Conquering My Nerves Around a C-Section

***Today is the day we have a scheduled C-Section. It’s at 12:30 MST. If you feel so inclined, we would love your prayers. We appreciate you and can’t wait to introduce her to you. I have a few things scheduled the next week or two to celebrate her and when I am well enough I will hop on and share all kinds of pictures and of course the name 🙂 Thanks for being patient while we get to know our little person and adjust to being a family of three.C-Section
Since scheduling a c-section for our little peanut’s arrival, I have been a somewhat an emotional wreck. It’s a major surgery and it completely wigs me out. I know, I know, it happens everyday (ha! and I having one as you read this). But as my awesome OB says, you don’t know how you are going to react to it so it’s normal for the nerves to be there. Quite frankly, bringing another human being into the world is going to make you nervous. Your body is going through something huge, and there is another person affected by the whole thing to. One you love before you have even seen them face to face. It’s completely normal to feel nervous, anxious and kinda freaked out by the whole thing.
I have managed the experience of my emotions in a couple of ways.
First, I have let myself feel what I feel any given moment without guilt or shame. If I feel upset, disappointed, nervous or just plain scared I take note of it. I feel it. I am not good at suppressing emotion. I don’t particularly think it’s healthy or helpful. I have friends who are able to be extremely optimistic. Perhaps they are able to deal with their emotions in a different way, but I have to acknowledge the emotion, process it either in writing or verbally and then let the emotion pass.
Second, I have processed these emotions and the roots of them with trusted people. God has majorly provided me with an awesome support system in general. Different people have walked different parts of my journey in different ways with me. He did not make us to do things alone. Community is so important and needed and there is a reason we are called to community and are made to be known. I am so thankful for people who have been there, who understand the many emotions that come with giving birth via c-section and understand the importance of just listening. I have come to peace with giving birth via c-section largely because of God’s provision of people in just the right moments who have been patient enough to just hear my fears out.
Third, I have a counselor who has helped me resource for the day itself. I am a HUGE believer in counseling. It’s something that has radically changed my life and something I know will be a part of my life on and off probably for all of my life. I think everyone should have a counselor in their lifetime. There is something sacred about the counseling space where you can be laid bare to a certain degree and heal. Truly, God is the ultimate Counselor and I am very aware the ways that he moves through my sessions and does the work. The counselor is truly a vessel of his healing when done right.
My counselor does a technique called EMDR for processing trauma. If you are stuck in a “loop” of trauma, meaning that you cannot move through the emotion or experience of something, there is a technique that integrates your experiences and stores them in your brain properly. I have found major major healing/success in pursuing EMDR. (more on that in a later post). Now you aren’t supposed to do EMDR when pregnant unless it’s approved by a doctor. Mostly because you don’t want to have trauma responses when pregnant. You want to keep your body and system as calm as possible for baby. But you can do a certain type of EMDR called positive templating without risking baby experiencing a trauma response. With the okay from my doctor, I found this experience very very helpful. Positive templating is all about walking through the day and processing how it could go, how you want it to go, and how you would respond to things that are unexpected. What I find sacred about these spaces is how God meets me in them. When I did EMDR last week, our Heavenly Father showed me how he is with me and will be with me through the whole surgery. He was very tangible, showing me the ways he has prepared and provided through staff at the hospital, the team of doctors performing the surgery, and then just his actual presence. He also comforted me in my pain and loss of the birth I had expected. I was able to see that much of my panic was coming from a fear that he wouldn’t be there with me. I know that sounds absurd, but I think when you are responding to something with previous experiences where you felt abandoned and rejected (no matter if that isn’t the case) it’s easy to in the depths of your heart fear that you are doing it all alone and that somehow God won’t be in the midst of it with you. To experience the Holy Spirit reminding you that he is in fact always with you and showing you that he will be there is very comforting.
Fourth, prayer has played a huge role. I had a sweet prayer session with some people who are dear to my heart. It was funny because the day before she called me up to pray with me, God told me that I needed to pray with this particular person. So had she not beat me to the punch, I would have reached out to her. The prayer session addressed so many of the things that I needed to remember are true. One of these things was the reality that God’s plan for a baby to come into the world is always the best plan. It’s easy to feel like this is the second best plan. But if she arrives via C-section, this is his best. There is almost an idol of natural child birth in my generation, especially living in Colorado, where there is a high value of all natural everything. While natural (as God created things are good) he also moves through so many things. He created a c-section that has saved countless women and babies lives. Remembering that He is in this and that this isn’t a rejection of me or a personal failure was hugely important. Another thing we prayed about was walking in the freedom of Christ and that she reminded me that fear isn’t my inheritance. She got this beautiful picture that I am learning how to walk through valley’s where darkness seems to be all around, but that I am actually clothed in victory. I can be confident in Christ no matter how over my head I feel, and he will be with me. The work on the cross has happened. It is finished and now I can walk fully in what he has done.
Finally, renewing my mind in scripture has also been very important. I need to remember what God says is true. This morning I was reading in the Psalms. I found a great deal of comfort in a a few particular verses. I will be repeating these to myself during surgery. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”  Psalm 34:4-5. He has delivered me from all my fears. He is lifting my head and holding my heart reminding me that he is for me; even in things that are hard, unexpected, disappointing and scary.I have nothing to be ashamed of.
He is bringing new life into the world. It’s worth celebrating!

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

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.

 

 

The Third Road

Third Road Image
Flashback to May last year. The husband graduated Seminary and we were full  of expectation as he walked across the stage. We were praying about pastoral positions he had applied for and several of them looked promising. The other road that we were peering down was an opportunity for him to teach at the college level. Both were exciting and meant big change for us. We were overwhelmed but very excited about the possibility of either option.
Several of the pastoral positions ended up taking him through each step further and further. We were in some of the top positions and it almost seemed as we had options. We took each step in prayer and sought counsel. We thought we were doing everything right. In many ways I think we did. We always prayed for God’s best and said we didn’t want to settle for something other than what he had for us. The funny thing is we didn’t fully consider what this could mean if there was a third road.
The door to each church one by one closed and it seemed like the dream of ministry came crashing down. So we turned our attention to teaching. And this door also came to a close. Though an opportunity came very close to fruition, it still ended up as a no. So then I watched my husband turn his attention to a job. Any job. I watched him spend hours a day applying to anything that he could find. Still nothing. He worked a 40 hour a week job just searching for work. Recruiters, postings that he was beyond qualified for. Nothing. I watched him go to interview after interview with hope and come home with no news. We waited for calls and an answer and still nothing. I watched him be faithful even when there was nothing to show for it. As optimism faded, he still soldiered on. Even minimum wage positions told him no because he was over qualified. Grief crouched at our door. And then was ushered in. This went on for months.
We moved in with my parents in the transition when we were a final candidate at a church out of state. At the time we thought it was a temporary landing place for us to move from. We resisted signing leases because we were holding out for God’s best not knowing that he was positioning us in that place unbeknownst to us.
With each no, we considered that maybe we took a wrong turn and we came back to the drawing board. I watched my husband holding a diploma with a masters degree and say maybe I need to start again. And by begin again he meant start a new degree at the bachelors level. It all felt like a waste. A joke or an empty promise to run a race so far and have nothing but a piece of paper with a signature saying he had mastered something. To start again felt like a dead weight, but it was one of th few viable options. So he applied. Was accepted and even registered for classes. Engineering. It was the logical choice. But the debt loomed over us and we wondered with unsettled hearts how this could be God’s best.
I pleaded with God that somehow we wouldn’t have another 4 year road for another degree and an additional mountain of debt. That the work he did in school would be fruitful and some job would come that would provide for us. At a random networking event, one my husband almost didn’t go to, God answered that prayer.  But not in the way I expected.
He heard about a program that was a trade school. It was a bootcamp of sorts for computer coding. The field he was considering pursuing instead with a four year degree and debt that consumed us.  He met with a person who encouraged him to look into it and also try a few exercises to see if it was a good fit. So then I watched him explore a new topic and like it more than he expected. He then began the competitive process to get in. This 7 month program was not for the faint of heart. The application process included an essay, an exam like the LSAT, a video and paperwork. If you were one of the 25 percent moved into the next round, you then faced an interview which was an hour long and then you had to take a logic test verbally with the person you were interviewed by. Then half of those interviewed were selected. It was grueling and seemed like a total bait and switch for my heart. But we had run flat out of options. So he gave it his all and we prayed the same prayer, God we only want your best.
And God said yes. He said yes to an option that wasn’t even on our radar. And it was so far outside of the box of what we thought we would be doing ten months post graduation. And then I watched him dilligently prepare. And we humbly accepted that for at least seven more months we would be living with my parents. We struggled with broken dreams of ministry, career, living situation and timing of plans. Grief crashed over us like waves during a storm, but God held out hope with an answered prayer. His best for us. Even though it was and is still so far from the plans we had made.
I watched my courageous husband weather a storm of rejection and questions as he sought to provide for our family. And I watched him give thanks and solider on being faithful with each step of the process and say yes to God even when it hurt. I learned a lot watching him. I learned a lot about trusting God’s best and believing in his goodness even when circumstances screamed otherwise. I watched my steady husband camp on the Rock and commit to do anything, including apply for jobs that he was over qualified for or start over in a new field for the glory of Jesus. And I watched him do it all with the highest level of integrity and faithfulness.
And I learned that God is good. No matter the circumstances.