This winter our quiet Texas life was swept up into a tornado of major life changes. We moved to a rural town in CA (to a home sight unseen, in a snowy mountain community, where we knew no one and neither of us had ever been). Bradley started a new job. I needed to find healthcare (in a medically underserved community) weeks before our third child’s arrival. Caring for our family alone is a full day’s work-add to it this, fulfilling 1k orders, and traveling for Christmas… Life felt messy.
This time of uncertainty broke me down. Nothing-besides the things we know matter-our faith, our marriage, our family-was certain.
Would we be OK? Weeks passed. Things came together only to fall apart again, in new ways, and come together again.
I love to plan and organize-I’m good at it! But so much was unknown and out of my control. I wrestled with interior abandonment of will. I cried, a lot. I also knew this was another trial made perfectly for us and our family’s path to holiness, an opportunity for grace. I asked the Lord to break me down and build me back up anew in grace.
After a few weeks of packing, fulfilling our Kickstarter (we’re so grateful!), visiting family for the holidays (such great time in Maryland!), and moving (Bradley did this on his own while I nursed sick kiddos in Maryland), we finally settled in Mammoth Lakes, CA. The result wasn’t perfect, but the dust did indeed settle. It seemed we’d even have a week or two in our new little home before baby arrived. Cool!
Settle. Nest. Breathe. NOPE.
At 38 weeks pregnant, we met our only option for delivering Cora in town. The doctor’s demeanor made us cringe in terrible discomfort. Brad and I walked out of that appointment confident it wasn’t an option for us.
That night I researched and found Tree of Life Birth Center. It was a perfect match for my birth philosophy AND in-network with our insurance. I couldn’t believe it! It was 6-hours away from our home in Mammoth, but only 15-minutes from my in-laws in San Diego (who always welcome us). The thought of uprooting again was rough, but the only way to welcome Cora into the world the peaceful and natural way we desired.
We drove down right away, met the midwives and four days later delivered our sweet baby girl.
It was the perfect birth.
Active labor was four beautiful, intense, and peaceful hours. I spent them all in the warm (huge) birthing tub. Bradley and my midwife, Michelle, were nearby. They offered affirmation, changed the Hypnobabies tapes, kept the water warm, prayed the Rosary (Bradley), pressed cool compresses onto my forehead and neck, brought me water, and checked Cora’s heartbeat. Their support enhanced my relaxation and my laboring was completely undisturbed.
I wasn’t once told-nor was it even suggested-to move into another position. I listened to my body and focused on complete relaxation with every surge. During “transition”, I vomited several times and began to doubt that I could do this myself.
(My first two, Eve and Ronan, were also born naturally with midwives, but with direction, which I know now is unnecessary and causes unneeded fear and pain. Not all midwives are equally natural in their philosophies- my midwife with Ronan broke my bag of waters when I wasn’t progressing as quickly as she wanted, and with both babes pushing was coached.)
“I can’t.” I told them in desperation.
They held my hands. They told me, “ You can.”
They breathed confidence back into me.
“I can. I can.” I repeated aloud.
Michelle reassured me of my desires for this birth and that I would know when it was time. And, wow, I knew. There was nothing stronger than my instinct of how, where, and when.
With Bradley’s hands on my shoulders, in 30-seconds of powerful pushing, Cora was born into the water.
“Catch your baby!” Michelle called from the other side of the tub. My first instruction.
I caught her and brought her to my chest. Bradley and my midwife wrapped her onto me in a towel. We cried.
Cora was born in the tub near the Pacific in Encinitas, CA, at 12:59 AM. She’s our little water girl, born January 27th.
We have a photo of Bradley and I at the moment she was born. It’s 12:59 and we’re facing each other with no baby in sight. She was born in the second half of that moment. It happened so quick and with such power. We have another photo at 1:01- we’re on the opposite side of the tub with Cora wrapped up in our arms.
Birthing uninterrupted and undisturbed shook me. It empowered me with the confidence that I was made for this. For this and for days beyond- I was ready to mother my child in this world to Heaven.
We prayed in thanksgiving for her life and our family. And we’ve prayed in thanksgiving everyday since.
I thought traveling for the birth was the end of this unexpected-major-life-changes saga. I wouldn’t think or even wish the absolute end of our trials, but I thought maybe it was the end of this one crazy chapter. I thought now we’d have a little reprieve and time to settle in our new home.
One day before we planned to return home our pediatrician advised us to stay for six weeks. Cora’s lungs needed time to develop before working to acclimate to over 8k feet elevation in Mammoth. With plans broken down again, we prayed and trusted that this hard was also good.
Bradley left for work the next day and I stayed with the kids. My in-laws and great friends Mel and Cullen helped so much. (Cooking! Naps! Babysitting! Laughs! Laundry! Coffee dates! Library trips!) That time away from home and mothering my (sick and tired) toddlers WITH a sweet (and sick) newborn and WITHOUT Bradley, was restless but the challenges renewed me in the mother I long to be for my children.
Now, finally, we’re home. We’ve been here for one week, and it’s so freaking incredible!!!!!!!!! To be together! ANEW! With our sweet Cora.
My mom came out for a few awesome days. We spent our time playing around the house, on gondola rides, with kiddos skiing (and us sunbathing), taking in the views (pinch me, I still can’t believe we live here), Mom cooking lots of our favorites to freeze for later, and visiting.
Today Eve is in ski lessons (which are FREE with Bradley’s job), Ronan is skiing with Bradley, and I’m in the lodge drinking a latte with my sleeping babe beside me.
Life is good.
We’re so grateful.
We can’t wait to see what happens NEXT.