Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. --John Milton

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When Life First Sparks

So Little One, I'll tell you a story.

In the very beginning, God said, "Let there be light." And there was dazzling, swirling, blazing, spectacular light.

Now let me tell you your story. In the very beginning of you, God said, "Let there be life." And with His Word and a flash you suddenly were.

The power of His Word swirls through you, extending fingers, connecting neurons. And as he spoke into the primal darkness, as he spoke into Israel's despair, as he spoke into a virgin's womb - He spoke you.

And there was light.

Enjoy this with fresh wonder ...

The burst of light at the moment of conception

Monday, April 25, 2016

Your Beautiful Face (six months pregnant)

So they say you're as long as an ear of corn.

And your lungs are already ready to give breathing a try.

Do you have my nose? Dad's smile? Every magnificent detail of your face is now crafted. God has formed your features and steps back to admire. He's eager to surprise me with the gift of you and I long to see my wonder.

Keep growing strong and happy. We love you.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Mama's Fierce Love (Aidan's story continued)

Some nurses are wonderfully considerate. Others are understandably just going through the motions of the job. If anything is out of the ordinary, it can make a nurse uncomfortable. What do you do when a nurse and a pediatrician tell you that you are a bad mom? Aidan is one tough cookie. One nurse tries to pry Baby from her arms, another grabs her wheelchair to move her. 

Once baby Micaiah graced our world, he was silently crying. He came straight to my chest, Ricky cut the cord, but still no noise.

They were constantly suctioning out fluid from his throat and nose, but he had apparently swallowed a bit too much fluid on his way out of the birth canal. They had to take him to the incubator to keep clearing out his airways. Daddy’s job after delivery is to follow baby, so off they went.

The doula stayed with me and soothingly kept me in the know because I had no idea what was happening.

They took baby Micaiah to the NICU.

I tested positive for having the vaginal bacteria GBS (Group B Strep) and did not know it until right then. Since baby swallowed so much fluid coming out, the bacteria could cause pneumonia or an infection in his lungs. Baby Micaiah would need antibiotics, almost immediately. But they needed our permission.

Well, I just tried my hardest to avoid all medications for L&D, and we purposefully have a birth plan that Ricky enforces to keep baby practically untouched by the medical staff. So, wanting to be cautious and prayerful about this, we asked if we, the parents, could have a moment to pray and discuss it together before making a decision.

The pediatric doctor did not like that; he expected immediate and complete compliance. He grew quite upset and gave us 15 minutes come to a conclusion.

We ended up consenting to the antibiotics, which were to be administered over 48 hours in the NICU.

I got to go visit baby Micaiah several hours later for the first time since birth. The caveat: I was not suppose to breastfeed him for 24 hours, until his lungs were all cleared out. I held him skin-to-skin and watched all four of his stats improve – yay, go Mom!

My mom and doula were present and suggested that I attempt nursing him. I wanted to and thought that I would diligently monitor the stats while I tried and take baby Micaiah off the breast if any stat began to decrease. After he eagerly latched on and gulped for about 10 seconds, my mom and doula joked about how baby Micaiah was starving and left the NICU.

Not a moment after that, the head nurse yanked our privacy curtain open and very loudly and angrily chastised us for breastfeeding him against their admonition. I, of course, detached baby Micaiah but continued to hold him on my skin. The nurse told me to hand baby Micaiah over because I was trying to kill my baby. I calmly told her I wouldn’t hand him over precisely because I care for my baby’s survival (remember, all of his stats improved in my arms). She then tried to grab him away from me, but I held tightly to my little one. A crowd began to gather. In a hysterical rage, the nurse shouted many accusations and other horrible things that any new mother should never hear.

Somehow, God allowed me to have such calm, peace of mind, attentiveness, and self-control during all of this, just hours after giving birth. (Ricky and I were amazed because that is not my nature at all!)

Then, the patient liaison began to pull me (my wheelchair) backwards. I turned my head and told her that what she was doing was physical abuse. That stopped her.

Soon, I gave baby Micaiah back.

We went back to our room. A minute later, the same pediatric doctor stuck his head in and informed us that he had called DSS on us because of our bad attitudes. Ricky and I looked at each other completely baffled.

Obviously, the government thinks it is the owner of each person (citizen) and just loans our children to us. If we do not automatically and fully comply with what they say, then they revoke our parenting privilege and step in to take over their “rightful” ownership role. Yep, it’s scary.

Anyway, I got to start breastfeeding baby Micaiah the next day. He was fine and had no problems.

We got to leave after three nights there. The entire nursing staff either avoided us or walked on eggshells around us. No one wanted to get caught becoming friendly with the rogue patients.

DSS did pay us a visit – and found it to be a waste of time.

My doula encouraged me to share my story with the hospital’s nurse administrator. I realized that, by God’s grace, I was able to handle the whole fiasco. But, I would never want any other new mom to endure that. So, I interviewed with her, stressing that she needed to teach and train her staff in humility, propriety, service and self-control. She was very disheartened by the story, yet determined to make a change.

I (Charis) recently got to be part of a birth at this same hospital. They have updated the facility with a team of midwives. I am confident this is because Aidan and perhaps other customers had the courage to speak up.

(Catch up on Aidan's precious story.)

Monday, April 11, 2016

When is Your Due Date?

Did you know Baby is normal full-term development from 38 weeks until 42 weeks? So 40 weeks is just the average. If Baby is ready to come at 39 weeks or 41 weeks, she is not early or late.

I think of Frodo telling Gandalf: "You're late." And of course Gandalf says: "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to."

Let's ask America's midwife Ina Mae Gaskin what she thinks.
"Over the last decade or so, many women have come to believe (erroneously) that it is safe -- even good -- to have their labors induced by the time they get to 38 or 39 weeks of pregnancy. As they approach their estimated due dates, many women undergo a lot of pressure from well-meaning friends and relatives to choose labor induction. One of the unfortunate results of this social/medical fad is the birth of the most preventable category of premature infants, those whose due dates were misestimated. This is a common mistake, since many women don't remember the date of their last period and ultrasonographic diagnoses aren't always accurate.
Contrary to many people's beliefs, a pregnancy is not post-term until 41.5 weeks. My practice experience indicates that a 42 or 43-week pregnancy may be optimal in some women. My conclusion is that it doesn't necessarily make sense to induce labor for that indication alone." (317-318)
I'm reading an eighth edition 1948 Handbook of Obstetrics. While this was a time of new ideas for regulating birth in the hospital, obstetrics still recognized wide variation in pregnancy.
"The length of pregnancy varies greatly; it may range, indeed, between such wide extremes as 240 days and 300 days [34-42 weeks], The average duration, counting from the time of conception, is nine and a half lunar months, that is, 38 weeks, or 266 days. Counting from the first day of the last menstrual period, its average length is ten lunar months, or 40 weeks or 280 days. That these average figures mean very little, however, is shown by the following facts. Scarcely one pregnancy in ten terminates exactly 280 days after the beginning of the last period. Less than one-half terminate within one week of this 280th day. In 10 per cent of cases birth occurs a week or more before the theoretical end of pregnancy and in another 10 per cent it takes place more than two weeks later than we would expect from the average figures cited above. Indeed, it would appear that some children require a longer time, others a shorter time, in the uterus for full development. In view of the wide variation in the length of pregnancy, it is obviously impossible to predict the expected day of confinement with any degree of precision."
It goes on to explain how to count from the last period and notes:
"While it may be satisfying to the curiosity to have this date in mind, it must be understood that the likelihood of labor's occurring even withing a week of this day is less than 50 per cent. There is one chance in ten that it will come at least two weeks later. And yet, whether pregnancy terminates a week before or two weeks later than the day calculated, the outlook for mother and baby is usually just as good as if it had ended at 'high noon' on the due date. Actually, women seldom go 'over-term'; in most cases it is the above system of calculation and not Nature which has erred. For example, ovulation and hence conception may have occurred some days later than calculated; this error would make the beginning and the end of pregnancy just that many days later. If, superimposed on this circumstance, we were dealing with a baby which required a slightly longer stay in the uterus for complete development, it would be clear that the apparent delay was quite normal and for the best." (88-89)
What do you say when a friend asks, "When is he due?" I like to say, "He's a spring baby." Or "My guess date is December 20th." This time, 40 weeks happens to be in the middle of the month, so I say, "He is due in August." If my friend wants to know what day exactly, I explain, "He is full-term anytime during the month." Sometimes I grin, "I don't know - he hasn't told me yet."

More info? Try Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Mama Knows (Aidan's story)

My friend Aidan knows God made her a life-giver and she knows when baby's ready to come! I trust that nurses and doctors who ignore a woman's instincts once, don't make that mistake again. Notice that they only paid attention to dilation - not what the laboring woman was saying.

While my first birth had clearly defined stages, no complications, and went according to my plans, this birth was drastically different in every way, except one: I was able to have another natural childbirth with no medical intervention — for the labor and delivery, anyway. (Here was my birth plan.)


We drove to the hospital, which took 50 minutes due to traffic. When we were five minutes away, I started to feel pressure and told Ricky that he better get there fast. [Now, I am not one to cry wolf, so we all knew what that meant: birth in the car might be a possibility.] My mom started praying loudly from the back of the van.

We made it there. I thought that the baby would fall out if I moved and got up, though.

I got to a room a few minutes later. All the nurses were taking their sweet time — wanting a fetal heart monitor and a hep-lock. A nurse checked my cervix: 8 cm dilated and not completely effaced yet. I told them that it didn’t matter how my progress seemed because they were not going to have time for any of what they wanted. This baby was coming! (A woman knows her body.) They ignored me and tried anyway. The doctor came and checked me and left. Not even a minute passed when I shouted that I had to push, NOW! They scrambled to get the doctor back. I rolled onto my side and cried out for my doula. In an instant, my water burst on its own, and I became fully dilated and effaced. I pushed for 20 minutes before baby Micaiah arrived. [I was at the hospital 35 minutes before Micaiah came — talk about cutting it close (not recommended).]

Read the whole story on Aidan's blog!

More info on dilation and instincts? Here are scholarly articles by Midwife Thinking: The Assessment of Progress and Stages of Labour and Collusion