Eli’s Birth Story

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We are celebrating one of the cutest one year olds I know today. I can’t celebrate this day without thinking about the day he was born. It has an incredibly special place in my heart. A couple of months ago, when I wrote the talk on Consistency, I promised to share Eli’s birth story, so here goes.

Eli’s Birth Story. May 13, 2014.

I remember thinking that I would be pregnant forever. At forty weeks, I honestly felt some despair. I walked the mall. I did some crazy labor dance that I found on Youtube. I ate pineapple. I just thought he’d never come. However, at forty weeks and two days something changed. That night I felt an overwhelming urge to go up to my room and be alone. I needed to be away from everyone except my husband and even then I couldn’t say much to him. I needed to feel safe and secure. After the lights were out I remember whispering to Zack that it wouldn’t be long. I woke up several times that night to use the restroom and each time I suspected that my water had broken but in my exhaustion, I chose to ignore it. That was the best choice I could have made because I was able to get the sleep I needed for the following day. I woke up at 7 a.m. on May, 13th 2014. When I went to the restroom I realized that my suspicions were correct and I was indeed loosing amniotic fluid. I told Zack that it was time for us to have a baby and the excitement began. We calmly started packing the rest of our things and headed to the Birth Center after I felt my first painful contraction at 8 a.m. When we arrived at the Birth Center they took us back to a room to check how far I had dilated and check my contractions on the monitor. I distinctly remember the peace of that moment as I sat in a dimmed room with another momma who had the same quiet excitement as me. I watched the little mounds print out on the contraction monitor paper and knew it wouldn’t be long. Within an hour I had gone from contractions every 8 minutes to contractions every 4 minutes. I was already dilated to between 5 and 6 centimeters. Who doesn’t want to hear that they are almost half way done with labor having given little effort? They immediately took us to a birthing room where Zack and I began setting up for Eli’s amazing birth. The room was beautiful and it boasted wrap around windows, a beautiful queen bed and a huge jacuzzi tub. Zack worked on putting up the snacks while I changed and started laying out scripture cards throughout the room (I had spent the past nine months preparing these and studying them). Every few minutes I would stop and work through a contraction and then as the pain that gripped me passed, I would continue prepping the room. Zack made a slideshow of pictures that brought happy memories and set up a playlist of songs that we had chosen beforehand that reminded us of wonderful things like peace, strength, endurance, and God’s faithfulness. The contractions continued to get more painful and were coming every 2 minutes. I decided to get in the tub and try warm water and jets. As soon as my next contraction hit I desperately reached to turn off the jets as strangely enough they made things so much worse. Thankfully, I was able to manage contractions for another hour in the warm water. My midwife came in to check how far I had progressed and found that I was at a 6/7. She suggested that we break my water the rest of the way and I was instantly a little afraid because I knew the pain would intensify greatly. Within seconds I was in mind blowing pain with each contraction that seemed to be right on top of each other with little to no break in between. I couldn’t be touched, talked to or moved during a contraction. I sat backwards on the toilet for a few contractions (at the recommendation of my midwife) and then moved to the bed. The pain was unbearable and the only thing that helped was groaning with each contraction. I didn’t have any time or energy to be embarrassed about the noises I was making. I was at that crucial point where the words, “I can’t!” started to seem like the only possible answer. It took an hour from the time my midwife broke my water to the time I pushed Eli into the world. Twenty minutes before Eli was born I felt the familiar pressure to push. Zack rushed to get my midwife, she checked me and said it certainly was time to push. I had it in my mind to squat while pushing but it proved to be too much for my already exhausted body. I ended up delivering him laying on my side after only twenty minutes of pushing. It was hard and incredibly painful work but a lot easier than the three hours it took with my first baby. As Eli came out at 3:47 p.m. I heard the midwife gasp and say that he was a lot bigger than she thought he would be. He weighed in at 9lbs 9.5oz. and 22 inches. He started nursing shortly after he was born and we experienced some of the most precious snuggling time. Shortly after Eli’s first cries some of my favorite midwives from the practice rushed in to help with sutures and several other important tasks. One of them began to ask me about why I chose the birth center and eventually we started talking about The Lord. She loved the scripture cards I had scattered around the room. It was a blessing to have that kindred in the middle of such a vulnerable, important, exhilarating, and joyful experience. This specific midwife helped me use the restroom and then get into a warm soothing herbal bath where Eli and I relaxed for a little while. A few minutes after we started the bath my mom and Judah came to meet Eli. Judah even got into the bath with us to say his first hello to his baby brother. When the warmth of the water wore off another one of my favorite midwives (they were all my favorite) dried me off and helped me back into bed where Zack and I ate dinner and snuggled with our new precious baby boy. We stayed there for a few more hours and then decided to make our way home. I can not begin to express how thankful I am to have experienced natural birth. It was our very own personal miracle and It could not have been any more perfect and we are beyond blessed.

I look back on Eli’s birth with such amazing joy. The nostalgia I feel when I think through the events of that day is overwhelming. I can not be more thankful for the gift of my first son Judah but the experience of his birth was much different because of the choices I made. With Judah’s birth I did very little preparation, I just decided that I would show up and everything would work out. Judah’s birth was hard, painful and full of difficult memories. Because of that, this time I saw the importance of preparing your heart, mind, body, and soul for such a life changing event. I chose natural birth because that was a deep personal desire of mine. I don’t want my story to necessarily inspire natural birth unless you have the same desire as me. I want this story to inspire the importance of intentionally preparing for your birth. I feel like it is increasingly common for women to just show up at the hospital and expect the staff to do the rest of the work. I believe that intentionally preparing for your birth will make that day have lasting joyful memories despite the pain and possible complications. The intense pain of Eli’s birth day is minimal because we were prepared to labor enjoying the presence of God, the miracle of life, and the peace that our prayerful preparation brought. May you be inspired.

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Consistency

Consistency-

The opposite of how I said I was going to start this blog and never did. The problem with consistency is that most of us aren’t and those that are, are basically mythical creatures who are just really good at following a schedule and live in a world with no distractions or strongholds. I guess what I really believe is that said mythical creatures have finally found that deep need for rightness, for following through, and for being good to others. It is truly considering others more precious than yourself and wonderfully satisfying.

I have always been inconsistent. Maybe it actually started after I finished high school and got married. Zack and I actually talked about how in our first home nothing ever got done. Ever. We were always working, playing, churching, serving, and going until we were ragged and when we stopped we sat in our home with the curtains closed (because I never opened them) and got lost in television. Don’t get me wrong there were tiny beginning forms of consistency. Like when we held a bible study in that incredibly chaotic home that was swiftly cleaned before each meeting. This form of consistency was one of the most precious times in our life. We had six of our most fiercely loved friends in our home once a week. We all made food with our own hands and hearts and ate together like family. All eight of us, smashed around our table loving each other through food and laughter and love. We would then move into our little living room and open the bible. Sometimes we stayed up until 2am studying and sharing stories. The thing about consistency is that it doesn’t mean that things will never change. Consistency in some rights is for a season, it is a commitment of sorts. It showed part of it’s great purpose one dreadful night when I lost our first precious baby to miscarriage. The first people by our side apart from family were those precious six. They cared, loved, fed, and held us up. Even after our gatherings ended the fruitful kindred that had developed remained as we gathered around one of our sweet members when she lost her husband, our brother. So yes, consistency is seasonal in some respects and in others it is not.

This is where it is not seasonal. Also, this is a confession for me. I know it is not easy to tell our stories of failure but it is so deeply needed. “Therefore, confess our sins to one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16). In high school, I was fairly consistent with my time in the word. It wasn’t hard. I had a daily routine, guidance from parents, a youth group that I spent all of my life doing life with and so I was good at remembering. Then, I graduated and it was like some mean bully came and yanked my crutches away. I began my long stretch of stumbling, bumping, and falling. I would have a few good weeks of getting in the word and then would go months without speaking to God. I have been so convicted of this and have realized that I can not be sustained by this world. I have started a journey towards consistency in the word and it has not been easy but who really wants easy when you can’t also have meaningful? I can say that as of today, for six straight months, by the grace of God, I have been in the word and in prayer. I have missed a few days and when I do my soul longs for nourishment. Side note: You guys, if you have kids, they will make it their mission to ruin your attempts at quiet times. Make it your mission to figure it out. If you are currently not in the word or struggling with consistency, you are malnourished. You are also more than likely in sin. One Sunday, at our old church our precious associate pastor talked about the sin of prayerlessness. I gulped and started to sweat. That’s me I thought and I began to fill with conviction up to my throat. Dear brother or sister, if you feel that heavy conviction because you lack commitment to God. Good. Do something about it. Find what works for you. Let go of other things and focus on Christ. He is your all in all and if you are ignoring Him when he gives you ample resources to engage him then you are in a sad state, just like I found myself. You know the good thing that I’ve been learning about the fellowship of believers is that we can lament together in confessing our sin, we can rejoice in our successes and we can both say, “I’ve been there.” We can both turn from it and we can walk together. This area of consistency is by far the most important. If you get this right, right not perfect, then you will undoubtedly see other areas of your life become more consistent.

Consistency through difficult and painful situations is so beneficial to any person but especially the Christian. I say this because when you’ve passed through your pain with consistency, your faith has been strengthened. I have a lot of stories that include heaps of pain, weakness, doubt, fear, and basically just the worst. We’ve been through a lot of painful situations but I’ll choose a more light hearted one for this story. My favorite hurdle that I’ve jumped lately is the birth of Eli. Before the epidural queens jump my case about having something to prove, calm it! I don’t have anything to prove by choosing a natural birth. I chose it for several reasons personal to my first birth experience. The first time around I wanted a natural birth but I was not consistent in studying, choosing my doctors or preparing. I had conviction but no follow through. You know, the same way one approaches a plate of brownies. The conviction to just eat one or none, but suddenly you have a plate of crumbs. You too, right? Anyway, I ended up with an incredibly long labor, 4 epidural tries, and a spinal headache that laid me flat for days, which caused breastfeeding issues and a whole load of other complications. When you can’t stand or sit up and hold your brand new baby after you’ve held him with every fiber of the inside of your body for nine months it changes your need for comfort during labor. It just does. So second time, needless to say, you wouldn’t find me near an epidural, actually not in the same building as an epidural. I’d rather be in labor for five days than go that route again. This time, when I got pregnant with Eli, I studied, I prepared, I practiced, I had forty-two verses scratched out on notecards, I chose a birthing center close to the hospital, and I had the most amazing birth (I’ll share that story later for those that get a kick out of that sort of thing.) I was consistent with my conviction. In one of the books I read, the author said this, “Did you mean that you wanted a natural birth as long as it wasn’t too difficult? As long as you had a relatively easy labor and contractions never got too overwhelming? Or did you mean you wanted to scrape the bottom of your soul for the last remaining shards of determination?” (Cynthia Gabriel in her book Natural Hospital Birth). This applies to other areas of life. I just love that quote and it reminded me shortly before Eli’s birth that I did want to scrape the bottom of my soul for this because I had conviction for it and I wanted to follow through. Did I have something to prove? No. Did I feel like a freaking super hero afterwards. Yes. Especially, when the midwife gasped and weighed him in a 9lbs 9.5oz. In my mind I thought, no wonder I felt like I had been a part of one of those magic tricks where they saw the lady in half. Eli’s birth is an inspiration to me continually about the payoff of commitment and consistency. I think about it often with excitement because I know I can follow through on something hard because of the promises of scripture. I can’t think for one second that God did not equip me for follow through when he formed me.

Dear reader, If you know Christ, then you are walking around with the same power in you that raised Christ from the dead. Let’s go do something about it. Let’s stop waisting our time on, fill in the blank, and do something that because of Christ we are capable of committing too and in some cases completing. I know that the loss of consistency in our present culture is some nasty ploy to render everyone ineffective. Let’s not take that. We don’t have too. Your failures and successes might look different than mine but your kindred people can walk with you through them. We can rely on our God and our people to be consistent. Think about consistency like covenant consistency. We can be consistent because our God is completely and perfectly consistent through his covenant and He gave us the Spirit as helper. I am not winning it over here on consistency. As a matter of fact, I only have a few areas of consistency that I am squeezing in the palms of my hands at this very moment. This is not a plea to keep up with the spiritual Joneses. This is a plea to not waste our time and to figure out where our lack of perseverance in Christ is sin. I’ll leave you with one last little inspiration to get you motivated to commit to what God has created you to do. I read this from John Piper’s book “Think” recently and although it is about thinking and reading, the concept applies. We shouldn’t look at consistency as unattainable. Consistency in a few areas is always better than none. “It is certainly better to gather a few crumbs which have dropped from the table than to starve in futile adoration of the feast we cannot reach. (p. 61)” (Excerpt From: Piper, John. “Think.” Crossway, 2010. iBooks.)

Praying that this little blurb of stories reaches well, impacts deeply, and possibly motivates change.

As my beautiful Grandma always says and I love to repeat,

Much love,
Rachel

Day 4

So, I’m behind a couple of days but the good news is I’m catching up. Today’s writing is actually a song that I cowrote with Zack. Unfortunately, the singer in the family has lost his voice so you will have to wait to hear it. For now you can look at the lyrics and just wonder about how it will sound. It’s good, I promise. P.S. I have metaphor that I’ve written for day 5. I’m thinking it will be on the blog in the morning… Hopefully. 

 

 

Micah 7 

When our shame covers our faces

Like a fog upon the earth

And our hands have penned the pages of our guilt

A story no one wants to tell

 

Will You be merciful?

Because we were wrong

We need grace

 

Cast our sins where no one reaches

Crush our idols underfoot

For You alone know steadfast love

You alone will pardon us

 

Now the enemy is taunting

Surely we do not belong

But that lie does not convince us

Because our God has heard our prayer

 

You’ve cast our sins where no one reaches

Crushed our idols underfoot

For you alone know steadfast love

You alone have pardoned us

 

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy

For when I fall, I will rise

and when I sit in darkness, He’s my light

For when I fall, I will rise

 

You’ve been merciful

When we were wrong

You gave us grace

 

You’ve cast our sins where no one reaches

Crushed our idols underfoot

For you alone know steadfast love

You alone have pardoned us

Day 3

It’s day 3 and I waited until the last minute to write. I love today’s writing and not because I think it’s great. Honestly, it was difficult to write because I decided to do a Haiku. The guidelines of that style of poem are strict although less so in recent times. Typically, a Haiku follows a 5-7-5 theme but I decided to do a 6-8-6 theme which was hard enough. The reason why I loved writing today is because it wasn’t about eloquent words. It is about what is behind the words. My research was so much fun. I’ll go ahead and share the simple short poem, explain a little bit about where I’m coming from and then I’ll give you the links to my research in case you feel up to reading some cool stuff.

Victory

Pure dove over waters

Sinless lamb led to the slaughter

Royal white horse rider

Ok, like I said, nothing super catchy here. I want to share with you how this came about. First, a disclaimer. I am no grand theologian. I would like to be but my focus right now is on being a mom and a wife and lets be honest… It’s a miracle that I had time to do this tonight. Anyway, I was mulling over what to write and the image of the rider on a white horse from Revelation 19 came to mind. By the way, I can’t wait to see Him. I am terrified and overjoyed at the thought. Holy cow, if you haven’t read Revelation 19, stop reading this and go read that. If you’re sticking around to read my tiny thoughts… I’ll continue. I read that passage and wondered why God chose a “white” horse. I love imagery. LOVE it. Jesus, Savior of the world chose a white horse to ride in defeating the beast. The horse displays power and honor as it is usually a King’s choice. The color white in this instance is thought to mean victory. Our God is victorious! These thoughts quickly reminded me of the lamb. Also, a white animal. Imagery of the lamb is threaded throughout the entire bible. “Behold, the Lamb of God…” as spoken by John the Baptist. This lamb was slaughtered for our sins but was not to remain in the grave, He rose on the third day. My mind halted… Wait… John the Baptist, baptized Jesus. Imagery from another animal was involved. The dove. Also, a white animal. This particular animal is also used throughout scripture. In this instance a symbol for the Holy Spirt. The dove was also thought to describe the Holy Spirit hovering over the face of the waters in Genesis. In the story of Noah the dove was sent out three times and the third time it did’t return. The Dove and Lamb are sacrificial animals meant for peace. The Horse… not so much.

I just think that although white tends to mean purity, it also means victory. The sign of hope is fulfilled. Jesus has been victorious all along… even in the most grim of circumstances.

Listen, do I have a conclusion on what all this mean? No. My research is weak at best but our God is too great an author to write such a detailed text that includes such beautiful repetitive imagery, and it mean nothing. It is rich to me. It is abundance to me. I like that I don’t have it all figured out. I can’t wait to see the full picture. Until then, I’ll learn, dream, and hope.

Here are the websites I looked at (I have no idea if they are reputable, Just found them interesting):

“White Horse”

“Lamb”

“Dove”

Day 2

Today is Day 2 of the 7in7 challenge. Yesterday’s writing was definitely more sobering. Today, I decided to lighten it up and write about a place that I love. I’ll probably add on to it later. Anyway, every year my family visits Creston, NC. It is in the middle of no where and is so beautiful. We went this summer and I believe it was one of the most enchanting times we’ve been. Still feeling rusty with my writing but here goes.

Summer Sings

Summer sings a different song

When fireflies light up mountain sides

Hills wrap up in flowers wild

And berries bud with sticking thorns

Summer sings a different song

When babbling streams meet thundering falls

Lapping lakes marry tall mountain scapes

And there are more stars than dark night sky

Summer sings a different song

When families join for stories told

Fire crackles and roasts chilled bones

And hearts ache to leave no more

How I got here and why.

I have been talking about wanting to set up a blog so I could start writing again for months now. My husband listened kindly, encouraged me and agreed I should write. I used to write all of the time and loved the expression of creativity it gave me. It has been YEARS since I have written for pleasure.

This week Zack just happened to be participating in a creativity marathon of sorts. It’s called 7in7. Basically, you are supposed to create 7 pieces of art in 7 days. Go to create7in7.com to learn more. Anyway, he convinced me to join him in the challenge to jump start my writing again. So here goes. I’m going to start writing. It’s for me. If others read great but I really just want a space to record whatever I produce. I just want to write. 

Here is Day 1 of 7: 

This particular writing is from an experience I had just a few years ago when we lost one of our best friends. The feelings are still very real. Today, we found out that one of the members of our church passed away. We did not know him but I couldn’t help but think of his wife and family as I thought of Diana and the Fowlers not to mention the sting of my own heartache. 

 

The Sting

 

In one simple yet intricately designed moment

You are strangely stung by the darkest of shadows

Maybe a thought had just made its rigid pathway across your mind

You may have even tasted joy or known the sweetness of a laugh

Unfortunately the words of devastation must come

The ones you thought impossible to hear

Instantly, prickling heat creeps up your body

Like a slithering serpent, sapping and squeezing out every hope

Every hope but One

Your heart takes a free fall, the cord snaps, you crash

You’ve lost it for now and maybe forever

It is the most intimate pain

Personal in every way

Consumed as if stuck under the barrel of a wave

Your well intended mind searches frantically for an alternative

There are none

You’ve lost your love

It took its last passionate breath with him

It feels like impossibility rules that throne and what a harsh king it is

The truth is

The morning sun crawls out of its nightly grave

The God fearing will too

Our one hope hangs on with valiant strength

The cup was entirely consumed

Resurrection was beautifully bought

We live

The sting removed

The ointment placed

Don’t fret

Healing is coming