Friday, March 21, 2014

Canaan's Birth Story

At exactly 36 weeks I woke up on a Sunday morning feeling labor-ish. I felt like Canaan had dropped, Jeff said my belly looked lower, my pelvic bones felt like they were splitting in half, I felt emotional, and major nesting instincts kicked in. This put us on edge feeling like the baby was going to come at any moment as I hadn’t gone through this with either of our other babies.

A couple weeks went by and it was a few days after the 38 week mark for me and I woke up having contractions. They were sporadic, but I was consistently having them. I also lost my mucous plug which happened very close to when Gracie’s labor started. We figured this was probably a slow start to labor so Jeff stayed home for a little while and I decided I was fine to be home with the kids while he went to work to finish things up. My contractions started, stopped, then started again and at about 11:30am I called to have Jeff come home. As soon as he came home, they stopped once again. A little while after that we asked my mom to come over and be here in case anything changed right away. As soon as she got here, we got the kids down for a nap and we went for a long walk, but still no contractions. I rested for a while, but couldn’t sleep. Finally, around dinner time I decided I wanted to go to Costco to stock up on some things for after the baby came. As soon as we left I started having a few contractions again, mostly 7-8 minutes apart and nothing too intense. When we got there, I started to have some contractions and wasn’t feeling in the mood for browsing anymore. As we were walking to the car I started having painful contractions 3 ½ minutes apart. Of course, we came home and they stopped…for 2 more weeks!

To everyone’s surprise I hit my due date…plus five. On the eve of the fourth night passed my due date, my midwife this time, Ramona, sent me a text that she was heading out of town. I knew about this trip months in advance but was certain I wouldn’t go late and I was putting a lot of hope in my birth for her to be there. For most of this pregnancy I was struggling to trust God that He would get me through this labor and delivery. I had high hopes of how it would go, and was holding on to every other tangible thing to get that, except for Him. In the last few months of my pregnancy I was praying hard that He would give me strength to surrender while also meditating on his words that He would be sufficient. When I got the text from Ramona that night, I immediately started to cry. In part, because I was sad that we wouldn’t get to share that moment with her, but also in part because it was so very clear to me that God was saying, “I am enough. Trust in me.” He had slowly been taking away the tangible things I was putting my hope in, and Ramona was the last thing there was to take, 5 days beyond my due date. In that moment, I got it and I was ready to surrender. Jeff and I went to bed that night and I felt at peace about the labor we were going to have, however it would go.

The next morning was a Friday and Jeff got up and ready for work as usual. When Gracie woke up at 7:30 I got up to get her and I realized I was having contractions already. This wasn’t shocking as I had been having them for weeks. The contractions were fairly weak and about 7-10 minutes apart, but consistent. Jeff waited around with me for about 15 minutes and was going to head out for the day, but I asked him to wait another 15 minutes to see if they kept coming. Sure enough, they kept coming. I think I was somewhat in denial that this was REALLY labor since we had played the start and stop game before. Jeff made a few phone calls and we started to prepare for the day. Things were pretty slow for a while, but it was nice. It gave me time to wrap my head around what was happening. At about 9:30 my mother-in-law came over to get Noah and Gracie and as soon as she left I got in the tub. Jeff called Sherry, who was our doula, and she was set to come over. I labored in the tub for about an hour with contractions 2-3 minutes apart. It must have helped because I kept asking if they were slowing down. I was fighting fear that labor would stop and I would do all of this work for nothing…and be pregnant forever. They assured me, contractions were close, it was not slowing down, and I would have this baby today.

I decided to get out and move around a bit. We moved from couch, to floor, to a different couch and had a nice little snack. A little after 11:00am, Jeff and Sherry encouraged me to get ready to go. We had a long drive with the freeway closed that day and my transition from home to hospital was pretty stressful with Gracie’s birth. They gave me a little while to say, “No”, but then started moving me along. I got a change of clothes and we left. The whole way there Jeff had his hand on my leg and we listened to “How great thou art” on replay. This was a song I had been listening to and picturing myself giving birth to months prior to this day. It was so encouraging!
We pulled up to the hospital and I felt like walking in. We slowly walked down a long hall with lots of staring people. As we walked into the ER to check in, the lady at the desk asked if I was in labor and how far along I was. When I replied, “five days late”, she quickly moved paperwork and acknowledged I was definitely in labor. I sat in a wheel chair and was trying not to cry. We were there. This is where it was going to happen. It was REALLY happening. I was nervous for the transition to triage, but was also feeling like we had gotten one part of the whole process done. They quickly wheeled me up to triage and debated whether or not to take me to a room, but none were ready so we got started in triage.

They checked me and I was 6cm. I quickly remembered that this is where things went down-hill with Gracie and it made me nervous again. They made Sherry go to the waiting room and Jeff and I got “settled” into triage. When the nurse left my contractions started feeling more intense and I was getting really uncomfortable. As she walked in again I asked if our doula, could come back and she very kindly went and brought Sherry back to us. As Sherry walked in I remember having two or three contractions that were much more intense. At this point, my eyes were closed and I was just going with it. I had another contraction, pushed a little, and according to Jeff, my water “exploded”. In that moment, I was having a baby, but still didn’t realize how far along in the process I was. Jeff yelled, “WHOA!” and Sherry said,”Jeff, why don’t you go get one of the nurses and let her know what’s going on”. I started feeling really, really hot. Pretty soon, our nurse was back and at Sherry’s advice she checked me. All I remember was, she lifted the sheet and I heard, “Oh my goodness, we are having this baby right now!!” Pretty soon Sherry was dabbing my head with water and the space we had in triage was filling with other staff. My midwife, Kim, walked in and I heard the nurse ask, “Should we wheel her to a room?” to which Kim replied, “We don’t have time!”  And just like that I was pushing, for real. I was completely coherent, surrendered, but it was happening so fast I didn’t have time to process what I should do; I was just doing what my body needed to do. It was 3 or 4 contractions and our big, blue baby boy was out. It was surreal. It was the greatest moment of my life. I felt like I trained for a marathon, was nervous about it, and conquered it…and came out with the perfect addition to our family. I think one of the first things I said was “Is it really over? I did it?” Jeff put his head on my shoulder and sobbed for a quick minute as we took in what just happened and adored our sweet baby. One of the nurses exclaimed, “You just had a baby in triage!!!”
Soon after, they wheeled us down to the delivery room… with our baby in hand. I was on cloud 9 holding our baby as they moved us down the hallway. It felt like a victory lap. It was a dream come true birth and beautiful moment for Jeff and I, as well as our family. I’m forever grateful for the lessons God taught me through this time in my life, for the birth He gave me, and for the beautiful son, Canaan, that He blessed us with.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some marital honesty

I remember the first 6 months of marriage as mostly being incredibly challenging and not very fun. Jeff and I are both pretty selfish creatures. We both like to get our way and, like most, we had much learning and maturing to do that first year of marriage. Who knew the kind of effort and selflessness marriage would require? Really, the first year was very challenging but with people around us who knew and loved us we learned and grew so much. Thankfully, things started to seem much more fluid after the first year.

After several years of waiting, we decided to try and get pregnant. Very quickly, we did, and we had our son, Noah. The whole pregnancy, birth, first days and months were such a beautiful time for us. Everything was new and exciting, we clung to Jesus and each other in the challenging moments, but it was all so beautiful. Jeff and I were a team and we had a family!
When my dad died, Noah was only seven months old. He was slowly becoming less- baby and more-toddler which presented new, busier challenges. When he was 10 months old I became pregnant with Gracie. We were ecstatic and had been waiting for the time that we could get pregnant again (after needing to wait 9 months due to my c-section). As exciting as it was, reality hit not long after finding out. I had been exhausted from grieving the death of my dad and now entered a very, tiring first trimester…all the while still adjusting to parenthood in general and chasing after a busy baby boy. Somewhere in the middle of that pregnancy Jeff and I got really off track. His job was at the peak of a new transition, he was traveling a lot, I was pregnant, and although I don’t think I realized it, I was very much still grieving the loss of my dad. In hindsight, it was the beginning of feeling like we were completely falling apart.

Months later, we had Gracie. Her birth was a successful VBAC and such a beautiful moment for our whole family. But in all honesty, it was very much tainted by how distant from each other Jeff and I were becoming. We were lacking our “oneness” which really stood out in such an intimate time. It makes us both so sad now, but I remember Gracie’s first days as being challenging, lonely, and painful…much different than the first days of Noah.

Still adjusting to life with two kids and a fussy baby, we started house hunting when Gracie was four months old. That. Was. Brutal. But thank God, it brought so much to the surface. We came dangerously and painfully close to a breaking point. We needed help and finally came to a place where we had nothing left to do but ask for it. With a friend, who loves us like a dad and served us a mediator one evening, we sat in our living room being open, honest, yelling, and crying. Our friend loved us and was also honest with us. It was a hard night, but a turning point. This particular night was also right after we got back from our annual summer vacation to San Diego (that was also tainted and crummy). Vacation buzz kill!

This year, we went to San Diego and completely enjoyed each other. We probably said a thousand times, “wow, it’s so nice to actually like each other this year”. Marriage is crazy. Life is crazy. Little kids who are completely dependent make both of those things even crazier, but it’s so much easier when we are walking in the rolls that Lord has given each of us and when we’re working to serve each other and not ourselves. Throw in obvious things like laying down pride and communicating and there’s a much better recipe for success than we were using before.   

That being said, there was much time to reflect this last week having been away. I may have had a near break-down over a sub sandwich one afternoon, but other than that we went on vacation in a great place and we came home in a great place (also a new house- thank you Lord!). I’m so grateful for the work that the Lord has done in both of us over the last year. I’m grateful for how and what he has taught us, for people who love us when we need to be loved, and for our growing family. We have nine or so weeks until we meet our son and it’s nothing but exciting. I’m so proud of my husband and I feel privileged to journey through life with him.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh, sweet productivity!

One of the many frustrations for me in the life of kids has been my inability to get things done. Before kids, I could run errands for any time of day, throw a party on a whim, paint a room on a Tuesday because I felt like it, reorganize my cabinets, etc. etc... Now, with two kids who are 19 months apart and another on the way I either take weeks to get one of these things done, I get a babysitter, or I just tell myself that in 10 years I'll (hopefully) have the time to do it.

With an employee recently leaving Jeff's family's business, he hasn't traveled for weeks (which has been a.mazing!), but on his last trip away I decided to grab the bull by the horns and paint Noah's room. Of course, this meant starting the job after the kids went down for the night and staying up until about 2:30 am. It took me two nights of this to get Noah's room finished but it felt so good when it was done.

Every room in our house desperately needs color, but I decided to start with the kids' since they had this awful white-with-a- ting-of-pink paint on the walls and ceilings. Hideous! My first dilemma was, since Noah and Gracie will be sharing a room for a time, I needed to make it something neutral yet colorful. Noah's room has a nice molding on the walls so I painted the top a light gray and the bottom pure white. As soon as I can get my hands on some yellow fabric I'm going to do yellow curtains and accent Gracie's part of the room with purples and Noah's with blues.

Three weeks ago we found out baby #3 is another...BOY! What is now Gracie's room will be the baby's nursery for at least a year so I was waiting to see what the gender of this baby was before painting. We went with a nice green to really add a pop of color. I felt like I was in the center of an avocado at first, but it's growing on me. It goes perfectly with the bedding in Gracie's room now and will go perfectly with what I used for Noah's nursery and what will likely be #3's soon too. I need to pick out some fabric for the curtains in there also. Curtains are the next priority on my to-do list!

Jeff could go the rest of his life without changing a thing in our home and as satisfying as it was to have those rooms painted, I have officially moved on to the next project. Now that I have some color, I see the light and I can't stop running towards it! I think I often frustrate Jeff for having so many "projects" but it's so much more than a project to me. Our home is where I do everything. It's our sanctuary. I want it to be warm, inviting, and comfortable. The projects that I come up with aren't out of a place of discontent but a desire to make our house OUR home. I feel like it's my duty.

For now, here are pictures of the kids' semi-finished rooms. I guess I could have waited until I got the curtains done, but let's be honest, that's probably still at least a month away. I'm hoping to paint our living room, family room and kitchen next. By next, I mean before the baby gets here. T-minus five months and counting!



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Whoa, baby!

If two wasn't crazy enough, sometime in mid-October there will be THREE little Markins' in our home. Yep, I'm pregnant! Aside from, at this moment, feeling slightly defeated after having three of the most challenging days with Gracie this week, we are ecstatic!

We were actually a little bit surprised this time around, which makes this third pregnancy even more unique and exciting. Gracie hasn't been an easy baby and after she was born I told God I needed at least a year before I got pregnant again. (Wasn't it nice of him to listen to me?) As Jeff has been traveling more, and some days, it still feels like we're adjusting to two, we started talking about waiting another year. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I can hear God laughing because the next day I took a test and saw that little, blue plus sign. Jeff traveled a lot that month and things just seemed slow, you know what I mean? Surprise! We're having a baby!

I actually really enjoy being pregnant. I love the miracle that it is and don't take it for granted. I'm relieved and grateful that God has spared me from longing for a baby and not being able to conceive. For us, getting pregnant has been easy. It seems so basic, but I know it is a challenging and painful process for many these days. We have known so, so many friends who have suffered loss or infertility. Praise be to God that we have not. Although, I do need to remind myself regularly that this baby is His from the git-go.

Our first pregnancy was exciting because of all of the firsts. I was dying to buy maternity clothes, feel little kicks, understand what people meant when they said "I feel as big as a house" (which I did). Our second pregnancy was exciting because, after losing my dad, we had new life to look forward to. Would this baby be a brother for Noah, or would it be a new experience, a girl? It felt new all over again once we found out that it was, in fact, a girl.

This time, it's just exciting for reasons I can't even explain. Maybe it's the surprise aspect, I don't know, but it feels new yet again. Whether we had a preference or not on sex the last two times, there is NO pressure this time. It just feels like a really special bonus baby! We're comfortable doing the boy thing and just as comfortable doing the girl thing. I will say, my instinct is that it's a boy. I have had some nausea this time around just as I had with Noah and I'm in love with salty foods again. With Gracie, all I wanted was sweets and sleep!

No one in either of our families have ventured to three kids, so this is also exciting. We're "heading into uncharted waters" as Jeff likes to say. That's slightly frightening when I say it out loud, but we have such great community and support around us, I know we will be okay. One kid had it's crazy moments, 2 has definitely had it's crazy moments, so I know to expect that 3 will also have it's crazy moments. I have had several people tell me that the third is the easiest, and I'll admit, I'm clinging to that a little bit.

I'm 9.5 weeks now and keeping it a secret was too hard. Throw in that fact that I think I might be showing already and it was time to tell.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Seems like forever

Two years. It has been two whole years since I have seen my dad. It feels like forever since I have heard his laugh or been able to give him a hug. I miss him dearly and as this two year mark has been approaching, I have been thinking about him and reflecting on his life for some weeks now.

So much has changed in the last two years. In February of last year I was anxiously (and nervously) awaiting the birth of my daughter. Gracie arrived beautifuly and has added so much to our family. Needless to say, it has been sad that my dad hasn't been able to be a part of her first days, weeks, and months. A friend summed it up best when she affirmed me that in all of the happy moments, there will always be a bit of sadness. Sadness for what is not and for what is different. It's just the way it is.

Everyone says it, but the rate that kids grow and change is unreal. Noah was seven months old when my dad passed. He was practically still a blob. Now, he's running, playing with friends, and developing more and more personality by the second. I have these moments where I try and picture how my dad would play with him and it makes me a little bit sad. Sometimes, it's because he isn't here to share in these moments. Sometimes it's because, in all honesty, it's hard to picture at all. Things are different now. One thing is for sure; he would have been a great grandpa to my kids. Afterall, he was a great man.

I can be such a realist sometimes that it's annoying. Even when I want to be sad and feel sorry for myself my thoughts always come full circle to what is true. In the moments of sadness, I am reminded of the fact that these moments are temporary. Praise be to God for that! Jeff and I have a very close friend who would be close to my dad's age. There are so many similarities between them, it's funny. This friend of ours recently said something that was "so my dad", and as I thought about it later I was telling Jeff that I wish they could have gotten to know each other as I think they would have been good friends. He completely caught me off-gaurd when he said, "and I think they will be in Heaven". I had a slow drip of tears for about 30 minutes. It was sad because they can't be friends now, but oh so beautiful because someday they can be. Thankfully, I was once again reminded that the pain and struggles of this life are temporary. This life is temporary.

I am so grateful to know that God called my dad. That He has called me. That someday I get to introduce him to my kids, and to our friends. I will get to laugh with him again. Someday, there won't be any sadness associated with these sweet moments. I am thankful that someday, God's going to restore this life. Until that day, I will continue to press forward and find my hope and peace in Him.