Category Archives: Mamahood

My Home Birth Story

One thing I get asked all the time is our birth story. We did an unmedicated home birth. If you had told me two years ago that’s what I would do for our first child, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy.

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A week before baby came… boy was I feeling it! Photo by Just Maggie Photography {Maggie, you’re the best!}

But guess what?

It was an amazing experience!!!

One I love to share. So here’s the scoop. And for my preggo mama friends, I hope this encourages you. You’re going to do great!!!

{Note, everything below is rated G 🙂 … but if you’re not interested in birth, you can leave now without hurting my feelings 🙂 }

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I don’t consider myself to be an especially strong person. I’m the girl who screams when she stubs her toe. The one whose parents and the other four siblings referred to as “the runty” of the litter.

I was also, I can say, quite terrified of giving birth in my early years of marriage. I was so afraid of getting pregnant. It was a fear I had to give to God, and He healed me and took away my fear. After about 4 years into being married we thought, maybe we’re ready.

Praise God we got pregnant March of 2014. I just figured I would have a hospital birth with an epideral, but after reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, my desires changed and I wanted to do a natural home birth. My husband Lukas and I were overwhelmed with the feeling of trying to find a midwife but had high recommendations from many close friends referring us to Donna, and so we took that as answered prayer. We couldn’t have been more happy with Donna’s care of us!

My estimated due date was December 20, 2014 but we were praying baby would come a little earlier so that my family coming in town for Christmas could meet him. On Dec. 11, I went in for a checkup and found out I was already dilated to a 2. That night as I lay in bed about to go to sleep, contractions started. They were completely painless, and a complete-body experience that was different than what I imagined contractions to be. But, I had never had a contraction so what did I know!

I loosely timed them and was able to get some sleep until about 5am when some of them were two minutes apart. I still hadn’t felt any pain at all. I woke my husband around 7am and said, “Are you ready to meet your son?!”

He set up the birthing tub and I called my mom to come over. The contractions started spreading apart when I got up and started moving around and by the afternoon they had gone away completely. Psyche!! My mom went home, and we put away the birthing tub.

A week later on Dec. 17, I woke up feeling super achey all over. But then again I was 39 weeks pregnant! I had felt a few little twinges when I first woke up, but I didn’t regard them as real contractions because they didn’t feel anything like what I had experienced before – they were a little painful and very short duration. At around 11am I mentioned to Lukas that I was tired and had maybe felt a few little pinches but that I didn’t think it was real labor. In a way I didn’t want to get his hopes up since we had been so excited and ready the week before.

Around 11:30 the contractions were more regular, and I had heard walking helps get labor going so I went on a couple of walks hoping labor would start. I still didn’t pay much attention to these contractions and thought it was just false labor again. In the meantime my sister came into town and I told her about the contractions but said to come on over from the airport anyways because I didn’t think it was the real thing.

My sister and I hung out and were having a great time, and the contractions started to become “a nuisance”. Since I still thought it was just false labor, I decided to relax my body. Someone had suggested drinking a glass of wine and taking a hot bath to stop false labor. So my sister went to buy some wine, and I got in our Jacuzzi at 98 degrees. I felt my body relaxing.

We were having a great time drinking wine and soaking in the Jacuzzi and I realized that when I had a contraction I had to stop talking for a minute and focus. That was a little bit of a change, and I remembered something I read in the Bradley Method book about that being an indicator of real labor, so I got out of the Jacuzzi… and right then my water broke!! It was the weirdest feeling, no pain, just like out of nowhere someone had dumped a glass of water on me or something. At this point it was 5:30pm.

I remember telling my sister, “I think my water just broke! Can you go get Lukas?”  Lukas came outside and I said, “I think my water just broke. Wait, no actually, I know it broke”. A minute later I was hit with a contraction …. Really HIT by it, like, WOW I can’t move or walk and really need to focus. Was it painful? A bit, but more like just a very intense feeling. A very big pinch and aching in my back. THIS WAS THE REAL THING! Haha! “I have to go lay down” I said, and as soon as the contraction was over I booked it to our bed.

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Because I was having back labor I didn’t want Lukas to leave my side. Having him apply counter pressure like we learned about in the Bradley Book cut the pain by 80%. Lukas called Donna around 6pm and she told us to time them and get back to her. From 6-6:40 Lukas timed the contractions while I just totally got in the zone using some of the Hypnobirthing relaxation techniques I learned (I kind of did a mix of hypnobirthing and bradley method). Every time I felt a contraction come on I completely loosened and relaxed my body and mind.

I let the contraction just carry me, I didn’t fight it at all, and I imagined an opening flower (I know it sounds weird but it really sped things up!!) . At 6:40pm, only 40min after the intense contractions, I had a few contractions that were VERY painful. However; they were short duration and I always got a break. I know my body was going to work and doing what it needed to do! At 7pm I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, so with Lukas’ help I hobbled in. I just felt a lot of pressure down there that needed to be relieved but I couldn’t. When I went back in to lay on the bed, the contractions had totally changed. The way they felt and hit my body was completely different. The back labor was mostly gone and I just felt like I needed to PUSH!

I told Lukas I felt like it was time to push, and I can just imagine what was going on in his brain. My wife has been in labor only an hour. She hasn’t screamed or anything, she hasn’t given me any of the signs the Bradley book said she would about expressing she couldn’t do this anymore, etc. Instead what he said, in a gentle calm voice was, “You know you’re really doing amazing. But I think we probably have another 6 hours or so to go.” I replied, “ I can’t explain it but if I really listen to my body, I need to push! Tell Donna to come now!” Haha. He urged me not to push because we definitely wanted a midwife there!

So for an hour I relaxed through every pushing contraction willing myself not to push. Some of this was in my bed, and then I eventually moved to the birthing tub which my sister had set up while I was laboring in my room. What would we have done without her! God sure knew what He was doing! I loved the warmness of the tub and it helped me completely relax my body. I remember just mostly keeping my eyes closed and people were giving me bites of food and water to drink. Oh, and at some point my mom arrived.

Then Donna arrived at 8:10pm. I was in the middle of a contraction but I just remember her coming in to the room so respectfully and calmly, and saying something to my mom like, “Has she been like this the whole time?” I think cause I wasn’t screaming or making any noise. She checked me and said “Oh wow, wow Suzy. You are ready to push!” I looked at Lukas like, see I’m not crazy! Because I had held off on pushing for so long I felt like I didn’t know what to do, so I asked Donna what to do and she helped direct and guide me with breathing and pushing. My mom held one knee and Lukas held the other while I pushed. My friend and birth photographer Kristen came at 8:30, just in time because our little baby boy came into the world at 9:01pm! Only an hour of pushing.

One thing to note, is that my whole pregnancy one of my requests to God was that my water wouldn’t break before labor because I had heard that the water bag helps cushion the baby during pushing so it’s not as painful. Well, when baby was born, my midwife discovered he actually had a second water bag the whole time!

When he was handed to me I was completely shocked. I just couldn’t believe that this little baby in my arms was my baby… it felt so foreign. The labor was over. It was more like disbelief than sentimentality. The photo of me holding him for the first time is hilarious because of my facial expression! But here he was. He kind of had the same expression on his face too, “What just happened?!”

Delivering the placenta ended up being difficult for me but I will spare you the details except to say it took about an hour and was more painful for me than the birth itself… but still not horrible, still manageable pain. When that was done, I felt a lot better and so enjoyed holding my little guy! And seeing my family with him too was very special.

He truly was a little Christmas gift, coming peacefully into the world in our living room in front of the Christmas tree with piano Christmas music playing in the background.

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I love to share my story because I think that so many women, including myself, only hear horror stories of birth. But birth is a beautiful thing. Yes it’s hard. Yes there’s some pain involved, but for me it was not half as bad as I thought it was going to be. It’s more “work” than “pain”. It truly is amazing how God designed women’s bodies to grow and then bring forth life! Lukas and I are incredibly thankful to Jesus for so many answered prayers of a safe birth, good experience, and healthy baby!

Birth photos below by my sweet friend Kristin of Smetona Photo

Suzy Homebirth

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Come on in

Hello there! Come on in… I want to invite you in to my home and introduce you to my two favorite boys, Lukas & Wilder!

I met Lukas ten years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles. I admired him from a distance but we didn’t date (or even talk to eachother for that matter) for two years. I met Wilder last December 😉 These two bring me SUCH joy!!

Thank you so much Mariano Friginal for these photos I will treasure for years to come!
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The terror I never felt before

I stood over his bed in the dark and could just make out his tiny little hands and face in the glow of the lamp light. He had been sleeping soundly for about ten minutes, his warm body cradled against me. My little baby was only two weeks old.

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It’s hard to describe the wave of emotions that swept over me ushering me into mommyhood… The strongest was this protective kind of love. It was this heart wrenching feeling when he cried that I just wanted him to know everything was ok, mommy and daddy loved him. An overwhelming feeling that no matter what happened, I would do whatever it took to keep him safe and well.

I guess what you would call the mama bear instinct.

What surprisingly came with this love was also a fear. A fear I had never felt before, this terror that something might happen to him. He was so little and fragile and the thought of anything happening to him just about killed me. My stomach would turn into knots, it was hard to breathe. I first recognized this fear then, when he was two weeks old.

Have you ever felt a fear creep in on you? My fear felt almost paralyzing. And then I knew I had a choice. I could either let it control me, or do the dirty work of dealing with it.

I knew deep in my heart I had to give the fear to God.

So I stood there in the glow of the lamp light, taking in all of  his tiny little features that needed my protection… and I prayed. I asked that the Lord would give me grace to hold this little one loosely. For grace to open my mama bear paws and put my baby back in His Heavenly Father’s hands.

My baby is mine to steward, not to possess.

I had to give my baby to God. I knew I had to trust God with him. God gave me Wilder as a gift and stewardship, and his life is ultimately in His hands. Which is exactly where it should be.

Because there’s no place more safe or secure.

Are you struggling with a fear in your life? Maybe you don’t have kids, maybe it’s something else. Do you have fear of letting go of a situation because you feel like it’s something you can’t trust God with? My dear friend, give it to the One who made you. He is faithful, and He is trustworthy.

I’m praying for you. Give it to Him.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…” Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

If you’ve made up your mind to give a fear to God, I would love to hear about it & pray for you… We’re all in this together!

If this blog post tugged on your heart strings, you have a friend with a new baby, or you feel like someone might be encouraged by this post, please share  on social media below!

Hugs! Suzy

Lettering by Cari of Sunlettering

My friend Cari of Sunlettering teamed up with me to create these beautiful shareable verse reminders. Feel free to instagram or pin to pinterest, just tag @suzyvandyke & @sunlettering in the post so we can see!