Saturday, October 31, 2015

Doula Training Begins: It's a rough start

So here I am. I knew pain would surface. But not like this.

I am training to be a doula. A what-a? A doula. A doula is a woman who assists a mother (and her spouse) during birth. I have had three very different births. Well three very similar births -- "unmediated, vaginal, quick, relatively little physical pain." As far as the birth itself one was far better than expected and I felt like a rock-star, another was completely perfect, and another was the loneliest worst thing I've been through. And you might be surprised that the third birth I described is not my stillborn son's birth, but my daughters birth.

So here I am. Working to be trained in an industry that I have my own stories to bring to the table for the hope that no woman has to go through labor with out the physical OR emotional support she needs. I don't even know if I'd say it's something I want to do, but it is something that I feel called to do. Oh and do I ever needs God's power and strength to get me through it.

I can't even get through introductions. I can tell so many people in passing about my son Luke who was stillborn. And now (I never thought I'd do this) but sometimes now I don't even tell people ...or correct them. "Oh, you have a boy and a girl? One of each. How perfect!" In my head something sassy like yeah and a headstone with my name on it because I'm the parent of a dead child, real perfect is composed in all it's sarcastic glory, but I'm too nice to actually say something like that to someone (but I guess not nice enough to not think it!) I digress.

I bumbling.
Fumbling.

Do I start in ascending order or descending order of my children? I thought I had already worked through in my head what I'd say and it would just be simple and matter of fact. And now I don't know where to start. What facts to share. And before I can even get the words together emotions are rising. I'm tearing up. Nothing like sitting in a room with a dozen woman who are PASSIONATE about birth and babies and mothers, just their presence made my emotions raw and bring it to the surface. But I'm okay. I really am okay with things. So the lump in my throat is there and I get choked up a smidge, but I get it out just fine and relatively quickly. Well...that was one way to start introductions as the second person to intorduce themselves, but the first person to introduce who has given birth. Why didn't I ask to go later? I didn't want to go right then? If only I was quick enough in the moment to realize that I didn't want to speak yet and then just ask for that. To just ask for others to go first. But maybe it's best to not be the mood kill toward the end. It's just not easy. That's all there is to it. Sometimes it's not easy to say and sometimes it's not easy to share. Well it's easy to share, but it's not easy putting this big weighty thing out there for someone to have to receive.

So I did it. I got through introductions. Moving on.

No.
The whole thing was filled with moments of pain. Moments that I only visit when I need to open up those painful wounds and sit with them and be with them. I haven't needed or wanted that in a while.

It was little things and little points of education that brought me back:
Talking about getting an IV as a standard protocol in hospitals.
The IV in my warm while I labored with Luke was excruciating. It was placed in a way that was completely uncomfortable and an irritant the whole time I was laboring. And a brutal reminder that I am in a hospital. I shouldn't have been at the hospital because I was going to have a home birth, but instead I am in a hospital delivering my stillborn son. That IV was there to make sure I didn't forget why I was there that day. 

Talking about checking dilation and how a discrepancy in centimeters reported can happen simply because the nurses fingers are smaller than the doctors.
The doctor. Not "my doctor." He wasn't my doctor. He was simply the doctor that was "nice enough" to take me on as a patient so I could be induced at the hospital. Another symbol of how this was not the birth I had planned. The doctor doing vaginal exams. Painful. They were painful. Well, not as painful as when he was removing my placenta manually. 

Pitocin.
The IV finally ripped out of my arm at some point while I was laboring. No more contractions so they stabbed my leg with pitocin to try to get my uterus to contract and birth the placenta. No luck. 


So it went on. The memories. The memories I didn't choose to revisit yesterday. The memories I'm going to have to revisit today and tomorrow. The memories I'm not sure if I can handle revisiting each and every time I'm assisting another woman during a birth.

So I'll go back today. Not because I want to. But because I feel called to this.

*****

God today I need you more than other days. I need you to protect me. To make me strong. Protect me from my own heartache and pain. Hold me up in the face of it. If I am to serve others in this capacity I need you to strengthen me and make me more than I am, because right now I don't like it. I don't want to face it. 

*****

So I'll begin my day. Showering. I was I was dancing, but I'm going to go shower and commute and get myself to my training. I will go and I will do. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mountain Escape to Honor Luke: 4 Years

We seem to have created a bit of a tradition for the anniversary of Luke's "birthday." The first year was so strange. . .  do we celebrate? Do we mourn and grieve? What do we do?

So we found ourselves taking a hike together. And have been able to be in nature each year since.

This year Trevor was scheduled to be at scout camp and we didn't really have plans. I decided I'd take the kids and meet up with him in the mountains for a hike and decided, very last minute and by the graces of a friend who helped us have a place to stay, to make a weekend getaway of it.

With all of the packing and other commitments of the day we departed just in time for rush hour traffic and were not going to make it to the mountains in time for a hike.

Yet I think God knew it was a special day and gave us something more wonderful than a little hike together. He gave us a vista that would never be forgotten.



The children had finally settled in to our car ride and Clara slept while Jeremy watched a movie. Cruising along the freeway, even before we climbed the mountainside we were enchanted with a rainbow that we were driving right towards. The evening sky was a perfect blue filled with the loveliest white and grey-blue rain clouds that were just dazzling with the evening light shinning through and the rainbow lingering. It was absolutely beautiful. As Lightening McQueen finished his race a little voice beckoned for another movie. "No, it's time to just look out the windows now and find things to see."

"I see trees. And clouds. And rocks." He could see it too. The beauty that surrounded us.

I saw my favorite August flower. The little yellow mini-sunflower-like flowers that grow in bunches were scattered along the roadside as we climbed up the mountain. I thought back to these yellow flowers that were blooming every in and around Payson. These flowers were the sunshine and brightness that brought me a bit of happiness, that reminded me of God's love for me, and were such a comfort to me through the month of August just four short years ago.

And here they were. Scattered along the road, just for me.

My heart is happiest when I'm in nature despite the fact that I'm a city girl and currently could not live without the conveniences of the city. Yet here I was on this special day completely surrounded by a world that even though it was all new to me felt more like home than ever.

Home.

Home is when we are together with the ones we love.

Though we weren't with Luke we felt a little closer to him that day.



And it wouldn't be a day to honor someone without commemorating them with pizza. Our family's new favorite pizza restaurant in California, Lou Eddie's.

So good we went back again before we left the mountains!

We were also able to still go on a family hike, it just had to wait until later.



*****

And of course a big thank you to Grandparents who were so thoughtful to provide flowers both on Luke's grave and for us.








Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Cemetery Visit



Sometimes it just hits you when you least expect it . . .

I was in Utah to visit family and attend my 10 year high school reunion. My days were just as crazy there as they are at home. Two kids, taking naps all day (on opposite schedules right now), lots of feedings, diaper changes, mood swings (mostly the toddler, but sometimes mine too!). It was just all around usual day-to-day stuff, plus trying to cram in as many visits to friends that I could.

I finally got the kids and myself ready and packed in to the car and I knew that if I were to visit my friend we didn't have time to really stop and pick up flowers before and after the visit the kids would be fussy and needing to sleep so going to a store then wasn't really practical either.

I'll call a florist, I thought.

The most convenient florist I could think of was actually the one who had provided Luke's casket flowers. So I pulled over and parked in a neighborhood so I could look up the info on my phone and make the call before I got on the freeway to head south.

"Hi. I was wondering if I could place an order."

"What can we do for you?"

"Well, I just need some flowers to take to the cemetery today, if possible. Just something simple and I'd like to spend about $30. I don't have any particular preferences on flower types today, but it's for my son's grave so whatever you think would be nice for a baby boy."

And with that, emotion just weld up in my throat. Something about saying the words to a stranger "for my son's grave" just got to me. I can't tell you how many times I mention that fact that I have a son who died before birth, and it's just conversation. Just words and a story and I just tell it so matter-of-factly.




But that day . . . it was real and raw and it felt terribly heartbreaking as I spoke those words.



I felt so grateful for Main Street Floral in Spanish Fork. They created yet another perfect arrangement for me and were kind enough to bring it out to my car so I could pick it up without having to wake up my sleeping baby and take her in for the 60 seconds it was going to take to grab the flowers.





*****

Being there I couldn't help thinking back to the days that I would come to Luke's grave with the numbness of empty arms aching to have my baby . . . to have another baby . . . to just be a mother. I longed for the day that I could be a mother. 





And here I am. 
In the throws of mothering young children. 
It's exhausting. 
It's hard. 
It's emotional for everyone involved.
Yet this is the life I longed for.
I wish I could say that it feels glorious, and even though I know this is the most glorious work God gives a person, being in the middle of it often feels muddled and messy. It is messy. Diapers. Broken glass. Food. Lots of food --on the floor, on the face, on my clothes, on their clothes, on their hands, on the furniture "come back here so I can wipe your hands off." Change the sheets. Catch the throw up. Wipe the bum. There is joy and laughter and satisfaction along the way, but it doesn't take away the the overwhelming work and the thoughts: Am I giving my children what they need? What would God have me do for them? When will I get a break? Does this ever get easier...probably not! Am I being to hard on them? Or is this the firmness that results in respect and discipline? Did he just remember to say please without being reminded. A victory! Am I teaching enough? Involving them enough? The list could go on forever. 
So here I am. In the midst of it all.
I feel joy that I have what I longed for and gratitude that I am in the throws of this crazy, messy life.
"Bring that flag back, it's not ours!"
Sigh. 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Feeling Robbed

Birth is such a personal, powerful, and supposedly beautiful thing.

But I was robbed. I was robbed of it's intense joy and amazingness that accompanies your first birth.

Yes, I've given birth two more times since giving birth to Luke and yes I was happy when my babies were finally born, but it never ends in the culmination of joy.

For me it's --relief.

Relief.
I can breath now.
My baby didn't die.


Doesn't that seem so unfair. I wish so badly it wasn't this way.

A friend of mine recently posted on facebook a handful of beautiful birth photos showing the moments of joy after birth. The excitement. The happiness. The tears of joy.

I hear people talk about "that moment when you get to hold your baby for the first time" and it's accompanied with "changes your world"  "is the best moment ever" "is the most wonderful feeling."

And for those people who have experienced that joy, the wonderful moment, the happiest feeling --I am jealous. I am jealous of them and sad for myself for what was taken for me.

Birth.
Mine ended in pain. A bitter loss. An insurmountable task achieved. A relief.
Where is my victory and joy in that?

So with each subsequent birth perhaps the pain will fade. Perhaps the worry will fade. Perhaps the anxiety will fade.

Maybe, maybe one day I can be pregnant without fear and birth without skepticism. Maybe those things will continue to fade if I am privileged to bear more children.

Maybe.

What a gift it truly is to those women who get to hold their baby's in perfect, blissful, happiness.

They will never truly know.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

A year and a half ago is about when I stopped writing regularly. The 6th of the month would come and thoughts would fill my mind about what to say about Luke and about where he'd be if he were living his life now, here with us. But writing them out often wouldn't happen.

About the time I fell out of the habit of writing Luke was about to reach what would have been 18-months mark. So many thoughts were on my mind with that age. I kept intending to go back and write about them, but it never happened. 18 months is a significant age for members of my church because it's when your child can begin attending the nursery. It feels like such a big day to be sending your baby off to class with the big kids. It's a major indicator that your baby is well on to toddler-hood. 

I wanted to write about it. I wanted to acknowledge that day that was coming and passing --with no change for me because my baby wasn't 18-months at all. 

But the day came and the day went...

and life...

well life plummeted on without me leaving little time for my thoughts, my writing, or my angel baby. 

Allergies
Elimination Diet 
Exhaustion
A cross-town move
Cleaning up from intense mold exposure
Depression and Anxiety
A pregnancy
A cross-country move
A toddler
A birth
A baby

And no time. No time to think beyond dinner and diapers. 

And now it's the new year. I hadn't given too much thought to the matter as I worked tirelessly to prepare things for the primary. I knew we were getting a new group of Sunbeams, but I hadn't thought about how my Luke would be in that class. I hadn't even really thought about the fact that Jeremy and Luke would have been in nursery together for the little while. The thought of two little brothers together makes me smile. Perhaps sometimes Luke is there in spirit. 

I hadn't thought about any of this until a few of my friends whose babies were born when Luke was born started posting pictures on Sunday of their sweet little ones advancing from nursery to primary  and I realized that that would have been me too. I am grateful I'll always have these kids as a gauge to remind me where Luke would have been in life if he were here with us.

Pic from FB with permission from my friend Genn 

Pic courtesy of my friend Neena
(As a side note: Aren't all these boys so adorable?! Maybe my Clara can date one of them some day.)


Some days it feel like forever ago that my baby was born. I'm no longer in the raw, numb, soul-wrenching stage of grief that is almost all consuming. But other days it seems like it was not long ago at all. 

*****

Luke, I may not be consumed daily with emotions about you, but I pray that daily your influence will be here with me. Here with our family. Here with your siblings. You're welcome to stay in nursery a little longer to watch over that sweet brother of yours. Maybe next year you can move up to Sunbeams with him . . . or stay back to watch over your sister. I love you. Love, your mommy. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Glimpses of Luke

In the quiet of the night and in the dim shadows of nightlights I hold my sweet little newborn. I look down upon her face and just stare. And when she finally relaxes and her little jowls droop her sweet lips soften and they fall open and are completely relaxed. It's then in that moment I see him. I see my Luke. And just when my eyes capture the face and my heart feels the connection it flutters away. It's replaced with a face that tightens with a little newborn grimace or shifts or squints or scrunches its nose. And I'm brought back to my reality. My present life. Life with the new addition to our family. But I am ever reminded of the connection --the ties which connect us to our "big brother." And with each little newborn face that enters our home I see him again.

October 2 - just over 2 months
August - about 3 weeks
August - about 3 weeks

*****

Now my babies are 2 years old and 3 months. I no longer can look at their sweet faces and see their brother. Those first newborn weeks always pass too quickly. I cry each time I have to box up their newborn clothes and I long to hold a sweet newborn again. Not any newborn, but my own --my own babies who seem to always look alike. I love those moments when I get a glimpse of their expression that emulates their brother and brings me back to holding him in my arms.