Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My RAOK Birthday- Part 2

 Well, it happened. I turned 25. And to celebrate, I did 25 Random Acts of Kindness throughout the day! This was SO fun. And we had a blast preparing for it- making our list, prepping the items that we would need, and spending some time in prayer. And God really showed up! 

To start off, I will share with you what my 25 RAOKs were:

1. Clean out garage for Hubby
2. Setup and work Adoption Garage Sale
3. Pay for the order behind us at Starbucks
4. Pay a stranger a compliment
5. Tape coupons to items in the store
6. Return shopping carts
7. Drop quarters in the playground for kids to find
8. Donate to a car wash fundraiser to send kids to camp
9. Donate clothing to a ministry
10. Give money to a homeless person
11. Tape money to a vending machine
12. Hold the door open for someone
13. Mail my labor playlist to Amey and Kelly
14. Take flowers to a loved one
15. Deliver coffee to a friend
16. Give flowers to a stranger in the parking lot
17. Leave a quarter in a toy slot
18. Leave $ and a note in a good book at Goodwill
19. Avoid ALL negative talk
20. Give $10 Kohl's Cash to a stranger in the store
21. Mail a thank-you note to a mentor
22. Leave a kind note on a car
23. Write a love letter to my husband (he is  words of affirmation)
24. Let someone ahead of me in line
25. Deliver balloons to my niece and nephew

Now I have to admit, this was the happiest and most exciting birthday that I have ever experienced! And it was because I was so busy planning what I would do and how to focus on others, that I had absolutely no expectations! I was not worried about who had called, texted, or posted to wish me a Happy Birthday. It didn't matter! How refreshing that was!  

Here are the little cards that I tried to include with each act. TRIED, but did not always remember.
My first RAOK- delivering flowers to my sister-in-law at 5am before we set up their garage sale!
Setting up the adoption garage sale
Rocking the fanny pack while my hot husband looks on...
 We actually spent two days helping to setup/work the garage sale. There was so much stuff donated, that help was definitely needed. It was neat to be able to read through the amount raised at the end of the day and know that my brother and his wife were that much closer to Bringing Home Baby Thatcher!

Write a love letter to my husband- while baby girl tries to play his guitar.
Returning grocery carts in the Target parking lot.
Removing trash too... I should have added that to the list!
Taping a coupon for dog food onto the dog food!
It was SO fun to tape coupons onto their matching items at the store! How stoked would you be to go in to buy coffee or dog food, and it had a coupon ATTACHED to the item!?! I feel like I want to do this every week with coupons, because I don't buy those items much anyway!

Doing RAOKs is SUPER tiring...
Our clothing donation (Thanks Closet Swap girls :))
This was such a cool find- we wanted to donate the clothes to a place that would give them away and not sell them. We were looking for shelters and safe houses, and nothing was working. We sent up a quick prayer for God to lead us somewhere, and seconds later we spotted this place from the road. After asking if they took donations (they usually take food, but were more than happy to take clothing), We met the pastor and his wife who run both the church and the outreach. Ironically, they also knew of Crossings Church, where our youth met, and said they had been dying to meet us! They told us that they had been so encouraged by our youth group and want to learn some things from us... cool right? We left feeling so encouraged, with new ideas, and with some new friends!

Taping coins to a vending machine...
Mailing out some special letters to some special ladies... they'll get them soon!
Dropping quarters in the park!
Daniel getting tricky with his quarters... hiding them in tough spots!
Leaving quarters in gumball machines!
At Walmart trying to go unnoticed...
My better half...
My last RAOK!!!!
We prayed about our "giving money to a homeless person" RAOK. We have a homeless friend named John that we have known for about 7 years. We run into him every few months, sometimes we just give him money and a hello, and other times we can sit down to visit. I hadn't seen him since I was pregnant. We would have loved to see him, and even prayed to, but it was a slim chance. As we pulled into Goodwill (which we had missed about 3 times throughout the day and finally made it), John pulled up at the SAME EXACT TIME on his bike! CRAZY! We had never even seen him in that area! My point here- don't pray unless you actually want God to show up!

Later on we went into Safeway and bought some balloons and flowers for our next RAOKs. While walking through the store, I saw a sweet couple with a little one who had a helmet to correct his head shape. They were so cute! Later in the parking lot, I saw them getting into their car. I felt lead to give the flowers to her. I walked up to her car as she put baby in his seat and said "Hi. I just wanted you to know that you are an inspiration. I have a little one too, and I know it can be hard. These flowers are for you- thank you for being a mommy and working so hard". She was completely floored and speechless. She said "Really!? Thank you!" and started to tear up, so I did too. It's the little things. 

Our final RAOK was to deliver balloons to my 2 and 3 year old nephew and niece. Who doesn't love balloons!?! Since they weren't home when we showed up, we tied them to the door and texted my sister to surprise them when they got home. Their reactions are precious...

What a fun day this was. I also asked all of you to do a RAOK in honor of my birthday, and here were some of the responses I received! 

Terri- Aubrey, it was such a blessing to help with your birthday by doing RAOK's. I loved paying for the person behind me at Dutch Brothers Coffee and going to my mom's and helping her pack up for several hours. It is so rewarding. Xo hope it was a blessed birthday.

Vicky- I didn't do it today but at work on Thursday I left notes in a few coworkers boxes thanking them for being them and being in my life and that we get to work together. I got texts back saying how wonderful and appreciated it made them feel!

Michelle- I'm watching my grandson while his parents work, does that count?

Leesha- 100% tip at lunch this afternoon. Happy Birthday!!!

Kandice- Left change in the bill to change converter at bass pro shop.

Jennifer- I didn't shank the obnoxious woman who wouldn't shut up while getting a pedicure. Does that count? Kidding! (Although I think it would have been a RAOK to those of us stuck listening to her but I figured that wasn't the RAOK you had in mind) so instead I left the lady giving me my pedicure a 50% tip (I forgot to stop for extra cash. Oops). In addition, I took baked goods to a few of my neighbors. Also I sent random people texts telling them things like they were awesome and to have a good day.

Catt- So the family and I are in Roswell New Mexico for my hubby's football tournament and I was sooooo excited about your RAOK day because there are thousands of people here for the tournament and I knew we could do some RAOK ....my hubby bought his teammates some extra burgers for lunch and as I was walking into to Target to get diapers I noticed a homeless man sitting outside, and it clicked in my head that it was RAOK DAY!!! So I bought him some granola bars, crackers and water and when I came outside he was gone....and we saw him crossing the street so we chased him down and gave him his goodies thank you for such a great idea Aubrey hope you are having a wonderful day!! Xoxo

Jill- School's out for summer ... so Max brought in all the neighbors' recycle bins from the curb Friday mid-morn ... and we brought a CPK gift card to selfless Janie and her hubby who rarely splurge on anything. Feels good to do good. What an awesome birthday tradition, Aubrey. At Max's bd parties, in lieu of gifts, we invite guests to empty their pantries of extras for a gigantic group donation to the food bank.

Jennifer- I helped someone at work with a problem they had, since there were no supervisors around.

Kenny- Did it, can't share it. But thanks for the reminder Aubrey. The one prayer that is always answered immediately; Lord give me the opportunity to be of service to someone in need today.

Sarah- Tomorrow I am going with a group of my church to volunteer for the families affected by the tornadoes in OK. Sounds like an act of kindness to me :0)

Evan- I stayed over at work to help a new coworker find some much needed vaccine paperwork. It is so nice to help people without waiting for them to help.

Kassie- I just bought our cashier at Fry’s flowers on behalf of you- you should have seen her face when I told her they were for her!

Abbey- Random act of kindness was to pay for the order behind me! And my parents came and made my tree and lawn look beautiful again!

Stephanie- Found our opportunity as we stopped at the rest stop. Spotted these sweet folks sitting in the hot rest stop raising money for a community center project! 

Thank you to each and every one of you who made my birthday so special this year!
 I think we may have to make this a tradition...

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Life Well Lived- Remembering Bradley

UPDATE: Services for Bradley will be held at Living Streams Church at 10am on Friday, May 31st. Any and all are welcome to celebrate this hilarious man's life. 

When my heart feels heavy, I write.

My heart is completely broken today. I feel like I have gone on with “normal” life today because I had no choice- entertaining my in-laws, shopping at Cabela’s, playing with my little girl...but I feel completely detached from my body and it’s actions. My mind is on my friend Brad Piccirillo, and his wonderful family.

I have dug down deep to remember every possible moment that I have shared with you, and remember your smile, your laugh, and your great big bear hugs. I have replayed our memories from childhood and our adult reunions over and over in my head.

I remember learning how to swim at your house, and being so afraid to go down your slide. I was sure I would fall off.

I remember stepping on a bee outside of your house when I was just a kid, and our moms were working on my foot while you and our brothers laughed outside.

I remember driving around the little automatic kid car with Jeremy and you came and picked me up out of it to tickle me, and I was embarrassed because I had a dress on.

I remember having a loose tooth at your house and it was hurting me, and you just made fun of me. Typical Brad.

I remember being a teenager and being so obsessed with NSYNC, and that’s right when you joined a boy band. I was so giddy to know a REAL boy band member.

I remember always feeling so in love with you and wanting to marry you!

I remember our reunion at your house when I was 17, and seeing you and some other friends for the first time in years. We spent months driving back into Phoenix to have worship night with you all.

I remember running into you at a David Crowder concert after I started dating Daniel. You stole his seat and wouldn’t get up when he returned because you wanted to talk with me. Awkward.

I remember joking with you that you had waited too long to date me and missed your chance, and you just looked at me seriously and said “don’t joke like that”.

I remember spending time dancing and having fun with everyone at Jared and Kylee’s wedding- we hadn’t seen each other in months, maybe years.

And I remember talking to you just a few short weeks ago. You texted me anonymously and gave me the hint that you “had dated my brother for a long time... like his entire life, until he decided to get married and ruin everything”. I guessed it was you on the first try. YOU were the only option. And the only one who would stay with my brother for that long :)

This morning I woke up to a text saying that there had been a horrible accident, and that you were going to see Jesus. How does a person react to that?

When I was 11 years old, my best friend died from Cystic Fibrosis. I was outside looking for something in the shed when my parents called me in to tell me the news. I will never forget that moment.

When I was 16 years old, a good friend from high school died in a car accident 2 days before Christmas. I was just getting out of the shower and still in my towels when I got that text. I couldn’t move for minutes. I will never forget that moment.

This morning I was getting up to the sound of my baby’s coos and checked my phone... I will never forget this moment.

You are loved by so many. At a time like this, I think “why didn’t he die overseas?” and “why didn’t he die as a Marine?” and “Why did he have to come back to “normal” life and die this way?”. I think of your tattoo under your arm- and the time that you explained to me that it was the safest place to tattoo your dog tags in case you were blown up- it was the body part most likely to stay intact so they could identify you. Well, my friend, we know who you are. And we know WHERE you are.

I guess at a time like this we reflect on the memories, good times, conversations, lessons, and experiences we had. As my heart broke today and my brain started to feel cloudy, Jesus spoke to me and said “It is finished. He has done all I intended for him there. It is time for him to come home to me”. I wish that I knew how God worked and when and why he decides things like this. I wish I knew what Brad’s last act was that made God say “Yep, it’s time”.

So though my heart is broken, bruised and heavy today- though my eyes keep filling to the brim- though my body feels as if I am dragging it around- I know that many others will live because Brad died. And in so many ways. He served his country in the Marines, he shared his faith to all those around him, and he has donated his organs to those in need. He has provided life both physically and spiritually. Maybe that is why God called him home. 

With these words, I let go. Go to Jesus, Brad. Jump on his lap. Give him one of your big bear hugs. Sit at his feet and listen. Know the love that he created us to know. And thank you for being a servant here. You served many well, and I cannot wait to reunite AGAIN with you in heaven. Save me a seat. 

You were greatly loved here.

P.S. From a friend on his Facebook page- "The world just became a little less funny".

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My ROAK Birthday- Part 1

So... my birthday is this Saturday! I will be 25 years old. AND this is my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY- meaning that my birthday is the 25th and I am turning 25... same number. Get it?

I have been racking my brain for what I want to do on this day. I used to have parties, but we have had so many lately that I feel partied-out. I have been on vacation a few times over my birthday, and that is exciting but not manageable this year. I also can’t buy extravagant gifts, because the finances change a little when you choose to stay home with the baby! And last year was a total bust because I was 6 months pregnant and my husband broke his nose 5 days earlier. We spent the 25th at the doctor’s office TWICE to get it corrected and with him on Vicodin... and he is NOT a nice person on pain meds (sorry babe- but it’s true). We ended up just eating pizza and watching a movie.

SO after scouring the internet, talking with my husband, and not really finding many gifts that I wanted or needed, I came up with this plan...

I will be performing 25 Random Acts of Kindness (RAOKs) on my birthday, in honor of my birthday!

I will only share a few of my ideas so far, so that you can read through my future post of what I actually do! Here are a few...

- Deliver cookies to my neighbors (I have never met them!)
- Compliment a stranger
- Pay for the person in line behind me at Starbucks
- Donate clothing
- Take flowers to a loved one
- Give money/food to a homeless person

This is just a little sneak peek of some ideas! I do have a list of things that I would like to accomplish (because I'm a list-maker), but I am praying that God creates some opportunities to do something actually random- like help someone load groceries in their car or buy lemonade from a children’s stand.

So I ask you- on Saturday, May 25th, 2013, will you perform a random act of kindness in honor of my birthday? How awesome would it be to have a day FULL of them!? If you do this, please send me a text, message, comment on my facebook or my blog and tell me WHAT YOU DID!

Let’s make a difference this weekend- even the smallest acts can make a big impact.

And look for my blogpost on WHAT I DID after the weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Love Is...

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

We have started a “Love Is” series at church and have been going through each of these points one week at a time. This week was “it is not self-seeking”. Perfect timing for me- after a long weekend and a tough Sunday morning getting the Pipsqueak ready.

She woke up happy, but it gradually died down as the morning wore on- and we had to make it to 10:30am to get to church! Since my husband is on staff, he goes to church every Sunday at about 7:30am, leaving me to parent on my own for the morning and meet him there later. Over the course of the morning, I had a short fuse and was getting so frustrated by her whining. It wasn’t even crying, it was whining. I was trying to shower, blow-dry my hair, feed her, feed the dogs, and get us both ready. I spoke pretty firmly to her a few times- she’s really starting to understand when I say “no”- but that doesn’t mean she obeys yet! More than once I thought about just staying home and putting her butt to bed, but I wanted to go. When I got to church I handed her to my husband and said “We’ve got a fussy one on our hands- your turn”. He obliged happily.

Since he had already listened to the sermon in the earlier service, he stayed out with her and let me listen. I found a seat with some worship team members, and settled in, trying to calm down and let go of my difficult morning.

I was trying to hold back tears during this sermon. My heart was convicted as Pastor Trev discussed the points of what “not self-seeking” looks like. Love is not self-satisfying or selfish, but instead it is sacrificial. When I chose to have a child, I chose to commit to loving her this way- sacrificing everything that it takes to love her the way that she deserves and that God intends me to love her.

This revelation really combats the “other” mothers, who are back at their pre-baby weight 2 weeks after delivery, always have hair and makeup done, and seem to have homemade EVERYTHING at get-togethers. How do they do it!?! I try to be this, but it’s usually fake. After this message, my heart was reset and my mind felt at ease. If I didn’t get my makeup finished or my hair just right, IT’S OK. If I forgot to eat or feed the dogs, IT’S OK. If my new kitchen table (more on this later) isn’t quite finished yet and I feel annoyed and stressed about it, IT’S OK. If my husband made me mad and disappointed last night, IT’S OK. I am not here to look good or have it all together, I am here to meet the needs of my child and show her unconditional love as she grows up. 

Because it’s not about me!

This message also spoke to me about my marriage. We have had a rough weekend that has been packed full of planning, parties, cleaning, refurbishing, and parenting. We are TIRED. When we get tired, our fuses are even shorter and we tend to offend each other or become offended too easily. We pick fights over little things. Do ya get me? I have definitely NOT be sacrificial to my husband lately- and therefore I am not loving him to the fullest.

These are the things that matter. My life is about them. I may sacrifice time, beauty, sleep, etc. for my family, but then I am ultimately loving them the way that God intended. I love my family, and I want them to know it and see it every day. I have no reason to get upset with my child who is cranky and just wants to be cuddled and play with her mama. I have no reason to get annoyed with my husband who is painting slowly, when his reason is so I won’t be mad about him being sloppy! Why do we do this to ourselves?

It’s not about me.

This is my new mantra. Will you commit to loving your family fully also? Will you believe that love is not self-seeking, and that it is sacrificial? How can we be so unwilling to sacrifice when Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for us? Read the verse above again. I know, it’s a pretty overused verse, but it has hidden gems of revelation. Take time to learn what love really is, and then live it out.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The birth of Hosanna Eden

Labor is like nothing I have EVER endured, but I've never really challenged myself until then. I never joined sports or signed up for marathons or really stuck to a challenging workout regimen. Nor did I know my tolerance for pain, because I have never broken a bone, sprained or tore anything. It was the most physically, mentally and spiritually trying event of my life to say the least, but ABSOLUTELY worth it.

My labor began Tuesday (1 day past Hosanna's estimated due date) around 2p. I had gone swimming at the YMCA per midwife orders. 2 weeks prior I had gotten the case of edema and my midwife wanted me to get that fluid back in the right place and swimming was the cure (: My contractions were far apart and not painful at all, but consistent. Swimming helped to get me comfortable and relieve some tension I had in my back, neck and shoulders. After, I took a very long hot shower (which I would soon find out offered much more relief than I could imagine; I LOVED hot showers during pregnancy and during my labor). At this point I still was not aware I was in real labor. I had been having contractions like this off and on for weeks, but those contractions were also not consistent and as close as these were (these were every 10 minutes). When Samuel got home, I had confided my anxieties about our labor. I had deeply wanted a natural birth and we had prepared for such for more than half our pregnancy. Because I was 1 day post the estimated due date, I started doubting I would go into labor naturally before the 42 week mark. This scared me, because that meant our birth plan would be completely void and I would have a labor and delivery in a hospital with interventions I did not want. Of course it was only a day after the EDD, and we were taught to expect to be late since I was a first time mom. BUT I WAS SO ANXIOUS!

I then remembered our Bradley Method instructor sent us a list of how to induce labor naturally. Some of the things included acupressure points, massage, teas, and of course sex. And so I was DETERMINED to try all the things I had access to do. All the while, I'm still having those nagging contractions every 8 to 10 minutes. That night, Samuel and I ended up falling asleep around 1:30a. Wednesday morning around 6:30a I awoke to stronger contractions. These were every 5 to 6 minutes apart. I went to use the restroom and I had some spotting and my mucus plug had passed!!!! I was flooded with joy! I kept thinking, 'this is it! this is it'. I then immediately went to wake up Samuel because we had some work to do. My first priority (which now I look back and think how ridiculous) was to go to target to get some last minute hygiene things like witch hazel, pads, cotton balls, alcohol, a brush for the baby (like I said, ridiculous:) ). And so, as I'm getting ready to go to the store, Samuel starts spring cleaning our house! I'm thinking in my head, 'what the heck?! He had all week to clean the house and he chooses now to start'. I remember being grouchy towards him because of that and right before leaving he held me and said, "honey, we're about to have a baby. Let's make this enjoyable". I melted...and realized how mean I was actually being! We packed ourselves into the car and off we went to target (: While at Target, I realized just how ridiculous it actually was to be there while in labor. You see, I am such an introvert. I like to keep to myself. And I'm EXTREMELY private. Privacy is a BIG deal to me. So when I would feel a contraction come, I would hide in an empty aisle. It was quite comical. I quickly grabbed what I needed and soon we were home again. When I got home, I started packing for our soon departure to Blossom Birth and Wellness Center (this reveals how much of a procrastinator I really am ).

Coincidentally, I had an appointment to see my midwife at 4p that day (Wednesday, April 24th). As time passed, I became more and more excited to visit the midwife and see how far along I had progressed. When 3:30p arrived, my contractions were still 5 to 6 minutes apart but they were getting much more intense. At the appointment, my midwife had said I was 3cm dilated and could stay if I liked, or go home and rest. She strongly advised us to go home, take some Tylenol PM and rest. And so we stopped at a CVS, bought some Tylenol PM and went home. At this point, I needed to rest but my contractions were so intense (or so I thought) that I couldn't. I desperately wanted to take the Tylenol PM to knock me out, but Samuel and I had strong convictions about taking any type of medication that I didn't. Soon it was 10p and the contractions were increasing in intensity. I was so tired that I could not bear it anymore. I took 2 Tylenol PMs and took a warm bath to help me relax. Well, that didn't work. Our tub just made me feel constricted and the water just could not get hot enough! So I then tried to lie down in bed and fall asleep. Samuel said I was able to fall asleep in between contractions. And just a little tribute to Samuel, all this time he has been the MOST supportive and encouraging light to me; he nurtured me and did everything in his power to make me as comfortable as possible.

Then it was 6a Thursday, April 25th. My contractions were VERY intense and were every 2 to 3 minutes apart. These contractions were my worst during labor until transition. Not only did they feel like strong menstrual cramps in my pelvis and lower back, but now my hips felt like they were being stretched. It hurt! Poor Samuel was exhausted and had only been able to sleep maybe 2 hours when I woke him up and told him we needed to call Mary, my midwife we had seen the day prior. As Samuel described my contractions to her, I felt SO relieved and reassured. He was so in tune with me that I didn't need to reach for the phone and have to talk to Mary, he knew exactly what to tell her. The conversation was short and within minutes, Samuel was packing our stuff in the car and we were on our way to Blossom! During the ride, I started to relax more and more. Knowing that I was going to be cared for was so reassuring. Literally, I could feel my shoulders and neck relax as we got closer and closer to our destination. When we arrived, Mary (my midwife) and Sommer (my doula) ushered me into the private room where they had already drawn a bath for me. After checking my progress, Mary had said excitedly, "Your cervix is so ripe and paper thin. Although you are still 3cm dilated, don't be discouraged by that because your body has done all the hard work in stretching your cervix. Your bag of waters is bulging beautifully and will help to dilate your cervix slowly". I was so happy at that news. She then assisted me into the tub, where I was able to finally relax all my muscles. Once I felt relaxed enough, I went to the bed to try and get some sleep. Sommer, massaged my feet while Samuel caressed my back and I was thankfully able to get 30 minutes of deep sleep.

When I awoke, my midwives had switched shifts and instead of Mary and Sommer, I was blessed with Nichelle (midwife) and Jacqueline (doula). Throughout my prenatal care, I had developed a relationship with all three midwives employed by Blossom and Nichelle was just the perfect one to birth Hosanna. Mary and Diane were very nurturing and peaceful. I think had they attended my birth, it would have gone much longer and I would have ended up in the hospital. Nichelle, however was very determined and deliberate. As soon as she arrived, she wanted to get things rolling, since my contractions had significantly slowed down and were now 6 to 8 minutes apart. She had Jacqueline feed me oatmeal with berries and honey (YUMMMM) and tea and water. Then she said, “it’s a beautiful day out! Let’s get dressed and take a walk”. And so I got dressed and Samuel and I took about an hour and a half stroll.

 It was so pleasant outside, unlike normal Arizona weather. There was a cool breeze and because blossom is located in a coldesac, our walk was very private and peaceful. With each contraction, Samuel would assure me that God was with us and that our labor was perfectly normal. He would distract me with encouraging scriptures and asked me to watch the birds. Every time we passed Blossom, I wanted to go back in and be in the comforting presence of my midwife and doula, but Samuel encouraged me to walk down the cul-de-sac one more time. This got my contractions going again and soon they were back to every 3 to 5 minutes apart and the intensity picked up once again. Samuel asks me, “do you think we’re in late first stage yet?”. I didn’t think so, because I was able to talk during my contractions and was still walking around (our instructor had told us I wouldn’t be able to do those things in late stage). We then went back to Blossom and Nichelle checked my progress. I was 4cm dilated! This made me SO sad, because I knew we were in for a very long night. She then had me eat roast beef with mashed potatoes and green beans. I’m thinking, “this is crazy! I can’t eat this! I’ll throw it up! I don’t even eat these portions normally”. But Nichelle was very stern in telling Samuel to get me to eat all of it so that I would have energy for later. Meanwhile, my doula is kindly holding a straw to my mouth and encouraging me to drink more tea and water (I had never drunken SO much liquid in my life! There were cups everywhere ).

Laboring after coming in from our stroll.
My contractions were getting intense again and I could feel my hips stretching again. With each contraction I would run to the bathroom and lean over the sink, for some odd reason I felt more comforted being in the bathroom. Samuel would recite scriptures to me and sing along to the worship music he had playing for me (we had a special playlist specifically made for our labor and delivery). Soon, it was 5p and Nichelle wanted to check my progress again. Samuel was hesitant because he didn’t want me to get discouraged again, but I wanted to know! This time I was 6cm dilated and with this check my bag of waters burst. I was so elated, because this meant I could get in the tub again. With our birth classes, they informed us that getting in the tub before your amniotic sac broke could slow down labor significantly, but could speed labor up after it broke. So my doula rewarmed the water for us and Samuel helped me back into the tub to help ease up the intensity of my contractions.

All I wanted to do was sleep! I was SO tired! And so I lay back with Samuel supporting me from behind and I was able to relax a bit. All the while, my doula is giving me more water and tea.
After a couple hours, Nichelle encouraged us to try other positions to get my pelvis to open up and move things along quicker. And so I moved to the squatting bench in the shower. This would be the most relief I felt throughout my pregnancy. The hot water on my back relieved much of the tension I felt with each contraction (Hosanna was occipital posterior and so I had back labor and felt most of the pain in my lower back and hips). Sitting on the bench was comfortable too, but soon my legs went numb and I had to stand to relieve yet another uncomfortable feeling. My contractions got much more intense, and these were definitely the worst of them all. I started crying and Samuel again would hold me, caress me and apply pressure to my back (which relieved a lot of the pain – these were the ones I could really say were painful). He would tell me how strong I was and how beautiful I looked. He would tell me soon we would meet Hosanna and that uplifted me and reminded me that what I was doing was normal and possible (unlike all the feedback I had received during my pregnancy). 

Sommer had come back and I was so encouraged to see her; her presence was so comforting and reassuring. I started to make high pitched-small noises with each contraction and she told me to deepen my voice. I did and it helped a bit by distracting me. Nichelle then wanted to check me again and by this time it was almost midnight. I remember stepping out of the shower and looking at Sommer’s feet. She had these really cool tattoos of her baby’s footprints and I said, “I love your tattoos” (which later she would confide was comical to her because I was in such deep labor and the one thing I noticed was her tattoos ). After checking me, I was 8cm dilated. I thought, ‘my goodness Hosanna is gonna be born tomorrow night at this rate’! I was progressing so slowly! And I was extremely tired at this point. Immediately after I went straight to the shower. With each contraction I moaned deeply and loudly while facing the corner of the shower as if to hide away from the world. I didn’t want anyone to see me in pain and it was embarrassing for me to be so vulnerable. I started crying again with Samuel and I alone in the bathroom. I looked at him and felt so sad because I knew how tired Samuel was, and how much I needed him! I knew he needed rest but I just could not do labor without him! 

Jacqueline told me when I started to feel like pushing to go ahead and do so. I went back on the squatting bench. Maybe an hour later I felt like I needed to pass a bowel movement and went to the toilet. Jacqueline said this could be my ‘urge to push’ feeling but I didn’t trust it. I then went back to the tub and tried pushing to see if it would bring relief, and it did. So with each contraction I started pushing while in the tub. Nichelle then entered the bathroom and wanted me to lie flat on my back in the restroom to try and get Hosanna to pass under my pubic bone. This hurt me so much! The pressure on my lower back and tailbone was so intense that I could not stand lying on my back. We then moved to the bed. At this point, my contractions spaced out a lot and were every 15 minutes. I was exhausted. Nichelle asked Jacqueline and Samuel to hold my legs so I could conserve as much energy as possible. She then suggested I drink black cohash tea to speed up my contractions. Samuel, as my protector and advocator, said no. He saw how exhausted I was and told her, “look at how tired she is, she needs the break in between”. To my surprise, Samuel said I would pass out into a deep sleep between each contraction and pushing and would snore! I had no clue…I was so tired and delirious that everything became a blur to me.

My eyes became so swollen from pushing that my vision was blurry and I was unable to see much. My jaw was also swollen and sore from clenching down with each push. After each contraction, I feared the coming of the next one because I didn’t know where I would get the energy to push. I started to doubt my ability to birth Hosanna. After 3 hours of pushing I heard Nichelle tell Samuel, “"her contractions are very far apart and per protocol, after 2 hours of pushing we are to transfer to the hospital". I started crying, because I knew if they transferred me, I would be an emergency c- section. Then she said, "but baby's heart rate is beautiful and mom's vitals are great". Then Samuel petitioned for more time for me. 

That's when my doula said to talk to Hosanna. To tell her we love her and want to meet her and that everything is OK. I couldn't talk because my jaw was so swollen from pushing so long and so I just cried. Samuel started singing Hosanna and my midwife and doula joined in. They encouraged me to reach down and feel Hosanna’s hair. I sobbed with joy and mustered the energy for the next pushes. Literally, 2 pushes later Hosanna was born.

The moment after she was born!
 They placed her on my chest and from moments before I had absolutely no energy to now, I felt like I was on cloud nine. My energy shot right up and I felt SO much relief and joy. The happiness that flooded me was UNBELIEVABLE AND UNWORLDLY. I had my baby girl and she was healthy! I held her for a long time just saying, “my baby, my baby. I hear you. I see you. YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL”. I kissed her everywhere and did not care that she had mucus and blood all over her, she was perfect! Then I turned to Samuel, who was sobbing and staring at us. I thought, ‘oh my gosh he hasn’t held her! How selfish of me’. But he was happy to watch us. He cut the cord and then held her while I birthed the placenta and received care from tearing. After, Hosanna latched on and we were able to successfully breastfeed. 

Nichelle, our midwife I greatly appreciated her knowledge and direction. I felt she had Hosanna's and my best interest at heart throughout my pregnancy and labor.
Jacqueline, our doula for most of Hosanna's labor and delivery. She was such a light. When I felt like I was facing a mountain and started to feel an inkling of doubt, she would sense it immediately and start praying aloud for strength, protection and endurance. She kept telling me I was a warrior, when I felt the exact opposite. I am so grateful to have had her support and encouragement! 
Right before we departed from Blossom
 It was 3:43, April 26th when Hosanna was born. We then rested and at 10a we awoke again. Jacqueline made me breakfast and served me orange juice, tea and water. After eating, Hosanna received her newborn assessment by Nichelle. Samuel packed our car and soon we were in the comfort of our own home. My mother came over to finish ‘spring cleaning’ the house while we slept and adored our precious daughter. Everything was perfect.

Samuel adoring Hosanna shortly after arriving home.
Hosanna at 13 days old
Hosanna at 3 weeks old!