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How to deal with anxiety through cancer monitoring: A Biblical Perspective

How to deal with anxiety through cancer monitoring: A Biblical Perspective

The whole world crumbled beneath me when my husband uttered: “I have a tumor in my chest”. It is shocking to learn you have cancer and a relief to be healing. However, how do you deal with the next phase of cancer MONITORING? How to deal with the anxiety throughout the cancer monitoring phase of life?

How to deal with anxiety throughout cancer monitoring?

Cancer comes with a multitude of appointments, tasks, treatments, and decisions. For survivors, the routine scan for cancer monitoring can be one of the most taxing and anxiety-ridden.

Throughout our process, there has been a lot of waiting. Waiting on tests to be approved. Tests to be completed. Surgeries to be approved. Results from biopsies. A further detailed diagnosis. Treatment to be chosen. Treatment started. Treatment to end. Scans to reveal progress. And more scans and more scans. 

So much waiting. Waiting breeds anxiety, worry, depression, and fear or it can be an opportunity to have peace.

1. What is anxiety?

How to deal with anxiety through cancer monitoring?

According to a quick internet definition, it is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. The desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease. 

It is a feeling. A desire to do something or have something accomplished. Stress ridden desires can start to ruminate which means we allow the potential negative outcomes to replay over and over in our minds. We repetitively go back to the situation that is causing us distress which feeds into more suffering. A broken record of negativity that cycles on the parts that are out of our control due to a waiting process.

What if this treatment doesn’t work? 

What about the side effects? 

Will we ever have more kids?

I don’t know if I am strong enough to handle this.

What if it comes back?

What will the doctor decide for our next phase of treatment?

How do we do this again with our kids? Can they handle it all over again?

What if he loses his job this time?

Will our insurance continue to cover this?

Why?

For me personally, the feeling of unease is more of a physical symptom that manifests in stomach pain and a heavy chest sensation as though I can never fully breathe. I am figuratively and literally gasping for air. What happens when you become short of breath? You become dizzy and faint. When this overwhelming weight in my heart overcomes me I give in to it and fall to my knees in desperation for God’s Holy Word.

2. How does cancer cause fear and steal our joy?

 

  • Things are out of our control = STRESS
  • The future is uncertain = STRESS
  • The pain and/or side effects = STRESS
  • The fear of losing someone = STRESS
  • The fear of dying = STRESS

 

Fear of losing a loved one

Personally, we struggled with this one. Our life example was accepting the fact that my husband and father of four young children had cancer then embracing the SMALL CHANCE that it could end with cancer taking him away. I could have become frozen with this debilitating fear [which it most certainly was for the brief moment I allowed it to enter my head space]. The idea of him dying would try to sneak into my heart even in the most mundane tasks like washing dishes, taking the kids to school, and especially at night. 

The other fear was something unexpected due to the distance between us throughout treatment.

Fear of being apart during hardship.

My husband was facing the biggest battle of his life and every ounce of my being wanted to serve him THERE. EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.

Yet, I had to swallow my selfish desires and worry by putting on my big girl pants. As a wife and mother, my duties were diverse with taking care of the home, children, myself, and my husband. It was not time to get caught up in “I want to do this…” or “We should do this…” or “I NEED…” The battles during cancer can devour us or bring us through the fire stronger. Let’s discuss how.

3. What does the Bible say about fear and worry?

How to deal with anxiety through cancer monitoring? PEACE

According to a Huffington Post article written in 2014, What Philippians 4:6-7 Bible Passage Can Teach Us About Managing Anxiety Today the most highlighted Kindle ebook passage was Phil 4:6, a verse about conquering anxiety and discovering trust in God. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Scholars strongly agree that Paul was writing this letter to the Philippians while in prison for preaching the gospel of Christ and apprehensive that he would reach the people, therefore, he was compelled to continue his work while also embracing the likelihood of imminent execution for the sake of Jesus which he deemed a worthy cause. 

The context of scripture illustrates the dire circumstances that the author is facing and better aids us in understanding the weight it carries vs just reading a command out of context. 

For example, when facing an illness, car accident, death, or lifelong suffering, you may tend to listen to the wisdom of one who has weathered through a similar storm vs one who has not though their intentions are sincere.

According to this scripture, which can be broken into multiple parts, we are given explicit instructions on how to deal with anxiety and what we will receive in exchange.

It says that we should:

1. “Not be anxious about anything”

A. Do not be anxious about a few things? Just finances? Death? Relationships? 

B. NO! It says to NOT be worried about ANYTHING!

C. No matter what you are facing – give it to God.

2. “But in every situation”

A. Repetition is a teaching technique to drive home the point that this detail should not be forgotten.

B. Once again, Paul reiterates, that in EVERY situation do NOT be anxious.

C. We are not to be anxious in our hearts, minds, or physical situations.

3. “With prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,”

A. Prayer – go to God directly with your heart and worry. Lay it down at His feet

B. We are to ask and beg at times, with an earnest or humble heart with our plea.

C. BUT do it all with an attitude of gratitude

4. “Present your requests to God”

A. Does is command you to go to the phone and share your fear with a close friend? Blast it on social media? Have a coffee date? No. (There is a time and place for community and how you should handle going to friends for comfort but it is not addressed in this scripture.)

B. Presenting your fears and solutions to God means we are to pray.

C. Prayer is communication with your heavenly Father. An open and raw conversation with the only one who has the power to change it. To change you. To bring healing. To bring peace.

4. What does the Bible say about giving our fear and worry to God?

 

The second verse of this scripture brings us to the reward of handing over our fear.

(7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Hallelujah! When you place all the fear down you are replaced with amazing PEACE!

The peace that comes from God! Paul understood that this peace could not be understood but he was experiencing it in the depths of a prison cell. He had it as faced down persecution after persecution. As did multiple other disciples as they endured torment and pain for the sake of the gospel. 

“Transcends all understanding”

As a mother of four young children and wife of nine years, how could I share our story with such peace? How am I still able to share it without getting a lump in my throat from the paralyzing fear of what-ifs? Because HE is guarding my heart and mind.

I ran to Him and placed it at His feet. At the cross. And I have a peace that stands firm in my heart even during these waiting periods.

So what, who cares?

I share this so that if someone else is also staring down the hall of an anxiety-ridden waiting process that seems overwhelming they too can find the peace of God just like us. We are to be good stewards of our bodies and things in our control but ultimately it is in His hands. Do not live a life with your hands gripped tightly around things that could be given to Him. Do not rob yourself of the peace of God. Here are a few more scriptures to help you through a difficult time.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Matthew 6:25-26

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19

 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

 

“As for God, his way is perfect:    The Lord’s word is flawless;    he shields all who take refuge in him.”

2 Samuel 22:31

The Good Fight: Preparing your heart for cancer from a wife’s perspective

The Good Fight: Preparing your heart for cancer from a wife’s perspective

Many of you may not know that my college major was Sport Management. Crazy huh? You should also know that I was NOT an athlete and a lukewarm sports fan. (Recently became a bandwagon fan for some NY teams because I love the game.)

WHY the major then? BECAUSE…

I love SPORT.

Sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

Sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

You see, I enjoy the sportsmanship which is an attitude that strives for fair play, courtesy toward teammates and opponents, ethical behavior and integrity, and grace in victory or defeat.

The game or sport (baseball, football, and rugby are a few that I enjoy watching) involves physical exertion and skill. It requires more than just walking onto a baseball field with a ball and bat. The player must learn how to hold the bat, swing the bat, and read the pitch. All of that is skill and it is learned through time and repetition. Along those same lines, you cannot just warm a bench or sit in the grass waiting just hoping that when the day comes for YOU to perform it will just magically happen. NO! There is a conscious effort that must be made to gain success. To lead you to victory.

My favorite verse – ok not really, I have several favorite verses – but one verse by the apostle Paul that has always stirred up my heart is:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

Immediately, I see a boxer in the ring. The desire and passion to win the fight. Another fun fact, my husband is a trained MMA fighter and we met training in a Muy Thai Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu gym. So yeah, I get it to small extent. You have to TRAIN to WIN a fight that you earned with your own GRIT.

But what is a GOOD fight? I will get to that in a minute.

I am then attracted to the race. In this sentence Paul says that he has finished the race. Once again, it is easy to relate to a race. Running on the playground against your classmates or competing in track meets you have more than likely competed.

In middle school, I ran track (again not an athlete so enjoy the mental image of my goofy running gait and ALWAYS being one of the last people to cross the finish line).

However, I didn’t run because I thought I was fast and would win but because it was thrilling and worthwhile to put forth the effort into training for the race. The comradie with my trackmates and other teammates throughout the years bring back fond memories even in defeat.

“Not that you won or lost but how you played the game”

Yet, I know deep in my heart that I didn’t give it my all. It would be thrilling in the beginning but over time the luster would wear off and my discipline would as well.

But that is the sweetest part of Paul’s message. The GOOD fight isn’t about my skill or physical exertion but my faith in Jesus Christ.

Right now I am facing my biggest opponent ever. The biggest fight of my life thus far. It is watching my husband battle for his life against cancer.

But I have acquired the skill and physical traits needed to fight this by reading the Bible, praying incessantly, not giving up in meeting with others, and leaning into GOD and not my own understanding (in everything not just this situation). I have kept the faith. My foundation is built on rock. A solid ground that cannot be shaken. The wind and storms may try as they might but God has already overcome. He has won.

With that knowledge and promise in my corner I can face this fight with hope. With JOY. Even in defeat I can face the result of this physical trial with grace.

Carry the Load: Teaching our children about their father’s Large B Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis

Carry the Load: Teaching our children about their father’s Large B Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis

On Feb. 20, 2019, we found out what had been plaguing my husband for the last few months.

It was now time to share the news with our four children. I know sharing “the c word” with young children isn’t easy, and oftentimes, families are unsure if they should share such heavy information with wee little ones.

Here is why and how we shared with our children through simply teaching them about how to “carry the load” throughout my husband’s Large B Cell Lymphoma Treatment (a sub-type of Non-Hodgkin’s’ Lymphoma).

What is the role of a husband and father?

The bible mentions father 998 times and husband 120 times (and just for fun, wife is mentioned 397 times).

*Side note: Blue Letter Bible is a great bible study tool to help you dig deeper into God’s word that is available for your desktop, tablet or smartphone.

  1. Husbands are to love their wives-like Christ loved the church with a sacrificial love and not be harsh with them. Col 3:19 and Eph 5:25
  2. Provide for his family and head of the household. 1 Tim 5:8 and 1 cor 11:3
  3. Love his wife as himself. Eph 5:33
  4. Imitator of God that walks in love. Eph 5:1
  5. Instruct, teach and discipline his children. Pro 22:6; Deut 6:5-9; 1 Tim 4:10-11

Reasons to be transparent as a father

My husband has dutifully performed his role with love, compassion and a teachable spirit. Together we have created an environment of love, security and understanding. Our children understand that our counsel is wise and respect sound discipline.

Our children look to us for comfort and security not fear or judgement.

Our instruction errs on the side of grace and mercy.

It is our duty to love and share truth with them. Even if the truth isn’t pleasant because life isn’t always going to give them roses and sunshine. Life is difficult to navigate and throws you a curve ball.

As parents we are to train them up. Training them up includes preparing their hearts for the hard times.

Additionally, children are much more aware and observant than they get credit for therefore we would be doing a disservice by NOT trusting them with the knowledge of their father’s diagnosis. However, it does not warrant us to paint a picture of gloom and doom.

It gives us an opportunity to share the gospel! Hallelujah!

We are able to share that this is all part of HIS plan [Rom 8:28]. To surrender our lives to HIM. To trust HIM. Our children see our faith in action as we practice it through this dark valley. As the Lord lights the path at our feet our children will be intently watching as we navigate these new circumstances – failures, successes, despair, and joy.

What a blessing! Yes, I said blessing, because it is an opportunity to share Christ with our children at a delicate phase in their lives that will train them up in the truth.

How we conveyed the truth to children

Our marriage and family has been built on a rock [Matt 7:25]. A cornerstone of faith and trust. We shared the bare bones.

“Daddy is sick. He needs medicine that will take a long time to take and will probably make things worse before it gets better.”

They listened attentively and understood better than we did.

Practical application:

The first task was to gather wood as we normally do in these upstate NY winters.

As we approached the wood, my oldest daughter asked why Daddy didn’t join us.

I held up a piece of our firewood and explained that Daddy could no longer carry a load over 10 lbs. I asked her if she would be willing to carry his load.
She looked right into my eyes and held out her arms. “Mom is that piece of wood ten lbs?”

She looked right into my eyes and held out her arms. “Mom is that piece of wood ten lbs?”

Knitting Our Story

In weather below freezing she went out again and again gathering firewood asking “is this ten lbs?”

How my heart and eyes filled with awe! In the Bible, Jesus says in Luke 18:17, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” She demonstrated faith and understanding beyond our reasoning and with JOY!

Sharing is Caring

We trust, obey and love our heavenly Father.

We trust His plan through this new circumstance of cancer.

We instruct our children through sharing truth, even hard truths, because it is our job to teach them. To train them up.

Take it’s Heart: How to fight cancer

Take it’s Heart: How to fight cancer

 On Feb 20th, 2019, my husband started his fight his against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Try as I might to express how we are enduring this battle there is nothing like getting it straight from the mouth of the one who is fighting. My beloved took his time to sit down and write down his own perspective on “how he is running into the fight”. Enjoy this guest post from Peter.

Taking on Giants: “1 Samuel 17″

It has been some time since I’ve had a free moment to share any updates since my original one a few weeks ago. But I’m reminded and inspired as I read one of my all time favorite stories in the Bible. If you would like, please turn to and read with me 1 Samuel 17.

The story of David and Goliath. Many know the premise of the story, but few have taken the time to actually read it from God’s word itself. If you would join me in reading this tonight, I can promise that you will not be disappointed and that you may be inspired to try and take on a giant in your life as you read through this story that is so applicable to us all.

Taking your opponents “heart”

Those who have been involved in sports, especially combat sports, can probably relate to me when I refer to a time in a game or a fight, where a turning point takes place. Many times in a fight it’s when you’re opponent has given you all he has and he realizes that you have an answer for it all and that he cannot beat you. You can feel his hope slip away as he mentally has been defeated and is basically just waiting for you to finish him. I’ve always referred to this point in a fight as taking your opponents “heart”.

How to face your opponent

Most of the time, this happens during the fight. Sometimes, if you’re facing a weak minded opponent, it can happen before the fight even starts. And as you move up the ladder and fight more difficult opponents, you’ll find that some people have no quit in them and will fight you with all they have until the bitter end.

One of the things I always enjoyed most about combat sports was the mental aspect of it. Few things in this world are still as pure as one person facing another in hand to hand combat. There is often a mutual respect that’s gained among martial artists that win or lose, you faced a challenge, you gave it your all, and you either succeeded or you failed in doing so. And through that, respect is gained on the behalf of both opponents.

The fight I’m in now is a new type of fight for me. But in many ways, some similar goals still apply. One goal in particular that will remain the same is to take my opponent’s “heart”.

Just as David did in 1 Samuel 17:51, when he stood over the giant Goliath, drew his sword from it’s sheath, and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw this, they turned and they ran. Then, the Israelites surged after them with a shout and ravaged them all the way back to their homeland.

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.

 

He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 

 

He said to David,

“Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”

 

And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

 

David said to the Philistine,

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

 

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

 

Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath.

 

After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

 

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines!

One of my favorite parts of this story that is often never spoken about or even noticed if you don’t read it for yourself straight from God’s word is how David approached Goliath. It’s described in 1 Samuel 17:48 when it says, “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” I like this because it shows David was not afraid, there was no chance that his “heart” was going to be taken, he approached the giant with confidence and boldness that God was going to deliver him. There was only one outcome that he was going to accept. He didn’t tiptoe his way towards the giant cautiously, he ran towards him as fast as he could and in doing so took the “heart” of all of the Philistines on the battlefield on that day.

The humility, faith, and courage that David displayed on the battlefield on that day is something that we can all learn from and incorporate into our own lives. How will you face the giants in your life? Will you be like the Israelites who for 40 days stood there shaking in their armor at the momentous challenge that had been placed before them? Or will you sprint towards it as David did, boldly in your faith, knowing that any man with God in his corner IS the majority.

Sprinting toward the battle line EVERY DAY

As this fight has begun and chemotherapy has started, I can feel the progress in my chest as the primary mass that was roughly 10cm in the center of my chest is shrinking. Pressure in my head, neck, and chest is being relieved; and I’m able to lay down flat and breath again. Veins that were constricted in my head and neck are subsiding. And I can feel the grip of this disease starting to weaken. The fight is now underway, and I’m pleased with the quick and apparent progress with how I feel. However, I cannot underestimate my opponent. I must continue to sprint toward that battle line every day just as David did, until the giant falls and I can cut off it’s head, thus ending this fight once and for all.

I need to take it’s “heart”. But most of all I need to trust in God…

Thank you for joining me in this Bible study. God bless!

How tangled hair teaches patience

How tangled hair teaches patience

Today was a true test of being a mother of multiples. It was how tangled hair teaches patience. A tangled knotty nightmare all wrapped up into a patience testing situation.

Do you know what burdocks are? Oh, you are in for a treat! The nightmare of knots is enough to drive anyone mad!

However, we face every trial with patience and a strong reliance on a higher power.

SOOOOOO, this story began at a pee wee football practice.

 

Patience and Burdocks

Three year old with Upstate NY burdocks entangled in hair.

First practice of the season with FOUR children in tow.

Snacks: CHECK

Water: CHECK

Toys: CHECK

Patience: CHECK

You see, my little girls have reached an age that is so exhilarating and wonderful. They find joy in the smallest things and everyone is a friend.

I came to practice all prepared and ready to visit as did my girls. They found their friends and flowers!  Watching from distance they were enjoying their freedom and each other. The youngest was on the edge of the public area where the weeds and shrubbery were tall and overbearing. She was picking flowers. It was so cute.

Then she silently walked over to me and touched my hand. As I turned to see what she needed I GASPED!

Burdocks (Spurs):

The entire TOP of her head was locked into the biggest burdock dreadlock ever.

If you aren’t familiar with burdocks they are this prickly ball of hooky things! That can be a living nightmare for your clothes, your animals and especially your hair! Just to give you an idea, the inventor of VELCRO used the burdocks bur design for the hook and loop fastening mechanism. So yeah, these things mean business when they hook into something hopping a ride to spread their seeds.

She was just picking flowers and didn’t realize the danger sitting right above her head. And sometimes we also live like that.

Living life while danger is lingering all around us. BUT why live with all the worrying about potential danger, risks and ‘what ifs’? Why allow the anxiety to control our lives?

Patience:

 A recent song by Blanca turns our controlling, worrying and sometimes pessimistic mindset around with the simple question of “what if”.

What if we trusted the lord completely and gave it all to him? Really, what if?

People ask me all the time “how do I do it?” “How do you handle having four kids and stay sane?” Or they say things like you are a super mom. Literally, in the middle of the burdocks apocalypse, a mom said “look at this champ”.  She had yet to see the knot on the top of my little girl’s head.

Ok, so keeping it real. I am not a super mom nor have I got it all figured out.

Seriously, this household runs on Jesus and A WHOLE LOT OF COFFEE!

So what keeps me sane, calm, cool and collected through it all including this burdocks fiasco?

Jesus. I give it all to Him. (BTW, if you are looking for more mom inspiration that is God centered check out: Risen motherhood)

Things have changed over time including the number of people in our family to the depth of my faith.  My faith has deepened and transformed my motherhood. The anxiety, worry and unknown that once paralyzed me is slowly losing its grip and being replaced with peace.

Patience and burdocks. Just another reminder in this thing called life to calm down and just go with it.

Knotty Head:

 Now, if you want details of the burdocks episode. Wait no longer.

  1. Her hair was initially in a ponytail. Therefore, the top hair along with the ponytail got completely knotted and matted with about 15 burdocks completely rolled up into one giant knot
  2. We slowly pulled away the hair in small pieces exposing some of the burdock and breaking them into smaller pieces since they had dried out, thank goodness.
  3. I slowly pulled the hair away from each “bur” piece by piece and breaking open the pods releasing seeds.
  4. Eventually, I was able to take out the ponytail holder and expose the hair that was matted.
  5. However, the breaking down of the burdocks was releasing the tiny prickly things that make you itch.
  6. She started complaining of the itch and since we weren’t home I had to stop to gather all our things (meanwhile I am still wearing the baby).
  7. Friends noticed and offered help. One just so happened to be a hairstylist and couldn’t resist getting all the burdocks out so that I wasn’t tempted to cut her hair super short. She patiently removed the rest of the burs.
  8. Meanwhile my other little girl decides to investigate the area AND gets two burs in her hair. She literally look down then raised her head right up into the burdocks and they immediately latched.
  9. Eventually all the burdocks were gone from both heads.
  10. We rush home for a quick wash and more hair rescuing which included coconut oil, wide tooth brush to separate the knots followed with a very fine tooth brush to get the tiny knots.
  11. And finally, hair washed and conditioned with detangler.

What is a Post Term Pregnancy and What to expect

What is a Post Term Pregnancy and What to expect

Once again, my due date had arrived and past.

We were dealing with another post term pregnancy induction. With previous pregnancies, the question of “are you sure you have your dates right?” was often raised. THIS TIME, I made sure to track my periods and potential conception dates to make sure the the first day of my LMP was as accurate as possible.

From the title, you may be wondering “what is a Post Term Pregnancy”? It is defined as a pregnancy lasting beyond the recommended 41 weeks and 6 days of gestation.

Yet, we were staring down another post term pregnancy induction and battling potential induction dates….

Midwife: How about this Thursday at 42 weeks and 2 days?

Husband: How about Monday at 42 weeks and 6 days?

Midwife: (nervous smile) Well……. We really shouldn’t wait that long.

ME: Ok (giving in quickly due to sheer exhaustion of the baby weight and long gestation)

You see, this pregnancy had started to “weigh” on me physically and mentallytherefore prompting an earlier than usual post term pregnancy induction. However, I knew in my gut (as did my husband) that we should really wait a few more days.

DAY ONE

Yet, we agreed and arrived at the hospital Thursday morning at 8:15am. The initial exam measured my cervix at 1-2 cm dilated with a 70% effacement. The pitocin induction started at 10am. (Important side note, since I was also a VBAC the only other induction method available to me was the foley balloon.)

The pitocin was slowly increased throughout the day eventually reaching a drip of 14 ml.

A positive note was that the pitocin was actually causing contractions, which with baby one it did absolutely nothing – for hours – leading to a “failure to progress” and c-section.

Physically, I was starting to feel extremely tired from the lack of substance and stationary bed position. Also, the contractions had picked up in speed and intensity so by 5:30pm the pain was going around my back and up the left side of my belly. However, they were still tolerable with easy breathing methods (I was still able to communicate during the contractions).

After the nurse shift change, we received the nurse who had delivered our last two girls and felt hopeful that maybe her presence would bring on the baby!

Spoiler Alert: it didn’t

However, she did let us start moving around and hooked me to monitor that allowed me to walk around the ward. Walking around the ward brought some peace, laughter and anxiety. My husband and I were able to joke around. But at the same time, we could hear mothers laboring and the cries of newborns.

Fun fact: I heard four other babies delivered while waiting for our little guy.

At 7:30pm, I was checked for progress and my cervix was 3-4 cm so beyond the Foley balloon! So the pitocin was continued at 14 ml until 10pm!

Day One summary: On pitocin from 10am-10pm but only dilated to 4 cm. They recommended a break from the pitocin (eat food and sleep) for the night to rest myself, baby and uterus. Everything still looked good for me and baby but labor was slow going – again.

DAY TWO

After a long day, we were able to eat and sleep with the occasional check on my vitals.  The plan was to start pitocin again at 4am but the nurse was occupied with another birth (no complaints here!)  During the in-between, we used the “peanut ball” to try and open the pelvis to shift the posterior position of the baby’s head.  Right after the nurse shift change the pitocin drip was restarted around 8:07am on Friday morning.

Want to know something crazy? 

I slept!

I was able to sleep through mild contractions up until 11:30am and the pitocin reached 12 ml. At which point, I woke up and the contractions started to increase in speed and intensity. Since, I hadn’t been checked in hours the nurse attempted. Key word “attemped”. Once again, my cervix was not engaging and was so far back (posterior) that she couldn’t reach it to check.

The discouragement was really starting to get into my heart and mind. My husband started to suggest we just go home to let my body relax and progress into natural labor VS continuing this induction in the hospital. However, the hospital and staff advised against it since we were attempting our third VBAC and the pregnancy had passed the 42 week mark.

The fears were:

  • Uterine rupture

  • Baby could go into distress

  • Baby head not engaged so we could have “cord prolapse” or it could wrap around his neck

  • Placenta failure

  • Meconium Asphyxiation

  • And many others

I had noticed that the midwives and nurses were being kind during the check-ups. At 3pm, I informed the midwife to be “mean” to my cervix so that she could strip my membranes and pull it forward – and she did just that! No real progress since I was still 3 cm so the pitocin drip continued until it reached 20 ml by 5pm.

We were changing positions, playing worship music softly, along with lots of prayer (sneaking a few bites of protein bars in between the jello, broth, and ice chips). Yet, nothing was changing!

At 6pm, we had a serious conversation with the midwife about the lack of progress. We discussed leaving the hospital even though it would have required an “Against Medical Advice” (AMA) document along with other potential interventions. 

By 7pm, I was exhausted therefore requesting and granted the ability to rest another night OFF of the monitors and pitocin. After a good meal and some rest we tried a “soap suds enema” to no avail.

So we rested until 4 am.

DAY THREE

No delay starting the pitocin at 4am on Saturday morning. Along with a serious conversation about another unsuccessful exam and the potential of a c-section. The option to continue the induction was still on the table but everyone was starting to get nervous. Exhausted from the restless night and anxiety, my husband and I slept through the morning until 11am.

At this time, my hope was low along with my persistence to “wait it out”.

I asked to get up and start moving around to handle the contractions. Yes, I was still having contractions even though I was able to sleep… The midwives, staff and us as well, realized that I must have a high tolerance for pain or be a masochist (I am going to lean towards a high pain tolerance).

THE MAGIC MOMENT

Right after the position change (laying flat to standing), I felt a little head movement shift that was painful and different.

 

Decided to call a friend to ask for prayer (we actually used voxer so not a “real” conversation). I requested she pray for the only “intervention” left at our disposable. HIS intervention.

I prayed long and hard for the Lord to lay his hand on our situation. To start the labor. To make progress. To make HIS will be done no matter what it may be (natural birth, etc).

Still feeling a little discouraged but hopeful, I called the kids to share the progress and ask for prayers.

THEN, my  mother shared that the kids had been praying for me. I was overcome with emotion and amidst the tears a strong contraction rocked my body. Thinking it was a fluke I didn’t mention it to my mother on the phone. She continued to share about the recent week of VBS activities when ANOTHER contraction stole my breath away! She quickly got off the phone so I could breathe through it.

Literally at 12:44 pm while on the phone with my mom I had two very strong and very different contractions. She told me how the kids were praying for me. I was overwhelmed with emotions due to their love for us and trust in the Lord. I was brought to tears of joy…. Then it happened.

Things changed.

I immediately called my husband (he was out grabbing lunch) and said things had shifted get back now.

Meanwhile, we were waiting for the head of OB to come in for a check but things were busy on the ward. Which honestly worked to our advantage. Those stronger contractions were continuing and giving us hope.

Finally around 3pm the hospitalist came in and said that my cervix was accessible (hooray), at 0 station (another hooray), dilated to 5 cm (HUGE YIPPEE), and 100 % effaced!!!! I literally high fived my midwife and attending nurse followed by a long hug with my husband.

FAVORABLE cervix and progression! Active labor was really happening!

HOWEVER the hospitalist was concerned as well.

The contractions were becoming more painful and I like to move through the contractions in an upright position bearing down through my feet. The standing and sitting was affecting the “constant monitoring” that was necessary due to the pitocin. He saw “decelerations” on the monitor that caused him concern and wanted me monitored the entire time. The nurse and midwife were convinced that the decelerations of the heartbeat were really my “high” heart rate during the contractions due to movement..

Yet, the monitoring was a necessary evil.

My way of meeting the hospital/providers halfway through this process.

At some point in the afternoon, my nurse noticed that my contractions were stronger and close. At which point she turned off the 20 ml pitocin to let my body do the work.

And it did!!!!!

I naturally labored through to the end!

So 1pm to 10:40pm I labored from an unfavorable 3-4 cm to a very favorable 9cm!!!!! At which point, my midwife kindly and respectfully suggested we rupture the membranes to ramp up the contractions and speed things up.

 And it did!

The contractions were intensified along with the urge to push. The midwife and nurse started to encourage me to redirect the “energy” in my mouth aka screaming/grunting in to pushing. I seriously said no lol!

Meanwhile they were prepping behind me. Yes, I labor on the top of the bed on my knees facing the wall and have done it for a total of three times now. They were encouraging me to push and I did but as I continued to push through each one it became obvious that we weren’t really ready when he started to emerge.  

Once I felt his head down in the canal I was ready to be done. It was painful and I was screaming but I pushed through the contraction and even after the contraction! I could feel the finish line! His head was about 3/4 of the way OUT! I could feel it! I wasn’t going to stop! I willed and forced myself to continue pushing even after the contraction to get the hardest part over with. And it popped out! I was so relieved during the next contraction I was able to push out the rest of his chunky body in one forceful push.

At 11:22pm. Yep 10:40pm to 11:22pm was my transition/pushing labor. He spent hardly anytime in the birth canal and came out with a nice round head.

Important Side Notes:

  1. My husband was my rock. He stayed by side and supported me through it all. I love you so much!
  2. Great Practice! The midwives and OBGYN were magnificent. They also supported my decisions and tried their best to respect our wishes while providing a margin of safety.
  3. Family and Friends. We felt very blessed to have so many people assisting and supporting us throughout the process by watching our other children, sending us food and prayers.
  4. Worship and Prayer. We constantly had worship music playing throughout the active/transition stage to keep my thoughts focused and clear. Even to the point that the staff were asking about it creating great commentary between the contractions.

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