following my intuition and artistic longing. Thanks to her, I have confidently jumped into endeavors like performing and teaching violin, creating artwork to sell and share, and most recently, becoming a Zumba instructor. My passion for creation of beauty brings me closer to her, to my little family, to friends, and to the Lord.

I am so thankful for her! I am blessed.

And my Dad. He makes me want to love Jesus. Today he did the usual: Travelled out of his way and spent time and money taking care of a project which I could not bare to do. That is where you will discover him most days of the week, helping people, and by his love pointing them to Christ. He makes people everywhere want to love Jesus.

My father led me to Christ when I was 9 years old. I am truly blessed.

follow their story at http://www.toeverynationministries.org/family-news.html

Do you have someone who deserves an ode of appreciation? In my case it is easy–my parents are fantastic! But if your parent (or spouse, or sibling, or good friend) needs a little creativity in their ode from you, just remember; we love God because He first loved us. Let us do the same for others. Let’s find something positive to say, and bless the people around us.

Be blessed,

Western Woman

The Last Straw? No, there is always more straw.

window light picLift up the carpet. There is bound to be some straw somewhere under there.

Up until yesterday I was fatigued beyond belief due to [life]. And then the flu hit the family, and suddenly the woman in me rose up in me to nurse my family back to health. For the last 24 hours I alternated between cleaning vomit, steam-vacuuming the girls’ room, washing loadsof laundry, making gallons of absolutely perfect chicken broth, pitchers of homemade electrolyte drinks, dessert for a potluck party (which will remain a happy little fantasy),  “craigslisting” and   calling dubious leads for rentals, reading the word to keep up my spirits, and finally putting everyone to bed.

frazzled mom pic

Do I finally hop in the shower? Am I simply done? No. I have to write down my inspiration.

 

 

 

This is not the last straw.

No matter how exhausted I may have been prior to this outbreak of [life], the woman in me rose to the occasion, because God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. If I had indeed cracked, the Lord would have provided a way out. Help would have come to answer our need.

headache picBe encouraged, dear one, if you feel as if you might snap like a stressed rubber band. You will not snap. God has a way out. Feel His breath on you and know that He is near.

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Be blessed, and Happy New Year!

Western Woman

all I wanted was a peach

peaches[1]What do you crave? Do you indulge when you really want something? Yesterday I craved peaches. Last night I dreamed about peaches. This morning I was desperate! Neither my town nor the next had peaches for sale. What is a pregnant woman to do?

I guess I ate an astonishing amount of other fruit, hoping it would cure my craving. I had almost a whole papaya, a handful of blackberries, and two persimmons. I have never consumed so much fruit in my life.

The result was not exactly satisfaction, but I was sure full. I also had a lot of sugar to burn off, so I skipped my usual pregnant fatigue and went to two  Zumba classes.

Cravings. When our soul craves intimacy with the Lord, we need to indulge–not fill ourselves to overflowing with other endeavors that will leave us full, maybe exhilarated, but never satisfied.