My totally-unplanned, painfully-natural, scary-intense-traumatic, couldn’t-have-thought-it-would-go-any-more-different-than-I-planned, homebirth

Here it is.

My totally-unplanned, painfully-natural, scary-intense-traumatic, couldn’t-have-thought-it-would-go-any-more-different-than-I-planned, homebirth

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As you know from my previous pregnancy post, I have a REALLY hard first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

With my first pregnancy, I had a fairly less traumatic labor. My water broke at 40+4 weeks pregnant and then 10 hours later (along with preeclampsia and that terrific magnesium IV) my 7lb 10oz bundle arrived.

This time around, I experienced Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions around 30 weeks. By 35 weeks you could time them. By 36 weeks the BH were painful. Like, lie in bed and can’t sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning painful.

We had two “scares.” The first, I woke up with painful contractions and vomiting around 36 weeks. The second, I felt a “pop” and had some water trickle. Both were false labor and both times we were sent home without our baby. (Oh how fun that last month of pregnancy can be, right?)

Finally, my doctor suggested an induction to take place at 39+4 weeks and end the madness. My husband and I had already decided we would ask for an induction, so when she offered one, the words “yes please” couldn’t have flown out of my mouth faster.

An induction seemed so magical. We would be able to have planned care for our 2 year old. The house would be in order. My husband would be home. My doctor would deliver (and not one of the random 9 doctors in the clinic), and most importantly, I would get to kiss that sweet little girl inside my tummy. Oh yeah, and an epidural.

I have friends who are the “all-natural” type. How strong I think they are!! Seriously, these women are amazing. I, however, am not one of those women. Please take the pain away!

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The day was here!

I called in at 5:30AM and 9:00AM to be informed we would have to wait until later in the day because they were so busy.

At 1PM I got the call I knew would eventually come. The one that would burst our “happy labor day bubble” and send us home to pout on the couch while reading more natural induction birth stories–because then they COULDN’T turn us away! Muahahaha!

For a month I had been following a group of women attempting castor oil inductions. So many success stories that I had jokingly read with/to my husband. We never thought we (well… me… my husband definitely didn’t partake in the consumption) would end up actually trying it. But after that devastating phone call, we looked at each other knowing it was happening. Off to Fred Meyer we went to buy the ingredients to make my pineapple-core-OJ-castor oil concoction.

2PM: I choked down that chapsticky glass of ‘get-my-baby-out-please’ with only expectations I’d end up on the toilet.

The castor oil did nothing except make me feel a little nauseous and send my husband to Sonic to get me a cherry limeade.

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9PM: While reading more natural induction stories and sitting on my birthing ball, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. After a whole day of waiting around for the terrible bathroom stories I had read about, I thought maybe I was going to end up with that moment.

Wrong.

9:09PM I had a contraction and joked to my husband “Maybe this is it-LOL.”

BAM. Another contraction 30 seconds later. BAM-and another! By this point I was on the ground. “Okay this is real. Finally we get to go!”

My husband began to pack up the car while I tried calling the doctor. (Remember it has been all of 2 minutes since the contractions started).. Usually they tell you, “It’s time to go in when the contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, for ONE HOUR.” ONE WHOLE HOUR you are supposed to experience this BEFORE even calling in. Yes, I waited a whopping 2 minutes.

I got the answering service and they told me the doctor would call back shortly. Ugh, “hurry!”

During the ten minutes I waited for the doctor to call, my body cleared itself out (if you know what I mean) and the contractions became completely constant. She told me I could come in if I wanted to, but since it had only been 10 minutes, “there’s no rush.” I responded as politely as I could, “We’re coming in right now.”

My husband had the car packed and took our 2 yr old down while I tried, unsuccessfully, to get down there too.

I was on all-fours, screaming bloody murder, on our bathroom floor. I made it to the toilet because I thought it would help relieve some pressure, only to scare myself into thinking I’d be one of those ‘crazy women’ who have their baby born in the toilet. No thanks. As I made my way back to the ground I felt a huge amount of pressure and my water exploded like a volcano.

See ya later epidural.

Back to the ground I went, screaming and crying, thinking the neighbors must be calling 911 because  someone is being murdered in here. “Aaaaannnnthonyyyyyy!” (My husband)

He appeared to, in his mind, carry me down to the car. But there was no way. I told him to call 911. “Uh.. what? Are you sure?” “YES. CALL 911!”

The call log reads 9:27 outgoing call to 911. (It’s been 18 minutes)

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There he is! The OBGYN Dr. Anthony 🙂

He ran down to get our daughter out of the car while trying to talk to 911. (He really is amazing, isn’t he?) At this point, I’m sure our baby is coming, right there, in the bathroom.

My husband came back up with our screaming toddler, and I manage to ask him if he can see the baby coming out. “No,” and he scurries to find a quieter place to speak to 911.

The next second, I roll onto my back–she’s coming.

“ANTHONY GET IN HERE” As I delivered her head by myself. “I NEED YOU TO DELIVER THIS BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABY!”

“She’s coming!” You hear him say on the 911 recording, as he places our toddler next to my head and throws the 911 call to the ground. “Hello?” Asks the 911 operator. There is no use.

God’s presence came over us in that moment. For the next 30 seconds, my 2 yr old matured far beyond her age. She stopped screaming as she rubbed my forhead.

One more push and she was here. Silent.

Our 2 yr old gave her a kiss and said “baby sista!” Then went back to screaming.

The baby is handed to me as my husband swoops our older daughter and runs outside to flag down the ambulance.

Avenly was born at 9:29, 7lbs 4oz, 20″, perfectly healthy, and so quiet. To say we were scared out of our minds is an understatement. But after I watched her breathe for a minute, I began to worry less about her immediate health, and prayed the EMT’s would arrive quickly.

My very good friend, who happens to live 5 feet away, appeared in the doorway. She was 38 weeks very pregnant and we stared at each other, “What in the world?” The most beautiful thing happened right there only a minute prior. She reassured me the ambulance was coming and that we were okay. What a friend she is! I said to her, “Talk about natural!” Hah! We had spoken so many times previously about how I 100% was getting an epidural.

The EMT’s showed up, got us to the hospital, and both baby and I were declared healthy.

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I’ll never forget the faces of the doctors and nurses as we arrived. “I just spoke with you.”

Our family of four is now falling into ‘normal-life’ as the buzz from our friends and family dies down about the birth.

As thankful as I am to have gone through this beautiful experience, when asked if I will have a homebirth with my next baby, my reply is, “No, I would like to get my epidural, please and thank you.” And we all laugh. Although I often worry I will have that baby inside Target. Oh dear. I am ‘one of those crazy women.’

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We also made the front page of our local paper, oh Avy, already famous.

I would love to hear your birth stories. They are all pretty exciting, amen?

Whatever plans we make for ourselves, thinking it will be best, we have to be careful. God may just have something a million more times spectacular for us.. and it might be exactly what you think you don’t want. He gives good gifts!

All my love,
Emily

All photos taken by Natalie Brenner Photo

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

We Don’t Need Tough Love, We Need Tough Love.

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I’ve heard the phrase so many times, “It’s just a little tough love.” Typically after a parent, teacher, mentor, coach, or friend says something that sounds quite opposite from love. Do you enjoy receiving this kind of ‘tough love’? I sure don’t.

I feel completely defeated–less than.

When you actually take a look at the word ‘tough,’ it means something much different than how we use it in that phrase.

Tough: strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.”

We need a love that is strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling. We need strong love. We need the real tough love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I would argue the kind of ‘tough love’ we hear about these days really is an excuse for lack of love in the person proclaiming to give it. A lack of patience and kindness. It’s boastful-declaring to others they are showing ‘tough love.’ It is dishonoring, and easily angered. It does not protect, trust, hope, or persevere. It gives up and lowers the standard of loving well.

(I’m not saying that discipline isn’t loving, because I believe that discipline is one of the most loving things you can do for a child. As long as it is coming from love and not something else.)

How many times have we felt lasting pain from the yelling, or name calling, or barking orders. The threats. Sure, I bet we followed through and did as they demanded, but what happened to the relationship? Did we grow closer to them or further away? Every time just a little further away, and a broken relationship really hurts. Do you know this kind of relationship?

Instead of looking at what others are doing wrong to correct them, what if we took a step back to ask ourselves if we are loving others well. Maybe we need to grow in the loving area. Loving toughly. Loving so tough that nothing will cause us to snap at another. Loving so tough that the relationship can’t help but grow closer. Love so tough that we will persevere through anything. A love that will withstand any situation.

Let’s get this one right. Shall we? 🙂

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How do you love well? Or how do you like to be loved well? 

Posted in Community, Encouragement, Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Competitive Sports: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Within the last generation or two, a surge of competitive sports has began taking over families everywhere. Mom vans, and carpools. Half time snacks and loads of laundry. Dinner through the drive thru and homework in the car. Early mornings and late nights. If you have been involved with a competitive sports team, like I was, this sounds familiar I’m sure.

For me it all started with rec soccer and toddler dance class. At a rapid rate, I was doing both competitively and my mom shuttled me to both (45 minutes across town from one another) daily. I kid you not–7 days a week. By high school I was playing on 3 competitive soccer teams and running track and field.

As a high schooler, I didn’t really know any other way of life. If I were to practice, train, and compete any less, I would be letting myself down for all I had worked for–becoming a collegiate athlete.

I made it there, division 1 soccer, but at what cost?

The Good:

Playing on a competitive team molds us into hard working adults. Sports are fun, especially when we’re winning. We learn multitasking and time management skills. In order to succeed we must understand the importance of staying well-rounded in school as well as sports. Fitness is a given. Our teammates become more like family, and it builds our social skills. We are so busy there is no time to get into any trouble. Having the opportunity for some or all of a college education paid for is a definite plus.

The Bad:

Our sports always take precedence. (I had a coach call me at my grandma’s funeral to let me know how important it was I came to the event right after!) Our family time is spent mostly at sporting events and in the car. No time for church when tournaments fall on the weekends. It is expensive, and you have to commit to all or nothing. So make sure someone is working overtime to pay for those extra practice sessions and travel team trips! At some point we realize there is a life after sports and see our main identity feeling void.

The Ugly:

Sports politics can be brutal, am I right? Tryouts bring out the absolute worst side of the parents. Comparison and bickering. We have all read the nasty posts some people will make, anonymously I must add, about a team in the same league and sometimes even name certain athletes. The pressure can literally cause a kid to crumble. Let’s not forget the fights between parent and athlete about the amount of effort being given into a sport they have also invested time, money, and energy into.

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Competitive sports can be a sucking black hole. What starts off harmless can turn into a life and family controlling monster. You’ve been warned! So before you dedicate some of the most important years of your family’s life over to a sport, make sure to constantly be checking your priorities.

Sports may feel like everything to a competitive athlete, but as a former college athlete let me tell you, it isn’t everything. You are more than an athlete. You are a valuable person and have worth whether you are the captain or sitting on the sidelines with a sprained ankle. Let sports give life to you and never take it away. Let sports bring you and your family opportunities to grow closer together, not further apart. And finally, do not ever let your identity be bound up in a sport.

As parents or athletes, can we vow to stay in control of the sport and not let the sport be the one in control?

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I’m interested to hear from you! What is the good, bad, and ugly you’ve seen in the competitive sports world? 

Posted in Encouragement, Family, School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Clothing Conversation I Wish We Would Have Had Earlier

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If you have a Facebook, you have probably seen this article. With all of the commotion it has caused, I would like to take the opportunity to talk about modesty. This post is written for the young women and women out there, but men please feel free to chime in as well. 

Girls, why are clothes so much work? For a moment can we remember all the time we have spent staring at a closet full of clothes thinking, “I have nothing to wear.” You and I both know that statement is ridiculous, but we truly feel that way in the moment. We will try on three different tops before giving up and settling on what we have on. It took us ten minutes longer than we were hoping to get dressed, but it’s just the way it is.

The days we are feeling really ahead, we start piecing together our outfit while still in the shower. Hoping by the time we have to actually put the outfit on our body we will get it right the first time. (Which never really happens, right?)

Why is it so hard to get dressed? My husband can walk to the closet, grab pants and a shirt and be happy. Then there’s me, gazing into my closet as if something amazing is going to happen for a solid five minutes before I touch anything. We obviously care what we look like, but I don’t think retailers disclose everything that comes along with the article of clothing they are selling. Of course they want us to wear their product everywhere, but are they looking out for us or for themselves?

Have you noticed the new trends over the last couple of years? Yoga pants, leggings, and those crop top shirts (you know the ones that show off your toned tummy). A little more revealing than the past couple trends for sure (remember the over-sized sweaters?). They are cute, and they are flattering, and they are easy to put on and feel confident about. Especially if you have been working hard to achieve a healthy body, you might want to flaunt your hard work. When you look in the mirror, you see something you like. So did I! I wore yoga pants and leggings for years before marrying my husband. I worked out and it was easy to just wear the same workout clothes as regular clothes throughout the day. They are much more pleasing than sweatpants, am I right?

After marrying my husband, I began to notice men more. Why? Because my husband would be calling them out in the store as we’d walk by. Men I didn’t even really notice until after the words, “Hey man, what are you looking at?” would fly out of my husband’s mouth. I certainly love sharing my body with my husband, but men at the grocery store? No thank you. 

He hate’s to see men, as he says, “undressing me with their eyes”–and I don’t blame him! I don’t like it either!

My girlfriends would all tell you the same. When we walk by men, say at the store, we don’t really see them. As teenagers we might have hoped a young man would see us, but we would never let them know we saw them. We hoped they thought we looked beautiful, but that would be the end of the encounter–mostly left in our head.

I hate saying this, girls, but not all men are going to respect us. It’s not our fault, but we do need to stop pretending that we are going to get the respect we deserve as women in a world filled with lust. There are so many great men out there, like my husband, who will do their best to look away from a beautiful figure and to give the respect that woman deserves. But we need to acknowledge there are areas we can control, to some measure, the way we are admired.

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Our clothing is not the problem at it’s core, but we can lessen the problem with our clothing.

My friends, we deserve to be treated with respect. Respect that leggings and yoga pants might be taking away from us without our knowledge.

Don’t think for a second, that in order to be attractive you must wear form fitting clothes. Especially if the man respects you he will be attracted to you for you. Not the tight black pants that reveal the exact shape of your booty. Out of all the days I wore yoga pants in college, the day I met my future husband I was wearing a baggy shirt and soccer shorts. Who would have thought? He thought I was beautiful anyway, and continues to prove his love for me by demanding respect from other men as well.

Do I still enjoy yoga pants? Oh you bet! I wear them almost anytime I am home. However, I make sure if I have leggings on as pants when I leave the house, there is a dress covering anything revealing. It’s a win-win.

When I leave the house I feel covered with respect, and I want you to be covered in respect too. So I would say taking ten extra minutes to gaze into our closets making sure we are also dressing our bodies with respect is well worth it. Do you think so?

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Posted in Freedom, School, Vulnerable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Writing Changes Things

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Why do I write? 

The question has echoed in my head more than once, maybe you’ve heard the same? This question is healthy–sort of a reality check. Without a vision of where we’re heading it can be hard to see the meaning of what we are doing now.

So why do I write?

First, I want to achieve greatness. This is the driving force in all of us, we want to be great–and that is such a good thing. Maybe we don’t understand how we are great or will become great, but we all have hope to be great. We want to make a difference and writing is a special opportunity to reach an audience tailored to the writers’ genre. Someday I vision being much more than a blog, much more than another post in your reader. I see books, traveling, opportunity, and a community. Can you see it? 

Second, my heart longs to be needed. Isn’t it funny that when we give or serve others we feel worth? While it is fun to be the one receiving a gift, there is an even better feeling when you know you have given a good gift. I write in hope to give a part of myself as encouragement. We all understand the special joy that comes along with an amazing comment. It’s validation. They get it, they get us. We did something and it feels really good.

Third, I’m angry. When I hear stories of people who have been hurt, I hurt with them. Badly. Some of you have had to go through (and are going through) just flat out awful circumstances–I want to help. The best way I know how is by reaching out and becoming vulnerable. There is healing in a good conversation and I hope to start more and more of those here.

Fourth, writing is fun. I would have never thought I would find myself here and I think that is why I question it so often. I enjoy reading what you have to say and I enjoy being able to get an entire idea out without being interrupted. Life likes to interrupt, but no matter what my words will be here waiting for me to finish…. them. 🙂

Finally, because writing changes things. Writing can change attitudes, hearts, minds, and opinions. It can breathe life. Writing makes a difference.

As I’m sure there are a handful of other reasons I write, this is all my brain would like to spit out at the moment. So my fellow writer friend, why do you write? 

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Skip the Homework

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You’ll be fine. Really, it’s not that important. You’re smart enough. 

I remember vividly in High School telling myself I could get by without doing the homework. As long as I kept my grades up, I did as little as possible. My friends and I would work on separate parts of the packets and exchange answers. I mean come on, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Right?

Thankfully, I joined a class that was just above head. No longer could I skip the homework or copy off of a friend. The tests were hard. The class? Calculus. Yes, I was a numbers girl. Math just made sense to me and the tests were always easy. (Now, make me do a book report and I’d be all over spark notes–how’d I start blogging?)

Easy until Calculus that is. I needed at least a B, and the first test came back… well below a B. Here was my wake up call. I had a choice to make. Rise up to the challenge and do the homework (all of it) or continue in my ways and hope to just pass the class.

Our teacher held each one of us accountable and was going to do everything in his power to see us succeed. So you can imagine I opted for the homework.

Night after night, hour after hour. I studied harder than I ever had and guess what? I finished with an A-. YES. But it’s about so much more than the grade.

Homework is about conditioning yourself. Homework is where you can truly see someone’s character. Homework is where we grow.

After school we still have homework. We see all the things we can easily ‘skip over’ to just get by. Individually, each chore we skip over doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. But they add up–sometimes quicker than we could imagine.

Maybe it’s a car, skipping an oil change. Maybe it’s in a job, not replying to a couple of emails. Maybe it’s a marriage, skipping date night. Maybe it’s in your faith, skipping on quiet time with your Bible.

Whatever IT is, homework is never a hindrance–it is a gift. When we do our homework we shine in the test. Homework is where we put in all the extra hours, blood, sweat, and tears. Why? So that the test will seem easy. We will be prepared–won’t even need that 5×7 double sided note card.

Now, more than ever, I am grateful for the challenge I received in that Senior Calculus class. Friends, when we fail a test in life we are faced with a choice–do nothing or study harder. Let’s get that late night coffee and have ourselves a study party shall we? I’ll be in the library and there’s an extra chair.

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Who is the Next Version of You?

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Take a look where you’ve been. Who you were. What is different about the person you are right now? Are you more patient? Do you spend your money differently? Do you think about your future more? Do you keep up with current events now? What makes you different from the person you were 5 years ago? What about the person you were 10 years ago?

Sometimes we get stuck in the mud of who we are right now. We limit ourselves by thinking, “at least I’m not as ____ as I used to be.” Welp, that’s no excuse!

In school we learn, grow, and eventually move on to the next grade. It’s not much of a surprise that the same thing is happening to us in general! Today will hand us a new set of circumstances to decipher. Something we have never gone through or heard before will mold us a little bit. Unfortunately, this has been happening without our acknowledgement and preventing the awareness of who we are becoming.

Who are you 5 years from now? What is different about that person? Are they a better listener? More involved with their family? A better gift giver? What is it that makes them the next version of you?

It’s going to take some practice before we can figure out what steps we need to take to become our future self, and we are going to mess up every once and awhile. Grace will come in handy, so make sure to keep a little extra with you at all times.

I’ll tell you what, the next version of me is more patient with a screaming toddler. She takes an extra deep breath before dealing with a tantrum. She is more thoughtful with her belongings, and less anxious about hosting a group. I might be Emily 4.0 right now, who is still valuable, but Emily 5.0 is of higher quality. I know Emily 5.0 will look back on Emily 4.0 with grace, and hopefully she’ll be getting a lesson or two from Emily 6.0.

You 2.0 is right around the corner waiting patiently. The next time we find ourselves in a situation with room to grow, can we stop to ask our future selves how we would handle it? Maybe, just maybe, we’ll upgrade a little quicker then it takes for the next iPhone version 🙂

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I must give credit to this idea from the outstanding Bob Goff, author of Love Does. My husband and I have heard him speak, and if you ever have the opportunity to hear him, go! You will not regret it. His book, Love Does, is also a life changing read.  

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