Under the Apricot Tree

Savoring the Abundance of Simple Living

Category: Motherhood

Midnight Lovesong to My Baby

Tonight I cradled you in my arms.

Silently, I rock you back and forth. White fangs of lightning flash outside your window. Your head rests against my chest, the familiar love-duh-boom love-duh-boom whooshing heartbeat is stronger than the menacing growl of thunder.

I hold you close until the sigh of deep sleep, and then a while longer. I pray that if you ever grow too big or proud for your mama’s arms, when the storms threaten, you will still hear the lovesong of my heart.

_________________________________________

Love is stronger than death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave.
Love’s flames are flames of fire,
flames that come from the Lord.
Raging water cannot extinguish love,
and rivers will never wash it away.

Song of Songs 8:6,7

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Spring greetings

Spring greetings!

As evidenced by my singular, solar-powered post last month, March was a busy one. My first full month back at work, I was hopping day and night. So many times I felt inspired and wanted to come write a new blog post for y’all, but could not find the free time to do so. Busyness is always a lame excuse, I know (especially for a blog extolling the virtues of simple–i.e., not overly-busy–living). But this little mama/working girl/wifey/chicken farmer/blogger is definitely in the process of figuring out how to manage my days and nights now that little William has entered the picture. But, oh, what a beautiful picture he makes!

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I never imagined how truly magical it is to be the mom of a miraculous little bundle of life. He fills my days with joy. Seth and I are head-over-heels in love with the little man. We waited seven years before having children, and that time was incredible–we were able to grow a ton in our marriage, fulfill our dream of traveling a bunch, get through a master’s degree without debt, and basically have a lot of fun together. If I’m totally honest, I never fully believed our friends with children when they urged us to start and said it was the best thing ever. Part of me thought they just wanted us to jump on the baby boat because misery loves company. Changing poopy diapers, getting spit up on, no sleep, no life outside the baby zone, no more international travel–no thanks, at least not yet! Isn’t that horrible? Well, it’s what I thought at the time. I knew I wanted children, but wasn’t in a rush to get there. Now that I’m experiencing it personally, though, it is an absolute marvel. I don’t regret our wait–we savored the season we were in–but if I’d known how amazing this is, I probably wouldn’t have waited so long!

Now that we are parents, focusing on our love relationship as husband and wife doesn’t come as easily. But we are finding times to be just the two of us and to “date” one another. The other night I made a decadent dessert and we had a yummy little date night at home after the baby went to bed. That is our best time for catching up with each other (when I’m not working late, that is).

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A key part of living simply is rolling with the flow of the seasons of life, and finding beauty in each one. This spring has brought us sunshine, snow, hail, rain, wind, and moments of stillness so calm you can hear a sparrow’s wing glide by. Sometimes we get all of that in one single day! Here are a couple images of spring on our place–the first brave flowers to grace us with their beauty, and a few days later, the first  really big snow (“8 inches).Image

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And what is spring on a farm without some baby chicks? Last week, I picked up some special heritage breed chicks from a local breeder. Two French Black Copper Maran pullets who will lay a chocolate-brown egg, and three Delawares–two pullets who’ll lay a medium brown egg and one cockerel to guard the growing flock. I’m keeping the babies warm and safe in a brooder box with heat lamp in our mudroom. A few times a day, we go in to check on them, feed them treats like scrambled egg by hand, and hold them each. They love the attention and should grow up very tame and friendly. (Let’s hope the roo doesn’t go the way of the turkey tom and turn aggressive once his full-fledged testosterone kicks in!) My mom was out the other day and we took the babies outside on the grass in the sunshine. They seemed to enjoy themselves, running around and flapping their little wings, scratching at the dirt, and staying close to “mom”. William is endlessly entertained by them.

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Well, speaking of William, I hear him waking from his afternoon nap, so I’d better go. I’ll leave with a final image of spring and wish you a very special Easter as you remember our Lord’s sacrifice of love that has made new life possible for each one of us!

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Happy Easter!

The Connection Conundrum

“Technology is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

As people who value living intentionally and in the present, how do we make decisions about the technology we use?

This is a question I personally have been wrestling with lately. You see, I lost my old cell phone and need to replace it. But instead of getting another “dinosaur”  phone, I am considering upgrading to a smart phone. There would be many benefits to me having an iPhone or Android, but I’m aware there’s also a downside. What I am unsure of is this: Do the perks outweigh the pitfalls?

The benefits are obvious.

  • As a work-from-home entrepreneur, being able to engage with my clients in a variety of platforms is important. Now that I keep different office hours and often have a baby in one arm, checking email and social media accounts from a hand-held device would be a convenient alternative to wielding my laptop computer.
  • We travel a lot and it would be great to have a GPS when navigating new territory.
  • I’d love to easily send photos and videos of our baby to grandparents and great-grands, as well as Skype with them from anywhere.
  • Clever apps could simplify my household management at home and on the go (menu planning & grocery lists, budget & bank account balances, etc)
  • And of course the entertainment and social factors!
The concerns are serious.
  • At what point do I become too connected and available to everyone in the world except for the people right in front of me? I do not want to become that person who is always on her phone, to the neglect of those she’s with physically.
  • I work hard at my career and I LOVE it! But especially when you work from home, it’s important to establish boundaries for yourself so that you don’t wind up always “at work.” What I like about a laptop computer is that it’s portable, but also easy to shut-off, close and walk away from when it’s time to shift gears.
  • Will I say after a month that “I could not live without it”? Technological dependency begs the question of whether the human is master or servant. Is there detriment to my “smart” phone thinking so that I don’t have to?
  • Even with the communication technologies I use now, it’s easy to spiral out of control in a Technology Loop. (Check out this hilarious Portlandia skit on YouTube for an example: http://bit.ly/hTKXXY)

So how do I decide whether to invite this new (to me) level of communications technology into my life? Asking questions is always helpful. Questions to ask:

– Does this help me better fulfill my most important callings better (Christ-lover, wife, mother, professional, home manager, friend, etc)? Or does it hinder me from the most important?

– Is this in alignment with my core values (simplicity, mindfulness, relationships, health, spirituality, professional excellence, generosity, etc)?  Or does it undermine those values?

– Based on my track record with other tech tools, if I choose this, will I use it appropriately and moderately, or am I likely to overuse and end up in a perpetual Technology Loop? What specific boundaries would I set up for myself?

-Is this something I need to acquire now, or could the decision be made later?

– Does it make financial sense to upgrade? Is this the best way to spend those dollars?

At this point, I honestly could see myself going either way. As I spend time in these questions, I think my choice will become clear. It may seem to you like I’m making a big deal out of nothing–especially if you already have a smart phone and think it’s awesome! But don’t worry, I’m not losing any sleep over this–I just want to be intentional and not slide into decisions that will impact my life and relationships.

What about you? Help a sister out by sharing your perspective and experience! Specifically, do you have a smart phone or not, and why? If so, what do you use it most for and what’s the best/worst thing about it? 

William’s Birth Story

(It has taken me six weeks to write this blog post. Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard it is to get things done when you have a newborn?! Oh, wait. You did!  🙂 Thanks for the grace and patience with me. I hope you enjoy reading our birth story. Special thanks to Cara for having the presence of mind to take notes and jot down times so I could recall the details of that night.)

It was my 30th birthday and, as the oldies song goes, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” After patiently waiting and waiting some more to have this baby, I was ten days past his estimated delivery date and starting to feel a bit desperate. When I cried on the phone with my doula Cara that afternoon, she said, “Don’t think I’m mean, but I’m glad you’re crying. It’s a good sign that you’re ready to have this baby.” I had slept poorly the night before and the hormones, emotions, and discomfort were having their way with me; I’d thought I would have had the baby by then, yet there I was, huge, bored and with empty arms on my birthday.

"Let's get on with it already!"

That night, my spirits lifted considerably when my parents and sister’s family came over to spend the evening with us. During dinner, I had to “check out” of the conversation every 20 minutes or so to breathe through a contraction. “Sorry for being so dramatic,” I said to my sister after a strong one. “You’re not at all!” she assured me. But the intensity I was feeling inside seemed dramatic to me. Even though the contractions I’d been experiencing intermittently for eight days were becoming more painful, I didn’t allow myself to believe I could finally be going into labor because I didn’t want to get my hopes up after so many false alarms. Little did I know…I actually was in early labor as I ate cupcakes and laughed at my family’s antics! They were the perfect distraction to get me through that first stage.

At 9:30 pm, we hugged the partiers goodbye except my mom. She was staying the night to help with house projects the next day. Mom and I plopped on the couch where she rubbed my feet, focusing on reflexology pressure points that are supposed to stimulate the uterus. “I think you’re having this baby tonight,” said my mom for the third time that night. Though she’s known for her keen intuition, I was still in denial and chastised her to not get my hopes up. But there was no denying what happened next, as my contractions increased in frequency–every 12 minutes, now every 7.

Around 11:15 pm, I went upstairs and updated Seth. He said we should call Cara. On the phone, Cara emphasized to us the importance of keeping me relaxed and rested, to conserve my strength. A few more contractions came while we were on the phone with her and she said she would throw her things together and be on the road ASAP; an hour-long drive from Sisters to Madras was between us.

Seth and Mom sprung into action, drawing me a hot bath infused with an aromatherapeutic bath tea from Shalom Mama. Mom dimmed the lights and lit candles. Seth brought me a cup of my favorite herbal tea. As I slid into that soothing water, relaxation and gratitude swept over me. Here I was, laboring in the comfort of home and it was finally happening! Thank you, God! Knowing it could be a long night, I encouraged Mom to go upstairs and try to get some rest. I wanted Seth right by my side as we had planned and he held my hand through each contraction, gently reminding me to breathe and making me as comfortable as possible.   As the intensity built, I let myself sink into an instinctual moaning sound with each exhale through contractions. Game on!

By the time Cara arrived at 12:45, the bath water was cooling down but things were heating up. By this point, the initial calm I felt in the bath was evaporating and I had gone to that deep place where my focus was totally internalized. I didn’t feel panic, but such an intensity that I can’t even describe, almost animalistic. During each contraction, I fixed my eyes on a focal point in front of me; making eye contact with anyone was not an option. Seth later said I had a wild look in my eye that he didn’t care to see again. Using a suggestion girl friends had offered, I visualized the contractions as a set of waves and tried to “stay on top” of the wave and just let my body ride it out as I breathed. Two or three times  a “sneaker” wave got the better of me and pulled me under, but Seth and Cara were there to bring me back up for air. I remember wondering if I would really be able to do this; not knowing how much harder it would get, could I really deliver this baby naturally, without pain medications? I didn’t voice it out loud, but I questioned myself and feared that I might yell out, “Give me the epidural!” upon arrival to the hospital. After witnessing a few contractions that were just two minutes apart, Cara observed that I was quite advanced in my labor process, and asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and head to the hospital. Yes, I was ready to go.

The effort to get out of the tub brought on more intense contractions and with a couple of them, I felt an urge to push. Hanging my arms around Seth’s neck and leaning on him, we “slow danced” through a few more while preparing to depart for the hospital. Cara suspected I may be in transition already.  As I walked outside with Seth’s help and got into the car, I found the cool night air refreshing and the semi-reclined position very comfortable. I think next time around I will try a seated position more during labor, as that seemed to work well for me.

We left the house at 1:35 am and arrived at Mountain View Hospital at 1:50 am. We had to enter through the E.R. and I barely made it through the doors before another big contraction hit. I leaned into Seth and he “danced” me through it. Amid our dramatic entrance (accompanied by plenty of moaning from me), we were greeted by a night nurse who happened to be immensely pregnant with twins. She asked if I wanted to use the wheelchair to get to the family birthing unit. I looked at the chair and hesitated, then said, “No.” If I entered in a wheelchair, I sensed that would put me into a helpless mindset and I knew that I would need all the strength and confidence I could muster for what still lay ahead.

On the way down the hall, we had to stop and deal with a couple more contractions. I was feeling more pressure now and the desire to push. Only steps away from our birthing suite, my water broke! My attending nurse, Megan, tried to get me situated on the bed so she could put the monitor straps on my belly for fetal assessment, but she kept getting interrupted by another wave of contractions. She must have felt like she was trying to wrestle a momma bear! Once she got the thing strapped on me, a lab technician came in and indicated he was going to draw blood and start an IV. No IV, we told him! This baby was coming soon and hooking up to an IV would have been an unnecessary nuisance. This incident made us keenly aware that our Birth Plan document had been left in the car and we really didn’t have time to go get it.

Megan checked me for cervical progress between contractions and found me to be at 10 cm already. We hadn’t planned on me being completely dilated upon arrival to the hospital, but I certainly wasn’t complaining!

Now, if you’ve ever experienced a woman in labor, you know that pleasantries go out the window and the laboring mother can become very…shall we say…direct. Since we couldn’t reach my wonderful doctor by phone, she still hadn’t arrived. When the E.R. doctor, an older gentleman, walked calmly into the room and began lining out his arsenal of shiny metal objects on a table, I started barking out the key points of my birth plan to him inbetween contractions. He seemed content to let me have the natural birth I wanted. A second doctor’s arrival was announced and, not seeing the point of an additional doctor’s presence, I loudly protested, “What is he doing here?” I know, not a very nice way to welcome someone to the party.

This all happened very quickly. At approximately 2:30, I was on the bed and finally given the green light to push! In the midst of a big effort, I spontaneously shouted, “You’d better get that doctor in here!!!” A few minutes later, she arrived in a rush, apologizing that her cell phone never alerted her that she had a message. I was so glad to see her. Cara instructed me to direct my energy down to make pushing most effective. After the second push, the baby’s head crowned and I was able to reach down and touch my child’s head for the first time. Seth and Cara supported my legs and, within two more contractions, William was delivered at 2:43 am. Seth was going to catch him, but the baby came in such a rush and I had Seth’s hand pinned to my knee during the final push, so there was no chance for him to move away from my side!

"Hello, beautiful."

The next thing I knew, a hot little squirming baby was placed directly on my tummy. I eagerly gathered him up and we were covered with a warm blanket. “Hello, you beautiful, dirty little thing,” I remember saying to him. His color was slightly purple, but within moments, he was pinking up. Soft cries told us he was already breathing well. His eyes were wide open and he seemed much more calm and alert than I expected. He was beautiful. Absolutely perfect! Seth came over to my left side and spoke his greeting to William. At the sound of Dad’s voice, which he had been hearing in the womb, William looked up at Seth with his big dark blue eyes. Amazing!

In our own little world

For the first hour, Seth and I were in our own little world as William nursed  a little and rested on my chest. Seth cut his umbilical cord and gave the baby his first sponge bath. Then the nurse was finally allowed to weigh and measure him before returning him to our side. Soon, my mom came to meet her grandson and other family members would arrive later in the day. Though exhausted, I felt absolutely elated.

Hours later, I was still charged with adrenaline and the wonder of the experience.  Giving birth to our son was definitely the most challenging, all-encompassing effort I have ever made. It was a long labor (8 consecutive days of contractions) and a short labor (only 4 hours once I realized I was in active labor). I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the incredible support and encouragement of my husband, who was the best helper I could’ve asked for. Cara, our doula, provided the information and support we needed to be empowered as a couple. My desire was to be fully present mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally to the experience. And the reward of “going natural” was, for me, just that, an excruciatingly beautiful awareness of each moment. I am so grateful that I was able to have the natural birth experience I wanted, and I wouldn’t change one thing about it, aside from maybe believing my support team more each time they told me I was doing good.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Next time we have a child, Lord willing, I will bring him or her into the world in as natural and gentle way as possible. I look forward to being more aware of my body and the process next time, now that I know how to interpret what I’m feeling. This experience will always be something I cherish. Of course, the primary gooal and the greatest gift was bringing home a healthy, happy baby. His life is truly a miracle and source of endless joy to us.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read our birth story. I’d love to hear from you, about your experiences, hopes, thoughts, or questions. Every birth is as unique as the individuals involved!

~Jenni

Sweet William

Good news: I’m not pregnant anymore!

Last Thursday, I wrote what a great birthday present it would be for me to go into labor. Well, wishes come true and that night after dinner and Ida’s cupcakes with my family, we finally got things rolling.

God graciously allowed me to have the natural birth experience Seth and I had been hoping for…although it was much different than we imagined. And, most importantly, we now have a healthy, beautiful baby boy. (I’ll share the full birth story soon, for those who are interested.)

William John Burke was born on Friday morning at 2:43 am. He weighed in at 7 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches. His eyes are dark blue and his hair is blonde or light brown. We think he has Seth’s chin and eyes, my nose and forehead. But he’s definitely his own man. 🙂

Seth is cashing in all his sick days for the year to stay home with us these first couple weeks, which has made these first days so very sweet. He has been SuperDad as I regain my strength, helping with all the baby and household tasks. Our little family of three is laying pretty low, with lots of snuggle time at home and nice brief visits from friends and family.

I fall more in love with my baby every minute of every day, it seems. This is a sweet time. Well worth the wait.

As mentioned above, I’ll share William’s birth story soon and resume my “regular” blog writing style in the days and weeks ahead. Post frequency may slide to the once-a-week end of the scale for a while, as I adjust to motherhood and find time for writing. Under the Apricot Tree will continue to be a place where we can meet to chat and explore together what it might look like to live more simply and intentionally. Now, I’ll just be bouncing a baby on my knee as we talk. 😉 Thanks for sharing this journey with us.

I hope you’ll enjoy a few pictures of our new sweetheart.

~Jenni

Pregnancy Update

I am still pregnant. As in 41 weeks + 1 day pregnant =  8 days overdue.

I should have known better than writing a post extolling the virtues of waiting patiently and actively, celebrating the gifts of the moment even while longing for what you really want. Was I daring God to put my patience to the test?! If so, this past week has definitely given me ample opportunity to practice what I wrote about in Waiting for “It”. Some days, hours, minutes I’m successful and other times I start to flounder and feel impatient or negative–“Will this baby ever come?!”–only to have my wonderful husband or a phone call from a family member or a blog comment from a reader help me to readjust my focus again. This moment really is a gift and I’ve enjoyed some special memory-making times this past week which I could’ve missed if I’d been too focused on “getting there”…including a few bouts of hysterical laughter with Seth, which must be a great stress reliever. 😉

On Sunday, I had two older women share a piece of advice which I’d never heard before: “When the fruit is ripe, it falls.”

There’s good wisdom in that folksy saying. I looked it up online and learned that it originated with our friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. In other words, let things take their natural course and in due time, they’ll work themselves out.  Or, as it applies to my particular situation, this baby will come when he’s good and ready. So even though I’m doing all the little things I can to help encourage him along, I’m also trying to stay relaxed and remember that it isn’t up to me to step up and “make it happen.” As a natural type-A / recovering perfectionist, it is tempting for me to place the burden on myself as though I just need to do something or perform.

This weekend I picked another bushel of apples from the orchard, mostly Golden Delicious. It felt great to be out in the sunshine, with the chickens and turkeys comically clucking around my feet to see what I was up to and if I had any scraps for them. Picking those apples returned my thoughts to “When the fruit is ripe, it will fall.” Because sometimes instead of waiting for a piece of fruit to fall, it’s best to pluck it from the branch, right?

As you know from Our Birth Plan my goal is to deliver this baby naturally. I believe the female body is brilliantly designed to be able to carry and deliver a baby healthily, and that medical interventions often impede that process in a normal situation. But I’m also grateful to have access to medical advancements if truly needed. Since studies show an increase in unhealthy outcomes for babies delivered after 42 weeks, we will go in for an induction next Monday if William hasn’t arrived on his own by then. I’d prefer not to induce because once you start down that road, it tends to lead to one intervention after another and even an increase in Cesarean sections.

Time will tell if the fruit of my womb is going to ripen and fall on his own, or if we’ll need to go fruit picking.

So please say a little prayer for us, that this baby would come soon. My 30th birthday is on Thursday and a baby in my arms would be the best birthday present ever! Meanwhile, I am seeking to live fully here and to savor each day as the unique and once-in-a-lifetime gift that it is.

Postscript–some technical details:

  1. Yesterday we had an ultrasound and non-stress test. Baby’s size, heart rate, amniotic fluid levels, etc, are all showing perfectly healthy and I feel good.
  2. I continue to have light contractions, but I guess you could call them Braxton hicks or prelabor, as they’re not increasing in frequency or intensity.
  3. I think it’s helpful to clarify that a “normal term” pregnancy is considered 38-42 weeks. Wouldn’t it take pressure off expectant mothers if we quit referring to the “due date” and started calling it what most medical professionals do now, the “estimated delivery date” or EDD? I personally am going to make that switch, starting now. 🙂 

Waiting for “It”

In the wee hours this morning, I finally started feeling contractions! At 4:35 am I awoke to an intense tightening of my abdomen; not very painful, but enough to let me know it was a contraction. Laying there in the dark, first caution and then excitement welled up in me as I thought to myself, “This could be it!” They continued every 10-15 minutes as I tried to rest quietly, checking the clock, thanking the Lord, and finally, waking Seth when I couldn’t keep the secret anymore around 5:30.

Being three days over my “due date”, I am eager to get this baby out of my womb and into my arms! So I was ready to call the doula, have Seth tell his substitute to cover him at work, and get this party started! “Let’s see, 6:00 am now, get through early labor here in the comfort of home, head to the hospital later today, and maybe have our son before midnight. October 27: that’s a good date to be born!” I had it all planned out in my head. 🙂 And yet, here I sit seven hours later, feeling a little too good to be in labor. Hmm… Tick-tock goes the clock.

Isn’t that just like life? We are always so eager to get to the next stage! Whether it’s graduating, getting the job, finding the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, getting engaged, getting married, getting to retirement, getting the kids out of the house, or just getting past this crazy day…it’s so easy to focus on getting there, wherever the next “there” may be. Before I was pregnant, I so desired to become pregnant; and to be honest, I really have enjoyed this phase of life. But now that society has communicated that my baby should have arrived by now, I struggle to stay content and focused in this moment. It’s natural to feel that way. But really, isn’t all we really have this moment?

Ann Voskamp writes beautifully of the gift of this moment concept in her recent book, One Thousand Gifts and on her blog (http://www.aholyexperience.com/ann-voskamp/). Look how she describes this phenomenon of always being in a hurry to get there:

“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…. Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” 

I know I do that sometimes. In my impatient waiting for “next”, I completely miss out on now. If I’m not careful to be fully present and grateful for the moment of life I am in right now, I am blind and deaf to the beauty that surrounds me, I am throwing away time. What small act of love can I perform today that might echo throughout eternity? How can I nourish myself and others with the abundant grace that is offered today, which I may find myself in need of for tomorrow’s journey? 

Now this doesn’t mean that I won’t prepare for the future. It’s definitely important to have goals and dreams and to take the steps required to reach them. I am not advocating laziness or aimless living. Our goals for the future should guide our choices today. But still, we cannot live in tomorrow.

I choose to live now. I will not just “get through today” until that miraculous moment I long for. Yes, I look forward to what’s to come–you’d better believe I’m excited to look into the eyes of my son, and that I’ve double-checked that our bags are packed, etc! But it’s easy to glamorize the future and miss the miracle of this moment. The truth is that, once my labor does start in earnest, I’m going to experience a lot of pain before we get to the other side. Maybe that’s why Jesus counseled us “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Speaking of which, I just felt another contraction!)

Today really is a gift. The fact that you and I are alive right now, breathing air, considering these words together, is a miracle in itself! So let’s live fully in this moment, with its blessings and its challenges. 

I’d love to hear what that means for you today.  


Maternity Pics

Recently our very talented photographer friend Marina Koslow came out to the farm with her camera. I wasn’t sure earlier on if Seth and I would do maternity pics and I didn’t really take the weekly “mirror photos” to document my gradually growing midline during the pregnancy. But now I am so glad we decided to do this with Marina. She has such a sweet, calming spirit and we had fun wandering around the property to capture this special time on camera, with this special place as the backdrop. A friend recently told me that her young son likes to look at pictures of when he was still in Mom’s belly, and I love the idea of William looking back on these images some day. I hope he sees the love and joy we had for him even before we ever held him in our arms. 🙂

So, here are some of my and Seth’s favorite shots. A few of these were on Facebook already, but most of them are “never before seen footage”. Haha!

PS–If you’re considering having your picture taken for a special event (wedding, senior, family lifestyle), I cannot recommend Marina Koslow enough. She’s based out of Bend, OR, but travels widely. She has a cool, vintage-inspired eye and, speaking of vintage, Marina is one of a growing number of photogs who are “bringing film back.” That’s right, she shoots primarily on a super nice film camera, which yields a richer, truer color result than digital. Plus, her prices are incredibly reasonable and you will not find a sweeteer person. Check out her stuff at www.marinakoslowphotography.com or like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marinakoslowphotography.

With no further ado, here are some of the last photos of the Burke Family before William John arrives!

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Our Birth Plan

I am a list maker.

Writing things down onto To-Do Lists, Grocery Lists, Packing Lists and Wish Lists gives me clarity and direction. Lists can be empowering. (They can also be enslaving if we judge ourselves or others harshly by them. So when I make a list, I try to envision all the blank spaces filled in with grace.)

Given my love for lists, I was thrilled to find this resource at Pregnancy Today for creating a free, customized birth plan (http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy/labor_birth/article/birth-plan-considerations). A birth plan simply outlines your labor and delivery goals and preferences in writing. It condenses all the research and planning you’ve done with your partner into an easy-to-read list for you and your care providers…and blog readers. 🙂 A list for my delivery–right on!

While good intentions and planning can’t guarantee what kind of birth experience I’ll have, common sense tells us and research confirms two tried and true ways to make birth as safe, gentle, and healthy as possible for baby and mom (from http://www.Lamaze.org and http://www.MothersAdvocate.org):

1) First, make choices that support and assist your body’s natural ability to give birth.

2) Second, avoid practices that work against your body’s natural ability, unless there is a good medical reason for them.

These guiding principles have informed much of my instinct and decision making as we’ve prepared to bring our first child into the world. They also provide a simple framework for adapting when things don’t go as planned. Already, I’ve had to adapt my plan a few times, as our move and job change led us to find a new primary care provider (the only Certified Nurse Midwife in Central Oregon is in Bend, too far from Madras 😦 ), a new place to deliver, as well as three different health insurance companies over the course of this pregnancy.

My desire is to be fully present mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally throughout my birth experience. Our doula, a good friend from Sisters, has been working with Seth and the past several months to help us approach this process together as a husband-wife team. I know I’m going to rely heavily on their support and I look forward to experiencing one of the most challenging feats I’ve ever accomplished. I also understand that the unexpected may occur and if it does, and a totally natural birth isn’t possible, that doesn’t mean I am somehow a failure. My biggest goal is to come home with a healthy baby.

If you’re interested, below is our Birth Plan which we’ll print and take with us to the hospital here in Madras sometime very soon. All the blanks are filled with grace. 🙂

Birth Plan – Jenni Burke

Due Date: 10/24/2011
Patient of Dr. Delamarter
Scheduled to deliver at Mt. View Hospital

09/27/2011
Dear doctors and nurses,

Thank you for familiarizing yourself with our unique birthing wishes. You will see below that our goal is as natural, non-interventive a birthing experience as possible.

We appreciate your help and support!

Sincerely,
Jenni Burke

Labor

  • I wish to be able to move around and change position at will throughout labor.
  • I would like to be able to have fluids by mouth throughout the first stage of labor.
  • I do not want an IV unless I become dehydrated.
  • I would like to wear contact lenses or glasses at all times when conscious.
  • Other Labor Preference: I would like to be able to labor in the jacuzzi tub

Monitoring

  • I do not wish to have continuous fetal monitoring unless it is required by the condition of our son.
  • I do not want an internal monitor unless our son has shown some sign of distress.

Labor Augmentation/Induction

  • I do not wish to have the amniotic membrane ruptured artificially unless signs of fetal distress require internal monitoring.

Anesthesia/Pain Medication

  • I realize that many pain medications exist. I’ll ask for them if I need them.

Cesarean

  • Unless absolutely necessary, I would like to avoid a Cesarean.
  • If my primary care provider determines that a Cesarean delivery is indicated, I would like to obtain a second opinion from another physician if time allows.
  • If a Cesarean delivery is indicated, I would like to be fully informed and to participate in the decision-making process.

Episiotomy

  • I would prefer not to have an episiotomy unless absolutely required for our son’s safety.
  • If possible, I would like to use perineal massage to help avoid the need for an episiotomy.

Delivery

  • I would like to be allowed to choose the position in which I give birth, including squatting.
  • I would like the chance to touch our son’s head when it crowns.
  • I would appreciate having the room lights turned low for the actual delivery.
  • I would appreciate having the room as quiet as possible when our son is born.
  • I would like to have our son placed on my stomach/chest immediately after delivery.
  • Other Delivery Preference: I would like Seth to be able to “catch” the baby if he wishes

Immediately After Delivery

  • I would like to have Seth Burke, husband cut the cord.
  • I would prefer that the umbilical cord stop pulsating before it is cut.
  • I would like to hold our son while I deliver the placenta and any tissue repairs are made.
  • I would like to hold our son for at least 15 minutes before (he/she) is photographed, examined, etc.
  • I would like to have our son evaluated and bathed in my presence.
  • I would prefer to hold our son rather than have (him/her) placed under heat lamps.
  • I do not want a routine injection of Pitocin after the delivery to aid in expelling the placenta.
  • After the birth, I would prefer to be given a few moments of privacy to urinate on my own before being catheterized.
  • I would like to see the placenta after it is delivered.
  • Other Immediately After Delivery Preference: I would like the first hour after delivery to be as quiet & private as possible for the baby, my husband, and me

Postpartum

  • Unless required for health reasons, I do not wish to be separated from my baby.

Breastfeeding

  • I plan to breastfeed our son and would like to begin nursing very shortly after birth.
  • Unless medically necessary, I do not wish to have any bottles given to our son (including glucose water or plain water).
  • I do not want our son to be given a pacifier.
  • I would like to meet with a lactation consultant.

Other

  • My support person(s) is/are Cara Boles, doula and I would like them to be present during labor and/or delivery.
  • I would prefer that no students, interns, residents or non-essential personnel be present during my labor or the birth.

Tender Moments

A white antique dresser.

Stacks of the tiniest clothing.

A young man and woman who’ve spent the last seven years becoming husband and wife, whose togetherness has resulted in a miracle, realizing that their identities will forever change to Dad and Mom the moment this new life arrives.

Last night Seth and I knelt on the carpet in William John’s nursery, folding and sorting his miniature wardrobe. Cloth diapers and changing supplies in the top drawer. Newborn to 3-month clothes in the middle drawer. And 6-12 month clothes in the bottom drawer.

It was a simple time of organizing and preparing. But it was a momentous occasion for my heart. A tender moment shared with my life partner, finding a new orientation to our lives that will become our reality soon and change us forever.

In these last days before the baby arrives, I am quiet and reflective, watching, waiting, remembering and anticipating. I let the fullness of my life so far roll around inside of me, like tasting the nuances of a rich-brewed coffee. I remember the sweet laughter, burning lessons, bright adventures, and invigorating freedoms God has granted me so far. I recall the longings and prayers for a child and the joyful tears when Seth and I found out I was pregnant in February. I want to remember the flavors of my life so far, to commit them to memory for the future me to look back on occasionally. And then I consider the still empty unknown that is to come, the aspects of myself I am yet to discover, the dynamics to our relationship yet to develop. The vast possibilities both thrill and terrify, like standing on a high rock ledge before leaping out into the river below.

My identity is secure as God’s beloved daughter and the unique soul that He’s created in me. But my role in this world is about to take on a new dynamic as Mother, which I can only imagine but not yet understand. I do know that when I first hold that baby boy in my arms, I will feel new emotions and convictions well up in my heart, I will never see the world in quite the same light.

I will join in Mary’s song of magnificat, sung by millions of mother hearts through the centuries:

“My soul magnifies the Lord 
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
   of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
   holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
   from generation to generation.”

(Luke 1:46-50)

And I’m sure I will know the moments of suffering as well, the pains felt by the mother of Christ and every mother throughout time.  God grant me strength.

Meanwhile, I will focus on this tender moment. I celebrate the gifts of the past and the gifts to come. But mostly, I rejoice in the gifts of today, this moment. From somewhere deep inside, I begin to sing the ancient song of the woman who is both beloved daughter and loving mother, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior!”