“A whole hand, mom!”

This morning as Nick was cooking breakfast and I was feeding our youngest, we reminisced where we were and what we were doing on this exact day 5 years ago.  I don’t have the best memory, but there are some things that are seared in my mind and one of those was the day our first child was born.

I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant.  I had an early morning appointment with my midwife that day and she sent me home to rest.  She told me that labor could be as soon as the coming weekend or still a week away (insert gasps and eye-rolls).  I met Nick for lunch at Bob Evans.  I ordered a salad, which I am still not sure why I thought that was a good idea with how I was feeling because I unfortunately would be seeing it later.  I will never forget the waitress and her words to me.  She asked when I was due and I told her I was actually past my due date.  Then she proceeded to ask about my birth plan (why, I don’t know?).  I told her that my plan was to go naturally, but that I wasn’t necessarily opposed to an epidural.  She straight up told me I was crazy.  Word of advice, don’t ever tell a 40+ week pregnant woman that her birth plan is crazy.  Looking back though, I am thankful for her because she put a fire deep inside me.  If I wasn’t sure of an unmedicated birth before, I was now, if nothing more than to prove her WRONG!

After lunch, I laid around all day in lots of pain.  As soon as Nick got home, I said let’s go for a walk.  We walked our normal walking path, much like we had been doing for a couple of weeks, except this time as soon as we rounded the corner, I knew it was “go-time.”

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We took this picture right before leaving for the hospital.  I had called my midwife to tell her I was on my way and of course, my parents who left at 9pm that night and drove all through the night to meet their first grandchild.  I will never forget as they wheeled me into Family Beginnings I was greeted by the most gentle nurse.  She laid her hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes and said, “It’s ok now.  You are safe and we are going to take good care of you.”

The plan was never to give birth in the water, only to labor and help ease the pain of contractions.  For those of you who have never heard of a water birth, they describe it as an “aqua-dural” instead of having an epidural.  Anyways, things happened fast and I progressed quickly.  I honestly don’t remember a ton because I was in a whole other realm, so when the midwife told me its time to push I was in shock.  Now listen, I can take contractions ALL. DAY. LONG.  but this whole pushing business, I was not prepared for.  It had always been described to me in birthing class as something you look forward to, a way to release the pain.  Ummm NO.  The “burning ring of fire” is very real folks, so very real!  At one point during pushing (stop reading if you have a squeamish stomach, just stop and pick back up in the next paragraph), the midwife said she could see his head full of hair and asked if I wanted to touch it.  I am pretty sure I yelled back at her and said, “NO!”  Then she proceeded to ask Nick if he wanted to.  I answered for him and said, “NO, GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME!”

I will never forget the moment the midwife laid him on my chest.  That feeling is so powerful, if you could bottle that feeling up, I feel certain it would move mountains.  Nick was in a crying heap, and all I remember saying was, “He’s here! I did it! He’s here! I did it!”  The feeling of pride for my baby boy, the feeling of relief that it’s all over, and the feeling of accomplishment is one that I will never forget.  It was one of the most intimate, raw and spiritual experiences I have ever experienced.

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Rowan Gray was born shortly after midnight on September 23, 2011.  My first born, my baby boy and tomorrow he turns 5 years old.  This has been the hardest birthday for me to celebrate thus far.  I am feeling all the emotions right now.  He is so excited and has been counting down the days for weeks, while I am quietly holding back the tears and wondering how in the world it’s possible that my baby will be “a whole hand tomorrow.”

He is so eager to grow up and it hurts my heart, but I know he must.  What he’s yet to experience, but what I know already is that this world can be so harsh and cruel.  Thus, I want to keep him safe with me forever.  However, this world is also beautiful and contains so many wonderful adventures and life to be lived, that I know I must let him grow. And so, I must be brave, so that he can be brave.  I came across this  on Jen Hatmaker ‘s blog about raising brave kids and it spoke straight to my heart…

“I don’t want my kids safe and comfortable. I want them BRAVE. I don’t want to teach them to see danger under every rock, avoiding anything hard or not guaranteed or risky. They are going to encounter a very broken world soon, and if they aren’t prepared to wade into difficult territory and contend for the kingdom against obstacles and tragedies and hardships, they are going to be terrible disciples.

I don’t want to be the reason my kids choose safety over courage. I hope I never hear them say, “Mom will freak out,” or “My parents will never agree to this.” May my fear not bind their purpose here. Scared moms raise scared kids. Brave moms raise brave kids. Real disciples raise real disciples.”

Rowan Gray, may you always know who you are…You are Kind. Wise. Brave. and True.  May you feel loved and treasured on your special day!

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