Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Becoming Four- Macy's Birth Story

It's hard to believe, a week ago today I was in labor. At exactly this time last week (current time: 10:20pm Monday September 15) our little girl had been in my arms for an hour. Allow me to walk you through that day and we can reminisce together.

My morning started like any other morning. I woke up, laced up my running shoes and was ready to go for a run. I noticed a couple of contractions when I woke up and decided to run only 2 miles instead of 5 just incase. When I got home, I sat down to eat breakfast and didn't notice any contractions. After breakfast, I showered and got ready for the day. I was having contractions about ten minutes a part while I was up and about. They were strong enough I had to breath through them.

James had wanted me to go into labor during the day but I didn't think that would be possible. Babies come at night when you least expect them to come, that's just how they roll, right? So it looked like James was getting his wish! We decided to get our bags ready for the hospital. And I did what every woman who thinks she is in labor does-- curled my hair and made sure I looked cute for the pictures.  (Oh vanity!) 

The contractions continued as I FaceTimed my friend in Alaska, Hi Emily! She told me if I laid down on my left side and the contractions continued, then it was active labor. I didn't want to do that because what if the contractions stopped?! I listened to my wise friend. And when I laid down the contractions became further and further a part. Ho hum... not active labor.

I was torn with two choices. I could either try to "speed up labor" by exercising/walking or I could listen to my body and rest. It made more sense to rest and wait for active labor to begin. Labor would happen when it was time. We all took a nice long nap. And by then the contractions had stopped. I decided it was time for a walk. As I walked I didn't have any strong contractions. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and I just prayed that something would happen within the next hour. It was killing me to be so close to going into labor but not being in labor! Well the next hour went by and nothing. So I sat down and rested some more with James.

At 5:30 the contractions started again as I was sitting down. I wasn't sure what to expect so we planned to go to the mall. The contractions were about 6 minutes a part and soon 3 minutes a part. By 6pm I sat in the tub to labor in the water. It was very relaxing in between the contractions but the contractions were getting stronger. My contractions went from being 3 minutes a part back to 6 while I was in the water. So after 15 minutes I got out. I thought it would be silly to slow down labor if this was the real deal. As the contractions continued, I found it hard to relax and find my happy place. I prayed for wisdom to know whether or not to go to the hospital. At that same moment, James suggested we drop Jacob off and go to the hospital. Prayer answered.

It was close to 7pm as we loaded in the car and drove to the Jones' house. The contractions were strong and I was starting to feel really discouraged. I didn't know if this was active labor or not or how much longer I would have to wait for my princess to be born. I wanted to cry and decided I needed a focal point. I grabbed a newborn diaper, a big bow, and my pillow. I would look at these in between my contractions to remind myself what the end result was--- our sweet little girl!

There was a lot of traffic but I was prepared to get through my contractions in the car. When the contraction would come on I began to cringe and bear through it. I found it took almost another minute after the contraction had passed for me to feel relaxed. As the next few came on, I breathed through them mentally telling myself to relax. It was difficult to relax but it made the contraction so much more easier to handle. I asked James if he could help remind me to relax as he saw me having the contractions. When the next one came on he told me to relax and reminded me of sunny Florida and putting my toes in the sand. If I wasn't having the contraction, I would have laughed. But it was working. We pulled into the Jones' and thankfully their daughter was down stairs waiting to bring him  up. I had just had a contraction and wasn't ready for small chat. My friend Jess hung out the window all excited and happy for me. In my couple of minutes of relief, I was able to talk with her. I told her I can understand now why ladies get epidurals. I wasn't sure I would make it much longer!

7:45pm: Another contraction came on as we were entering the hospital. I stopped in the entry way which doubled as their smoking area and tried to relax and breath through this contraction. Nothing like the smell of smoke, I thought to myself. We walked down the hall to check in, and it smelled like beef and cheese not much better than the smoke. I just wanted to get off that floor and in our room. The two ladies that helped us were their sweet cordial Russian selves. And by that I mean, they were pretty rude. :) Thankfully, the language barrier kept me from understanding what they were saying to James and I could concentrate on getting through my contractions while inhaling beef and cheese fumes. They gave me this awesome garment to wear and had me sign a million forms.

Now in their defense, the Russians usually don't have a lady coming into the hospital in active labor. The ladies all check themselves into the hospital about a week prior to their due date and wait to have their babies. It's like a college dormitory filled with preggos!

We got through the painful process of checking in and headed upstairs. Where I could finally go to the bathroom that wasn't being hogged by another pregnant woman. The doctor was very very friendly (no sarcasm this time!). She asked me how I was and I said good. She laughed when I said good and gave me a hug. It was very motherly and soothing :). I got up on the table and she checked me and broke my water without asking. She told James I was 10cm dilated and would have the baby soon and that my contractions may get stronger now that she broke my water. And I thought we were friends! When James told me the good news, I was so relieved!! It was about 8:15pm and I couldn't believe I was fully dilated!!

James had to fill out more paperwork before she could deliver the baby. At the moment that was fine because I wasn't feeling the need to push. They monitored the baby's heartbeat and had me lay on my side. Laying down on my side was a lot easier than laying on my back, but I would have rather been standing. Meanwhile, a nurse came in and took my blood, another nurse was answering her phone while in my room, and the best part was hearing the lady in travail in the room next to me! My room door stayed open the whole time. So I got to hear this lady screaming through her contractions. Which kinda made me laugh.

James came back in and I asked him if I could get a drink. They didn't want me to drink much but I could have a few sips of water. I found that odd because in the States they kept me drinking water throughout my labor. I was so thirsty but the doctor wanted me to wait since I would be pushing soon.

The doctor had me hold my legs and push. Again this was odd for me to hold my own legs and push, but I did. I believe she was checking to see where the baby's head was. She wanted me to stand up and have 4 or 5 more contractions while swaying my hips to help the baby move down. 4 or 5 more?! I was ready to die!  Okay it wasn't that bad, but I was hoping to be on my way to pushing. By now my contractions were very close together, so the time passed quickly. We heard the lady next door screaming again, and James kept saying he was so glad I wasn't like her. He later told me the nurses were yelling at her to shut up and relax. I should have loaned her my Hypnobirthing Book.

The doctor had me push one more time holding my legs and said I was ready to go to the delivery table. They wheeled my little bed over to the bigger delivery bed and had me crawl over. They kept telling me not to sit on my bottom but lay on my side and then roll over to my back. So I did my best to do just that. (They said sitting on your bum may push the baby back up.) There was now four ladies in the room all geared up to catch this baby!

9:00pm Pushing time! I was pushing against the stirrups rather than two people holding my legs which was a little more difficult. James grabbed my one leg because I was almost kicking the doctor each time. Oops. After two contractions of pushing her head was out! With each push I heard my doctors sweet little voice "Davai, Davai, Davai!" Which is "Come On". It made me smile as she would say it. Next the shoulders. The shoulders were almost out when they told me to stop pushing. What?!! Stop pushing! I feel her shoulders and need to get them out!  I looked up at James so confused and in pain. The nurses and doctor were all saying different things and telling James to translate. Push--- Don't Push. They had me wait until the next contraction came on and then finally relief! She was born! That was a pretty painful 30 seconds of having her shoulders almost out but I got through it.  I couldn't believe I was now holding my girl!

At 9:20 she was placed on my chest. Macy Kate Pranger, 7 lbs 21" long and perfect! I couldn't believe she was here and in my arms!! Then the worst part came. They started poking my belly without warning. That was the first time I was really vocal. It caught me off guard and I wasn't ready for that. I asked James what in the world they were doing. I knew what they were doing but a little warning would have been nice! Sheesh. The doctor asked how I was and I thought, much better than the lady next door! But I said, great! She smiled and gave me a hug and kiss. She was so sweet!

Well there you have it-- my first birth experience in Russia! The Lord truly blessed every aspect of my labor and delivery and I give Him all the honor and glory! I was so thankful there was no tearing or anything that went wrong. I felt great afterwards! With Jacob I felt like I had just given birth but with Macy I felt fine! All that running must have paid off! And the best part was we were able to leave the hospital before noon the next day! Thank You, Lord!

**Read Jacob's Birth Story Here**

What I liked about giving birth in Russia as opposed to the States:

1) They are more naturally minded. They don't offer you pain medicine but you can get an epidural if you ask for one. In my birthing class the lady talked about your mind controlling your body and being able to relax during the contractions.

*I loved that! That is exactly what I had taught myself when I was pregnant with Jacob and was able to do with this birth. Birth is mostly mental. You must mentally prepare for it and teach yourself to relax your body through pain. It can be done! :)

2) They left us alone in our room all night long! In the States they poke and prod you and your baby every three hours or so. No one gets any sleep that way. And we were thankful to get some sleep that night. After the drunk man stopped yelling "I love you, Tanya!" at 2am. I thought it was another lady in labor telling her baby she loved them trying to get through the contractions. haha

Dislikes about birth in Russia:

1) My private room wasn't too private during labor. But I managed to get through it anyway!

2) We heard every noise and sound in our room that night.

3) The garments and linens they used were very used. They had stains on them and were just hideous. They sanitize and sterilize everything so they look at it as clean. But it was pretty yucky to see stains on the clothes I was wearing.

All that aside giving birth in another country wasn't bad at all. The Lord truly blessed it all and I am so thankful. We are just in love with our little princess. It's so weird to say "the kids" but we love it! God is good!

Getting ready to go to the hospital! Let's do this!
Just found out I was 10cm dilated!!
Just gave birth! Can't believe it! She's here!!
My awesome doctor! :) And Awesome daughter!
Ah fresh out of the womb!
This was funny to me.
They wheeled me like this to our room.
Daddy holding his daughter for the first time!

The next day after we left the hospital-- first family photo!

So in love! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Confessions of a Hormonal Pregnant Woman: 4 Tips on Keeping it in Check!

Many of you know the roller coaster ride of emotions a pregnant woman goes through during her pregnancy. Whether you are the poor bystander who bears the brunt of this roller coaster or the one on the roller coaster---it's never a fun ride. Some women are less discreet about their emotional state while others do their best to put on a happy face. I choose to put on a happy face and pray hard. (Notice I said "choose" it is a choice!). 

So I will confess I had one of those days the other day. I was so emotional and cried a lot. 

It started with a cute little toddler waking up way earlier than he was supposed to. I decided to be a good wife and get up with him so James could sleep. This meant no run, so no happy endorphins for me. All was going well, until the little guy became a handful. I was starting to get frustrated at him but doing my best to keep it in. James had to run an errand, so that meant me alone with the booger. While James left, I was able to squeeze in some time to read my Bible and pray. I didn't want to take out my frustrations on James because he had done nothing wrong. It wasn't his fault we birthed a booger. So I gathered myself together, prayed and wrote him a nice note.

*Insert deep breath and a refreshed zeal for the day.

Then 15 minutes later...

I was being a typical girl and let my thoughts get the best of me. And then I became emotional again! We were now on our way to a church picnic and our drive was all of 15 minutes. I had 15 minutes to pull it all together again! Poor James had no idea why I was about to start crying and was doing his best to be supportive. Then the water works came and just flowed. I must admit it felt good to cry. Crying is not something I do often, nor do I usually enjoy it.

I was able to pull it together for the four hours we were at the picnic and all was well. I cried more later. James had been asking me what was wrong. But I knew if I answered him in my emotional state, I would regret it later. It would have been so easy for me to find something "wrong" with James or our marriage or whatever and take it out on him.

I believe at these moments Satan starts creeping lots of thoughts in our heads. He would like nothing more then for us to be at odds with each other. After all if he could get us wrapped up in ourselves, our focus would be off of what it needs to be, reaching others and being used of God.

I reminded myself of what was true and tried hard not respond or react off of my feelings. James truly had done nothing wrong, and it would be wrong of me to blame him or treat him like he had done something wrong. I knew it was my pregnancy hormones just getting the best of me and James did as well.

So later, after I had taken a nice long nap, he asked me what was wrong again. I began to cry again as I told him. I was able to sort out mentally and emotionally just why I was feeling so bad and not target my husband. We had a nice talk and I felt better by the end of it. I was thankful I hadn't exploded at him or blamed him for my emotional state.

I wish I could say I have mastered the art of controlling my emotions all the time, but I can't say that. But why is it so easy to target those closest to us? It's easy for us to put on a happy face for others, but we go all crazy on the ones we love. Why? Probably because we know (hope) they aren't going anywhere. What if we treated our spouses like a good friend rather than a punching bag or place to dump all our baggage on? Okay ladies, here are some simple steps to helping you keep it in check! Why? Because our husbands deserve it and the Bible commands us to respect our husbands no matter how we are feeling.

How to Keep it in Check when you Want to Jump out the Window:

1. Think on what is true not what you are feeling. 

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praisethink on these things.

 We must think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, --anything that brings glory and honor to God. It's so easy to let our minds wander and think on everything that isn't perfect in our lives. But don't do it! Now is not the proper time to try and fix everything that is broken. Write it down, pray about it, and in a couple of days if it's worth mentioning then sit down and talk with your husband or whoever about it. 

2. Grab some quiet time if you can and pray. 5 minutes - anything and just pull yourself together. If possible, an espresso or latte. 

It helps if you look at yourself in the mirror for a'll see how others are seeing you and you'll want to change or at least smile. :) And just pray. Pray all day. It won't be a magic trick that will cure your emotional state but it will help you to think on the right things and hopefully not go crazy. 

3. Do something for someone else other than yourself. 

When you do something for someone else you are being selfless. Think of a way to encourage or show kindness to someone (for me I chose my spouse). It's hard to have a pity party for yourself when you are loving others. And don't expect anything in return. Just do it because you love them! 

4. Smile. 

They say fake it until you make it! Smile or find something or someone to laugh at. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine! Realize this emotional roller coaster will pass- you just have to get through it- hopefully with little to no damage to those around you! Tomorrow is just a day away! 

These are just some practical tips I try to do while I am not feeling myself and the hormones have me on a crazy roller coaster. Have I mastered this? Not at all. And I know it's easier said then done. I loathe my hormones when they make me feel so crazy. But soon I will have this little lady in my arms and my hormone levels will be back to normal. Well as normal as any woman can be! Ha! 

And to those innocent bystanders, this is the day to show extra love and grace. Unconditional love at it's finest! I'm so thankful I have an understanding husband who knew that it was just one of those days for me. 

And next time you have one of those days remember to try to keep it together. Although it's tempting, don't just use your hormones as an excuse to go crazy on those who love you or are just in the wrong place at the wrong time! :) 

Until next time!