02 November 2011

London's Birth Story

 After 41 weeks of pregnancy, a couple of months of preparing for a natural VBAC labor and birth, and a week of inconsistent contractions, London finally began showing real signs of wanting to make her way into the world.  On Sunday morning, August 28, Noah's 3rd birthday, I lost my "plug." And then, Monday evening, my water started to break. I slowly leaked, and Tuesday morning, after packing and preparing to be in the hospital, I made a trip into my doctor's office to find out if indeed my water was broken. And it was.

Because my body was showing signs of progression, Dr. Mimlitz let me try Pitossin, rather than just taking me in for surgery. I was thankful for this allowance, because I honestly hadn't expected it. He had been so adamant about not inducing me as a VBAC. So Matt, Mom and I made our way to labor and delivery. Around noon, I was hooked up to the IV, the Strep B antibiotic and Pitossin, and the baby heart monitor was put in place. This was the beginning of being hooked to an IV for the next three days. Being "hooked up" was certainly not in my plans, but neither was my water breaking without natural labor happening on it's own. Again, I was thankful for being able to still attempt a vaginal birth.

Contractions started shortly after the Pit was started, and I very much experienced the "stages of labor" I had read so much about. They gained strength over the hours. By around 5pm I was ready to call Hollie, my doula, to help with working through the tough contractions. Matt and I had been walking the halls, I had spent lots of time on the ball, and we had tried several positions. When Hollie arrived, we tried more positioning, and eventually, I began to get tired and wanted to lie down. After lying down, I realized that the contractions hurt worse in that position, but I was feeling exhausted. The contractions continued to strengthen and the pain escalated. They began to get so strong that I told Matt I wasn't sure I could make it to the end without some pain meds. They created this radiant pain I had never experienced the likes of before. It was incredibly un-enjoyable! He, being well versed in what to do, encouraged me by saying that I could do it, and asking me to just "make it through one more contraction." I agreed and pushed through a few more. Then the nurse came in, and I couldn't let her leave without asking about pain med options. A part of me was disappointed in opting for the meds, but at the same time, contracting via Pitossin was not in my plans and the contractions it was giving me were simply unbearable. I was starting to get a little panicy...it was really really painful. While pain options were being discussed over my head, the contractions became torturous. I was shaking, moaning and crying through each one, and I felt like I couldn't recoop well between them. I began to get scared of the next one coming. Matt would hold me tightly through each one, as I breathed hard and tried to just get through it. I've never felt anything so intense. The on call doctor, along with my nurse, a resident doctor, my mom, Debbie, Hollie and Matt stood around me as more pain med conversation was had. I recall having so many people around, but not caring because I honestly couldn't concentrate on anything other than the pain. During this conversation where Statol vs. Epidural vs. lowering the Pitossin, vs. seeing how far dilated I was was discussed, I experienced several more contractions, and I remember finally saying, can I just get the epidural? I need it! Everyone started to move into gear at that point. My amazing nurse, Valerie, checked me, and I was only dilated 1cm! My doula said she expected me to be dilated to a 6, 7 or 8 due to the intensity of my contractions, and she said she was shocked that I was only a 1. That sealed the deal for me. The anesthesiologist wasn't long and by 11:30ish I was resting much more easily. I could still feel the intensity of the contractions but without the pain. It was a really interesting sensation. I was on an Epidural drip, so I could control the amount, and I was able to still move my legs and body pretty easily.  My nurse thought that my body would continue to strongly contract and hopefully push the baby down now that I was more relaxed.

Unfortunately, after 5 more hours of labor, I was still only dilated to a little over 1cm, even after consistent strong contractions, and the baby started to show signs of slight distress. Matt began to feel very uncomfortable with continuing when the chances of my cervix opening were getting less and less. During these 5 hours, my doula did some research on the cervix not opening and found that they are cases of "iron cervixes" where the body is ready and the cervix is effaced, but it will not dilate. My nurse and the resident doctor began saying the same things Dr. Mimlitz had been worried about throughout my pregnancy, and it was decided that the best move was to have a Cesarean. Matt felt like we were just waiting for the baby to become distressed, and he felt that was purposeless and irresponsible, as the consensus was that my cervix was not going to open if it had not made any progress by this point. And I agreed.

I knew in my heart that this was the answer, although the extreme disappointment brought tears. I tried; it just wasn't what God had in store. After a few moments of sadness, I resolved myself to what was ahead. I threw up a couple of times while waiting for the surgery prep to begin, and just felt exhausted after such a long day and night of labor.  I could barely keep my eyes open (and didn't even try honestly) while they were prepping me. I didn't need to hear anything more from my loved ones. I didn't need to see the movement all around me. I was rolled to the operating room. I wanted to block out the upbeat music that was playing and the random conversations taking place between the nurses and doctors.  I wanted to block out everything. I just wanted to be on the other side of things. I wanted the surgery to be over, and I wanted to sleep. This is one of the things I hated about the Cesarean with Noah too. Just this feeling of wanting to close my eyes and have it be over. My vision of birth was to reach for my baby and hold her close right away, while being fully aware; not practically knocked out from exhaustion and drugs, unable to even touch her.

 (This is an awful picture of me, but it perfectly shows the combination of desperation and helplessness I was feeling.)

After the odd sensations of numbed pushing and pulling, I finally heard her cry! I opened my eyes as I muffled a sob and looked at this brunette beauty being lifted over the curtain. She was immediately taken to the warmer and (just like with Noah) I watched her first moments from a distance. This is the part that hurt the most; this is the part I most wanted to avoid. I longed for the ability to hold her skin to skin, but instead I felt weak and distant because of the exhaustion and all the drugs running through me. I was wheeled into recovery where Matt held the baby for at least the first ten minutes. I kept saying to him that I was afraid of dropping her because I felt so weak. This made me so sad at the time and still breaks my heart when I think back on it. But London was healthy and beautiful and here! Matt wanted to find our moms and give them the good report, but I told him I needed a few minutes to just be.  I did start to feel better, and was able to hold my sweetie just a little while later. We requested a bed side admit, so London was cleaned and examined right next to us. It was nice not to be separated from her like we were from Noah. After the bedside admit, I was able to nurse her before getting moved up to our recovery room.

 Praise God, our long awaited and anticipated little girl was here!
London Adele Stark, 8lbs, 8oz., 21.75'' 
The drugs slowly made their way out of my body, London began nursing really well immediately, and despite the disappointment of another Cesarean, we were so happy to be on the other side of 'pregnant' and ready to begin life as a family of four. Daddy, Mommy, little boy and little girl.

18 August 2011


The thought hit me this week that I have very little time left with JUST Noah. The last couple of weeks I've been so focused on when this baby is going to come, that the seemingly obvious opposite to her arrival escaped me. It will never be just Noah ever again. I should cherish these last days with him. And so I have been. This week has been a week of just the two of us.

Here's the run down:
Monday we visited what might be his new "school" (more on this later), then we had a leisurely lunch where we shot his space shuttle across the table at each other for a while, hit the grocery store and then headed home. Played more that afternoon too. Tuesday, we hung out hiding, playing, talking and watching cartoons until my doctor's appointment, and today we stayed in all day (mainly due to how crappy I've been feeling, but nonetheless, in we were). We played, cleaned, talked, and made silly faces at each other at breakfast and lunch.

Not every moment has been smooth though. For instance, today we had a serious nap show down. After him getting out of his bed nine times, hitting me twice, getting his two favorite toys taken away, and getting two spankings, I won. And when it was finally time for him to get up, we were closer than ever. I absolutely love it when the Lord confirms my tactics this way. He needed some boundaries, I set them, cried while I did it, but did it, and he felt more secure with me after it was over. Sheesh, what a "nap time."
My point is that I've really connected with him this week, and I unfortunately feel like it's partly because I haven't been social. I firmly believe that Noah needs time with his friends in social environments, but there is something so special about just spending time cultivating our relationship.  Talking, interacting, playing, teaching, nurturing, loving...not just rushing to get somewhere. I know I've thought about this before, and I've probably written about it too, but I've yet to discover the balance of really growing his spirit and providing activities. I thankfully do feel like the Lord is teaching me these things, but I kind of just hate having to learn them along the way. I want to know all the right things right now! I want Noah to get the best mom, and I certainly am not that. This week Christ is teaching me that it's not about how good I can be though, but how good He is, and that's where I need to look. I've already failed a million times, but that's not what He sees, and I'm hoping it's not what Noah will see either.

Rambling over, I am just really loving this week and all the time with Noah. He's growing up so fast...he'll be three in less than two weeks, and he'll also have a sister for the rest of his life in (what I hope is) less than two weeks!

Sweet, growing times.

07 August 2011

Feeling Grateful

At this stage of the game, 2 weeks out from being due that is, I more often than not feel the tendency to complain about how I'm feeling.  I'm having the same ligament pain I had with Noah, and also beginning to feel anxious about going into labor. It could happen any moment, and for me, the unknown is nerve-racking. But between receiving the awesome gift from my aunt and uncle yesterday, working on my thank you cards from my baby shower, and having a really fulfilling family day with Matt and Noah, I feel like I've been remiss in my scarfy attitude.
The Lord has blessed our lives over abundantly. We live in a great city, in a good house, surrounded by sweet generous friends.  We attend a solid church that feels like home, we love and are loved, we have gracious supportive families, our second child is just a few weeks away from showing herself, and Christ has given us life.  Why and how do I still find room to complain?! It's amazing that the Lord is so patient with me because I absolutely do not deserve it. I am so thankful He has already forgiven me for these miserable parts of my personality and I don't have to live regretting the myriad of stupid attitudes I get. I'm so thankful for His love and graciousness to me.

06 August 2011

Heirlooms Post

I wasn't sure which of my blogs to post my most recent entry on, but I ended up choosing my Dear London site, so please jump over there to check it out. I am so grateful to have received some of my great grandmother's heirlooms from my Uncle Sandy and Aunt Pam.

26 July 2011

Secure in His Manhood

This outfit really did happen! Noah had an accident at a friends today, and I didn't have a change of clothes with me. Friend, Meri, had just given me a baby gift for London, which included these little pants. What was a mom to do? It was either this or naked! I'm sure Noah's grandfathers would have voted for naked! Ha! Meri, who is from Italy, said that no one would have batted a lash to see a boy dressed like this. Funny how different cultures can be from one another.
And PS, Matt took this picture and almost posted it on Facebook himself...he thought it was hilarious!

20 July 2011

Toddlers Need Massages Too

This is one smart little dude.
Our generous neighbor gave me a massage pad (not exactly sure what it's really called)...one of those pads that sits in a chair and massages you? Anyway, I had it sitting in our back room, and Noah took it off the chair, put it flat on the coffee table and laid on top of it. This is how I found him! Cracked me up!

He's working that control like a pro!

17 July 2011

A Hard Day of Parenting

Little bit of a rough day with this sweet boy:
(Noah, eating his self-decorated cup cake at Reese's 4th birthday party yesterday.)

Actually, a little more than rough. Everything recently is so difficult with Noah. He fights us on so many things! Nothing is easy. I feel like we've possibly been giving him too many chances to obey, so today we cracked down, and it was a day full of time outs and spankings. Just awful. Nap time was miserable too. He was so tired, but wouldn't fall asleep, and then ended up making a joke out of the whole thing by singing, and kicking, and trying to sneak off the bed, and crawling on top of me, and saying he had to go potty, and a hundred other little things that made me want to go mad.  I usually don't lay in his bed with him, but I knew he NEEDED to sleep, and he would just play if I didn't lie with him for a bit. After an hour, I gave it up though. I felt defeated and disrespected. I tried to tell myself that I was letting my (almost) 3 year old make me, a 32 year old feel this way, but I couldn't help it. I feel like I'm usually pretty strong during these moments of frustration, but be it my hormones, my exhaustion level,or something else entirely, I had a hard time keeping it together. I pray tonight that the Lord would show me how to more effectively parent his behavior in a way that shapes his heart and encourages him to obey with a joyful spirit.

14 July 2011

A Few Conversations

While sitting on the toilet this afternoon: 
Noah: "sssshhhhhhh..." (while holding his finger to his mouth)
Me: (whispering) "ok, what is it?"
Noah: (whispering) "there's a monster coming."
Me: "OH, really? is he a scary monster or a friendly one?"
Noah: "he's a friendly one."
Me:  (still whispering) "oh good."
Noah: "mommy, ssssshhhh. there's a friendly pirate coming too."
Me: "oh, ok."
Noah: (whispering continues) "and a friendly elephant is coming too."
Me: I just laughed really hard at this point.
Noah: "sssssshhhhhh..."

While eating lunch at McAlisters with Daddy and Grams after BSF one Tuesday back in April:
Noah : "Jesus is holding me. He's a big guy, and He's not scary. He loves me."
Me: I just cried.

While sitting on the toilet right before bed time (also in April):
Noah: "Can God take me potty?"
Me: I just laugh.
Noah: "Cause God loves me." (implied: God loves me, so surely he'll take me potty.)
Me: "Yep, God does love you buddy."
Noah: "God loves me, and Daddy loves me, and Mommy loves me."
Me: "That's right sweetie, we all love you very much." (heart melting!)

04 July 2011

GUM! And the Fourth

Today I found out some very disturbing news: Matt gave Noah chewing gum MULTIPLE times over their weekend without me in Branson. "ARE. YOU. JOKING?" was my response when I found out! 

I thought it odd when I came home from the store today and saw Noah with gum. But he seemed to be chewing it fine, and said that daddy gave it to him from the car. OK, so I let it go. Then on our way to the St. Louis Fair Air Show, he asked daddy for another piece. That's when I asked the question..."Um Matt, have you been giving him gum?" Matt looked immediately abashed, but then totally defended himself by saying that Noah hadn't been swallowing it, and had been keeping it in his mouth for a really long time. My response: "I DON'T CARE!" Our (almost) three year old will now be asking me for gum multiple times a day. Every time I pull it out, I'll have to give him one.  I know lots of lovely people who give their kiddos gum, but it just doesn't rub well with me! My worst fear is that he will fall asleep with it and I will have to cut off all of his hair. (Which if that happens, here's how to get it out. Yes, I've already been researching this sure to happen catastrophe!) Toddler + Gum, to quote Shanna, "NO BUENO!" Needless to say, I am not a fan. However, it appears that I'm now on the gum train. Geez! OK, finished ranting now.

Today is July 4, but because of Matt and Noah's busy weekend down in Branson, we're taking today easy. We did however, make it to part of the Air Show down at the Arch grounds. Noah was tired and a little grouchy, so we didn't stay long at all. He borrowed my glasses, and I think he looks really cute in them. Gotta get this boy some aviators!

(33 weeks pregnant with baby girl in this photo.)

03 July 2011


 Watched a movie tonight where the main character loses her three day old baby. Heart breaking. And I just happen to be home by myself this weekend. Matt and Noah have gone down to the lake for the Fourth weekend. I'm too pregnant and generally miserable to ride in the car that long, so I stayed home. Bad movie choice for being home alone (which pretty much never happens) and seeing all of Noah's little toys and his room without his presence to occupy them. Made me miss him more than I thought I would honestly. These moments are kind of sad but also healthy I think. It's good to miss the people you love the most; brings out a new perspective of appreciation and love for them.
Before he left this morning, Noah told me he loved me several times and I got lots of hugs and kisses. Recently he's been pretty cuddly with me too. I think he senses the changes ahead within our family, and so he's storing up the love and attention. My theory anyway. It's weird to think that in 7 weeks it will never just be the three of us again. I'm ridiculously excited to meet (still nameless) baby girl, but also a little sad to say goodbye to our current family dynamic. Three years of just Noah and us, and before him, 9 years of just us. I feel like it's so cliche to say how blessed we are, but really, we are. God has given us a beautiful family, and the changes that keep happening are shaping our lives forever. 
I wonder how Noah and this baby will click. Will he be jealous? Will he be mama's little helper? Will he try to jump on her? Will he revert and want to be a baby again, breastfeeding and all? All things to be determined very very soon!

02 July 2011

March, April, and May in Pictures

 I'm pretty sure these pictures are not in order of occurrence, and my memory is so slack that I simply can not remember when we did what! So sad! I'm only 32! But, nonetheless, all of these pictures are from March, April and May of 2011.

 We hung out at Foam with Mom Junket when Grams was in town. We packed the place out. Noah had a fun time, although he played mostly by himself instead of with the other kids. He tends to do this when there are large crowds.

We also toured the Kirkwood Fire Station with our Downtown Mom's group. Again, Noah is not interacting with the others, he's over in right field by himself.

No surprise here; Noah found the fire station's golf cart and wanted to drive it!
 He was pretty much a pro around the station, as his Uncle Brian had given him a thorough tour of his own station. In fact, Noah got to "drive" Uncle Brian's fire truck, but these guys wouldn't even let him sit in the truck. He was quite disappointed when he found that out.

He stayed with the group long enough to snap this shot!

We had a wedding shower for Dawn and Eric instead of Community Group one night. That's one happy couple!

Noah and I got to meet Diesel for the first time. I stayed with Sarah for a couple of days, while Noah stayed at Nana and Papa's. He did come over the day we left for a bit, but poor guy was pretty sick, so we had to keep him away from D. Such a sweet baby...I loved holding him. He is so cuddly.

Matt and I got a date night and went to see Avenue Zero's first gig. They did a fabulous job and we had a great time with friends.

 Griffin's first birthday was circus themed! Here Missy is sporting her clown look!

Noah found a comfy spot to hang at the party.

We also celebrated Lee's 3rd birthday at The Magic House. It was train themed and the kids had a great time.

Creating his own train...

Decorating his own cupcake...

Sharing some sort of construction vehicle with Lee...

Nana and Papa came up for Easter this year, and on Easter morning, Noah was surprised by Easter baskets! We did baskets last year too, but he was a little more into it this year, and I think he'll begin to expect it by next year. He got lots of candy and a Toy Story jet (which he played with in Target, and had a fit over when he thought I didn't buy it). Nana also got him a new blow up swimming pool for the summer. He still calls it his "surprise pool." And Pops and Grams got him a really cool recycle dump truck made out of recycled plastic and some cute clothes.

Our church rented out the Chafitz Arena for Easter morning, so we celebrated Christ's resurrection with all of our campuses. Noah held Nana and Papa's hands on the way in.

And he sat in church like a big boy. He really did a great job too...we were very proud of him. I think this was his first time through big church.

We sat near several friends from Community Group, including Jesse, Kristin and Chelsea, her first Easter.

and Todd. (The Malones too, but I don't have a picture of them...boo.)

Still loving music! He likes to watch You Tube videos of guitarists and other musicians, then he imitates them. Really adorable, and something that makes me so happy. I want him to love the arts.

Aidan's pirate birthday was a big hit! Noah is so into pirates right now, and since the party, his love and intensity about them has grown. He told me just the other day that he wants a pirate party like Aidan's, and specifically he wants a chocolate pirate cake.  

Aarrggg matey!

We hit up the Botanical Gardens on one of the first really warm days of the year. I was unprepared for any sort of water activity, but the fountains were on, so I let know play around in his undies. He had a great time, but by the end of it was so tired. He's laying down in this pictures! So cute.

Victoria Vox, a good friend of Brett and Kelly's put on a concert at their house. They BBQ'd and we sat around their pool and listened to some amazing music. It was a fabulous evening. Noah enjoyed the music so much. The next day, the ottoman in the living room became his stage, and we watched more You Tube videos to see others playing the ukulele, flute and bass. The Malone's came as well, and in the picture below, Michael is borrowing Noah's conductor hat.

Lunch with good friends the Cornejo's. These hang outs come much more seldom now that Sandra is working full time again, so we treasured our time together. Noah and Saylah ate lunch all by themselves at their own table.

Noah, Daddy and Joe went to a baseball game together...Noah's first of the season.

We had a girls weekend at Andrea's lake house. It was such a refreshing and encouraging time with good friends.

I was lax in taking many pictures during these months, but I'm almost caught up, so (although I've said this in the past) I plan to be better from here on out! Noah's not getting any younger!