Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mirabelle • Two Months

Mirabelle is gaining some nice rolls, yeah? She's semi-giggling too (about time). Her smiles are soul-enriching, her temperament is peaceful and the one thing she loves almost as much as milk is what you can expect from any girl: being adored. She's happiest when someone is loving on her and talking to her, and yet she never demands it. She kindly seems to understand that there are sometimes other priorities. I don't know how she does it.

This picture was taken on the 10th (exactly 2 months after her birth). But due to an impromptu family road trip to northern California, this post got a bit delayed. We visited Shane's 90-year-old grandmother and aunt for a few days but split the trip up both ways by spending time with his older brother who lives in Bend, Oregon. It was a great way to end maternity leave with a bang. It's hard to describe these last 12 weeks at home in full sentences - too many juxtapositions for my wee mind to express (Know what I mean?!).

But in all, I've realized a lot about the current state of my family and my role in it. It has been difficult to stretch myself between being a passionate wife, passionate mother and full-time flippin' passionate designer for a passionate ministry!  *wipes brow*  It feels like I'm never giving enough to anything. Wouldn't I be much more effective if I poured myself into one thing instead of four or five? But I'm starting to better see how God is orchestrating pieces within each of these areas of life and how they all benefit one another. It's more cohesive than I thought.

Time is good for us. It shows us where we've come from and what a gift today is, which in turns gives motion to what's ahead.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Birth of Mirabelle

I expected her to be just as punctual as the boys, but I went into labor 3 days after her due date. It felt like 3 weeks. My good friend, Stephanie, flew in from Brooklyn to photograph the birth experience and she missed it by about 14 hours.  It was a lovely time with one of my oldest friends, but somewhat sad that our plans did not happen (She did capture the intimate last days of waiting before the birth, though).

About one hour after Stephanie left our house Shane's sister, Amanda, showed up with the off-chance that baby would arrive the next day (her day off that week). She mentioned that her coworker who is a doula recommended a foot and hand massage that has more often than not induced labor for the women she has worked with. So Amanda gave me the longest foot/hand massage of my life, and a couple hours later I started getting some strong contractions 8 minutes apart. I could tell these weren't just practice contractions, so I suggested we pack the car up and make last minute preparations before heading out to eat. Of all things to eat, I scarfed down a reuben sandwich and sweet potato fries during the early stage of labor. "You're probably going to throw that up, you know," Shane said. Yeah, but I was hungry and it tasted aaaamazing. By the end of dinner I was positive we would have the baby in the next 24 hours. We went home and I tried to stay relaxed and even sleep (didn't happen) while contractions were getting painful and I asked Shane to stay close to me. Movies and TV shows make the husband seem like someone you don't want around when contractions are intense. Women on screen yell and curse their men. That has never been the case for me and it's reassuring when during labor I get a sense of needing him close to lean on - reassuring that he is the best person for me. 

I started to get nervous around 11:00 p.m. because there was an intense pressure and a slight urge to push during contractions (3-5 minutes apart). I really didn't want to spend a lot of time laboring in the hospital though. We waited until around 11:30 and I called my friend/doula/superhero, Ruth, to tell her we were leaving for the hospital. We pulled into the parking lot at the same time and the three of us walked slowly to the door stopping for a couple contractions. It seemed like my senses were especially heightened during this time and I remember reading about women feeling that same way during labor, but this is the first time for me to take note of that. I remember the air felt like winter for the first time this year. A kind nurse wheeled me up to the maternity ward and he tried to be very careful over the bumps between doorways, but I remember the bumps really hurting during the contractions. It seemed like a long, quiet, strange ride up to the room.

My room was small and dimly lit. I met my wonderful nurse, Coza. She was very humorous, straightforward and very understanding of our desires for an unmedicated birth. I was dilated to 6 cm and 70% effaced upon arrival. The next four hours are a blur of trying different positions to stay comfortable, leaning on Shane, Ruth pressing in on the sides of my hips to ease the pain of each contraction, taking sips of water and chewing ice chips - whatever it took to get through the pain and stay focused for the upcoming stage of pushing. I don't really remember transitioning to the last stage of labor. It happened very quickly. And I'll have you know that I never threw up that reuben sandwich and fries! When I was ready to start pushing, the doctor asked if I wanted my water broken. I've never experienced my water breaking on its own. A doctor has always done it for me right before or slightly after I started pushing. As I was contemplating this decision the doctor said, "We can wait and see how labor progresses, or we can break your water and you can have that baby in a minute." Hmmm, let's have that baby. I think he was a little optimistic though. And he had no idea our little girl was going to come out sunny-side up instead of face down like most babies. This made pushing very difficult. I remember feeling so defeated after each push because it felt like every time I finished a push, she would retreat back up the birth canal a little making the process very slow. I might have pushed for about 45 minutes. Shane sat behind me on the bed so I could still lean against him. She finally came out with the most perfectly round head ever seen. No wonder it was so difficult and painful! Shane says she just wanted to live up to her name which means "wondrous beauty." I was surprised by all of her dark hair. I can still remember the feeling of holding my newborn baby on my chest, skin-to-skin. It's one of the few moments that truly stands out from each of my births, crisp and clear.

Mirabelle Jane Morgan arrived at 3:43 a.m. on November 10, 2012 weighing 7 lbs. 6 oz. and was 19 inches long.

It was such a relief to finally be at the end. I had a lot of blood loss and needed 2 bags of Pitocin through an IV to encourage the uterus to contract so I wouldn't lose more. But the hardest part was over. I couldn't wait for her brothers to arrive and meet the baby sister we've been talking about for months.

They came in around 8:30 that morning, I think. Oliver was very happy. Benjamin seemed a little nervous, but I remember him letting out a giggle and saying, "It's funny," then finally getting the nerve to kiss her head.

I'd love to give an update on what life is like with 3 kids. It took me so long to get around to typing this out, so who knows when I'll connect online again. I spend most of my days nursing, playing with the boys and holding a newborn. We have had wonderful help from friends and family. I feel surrounded by hands of people ready to help and love us.

I go back to work full time at the end of this month. I didn't think I'd say it, but I'm looking forward to it. It's what God has chosen for me at this time in life and I'm starting to see why I'm suited for it and Shane for being at home with the kids. Some days it's hard to realize, but if I want to be present and move forward I must choose to be thankful. Either that or be run over with by emotions. I'll take the former. :) I'm opening my eyes to what I have right now and what God is doing. If there is one phrase I'm taking with me this year it is "Pay Attention." I must.