Sunday 6 October 2013

Avas' beautiful birth story.. with (non graphic) pics!

My how the weeks have passed ! Ava is now 11 weeks old, and i have been meaning to get her birth down to share with those who celebrate birth stories!

Late evening on the 12th July i started having what felt like period pain... nothing crazy, and certainly nothing that was in any sort of pattern, i would have a bit of a surge and then wait 9 mins, then the next would be 2 mins later, the next one 7 mins later, all over the place, and not 'painful', just noticeable.

I was 39 weeks.

I called my midwife, who said i didn't sound like i was in labour - i agreed, but said that in fact all my previous midwifes have said the same thing when i called them. My surges were as i mentioned all over the place, and lasting for 30 seconds in length.
Shelley came to our place to check, and found i was 5 - 8 cm  dilated (with the bag of waters still in tact) ... so with MIL Maggie already at our place, my hubby Andy gave my 1000iu of Kogente FS  intravenously, for clotting after the birth, and we headed to the hospital after calling my girlfriends to meet us there.

My neighbor Denise (mother of 6) hopped in our car, as she was a part of my support team, and we excitedly talked about the arrival of my daughter as we drove to the hospital.

On the way there was a police stop, and i would like to say that i have always imagined being stopped whilst in labour - and rather enjoyed saying as we stopped "i'm having a baby !!" - Such fun!
Needless to say, Andy was not breathalyzed, nor was Shelley following behind.

We arrive on the ward and my awesome girls are there already - Simone, Olive, Sara and Tahli (with camera at the ready) it's all a bit of a buzz, i get checked again and i am 8-9 cm dilated, but still in fine form talking and laughing... we decide to walk the halls to get things going as the surges are still random, and lasting for about 30 seconds... my hilarious friend Sara has me doing the chicken dance, whilst Olive thinks up ways we could get the waters to go... none of which we attempt, but there is a lot of humour . There was talk of playing 'handbag roulette'.... ( and, in the pic to the left there,
the sign says no loitering...)

Throughout it all with each surge one of my girls would rub my lower back, i found this so helpful.

We head back to the room after spotting the board game 'scrabble' and have a few turns at that before we decide walking around seemed to bring the surges closer together. Meanwhile i am still fine - talking, and during the surge i go into a squat  holding on to the rails in the hallway that stop the beds making dents in the walls... they are perfect height to drop into and hold my back strait, giving me a purchase to swing my hips and encourage baby down.

In the weeks before the birth i had prayed in to this birth, casting my fear upon my good and gracious God, and trusting completely in Him.
I believe that in natural birth the biggest thing that gets in our way, is fear. It has no place in birth and yet it raises it ugly head throughout pregnancies in birth stories that don't go well, in parents fears, and spouses, not to mention our own fear... Fear is of no use to a birthing mother, what a woman needs to hear, what she needs to believe is that she was made to do this. That her body is strong, That her baby is strong. A woman needs to hear she can do it. Because she CAN do it!!

I had one of my dearest friends make a cd for me of worship songs to encourage me, so through out my labour there was the music that lifted my very soul, the words that spoke to my heart and took me back to my center. The sounds that quietly told me i was not alone in this.

I had also written down scripture, and words to encourage me, my girlfriends sat in the corridor with a page each and spoke them to me, i was so encouraged at one point tears of happiness and of joy, came to my eyes. This birth was a spiritual experience for me. I cannot explain it exactly but i felt 'held' though out.

I was waiting for the pain i had experienced before in my other births, the 'rocky road' as we call it.... but it did not come. I simply did not feel the need to cry out in pain, Quite simply it wasn't all that painful.

By 4.25  am my waters had still not broken... and after bugging my sweet midwife enough times, she broke my waters.

I hopped off the bed, and felt pressure and as i walked toward the door to head to the birthing pool, i had the urge to get down on my knees, on all fours, i knew i would not make it to the bath at that point.I was in the middle of the doorway...

I felt pressure and when i reached between my legs, my daughters head was completely out... i expressed this and a friend lifted my skirt to see her entire little face with my hand cradling her head.

My dear hubby Andy is not a man who likes blood and gore, yet his instant reaction was to catch our baby girl as she entered the world. .... Which she did on the next surge, one push from me, and Miss Ava Elizabeth was here. It was 4.32 am! (On the 13/07/13)

At that point baby Ava was facing everyone else and i had not seen her, i stood up and she was passed between my legs. Ava is perfect. There are no words to describe that moment when you see your child for the first time. I wanted to capture the moment, to bottle it, as time seems to stop in those first moments, their little hands, and tiny toes with tiny finger nails - all perfectly made, beautiful eyes , little button nose and wee rose bud lips - wonderfully made. In those moments i understand psalm 139:14

 "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well."

My placenta was tummy massaged out as it took more time than expected, and during which Ava fed. In fact she fed for a good 2 hours ! This was such a lovely memory, my husband curled in behind me, resting, as Ava fed and looked up at me with those baby blues.

Afterwards Shelly my midwife said to us that she had not seen a labour like it, it looked as though it would fizzle out at any point.. but it didn't. I thank and praise God for a joyful easy birth ! I thank God that i am surrounded by women who will stand in faith with me, and a husband who does not stumble in his faith.

What tips would i give to an expectant mum?

#1 - Cast your fear. (this is a must -  to enjoy the experience)
#2 - play music that speaks to your soul
#3 - have the people who encourage you surround you, the ones who have faith in you. Have them massage or put pressure on your lower back during the surges.
#4 - prepare yourself, write down things that encourage you. YOU ARE STRONG. YOUR BABY IS STRONG, you can do this!!!!
#5 - (Cast your fear again if it has returned)
#6 - during the surges squat down, strait back - knees apart and swing those hips girl!!
#7 - in labour - DO NOT LIE ON YOUR BACK!!!!
#8 - walk around as much as you can - stand and deliver as it were!
#9 - stay cheerful... this too shall pass.
#10 - remind yourself you only need to get through this one surge. Do not focus on how long it will be... just ride the wave when it comes.You were made to do this!

I imagine when learning to fish, casting is a bit of an art. I think it is also with casting our fear... takes a bit of practice.... if the fear and anxiety keeps returning, cast it again and again. By trusting your body, remind yourself this is how we as women have always brought forth life from the beginning of time. You are no different. You can do this. You were called for such a time as this.

Love and blessings  x

Caroline .

Monday 24 June 2013

weakness turned to strength

I still believe this world to be a beautiful place.

But i do see so many struggles.

I see hearts breaking, and plans failing, i see sickness that seems so unfair. i see why some of us would look at it all and think there is no God. Looking in on tragedy has that effect sometimes.

But i can also tell you, that God will bring out your greatest strength, THROUGH your greatest 'weakness' .

For those of you who are not 'faith ies' (like my darling friend Sara calls me) bear with, you don't have to be of the same belief to learn from each other.

My son Austin is 7 years old, and this past week he has been attempting to access himself, on a daily basis to give the medication he needs to make his blood clot 'normally'.

Did i mention he is 7 years old? at 7 years old i was concerned with what reading level i was on, and learning the words to Celine Dion songs.
At 7 years old my beautiful boy has asked, persevered and successfully accessed his veins one handed.

That is no easy feat. Many trained paediatricians will miss the vein, let alone doing this one handed. Totally amazing. I would like for you to think about whatever struggle is going on for you right now. I want to encourage you that God will find a way... Not only that, but he will turn your struggle into your strength.
If He can give a 7 year old boy the accessing skill of a doctor. He can do wonders through you.

The world may look at your situation as a negative one - too often when people learn of my sons diagnosis of haemophilia, there is a look of pity.
But you know what? through this, it is one of our greatest strengths as a family. For all of us, we are better people through it.

Through this, Austin has grown inner strength and skills he would not have otherwise known of.

Be encouraged people, He loves you x


Monday 17 June 2013

Beard hair bread

I remember years ago having my little sis stay at my house, she had made ham sandwiches, and in eating hers, pulled a finger nail out of her mouth!!! Ughhh!

Another time i was making sandwiches and on inspection of what i thought was a wholegrain in the white bread, saw in fact there was what looked like black beard hair in the bread... not nice, let me tell you, considering half the loaf was already eaten. I sent it back to the company who in reply gave us a $10 voucher to buy more their bread... mmmm. Seemed legit. In the letter they sent me,  they confirmed that it was beard hair. Nice.

One time i was at a friends for morning tea, and the apple turnovers i had bought from a local bakery had onions in. Nice.

This brings me to tell you about a dream i had a few weeks ago, in the dream i was making bread, well, i had started by putting the flour into a large bowl, and when looking at the flour it looked a bit grey.
Looking closer still, i see a few short, thick, black hairs, very much like beard hair - in MY flour!!

I started to pick the hairs out, but the further into the flour i dug, the more hairs i saw. Eventually i was looking into a bowl of beard hair, lightly surrounded by flour.

Dismayed, in my dream, i threw it all out, knowing there was no point in making anything with this flour.

It wouldn't matter if i had made pikelets or a wedding cake, if i had iced and decorated, using all the finest ingredients.... If i had used that beard hair flour, no amount of presentation would convince people it was a good offering when they tasted it.
It may look nice from the table, but as the saying goes -  "the proof is in the pudding".

Moral of the crazy dream?  Get rid of the stuff that will ruin the recipe, the stuff in life that will ruin the end result. Get rid of the beard flour. No one likes beard hair bread..... No one.

Sunday 16 June 2013


 Driving the kids to school this morning we waited at the road works for our time to pass. Eventually we were on our way again, and maybe for 100m or so, the speed limit was 30km.
The cars in front of me were all driving 50 km, and it wasn't until i looked down, i saw that obviously i was too. There were cars behind all following at the same speed, and i had a passing thought on how even though the speed limit is set, for our safety, we choose to ignore, or to follow the person in front at the speed they are going. How often in life do we do this? ... God has set the speed limit for us, sometimes it is 100km, sometimes it is 30km  and it is for our own safety, so we arrive at our destination with life.

Has God put out a 30km sign post up in your life? 
Is he asking you to slow down?  or is he asking you to speed up?

Anyway, this post was meant to be on attitudes... our Eden came home today wearing a band made of cardboard, with a little scripture on it, " i can be obedient because God is with me"

My first thought was  - "did all the children get these, or is the teacher trying to tell me something??!"

My second thought was " this is awesome, in a public school they would not have this teaching, and for that i am SO thankful"

So we start talking about what it means to be obedient, something i am sure most 5 year olds struggle with! (something all of us struggle with at times)
My little girl says she will be helping me because the baby is coming soon, and she will listen to me. WONDERFUL!! i think to myself ...  (Thank you Mrs Grammar!)

.....About 15 minutes later, still in the car, my eldest son Austin had been reading his book, and from the back seat asks his sister if she would put his book away for him, as she was closest to his bag.

"No." was the response.

I raise my eyebrows and ask her what happened to 'love one another and help one another?'

Her reply?........ "I didn't pick that one".....

I had to laugh! How many times do we think we can just pick and choose from our walk with Christ? Like only some of it applies to me? hehehe - i know myself, it isn't an easy walk.

Forgive one another (always)

Love one another (always)

Reach out to the poor and the needy (always)

Be humble (always)

In all you ways acknowledge Him (always)

Do things for his Glory, and not for your own (always)

Trust Him (always)

As i said, it's not an easy walk.  Fortunately for me - and for you - there is His grace :)

Caroline x

Thursday 13 June 2013

Brave little hands

So the background story is that John, our 2 yr old little boy who has severe haemophilia A,developed inhibitors in March, the day after his 2nd birthday.

He has had a port insertion last month, and 3 weeks later the disintegrating stitches caused a reaction, and his body rejected them, this meant he was sent to Starship hospital in Auckland for 10 days of IV antibiotics to get rid of the infection that followed.

He arrived in Starship on a Tuesday, and started the course of antibiotics. The following day the line in his arm failed, and they accessed his other hand, which went well, my husband had bathed him, and the doctor doing the accessing was very calm, and got the vein accessed on the second attempt.

My husband was concerned that the new IV site was tight and swollen over his little hand, on Thursday and so when John was seen he mentioned his concerns that  it was a bleed. Both a haemotologist and a hematology nurse thought it was edema (fluid retention) from the antibiotics. Andy was told his veins would be sore from the IV, and the swelling in his fingers was just the fluid.

On Friday, Andy requested a new line be put in, which was done. It was when taking off all  of the bandages that the extent of the puffiness was seen. 

I was at home in Whangarei, and i was also very concerned, as from what my husband had told me, John was not using the hand at all, and it has all the signs of a bleed, without coloration.

later in the day on Friday, 2 haemotologists , and the heamotology nurse saw John and again thought the hand was just edema.
On the Friday afternoon,  John was still not using the hand, and it was it was really puffy, even with elevating it all day.

On Saturday,  his hand was really swollen, the new line was not really working, and by 3.30pm, was in no state for antibiotics to go in. It was pulling back ok, but painful when flushing. because of this, Andy said that John could not stand the pain enough for the antibiotic, (30 mins of pushing through) and so asked that they organise by 9pm, a new line be put in.
Shortly after that the swelling and pain was so much in the other hand, that he felt treatment for the bleed was needed immediately. 1 ml of Nova7 was administered through the painful line.

 Andy requested the haemotologist on call come in to view Johns hand, as he was convinced it was bleeding in to the tissues. It was 7.00pm.Andy wanted a plan to treat the bleed.
No heamatologist arrived, or gave a plan. and so Andy asked again, that they find someone to access John so that more nova7 (factor 7a) could be given to halt this bleed. 

After a horrendous amount of 12 failed attempts, by an Ed doctor and a surgical registrar, Andy pushed through the 1ml of fluid needed in to the sore line again, and again 2 hrs later. The whole time Andy is wanting someone to see the port to see if it can be cleared for use, as the whole night was so traumatic.

Sunday morning Andy 'tells' the new nurse on duty to call a surgeon to look at the port.

You must understand how frustrating it has been for a parent here. There was a variety of nurses, all week involved in Johns care, and a lot were not from oncology / haemotology, so had not a clue about haemophilia and bleeds.Quite frustrating when you are trying to remain calm, but insist on the importance of your child being seen asap. The nurses are not to blame, however we do feel frustrated that no haemotologist came to see him, on the night he needed it. My husband is not an emotional type of a guy, ( i think i have seen a tear fall - maybe 2 times in 8 years) but he told me he cried that night, feeling totally helpless for his son.

Finally a surgeon sees the port, clears it,  and eventually at 3.45 pm, on Sunday, the port is accessed and the antibiotic course continues. So this was 24 hours without the iv antibiotic.

Antibiotics continued (and Factor VIII for ITT) until the Wednesday, when he returned home.

I could not believe the state of my sons hand when i finally saw it. He is a total champion, and it will take a while for this to look normal again. Although, in typical John fashion, he is his usual lovely smiley self. An inspiration to us all.


Tuesday 11 June 2013

The wisdom in veins

As i accessed Austin this morning, this cold morning, missed the first attempt.. grrr i thought to myself, i have so much to get done before we leave to get the kids to school on time.

Second go, was great, done and dusted, the iv med of kogentate went through beautifully, and we could get on with the morning, knowing my 7 yr old son Austin was covered for the rest of the day, and could bump himself like the rest of the lads at school, and be fine :) what a blessed relief that is.

On the way to school (driving) i thought about this access.  I thought about how far i have come from the day of Austins diagnosis, many many years ago. How accessing is now a part of our daily life, but how different my life has turned out from how i imagined. If after giving birth, holding that beautiful little boy in my arms, someone would have told me that i would need to access his veins on a daily basis for him to have a 'normal' life in school and play, i would have thought  - "there is just no way i can handle that". 
And yet,  here i am. And i am stronger through it.

I started thinking about how important our veins are, they are a life source, carrying what is needed for life around every part of our body, with the help of the heart... Wonderfully made. 
I thought about if we missed the vein, it is no use trying to push through the meds, as that would only damage the tissues surrounding. And the medication simply won't get to where it is needed to heal, to protect. 

How often in our walk do we try to push through what we believe in, our truth on others, without first making sure we are connected in a way it will get to their heart? because today it was like 'pooof' - that makes so much sense, if we are not connected to the blood source, we only cause harm.

The past few months have been a bit stormy, with John (our 2 yr old) developing an inhibitor, having port surgery in Auckland (2 and half hours away from home) then having a reaction to the stitches and needing to go back to Auckland just 3 weeks after the surgery for iv antibiotics and a close watch on the port to determine whether it needed to be removed. It didn't - Praise God!

Still, having our very precious family split has opened my eyes to a few things. I stayed home (being 9 months pregnant i could not have kept up with John on the ward) with our 3 other children, whilst Andy went to Auckland with John. This was one of the hardest things for me, i felt so torn between caring for my little boy, and being there and maintaining 'normal' for the other children.
Anyway what did i learn?

Firstly how lonely it can get in the evenings without my best bud Andy (husband) to chat and laugh and solve the worlds problems with.

 It opened my eyes to single parenting, i take my hat off to you women (and men) who do this as their 'normal' . You must develop a certain strength within i imagine. It opened my eyes a little to how it could be for my friends who are not yet married, and i want you beautiful women to know that our door is always open, just rock on over, no invite needed. You lovely ladies are family to us. 

I have also been witness to a beautiful kindness in our friends, thank you for dinner. thank you for baking. thank you for company, thank you for passing the tissues. Thank you for praying with me. Thank you for standing in faith with us. Thank you. 

 Here are a couple of pictures of my Eden (red top) and Austin (Red top) running cross country this week at school. It was quite wet, and yet they ran their race.
People, it doesn't matter if you come first or last, but run your race, finish your race, and finish well. Even when it is raining so much you can barely see... keep going, "this too shall pass" 


Monday 20 May 2013

What's stealing your joy?

 Life is a funny old thing.

It is easy to become lost in the busyness of it all, that somehow we wake up one day, and the joy that once resided in us, seems lost, and i want to tell you it's not ok. I pray you find a way to get your joy back.

There are so many aspects to happiness, but key in it all is true contentment. Being content NOW, with whatever is going on in our life.
I think we have a warped sense of entitlement when it comes to how life should pan out for us.. and when it isn't going so well, we get down about it.

We have just spent a week in ward 27b in Starship. This is the oncology / haemotology ward for children.

There are teens there trying to cope with the seriousness of a diagnosis of cancer. There are parents trying to hold it together. There are babies, and toddlers hooked up to chemo, and when they are well enough, they wander in to the playroom, drips and all.
What i see there - are seasons of trials for families, at different stages, staring death in the face at times.

But what i see above all else... is hope.

I see the gentle precious love of parents, taking in each moment of joy, laughing when they can, making the very best, of a situation none would wish to be in. Something we have taken on board. There is no such thing as 'make up' time, you need to make the most of the day you are given - today.
Really love the ones you love, and spend time with them doing things together, with little kids it can be hard to do something 'everyone' enjoys.

By everyone - i mean all the children in the family... i found it hard to go to the skate park with my kids when they were little (with all those teenagers on skateboards looking cool) - my husband on the other hand was in his element... but, now i get so much joy hanging out with them, watching them scoot around, and when i am not pregnant, i even scoot myself!
My husband would never have thought himself as someone who could paint cool designs on his daughters nails, nor do i think he would have found that 'fun' - and yet the look on his face when he sees his little girls eyes light up is priceless.

Joy is found not only in the things we know we enjoy, but in sacrificing our pride, and stepping outside our 'comfort zone' (in the little things) for the joy of someone else.

Some 'little' things we find joy in and do a lot:

* sucking the kids hair in to the vaccum cleaner to make cool 'dos' (such fun!)
* build lego houses
* visit skate park/ petting zoo/ beach/ basin or playground
* go to a cafe/ restaurant as a family
* always eat dinner together at the table
*dress the kids up in matching outfits (ok maybe this is just my thing) and get nice family photos - or awful ones    that we laugh about later on!
* bake
* Go carting down our own little 'home made' go cart track
* face painting (and prego belly painting at the moment)
* toasting marshmallows on the patio heater
* the neighbours kiddies come over and they all dress up and do a show that they make up among themselves.
* dance
*My husband plays the uke and we all sing along to our favorite songs

I am sure there are other things too, but without a little bit of effort, and taking the time to just stop, and be with the children, the day would be gone, and our potential moments of joy would be over. It is not always easy, but we have found that with the stress of IV access and now port access, with trips to hospital, and times away, we need to choose to embrace the times of joy, however small they may seem.

Lord, i am thankful for the times of health, and the moments of joy. I am thankful also for the journey we are on, and for the people who walk it with us,  for in it, we too have hope.