Love one another?

Love one another and you will be happy.  It’s as simple and as difficult as that.  ~Michael Leunig

Yesterday in Sunday School, the lesson was “Love One Another”.  This is a timeless message that I can remember hearing since I was a little kid.  We preach this to our children as they are having squabbles with either their siblings or classmates.

Is this even humanly possible?

Musicians sing about this message (“Try to love one another right now”…Let’s Get Together by the Youngbloods)

It’s a really simple message, but much easier said than done.  In a society where we also overuse the word “love”, how can we develop a true and pure love for one another?  This same society teaches us to judge others that are too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too smart, not smart enough, too blonde, too brunette, too tan, too white, too educated, not educated enough, too nice, too mean…the list just goes on and on.

One of my biggest questions about this lesson is how I can love somebody who has caused me hurt, or betrayed me in some way?  How can I not hold that grudge, learn to let go, and show love towards that person?  This is a big hurdle that I believe many Christians face.  I’m the type of person that won’t make a big deal out of something that ticks me off and confront you with it, but I certainly won’t try to pretend like it never happened and carry on with you as if it never did.  I am the type of person that will cut my losses and move on.  Simple as that.  How do I change that mindset and make a conscious effort to acknowledge the hurt, forgive the hurt, and move forward, all the while loving those who have hurt me?  I believe this is something I will battle for the rest of my life.

I have made mini-strides to be able to do this…I remember a lesson on prayer that taught us to pray for those who have hurt us, so they might find the Lord and stop hurting others.  Sometimes I remember to do this…most of the time I only pray for those I feel “deserve” to be prayed for.  I KNOW this is wrong.  I KNOW that I’m not the one who gets to decide who is deserving or not deserving.  I realize all of these things.  In the end, I want better for my children.  I don’t want them to see me holding these grudges, and judging other people…I want them to see me loving others.  I want them to see what a great life Christianity can provide for us.  Just since I have gotten back on track with God by returning to His house on a regular basis, I have been blessed in every aspect of my life.  My relationship with my parents has improved.  My relationship with my spouse developed and grew because of it.  I was blessed with another child.  I was blessed with the ability to continue and finish my education.  I was blessed with the right job at the right time in my life.  I was again blessed (yes…blessed) with a layoff of said job…at just the right time.  So, of course I want my children to see these things, acknowledge where those blessings came from, and want the same for their lives.

So, what have I done today to try to love one another?  For starters, I loved a complete stranger today…the cashier girl at Mrs. Fields.  It still counts, even though she gave me cookies.

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Tristan’s Amazing Home Birth Story

This post is soooooo long overdue.  My handsome little man will be 4 months old in just a few hours.  I can’t believe how fast the time has gone!  It all began about 2:30 a.m. on October 8th.  I was fast approaching two weeks past my “due” date, and growing increasingly anxious with each day.  Then something started to happen.  It all began about 2:30 a.m. on October 8th.  I woke up to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night for probably the 9 gazillionth time during this pregnancy.  When I laid back down, I thought I felt a slight twinge of a contraction.  I figured I was probably just imagining things again, so I forced myself to go back to sleep.  When I woke up early the next morning, I was still feeling the same type of twinge…and thinking it might be just a little bit stronger.  Hmmm…Is today going to be the day??  I wondered.
I ate some breakfast and went about my day.  I tried to work, but I remember being VERY easily distracted.  I had some homework that needed to get done, but again…distracted!  So, I decided to run out and do a few errands with my mom who was in town, awaiting Tristan’s arrival with me and Tommy.  I drove us to Kohl’s and we walked around and did some shopping.  I picked up a bunch of stuff for Tommy’s future new home in Afghanistan–sheets, towels, etc.  I found a couple of adorable baby outfits that I just had to have for Tristan.  Mom picked out a couple of tops for herself.  Oh, and I found a great robe that would be awesome for right after the birth.   While we were walking around the store I found myself having to pause to breathe a little bit through the contractions.  At this point I was sure I was having contractions, but I was still thinking that it was going to stop and not progress.

When we got home, I was putting everything away, and Mom had already volunteered to make dinner-beef and broccoli out of the Weight Watchers cookbook.  Tommy had been checking in with me all day via telephone and was home for the day from work.  I went into my office to finish up the last assignments for the week for school, all the while having to stop and breathe through those contractions.  I don’t remember exactly what I was working on, but I DO remember that I felt a lot of pressure to get it done!  I finally finished up the assignment and shut down my laptop for the evening.  Mom finished dinner and I was REALLY interested in eating…until I walked into the kitchen.  All of a sudden I decided it might NOT be such a great idea to chow down at dinner.  So, I retreated to my bedroom and called my midwife instead.

Birth Bed all prepped

Pam was wonderful.  When I called her, she at first told me to call her back when they ( contractions ) got really hard.  She was out running errands herself.  Then she called me back within the hour (I’d say it was around 7 pm by now) to tell me she could come whenever I was ready.  I told her we would call her in a little while.   I started to really time my contractions at this point.  I was feeling very anxious, not really knowing what to expect.  Even though I had three other children, never had I attempted to give birth at home, without an epidural or any other “modern” medical treatments.  Tommy was starting to get really attentive towards me and help me through the contractions.  Then around 9 pm I asked Tommy to call Pam and let her know I needed her.  She was at my house with her daughter and assistant, Muraiha, within 15 minutes.  They brought all their equipment in, with Tommy’s help, and began to set up shop in the bedroom.  I continued to bounce away on my exercise ball, whilst wearing my snuggie.  What a sight I was!

Laboring on the ball with my snuggie

Pam came out and was sitting in the living room, watching me work through the contractions.  I remember her telling me to try to relax during the contraction and not tense up so much.  Boy, that was really tough to do!  I had to put all of my effort and concentration into that task.  Pam decided it would probably be a while, and she had forgotten her book at home, so she asked if I minded if she ran home to get her book.  I was fine with that, and she left Muraiha there to keep an eye on things.

Soon after Pam left, I asked Muraiha to check me.  I was really curious as to how far I had come, and how much further I would have to go.  By now it was around 10 pm.  Muraiha checked me and she said I was around 3-4 cm.  Bummer!  I decided I needed a good soak in the bath to help get me through the contractions.

Relaxing in the bath

Tommy was amazing.  He held my hand through the contractions, even through my “death grip”.  He heated the water up when I asked, ran and got the fan for me when I got too warm, kept me covered with a warm towel when I got the chills, and continued to time the contractions for me.  At this point, timing wasn’t really necessary, but it was helping me to stay in a rhythm and pass the time quickly.  Before I knew it, it was 1 am. I had been in that bath for nearly 3 hours!  During that time, Pam had come back and was continuing to check the baby’s heartbeat and check in on Tommy and I to see how we were doing.  I was feeling a lot of pressure, and the jets were starting to really irritate me during the contractions–both the pressure of them and the noise of them.  I decided I was ready to get out!  Tommy helped me out and helped me to get dressed.  I decided I wanted to bounce on the ball, so he rolled up his mechanic’s stool behind me and applied lots of pressure to my hips and lower back, and was constantly massaging my neck and back in between contractions.

Some of the hardest work I've ever done

While he and I were in our bedroom “laboring”, my mom, Pam and Muraiha were out in the living room chatting and hanging out.  It was so peaceful here at home.  There were no intrusions, no loud noises…it was awesome.  I wouldn’t have known they were out there if Pam and Muraiha hadn’t been checking in on me every now and again.

Pam, Muraiha, and Mom (L to R)

I bounced away for quite some time and was getting zero relief between contractions.  I was starting to feel a ton of pressure and told Tommy to tell them that it was time to push.  Pam and Muraiha came back in to check me.  I was at 9 cm finally!  Pushing was just around the corner…I was exhausted, but excited at the same time.  I started out trying to push on my back, just because that is the only way I knew how.

First stages of pushing

This was clearly not going to work.  Gravity was working against me.  I asked Pam if I could change positions.  Muraiha suggested hands and knees, kind of like a squat.  Tommy supported the front side of me, while Pam and Muraiha applied counter pressure warm compresses with a little EVOO to help me out.  That felt AMAZING!  I pushed, and pushed, and pushed.  It didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere except tired, and fast.

I was getting lots of encouragement from Tommy…”you’re doing great babe…come on, push a little harder…you can do it…”  Oh my goodness it was driving me NUTS!  I just shushed him…”SSSHHHHHHHHHHH” I kept repeating.  He was like, “What?”.  I told him to be quiet.  He got the picture.  I was trying to be as nice as possible.  I didn’t want to be the mean, screaming lunatic that is so often portrayed in film and television in birth scenes.  And I CERTAINLY didn’t want to remake the scene from The Backup Plan with Jennifer Lopez.

I continued to push and finally felt like I was getting somewhere.  I dug my grips into Tommy’s shirt (and apparently his bladder, so he told me later) and pushed with everything I had left.  Finally!  Tristan was being born!!  Tristan entered this world at 3:50 am on October 9th, 2010!

The first picture ever taken of Tristan

Tommy was still in front of me, and I got myself turned around so he was sitting behind me, supporting me (as he had been throughout this entire labor…heck the entire pregnancy!).  Apparently he was snapping pictures too…one of the few men I know who can multi-task!

Daddy's first glimpses

What a joyous occasion!  Every ounce of tired left my body.  I was feeling such a rush!  I couldn’t believe at the amazing feat my body has just accomplished!

Looking stunned....definitely not stunning!

Tommy did his daddy duty and cut the cord…what a beautiful moment.

Tommy cutting the cord-so happy to give him this opportunity

I delivered the placenta, and in the meantime was attempting to nurse this beautiful little boy.

Tristan's first nursing session

Afterwards, Muraiha helped me into the shower so I could get cleaned up while Pam, Mom and Tommy got the bedroom cleaned up, bed stripped down and put back together and the laundry started.  When I got out of the shower, my room looked like nothing had ever happened.  All of Pam’s equipment was even packed up, with the exception of the few items they would need for Tristan’s exam.  Muraiha started to do Tristan’s exam once I got myself settled back into my cozy bed.

Tristan's Newborn Exam

The exam wasn’t rushed at all…it was so cool to experience birth from my favorite place…my bedroom.  I was so excited to find out how big my little man was.

Preparing for the weigh in

Oh my goodness…my little guy weighed in at 9 pounds!  I couldn’t believe it!  9 pounds and not a single solitary tear!  Thanks to Pam and Muraiha!!

9 pounds...does that really say 9 pounds??

Once the exam was done, Tommy and I were left to enjoy our new little family, in the peace and comfort of our home.  I honestly can’t compare this experience to anything else I’ve ever done.  This was Tommy’s first ever birth experience and I have to say he is definitely a home birth advocate now.  I would never do this any other way (unless medically necessary, of course) again.  I feel somewhat empowered by the whole experience, and I really feel that it brought Tommy and I even closer than we were before.  He was my rock during the labor, and I was so impressed with how he was there for me.

So in love with our new little guy

Tristan Davis Bowling
Born October 9, 2010 at home
3:50 am
9 lbs, 22 inches

I am special...I was born at home

Yes, I’m STILL pregnant!

Made with Love

When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t contain my excitement!  I wanted to tell everyone that I was expecting, and whenever anyone would ask me when I was due, I’d gladly tell them…September 25th!  I never thought I’d make it to my actual due date, as I hadn’t with any of my prior three children.  They all came at least a little early.  My daughter, who was my first, came 9 days early.  My second child came three days early.  My third child arrived two days early.  Ok, so I see the trend…they were getting closer and closer to my due date with each baby.  So I figured this little man would maybe be at least a day early.

WRONG!

Here I am, 3 days past my official “due date” and still no baby.  I keep telling myself that the due date is actually just a 4 week window that can be anywhere from 38-42 weeks, so I still have another week and a half until he’s “really” overdue.  However, when multiple phone calls and Facebook comments are coming in each day, sometimes by the hour, asking me if I’ve had the baby yet…it can start to get kind of annoying!  I’m wondering…what is wrong with me?  Why won’t this baby come out?  Do people really think that I would keep his birth all to myself and NOT tell them?

Then, there are the other people who ask me when I’m being induced since I’m overdue.  Ummm…there will be no induction unless there is some sort of medical necessity for it.  You know, as in, my life or his life is in jeopardy.  Certainly lack of patience is NOT seen as a medical reason for induction?

So, until he decides to make his appearance, I’m going to sit back and pretend to be calm, cool, collected and patient.  Even though I’m really none of those things.  I think my body knows that this will be my last baby and is trying to help me “savor” these last few days of pregnancy.  Honestly, I’ve really had enough…I have gained 40 pounds, I can’t eat certain things because of the heartburn, my hips ache at night so I have to change positions frequently…then when I do get comfortable I end up having to get up to pee for the 50th time that day, my stomach literally sits on my lap when I sit up in a chair, and my dog has decided that it’s fun to lick all the places I’ve been sitting in so that I return to a giant wet spot.  It’s getting a little old at this point!

Still, I feel a little guilty for feeling this way…as I know there are so many women that never make it this far and have babies that are born before they can survive, or are born so early that they spend months in the NICU, then months trying to play catch up at home.  I’m praying my little guy is healthy and since he’s calling the shots, I’m sure there is a reason whey he’s just not ready to meet his mommy and daddy yet.

All about the baby this week

Wow, this has been a crazily busy week!  Sunday was Mother’s Day and I was fortunate enough to have my mom here for that.  We enjoyed a quiet morning together at my home (I was working on homework), and in the afternoon we all (mom, DH and I) went to Wuesthoff in Melbourne for our birth center tour.  A good friend of DH accompanied us to the hospital for the tour.

When we arrived, I was completely stressed, because we were about 7 minutes late.  I HATE to be late!  Turns out the tour hadn’t started yet, and there was only one other couple there to take the tour.  So, I calmed down.

The hospital was great, very quiet, clean, and….empty!  According to the nurse doing our tour, they only deliver between 30-40 babies per month on average.  I liked the sound of that!

After we finished the tour, we went home so we could host the Mother’s Day cookout at our home.  DH’s entire family joined us for that.  It was fun to have all our nieces over to swim around in the pool and the food was delicious!

Monday, after work, my mom, husband and I went to the other hospital for a tour.  When we walked into the birth center there, it was PACKED and NOISY!  DH said to me, “I already don’t like it!”.  I had to agree.  We kept an open mind and finished the tour out, feeling like our group was being herded like a bunch of sheep (or cows…my DH kept moo-ing under his breath as we moved from one room to the next). The clincher that told me we definitely weren’t going to deliver here was when she told us she couldn’t show us an actual Labor room because they were all either full or waiting to be cleaned.  No thanks!!  The other hospital had only ONE patient on the floor at the time, and she and her husband had actually shown up JUST as we arrived to take the tour.  Prior to that they had nobody on the unit at all!

After the tour, we went to a local seafood restaurant and enjoyed a dinner overlooking the Indian River.  It was such a beautiful evening!

Tuesday afternoon I had my anatomy ultrasound.  Mom went with me, and DH met me there on his way home from work.  They squeezed my mom and DH into the exam room (which was actually a closet they cut in half to turn into an exam room, so it was definitely a tight squeeze) so they could see the baby too.  The ultrasound lasted over an hour, and we got to see all of Tristan’s baby parts!  He got measured several different times, and it looks like his dates are anywhere from 9/21/10 to 10/5/10 ( the 10/5/10 is the date based on the LMP I gave to the dr originally, but my actual due date is 9/25/10 based on my true LMP and date of conception, as well as sizing dates from first ultrasound).  He appears to be in the 98th percentile for his gestational age, and they estimated him to weigh about 14 ounces right now!

His heart looks great, the placenta is positioned well, and the cord insertion looks great in both places.  During the  ultrasound, he was breech (he changed from footling to frank during the ultrasound), but I have full faith that he will flip many times before it’s time for him to be born and be head down so I can deliver him vaginally.

Today was mom’s last day here.  I drove her to the airport this afternoon and look forward to having her back here in September when Tristan arrives!

!