Birth Story: Theodore Joshua

December 27, I felt nothing out of the ordinary (other than being nearly 40 weeks pregnant.) I felt so normal, in fact, that I ordered things on Amazon prime that day to use during labor because I basically just assumed I’d go late. (My due date was December 30). I wanted to try for a natural birth, but was open to using medicine if needed/desired. My thoughts were, I’ve never done this before, I have no idea what it will feel like, I don’t feel like I can honestly decide to not use meds or to use meds before I feel labor for the first time. So I was going in with a pretty loose plan, which I preferred.

Israel got home from work just before 5:30 and I was in bed drinking juice and trying to feel baby’s movements because he’d really slowed down. Izzy came and laid down with me for a few minutes and then I started to feel a little pain in my pelvic area, but it wasn’t much, just like hmm this is odd. When we got up, the pain started getting worse so I started walking around the apartment to see if it would go away, assuming it was false or early labor. I think Izzy knew this was it at that point (I don’t know how because it’d only been a few minutes) and he started making dinner because multiple people had said I needed to eat early on in labor.

So I started timing the pains just to see and they were only 3 minutes apart, right off the bat. So we called the doctor’s office and the midwife on call said to take a shower and see if it goes away or lessens in an hour. So I took a shower but they just started getting more painful and then I thought ok maybe these are actually contractions. While I was in the shower, I had Izzy call Jamie to ask if my pain was in the right area and if it sounded like labor. She confirmed. So when I got out, I ate and kept timing the contractions – they were 2 1/2 minutes apart now. I just kept thinking how the nurses at my classes and my midwives and doctors said since I live an hour away from DuPont in Fort Wayne, to leave when they were about 5 minutes apart. But I started at 3 minutes apart. So there was that. After an hour, they were getting stronger and closer together, so we called the midwife back and she said it was up to us if we wanted to leave yet or not, but it could still be a while. We decided to leave since I wouldn’t want to be in the car for an hour if they got much worse than they were.

So we frantically finished packing the hospital bag because it wasn’t fully ready since it was 2 days before my due date. The things I had just ordered on Amazon obviously weren’t going to be of any use to me now 🙂 Janice and Rodney were at my parent’s house already, which was good since we were frantic. The car ride to the hospital was fine, except we, of course, were stopped by a train, because Warsaw.

When we got to the hospital, they checked me and I was only 2 cm, which was really discouraging since I was already hurting quite a bit and the contractions were so close together. I still can’t believe how suddenly it all came on, none of this all day laboring at home business I always heard about. They admitted me so I wouldn’t have to drive all the way home and then back. We asked for a room with a tub, and we got the best one. It was a MASSIVE room, super nice, huge Jacuzzi tub. One of my midwives, Lindsey, was the one on call. She was the person I had had the most appointments with, so that was nice. When we got up to our room, Marianne, another midwife and the wife of the Doctor whose practice I went to, had also come in because there were like 7 moms admitted that night just from their practice. Apparently people were trying for that New Year’s baby 😉 There were other women who got there before me, so they assumed those women would deliver before I would.

They checked me when we got to the room, about 40 minutes from the first time, and I was suddenly already 7-8 cm and so we were all like oh ok, time to make a plan. I assume being in the car slowed things down, which is why I was only 2 cm when I first got there, and it progressed so quickly once I could relax. They told me it was too late to get any pain meds, which was hard to hear that I didn’t even have the option since it had gone so quickly. Suddenly, I was likely to be delivering first among all of their patients, instead of after those who got there before me. I got in the shower after a little bit to see if the warm water would help and because filling up that massive tub took ages. When they checked me again after the shower, I was 9 & 3/4. “Like in Harry Potter!!!” I exclaimed. I learned through all of this that how I cope with pain is apparently with humor 🙂 This humor trend continued the whole time until the pushing phase.

My water still hadn’t broken and was starting to come through with the baby, so they broke it at midnight and I got in the tub for early pushing. Izzy sat behind me in the tub and would whisper encouraging things in between contractions. Marianne was trying to explain how to push, but I didn’t understand while I was in the tub, so after about half hour, I got out so I could push more effectively. When I got back to the bed, she helped me so I understood where to push towards and what to do to push better. Both midwives were really helpful and encouraging the whole pushing time. Izzy helped during this phase as well and was still telling me encouraging things between contractions. And he helped me know I was making progress cause I honestly couldn’t tell. So from them breaking the water to Theo here, it was about 1 hr 20 min of pushing, made longer by doing it ineffectively while in the tub. It was definitely hard, but was a lot better once I understood how to and where to push. I didn’t feel like it felt “good” like some people say, but I just stuck in and did it.

At 1:22 am on December 28, he was born. The feeling of having him on my chest straight away and being like…you’re you…was crazy. Izzy cut the cord, we had about an hour and a half of time just the 3 of us, and then we transferred up to our room to stay. My whole body was shaking for about a 30-60 minutes after he was born, like I was freezing but I wasn’t, I assume because of the adrenaline/shock. We couldn’t decide on a name for the first day and a half because when he arrived, he didn’t look like the name we had been loosely planning on.

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All up, my entire labor was only 8 hours, from first pain to Theo being here, which I was very surprised with since he was my first. Like I said, I feel it would have been even shorter if I wasn’t in the car for an hour. Yes, I had him naturally, but I’m glad I left myself the option and the grace not to, if I felt like I couldn’t.

We stayed at the hospital until that Friday. It was honestly a really great place. Izzy got meal vouchers for himself, they have a whole gluten free menu, they serve food 24 hours, the lactation consultants are wonderful, they have donor milk if you choose to breastfeed and your milk is slow to come in or baby’s latch isn’t quite right yet, there was a pull out bed/couch for Izzy…We were just really impressed.

To the FTM’s about to have a baby, honestly, it wasn’t a bad experience. Don’t let people scare you into assuming it will be horrible. Sure, it might be, but it also might not be. It was hard, yes, but it wasn’t bad. I truly believe that a good chunk of it is mental. If you believe it will be hard/painful/long/horrible, there’s a good chance it will be. Take each contraction as it comes. Don’t count how many you have had or how many you still have to get through – just remind yourself, “I am in this one contraction, it will last approximately this long, but then it will be over.” Each time. Over and over. Don’t let your mind overwhelm you or get you down. Trust your body. You may need to change positions – several times even – during labor. You will know what feels best for you. And if things don’t go according to your plan, don’t get down on yourself. You are not a failure. Everyone gets there differently. Give yourself grace.

If you’re in the Fort Wayne area, I highly highly recommend Dr. Stroud and his team at the Fertility and Midwifery Care Center for an OB, DuPont hospital as a birthplace, and Dr. Mullally at Credo Family Medicine as a pediatrician (he’s extremely kind, understanding, makes you feel respected, answers all our questions, and doesn’t make us feel rushed)

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What Watching Zootopia Made Me Realize About Acts Like the Orlando Shooting

First, my heart hurts for those directly involved in this attack in Orlando – the murdered, the injured, the family and friends. I can’t imagine the horror and grief they feel.

I think when things like this happen, we try to make sense of it by relating it to our own lives. What if I was the one calling my loved one with no answer? etc.

Last night I was watching Zootopia for the first time. (If you haven’t seen it, you should.) It was while I was watching this “us” vs. “them” mentality play out in front of me that this situation became personal for me. The sad possibility dawned on me in that moment.

For those of you who don’t know, my brother is gay. He is 17 years older than I am so I never really got to know him till I was able to hold a grown up conversation myself. He’s one of the best fathers I’ve seen – involved in his son’s life, even when it’s not things that interest him personally. He teaches me things about life because we can relate because we are siblings. He is probably the funniest person I know. And he could have been at that bar or any other or a parade or just walking on the street where someone decided to spread hate simply because he isn’t like them. My heart started breaking in a new way when I realized this.

Then I thought about the other fights against “them” going on just in America right now. And thought of immigrants and the hate that is spewed towards them. But…my husband is an immigrant. And my heart broke a little further.

I’m a Christian. My brother is gay. My husband is an immigrant.

Does us being different mean I don’t love them? Does it mean they are my enemy? Does it mean I am better than they are? No.

Us vs. them isn’t an option for me. Because “them” is my family. “Them” is two of the people I love most in this world.

And even if they weren’t…why should that matter?

There are three groups of people in this story who have hate thrown at them in different ways, but let me make something clear…
Not ALL Christians are scary. Or bigots. Or hateful.
Gay people aren’t less of people. They aren’t out to get you or your children.
Not ALL immigrants are violent. Or here for the wrong reasons. Or coming for your job.

Or whatever lie you have in your head about groups of people.

Can we just agree, even just trying one day to start off, to not treat anyone as “them”?

Pray for those who are affected in these attacks that are happening way too often. Pray for those people who you see as “them.” Pray for your own heart. And please don’t let the only time your kids hear a message about not discriminating be from a Disney movie instead of positive conversations in their own home.

As for those who fall into “my” category of Christians, a friend shared a very confronting thought with me. We talk about Jesus spending time with sinners and we relate ourselves to Jesus in that story. How arrogant! Have we forgotten that the same grace and love and forgiveness that we believe “they” need, He offered to us? We had to be saved in the very same way. How can we decide that we are Jesus in that situation when we need that very same Jesus? We aren’t Jesus. We just need to show people His love through us, but we are on the same side of the table with “them.” We just accepted what He is offering a little sooner.

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Reflections on a Sunrise Timeplapse

This morning, Israel and I woke up to watch the sunrise over the ocean, since it’s my last day on the Coast. I took a timelapse video of it, which you can watch here if you’d like.

As I was filming and watching the sunrise, I was thinking, “Is the sky even changing? Are the colors even different? Will I even be able to see anything changing when I’m done filming?” Because when you watch a sunrise in real life, real time, the changes are subtle and slow and you can’t see if there actually are changes until it’s done. It looks almost the same as each minute passes by. But when the sun was up and I stopped filming and watched that same sunrise replay, what took half an hour to film, played back in just over a minute. And lo and behold, watching it fast, everything about the sky HAD changed. I just couldn’t see it watching it in our time. It made me think how God must see it like the time lapse, while we’re bound to seeing it on our time. He sees our worries, our hopes, our troubles, our joys –  He sees our lives as each moment passes AND as a whole. We see it moment by moment…but once the change has happened and we look back, we can see how it – whatever it is – has indeed all changed and how it wasn’t as long as it felt. The long minutes, days, hours, years…they have passed. Everything has changed. And the Light has overcome the dark.

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I Don’t Understand What Movies Mean About In-Laws

In movies and TV shows, people are always avoiding their in-laws. They hate spending time with them, don’t want to be around them, complain about them…it seems like they’d rather go to work or something instead of visiting their in-laws. (I bamboozled my way around this one by working with my in-laws.) I thought this was just how it was. One day I’d grow up (and then grow up some more) and get married to a great dude with awful parents and I’d hate my in-laws because…well…that’s just what people do. Or something. I guess. I dunno.

I dunno ’cause I don’t get it. My in-laws are great. I mean really great. They’re quite possibly the most generous, kind, open-hearted people I know. Let me tell you about my Mum- and Dad-in-law (though I’d be just as well referring to them as just Mum and Dad because of how they’ve welcomed me and accepted me into their family and home)…

Rodney is a…character. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff I learn while we’re painting together. Whether it’s a story from his time(s) in Europe, a reference to something or someone old I don’t know about, or something he’s describing in French, there’s always something to gain in time spent with him. (Even if it is the 3rd time he’s told me that story.) He’s funny and has flare and is just fun to be around. But he also has a very deep care for those that he loves, and he’s not afraid to show it. Often when I’m upset or worried about something, all I have to do is have a chat with Rodney and he makes me feel like it’s not all that bad and that it will be better. I don’t know how he does it, but he does every time.

Janice is just the best. She has a quiet demeanor and a grace about her that draws you in. And once you get there, you realize she’s got quite a spunk about her as well. She’s loving and nurturing and everything you’d want in a Mum. To be honest, I don’t know how she survived with 4 boys (5, if you count Rodney). I’m certain it wasn’t an easy job, but somehow she raised 4 very kind, loving boys. It was probably often a thankless job, as children don’t often thank their parents for what they do, but I know I am so thankful for the way she has welcomed me and for how she made my Izzy so kind and tender-hearted, just like her. Plus, my goodness, she is beautiful. And I don’t mean like older lady beautiful. I mean like genuine, timeless beauty. And she’s just so cute. She’s beautiful and cute. Does that make sense?

I’ve loved them since the first time I met them in Thailand. They’re just the best people to be around, honestly. Their generosity and support toward me and Israel has inspired us to be the same. One of the things we’re most excited about getting settled and steady jobs for is so that we can be generous like them. We want to welcome people into our home like they do, create a refuge for people like they do, love those who might not truly know love like they do, and follow what we love like they do. They’re some of the few people I know that actually really like and enjoy their work. (I know this is true because of the amount of times I’ve seen Rodney try to sneak a new piece of furniture he just finished into the house, only to be met by an eyeroll from Janice.)

They’re probably what I will miss most about Australia. I’ve been trying to think of a way to dig a hole from here to America to make it easier to visit, especially once we have kids. And I can’t wait till they come to visit us in America and be wowed by all of the antiques and brick. But really, I’m just excited for everyone to meet them and see that I didn’t make them up.

Thank you, Rodney and Janice, for being you.

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Three Springs

In Indiana, the seasons are very different. You can clearly tell when one has gone into another, and when it’s time for the one after that. I prefer the not-so-extreme ones, spring and fall (especially fall). They’re not the intense highs of summer or the painful lows of winter. They create a sense of expectancy of what’s next, showing signs of the season to follow through vibrant leaves or budding flowers.

Spring boasts its own kind of beauty because of how everything is rebuilding. The leaves are coming back, the grass is becoming green again, the flowers are showing signs of returning life. There’s a sense of hope in the earth and in people.

I realized the other day that I’ll have three springs within a year this year. Three very different versions of spring.

There was the smoky, suddenly hot spring of Thailand. The trees were starting to become their greener versions, while the dead plants and leaves were being burned off. It was suffocating in a way – the humidity starting to kick in, signifying the coming rainy season, and the smoke and smog that filled the air from the burning off. The dead was being destroyed, making way for the new.

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