Update on Baby Girl

38 Weeks Pregnant- Chad and I
I apologize for the recent silence. It has been an emotional two weeks for Chad and I as we have had to navigate a couple of difficult decisions preparing for baby girls arrival. Here is an update on what’s been happening.
We decided at 37 weeks to pursue another doctors opinion on turning her from the breech position. The manual version very much felt like our best option to try to get her to move especially since we would be monitoring her in the hospital and would have doctors present in case something happened to lead to her distress. We literally could get her out in two minutes if needed.Our last doctor did not feel I was a good candidate for it. This was discouraging and led us to choosing another doctor at 37 weeks. God is really faithful though, he provided a perfect fit doctor that has really helped Chad and I have peace moving forward.  I know there are lots of techniques to try to get her to spin, but some of them make me uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s mother’s intuition or just my own paranoia but I have a great resistance to some of them.
The Version
So we scheduled this procedure with our new doctor. And in true Colorado form we went from 70 degree weather to a blizzard in 24 hours. So in a blizzard Chad and I ventured to the hospital to try to help sweet girl turn. We checked in and had a nice room to wait in while to snow pelted the windows. We were nervous. Quickly nursing staff came in and began asking me lots of questions and then hooking me to an IV. I am not a fan of needles. And unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of things my IV got ripped from my arm.Guys, in case you are wondering, it hurts pretty bad when that happens. Once they got that back in, we were hooked up to monitors and they watched baby girls heartbeat for a bit.
The doctors walked in and began prepping us for what was going to happen. An answer to prayer was both doctors that were performing the procedure were very calming. I was really nervous but they both grabbed my hands and just talked me through things. We met the anesthesiologist and went through worst case scenarios. A version required them to press on my abdomen and manually try to coax her to turn. They told me they would try no more then four times to keep me and baby safe. As much as we all wanted her to turn, the goal was to avoid fetal distress and an emergency c-section.
They gave me some medication to relax my uterus and then began the procedure. The medication simulates flight or fight in your body. Imagine your heart racing, and your arms going numb and your whole body feeling like something horrible was happening. Maybe running from a grizzly in the woods?
My body’s response to this feeling was hyperventilation as “fleeing from a grizzly” feeling started taking over. Nurses were trying to coach me through the panic and they put oxygen on me which really helped. I was also slightly upside down to try to help the docs with the version. Their pressing on my belly hurt too, but I was very distracted by the situation of my heart racing and arms going numb. After try number one, they looked at me and told me that baby girl wedged her little head up under my rib cage. They were going to give it one more try but because it was really difficult to get a hand on her to help her turn, they were not sure it was going to work. They had been pressing pretty hard near my rib cage to try to pull her out from underneath. Chad told me later it was pretty weird to watch. He could literally see the outline of her body as they tried to maneuver her.
The second try went much better in that my breathing was more in control and I didn’t feel like I was in quite so much of a panic. Chad was holding my hand and helping me focus on my breathing. I was more aware of the pain of them pressing on my belly as they tried to turn her. She was doing great on the monitor which was a relief, but they still couldn’t get a hold of her head. It was like she had strategically placed herself in a location where no one could get her. She didn’t move in the slightest. It was at this point they decided to stop.
The doctors apologized that it wasn’t successful. Chad and I were just thankful that we tried and had doctors we trusted and felt were very experienced with trying to turn a baby. Our goal was to try this and then wait for her to turn. Otherwise, we were going to trust that God had a really good reason for her to come into the world via c-section.
They handed me a menu, since I had been fasting for over 12 hours I was so excited to eat some food. Pregnant and fasting do not go together at all. Chad and I ordered some really good breakfast food and waited out the monitoring period. I definitely felt weird from the medication. It kinda felt as though I had ran a marathon and I was emotionally drained. Chad also was exhausted from watching the whole thing. It wasn’t easy for him to watch me writhing on a hospital bed and the fear that our daughter could be delivered at any second if she was in distress.
Baby girl looked great. She danced around on the monitor and had a great heartbeat. They soon came in with discharge paperwork and we headed back into the snow. Getting home was a crazy adventure. It had snowed about six inches in the four hours we had been in the hospital. We had to take it really slow because everywhere we looked there were vehicles that were stuck. Even SUV’s and trucks were stuck. We made it into our neighborhood and at the top of the hill, we got stuck in a bunch of snow. There was no way to move. Chad tried to maneuver the car but to no avail. We were stuck. So we hopped out of the car and at 37 weeks pregnant we hiked in a foot of snow home.
Let’s just say it took me a few days to recover from those events. My body was convinced we had climbed Everest. Not to mention as time went on the bruising to my abdomen became more apparent. Most of the bruising was by my rib cage, which is where baby girl loves to hang out and stretch. Her every movement felt like my stomach was going to explode open.
False Labor Scare
Two days after the version we went in for a shot I needed to have. (The only thing I will say about this is don’t google stuff. Dr Google is a horrible Doctor as our OB said.) Basically through a miscommunication, Chad and I rushed to the office thinking that some oversight had happened for a shot I needed to have much earlier. But everything was fine, I still needed the shot. It just wasn’t as terrifying as I thought or as risky to the baby as Google made it seem. I have since resisted googling things.
While we we in the office, they hooked us up to a fetal monitor to check on baby girl since the version had been just about 48 hours prior and they wanted to check in on her. I was very sore and in a lot of pain. I told them I had been experiencing cramps. While hooked up, they discovered I was having contractions. As a first time mom, I had no clue what contractions feel like. You can read the best birth books and go to classes and still think I have no idea what the heck my body is doing. The contractions ended up being regular and consistent enough to warrant the doctors concern. They were about 3-5 minutes apart so they to see if I was progressing. They checked things and I was dilated to a one (nothing too crazy) and 80% effaced. So they sent us to labor and delivery for continuous monitoring. They needed to make sure I wasn’t in labor because if I was, we would have to have a c-section since baby girl was still settled under my ribs. They told us that it would be about an hour of monitoring and i couldn’t eat or drink anything as a precaution.
Chad and I settled into our room, 316, and played on his poker app he developed. I began learning what contractions felt like and found they were pretty regular and uncomfortable. I wasn’t in crazy pain, but the bruises on my abdomen added to the pain of my tightening belly. An hour passed and they decided to keep me just in case. It started snowing outside and Chad and I joked that she was going to come in the snow one way or another. We decided to watch some TV and just process a little bit what life would be like if she debuted that night.
About four hours into our stay the doctor wanted to make sure things weren’t just moving slowly and they let me get into a Jacuzzi tub. That was my favorite part. If God ever lets me have a natural birth, I am spending my time in that thing. Our hospital resembles a spa, and this tub was something I wish we could install in our bathroom. The tub was massive, had jets and made the bruising on my belly feel so much better. I could still feel the contractions, but I was in a lot less pain. After a 45 min soak in the spa tub, we hopped out and were checked again. No progress. We were sent home. It was determined that likely it was mostly uterine distress from the version. I was experiencing both contractions and spasms. She also was moving quite a bit so my body was responding to all of those things.
We were both relieved and kinda disappointed. We had gotten excited at the thought of meeting her and also loved the idea of the process of how she would arrive be done. We both were thankful for a little more time the two of us.
Scheduling a C-Section
This past Monday we went in for another appointment. Baby girl has settled into my rib cage and hasn’t flipped. So we scheduled her birthday (which is the weirdest feeling by the way). April 4th is the big day.
I have had a lot of ups and downs with the thought of surgery. God is gentle and has provided a lot of support through various people who have been comfortable enough to just let me be in process. I want her to get here safely, but also have been confronted with some real fears and triggers over things. The enemy is cruel and likes to drag out old stuff sometimes. God has faithfully met me in each of my fears, triggers and spoken truth where lies lived. At the very least, a new layer of healing has been ushered in.  God is always committed to total freedom and healing in all things. I didn’t think that baby girls’ means of arrival would be one of the spaces he would use to love on me in such tangible ways.
If you feel so inclined, please pray for us on Monday, April 4th at 12:30pm MST. That’s when the excitement is going down. I want to remember what happens. I want to be peaceful and present as she enters the world and most of all I want her to get here safely. Also, be patient with us. I don’t even know what to expect regarding recovery. We may not update/post pictures of her for a few days while we get this whole parent thing halfway grasped. We will be getting to know our little person. Thanks for your prayers.
-Erin, Chad and Baby Girl

When Plans Don’t Go As Expected

Unmet Expectations
After writing about expectations in relationships last week, I have come face to face with a variety of circumstances that have caused major unmet expectations and a lot of emotion. It’s been eye opening to see how much impact unmet circumstantial expectations can cause an unravel of sorts.
We got to see our sweet baby girl on the ultrasound last week to check on her position. There is nothing like ultrasounds. They are exhilarating and terrifying. I don’t usually relax into them until I hear her heartbeat and then I usually tear up and proceed to marvel that there is a little person inside of my belly. They make the whole thing real to see her little body developing and wiggling around. She has been breech most of our pregnancy and we were ever hopeful that at our 36 week appointment she would have flipped over. No such luck. She is breech with her little legs crossed at the bottom of my uterus. It explains the frequent kicks to the bladder. Our Doctor began discussing the options in the coming weeks and it is overwhelming. Step one is trying to exercise and do various things to get her to flip naturally. There is a website called spinning babies we are supposed to do exercises from. The next thing will be deciding if we want to do a  manual version, this procedure where the doctor manually tries to flip her. We aren’t a good candidate for it because of the type of breech position she is in, how long she has been breech and then the position of my placenta. Not to mention the risks make Chad and I nervous. It has a 40 percent success rate normally, and apparently is even less with our circumstance. So c-section is on the table as a very real option.
Cue expectations galore. I have known for a few months that this could happen, but I secretly hoped that she would flip by 36 weeks and all would be well. It was my timeline. But how often do our plans happen the way we hope?  I am really disappointed that there is a big possibility that I am going to have a c-section. In a sense I am grieving the hope of having a vaginal delivery. It’s not that I want to be a super hero, I just wanted to go through the process that my body is made to do and that I have mentally prepped for. I have spent a lot more time thinking about delivering vaginally and wrapping my brain (sort of) around this and the recovery.
I realized I have a lot of fear around surgery, needles and epidurals. I have heard a lot of well meaning people say that it’s not a big deal, it’s a blessing that I won’t have to go through the pain of labor, that as long as she gets here safe that’s all that matters or that the recovery isn’t that bad. But none of this has been comforting for me. And it know it’s because I am grieving the expectation of giving birth vaginally. It’s what you expect to happen nine months after you get the positive test. It’s what you start mentally preparing for. Other people have told me she still could flip. Which I suppose still could happen. But I am wrestling with holding out hope and being devastated the day of surgery. I’d like to get to a place where I am genuinely okay with either. This means allowing myself to grieve and feel frustrated.
I am processing this in real time, so this isn’t fully processed in many ways. But I am realizing that the root of my anxiety and cause of expectation is I like to be in control. This is a developed coping mechanism to keep me “safe”. When I am in a good place, I recognize that I am not in control, God is and he is good so I have nothing to fear. My ability to keep myself safe is somewhat a facade. When I am stressed, triggered by something or feel vulnerable, I clench for control even more. Emotions unravel and I retreat some. I can become mean to people I love because internally I am in a state of sheer panic. The hardest part is I don’t want to be like this. I want to constantly trust God and have my emotions be in alignment with this and experience his peace. Truly, the crisis comes because I am depending on myself and know deep inside I am powerless to really do much.
This becomes especially true regarding my body. The more I read and learn about labor, the more I discover that this is a process my body knows how to do but not my brain persay. It’s something that can feel really out of control because it just happens and moves at its own pace. Labor is the exact opposite of control, and the closer it gets the more freaked out I become. Both by labor and c-section. Both feel like something I can’t control. The surgery even more so. I will be immobile, unable to see or feel anything (for good reason), and I will be at the mercy of my doctor and nurses. Labor vaginally feels like I will have a tiny bit more control because I can choose how I am managing my pain but still is far from the measured calculations/ preparation that I’d like. So both of these have sent me into a complete emotional tail spin. My body is riddled with anxiety and panic, particularly at night. If I think about it too long or hard, I will spontaneously cry. And anything that causes me to feel out of control right now triggers me and leaves me in a panic and reactive.
 I never anticipated that labor would expose a layer of healing that needs to happen. This need to be in control is not something I want to remain. It turns me into a bit of a crazy person. It leaves me trying to control circumstances and even people around me. It’s a big sign of a wound that needs healed and a muscle that needs strengthening. We weren’t designed to control and micromanage our life in calculated caution. We aren’t meant to be paralyzed by fear and working ourselves into a frenzy to do everything we can to avoid anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or out of control. We were designed to trust our Maker fully because he is good and will take care of us. We were made to live in freedom.
This reaction of control shows me there is doubt regarding that God is trustworthy. I think this wound is part of the fall, part of the brokenness of humanity. Evil in the world and unmet expectations further this woundedness. The enemy of our souls says “if God really is good he wouldn’t let this happen”. But this is a lie. Mostly around the responsibility piece. The enemy wants to blame shift and get the responsibility of evil off of himself onto God. This creates an even greater divide between us and God, his ultimate goal. In this circumstance, my temptation is to believe that something is wrong with my body. The deeper lie is a form or rejection. That because this isn’t going according to my plan, I am rejected by God is some way. But this also is a lie, because I am assuming that God’s plan is the same as mine. But the reality is his plan actually could be a c-section for sweet baby girl for a reason unknown to me. And the enemy is using this to attempt divide me from my Heavenly Father, the very One I need right now. This is why expectations around circumstances are dangerous.
So what am I doing about this struggle? It’s raw and ugly right now. It’s a lot of prayer and tears. It’s a lot of honesty with God about how I want to be in control but I am not and how this security is really a facade. I find myself grieving the expectations in God’s comforting arms and leaning on Chad when I fail to remember that our God is good. It’s being gracious with myself and apologizing when I hurt my love ones when I lose my mind and lash out. It’s being honest with myself that I am wounded but that God is my healer. He has healed much in my life and I can trust him to heal this. He has a perfect track record. And any fear I feel around birth, vaginally or cesarean, can be placed in God’s hands as he writes the story of how she comes into this world. It will be good no matter what.

A Letter: Facing God’s No

Facing Disappointment

Dear Friend,

I know this “no” hurt. It’s hard not to let the voice of rejection ring loud in your heart after you prayed and sought God for his very best. From your vantage point, this looked like the best. It rang true with the very desire of your heart. And then for some reason, He said this wasn’t it. The door closed, the relationship ended, the dream died. Silence followed and all that you could hear was the breaking of your own heart.

I know you cried out from the depths of your heart. You thought you laid your desires out at his feet and believed that he would grant them. You ask, “Doesn’t he want to grant the desire of my heart? Doesn’t he see this need or want for what it is? Isn’t there a chance that he is the one that placed it there?” If the answers to these questions are “yes” then why did he come back with a no?

The truth is he does want to fulfill the desires of our heart. The desires he placed there. Not all desires we have sadly, are from him. We have a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9), that seeks to satisfy our own selfishness and flesh (Galatians 5:17). Our motives are not always pure nor are they always in alignment with him (Jeremiah 17:10). Even when it seems like they are, he searches the far reaches of our heart for the true motive. Maybe we aren’t even conscious of what this is yet.  Sometimes the no is the very thing that exposes our true heart and demands a part of our flesh to die so we can walk in life.

I know this “no” feels like hope deferred and heart sickness (Proverbs 13:12). As the waves of sadness come, it seems that all is lost. Maybe even a part of you feels like you are dying. But is it possible that he is about to raise you to life?

Our Father is kind. Is it possible that this very no is his kindness stretched out? Our emotions are fickle. They are like the waves of the ocean, tossing us about.  They are not truth which we can stand on. They are real, yes, and worthy to acknowledge at his feet and definitely a part of how he created us. We should not feel ashamed of our heart and emotion. But they are not trustworthy. They do not proclaim truth about a situation to us without the proper footing on the Rock which we can stand. This is where we need his Word, his voice echoing in the midst of our emotion. We need to hang onto him.

You see, our Father sees what we cannot around the bend of that “yes” we so desired. He can see the outcome had he met that request with a yes. Imagine for a moment that if he said yes to this particular thing that it would lead you down a road away from his heart? What if this form of granting the desire of your heart meant giving you away to the world? What if you missed knowing his heart or the fullness of his love? Maybe it meant you bypassed the very reason you were created, or were left to a spiritual demise that devastated him.

God doesn’t promise an easy road without disappointment and valleys of suffering and despair (1 Peter 1:6). He doesn’t promise to meet our desires and needs in our way on our time table (Isaiah 55:8). He will not leave us wanting (Isaiah 58:11). He will provide for us (Matthew 6:26-27). He will not forsake us or abandon us, ever (Romans 8:38-39). But he also is faithfully committed to love us and complete the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6). What work is that you ask? The work of making us like his son, Jesus. This means a death, a dying of self to be raised to life again. This also means providing for us in his way, his timing. It doesn’t usually look like what we thought and certainly often contrast the world. It demands our trust, even when it isn’t easy to give.

And so because He loves you, he said no. He said I will not give you away. When you asked him for his will, his way, his best, he lovingly said no I have better.

In his time, in his way he will lead you to his best. In the meantime, lean into the comfort of his arms. Let him shelter you under his wings (Psalm 91:1). He is close to the brokenhearted (Matthew 5:4). Let him expose his love for you and heal your broken heart. Likely, he is just waiting for you to discover more of him. He is longing for you to know him more and anxiously awaiting your companionship. Don’t hide. Don’t reject him. He is the very thing you need.

 

 

Surprised by Pregnancy

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The day before I peed on a stick wondering if  two lines would show up, I sat in a church pew. I was minding my own business, singing the words to a well known hymn. Pregnancy was not on my radar, nor was it part of my husband and I’s plan. We were in major transition. My husband just graduated from seminary, we had just moved in with my parents and were in full blown job hunt mode.
The sound of hymns stirred within my soul and I heard it. “Erin, don’t freak out. You’re pregnant.” Suddenly the words on the screen faded and I responded to the quiet voice I know well with a “What?” Because He is gracious, he repeated to me “Erin, don’t freak out. You’re pregnant. And it’s a girl. I know you have always thought you’d have boys, but I know the desire of your heart and you want a girl. You are having a girl.”
I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Mostly out of panic. I also had my own moment like Sarah, where I laughed at the Lord. I was convinced that I was delusional. I have misheard Him in the past and I am very guarded with taking things like this seriously until proven otherwise. The cost is too high to mishear Him. I learned that lesson the hard way. Surely the summer heat in the church was getting to me. I couldn’t possibly be pregnant,  but the thought nagged me and I knew in my heart this was one of those times he was speaking to me.
I stored this revelation in my heart with delight but mostly fear. Questions arose in my mind. How would we afford a child? How is this possible? We were so far from being ready to be parents. What about my dream of finishing school and pursuing a career before kids? What about my husbands job search? Shouldn’t we be living on our own? As the questions rolled in, the anxiety heightened. This wasn’t our plan. At least not yet. We had only been married a year. We were planning on waiting at least three to five. I thought through the reality of our current situation. We lived with my parents. We were between school and a job and despite many interviews every door was closed. We were teetering on the brink of serious discouragement over the many no’s we had recently received. We were pretty confused on what path to take and the thought of adding a baby into this made me want to hyperventilate.  I mean, our circumstances were enough to feel like if I got a positive test we were irresponsible. I began thinking about what my husband would think if this was true, and then our parents. Oh and lots of other people.
I shoved the thoughts down and forced myself to focus on the sermon that was beginning. Maybe I was just imagining that I heard God say the word pregnant…
I took the encounter seriously enough to buy a two pack of pregnancy tests that night when I was out running errands. I thought, well at the very least I can confirm or deny it in the morning. I don’t think I slept well that night. Both out of anticipation of hearing the Lord on something so major, but also the real possibility that I was in fact pregnant and what that would mean for our life.
Sure enough, the next morning yielded two pink lines and put me in a state of absolute disbelief. It was a whirlwind, emotional morning for the two of us. I can’t say I tactfully broke the news to my husband. It was far from the romanticized dream in my head of what the moment would be like. Looking back it’s almost comical. But in the moment it felt crisis like.
We reeled for a few weeks privately, not because we didn’t want our child but because we were so utterly caught off guard. Truly we were in a season of stripping. Each plan that my husband and I had made and hung onto was being stripped and laid bare before the feet of Jesus. Jobs, career, education, family planning, time in our marriage just the two of us, traveling and our living situation. Slowly it was as if God was asking us “Do you trust my plan? Do you want me more?” The pain of dying to our own belief that our plans were better than his or more timely than his was excruciating. We both felt crushed under the pain of grief and loss of our own treasured expectations. We prayed together often that we wanted his best. But when his best required we surrender any tiny piece of our conceived plan, it hurt. Truthfully, it still hurts. We both ebb and flow in and out of stages of grief that our plans are not reliable, nor did they come to fruition.
God was so gracious to prepare my heart for the positive test. It was even more remarkable that he let me know the child I was carrying was a girl. Now I am 34 weeks pregnant and know it’s a girl. Another confirmation of that Sunday surprise whisper of the Lord. He knew I needed that comfort for the weeks to come. I remembered him telling me not to freak out. Despite my desire to continually panic, I was able to slowly settle into the idea of becoming a mother.
Honestly, we are still in a lot of transition, but have seen God’s faithfulness in so many ways to make what seemed impossible actually quite doable. Many of the things we hoped for have not come about the traditional way. God’s ways are so different than people’s. But we have seen him to be trustworthy and completely truthful. We have what we need for this season. We also have way more support than I could have dreamt.
We are so excited to meet our little girl. She truly is a gift from God. After all he knows best, and gives us the best.