Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Home Birth Experience

Soon after finding out we were pregnant, I knew I wanted the natural birth experience. I've never been one for doctors and I knew that, being healthy and young, I should be just fine. Early on, we had an appointment with a midwife and greatly enjoyed meeting with her.  The personal one-on-one time just confirmed my decision to go this direction. We moved when I was four months pregnant and settled in to a new state. Amazingly enough, we discovered that the midwife who I had been emailing to get to know went to one of our churches in the area! I had what I would consider a dream pregnancy- no sickness at all; no issues at all. So as the weeks went by, I fully expected the baby to come with no complications. We decided on a home-birth; purchased supplies, had a baby shower, and eagerly looked forward to the birth of our little girl. The only concern we had was that it seemed that our baby was tending to go posterior. So in light of that, I was doing exercises and different things to encourage the baby to turn but I was not terribly concerned.

The day I turned 39 weeks pregnant, I felt contractions for the first time. I had been feeling achy and heavy all day. We were out of town for the day so I was relieved when we headed home. That night, a Saturday night, I did not sleep well. The contractions were sporadic and seemed centered on my back. The next day, I called Linda, our midwife. When she learned how much my back hurt, she told me to call a chiropractor friend of hers the next day. She encouraged me to keep going in my day and try to ignore the sporadic contractions. Sunday night the contractions stayed about 10 minutes apart. I did not sleep well again. Monday I went and saw the chiropractor and continued sporadic contractions. That night was another restless night. Tuesday morning Linda came over to check me and discovered I was 3-4 centimeters dilated and quite stretchy. The baby had dropped but her head was not engaged on the cervix quite the way it should be. I was clearly in the early stages of labor, though. Linda sent me back once more to the chiropractor in the mid-afternoon. By this point the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and I was feeling very uncomfortable. 

When we got back home, I was wondering if Linda should come back. We called back and forth several times and then around 5pm decided it was time. When she arrived just before 6pm, she checked me and I was 5-6 centimeters but again, the baby was not fully on the cervix the way she should be; she was posterior, or at least largely posterior. For the next several hours, Linda put me in different positions which would encourage the baby to turn over. I was backwards on the toilet. I was lying on the bed in a certain position. I went on a couple walks. Throughout the time, anything that put pressure on my back was extremely painful. At one point I threw up. During those hours Tuesday evening and night, my contractions were not maintaining consistency. They would be 2 minutes apart, 6 minutes apart, 5 minutes apart etc. Apparently this was a result of the baby not being engaged in the proper way. Late Tuesday night, I was 8 centimeters dilated. I was progressing, just very slowly. We filled the birthing tub and I spent much of early Wednesday morning laboring in the tub. Linda, bless her heart, slept on the floor or the couch for parts of the night. 

Throughout this entire time my husband Charles was by my side, encouraging me and keeping me hydrated and nibbling on food here and there. Wednesday morning found me fully dilated. I was thrilled with the prospect that maybe an end was in sight. After all, it had been over 18 hours of labor at that point.

I will interject here and say that amazingly, I was not exhausted. I had been drinking and eating here and there throughout the entire time. I was very much in the moment, not thinking too much. God was very good.

Around 8am I started to have an urge to push. Around 10am Linda checked me again and we decided to break my water. I labored on a birthing stool for a bit. This was not my favorite as it put pressure on my back, which still particularly hurt. However, the birthing stool was much preferred to being on my back which we tried but I just could not stand it.

After breaking my water, the urge to push came often and intensely. I had no control over the urge and found myself very vocal. I pushed in the bathroom and then was back in the tub. I pushed and pushed.

It was around 1pm that I had my moment of discouragement. I had been pushing for hours. I did not seem to be progressing. The urge to push was overwhelming. I did not want to go to the hospital but at the moment it seemed I would have to and I figured I would probably have a c-section.

Charlie had been praying all along but here he pleaded with the Lord and put a fleece out- that if I had made progress by 2pm, it would be a sign that we would complete the birth here at home. If not, we would have to go to the hospital.

Linda had been momentarily out of the room and when she came back in, I expressed my discouragement. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” “Ok, let’s see if you have made progress. If you are making progress, we can stay home.” I got out of the tub and on to the birthing stool where she could check me. Lo and behold, yes I was making progress, just very slowly. It was at this point that Linda directly started coaching me. I pushed and pushed, basically screaming while Linda and Charles encouraged me. After that I did go on the floor on my back and pushed for a bit. The baby was finally coming down. After that, Linda was encouraging me to push in the bathroom for a bit. I turned to head that direction but another urge came and I stopped and squatted where I was. This was a very effective position. It hurt my legs so I alternated between squatting, standing for a moment and half-squatting/lunging leaning against either Charles, the side of the bed or the crib. It was here that for me the tide turned and I knew that the baby truly was coming out. I heard Charlie’s excitement of “You’re almost there. I see her head. It’s almost over, honey. O wow, here she comes.” I heard Linda’s encouragement but I couldn't respond to either. It was in the moment- tremendous intensity- feeling myself stretch which felt to the enth-degree. Knowing somehow it was almost over yet completely overwhelmed.

And then, she was here! I looked down to see a squirming baby being placed in my arms. I sat on the floor, holding her as Linda wiped her down. I don’t even know what I was saying but it was the most real moment of my life. I had brought forth this child. What they say is true, it is all worth it. The complete contrast from intense pain and agony to complete joy is a moment that I will never forget. Who cares if it had taken over a day for her to come! She came. And she was perfect. Our Lilliana was here!

Looking back on the experience, I am so grateful we chose to have a home birth. I am convinced that if we had headed to the hospital when labor was starting, I would have ended up with a c-section. I would have been hooked to monitors, in bed, on my back which would have killed me. At home I was able  to move around, be in all sorts of positions, keep my energy up by eating and drinking, labor in a warm tub….yes it was slow, yes it was difficult but never once was I exhausted and except for that one moment, I was not discouraged.

The most important factor, I believe, was prayer. Both Charles and Linda were praying throughout the entire experience, pleading to the Lord to help the baby come and to sustain my strength and courage. He did just that!  

We figure I was in active labor for around 25 hours. I pushed for around 7 hours. Amazingly, when Lilliana came out, she had actually turned to the proper way! Somewhere in there she did turn - our little miracle.

This was definitely the most difficult thing I have ever done. But the Bible verse is true, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” God brought me through and I have this precious memory and knowledge of how God can sustain and bring me through such a difficult trial.

We are incredibly grateful to our midwife, Linda. She knew what she was doing; we absolutely trusted her. She was our hero! Her calmness and compassion touched our hearts. Her direction brought forth our baby.

I also could not have done this without my husband being at my side, encouraging, supporting, feeding and comforting me. We are closer as a result of this experience and as we have entered this new phase of life together, we will always have this bond of bringing Lilliana in to the world together.

A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”   ~ John 16:21~

Lilliana Mae Rietman
Born: July 16, 2014, 3:42pm
6 lb. 13 oz, 20 in. long

Monday, April 30, 2012

On Marriage

I have been wanting to write a post on marriage yet it is hard to gather all my thoughts. So to preface this: these are my thoughts. I am not an authority as we have been married -hard to believe- about 11 months. But in this past year I have come to realize many things about marriage and desire to share what I have learned; in the hope that perhaps it may bless someone.

We all have expectations when we are getting married or are looking forward to marriage in the future. Expectations are not always bad but they are so often unrealistic. The world we live in pushes upon little girls from the age of 2 to expect a fairy tale. We often feel entitled to a certain experience.

I remember not long after we got married, Charlie and I both turned to a each other and said, "I thought this would be easier!" We weren't expressing regret or disappointment but the honest thought that we would somehow simply mesh and everything be smooth. But it was not always easy.  We would argue over the most stupid things.  We realized how incredibly selfish we are!

A friend of ours gave us a book for a wedding present (which I highly recommend: "For Better or For Best" by Tim and Alane Waters). It's a very good book for any couple, young or old. But the line that burned in to my memory was this: "Becoming one does not mean losing your identity, it means losing your selfishness." When we got married Charlie and I committed to each other. We said, "I will love you no matter what." That means: when you do things I do not like. When you hold opinions that I may not agree with. When I do not understand what on earth you are talking about. When you get held up for an hour. When life does not happen the way I would want it to!! We committed that in the midst of any conflict, the love we have for each other will not change- it is a constant. It does not depend on each others performance. It does not depend on the circumstances. That is a marriage vow. We committed to being unselfish.

(Note: obviously you don't commit this lightly. Single people, take heed. Know who you are marrying.)

And you know, I see how marriages break up- because we are naturally selfish.  Because we don't understand what commitment is. Because I want what I want rather than what is better for our marriage or the other person. It is not easy. In fact, it seems to be it is impossible without the Lord. Even couples who do have a great marriage and don't seem to have a faith profession, it is still because of the grace of God.

This is why we as Christians need to be committed to God first and marry solid believers. The greatest comfort I have is this: when things are not going great, I know without a shadow of a doubt that my husband is praying for me, our marriage and for understanding. And I am as well. And the Lord who we are both praying to, will bring us to unity. He will soften our hearts. He will help us to be humble. Because the fact is, we cannot handle our stubborn pride with out Him. It would be our ruin. I cannot imagine marriage without the Lord in it.

Intimacy is not just a physical expression. In fact, you can be physical without being intimate. Intimacy is an intentional opening of your heart and receiving an other's heart. Intimacy cannot be achieved where there is not respect, where there is not affection and where there is not vulnerability. Intimacy also cannot be achieved if a person is intentionally holding back his thoughts or feelings.  And if I am thinking I am better than Charlie or if my opinion holds more weight than his, intimacy is impossible. To truly love, is to be emptied of self. It is a high calling. It is an incredible thought.

"Love is patient, love is kind...," the Bible says. Those beautiful qualities found in 1 Corinthians 13 are the recipe for a monumental marriage; it is a relationship that would radiate. We have all seen couples who have a particularly sweet marriage. There is gentleness in their words to each other. There is a tender affection expressed. There is that smile for each other that makes the onlooker turn away as if they are seeing a private moment. That is a godly marriage. It has been blessed by the spirit of God in the hearts of the couple. That is the marriage I want.

Charlie and I certainly have not arrived but I have a hope because I can see how we have grown already. That as long as we keep apologizing; that as long as we stay humble; that as long as we intentionally set aside quality time; that as long as we can laugh at ourselves, God can keep working. He can make us patient, kind, and gentle. He can make us into a shining witness of His grace! That is my desire!

Now don't get me wrong- Marriage is a challenge but it is also a joy! It is not always difficult, in fact, sometimes it is very easy! We have made some wonderful memories this past year! We have shared some special times. Marriage is great!! Always having a friend. Always a partner. Always a shoulder. Always sharing memories. Always someone to spoil. Always a listening ear. Always having a home. Always someone long as we both shall live.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Brides and Grooms

Weddings have been on my mind very frequently lately, as you can expect! Constantly my thoughts are on preparations, plans, concerns, and details. My appearance for "the day", our home, money, so much to consider!!! So when I realize that I have to share a story/thought in church tomorrow I decided to look up "brides" in the a commentary of the Bible. Amongst other verses two verses in Isaiah jumped out at me...

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10.

"And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." Isaiah 62:5.

Before a wedding it is all about preparation. And the day of, time is spent to prepare oneself personally. The woman has a beautiful gown. Her hair is just so. She wants to look more beautiful than she ever has for her groom. The same is for the groom. He wants to look desirable for his bride. I somewhat feel sorry for grooms as so much hype seems to go toward the bride. However at the end of the day, the beautiful bride leaves with the groom. She is his bride. He waits at the end of the aisle for his bride to be ready. She walks down the aisle to him. They are for each other.

What beautiful imagery it is! And a powerful representation of Christ and His church. The church is referred to as the bride of Christ, dressed in pure white in Revelation 12. Jesus wants to come take His bride home.

"In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2-3.

Just like a groom preparing for His bride to come home with him, so is Christ. He wants to receive us to Him. 1 Thessalonians 4 describes Jesus coming in the clouds for His people. We will be caught up to Him in the clouds where He will be waiting for us.. "And thus we shall always be with the Lord." ( 1 Thess. 4:17) Isn't that the whole point of a wedding? To be with each other. I just want my home to be with Charlie. I don't want to be parted from him.

And it is the same with Jesus. He wants to be with His bride. He wants to rejoice over us! And He is coming for His bride! Are we ready? Are we preparing? Am I just as serious about Christ as I am about being ready for June 5th? Jesus is coming. Look around us! The world is going crazy and He said it would before He came. (Matthew 24) Our hope and security must come from Him and the hope in His coming. Just as a bride's desire is to be with her husband so we must have our highest desire to be with Jesus so we can be ready for when He comes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Of Moles and Freckles

This past week I went to the dermatologist to have some moles looked at. This was a unique experience for several reasons. But what stands out is that I learned something and that always makes me excited! I learned that my freckles are not freckles at all. What I thought were freckles are actually moles. All the dots I have on my face, my arms etc are moles! In some ways that seems gross because my perception of moles has been somewhat negative. Maybe everyone knows this and I am just behind the times.

Now until this last Monday I have referred to the dots on my arms and face as freckles. Someone could say I have been lying to people! I have been misrepresenting the truth. But I don't think anyone would condemn me because I simply didn't know.

Acts 17:30 say that in "the times of this ignorance, God winks."I am not condemned for my misrepresenting moles.

However if I were to continue to tell people I have freckles, that would be wrong! I would be deceiving people as to the true nature of moles and freckles.

This is a rather trivial example but it holds true in the more serious aspects of our lives. We are not condemned for our sins that we do in our ignorance. God is just and fair. However when God's will is made clear to us, He expects us to act and choose His truth. It's like a child who suddenly learns that certain words should not be spoken. The first time the child simply does not know the meaning. But for a child who knows better, he will be held accountable for what he says and his parents will discipline him if he disobeys.

Jesus says in John 12: 35, "Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going."

God reveals truth to us and just like it would be silly for me to disregard what I have learned about my skin, it is foolish for us to disregard what God reveals to us in His word. Let us be wise in the small things in this life as well as that which relates to eternity.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ode to Muffin

O little fat cat of brown and white,
How I wish you brought me some delight!

If you would stop sitting in the corner to stare
And not hiss at my attempted pat with a glare!

Your name is Muffin, which should mean something sweet,
But having you, it seems to me, is far from a treat.

Muffin, you were a cute kitten indeed,
But something happened, did we not fulfill a need?

We fed, pet, and played with you till you would fall asleep,
But you soured as you grew up, and away from us you started to creep.

You don't seem to care as long as your food bowl is filled.
We're not your servants Muffin, you need to chill!

Muffin, I honestly wish we could be friends.
I wish this gap, we would reach across and mend.

You are a pretty cat and could be nice to hold and love.
Please stop being mean and be like your Creator above.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Stressful Changes

Life is stressful...can I get an "Amen"? The more aware of life that I get, I have come to that solid conclusion: Life is Stressful! It seems to me that at the foundation of this stressful life is one specific thing: change. (Now there may be other things we could point at but for the sake of this little writing, I am looking at change.) Now change is not always negative; it can certainly be for happy occasions: the birth of a baby, a wedding, a new and better job, a new car etc. But I do believe that everyone would agree that all those wonderful occasions bring stress. That new baby will cry an awful lot, a wedding takes a lot of hassle and planning, a new job has to be learned and that new car took a chunk from your savings account. We are also all familiar with negative changes: the death of a loved one, a divorce, being laid off, car accidents etc. Death often brings incredible loss, divorce brings heart break, there is desperation without a job and a car accident, even with minimal damage will undoubtedly cause great pains with insurance agencies. Change= stress. Outside of circumstances people often change. Children grow in each stage to face different issues that often drive their parents wild. Graduation to a new school brings excitement and fear. The lists can go on and on of the stress of all our particular stages and challenges of life no matter how exhilarating or upsetting.

Now, as a Christian I wish to pause now after having painted this picture of general despair. For after all, no matter what happens in life it seems that we are bound to be stressed, right? I wish to ask, who never changes? Of course we know the answer to that! "For I am the Lord, I do not change," Malachi 3:6 makes it very clear. But I want to ask, why is it that we have such dramatically differently attitudes toward God so often. One week we are praising Him! The next week we are sobbing, "God, how can you do this to me?" Is this because God changes His attitude toward us? Of course not. "I have loved you with an everlasting love..." God says to us (Jer. 31:3). We can know God's character and that is of love and goodwill. He does not change. If He does not change, then it must be us changing our attitude toward God. Do we really trust Him, His word to us and His love for us? O, how we need to trust God and turn to Him when we are in those negative changes. Who does not wish sympathy and love when they are stressed out? Who better to receive that from than the infinite loving Creator who knows us better than anyone else?

These thoughts have come to me as I have reflected on this past year. So much has changed in the past year and it seems that it shall be the same for 2011. It is stressful! I could choose to be distressed, worried and upset when I realize how unsettled I am. Or I can trust in my God who is my Rock and know He will see me through. That is my wish for you as well.

"On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
"Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me."