Category Archives: Hopes & Dreams

Oh ya, my bad…

Oh kind productivity, I’ve missed you.

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My wonderful friend Sara pointed something out a few posts back that I forgot to share. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a bit lax about that lately. Going from having the summer off to capturing births again has got my website updates a bit more spaced.

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You know we have been a one-car family for most our marriage. Up until Stephen got a work vehicle when he worked with Bayer, we were riding in the same vehicle pretty much everywhere we went. It was a huge and lovely change having a 2nd vehicle, especially a truck we didn’t have to pay for.

So we went from 1 paid off car, to having a paid off car and company vehicle. Not having car payments was one of the reasons I was able to stay home when we had children. The small things really add up each month.

We love not having that debt, especially me and my don’t-owe-people-money brain. Having student loans is another toughie for me. I think we are still paying for my 1 semester at FSU, and that’s after 8 years of payments. Eesh. So not having car payments with 2 vehicles was not only awesome, but a necessity for us.

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We talked off and on about getting a van for a few years. Stephen knew I wanted one one day, so we started saving. I know he loooooves it when I monitor every single teeny tiny purchase from our account. It’s one of those things he has learned to accept about me, or at least I think so. That’s why love is a choice folks, you choose to love everything about your mate – everything, and my Mr.  is super kind to me and my money micro-managing self.

 

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We saved for a while and would occasionally check online to see if there were any great deals out there. It surprised me how hard it was to find minivans, at all, and at a great price was even rarer. Apparently people don’t let go of them very easily. Which makes sense to me now. People keep them til they fall apart, kind of like the matrix we sold, only it didn’t fall apart as much as have a fun visit to the shop ending with a years worth of car payments as the bill. I’m putting it all out there for you guys. After all, that was part of our decision process.

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After lots of searching, making lists of dealers and individual sales to check out, we visited a few places and got ourselves a new vehicle! Well, not new-new, but new to us. The best kind in my opinion ;)

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Somehow it’s already been two months, because it was back in August we made the jump and got a mini-van. We sold my car, which I’ve had for over 8 years, and made the beautiful leap to a roomy mom-mobile. You guys – all the room. The spacious spaciousness is so amazing. When we go places we can now fit my sister, my niece Addison (in a spare carseat we keep in the back row), my mom AND still have 1 spare seat, 2 really if you count the one in the middle that the girls use as a stepping stool.

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It took a bit of getting used too, and I still don’t know the buttons, but we are really enjoying the new Ringl-mobile. I even got a sticker for my back window this week. It’s similar to our old one in that if you understand what the sticker means then kudos, you are an awesome person. If you don’t get it… well, then you will just stare at it confused and think we are weird, which is also true. Embracing your inner weirdness is a beautiful part of life. Especially when you do it boldly and without regret ;)

Funny enough, the car search story doesn’t end there.

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The week after we got the van Stephen got a job offer.

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His job with Bayer was great and he was doing really well. I’m talking “win a free all-paid vacation to a private island” well. He was in the top 10 of the company. Not 10%, but top 10 people! I don’t unbiased’ly brag on my husband much on here, so you’ll have to just bear with me during this part of the story.

Stephen was doing awesome in the company, our insurance was wonderful (which is unheard of these days), he had a free company vehicle, he and his boss got along amazingly, and there were several end of year bonuses to look forward too. When he first got the job offer I didn’t think much of it. The Bayer job in itself was unexpected and an answer to some heavy prayers. Stephen needed change at that time for a few heavy reasons and the Lord provided. So this job offer really caught us off guard. It was actually from the company he used to work with, and while we loved him being nearby at a local job, there really wasn’t any topping the current job and incentives he was in line for.

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Then stuff got weird. Like, Jesus is pointing things out in a way you can’t ignore, weird. Stephens schedule was somehow getting busier, which I didn’t know was possible. I never really talked about his job much except with close-close friends and family, but his hours and the traveling was HARD. His trips up north for training weren’t too bad because we knew what to expect, but the frequent overnight trips, or being gone until we were all in bed, that part was hard to get used to. I think it took me 7-8 months to adjust. Thankfully I’m a pretty laid back person. I don’t run on schedules, so that made it easier for my personality type. Of course, that’s not including the girls adjustment period. The weekends were often “office work” days, which were nice because he got paid, but not nice in that he was working during the weekends. He was doing what was required of the job – hence the wonderful incentives and bonuses; Bayer knows it’s a time consuming job so they compensate you the best ways they can.

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However, you can’t buy weekends, you can’t pay for missed family gatherings and date nights. There is no getting over being exhausted and missing worship, discipleship and church opportunities. Really, just time in general. You can’t rewind, and if you know me I’m not one that cares much about monetary things in this world. Getting new stuff is nice, sure, this job is what made us able to save and buy the mini-van I was just raving about, but when it comes to the short time we have in this world, that van doesn’t mean a thing to us. We would rather drive my old hatchback together, shuffling and car pooling, than miss out on the life the Lord has given us.

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I guess after all of that it shouldn’t be a super huge surprise when I share that we prayed about that unexpected job offer. We prayed, we made pro-con lists, we talked and then we prayed some more. And despite everything we thought and expected, Stephen accepted the offer and is now working in the IT world again. The job came with a few adjusting changes for us, but in the 6 weeks he has been back it’s been amazing. I can see a huge difference in the girls and their bonding with him. We’ve gone on a few dates, which has been awesome. Most have been date nights in, but a date night is a date night folks, and this wife was missing them.

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With this job change came a huge contender on the pro/con list of ours – no more company vehicle. We just spent our car-fund on a van, and now we need a vehicle for Stephen too. Being a 1-car family wouldn’t work for us anymore. Not with me doing birth photography and the weird schedule that involves. We had 3 weeks to search and find something before the new job started. We wanted to pay cash, no loans involved or car payments.

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While things didn’t go exactly like I budgeted and hoped we did find Stephen a car. We went in with a number and left spending exactly that, not a penny more. Of course it took about 45 minutes of back and forth with the dealer, but that was more than worth it.

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So we went from a 1-car family, to 1 car and 1 company vehicle, to then a van and company truck and ending up with 1 Honda van and 1 Honda accord. From zero hondas to two. I can already see the kids learning to drive in them, mostly because that’s how long we’re going to have them ;)

New job, new cars; I think we are filled up and don’t plan on any new changes soon.

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A Day in the Life

At this time, just twenty four hours ago , I was awoken by a phone call. It was Brian, my on-call clients husband, and when I answered he boldly proclaimed “We are back at the hospital, she’s 8cm!” I’ve never woken, dressed, and left so quick in my life. Thankfully the roads were clear, given it was 11:30 on a Wednesday night.
It was go time and I was committing a woman-sin and praying moms labor would slow and I’d make it before babies arrival. I turned the radio onto K-love, calming my mind and praying for this exciting occasion.
I arrived, grabbed my gear to run inside, skipped the elevator for the stairs and slowed only to be buzzed in and collect my breath at the labor room door.

Mom was ready. Baby was ready. I thanked Jesus that I got there in the nick of time. Soon after, the grandma-to-be arrived and then the midwife. Not 20 minutes later a beautiful new baby boy was in his momma’s arms.

I stayed and grabbed the pictures I needed. Helped mom with some breastfeeding tips and shortly after hugged them goodbye.

Walking out to my car is always a surreal feeling. I once again witnessed new life enter into our world. I could not be more thankful and overjoyed for this mission and profession The Lord put on my heart.

I’ve also been really spoiled with moms having super fast labors and deliveries. The last three births I’ve been to I’ve been at the hospital less than 4 hours a piece. Of course now that I said it out loud my next 3 moms will probably give me a new longevity record.

I know I will sleep soundly tonight. Going from a full day of being mommy to being a photographer that night and back home in time to be mommy again. It’s a crazy new wonderful schedule.

Thank you to everyone that encouraged, motivated, pushed and prayed for this job I have. It’s been a whirlwind of a year and it looks like it’s only gonna get crazier and busier.

To end the evening, a cute baby photo or two to seal the deal.

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(Someone haaaaad to hold him, so
I happy volunteered).

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An Exciting Site Update: Photography

I’m excited to share a new addition to theringls.com with you. Lookie here, we’ve got a new page…
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I’m excited to show you this new tab that’s joining our little website. If you click on over I explain everything about it, and if you feel comfortable please feel free to pass the information on to anyone that may be interested.

This is all a little new, putting myself out there, but that’s what we do when we are passionate about something.

Thanks for clicking around, and if you have any questions just leave them below, shoot me an email, or send them to my Photography website, NewLightBirthPhotography or the Facebook page .

A New Life Captured

Last Christmas Stephen got me a new camera. I was extremely surprised and therefore determined to learn how to effectively use this gift. During my self-teachings I fell in love with something very specific: birth photography.

It’s been over a month since my newest niece was born and I thought it was a good time to share some pictures from the event.

I can not express how beyond honored I was (and still am) that my sister allowed me to capture Addisons arrival. To be able to document that day in a way that they can always remember. To have a way to see and recall all the tiny details. It was such a beautiful experience that I will always cherish.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

 

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Jeff did an amazing job being there to support and encourage Miriah through their delivery. She did an incredible job and was able to have a natural delivery, like she wanted.

It was an amazing experience and I hope to one day get to do it again.

Today, Yesterday & Tomorrow

I just had the realization that one day Sarah is not going to remember all these days I’ve had with her. While she’s young. I knew this when she was an infant, and even a baby, but as a toddler that fact doesn’t change.
All these moments when she gives me a hug without me asking, or tells me she loves me without prompting.
These are the days, weeks, months and years that only I will remember.
Motherhood is the most emotional experience of my life. And this is only the beginning.
I hope I never forget days like today. Days where we didn’t do anything but sit around and play and laugh. Days where I blew raspberries on her tummy while she giggled and told me to stop and then immediately after I stop says “Do it again?!” Over and over.

While I was putting Sarah to bed tonight she asked to watch “one more” episode of Curious George. I told her no, that she already got to watch ‘one more’. She started to cry and get upset and I had to stand firm. To be the parent, even though all I wanted to do was cuddle with her on the couch. Some days are tougher than others, but I have learned that if she doesn’t get her rest she will show it tomorrow. It isn’t hard to do after an especially looong day. When I’m ready to turn my brain off. Now I am sitting here on the couch and the house is quiet. Real quiet. Too quiet. It’s funny how much you miss your children and all their noise while they are peacefully sleeping.

This post started because of a text I sent my mom. She is on a trip and incommunicado, which makes me realize how much I normally talk to her. I had to send her a message, even though she won’t get it for a few more days, to thank her for being what I am trying my best to be. For the past [almost 30] years I had the best example of a loving mother. In the beginning days, months and years that only she knows the stories from. One day I will look at pictures with our children and will have to tell them the story behind them because they won’t remember. It will be some of the best moments, I can already tell.

All this to simply tell you, mom, and all moms, thank you for being this for us. For showing and teaching me that, while motherhood is the most exhausting and demanding role, it is the most beautiful and rewarding gift I could ever give and receive.

I can’t imagine a better life.
I love and miss you.

Elanors Birth Story: Part 4

I looked at Jenny with a dumbfound look. Am I ready to have our baby? Did she really just ask me that? All I knew at that moment was that I was beyond thankful that she was done checking me. That contraction was the worst, and all I was concentrating on was not pulling away from her while she did her job. I couldn’t believe we were at this point already. Was it actually go-time? With a bit of excited confusion I asked her back “You tell me, are we ready?” I don’t know what I was thinking or expecting, all I knew is that I hadn’t mentally prepared myself yet. I was in labor with Sarah for over 24 hours, and this time it had only been 7 hours since my first contraction. I think she could sense my hesitation because she asked me how I was feeling and I told her I felt a lot of pressure and like I needed to push. It’s true when people say you feel like you need to go to the bathroom. And yes, I do mean “bathroom” as in you feel like you need to poop. Thankfully it’s just the sensation that feels similar, and not the outcome! She told me if I felt like it was time to push then it was exactly that, time to push.

While some nurses scrambled around we discussed birthing positions. I did a lot of research on this subject and told her I was interested in squatting. She got a nurse to grab the squat bar and attached it to the end of the bed. I tried standing and getting into a squat position and it was.NOT.happening. It hurt my knees and was far from natural feeling for me. I blame my height, squats have never been my thing. I hated them in high school and I guess I still don’t like them to this day. Jenny suggested what I’m going to call the “C” position. After deciding on a position that felt comfortable and natural I got mentally prepared. Just like that. It took me less than 10 seconds to realize and accept that this was happening. I was ready.

While Jenny was getting prepped, and I was working through a contraction, she asked me my feelings on having med students in the room for the delivery. I don’t know if it was my honest thought, or being asked the question during a contraction, but I told her “sure”. (This split second decision would prove to be rather interesting a bit later). Jenny got all her medical gear on and asked me if I wanted her to break my water. It wasn’t a question I had thought much about. I guess I just assumed it would happen on it’s own, naturally. I asked Stephen what he thought and neither of us were against the idea so we went for it. Less than a minute later I felt the strangest and warmest release I’d ever felt. I had heard from a lot of people that after their water was broken they felt a lot of uncomfortable pressure and their contractions were a lot more painful. I didn’t feel this. I guess I could have felt pressure, but wasn’t aware because it was after this that I started pushing. While trying to get into position a contraction started and I did my first set of pushes. I had no clue what I was doing during the first 2 pushes. They told me “curl your body like a C” and all my brain heard was “you’re doing it wrong” and I kept thinking “how the crap does my body make a C?” Turns out it’s really simple to figure out when you aren’t trying to think during a contraction.

I finally figured out the correct positioning and it was time to push again. I grabbed the hand grips, held my breath, and pulled my chin into my chest. Jenny and all the nurses were telling me “Push! Push!”, so I did. I did 3 pushes during that contraction. While waiting for the next contraction Jenny was telling me she could see the head. We were only 1 contraction in and she could already see our baby. I was excited and shocked. Before I knew it it was time to push again. I was pushing as hard as I could, 1 push and then another. I know it may sound crazy but I really don’t remember any pain. It certainly wasn’t painless, but it wasn’t so unbearable that I didn’t want to push. We made it through that 3rd push and Jenny told us “Look at all her hair.” I looked down and could actually see our daughters hair. It was incredible. She had a lot of dark hair, just like her sister did. It came time again and Jenny, Stephen, and the nurses were cheering me on to push. I pushed as hard as I could through 2 pushes and on the 3rd I stopped. I needed a break. The nurses were all saying “Push” and I told them “Hold on. No, I need a break.” I know my body, and I knew to stay in control and keep my energy up I needed to stop, so I did. I told them “I feel like I’m going to pass out, I just need a moment to breathe”, and they all listened. Holding your breath while you push is tough. During my very first set of pushes they told me not to waste any energy on making any noise, put all your concentration and energy into your pushes. That’s what I was doing, and that’s why I needed a moment to catch my breath.

I was feeling good again and then it was time to go another round. My contraction started and I pushed as best I knew how. I remember while I was pushing I could hear Jenny saying “keep pushing, her head is almost out”, so I did just that, I kept pushing. After that contraction I looked down and saw our little girl for the first time. I remember hearing Stephen say “Cassie, she’s so beautiful” and I remember saying “Look at those cheeks!” She looked just like Sarah, except with the cutest little chunky cheeks I’d ever seen. I love that I have such a vivid first memory of seeing our daughter. Being so aware and alert just staring at her face while Stephen held my hand. Another contraction came and I closed my eyes and pushed with all the energy I had left to push with. It was during this moment that Elanor was born. It was an incredible sensation, feeling our daughter being born. I watched as Jenny had her in her hands and immediately brought her up and laid her on my chest. She had started crying while they were rubbing her off and Stephen and I just stared at her. Then, it happened. That instant and incredible love that people talk about. The one you worry you won’t have with a second child. Stephen and I both asked it…”Will we love her enough?” “How can we possibly love her as much as we love Sarah?” It’s the most amazing thing feeling that new bond while your heart fills with love for this new child. I didn’t get to experience those thoughts and sensations with Sarah, and I was so thankful that I was finally getting to have this moment.
It all happened so fast. It had been less than 30 minutes since Jenny came into the room to check on me, and we were already holding our new baby. I never would have thought that it could go by so fast.

Stephen was kissing my head and telling me how happy and proud he was. I was able to have my dream delivery, and it was far beyond anything I could have imagined. Any pain I had felt was gone. I honestly don’t remember it hurting. I know that probably sounds crazy, but it’s true. The moment I was done with that last push and they were bringing our new daughter up to our arms all I felt was joy, excitement, and love. The endorphin rush was stronger than anything I had ever felt.

While we were admiring our little girl Jenny came and gave me a hug. I loved having such an open and strong relationship with our doctor. We told Jenny exactly what we were wanting and hoping for with this delivery, and she helped us achieve just that.

I was physically ready this time. I even thought I was emotionally prepared, but anyone who’s had a child knows there is no way to prepare yourself for the overwhelming love, joy, and thankfulness that fills your heart and mind. The emotions are all there, along with feelings you can’t explain and weren’t expecting. Then, before you know it the experience is over and you have your story. The story you’ve been dreaming about for 9+ months. That, my friends, is the beginning of Elanor’s story.

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Elanors Birth Story: Part 3

It was slow, but it was something. The nurses watched the screen a bit and one of them left the room with instructions to grab a few things. Her heartbeat wasn’t as strong as it should be. She was fluctuating between 90-115 bpm.

They started by giving me something to stop my contractions. I knew this was what they needed to do, but it also had me worried it was going to completely stop my labor, like what happened with Sarah. They then started a bag to hydrate me. Because we came in first thing in the morning I hadn’t drank much or eaten anything since the night before. The nurses wanted to hydrate me and said that could help solve everything. We waited for 30 minutes while the IV bag emptied and there wasn’t any progress. Her heart rate was still low. Next they started another bag, but this one had dextrose. The thought was that some sugar/energy would cheer our girl up and have her back to normal. Skipping breakfast wasn’t like me, but that day was far from our average morning and I simply forgot to eat. Not even 5 minutes in and her heart rate was picking up. Praise God, it was working! Seems our little Elanor is like her momma and gets cranky and difficult when she’s hungry. By the time that bag finished she was back to normal. Strong heartbeat in the 150-160 range. The nurses were finally comfortable and going to give Stephen and I some time alone. They instructed me to stay me in bed a while longer, no walking or moving, giving her some more time to recuperate.

The peace and quiet was nice. I think that was the first time I took my eyes off the monitor since everything started. This whole crazy thing began at around 9:30 and I wasn’t allowed to get out of the bed until after 11:30.

When I got the go ahead Stephen grabbed the Ab ball for me so I could start moving around. There’s something relaxing and kinda fun about laboring with an ab ball. Stephen sat and talked with me while I rocked around hoping to get my contractions back and steady. After about 15 minutes on the ball I was able to start walking around again. It felt great. Things were finally getting back on track. While stuck in the hospital bed I had stopped feeling the contractions because they’re intensity had slowed way down, but based on the screen they were coming every 5 or so minutes. They were short and weak, but I was so very thankful that my body hadn’t decided to go backwards.


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At noon my midwife came in to check on us. We chatted for a bit and Jenny asked if I wanted her to check me then, or wait until she came back at about 1:30. I voted to wait. An hour and half wasn’t a long time, and I wasn’t emotionally ready to find out if I was still at a 5 like I had been earlier. I knew that if I heard I hadn’t progressed any it would be a big blow to my confidence. That, and checking for dilation isn’t exactly comfortable on a laboring woman, so getting the option to wait was nice.

It was just Stephen and I again, I was listening to Enya on my phone while walking my earlier path and started having to take bathroom breaks. Thankfully my walking path lead into the bathroom, so it was pretty convenient. After alternating between walking and the exercise ball I needed a change. We buzzed our nurse and she came and helped us get the whirlpool filled with some warm water. This was the best decision yet. I stepped into the tub and slowly lowered myself into the water. I had to lift my gown I was wearing and because the fetal heart rate monitors were waterproof I didn’t have to adjust or move them. The moment I sat down I felt instant relief. Warm water has a way of doing that, relaxing the mind and muscles. After sitting down I noticed that the jets for your back were positioned kinda weird, but the foot jet was wide open, so I sat with my back to the faucet so the jet could hit me directly where I was feeling my contractions. The water pressure was just right. I just sat there, for close to 30 minutes, listening to music with my eyes closed. Stephen would come check on me every once in a while and chat for a few minutes. I felt like I was in my own world. A world with no pain or back labor. I wasn’t feeling any discomfort during my contractions, so I stayed in there until just a few minutes before Jenny was supposed to come and check on things.

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It was just before 1:30 when I got into the bed. It didn’t take any time at all to start feeling the contractions again. They were coming fast and sitting in the bed made them pretty uncomfortable. After about 15 minutes I felt a contraction starting and asked Stephen to help relieve the pressure. He started to press on my lower back, like he had done numerous times that day, and as soon as he started to push in I told him to stop. The contraction in my lower back hurt and the extra pressure felt horrible. I had 2 contractions like this. The second one happened when Jenny was coming into the room. Stephen was telling me to remember to breathe and I was swaying sideways to relieve the extra weight on my hips. It was this moment that confirmed everything I had read and heard about laboring in a bed being the worst place possible. Jenny walked over and checked the monitors. My contactions were coming less than 2 minutes apart. She asked me how I was feeling and I told her. I felt great before I was sitting in this bed. The last 2 contractions were the most painful I had felt all day. She listened to me talk and then asked me to lay back so she could see where we were at.

Not 10 minutes before, while we were waiting for Jenny, I had asked Stephen to pray that I was a seven by now. 7cm dilated, that’s all I was hoping for. I wasn’t too tired, and things were going really well, so I was hoping to hear we had progressed some after everything with the IV’s and bed-rest from that morning.

I was laying down when Jenny started to check me and it was at that same moment that I had another contraction. It hurt like all get out. Jenny is known to help stretch you, which any laboring woman appreciates, but that doesn’t mean it’s painless, and to have a contraction at the same moment was far from pleasant. I was arching my back and squeezing Stephen’s hand, hoping to hear her say 7cm, when something completely different happened. I heard Jenny say “she’s in +2 position and over 9cm”. While I heard the words I didn’t really comprehend what she said. Not a moment later Jenny looked at me and asked me the last thing I was expecting, “So, are you ready to have a baby?”

 

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In case you missed it, here are the links to the earlier posts of the Labor Story: Part 1 &  Part 2

 

Elanors Birth Story: Part 1

Sitting here and trying to think how to start this isn’t easy. Putting this experience into words makes it so final. My pregnancy is over. I no longer get to feel our baby move inside my belly. It’s strange how you countdown the days to the end of your pregnancy, but then when it’s come and gone you miss it. I actually find myself wanting to rewind the clock. We prepared for months for the day we would get to meet our little girl. I take that back, I’ve been preparing and hoping for this beautiful story since my experience with our first daughter. You can read about that here if you missed it before, or just want a refresher. We’ve been looking forward to the labor and birth of our second daughter since we found out we were pregnant again. Choosing our midwife, and then building a real relationship with her isn’t something I feel prepared to give up. Reading book after book, and preparing our birth plan. We were ready this time. Ready to bring our daughter into our lives the way WE wanted. I just didn’t realize how much I hadn’t emotionally prepared myself for the after.

I’m proud, excited, and honestly a bit sad to share this with you. Writing this out is the hard truth that Elanor is no longer just my experience, she is becoming part of everyone’s story. She now decides and writes her own path. This, friends, is the start of Elanors life story…

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We were nearing the end of November and I was feeling like labor would never get here. I wasn’t due until December 11th, but with Sarah coming a week early I figured we would have the same experience this time, if not a little sooner. At my 36 week appointment my midwife, Jenny, checked to see where we stood. I was, quite unexpectedly, 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. We were shocked. She told us to make sure our bags were packed and ready and that because this was baby #2, and we lived about 40 minutes from the hospital, to watch for early signs of labor and not wait it out too long bc we didn’t want to have a baby on the side of the interstate.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were excited. Could the time really be this close? It was 1 week before thanksgiving and we were both hoping she’d come before December. Before December, but after Thanksgiving, to be honest. Ya, I know, we were hoping for a 1week window. Talk about crazy hopes. So we are 36 weeks along and my hopes for a pre-December birth just skyrocketed.

Five days later I had another appointment. We were at the weekly-appointments point now and because it was the week of Thanksgiving (and I was a tad bit too curious) I asked Jenny to check if I had progressed any. I was quite disappointed to find out we were at the same point as the week before. All that walking and nothing had changed. I suppose this should have been good news. Stephen had a wedding rehearsal on Friday and was performing the ceremony on Saturday. Plus, all of my family was going to be out of town for the holiday weekend. They were our Sarah-watchers while we would be at the hospital. All these things combined made for a very inconvenient week/weekend to have a baby. Thanksgiving came and no change. I hadn’t even had any Braxton Hicks contractions. Actually, according to Jenny I must have been having some bc I was 3cm, but it wasn’t anything that I had felt. I had back labor with Sarah, never a single contraction until the day I went into labor. I had no idea what braxton hicks, or regular contractions, even felt like. Back labor is a completely different experience than the other, and Jenny told me not to expect back labor this go around because it isn’t common.

Friday came and we went with our friends Brandon and Nicole to get our Christmas tree. When we got back to their place to decorate I was feeling a little crampy. I texted my friend Sara and asked her if that was normal. She gave me some tips and tidbits about what contractions feel like. Jenny explained it by pushing against my forehead with my fingers. If my stomach is as hard as a rock, or my forehead, than I’m having a contraction. These weren’t painful, but my stomach was rock hard. I asked Stephen to push on my belly and tell me if these were real and he confirmed my suspicions. Hooray, I’m finally contracting! Could this be the day? Was I going into early labor?! I helped Nicole decorate the tree and tried not to get excited. Don’t over think this Cassie. Women have contractions for weeks, even months, without going into labor. As the day continued so did the contractions. They got more frequent and a little more uncomfortable. We were headed home where Stephen was dropping Sarah and myself off while he went to the wedding rehearsal. On the way there Stephen asked what I was thinking. Should we go to the hospital? A few friends offered to come stay with me and Sarah while Stephen was gone. We decided I would stay home with Sarah and let her play outside while I walked around. If the contractions picked up I’d call him and we’d head to the hospital. Stephen left and less than an hour later the contractions were gone. Looks like we had our first false alarm. Thankfully we didn’t go to the hospital to find that out. We also discovered that Stephen had zero cell reception at the wedding location, so going into labor really wouldn’t have been good. The weekend went by and still no baby. Looks like Week37 wasn’t going to be the one.

The next Tuesday came and I went to my next appointment. I told Jenny about our false alarm and she told me she would have been there ready for me because she delivered 2 babies that Friday. She followed it by apologizing to me. She knew she had gotten our hopes up and we had all expected a baby by now. This just reaffirmed our decision to use her as our midwife. She wasn’t just the woman that was going to deliver our baby, she was a real person, and treated me like one too. I had decided I didn’t want to get checked. No point in giving ourselves false hope again. Plus, lets be honest, getting checked isn’t exactly comfortable. We went over our birth plan, she gave me some extra exercise tips. If I really wanted to get things moving it looked like I’d be doing some squats for the next few weeks. Just before leaving Jenny told us that Wednesday night was a full moon, so maybe that would bring us our baby. I appreciated her optimism.

I spent Wednesday at my parents house playing with Sarah. Like the previous few days I had some contractions on and off, but nothing painful, just that funny feeling of having a rock hard stomach. I had decided to take this time and truly enjoy my time with Sarah. It would never be just her and I again. We were fixing to bring a new family member into our home, and Sarah and my time would be different. No more uninterrupted naps on the [very rare] days Sarah would pass out next to me. Not with a hungry and breastfed baby on the way. We played outside that entire day. Sarah LOVES to play chase, so I happily obliged. Her giddy and contagious laugh makes it worth the crazy exhaustion her crazy mamma usually feels soon after, but not today. I had an extra burst of energy that day. I think it was accepting the notion that my time was now limited. After her baby sister arrived I wouldn’t even be allowed to pick up our sweet Sarah for a few weeks. I wanted to soak up every second I could, and she very excitedly obliged me :)

Stephen came to pick me up so we could head home for the evening. My parents were letting Sarah stay the night since I was coming back in the morning. No more staying at home by ourselves, you know “just in case” something happens. That was a mid-wife order. Stephen dropped me off at home and headed to church for the Wednesday service while I settled in on the couch to watch a Christmas Movie. Stephen got home a few hours later and we headed to bed. I remember sleeping really well that night. I didn’t wake up once until 5am. That’s a huge improvement compared to my usual 3-4 times a night. Stephen and I woke up and while in the shower I started to feel that same tightening in my stomach. Stephen had become my ‘contraction tester’ because sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between contraction and Elanor adjusting and pressing against my stomach. While getting ready they continued and were about 5 minutes apart, just like that Friday before, only this time I was also feeling pressure in my back. We left the house and were headed into town when Stephen decided we’d go up to the hospital just to see if these were anything more. It would be an easy thing to check before he dropped me off at my parents for the day. We called to let my folks know we’d be a bit longer. I didn’t know it at the time, but that long and precious night of rest would soon prove to be very useful.

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Strumming My Heart Strings

I love listening to musical families. I think that is one of the things that drew me to Stephen when I first met him. Back when we were dating I used to sit on the couch in my parents living room and watch Stephen play his electric guitar. I would quietly observe as he picked through the different notes making them produce familiar tunes, such as the Mario Bros theme, or Jaws, and my personal favorite, My Girl.

I’m happy to report that I think we lucked out and Sarah has taken after her father in the music department. I may have played piano as a young girl, but that was with the help of lessons from a teacher. Not Stephen. Stephen hears a tune or a song and moves his fingers across the keys finding the notes required to duplicate what he just heard. It’s incredible. It’s something I can’t quite comprehend, and I absolutely love getting to watch his eyes and fingers go from thought to production. When he reads this he will think and probably tell me that he is far from a musician. That he doesn’t have real skills with instruments, but just knows his way around a few notes and songs here and there. Hogwash. My husband is humble, which is one of the many things that I love about him. Sure, he may joke about being awesome and rad and asking you for a high five when hanging out with friends and youth groups, he’s a kid at heart and I’m pretty sure he’ll always have that quality that keeps me laughing. But while he is a kid at heart, and a jokester to the core, he is also a hardworking husband, father, friend, son, youth leader, worship team player, employee, and mentor. That’s a lot of roles for one person to manage, and I’m sure he can get overwhelmed at times with filling those parts each and every day. After being together for over 7 years I think I know how he stays sane. Music. Music is an escape from the world and it’s many responsibilities. It’s a way for him to reconnect and focus all of his responsibilities around the most important role in life.

I know writing this won’t suddenly make his believe that he has a gift with music. No matter what you tell him he still won’t, and that’s not why I’m writing this. Stephen knows great musicians. He knows people that get paid to play music. People with top of the line equipment and almost a lifetime of experience. People that he admires and asks advice from. I’m sure they have helped contribute in his ability to learn new instruments and how to best work with what you have. The first guitar we bought Stephen was at a yard sale for $7. He still owns that guitar and I hope we never get rid of it. I’ve seen and heard him worship using that piece of equipment and it’s been some of the most humbling experiences of my life. To have the honor of listening to my partner worship our God that has given him that exact talent.. The God we have given our lives and marriage to. I hope that is something I never take for granted.

Music is part of Stephen’s soul. He gets joy out of showing others how to play and giving them tips that have helped him along the way. In my eyes, my husband IS the greatest musician I know. Every time he sits at the piano with our daughter in his lap and encourages her to bang on the keys, he is a teacher. When he grabs his guitar and sits on the couch to sing to our daughter, he is a vocalist. When he plays around with different tunes and cords, he is a composer. Even back when he put headphones on my belly when I was pregnant, he was a DJ. Every small thing he does, especially when he dosen’t know someone’s watching, he is using his gift to encourage people. He is using wood, strings, keys, and drums to show, speak, and spread his love for God and all the people who need to hear of that love. He is using something he enjoys for a cause much bigger than himself.

Today I got to watch the start of our next generation using an instrument for joy…

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She’s no Beethoven, but it’s my favorite piece to date.
In case the video’s being goofy, click here

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The Birth Story: Part 2

The next 2 1/2 hours crawled by. The pain wasn’t really worse, but it wasn’t better either. Maybe I pinched a nerve with all the house projects I’d accomplished during the week. That would make sense. I did discover that the pain would let up when I sat down, not in a chair though, on the toilet. Just plopping down (with my clothes on of course) and sitting there took the pressure off. It didn’t work on the couch, or in the desk chair, just the toilet. Weird.
Stephen was on the computer researching labor identifiers while I rotated between walking around and sitting down. It was close to 6:00 now. Things weren’t feeling any better. I brought up the big question. “Do you think I’m having back labor?” Stephen quickly looked up the symptoms and asked me questions about where the pain was, then we would time how long it lasted and the length of the breaks in between.

How did people know what to look for before the internet? I had read several books, talked to all my friends with experience, but none of it prepared me for this strange feeling. We decided that if we went to the hospital and this was in fact false labor, or something stupid like gas or a pulled muscle, we would keep it quiet. I didn’t want the world to know that we rushed to the hospital because I had a gas bubble and was too dumb to recognize the pain. Plus, this way Stephen could drop me off at my mom and dads and head to the Bachelor Party and me be just a few minutes down the road, rather than 45 minutes across town.

It was time to decide what we were gonna do. The pain hadn’t subsided and it was raining cats and dogs outside. Either way I wasn’t staying home alone. If I started to feel better we would drop me off at my parents so I was in town and near Stephen in case things started up again. The guys were meeting at 7:00, that gives us 1 hour to go to the hospital to get checked out. That way Stephen could make it to the party in time when we found out I was just having back pain from all the extra weight I was carrying around.

We already had our hospital bag packed, along with the diaper bag and car seat. Stephen ran to and from the car, loading it up in the rain. Before we left I remembered to grab my pillow, just in case. We got on the road and avoided the highway, taking the city roads because of the weather. It made our trip longer, but was well worth the peace of mind. We arrived at the hospital and Stephen dropped me off at the entrance and went to park. I found a bench and sat down to wait. While I sat there waiting for him I was watching the rain pour down and drip off the overhang. It would be pretty funny if we were in labor. The bad weather reminded me of our wedding day. The day before it had been sunny and gorgeous, but we celebrated our union running to the car in freezing wind and rain. A lot like the weather at this moment.

While standing there time seemed to slow down. My brain started to process all the possibilities of what might be happening. Could we really be having our baby tonight? Would I finally get to hold her in my arms and see what she looks like? I’d dreamt of this day for years. I then saw Stephen walking towards me and we headed into the hospital. We stopped at the desk and asked the man where we go to check for labor. Apparently there is a place called ‘Triage’ and he directed us there. We walked to the elevators and pushed the button to the 2nd floor. While heading up Stephen stopped and gave me a kiss. I think we both had our hopes up, we were both ready to welcome our little girl into to the world and into our family. The doors opened and we headed down the empty hallway. When we opened the door there were 4 nurses at the front. I felt silly, suddenly unaware of what to say. They asked me how they could help and this is what I came up with: “Umm, I think I might be in labor, but I’m not sure?”  Yes, you could actually hear the question mark in my voice. The nurses smiled at me and gave me a clipboard with a form to fill out. I quickly filled it out and we were taken to a room where they gave me a gown. I headed to the bathroom to change and empty my always-full bladder. I made my walk back to the room with my hands holding the opened-back outfit closed so I didn’t moon anyone on the way. When I got back Stephen was waiting for me and smiling.

The nurse came in and hooked me up to some monitors. After asking what felt like a million questions she did a check to see if I was in labor. We were excited to hear that I was 4 cm dilated, which is 2 more than I was at my appointment on Thursday. Could this really be it? Were we here for the long haul? The nurse left and said she’d be back in a while to check me again. We sat there not sure if we should be excited or nervous. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, I know some women that have sat at under 5 cm for weeks waiting to actually go into labor.

The nurse came back after about 45 minutes and discovered I had progressed to 5 cm!  Stephen and I were both shocked and excited. I had increased 1 cm in under an hour. Our baby could be here in the matter of a few short hours! This was it. We were going to meet our daughter. Over 9 months of waiting and dreaming were finally here.

The nurse came back to let us know that my doctor, whom I love, was not on call that night. My heart sunk. I had such a great connection with my doctor. After we moved I searched and searched for a doctor I felt safe with and trusted. I know that the Lord led me to my doctor because it was by accident that I found her. She also happend to be the same doctor that many of my friends had with their pregnancies and births. I had been looking forward to sharing this experience with her. She answered all my crazy questions throughout those 9 months. I shared my birth plan with her and she was 100% behind my wants. She made me feel comfortable and relaxed, I trusted her. After all those months of relationship building I just found out that my life and my babies life were in the hands of a stranger… I wasn’t sure how to feel.

I looked at Stephen and he could tell what I was thinking. The next question from the nurse really threw me for a loop. The doctor on call wanted to know if I was ready to go on Pitocin to speed up the process. I lost my breath for a moment, I felt like I had just swallowed my tongue. I haven’t even met this doctor and she’s ready to pump me full of drugs to rush this process. This was not my plan. This was the complete opposite of my plan. I looked at Stephen for reassurance and answered with a firm, and possibly a bit aggressive, “No!”

The nurse left to talk to the doctor and I just stared at Stephen. He didn’t have to say anything, he could tell what I was thinking. He held my hand and let me process everything that was going on. I felt so lucky to have such a caring husband and partner. He reads me so well and knows that sometimes all I need is for him to be by my side for comfort, to let me think and digest all the information that was thrown at us.

The nurse came back and said it was time to move us to a labor & delivery room. We packed up our things and were ready to make the transition. This was it, we were here for the long haul. Wether it was my dream delivery plan or not, we were finally going to meet our baby girl.

The Ringls Visit to Triage from the ringls on Vimeo.

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