Friday, September 30, 2011

Let the Mess Be

Do the kids' bedrooms ever drive you nuts?  They do me.  I'm beginning to think toys are overrated. 

I finally carved half an hour to spend in Rose and Lela's room on Tuesday.  Not an easy feat considering I'm learning to juggle a newborn plus four plus homeschooling plus housework.  Thirty minutes sorting toys was a treasure I gave to my girls.  A treasure they did not recognize.  By Wednesday afternoon, several of the toys I had carefully divided into appropriate bins, found themselves strewn across the floor once again. 

My discovery of the messy toys loosened the connection between my tired mommy brain and my overly worked mouth. The mantra began, loud and clear, as I marched around their room, becoming hysterical over the piles of dirty clothes, dollies, toy dishes, toys, toys and more toys.  I was hyperventaling while the girls just stared at me, wide-eyed and uncaring. 

Later that day, I laid in bed, nursing the baby, my thoughts scattering and collecting themselves.  I discussed the girls' mess with the Lord, my Problem Solver. 

"God, please forgive me for yelling at the girls." I sighed, full of guilt.  I felt his forgiveness seep into my spirit and soothe my anxious heart.  "Lord...  you're so good to me." 

"Why are you concerned about their rooms?" He whispered to me. 

"Lord?  Why?  Well, it's just...  You know, they need..." My explanations fizzled out and I stopped to really think it out.  Why did it matter so much to me? 

"Jessica, the rooms are theirs.  You have the living room.  The dining room.  The kitchen.  Your own bedroom.  You are busy keeping those rooms clean.  Let the bedrooms go.  Oh, you still need to teach them and train them in how to keep a clean bedroom.  It won't be easy.  But you don't need to invest your emotions into your children's bedrooms.  Let it go."  The words of my Father answered my prayers.  His faithful response, full of wisdom, made total sense. 

It may be too simple, but ignoring the mess is my solution right now.  I'm seriously contemplating reducing the toys to what can easily fit into one toy box and nothing more.  Other than that, I'm learning to let it go.  It hasn't happened over night, you understand.  I still feel an adrenaline rush of aggravation when I go in their rooms to kiss them good night.  But I'll get over it.  I believe it will be for the best. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life With Five

Adding a baby into the family is like a comet barreling into the earth's atmosphere.  Routines are a joke.  The house is a mess.  And everyone's crying. 

In the days post partum, life pulled me along and I stumbled, trying to keep up.  It felt like I was drowning, my head bobbing up occasionally, sputtering for air and coughing up water. 

Four weeks later, I am blinking and staring at the light wondering how the heck did my tiny bundle become this fat baby?  And when did I start making Isaiah empty the dishwasher?  How long has the girls' room been trashed?  Has Samuel always been so big?

I forgot how much I enjoy my children.  I became a cranky-you-know-what during my pregnancy and I struggled to get through each day, often resorting to hollering and crying.  Now that I feel more like Non-Pregnant Jessica, my kids are much more enjoyable.  They're actually fun again!

Oh, and who is this hunky man I share a bed with every night?  Jason was so patient and gentle with me during the pregnancy.  He took over most of the household chores.  (Or taught the kids how to do them.)  He cooked dinner and did the bedtime routine.  Jason was awesome.  As I feel more and more like ME, my eyes adjust and I feel like I'm falling in love with him again.  Aw....

So, things are good at the Keys' House.  We have five kids.  Wow.  Sometimes, I look around and think, "someone's missing!"  But a quick headcount reassures me that, no, there are five kids in the living room, and life with five really feels this natural.  I am one grateful and blessed woman!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Why I Chose an Epidural

Things change.  People change.  I changed my mind.

I am a natural birth supporter.  I think birth is an amazing opportunity to realize the strength and power God gives women.  I committed to un-medicated labor four previous times.  Number Five was different.  I was weary of the pain of childbirth.  I chose an epidural. 

When the pregnancy began, I told Jason I wanted an epidural.  He did not have peace about it and I did not want to make the decision on my own.  Begrudgingly, I decided to not pursue it without Jason's 100% support.  Pregnancy marched along and I prepared for another all natural birth. 

Three weeks before Matthew was born, I got scared that the baby wasn't moving enough and we raced to the hospital to be monitored.  As I laid in the hospital bed, hooked up to monitors, watching TV, I couldn't help but think "this could be how my labor goes".  I mulled that over for a few weeks.  I re-opened the topic with Jason.  He caved in and gave me the go ahead.  "Let's try it with this one", he said. 

I was blessed to have a wonderful OB, Dr. Hewitt.  Throughout the summer, I prepared Dr.Hewitt for my labor.  I printed out a detailed birth plan with unusual requests like "mother will bathe the baby"; "no eye drops in baby"; "mother wants to labor in any position"; etc.  Dr. Hewitt nodded along, interested and intrigued by my past homebirth experiences.  It was a huge surprise to the kind doctor when, at my last prenatal appointment, I said, "Don't be shocked... but I've decided I want an epidural".  She just laughed and marked my chart. 

How could I choose an epidural when I know all the risks and I also have already had four babies without pain meds?  Something changed in me between Samuel and Matthew's birth.  I grew up.  I lost a baby (my little October baby).  With the other childbirths, "the birthing experience" was very important to me.  This time, I just wanted my baby.  I didn't care how he got from inside my womb to into my arms; I just wanted him to be healthy and alive. 

The first few days post partum, I began second guessing my decision for the epidural.  Over and over again, I let the scary reaction of the epidural run through my mind.  I followed "what if" rabbit trails.  I regretted my decision.  Until I remembered...  during the labor, I was thrilled with my epidural.  I enjoyed labor; that had never happened before.  After a few days, I laid the obsessive worrying aside.  I embraced my decision and the joy it gave me during labor. 

Would I have an epidural again?  I don't know.  I don't even know if we will have a sixth baby.  I'm considering adopting as opposed to going through pregnancy/childbirth again.  But that's another day.  Another baby. 

Would I encourage other women to have epidurals?  It's a personal choice.  Having a child naturally is incredible.  But my epidural birth was incredible, too (aside from the initial reaction to the drugs).  I encourage women to research all their options and then be open to whichever direction labor takes you.   

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

My Baby!

A proud Papa and Momma and a fussy Matthew. 

 I am admiring Mr. Matthew; I did good! 
Note the old hospital room they put us in.  Green walls!
And there's my mother in the background, texting my daddy.

Matthew's Birth Story

**Here is Matthew's birth story, as requested by my darling fans (love you CH,  Autumn W. and Lindsey B.!!)  Per my usual, it's very detailed.  Warning to the faint of heart!!**

I have birthed five babies. Two in a hospital, three at home; only one with an epidural.

The Braxton hicks contractions that had been assaulting me for over a month turned serious on Tuesday, August 23rd. All day I felt contractions that hurt down low in my abdomen. Tuesday was the day my friends were coming over to bless the baby, me and my upcoming birth. All through the Mother Blessing, my contractions continued. My mother and sister had arrived from Wyoming on Monday, August 22nd, and my mother continually studied me. These contractions were serious and she knew it.

I went to bed around 10pm on Tuesday night, wondering if the painful contractions would really bring labor or if I might be the one woman in the world to be pregnant forever. As the contractions continued and woke me off and on through the night, I knew this was it. Around 3:30am, I started timing the contractions. They were between five and eight minutes apart and lasted 30 to 60 seconds; still easy to manage. Around 4:30am, the contractions got harder and were consistently five minutes apart. I decided to wake up Jason.

“I think we’re gonna have a baby today, Jason,” I whispered to him. He rolled over, quite awake and stared at me. I grinned and gave him an update on my contractions.

“And you just now woke me up?” he asked. I shrugged. We laid in bed talking through a few contractions. Jason recognized the pain and the consistency, and agreed that a baby was definitely on the way today. We got up and started packing for the hospital, going over my previously prepared list. While we packed, the contractions picked up and became too painful to talk through.

I woke my mother and sister around 5:45am and told them we would have a baby today. They were very excited and started getting ready to leave for the hospital. I texted my friend, Kim, who was our amazing childcare person. She lived an hour away and estimated she should arrive at our house around 7:15am. Mom and Rachel stayed at the house until Kim arrived and then they joined us at the hospital.

Jason and I finished packing and began the hour long trip to our hospital in Ruidoso. Leading up to the labor, I had worried about the long drive, but it ended up not being an issue at all. Jason drove fast, and I closed my eyes and sang praise and worship songs. Singing was very comforting to me and helped manage the now very painful contractions.

Arriving at the hospital, we discovered they were full of post partum moms and laboring moms. We were given the back-up, back-up room. It had green tiled walls, no TV, no bathroom and was full of storage. I didn’t care. I was here to have a baby, not a party. Bring it on.

I told the OB nurse, Chrystal, I wanted an epidural. She was looking through my birth plan. I told her to forget the first few pages as I had changed my mind in the past few weeks and no longer desired a painful, un-medicated birth. Chrystal closed up my file and helped me get into bed. She told me all the things they would do before I could get an epidural. First on the list was to check me and see if I really was in labor. Chrystal checked me and told me I was only at a one. I just about cried. My OB, Dr. Hewitt, walked in right about then and also checked me. Dr. Hewitt found me to be at a five, much, much better! Apparently, I’m hard to check; they had to practically dig for my cervix every time they checked me.

Dr. Hewitt wished me the best, said she’d be in touch, and left the room. The nurses ran my blood, looking for the palatal count and gave me a full bag of IV fluids to raise my blood pressure. I signed the release form for the epidural.

The anesthesiologist, Dr. Wrath, joined us in the room. “Everybody out,” he said severely, looking pointedly at my mother and sister. Mom and Rachel left quickly, assuring me they would be praying for us. Then Dr. Wrath turned his serious stare at Jason, “you have to sit down,” he said. Jason and I laughed before we realized the doctor was serious.  Jason quickly sat down.

I was very nervous at this point. I considered backing out of the epidural. All the horrible possible complications from an epidural ran through my mind. I knew all the risks by heart because I had researched epidurals over and over again. Yet, here I was, choosing an epidural. My heart raced, and I doubted my decision. My mind imagined telling Dr. Wrath never mind and to please leave. But I dug up some courage and determination, reminding myself that a pain free labor was right around the corner.

I hung my legs off the side of the bed while they pumped the bed higher and higher. Dr. Wrath, a tall, young, athletic man, began laying out his supplies. “Don’t put your hand to your right,” he said.

“She brought her own gown,” Chrystal answered an unasked question.

I heard Dr. Wrath sigh from behind me. “Well, I can’t promise to not get blood on it,” he said shortly.

“I don’t care. I know birth is gory. It’s ok,” I said, trying to reassure him.

He numbed my back and inserted the epidural catheter. It hurt, but not terribly. He put in a small dose of medication and we waited. “Do you feel dizzy? Light headed?” Dr. Wrath asked me.

Aside from my nerves, I felt fine. Satisfied that no allergic reaction was coming, Dr. Wrath hooked the medicine up and it flowed through my body. I immediately only felt the pressure of contractions and no pain. I sighed deeply. It was going to be OK.

Dr. Wrath taped my back up with the epidural tube and Chrystal instructed me to lie down. I begun to feel sick. “I feel kind of … weird, “ I said as I gently laid back on my bed.

“What do you mean ‘weird’?” Dr. Wrath asked.

“Like I’m gonna pass out,” I said, my voice trailing off as my blood pressure plummeted and I began to travel into unconsciousness. Everyone sounded far away and I felt my hands drop limply to the side. The next ten minutes were odd and scary. I woke up with ringing ears and sweat drops all over my face.

Chrystal shoved the baby’s heart monitor over my abdomen. I heard nothing. She moved it again. Nothing.

“Is the baby OK?” I asked, my voice weak. She didn’t answer me. No one did. Then a slow heart beat filled the room. Much too slow for a baby. I drifted out again.

“Jessica, we’re going to put a fetal monitor on the baby,” someone said. I saw two older nurses leaning over me, shoving their hands inside me. My water broke.

“Meconium.” The word was passed between the six medical professionals surrounding my bed.

“Jessica, can you get on your side?”

“Get the mother oxygen.”

An oxygen bottle and mask were shoved at my face. I took deep breaths, lying obediently on my left side. The heartbeat came up, but not by much.

“Jessica, roll over on the other side.”

Gloriously, the baby’s heart rate rose again to a safe level. I noticed Dr. Hewitt had joined the brigade around me bed. She looked at me and smiled reassuringly.

“Can my husband come over here?” I asked wearily.

Jason quickly appeared and held my hand. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I shouldn’t have had the epidural…. I made a mistake.”

He leaned in close to me and said, “It’s too early for that. We’ll talk about that later. It’s OK. The baby’s OK. You’re OK. Don’t worry.”

The worse was over. I was numb from the waist down. My blood pressure was normal again and the baby’s heartbeat thrummed healthily. Dr. Hewitt checked me one more time before she headed to her clinic. It was 10am and I was dilated to a seven. Dr. Hewitt expected a baby by lunch.

I started shivering uncontrollably. The nurses weren’t worried. Mom and Rachel rejoined us and we filled them on the scary ten minutes they missed. Jason found a blanket and covered me up. The shivering subsided. We settled in for the waiting game.

I labored without pain. It was amazing. Every now and then I could feel little pressure. After an hour, I was still at a 7/8, so they started Pitocin. I didn’t care. I couldn’t feel anything, so who cared? Let’s get the labor moving. Mom laughed at my nonchalance approach to labor. It was so different for me.

I was unaware of the hours moving past us. I enjoyed the company of my family. Jason felt left out of the action… there was no action. My body moved the labor along without my help. It was odd, and so wonderful at the same time. I loved not feeling any pain.

At around 12pm, I was dilated to a nine, the baby’s head right against the cervix. The young nurse in training, Jenee,’ excitedly felt the baby’s head and grinned at me.

“I’m gonna wait till you tell me you’re ready to push. You let me know when you’re complete,” Chrystal said. She patted my leg and left.

Two hours later, I was still at a nine; the baby’s head had slipped back, off the cervix. They upped the Pitocin. I started feeling the contractions, even though we kept pressing the button on the epidural every 12 minutes (as allowed) to up the pain medication. Around 2:40pm, the Pitocin was clicked up again. Now things were intense.

I felt the Pitocin-induced contractions. I could feel them in my lower back and around front. I asked Jason to apply counter pressure to my back; it helped.

"It hurts," I complained loudly.  "It's not supposed to hurt."  I gritted my teeth as another roll of pain assaulted my numb-ish body.  Mentally, I realized I had to accept the fact that my labor was hurting and would continue to hurt.  I decided to suck it up and have this baby.   After just a few of these difficult contractions, I started pushing.

“I’m pushing!” I said. Rachel poked her head out the door and notified the nurse. Into the room, Chrystal and Jenee’ rushed. They checked me, confirming the obvious; the baby was coming.

I pushed hard with each contraction.  The epidural took the edge off, but I could still feel the pain of my body working to bring forth my baby. 

“Do you want to try panting, Jessica?” Chrystal asked. My eyes were closed but I could hear her moving quickly around the room, preparing the stage for the imminent birth. She must have already notified my OB, Dr. Hewitt who was working in her clinic across the street.

“No. You get down there and catch that baby,” I said. “Or let Jenee’ do it.” I heard my mother giggle. We were almost over and that gave me great strength. I pushed hard and felt my baby move through my bones. I grunted loudly with each push.

Dr. Hewitt made it as the baby’s head was crowning. She rushed to put on her gown, not having time to slip her shoe coves on. I pushed… and felt my skin stretch. Pushing… pushing… stretching… stretching.

“I can’t do it!” I hollered.

“Jess, you’re doing it.”

My perineum stretched and burned. “There’s a cord…” I heard Dr. Hewitt say.

“Is the head out?” I asked. I was waiting for the relief that always accompanying the head’s exit. There was no relief.

"Yes," Rachel answered me as she clicked away with the camera.  "The head's out!" 

“He’s stuck…” Dr. Hewitt said.  Quickly, before I knew what was happening, both nurses were at my legs, pulling my knees up to my chin.
“PUSH! Jessica, PUSH!”

I took a deep breath and pushed as hard as I could, my grunt becoming a yell. The baby’s shoulders shifted and his body slithered out of mine.

“I did it!” I lifted my arms in victory. Mom and Rachel clapped and whooped. Jason grinned. The medical staff smiled as they worked carefully on the baby and on me.

Our little Matthew was very blue, but pinked up after they gave him oxygen and a good rub down. He wasn’t interested in nursing right away, but was very alert and fussy. He looked around, cried, looked around and cried some more. After they moved me to the recovery room, Matthew was ready for his first meal.

I was happy to have my baby in my arms. He is worth every pain and aggravation of pregnancy, labor and birth. I am so very grateful to be his mother.

revolutionary love

I have experienced revolutionary love. Love with no strings attached. Jesus Christ loves me and made a way for me to have a relationship with the One True God. God desires a relationship with you, too. If you have yet to experience this revolutionary love, please email me at so I can share this amazing experience with you. Blessings, -Jess