Saturday, July 31, 2010

The first birth {part 3}

This is part 3 of 'The first birth' story. You might want to read part 1 or part 2.

We finally made it to the hospital. Sixth Street and Rosedale at Harris Methodist Downtown has to be the bumpiest road in the world! I was dying in the backseat, or at least I sounded like I was. I was so mad at my husband, but, at the same time, totally understood that it was beyond his control. He pulled up to the door and I remember sitting in a wheelchair and being pushed into the tall building and feeling a little silly. I slid through the entrance and into admissions mooing like a cow. There I was met by what I thought was a man, Nancy told me later that it was in fact a woman. She put her hand on my belly and went on to let us know that we "should've been there hours ago." I was so annoyed by this, but decided I had more important things to do than argue with this ignoramus.

I kept my head down the entire time. From this point on, all I saw was feet. I was concentrating, focused, "in the zone."
Wheeled down the hallway at a moderate speed, I continued my long drawn out birth song. I'm sure all the people around me were quite amused, but I did not care. I remember doors to an elevator opening and then being pushed out into yet another hallway. At this point, I was sure that I would to have to be held at admissions and asked all kinds of silly questions but, thankfully it was not the case.
I zoomed into my hospital room #1 in the Labor and Delivery Unit. I can hear it in my head now, "The water birthing room, right?" asked the orderly who was wheeling me around, "Yes," answered my doula. Relief surged through me. "Thank You Lord, that no one else is birthing in that room tonight."
I was helped out of my wheelchair and up onto the bed. They strapped a Electronic Fetal Monitor onto my gargantuan stomach, and soon enough all of us heard the beautiful "thump...thump...thump" of my tiny man's heart.
Was seemed like a second or two passed, and I heard a sweet whispering in my ear, "Tori, would you like to get into the tub?" This was my Midwife, Lindsay Kragle. "YES!" was the rather quick response. I hopped off of that table and into the tub and soon as I possibly could.
It was like heaven, being in the water. My contractions were still powerful but the soothing warmness of the water helped ease them a bit. I stayed in the tub for awhile, although, it only seemed like moments to me. There I sat, moaning full force in that white plastic box. My sounds reverberating off of the walls. The floor made of tile and the empty walls magnifying every groan.
Every once in awhile, the little guy would wiggle all around during a contraction. I would grimace and say, "Oh no, please baby, don't move baby."
I would be coming down off of a mountain peak of intensity and he would move and I would start back up again. He wanted out. I wanted out.
I heard lots of whispering amongst those outside the bathroom. It had been Nancy and I for a little while. Then Tyler and Nancy. Then all three of us. Lindsay was in and out. After three hours in the tub, and me dilated to only a 5, Lindsay came to the side of the tub and said, "Tori, I think you might need to move out of the tub for a little while. You can come back later if you wish."
I moaned. I didn't want to move. Moving was scary, these contractions were scary, but I knew she was right.
They waited until my latest contraction eased and then lifted me out. As soon as I stood, I remember trembling with the intensity of another one. I clung to Tyler with all my might. My legs, like Jell-O, felt lifeless and weak. "Don't drop me!" I cried. "I won't drop you, I promise." But I felt insecure, so I sat on the toilet seat for a moment. I remember that after going to the bathroom, another strong contraction came. One of the strongest. Of all of them, they were the worst when I sat on the toilet seat. I moaned and my moaning climbed and peaked. On the verge of a scream, they patted my arm "It's OK, you're doing great, Tori." Nancy, "Those strong ones are bringing your baby down."
As soon as I could I stood and slowly made my way to the bed. And there I stood through a few more until I finally was able to climb up on top of the bed and sit. I was so tired. I had never been so tired in my entire life. In between contractions, my eyes would close and I would jerk back to reality with the tightening of the next one.
Not once, did I ever think, "I can't do this anymore. I need some relief." I did think, however, "I just wish I could sleep, for just a little while." But then my brain would kick in, "If you take something to rest, you'll have to do all of this again. Start over." And we all knew I wasn't going to do that.

I stood a few more times and climbed atop the bed a few times. My water still had not broken. I can see Lindsay's face in my mind, so I know that I must've looked up because she was saying something important.
Lindsay: "Tori, I would like to break your water if that's OK with you."
Me: "I don't want to be put on a time clock." - referring to hospital rules about how long they'll give you after your water breaking
Lindsay: "Oh honey, you're not. You're almost there. You don't have to worry about that."
Me: "OK."
Lindsay: "Now after I do this, the contractions are gonna get a little bit more intense."
Me: "How MuCH MoRe iNTeNSe!"
Lindsay, with a half smile: "Well you have to birth this baby, but you're gonna be OK."
Me again: "OK," like a little child.
They started to tilt the electronic bed back. I remember hating that. I scared me. It's funny the thing's that scare you when you're in labor. The fact that a baby was going to come out of ME, didn't scare me. But the bed going back down did.
I layed back. And one came. It was not cool. I felt as if laying down, I was working against my body. My womb was trying to tilt forward with all it's might and I was laying down making it hard for my Uterus to do it's job. And I thought of the thousands upon thousands of women through the centuries, made to lie on their backs during the entire labor process.
Prone, feet in stirrups, no control. And I wept inside for them.
I howled, I needed UP! Somehow my body said, "If you get up it will be better!" And Lindsay was breaking the bag of waters as fast and accurately as she could and I was crying, "Oh my, gotta get up." And she finished and there was a small rush and I was up and in control again.

After a little while my midwife, Lindsay whispered into my ear, "I have to leave now, Tori. My shift is over. Are you going to be OK? Gloria is going to take my place. She's right here with you."

I nodded. It was fine. I just wanted to birth this baby.

Looking up for one moment, I saw her. She sat there...arms in her lap, poised and calm. She looked like an angel. Gloria was here with me now, to help me the rest of the way through this journey. There was such a peace in the room. It was beautiful.

I worked through each pain. They were getting stronger and stronger then all of the sudden the urge to push came over me. It's feel right to explain it this way...
It was almost as if I was in the Ocean for the longest time. Being tossed up and down with the waves. In and out of the water taking a deep breath when I rose to the surface. I knew that I would be fine. I knew that I wouldn't drown because I had Someone watching over me. He had planned it this way. After hours of being on the Sea, I finally gave in and became part of it.

Leaning forward and grabbing hold of the bar, I began to push. After one or two pushes the pain overwhelmed me...something didn't feel right. I stopped, took a breath. Gloria came to me and checked quietly, "You have a lip left. You're at a nine and a half. You can wait; you don't need to push, unless you want to. Whatever feels right." I didn't see her face, my eyes still cast down and half closed, but I could hear her smile.

My eyes searched for Tyler. There he was, in the chair at the foot of the bed, watching intently, a half smile on his face and I was comforted. He was my rock. I worked through them patiently, sweat dripping down my stomach, hair hanging in my face. I moaned through each intensity. My moans rose with each a crescendo my song soared high above the room. My doula asked me later if I sang, because of the vibrato in my labor song.

Finally, It took control, and I let it wash me ashore.

My body wanted to push again. My mind thought, "But what if it's not time, what if I shouldn't? No, she'd stop me...right? Oh, just push Tori, who cares." And I did. I pushed with all my might. I felt him move down. After my push, he came back up. I pushed again, and again. He stayed. I was so loud. It sounded like a loud growl..."Aaaaauuuuhhhhhhhh!!" And after about twenty minutes and with the final push, his head, his shoulders, his whole little body came tumbling out and into the careful hands of my midwife, Gloria. She quickly handed him to me.

First words to Will: "Hey little man, I'm your Mommy."
He didn't cry much, just enough to let us know he was okay. Daddy came over and glowed with pride. A smile ear to ear. He kept saying, "Look at him!"
"I think his hair is red!" I squealed. After his bath, we could see clearly his long copper strands.
And there I lay...After the long hard journey through the waves. I lay there on the shore, exhausted, with just enough energy to mother my child who lay there beside me.

I fed my child. And they checked him over. He was perfect. 9/9 on his APGAR. All of this on a beautiful Sunday morning at 9:00, the 29th of November 2009. He weighed 7 sweet pounds and 7 cuddly ounces. Will Haddon Gillit, William Tyler Gillit and Me, we spent a few precious moments together before the rest of the family came in. Those were the sweetest moments I have ever lived. I never want to forget the way he looked, smelled, sounded.

"For this child I prayed..." 1 Sam 1:27

Friday, July 30, 2010

It happened one day in New York City...My first DSLR.

It happened one day in New York City. That was the beginning of it all. And the end of it all too.

Another hobby, another pursuit of happiness, another nickel tossed down the ol' mineshaft...wait where was I? Oh, yes, New York City.

We stood huddled around each other, a hot mess of sweating teenagers and a few exhausted adults. We'd been out all morning, canvasing the streets of Queens, mostly the Forest Hills area. Handing out tracts and giving the gospel. We had taken the subway over to the area called Woodhaven and walked a couple blocks until we finally arrived at the corner of 80th and 87th street. Now, we were waiting. Waiting for our fearless, yet somewhat spastic guide to arrive and show us what he would like us to help with next.

Anyone who knows me understands that I do not stand still, doing nothing, very well. So I glanced over at one of our Youth Workers. The large mass of beautiful, black plastic hanging from her neck was calling my name. It had been tempting me all day. I resisted the urge to ask to 'see' it several times. A few moments later a teenager had it in her hands. This was my chance! I asked if I could look at it, the girl said "sure," and handed it right over (cue evil laughter).

I started clicking. It felt so right. I was moving in and out of people, shooting bushes and doorhandles, rails, concrete steps. Anything I could, just to 'see what I could do'. As I looked back over my work, I was amazed at the ones that turned out. I of course was shooting in green mode, completely unaware of the work the camera was trying to do for me. Having no earthly idea that I could manipulate the focus by taking it off of dummy mode, I kept getting very frustrated. Knowing what I know now, I'm lucky I didn't break poor Mrs. Teddy's camera trying to manually zoom with it in AF while in green mode. Idiot.

The girl looked over the pictures and exclaimed, "Hey, there's some good ones in here, Mrs. Tori!" And I was smitten. I needed one of these lovely pieces of machinery for my own. It needed me to take it home and take good care of it.

Well, it didn't take me long to let Tyler know the exact make and model and cost. And it didn't take any longer for him to look at me, raise his eyebrows and nod. This meant, "Forget it, Are you crazy," in Tyler language. Feeling a little defeated and covetous at the same time, I continued to play around with Teddy's camera. I could see each shot in my brain before I took it. I knew what I wanted it to look like, I just wasn't sure how to make it work. Day after day, until the end of the trip, I messed with the delicate piece of equipment. If I were Teddy, I might've slept with it under my pillow. Good thing we were in opposite hotel rooms, or it might've come up missing once or twice.

It was time to head home. I told myself to stop the nonsense running through my brain. "I'm pregnant. We will never have money for that silly thing. Who am I kidding?"

The months passed and I decided that I would get my Nikon Coolpix point and shoot repaired. It was only a year old and worked great except for some reason one day it quit focusing correctly. So I sent it in under the 1 year warranty and they fixed it for free. 

I was getting along fine with my little point and shoot when I found out that one of the girls that had just graduated our youth group was selling her old camera, a Canon Rebel xs. And it just so happened to be the same one that Mrs. Teddy allowed me to drool over for a week. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I told my mom, my brother, my brother-in-law (he wasn't impressed - Nikon user) my husband, and even the little guy in my tummy. I even prayed to the Lord, "It might sound silly God, but, I really want a great DSLR to take pictures of my kids."

Well, the baby was born and we got some good video with my point and shoot. We even got a few cute pics. But then, one terrible day, I did something stupid. I was taking some pictures of my 3 week old baby and I dropped my camera, Lens Zoomed! It jammed. And with no money to get it fixed (it was past the warranty by 2 weeks) I was in complete despair.

I cried. I had no camera to take pictures of my newborn. No Camera! I cried to sleep that night. I cried the next day, Christmas Day. I moaned and complained all the way to my in-laws house (five minutes down the road). I sat in the living room of their house disheartened. No pictures on Christmas Day. First Christmas with my first child, lost in the abyss of no-cameradom.

Time to open gifts came. We tried to do it one at a time. My turn. Some cool Aloe Vera socks and a camping sporknife (I think that was Zach's idea, but neat, nonetheless). Cute little books for Will and a Crown College warm and fuzzy blanket. And then a rather heavy box was lifted over the back of the couch. The medium-sized box was headed in my direction. "This is from us and your parents, Tori," said my mother-in-law. I had wondered why there was nothing marked "To: Tori" under my tree, from my parents that morning.

I began ripping the paper off. I believe I revealed a Coffee Maker box? Or something of that nature. But it was what was inside that counted! "Well, thanks guys! A coffee maker! You didn't have to, really." They told me to open the box, so I tore into that thing like I was 8 years old again. And you'll never guess what was inside...A Canon Rebel xs! In fact, the one that my photog friend was selling. Along with the manual, an extra battery and a bag to put all of it in!

I don't think there could've been a happier girl in the whole wide world that Christmas morning. I had a brand new three and a half week old baby and my first DSLR! I don't think I'll ever have a better Christmas morning...unless of course my husband wants to buy me the Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP Digital SLR Camera and maybe stuff a Kelly Moore Hobo in mustard yellow, down in my stocking???

A few pictures from the very beginning, before I had even 1 clue.

                    Nasty flash and this is like the worst position Will could've been in.

This is adorable and sad at the same time. Sad because it's just not interesting, oh, and ya the crying little Will makes it pretty sad too, I guess.

Cute, but not near enough light and how much more unoriginal (word?) could my shot of this sweetness be? Not much more unorginal, it's pretty boring. And it's not Lauren's fault.

Awww...but no, this flash is hideous. That and I focused on the monkey instead of my child's face, I suppose. Dummy focus. A dummy was using it, that's for sure.

No, this was not during his jaundice days. He's orange because there wasn't enough light. Ew. That's all I can say. Too bad, cause it was kind of a cute picture. Can't ever capture this moment again :(

I love this picture. I just wish someone who knew what they were doing had taken it. I wasn't taking the picture because of Pawpaw Gillit, but that's obviously who my camera decided to focus on.

Anyway, now that we've all had a good laugh. I'm glad I have improved a little. Thanks to a lot of practice, some serious Internet time and a little help called text messages from ElisabethCarol Photography. Elisa has been such a HUGE help. I can't even begin to tell you what a great photographer and plain ol' great person she is. Check her work out for yourself!

I still have a LOT to learn, but I'm having a blast doing it. I might even have some to post here soon of my "practice run" with Elisa and my first shoot from this coming Saturday! Check back for updates early next week! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"The Wild's really is wild!" - Paris Gray

I’m climbing these steps one step at a time. I can chose to skip one to step onto the next but not without looking silly and/or risking a nasty fall.

There are stairs everywhere here. I climb each and every one. As I climb, I hear voices in the background. One says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night” and another, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way.” Memorization and Mediation is drilled into each one in attendance.

There is joy on almost every camper’s face. The waiting was hard, but, we’re finally here. They are so blessed to be at this place, and I wonder if they even know how blessed.

 The counselors here are exuberant about running up and down the stairs. They’ve build up a lot of strength up until now. They’ve climbed these stairs thousands of times. Practice makes perfect. It’s hardly a task for them.

And my littlest friend and I keep walking and we pass others sojourners and they seem winded by the climb and it’s good to know that I’m not alone. It’s a tough climb for all of us. It would be so much easier to just stay at the top and not come down, and then I’d never have to climb. But to get anywhere you must be willing to go. And it’s not always a ‘Mountaintop experience’. If we didn’t have to climb we’d never know the joys of reaching our goal.

 And as I keep on upward I think of the potential that these counselors meet with face to face every day. Our kids. Do they realize they are changing lives? I hope so, because they are. My husband wouldn’t be Tyler, the Preacher, today if it had not been for faithful camp staff, with hearts to serve the Lord. He would maybe be Tyler, the T.V. Salesman, or Tyler, the Lawyer, but not Tyler the Preacher. He would most certainly be, Tyler, the man running from God.

Here in this place there is so much joy. Joyful campers, joyful camp staff, joyful cooks, waitresses, janitors, office staff, guest speakers. Everyone here is so joyful! Ready to assist, prepared to aid, waiting to serve. Handpicked by God and placed here for a season. And I begin to think that joy is pretty contagious.

The preaching aimed specifically for the teenage soul, the verses chosen to penetrate the heart, one cannot leave this place unchanged, unless…unless they’ve decided to quit climbing. They have become weary of the trek, exhausted on the trail, winded by the challenge. They’ve sat down and fallen asleep. The hot and humid breeze of sinfulness fills their lungs, and there are bodies weakened by dehydration from the lack of the Water of Life.

But this place! This place is like the cup of cool water poured over their head to awaken, refresh and revive all those who would seek to be stirred. This is the time to arise and keep climbing, my camper friend! “Trying to walk in the steps of the Saviour, Upward still Upward we follow our Guide…”

There’s another on the stairs in the dark night. So difficult to see, he must be patient and most of all, he must follow One Who has walked these steps before. Thanks be to God that he has not left us comfortless. We are not without a Guide. His hand is there to lead, and it is mighty to save! “How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Saviour, Stepping in the light, Stepping in the light, Lead in paths of light.”

Higher and higher I continue to climb, until at last, I reach my destination. And I think to myself that God is great and that He is exalted in this place. And I know that even though these steps may be hard to climb, that I can reach the top. And with His help I can keep stepping through this life and when it gets hard and when the mountains I face seem insurmountable, He is with me.

He is everywhere and I’m glad He’s here. Here at the greatest Christian Camp in America!

Tori Gillit, signing off for now at the Wild’s of North Carolina.

Sunday/Monday, July 19th

It started at 8:35, this long long long long long trip to North Carolina. It started with a tired-from-a-long-day-at-church-baby. And thankfully it ended, with a baby that did surprisingly well. He slept all night only waking at bathroom stops and going back to sleep as soon as we pulled out of each gas station.

The sweet baby, watched the trees pass through the window, flirted with the girls, laughed at the boys and did so well, I thought maybe that we might actually have a good time at camp.

Tuesday, July 20th
This has been my first year at camp as a mom. And boy! What an experience it has been, for lack of a better word. I used to look forward to the service times, now I get sad, because I know it’s bedtime for the littlest camper. And who will make sure he is all tucked in, if I’m not there?

Today we took a hike down to the 2nd falls. Tried to take a ride in the giant swing. As I stood there in line, tears raining down because of nerves (yes, you heard me right, tears) Teddy, my would be partner on the swing saw her daughter crying because she was sick. "You're off the hook," she said. I stood there relieved and sad at the same time. Oh well.

We walked down to the nurses station, checked Gabi out of camp, then headed to her cabin to get all of her bedding and clothes. She slept all day that day, with a fever and sore throat.

Wednesday, July 21st
We did what we could, Will and I. He slept while I went to the Sponsor picnic and Tyler stayed in the room and watched him. I saw some old college friends there and that was pretty sweet. Later that night, because Teddy was in the room with Gabi, I got to go to Fun Night, watch the hilarious skits and take some pictures of our kids.

Thursday, July 22nd
We went to the "Family Reunion" at 1:00 in the afternoon, where we heard lots of testimonies and enjoyed seeing our whole youth group in one place. We had the best time together and got lots of pictures. The Sponsors went out and found a cake for Tyler and I to celebrate our anniversary and even bought me a beautiful plant.

The highlight of Thursday was that because Gabi was feeling a little bit better we (Teddy, Gabi, Will and I) decided to go tubing down the creek on the campgrounds. It was so much fun. When we got near the end, these boys were at the top of the bank shooting water guns at us. I used Will as an excuse so they didn't shoot me. Teddy tried to stay near me so that they wouldn't but it didn't really work. By the time we got out, she was sopping wet. Gabi started feeling bad again so they went back to sleep. She got up just in time to attend the service later that night. The Floyds watched my sweet sleeping baby while I went also!

Friday, July 23rd
It was the last day and I wanted to make sure that I got everything packed and still got to spend lots of time with the kids. In the afternoon, Teddy and I wandered down to the basketball courts where we found some of our girls. Elizabeth, Lauren, Gabi, Paris and Monica had just ridden the Giant Swing, and ya, I was a little jealous. I didn't even get to take pictures! Oh well. Elizabeth, Ethan, Emily, Gabi, Lauren, Teddy, Wilbur and I meandered into the Craft Shop, where we made some super rad leather bracelets. Maybe one day Will's bracelet will fit him ;)

After 2 or 3 trips to Cool Beans (the coffee shop) and what seemed like a million trips up and down stairs, it was finally time to go the the last meeting.

Bro. Farrell preached hard against sin and harder against the hold that is has on so many lives. He didn't mince words about following Christ. He told the story of Elijah and Elisha. Of how Elisha went home and burnt his cattle as a sign of 'no turning back' from the call that God had placed on his life. Of how he served others instead of always looking for someone to serve him. Of how even in death God used him.

Many lives were touched, a few were even changed, I believe. I was able to go out afterwards and pray with one or two. It was such a blessing to see the Lord continuing to work, even up until the last moment.

The trip home seemed so much longer. We didn't get started until 11:30pm. Tyler drove from 11:30pm until 8:00am and then slept a little and drove again later. We finally arrived to the church at about 6:00pm. Will was more ready to get home than anybody else, I think. I had to have been a close second.

Testimony service the next day at church was an encouragement to many. Tyler was given the opportunity to preach and he ran with it. He spoke of a real change of lives instead of just a decision made away from home, and of adults who strengthen the young ones around them with prayer and support.

It was one of the best experiences I've ever had. And having been to camp every year since I was about 12 years old, that's saying a lot. Eighteen years and this was the best of them. Amazing God, Amazing place. There's nothing else to say.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Just like her

I'm thinking about her today. The woman who showed me that life was about more than just myself. The sweetest lady on the face of the Earth, my Nana.

As I sit here I think about the sights, the smells, the sounds I think that her kitchen was always one of my favorite places. Why?
There she stands quietly, sweetly making the meal. Be it a Pot Roast with a side salad and cooked carrots or a simple bologna and cheese sandwich, she was always serving. She never complained and always had something for my Pawpaw.
There she is, in my mind's eye, standing over by the stove, her back to me, whisking and chopping and filling the house with the yummiest smells. The small house full of the sounds of love. Love for her husband, the Faithful Preacher. Love for the Lord she has served for so many years. Love for her guest, every bit of energy gone into preparing this supper for her friends.

So many memories I never want to forget.

The goldfish pond in the backyard...
Andrew, Megan and I were playing in the backyard in the winter. The small concrete pond in the backyard had frozen over. Just not as much as we thought. Andrew kept saying that it was "solid" and Megan believed him. I of course, was a bit doubtful, but Megan, being Megan, went ahead and actually stepped out onto the ice in either faith or ignorance. Soon she was soaked from chest to toe. She hopped right out and we ran inside.
Nana told us how "silly" that was, (that was as angry as she got) quickly wrapped Megan in a towel and threw her clothes into the dryer. Boy, did she have a story to tell Aunt Jamie when she came to pick her up.

The closet...
If you ask any grandchild of James and Rosalie Maggard about 'the closet' they'll tell you, that it held a plethera of fun things. From a neat set of flat animals that clicked together and boarded Noah's Ark, to a cool little keyboard, that even had a case! There in that closet a kid could get lost for hours. And usually that was the idea.
She still has toys, they might not be the same toys, but she's making new memories for the now great-grandchildren added to the bunch.

 The tea party...
When you're born into a family of 17 cousins that all pretty much live in the same area, there's plenty of people to play with. And somehow we always seperated off into little age groups. There was Danny, he was the oldest. And then there was Amanda, then a few years younger were Me, Tamara and Andrew. So Amanda, Tamara and I always did things together, even if it was alot of immature squabbling. But sometimes, we actually all got along.
One time Nana prepared a sweet little tea party for us. We came all dressed up in our church clothes and we made (Or maybe Nana made) cupcakes and buscuits with jam. And we used the cutest little tea set and actually drank tea! She talked to us about how to act like 'ladies'. And we took pictures, although I'm not sure who took them, or where they are now. Oh well. The memory lingers on.

And then there are memories that aren't so far back. Ones that are just as precious although not so ancient.

The letters...
I wrote to my Nana in college and told her how much she meant to me. Her testimony was strong and her manner of life so undeniably Christ-like. And I wanted to be just like her.
So I sent her a letter, and addressed many things that I would like to have her advice on. I asked her questions and begged advice, citing The Scriptures. And wouldn't you know...within a month the letters started coming. She wrote a letter about each "struggle" and gave passages from the Word of God that would help me. Every month she wrote on a different topic that I had requested.

And I felt so blessed to call her mine.

There is so much about my Nana that I can't ever begin to tell the depths of her kindness, the hieghts of her compassion, the broad spectrum of her love. There are so many things she has taught me. And there could've been a lot more, had I asked.

My Father in Heaven has given me so much. Luke 12:48b "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." He requires that I use it to His glory and I'm sure that my Nana did just that.

One day, we won't have Nana anymore. I hate thinking about it so I try not to. But it's the truth. She won't be there to tell us her story, to encourage us to do right. And it will be our turn to take up the mantle and lovingly guide.

Lord, help me to use my time wisely. To become more like You now, so that one day I'll have one or two looking up to me that will learn of You from my life.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just Him

I stand there leaning against the wall, and cry. And in here, I'm safe because no one can hear, and no one can see and I can heave and moan and let the salty brine cascade down my cheeks because there's water all around.

My troubles float past my ankles, and trickle down the drain. "When is it going to change? I can't...I just can't keep on like this." All the friends I love and cherish, who I would ask to help me with this load, cannot help. And there is no one that I can talk to, not a listening ear or a shoulder to lean against. None to hand me a tissue soft and white to dry my tears. Or any friend to tell me of the mascara that's a smudgy mess under my puffy eyes. Not a crutch in sight to help me hobble on down this treacherous road of snares, past the 'Slough of Despond' and up this 'Hill of Difficulty'. And when I think no one cares and there's not one who would understand, He whispers, "I'm all you need."

And God is so good to give us friends. They are flecks of pure gold as we trudge through the murky waters of life. But sometimes, He likes to leave us lonely of friendship, and bereaved of a shoulder so that we'll long for His sweet listening ear.

I realize that I have been crippled and clinging to the side of the cliff, crying for help for so long. I finally look up instead of looking down. I finally hear instead of scream. I finally trust instead of weep. And He takes me into His loving arms, that were there all along ready to help and longing to deliver.

He alone is able to save! He is the only One, Who can not just listen to my problems, but solve every one. And He knows everything I'm feeling, and He feels every pain I've suffered. My sweet Heavenly Father loves me with an unrivalled love.

And now I sit in disgust, thinking of how I sob for an earthly burden bearer.

So, like a child, I crawl up into His lap for just a little while and He wipes every tear away. And He reminds me that He is always near, and that He 'will never leave me'. I wrap my arms around Him and tell Him that I'm sorry for not asking Him for His help first. And just before I go He says "I'm a 'friend that sticketh closer than a brother' and only I am 'able to do exceeding abundantly above all' that ye ask or think."

And right now, in this sacred moment, I need nothing, no one, just Him and His friendship.

I dry my hair and pillow my head, with all my troubles left in the tub. Clear mind, clean heart.

Singing I go, along life's road, praising the Lord, praising the Lord.
Singing I go, along life's road, for Jesus has lifted my load.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The first birth {part 2}

This is part 2 of 'The first birth' story. You might want to read part 1 here.

We walked to the car, in between contractions. Once we were in, we headed to Chicken Express. It hilarious, cause it's all I wanted during pregnancy, and it's all I wanted here in labor too. As we pulled around to pay and get our food, I remember having a real tightening and saying "Oh no, here one comes, I'm gonna be loud." And Tyler looked at me and said, "It's OK, go ahead." And I did. I was mooing like a cow at the pick-up window of Chicken Express and pretty sure the cashier heard me and gave Tyler a honestly worried look.

We headed home, where I downed my meal and got to work. And as I write this, I think to myself, what real work it actually is. You watch the movies and how they portray birth. And you either realize that it is all fake, and believe your body can do this amazing thing, that usually isn't at all as dramatic as T.V. makes it out to be. Or, you freak out after the movie is over and accept the fact that it 'will be horrid' and never even think of birthing the way God made you to.

Well, I must preface all of this with "Every one's birth is different." But, even with all of the natural birth information I had (12 weeks of Bradley Method, Ina May and Dr. Sears and lots of other reading materials) I never realized how much work it would take to have a baby and how intense it really is. Birth is painful. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a liar. But is a natural, vaginal, unmedicated birth possible? Yes, more than possible. It is empowering. But still painful.

All that said, I remember right after I finished eating I got the birth ball out that my friend lent to me. I rocked on my knees on the floor back and forth with my torso resting on the ball, my face buried in a hand towel. And the towel was soaked with my tears. I cried and cried for at least the first hour. It hurt so bad. But the fact that I was crying revealed that I wasn't hardly even started. After that first little while, I stopped crying. Because it stopped hurting? No, no, no...just because it time to get serious. It was like, inside I was saying "You need to get down to business. Stop crying. This is happening and crying isn't going to make it any better!"

I used to wonder what all of the first stage of labor did for the baby actually coming out. Now I know. Working through that stage, trying to stay relaxed, while feeling these intense cramps, was like scaling a rock wall. The beginning was hard, and it continued to get harder, but I could do this!

While rocking on the ball, I kept saying to Tyler, "Ohhhhh, Ohhh it hurts so bad, Tyler." Like I was trying to make him understand. Even though he didn't and NEVER will. He spoke to me sweetly. Tried to empathize with my pain, "I know sweetie, I know." He tried to pat my back, but I didn't want him to move his hand. He didn't understand this so he simply backed off. An hour or so went by and he quietly mentioned the tub. "Would you like to get in the tub?" I replied with a "yes" rather quickly, I believe.

I had used baths toward the end of my pregnancy to calm me down after a hard day at work in the daycare, to soothe my anxieties about labor, to practice 'relaxation'. And at this moment it sounded like the perfect way to labor.

It seemed like only seconds had passed and he was back whispering to me that the tub was full of water. I nodded, worked my through the contraction I was in and stood with his helping hand. I quickly made my way to the tub, where Tyler helped me in. The hot water felt so good on my stomach, and my back, which was just starting to ache, was relieved also. I sat leaning on my arms and moaned out loud for a long time and the contractions came strong for a while. I started getting a few breaks in between and those were a relief. Tyler thought I was getting a little too comfortable and should maybe move around a little. We wanted to make sure things kept moving right along. Keeping the baby's heart rate up.

With his help, I got my robe around me and climbed up onto the bed. I was getting very very tired at this point and tried to lay down. As soon as I did, I would start contracting and would have to get up on my hands on knees. I felt that it was impossible to have a contraction laying down, no matter if it was on my back or side. Sounding it out kept my mind off of tensing up. If I kept breathing and moaning, then I would remain open and every muscle loose. As soon as I stopped, I noticed that I would clench my teeth, furrow my brow and start shaking my head back and forth, like I was saying "no" to the pain.

With each stronger contraction, my moans went up in range. The peak of each contraction at the very beginning was the loudest and then I'd slowly descend, only to breath in quickly and start the next one. They were coming much closer together now. With no break hardly, in between, I felt as if I was starting to loose control. "It's not fair. Where's the rest, I thought all women had?" My mind was reeling with the intensity of the tightening.

My arms were starting to get too tired to raise myself up, and my knees had no strength for all the work they had been doing to hold me. I had been on the bed for awhile and had thrown up a couple times from the pain. I always had a feeling I would be a "nauseated laborer." A chronic migraine sufferer, It just seems like that's the way my body deals with pain. Tyler kept changing out the bags, and I kept growing weaker. He suggested I try some peanut butter. I tried and could hardly swallow it. Food was revolting. I wanted nothing at all.

He suggested I go back into the tub, so I made my way into the bathroom again. And I remember thinking, "Where is Nancy?" You see, my doula had some serious things happening in her own life that prevented her from attending me. We had talked about it earlier in the day and decided that I should use her back-up, Nancy. She asked if I was comfortable with that and I told her that it was more than fine. Now, I wondered when Tyler would call her. Little did I know, he had been keeping count of minutes between contractions and had been calling her every once in awhile to tell her how I was progressing.

"I'm calling Nancy, honey," assured Tyler, just when I needed to hear it. He had been doing a fantastic job, but around 9:30pm it had gotten to where, I believe we both felt like we could use the help. "Okay," I replied, relief echoing in my voice. This gave me a new confidence. I felt a deep wave of peace rush through me, as I thought of my doula, her comfort, assistance and strength, there to guide me the rest of the way.

It seemed like no time at all had passed and I heard a woman's voice in my bedroom, "Tori I'm coming in, OK?" And I remember plain as day, telling her that I was "indisposed" and she said, "that's the way it should be." She came near the tub to help me out, wrapped the towel around my body and her strength around my heart. I felt a new energy, calmness and assurance as she helped me to the bedroom. There are times when a women needs another woman's touch. A helping hand from one who has climbed this mountain before. And this was one of those times. I needed Tyler and I needed Nancy. I thank God for the friends He gave to me for this moment.

We had been taught in our Bradley class to labor as long as you possible could at home. This cuts down on unnecessary interventions in the hospital during the "waiting process". Had I gone to the hospital when I had first started laboring, then I not sure I would have had the birth that I did. My instructor, Donna, had told us to wait until I was "all seriousness, down to business" about it all, and then to head to the hospital.

Nancy applied pressure to my back. And it was heavenly. The back labor had started a little while before she had gotten there and was one of the hardest parts. I felt as if my back was on fire. Applying pressure really helped. Tyler had done it for awhile and his hands were getting tired. Nancy had a fresh set of palms ready to work! I got back in the tub for awhile, getting out a few times to use the toilet, and the contractions I had there would be the most painful. During those, my knees would start shaking and I would get the chills and hot flashes all at the same time. I was throwing up and shaking my head "no" so much, that Nancy and Tyler both thought for sure that I was in Transition. I even remember pushing once or twice.

Nancy started to get a little nervous at that point. You see, she had an unplanned homebirth because her child's head started crowning while she was still in her home! She was not about to deliver my baby, she told me later. She looked at Tyler and said, "I think maybe you should start the car."

She helped me dress. Now that I look back, I have no idea how I did it. The pants, the shirt, the sneakers even. We slowly made it outside and into the backseat of the car. I remember that the trip to the hospital was one of the most awful experiences. Not that I would've been doing anything differently anywhere else, I was still in first stage, but it was like, "Get me somewhere, so that I can birth this baby.

We finally made it to the hospital. Sixth Street and Rosedale at Harris Methodist Downtown has to be the bumpiest road in the world! I was dying in the backseat, or at least I sounded like I was. I was so mad at my husband, but, at the same time, totally understood that it was beyond his control. He pulled up to the door and I remember sitting in a wheelchair and being pushed into the tall building and feeling a little silly. I slid through the entrance and into admissions mooing like a cow. There I was met by what I thought was a man, Nancy told me later that it was in fact a woman. She put her hand on my belly and went on to let us know that we "should've been there hours ago." I was so annoyed by this, but decided I had more important things to do than argue with this ignoramus.

I kept my head down the entire time. From this point on, all I saw was feet. I was concentrating, focused, "in the zone."

More to come soon...

Monday, July 5, 2010

The first birth {part 1}

Sorry this has taken so long to post. I just wanted to make sure everything was right. And it's a pretty long story (17 hours worth, to be exact) so it's coming in parts :)

Everyone was waiting, watching...I was expecting. REALLY expecting. Five days had passed since the day he "was to arrive." In a culture where no one waits for their baby, people threw every comment they could my way. Like baseballs that I couldn't seem to avoid, hurled towards my face at top speed. "You haven't had that baby yet" or "You look like you're about to pop" or maybe "When are you going to have him?" And I thought to myself, "He'll be here when the Lord wants him to be here. God already knows his birthdate." And smiled and nodded and yes, I even laughed sometimes at the questions...when I had gotten enough sleep the night before, and was able to answer without crying.

Hormones raging, I walked into my church building and over to the pew where we usually sat. It was our Thanksgiving service and I had dodged every "baseball" I could that night. I briskly waddled over to my seat. My parents were there, his parents were there, and a handful of other faithful believers came filtering through the doors. Soon the service started.

This was always my favorite service of the year. Our church family gathers two nights before the special holiday and give thanks together to the One who "freely gives us all things" and it is beautiful. Tears flow as cancer survivors stand and praise God for His marvelous healing, while others thank Him for walking with them through their fiery trials.

This year was so special. I was to have a baby boy to thank the Lord for! But, he hadn't come yet. I told myself I wouldn't worry. Wouldn't let it get to me. But it did...a little. "That's OK, he'll be here soon," I told myself.

And the days dragged on...and the phone calls kept coming. And my cell phone was turned off. So? They called my parents. And my parents answered "Well, not yet" *Cue look towards me sitting on the couch, belly bulging. And Thanksgiving Day came and went. And the outfit I had bought him went back into his closet, along with the pilgrim hat and turkey bib.

Day after Thanksgiving we decided to go shopping. I know, what was I thinking? "Eight days passed due" was what I was thinking. I needed to walk. "Maybe his head is stuck and walking will bring him down?" While we were out, Tyler bought me a beautiful, black dress. "You deserve it," he said.

I called my Doula, Hannah. She said to let her know if anything happened. Later that day, we went to the hospital to have the baby monitored. I laid on the hospital bed, belly bare except for the EFM, I thought "Little guy, you better be OK. And you might want to show everyone that you're OK, so that we can keep waiting on you." No sooner had I thought this, than Tyler looked at me and said "Are you having a contraction right now?" And I said "Ya, but just a little one." He said he could see them on the screen. All of the sudden, they started clipping along at a steady pace. Mind you, I'd had next to nothing until now. So I got kind of excited...and so did Tyler. The nurse came in and checked on me, said everything looked great and that I could go on home. "Come back Monday and we'll check your fluids. Until then, take it easy, no more shopping," she said with a wink. So I took her advice and went back to his parent's house, where his and mine waited for us.

I kept having little contractions here and there for about 10-15 minutes and then they would stop. Finally, around 9pm they were done for good. And I was tired from the days events. I said goodbye to my brother and Tyler's brother and my brothers girlfriend, who were leaving to go back to college the next day. They all said "Make sure you call us if you go into labor and we'll stay around instead of leaving!"

The contractions had stopped and we were both tired out from a day of shopping, eating, anticipating. As I laid my head down on my memory foam pillow, legs nestled around my body pillow and large belly hanging over the top, I thought "tonight could be the night." Something inside me always though my true labor would begin in the night. That I would awake from my sleep with a cramping feeling, and my sheets slightly wet. Little did I know, how wrong I was.

I woke at 5am Saturday morning with small contractions again. As I got up to get a drink of water, I tried hard not to get too excited.  I ate a little something (It's amazing how hungry you get when you're pregnant) and headed back to bed. After sleeping another two and a half hours I woke to feel my uterus contracting again, but nothing more intense than earlier. I told Tyler and he decided to stay home with me.

They were getting pretty regular and around 9am my brother called. Tyler answered the phone, "Hey man, is Tori gonna come over and say bye?" "I think we're gonna stay here," Tyler replied. "She doesn't want to do anything that might throw her off again." My brother understood, but offered to come to my house to say goodbye. I didn't feel comfortable having anyone at the house. I was hoping to keep these contractions going for real. Tyler told Ransom that I loved him and that we would be praying for his safe return to school.

Around 11:30am they started to ease off. Then they slowed to a complete halt. My heart was sad. I thought "Not again. We keep doing these 'fake' things. It's driving me crazy!" I called my doula, and she said to maybe go for a walk. So we did. Around the street one time, stopping now and then when I would have 'a good one'. Back at the house, I was tired and Tyler was still being such a help. He was making sure I had plenty of water and getting things ready for just in case.

It had been an a few hours since a good strong contraction had come, and I was getting antsy. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. "Wooah," I said to Tyler. "That was an intense one. Haven't had one like that yet!" And it eased and then another and another. He looked at me excitedly, "What do you want to do? Lie down?"
"I need to eat," I said very matter-of-factly. It was like something inside was saying "Get some nourishment NOW, you're gonna need it."

We walked to the car, in between contractions. Once we were in, we headed to Chicken Express. It hilarious, cause it's all I wanted during pregnancy, and it's all I wanted here in labor too. As we pulled around to pay and get our food, I remember having a real tightening and saying "Oh no, here one comes, I'm gonna be loud." And Tyler looked at me and said, "It's OK, go ahead." And I did. I was mooing like a cow at the pick-up window of Chicken Express and pretty sure the cashier heard me and gave Tyler a honestly worried look.

We headed home, where I downed my meal and got to work.

More to come soon...
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