Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Judah's Birth Story


 


It is crazy to think that our sweet Judah has been with us for a little over two weeks now. Pregnancy lasts for 9 months, which is the better part of a year. And then in a matter of hours, you are no longer carrying your child but caring for him. If you're new around here, you may not know about our journey to pregnancy. It was a long one, filled with sorrow and unmet expectations. But last fall, we were delighted to find out that our wait was over and God had granted us the greatest desire of our hearts by allowing me to conceive our son, Judah Edward Mathisen.

In the years leading up to our miracle pregnancy, God gave me resources at just the right time that helped to prepare my heart and mind. Prior to learning about the beauty of pregnancy and birth, I had assumed it had to be just like it was in the movies - 9 months of misery followed by an arduous labor, which was only to be followed with sleepless nights and hormonal imbalances that wreaked havoc on everyone in my presence. But the Lord helped me to see that pregnancy is a gift, not a medical condition to be treated. It is a beautiful time of blossoming and growth. It is a miraculous time to be celebrated and enjoyed, not endured. And so I began to pray. I prayed for conception, for an enjoyable pregnancy, for balanced hormones, and whatever else the Lord showed me through various books and through time in His word.

What is so beautiful about praying specific prayers is the joy we can have when He answers them! I was able to have a pregnancy devoid of any complications. I was able to honestly say that I felt better pregnant than before I was pregnant, which is a huge blessing. I know this isn't true for everyone, but it was seriously the best 9 months of my life. After all of the women's health issues I had endured, pregnancy was a dream come true.



As I thought about preparing for labor and delivery, I just kept thinking to myself, "If God has been faithful to answer these specific prayers for my pregnancy, why wouldn't He do the same for my labor?" After learning about the various medical interventions women use during labor for comfort measures, I was bound and determined to have a natural birth. I wanted to see what my body could do and also wanted to watch God work.

I prayed for adequate time to get to the hospital, a clear distinction between Braxton-Hicks contractions and true labor, one midwife to attend me during the birth, no need for medical intervention, and so much more. On Tuesday, April 30, I went to work as usual. The day before, I went to my 39 week appointment, and my midwife said that I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. That day I went to work as usual, but I was super crampy and had a lot of random contractions throughout the day. But since I hadn't yet experienced labor, I still wasn't sure how much longer I had until the big day.

That evening, I got home from work and continued to feel not so great. We were all watching The Voice, and I bounced on the birth ball for a bit before sitting down next to Ror on the couch. I was still experiencing contractions, and they seemed to be a little more regular. I said to Ror, "Babe, I think these may be the real thing." He started timing them, but they were still somewhat irregular. About an hour later, they had picked up and were starting to take on more of a pattern. I decided to tie up loose ends by finishing packing my hospital bag. We called his parents, and they came and picked up our dog and our daughter. I also took a shower, and then we called the midwife. She said to take a warm bath, and that if the contractions continued, they were indicative of real labor, but if they stopped, I probably wasn't in labor just yet.

After taking a warm bath, the contractions continued, and we knew it was "go time." We called the midwife (again) and she said that I could continue to labor at home as long as I could since I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. We stayed at home, and then when the contractions were four minutes apart for a while, we got in the car and headed to St. Mary's hospital. It was strange to be in the car, on our way to the hospital to have our baby. It still didn't feel like it could really be happening.

Once we got to the hospital and were taken back to triage, I got checked again and was said to be at 5-6 cm and 90% effaced.  So I really was in labor after all! It was super encouraging to know that this was actually happening and that it wasn't just a false alarm. It was about midnight at this point, and I was super happy that we would have a May baby after all. I had prayed that our baby would come in May, because we have several family birthdays in this month (mine, my dad's, Rory's, and our daughter's).

We were admitted to a labor and delivery room, and we figured that with how fast things had been moving, we would have a baby by morning! I labored in the tub for a while because it was comfortable and easier to manage the pain. After a few hours, I was checked again and was at 6-7 cm. This was a little discouraging considering the fact that I had been laboring for a few hours at that point. Around 5 am, I was checked again and was in the same place. That's when I started to get a little frustrated. But all through labor, I kept crying out to God and asking Him to help me. Rory read Scripture over me, and we prayed and prayed and prayed.



After laboring for a while longer in the tub, my midwife suggested I get out so that things could pick up a bit. I admit I was scared for it to get harder; I was using all the breathing techniques I knew, visualizing, and praying as best I could (at this point we had been up for 24 hours), but the pain was just so intense. A few hours later, I was checked again, and I had only progressed to a 7-8. The nurse had said to me earlier, "This could be a long day; first babies tend to take a while." I just looked at her and said, "Please don't say that." But goodness, was she right. This boy wasn't going anywhere.

At this point, I had been in labor for about 10 hours, awake for way too many hours, and hadn't eaten anything. The contractions were so strong and intense, I would groan and just say the name of Jesus. My midwife suggested that they break my water, and when they did, the contractions got even stronger. And yet this little one would not budge. We also discovered that he was "sunny side up," meaning his back was toward my back, making it extremely difficult for him to progress into the birth canal. We then had a choice: 1) I could get an epidural, and they would reposition me and hope that he would turn, and if he didn't, my midwife could turn him, or 2) she could turn him without an epidural. Rory and I looked at each other, took a moment to pray, and went with choice #1. I was determined to not feel like a failure for needing medical intervention. After all, I had just labored for over 10 hours sans medicine! The nurse and midwife were constantly encouraging, stating that if I chose to have another child, I would easily deliver them and they would slip right out. But we had to focus on sweet Judah at this point.

Getting the epidural was not painful because of the needle, but rather because I had to sit up, sit still, and bear down during the most painful contractions yet. Not to mention that it took a while for the epidural to really set in. But when it did, I was so grateful to get some relief. I was also able to get a little sleep, which was so needed at this point. Exhaustion doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. I then laid on one side for a while and then the other in hopes that baby would move, but he didn't. The midwife then said it was time for her to try to turn him, and again, we stopped to pray. Baby turned without any complication!

It was time to push to see if we could move baby further into the birth canal and get me to that magical 10 cm. I was still having contractions, but they were too far apart for me to make any progress. Enter our friend, Mr. Pitocin. Once I got the Pitocin, the contractions happened fast and furious, and I could barely catch my breath. But even with all of my hard work, baby still wasn't making much progress. I was so frustrated and oh so tired. My sweet nurse gave me some juice and a popsicle (even though you aren't supposed to eat after getting an epidural), but I just didn't have much strength left.

My midwife had called the doctor to let her know that there would be a possible C-section, and that was my biggest fear. I didn't want to have to recover from a C-section, and I wanted a vaginal birth for a multitude of reasons. All through the day, Rory was texting our friends and family with updates, and they were praying. We called out to God together, asking Him to bring this baby into the world without any further medical intervention. After about 15 minutes, my midwife said that she was beginning to see progress, and things were turning around! God was making a way for my baby to make his arrival! My midwife called off the C-section, and I pushed with everything I had in me, even though I could barely feel what was going on since my legs were numb and heavy.



All of a sudden, the atmosphere in the room shifted. People seemed to be moving into different positions, and it looked like they were getting ready for a baby to come! I kept pushing, and with a big mirror in place, I was able to see that his head was there, and I was so close. That gave me motivation to just keep going, no matter what. I was going to get this baby out one way or another! In a matter of minutes, he finally came, and they handed him to me. I just started weeping and saying, "Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!"

I couldn't believe he was finally here and that I was able to lay eyes on the little one who I had been getting to know over the last nine months. He was here. And everything was worth it. Judah Edward Mathisen came into the world at 5:54 pm on May 1. May 1 is a special day to my family; it is the day my parents met and also the day my maternal grandmother Nanny died five years ago. To have him come into our lives on this day was sweeter than I can say.

All through my pregnancy, women told me to "expect the unexpected" for labor. I confess I didn't really want to hear that advice. I had prayed for certain things, and God was going to come through on them, right? Not only had I prayed, but I had done everything else "the right way." I didn't gain too much weight, had stayed active by walking and lifting weights, took a quality prenatal and other supplements, and did acupuncture! But this labor and delivery was nothing like what I thought it would be. However, the end result is exactly what I prayed for: a healthy and happy baby.

There were so many ways we saw God work: I had the same nurse and midwife the whole time (for their whole shifts!). I was able to labor for a long time naturally, giving me the confidence I may need for future births. The Lord gave us the opportunity to be a light to the hospital staff who were in and out of our room as we listened to worship music and prayed. The hospital staff was praying for us. My midwife said she had never had someone come so close to a C-section and then have everything change. Both she and my nurse said that they had given up, but I never did, so they kept doing everything they could for me to deliver without a C-section. Everything was completely fine with Judah, and while I did suffer a 2nd degree tear, I had no further complications upon delivery.

It's easy to think that we have God figured out or that we can pray a certain way to get a certain result. And it is wonderful and beautiful when He answers specific prayers just the way we asked Him to. But it's also beautiful when He gently reminds us of our need for Him and humbles us. It's beautiful when we are able to look and see His sovereignty over every detail, even when we don't understand. My heart's desire was for a happy and healthy baby. And while the journey to bring him into this world was nothing like what I thought it would be, I would do it all again, because through it, God helped me to know that I truly am never alone, and His plans for me are always good, no matter how different they are than my own. God alone is God, and I am so grateful for His kind generosity to me and for the gentle ways He reminds me of His faithfulness in every season.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Currently: April



It is April, which means it is the month before (or could be the month of) our baby boy's arrival! Wow I cannot even believe that. The past several months have flown by, and I cannot believe that soon we will go from a family of 3 to a family of 4. Here's what's going on currently:

Experiencing: Right now I am 35 weeks pregnant, so I am experiencing heartburn and a little bit of swelling in my feet some days. But other than my voracious appetite, I don't have many complaints! Pregnancy has been one of my favorite experiences of my life thus far. 
Appreciating: I appreciate all of the love and community through my baby showers! It has been really fun to see friends and be surrounded by loved ones who want to celebrate our little one.
Wishlisting: All the things on our Babylist! It is such a wonderful service and an easy way to have all of our registry needs in one place!
Posting: I have been posting all about my new book! Unfortunately, the paperback version is undergoing some technical difficulties (womp womp on Amazon), but the Kindle version of Choosing Contentment is available now!
Considering: I am considering what this next season is going to be like and am so very ready for it to get here! Bringing our boy into the world and starting maternity leave is on the forefront of my mind right now. I am greatly looking forward to life with him.

What are you up to currently, friends?

Linking up with Anne today!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Currently: March



The currently posts are usually shared on the first Wednesday of each month, but in my scatterbrained struggle, I just totally forgot last week! There has been a lot going on and it just totally slipped my mind. So here's what is going on currently, because it's always better late than never, right?

Scheming: I am scheming up fun ways to share about my new book, which launches in just a few short weeks! It is called Choosing Contentment, and I am very excited about it.
Reading: It took me a while, but I finally finished Michelle Obama's book Becoming. It was incredible! So well written and insightful. Now I am reading Emily P. Freeman's Simply Tuesday as an exercise in learning how to notice the small things.
Buying: Nursery decor! Rory found the perfect glider through a selling app and went to get it for me last weekend. Now that we have that I am super excited about the rest of the nursery will come together.
Making: Lots of smoothies! A couple months ago Rory bought me a Ninja blender and I am obsessed with it. It is hard to get in all the calories I need in this last trimester without eating a bunch of junk, and smoothies help fill me up in the morning.
Accomplishing: A few things on my to-do list each day. It is easy for me to not feel like I am getting much done if I don't complete my list, but I want to be sure that I recognize that some productivity is better than none at all!

What are you up to currently?

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Sweetest Season



The journey to pregnancy was unlike how I thought it would be. I took so much for granted- my presumed health and the ability to carry a child. I assumed that because I wanted to be a mother, it would be easy to conceive. Doesn't God (automatically) give us the desires of our hearts?

If you've been following along here for a while, you know that the journey to pregnancy was anything but easy. Months and months of charting my cycle, BBT, ovulation kits, and "just not trying" all seemed to lead to nowhere. That is, until last September when we were given the greatest surprise of all.

All of a sudden, the prayers we had sowed were worth it. We were reminded again that God's ways are not like our own. And we were oh so grateful and humbled that He has given us the privilege of bringing this sweet boy into the world.

When I was waiting and waiting and waiting on my now husband to magically appear, I wrote him letters and also wrote in my journal about all the dreams I had for us- what we would do together and characteristics I hoped he embodied. These prayers were so instrumental, and I truly believe God heard and answered the deepest desires of my heart. Now I write prayers and dreams and hopes for this little one that God has entrusted us with, and it seems surreal.

It is hard to believe that I am now in the last trimester of this pregnancy, but alas, here we are! I simultaneously want to slow down time and speed it up. Pregnancy has been full of joy for me; I love being pregnant and know I will miss it. But I also cannot wait to meet my little buddy and hold him in my arms and on my chest.

I feel like pregnancy gets a bad rap these days- people talk about how uncomfortable they are and how annoying it is to give up certain foods and drink. And I get it. I do. I sometimes feel like a whale because I have to roll out of bed. And there are certain foods and beverages I cannot wait to be able to enjoy again. But every single minute has been worth it. And I know that when I see my sweet boy's face, I will keep saying, "Thank You, Father, for this miracle. Thank You for giving me my heart's desire and entrusting me with this sweet and precious life." So I embrace the awkwardness of this season and keep saying thank you, knowing that God is using it to continue to draw me closer to His heart.

Monday, February 11, 2019

To My Friend Walking Through Infertility



Dear Friend,

You are seen and loved. Your story matters, and God has not forgotten about you. He sees you each month when you are reminded that your dream has yet to be fulfilled. He sees you when you try that new diet and are so tired of eating food you don't really enjoy. He sees you charting your temps and giving yourself those hormone shots. He sees you at the baby shower you really didn't want to attend. He sees you in the baby aisle at Target, crying inexplicably and wondering when it will be your turn. 

God is not silent in the midst of your pain. In fact, He is right beside you. He loves you with an infinite love, and He has written your name on the palm of His hands. He could never forget you.

So here is my prayer for you, sweet friend.

My prayer is that you know the depth and width and height of His love. I pray that you find His grace in each moment and remember that His mercies are new every morning. I pray you remember that it is ok to not be ok. I ask for God to open the heavens and rend down His blessings by opening your womb and allowing your body to do what it was created to do. I ask that He remind you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, which means that there is nothing "wrong" with you. I ask that He remind you of His great love for you in myriad ways so you can know without a shadow of a doubt that He has not left you and never will. I ask that you remember and know that His love poured out on the cross for you was enough, even for this deep pain that no one should have to endure. I pray that you have friends who surround you and that you are brave enough to reach out when you need one. I pray you feel His arms holding you in His tender embrace in this fragile season, and that above all, you know how loved you are. 

Your sister,

Jessica


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Currently: February





It's February! Wow. This month marks the end of the second trimester for me and the beginning of the third trimester. I have thoroughly enjoyed pregnancy so far and am looking forward to what these next few months hold, too! There are lots of fun things going on right now and I am trying to enjoy what is and not worry much about all that is to come. Here's what's going on around these parts:

Anticipating: Right now I cannot believe that my sweet baby boy will be here in just a few short months. We are slowly getting things together in his nursery and it has been fun to think about what he will look like and what kind of little person he will be.
Making: I love trying new recipes, so I am making lots of yummy food at home.
Going: We just went on our babymoon to Hilton Head Island, which was so lovely. Other than that we are not going many places these days!
Watching: The third season of Victoria just started and it is so good!
Wearing: The weather decided to behave like it is spring, so I have been wearing t-shirts! How fun that has been. :)

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne today! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Currently: January

Photo taken at my dear friend Kai's wedding. :)


It's 2019, and I am so ready for all that this year holds! There is so much to look forward to when a new year comes. Maybe your last year was tumultuous, and maybe it was your best year yet! Either way, let's look forward with eyes of gratitude and anticipation! Here's what's going on currently here:

choosing: This year I want to intentionally choose joy and gratitude. Sounds trite, and we've all heard about the importance, but I want to mindfully look at the positive things I have in my life, because they are plentiful!
tidying: Our house! When we moved to our new house, I was in the throes of the first trimester exhaustion phase, so we are tidying and still purging things I would have thrown away if I had the energy back in September!
resolving: To love the life I have instead of wishing and pining for something different. If I needed another life, God would give it to me!
exploring: All kinds of new fiction! I've loved reading new things in the last year.
refreshing: My wardrobe. I waited a long time to be pregnant, and buying new clothes has been so much fun!

What are you up to these days?

Linking up with Anne today!

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