Seeing What Sticks

I’m currently trying to bring in a little extra money and trying some different things. It’s hard to determine what I have bandwidth for during this season with little littles, but I am trying a few things to see what sticks.

Scribie is one of them. It is an online audio transcription site. You get paid by audio hour to transcribe short audio files. I just got started but like it, as I am a fairly fast typist and enjoy that I can choose to work on a file at any time since I do not have consistent times to work.

If you want to check it out, head over to their site via my link. If you sign up and pass the test, I get a little commission from it. Happy transcribing!

https://scribie.com/freelance-transcription?rc=0ca965837cc741589e2d9ffed8967e1ebfb92fb7#intro

What do you do to bring in a little extra money?

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Teachers Pay Teachers

In my previous life I was a teacher. I taught middle school for 10+ years. Now I look forward to beginning the homeschool journey with my own children, which both excites and terrifies me. It seems there is so much to learn within this community and way of teaching, but I digress.

Really, this is a shameless plug in case anyone reading this would like to open a “Teachers Pay Teachers” store to sell curriculum, worksheets, lesson plans, etc. I am going through my old teaching materials to try to bring in a little extra money here and there. If I have time, I may even create something new.

Here is my link in case anyone is interested.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Signup/referral:mrselinares

Polyhydraminos

My pregnancy with my second baby was nothing like my pregnancy with my first. In fact, they were so different that I was convinced that I was having a girl the second time around. I didn’t really feel sick at all. I wasn’t falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 or 9pm, but I did feel exhausted from chasing around a toddler all day. Mostly it wasn’t quantifiable. My body just felt different.

My labs showed that my thyroid was slightly off early in pregnancy, so they monitored that but never showed a cause for concern. I passed my blood sugar test, which meant I did not have gestational diabetes. The genetic testing looked good and showed that we were having a second boy, and our high risk ob said our ultrasounds looked great. It was smooth sailing as far as high risk pregnancies go.

Then,  at what was supposed to be my last appointment with the high risk ob, he told me that my baby was measuring big and that my amniotic fluid was measuring higher than it should. I was 33 weeks pregnant at this point, and he was telling me all kinds of scary things. He asked me multiple times if I was sure that I didn’t have gestational diabetes. I was sure, but I double checked with my midwife just in case something was off. It wasn’t. He was telling me that my baby was going to be so big that I wasn’t going to be able to push him out and that if things didn’t change I would need to have a hospital birth instead of my planned birthing center birth.  In addition to all of this, he also warned that there is a higher chance of prolapse cord when you have polyhydraminos. This means that when your water breaks there is a danger that the umbilical cord will come out first, which is very dangerous. This was very scary to me, especially given the fact that my first baby kicked a hole in my water bag. I was fearful that my water would break and my baby would be in danger.

He was looking at the baby’s cheeks on the ultrasound and kind of clicking his tongue at me, showing me that the proof was there that my baby was going to be huge, 10+ pounds.

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This very same doctor told me my first son would be huge, too.  He wasn’t.  He said he would be 8+ pounds. He was 6 pounds 10 ounces, born at 39 weeks exactly. When I mentioned this to him and asked how this baby could be so much larger, he didn’t like that I was questioning him. He asked me how much I weighed when I was born because supposedly the mother’s weight at birth is the best indication of what her babies will weigh.  I told him 10 pounds but that I was a month late and that my mom had to have a c-section because she wasn’t going into labor. He then argued with me and told me there is no way I could have been a month late and that doctors would not let that happen. When I responded that it was the early ’80’s, he said they wouldn’t even do that in the early ’80’s…this conversation was clearly going nowhere.

If his logic about babies weights being correlated with their mothers’ weights was true, my sister and I would both give birth to large babies. I was 10 pounds, though I lost an entire pound a day later due to all of the fluid retention from the c section my mom had, and my sister was high in the 9 pound range. My first baby was 6 pounds 10 ounces, and my sister’s kids were both in the mid 7 pound range. Not exactly huge.

When I researched polyhydraminos on my own, I found that much of the time there is not a known reason for it. Occasionally it can mean that the baby has some kind of a swallowing defect and therefore is not swallowing the fluid and peeing it out like he should be.  In my case the doctor ruled that out right away. He could see on the ultrasound that there was no such defect. The rest of the time the best they can do is guess at what is causing it.  The “go to” is that mom has gestational diabetes, which I did not. Even though I had been tested for it and had gained very little weight in my pregnancy to that point, he decided to hypothesize that the reason for my excess amniotic fluid was that I was eating too many carbs. As such, he put me on a strict low carb diet. I was to eat as little as possible without completely starving myself, and as few carbs as humanly possible. No bread, no fruit, nothing processed, etc. The hope was that eating this way would cause my amniotic fluid to decrease by my next appointment two weeks later.

The next time I went in to the office, I saw a different doctor, at the suggestion of my midwife who was very familiar with that office. I was so glad that I followed her advice. While he did concur that my amniotic fluid was high, and that I did indeed have polyhydarminos, he painted a much different picture of the outcome and asked a lot more questions than the previous doctor did.

My low carb diet change caused me to lose 5+ pounds but only reduced my amniotic fluid by 1 centimeter. My fluid level was 26cm, and at the same point in my pregnancy with my first, my fluid level was 13cm. No denying it was a lot higher this time around. This new doctor reassured me, though, that it was not that far from normal and that by the end of pregnancy fluid levels begin to go down naturally, too. He agreed that I should be eating a low carb diet and that I should eat as little as possible, mostly vegetables, since the baby was quite literally taking every nutrient from me.

He also addressed the fears that we had from the previous doctor about the baby’s size. He noticed the cheeks on the ultrasound, too, and asked us about our first son. He wanted to know his weight, length, and head circumference at birth, as well as see a picture of him from the day he was born. One of the things he explained to us was that the way they estimate the weight of the baby in utero is by a formula using measurements of the head, abdomen, and femur. This formula can be off for many reasons, one of them being if your child has a larger head than normal at birth, which our first son did. He was all head with chubby cheeks and a skinny little body. When the doctor heard of our first son’s measurements and saw his photo, he assured us that our second baby would not be 10 pounds.

He also addressed my fears about prolapse cord. I was instructed to sit down as soon as my water broke if it happened outside of the birthing center but that given the baby’s position and how things had progressed, there was a lower likelihood of having a prolapse cord with this pregnancy. Amen for all of the reassurances.

By the following visit, the doctor told me that my numbers were on the high end of normal and that he felt totally confident that I could safely give birth at the birthing center. He wanted me to continue my low carb diet to keep things moving in the direction they were moving, and wished me well, asking me to give him an update when the baby was born.

Spoiler alert to the birth story. The baby was born at 37 weeks 5 days weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces.

 

Bicornuate Uterus

When I had my first ultrasound when I was pregnant with my first, we found out that I had something called a bicornuate uterus. I was referred to a “high risk” ob and had extra ultrasounds with him so that I could be monitored for any complications throughout my pregnancy. I knew there was a slight risk for preterm labor, but I had a healthy pregnancy and birth, giving birth naturally at 39 weeks when the baby kicked a hole in my bag of waters.

When we found out I was pregnant for the second time, our happiness was short lived. We had only known for a few days when I began bleeding and ultimately lost the pregnancy. My doctor called it a chemical pregnancy and said there were a variety of reasons it could happen. It could have to do with “advanced maternal age” (I was 35) or there could have been an abnormality with the cells that caused my body to reject the pregnancy. Or it could have been something else. Basically there was no way of knowing, and we could try again whenever we were ready.

This happened two more times. Three chemical pregnancies back to back. I went in to my ob each time it happened, and they checked me out and sent me home saying the same things they had the first time. The third time I came in, my ob asked me why I was there. In her mind, I knew what was happening, so it wasn’t necessary for me to come in if it happened again.

I told her that I felt something was wrong that I had three chemical pregnancies in close succession and that I was looking for answers, especially since I hadn’t had any complications before I got pregnant with my first. She agreed to order bloodwork to see if there was anything else going on that could be causing my pregnancies to fail. During our conversation, I mentioned the bicornuate uterus, which she had forgotten about, even though she had been the doctor who found it when I was pregnant with my first.

It was then that I learned about the complications bicornuate uterus can cause while ttc. This was something I was not told about when we first learned I had a bicornuate uterus because I was already pregnant when we found out I had one.

There is something like a 67% chance of miscarriage each time someone with a bicornuate uterus gets pregnant. The initial success of the pregnancy depends on where the embryo implants. When you have a bicornuate uterus, there are some places that are not desirable for the embryo to implant. If it implants in one of those places, the body knows that it will not be a pregnancy that will be able to be carried to term, and it expels the embryo, resulting in a chemical pregnancy or a miscarriage.

Just hearing that there was a reason for three chemical pregnancies was helpful. It gave me some understanding and something to pray about. Gratefully, shortly after the third chemical pregnancy, I got pregnant again, and the embryo implanted in a place that resulted in a successful pregnancy that I was able to carry to term.

It’s About Time

It’s been too long. I tried to redefine this space a little when my first was born. He’s almost 3 years old, and I’ve only made two posts since then! Now I am a mama of two, and it is time for another update.

I’m not sure what this space will become, but I am going to try to commit to writing one post a week. Writing is good for the soul, and maybe what I write will help someone. You never know.

 

The H Word

Writing about my son’s physical therapy falls under the things I don’t want to talk about or write about, but it has to come out somehow.  I am having major feelings about it.  He has torticollis, likely from the way he was positioned in the womb.  I have a bicornuate uterus, which means it is heart shaped and therefore gave my baby less room to move around.  This means that he has a preference to look to his left side vs. his right side.  He also has a flat spot at the back of his head, mostly in the middle, but it is a little flatter on the left side due to him always wanting to position his head that way, even in his sleep.  (Yes, even when I reposition it.)  File this under the things that I have major mommy guilt about.  Maybe it sounds lame to have mommy guilt about something like this, but I do.  (I shouldn’t have let him sleep in the rock ‘n play.  I read about those things causing flat head.  I should have held him more and put him down less.)  I could go on.

While at first the pediatrician wanted to “keep an eye on it”, we have now landed ourselves in physical therapy as of yesterday, learning exercises that can help with his stiffness and preference of looking always to his left and now also rolling always to his left.  The exercises seem easy enough, but we are supposed to do them at every diaper change and even more if we can.  Two exercises 4-6 reps on each side.  Each rep takes 20-30 seconds with rest time in between.  So that’s a minumum of 16 thirty second exercises, which is 8 minutes minus the rest times.  If we do the 6 reps, it’s 24 exercises, which is 12 minutes.  The thing is, it takes a lot longer than that.  If he is unhappy and starts fussing at any point, we are supposed to stop and make him happy/distracted so we can try again.  One exercise he tolerates pretty well.  The other one, he hates.  I haven’t even been able to successfully do it at all yet today, though not for lack of trying.  He is also supposed to have a minimum of 60 minutes of tummy time per day (broken up however it works) and floor time on his back to help him look both right and left, which is also supposed to happen after each diaper change.

Whew, okay, so with all of that, he is 4 months old.  I think he is teething, and he is on a 90 minute wake schedule.  He wakes up, diaper change, eats, plays, and then is being put back down at about the 90 minute mark.  He is also breast fed and a slower eater, so he takes about 25-30 minutes to nurse.  Then he sleeps anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for each nap.

It was hard to leave the house to do any errands or outings before because of this 90 minute schedule.  He typically doesn’t sleep in the car or when we’re out, even if I have him in the carrier, because there is too much to look at, so when we would go out on an errand, I knew it just meant his awake time would be stretched and we would likely not reach his 14-16 hours of recommended sleep that day.  Now, I am wondering how I can ever keep up with these exercises and go anywhere or do anything.

File this under things I really really don’t want to talk about.  When we were at the physical therapy appointment yesterday, she brought up the “h” word.  Helmet.  She wants to give him a month and a half to see how he does and then at that point determine if we need to take him to have a consultation with some cranial technologies people to assess his need for a helmet to reshape his head.  (Of course I can’t see them saying that he doesn’t need one, given that making helmets is how they make money.)

I can’t even.  I’ve been crying off and on since the appointment.  I really really really don’t want him to have to wear a helmet.   I really really really don’t want to go out of the house with him in this helmet that the pamphlet says will have to be worn 23 hours a day.  I don’t want to deal with the stares, people’s judgements and comments, and feeling like a bad mom because I allowed it to get this bad. This is why I am determined to do these exercises correctly and with the frequency I am supposed to do them despite it seeming like that will leave me stuck in the house most of these next few months.

My fear is that I will do everything I am supposed to do with him to the best of my ability, and yet we will still be told that he needs to wear the stupid helmet.  People are mean and judgmental and gawking.  I have social anxiety disorder and an extreme case of the mama bears.  I feel like I will alternatively spontaneously combust from holding things in and erupt at people who dare to make one false move or glare or comment.  I fear I will be mom shamed.  I fear even my family and friends will judge me quietly, even if they are nice to me to my face.  I fear that my baby will not be okay because of his mis-shapen head and that I will have to deal with the guilt of that as he grows up.

I feel like I did when I was having such a hard time nursing in the beginning, when the baby wasn’t taking enough out despite there being enough supply, yet his not taking enough out made my supply go down.  It looked like we were going to have to supplement with formula, which was the very last thing I wanted to do.  I spent a good few months losing sleep because of being up with a baby like a normal newborn but then also pumping every two hours right after the baby ate and taking all kinds of supplements.  It was exhausting.  In the end it was worth it because I now successfully ebf, and as of our last appointment, the baby was gaining an ounce a day.  Hooray!  But in that few months, I felt like I was doing things wrong, like I was failing, like I wasn’t going to make it out of that phase.  I feel the same fears and sadness with this new challenge.  I fear that it will not turn out as well as the breastfeeding challenge despite my best efforts.  I feel hopeless, and I feel sad that I feel hopeless, and I feel afraid and like I am not really doing very well.  I feel mad that this is another thing that is so hard, and I feel myself comparing to other moms and babies I know who this stuff came so easily to. Comparison is the thief of joy, I know.  I need to learn a lesson from my 4:8 baby who is very joyful oh so much of the time.

My 4:8 Baby

Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Recently we did a Sunday series on this scripture at church. It was a great series for me, and a great call on my heart to focus on the good and to practice gratitude, which is the birthplace of joy. I am not naturally a joyful person. As someone who battles anxiety, it is more natural for me to focus on the bad than the good. I am grateful for this scripture and others like it that remind me to focus my thoughts on the good.

God knows my heart so well that he saw fit to give me a living, breathing, smiling reminder of Philippians 4:8 who I can see every day. On April 8th, my first born son ninja kicked his way into the world, and I know I will never be the same.

I am one of those women who loved being pregnant. I had the occasional migraine and heartburn, but overall, I was a happy and healthy pregnant lady. (I’m sure that not being pregnant in the heat of the summer had a great deal to do with my comfort and happiness, as heat and I do not mix, says the southern California girl.) I loved my baby bump. I loved the little kicks and hiccups. I loved hearing his heartbeat. I loved reading of his progress each week, knowing he was dreaming in the womb and learning to suck his thumb and all sorts of other really cool things. I loved the mind blowing idea that I was carrying a life inside of me. God amazes me in his creation of human beings. Every one of us truly is a miracle. Side-note: Did you know that God geniusly created us so that when breast feeding moms kiss their babies, whatever germs are on the baby get transferred to the mom so that her breast milk can build anti-bodies against said germ?! How cool is that?!

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Later in my pregnancy after going back and forth about how we wanted our labor and delivery to be, the hubs and I decided to move from our OB to a midwife. (This was a hard decision for me, as I absolutely love my OB and have been seeing her for over 10 years.) We really wanted to have a natural birth at a birthing center. We knew that it was possible to achieve a natural birth in a hospital, however, it is sometimes a harder fight with the nurses to get what you really need and want. (I wanted all of my fighting to be reserved for actual laboring and pushing.) The hospital that I would have been delivering at with my OB allows you to squat to deliver, which is what I wanted, but you may not stand, and the squatting has to be done by repositioning the bed, as you must stay on the bed for delivery. I didn’t love that rule. I wanted to be a little freer than that, to do what my body needed.

Plus, I have a bicornuate uterus, which makes me a little higher risk. I learned that my contractions may not be strong enough to do the work they need to do to get the baby out. If that was the case, the hospital may have wanted to put me on pitocin, which could have increased the likelihood of me needing an epidural in order to be able to handle harsher contractions, which could have begun the cycle towards an unwanted C Section. My midwife had other more natural ways of getting me to contract if need be, which I was really happy about, and though she couldn’t guarantee that she could help me deliver without unwanted interventions, she gave me a 50/50 shot and assured me that she would do everything she could to help me plus be there with me if we had to go to the hospital. All in all, it was a great choice for us.

Everything was on track for my April 16th due date. The baby was low and in the right position, and the midwife was really happy with how the baby and I were both looking. I had done a big grocery shopping trip on April 7th and set to work making some meals to stock my freezer. I woke up on the morning of April 8th feeling really good and started chopping veggies for a soup that I was going to make and freeze, the last of the meals I was working on for after the baby was born.

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Hubs goes to work super early. He leaves the house at about 5:30am, so he was at work before I woke up. At about 9:15am, I felt something dripping down my leg. At first I thought I had reached the point in pregnancy when you begin to lose control of your bladder. I had read about that but had made it so far without that happening. I put down the veggies and went to the restroom, thinking that would solve the problem. It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening. It was not incontinence. It was my water breaking…a week early. I thought there was no way. My poor mom was pregnant for an extra month with both my sister and myself. I was a first time mom, and you always hear about first time moms being late, not early! I was about to learn that nothing about my labor and delivery would be typical of a first time mom.

I called the birthing center to let them know my water had broken or was breaking. It was not the typical “big gush” that you think of as your water breaking. It was a slow trickle that kept going for a while. She asked me a bunch of questions and said that it sounded like the baby had kicked a hole in my bag of waters. (Baby Ninja!) She was concerned about me going into labor because I was not really having contractions other than a few braxton hicks’ here and there. She told me that when I called the hubs I should tell him to pick up two homeopathic medications to help with contractions. One was Caulophyllum and the other Kali Phos. It looked like I was definitely going to need some help getting contractions going, not because of my bicornute uterus but because my baby was a ninja! If I didn’t go into labor on my own within 24-36 hours, it would be a problem. She told me to lay on my left side and gave me specific instructions of how to take the homeopathics and told me to keep my 2:00 appointment at the birthing center unless my contractions started to get really bad before then.

When I called the hubs, he couldn’t believe it. I think he may have been in more shock than I was. He picked up lunch for us both and also the homeopathics and came home. I was up in bed laying on my left side as directed, and he walked into a kitchen with a counter full of chopped veggies and a pork roast in the crock pot. I’m sure it was a sight to behold.

As I took the homeopathics and rested, we waited and talked. He took a picture of me as I “labored” laying on my left side and remarked that this would be the last time it was just the two of us, a big deal, as we had been married for a little over a year.

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We talked about calling family or texting friends but decided that it could be a while, as first births usually take a while to progress. We agreed to wait until we got to the birthing center to get checked before we called or texted anyone.

I had some pretty strong contractions that hubby helped me through as best he could. We had been taught in our birthing class that the point of contractions is to move the baby down and eventually out. The pain is not a sign that you are in trouble but a sign that the body is doing what it is supposed to do. We were taught that the more a mommy could keep the tension out of her body during a contraction, the more work that contraction could do, making the labor progress. It is so counter intuitive to your natural response to pain, but that’s what I tried to do, with my hubby’s help, remain relaxed during each contraction so that the contraction could do its work.

At about 1:30 we got in the car to go to the birthing center with my packed bag and the car seat in tow. The drive seemed to take forever, as I was in a lot of pain. The contractions seemed to get worse just in time for us to drive over there. It seemed I couldn’t really even count the time in between contractions. To me it just felt like one long contraction.

When we arrived, they asked me if I was having contractions. I told them yes, but it was one of those things that, if you have to ask… They had me pee in a cup and then walk back to the birthing room where they hooked me up to a monitor to hear the baby’s heartbeat and monitor my contractions. They could hear the baby’s heartbeat just fine, and it sounded good. They looked at what the machine was telling them about my contractions, and they told me that I wasn’t in labor. In fact, they told me that according to the machine I was in “anti-labor”. What?! What the heck is anti-labor. I thought to myself that I was pretty sure I was in labor. I mean, I’m not an expert, and I’ve never had a baby before, but if this isn’t labor, I thought I might just kill myself…because this hurt!

There were two midwives attending to us, both of whom I trusted implicitly. They were going back and forth about whether to check me because if they checked me and I wasn’t in labor, they didn’t want to put me in labor before my body was ready. They talked about sending me home and waiting until there were stronger contractions. (Stronger contractions??!!!) As they were talking to each other and occasionally to me and the hubs, I began to feel nauseated. I asked for some help and threw up my lunch. Not pleasant. They looked at me and asked why I was throwing up, which I didn’t have an answer to. I mean, what would be a good answer to that? That is when they decided to check me. And guess what? I was four to five centimeters dilated and so relieved that they hadn’t sent me home without checking me! (Can you imagine?) At this point, one of the midwives looked at me and said, “You have a pretty high tolerance for pain, don’t you?” I guess I do.

At that point, neither the hubs nor I were thinking about much but getting through each contraction, but I believe he did send out a text to our families letting them know I was in labor and how much progress I had made. I was so impressed by my husband and the amazing job he did as a first time father and coach through labor. He was with me and for me and did exactly what I needed as I needed it. He was constantly re-adjusting himself to my needs without me having to direct him at all. He re-focused me again and again and reassured me when I was afraid. I remember several times during the process stating out loud, “I am afraid.” Labor is a scary thing sometimes because you’re not sure what to expect or how you will be able to handle it. I was so grateful for his calm and collected presence through the entire labor and delivery, and even afterward when I had to have some stitches, which seemed like the longest part of the whole ordeal.

The midwife who was second in command helped me immeasurably by putting pressure on just the right places to help relieve some of the pain so that I could more easily relax my body during each contraction.

After I had thrown up a few more times, they decided I needed an IV and that I should probably go in the tub to help relieve some of the pain. They began filling the tub and also tried to start an IV. This would be a good time to mention that I have an extreme needle phobia. It stems from a traumatic childhood experience, which makes it neither rational nor any less terrifying. I was laying on my side as they tried to get a vein in my hand during on and off contractions. They couldn’t get it, so they tried to roll me onto my back so that they could get the darn thing in my arm. I was having none of that being on my back stuff. It hurt way too much. This prompted them to check me again, only to realize that it was too late for the bath and that it was time to push!

When they tell you that your body knows what to do in labor, they aren’t joking. Nothing could have stopped me from pushing at that point. It was more than an urge. I pushed and pushed harder, and I felt so much relief when the head came out. At this point, they told me very sternly to stop pushing because the cord was around the baby’s neck. I did as I was told, which was much easier to do with the head being out. The midwife tried to slip the cord over the baby’s head, but since my uterus is heart shaped, too much of the cord was in the other side of my uterus, making the cord very short. They had to cut it before the rest of his body was out, which they did, and he was totally fine, thankfully. His shoulders did a little damage to me when they came out, but other than that, we were both healthy and came through the labor and delivery with no complications.

The euphoria that you feel after giving birth naturally is like nothing I can describe. It was almost like an out of body experience. Oxytocin is real and powerful! All I can remember after he was born was looking at him and stroking him and saying, “My baby! My beautiful baby!” It was like I couldn’t stop saying it or touching him or looking at him. My husband jokingly says it was like the baby was lost at the supermarket and we had been reunited again.

After my husband cut the cord shorter and we spent a little time as a family, fawning over the baby, and after I had delivered the placenta, which was so not as bad as I thought it would be, the hubs sent out a text to our families letting them know that the baby had been born, and, of course, attaching a picture.

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My mom, in particular, was in disbelief. The first she learned of me being in labor was at approximately 2:30pm or so, which is when she was told I was at 4 or 5 centimeters. At just about 5:30pm, she got the text that the baby had been born. Yes, this first time mom was in active labor for three hours and pushed for twenty minutes, and the baby was born. To God be ALL of the glory in this experience. I did not know how my labor and delivery would be. Who ever does? But I do know that God showed up and showed off and gave me a very special and very merciful labor and delivery. 4:8 indeed.

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