twin update + birthing options.

I had my fourth ultrasound this week at 26 weeks / 4 days.  It’s always a relief to see that the babies are growing healthy and strong.  They move around alot these days too — to the point where I can see my tummy jump in various spots.  I don’t remember Dhara having as much movement in utero.  The perintologist, a chatterbox for sure, said I most probably would not go past 38 weeks, but could go as early as 36 weeks!  Ahhh, that feels so soon!  The following ultrasound photos are from 23 weeks gestation.  Here are the most recent stats:

baby A: 23 weeks – 1.9 pounds / 26 weeks – 2.4 pounds, 149 beats/min

baby B: 23 weeks – 1.9 pounds / 26 weeks – 2.7 pounds, 145 beats/min

Back in mid August 2011, when we first found out we were pregnant with our second (at that point in our minds it was a singleton), we decided we’d like to look into birthing at a local birthing center.  So we drove an hour to the closest birthing center — a cute, old, white house — and took the tour.  While it seemed like a nice option, we felt that birthing at home would be a similar option, if not a better option.  I didn’t feel inclined to birth on their queen sized beds for some reason — it was a very clean facility, but just imagine sheets from the 70’s.  Although their birthing tub seemed more up my alley for a water birth — dim lights and a calm atmosphere.  But we still concluded that the birth center was not for us.  We really like the idea of a home birth, but not in my parents house!  …Maybe one of these days we’ll have my home water birth if God grants me my dream of a cozy old farmhouse or victorian cottage that Greg could fix up.

Now that we’re having two bambinos, the both of us seem to be the most comfortable birthing in a hospital.  There just seems to be too many risk factors involved.  One being that Baby A be in the head down position to have a normal birth and avoid a c-section.  The other reason being that Dhara had a high case of jaundice, and there is a chance that these babies could too; although we are praying that they don’t, because it’s really hard on our hearts and their little bodies.

Overall, everything is going great, and there are no complications, thank the good Lord!  We are getting our room ready for two little ones to join us, although I’m still not sure what we’re going to do with Dhara since she still sleeps in our bed.  We finally found a double stroller we love, and started a little pile of boy clothes — although, I must say, boy shopping is no fun.  No, not at all!

midwife appointment.

I had my second prenatal appointment yesterday with Kathy Slone’s practice.  It’s the practice I switched to much later in my last pregnancy.  It’s a practice of 4 midwives.  I met with Kathy today — mid-sixties, has the most piercing blues eyes you’ve ever met, the kindest smile, and many years of natural birthing practices behind her.  This is the reason we decided to stick with her, and to a midwife in general when I was pregnant with Dhara.  We’ve decided to stick with her for this twins pregnancy as well.  It’s a good fit for Greg and I since we prefer something a little bit more homespun.

For all twin pregnancies, Kathy works with a highly specialized perintologist who will also be present at the birth in case complications arise.  Greg and I felt really comfortable upon hearing that this OB is head of the department and that he loves delivering breech babies rather than conducting a cesarean — hard to find that in this day and age.  He will also be in charge of reading all my ultrasounds every month and making sure both babies look good throughout the pregnancy.  So we really have the best of both [midwife/doctor] worlds, as Kathy says.  I also love that the office manager, Kim, knows exactly who I am when I call or come in for an appointment. My only dislike is that we have to drive 35-45 minutes to the midwife office and to the hospital, both of which are downtown; versus the local hospital which is 15-20 minutes away.  I was also looking forward to having a water birth, but I guess that’s not advisable with twins.  Maybe next time!  : )

At my appointment I measured nicely at 15.5 weeks and everything looks to be on track.  We, even Dhara, got to hear heartbeats.  I also love that all my questions were answered non-rushed and very laid back.  Kathy says that I’m short waisted, so come March, people will think I’m about to blow [oh no!], but that I can certainly go till at least 37/38 weeks.

So it looks like this twin thing is no joke.  It’s for real, for real.  I’ve been feeling great except for a case of sciatica which has been causing me discomfort since I was 7 weeks pregnant.  I also wake up periodically around 4 AM and can’t go back to sleep for an hour or two.  And most foods aren’t tasty, or I should say they aren’t satisfying.  I’m craving things like sushi, sushi, and more sushi, shrimp, deli sandwiches, chili, pizza, and grapes.  And yes, I know that I should be staying away from things like sushi and sandwiches, but we did indulge in sushi just once last week at a local sushi joint — and it was truly the best meal I’ve had in weeks!  [By the way, I got the cooked options.]

Anyway, we can’t wait till November end when we find out the genders of our babies!  Until then I don’t think I can begin all the sewing, knitting, and creating I want to do for these two new little ones!  More on this later.

sinking in.

Already at 13.5 weeks preggo, our very first ultrasound was only scheduled for two days ago.  This is a little late in the game because by this time, most people have already had 1-2 ultrasounds.  So we walked into Maternal and Fetal Medicine so very ready to see our little one — me, literally dying for this day to come.

The ultrasound tech spread some jelly on my belly and began to run the monitor back and forth over the jelly to locate the baby.  After noticing something on the screen, with an interesting tone she says, “So this is your first ultrasound?”  We responded with a “yes.”  She proceeds to say, “Well if you look over here, here’s your baby.  And if you look over here, here’s another baby.”  Greg and I both said, “What?!!”  The tech nodded with a smile on her pleasant face and said, “You are having twins.”  I couldn’t hold back the tears that were flowing down my face — I felt amazement, intimidation, shock, love.  I could tell the technician felt honored to be part of such a moment which didn’t happen very often at 13 weeks.

two babies

The Maternal and Fetal Center was all a buzz with the couple who didn’t know they were having twins!  Everyone looked at us and smiled.  As the receptionist scheduled a plethora of appointments for me, she looked up knowingly and said, “So you really didn’t know?” : )  I can assure you, we had no clue.  After getting my appointment card, my little family walked out into the sun not knowing what to say.  We just had big smiles on all our faces — Dhara not knowing what she was smiling about.  And that was that.

As for the babies, since each of them have their own placenta, amniotic sac, and umbilical chord, the babies are considered dichorionic twins (fraternal), which means they can look completely different and they will either be the same gender, or a girl and a boy.  Greg says it’s a girl and boy combination.  We will find out the end of November!

baby A

baby B

So it’s finally sinking in that we are going to be a family of 5 in about five months. It feels so weird to jump from a cozy 3 to a somewhat large 5 just like that. Somehow I feel like someone’s pressed the fast forward button on my life and now all of a sudden we will be parents to 3 babies under 3.  Greg and I are still somewhat in shock, but we are so so so very thrilled to see these two bambinos and are blessed to have the help of family and friends to guide us along the way.

one happy big sister

our birth story, part III.

This is the last installment of our birth story.  [Read Part Ihere, and Part IIhere.]

After I was moved from L+D to the maternity ward, Greg accompanied the nurses as they took Dhara to get bathed.  When she came back to me after her bath, she came placed in a scarlet red Christmas stocking, clad in a white kimono top, with only her head and shoulders peeping out of the stocking.  There was also a knitted red ribbed cap on her head.  It was quite the most merry + adorable Christmas present EVER.  She was fast asleep, my little one.  Her poor little body had been through alot in the hours prior to this.

Little did we know that she would be taken not even an hour afterwards to be put under the lights.  You see, within the same day of her birth, tests confirmed that Dhara had high bilirubin levels.  In other words, my baby had a case of jaundice — which is common in many babies, but she ended up having higher levels which the specialists said could lead to her having a blood transfusion.  Yikes!

Her jaundice was caused by blood incompatibility.  “It happens when the baby’s major blood groups differ from the mother’s.  The most common group incompatibility is when the baby’s blood type is “A”, “B”, or “AB” and the mother’s blood type is “O”.  The mother can create antibodies to the baby’s blood group. Damage to the baby’s blood results in high levels of bilirubin in the blood.  Bilirubin is harmless in low levels, but if the levels are very high, injury to the nervous system and brain occur.”

Up until this point, and for the next 5 days, I didn’t get to hold my baby girl for an extended period of time.  Forget the bonding and getting-to-know-you time that is so important after birth — nope, it wasn’t happening.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling correctly.  It was just sadness.  You carry a baby for 10 months, go through an insane delivery, and then you can’t even hold her.  Tears rolled down my face many a time during that hospital stay.

One HUGE blessing was that the hospital let her stay in our room while she was under the lights.  Even when my allotted time as a patient was up at the hospital, they moved Dhara and I up to Pediatrics and gave us a room that all three of us could stay in — this was unheard of in the hospital — at least the nurses had never seen it done before.  Usually hospitals will keep babies in the nursery and send parents home to come back the next day and visit with their child.  If they made me do that I probably would have sobbed the whole time she was away.  [My fear of nurseries is that the nurses let babies cry and cry. It makes me shudder to think of that.]  So I thank God with a full heart for the blessing of having her near Greg and I, and us being able to stay with her.  [And especially being there to scoop her up if she wanted to be held close.]  Although, it was sad to see her eyes covered by the goggles which were needed to protect her eyes.  Sometimes when she was awake, we could see her trying to peek from under her goggles.

Every night a nurse would come into our room to take Dhara to the nursery for 15 minutes to get a blood sample to test her bilirubin levels.  Dhara would come back to the room with needle pricks on her heels.  Every night Greg and I were always on the lookout because Dhara had a tendency to pull her goggles over her nose. We were afraid that she wouldn’t be able to breath if that happened when we weren’t watching, so we BARELY got any sleep in the hospital.  That Dhara made sure to keep us on our toes.  We were oh so tired.  I should also mention here that due to my 3rd degree tear, recovery was slow and painful.  No one ever talks about the recovery period for mom.  But it’s icky, and uncomfortable, and painful. Showers and toilet sessions were the worst.

We were under strict orders to only take Dhara out from under the lights for feedings and diaper changes — once those were done, she had to go back.  Those days really felt like the hospital owned her — like I just didn’t give birth to her!  I remember one night of Dhara just crying and crying — poor gal — I told Greg to give her to me.  She slept in my bed for part of the night — sweet bliss! — the next morning, the nurse came in and reprimanded me for having the baby out from under the lights.  I guess she had every right to reprimand me, but I just wanted some cuddle time with the babers.  Infants really are just the sweetest things in bed, they just cozy up right next to you.  Dhara’s test results fluctuated.  This was kinda depressing.  Whenever we thought she was doing better, her levels would go back up again.  Her highest bilirubin level was 18.

A couple of my fondest memories:

— Greg singing a made-up song to Dhara about “that mean Mr. Bilirubin”.  He’s so good at coming up with songs that make me laugh.  Especially during this time when I was kinda down in my spirits.  We had fun singing and coming up with verses for his made-up song.

— My favorite happened during the wee hours of December 29th.  I was partly awakened by the sounds of the pediatric nurse coming into our room.  She came in and shut off the lights above Dhara’s cart.  She then rolled Dhara’s cart next to my bed, and then quietly left the room.  Even though I was half asleep, my heart new it was all over — my baby was going to be alright.  Later that morning, once we awoke, we learned that we would be taking her home that day.  Oh for joy!  I get to finally keep her, was the feeling I felt.  And it was such a good, good feeling.

[End of Part III.]

[The End.]

our birth story, part II.

Read Part I, here.

8 PM, Christmas Eve. I received the epidural — a needle in my back — and was finally able to lay down comfortably as the drugs dulled down my pain wracked body.  The nurse checked all the IV wires now attached to me, made sure I was in a comfortable position, covered me with a super warm and cozy blanket just out of the dryer, gave me the infamous hand held epidural control to increase the amount of pain meds if I began to feel pain, and quietly walked out after turning out the lights.  Greg laid on a cot next to my bed and we both caught up on some much needed sleep.

10:30 PM, Christmas Eve. I began to feel uncomfortable — the need to turn on my side was almost OCDish, so I called for the nurse.  She helped me turn.  It was thirty minutes later that I began to feel that back jabbing pain again.  I pressed the button on the epidural control for more drugs.  Greg was worried that I was pressing that button too often.  Whether I was pressing it too much or not, it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t working.  The pain was intensifying and that button seemed to not be doing its job!  I called for my midwife, Bayla.  She checked my progression — I was 9 cm dilated and she could feel the baby’s head, which by the way, had lots of hair!  Bayla upped the Pitocin to make the inducing go faster.  I needed to do something because of the pain, so she used some of her midwifery techniques and got me to try different positions to get the baby’s head down lower. The one position I remember was getting on my hands and knees.  Prior to this point, I remember feeling timid about my body being uncovered, but at that point I didn’t care!  Uncovered, I was!  I was in so much pain that I would do anything for it to subside, even a little.

1 AM, Christmas Morning. It was this point in time I began telling Bayla and Greg that I couldn’t do it.  It was too much.  I began begging for a c-section.  Bayla told me to press the epidural button for more drugs.  I was pressing the button, but it wasn’t helping!  She called the nurses in.  I remember a few coming in to provide me with some physical and emotional support.  The head nurse took Bayla’s place and began urging me to push.  She told me that she could feel the baby’s head, even see it, and that I just needed to push — all I could do was somewhat push, cry and say I couldn’t.  I remember constantly looking at Greg with such anguish and begging him to let me get a c-section.  ”Cut me up,” I was thinking, just let this pain end.  The pain was so unbearable — I can’t even begin to describe it.  The nurses, after seeing all the pain I was in, decided to call the anesthesiologist to check my epidural.  Once he came, they had me sit up.  My body was being wracked with such forceful contractions that I was literally shaking.  The head nurse took me in her arms and held me while the anesthesiologist checked the needle in my back.  He was outraged — the needle had come out of my back at some point!  [Put aside all the pain I was in, the very fact that the epidural needle came out of my back was reason for suing the hospital because such incidents could lead to paralysis, etc.]  I personally think it must have come out when the midwife had me try various positions to get the baby’s head down lower.  The anesthesiologist redid my needle and taped it all up.  All the while, I felt the baby’s head lower while I sat getting the needle reinserted.  It felt like I was literally sitting on the baby’s head inside me.

2 AM, Christmas Morning. After the epidural was replaced and the drugs now flowing freely through my body once again, the pain began to slowly subside.  I laid back as I sucked on ice chips and began joking with the nurses, “I was just kidding about all the c-section stuff.”  Everyone laughed.

It was then that I slept between contractions.  The nurses would wake me up when it was time to push.  It was heavenly sleep — those few minutes here and there. Heavenly.  The pushing seemed futile to me because I couldn’t feel anything.  It seemed to be futile to the nurses too because the baby’s head wasn’t budging.  It was still stuck and couldn’t get past my tail bone.  Greg watched and listened as the nurses shook their heads and quietly spoke about me needing surgery since the baby wasn’t budging.  He left the room to call my parents.  He asked for prayer — specifically that I would not have to get a c-section.  They ended up calling my grandparents, and others in the church to pray for us.  [My dad says that within a couple hours they stopped praying because they knew, by faith, their prayers had been answered.]

3:30 AM Christmas Morning. The surgeon was called in.  A nice fatherly looking man.  He felt for the baby’s head and the exact position of the baby.  He talked to Greg and I and asked permission to try a technique he had tried once before.  If that didn’t work, he would take me into surgery.  Greg and I gave him permission to try the technique.  The technique — during a contraction, he gripped the baby’s head and shoulders with one of his hands and began to turn the baby.  It was such a forceful, yet concentrated maneuver, that the surgeon had to slowly turn his whole body around while turning the baby.  Greg watched in horror thinking that his baby’s neck would snap at any moment.  Instead, in a matter of a few minutes, our precious baby girl was born.

4:13 AM, Christmas Morning. Weighing in at 9 pounds, 1.6 ounces, and 21.75 inches long was, Dhara Avonlea Smith.  Otherwise known as, Dhara Dear.  As she came out, Greg’s eyes got real wide and he said, “Whoa, she’s a big baby!”  Here’s a short video of her seconds after being delivered.

Below are two photographs taken of my sweet cupcake within a couple hours of her birth — her first photo.  She literally looks like a cupcake.  : )  Thanks to Zuma Aunty and her camera phone.

early morning rays and a sleepy newborn

All that being said, Dhara was delivered just fine, except for the minor cone head. Even though she was stuck in the birth canal for an extended period of time, her heartbeat always remained constant, as did mine.  I did have a 3rd degree tear. But, so grateful to the Lord for our protection.  I’m also grateful for a group of prayer warriors who prayed at 2 AM for a vaginal and safe delivery.  I was literally 5 minutes away from being taken to the operating room for a cesarean section.  I think it was their prayers that moved our mountain.  Soooo happy now that I don’t have those scars on my tummy to show for it.  Instead, God’s hand lead us all the way.  It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure!

Most moms that I’ve seen look great after giving birth.  I looked like I had just been in a train wreck.  I felt like the whole experience could have added a couple of years to me. It’s a good thing that I’ve lost all sense of the pain I felt that day because all this being said, I still want to try birthing naturally next time around, especially if the baby is in the correct position.  Call me crazy, but it’s still a deep desire of mine. Both Greg and I are interested in trying a birthing center next time around.  We wouldn’t mind birthing at home, but I think both sets of parents would think we’re loony. But who knows, maybe we will one day.  Greg personally thinks that we shouldn’t have had to induce with Dhara.  He thinks the midwife could have done more to turn the baby during the early laboring phase, such as putting me in various positions, or using a rebozo to “sift” the baby.

For those of you who are wondering about the doula I initially hired, we ended up not having one because of the hospital switch I made later on in my pregnancy. The cost of the new midwives was not fully covered under our insurance, so we decided to forgo the doula.  However, in hindsight, we both wish we had a doula with us.  She would have helped in going to the hospital at the right time — we ended up going too early.  She probably would have also helped in turning the baby to the right position with various “baby turning” techniques.

Also as a side note, the epidural ended up having a negative side effect on me.  For about two months my right foot was numb.  In other words, it was like I had a lead foot.  I was worried that I would be stuck with it, but thank God it wore off in a couple months.

So there you have it!  Our birth story.  I’m going to go ahead and write up a brief Part III because I don’t want to forget what it felt like to have Dhara under the lights due to her jaundice.  Part III coming up.

[End of Part II.]

our birth story, part I.

It’s finally done, 12 months later that is!  I took the time to finish it today.  The last time I edited this was in July!  Trust me, there was many a time I decided that I wouldn’t write this story, but I knew in the end I wanted my experience documented for my sake, and for Dhara’s.  Finishing this story a couple days before her birth day makes it even more real.  I can relive the whole experience again just by closing my eyes and thinking back to this exact time last year.  So here it is — our birth story.


When I think about my birthing experience, I have to take a deep, deep breath.

My due date was Christmas Eve.  And it was the day before Christmas Eve when it all began.  I was 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant.  The contractions began that morning, I’d say around 6:30 AM.  I didn’t know what to expect — gradual menstrual cramps leading up to contractions or was it going to be an all out pain fest?  I had no idea.  But that morning, I felt slight cramps come and go every 30 to 40 minutes.  Nothing big or painful – just crampy.

I called my midwife, and she said that this kind of contraction could possibly go on for a couple days.  She said to call her when they became 5 minutes apart.  That day was filled with excitement because I knew I’d be heading to the hospital in the next day or so to have our baby — so weird.  That day I folded clothes, talked to my own personal midwife/doula/cousin, Ohio Becky, packed the baby’s bag of little things and the rest of my suitcase which was fully equipped with Bradley food like honey sticks, apple juice, granola, fage greek yogurt, orange juice for after the birth, etc.

It just so happened that my contractions got heavier and closer together that very night.  By 3 AM, I was gripping the bathroom counter top in order to get through a contraction.  I didn’t go to sleep at all that night.  I walked back and forth from the bed, to pelvic rocking, to the bathroom, and back.

We called the midwife, Bayla, at 4 AM, Christmas Eve morning.  She said to slowly make our way to the hospital, and lastly added, “you want a water birth, correct?”  I responded with, “yes, that’s what we would like.”  So with my suitcase, which was mostly packed a week before, birth plan in hand, car seat installed, and my weepy-eyed parents saying goodbye to us, Greg and I got into our Suburu Outback and made our way to downtown Baltimore.  As we pulled away from my parent’s home, it felt so weird to think I’d be coming home a different gal in a huge way.

The drive to the hospital was painful.  I just wanted to get there.  I remember falling in and out of sleep.  Thank God the roads were pretty much empty.  I remember seeing snow flurries make their way down from the sky during our quiet drive.  We got to the hospital at 6 AM just as the sun was barely peaking out over the horizon.  Because we were with the midwives, we could bypass triage, and totally be in the care of the midwives, which was nice.  So Bayla checked us in, and took us to our spacious and quiet room, fully equipped with a birthing tub.  The room was tucked away in the corner of the L+D floor, and it had a great view of downtown Baltimore before us.

I got into my hospital gown, and Bayla checked my vitals.  At around 7 AM I was 5 cm dilated (good sign) and the baby was in posterior position (not so good sign). Bayla said to give it time and the baby should turn.  So for the next nine hours I paced, got numerous back rubs from Greg, used my rice sock to loosen the muscles in my back and shoulders, listened to some Misty Edwards, drank lots of ice water, peed (alot), got my bag of waters broken by midwife extraordinaire, the Kathy Sloane, and then paced some more.  The contractions got stronger and stronger and the minutes between got closer and closer.  After almost twelve hours of all this, I was in ALOT of pain, the baby was still posterior, and I was still only 5 cm dilated.  Sad, but true.  I was told that the intense pain I was having was “back labor” — this is when the posterior position of the baby pushes the baby’s head directly onto the mom’s tailbone, causing intense pressure and pain.

6:30 PM, Christmas Eve. The midwife then suggested that we induce.  After she left the room, I began to cry on Greg’s shoulder.  You see, I needed a minute or two to get used to the idea of not having the natural birth I so wanted.  Of giving up everything I had been taught.  I was ultra prepared with all the Bradley class knowledge buzzing around in my head that it was hard for me to give it up and just get induced.  I realized then that this was not about what I wanted, but rather what was best for the baby, and plus, I don’t know if I could have handled hours and hours or days of such pain.  What came to mind was a beautiful healthy baby girl.  I had to remind myself that at the end of all this I get a baby — a real life baby.  It wasn’t a race to see if I could pull off birthing naturally — even though this was preferable and more safe than being induced.

So I pulled myself together and prepared for the anesthesiologist to come in.  And let me tell you, once I accepted the idea of getting induced and receiving an epidural, the anesthesiologist couldn’t come fast enough!  It was a constant pain that gave no breaks — these back to back contractions felt like I was forcefully being jabbed in the back and in the same spot over and over again.

The anesthesiologist, once he finally arrived, told me I would love him for what he was about to do.  And let me tell you something else, once I got that shot, the pain subsided so calmly that I could lay down and finally get some rest after almost two days of this all starting.

But that’s not where the story ends.  It had only just begun.

[End of Part I.]

our baby story.

I decided to document our baby story because I feel like it’s a special one.  The following story involves a wife’s desire to have a baby, a husband’s desire for one too, a medical condition that made it hard, and a great great God who supernaturally granted the desires of His children’s hearts.


Back in August of 2008, my endocrinologist diagnosed me with a quite common condition found in women these days.  The condition makes it harder to have children — not impossible — but harder.  At the time, I was really discouraged, but Greg was not.  He believed by faith that nothing is impossible for God, and he encouraged me to do the same.  By faith, God would give us children. 

When given my diagnosis, my brain went straight to, “I’ll never have kids.”  It was something I thought about often.  I didn’t share this with Greg, because I didn’t want him to know I cared so much.  It meant being really vulnerable, and I wasn’t ready to go there yet concerning this womanly desire that dates back to when the world started going round.  It’s one of woman’s deepest longings.   

It remained a fear in my heart as we moved to Illinois for a 10 month internship in campus ministry.  We always said we’d try for our first child during the internship, so that by the time the internship was over, I’d be 9 months pregnant and ready for the next season of our lives.  It’s funny how our plans don’t always work the way we want them to, because 8 months into our internship, I still wasn’t pregnant.  And the thought, “I’m never going to have children”, kept playing over and over in my head.  I continued to keep this fear from Greg.  He believed in faith for our children, but I only believed in what I could see. 

I remember the time when Greg and I were sitting in our small living room — Greg on the couch, and me on the floor — and he said, “I want a baby.”  I nodded my head in agreement, thinking, “ohh, God knows I want one too, babe.”  One thing I really admire about my husband is that he always chooses to pray when he doesn’t know what to do next.  So that’s what we did that very moment.  We began praying.

That same month there was a couple that visited our church.  They came and were a part of our bible study that weekend.  Somehow the topic came up, and they shared how the wife could not conceive because she had an inverted uterus.  Their story was amazing because even though children seemed unlikely for them, they decided to stand on the promises of God, and believe that God was God of the impossible.  All three of their children were at the bible study with them.  I was so moved by their story that I whispered in Greg’s ear, “I want them to pray over us.”  He agreed.  They gladly prayed over us, and I could sense that they believed what they prayed for and who they prayed to. 

A few weeks later, Greg and I went to a conference in northern Illinois.  During one of the breaks, we were sitting in a Starbuck’s, and I don’t know what came over me, but I began telling Greg all my fears.  I’m usually a private person when it comes to sharing my fears, so I was surprised by my openness.  Greg was surprised by my fears because I never shared them, but he never made me feel stupid.  He encouraged me like a husband should encourage and love his wife.  He led me to Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.”  After feeling somewhat comforted, I continued to read my daily readings for that day, and for that day was God’s rhema word to me in Acts 2:39: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”  Also, in Psalms 6:8-9, “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

I stopped in excitement once I read these passages.  I couldn’t believe that God was speaking right to my fear.  It wasn’t a passage I looked for, rather, it was part of my scheduled reading for that day.  I was completely moved by the Word of the Lord.  I felt so uplifted and safe knowing that God heard me and He knew my fears.  That same day at an altar call, our pastor, without knowing our situation, prayed children over us.  As we were kneeling, side by side, at the head of the church, Greg and I looked at each other with surprise because neither of us told him our desire for children — and it was something we talked about just a few hours earlier!

The very next week, at church, our pastor announced that a couple in the church was expecting a baby.  After church that day, a woman in the church came over to us and patted my belly congratulating me on the pregnancy.  She thought we were the couple expecting.  I corrected her and said that it was not us.  She quickly apologized, but then retracted her apology, saying, “No, I think you are pregnant!  Are you sure you aren’t pregnant?”  I shook my head and told her she was mistaken.  Then with a glimmer in her eye, she spoke faith over me, and said that I too would soon be pregnant if I wasn’t already.

A week later, I was sitting in church during a sermon, and I quietly heard the words, “you’re pregnant”, in my head.  I quickly shook those words away thinking it was my mind playing tricks on me, because it tended to do that alot.

A week later, Greg and I were at home on a quiet Saturday morning.  He was making cinnamon pancakes for breakfast, and I was putting the finishing touches on a baby quilt for a friend.  I casually mentioned to him that my menstrual period for that month was late — this being a common occurrence for me because of my medical condition — so it didn’t surprise me that I was late.  He said I should take a pregnancy test.  I disagreed because it was probably like all the other months of being late.  He requested that I just try and see what happens.  I said no.  That morning Greg went to the grocery store.  As soon as he left, I quickly ran to the bathroom, took out my dollar store pregnancy test, and took the test.  The results didn’t look very promising after the first minute.  I knew it — it was just like all the other months.  As I was about to throw the stick away, I noticed that there was a very faint “positive” line.  It was so faint, I was almost sure I was seeing the “positive” strip through the stick.  So I took another test.  The same thing happened.  So I took a third test.  The same thing happened again!  (Hey, these were dollar store tests, so I didn’t feel as bad taking three!). 

When Greg came back from the grocery store, knowing me so well, he asked me if I took the test.  I told him to go to the bathroom and tell me what he thought.  He took one look at the faint lines on all three tests and told me I was pregnant.  We both just looked at each other and smiled.     


Many would say, “coincidence.”  I say, God works miracles.  I know how I felt during those many months of desiring and wanting, and not getting.  I know how it felt to not know what to do, and cry out to God because there was nothing I could do.  And then to have supernatural appointments like God speaking to me through his Word or people praying my desires without them even knowing my desires, and lastly, getting pregnant immediately afterwards!  God makes Himself known.  We have to decide whether we believe by faith in Him, or not.  “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalms 34:17-18       

I sit here today, holding my cozy sleeping baby in the crook of my left arm, and thanking Jesus for hearing our prayers, for holding my tears in a bottle, for speaking directly to me through others, for using other people to prophetically speak children over Greg and I, and lastly, for the gift of our Dhara dear.  She sure is a precious soul.  Thank you, Jesus.

“If I am faithless, You remain faithful.  You cannot deny Yourself.”

38 weeks!

It’s so crazy to think that I am a mere 2 weeks away from my Christmas Eve due date.  Today I am 38 weeks!  My baby is as long as a leek!  Last evening at our midwife visit, Kathy said that it could happen anytime from now till the due date, or a little after.  I certainly can feel that the baby has dropped because I’m going to the bathroom almost every hour and it’s getting harder to walk.  Our bags (and the baby’s bag from Aunt Beth!) are packed, and the car seat is going in the car tonight.  Exciting stuff. 

“Your baby has really plumped up.  She weighs about 7.5 pounds and she’s over 19 1/2 inches long.  She has a firm grasp, which you’ll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time!  Her organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.

Wondering what color your baby’s eyes will be?  You may not be able to tell right away.  If she’s born with brown eyes, they’ll likely stay brown.  If she’s born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time she’s 9 months old.  That’s because a child’s irises (the colored part of the eye) may gain more pigment in the months after she’s born, but they usually won’t get “lighter” or more blue.  (Green, hazel, and brown eyes have more pigment than gray or blue eyes.)”

reading list.

It’s been quite the pleasure these past 8 months to track the growth of our baby and to learn about pregnancy and childbirth.  Below are some books I would recommend.  Update:  I added the books mentioned by Lina (books 8-12).  I’ve heard great things about them from my Bradley instructor as well.  Really anything by Dr. Sears is good.  And Lina, I would agree, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Fisenberg would now be last on my list of things to read when there’s so much more relevant and real stuff out there.

0. Creating Your Birth Plan by Marsden Wagner
1.  Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize 
2.  Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
3.  The Bradley Method Handbook
4.  The Pregnancy Journal
5.  Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
6.  The Complete Book of Pregnancy + Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger 
7.  What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Fisenberg 
8.  The Pregnancy Book by Dr. Sears
9.  The Labor Book by Dr. Sears
10.  The Breastfeeding Book by Dr. Sears
11.  The Baby Book by Dr. Sears
12.  The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League

the switch.

We made the switch at 35 weeks.  Some may think changing care providers (OBGYN/doctor/midwife) and hospitals so late in the pregnancy game can’t be done, or might be too much of a hassle.  To be quite honest, we feel so much more peace right now for doing so. 

See, two things happened.  One — back in September we began taking the Bradley Method childbirth classes.  We just finished our last class yesterday.  Can I say, amazing?  We loved it, not to mention that we had a fabulous teacher whose only concern was that we became informed and educated about the birthing process.  The class really made us more aware of what goes on in a hospital when it comes to birthing a child.  I told Greg that I wish I never knew what I learned during that class (“ignorance is bliss”), because then I could have just given birth at any hospital.  But now that I know, there’s no way I can go back to not knowing.     

And two, at 35 weeks of pregnancy, we finally took the tour of the hospital we would be birthing at.  I really should have thought about taking the tour sooner, but it didn’t occur to me that I would not like a hospital that much.  It probably had something to do with this being the birth of our baby and all, but I was just not feeling the whole vibe going on in the Labor + Delivery ward.  And that’s exactly how it felt — “a ward.”  The nurse seemed right out of a tv show or movie — repeating everything she had memorized about her ward.  I remember being the only one to really ask any questions about their procedures.  Everyone else just followed her. 

I would ask questions about 24-hour rooming in with the baby, or if the father could be in attendance with the baby while the assessments were done in the nursery — only to be told by the nurse that those privileges were not in place yet — but they are working on it for the future.  Well, great, because that brought no comfort to me.  I felt so lost in it all — I didn’t want to just be another person who went through their system.  The following thoughts went through my mind — “how can I change my provider and hospital so late in the pregnancy?”  “Would they even fit me in?”  “Should I even be making a big deal about it — babies are born everyday.”     

Greg encouraged me to give it to God.  When we got home, I spent time in prayer because I knew the only way I could get peace about the situation was by giving it to Jesus.  I laid out my options before Him, and told Him to choose.  In my daily bible reading for that day, I was reading the book of 1 Samuel 17:45-47 — the story of David + Goliath. 

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.  Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

My little issue of health care providers and hospitals is nothing compared to David taking down Goliath, but God really spoke to me that day that no battle is too difficult for the God of Israel.  He thinks no problem too small.  His only desire is that we ask Him and believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  In faith, I prayed and called another midwife practice I had heard great things about.

So at 35 weeks, we switched over to a small midwife practice and hospital in downtown Baltimore.  The midwife practice fit me into their schedule the same day.  My appointment was at 6:45 PM, but due to rain and traffic, I only got there at 7:15 PM.  Kathy Slone, midwife and owner of the practice, was there to meet me, talk to me for an hour about anything and everything, and walk me out afterwards.  (I just love the fact that she looks like Ina May Gaskin!)  The midwives are caring and really into the whole natural process.  The hospital we moved to believes in creating a natural atmosphere for father, mother and child.  I feel so much more at home now.  

There are 2 things I would advise any soon-to-be parents.  One, make sure you are happy and comfortable with your care provider, whether it be a doctor or midwife.  Two, take the hospital or birthing center tour!  And three, just for kicks, take a Bradley class!  It will change your view of having babies!

Deep breath.  Smile.