Monday, October 24, 2016

Cesarean vs Vaginal Delivery Experience

I consider myself blessed to have experienced two very different deliveries. My first being an emergency c-section and my second a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I desperately wanted a natural vaginal delivery experience. Although I did not get the drug-free experience with either delivery I love reading and hearing about women who did and sharing them here, in fact, I love reading and sharing them all! Why? It is a learning process that forces us to grow and change. Pain does that to us. That is one reason why bringing our children into the world is so much apart of who we are. In addition to this sanctifying process, delivering our babies are so much apart of who we are because God designed us to create and nurture life - it's impossible for us to separate those qualities from labor and delivery. God made us in a beautiful way - to be direct participants in His creating life. It is beautiful and intense and scary. Mommy's across the world can relate to one another despite our unique, one-of-a-kind testimony of how God used it to draw you closer to Him.

A bit of my story... 

With that said, I have a lot to say to mom's who did not experience a vaginal delivery. There are a wide variety of reasons why cesareans happen; mine was because my sweet Brielle's heartbeat dropped dangerously low with every contraction. After 20+ hours of labor my cervix only dilated to 3 cm. If I was allowed to continue to labor, Brielle would not have been born alive. It was necessary for her sake and I am thankful for the intervention. Looking back, however, I would not have allowed the doctor's to stretch my cervix from 0 cm to 1 1/2 cm to induce labor. It was painful and caused my cervix undue stress and swelling. (I learned this from Ele's labor and delivery doctor who said that she would only do something that extreme under specific circumstances and also in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth book; which I HIGHLY recommend for all mommy's - first time or not.) It caused issues for dilation that I did not understand at the time, but I vehemently believe it was all part of God's plan.

I encourage mommy's to go into labor and delivery educated. I was not with Brielle, partly because it was my first time, but I had an incomplete understanding of what it meant to stretch the cervix and should not have let the doctor do it for that reason. It was an intervention that my un-dilated, un-pliable cervix was not ready for. Also, I was TENSE. The atmosphere was a stressful one for many reasons, but because I did not relax I caused myself and my child stress. 

In every experience we have hindsight. For a long time after my first labor and delivery I went through it again and again, wishing I could do things differently. Today, I wouldn't change a thing because I would not have learned those things had I not experienced what I experienced. 

With that background information I thought I'd simply share the differences and similarities between the two and what I learned in the process:

If you want to read both birth stories in full, go here:

My Own Comparisons:

Both are painful. Nothing compares to a contraction during those final stages of labor. I experienced intense contractions at 8 cm for 6 hours unmedicated. However, I would do that over and over and over again in comparison to a cesarean recovery

After delivery they do what's called a fundal massage to determine uterine firmness and shrinkage. With hip to hip stitches, internally and externally... n
ot fun. 

Also, because of all the medication received during your surgical procedure, your shoulders hurt (which is caused by C02 gas becoming trapped in your traps). But that's not all that hurts. Quite frankly, moving hurts. In fact, the nurses must show you how to sit up, cough, bend over, roll over, and get out of bed so you don't hurt yourself, and you need help doing all of that for quite a while afterwards. 

Soreness lasts much, much longer after a cesarean. Six months after surgery I wore jeans for the first time and regretted it. I was sore for days afterward, just because I wore jeans.

Walking out of the hospital after a cesarean was a chore, it's so hard to get yourself upright. With my vaginal delivery I remember being so excited (even with stitches in the vagina) that I felt like I could run, sure I was sore and tired (because it's A LOT of work and we come out with a needy newborn no matter the hour of day/night), but I could not get over how different I felt from my first experience. I had energy in comparison! 

I remember how putting the seatbelt across my scar created nightmares; I traveled with a pillow for quite a while. The scar was uber sensitive to touch so I wore granny panties so that the elastic did not touch it. 

The first bowel movement is 100 times worse after a cesarean. I didn't realize how much I used my core muscles for that, but all of that post surgery, medicated build-up creates an abnormally large bowel movement. It took me a half hour to push it out and it was a challenge to flush because it was too wide to fit through the toilet hole, seriously (my poor husband was floored). Because of that being my first experience I dreaded it after having 2nd degree tears from the vaginal delivery with Ele. However, it was cake! Oh man, I was relieved.

The first time you go back to having sex it is painful, but I'll give it to those mommy's who had a vaginal delivery. It was way more painful after a vaginal delivery than a c-section and took more time to get back to feeling normal in that part of my life.

Either way stitches are not fun and I always thought that stitches inside the most sensitive place of a woman would be horrifying, but they do not compare to the stitches post cesarean. Cesarean stitch-ups require countless multiple layers of internal stitches and many externally as well. I can't compare this to 32 stitches in the vagina (the highest degree of tearing) which someone I know experienced because her baby's arm was up (OUCH!) but after my own experience (2nd degree tearing) I'd prefer the vaginal delivery recovery over the c-section in a heartbeat! Those mommies who delivered via multiple c-sections are tough cookies! 

Most mom's of multiple children experience some degree of muscle separation, but it is way more common for mom's who had a c-section (those internal stitches...). I have a friend who delivered 4 children via cesarean, one delivery was twins. Her muscle separation is so severe that a hole a fist wide at her belly button is quite visible. Unfortunately for her, surgery is the only way to repair it. However, one midwife adamantly suggests women who have had a cesarean delivery never do a crunch again. I didn't realize how much different my core would feel after this surgery and at first I found it discouraging. Healing is possible, but the hard-core, cross-fit ab workouts I was doing pre-pregnancy were out of the question until it was. Other than visiting a physical therapist, the Tupler technique is the only researched based exercise that helps ab separation. The exercises look simple, but for someone recovering from major surgery they are not easy to begin. I hated it. I felt like such a weakling. Especially because 10 months prior I was doing weighted glute-ham bench, full range motion "sit ups", multiple sets, between intense cardio workouts. I was in the best shape of my life and felt like one day set me back years. It was easy to let that depress me and it's taken me years to feel motivated enough to get back into it. I "snapped" back pretty quickly after Ele. I don't know if it's all because of the vaginal vs. cesarean delivery differences, or more to do with my hemorrhaging experience, but I do believe it played a role. 

* These comparisons are from my own experiences. That does not make it true for every situation because we are all uniquely different and have different experiences. My first time delivery was not the norm considering my postpartum hemorrhaging experience as well, which caused two major back-to-back surgeries within a 10 day time period. Despite these facts, I do know the data speaks for itself, so let it speak...

If you are still skeptical after reading the data, trust in God's sovereignty. He is the Creator and Sustainer of life. Trust Him with your life and the life of your child, because HE gives breath and HE takes it away (Job 33:4, Deuteronomy 32:39).

The Data

Sometimes women have no choice in the matter, but I encourage you to do your research irregardless. I was cut open twice and still experienced a successful vaginal delivery. It is possible and the statistics prove over and over again - even post cesarean - that the natural way is safer. According to the data published in 2015, the most maternal deaths, ruptured uterine, and ICU admissions occurred with mothers after repeat cesareans (source). That same data revealed that the majority of women experienced a successful vaginal delivery after a previous c-section, but only 1 in 5 women try (p.5). You cannot ignore statements like this, let the data speak for itself, 
  • Women who attempted a trial of labor after cesarean and had a successful VBAC delivery had lower rates of transfusion, unplanned hysterectomy, and ICU admission than did women with cesarean deliveries without labor. Rates of ruptured uterus were not significantly different between successful VBAC births (43.8 per 100,000) and cesarean births (65.6) without a trial of labor. (p.5)
Read Ina May's book, discuss your options with to your doctor, get multiple opinions, talk to other mommy's, do viable research, PRAY, be educated, and make a decision with your husband. I encourage you to avoid a c-section if at all possible; but if you cannot, know this fact: how your child is delivered does not determine your worth as a mother. If that's the case, I failed at being a mother the first time through! 

The reason I am so passionate about labor and delivery is because I believe knowledge and encouragement gives comfort in the face of fear. That's my goal in publishing these posts. Labor and delivery - no matter how it happens - takes A LOT of work and is painful! There is no exception to that fact. God said it was so (Genesis 3:16), so it will be so. Still, I know that the experience is a learning one that leaves you forever changed and I would love hearing your story.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday's Top Ten [Parenting Lessons on Repeat Mode]

Life with toddlers can be repetitive. They thrive on consistency. But the day-to-day, never-ending pick-ups, bedtime routines, I-can't-believe-I have -to-say-this-again's, can become humdrum and wearisome. And I know I'm not alone.

I've felt this way for the last two weeks. My children have been weepy. Crying at the drop of a hat is the norm as of late and it is exhausting. It wears on my nerves. But it's in the midst of these trials that I learn the most because the lessons I'm trying to teach them, become engrained in my heart and mind as I say it again and again and again - making a lasting impact. They are not just for my children. They are for me too.

I started to get irritated today because a lesson had to be repeated for the umpteenth time. I was screaming on the inside and found myself on the verge of yelling, "I HATE repeating myself! How many times do I have to say this?! Aaaaaaaagh!" God's up there patiently explaining, "This is the 10th time I've taught you this lesson." And I was reminded - once again - that I am more like my children than I am like God. These 10 phrases are on repeat mode for everyone in my house...

1. "Listen." I am constantly asking, What did I just say? If she cannot answer she was not listening very well. I feel like I'm always reminding them to "look at mommy!" Nine times out of ten if I tell her to do this, I get a better response. It's when she refuses to look at me that I know I have different problems (like respecting authority) that I must address immediately.

2. "Be patient." I wish I had two of me, but there is only one of me and I only have two hands. Therefore, you must wait; without whining or crying.

3. "The Bible states that when you have two of something, share one." (Luke 3:11)

4. "Be kind, even when you do not feel like it." Here's my script for this one, "Do you think Jesus wanted to be kind when he was beat and hung on the cross? He was gracious and kind in words and actions even though He died unmercifully and horribly?" Sometimes I even add the story of Cinderella, especially the new version where Ella follows her mother's advice to be kind and courageous even when her stepmother treats her terribly. In fact, the last scene gives me goosebumps! She's walking out with the prince and she turns around to look at her stepmother and states, "I forgive you." She is kind even when she didn't feel like it, even when she was asking her stepmother why she was so cruel. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
One, of many, memory verses for this one is Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgoing one another, as God in Christ forgave you." 
5. "Be Thankful." This one is said almost every day at meal time. "Be thankful for the spoon you have to eat with, whether or not it's pink or blue." or "Instead of complaining about the food God gave us to eat, be thankful that you have something, anything at all, to eat. This is your third meal of the day, many children around the world have nothing. Give thanks!"
Memory verse 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." And if Paul advised persecuted Christians (the audience of 1 Thessalonians) to rejoice and be thankful in ALL circumstances, even in the face of affliction, we have that much more reason to be thankful!
6. "Obey the first time you are told." (No buts.) I do not allow arguing, if I allow it now I cannot imagine how it will spiral out of control as they grow up. This is also a lesson in respecting authority. So I'm also always asking, "Who is your authority?" (Mommy and Daddy) "Who is mommy's authority?" (Daddy) "Who is daddy's authority?" (God) I'm trying to prove (again and again) that we are ALL under authority and we must ALL obey someone (God, government, police, city officials, boss, teacher, etc. etc.) therefore, it is best to learn obedience to authority at an early age. Why? God established an order to life throughout Scripture. One that I'm constantly referring to is in Ephesians 5 and 6; it is in this order that we glorify God because we reflect Jesus, His bride, and His submission to death on a cross - even when He didn't want to (Matthew 26:39).

7. "Trust Me." Arguing about an answer given is a daily response. I try not to say no unless I have a good reason to, but lately I feel like I'm constantly saying no. "NO! Don't color on the walls!" or "NO! You may NOT eat the markers." or "No! Do not wipe your snot on the curtains!" or "No, you may not have _____ unless you have eaten all of your vegetables!" If they are not satisfied with the reason given, I ask, "Do you trust me? God gave you a mommy so that I help you and do what's best for you. You have to trust me because God entrusted you to me! I'm not doing it to be mean. I'm doing it because it's what is best for you and I love you."
The other night I wanted to give in after a battle with Ele at the dinner table (lasting for over an hour) over whether or not she was going to eat her vegetables. I told my husband, "I can see why parents just throw their hands up and say whatever!" And his response cut me to the core, "Well that wouldn't be very loving would it? Because that's not what she needs. You show her love by doing what is best for her." Ahhhhh! I won the battle and she was rewarded with a piece of chocolate afterwards. I was rewarded with an early bedtime.

8. "Please and Thank you are magic words." Use them. They have learned that they will receive nothing unless asked kindly and respectfully. That includes using these magic words. Ele, at 18 months, says the most adorable thank you, "GungGa" and signs "please" regularly. It can be done. It will be done in our home.

9. "Rejoice in the Lord always." When you are sad, rejoice in God. When you do not want what you are given (like when your sister got the cup you wanted, a sandwich for lunch instead of mac-n-cheese, a purple shirt instead of pink), rejoice. You deserve nothing, therefore rejoice because you have an abundance of clothing, food, toys, movies, etc. I want to spoil our girls, but I do not want to raise entitled adults. I want them to rejoice for all that God gives and be thankful for it, because He does not have to give us ANYTHING. Same memory verse as #5.

10. "Take care of the things God has given." This lesson comes up in many situations, especially if the "MINE!" attitude ever comes out or destructive behavior is evident. Both are unacceptable because God made it abundantly clear to Job in Job 41:11 that everything, everything, is His, "Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." David also recognized this when the Israelites were giving an offering for the temple to be built, "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you." Therefore, what God has given us we must take care of. That includes stepping on items, kicking them, throwing them, etc. - just for the sake of destroying them. I do not tolerate that behavior from my children nor from the children who visit. They will know this fact. And they will also know that it is God's; He gave it to us and we will take care of it. Now, accidents happen and that is entirely different. We live in a broken and fallen world; things will fall apart and break. That is a fact of life, so I do not want them to hold onto things too tightly, but I do expect them to take care of it if it is within their ability to do so.

Plus one: the gospel. It is in the death, burial and RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ that we find hope, encouragement, and reason to rejoice and be thankful! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, on this planet that has this power. Nothing. Jesus is eternal and HE changes hearts. When we focus on HIM and what HE accomplished, hearts are changed.

I am not a perfect parent and do not  want to give the impression that I am. I fail in each of these lessons myself! My goal is to point them to Christ each and every day. I want to mimic Susanna Wesley's mentality of caring more for their eternal soul than for their current earthly one. Yes I care about how their clothed and their health, but their soul is eternal, their earthly body is not.

Also, I truly believe that God has given me these girls to teach these lessons so that they are constantly at the forefront of my own forgetful brain. Be kind. Be selfless. Be thankful. Always.

Friday, October 7, 2016


After I presented a devotion on how marriage is like a tree during a bridal shower I hosted someone asked, "Your IQ must be really high!" Although I was grateful for the compliment I was also a bit surprised. Me? 

The girl who struggles with math so much that if I run out of fingers and toes I'm screwed. Or the one who must use a calculator at work when someone makes more than one copy. (We charge .15/copy, should be easy right?) Or the one who cried every time it was time to do math homework. In fact, the only reason I made it through college algebra was because I sat next to a helpful friend. Also, my husband did my astrology homework without even attending the lectures because I was struggling.

I graduated from college with a degree in English/Language Arts, but more times than not my best friend corrects my grammar and spelling. Sometimes I forget how to spell ov... of... OF!

Words leave my brain all.the.time. I'll be looking at a rocking chair and completely forget what it's called. The same goes for names. I stared at a friend (that I've known for years) because I could not, for the life of me, remember her name. Geez, I felt like an idiot.

It's frustrating and embarrassing. 

I have many, many stories that reveal my stupidity. Today I added to those stories, thus knocking my overall IQ (and pride) down a few notches (not that it was high to begin with).

I created this heartbeat picture with Jesus in it. I was trying to be all symbolic, except I spelled it fesus. No joke. I didn't even notice it until someone had commented (forehead slap) and then I could not, absolutely not, remember how to write the letter J in cursive. I debated for a long time on whether or not to leave it so others could join in on the laughing, because it was quite hilarious, or if I should delete it and try again (but I couldn't remember how to write a J), or just delete it and poke fun of my IQ here. I decided this was way more fun.

The only reason I have a brain at all is because God gave it to me and any enlightenment was given by the Almighty Creator of wisdom and knowledge. That fact is quite clear, because its revealed in Scripture, but it's also very clearly true when you hear my own life-examples from days like today when I tried to do something smart-like on my own, then show it off, and it comes out something like... fesus... 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday's Top Ten [Favorite Blogger Tools]

1. Canva to create free graphics like my top ten image above. It's user friendly and has so much to offer for FREE! Plus the app is also user friendly.

2. Photobucket offers free photo storage and this super useful tool where you can copy the direct html code and embed it on my blog. Super easy!

3. Google Photos app because I can upload photos directly from my phone and then on a post just by clicking the photo button >> add images from phone.

4. Pinterest because it's a wonderful place to share posts with others, but it is also a useful tool to store free images on a board specifically used for my blog.

5. - words escape me sometimes.

6. shares tons of free backgrounds, graphics, tutorials, and other misc. blogging tools. She has a lot of stuff packed into her website and I refer to it often.

7.  and are sites similar to The Cutest Blog on the Block, but specialize in free blog backgrounds. I've used/saved one or two from these places as well.

8. Google Images. Oh man, when I'm needing an image to top off a point I'm trying to make, this tool is my BFF. [If you also decide to use this tool, make sure you give credit where credit is due!]

9. A calendar. Especially one with notes in the margins. I made the mistake of putting everything on my phone notes app and lost all my ideas. If an idea randomly came to mind I'd add it to my list, but it's gone. Don't ask me how, but I was/am so disappointed. Oh well, clearly I was not meant to write about them! I like having a calendar because I can schedule items and make time to write. Lately I've been consumed with other more pressing things, but this is super helpful to keep me organized.

10. Other blogs. Seriously, people all over the world have wonderful ideas and I love reading about what they use and why they use it. I also take ideas from what they've written and make it my own. There's a big blogger world out there and if you want to be part of it, make other blogs part of your daily routine. You'll gain so much from others and their unique perspective and creativity.

Monday, October 3, 2016

An Ele-phant Never Forgets [May - September 2016 Edition]

May 2016

When she knows she shouldn't touch something she claps her hands and yells, "NO!"

She climbs on everything. I caught her on top of a table that has their play stove top on it, desperately trying to climb onto the wooden play refrigerator sitting next to it. She's going to give me a heart attack.

She's obsessed with lids. Lids to a pen, chapstick, container &etc. go on and off... on and off... on and off... and if she's frustrated her little fingers won't do what she thinks they should do... she yells at them.

She has become quite the chatterbox. I wish I knew what her precious garble meant, but I love listening to her and encouraging her to continue it.

This month in pictures and videos:

We visited the Omaha zoo and couldn't resist this picture opportunity! Comparing my baby Ele to a baby Ele-phant! 
She thought the baby goat attempting to eat her jacket was hilarious.

She backs her bum right up to anyone sitting and makes herself comfy.

All 4 of us attempted kite flying. It was unsuccessful, but it was fun.

A wonderful Mother's Day with my babies!

"Giddy haw!"

Watching the bats at the zoo. Both were extremely fascinated. We must have stood there for 10 minutes watching them eat the fruit.

She didn't last long. It was a good nap in mommy's arms. 

All these animals and she'd rather play in the dirt.

Sister cuddles.

Her sister attempted dressing her. This is as far as she got.

June 2016
Loves throwing her fork off her high chair and saying, "UH OH!"

Has finally begun to like looking at books. She was too squirmy to even think about sitting still long enough to get through one, but she enjoys looking at them herself. It's hilarious when she narrates it!

This month in pictures and videos:

Playing her favorite game: Where's Ele?

July 2016
She asks, "What's da?" for everything.

When she's tired she asks for "nigh nigh".

She has an obsession with shoes and is the only way I can get her to come and get dressed, "Come on Ele, let's put on your shoes!" and she'll come running! In fact, Bean comforted her in a moment of distress with the following question, "Are you sad? Do you need new shoes?" She stopped crying and said, "shuuuuuuus".

This month in pictures and videos:

This girl could care less for the iPad/iPhone until you turn on classical/instrumental music on YouTube.

She has an excellent stink eye. When she doesn't want to talk to people she gives them the side eye and a major frown; complete with duck lips.

Her vocabulary has exploded the last two weeks of this month! She's added...
  • shoes = shuuuuus
  • Mandy
  • "get it" (the command for the dogs to eat their food)
  • juice = juuuuus (which sounds similar to shoes because she puckers her lips when she says the end sound - which is an adorable version of the duck face)
  • puppy (she loves bossing them)
  • Cheese (for pictures)
  • Hey!
This month in pictures and videos:

Our poor baby got really sick. She threw up twice at church before going back home and continued to throw up 8 more times after that over a 2 day time period. Baths were the best therapy.

Baths and sisters.

Baths and sisters and cuddles with mommy.
She took a stool, climbed up on our window seat, threw down the pillows and ripped the clock off the wall. After hearing an enormous crash and a cute little "UH OH" I knew trouble was afoot.

She loves scrambled eggs and will eat 2-3 in one breakfast setting. This child has always been tiny (in the 10-20% for her height and weight) but you'd never know it by the way she eats.

When she's upset I ask her, "Ele, what's wrong baby?" and she'll answer me with unintelligible garble, but it always helps her to stop crying! Also, it's adorable and sad.

Apparently the ssssssss sound is hilarioussssss because every time I hiss at her she giggles.

New Words (which are added to daily because she attempts to copy everything we say, so I'll list the most popular and the cutest):
  • Cracker = caca (she could eat these
  • Minnie 
  • Bweeeelle (Brielle)
This month in pictures and videos:
This is a pretty accurate picture of our crazy Ele - on the move.

That look of concentration!

Uh, what's on my fingers?!

Wearing her sister's costume from last year!

With Aunt Symie (aka Sydnie)