Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nine Years

Nine years ago, I met my husband for the first time. I thought he was a new student and was introducing him to our classmates. I came to find out later that we had shared classes for the past five years. Guess that's a good example of cliques- I was in the band and he was a jock. We dated most of high school until I made the {stupid} decision of "breaking up" with him at the beginning of our senior year. I still have no reason why. We had made plans while dating to be married within seven years time, living in New York City. We would be well awarded graduates from the University of Georgia. Chris would be working as a graphic designer. I would do modeling on the side, because we really wouldn't need my money from all that he would bring in. The closest we came to planning for children was picking the name for a boy-Dallas and a girl- Kinley. 

I often get stuck on the "What if..." train. While I believe God knows my life from beginning to end, free will is mixed into the situation. Bad choices on my part can become God's best work! Why? Because God is good- all the time. Not just "God is good when I am good." But also "God is good when I am bad, wrong, hurtful..." 

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Some days I just wish that I could lead my life in a way that others only saw the good. But without also seeing the mistakes that I am mostly ashamed of, they wouldn't see God's faithfulness. His love! God's complete protection over my life. He has kept me here on Earth with an able {and willing} body to serve Him. "It's not about me, it's all about Him." 

Nine years ago I was "only 15" as my parents would so often remind me. Now at 24 years of age, I could look back and say "I wish I knew then what I know now..." But instead I will look back and thank God for all He has done for me despite myself! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Birth Story- Mindy Lynn Guess

The anticipation for Mindy Lynn's arrival was greater than any I had ever felt. Planning a home birth in our new home was full of uncertainties, but yet I was so sure of her birth. I just knew it would be "easy" like my previous birth- labor for a few hours then push for about thirty minutes. I was preparing for the best. Whereas last time I was preparing for the "hardest"- long labor with plateaus in progression, pushing that felt like it would not accomplish anything, pain that would be unbearable, and me possibly giving up and being transferred to the hospital. You could say I was locked into a mentality of comparison. But Mindy's birth was different than anything I could have planned for.

Her due date was always uncertain. We became pregnant sometime around Lillie-Mae being five months old. My first signs of pregnancy were fatigue, ravaging hunger, and Lillie-Mae started to turn away from nursing often (my milk had most likely changed). I had a feeling my due date was October 1st. My measurements, and the changing of my body and baby throughout continually lined up with that due date. When nursing became almost impossible, I decided to take a pregnancy test. Positive! I had instant excitement mixed with apprehension. The racing thoughts of being enough of a mom to meet two babies needs were consuming. Yet, I was so glad to have them be so close in age. I already started hoping this would be another girl. At seventeen weeks into my pregnancy, we found out that we were in fact having another baby girl! 

Pregnancy went smoothly. I saw the chiropractor weekly from about 25 weeks until the day before I delivered. I did decide this time around that I really disliked my physical activity being limited. I tired easily, didn't have much endurance to play with Dallas, then five, and I constantly felt like my job as a mother was sub par. Thankfully I do have a wonderful husband who is helpful and encouraging. I learned through this pregnancy to let other people help me. Moving, remodeling, and preparing for a new baby was too much for me to handle.

The end of September I started having constant contractions. I called Chris to come home from work, and we visited the midwife. She checked my blood pressure, position of the baby, and baby's heartrate. All was perfect! This could have been the day of Mindy's arrival, however, the more time I spent with Chris the less intense my contractions became. I think having him with me was relaxing, showing that stress was causing the labor signs. I took a backseat to unpacking my house- my mom, Nana, sister, and many friends organized and cleaned for me. Plus side to moving when nine months pregnant! 

I had false labor again the next weekend. Intense, consistent contractions for over 12 hours. I was beginning to become disappointed. I spent a lot of time alone, talking with God, searching my heart for what could be holding me back. I knew Mindy was ready. I started to daily think positively about the labor. Mindy and I had many conversations before her delivery. I cherished the last moments she would be a part of me- safe and protected in a perfect environment.

On October 2nd, my water broke in the early morning. It was not a gush, no "popping" sound, just a small amount of fluid. I quickly called my midwife, and she had me come in. My contractions were not consistent or strong enough to do anything. I talked with her about stripping my membranes. The actual process was not painful, until I had the strongest contraction yet while she was starting. Having to lay still was torture! I am used to standing, walking, swaying through painful contractions. After that, we hurried home because if this were to be anything like my previous birth, we could have a baby in a few hours.

Nothing was progressing- I started to take black and blue cohosh, alternating every hour. I knew that if my body was ready, this would help things along. Passing whatever hesitations I had emotionally and give me the push I needed to help baby girl arrive. I did the black/blue cohosh routine two days in a row. 

Labor would intensify and then stall out. On Friday, October 4th, I had a conversation with myself and decided today would be the day!! I shut myself up in my bedroom, left my phone with my husband, and asked him and my mom (politely) to leave me alone. I did squats, I walked, I took hot showers, I ate fruit and protein, drank water, and tuned out any negativity or disappointments. After a few hours of that, I had one last "trick" to try. I used my breast pump to initiate nipple stimulation. I would "pump" for twenty minutes, every hour. The first session, I had heavy contractions every five-six minutes, the second session, contractions came every four-five minutes.

  By the third and last session, contractions were every two minutes lasting about 45 seconds. During this time the midwife did check me. I was nine or so centimeters dilated! My birth photographer, mother, sister, midwife, and midwife assistant were all there to help me. I looked for distractions after contractions by playing games on my phone and talking to anyone near me. Then, I walked around and stopped to sway when a contraction came.

I needed Chris every two minutes. I had to be leaning on him while he talked quietly to me. His words took me to the warm beach with a nice breeze. Contractions can seem bearable when you are completely relaxed. I focused on letting every part of me relax- from my head to my toes. The midwife suggested a hot shower.

 At this point, I was not happy with anyone- a sign that delivery was close. I either have a high pain tolerance or great coping skills, but my mother knew I was in a lot of pain. After the shower, the midwife suggested I sit on the toilet. This hurt but brought the relief I knew I needed for baby girl to move down and prepare for pushing. While sitting I complained to my sister, "This is stupid. It hurts. I don't know anyone who wants to do something that hurts more when the pain is already there. I'm getting up! Mindy doesn't like this!" Pretty sure I saw both my sister and Chris smile at each other.
After standing up, I grabbed onto Chris and just cried. I told him I could not do this! And he smiles again. At the time I didn't see any humor in my pain. But that man knew me and he knew the time was coming.

Chris suggested I get on the bed. I got into the same position that I was with Lillie-Mae's birth- on my hands and knees. I began to push- breathing out and concentrating on where I needed the pressure to go. I relaxed my body in between contractions and those around me reassured me of progress. The midwife's excitement was uplifting! I just did not feel right in this position so I rolled over to lay on my back. This still was not what was best. It wasn't that one position hurt more than the other, I just knew that wasn't the way my body needed to be. I had a very strong contraction and jumped from the bed. I stood up in front of the midwife while she sat and said, "She's coming!" The midwife directed me on when to push and how strongly. With one "big push!" Mindy arrived. She screamed and flailed her little body in the midwife's hands. I quickly got back into bed to hold my perfect baby girl.

 She did not stop crying until she latched on to nurse. She took just a second to get comfortable- I was so happy that she did not have the struggles her sister did with nursing! It was such a humbling moment to see that she was content to just be with me. She weighed only six pounds, taking after her Daddy who was six and a half at two weeks past his due date. My Tiny Mindy was perfect. She had an angel kiss on the back of her neck to match her sister and Daddy's.

Chris could not take his eyes off his precious baby girl, and he told her how proud he was of her Mommy. He kissed me and loved me, and I could tell that like me he was thanking God for another blessing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Changing Seasons

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22 

I am not one to grasp to change with {initially} a positive outlook. Comfort and routine are my two best friends. The changing of seasons has been known to flip my boat a few times. Spring has fully arrived here in North Georgia. Birds sing all day. The mornings are a crisp cool. Days are breezy and just the right temperature. Tulips, iris, daffodils, and white phlox are awake in full bloom. I have not had quite enough time to accept this change- however gradual it may be to welcoming the swimming pool and sno cone days of summer. Not only do I thrive in the unchanging circumstances, but I love a rainy, foggy, cold day. I have gone so far as to research careers and homes for sale in Washington state just to have my perfect weather. For the Twilight fans who will understand- pretty sure Bella and I would be good roommates. 

With the change comes the shift in playful activities from inside to outside. I love my home. It is new to us, and the first season we had spent here was a snowy winter. With my two oldest kids, there is nothing more enjoyable than being outside. The other day I parked at the battlefield, told them to hop out and run. I was able to make some uninterrupted phone calls. I know they enjoyed not being hushed by me from inside a house while I was able to do so. 

Season changes are not determined by us. In nature and in our lives- we cannot decide when the best time to grow and evolve will take place. Could you imagine having to tell your pansies, "Okay, you can bloom now- it's warm enough." Or waking the birds, commanding them to "Go fly and sing from sun up to sun down. The cold will not hinder you anymore." As humans, we cannot see the needs of the bees to pollinate the flowers. In our own lives, we cannot possibly know when to stop and start a season. If it were up to most, then we would have spring and summer all year long. Happiness and  carefree living would be our norm.

 Would that teach us to appreciate the seasons for what they are? If we never experienced the loss of a family member, could we truly appreciate the ones left? If husbands and wives never disagreed would they learn to discern a situation differently? Changing seasons is hard! Not because of the kids clothes that need to be changed out of closets or the grass that will need to be mowed. But because we cannot grasp the reasoning until we see the good in the difference. We live our lives in comparison- good vs. bad and black vs. white. I know God wants us to see that He is good, all the time. (Psalm 100:5) His ways are perfect, in every matter. (Isaiah 55:8) 

The "good in the difference" is that we are growing. God sends us into hibernation- waiting periods, and He opens up our petals to full bloom- showing His glory.