Planted in Pearland

What's going on in the life of Covenant Community Church

Happy Birthday, Reid! August 30, 2010

Filed under: Kids — Sarah @ 2:14 am

Reid turned four years old… over a month ago now. Reid’s birthday brought to mind some things I wanted to share. Better late than never right?

I’ve said in a previous post that one of my favorite things about birthdays is the re-telling of birth-day memories. Well, I don’t have a detailed birth-day story from the day Reid was born. We had only met Daniel and Joy a few weeks prior to Reid’s birth, and we were still in the “acquaintance” category with them. However, I do remember that my neighbor Kelly (the one who introduced us to Daniel and Joy for the first time) called me on the day Reid was born, and as soon as I picked up the phone, she squealed, “We’re aunties!!” Her excitement was infectious, and I squealed back, “We are?!?!?” She gave me Reid’s stats and told me everyone was doing great. I was excited, but I had no idea at that moment how much this newborn baby would come to mean to me…

It was the days, weeks, months, and years that followed that would provide me with countless memories of Reid. (For example, I remember the first time Tim and I babysat for Reid, he was probably 6 weeks old or so, and Daniel and Joy were back from dinner in less than an hour. I remember thinking that was so weird and telling Tim as we were leaving, “I don’t think they trust us.” Ha!)

So, in leiu of having a detailed birth-day story to recount like I did on Annelise’s birthday, in honor of Reid’s fourth birthday, I’d like to share four things I’ve learned from Reid:

1. Children are a blessing.

Our culture tells us things about children that simply aren’t true. We hear that children are an inconvenience. We hear that they are a financial liability. We hear that they are a nuisance. We hear that they are a drain on the earth’s resources. We hear that they are something to have only after we’ve accomplished and done everything else we’ve ever wanted: completed our schooling, gotten our dream job and climbed the ladder as high as we desire, paid off all our debt, gone on our dream vacation or trip around the world, bought our dream house, car, etc. Only after all that should you even THINK about having children.

I’m ashamed to admit that I had bought into that thinking lock, stock and barrel. When I met Daniel and Joy and saw how obviously pregnant Joy was, I thought, “Oh these poor people- saddled with a baby in the middle of school (seminary)- what a bummer.” However, Daniel and Joy’s excitement over Reid and their enthusiastic embrace of parenting was the first thing God used to (painfully) slowly undo that kind of thinking in my head. Daniel and Joy LOVED their son. They never complained about how much time, energy, money or effort he required of them. They never lamented having to “miss out” on concerts or movies or whatever else would be occupying their time if Reid wasn’t around. I was shocked. It got me thinking that having a kid may not be the inconvenience I had always understood it to be.

Scripture is clear that children are a blessing. “Behold, children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is as a reward” (Ps. 127:3). Shamefully, it took a very, very long time for God to convince me of this truth, but I am grateful He used Reid to give me my first glimpse of its veracity.

2. Motherhood is beautiful

I guess this is something I learned from Joy rather than Reid, but since Reid is the one who made Joy a mother, I’m going to keep it in the list. Once again, our culture tells us things about motherhood that aren’t true. We hear that motherhood is a demeaning job, that changing dirty diapers and cleaning up spills is a waste of intellect, schooling, skills, etc. We hear that motherhood is not enough, that it’s OK to be a mom, as long as you have a “real job” as well. We hear that motherhood can only be fulfilling as long as you have an additional project or job or position in which you are contributing to society or the economy as a whole.

Once again, I shamefully admit I had been convinced of the truth of these lies. And once again, God used Reid (and Joy) to begin dismantling these lies from my heart and mind. Joy was (and is) such a wonderful mom. She read so many books and pursued so many other more experienced moms for ideas on how to do this motherhood thing well. She worked hard to learn to care for her new baby well and to care for her home and husband well too. She never complained about having to stay home with the baby, and I never heard her describe herself as “just” as stay-at-home-mom, as if it was something to apologize for. On the contrary, she made motherhood very attractive. It was easy to see the joy and satisfaction she got from caring for Reid and being home with him.

3. If you want to make friends, serve them

This point is not meant to sound like I’m patting myself on the back. It is only by God’s grace that it is true… We babysat for Daniel and Joy. A LOT. For free. I remember thinking, “Oh this poor couple, having a baby a zillion miles away from family and friends, we HAVE to babysit for them!” I just remember thinking I would want someone to do that for me. Again, this is not because Tim and I are so amazing. Instead, I know for sure that God is the One who place that thought in our hearts- left to our own devices, we certainly would not have come up with an idea like that. God gave us the DESIRE to serve this couple. Only He can do that, and I am so grateful He did.

God used the time we babysat Reid to knit our hearts together with Daniel and Joy’s hearts. At first, we were simply babysitters. We’d arrive, receive instructions, watch Reid, give a report when they got home, and leave. And we were happy to do it. However, it soon happened that we started arriving earlier than they had to leave in order to just visit for awhile. Or we would stay after they got home and Reid was in bed to hang out. Conversations ranged from the trivial and silly to serious and spiritual. Over time, God gave us two of the best friends we’ve ever had. I’m sure He could have forged that relationship some other way, but I’m so grateful He did it by placing a desire in our hearts to love Daniel and Joy by serving them.

4. Babies aren’t really all that scary

I know this sounds ridiculous, but until I got to know Reid, I was a little scared of babies. I mean, I thought they were cute, and I liked to hold them- but only if they weren’t crying, fussy, dirty, stinky or anything like that. It seems like I had only known babies who cried a lot and were really discontent and unpredictable. That scared me- thinking that at any moment, they (babies) could “go off,” and I would have no idea what was wrong.

Reid was not like that. Not that he wasn’t a challenging baby- Joy will tell you that he definitely was- but Reid was pretty predictable. I remember being amazed when he would do EXACTLY what Joy would tell me he was going to do. At the time she said he would be hungry, he was, and he would down his whole bottle. At the time she said he would be tired, he was, and he went right to sleep when placed in his bed. I remember calling Daniel while they were in a movie because Reid would not take his bottle, and I had no idea what to do- Daniel told me to put some Orajel on Reid’s gums, and sure enough, no more fussing, and he ate his whole bottle. I was so impressed. Without even being present with him, they knew how to help stop his crying. Until Reid, I had no idea that you could predict and anticipate a baby’s needs and pre-empt crying and fussiness by meeting those needs on a schedule. It started me thinking the baby thing may not be as scary and stressful as I thought it would be.

OK, I know this was supposed to be four things for Reid’s fourth birthday, but I have one more, so how about “and one to grow on”?

5. It’s possible to love other people’s kids as if they were your own

Before I met Reid, I had no idea what it meant to love other people’s kids. I mean, I liked other people’s kids just fine, didn’t mind playing with them or whatever, but I didn’t think I’d really love a kid until I had my own. I was wrong. Reid quickly grabbed a hold of my heart and wouldn’t let it go. I loved being with him. I would miss him if I didn’t see him for awhile. Interacting with him gave me so much joy and made me laugh and smile. I delighted in watching him grow and seeing him learn new things. I taught him things that were just for us (like pounding his chest for “peace out”). I got so excited the first time he said my name (“Ee wawa” = “Aunt Sarah”). I thought he was the smartest/cutest/funniest/etc baby I’d ever seen. I’m writing in past tense because I’m thinking of baby Reid, but this is still true to this day. I love Reid so much, more than I ever thought I would or could.

Happy Birthday, Reid. Aunt Sarah has learned so much just by getting to be around you and watching you grow. I am so thankful for you, and I love you so, so much!!


Recollections of a Year, part 2 August 26, 2010

Filed under: Covenant — Maggie @ 7:52 pm

So, I may have completely lost my audience by now. I mean, I really can’t blame you for not being excited for part two, since part one was pretty much a downer. But thankfully, it’s (mostly) uphill from here!

In early October, the Lord provided Dave his new job as a service connector (case worker) for a company called Neighborhood Centers, Inc. His job was to connect Houston homeowners who had been affected by Hurricane Ike with services that would help get them on their feet again. The job was totally different than anything he had ever done, but it was a blessing to him and to us in many ways. For one thing, he had to drive around the city of Houston to peoples’ homes, which enabled him to get to know his new city. Also, he worked closely with a friend in the church, John (who helped get him the job), which is always fun. And, most of his coworkers were very different than him. In fact, many of them were black women. This provided a unique setting for Dave to be a minority and to get to know and love people with very different lives and backgrounds than him – a helpful thing for any pastor (especially in a diverse place like Houston!). We were, and are still, very grateful for the provision of this job.

At the same time that we moved out of the Gangers home (early December), our dear friends Justin and Stacey Mullins and their kids, Zoe and Hank, moved down from Louisville to join up with Covenant. Jeremy and Kristin Perrine and Eric Hammond had also recently moved down from Louisville as well, and it was so wonderful to have all these friends near us again. With the addition of all these Louisville peeps, I felt like the church plant was given new momentum and the Lord gave me a new excitement and vision for what we were called to here. It was definitely good timing for my heart to be refreshed by the familiarity of these relationships as well as seeing these friends being obedient to the mission of God and moving to Pearland. I was humbled by their joyful and faithful obedience in moving here, especially in light of my own months-long struggle with finding joy in our new circumstances.

We moved from the Ganger’s home into a larger home with Jeremy and Kristin Perrine. Jeremy and Kristin were our downstairs neighbors in our Louisville home, so we had a good idea of what it would be like to live with them. We found an awesome house, in the Lord’s kindness, that perfectly fit our two families, and we moved in during the first week of December. We basically have two living rooms (one up and one down), so we have plenty of places to be without always being on top of each other, and there are 4 bedrooms for us and our kids. It really has been a perfect fit. I am so thankful for our time living at the Ganger’s which opened me up to the idea of living long-term with another family. I certainly still have moments of just wanting my own space, but I can see how God’s grace has worked in me since last August to makes these desires less intense and loosen my grip on the idol of my own comfort. I still have a long way to go though!

January marked the beginning of separate community groups within Covenant. Prior to this we had been meeting together in one big “Core Group.” And, while it was a little bittersweet to no longer meet as one big group (since we didn’t yet have a Sunday service), the beginning of something as familiar and precious to me as community group helped me to feel more at home and at ease in Covenant. For the first time since we moved, I felt like I knew (a little of) what to expect. It was no longer all foreign and different and church-planty 🙂  Community group life (which I had grown to know and love at Sojourn) was new to many of those in Covenant, but it has been amazing to see how these groups have been the vehicle for so much change and growth in godliness, not to mention growing love for others in the church. What a blessing it has been to be a part of a community group in this church! I could truly spend the rest of this post bragging on my group members and, ultimately, on Christ who frees us from our sin and selfishness and enables us to love and serve one another in such a beautiful way.

Needless to say, the start of community group ministry at Covenant played a large part in the Lord changing my heart and attitude and vision for what He was doing. It’s nearly impossible to not be changed by meeting weekly with other believers and sharing life together, and this is just what was happening. After a few weeks of meeting in community groups, Covenant launched public, regular Sunday services on February 14, 2010. This is what we had been working toward for many months (and really, a few years), so this was a really exciting event. The Lord provided a meeting place for us in a dance studio owned by a believer who had been eager to let out her studio to a church in need of a meeting place. How cool is that? She charges us almost nothing and even lets us store lots of our stuff on site. It’s pretty much a church plant’s wildest dream come true.

Once again, the start of something normal and familiar like a Sunday church service provided me much encouragement and a deepening love for what God had called us to at Covenant. It was indescribably sweet to witness others serving and using their various gifts in ways I hadn’t seen before during those first few services. People were so quick to take up jobs and roles and serve one another. I was confronted weekly with a true picture of the body of Christ as one body with many members (1 Cor. 12:12ff) working together for the benefit of the whole body. I remember especially being humbled by the 2 women God raised up to lead Covenant Kids’ Ministry – Angie Jorgensen and Courtney McGinn. In my presumption, I just knew that I was going to have to help our kids ministry get off the ground. I’d had some experience with this at Sojourn, and as we mostly had young families coming to Covenant, it seemed inevitable that the kids’ ministry would need lots of organization and leadership and that I would be called on to help. (In fact, to my shame, I distinctly remember this being my biggest “fear of church planting” when asked this question by fellow church-planting wives in Louisville.).

Wow, was I wrong! These two women volunteered themselves for this HUGE task well before the need ever arose. And they executed it beautifully. Our kids are so well loved and taken care of and these women are always behind the scenes working to make this happen. Perhaps the most humbling aspect of this is that it is clear to me that the women God chose for this task perform it far better than I ever could. What would be shameful according to the world – acknowledging weakness and inferiority –  in fact causes a big smile to break out on my face and my heart to praise God for his infinite wisdom in gifting his children in different ways. Oh, and the smile also breaks out when I think about the fact that I am not doing this job 🙂

Since this post is already incredibly long, I think I’ll wrap it up here. Stay tuned for more current happenings in part 3.


Recollections of a Year in Pearland, part 1 August 24, 2010

Filed under: Covenant — Maggie @ 1:00 pm

My hope for this mini-series of posts is to give an honest look at our (the Ainsworth’s) first year in Pearland. I’m aiming for three parts, with this first one covering our first few months in Pearland. Look for parts two and three later this week.  I will warn you that it’s not always a pretty picture. But, praise be to God that the gospel of Jesus Christ redeems even the ugliest parts of this picture!

One year ago today, four month-old Shepherd and I were on a one-way flight to Houston and Dave was hauling all our stuff across the country. (He really got the raw-end of that deal.) In some ways, it’s hard to believe it has already been a year since we moved from Louisville to Pearland. The time seems to have flown by. But at the same time, I’m still surprised that I feel so at home in a place I’ve only lived for 1 year. Has it really only been a year?

I never could have imagined what this year would contain – and I certainly tried. As much as I knew I needed to be flexible and realistic about moving to Pearland to church plant, I definitely held (tightly) onto my own hopes and desires for what our lives would be like here. I wouldn’t have told anyone this at the time, but it was clearly true based on the ugly sin that came out of my heart when those desires were thwarted. When we moved, Dave was jobless and we moved in with Tim & Sarah Ganger. This was immensely helpful to us and I cannot express how grateful Dave and I are for the Gangers and their limitless generosity in the form of true Christian hospitality. Seriously people. We lived in their 1600 sq. ft. home with 4 adults, 2 babies, and 2 dogs for 3 months and they never asked us for a penny. Never. They served us tirelessly while we invaded their space, and yet never made us feel like intruders. We felt like one big family (albeit in one small house).

And yet, despite receiving the warmest welcome possible to our new hometown, my heart raged against needing other people.  I fantasized about when Dave would get a job (a high-paying one, of course) and we would be able to provide for ourselves again. I daydreamed about having my own house and justified myself with thoughts that we would then be able to extend the hospitality we’ve been shown. Not a bad thought, except for the fact that it was simply a thin veil covering my selfish desires.  At one point, when Shepherd was sick with a cold and up crying most of the night for a week (and sleeping in the room with us), I fumed in my heart at the Lord for bringing us here. My sinful mind made perverted connections between Shepherd being sick (what babies do) and the move to Pearland. It’s ridiculous to put on paper, but that is what I thought. I remember thinking that “None of this would be happening if we hadn’t moved to this stupid place!” (This is what I was referring to when I put the disclaimer above warning that this wouldn’t always be pretty.)

I let all these thoughts stew and poison my mind, leading to discontentment, covetousness, and ultimately unbelief. Discontentment also came in the form of missing Louisville.  As much as I tried to mourn Louisville and Sojourn (our church there) well, as in, being appropriately sad for missing a city, church and people that are dear to me, my sinful heart threw a pity party instead. My pity party was fueled by what I deemed the inferiority of this new place we were in. We were taken out of the quaint character and beauty of the Old Louisville neighborhood and plopped in the middle of suburbia. In place of trees there are strip malls and in place of fall there is just a really really long summer.

At times during those first few months, I completely lost sight of why we moved here and desired my own comfort more than anything else. As I look back at those often dark and difficult months, I can truly say that my own sin is what made them so difficult. It didn’t help anything that I kept much of this to myself for way too long.

Ugh. Just writing that is shameful.

There were really sweet times in those first 3 months as well. While sharing a home with the Gangers was the breeding ground for my sin, it was also the bed of so many fun times and sweet memories. I really mean it when I say that we felt like one big family. We ate together, played games together, worked alongside one another, and loved on each others’ kids daily. That time is precious to me. As much as we were excited to move into our own place and have our own stuff again at the end of those 3 months, I knew that we were leaving something really special. And we were. And we still miss it at times.


Finally, Jude’s Birth Story! August 19, 2010

Filed under: Kids,Parenting — Sarah @ 3:33 am

Warning: this post is ridiculously long

I woke up on Saturday morning July 3rd at 8am with some pretty uncomfortable hip pain. I didn’t think anything of it at first because at 38 weeks pregnant, I always had some sort of achiness or discomfort going on. I figured I had been lying on one side too long, switched sides and went back to sleep. However, this pain would subside and then return, again and again, regardless of how I positioned myself. So I decided to time the pain just to see. Sure enough, it was coming about every 5 minutes. However, I had never heard of hip pain in labor before, so I was not convinced it was labor. I got up and googled “hip pain labor,” and I found a discussion board with a few women who claimed to have experienced hip pain in labor before, so I texted Tim and told him I thought maybe I was having contractions (he was at a men’s theology breakfast) but not to rush home because I didn’t think it would last.

By the time Tim got home, they were still coming every 5 minutes. The only way to describe the pain was that it felt like someone was trying to twist my hips apart. It wasn’t unbearable or anything at that point, just really very uncomfortable. Tim asked if I had called our doula (a birth coach/labor assistant). I hadn’t because I really thought it was false labor. Well, by about 10:30a, with the contractions still coming consistently, Tim called our doula. She said she thought it might be the real thing because of the consistency but was also confused about the hip pain, so she came over the check on me. Meanwhile, Tim called my parents and asked them to come over and help with Eliza so he could focus on helping me with the contractions.

While we were waiting for our doula and my parents, I was trying all different labor positions to relieve the pain. At one point, I was on my hands and knees on the bed, rocking my hips back and forth. Eliza came in and wanted to get on the bed with me. Tim put her on the bed, and she crawled right underneath me, laid on her back, looked right into my eyes, and with this big grin on her face, tried to put a cheerio in my mouth. It was like she was saying, “Here, Mommy, eat this. It will make you feel better.” It was so adorable. Even through the contraction, I had to laugh.

My folks arrived and took over Eliza duty and a little while later our doula came in. She checked me, and I was only 3cm. After making sure the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure were all fine, she suggested a few positions to try to get the baby to move (thinking maybe the hip pain was being caused by the baby sitting on a certain nerve or something). She also encouraged me to eat something, since up until that point, I had only had juice all day. She said she’d come back after lunch.

Well, I ate a sandwich, walked around the house, tried different positions and did my best to rest between contractions. I also figured I better take the chance to take a shower while I was still at home. That felt amazing. The shower helped so much with the pain, I didn’t want to get out! By the time I did get out though, our doula had returned and checked me again. Still 3cm. And the contractions had actually stretched out- they were about 5-7 minutes apart now. We tried everything to make them kick up a notch- walking, squatting, pumping. Nothing.

Finally, our doula regretfully informed us that this looked a lot like false labor- regular contractions with no cervical change. After checking the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure again (all was well), she left, advising us to just eat some dinner and go to bed early, taking something to help us sleep if we could. By now, I was pretty discouraged. I had been texting “my girls” all day, keeping them updated and asking them to pray, so I sent out one more text asking them to pray that the labor would either pick up for real or stop completely- I was getting annoyed with the consistent hip pain, especially since it didn’t appear to be accomplishing anything. A little while later, a friend called and was so sweet and encouraging. She told me all about her experience with false labor during her fourth pregnancy and gave me some good advice on how to deal with it. Mostly, hearing her story gave me the second wind I needed- I had been getting grumpy and annoyed and wanted it to be done.

We ate dinner with my parents and Eliza- I ate another sandwich since it was all I thought I could keep down. We put Eliza to bed around 7:30pm and explained to my folks that we were just going to take Benadryl/Tylenol PM and go to bed ourselves. We told them we thought it was false labor, so they were free to go home if they wanted, or they could sleepover in Jude’s room if they wanted to. They decided to stay “just in case” (which I was fine with, but I was convinced by now that nothing was going to happen, so I thought they were just being too concerned). So, Tim took 2 Tylenol PM, I took a Benadryl, and we went to bed. Tim was asleep in minutes. I lied there and tried to sleep/rest as much as I could between contractions.

Eventually, around 9:30pm, I had a contraction unlike any of the others all day long. It was still concentrated in my hips but was WAY more intense. I figured it was a fluke, but a few minutes later, I felt it again. Then another one. They were so intense, I could barely breathe through them. I knew I needed help. I woke up Tim and asked him to call our doula and then help me with counter pressure and focus on breathing.

Our doula said this sounded like it could have finally kicked into the real thing and asked if we wanted her to come over or meet us at the hospital. I figured we might as well know for sure if it was real before we went to the hospital. So Tim woke up my parents to let them know what was happening, and he helped me with breathing and counter pressure until our doula got there. She checked me, and I was 4cm! Finally, the cervical change we had been waiting for! We quickly changed and left for the hospital at around 11pm.

On our way to the hospital, Tim called the on-call doctor to let him know we were on our way. I was doing my best to breathe through the contractions, but sitting in the front seat made the pain in my hips even worse. I remember looking at the clock and asking Tim if he thought the baby would be born before midnight. Tim kind of chuckled and said, “I doubt it.” “Well,” I said, “looks like we’re gonna have a 4th of July baby after all.” (My refrain for the previous several weeks had been, “I don’t care when he comes, as long as it’s not the 4th of July.” Well, surprise, surprise 🙂 Isn’t that the way it always goes?)

We got to the hospital at 11:30pm, and I walked up to the maternity floor. The nurse  who greeted me asked me to get on the scale then said, “Now, honey, are you here for a c-section or normal delivery?” I remember thinking she was totally insane. Did she really think I would have let the contractions get so bad if I was planning on a c-section? I remember squeaking out, “Normal,” between contractions, so she took me into triage, had me change, etc. Then the doctor came in to check me- I was 6cm! From 4 to 6 in less than an hour!

After a seemingly endless list of questions, the nurse took me into a labor and delivery room and told me my nurse would be in a minute. When my nurse came in, she explained that she wanted to get the heart rate monitor on me in order to get a 30-minute strip with the baby’s heart rate, and if all was well, I could get up, walk around, get in the shower, etc. I looked at her all confused and said, “You know I’m a VBAC right?” She said she did. I explained that my doc had said I would have to have continuous monitoring. She said she would just do the 30 minute strip and if all was well, she would just check every 15 minutes. I wasn’t about to argue. I didn’t want to be confined by the monitor anyway.

I sat on the birthing ball for 30 minutes while they monitored the baby’s heart rate. Our doula was so helpful in reminding me how to breathe, and Tim was praying and whispering to me encouragingly. After 30 minutes, baby’s heart rate looked fine, and my nurse said I could get in the shower or whatever. The hot water felt so good on my back and hips. I just sat there, breathing, moaning, taking each contraction as it came. Tim was standing right there, and I kept hearing him say, “You’re doing great, babe, you’re doing great.” Our doula would tell me what I should be feeling, ie. “Tell me when you feel…XYZ.” Then when I would feel it, she’d say, “OK great, tell me when you feel…XYZ.” It was so helpful in breaking the labor up, kind of like setting smaller goals throughout. Throughout the time in the shower, though, the contractions kept getting more and more intense. I finally looked up at one point and told our doula and Tim, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.” Just as I said this, our doula told me the nurse had just come in to let me know that my doctor was going to come in to deliver once I was at 8cm, so she wanted to check me and see where I was. This was the boost I needed- I had been thinking this whole time that my OB was out of town (it was fourth of July weekend after all), so it was a real pick-me-up to know she would be there to deliver after all!

Getting on the bed to get checked was the worst part of the whole thing. I kept begging to get up- the hip pain was unbearable while I was lying on my back. I had two contractions while she was doing the exam, and it was awful. However, after she was done she said simply, “You’re complete.” I was so confused, “Huh, what? What does that mean?” I will never forget the kind of joyful, half-laugh that our doula did when she said, “Sarah, that means, you’re 10cm, you’re done, you made it, you’re there!” I could NOT believe it! It was just before 2am, we hadn’t even been at the hospital 3 hours yet, and I was ready to push.

Now, it gets crazy: I had to wait for my OB. She asked to be paged when I was 8cm… and here I was 10cm, ready to push. My nurse went to call her, and I asked how long it would take- by now I was feeling the urge to push. My nurse said, “Oh, she lives really close by, it usually only takes her about 20 minutes or so.” I remember thinking, “There’s no way I can wait that long!” I kept telling our doula, “I have to push!” And she just calmly kept breathing with me, helping me to cope with the urge. Finally, my nurse came back in and said, “OK, let’s do a few practice pushes before the doctor gets here.” And I’m so glad she did- pushing is hard. I didn’t realize there was a right or wrong way to push until we started practicing. I was so bad at it at first. First, I let my breath out in a scream. Then, I held my breath the wrong way, up in my cheeks. Then I was pushing toward the wrong point. Our doula kept coaching me with the breathing, and my nurse kept helping me understand what I should be feeling during pushing, and I finally I got the hang of it.

After a bit of practice pushing, my nurse was like, “OK, hold it, we have to wait for the doctor.” Apparently, he was getting close. Just then, my OB walked in. She quickly observed the situation and left to get scrubbed in. It couldn’t have taken her more than 5 minutes, but the whole time, I was just begging for them to let me push. They kept telling me to wait for the doctor. When my OB walked in all scrubbed up, my nurse told her my water had not yet broken. The doc said that was OK, she’d break it. Well, she didn’t have to- almost as soon as she said it, it broke.

Finally, doc said I could push when I was ready. I was more than ready to be done with this by now, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on all the instructions I had been given/was being given. The doc directed me to push harder/softer/faster/slower, etc. After about 10 pushes, maybe fewer than that, she said, “Mom, open your eyes.” As she said it, I opened my eyes and saw my son being born. She took him and immediately put him on my belly. The baby nurse scrubbed him furiously, and he cried and cried. I couldn’t believe I was holding him, staring in his face, watching him cry.

With Eliza, I remember hearing her cry and being so thankful for the sound, but because she was delivered by c-section, I couldn’t hold her right away. They took her to the baby station to work on her and then Tim had to hold her while I was being closed up. With Jude, he was immediately in my arms. I was cuddling him, holding him, staring at his sweet face so close to mine, when he had been inside me just seconds before. It was amazing.

In the days that followed Jude’s birth, I would often just stare at him and another wave of awe would wash over me as I remembered how he had entered this world. God is so kind; it was all by His grace.

There are so many things I am thankful for when it comes to this delivery, there were so many answered prayers:

  1. Most obviously, I had prayed for a healthy baby and healthy mom, regardless of the manner of delivery.
  2. I had prayed that I would be able to have a successful VBAC. While I was grateful for my c-section with Eliza (in that it provided a way for her to be born safely when she was in distress), I wanted to avoid another major surgery if I could. I am thankful God provided a doctor who would allow me to try a VBAC and that by His grace I was able to delivery normally.
  3. I had prayed that Jude’s heart rate would stay strong the whole time and that my water wouldn’t break until the very end (Eliza’s falling heart rate was the reason I ended up with a c-section, and it fell even more once my water was broken). BOTH of these things happened!!
  4. I had prayed I would be able to handle the pain of labor. I’m not really in the pro-natural childbirth camp. Really, truly, I’m not. Until my pregnancy with Jude, it was something I had never seen myself doing. Never, never, EVER. I admired women that went drug-free, but I had always said I wanted the drugs. As far as I was concerned, there was no reason to go through that much pain if I didn’t have to. However, as Tim and I discussed VBAC and everything that was riding on it being successful (finding a doc who would let me deliver normally after two c-sections would be pretty much impossible), I just felt that I wanted to do everything within my power to make sure it “worked.” I didn’t want to end up back in the OR and wonder if it was the epidural or any other intervention that had put me there. So… that left me with the natural childbirth option. I was scared of the pain; I didn’t think I could handle it. But God provided a fantastic childbirth class with an amazing teacher (who was also our doula!) to help prepare me for what I would experience. He provided some sweet friends who had done the natural thing who talked to me about their experiences and their ways of coping with the pain. And then He provided me with a wonderful birth team in Tim and our doula. There’s no doubt it was the worst pain I’ve experienced in my whole life (I definitely had moments of shouting, “help me, someome please help me” … and I think I yelled at Tim once “you have to DO SOMETHING!”) but mostly the tools I had been given, coaching I received, allowed me to make it through. I did it, and I could never have done it without them!
  5. I had prayed Tim would be able to handle seeing me labor. My husband is wonderful. He loves me and cares for me so well. As such, he hates seeing me in pain. Even something as small as a headache causes him to feel bad for me, want to help, want to “fix” it. I was afraid he would not be able to handle seeing me in pain for hours and not be able to “fix” it. But, he was amazing! He was my rock and my encourager for all those hours that we labored at home together- helping me breathe, get in different labor positions, applying counter pressure, encouraging me when I got discouraged. Once we got to the hospital, his whispered prayers and encouragements were incredibly helpful as I concentrated on getting through each contraction. He did an amazing job!

Honestly, it really just could not have gone any better. God is so good; it was all truly only by His grace. And I am so grateful.