Monday, December 18, 2017

Christopher Everett

One month ago (yesterday)..., Christopher was placed in my arms for the first time.

I’ve wanted to write out Christopher’s birth story for, well, a month now, but a crying baby and the need to really process that event has prevented me from doing so.

The weeks leading up to his birth, I thought a lot about the birth of Christ and what it must have been like for Mary. 
Was she already having contractions while riding in on the donkey? What must it have been like to know know where you would give birth, only to find out it would be next to a bunch of animals and their poop. No birthing tub full of warm water, no yoga ball, no soft bed. I imagine it wasn't a silent night— not as she moaned and screamed along with the noise the animals were making along side her. All was not calm in my mind. 
But there she still was, birthing the Savior of the world in the most unexpected of places. 

This, being a mother, having Christopher, is something Ive longed and prayed for, for so long. 
This child, my son, is an answer to so many prayers. 
This experience of growing a child in my womb and birthing him was a miracle when you think about the fact that I really did nothing. I didn't tell my body how to nourish him or how to grow an arm or a brain. God designed my body to just do that. I didn't tell my body to start the contractions. Good thing too, because I am sure I would have told them to stop and not start again! And while I did push, it was because my body was telling me you must push now. God knew what he was doing when he created my body and it really is quite amazing as I think about it all.

And on the flip side, I think Satan knows exactly what he is doing as well. The guilt and fear and lies have been and are in full force. I think he knows that exhausted mothers are easy prey. And it has taken me four weeks to get past the shame I felt (and to a degree still feel) that my birth experience didn't go how I wanted (when does anything go how we want?!), because I didn't feel like I was a strong as I wanted to be. I didn't handle the pain as well as I wanted to. But I am now telling those voices and thoughts to shut it. I had a natural, unmedicated birth, after 30 hours of back labor and I am proud of that. 

My due date was November 9. At the beginning of the year when I realized that the 9th was the day  last year, the doctor told us we were loosing our baby, it felt like a promise from God that he is bringing healing out that moment. Knowing the chance of delivering on my actual due date was slim, I still kept hoping he would come that day. But with each day that passes, I got more and more and anxious. Then November 14th came—the day we actually miscarried—there was still no sign of Christopher. The physical and emotional pain of that day last year played over in my head and continued to play into the days that followed.  

I read this the day after he was born online and it felt so fitting. “ It comes in waves. The disbelief and wonder that she is here and we made it. The sadness and grief. The joy and peace. I don't run way from them any more, I let these waves come. This is nourishing for me, healing.
Last year, right around the time of her birth, I was miscarrying…again. There’s a weird conflict knowing that if I hadn't miscarried then, she wouldn’t, our rainbow baby, wouldn't be.
There is an odd comfort in that. A bittersweetness that cant be avoided. And that nourishes my heart a little. A heart that holds both the bitter and the sweet.”

Even though I was still well in the ‘normal’ range, fear took over and I worried he would never come and would need a medical intervention. I tried everything—special tea, walking, taking stairs two at a time, spicy food, and I even went and tried accupuncture. Still nothing.

Birth Story begins here—stop reading if you don't want to hear about placentas, mucous plugs and the like.  Plus its long…30 hours worth of a labor story!

My contractions began about 7pm on November 15th. Chet and I were sitting on the couch watching one of our shows when the first contraction came. I pulled out my phone and opened the app I had downloaded to count them. I didn't even tell Chet until I had had a few, for fear that it would be a false alarm. It wasn’t.  

We went up to bed, knowing that once we told our midwife, she would tell us to get some rest. I sent her a text about 9pm when my contractions were consistantly about 10 minutes apart and sure enough, rest was what she said. 

The contractions continued to increase in frequency and intensity. I soon realized I was having all back labor, so laying down was no longer an option as that just made them hurt more. Chet tried to get some sleep and I took a bath. I sent our midwife another text about 1am letting her know we were now about 5 minutes apart. I could no longer stand during each contraction and I would just pound on the bed until Chet came over to put counter pressure on my back. We thought we would be heading into the birthing center that night. We were waiting for that magic 4 minutes apart that would let us know it was time to go we were almost there. 

However, the contractions became 6 minutes apart, then 10, then 15. Exhausted, because I never got more than a 15 minute break, and because the pain was in one spot on my back, we realized we wouldn't be having a baby that night. 

The rest of the night and more of the next day was the same, erratic contractions. I called my midwife around noon, in tears, because I thought labor had stopped. I was still having minute long, strong contractions, to the point where I would vomit almost each time. Again, she said, rest, and to eat a meal. To which I laughed, then cried at the rest part, then immediately threw up what I ate. 

Around mid to late afternoon, they started to become more consistent again. Hovering around the 5-6 minute mark. I sat on the yoga ball, crying and moaning while Chet put pressure on my back. Our midwife checked in about every hour at that point and each time I prayed she would say come on in. Around 8pm, she called again, I made Chet answer the phone because I couldn't talk and she gave the go ahead. We grabbed our bags and trash can and jumped in the car.

It was raining and cold and the 30 second walk from the car to the front door was a bit much as I stood there shivering uncontrollably. Marilyn, our midwife, immediately turned on the shower and had me get into to warm up. After several minutes my body finally began to settle down a bit and she was able to do her initial vitals check on me and the baby. Laying down was next to impossible for those few minutes as the contractions were so strong and I kept vomiting. So as soon as she was done, I climbed in the giant tub. The warm water felt good as I still had the chills. She suggested that I have some IV fluids as she could tell I was quite dehydrated. Two bags later and I felt much better…as better as one can when in labor. I continued to labor in the tub for a while and I finally lost the mucous plug. I was amused at how excited everyone, including me, was. 

Once the fluids finished, I was visibly feeling better, so she said she would go ahead and do an exam and see how dilated I was. When she told me I was about 8.5 centimeters I started crying. I feared she would tell me I was only 3 cm. I was already so exhausted, having not slept at all the night before and we were already half way through this night where I knew I wouldn't be sleeping. I was so relived so much progress had already been made. I would dose off in the few minutes between contractions and I remember freaking out and telling Chet I thought I stopped breathing each time I did that. And each time he assured me I was still breathing. It was at this point that I told Chet we wouldn't be having any more children.

I wouldn't have been able to do anything without Chet. Beside the fact that he was constantly holding me, letting me dig my nails into his arms, telling me I could do is and encouraging me, he was quite literally reminding me to breath. 

With each contraction I yelled. Then the yelling turned into screaming. All I kept saying its a good thing we were the only ones there. I was still in the tub in the middle of a contraction and I yelled my water just broke.

Time became a blur and even when I would ask the time, they wouldn't tell me. It’s probably a good thing they didn’t! Soon it felt like I needed to begin pushing. I tried for a while in the tub, but the positioning just didn't work for me, so they had me move to the toilet. Yes, the toilet because your body has been training to push when you sit down!

Chet continued to press on my back as I had each contraction. And with each contraction I would push. They assured me I was making progress as I felt like nothing was happening. After pushing for a while on the toilet, they could tell I needed to change positions again and moved me to the bed where I held onto a yoga ball and continued to push. Over and over I continued to say I cant do this any more. And all I wanted was to just stop and go home. Turns out they wouldn't let me go home as they could now see his head. 

After what seemed like an eternity of pushing, pain like I have never experienced (and I have had more than my fair share of pain over the years) and the ring of fire that seemed to last for days, Christopher Everett was born at 2:19 am on November 17th. 

The first few seconds I just laid on the yoga ball, crying, gasping for air and trying to talk, saying “I cant talk, my voice is gone”. I finally rolled over and they handed me our 7 lb 14 oz son. 
Relief was all I felt for a while. The pain was gone...mostly, the pushing was done, and our son was here, safe and sound. After doing the initial check, to make sure he was ok, they left us alone for a few minutes. So there we laid, me covered in sweat, Chet supporting me from behind, and Christopher, still attached to his umbilical cord. Our new little family. Overwhelmed with gratitude and 'oh my gosh we have to take care of this human'. 

Our midwives came back in and my placenta was now ready to come out. They bagged it up, still attached to Christopher, and waited until it stopped pulsing to cut the cord. They checked me out and saw I needed some stitches. After they took care of me, they gave Chet the scissors and he cut the cord.

They asked if we wanted to see the placenta and of course I did (I did decline having them encapsulate it for me, don't worry!). So we watched as they checked it out and made sure everything looked good. They showed me this thing that kept my son alive for 9 months. This amazing thing that nourished, protected, and kept him safe. 

We were left to rest for the rest of the night. And even after being up for close to 48 hrs now, I couldn't sleep. Chet on the other hand has the gift of falling asleep as soon as his head touches the pillow. So there we laid, Chet and Christopher asleep in my arms as I tried to begin to process through all that just happened. 

A post partum midwife came in and helped with nursing and also brought us some breakfast. We eventually showered then crawled back into bed before we could go home around 7 that night.

We were at one of our follow up appointments this last week and they went through the notes they took. They mentioned how quickly my labor went. I laughed and said if 30 hours is quick I dont know want to know what is considered long.

Apparently the first 22 hours wasn't considered “active” labor, but prodomal labor. I don’t care what she says, I was actively laboring those 22 hours. And what felt like the longest part, pushing, was in reality only an hour. 

One month in we are exhausted. That month has had its fair share of rough moments. We both have spent much time in tears. He slept for 4 hours straight last night and I am excited! This whole parenting gig is so much harder than I ever imagined, but its worth it. I am torn between wanting to get past this sleepless night stage and soaking in every moment I get to rock him to sleep.





Friday, June 23, 2017

We're Moving!

A year ago, we were walking Mozie at the park and talking about what the next season looked like. We wanted to start a family and knew our current place, while we loved all 640 square feet of it, wouldn't work for much longer. We quickly realized that anything bigger than 640 square feet, that was also located in our town, wouldn't work as we felt it was important that I stay home and not work when our kids are little. Early on, we both agreed that moving out of California wasn't a desire we had and never considered that option...until we went for that walk.

Chet threw out Oregon. And while we both had only visited there once several months before, it didn't sound like a crazy idea. So we intentionally visited several times over the last year to see if we really could see ourselves living there. Last fall we found out we were having a baby, so we made the decision to stay until after the baby was born then try to move. After we lost the baby, we decided to go ahead with our plan. Chet needed to stay at his current job through the middle of March, so that became our target date for job searching. A few weeks before that date, we found out we were expecting another baby. 

The job search felt long and slow going. There was no movement and we wondered if we were making the right choice. We even opened up the job search to local ones, knowing something would still have to give down the road. And then all at once, 3 different companies reached out and moved Chet through the process quickly. One was in Portland, One was in Orange County and one had openings in both Orange County and Portland. Within a couple of weeks, Chet had 2 great offers for both Portland positions and the Orange County one said they weren't ready to move forward yet. 

Chet accepted an offer, in which they gave him every thing he asked for. 

After Chet received both offers and we were fairly certain we would be moving to Portland, I went and talked to my boss. Knowing that meant there would now be three out of our six staff members leaving withing a month of each other, I felt the need to give him a heads up. I went in asking if I could work remotely until November when the baby was born. I would be able to help with all of the transitions in our office still, but I would still have a job (who wants to hire someone who is 6 months pregnant?!). He readily agreed and even threw out the option of working part time remotely after the baby was born, which is something I didn't even ask for originally.  Everything was quickly approved through my HQ office even in the midst of budget cuts and position eliminations.  

Chet planned to flight up to find an apartment. I wasn't able to join because I was assigned to a case a juror that was to last for 3 weeks. However, they postponed the case after 4 days, so I booked a last minute flight so I could fly up with Chet.
Short term leases are hard to come by, but we found a place we liked and signed up for 4 months. We met with a realtor to happens to have connections to Porterville. And we found a birthing center we liked and will have our baby there. 

We met with another realtor to sell our condo in Fullerton. We had about 24hrs. to pack up half of our stuff to be ready for the photographer to come the next day for pictures to list it. 

It's been a long process to get here and a whirlwind the last few weeks. 

But each step of the way we have been shown God's faithfulness and kindness in answering prayers and giving us things we haven't even asked for yet. From Chet's new boss giving him a salary that would provide for our family, to his current boss not wanting him leave. To my job allowing me to work remotely with the possibility to continuing after the baby is born, to no lapse in insurance coverage even though I will be part time(huge answer to prayer). To finding a short term apartment lease that even has a dog park for Mozie! (its the little things) To a postponed jury case and to listing our condo for more than we ever anticipated because of this crazy housing market, and to hopefully selling it quickly (the last two sold within a week so we are feeling good about this.)

So Chet will move up there the middle of July to start working on the 17th and I will follow at the end of the month with a truck full of our stuff (who wants to help us pack up the truck?!) Lots of changes all at once, but we are so excited for the possibilities that are a head for our family. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Redemption

I was a taking a yoga class several weeks ago and the instructor read Isaiah 43 over us before we began the class. As she read it the words "I am doing a new thing" stood out to me with a picture of a branch with new leaves starting to grow.  Chet and I are in the midst of some big  transitions and these versed just seemed to fit. I've thought about those words several times over the weeks. We have talked about wanting a fresh start. The last two years have been so wonderful, but they have also been really hard as we walked through my disease, surgery, recovery, and the loss of a baby. 
A new thing. It sounded refreshing. It's what we were longing for. 

SPOILER ALERT: We excited to share that we are having a baby due November 9th!


This time around was a bit different. As my husband would say, we are no longer blissfully blind, but cautiously optimistic. The pain of loosing our first baby is still very real and made itself very known during the early weeks of this pregnancy. 

The morning, afternoon and evening sickness has felt a bit too much like the start of another flare up and the fear of ending up back in the hospital has been a little too strong. 

But other day I was compelled to looked at a calendar and find the date we were found out we were loosing our baby. I knew it was around the time we were due. There is was, November 9th. 

Call it a coincidence if you want, or call it God redeeming yet another dark and painful season. 'He is making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland'. Instead of dwelling on the pain and loss we felt that day , our Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel is saying, "See, I am doing a new thing!..." 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unexpected.

We decorated our tree. 

We put out a few of the Christmas decorations (some decorations are not Mozie proof). 

I read my advent study and lit two of the advent candles (Note: Advent candles are not Mozie proof)

We watched Elf. 

I think I tried to will the joy this season. As we were singing one of the traditional Christmas songs on Christmas eve about how wonderful and joyful this day is it really rubbed me the wrong way. I tuned out the songs and thought about how that night 2000 years ago must have been anything but calm and joyful and peaceful. I can imagine it was messy. Dirty. Loud. Painful. Not what they expected. That felt more real to me than Silent Nights and O Little Town of Bethlehem.

My cute willow tree nativity set gives a picture of calm, soft and pretty. But I imagine Mary cringing a bit as she lay on top of a pile of hay, animal poop a few feet away, a donkey hovering over her as she tries to breathe through the pain of labor. I imagine she was scared. 

I think about the words his angles spoke to Mary and the others he appeared, “Do not be afraid”.  Their presence alone must have been fearful but I also think the message would also incite some fear. But that is how God chose to enter in to this world. He chose to enter the mess. He chose to enter the pain. He chose to enter the fear.


We (I) am in a season that is not going as we planned. It is still a bit painful. But God has entered into that. He has given us peace in the midst of it. And He knew we needed peace more than joy. And I am finding comfort in the fact that Hope and Joy came in an unexpected way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Grief. Thankfulness. Hope.

We found out we were going to have a baby on October 16th. I was instantly filled with what seemed like every emotion possible. I was excited. Being a mom has been my heart’s desire for as long as I can remember. I was scared. I have no clue how to raise a child. We both let the news sink as I cried a few tears of both joy and fear.

I called the doctor and set up some appointments. They scheduled me for an ultrasound a few weeks out.The pregnancy symptoms started showing up. It didn’t matter how tired or sick I felt because we were having a baby. It was worth it.

We were sitting at church a week or so later and a woman sitting next to me told me she felt the Lord tell her something for me. “It’s going to be ok”. She said she didn’t know what it was for, but God impressed it on her to tell me.We chatted for a few minutes and then we went home. Chet and I had been discussing some big decisions lately so maybe it was about that. Or maybe it was about the baby. Or maybe it was about how the decisions would be affected by a baby. I didn’t know what exactly it meant, but felt a sense of peace knowing that God sees me.

A few weeks pass. We went in for the first ultrasound. She gave a disclaimer at the beginning that it was early so it’s possible we might not see anything. She moved the screen away from us and began taking a few pictures. The room was silent. The technician walked us over to the doctors office where she ordered blood work and another ultrasound the following week. We still weren’t told anything. I tried not to think the worst but it was impossible. Chet tried to reassure me that we haven’t been given any reason to worry yet.

So we picked out the gifts we were going to give to our parents to tell them they were going to be grandparents. We went to a baby store to look at a few things we wanted to put on our Christmas list.

I was feeling more comfortable with the decisions we had to make. We were making plans and getting more and more excited.

We went in the following week for the follow up ultrasound. As I drove to the doctor’s office I had a pit in my stomach. I had tears in my eyes even before we went back.

You are good. You are still good. 
Its going to be ok. 

It was the same routine. Silence. We were quietly walked back to the doctors office. This time she met with us and told us what I already knew. We were losing the baby. She confirmed that our little one had stopped growing. She told me my options, then let us be. 

We went home and cried. We grieved the loss of life. We grieved the loss of the future we had been planning. We stayed home from work the next two days and just held each other.
We chose to miscarry the baby naturally instead of surgery or medication. I think we both needed it to be that way. Prayers were answered when it happened a few days later at home. 

Its going to be ok.

I wonder if the day that woman told me "Its going to be ok" was the day our baby stopped growing. I'll never know, but I am choosing to believe that God spoke to me at that moment for a reason. 

As I sat on my couch on Sunday morning, eating the last of the thanksgiving apple pie, my new advent study next to me, I was filled with a weird mix of emotions. Grief. Thankfulness. Hope.Grieving our loss. Thankful He sees and knows my pain. Thankful we had the time and space to grieve. Hope that not only will we have a baby one day, but hope that He is making all thing right. Hope that there will one day be no more grief.

Our hearts have been forever changed. It still stings and will continue to do so, but we are looking forward to holding our baby one day. And until then, I'm giving myself space to still cry and reminding myself of the words He has been whispering to me all along. It's going to be ok. 


Beauty Counter

Why I chose Beauty Counter:: Because I want to share what have learned through my own health experiences! Health and Beauty go hand in hand. So I have chosen to partner with Beauty Counter. This isn’t just about selling products, but about getting safer products in your hands.

After being having surgery for an autoimmune disease last year and not getting better with medication, I began researching other ways to heal my body. I began to learn about the power of food and started to eliminate foods that cause me harm and began filling my plates with foods that would nourish and help heal my body. As I began to carefully watch what I put IN my body, I began to do the same for what I put ON my body.
I began researching and trying a variety of “natural” and “clean” products from shampoo to facewash to foundation. Most products I found didn’t get the job done or left my hair and skin feeling dry or just didn’t smell good, which in my opinion is quite important. I even tried to make my own facewash and lotion at one point.
Then I found Beauty Counter. I honestly was a bit skeptical, so I asked my friend for a few samples. I was sold. I loved the way the products made my skin feel. My hair felt so soft. And it smells amazing! The ingredient list was one I felt good about putting on my skin.
And to top it off, I love their mission. Their goal is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
“Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues (including but not limited to asthma, cancer, and infertility) are on the rise and are due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it’s in the shower, on our commute, while we eat lunch at a local restaurant, or when we clean our kitchens at home. There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skin care and beauty industry. What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids’ bodies every single day, day after day, and to make their own judgments about safety. The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 11 to date.”
I’d love to share more of my story with you. Interested? Let’s talk!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

One year later


These two pictures represent so many things to me. 

The first picture was taken one year ago today.
I just had surgery removing a significant amount of my large intestine. Please ignore the steroid induced chipmonk cheeks...it made smiling difficult. 
The five months prior to this day I was on medication after medication, none of which worked and led to even worse side affects. I was fed up and knew there had to be a better way to heal my body. 
I began researching and came across Danielle Walker and Against All Grain. She shares her story of a similar autoimmune disease and how she used food as medicine. 

Recovery was slow and long initially. I became very aware of how every little movement involved using my core (which also made me wonder why I didn't have stronger abs to begin with!), and I tried to move as little as possible. I needed to nap every time I got up. I became very thankful our condo was so small.

I was often discouraged with my progress. It wasn't just a healing incision. But it was healing 6 months of a flare and infection and now missing parts. It was healing my heart and mind. But soon I reached the six month mark (I was told it takes about 12 months to fully heal from intestinal surgery) and I remember calling my mom after coming home from a 2 mile walk to the park with my dog. I ran maybe a 1/4 of a mile home. And while that may not seem like much to you, this sick body couldn't even walk 1/4 of a mile a few months ago, let alone run it after a 2 mile walk.

It was at that moment I became proud of how well I was doing. I began to give myself/my body grace. And now here I am, 12 months later, still working on healing my body, mind and heart, but we are doing much better! My body doesn't function the same way anymore, and there are some days it is sure to let me know it and I manage to forget the grace.

Celebrating being well enough to go out and celebrate both of our birthdays. Chipmunk cheeks slowly going back to normal. 

During this whole process I began changing my diet. I cut out foods that caused my body inflammation and added in lots of nutrient dense foods. I was constantly flipping through Danielle's cookbooks. This process of healing my body naturally reignited a passion for cooking and excitement to learn about new ingredients and how God designed our bodies to work. And it started a new passion about natural healing. It gave me joy in the midst of pain.

That second picture was taken last week when I was able to meet Danielle at her book signing for her new book Celebrations. I had the privilege of being on her launch team and cooking my way thru it before it came out to the public. I was able to share with her what her story and books meant to me during one of the most difficult points of my life. 

So today, instead of remembering the pain of that season, I am going to Celebrate health and healing (and the incredible food I have made from Celebrations Cookbook!) Plus, I just found out that I won the Against All Grain giveway!!
I called Chet to tell him about it and  I said it was fitting that today was the day I won the knife (as it was her story that changed everything). Chet assumed I meant that it was because I "went under the knife" a year ago today. 
Either way, I am grateful for health and for grace.