Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week One: Recap

Hudson is officially 8 days old. Wow, that was fast. After two days in the hospital, two appointments at the pediatrician, and two sets of grandparent visits, we are settling into this whole parenting thing quite nicely. I am amazed at how quickly Hudson is changing on a daily basis. One minute he is asleep for hours on end, and then next minute he is alive and alert using his little beady eyes to show us how curious he is about the world around him. The challenges that we have faced so far have only consisted of adjusting to a new sleeping routine and trying to understand his facial expressions when he is fussy. 
Last Wednesday we came home from the hospital and settled Hudson into his new home. He seemed to take to his bassinet quite quickly and slept most of the day away. At night, we fought our anxiety as we lay down, trying not to worry about the next time we would be waking up. He has been feeding very well, and has been ever since day one (I am very thankful for this). On Thursday, my parents arrived from Michigan and came to visit us in the evening. They loved Hudson immediately! As first-time grandparents it was hard not to see their affection from the moment they laid eyes on their grandson. That night, Chance left for work and I was left at home by myself to take care of Hudson through the night. This was a very difficult night. Hudson fussed even before his dad left for work and was basically inconsolable all night long. His mother (i.e. me) was up with him about every 15 to 20 minutes, trying the swaddling techniques that I learned in Happiest Baby on the Block. I still haven't perfected the swaddling art. The next day was a pleasant one with my parents, and we were blessed to have our refrigerator stocked to the brim, our laundry folded, and dinner made for us. Hudson also had his first pediatrician check-up where he weighed in a 6 pounds, 9 ounces--up 4 ounces from Wednesday! Chance was home that night and I felt much less anxious about falling asleep. Hudson was way less fussy and we actually got some decent sleep. 

Over the weekend, we were visited by a few friends and continued to enjoy time with the family. My mother stayed the night on Saturday and relieved me a bit when Hudson woke up around 11:00pm to say that it was time to hang out. I slept until he got hungry and then fed him until his tummy was content. The next morning was the Lord's day. Chance and my parents went off to church, while Hudson and I spent the morning together. He slept, and I attempted to nap to no avail. I am quickly learning that I will need to get better at napping when he does. Thus far I have only fallen asleep a handful of times during the day when he has slept. All in due time I suppose. On Monday morning, my mom and I took Hudson back to the pediatrician who told us that even though he was a week old, he was as alert as a two-week-old! He weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 19.5 inches long (he grew 1/2 an inch in one week). It's amazing to me how fast newborns grow! We have been told multiple times that we need to soak in the time because it goes very quickly and he is only this tiny for so long. My parents left for Michigan this afternoon. It was a tough goodbye, but we know that we'll see them again before long. 

In the past week, I have been reminded of a few things. The major thing being that God is a gracious and loving God. Hudson is such a precious gift from God and I am amazed and humbled that God would choose to bless Chance and I with him. Yes, it is difficult to be sleep-deprived, but Psalm 127:3 speaks truthfully when it says, "Children are a heritage from the Lord..." Secondly, I am reminded of the importance of a strong, Christ-centered marriage. Chance has been immensely helpful and encouraging in the past week, just as he was during labor. When Hudson fusses at night or wakes up and wants attention, Chance immediately offers to take him before I have to nurse him, so that I can get a few more minutes of sleep. It is a most glorious way of serving me. Lastly, I am reminded of God's unique design of mothers. Although this is my first experience as a mom, having never had any children before Hudson, it has astounded me how comfortable I feel caring for Hudson.  My mothering instincts kicked in immediately after Hudson was first laid on my chest, prior to his delivery. I have felt extremely comfortable nursing, changing diapers, and soothing our tiny baby even though I was never taught how to do these things. God has gifted mothers in such a way that even from the moment your child is born, you feel a strong sense of confidence in caring for your child. It's unexplainable, except that it is a gift from God. 
As the days go by, I will to continue to learn what self-sacrifice means as I put my wants and needs on the back burner to take care of Hudson and to serve my husband. I can honestly say that being a mother is the greatest occupation that I have had, and by the grace of God I will fulfill my role to the glory and praise of God. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Wait is Finally Over

The Birth Story of Hudson Thomas Sumner

I must begin this story before the actual labor/delivery/birth part began. My desire for Hudson's birth, all along, was for it to be an unmedicated, natural birth. We hired a doula (labor coach) to help me to achieve that goal, having never given birth before and not really knowing what to expect. The few weeks leading up to Hudson's due date, my doctor told me that I was 100% effaced, and a few centimeters dilated and that I would deliver any day. As his due date approached and I still hadn't gone into labor, I was becoming more and more discouraged. Well, January 10th came and went, and still we were without our son. The week after that was an agonizing one, as I mostly just meandered around the house and tried to keep myself busy. Every day I would ask the Lord to send Hudson, but sadly God chose not to answer these prayers. I faced discouragement, lack of faith, impatience, and frustration as the days passed and I was still pregnant. At my last prenatal visit, my doctor told me that she wanted to schedule an induction for Tuesday, January 22nd. I was discouraged because I had been  planning on having a natural, unmedicated birth for the last nine months. But, I was reminded that the Lord was in control and I needed to trust his timing and his plans over my own. So the induction was scheduled and I continued to wait and feebly trust in the Lord as being sovereign over all things, including the birth of this child. 

On Saturday, January 19th, Chance's parents decided that they would fly into Dallas 'early' since the original plan was for them to fly in when I went into labor. We enjoyed spending time with them and anxiously awaiting the time when we'd get to meet Hudson. We prayed on Saturday that I would go into labor that night and have Hudson on Sunday, but alas we awoke Sunday morning and I was still not in labor. That afternoon I called my doula who had told me I could try a 'natural remedy' prior to my induction to see if it would cause me to go into labor and so avoid medical induction. She prescribed 1 tablespoon of castor oil to be taken right before bed. This was my last hope, if I was to avoid the induction, since I only had one day left before the procedure. Around 9:45pm on Sunday evening, after Chance went off to work for the night, I took the castor oil and tried to fall asleep. I was too excited and too anxious to get much sleep at all. I woke up at 1:30am, with slight stomach cramps, but nothing too abnormal. But, at 2:50am, I woke up again, this time due to a popping sound and feeling. "My water broke!", I thought, although I didn't feel any wetness. I got up and went to the bathroom and sure enough as soon as I got in there a gush of water confirmed that indeed my water had broken! This was it! I called Chance and told him that I thought my water broken and to come home. He told me he was on his way, and by 3:30am he was at home with me just as I started to feel contractions. 

Contractions are a funny thing. I always wondered what a real contraction felt like, having heard them described as menstrual cramps but different. Well I never felt the menstrual cramps, only intense pressure, mostly in the upper part of my legs. I called my doula and told her that my water had broken, and she suggested that I shower, eat breakfast, and rest as much as I could. After attempting to lay down, the contractions began getting stronger so I got up to shower and eat breakfast. By 5:00am the contractions were about 5 minutes apart, so I called my doctor's office and they informed the hospital that I was on the way there. Baylor University Medical Center (the hospital I planned to deliver at) happens to be located right across the street from DTS and our apartment. So as we grabbed our bags to head across the street, Chance and I made the decision to walk. Three contractions and about fifteen minutes later we were checking in to the labor and delivery unit. It was 6:00am. I met the nurse, Katie, who assessed me and seemed very excited when I gave her my birth plan and told her that I wanted to do this naturally, without medication. She asked me a million questions and monitored Hudson's heart rate and my contractions which were consistently 5-7 minutes apart. At 7:00am, Katie left and a new shift of nurses came in to take care of us. My 'head' nurse was Charlotte. She was bubbly, cheerful, and very excited to assist us with our natural delivery. The doctor on-call came in shortly after and measured my cervix: I was 4 centimeters dilated! 

Chance and I left the room once we were all checked in and assessed, and began walking the halls. Chance was amazing throughout the whole process. I honestly could not have done this without him, and I am so thankful for his constant encouragement and support the entire time. He would constantly say, "You are doing a great job" or "You can do this!" We walked and walked and walked. During each contractions I would stop by the wall and hold onto the railings while I breathed through the pressure. The pressure was intensifying, but I was able to keep walking. I never really had a thought about pain medication, but there was one time, as Chance and I walked the halls, when I spotted a man in a sterile gown going into the C-Section operation room. I said to Chance, "A C-Section sounds really good right about now." I was half-serious. Around 8:00am, our doula arrived and Chance went to the waiting room to see his parents, while Melissa and I walked the halls again. Due to the pressure I was feeling in my legs, Melissa suggested that I do some deep squats during each contraction because she suspected that the baby's head was stuck on my pelvic bone as he was trying to descend. The squats were difficult, but they seemed the help. After getting tired of squatting/walking, we went back to my room where I sat on the birthing ball, used the birthing handles on the bed, and laid in a very uncomfortable position while Melissa guided me through the contractions to lessen the pressure on my legs. 

At 10:00am, Melissa suggested that I get into the tub to relax my legs muscles. This was a great idea. Chance sat with me the whole time and helped me breathe through each contraction. We grabbed the iPad and turned on some worship music. The warm water, music, and sweet words from Chance all seemed to relax me. After about an hour, I decided that I had had enough of the tub and told Chance I wanted to get out. He helped me onto the toilet. As soon as I sat down I said, "I think I want to push." He went and told our nurse, Charlotte, who said that she could check me if I'd like. I moved slowly to the bed, where she examined me. To my surprise, I was 9.5 centimeters dilated! Praise the Lord! She said that she would call the doctor and get the nurse team ready for delivery. Melissa had me do 3 contractions on the toilet, and then a few more in a kneeling position over the back of the bed. These were the most intense contractions because I was essentially "breathing away" the urge to push until I got to 10 centimeters. I heard something about 9.5 centimeters "with a lip" not really knowing what that meant, but feeling determined to get to 10 centimeters so that I could push this baby out!

Before long, the doctor came in and began to get prepared for the pushing. I sat in the bed as Chance and Melissa each grabbed one of my legs. They told me to wait until I had a contraction and then push with all my might. The contractions seemed like ETERNITY apart! As I pushed the first time, Chance told me that he could see Hudson's hair--he was almost here! I waited for the next contraction and then pushed again, as hard as I could. I felt him moving down and out; this was it. I kept my eyes on the clock to see how long this was taking. All the nurses, my doula, our doctor, and Chance were encouraging me along and I could sense that he was so close. As I pushed the last time, I thought "I just want him out!" I didn't scream or yell, but tried to direct all that energy into the pushing. The doctor worked her magic and as I continued to push, push, push, I felt a horrible burning feeling and then HUDSON ARRIVED (at 11:20am)! Chance immediately burst into tears of joy as they hoisted Hudson up onto my chest. I was elated. He was perfect.
The nurses were cheering, and congratulating us. Chance made his way back to the bed to see his son, with tears in his eyes. It was the greatest feeling in the world. I didn't shed a tear, but kept smiling and thinking, "I can't believe you are my son (and I can't believe you just came out of me)!" Our doula snapped a bunch of pictures, and the nurses took Hudson after a little while to measure, weigh, and assess him. God had answered our prayers for a healthy, safe, and natural delivery. More importantly, Hudson was perfectly healthy and had safely arrived--in God's perfect timing. I have been overwhelmed by God's abundant grace in giving us Hudson, and have felt immense gratitude to the Lord for working everything out according to his will. I am thankful for our family, for the nurses, the doctor, the hospital, our doula, and my dear husband. I truly could not have gotten through the pregnancy, labor, and delivery of our son without Chance's support.  God is so kind. 
Perhaps one of the funniest parts about the labor and delivery, was that somewhere along the way it was told the nurses that I had run a half-marathon at 29 weeks pregnant. They seemed to get a real kick out of that and began saying, "Wow, you are superwoman!" I don't know about being superwoman, but I do believe that my continuous exercise throughout all of pregnancy and my experience as a runner greatly assisted me in being able to endure the pain of childbirth. 

A verse that I had been thinking about in the week leading up to Hudson's birth is Psalm 126:3 which says,  "The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." I can claim this truth as my own, because indeed God has done great things for this Sumner family, and we are immensely glad. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Great Expectations

"Expectations ruin relationships."

A few days ago I was having a conversation with my mother in law about the above quote. We talked about how when we expect people to act a certain way and then they act contrary to our expectation we end up disappointed and discouraged. In the past few days I have been reminded (or rather convicted) of this truth in my relationship to God and his sovereignty. 

When I was told that my due date was January 10th, 2013, I expected to have a baby by then. I thought that my water would break in the morning, I'd be able to shower, labor at home, then go to the hospital for an hour or so of pushing and then I'd be holding our son, all by 5pm! However, January 10th has come and gone, and I am still not holding this baby. In the past 24 hours I have had many thoughts of frustration and confusion. In my frustration today I have asked God many 'why' questions. As I was discussing my confusion with Chance this morning, I asked him, "Why didn't God answer my prayer that my water would break this morning?" I have wondered why first babies usually come late, why there are due dates at all, and why God has not yet answered my prayers that I would go into labor. And yet, as the minutes and hours pass and still I am without this baby in my arms (although he is still fluttering around in my stomach) I have been brought back to a simple truth that reflects the quote above: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8) I have been expecting that God would conform to my plans. One of my favorite preachers, John Piper, often says that God is doing a thousand things when he is doing one thing. I believe that Piper is referring to the thousands of things that God is doing that we simply cannot see, while we tend to focus on the one thing that God is doing that we can see. The Proverbs talk about the plans of man and the ways of the Lord, and how the two things are many times at odds. We expect that God will do exactly what we want, when we want, but that is taking God off the throne. It is interesting how we do take comfort in the fact that God is in control, but when our plans are distorted we rebel against the same comforting truth. I am not saying that it is easy to always believe, but thankfully the Word of God reminds us over and over again, lest we forget. 

Psalm 145:17 says, "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works." As I write this, I am staring at that verse on a plaque that sits on my desk. Do I really believe that God is kind in all his works? Perhaps intellectually, but not always practically. When I allow emotions to dictate my reaction to circumstances, my natural impulse is to become self-pitying and doubt God's kindness and care of me. However, when I let the Word of God penetrate my mind and heart, I find rest even if I do not have all of the answers. Moreover, as I play this waiting game and try to focus on what is true, my soul counsels me to think of the circumstances in which God has chosen to remind me of his sovereignty and kindness. I am having a baby! What a blessing it is to know that on this occasion what I am expecting is imminent. Hudson will be born. If I do not grasp the truth of God's ways being higher than my ways in this situation, I fear how I will respond when the circumstances are not so hopeful. May God use this short period of waiting to teach me to trust him at all times, to have faith in his ways rather than trusting in my own, and to place my expectations in his promises. 

For all of you who have had to wait on the Lord's timing, whether it has been in the birth of a child or in the job hunting process, know that the Lord's way are higher than our ways, that he is a good and kind God, that he causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose, and that he is always doing a thousand unseen things in the one thing you can see.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Raise your hand if you like change. I can't count how many that was, but I am going to assume that there weren't many hands raised. I admit that I have an odd relationship with 'change'. Oftentimes I embrace it wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm, but at other times I am paralyzed with fear at what the change might bring about. Right now in life, I am somewhere in the middle. Like I said in my last 'post', this year is going to look completely different than last year, primarily because in a matter of a few days (literally!) I am going to be a mom, and Chance is going to be a dad. Our first son, Hudson Thomas, whose estimated arrival date is January 10th, is to be born any day now. Furthermore, this new addition to our lives has meant a complete shift in my role in our family. For about a year and a half I have been working at a financial management company, however, when I got pregnant I informed my workplace that I would not be returning after our baby was born. I am going to take on the role of stay-at-home mom and wife, and I couldn't be more thrilled (and nervous). Chance will continue to be enrolled at DTS full-time, while working a part-time job. I will go from 40-hour work weeks in the financial industry to full-time mommy, whose hours never really end. I am excited, anticipatory, nervous, and anxious to embark on this new journey that God has for me. 

With the anticipation of this new full-time role comes a whole slew of questions that have been running through my mind: Will I be a 'good mother'? How will I care for an infant? What will my days look like? In God's sovereignty, He has chosen that Hudson would be born right at the beginning of this new year. This has caused me to think about how God is actively working in our lives to make all things work together for our good. This morning as I read Psalms 148 through 150, I was struck by the awesome truth of God's provision over the whole of creation. He is not just active in my life, but in all of creation--including animals and planets. How wonderful that the Creator of the seasons, chooses to be with us through all of the seasons of our lives as well! As I reflect on this simple truth, while in the back of my mind knowing that life is about to change drastically, I am comforted. So embrace the newness that this year might hold, and look for how God is working in your life to bring about new things for your good and His glory! 

Here Goes Nothing

I think I might have fallen into the category of "blogger failure". My blog has laid dormant for months, and there is no one to blame but myself. Through the anticipation of welcoming our son into the world, it seems that blogging was the last thing on my mind. However, as the numbers on the calendar change from 2012 to 2013, I am reminded afresh why I started this blog in the first place. No, I am not going to make any blogging resolutions as to how many posts I will put up weekly or what topics I will cover, but I am reminding myself of this one thing: I like to write. That is primarily why I started a blog, so that I could write and others could read. Well, all that to say, this year is going to look completely different than last year, and so I think it is high time to re-commit to writing more often. There you have it, and thanks for sticking with me. Stay tuned..