Sunday, December 16, 2012

dear Raylee...

Below is a letter written to Raylee by our doula, Ashleigh. During our labor and delivery process she was carefully taking notes, documenting each moment for us. We absolutely LOVED having a doula, and were so blessed by Ashleigh specifically. She was such an encouragement to me throughout labor and a big support to Matt. Enjoy :)  

Dear Raylee Joy,
     I wanted to write to tell you how about blessed I was to be present when your parents met you for the very first time.  Their faces were so full of joy and love and I know their lives have been forever changed because you are a part of their family.
     Your mom had initially contacted me about two months before you were born to ask about doula services after a friend recommend me as a supportive person for moms in labor.  I met with your mom and dad to talk about their plans for the birth.  Your mom was confident and excited as she told me of the childbirth classes they had been taking and the other ways she had been preparing for your arrival.  Your dad told me that he knew natural birth was the right choice and that his goal was to advance his wife: her interests, her desires, and her health.  I knew from that meeting that they would be a great team, both when working toward your arrival, and later as your parents.
     On the day of your birth, your mom sent me a text message at 6:00 am to tell me that her water had broken.  I suggested that she call the midwife office and reminded her to drink plenty of water and to rest as much as possible, because we knew it could be a long day ahead.  Your mom and dad ate breakfast and rested, then went for a walk to help contractions get going a bit faster.  Around 11:30, your mom had a turkey sandwich.  Your dad was making sure she stayed hydrated and drank plenty of water.  He reported to me that her spirits were really up after the lunch and that contractions were close to three minutes apart so they were ready to go to the hospital.  We all met up there to check in around 1:30.
     When we got the area for maternal observation, one of the nurses asked your mom when her water had broken.  She told them it had been broken since around 6:00 am.  The nurse was surprised that she was just getting to the hospital.  Your dad said something about being calm and cool.  As it turned out, they did not have any available rooms in the maternal observation area, so they asked your parents and I to stay in the waiting area.  Your mom was very upbeatand determined not to allow the wait time and hospital check in to break her stride in labor progress.  She never sat down in the waiting area and instead did a few squats and lunges, hoping to help you into perfect position for delivery. 
     Around 2:15 pm, we were escorted to labor and delivery and introduced to your mom's nurse, Gina.  Gina confirmed that the water was broken, then check your mom's cervix and told us that she was 90% effaced, and dilated 3 cm.  We noticed that the room we were in did not have a bathtub and since that was really important to your mom for labor comfort, we requested a different room and the hospital staff found an available room with a tub very quickly.  Your parents' friend Meagan, came in to visit and took a few pictures.  Your mom was laboring really calmly and even ate an apple and drank some water, knowing that she would need energy to keep working to get you out.  Between contractions she would talk and laugh with the three of us and during contractions she would close her eyes and breath deeply.  Your dad was always near her.  He would hold her while she moved her hips side to side and put pressure on her back when she asked for it.  I noticed that several times right after a contraction would end, theywould stay close to one another and laugh.  Your dad whispered in her ear and your mom threw her head back and toss her hair laughing at a silly thing he was saying.  Meagan and I talked about how your parents were made for one another and how those kinds of interactions were setting a great mood and attitude for bringing a baby into the world.  Your dad was still concerned about the time between contractions and was keeping up with it pretty consistently.  Once, he helped your mother to the bathroom and back to the bed.  When he came out of the bathroom, he announced to Meagan and I that she had two contractions while in the bathroom.  Then, he said, "we had the sweetest, most romantic slow dances during those two contractions".  Their love for one another and pleasure at being near one another was evident and I know that you will see this demonstrated by them towards one another throughout your life.
     Around 5:30, contractions were coming closer together and your mom began to feel them much more intensely.  We talked for a bit about fear and how it could impact labor and how itcould impact the pushing stage of birth.  Talking about it seemed to ease your moms concerns and your dad reminded her of 1 John 4:18 and the promise that perfect love drives out fear.  Around 6:00, the nurse came in and checked and found that your mom was 100% effaced and 5 cm dilated.  Contractions were getting much more intense so Meagan left the room and your mom decided to get into the bathtub.
     The water eased her pain and made it easier for her to cope with each contractions, but she was having a lot less recovery time between contractions so she needed more support than ever.  During each contraction, I pressed against her hips and your dad used the shower spray against her lower back and sometimes on her belly.  Between contractions, your dad still talked and laughed a bit, but mostly your mom was resting and recovering in preparation for the next one, so we made sure she had water and juice to drink, warm water, and pillows to rest.  Around 6:45 pm, as contractions got stronger, your mom began to get discouraged and expressed that she did not know how long she could do it.  Your dad told her that he was so proud of her and that all the nurses and staff were proud of her and that he was confident she could keep it up.  After he said this, she stood and held onto the shower bar on the wall and said, "I can do this." 
    The next time the midwife, Candis, came to check on her, around 8:15 pm, your mom was dilated 8 cm.  However, her cervix was a swollen a bit.  She felt the urge to push during contractions and while pushing she was dilated to 10 cm.  About 10:00 pm, she decided to get out of the tub and try to position on the bed in a way that would help totally open her cervix.  She pushed on the bed for about 30 minutes with the midwife and nurse helping to open her cervix.  By 10:40, she was almost 10 cm and the midwife and nurse left your mom to get out of bed and work for a bit more until you could be born.,  Your mom leaned over the bed and your dad stood behind her, rubbing her back.  She was discouraged because she had hoped the earlier pushing would have led to your birth.  She said that she was afraid she couldn't do it.  Your dad reminded her again of their verse for you and the knowledge that perfect love drives out fear.  He also encouraged her to be patient and let go.  He reminded her that the two of them had just a few days earlier been anxious and eager to meet you and only when they released control and relaxed to wait for your perfect time, that was when labor had begun.  Then, she sat on the birthball and leaned forward.  Your dad rubbed her back and I sat in front of her brushing her hair from her forehead.  Your dad prayed, thanking God for for you and your mom and asking for strength, perseverance, and safety for you both.  Your mom began slowing saying, "i can do this.  I can do this."  She had renewed strength and confidence and she stood and put her armsaround your dad's neck.
     At around midnight, the midwife and nurse came back and your mom asked to lie on the bed.  She was completely dilated at 10 cm and it was time to push you out into the world.  Your dad and I each stood on either side of her and encouraged her as she pushed through each contraction.  Candis moved a mirror down so your mom could see your head beginning to show.  We could all see your dark hair during every push.  As your mom continued pushing sheand your dad were both so excited.  Around 12:45, your head began to come out and we all saw your forehead for the first time.  Your mom knew it would take time for you to completely enter the world and she rested between contractions.  At 1:00 am, you came out past your eyebrows and you were fully born at 1:01 am.   
     As your mom held you, your dad looked to see that you were a girl and announced it to the room.  He also announced your name, "Raylee Joy".  Your mom and dad were so overwhelmedwith love for you and for one another. I know that the love they felt that night and the effort they took to make choices that were best for you, will impact you for years to come.  I hope this letter gives you a glimpse into what your parents experienced in welcoming you into the world.  I was blessed to assist and to have been witness to the strong and determined way that they worked together. 
Ashleigh Trimble

If you are interested in an unmedicated birth, a doula is a huge support in your birth team. Ashleigh was wonderful and was one person who helped make our desire for a natural delivery possible. I would love to forward you Ashleigh's information if you are interested!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

raylee joy: choosing her name

I have wanted a baby, well, for forever. :) I was one of those girls who would have been thrilled to come home from her honeymoon and find out she was pregnant... however, Matt did not share my same enthusiasm for a baby so soon! Now, looking back on the last 4 years of our marriage, I am SO glad we had a chance to just be the two of us. We have had so much fun and have truly enjoyed one another. I know we will never get that time back and I am so glad I was able to wait patiently for a baby. As usual, the Lord knew what he was doing in having us wait for this precious little gift... I had a lot of growing to do and a lot to learn. 
Matt and I decided in 2011 that we would stop preventing getting pregnant... not necessarily "try" but just not, "not try." I had always heard my dad say that my mom got pregnant so easily and so quickly, so I just assumed the same would happen to me. A few of my friends had babies and some were starting on a second. When I didn't get pregnant right away, like after the first time we started "not trying" - I was not very patient!- I started to get so fearful that my life long dream of becoming a mommy would never happen. Fear had always been a stronghold in my life; I was always afraid of something... the dark, a stranger breaking into my house, and, now, not being able to have a baby. This fear kept growing as the months went by and we still had no baby.
In November of 2011 I received an email from my sister. She was at the International House of Prayer and felt the Holy Spirit urging her to tell me a few things. She told me that the Lord loved me so much and was proud of me, that I would never be able to comprehend His love and that he wanted me to no longer be fearful. She said the Lord wanted to drive out my fear and that sometimes He takes us through times of testing, but times of refreshing always come. He is a faithful God.  I needed to hear these words so much, but was sort of surprised that Andrea sent me this message because I hadn't really told her about how fearful I was I wouldn't get pregnant. She knew I had always wanted to be a mommy, but that was pretty much the extent of it. 
With in the same week, we had a pastor from Costa Rica and his daughter over for dinner. Drew was getting ready to spend the summer in Costa Rica doing mission work with this pastor and he happened to be in Texas. Despite our language barrier, the pastor spoke only spanish and his daughter translated for him, it was a sweet evening of fellowship. So awesome to share such a connection with someone based on your mutual love for Jesus Christ. It was awesome. 
Later that evening, the pastor shared with us his testimony and how his daughter was born. His wife had had a very difficult pregnancy and their daughter almost died after birth. As the pastor was telling us his story, he looked up at me and said, "I can tell you have much fear about child birth." I immediately lost it. He somehow knew exactly what I had been fearing. Right then he asked to pray over my womb. So, the pastor, his daughter, Drew, and Matt placed their hands on my stomach and prayed. The pastor prayed so many of the same things that Andrea had mentioned the Lord wanting me to know in her email. I couldn't believe it because I had not even shared the email with Matt yet. He said that the Lord wanted to drive out all my fear with his perfect love and that there is no fear in love. When he was done praying, he looked at Matt and I and gave us a prophecy. He said, "The Lord wants you to know His perfect love is going to drive out your fear and he is going to give you a baby girl that will bring you more joy than you can ever imagine." And that was it. Just like that he told us we would have a baby girl... again, he had no idea that I had always dreamed of having a girl. Of course, I would love to have boys too, but a girl is what I had dreamed of my whole life.   
Well, in March I found out I was pregnant! We were so excited!! By Matts request we decided to not find out the gender of baby. You would think it would be a no brainer and we would both just know that baby was a girl, but still I waivered. After the Lord had given such a convincing prophecy and had driven out my fear over the past months, you would think I would be convinced. Matt never waivered and believed baby was a girl the whole time, but I still doubted. 
November 15th, at 1:01 am, our precious baby GIRL was placed in my arms. 
I hate that I didn't trust the Lord's word spoken over me and that I doubted. But, I know that the Lord has used this pregnancy to grow me. He used sweet Raylee to drive out my fear and show me that I can trust his spoken word and his written word. He is my faithful God. He is worthy to be trusted, and to be believed. I ask the Lord to forgive me for not trusting his spoken word over me, but thank him that he still allowed me to be a part of something so great. That he allowed me to be Raylee's mommy and that he will continue to fulfill ALL of his promises. He does not disappoint and will always come through for me. Praise God for the truth in 2 Timothy 2:12, that even when we are faithless, that he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself!
So, Raylee Joy Hunter was named after her daddy, Matthew Ray. Matt always wanted to name a child using Ray, his dads middle name and grandpas first name. And Joy comes from the prophecy... our little girl that will bring us more joy than we could ever imagine! She has already brought us so much joy in her short little life :) We are praising Jesus for his faithfulness and for sweet Raylee Joy!
Newborn pictures by our friend Rachel Camp... check out Rachel Camp Photography on facebook!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Raylee Joy: Birth Story

November 13th, 2012 
Matt and I had been waiting for sweet baby to arrive, and I was getting pretty impatient. I was so worried my family was going to get here to celebrate Thanksgiving and we would all be interrupted by a trip to the hospital :) So, we decided to have a relaxing night... we went to Pei Wei with our sweet friends, the Bergerons. I ordered a spicy dish and then added the spicy sauce they serve... my attempt to induce labor :) Afterwards, Matt and I went to see a movie to try and get our minds off of baby. 

November 14th, 2012 
6 am: My water breaks in bed... I quickly run to the bathroom, not totally sure of what just happened. After waiting a few minutes I decided that my water had actually broken and decide to wake up Matt. After taking a shower, we plan our next move. We called our doula, Ashleigh, and she told us to call the midwives, but to be prepared for them to tell us to come into the hospital right away. We had planned for an unmedicated birth and really wanted to stay home as long as possible before heading to the hospital.  We called the midwives to tell them my water had broke and we waited for a call back. 

8 am: I ate some breakfast and Matt and I decide to go on a walk around the neighborhood. It was a cool morning and we enjoyed the last moments together just the two of us. I was walking with one foot on the curb and one of the ground, in an attempt to get baby to move further down the birth canal... and probably looking a bit crazy to our neighbors ;) At this point I was having regular contractions that were between 4 and 7 minutes apart, but nothing too serious. 

9 am: We decide to watch a little Everybody Loves Raymond and try to rest a bit. We ended up watching a few episodes and taking a nap. I am SO glad we rested and were able to stay home for this time... I don't know if we would have made it until Raylee was born if we wouldn't have rested. 

12 pm: I was so hungry and really wanted a turkey sandwich... we drove to Subway and then ate lunch at home. Again, so glad that I was able to eat because I needed the energy later... even though eating before giving birth is a big hospital "no-no" :) After lunch my contractions were coming about every 4 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds. I was ready to head to the hospital and see if we couldn't move things along. 

1 pm: We meet our doula at the hospital and head to maternal observation to be checked-in.  All of the rooms were full and the nurse, who was not too happy that I had waited all this time to come into the hospital, told me I would have to wait in the waiting room! While in the waiting room I was doing squats and moving around to try to get baby to move lower and to extend the length of my contractions.... again, probably looking crazy! ha. 
Since there were no rooms in maternal observation, they moved me straight up to labor and delivery. This was a total answer to prayer because I was able to avoid getting an IV (this is hospital protocol incase the laboring mom would need drugs later on).  Once in L&D we found out I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced! I hadn't been checked up at all up until this time so we were excited to hear that baby was on the way!! 

5 pm: Hard labor had officially begun and I decided to get into the tub.  The water is called the "midwives epidural" and it felt SO good to be in the water. The warm water was so relaxing.  I labored in the tub for about 3 hours... Matt was so great and sprayed water on my back and pushed my hips together during contractions. I couldn't have done it without him! I had some crazy urges to push, but I wasn't dilated enough so I just had to keep laboring and moving around to get baby into position. 

November 15th, 2012 
12 am: I was finally ready to push!! Our midwife, Candace, was awesome! I truly believe that if it had not been for her, I would have had to have a C-section. I was stuck at a 9 for a LONG time and I really believe that any other OB would have given up on me.  But, I knew that the Lord had created my body to give birth and I was determined to do it. Matt was such a huge encouragement during the whole process. While I was in transition, I kept saying that I couldn't do it any longer and I didn't want to do this any longer, but Matt kept encouraging me and reminding me of our conviction that the Lord had created my body to do this. He prayed over me and quoted scripture... really, could not have done it without him. I know he was just as exhausted as I was after this 19 hour labor. :)

1:01 am: Our sweet baby GIRL was placed on my chest!! Matt and I were so overwhelmed that we totally forgot to check to see if baby was a boy or a girl until the midwife said, "well, dad, is it a boy or a girl?" Matt turned her over and said, "its a girl, Lauren, its Raylee!!"  We both were overjoyed and totally in love!! Our sweet Raylee Joy had arrived!!   
Looking back on all that happened, Matt and I have been overwhelmed by the Lord's faithfulness and goodness. He ordained our every step and answered all of our prayers, big and small. I had prayed that my water would brake and that it would happen early in the morning so we were well rested for labor, we were able to avoid maternal observation and therefore avoid all of the hospital protocol which made it easier for us to have an unmedicated birth, we had the best day and night nurses - both loved Jesus and were so sweet to us, our labor and delivery nurse was also a believer and so great in assisting us during labor.  We praise the Lord for a smooth delivery and his continual provision! He is so good to us!! 
before going on a walk... and the last picture with just 2!
After my water broke at home... 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant 
sweet girl right after she was born - 9.1 lbs
Bena, our night nurse 
Regina, our daytime nurse
daddy loving on his girl!
first bath at home :) 
1 week old
Rae's first thanksgiving!
we were so blessed to have family here after Raylee was born! 

Next time... why we chose to name our baby girl Raylee Joy :)