The Day We Met | A Birth Story

The perspective of earth. Of depth.
Of suffering
Of relief.
Of emotion so raw
and sensation so powerful
only another woman who has journeyed through them knows.
Not from the outside;
From the inside.
I can’t get comfortable.  It is bedtime, and I need rest, but I feel so restless.  These Braxton Hicks are bugging me in my lower back.  Perhaps laying on my right side.  No, back to the left.  Nothing is comfortable….
9:30 pm. March 9, 2012.
Could I be in labor?
It’s so unlikely.  I did pass that small clot of mucus on Monday while I photographed Nicki’s labor, but there’s been nothing since then.  And this whole week my Braxton Hicks have been a bit more crampy in my lower back, but my friend Melissa had painful Braxton Hicks for a month leading up to her labor.  Then her labor only took three hours.
I’ve got to stop thinking and find a way to fall asleep.
I’m probably not in labor.  So I’ve got to get a normal night’s rest.  It might be the weekend, but Saturday morning comes early, and I’ve got a lot to accomplish tomorrow.  And even if I am in labor, I know very well it could last twenty hours or more, and be completely exhausting.  So I HAVE to sleep…..
When Robin checked me today, I was 80% effaced and two centimeters dilated, and Beta was at zero station, but I could be that way for weeks before labor starts.  I’ve got to get some rest.
I have to pee.  Again. I’ll be so glad when this endless peeing is over.
I’ll just get up and walk around a bit; that will tire me out….
I’ve got to sleep.  Robin told me, if I thought I was in labor, to get some sleep.
This bed is killing me.  It’s like a prison.
My lower back hurts so bad.  In fact, it wasn’t hurting at all when I was walking around, but laying in this bed is so painful I can’t take it any more.  So much for the Bradley class relaxation crap.  I’m doing every relaxation thing we’ve ever practiced, and it all involves laying still on my side in bed.  And laying on my side in bed is so painful I can’t take it anymore.
I have to get some rest.
“Pop.”  Crap. Was that a pop?  Was that the infamous water pop?
I feel wet.  I feel wetness dripping inside me.  Crap. I didn’t want my water to break first. It makes labor so much more painful.
When Robin checked me, she did say there was a little bubble of waters bulging above the baby’s head.  Maybe that’s all it is.  To the bathroom.
Okay, clear thick fluid draining out.  A tablespoon?  Maybe two? Must be that little bubble.  Okay, maybe this really is it.  I better text Robin.
11:00 pm.
Yes, Robin, it’s clear.  It’s odorless.  No blood. Nothing yellow or green.

“Get some sleep.”

Yeah, I already knew that.  But it feels better to sit on the toilet.

Another Braxton Hick.
Okay, now THAT is bloody show.  It’s not a lot of it, but it’s definitely it.  Clumpy, thick mucus,clear with white stringy stuff and blood in it. Okay.  This might be it.  Don’t get excited.  This could take a while.  Text Robin.

“Get some rest.”

Ha. Right.

This bed is killing me.  Rest.
I can’t rest.
I can’t lay down.  It hurts.  I’ve got to get up.
If we’re having this baby tonight in this living room, I need to clean some things up.  And if this baby comes tomorrow, then I’m not going to do my weekend laundry, so I should sort the laundry and get it started.
Standing and leaning on the laundry basket’s wooden handles. Rocking my hips, eyes closed.
I should get out the birth supplies.  They’re in the nursery closet.  On the other side of the house.  That’s too much work; I can’t do it.  I should at least get my dress on.  It’s really a swim cover up, but it makes a great short dress.  I picked it out for labor.  I can at least get it on.
They’re just Braxton Hicks.  That’s all.
This could take along time.
I think this is labor.
It’s probably not labor.
But I had water pop!  And bloody show!
I can’t lay down.  I gotta pee.


12:00 am.

I should time a few of these.  Just in case.  I have that contraction app in my iPhone….

One minute long.  Three minutes apart.
One minute long.  Six minutes apart.
One minute long.  Three minutes apart.

With every one of these stupid contractions I have to pee. Might as well sit on the toilet. Rocking my hips on the toilet. Eyes closed, neck extended, head facing the ceiling.  Need to breathe through them.  Gotta relax.
Can’t sit any more,it’s too intense.  Standing in the bathroom, fists pushing against the bathroom counter, leaning forward, head hanging down, rocking my hips.  Always rocking my hips.  Starting to moan.  Breathing isn’t enough anymore; I have to moan.
Ow ow ow ow….I can’t take it anymore!  I need help.  “Help!” “Benjamin!”  “I need help!”
Poor thing, I tried to let him sleep as long as I could.  Now it’s the middle of the night, and he’s going to be exhausted too.  He’s such a deep sleeper.
I don’t know what I want you to do.  I just need help.  Please help me.
1:30 am.
Oh yes, pressing on my hips, thank you, that feels SO much better. At least those classes taught us something helpful.  Wow, that makes such a difference.
Gotta pee again.  Rock my hips on the toilet.  Don’t look away from me, Benjamin, please, look in my eyes.  I’m sure I look crazy, but I have to see your face.  It helps me get through.
I want to try the ball.  That doesn’t really help.  But oh, when you press my hips, that helps so much.
I gotta lay down.  This hurts.  I don’t know what to do to make it stop hurting.  Maybe if I lay down.  I can’t lay down, on my hands and knees, leaning my face into the bed, my bottom in the air.
I don’t know if we should call Robin.  Ow ow ow ow…..!!!Okay, maybe you should call her.  But what if it’s too soon?  OW!!!  Okay, call, please.
Do we want her to come? I don’t know.  I probably have so far to go.  But maybe since it’s so intense already it’s moving fast.  I don’t know.  OWW!!!! Okay, tell her to come, tell her to come……
I spent so much time imagining this.  Imagining how painful it would be.  Taking every piece of pain I’ve ever felt and lumping it all together, then exaggerating it as much as my imagination could.  This is so intense.  This hurts so bad.  This is already as bad as I imagined it.  How far do I have to go?  Maybe things are moving fast and she’ll tell me when she gets here it’s moving fast. It hurts SO bad.  I told myself I would feel like I was losing my mind. That the pain was the only part of me that would seem to exist.  I’m already there.  How much worse is this going to get?
2:10 am.

Three?  I’m a THREE? I’m going to die.  I’m really going to die.  This is already just as awful as I imagined it, and I have SO FAR to go.  I can’t do this.  I can’t do this.  You’re not supposed to say that yet, but I really can’t do this.  You’re not supposed to feel that way until transition, but it’s already so horrible.
My stomach, my stomach hurts.  I’m going to vomit.  It’s normal, thank you for reminding me.  I know it’s normal.  Actually, it wasn’t so bad.  I usually hate puking, but that wasn’t so bad.  It kind of felt better.
And again.  My juice. That awesome Odwalla juice, there it goes.


4:00 am.

How long has it been?  Can I please get in the tub?  Is the tub ready?
My sister Esther is here.  Her daughter Isabel.  I don’t know when they arrived; but they’re here.
The tub.  I need to get in the water.  Why isn’t there enough hot water?  Please don’t make me wait any longer…..
My mom is here.
Six.  Only a six? Please, that’s not good enough.  I need this to be over.  I feel like I’m dying.

5:00 am.

Oh the water, the water feels so good.  It’s so hot!  I’m so hot; I can’t be this hot.  Please, make it cooler, I’m so hot.  I feel like I’m suffocating.  Please, I’m so hot…..

I thought the water was supposed to make it better.
Maybe this IS better.  Maybe it would be worse if I wasn’t in the water.  Maybe it’s helping and I just don’t know it.  It hurts so bad.
Benjamin, please, I need you here with me.
My mom wants to help me breathe.  Anything.  Anything. I’ll do anything that will help. This is horrible.  This is so awful.  This is so many light years worse than I anything I could possibly have imagined.
Benjamin,PRESS!  Please don’t stop pressing my hips.  It doesn’t make the pain go away,but it helps SO much.  PRESS!
Breathe in two three,breathe ow ow ow ow, breathe in two three, breathe ow ow ow ow.  Rock my hips in the water.
I feel like I’m dying.
My body is splitting apart.  My bones are being pushed apart and they’re cracking.  I just need this to be over.  I need this to be over.  I feel like I’m dying…..
My photographer is here.  Oh, I’m so glad she made it, all the way from Kerrville.  She didn’t miss it.

6:00 am.

Eight.  Please, that’s not enough.  I need it to be more.  I need it to be over.  Eight isn’t good enough.

Breathe.  My mom will help me breathe.  I need help.  Help to bear it; it’s so awful.

Breathe in two three, breathe ow ow ow ow, breathe in….



Breathe in two three, breathe ow ow ow ow, breathe in two three, OW OW OW OW AHHHHH!!!!!

I can’t!  I can’t get a hold of myself!  I can’t! The baby, the baby’s head is pressing down between my bones, I can feel it.  Oh, when he does that it hurts SOO bad I can’t, I can’t breathe, I can’t stay on top of it, I can’t, I CAN’T!  It hurts SO BAD!  Please, please help me.  Please, I need it to be over.
Breathe in….this one’s not as bad.  Breathe ow ow ow ow, breathe in two three, breathe ow ow ow ow… Rocking my hips, swinging my body back and forth, back and forth in the water.


My body has taken me over. I’m like a writhing, caged, tortured animal.  My mind is disconnected from my body and I can see me from the outside, writhing. Screaming.
I know they don’t want me to scream.


Joi is here.  She’s such a strong person.  I need her strength.  I’m so weak. I can’t do it.

Oh baby, I know you need to come down, but when you press down into me, oh it hurts so much worse than I can bear.  I know, I know enough about all of this, I’m not supposed to scream. High noises are bad.  But when he presses down into me, oh it’s just unbearable, I can’t breathe.  It feels like my bones are splitting apart.

AGHGH!!!  I hear them saying my water broke….how would they know?  I’m IN the water?  Ooohhh that made it hurt so much worse….I can’t, I can’t…..


Do I want to meet this baby?  NO.  Please no. Just make it stop.  You think I want to, but I don’t.  I just want it to be over.  I don’t want to meet him; I just want it to stop.  Is there something you can give me to make it stop?  I feel like I’m dying.

Something felt different.  I think I’m pushing.  I think I heard my voice make a pushing sound.  It helped a little, that different thing.  Maybe I can push soon.

7:30 am.
They’re going to help me push.  They’re going to let me push.  Pulling my legs back, pulling my knees out to the side. OWWW!!! GAHH!! Didn’t everyone say it felt so much better?  This is even worse, oh it’s so much worse.  I can’t push.  I can’t push into that pain.  Pushing makes him move down, down where it’s splitting my body open, I can’t push him into that pain, please, please don’t make me.  Please make it stop. I just need it to be over.  This hurts so much worse than it did before.

I know, I’m not supposed to scream, but I can’t, I can’t help it, it’s too much.  I can’t bear it.
Why can’t I be on my hands and knees?  Please, it helps.

Benjamin, PRESS!
Okay, I’ll get out.  I told you it didn’t matter to me if I delivered in the water or not.  I’ll do anything you want.  Anything you want to make it be over.
No, no, no, ow ow ow OWWWW GAHH please, no!  Oh, Robin,you’re hurting me SO BAD.  Please, I just need a break.  Why can’t I have a break?  I just need a break.  I can’t keep pushing into this pain, oh pushing him down and he’s ripping open my body. My skin splitting and tearing.





You can see him?  I can see him in the mirror.  Two inches of the top of his head.  He’s still so far in there.  I still have so far to go.
There’s a baby there.  I forgot.  That’s my baby.  I have to do this for him.

I practiced these Kegels.  You can cheer me on, but I know exactly when I’m doing it right.  I can feel it.  I can feel my muscle grabbing his head and pushing him down.  It hurts SO bad.  When I do it right, I can feel it, and it is the worst pain of all.  I have to do it.  I can’t.  No!  I can’t push anymore, the contraction is gone, please don’t make me do it anymore.  I have to.  I have to do it.  It’s the only way this is going to be over.

Gahhhh!  His head is out.  I know it’s out.  I felt it like a “pop.”

I never felt him crowning.  I never felt the ring of fire.  It felt like tearing and burning and grating off my skin all the way down.  It wasn’t just at the end, it was all the way down, like all my skin was being peeled away.

Oh that felt so good to have his head out.  That feels so much better.  Yes, I want to touch him, I want to touch his head.  Help me touch him.

He has hair.  I can see his hair.  I was bald when I was born, but my baby has hair.  Dark hair.

I can hear you.  Esther, I can hear you laughing and crying.  Laughing and crying at the same time.  I can hear all of you, like a distant choir, a chorus in unison cheering me on.

No, I can’t push; I don’t have a contraction.  Is he okay?  Is my baby okay?  Why aren’t I having any more contractions?  I can’t push without a contraction.  Is my baby okay?
Okay, I’m ready, it’s coming, I can push again.  OWWWW! AHHHHHGGGHHH!!  I can feel every little bony part, his shoulders and elbows and knees, I can feel everything slipping and sliding out of me.  So slippery.


My hands, touching your skin, holding you under the shoulders, drawing you up to me.
Then in shock….“You’re a BOY!”
“You’re HUGE!”
I know, I just held Nicki’s baby earlier today, and he was eight pounds, and this baby is SO much heavier!  He’s huge!  And he’s a boy!
8:28 am. March 10, 2012.
I have a son.  I have a firstborn son.  We have a firstborn son.  He’s here. It’s over.  It’s over.

Benjamin, say it, say his name, say his name.
Jax Reilly.
He’s a boy.  We have son. Thank you Jesus, thank you, thank you Jesus.  He’s mine. He’s crying, oh he’s crying, he can breathe.  Oh you’re in my arms.  You’re on my chest.

Just like all the photos I’ve taken at other mommy’s births.

This is the moment I was waiting for.  My baby. My baby. My baby.

A few days ago, on Monday, I photographed Robin’s daughter, Nicki’s labor.  How beautiful it would be, to photograph a mother midwife delivering her daughter’s baby, her grandson.  But Nicki’s labor unfortunately ended in transfer to the hospital and a cesarean. Nicki’s son is strong and healthy, and everyone is recovering well.  But it wasn’t the way they wanted things to go.  It is so rare that Robin has to transfer anyone to the hospital; it was a bittersweet experience for the family.
For me, it was a gift.  I watched Robin be mom and midwife for her daughter.  I watched her and her assistant midwife, Joi, use their vast skill and every trick in the bag to bring this baby out safely at home.  Buthe just didn’t want to come down.  They were amazing.  Nicki was amazing, Robin and Joi were amazing.
Robin was so concerned for me after that.  She didn’t want me to be afraid that my birth wouldn’t go well.  That we would end up in the hospital.  She was afraid that experience, so close to my own delivery, would frighten me.
But it gave me so much peace.  I didn’t even realize, I had an emotional wall up toward Robin.  It wasn’t her, it was an association I had with any medical type personnel.  Like they were the enemy and I had to protect my baby from what they might do to him. Why did I lump her in with my fear of hospital birth and doctors?  I didn’t even realize I had.  But this, seeing Nicki’s labor.  Watching Robin work.  I can trust her.  I really can trust her.  She’s on my side.  Like my mother would be on my side, working to protect my baby, to protect me.  She is so skilled.  She did everything possible.  I can trust her.  What peace, what peace, knowing this.  Everything is going to be okay.
Oh but the look on her face when I passed that mucus clot during Nicki’s labor!  She and Joi had just come from a birth before Nicki’s, and if it would have been three in a row.  They were exhausted.  She kept telling me to be careful.  She was so concerned.  For her sake, I’m so glad my baby waited five more days.
Friday night, I had put a clove of garlic in my vagina, to help with a mild yeast infection.  It wasn’t until near the end of labor when it finally floated out of me, probably after one of the times Robin checked me. I remember seeing it floating on top of the water in the birth tub and asking someone to take it out.
A washcloth fell from either my forehead or Benjamin’s into the water.  I asked them to take it out, because it was floating around annoying me.  No one listened to me (I wonder now, did I really say it out loud?).  I grabbed it and threw it out of the pool as hard as I could.  Esther had to clean up the mess.
I have personally known women who said, “I really couldn’t call it pain; it was just intense.”  I have seen women deliver babies in very short periods of time (less than an hour, or even just a few minutes), who would say they were in pain for only a short time.  Others who had hard labors, but minutes after the baby arrived, were saying “It wasn’t that bad.”
No one experiences labor the same, and even for the same person, no birth is the same.
For me, it was so many light years worse than anything I could have possibly imagined.  I kind of hate to describe it this way on the internet, because I still am convinced that home birth, and un-medicated birth,is the best and safest thing for mommy and baby.  And it is beautiful.  Powerful, painful, beautiful, worth it.

I won’t do it any other way.  I will choose this same indescribable experience again, because I am still convinced it is the best way.  I would never trade the pain for the hospital experience of fear and helplessness, and the side effects of the drugs.

And it’s not all about the labor anyway.  The prenatal and postpartum care from a midwife is amazing enough to justify home birth for that reason alone.  I spent an hour at every appointment with my midwife’s undivided attention.  All the appointments (including postpartum)were at my home, on my own bed.  I texted her a hundred times during pregnancy and postpartum with silly and serious questions, and I always received a response within an hour.
And after it’s over, things are so much different at home than at the hospital.  No one took my baby away when he was born,because he was too small, or too big, or too cold, or his blood sugar was too low, or they wanted to immunize him with vaccines I don’t believe in.  I didn’t have to go anywhere when I was in labor, and I didn’t have to go anywhere afterward to get home.  No one woke us up in the middle of the night twenty times to take our temperature or our blood.  All my family could be here, in the comfort of our home.  There’s just no comparison.
As his body was birthed, I tore badly.  His head emerged well, without tearing, and his body was still in the “correct” face-down position.  Babies usually make a small turn from face-down, to face-to-the-left-side, allowing their shoulders to rotate and exit the birth canal.  My baby was a bit over-eager, and turned instead to the right side, then did a full rotation all the way back around to the left side as he exited my body.  As he rotated, he put out his elbow, sliding it across my perineum above my rectum. It caused at least one third degree (into the muscle) tear, with multiple tears all across the area.  I quickly lost a large amount of blood through the tear site, much more than I was losing from my uterus.

Something is wrong.  I can tell by their voices.  It’s not the baby.  They’re working on me; something is wrong with my bottom.
Ah, the placenta.  It’s out.  Everything is out, oh I’m so glad.  I asked the photographer to capture the “tree of life” on the side of the placenta the baby sees.  I hope she remembers.

8:41 am.

They lifted me off the birth stool and laid me flat on my back on the floor.  Herbs under my tongue, ugh,then Pitocin, to stop the bleeding.
I need someone to take the baby, please take him from me. They’re hurting me.  I can’t breathe.
Esther held him for the first time.

Then they wanted him skin to skin.  Benjamin held Jax to his chest.  I looked up and saw Benjamin wearing his brown bathrobe, Jax’s little head peeking out.

They carried me to my bed, laid me flat on my back.  Oh how good it felt, laying on my back.

Things are better now.  I get to nurse him.  WOW, that hurts!  He is so strong!  I had no idea a baby could latch that hard.  He’s nursing well, what a relief.  Sweet boy.
We can rest now, I can hold you.  Hold you to my chest and watch you nurse. 
Precious, precious day.




I asked Isabel if she was okay, if she wasn’t frightened. She said cheerfully, “Oh, I’m fine! Just sometimes you were really loud so I had to go out of the room for a while.”

Oh, and they brought me Mexican food…enchiladas verdes….I was ravenous.

The newborn exam.  I’ve been waiting for this! 
Twenty two inches long!  Monstrous!  Ten pounds four ounces!  Crazy! He took all of us by surprise. Robin says she hasn’t been that off in a long time.  How did my body do that?  My firstborn, almost ten and a half pounds! 
Forty weeks.  You weren’t early after all.  Your house measured big all along, and my ovulation chart was a bit hard to interpret. We weren’t completely sure of the date. 
Full term.  Our due date must have been off a bit; you’re not early, you’re full term.  What a big boy.






Vernix: just a bit
Lanugo (downy body hair): present on the back of your ears, shoulders, neck, and back. So soft.
Other hair: eyebrows good, eyelashes good, full head of hair, medium brown color, about 1/2 inch in length. Makes you look like a little boy already!
Ears: super cute, nicely laid against your head, your right ear has a slightly unique shape in the middle, but it might flatten out over time.
Eyes: steel grey (typical newborn)
Cheeks and Lips: soooo kissable
Fingers and toes: Twenty total, all perfect, nails long and sharp on your fingers!
Male parts in place and well formed.
Chubby thighs and adorable all over!



Tabitha and Matt arrived from Houston with the kids.  Daniel arrived with Aidan.  My Dad arrived with Tita.  Everyone was there except Priscilla and Mercy,about six hours away, driving home from college.  Tina arrived, crying.  She had been invited to the birth but didn’t get the messages in time.



My dad read out loud what we had written about Jax’s name, its meaning, and the Scripture verses we selected to speak over him prophetically.  He got choked up.  Everyone listened intently.  I cried (duh).

It took a long time to stitch me.  So glad the family has Jax.  They get to take turns holding him and enjoy him.  The tear almost went through to my rectum, but it didn’t. Thankfully.  That meant we could stay home and Robin can repair it. Lidocaine spray, Lidocaine injections. She did such a good job making sure I couldn’t feel a thing. 
It must be bad,really bad.  Because she won’t answer my questions about how bad it is.  She won’t say how many stitches it took.  Between ten and twenty?  Um, probably.  A full length of slow-dissolving suturing thread.  My tailbone and legs ache SO badly from being propped up in a position for her to stitch me.  Please, I can’t lay like this anymore.  Please just let me stretch my legs out.
Finally, finally we are done with messing with my poor bottom.


And then things went downhill fast.  I tried to go to the bathroom, and basically passed out while sitting on the toilet.  Robin, Jean, and Benjamin were with me.  My head sagging to the side, my eyes closing,Robin telling me, “Stay with me Joy, stay with me!”  Telling her I couldn’t.  Jean waving something under my nose, saying my name over and over again.  Robin giving me an injection of methergine.  Oxygen mask.  Coming to, then falling away into darkness again.
Things are not good.  I feel separated from my body again.  Like I can see myself from the outside.  I can see I’m not stable.  They are afraid for me.  But they know what to do.  Robin knows what to do; I can trust her.  I feel safe with her.  I’m at peace.
Back to bed, still with oxygen.  Now with IV fluids.  My veins are collapsed and she keeps sticking me for the IV.  Robin is so tired, I can see it.  She came from a birth right before mine.  Said she only had time to shower.
Finally feeling more like myself.  My vein with the IV in it collapsed again, fluid in my arm. Please, don’t catheterize me.  I can’t handle that, just let me try to go to the bathroom again. 
Stabilizing.  Feeling more like myself.


My baby.  Our baby. Our son.  He’s adorable.  I can’t get over how freaking adorable he is!  Look at him! Beautiful.  Handsome.  So big! So sweet.  He’s perfect. He’s here.  I’m in love.  Praise to our Father in heaven.  I couldn’t be more thankful.


First four photos taken by my sister Esther.  Remaining photos taken by the wonderful Ann Marie of Ann Marie Itschner Photography.

Nursery Reveal

Babies don’t need nurseries.
Parents need (want?) nurseries.
That said, we had so much fun putting together the nursery we wanted!

My parameters:
Hand made touches: Almost everything in the room was either hand made, hand finished, or given to us, by multiple people in our lives.
No theme: I didn’t want a “theme” to the nursery, although you could say the theme is “color!”
Gender neutral:  Since we didn’t know baby’s gender, the room needed to be gender-neutral.  Also, we plan to have more children, and I didn’t want to decorate a room completely “boy” or “girl”, just to re-decorate it in a couple years.
Shared room:  My sister who is away in college will be staying here during the summer, Christmas, spring break, etc.  The twin bed and tall dresser are for her.
Coordinated without being matchy-matchy: I’m not a fan of the bed-in-a-bag looks for nurseries.  I wanted the fabrics in the room to coordinate without having everything identical.
Vintage / modern / industrial: The room has a really mixed style, which I love.  It probably leans most toward vintage, but there are modern/industrial touches, like the curtain knobs, the dresser knobs, and the trash can.  I’d love to eventually add a bold, industrial clock, and perhaps some colorful industrial book ends when the book collection outgrows the basket.

WALL PAINT: Home Depot Behr Porpoise (grey) and Home Depot Behr Yellow Brick Road (yellow)

TALL DRESSER: Craigslist, painted faces of drawers white, new knobs
WIDE DRESSER: Craigslist, solid wood dovetail joints, painted faces of drawers white, new knobs

Sanded and painted by a generous friend, a lot of work with 2 coats primer and 2 coats paint, hand sanding took the longest proportionally of the project (10 hours total for dressers)

paint technique: just a girl blog and centsational girl blog
primer: Kilz latex (water base, because we had lots on hand)
paint: Benjamin Moore low lustre enamel (oil base)
ring pull knobs: ATG Stores online
small round knobs: ATG Stores online

BED FRAME: Craigslist, antique metal bed, totally rusted out, sandblasted (Benjamin), hand sanded (with vinegar and steel wool, me), primed and painted with Rustoleum spray paint (Benjamin, two coats each of primer and paint), way too much work (12 hours maybe?)

CRIB: Gift from my sister, older drop side style – gasp – that is actually safe compared to the new ones that have been banned (and Jax doesn’t sleep in here yet anyway; he – gasp – co-sleeps with us for now).

GLIDER: Loaned from my sister, she got it for free from the side of the road


Wide dresser is also the changing table

Changing pad: LA Baby 30″ changing pad, Amazon (has straps that screw to the back of the dresser to keep it from falling off)  When we put Jax on the changing pad, he cranes his head back to look out the window, so we plan to un-screw and re-attach the pad on the left side of the dresser so he has a better view without straining.
Changing pad cover: Carter’s Jersey Bassinet sheet, Amazon  (I was apalled at the prices for “real” changing pad covers. As much as we spent on the room, I still could not bring myself to spend $20 to $30 for a changing pad cover that’s going to get poop on it several times a day.  These bassinet sheets are just slightly small for this pad.  A 28″ pad would fit them perfectly).
Green basket: Garden Ridge $12, holds cloth wipe warmer, (important because a standard wipe warmer has a tiny hole for the wipes to pop through; this warmer is just a large open rectangle perfect for folded cloth wipes), wipes (cotton flannel hand made by Benjamin’s mom, directions here), lotion, hand sanitizer, diaper rash cream

Cloth wipe warmer:

Cloth wipes:

ART above changing table RESOURCES
Frames: Garden Ridge, thrift store, Hobby Lobby, painted the small square ones with 99 cent acrylic paints
Blue framed art: Etsy, fabric, part of the Carolyn Gavin Spring Street collection, Main Street panel
Green framed art: watercolor I painted in junior high, not my best work, but special to us
White framed mirror: gift
Silver framed art: Etsy, Katie Daisy watercolor (print), signed on back by artist
Orange framed art: Etsy, fabric, part of the Carolyn Gavin Spring Street collection, Main Street panel
Red framed art: acrylic hummingbird painting my grandmother made, I printed a saying on the background that was on a piece of art in my own bedroom growing up, and made a little border from yellow lace

“Keep close to me, Lord
In gentle ways, let me know you are near.”

Crochet Animals: handmade by my aunt, pattern from Etsy
Books: gifts or collected along the way of my life
Basket: Garden Ridge
Wooden toy box at foot of bed: vintage, gift
Crocheted blanket on top of toy box: hand me down (I think one of my great aunts made it?)


Tree wall art: oil base original, gift from a friend received early in the pregnancy, this was the inspiration for the rest of the room


Fabric: Etsy, Carolyn Gavin Spring Street collection, by far the most expensive (and underestimated) part of the project; I spent about $400 in fabric.  My mom sewed anything in this room that is fabric, including the pillows, bed skirts, drapes, crib bumpers, etc. She is amazing.

Rocker fabric: Hancock Fabrics (local)

Bed Quilt: vintage, purchased just the top layer (hand stitched) off Ebay for $35 several years ago. I intended to use it as a photography prop, but never did.  After receiving the tree art canvas, and starting to plan the room in my head, I remembered the quilt and knew it would be perfect.  After we purchased the batting and backing, my mom quilted it all together (probably took her 15-20 hours to machine quilt all those pinwheel sections).

Crib Quilt: top layer purchased on Etsy already assembled, machine stitched, my mom quilted it to the batting and backing

Crib mattress: gift from sister, some super fancy thing

Crib pad: Carters Keep Me Dry Waterproof Crib Pad, Amazon
Crib sheets: Craigslist, 4 plain white sheets (because I was really annoyed with how much they charge for crib sheets, although we could have made some as well, but I didn’t mind plain white sheets since everything else was so colorful)

Crib bumper: purchased a bumper at the thrift store, then ripped off the fabric, used the padding, made new cover and ties (much cheaper than buying the padding at the fabric store, since the thrift store bumper was only $2)

Drapes and sham: leaves in blue
Bed skirt: leaves in yellow
Crib bumpers: buzzing gardens in multi
Crib skirt: tossed flowers in orange
Navy accent: tossed flowers in navy
Little pictures on pillows: main street panel



Framed photo: frame Hobby Lobby, Scripture verses hand selected and hand written by friends
Curtain Knobs: vintage, Etsy

And the other side of the room….

Clock: cheap plastic, gift
Trash can, red metal, Garden Ridge (local)
Shoe rack: canvas, thrifted
Art above door: Benjamin painted it in college, and re-painted a small section to fit inside the frame, plus added his name, my name, and “Beta” very tiny in the grass, frame Hobby Lobby
Laundry hamper: Garden Ridge (local) and Kissa’s waterproof pail liner Amazon
In the bathroom (not shown), we use Planet Wise large wet bag for cloth diapers, along with a Bum Genius diaper sprayer

Orange metal shelves: vintage, Etsy
Picture frames: thrifted, painted with cheap acrylic paints
Giraffe photo holders: gift
Maternity photos: Willow Grove Photography (unfortunately, she has moved away, so no longer a local photographer, but still a good friend, and if you live in the Indianapolis area, hire her!)


Some “before” and “work in progress” images.


Regarding painting.  I had a hard time finding good info on what was safe for me to paint while pregnant.  In the end, a construction friend of ours said I shouldn’t be around primer or oil base paint of any kind, for any reason, for any length of time.  My husband painted the walls, and I painted the trim while wearing a respirator mask.  My construction friend wanted me to be sure it was on my face properly.  I said, “Well it kind of makes my face ache, it’s a bit hard to breathe, and I can’t smell any fumes.”

“Then you probably have it on correctly,” he agreed.  He said the main problem with those masks is people don’t wear them properly, so they don’t do much for you.  He also said that in his lifetime in the construction industry (his specialty is flooring installation), he’s never met an intelligent painter.  He is convinced it is long-term exposure to paint fumes that has affected them.

My husband primed the bedroom walls (kilz latex water base), so I wasn’t around primer.  He also painted the bed frame (oil base paint).  He actually used the respirator mask himself while painting these things, because their fumes are very strong.  And a friend painted the faces of the dresser drawers (kilz latex primer and oil base paint).  So the only thing I did is a bit of trim work with latex paint, while wearing the respirator mask.

Additionally, I found it recommended for anyone who is pregnant, and also for small children, to stay out of a freshly painted room for 3-4 days.  Even though you can’t smell the fumes any more, the paint is still leaching chemicals into the air.  We kept the windows open in the nursery, and the door closed, for a week or so after it was painted, to help clear the fumes out.


And that’s a wrap!  I was amazed that the first time we took Jax in his room, he just looked and looked around with those wide open newborn eyes.  I think he must enjoy looking at all the color and contrast in the room.

The room really represents the time and hard work of so many people.  We feel so blessed, and it really turned out as the cheery, cozy place I imagined!

| Filed under dear beta, jax reilly

Forty Weeks and a Day | Welcome Beta

Dear Beta,
This is the last time for us to call you “Beta.”
You arrived.
You are no longer in my womb, still under development and only partially visible to the world.
You are no longer a beta.
I pulled your slippery body into my arms and said in surprise, “Oh! It’s a boy!”
Your Daddy announced to the expectant air, “And his name is Jax Reilly.”
You are beautiful and perfect, and everything we dreamed of and waited for.  You are SO loved.
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish, because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”  (John 16:21)
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as a child of light.”  (Ephesians 5:8)
“Jax” means “God is gracious” and “Reilly” means “Valiant.”
10 lbs, 4 oz
22 inches long
March 10, 2012
8:28 am
Born beautifully in our home as planned.

Welcome to our family.
| Filed under dear beta

Thirty Eight Weeks

Dear Beta,

We are now in the month in which you will be born!  I actually feel pretty relaxed about it right now.  I know you will be here soon.  After a slight incident this morning, I thought perhaps you could be here today.  But it was a false alarm.  You could be here tomorrow, or I could be waiting several more weeks.  It’s okay.  I’m ready for you to come, but I’m also not anxious.  Today’s false alarm made me realize that if you don’t come now, I have things I would still like to accomplish before you do.  But if you were to have come now, none of those things are so pressing as to make me nervous about their not getting done.  I know I’m not going to be pregnant forever.  You will come, and the end (our new beginning?) is so close.
Although I did send you this message on Facebook this week, “Alright kiddo, perhaps you didn’t get the memo, but space in your house is severely limited.  If you want to kick like that, you’re going to have to move out!”  You’re still moving and shaking, despite your increasing lack of space!  At some point, my tiny tenant, your eviction notice will be officially served!  The good news is I know for sure you have two feet, because I have felt them both moving side by side at the same time!
In a book I’m reading called “Simplicity Parenting,” the author talks about having rhythm in your home.  By “rhythm”, he means a broad combination of predictability, schedules, routines, structure, things that can be counted on to occur, so that children (and the entire family, really) have a sense of peace and security.
There are a few pieces of “rhythm” we have practiced during this pregnancy that should be noticeable to you.
Of course I am awake during the day, in which light shines into your house; and I sleep during the night, in the dark, making it also dark in your house.  My movement changes during the day and night.  And even though during the day I often am still, sitting at my desk at work, there is still more frequent movement than at night.
Each morning on my way to work, I say “Good morning, Beta!”  Then I tell you what day of the week it is, and what is on the agenda for the day.  Coming home from work, I sing at least two songs to you, the same two songs each day.  Some days I sing many different songs, but I always sing at least those two.
Meals are another point of rhythm.  Your movement increases for a while after I eat, which I imagine is because my digestive system makes enough noise to wake you.  You really “eat” (receiving nutrients passed from my blood, to your placenta, to your blood) about two hours after I do.
Finally, each evening when we go to bed, your Daddy plays with you and talks to you.  This might be at 9pm or at 10pm, but it happens every night.  Some nights you have been very active during this time (which your Daddy loves), and other nights you seem to rest or listen through it.  When he tells you “Goodnight, Beta!”, he always says, “I love you!”  His recent nicknames for you are bumpy, lumpy, and silly goose.  He always asks you “Watcha doin, Beta? Whatcha up to?”  If he can find your feet, he tickles them.
You still have hiccups almost every day, and sometimes twice a day.  Now that you are so much bigger, your hiccups move your body strongly.  And that moves MY belly strongly – I can feel and see it!
Our friend Cindy finished painting your dressers during the week.  Then your Daddy drilled holes in the drawers and installed new knobs.  We put all the drawers in place and filled them up!  The wide dresser is your changing table, and holds cloth diapers and clothes.  The tall dresser will be used by your Aunt Priscilla, but one drawer contains your blankets and linens.

Then we hung shelves, artwork, and pictures on the walls.  Collected in your room is hand-painted artwork from your Daddy, me, and your Tita (my grandmother).  I have one small piece of art from Benjamin’s grandmother, but I still need to find a frame and spot for it.  I love how so many pieces of your room have been hand made with love from your parents, grandparents, aunts, and great grand parents.

I was really hoping we would be done with your nursery this weekend, but it is about 95% completed!  What remains are three little things:  I have one picture frame left to paint.  Your shoe rack needs to be washed and hung on the wall.  And when we raised your crib up to infant height, we realized the crib skirt is not long enough!  It was sewed to the proper length for the crib being at its lowest height (for toddlers).  Your Grandmama is going to sew an extra length of fabric and attach it with Velcro, so it can be added or removed depending on the needed crib height.
Yesterday was my last Sunday to play with our worship band at church.  I want to start clearing my schedule of responsibilities, so I can relax and rest and be peaceful when you decide to arrive.  I think you will miss it though, since you usually spend most of our two-hour rehearsal dancing to the bass and drums!
Sunday I took photos of some friends of ours who are expecting their own “Beta”, who they call “Baby Hope.”  I’m sure the two of you will be friends, because you will grow up together having been born days or weeks apart.
This morning, I had a couple symptoms I thought might be you coming, but it was a false alarm.  You are still perfectly happy staying inside me!  The humorous part is my symptoms occurred while I was photographing the labor of another expecting mommy, and our midwife, Robin, is also her midwife.  Robin was pretty much begging me to be careful and not do anything to go into labor since she had just delivered another baby right before the current labor, and didn’t want a third to be immediately on the way!  You were polite enough to respect her wishes.

Today, you didn’t really stop moving until this afternoon!  All morning and midday you have been crazy active.  It amazes me how much you still move around and make your presence known.  I can feel your feet pushing, sometimes your hands or knees wiggling, and definitely your head rotating in my pelvis.
At our Friday appointment with our midwife, you were sleeping.  For once you weren’t terribly squirmy when she tried to feel you.  You are still in a perfect position, and your house measures forty centimeters.  Also, my body seems to have stabilized from the symptoms I had last week!  I was so relieved and excited that prayers and vitamins have had such a positive effect.
According to averages, you are now a bit over nineteen inches long, and weigh about seven pounds!  Your development is complete, and now you just keep gaining weight.  The increase in weight comes from fat, which means you have very little wrinkled skin remaining.  Instead, your skin is smooth and plump.  It is also a nice pink color (or will be shortly after birth, since most babies are a bit purple when they first emerge, until oxygen gets into their lungs).  Some creamy vernix may remain on your skin, but most of the lanugo should be gone.
As the lanugo has shed, and as the vernix sheds over the next couple weeks, it is absorbed into the amniotic fluid surrounding you.  Since you swallow this fluid, it is these waste products that primarily compose your first bowel movements – meconium.  Colostrum, the first food you will receive, has natural laxative properties, which will help your bowels push out the meconium, a sticky black substance, like tar.  After two or three days of colostrum, you will eat regular breast milk, and your bowel movements will change to the usual mustard paste we see in breast fed newborns.
Your hands are already strong, and will have a firm grasp when you are born.  Finally, your lungs continue secreting even more surfactant – the coating which allows the lungs to expand and fall normally, instead of collapsing.
Sometime in the next few weeks, you will need to find the door to your house, and follow its path into fresh air.  Your body will forge the path, and my body will make space for you.  That journey we will do together, with the support of your Daddy, our family, some friends, and our midwife.  As you search for the right path, remember that Jesus has already laid it out before you, and will guide you through it at just the right time, in just the right way.  He has promised.
“You make Your saving help my shield;
   Your help has made me great.
You provide a broad PATH for my feet,
   so that my ankles do not give way.”  (2 Samuel 22:36-37)
“You make known to me the PATH of life;
   You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.  (Psalm 16:11)
“In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
Show me Your ways, LORD, teach me Your PATHS.
Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
   for You are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in You all day long.  (Psalm 25:1,4,5)
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures,
   He leads me beside quiet waters,
   He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right PATHS for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
   for You are with me…
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  (Psalm 23:1-4,6)

Four Weeks Pregnant

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| Filed under dear beta

Thirty Seven Weeks

Dear Beta,
Beginning today, and for the next five weeks, you are officially considered “full term.”  In five weeks or less, we will finally get to meet!  Your Daddy and I get increasingly excited with each passing week.
At our appointment with our midwife this week, we found that my body is showing less than stellar results as we near the end of this pregnancy.  While things are acceptable for now, Robin is keeping a close eye on us, to be sure you and I continue along in a healthy manner.  So I ramped up prayers for you, and asked multiple people at church to be praying specifically for my body to reduce its not-so-great symptoms, and stabilize in safety.  I have worked so hard during this pregnancy to take care of us both, and I really need it to pay off.  Our naturopath also gave me a new batch of vitamins to help my body sustain both of us here at the end.  I hope the vitamins and prayers have a significant effect this week!
The good news is that you are doing such a beautiful job of being in the right place for birth.  You are still in the left occiput anterior position (head down, spine to my left, feet to my right), in a curved “C” shape.  After feeling your body inside your house, Robin said you are most likely already at “zero station”, which means your head is positioned between my pubic bones, “engaged” and ready for labor to begin.  This was good news, to know you are waiting in such a perfect position for you and I to have a good labor.
Depending on how I am sitting or laying, I frequently feel pressure on my left hip bone.  Robin said that is your shoulder!  Throughout the day, you still shift your weight, and move your feet and knees around all the time.  You are such an active kiddo!
I asked Robin to guess your size and arrival, just for fun.  She said if we get near term (three more weeks), she would expect you to be around 8 to 8.5 pounds.  She also guessed that you will arrive during spring break (March 10th – 17th).  She said her size guesses are usually off not more than a half pound!
If I could choose a date for you to arrive, it would be March 13th, because your Daddy and I were engaged on June 13th, and married on October 13th, so it is a special date for us.  Of course, you will come when you are ready, so we will be patient to see what happens!

This week I sorted through all the baby clothes we have been given.  I organized them into ages / sizes, and put them into labeled bins under your crib.  There were two bins of boy clothes, and nine of girl clothes!  If you are a girl, you have more clothes than you can wear.  You would get to wear two or three outfits each day and possibly never wear the same outfit twice!  If you are a boy, we will probably get more hand-me-downs from good friends, so you will still have plenty of clothes to wear.
Everything newborn size through three months is now washed and folded.  As soon as our dressers are finished this week, I will stock them with clothes and diapers.  Your Daddy helped wash and fold some of them, and he couldn’t get over how adorable everything is!  He will have fun picking out cute things and dressing you, I’m sure.
Our to-do list before you are born finally has an end in sight.  It had seemed to be growing bigger each time we crossed things off, but it is finally beginning to grow shorter.  This is good, because I am starting to feel more and more like just resting and being lazy!  I think that is a sign my body wants to gather strength in preparation for the hard work of your delivery.
All of our supplies for your birth are in bags and clearly labeled for the midwives.  In order to “waterproof” our bed, we bought a large plastic tarp from Home Depot and wrapped it around our mattress.  The first night it was on our bed, your Daddy and I couldn’t stop laughing, because every time we moved, it sounded like we were rolling on bags of chips!  There are other not so “crunchy” waterproofing solutions, but this was the cheapest effective one we could find!
According to averages, you are now about nineteen inches long, and weigh over six pounds!  It almost feels silly to state average length and weight, because by this point, you are so unique.  You could arrive at forty weeks and only be six pounds, or arrive at forty weeks and be nine pounds!  Babies vary so much that averages become pretty unreliable by now.  Regardless, we know for a fact that you continue growing and gaining weight, which is really what we want.  For you to be healthy, strong, plump, and ready to meet the world.
The Lord has promised to keep you safe, and I know He will also keep me safe.  The prayers supporting us are strong, and I know He hears.
“Yet if you devote your heart to Him and stretch out your hands to Him,
   if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
   then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning…
You will be secure, because there is hope;
   you will look about you and take your rest in SAFETY.”  (Job 11:13-18)
“Whoever listens to Me will live in SAFETY
   and be at ease, without fear of harm.”  (Proverbs 1:33)
“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
   for You alone, Lord,
   make me dwell in SAFETY.”  (Psalm 4:8)
Four Weeks Pregnant

tags: thirty seven weeks pregnant pregnancy blog 37 weeks pregnant pregnancy blog, thirty seven week size, what size, thirty seven 37 week fetal development, fetus, baby, belly, pregnant belly, praying for baby, pray
| Filed under dear beta

Thirty Six Weeks

Dear Beta,
I breathed a sigh of relief when we crossed the thirty-six week boundary line.  If you were to be born this week, you would still be considered premature, as “full term” status does not arrive until next week.  But at thirty six weeks, barring a literal-fraction-of-a-percent-chance-of-something-really-crazy, you will be born at home. 
Sometime in the next six weeks, we will welcome you home.  Into the home in which you were conceived, the home in which you will take your first breath, the home in which you will spend your first years of life.
Nearly everything is ready for you.  I spent the weekend with a giant to-do list, trying to get as many errands and tasks crossed off as possible.  I keep trying to remind myself that babies really don’t need very much, and that which you really need (love, diapers, and breast milk), are already here waiting for you.  I guess it is US, the adults, who seem to need more than that!
Your Grandmama completed all of the sewing projects for the room!  Everything is so adorable and homey feeling.  I already love sitting in your room, looking around and enjoying the warm colors and peaceful feeling.
This coming week, our friend Cindy will finish painting your dressers.  Then I will load them up with the diapers, clothes, and other items that have been patiently waiting in a pile of boxes in our living room.
A few more photos and pieces of art are in progress for your walls, that will be assembled and hung over the next couple of weeks.
This weekend, your Daddy installed the car seat and bases in our cars.  It wasn’t until this morning when I opened my car door to go to work that it hit me.  There it was, a car seat strapped in the back seat of my car.  Since you won’t need it to come home from the hospital, it may be a few weeks after you arrive that you use it for the first time.  But it is there, ready and waiting for you.  I don’t know why, when we have been working on your room all this time, that it was seeing the car seat in my car that made me realize how quickly you will be here.  I could almost picture your tiny frame nuzzled inside the seat.
We also made a trip to the cloth diaper boutique in town, and balanced out all the wonderful diapers from our baby shower, with some other items we were still missing.  I’m (almost) looking forward to changing diapers.  I’m sure after the first couple days, I’ll regret saying that, but for now, I’m kind of excited about trying out on you all the new diapers we have collected.  Your Daddy and I practiced on a doll (Baby Hope), but she doesn’t squirm or fuss when she’s getting changed, so it’s not exactly the same!
I’ve decided you must like to listen.  Sometimes you are moving around like crazy, but if I start singing, you become still.  Then when I stop, you move all over again.  It’s like you pause, quieting yourself to listen.  You do the same thing sometimes when your Daddy plays with you at night.  You will be moving all around, so I will call your Daddy over from brushing his teeth, to quickly come feel you.  Then he starts talking to you, and you stop moving.  Then ten minutes later, when he’s given up and told you “goodnight”, you start moving again like crazy.  I’ve also interpreted as your excitement after hearing us, your message that you want us to continue singing and talking to you.
Your movements feel like stretches, rolls, and pushes, with little limbs sliding under the surface.  Gone are the kicks and punches, since there’s no space for that any more!
My sister Mercy asked me this week what I was looking forward to most when you arrive.  Three things came to mind.  I’m looking forward to learning how to cloth diaper you, and using our awesome diapers and the adorable handmade wipes from your Nana Rose (and again, I will likely regret saying that after a few days when the excitement wears off, and there are loads of diapers to change and wash).
I’m also looking forward to no longer being pregnant.  While I’ve had a normal, easy pregnancy for the most part, the last couple weeks have started to tax my body.  My feet and ankles have swollen, sometimes painfully so.  You are big enough that when you move your head, some of my nerves get pinched temporarily, sending sharp sudden pains into my groin or legs, sometimes enough where I almost fall because the strength in one of my legs is suddenly gone.  It is gone in a second, when you move again.  Moving my body around, whether walking, getting in and out of bed, or just doing normal activities, is increasingly cumbersome and tiring.  And oddly enough, while I’ve had so many beautiful compliments and nice things said to me by friends, family, and strangers, I’ve also gotten a bit fed up with unkind, thoughtless things that people think are okay to say to a pregnant woman.  So, these are my complaints.  The list is short, thankfully, and having discomforts does not detract from my joy at carrying you and expecting you.  I have been uncomfortable AND joyful at the same time!

And finally, I am really looking forward to watching my husband become a father.  He has SO much excitement already.  When he sees a little baby somewhere, he has been asking how old it is, and he is convinced each one is the cutest thing he’s ever seen.  He of course still talks to you each night, and I can see both his excitement increasing, and his exasperation that you are SO close but not yet tangible.  I can’t wait to see him hold you.  To watch him play with you, tickle your feet, kiss your forehead, play silly iPhone music apps for you like he’s been doing lately.
We start seeing our midwife Robin every week now.  This past week was a fun appointment, because your Aunt Esther and cousins Isabel and Aidan came to the appointment.  Robin and I wanted to be completely confident that the placenta was located in a safe position for vaginal delivery (ie. not covering the cervix).  So just this once, she used the Doppler to listen to your heartbeat, your umbilical cord, and your placenta.  There’s a good chance you’ve been hanging out in the lower part of your house this whole time since your placenta is located at the top and back of your house – a perfect position.  During the entire time the Doppler was being used, you were rolling and pushing all around.  You had all of us laughing at your crazy movements.  Your Daddy even captured it on video!
Your house measured thirty eight centimeters, and you were still in a good birthing position – head down, back to my left side.  Since your house has been consistently measuring about a  week ahead of your due date, I keep wondering if that means you will arrive a tiny bit earlier than we are expecting you.
You are now about nineteen inches long, and weigh about five and two thirds pounds.  You continue accumulating fat stores, so that at birth, approximately fifteen percent of your body weight will be fat.
The only organ in your body still maturing is your lungs.  They will continue to mature and develop until you emerge, so the longer you stay inside, the easier time you will have breathing when you arrive.  The only system in your body not yet functional is your digestive system.  It is ready, but not operational yet, since your body is waiting for your placenta to cease its job as your avenue of nutrition.
Your conception and imminent arrival are hope fulfilled.  You have been dreamed of, longed for, and painfully awaited.  But we had a promise from the Lord that one day, you would exist.  And in the painful waiting times, we clung to that hope, desperate for it to sustain us.
Because we have a loving Father, who never lies, and is always faithful, we can hope.  And now, here we are, ready to welcome into our arms the tangible promise for which we hoped.
I pray that as you grow, you hope.  That your hope is created in the truth of God’s word (because we can hope all we want for a new gadget, but that’s not a hope truth from Scripture!).  That your hope, faint and wavering though it might be at times, is enough to help you hang onto the promise even in the darkness.
We do not hope in Santa or the tooth fairy.  We do not hope in our job to be our financial source, or the government to be our safety source.  We do not hope in our friends to be around forever, or our family to be perfect and unfailing.  We hope in Christ.  All other hopes can disappoint us, but if we trust Him, and keep trusting Him when all seems lost, then trust Him even more when we are buried in despair, we will find that hope in Him never fails.  Because He never fails.
You are an answer to prayer, and answer to promise, and answer to our hope.  May you walk in the beauty of that hope your entire life.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my HOPE is in you all day long.”  (Psalm 25:5)
“Be strong and take heart, all you who HOPE in the Lord.”  (Psalm 31:24)
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your HOPE in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  (Psalm 42:5)
“For what You have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will HOPE in Your name, for Your name is good.”  (Psalm 52:9)
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my HOPE comes from Him.”  (Psalm 62:5)
Four Weeks Pregnant

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Thirty Five Weeks

Dear Beta,
Our time remaining shortens so quickly, and our list to accomplish before you arrive is still daunting.  I am trying to be sure to enjoy the moments I have left in this stage of your life, since it is so quickly drawing to an end.
This was the last week for us not to see our midwife.  Beginning this coming week, we will see her every week until you arrive, to make sure you and I continue growing healthily.
These precious hand-crocheted stuffed animals arrived this week from your Great Aunt Marianela.  I adore them, and think they are a great size for you to grasp and suck on!
Your Grandmama has been a sewing fiend this week!  She completed your crib bumpers (which had to be partially re-done since we didn’t measure it right the first time!), crib skirt, crib quilt, the big bed quilt, big bed skirt, decorative pillows for the big bed, and an upholstered cover for the rocking chair pad.  Everything is coming together even more adorable than I imagined.

You came with me to photograph the birth of another baby this week.  As I watched her mama working hard to bring her into the world, I sat quietly, gently reminded that this moment is not too far way for you and I.  The thought crossed my mind, “That’s right, there is only one way this is going to end.”  I am pregnant.  There is a little one inside me.  There is only one way for me to no longer be pregnant, for this little one to finally be fed up with cramped quarters and move outside me.  This mama and papa and baby worked together amazingly well, and I was so proud to be part of their first glimpse at each other, their first kiss, their first squeezing together of fingers and toes and cheeks.
One day this week, your Daddy looked at me and said, “Every time lately I see a baby, I get so excited.  It is getting so close to when we will meet Beta.  I look at the baby and think it won’t be long until we have one of those!”  One night as we cuddled in bed, with your body inside my belly tucked between us, he said, “Pretty soon Beta will be here cuddled between us!”
I am both eager for you to arrive so we can meet you, and eager for you to stay put so you can keep growing and we can get more things checked off our to-do list!  One more week, and you will be able to be delivered at home!
You are now about 18.5 inches long, and weigh about 5 1/3 pounds.  Your body is growing rounder in diameter with accumulating fat stores, than it is growing in length.
Inside your body, your lungs are almost fully developed.  Your kidneys are completely matured, and are capable of processing waste, along with your liver.
The skin on your face is smooth instead of wrinkled, giving you the rounded cheeks characteristic of a newborn.  All over your body, your skin is now completely opaque, having completely lost the translucency of a premature infant.  The creamy white vernix on your skin continues to thicken, giving your skin the protective barrier it needs from the amniotic waters.
With your reflexes fully coordinated, you can turn your head, grasp firmly, and respond to sound, light, and touch.
Once this week I took off my belt and accidently swung the buckle against the steel toilet paper dispenser in my work’s bathroom stall, making a sudden, loud “crack” sound.  You immediately jumped inside me!  I was stunned really, knowing that you could be startled by the sound just as I was.
Your head is still located nicely down inside your house.  The last time I remember feeling you feet down was at Christmas.  Ever since then, you have stayed wonderfully head-down, happily waiting for the day when your door to the world begins to open.  When you turn your head back and forth, I can feel it sliding and pinching on top of my bladder or my cervix.  It can get uncomfortable, but I am just happy to know you are in a good position for birth.
Several times this week, you kicked hard against my right side, almost like a swimmer pushing off the edge of the pool.  Only your pool is pretty small.  So instead of your body pushing off and sliding across the water, you pushed off and slammed your torso into my left side!  You did it several times, almost like an experiment to see if you could repeat the same result each time.  My belly looked so crazy when you did this; it made me laugh.
You still like to hang out lower in your house.  It is funny to me that most of the time, at least the top three or four inches of your house are empty and squishy, because you are curled up in the lower section.  I think that must be part of why people seem to think my belly is so big already!
When you have hiccups, they feel stronger than before, as your shoulders and ever-widening torso bump rhythmically against me.  Your movements overall are strong enough that they rarely tickle anymore.  Sometimes though, when I’m trying to fall asleep, if I lay on my right side, your start protesting, kicking against me and the mattress, and it tickles still.
While I feel you throughout the day, there are definite hours of stillness where you sleep.  At least three times each day, you have an hour or more of constant, strong movement.  If I am at work, or working on my computer at home, this can get quite distracting as your movements are so strong and frequent as to draw my continual attention.
Thirty Five 35 Weeks Pregnant

Thirty Five 35 Weeks Pregnant
As the day your Daddy and I become parents draws nearer, we pray harder.  That as we journey to be who God created us to be, that we journey to be the parents He created us to be as well.
When we growing up, apparently we were relatively well-behaved in public.  My mom would frequently be asked by friends or strangers, “How do you DO it?!” with a mixture of awe and incredulity.  When I was older, she used to tell me, “They don’t really want to know.”  They are looking for an easy way out.  There is no easy way out in life, and there is no easy way out as parents.  It is a lot of hard work, sacrifice, consistency, and most of all, prayer.  I remember her telling me, “How did I do it?  I prayed.  All the time.  For wisdom in how to do it.  And when the Lord spoke to me, I did what He said.”
That is the kind of mom I hope to become.
“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”  (Psalm 34:11)
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  (Deuteronomy 4:9)
I have seen miracles.  I have seen God’s faithfulness.  I have seen tragedy turned into joy.  I have seen fragile, faithful people stand strong through deluge and torment.
“Impress [God’s law and words] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:7)
“Teach [God’s law and words] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy 11:19)
“…To serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ “  (Joshua 4:6)
“The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.”  (Isaiah 38:19)
Four Weeks Pregnant

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Thirty Four Weeks

Dear Beta,
Most of this week you spent in a posterior position.  All my efforts to turn you were in vain!  The fun part of this is I can feel your feet, hands, knees, and elbows moving around SO much more when you are in this position.  You are STRONG!  So I’d have to admit that I prefer when you are anterior, so you can use your placenta as a punching bag instead of the front of my belly!
Then on Friday afternoon, I cuddled up in our hammock with your Daddy, and suddenly a giant lump protruded from my abdomen.  It was larger than a softball, and about as round, and seemed to poke out three inches or more.  I could wrap both my hands around it and almost move it around.  We were busting up laughing because it looked and felt SO weird, even though I couldn’t figure out what part of you I was feeling, or if it was just a Braxton Hick.  When we saw the midwife an hour later, she felt it too, and said it was your butt!  You had rotated sideways, almost anterior, curled up, and were sticking your rear straight up!
Then she felt the rest of you, finding your head still down low (yay), your knees to one side, an elbow on another side.  I couldn’t believe how BIG you are already.  Having her point out your different body parts really shows me your size, and it is a bit shocking to me how close to a full size newborn you have already become.  I don’t think my choices of fruits and veggies to represent you are adequate.  Perhaps if you completely curled up in a ball, you could be that small, but you are truly so much bigger than I even realize.
In addition to viewing sonograms last night, your Daddy and I watched videos of babies born at thirty four weeks gestation.  They looked like real babies.  Gone were the translucent skin, bald heads, and somewhat frightening bodies so thin and frail.  Instead, these babies look like slightly smaller versions of full-term babies.  It is hard for me to believe we have come this far.
In two more weeks, it will be legal and safe for us to deliver you at home.  I don’t expect you to come that early, but the fact we have nearly reached that point keeps taking me by surprise.  It seems like yesterday your Daddy and I were looking at sonograms of babies who still were the shape and size of lima beans.  And now you are almost fully grown.  I’m sure in another few years, it will seem like yesterday that you were born, as you approach your tenth or twentieth birthday.
It was certainly an eventful week!  We finished painting your nursery, put the furniture in place, had a visit from our midwife, had a close friend in town, and had your first baby shower!
More painting.  Me wearing the respirator mask so the nasty fumes don’t get to you.

We finished painting this week, which was a lot of work and a huge relief!  I love how the colors turned out.  There is still a lot to do, like painting the dressers, sewing curtains, putting art on the walls, and filling the dresser drawers with your clothes and things. But the skeleton is in place!
Your room was put together just in time for you to share it with one of my close friends who came from out of town to visit us.  Her baby slept in your crib to test it out for you! My friend visited to celebrate your baby shower, and to take photographs of your Daddy and I and you together, while you are still hiding inside my belly.  If she still lived here, she would have been at your birth as well, to celebrate and cry and takephotos.  We are sad she will miss that joyful event, but so happy to have seen her and spent time together.

There are two grey walls and two yellow walls.  The quilt is vintage and was originally hand-stitched, just the top layer.  Your Grandmama machine quilted the rest of it to the batting and backing, which took a long time!  She also quilted a smaller blanket for you.  Both of these she will finish soon by sewing edge binding onto them.
This week she also sewed a bumper for your crib!  She is so talented and hard-working.  I can’t wait to see it all come together.

At your baby shower, we received all sorts of wonderful gifts.  Some you will use, like a car seat, dishes,and cloth diapers.  Others you will enjoy, like some interactive toys.  It was almost overwhelming, how many people came to bless us and pray for us.  I was especially encouraged by all the prayers… for your safe delivery, for your health, for your love for Jesus and His cause, for your Daddy and I in our marriage and as parents… I left feeling so encouraged and strengthened.

Some more handmade gifts arrived this week in the mail!  Your Nana Rose sewed you flannel cloth wipes.  She also crocheted you a sweet yellow blanket. We have it with your first outfits to wrap you up in shortly after you arrive.

Your Great Aunt Marianela crocheted you little booties and a sweater. And at our baby shower, my mom gave me some clothes that I wore when I was a baby!  Even if you are a boy, there is at least one little outfit you can wear. She also gave me photos where I am wearing some of the outfits!  I can’t believe she has kept them for me, for thirty years.
Thirty four 34 weeks pregnant

Thirty four 34 weeks pregnant
At our visit with Robin, our midwife, and her assistant Jean, you would hardly hold still long enough for them to feel you.  You are so active and squirmy!  You also like to hang out in the lower part of your house. Every once in a while, I feel kicks or movement higher up near my ribs,but for the most part, even though your house reaches up pretty high, you don’t use all that space.  You prefer being curled up lower down, which makes my belly protrude and look round like a soccer ball.  Eventually, as you grow more, you won’t have any choice where to be, since your body will fill up all the available space!

By averages, you are still around eighteen inches long, and you weigh around five pounds!  Some of that weight is fat accumulating under your skin, plumping up your arms and legs. As a result, your skin is less wrinkled, and you are starting to look like a newborn.  In fact, you both look and act like a newborn already, or so they tell me.  If that is the case, you are going to like curling up and being swaddled, and also moving around.  I imagine your little feet and hands will move a lot after you are born, since they continue being so active even now.
The vernix on your skin is getting thicker and creamier as the fine lanugo hair on your body disappears.  Your nails have grown long enough to cover their nail beds, reaching the tips of your fingers and toes.
Your eyes blink frequently, closing when you sleep, opening while you wake.  Your hearing is sharper, and your memory of sounds is increasing.  You know my voice and your Daddy’s voice well enough to be comforted by them.  I like talking and singing to you while I massage your back through my belly, pressing just firmly enough where I think you can feel the gentle massage.  It usually makes you kick, so I know you feel it!
Your Daddy and I were discussing the god-parent issue.  I don’t know if it is a northern or Midwest tradition, or an Anglo tradition, but in the Latin-American culture, I’ve never heard of people doing it.  Your Daddy seems to think a child’s god-parents are the people who would take care of the child if something happened to the parents. I thought that was designated in our wills.  We haven’t finished the conversation yet of what to do.
Regardless, I know that you are God’s child!  We have stood before Him and entrusted you to Him, and we will do so time and again as you grow.
“ ‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
  in the assembly I will sing your praises.’
And again, ‘I will put my trust in Him.’
   And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’
Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.(Hebrews 2:12-14)
In return for entrusting you to our heavenly Father, we discover He gives back even more. 
His instruction,
His peace,
His spirit,
His truth-giving words,
His never-ever-leaving presence.
“All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” (Isaiah 54:13)
“ ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the LORD. ‘My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and My words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,’ says the LORD.” (Isaiah 59:21)
Four Weeks Pregnant

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Thirty Three Weeks

Dear Beta,
Lately I’m starting to feel sobering reality.  Both your Daddy and I have had SO much excitement this entire pregnancy.  We waited what seems like so many years, and worked so hard to get to this point, that from the moment we found out you existed, we could hardly contain our joy.  The time of your expected arrival is approaching like a freight train, and the time we have left until then speeds quickly behind us.  I am no less joyful, but also facing the reality that we are about to become parents.
We are about to begin a journey that most likely, won’t end until decades and decades from now when one of us relocates to heaven.  We will always be your parents.  You will always be our child.  In marriages, unfortunately sometimes they end.  Husband and wife call each other that no longer.  I wish it wasn’t that way.  But children are blood, and you will always be ours.
The responsibility of this is both heavy and beautiful.
Beta, we will fail you.  We will disappoint you, and not just by not letting you have ice cream or such.  We will make mistakes.  While trying our hardest, we will sadly wound your heart.  Despite our best efforts, we have made mistakes in our marriage, and failed each other at times in our marriage.  This is the heavy.
My parents are the best I could ask for, and they have made mistakes and hurt me.  Yet in the end, the strength and tirelessness of their love for me wins out.  Their perseverance, repentance, dedication to Jesus and to expressing His love, is a victory won over anything troublesome that occurs along the way.  Your Daddy and I have experienced the same in our marriage.  This is the beautiful.
Just like our parents, we won’t be perfect.  We won’t do everything right.  We will hurt you without meaning to.  Such is life in a broken earth.
But the beauty that shines through the brokenness is this: Jesus saves. He loves. He redeems. He restores. He heals.  And life with Him is worth living.
And when we don’t know what to do to help you or instruct you, He is our source and our answer.  And when we have failed you and you are old enough to be aware of your wound, He is your source and your answer.
HE will NEVER fail us.
Because of this, we have Someone to hang onto when everything else is broken.
Your Daddy tells you every morning and evening that he loves you.  I tell you many times a day, often while rubbing your back through my skin.  Our love comes from Jesus, the source of love.  Our imperfections come from this broken earth, from our own poor choices, from sin.  So we love you desperately, yet imperfectly.  We love you, Beta.  That will never change.
I pray that through the brokenness and wounds, and through the victories and beauty, that together we discover Jesus, become more of His children, lean more into His arms.  That drawing to Him binds us together as a family.  This is the hope we have in Christ.
Thirty Three 33 Weeks Pregnant
Thirty Three 33 Weeks Pregnant

This week I’ve finally noticed definite times where you must be sleeping, and definite alert times.  You will be awake, moving, kicking and playing for twenty or thirty minutes, with these huge, strong, movements.  Then I will feel nothing for an hour or so while you rest.  Then a few bumps for ten minutes or so, then another hour or so of sleep.  About every other night, one of your extremely active sessions occurs in the middle of the night, usually sometime between two and four am.  I’m wondering if you will continue this after you are born!
We worked on your nursery over the weekend too.  Your Daddy painted the walls grey and yellow.  Your Grandmama is sewing a quilt.  This week I will finish the painting of the walls, and we will move the furniture into the room!
You now weigh about four and a half pounds, and are roughly eighteen inches long.  The size of your head is expanding rapidly, allowing important brain growth.  Your bones continue to harden, except for the ones in your head.  These stay pliable, to help your head squish into a shape that will allow you to exit your house in a couple more months.
The level of water in your swimming pool has peaked.  From here forward, it will gradually decrease as the size of your body gradually increases, taking up more real estate.  You are also drinking and urinating a pint of fluid every day!  That’s quite a lot of fluid for such a little one as you.
As your house grows, the walls get thinner.  This lets you see more changes in light, indoor, outdoor, day and night.  And your immune system is now relatively stable, and could protect you from mild infections.
These verses tell you how much you matter to Jesus.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.”
(Mark 10:13-15)
“Jesus took a little child whom He placed among them. Taking the child in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me.’ ”  
(Mark 9:36-38)
In these verses, we see the ways parents are to care for their children, by the example of the apostles caring for their churches.
“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
This week, I pray for you by praying for us.  That we will care for you, love you, encourage and comfort you, and urge you to live a life worthy of God.  That despite the failures we will inevitably have, that the power of God will shine through us, will be caught by you, and displayed through you to the world.

Four Weeks Pregnant

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Thirty Two Weeks

Dear Beta,

You really don’t like hiccups.  It is no surprise that they wake you, but you certainly protest them by squirming and kicking until they go away!  I’d say you have hiccups about every other day.  Because you are still in perfect birthing position, your torso is down and to my left.  Thus I feel your hiccups bumping your torso against the front of my left hip.  Simultaneously, your little feet usually kick and squirm on my right upper side.  I hate to break it to you, but your hiccups won’t go away once you are born.  And they are pretty much always just as annoying!  However, I think you will probably have them less than you do now.
We had another visit from our midwife, Robin, this week.  She called it her “play date” with you, and said you were something of a celebrity.  All this talk about you, photos for you, celebration of you, and many people following your progress in these weekly letters makes you like the star of a soap opera or something!
I only wish every child had the privilege of being just as wanted and celebrated.
Your house is thirty four centimeters tall now, making more space for you each week.  You weigh almost four pounds, and are about eighteen inches long!  The diameter of your head is four inches, up from two and a half inches just five weeks ago.  From now through delivery, you will gain half your birth weight.
Your heartbeat was slower this week, about 128 to 132 beats per minute.  It is typical for a baby’s heart rate to slow a bit at this point.
All that growth requires more rest, so you are now sleeping for more of the day and evening.  Although your movements are still regular throughout the day (and even when I wake at night), I have noticed that overall you seem a bit more still.  There are times when you seem to sleep, that you don’t move much, even in response to prodding.
The change in your movement is a result of the shrinking space around you in relation to your growing body.  Some of your more frequent movements now are turning your head back and forth, and moving your hands.  All of that I feel very low down, and sometimes can feel your head over my cervix.  One day, that window will open for you to exit through it!
If you are a girl, your clitoris has formed.  If you are a boy, your testicles are descending from your groin into your scrotum.
Your body is able to absorb some minerals from your own intestinal tract, including calcium and iron.  Some of those minerals have taken shape on the tips of your fingers and toes, where your nails are now fully formed and visible.
Finally, your skin is gaining pigment.  From this point forward, your skin will lose its translucency, becoming more opaque.
Thirty Two 32 Weeks Pregnant

Thirty Two 32 Weeks Pregnant
A few months ago, I heard your cousin Aidan was praying daily for you to be obedient to your parents.  Obedience, discipline, submission… these are not words or actions we like as children, or as adults either.  But they will always be part of life with Christ, and life with each other.  These actions breed faithfulness and perseverance, qualities of strong character that bring a meaningful and effective life.  It begins not long after birth, and continues as long as we are here on earth.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”  (Hebrews 12:7)
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:14)
Just as children have instructions, so do parents!
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise — ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’  Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:1-5)
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:20-22)
The fruit of an obedient life is felt by the child, the parents, and even those surrounding.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
3 John 1:4
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  (1 John 3:18)
“So that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”  (Philippians 2:15)
Four Weeks Pregnant

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