Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birth Story in Pictures

A sweet friend and talented photographer agreed to photograph my birth and captured amazing shots of this experience.  I'm posting a few of my favorites here, but the rest are hosted on her website.  

Can you tell the story of a birth in pictures?  Amazingly, yes.  Kudos to Lexi for creating such a storyboard with these images.  

Every time I look through the photographs, I feel the peace and relaxation during active labor, the support of those around me, the anticipation during crowning, and the overwhelming joy of each picture with him in my arms.

The way they flow together and the expressions captured is truly artistic.  Thank you, Lexi!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First days

Our family has been resting and enjoying our new little guy for the past week.  It has been wonderful, just getting to know him and letting our family gel into this new place.  What I've learned about this sweet baby so far:
  • He has the cutest little mouth and loves to nurse.
  • One side of his mouth turns up when he dream smiles.
  • His absolute favorite place to be is snuggled up to me in the bed, both of us lying on our sides.
  • He smells so sweet even though he's never had a bath.  
  • The top of his head is like a soft peach and he loves for it to be rubbed.
  • He pees on daddy frequently during diaper changes.
  • He has been blessed with the most caring and loving big (almost) 3 year old sister who just adores him.  A little mother hen for sure.

Some sweet moments the first days after his birth. 

James H. Hurst IV

A more complete birth story later, but suffice it to say that sweet baby James' arrival was uncomplicated, quick, easy, and beautiful in so many ways.

Our big man came out healthy and squalling. He weighed 9 lbs 2 oz and was 21 inches long.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting ready for baby...

James H is here! Praise the Lord! But between resting and transitioning to a two child household, I'm finding little time to spend on the computer.  I'm eager to put together a post about his birth and add pictures of our first days with our little man, but first, a few shots of the precious days before...

Grace Louise and I visited Audra, my most recent doula client who also delivered her sweet Tallulah Pearl at "the birthing house" in Winter Haven only a few weeks before.  We paid them a visit the Friday before our own due date, getting in a little more newborn practice.  I found it very awkward to hold a newborn with that big belly!

GL asked me lots of questions about Tallulah's birth and was so excited to meet her!

Our castle is two stories, so until he sleeps through the night, our baby boy has his own little nursery  nook in our master bedroom.

The Saturday before he was born, we decided to grab a family breakfast at IHOP and head over to the birthing house for the day.  I was having regular contractions, but, again, wasn't sure they were going to intensify (and obviously, that day, they didn't)!  We had the sweetest time together, just the three of us, setting up our remaining birth supplies- putting sheets on the bed, getting speakers for my laboring music ready, bringing everything in from the car.  I bounced on the birthing ball for a bit (hoping, hoping) and then joined Jimmy and Grace Louise in the pool for a swim.  She was in heaven!

Jimmy hopped out to get us some lunch, while Grace Louise and I swam and bounced in the water (again, hoping, hoping to encourage our baby to come soon).  Then we napped and watched a movie for the rest of the afternoon.  Completely relaxing.  And completely special, now that I think that was our last big day, just the three of us.  This makes me so thankful for those extra days beyond Tuesday.  I love these two with all of my heart.  And now my heart grows...

Monday, August 13, 2012


A great morning to have a baby... or a great morning to make "sweet potato pie"!  

Grace Louise has been outside all morning sifting, mixing, kneading, and adding interesting ingredients to her culinary masterpiece (flour, water, and garden herbs, which she is calling sweet potato pie- and which will be served up on little princess plates in a matter of minutes).  

As we have watched this little girl's imagination explode (imaginary friends and all), I've been wanting to incorporate more opportunities for PLAY, undirected interaction with the real world around her.  She loves to learn and we both enjoy doing little workbooks together, arts and crafts, and other learning activities, but simply playing, I realize has far more benefits for children her age.  

Other than the usual open-ended toys that I love to see her playing with (marbles, blocks, beads, dolls, etc.) I've recently been inspired to think outside of the box.  There are so many cool ideas out there, most of which require simple every day household supplies.  

I particularly like the pre-schoolplay blog.  It's easy to just look at the pictures, grab an idea for the day, and go with it!  

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I had such an expectation for baby James H. to be born on Jimmy's birthday, Tuesday, and woke up that morning at 4:30 with consistent contractions that continued all day until I napped but never intensified.  An early start and other positive signs had me soaring on an emotional high, but by the late afternoon I was terribly discouraged, even shameful, feeling like I was letting so many people down (mostly my husband). Crazy, right? Jimmy and I regrouped that night before going to bed, ate some yummy cake for his birthday, let go of expectations, and have just been going on with life, waiting and anticipating what the onset of this labor and birth will actually be like... we are ready and excited!  

I have found that the anticipation and experience of birth are great spiritual learning adventures.  Learn to wait, learn to trust, learn to love, learn to believe.  Psalm 104 has been reminding me that God breaths life into the earth continually.  He is the mighty creator and sustainer... designing the land, mountains, and waterways for the benefit of life on earth, providing food for the animals, a plan for their birth and death, yet WE are His greatest workmanship!  With such control and design in the birth and lives of even the animals, He MUST have incredible purpose and glory in choosing the day, hour, and way of our baby's birth!  Psalm 139 and so many other scriptures encourage me to trust in Him... His ways, His timing.  

I am meditating on these truths, but sometimes feel that I am just speaking them... that my heart does not fully believe that everything He says is true.  Continued fretting reveals this unbelief... and I go back to confessing them again.  "Lord, remind me of your faithfulness! and Help my unbelief!  

So... waiting, eager, hopeful, but not anxious, believing, trusting, confessing... oh, and playing.  Did I mention that?  I've done the penguins attention, the alligator chomp, and count to 100 line dance several times this morning with Grace Louise and her friend... sure to bring on labor ;-)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Home Birth?

Gearing up for our lovely birthing time in the next days or weeks, I realized that many of my close friends and family might not know that we have chosen to have a home birth.  Grace Louise was born at a birthing center in Lakeland.  Two of the midwives from the birthing center have since opened their own home birth practice.  We trust these women completely and wanted to continue under their care for this pregnancy and birth, and so explored options with them early on.  Because our home in east Lake Wales is so far from even emergency response, and especially from obstetrics care, we decided to rent a home in Winter Haven for the birth.

A home birth, but not at our own home.

So, why go through the hassle of ensuring a home environment for our birth rather than just delivering at the hospital?

My answer may shock you.  Safety.

As a low risk, healthy mother, I strongly feel that I would be putting me and my baby at a greater risk for negative physical and emotional complications by going to a hospital. Birth is a natural process that when left unmanaged, unfolds beautifully and with rare complication.  I am confident in my body's God given ability to birth children without intervention, and unfortunately, the hospital environment with all their poking, prodding, intervention, and active management of the otherwise natural birthing process, is not at all conducive to the experience or end result (which is more than just a healthy baby) that I desire.

But isn't this risky?  What if something goes wrong?

[Keep in mind, I am writing this from my own thoughts and acquired knowledge.  There are many thorough, credible sources of information and research regarding the safety of home birth, which can be found with a quick google search.]

I recently read an article regarding the research results from a study, basically acknowledging overall better outcomes for both mom and baby in home birth experiences.  Less intervention, less trauma to mom and baby, fewer drugs administered, greater breastfeeding success, better bonding experience... the list goes on.  This is only one of many studies with similar results.

So the answer is, home birth is less risky in most cases.  And in the case where something does go wrong, our midwives are not singing Kumbaya in the corner.  They are trained medical professionals who are equipped to handle many emergency situations (hemorrhage, resuscitation, etc.) that may arise for mom or baby.

I am absolutely thankful for medical obstetrics care when truly needed.  I have several friends and loved ones who have needed and benefited from life-saving hospital care during their births.

Bottom line, a woman should birth where she is most comfortable and feels safe and confident.  For me, even considering the post-birth trauma that I experienced with Grace Louise, this is out of the hospital.  I am praying and prepared for a simple and lovely home birth for my family and our new son.  And God's grace will surely be sufficient for however the details play out.