Saturday, August 04, 2012

Charis' Birth Story

We are so thrilled and thankful to welcome this new little one into our family!  Charis Janelle Wind was born on Friday, July 27, at 8:41pm.  She was 7 pounds, 11 oz, and measured 20.5 inches long.  She is a cutie pie and looks a lot like her sisters, we think!    (Disclaimer: the rest of the post has an excessive amount of pictures and lots of details about the birth!  If you don't enjoy that sort of thing, you might want to just click over and see how Team USA is doing at the Olympics or something.  Consider yourself warned! :)
Charis' labor was similar to all my other girls in that I had lots and lots of contractions for the month prior to her birth.  But, it wasn't as bad this time:  only a few of them were painful, the majority were just bothersome, and for the most part I never even timed them.  Experience had taught me that until they intensify and become more regular, nothing is happening!  However, I was happy when a doctor's appointment on my due date (July 25) showed that I was 1.5 centimeters dilated.  It gave me hope that she would be born fairly soon!  I was really hoping to avoid being induced, and my doctor was willing to give me another week before we started talking about that.  Thankfully it didn't come to that!

I have mentioned before how I was SO very glad to be able to stay at home during this pregnancy.  With all the other girls, we traveled away from our home, two of those times internationally, and that just meant a lot of sitting around and waiting--doing fun stuff, yes, but away from normal routine and normal life.  I enjoyed and appreciated being able to stay home and keep house, prepare food, clean, and generally just get things ready for the baby.

Because I suspected that baby girl would be arriving late, I had various events scheduled right up until the evening of my due date.  And the day after, my mother-in-law, Ann, was arriving from Minnesota.  It wasn't until Thursday evening, July 26, that I went to bed feeling satisfied that all of my to-do's were done: bathrooms shining, front glass wiped and polished, kitchen floors cleaned, frig and freezer stocked, and my mother-in-law safely arrived.  I even dusted my blinds that night after the girls went to bed!  John thought I was crazy but I just wanted to get it done!  (The funny part is that I haven't done it for months!!!  Nothing like a baby coming to give me a little motivation!)

Anyway, I went to bed that evening and woke up a couple times with uncomfortable contractions, but nothing regular.  Around 3:30 I was lying there, half awake, when suddenly I felt a "pop" and my water broke!  This had never happened to me before so I wasn't sure if I really believed that was what had happened, but indeed, it was.  This kicked me into high gear.  I woke John, got up, finished packing the hospital bag, started setting things by the door, put the clothes I had been wearing in the wash, just generally bustling around getting things ready.  However, by about 5 we realized that I really wasn't having any contractions, and without contractions it was pointless to go to the hospital.  So, we tried to lie down and rest again.  John fell asleep but I was too keyed up.  Eventually I got up, took a shower, did my hair--the whole 9 yards.  By 7am I was ready for whatever might happen!

But nothing happened.  I had an occasional contraction, but nothing regular.  The contractions I was having were stronger than the ones I had had until that point, but still, not frequent enough to be considered in labor.  So, we waited.  I was starting to feel tired after being up since 3:30, so I laid down to rest and we decided there was no point in doing any timing yet, we might as well pass the time some other way.  So, we watched a movie: While You Were Sleeping, which is one of my favorite romantic comedies.  John (who dislikes re-watching movies) gamely watched it with me and rubbed my feet, too, dear husband!  After the movie, when STILL nothing was happening, we decided to change our game plan and go out and do something.  We went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and though I had a few hard contractions while we were there, again, they were random--12 minutes apart, 20 minutes apart, 18 minutes apart.  We then walked around the mall a bit to try to get things going.  We thought walking would be helpful, and since it's been SO hot outside, the mall seemed like a good choice.  Unfortunately it was busy and somewhat noisy and I was really feeling tired by that point, so we didn't stay too long.

We arrived home around 5 and I took a short nap, waking up at 5:30 and realizing that I hadn't had any contractions for at least 45 minutes.  I had just said to John, "Well, maybe today isn't the day after all," when at 5:40 I had a MONSTER contraction that lasted more than 2 minutes and was as strong as late-stage labor contractions.  I was crying by the end of it!  We decided to start timing again (using a handy tool online where you just push the space bar at the start and peak of a contraction and it does all the math for you) and it wasn't long before the contractions started coming closer and closer together.  By 6:30 John said, well, let's time another half hour and then we can maybe head to the hospital.  By 6:45 it was evident that we were   heading for the hospital sooner rather than later.  John started to load the car and get other things ready.  I kept timing contractions and they were progressively closer and longer--90 seconds, 100 seconds long was becoming typical.  By the time we headed out the door it was 7:15 and I was in serious, hard, very strong labor.  In the car I had at least six major, monster contractions that did not give me a break between--they were right on top of each other, one starting within seconds of the last one peaking.  Oh my!  That was quite the car ride!  Good thing the hospital is only 15 minutes away!

We arrived at the emergency room and told them "Labor and Delivery:  Fourth child and contractions 2 minutes apart" and they had a wheelchair for me right away.  As they wheeled me upstairs I noted the time: 7:40pm.  We got to the labor and delivery area and essentially began to prep for the birth.  I was so relieved and thankful that at first check, I was "a loose 8, pretty much a 9."  By the time the nurse finished asking me all the questions they ask you on admittance, my doctor was there and it was time to push!  That took a little longer than I expected, probably because I thought with my fourth child that it would go quicker, but Charis was situated face up and apparently that is a little harder.  But, Dr. G and the nurses all coached me, and John gave me sips of ice water between contractions, and after about 30 minutes of pushing she was born, at 8:41pm!  Just exactly an hour after we got to the hospital!

Here's some of the pictures of those first few moments:  They practice "kangaroo care" here where they gave me Charis almost right away, only wiping her off a little first.  We got to cuddle skin to skin for a long time--it's good for the baby and great for the mama too!

Sweet face! So good to meet you!
The happy, relieved, and thankful mama...and Charis even has a slight smile!  (Reflexes, I know, but sweet anyway!)
Because everything happened so quickly, John was able to go home after the birth and get the girls and Grandma Ann to come back with him that night!  They arrived back in the delivery room just as I was getting up out of bed and cleaning up a little.  They were thrilled to be able to see Charis' first fingerprints/footprints, see her get weighed and measured, and be there for the general excitement.  I hope it will be an evening they remember forever!
So amazing...just a few hours before they saw me in great distress leaving the house, and here they have arrived to see their new baby sister!

Meeting Grandma Ann for the first time...

Crowding around to get a better view.
Clara Anne was SO pleased and proud to be able to hold her by herself.  At the end of this time, the nurse said, Ok, give her to your mommy, let's go to the hospital room, and Clara Anne stood up and gave the baby to me.  She was so proud that she could stand up with the baby and do it safely!
Love and kisses from her sisters.
Charis didn't particularly enjoy getting measured.
Here's the mama, smiling now that the intense 3 hour labor was complete!
The girls LOVED watching this nurse in action.
Daddy finally gets a chance to hold her!  He was busy taking care of everything else, this was his first time to cuddle her.
Sweet sisters.
Finally we got settled into a hospital room after a very eventful evening.  I'm so thankful for how the timing worked out; it was really special that the girls could be there that night already.  It was a late night for them but totally worth it!
The next day, Saturday, John, the girls, and Grandma Ann came in the afternoon to visit.  There was much "discussion" over whose turn it was to hold her!
First family photo: July 28, 2012.
Mommy and Daddy with new baby Charis.
Grandma Ann and the girls.
"It's my turn to hold her!  No, it's my turn!"
"See?  Told you it was my turn!"
No matter who was holding her, there were always plenty of admirers...

Of this sweet little face!  Love you Charis!

Finally on Sunday, John, the girls, and Grandma Ann came after church to take me home.  I was ready!
Welcome home Mommy and baby Charis!
Such a sweetie pie!  I managed to catch a little half-sleepy-smile on camera Sunday afternoon while she rested.  What a joy and treasure to have a newborn again! We are so glad she is part of our family.

Charis' name is Greek for "grace" and her middle name, Janelle, is after my mother, Jan.  Plus, we had to keep the tradition going:   Clara Anne Danielle, 12.25.04; Chloe Rachelle, 6.26.2006; Christin Arielle, 4.28.08; and now Charis Janelle 7.27.12.  The girls were hoping for the 27th because then we would have someone's birthday on the 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th--and that's exactly what happened!  So she was only two days late, hallelujah, and we are rejoicing that she is here with us.  I am especially thankful for modern medical care and the reality that though having a child is not an easy process, it is not one in which generally I am fearing for my life or the life of my child.  The Lord is so gracious, and gives us such good gifts, including doctors and hospitals that are clean and safe and take good care of us.  I met so many neat people working at the hospital where we delivered--that was an unexpected blessing!  As well, I am so thankful for my husband.  He proved his worth yet again in being an excellent coach.  What a blessing to have him by my side as Charis was born!  He is a gem!

I hope you enjoyed the birth story and the ridiculous amount of pictures!  Welcome with us Charis Janelle!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My 36th Birthday

 My birthday seemed particularly significant this year.  Maybe because it is because I am now officially on the downswing of the 30s, or maybe because I am expecting a baby any day now and thinking lots about birth...but for whatever reason, I was really thankful to be able to spend some time celebrating with my family and reflecting on God's faithfulness through my 36 years.  The specialness of the day actually began  the night before with the best birthday present I could have asked for--my dad sent me an email!!!!  If you've been following his story at all, you know that this is a big deal.  It has been almost 16 months since he has done this, and the email sounded just like him, with some reminiscing about the day I was born, special words of love, and even a sports report on the Twins!  I feel like our family has been given a miracle...the situation with my dad has turned around so drastically.  Praise the Lord!  I cried tears of joy to read his words and know that he has improved so much.

My birthday morning started with a special birthday breakfast--I had dough for cinnamon rolls in the frig, and made those up along with bacon, cheesy scrambled eggs, and fresh hot coffee.  Yummy!  It was worth the effort to have a great breakfast!  We ended up eating more like at brunch time, so that was helpful too--we just skipped lunch!

The girls came up with their own ideas for celebrating my birthday.  First, they spent at least two hours by themselves in the basement preparing their gifts for me--including several mosaics and a button necklace.  Then, Clara Anne convinced the other two that they should all take a shower and get dressed in fancy dresses, with jewelry, lip gloss and all, and even laid out a special dress for me to wear, so that we could have a tea party.  That is what we are doing in the picture above.  It was lovely and sweet!  I was really touched that they wanted to dress up and make such a big deal out of my birthday!  Then, they put on a performance for me...Clara Anne played the piano and Chloe sang while Christin danced to "Floating in the Water" (those of you with early piano students in the Hal Leonard method will know that one!).
 The lovely performers.

 We also took some pictures of baby girl clearly as we can see her right now...39 weeks!

 LARGE is what I would call this...but the girls are so excited and there's plenty of belly to kiss!

 Performing and taking a curtsy...

 Thankful for these three.  They give us so much joy!

 Opening gifts from the girls.
 Chloe, pointing out various parts of her drawing so that I would know what they were.

 Clara Anne gave me this lovely handmade picture.  Thanks girls for making my birthday so special!
John then took us all out...we went first to a doctors' appointment for me ("no real progress"), then to a bookstore where we had some credit to spend, and finally out for dinner to this fun, fresh Mexican place.  We enjoyed our special meal out!  Chips and salsa are my love language!

The plan originally was for me to spend some evening time at a coffeeshop, reflecting on these questions, but we ran out of time and so I spent a little time the next day doing that instead.  That evening some friends surprised me with a fun girls' night and made me feel so special!  So, all in all, it was a wonderful birthday and I am so thankful for the Lord's blessings to me!  I pray that I will use the next year for His glory!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Secret Garden, in pictures

Finally, here's a few pictures of our secret garden that we have enjoyed so much this spring and summer!  Above, the view from inside the school room, through the sliding glass doors. . . you can see it is truly a small space, and totally secret!  We also put a padlock on the wooden fence door so that the girls are safe playing out there--we do get some "interesting" traffic up and down the street on the other side of the fence, so, better safe than sorry.

 The girls love our garden space!  If it's not too hot, they can often be found playing or reading outside.  We laid the white rock, added the hanging plants, and I love the little $1 sign we found at Target that says "Welcome to my garden."
 A refreshing retreat and green space!  All the herbs and flowers smell good, too!
We're so thankful for this little space!  It's been a lovely addition to our home, and just about the right amount of garden for us.  I'm really enjoying the fresh herbs in my cooking and the girls have a great time doing the watering.  Most everything is doing well (though I'd like to see more flowers on my impatiens) except the fuschia plant...we had it upstairs on our west-facing patio, outside our front door, for a long while and I think it just got too hot.  The western sun for several hours each day was just too intense.  But the other plants are doing well and we've enjoyed their beauty, color, and fragrance.  It's a lovely secret garden!