Monday, August 26, 2013

Our Adoption Journey: "Our Paperwork Pregnancy & Hoping for a Future Birth Overseas"

Ok, here I am, finally able to sit down for a little while to give you an update on what’s going on with our adoption.  For those of you that have recently joined our supporting group and haven't read our previous updates, here they are: Update # 1, and  #2.

What a ride friends!Even though we are thrilled at the prospect of enlarging our family; handling the day to day of family life, our little ones, our fundraiser and the adoption process all at the same time keeps us quite busy. But we trust that if God called us to it, He’ll see us through it. This is certainly an experience that is making us grow in stewardship of our resources. Especially time!

As always we'll entertain you with our pictures as you read thru! This is from a got together with my family that came to visit from Colombia a few weeks ago. Wouldn't our future child look super-cute on these pictures?
Ok, as many of you know, we decided to pursue an international adoption from the country of China. We are specifically attempting to bring home a special need child from the province of Henan, located in Central Asia. We are slowly moving forward through the milestones of the journey, which at a high level consist of:

1.     Applying and Obtaining the Agency Approval

2.     Compiling the Dossier (Documentation to get approved by the Chinese & the U.S Gov't)

3.     Being matched with our child

4.     Traveling to China to bring our child home

5.     Bonding and post-placement

Yeah, I bet he/she would love to enjoy a family pool party!

Every step is quite involved, and we are experiencing the morning sickness of a “paperwork pregnancy” as we diligently work on the paper-chasing of step #2.  So far we are very pleased with the service and professionalism we have experienced by the agency we chose: CCIA (Chinese  Children Adoption International).
We will try to expand on the process of how we selected them in a future post, where we will also share a little more on the cost and financials of adoption. For now, we want to share a bit about the different types of adoption and why we decided to adopt internationally.

And throw water balloons at daddy!

And bake a birthday pizza with brother!

And steal daddy's chef hat!

For families interested in adopting in the United States, there are three types of adoption: Adoption of a new born, adoption of waiting children through the foster care system, and international adoption. Even though the online resources to learn about adoption are plentiful we highly recommend 2 books that helped us tremendously to get a better understanding on the subject.  The first one: Succesful Adoption, a guide for Christian Families is a great resource to get answers to most of the questions regarding the adoption process. From adoption types, costs, the process, samples documents, to the post-adoption considerations, this book was really worth to read before jumping into our journey. 

The second book that was greatly helpful and inspiring was: Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. This book was very insightful regarding the “why” of adoption. We highly recommend it to learn about the meaning of adoption for a Christian believer and what are the many different ways the bible points us to respond to the fate of the orphans and the less privileged.  Not every family is called to become an adoptive family, but we are all called to get involved. We believe that each family responding to the calling to adopt is led to approach a special type of adoption according to what they consider is a best fit for them.
And jump his wiggles out!

In our case we arrived to our decision as a combination of many factors. We’ll name a few:

We’ve had a lifelong interest and involvement with global missions which has increased our responsiveness towards needs in other parts of the world. We believe that adopting internationally is a great way to live out a missional lifestyle, which is something we want to be purposeful about.  Also, we have close friends that have adopted special need children, and we’ve witnessed how much more manageable this is than what we initially thought. We have been blessed by seeing these families blossom and reap the rewards of investing themselves into these children. Educating ourselves on the subject has helped to evaporate a bunch of myths on the subject plus we consider ourselves tremendously blessed by living in a country with much more medical resources to help a special need child.

And get to know many places with all of us!

Why China right? Well, probably the response to this question deserves a post on its own.  But to keep it short for now, we will share that even though in the last few decades China has experienced an exponential growth in many areas the need on vast areas which haven’t seen this progress remains mind-boggling.  This is especially truth in rural areas of central and west China. We also learned that the worldwide adoption landscape changes continuously.  Countries open, close and alter their adoption policies, making adoptions more or less difficult and costly. So, as we screened the different possibilities, reliability and affordability were way high on our choosing criteria, which led us to consider an adoption from Asia.

And bury herself in sand with brother!

China has been very consistent on their adoption policies which have paved the path for many families to complete successful adoptions during this season. Therefore we feel led to enter this window of opportunity to make our dream adoption come true. And we haven’t even mentioned our interest in Asian culture! We hope that somehow this experience boosts our endeavors to help our children learn Mandarin. =)
And participate in family feasts!

Ok, this is enough information for now. Again we appreciate so much all the support we have received from all of you! From your encouraging words, questions, prayers, to your interest on our Bubbles for Hope fundraiser. Please keep them coming! We are really humble to belong to this wonderful community and group of friends!
Yes dear sister, we are waiting for you to come home!

Yes dear brother, we even have many birthday gifts for you too!

For those of you prayer warriors, we covet your prayers! So here are our specific prayer requests at this point:

*For positive and timely outcomes on all the documents and processes that we have initiated/requested from governmental offices.  And for us to remain on task and encouraged through this tedious process.
*For God’s favor and leading of the multitude of people that has an input on our adoption journey.

*For God’s protection, provision over our child in the orphanage. And for all the orphans that are waiting for a matching family there too.

*For God’s guidance and provision as we continue working on our fundraiser and look into financial aid programs.

Xie, Xie! =)


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Florida Homeschooling Convention 2013: The 80 One-liners We Took Home

Here it go, finally we can say that we got our first convention under our belt! We really had a blast and were greatly inspired, encouraged and challenged as we get ready to start this family journey. We put together some of the highlights of the convention with the hope that this will be a blessing for some of you. We firmly believe that these are good lessons for any type of family not just for homeschoolers. So fasten your belts and enjoy the ride with us! =)
1. Home is best
2. Parents are best
3. Learning happens 365 days a yr
4. Every child is a master piece
5. When facing feelings of inadequacy: God didn't say to Moses: My curriculum will make you "talk", he said: I made the deaf
6. Relationship with child is most important
7. Don't lose the relationship with your child over "algebra"
8. Strong marriages, strong families, make strong homeschools
9. Education is discipleship & discipleship starts at home
10. Don’t compare your children with other children
11. Don't pressure your children, fruit will eventually grow
12. Successful homeschoolers are flexible
13. Spirit led homeschooling is not bound by legalism
14. Keep your focus on eternal significance
15. Homeschooling doesn't save you
16. Do not sacrifice your marriage in the altar of homeschooling
16. Discipling your children: leading by example
17. Arrows: Our goal is to train our children to have the greatest impact in the world for His kingdom
18. Days feel long but years pass fast
19. Follow the leader: Jesus
20. Being yoked with Christ

21. Enjoy the journey
22. Choose to enjoy the journey God has chosen for you
23. Don’t let your curriculum interfere with your relationship with your child
24. Your children won’t remember you as the perfect mom, but will remember that you loved them
25. For a successful homeschooling, make it a quest, "an intentional commitment" to pursue a relationship with Jesus
26. We cannot change the hearts of our children, but the Holy Spirit can
27. Your children don't need a perfect parent, they need a parent that would point them to a perfect God
28. Are you seeking success in a "program, a curriculum, a solution, or are you seeking "God's face" as the word says?
29. God doesn't want you to try so hard to live a life that is pleasing to him, as much as allowing your relationship with him to produce a life that's pleasing to him
30. We control to the level of our fear and we serve to the level of our trust

31. Humanism: You are able to accomplish it if you try hard enough vs Christianity: Do you trust enough?
32. Prayer for yourself and your family:: "Dear Lord help me to love you well, and to love people well"
33. We are weary because we don't know how loved we are
34. You are the keeper of the keys, the keys to unlock your child's learning style.
35. For the Kinesthetic-active learner, quiet movement -Mindless & repetitive- while learning is a plus
36. Break out of the box of our public schools and realize that the strengths of the kinesthetic learner are needed to fulfill very important roles in our community
37. Giggles and wiggles are gifts in your children’s personality
38. TED videos are a useful tool for homeschoolers
39. Make sure that your children get enough exercise to help them focus, for some children that means “Hours” a day!
40. it’s my job as a parent not to focus on their weaknesses, but to identify their strengths and use them to help them become the person they're meant to be

41. Multisensory education: using the areas of strength of your brain while strengthening your areas of weaknesses
42. Learning is a process of learning and forgetting
43. A multisensory learning experience requires multiple senses involved
44. We can’t assume that we understand our children; we have to go to God and ask for help to be able to figure out their world
46. Learn to wait and rest!!!!
47. Wanting to serve can also hinder your relationship with God
48. Are there stillness in your calendar?!!!!!!!!!!!
49. God’s love for you is louder than any pile of laundry, baby crying, or any messy house
50. All the things that you need for Godliness, living your life and homeschooling are contained in knowing Christ!!

51. God is relentless when it comes to show you his love and shaping you into Jesus' image
52. God is not impressed with what you have to offer, your very best is a mess
53. The Lord wants you to be dialysis dependent on Him
54. Make sure that academia-knowledge is not where your children find their security
55. Another big source of distraction is recreation
56. Are we teaching our children that they have to be busy and entertained to be fulfilled?
57. We are constantly homeschooling our children by modeling our daily behavior
58. Are we teaching our children to live a rushed, over-busy lives by the way our days look like?
59. About socialization: The exact reason to homeschool, so children get the opportunity to receive a much broader and carefully planned exposure to society
60. Teach your children to forgive: it is easy to teach them when they're 4 than when they are 40

61. Know God is jealous for your children, know that only God can change and quicken their hearts, nobody and nothing else can
62. Three questions when choosing a curriculum: Does it overwhelm me?  Does it fit my learning style? And Am I choosing out of fear?
63. Curriculum doesn’t have to be expensive; most of the good stuff is free!
64. It may not work; and if it doesn't work shelve it
65. Curriculum is the assistant not the educator
66. Education can easily become an idol
67. Focus on the relationship
68. Stressed is desserts spelled backwards
69. Be real with others, don't try to be the Super homeschooler mom, it doesn’t exist anyway
70. Children need quiet, and you also need to be quiet as well sometimes, so they can listen to God.
71. Don't let school interfere with your education
72. Put on your oxygen mask first
73. Influencing your child's heart is more important than obedience
74.Children are like cookies, you always burn the first batch
75. Seek to motivate by respectful affection not just by fear of authority
76. Lies Homeschoolers believe: Everybody's children are smarter, they have a cleaner house, they cook better meals, they're more spiritual than you and have a better marriage than yours
77. Marriage is the stem; everything else is a leaf that will grow back
78. Keep your priorities straight, Homeschooling can be a black hole that sucks everything in!
79. You're the best momma of the world for your children!
80. You're the best Daddy of the world for your children!
Now, what about you? Do you have any that you would like to add? Feel free to chime in and share your wisdom!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our Adoption Journey: 2nd Update, Talking About One of Our Propellers!

Here we are, finally able to sit down to give you a second update regarding our adoption process. Here it is a link to the first one for those new to our journey. The last few days have been quite busy in our quarters trying to get our Handmade Soap Adoption fundraiser going.  From learning the trade to getting the word out, this has been a fun but time-consuming adventure! We are so grateful for all those of you that are shown your support by trying our soap! If you haven’t heard about it, you can check the post created on the subject by our family Soap-making master, AKA my Honey. I promise you’ll get a chuckle or two! =)

Wait for more updates on our Hand made soap adoption fundraiser! =)

Ok, The last time we left you with the anticipation of letting you know about our approach to the first fork on the adoption road: International vs Domestic. After much prayer, conversation and heart searching we have come to the conclusion to pursue an international adoption. We want to share with you about how we personally wrestled with such sensitive question. And we want to make it as informative as possible for those of you that would like to look into this option in the future as well. We are so blessed by those that are praying for us and have graciously shown an interest in our journey through your questions, prayers and support! Actually the two most common questions we have gotten so far are first related to international vs domestic adoption, and second to why adoption is so darn expensive. We will be addressing these and more of your questions in our future posts soon! So keep the questions coming and stay tuned!

A brother or a sister? From where? Yuppiee!! =)

This time we think it's good to pause for a moment, and maybe drastically change the tone of our conversation to share our thoughts regarding one of the several reasons behind our desire to adopt.  We will be sharing more of the “Why’s” of the adoption for our family in future posts as well, but this time we want to share our motif  in view of what’s going on with the Kermit Gosnell’s trial case. We are grateful for all the fellow bloggers and Facebook friends that have boldly brought the horrific reality of late term abortions to the public attention when most of the main stream media want to hide it. We applause all of them, as these killed babies need an increasing advocacy as do all the misinformed mothers that shy away from a pro-life choice due to fears and lack of education, and then fall prey in the hands of unscrupulous abortionists.

So mommy is my brother there even thought I don't see him yet? 

As many of you know, since the pass of the Roe vs Wade law in the 1970’s, millions of babies have been murdered on a daily basis in the United States. That is without counting the many, many millions more that suffer the same fate worldwide. We don't have much room in this post to go too deep into the scoop of the matter. There is enough out there for you to read an inform yourselves and even to get your head spinning! If you are ones of those who wonder where to start, checking out the National Right to Life website can be a good place.  There you can find easy to read fact-sheets that quickly give you a high level view on the matter and they also provide you with tons of helpful links to go deeper into your search. Just to give you an idea to spark your concern, let me tell you that there have been more than 50 million aborted babies in the U.S only since 1973 and Planned Parenthood the biggest provider of abortions in the States is a billion dollar a year corporation that reported $1.048 billion in revenues in the fiscal year ending 6/30/10.


So, the continue incidence and acceptance of abortions thanks to governmental patronizing laws and the increment of abortion providers swarming out of a decaying moral culture that idolizes money and power should create a practical response on our side. And that is what we want to talk about: Our.  Practical.   Response

We believe that getting informed on the subject is a great start, but the situation calls for a much greater response than that. If we say that we care for these babies and mothers, we should take action and make decisions that go along the path of counter attacking this social ill. Otherwise, we are not better than the bystander that just shows interest on the matter out of morbid curiosity or desire to be perceived as an intellectual in conversations. We believe that especially in the Christian circles, the subject of abortion instead of leading us to depressing, dead ending conversations should propels us to respond with a very personal and specific level of involvement.  In the case of our family, our personal response has been to embrace adoption. To give a mother the chance to save her child's life through this live giving alternative.We know that we can’t save every baby that has been and will be murdered, but we can at least save one.  And that, dear friends help us feel as if we are sharing in with the wounded in this fierce battlefield.  I know that different families may want to become forever families for many different reasons. But this is one of the main reasons we want to become one.

"Mommy, did I look this precious when I was in your tummy?"..more darling, more precious!

Now, we understand that this is not the only response that everybody should take. Maybe you or your families don’t feel the calling to adopt.  However, there are many other ways that you can become an active participant according to the way God leads you. But please be one, do not just change the subject, turn off the T.V, your Smartphone and move on with your life.  God’s will is for you to be a channel of his compassion and mercy. To care for the voiceless, to be a shining light in this world full of darkness.

I think some of the ways this fellow blogger posted are very practical and doable. You can click here to read the full article. But let me summarize some of them:

1.      Talk about it: with your friends, Facebook, in your blog
2.       Give to your local pregnancy resource center: Time, money, resources
3.      Encourage, support and unwed mommy
4.      Love on a woman who has had an abortion
5.      Adopt (Or help others do so)
6.      Teach your children that these things are NOT OK. NO one else in the world will teach them these.

I would also encourage you to get involved with the Youth ministry at your church or community, become a mentor to an orphan, engage on prayer against this scourge.  And above else, share Christ with others.  He is the only hope for this fallen world and the only who has the power to change people from the inside out. And rest and be comforted in Him, knowing that God is the ultimate one that will bring full redemption to this world, and will not only wipe every tear but also will judge with unparalleled equity.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Soap Making (AKA Dave's entry into the Blogosphere)

OK Paola has asked me to do a post on Soap Making.  You will definitely notice the difference in writing style between her posts and mine!  So here goes:

Why Soap Making?  

Well, for several reasons.  First, that is just the kind of people we are.  We like DIY stuff and learning new things.  Paola does a great job with this in the kitchen, and it is a rare project that will find me hiring a professional.  I really enjoy researching a particular problem and solving it myself.  I guess I get "high" on the "DIY Rush"!  I also enjoy things that involve a good bit of science and believe it or not, there is a good bit of chemistry involved in Soap Making.  Further, we are trying little by little to move toward healthier, natural living, and any opportunity we can get to cut out chemicals & preservatives, is a welcome opportunity.  Lastly, since we are starting on our adoption journey, we saw some potential here to do some fund raising.  Certainly not looking for a career change, but if we can make a buck or two towards our adoption fund, and make people happy at the same time, why not explore it.

How does one make soap?

Well, there are plenty of sites out there that discuss the process in detail, so I'll try to just give the high level details.  Soap is made by combining most any fat or oil with a very basic (high pH) solution.  When the two get together, the solution is said to saponify or turn to soap.  You can add colors, exfoliants, and scents along the way.  To make the basic solution involves mixing Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) with water.  This part of the operation is somewhat hazardous as the Lye is very caustic, but be smart about it and no problems.  Usually you combine various oils & fats to change the nature of the soap.  More/less cleansing, more/less lather, harder or softer, etc.  Like most anything in life, different soaps meet different needs. You can also add various essential and fragrance oils.  Many have aroma therapy value (not that I am big into aroma therapy, but for those of you who are), and some have other medicinal values (Tea Tree Oil is a good antibacterial).  Finally, there is an artsy side to soapmaking, different colors, swirlies, etc. that make a very attractive product.  Being the practical kind of guy that I am, I'm not sure I'll ever get to that point, but I mention it for those of you who can see themselves enjoying this aspect.  If anybody wants more detail, feel free to contact me, but a quick Google search will get you started.

My first experience

Well, I was home alone with the kids for the weekend (Paola was off to a conference in Orlando) and I had just put the kids down for a nap.  That is what is known as "Me Time" in parenting lingo!  I had already purchased the necessary ingredients and made a soap mold out of scrap wood in the garage (remember DIY!).  So I figured the time was as good as any, and I can surprise my Honey when she gets back.

Nap Time!  (aka ME Time!)

Home made soap mold.
Step 1.  Throw all the oils in the crock-pot in exacting quantities.  everything has to be weighed since the ratio of Lye to oils is critical.  To little oil and your soap has un-dissolved Lye (really bad), or too much oil and your soap is soft and soggy (bad).  I purchased an Ozeri Kitchen Scale for the measuring.  It is small and easy to clean up.  Really happy with it.  For this recipe, I used Coconut OilPalm Oil, & Olive Oil (don't tell Paola I stole this from the pantry).  Oh, and I got a dedicated crock-pot since I didn't want to mix the nice food one with the soap one ($5.99 at Goodwill).

Put all the oils in the crockpot on low till they melt.
The recipe I used - Yes, there is an app for that!

Step 2.  Mix the Lye with the water. This is the dangerous part, so wear your gloves and eye protection.  Measure out the exact amount of Lye and slowly add it to the water.  Keep stirring, it will get really hot.  Once  you are done, you have your Lye water and are ready to mix it into the oils.

Wear your PPE!
Measuring the Lye

Lye water ready to mix with oils

Step 3. Before mixing, I let the Lye water cool a bit and lined my mold with wax paper.  To avoid folded corners, I cut squares out of the wax paper and then taped the edges to the mold to keep it in place.  I was worried about soap getting behind the paper, but it all worked amazingly well.

Cut out corners so paper would fold nicely into mold
Gratuitous picture of our second son who woke up
by now.  He was nowhere near the mixing!
Note the paper taped to the mold.

Step 4. Mix the ingredients till you get to "trace" (thickens till you can see trace marks on the surface).  For this you use a cheap hand blender.  With the hand blender this takes about 5-10 minutes.  Keep going till the ripples on the surface no longer fade away quickly.

Mix to "trace" with hand blender
Step 5.  Now you simply let the chemistry work.  The heat of the crock pot accelerates the process.  The alternative is to pour it into a mold now and let the soap neutralize with time (4-6 weeks).  Not being the patient type, I splurged $6 on the crock pot.  So anyway, the mixture will begin to bubble and puff up.  This is where you don't want to have your crock pot filled to the top, otherwise, you could have a caustic mess on your counter.  Anyway, keep stirring and the mix goes through a few phases.  It ends up the consistency of mash potatoes.
Here it is bubbling up.
Step 6. Test to see if the pH is right, you can use Litmus paper, your tongue, or phenolphthalein.  They call the tongue test the "zap" test because you are supposed to get a zap like a 9v battery from any remaining Lye if it is not done yet.  I didn't have any of the other two alternatives, so I stuck my tongue on it.  No zap, didn't taste very good, but no zap, so I called it done.  Next time I am moving up to pheonlpthalein.  I can't pronounce it, but it has to be better than involving my tongue.

Step 7.  Pour it into the mold and let it harden over night.

Step 8.  Take it out of the mold and cut it up.

Soap Loaf

Cut into bars


I was really impressed how well my first attempt turned out.  It has both Tea Tree & Lemongrass Oils that make it antiseptic and it smells great.  Also, it lathers up nicely and seems to moisturize my skin a little.  Not that I am a great judge of that being a guy and never really having cared.  If anybody is interested, we still have a few bars left at $4 each (which is a bargain for home made soap, I just saw $8 for a bar today), and remember, it is for a good cause (our adoption fund)!

I'm thinking of making an Oatmeal, milk, & Shea butter based soap next time.  The oatmeal is supposed to be a good mild exfoliant and the Shea Butter is supposed to be a great moisturizer and general skin care agent.  Also, I'm looking to make a mild soap for babies.  So many friends have kids that I figure it might be a good seller!

Anyway, that is it for my first batch of soap and my first blog post.  Hope you enjoyed and let me know if you have questions.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

David Elliot's Birth Story

I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 months since that happy morning. My heart still tingles with warm feelings at the thought of holding baby David Elliot for first time.  However the little details of the experience have started to slip from my memory. So, to honor my son and to crystallize the beauty of his birth in our family memory book, I have decided to put the whole experience in writing. It will be awesome to come back to this account some years from now and know that even though time has galloped in front of our eyes, the imprint of the beginning remains here and we can still enjoy it and celebrate it. I hope this is also a blessing for other pregnant women. I know it sounds like a cliche,  but giving birth truly is an empowering and life-changing experience!

The face of happiness at 5 months..

So, without any further ado, here it is how it all happened:
David Elliot was born a Thursday morning in the Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The same place our first son was born 2 years ago. We loved this hospital. I think it’s probably its smallness which gives it a familiar feeling as opposed to the “sterile” feeling of other medical facilities. Plus we love their “baby friendly” policies, where rooming-in with your baby is encouraged and they give you all the support you need to have a natural birth, and to get a head start on your breastfeeding journey. All the staff that helped us this time around was very helpful and professional, so much that I really felt like being pampered during my short stay. It was so nice to have so many people tending to us so that we could just freely focus on giving our baby the best start possible with nursing! We had considered having a home birth but our insurance made it almost impossible! But now that I think back, not having to deal with cleaning, laundry and cooking for a few days is a big deal with a new born! I have to say that there a couple of cons, like they don't have a NICU, but since we didn't have a "high risk" pregnancy, that wasn't a factor for us. Also, they are yet to get more comfortable beds for the Hubs who has to work hand on hand through the night with you. But we were able to get away with bringing our inflatable mattress. So we made it work! ;)

See what I'm talking about..
Ok, but as good as the hospital stay was, we knew better this second time around to labor for as long as we could at home! What a wise decision! My labor started 2 weeks prior to estimated due date. I still chuckle at the thought of my husband, as techie and nerdy as he is; excitingly jumping to get the contraction-tracker app he had exclusively gotten to fulfill his job duty. He went and got it out at the first and very doubtful mention of an almost imperceptible change of my contractions. Honestly I just thought it was another of my Braxton Hicks which usually tend to happen more often toward the end of the third trimester. I don’t know if in fact your second birth, as most mothers say, is easier, but if it weren’t for that tracker app and my husband insisting on a recurrent pattern, I wouldn’t had realized I was in labor! Or maybe I was hypnotized by my husband to give birth early? Ha!

"See, I told you!"..=)

I’m so grateful for my husband's wisdom that earlier on that day, had encouraged me to get a cleaning lady to complete all the nesting for baby that I hadn't been able to get to. Up to that point I was still in denial, thinking that I still had weeks to prepare. I remember the cleaning lady agreeing with hubby saying that the baby would be born the next morning. I don’t remember exactly how far apart my contractions were at the moment he started timing them, but I do remember that night we met our doula for last time to review our birth plan. We were planning to have 2 more weeks to plan everything. So little did we know that we would be calling her a few hours later to announce that our labor had in effect started!

The Bush team!

So even as the contractions had a sort of pattern at the beginning, they were not painful at all, so we were able to go to sleep as our doula had recommended. Rest as your body prepares for your birthing marathon is gold! I need to highlight hubby’s diligence and love to not only leave everything ready in the car in case of a sudden emergency, but also to take the time to decorate our room and bathroom with candles to create a calming environment for a laboring mommy. He also gets a lot of credit for coping with my “anal” tendencies when it comes to readiness, I think entering labor a bit earlier than expected set off a never ending stream of last minute tasks that I asked him to get ready before leaving. To which he lovingly responded: “it’s been taking care of honey”. Awesome.

Wait a minute..THIS is the complete team! =)

Anyway, getting back to the story, I woke up around 3a with a little more discomfort. It wasn't really pain, but the contractions were growing closer together, so I decided to wake hubby up and ask him to prepare the bath tub to help relax the muscles and my back. As he speedily prepared the tub, my contractions got more intense, I would say the pain level jumped from 3 to 5, we both decided that it was time to call Staci, our doula. She arrived timely about an hour later, and found me soaking in the tub, praying and praising God through every contraction. I know it sounds unusual, but that is exactly what I was doing, and it was working to keep me calmed! I am so grateful for the role that God gave her during David Elliot’s birth. You see, labor and delivery is an experience where emotions are very tender, the true colors of your personality and vulnerabilities come to the surface and I just felt that she had the ability to click with me and adjust perfectly to the idiosyncrasies of our family while guiding us and helping us walk through our birthing journey with a perfect combination of professionalism and compassion. I will never forget how she gently guided hubby on some great ways to effectively provide support and be an active participant of the whole process. I’m glad that we decided to have Staci with us, I think the whole labor and delivery run much more smoother not only by the fact of having another woman that could relate with me at a “female” level, but also by all the support she provided in taking turns with hubby when it came to holding me up while finding positions to relieve discomfort thru contractions, massaging, etc, Most importantly, she found her way to become an active part of praying our baby into this world. I think this last thing was completely instrumental in making our experience as peaceful, pain and stress-free and memorable as it was.

And even if it would've hurt more..this little one was so worthy!

I need to share that as I was preparing myself emotionally and mentally for delivery, I felt the need to ask a few close friends to join me in prayer during delivery. I am so grateful to those that decided to lift us up. The Lord listened and responded so faithfully! I also found some resources online that helped me focus on God’s promises of strength and the beauty of giving birth instead of focusing on fears and negativity. I found a lot of encouragement and information from this lady regarding how to invite God’s presence into our childbirth experience. What a difference did that make! After all He is the designer of life, pregnancy, delivery and the author of our very stories. I can testify that listening, meditating on scripture, praying and calling out to the name of the Lord as I walked thru the stages of my childbirth was completely awesome and empowering! If you are pregnant and are reading this, I encourage you to select some passages from the scripture that you think may inspire you and give you strength during the process. Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking has very good selections here if you can’t think of specific ones. I really enjoyed reading her articles. She also recommends reading the book “Redeeming Childbirth”, which I didn't get to because baby’s early arrival! =) I personally used a list of verses I was given on a retreat that meant a lot to me. I had both Hubby and Staci read them to me both during contractions and while I waited, and let me tell you, personally there wasn't any other more powerful pain-medication that I could have used! Really.

I actually remained on level 5 pain for a while. However as we continue timing the contractions they were getting closer and closer together, which was a sign of entering active labor. So we decided to start getting ready to go take off to the hospital. We got out of the tub and use the birthing ball for more relaxation. At that point my contractions were getting more intense, longer and within a range of 3 to 6 minutes apart. The pain labor had probably jumped up by a point, so It was nice to be able to move freely and found the most comfortable position to handle the discomfort. In my case, I found that seating on a reclining-forward position on the ball, while both Staci and Dave held me up strongly by my hands while praying and rubbing my back was best. That’s when we decided it was time to go to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 8:30a. When they checked me out, I was 6cm dilated and completely effaced. We reviewed my birth plan with the nurse on duty, and they were very respectful of my choices. I guess they saw I was calmed and working through the contractions with so much confidence that they didn't bother to offer any medication nor saw the need to alter my experience. So they pretty much stay out of the room until I requested them. I was just letting my body guide me through the journey. Whether standing, kneeling or seating on the ball, I moved with the rhythm my body and baby were singing.

Yes Mommy, what a wonderful "Duet" we made! =)

My doctor arrived shortly after to confirm that the bun was about to get out of the oven! We were really in the very last stretch of the road. I remember that I got to the point were the most comfortable position was to lay on my side while hubby held my hand as that allowed me to rest my back and legs. And as I laid in that position, I remember starting to feel the urge to push. I called for the doctor and apparently they were all standing by the door, because in less than minute the medical staff got in, and I was given complete green light to push. I remember pushing two times and feeling a significant increase of pain, however, it wasn't until the third contraction that I really felt pain. I was probably half of a second into feeling this surreal pain, and I thought for myself. Well, "I think this is the stage of the process where I had to completely depend on God"..and I was getting ready to experience a lot more pain. But before the same second was over, baby David Elliot was born. My fears and resolve to keep on going where quieted by his beautiful face, and skin, and smell. 

Praise God for His workmanship! 

He was born at 11:30 that morning.  He was completely adorable, healthy and wanted to nurse immediately!  What a joy it was to hold him on my chest at that moment. I remember that I was so lost into enjoying him, that I was completely oblivious to delivering the placenta and a few stitches from a very minor tear. And whatever else it may have transpired around me. But it was ok, It was over and it was time to start all over again. I was holding my new beginning close to my heart, and that was all it mattered at that moment!