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Almost 6 weeks ago, on my birthday (!), our sweet baby girl was born! Kate was 9 lbs, 10 oz and 22 inches long. And once she decided to come, she came fast! Phew! Here is her birth story, and since I have limited time while she and Henry nap- this will not be as well-written or prosaically pleasing as I would like. Here goes.

I was nearly 4 days overdue and 3 cm dilated…just walking and waiting…I forgot how long those last few weeks last, especially when the doctor said for several weeks, “I doubt you’ll make it to your next appointment.” How I loved and loathed those words…

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and started having regular, kind of uncomfortable contractions. Then they started getting regular-like every 3-4 minutes regular! Our hopes started growing, and we even made a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a dvd player so that Henry could watch Baby Einstein with his grandparents while we were in the hospital. Our hopes were dashed after lunch when my contractions subsided. But “just in case,” I took a nap to reserve some strength (and because I was hugely pregnant and tired from lugging around my 30 lb 18 month old!). I took Henry for an afternoon walk, and I started having contractions again, this time more around 10-15 minutes apart (again- disappointing). The contractions died down completely by the time we went to bed at 10:45, but I still thought “maybe tomorrow morning.”

I woke up with a start at 11:45, went to the bathroom, and BOOM, my contractions got crazy painful, crazy fast. Faris called his parents to put them on alert that we would probably be calling them to come over within the hour, and we started getting our things together. Faris heated my rice heating pad (an amazing gift from my doula in Birmingham), and I fled to the edge of the bed for some serious contractions. After about 5 minutes and several contractions, I told him to call his parents and get them here SOON! We thought we would be able to take our time at home, work through a lot of contractions before the hospital, but I didn’t think I’d be able to handle a car ride (even though we are literally blocks from the hospital) for much longer.

Thankfully, his parents had been ready to go for weeks, so they arrived very quickly, and we were checked into the hospital by 12:45. I think I was about 5 cm dilated (maybe close to 6) by the time they checked me, and in retrospect I must have been really close to transition by the time I got there. All I know is that I was in crazy amounts of pain and the light was too bright in the room. I think Faris maybe adjusted it or tried to, but I really needed him next to me, putting pressure on my back (he was a champ!), so the ambiance wasn’t perfect in the room, but oh well!

I decided to get in the jacuzzi to perhaps allay some of the pain, but my water broke right before I was going to get off the bed. So I decided to take a hot shower instead. When the nurse said for us to pull the call rope if I felt the urge to push while in the shower, I gained new hope that I must be kind of close to giving birth (I had no idea how close…). Oh my goodness- after a few minutes of a super hot shower and not a ton of relief, I really felt the urge to push. It was so strong,  I couldn’t really even get the words out to Faris. Finally I managed to say something to him, and I got out of the shower, flung the hospital gown back on, and literally flew onto the bed sideways (that’s how it felt- I’m sure it was more of a 40-plus weeks lumbering movement). By that time, my doctor had arrived. I told them that I needed to push, and they told me they weren’t ready. Um excuse me, this giant baby is literally about to pop out of me, and you want me to stop her?! It was the hardest thing in the world to pant through a couple more contractions and not push…but somehow I managed.

When I could take it no longer, I told them that she was going to come, and I think they gave me the go ahead to push (or perhaps saw that I was going to push no matter what). After just about 3 or so hard contractions, our darling Kate barreled her way out! I took one look at that precious, chubby little girl and I didn’t care how many stitches I was going to need (a lot). She was born at 2:04 am, just an hour and 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, a little over 2 hours since the hard contractions started. We prayed for a quick delivery, and wow!

She has been nothing but a joy and delight to us since that day, and her older brother is finally getting a little intrigued by her (both good and bad, I guess). More on that transition later…


8 months and enjoying his 1st clementine (until i noticed that he had chomped through it...this kid's got some jaws!)

Christmas Tree shopping!

southern boy

southern boy

fresh nap face

Living Room (from the foyer looking where the entertainment center is now...)

After: Living Room (from foyer)

Before: Dining Room (from living room)

After: Dining Room (from living room)

After: d.r. into l.r.

After: more d.r.

here are some before and after pics…typing w 1 hand will make this short and sweet…hmmm, just like my reason for only 1 free hand…

main changes: pulled up carpet, had floors refinished, painted walls benjamin moore’s lenox tan w dove white trim (sadly, both before and after colors look horribly similar in my pics, but i promise it’s better now!). i have more plans for both rooms, but we are feeling very at home just the way they are!

It’s finally cool enough to put Henry in some of the fall clothes he is already outgrowing…sigh. Here are some of our front porch pics from today. He’s 5 days from being 7 months. Not quite crawling, but oh-so-close. Poor kid, I probably haven’t given him enough floor time, since we are still painting and renovating.

New favorite: he likes being tucked into bed (on a good night/naptime). He will lie down with his arms on his sides and watch with those big eyes while I tuck the blanket around him. So precious (at least for the first, second, and third time I have to do it). Also, he has found his lost love for the pacifier. So nice for us!

We love this boy, our little man!

How time flies when you are renovating a charming 100 year old home and watching your baby grow up before your eyes! On September 1st, Faris and I closed on a home built in 1907–our first house! We have spent the weeks painting, pulling up old carpet (Faris and his dad), and having our floors refinished. Great progress has already been made, but I am learning to accept the fact that this home will be a “work in progress” for some time to come. It has great bones, and I will hopefully be able to share some before and afters soon.

But I digress. Onto the more important news at hand: Henry is 6 months old!

6 Months old and very tired for the pic...

He is on the brink of crawling, and he (as of today) can sit up all by himself–which is a pretty big deal for a big guy like him. Other favorites: sticking out his tongue to the side of his mouth, the sound of rustling plastic (give that boy a pack of plastic wrapped wipes and watch him go crazy–thanks, Nanette and Grandmommy), flapping his arms (he learned to splash this month-watch out world!), increasingly smooth motor skills (ie, everything he reaches makes a beeline for his mouth), and a wide range of exotic sounds, from growling to squealing to “dadadada.” He also has 2 bottom teeth, courtesy of Month 4.

Starring the Big Sitter! Wardrobe by Nanette.

We have officially moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas, where Faris has agreed to serve a local church as pastor! It was sad to say goodbye to our church family and sweet neighbors in Birmingham, but we are excited about this new phase of life…and for me, it’s my second Delta adventure. We are supposed to close on a house at the end of the month (exciting and scary!), but in the meantime we are living with Faris’ parents, who have generously agreed to let us plop ourselves and lots of our stuff in their home for the time being. I will leave you with a common sight in our new location: Henry enjoying cartoons on Grandma and Grandpa’s bed…can we say spoiled?!

Here are some pics of Henry’s nursery, which was completed just weeks before we moved to Arkansas! (More news on the move forthcoming).

Everything in the room has received lots of love and all are hand me downs, consignment finds, or otherwise “used.” I love that we got to re-purpose Aunt Barbara’s dresser and vanity (after Faris dedicated a lot of time painting it), used my friend Annie’s hand me down crib whose linens were made by a good friend of Faris’ family, enjoyed friend friend Mara’s old changing table, bought a consignment glider that my mom re-covered (used to be denim with yellow stars…), and used the guest bed that I bought at a random estate sale I passed while living in Belhaven (the maid was selling the furniture and begged me to take the bed set when all I wanted was the mirror…ended up a very good deal!).

We had a lot of sweet moments in Henry’s first nursery…and a few long nights.  We are so thankful for this precious boy. He is a special gift from God.

Enjoying a quiet moment with his favorite dinosaur

"Oh, hi momma. Want to join us?"

The changing table view

Henry's bed-thanks to Annie for donating and Mrs. D for making the bedding!

Bumper pad and skirt up close

Having a chat with Ping and Dino

Our big boy is 3 months old today! His favorite things to do include eating (favorite by far), stretching out on his back and kick, kick, kicking away, clasping his hands together, smiling and *almost* laughing, singing loudly when there’s lots of background noise, cooing to everyone (this boy is friendly!), trying to stand up, always trying to sit up wherever he is, riding in the car, and the ultimate…his bath time!

He always has something to say

He does not like: getting his clothes changed, having hiccups, being left alone at any time, being hungry, being left on his tummy (he usually just flips right over, anyway), too much stimulation, or too little sleep (but he also hates going to sleep..but this is getting better).

He knows how to make his momma's day

Big accomplishments this month: rolling from tummy to back (10 weeks), first giggle (12 weeks), and sleeping *pretty* consistently through the night. He has come so very far from our wailing bundle of joy 3 months ago!

He knows how to break his momma's heart

Because I have always loved reading birth stories. Even late ones. Here’s ours…

Twelve weeks ago last tonight (ok, so it takes me forever to post these things…), Faris and  I were walking under the glow of a full March moon just hoping our Henry would be unable to resist its gravitational tug. Just to hedge my bets, I’d also had  a castor oil root beer float (my doula’s recipe that actually tasted “not horrible”). At 10 days overdue, I had exhausted all of the natural labor inducers  and we had scheduled an induction for the following Monday.Would all of our plans to “go natural” fly out the window and be replaced with a routine induction?  I tried to keep an open mind throughout my pregnancy, because all we wanted was our sweet boy to be safe and sound in our arms…whether or not his delivery fit perfectly into  our carefully formed birth plan. BUT, we felt very strongly that as long as neither myself or Henry was in danger, we preferred a non-interventionist birth.

40 Weeks and Counting

Well, we were about to find out just what a non-interventionist birth looked like. My contractions came on and off during our walk, but I tried to contain my hopes, because I had experienced similar contractions in the days prior.

Then, at about 10:30 pm, I started having somewhat steady contractions every 10-15 minutes and I thought maybe my water was leaking.  With a crazy racing heart, I called our doula. After talking to her (who didn’t think my water had broken…and it hadn’t), I called the doctor on call, who said he would call the hospital and tell them I was coming. I feebly responded, “Well…I kind of want to labor at home for a while…” and he said that he’d tell them that I’d be in sometime that night. The thought of being in real labor was still unreal to me though.

Then things started getting more painful. I remember kneeling by the bed at one point, then trying to sleep, then making Faris (who was just beginning meds for  terrible congestion/cough and feeling awful) put counter pressure on my back. I think about 1:00 am we realized that the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and becoming increasingly debilitating. I’m pretty sure we had “The Office” episode in the back of our minds, where Jim is panicking when they don’t leave for the hospital at 5-7 minutes between contractions. Though my bag had been somewhat packed for weeks, we still had much to do before we left the apartment. I think I packed between contractions, but I’m not sure. I do think I was rather calm, though. Or maybe it was just the pain keeping me from rushed movements. Faris says, “I’m not really sure what you were doing. I was in frantic mode.” I remember going into the nursery/guest room to tell my mom that we were headed to the hospital and that we’d call her when we knew it was real labor (sorry, Mom, I think you had to call Faris to find out).

After some very frantic scurrying around (frantic seems to be a key word here; maybe I wasn’t calm), we headed out to the hospital. Contractions were really hurting now, and I didn’t know where I put the hospital info that told us where to park, etc. (One would expect a 10 day overdue mom to have everything in order by this point…I have no excuse on why I wasn’t completely ready…maybe because I had already passed the point of thinking I would ever go into labor.) Well, my sweet husband found his way, we checked into a very quiet floor, and the nurse made me get in bed to monitor things (I don’t know how anyone can labor in bed..that was so awful). At this point, it was 2 am, and I still didn’t know if I was “really in labor.” I do remember wondering why the nurse had to ask me so many questions, since I had pre-registered (but I didn’t have the energy to voice my question). Meanwhile, our doula arrived with the best gift a laboring woman could want: a homemade rice heating pad, which she heated every once in a while between contractions. It was SO hot and I pressed it against my stomach for relief, while Faris applied pressure to my lower back.

This was pretty much how the whole night passed, with Faris and our doula spelling each other. The whole night was somewhat of a blur, since I kept my eyes closed almost the entire time. Each contraction took all of my focus and energy–I don’t know how people scream during contractions, because it took all of me to simply breathe through them. Faris was a champion husband and coach that night. He felt simply awful with his cough, yet he only took one short nap during the entire labor. He helped me to breathe when the contractions got really bad, and he encouraged me with promises of “all the McDonald’s sundaes” I want (I have always loved their cheap-o sundaes!) and only once made the wrong comment (remarked encouragingly while looking at the monitor “That contraction wasn’t as bad as the rest” to which he says I looked at him very pointedly and said “It’s not OVER yet,” at which point the contraction spiked on the monitor). All I have to say is that he was (and is) my hero and the best coach ever.

I had pictured myself walking the halls of the hospital, sitting on the birthing ball, and being generally active when I was in labor. Not me! The nurse made me walk around the room to get a better reading on Henry’s heart rate at one point, and it was awful! I sat on the birthing ball for maybe 5 minutes, but I really ended up spending most of the night in the comfy armchair (where poor Faris probably wanted to be!). I leaned back between contractions, and I couldn’t have handled the intensity if Faris and my doula hadn’t been applying counter pressure to my back.

When the world was beginning to wake up and the city skyline was grey (maybe 6 am, Faris thinks), my water broke. Labor really revved up after that (OUCH), and I wanted to start pushing pretty soon after. Everyone says “you’ll know” when it’s time to push, and wow, it’s so true. We are fearfully and wonderfully made…how amazing that our bodies are designed by God to give birth…too bad the curse also brings a whole lot of pain along with the blessing.

I started pushing by squatting, but my legs soon gave out, and I switched to kneeling against the upper part of the hospital bed. This was better, but pushing was way more difficult than  I thought it would be. I kind of thought the baby would just pop out if I was in the right position (not on my back). I pushed for a while in this position, but then the nurse (oh, the power they yield over a laboring woman!) said, “I think you should flip over when the doctor comes in, and I bet the baby will just slip on out.” Yes, “slip on out” were her words, and you’ve probably never seen anyone flip over as fast as I did! Three words erased the knowledge I thought was ingrained in my mind–that lying on your back is the WORST position to in which to give birth! But alas.

Charles Henry's Debut

So there I was, on my back, pushing with every ounce of strength in my body–nurses, doula, husband, and doctor all cheering me on. My eyes were wide open at this point, and my body went from coping through contractions to waiting for their cue to push. Finally, I felt a squirmy baby making his entrance! Seeing my doctor lift him in the air and hearing Henry’s first strong, beautiful wail was just about the happiest moment of my life (second only to marrying my best friend). Then they plopped that fresh, red, screaming infant onto my lap and I felt nothing but pure, exhilarating happiness. And that’s when our sweet Henry tipped his hat to the world, and the world will never be the same again.

Mom, I can’t let your birthday “week” slip by without comment. As you face the boxes, broken furniture, and renovations in your new home, I want you to know how grateful I am that for 30-plus years you have been “building your house” like the faithful Proverbs woman. I now realize that wearing the title of mom with grace and faith is not easy (and I’m just 3 months into it!). And as you move on to blessing a growing number of grandchildren by being their Nanette, I think all of us kids would agree that now is a good time to “rise up and call you blessed.”

My short glimpse into motherhood has reminded me of the sacrifice, love, and untiring toil this calling demands. I think about your words to Chrissie and I when we were younger: “Girls, life is hard work. Don’t be surprised by it like I was, and don’t resent it.” (paraphrased version) This nugget of wisdom has come to mind many times in the last few months as I learn to live with a little less sleep and more housework…and the trail of dirty clothes that Henry’s diapers leave behind.

But you did more than just work hard for your family. You built something over the years- a home characterized by joy, peace, and rest. It was where I wanted to be, and since I’ve moved away, a place I want to visit.

You created a refuge. I remember you and Dad talking about how you always wanted our home to be a place where anyone felt comfortable, whether they were rich or poor. That has stayed with me, and I hope I can create a home that is just as welcoming.

You extended (and still do, I know) a welcome greeting to friends and strangers at your table. You showed me that hospitality can be a way of life, and it doesn’t always have to be served up on fine china. I’m thankful for the countless meals around the table listening to visiting missionaries, church visitors, and others. I hope that our child(ren) will be able to say the same about our home.

You modeled the Gospel. I know that you and Dad wish you could have started off with the knowledge you’ve gained over the years, but your continuing repentance and growth over the years has been a testament to your children. This includes the forgiveness and reconciliation that was a part of everyday life. I am so thankful that you not only taught us to ask for forgiveness, but you modeled this yourself. Realizing that I don’t “outgrow” asking for forgiveness was perhaps the most important lesson you and Dad taught me through your actions.

There are many other things you’ve taught me, modeled for me, given to me…almost 30 year’s worth (well, I should count carrying me…so over 30 year’s worth!). I will close with a few my favorite “Mom” memories and ways you have blessed me…heart-shaped brownies on Valentine’s day, walks through Covington and stops at every ditch along the way, special birthday meals, notes in our lunches, stories read aloud or created on the spot, taking me out of school so that I would play with Chrissie again :), making playdough, teaching us how to make bread, teaching us to be a team (which I didn’t like at the time), making me sit down in every skirt before I bought it, encouraging me to trust the Lord, reminding me to serve others when I least felt like it, driving across the country with me on our road trip to Idaho (and staying at the Little America), giving me wisdom and encouragement when Faris and I were dating (SO glad I said yes!), working overtime to make my wedding such a joyful and beautiful celebration, helping me get ready for Henry (our pantry is still pretty stocked!), WAITING for Henry, and then staying to help us get settled (you know how much we needed you for that transition!). The list could go on, but there’s a tiny taste of how much you’ve done for me. I hope that we can start blessing you these next 30 years. Love you, Mom!

Henry and his patient Nanette!