Behold, he is making all things new

11:45 AM

Resting with our daughter in the hospital just after birth
She came with the rain. The air was fresh and a slow drizzle started just as Tory and I were finishing up our walk through the trees on the Chiang Mai University campus after dinner and after dark. We spent the morning with Rebecca and Patrick, enjoying a brunch together and hoping that she might come that day. Contractions were coming but they weren’t consistent, and gave me no sign that Saturday would be different than any other day in late pregnancy since I’d been on a slow march towards labor all week. We parted ways in the afternoon only to call them back and share the exciting news late that night - we were in labor and would need that ride to the hospital after all!

Jasmine, our Doula was a huge support

I met each contraction in the moment, accepted it and moved through it with my breath. I was aware of what was going on around me, but was focused entirely on being present in my body, preparing for each coming contraction and riding the wave of it, repeating to myself, ‘it’s not pain - it’s pressure… and after pressure comes release.” It’s incredible to me that I did this for so many hours, experiencing so much intensity every 3-5 minutes. Time was lost on me. At one point I surfaced and asked Tory and Jasmine, “is it working?” and they both responded with a resounding “yes!” and I dove back into the waves along with their reassurance. I was unable to hold Camille’s arrival as the end goal, I was too focused on getting through each moment to see the big picture - which made meeting her for the first time that much more powerful. It was almost a surprise that I got to meet my daughter at the end of 19 hours of labor!

First kiss on that fuzzy little head 
Camille's incredible arrival
She came out face up and wide-eyed. If I had known she had flipped posterior during the last few days of her life in the womb I would have been terrified since my own birth ended in a C-section after complications with posterior positioning. I am so grateful I was unaware because it allowed me to accept all the sensations of labor and birth as normal and expected and be as relaxed as possible as I’d planned. As I read about posterior births after the experience, I am so grateful that she was still able to be born naturally. I also understand why my labor did not seem to fit the typical stages of labor and that my active labor phase was so long and intense. After about hour 16 or 17 of active labor, our doctor recommended breaking my water. It was the strangest sensation and it certainly kicked labor into high gear. Soon after, I experienced my body pushing on it’s own. Even though I was told that my body would push the baby out on it’s own left to it’s own devices, I didn’t understand how forceful it would be without my conscious effort. I surprised the nurses by answering that I felt no particular desire to assist my body in pushing, and when they encouraged me to begin the pushing phase I was thankful that something was progressing but quite overwhelmed with the pain and intensity of the contractions. I remained aware but selectively oblivious to the large crew of nurses gathered around me in those final phases and instead focused on Tory's encouragements.

I didn't have much strength left after the marathon that was active labor, and I was still blissfully unaware that she was sunnyside-up so after many attempts to push along with the intensifying contractions, our doctor recommended an episiotomy. Everyone was a little deflated when she didn't arrive along with his quick cut despite all my howls and pushing, but we waited for the next wave of contractions, and as I screamed and pushed again and again, she was finally born. Pressure and then release. I instantly snapped into full awareness, completely engaged with the world again as she was placed into my arms and I realized, I'm meeting my daughter for the first time!

Tory and I overwhelmed with joy
Jasmine, our Doula was an incredible birth supporter for both Tory and I. I was amazed at her ability to be exactly where I needed her to be (with a hot pack on my lower back, unmoving for hours) and how she freed Tory up to be cooling my neck and face with a cloth, getting me water, encouraging me, playing just the right music for each phase, and countless things I'll never even know about. He gave the ultimate gift - to give and give of himself without receiving thanks - or even acknowledgement - for hours and hours, and the gift of knowing me, loving me and studying me over the last ten years so that in moments like these, he would know exactly what I needed, what to say, or simply that his presence was fully enough. He is doing the same thing for two of us now in fatherhood, and I am proud of him and awed by him daily.

Looking into each other's eyes for the first time. They look so much alike!
Three weeks into motherhood, I feel my identity melting along with puddles of emotions and spit up milk. For the most part, it’s not scary - it’s a letting go, a willingness to be present and take each moment for what it is. I mean, sometimes I’m so tired that I forget what I’m talking about halfway through a sentence. My body is putting itself back together. My body is immeasurably strong and there’s so much beauty in that.

Strength. 1 week postpartum
On top of that, we’ve chosen to live in a country that will never fully feel like home. And what does it mean that for at least the next year, my clothing will need to have easy breast access? That’s a major design constraint. I don’t know that I care. I’m curious. What will my life be about from here on out? How has birth and motherhood fundamentally changed me? I feel my identity evolving, trying on new ways of thinking about myself.

“I am incredibly patient”
“I am up for the challenge”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

For now, motherhood is similar to pregnancy in that each new phase brings new challenges to adapt to and I know that nothing lasts forever. The challenges will evolve over time. Right now I am focused on meeting my daughter's basic needs and my own and staying fully engaged with Tory. On being a mother and wife and allowing myself to heal physically and mentally. But slowly, very slowly, I will put back pieces of my old self, and adapt them to my new self - hobbies, career, and passion projects. I find myself wondering what those priorities will be when this all shakes out. Thailand is changing me. Camille is changing me. I truly feel like the clay in God’s hands. Use me. Mold me. Behold, he is making all things new.

Happy First Father's Day, Tory! We love you! 
The beginning of the journey
And OUT she came, that very day

Arriving at the hospital in between contractions - excited to actually be in labor!

That precious moment where she reached out and grabbed my hand

Baby Camille, 7lbs 2oz, 20.5"

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  1. Congratulations! We love and miss you!

  2. Amazingly well written! Thanks for sharing your personal story! Love you guys and wish you all the best in thailand!

  3. So so beautiful! It's an amazing and wild ride! And you are doing it with such grace. :) -Danica


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