In the field...

In the field...
Our Family awaiting baby #4

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Faith-Based Births...yes, you CAN!

Have you ever heard of or maybe even desired to have a "Faith-Based Birth"? 

Does that term sound exciting to you? Or perhaps completely terrifying?

When mentioning natural birthing, most women will automatically tune you out and say...."oh no, I'm not that strong" or "I can't take pain, there is no way".  Well, what if we called it a "Faith-Based Birth"?  I am proud to say that that is the best way to describe my 2nd, 3rd and 4th births, and they were AMAZING! 

After mentally healing from Hailey's natural-attempted hospital birth experience, I officially started out on a quest for other options in labor and delivery for my next pregnancy.  I desperately wanted to experience something closer to what I felt God intended for my body during childbirth.  I'm thrilled to share that I WAS able to have my own "Faith-Based Births" in 2005, 2008 AND 2010, and I can certainly reassure you that it can be done! Not only can it be done, but it could potentially be the most spiritual, empowering, or even inspirational experiences of your entire life.  I know mine were and I can't wait to share those stories with you in my next few posts....

Notice I did not use the words painful...

or scary...

or horrible...

it's amazing how a little bit of FAITH can go a LOOOONG way =)

Was there pain?  Yes, but nothing I couldn't deal with knowing that God was with me.  And yes, Eve ate of the fruit and put this childbirth burden on women for all time. (Gen. 3:16 - To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children...)  However, God will not put upon us anything we cannot handle, right?  Hmmm, something to ponder...

Another important point is this - I simply approached my second birth from the perspective of having a natural, midwife-assisted birth at a freestanding birthing center (2 min. from a hospital and next door to a firehouse).  I did not conceptualize "faith-based birthing" until after I was able to birth Tegan naturally, easily and was even able to pull her out myself during the water birth!!  It was THEN that I discovered the role that my own faith played in that process.

Honestly though,  from my perspective this topic intrigues yet saddens me at the same time.  Why?   Because SO many "modern-day" mothers (and Christian women) are missing out on these types of experiences for the most part.  Now let me clarify that this is NOT due to ignorance or lack of faith, rather due to a modern-medicine approach to birthing, which simply distracts them from its sacred origin and (for the most part) leaves the patient's faith at the front door of the hospital.  So where else can women turn but to the doctors and nurses over their delivery and care? In Hailey's birth experience, it simply felt like they were treating the pregnancy as a sickness rather than a natural, beautiful occurrence.  It's about's about's about what is considered "normal".  Well, just because something is considered normal or common in today's world, does not make it better or preferred for my body and my baby's journey into this world.

I've literally cried my eyes out thinking of how many women have been robbed of this potentially spiritual experience (especially when I knew one of my good friends is in labor...or being induced, leading them into having another c-section)... 

yes, the baby was healthy...
(or were they really? - more on that later)

yes, the mother was happy...
(of course she was, who wouldn't be happy to FINISH labor or a c-section *** which account for an alarming 40%+ of births in the US today!!**** to finally complete her 40 week pregnancy and hold their precious little one?)

...but, it could have been so much more, perhaps what God intended it to be?  This is what saddens me the most when they for the most part don't really know any better =(

As for the act of labor, I feel that something special and sacred goes on when a woman is "travailing." She's working with God to bring another spirit into the world.  As a Christian woman who has experienced this with an open mind and body full of faith, I often think - who would want to miss that or cheat themselves of this?  What I've discovered is that most women in modern society don't even realize what they are missing or realize what their body is truly capable of.  Yes, this is what saddens me the most, BUT this is where I felt the need to blog and share...and so here we are!

Have you ever just stopped and really thought about the process of conception and childbirth and how amazing it is that women can even accomplish this? For me, this is where my FAITH stepped in to remind me that the way our bodies were designed to birth is truly amazing and perfect.  But what I've discovered through my own experiences, is that if you don't have faith in that process, then you are allowing yourself to live by FEAR and not FAITH. Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." (Luke 7:50)  Also, And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace." (Luke 8:48)  

Along the lines of fear, most women also take themselves out of the birthing process equation completely by allowing others to do the work for them.  Women and mothers in the 21st century are strong, capable, multi-tasking mothers that work all hours of the day and night...but then they do not allow themselves the opportunity to feel empowered through their births?  Seems like we need to bring FAITH back into birthing around the world, but especially in the US.  And no, I do not expect the doctors and OB/GYNs to lead this revolution...but you are in control of your own body, so ultimately it is up to you.

It's important for me to say this: I am NOT trying to put myself on a pedestal or come across that I am better or stronger than any other mother out there.  Perhaps a little more enlightened, yes.  I was so blessed to go on this journey and to be able to experience faith-based birthing.  My quest is ongoing, but what I've experienced thus far has been life-changing - for me and my babies.  Most importantly though, I believe these births have made my relationship with God stronger, and for that I am proud and I think others would be too (if they only knew they could). 

Do you think I'm a little crazy at this point?  I'll admit, I do expect some to label me as such, but...just remember, either way you gotta have faith!

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Stop pushing hun, the Doctor is not here yet" - HUH?!


...sorry to leave you hanging from the last post, but Hailey's actual birth was THE beginning of my quest and simply needs its own space. does come with a warning label!  DO NOT read any further if you:
  1. are easily grossed out when hearing about birth stories            OR
  2. might be pregnant and do not want to hear of any negative birth experiences
So lets pick up where we left off...
I was full term in my pregnancy, but 10 days from my due date.
We were living in a brand NEW city in a NEW home provided by Jon's NEW ministry job and our NEW congregation!  God is Good!

I had only met my OB/GYN twice.  I had not had a chance to go over the birth plan in detail like I had hoped.  I knew that I had put myself in a bad position, moving states in the 3rd trimester and all.  BUT, I had printed it out and it was in my hospital bag and I was confident that I would not wimp out or change my mind in the heat of the moment. 

THEN, I went into labor TEN DAYS EARLY?!  AND on the day of my baby shower, which the ladies at our new congregation were so sweet to throw for me.

Here's how it fell into place...
It was Friday night, 11-14-03.  I had just made a heart-felt dinner for Jon (and I will admit it was not too tasty...) and I had told him I wasn't feeling too good.  Around 8pm I was trying to clean up, but I started having cramps.  These were strong cramps but not unbearable.  I called my parents in Austin and let them know something was going on.  I did the normal warm shower to see if the cramps stopped and then I went to lie down in bed for a little while, but they progressed.  So we decided to head over to the hospital just in case.  Luckily, the hospital was not too far away, so Jon did not have to panic too much.  My waters had NOT broken and there was no other signs of an immediate baby. 

IMPORTANT: At this point, I must talk about my family history of birthing....rather, my Mother's history of birthing.  My brave mother birthed 4 babies just like me.  My sister was a 5 week preemie, but born naturally and monitored in the hospital before going home healthy.  My baby brother and I were born naturally in a hospital, probably in less than 2 or 3 hours of labor from beginning to end.  THEN there was my baby sister...oh boy...she was born in MY bed at home (but not on purpose)!  Ironically, my older sister and I were at the neighbors house at a sleepover the night this took place.  So we missed all of the drama, except hearing the ambulance and wondering what had happened.  Here is her mother slept through her contractions, got up out of bed (realizing she was in full-blown-labor and only made it down the hall) where she stopped to give birth on our full-size bed?!  At that time, we lived in "far" south Austin, and when my Dad called 911, a (young) volunteer fireman arrived first, scared half to death.  So my Dad ended up delivering the baby's head right before the ambulance arrived.  Everything was fine...but now you can understand my concern with having our first baby pretty fast.  Most importantly, I want you to see what a wonderful example my mother was for me and my sisters, showing us that natural birth is possible, preferable and potentially very QUICK.

Continuing on....
Jon pulls up to the hospital, we go inside to the ER and are admitted.  They check me to find that I am only 2cm dilated.  They tell me that I will need to walk around the hospital and try to get the labor to progress, or they will send me home.  We called my parents and let them know and they decided to head to Houston along with my older sister.  By 2am or so, I was feeling pretty strong contractions at that point, so going home was just not an option in my mind.  I would take a few steps and then grab the wall and bend over in pain.  I made a few squeaks here and there and Jon even said "Baby, there are people sleeping, it's in the middle of the night?" and I quickly answered "I DON'T CARE, I AM ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY"!!!  PLUS, we had not been admitted, so there was really nowhere else to go but the hallway or the ER bed I was given. 

FINALLY, they checked me again to find that I was at 4cm, so I finally got admitted...we were about to meet our baby girl!!!!  Then we heard that my OB/GYN was NOT on call that his partner was being called...oh no....WHICH WE HAD NEVER MET?!!!  That was not what I wanted to hear...but I was too busy laboring and I didn't really worry about that honestly.  My trustee "birthing plan" was tucked away in my hospital bag and still fresh on my mind.  BUT, I quickly realized that the nurses and this strange doctor were probably not too interested in what I had "planned".  Below are a few highlights of my plan: 
1. NO IV PLEASE - I wanted to be able to labor and move and not be held down (this did not happen)   
2. NO EPIDURAL and NO PRESSURE TO HAVE ONE - I wanted this baby to come out on its own and with nothing holding me back.  I had researched enough to know that the drugs often slow down the birthing process and I wanted it fast and over. (this did happen, thank goodness)
3.  NO NURSERY - I did not want my baby to be whisked away from me at any point, plus I wanted to nurse as much as possible in the first 24 hrs especially. (this partially happened)

It is now 3:30am or parents are getting close to the hospital.  I was told to go to the bathroom just in case I wanted an enema (NO I DID NOT) and to prepare for a possible epidural (NOOOOOO???!!!).  They had asked on more than one occasion if I wanted one.  Once I got back from the toilet, bowels emptied (on my own thank you very much), they checked me again and said I had progressed to 7cm and it was too late for an epidural.  Well thank goodness -  no pressure there!  This is where things got tricky tho...

By 4am...there was STILL NO DOCTOR to be found.  Then my parents and sister walked in. The nurses started looking kind of nervous when they said I had quickly gone to 10cm the baby could come any minute.   My dad and little brother went to the waiting room and my mother (the natural birthing pro) and my sister  (who had birthed her first child recently...had a FAR WORSE experience than me...and therefore was very well researched and supportive of natural birthing and hospital issues) ended up staying.  I was laboring on my own and having pretty severe back pain....I didn't know why at the time, but I figured it was supposed to hurt that was natural birthing pain, right?  WRONG - I (days later) found out the Hailey was posterior in the birth canal - OUCH?!!  Meaning: she was sunny-side up and with every contraction her head was pressing on my spine...which was excruciating, especially since I was laying on my back after all (I DON'T recommend that for any birth btw).  Did the nurses care to tell me that?  I was naturally birthing a posterior baby with NO drugs....and NO DOCTOR!  But remember, I did not know any of this while it was going on.  Did not actually figure it out until days later.  I just wish they could have communicated that with me, that's all.

By 4:30am or so I clearly remember starting to bear down and push on my own.  My body wanted the baby out and so here she comes.  Then guess what?  (although no sane person would EVER guess this...)  The nurses took my legs off the stirrups, twisted them to the side on top of each other and said "Stop pushing hun...the Dr's not here yet".  I looked over to my mom and my sister, I remember my sister biting her nails just wanting to scream at them.  SO I start to panic and hyperventilate - wouldn't you after all???!!!   I screamed, "I'M NOT PUSHING ON PURPOSE?!?!?!"

So I am holding this posterior baby in my birth canal, causing the worst pain of my entire life (blood vessels broke and busted in my face, eyes, and upper body btw).  They now say the baby's heart rate is dropping (no...really, you think?) so they put an oxygen mask on me, which I peel off over and over, crying.  Then they say I need some medication for pain and inject Demerol into my IV (which I did not want to begin with).  I go to sleep...for like 45 seconds in between the contractions.  Then I wake up and sit up and SCREAM....then I sleep....then I SCREAM...then I sleep.  This was insane and NOT the beautiful birth I had envisioned AT ALL!  Just in case your wondering, the Demerol did NOT help the pain, only knocked me out in between contractions and made me loose my bearings completely.

FINALLY the DR shows up at 5:04am...
They finally open my legs back up (after what seemed like an eternity of unnecessary misery) and out pops Hailey at 5:10am.  The DR literally catches her...with her little head all long and squished from being in the birth canal WAY TOO LONG!  She was technically fine, but unfortunately I don't remember most of the first hour of her life because of that unwanted DEMEROL!  I was drunk and loopy and could barely talk or stay awake.  Again, NOT what I wanted to happen.  Poor Jon was crying, I do remember, what a emotional roller coaster I just put him through.  But he held Hailey first I believe, which was good.

SAD SIDE NOTE:  I did read that they would use this type of "torture" in Auschwitz...force women to hold their babies in during birth until both the mother and baby died.  YIKES...what a horrible thing to think about, and partially experience!

Now for the GRAND finale...
After delivering the placenta (which I don't remember either, ugh) the DR starts to stitch me up.  NOTE: I did NOT have an episiotomy (one thing that went right from my birthing plan) but I obviously tore when Hailey torpedoed out of my body.  SO the DR goes to stitch me up...and he DID NOT REALIZE I DID NOT HAVE AN EPIDURAL AND I COULD FEEL EVERYTHING!!!  So the first stitch goes in with no meds and I (drunk with Demerol) don't even know what has happened...I tense forward and manage to pull my groin muscles (so severely that I could not walk the next day).  The DR said "Uh, did you feel that?"..."yes" I said crying.  Wow...that just sums up my experience right there.   

Post-birth, the other issue we had was Hailey's eating problems.  I was able to nurse her (despite being drunk with Demerol) within the first hour or so.  I had no problems getting my milk in over the next 24 hrs and I had PLENTY of it.  But once we got home from the hospital I had a hard time keeping Hailey awake to eat.  This seemed normal, but then she only had one wet diaper in about 12 hours and we started to panic.  Jon drove us downtown Houston and rented a breast pump to start pumping and making sure we could see how much she was drinking.  I would have to constantly wake her up while at the breast and encourage her to keep eating.  After much stress, my sister researched and found that Demerol had been banned in Australia because it caused "sleeping baby syndrome".  YIKES?!  What?  Seriously?  I was so furious that something they did within an hour of her birth had caused so much unneeded stress in the first 2 weeks of Hailey's life.  It went strait from my blood to hers....which is why I did NOT want it to begin with. 

Phew...that was exhausting just reliving it all.  It is important for me to share my story though.  Simply so that others can maybe relate...possibly compare what they experienced...know what to avoid...and ultimately see where and why my quest began.
....also, just in case you were wondering, my mother and sister were nice enough to attend the baby shower in my place that Saturday morning =)  They surprised the ladies in attendance and they found a newborn picture of Hailey on the front table (taken by one of the early morning visitors)...which is still in Jon's office today.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meeting the love of my life

Today I will tell a little story.  Perhaps you can call it a love story...this is where my quest began afterall (even though I did NOT realize it at that time).   

It was 2002.  I had just met the love of my life online...YES we met online...unusual then, but quite normal today (1 out of 5 couples).  Jon and I had hit if off right away...first online chat (Christian singles website)...then hours and hours on the phone...then a little akwardly in person - no room for superficiality there!   He was in AL, living 8 miles from my uncle (who was a preacher) and his family....this was also 8 miles from where my paternal Grandmother and Grandfather Powell had met in the 40's ironically.  I believe these factors led us to bond a little quicker than normal, which felt good...

At that time, I was in VA stationed as an oboist with the 392d Army band at Ft. Lee near Richmond.  We had many things in common, including our Christianity and our love for music.  After a whirlwind courtship, we were engaged in September 2002, then married in January 2003 (see our post-wedding fun below with Bella our first baby)!  We were quite anxiuous to have our first baby as fast as we could too!  We were both 25 years old after all and were feeling "over-the-hill" least that's how we felt then, silly us.... 

After not conceiving on our honeymoon, Jon even felt like a failure poor guy.   But he simply did not understand that we missed my ovulation by a few days. I did conceive in February however, proving that we were very blessed and quite fertile after only one month of trying.   Sometimes I feel guilty about it being so easy for us, as I know so many others struggle with infertility.  But either way, we were having our first baby in November, yay!

At that time, we were living in Camden, AL.  Jon was working with Camden Church of Christ as their minister and I had requested and received (very unusual, perhaps God assisted) transfer to Ft. Rucker, AL as an E5 SGT with the 98th Army Band.  Camden and Ft. Rucker were about 2 hrs apart, so I would commute on Monday and stay at a motel Mon-Thurs then drive home on Friday.  It was not an ideal living situation...but being the stubborn, determined person that I am, that didn't phase me at all.  I got up at 4am, kissed Jon goodbye and drove to make it for P.T. (physical training) at 6:30am.  Sometimes Jon would come and stay with me during the week if he could, and my weekly schedule was quite flexible as Army Bands do not normally work M-F.  We work around the concerts and holidays and tours, so sometimes I would only have a few days away from Jon.

Once I verified that I was indeed pregnant in March (via military blood tests), we had to make a choice.   FYI: As a verified pregnant soldier, the military makes you sign a paper where you select that "A" - you will stay in and take responsibility for your new baby while on Active Duty or "B" - you will take an honorable discharge. So we chose "B"...which was part of our plan all along actually =)  Jon respected the military, but was not destined to be an Army husband...and I knew that from the beginning. 

After the positive blood test, I was assigned a local OB/GYN near Ft. Rucker who I saw on a regular basis (even though I knew I would probably not deliver with that doctor).  I was also placed on limited P.T. restrictions.  So my workouts consisted of walking and water aerobics, which I loved!  It also allowed me a few more hours with Jon because I could workout on my own schedule and leave at 6am on Monday instead of 4:30am. 

By early summer, Jon and I began to make plans for the maternity honorable discharge, which would release me from active duty 45 days before my due date.   We were looking at options to deliver near our home in Camden...except that the nearest hospital that actually delivered babies was 2 hrs away in Montgomery!!!  (WELCOME TO SOUTH ALABAMA BTW)  This was a huge concern for us because I knew this much:
1.  I wanted a natural delivery at the hospital
2.  Due to family history, I expected it to happen rather quickly with no drugs
(more on that later...)

So we decided to move closer to a hospital upon release from the military and before our due date.  Jon began searching for other ministry opportunities - literally anywhere in the country!  We narrowed it down to a church in LA and a church in Houston.  After normal job search drama, we solidified the job in Houston (Channelview area) and made plans to move.  No rush I was now 8 months pregnant and needed to figure out where I was going to deliver!?  We also had some hiccups with the TriCare transitional insurance (good ol' military: one person said one thing and another person said another).  But we decided upon a local hospital and went to find an OB/GYN that would deliver a new patient in her 3rd trimester! So this is where we were...

9 months into my first pregnancy

A new job/church and city

A new home (provided by our lovely new church, thank you)

No furniture for the first 2 weeks - (Army transport wait) - so my dad shipped us a new sleep number bed quickly, thank you Daddy...and we had some lawn chairs to sit on

A new OB/GYN which we had seen twice - I had briefly mentioned and showed him my printed natural "birth plan" - expecting to do it my way =)

Then I went into labor TEN DAYS EARLY...and on the day of my baby shower with our lovely new church!

Oops =)

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

You gotta have FAITH...

Being the first post on my new blog, I'm excited to finally have a venue to express my thoughts and continual discoveries for all to see.  I will be the first to admit that I'm not the best writer, but in recent years I have become more and more passionate about the art of communication.  Whether it's in my family life or my professional life, I've realized that without effective communication, you just cannot survive in our hectic world. 
The motivation for this blog is to simply share information with others.  I always seem to have ideas and questions running through my head, but it's only because I'm searching for the right answers to figure them out.  And you will soon see that most of my answers come back to the Bible...and then I ask "why" again, but in a good way =) This is where FAITH comes in...but more on that later.

My personality is such that I ask "why" a lot.  And I promise it's not because I am trying to be disrespectful or rude, but simply because I want solid proof to back up the decisions that I see being made around me.  I will not ultimately believe something just because someone else says it.  I think that God expects us to be accountable as individuals and I support that by thinking and researching for myself.  My brilliant sister has been a huge inspiration for me on this front...I will no doubt be refering to her as well.

I assure you though, my personality has always been this way...even before motherhood.  As a soldier, I would sometimes get in trouble for questioning authority.  It didn't matter the rank on the collar, if they honestly did not know what they were talking about, I just had to speak up and help them.  However, anyone can look at the Certificate of Appreciation plaque on my wall from Command Sgt Major Larry Lacorn at Fort Lee, VA and know that I never overstepped my bounds in questioning him.  I was only trying to better our situation and organization by asking him "why" on so many different occasions, and he thanked me for it in the end!

On this blog I plan on discussing topics on motherhood that some might normally shy away from.  Some will be God-based and some might not be.  But my voice will come only through love (I Cor. 13:13) and FAITH (Mat. 17:20).  Why is that?  Because everyone (especially young Christian mothers) deserve the chance to be reminded of the "why" and sometimes even the "how" we were created and designed to function.  From the bottom of my heart I just feel obligated to put more information out there.  My FAITH in God is so strong that I just cannot live in silence any more....

Am I an organic, all-natural obsessed mother?  No.  Have I come to realize that living more natural and "green" is better and perhaps more God like, oh yes =)  Is the modernization of society ultimately bad?  No.  But are there things that we are doing in the modern world that are perhaps more convienient and mainstream, but NOT better....and ultimately NOT what God intended for us.  I believe Yes for sure!  This is specifically what got me thinking and questioning certain topics years ago.  A lot of these realizations are logically centered around the 4 natural births of my beautiful babies in the last 7 years...which I will refer back to quite often as well. 

Am I on a quest for "crunchiness"? does seem that every time I look for an answer to something new, I do slowly move that direction.  If you are not familiar with the term "crunchy", it is basically an effort to live more natural, more green, more environmental friendly.  Because of my FAITH, I do have crunchy tendancies though...and as a Christian mother or parent, maybe you do too...perhaps you have just been too distracted to know it yet?  I know I was, until the point that it hit me in the face and I couldn't look away anymore.

One thing I have noticed though...with most of the crunchy online communities, there is a lot of talk about "Mother Earth" but not too much about God.  If I have missed some, please do share.  But I hope to provide a perspective through my FAITH in God , of which you simply might not find other places.

I welcome you to keep an open mind and check back with me twice a week to see what is on my mind, and perhaps you will share your thoughts too...