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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Birth of Eva Luree

April, 2013 was the longest month of my life. I thought I had experienced long months before, but not until the last month of my first pregnancy did I realize what l-o-n-g truly meant. Many women who had gone before me into the harrowing occupation of motherhood had warned me, but there is nothing to prepare you for childbirth like childbirth. Just a couple days before my month ended, I finally read a book that referred to the very last segment of pregnancy as “the labor month,” and I thought, “YES, exactly.” To start our birth story accurately, I need to start way before the birth even began, and give you a brief history of our pregnancy and the choices we made as we started our family.

Last Spring, when Frank got the full time job with FedEx in Corvallis and we moved (back) to Oregon, we decided to start “trying” to start our family. I was 31, and had been diagnosed with endometriosis ten years prior, so we weren’t sure how long it would take or if it would take. It didn’t take too long at all! We started trying in June and had a positive test by the end of July. WOW! Here we go... I didn’t feel pregnant for several weeks, but around week 7 or 8, I started feeling sick, nauseous, all day long most days. I tried everything to keep the nausea at bay, but nothing seemed to work. People kept telling me it would be over by week 12, then week 16, then week 20... by week 26, I finally started having “normal” days again, thank the Lord. One morning (probably around week 18), Frank walked into the bathroom after I had my normal morning dry-heave-into-the-sink-with-no-results routine. I looked at him and said, “I’m not sure I can do this again, just sayin.” And he looked at me with the most confused, disappointed look on his face. The woman he married who wanted 4 kids had been replaced by a dry heaving, gagging, puking hot mess. Pregnancy was hard for both of us. Between weeks 26 and 38, everything calmed down and life was good again. It was fun watching my belly grow, and we drove people crazy with our decision to not find out the gender. We also enjoyed our regular visits with our midwives, Carol & Julia.

Before we got pregnant we had talked about choosing natural child birth. We each had a sister-in-law who chose natural child birth with their children and had fabulous experiences all 4 times. Early on in our pregnancy we netflixed the film “The Business of Being Born,” a documentary by Ricki Lake (Don’t let that turn you off. If you haven’t seen this, we highly recommend it and considering the options you have when it comes to giving birth). Watching this eye opening film solidified our decision to have a natural-as-possible experience. We drove an hour and a half to Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center, northwest of Salem, where my nephew Henry had been born. It was beautiful and the entire staff seemed amazing, but it was an hour and a half away. In fact, our home is 20 minutes from any medical facility. And given the fact that it would have taken Frank at least an hour and a half to get home from work, we decided the best possible scenario would be for me to stay home and have everyone come to me for the delivery. Our 2 hour interview with Bella Vie led us to another consultation, much closer to home, with Carol Severson, who has Mid Valley Birthing Services, based out of Albany. We got along with Carol right away. I felt very comfortable with her 30 plus years of experience, her personality and our shared faith. She had a couple girls working with her who were working on their midwifery licenses, one of whom, Julia, started conducting many of our appointments and we got to know her very well. We had Julia and Carol out to our house for dinner to talk about our birth plan. Julia came back for dinner a couple times to teach us more about natural birth techniques and breastfeeding. Her specialized care for us parents-to-be was an incredible blessing. Julia has two toddlers herself, so her recent experiences combined with her midwifery training made her an excellent resource. Being able to build relationships with Carol and Julia was essential to our positive home birth experience.

About a month before I was due, Julia gave me some nitrazine paper, in order to test any fluid I might notice as we got closer to the birth. The paper would turn a certain color if the fluid was amniotic, letting us know my bag of waters had broken. (Most women don’t experience a sudden gush, but more a slow leak.) On Easter night, I tested some fluid I noticed and the paper turned dark bluish/purple, like it would for amniotic fluid! We had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, so Julia gave us the run down on what to do and not do now that my water was leaking. She said it was likely we would be having a baby that week.

By Thursday, April 4th, I had been experiencing contractions off and on for a couple days. Combined with my leaking fluid, we decided to try some natural techniques to induce labor. My contractions picked up, and Julia came to our house. We were all hopeful that our baby would be born that night. After about 7 hours of regular contractions, Julia checked me and I was only dilated 2 cm. I was exhausted so we all agreed to go to bed and see where I was in the morning. At 6:30 am, I hadn’t had any contractions since falling asleep and waking back up around 4:30. Julia packed up and left and I was extremely disappointed.

For the next two and half weeks, I had contractions off and on. Sometimes they last several hours, sometimes they went as fast as they came. I was no longer leaking any fluid. (Which probably means my sack tore, and healed itself.) By Tuesday, April 23rd, almost 2 weeks past my due date, I was very tired and extremely frustrated. The baby’s head was down, I had been 2 cm dilated for 2 weeks. I felt stuck. My mom, Frank and I met with the ladies at their office and when Julia asked how I was doing, I lost it. I just started bawling, expressing my frustration and confusion and concern. Was something wrong with me? They both calmly explained (for the 10th time) that if something was wrong, they would know. My blood pressure was perfect, my weekly urine tests were normal, and the baby’s heart beat was healthy. They conducted an exam, during which Carol stripped my membranes. My mom and I went to lunch at a Thai restaurant and then got pedicures.

Two hours after the pedicure, mom and I arrived home and I flopped into bed, exhausted. I felt a contraction almost immediately after lying down. About 5 minutes later, another one hit. And then another one. After all the false starts, I was afraid to be hopeful, but still, something felt different. Frank came home from work, and we relaxed, going to bed early. No matter what I did, the contractions didn’t stop. Hope grew. At 12:30 am, I woke up, still feeling contractions regularly. They were stronger than anything I had experienced all month. I decided we should call Julia. She arrived 45 minutes after we called her. I contracted throughout the early morning, as I kinda slept off and on. She rested on the couch and came in to check my heart rate, blood pressure, and baby’s heart rate about every hour. At 4:30 am, I was dilated 5 cm!

Around 8 am, everyone was up, eating breakfast. I felt good. The contractions were still coming and I knew my baby would come that day! Finally! Around 10 am, my contractions started slowing down. Julia had Frank and I take walks outside in the sunshine and she had me take black & blue cohosh (herbs) every half hour for a couple hours. They picked back up, and at about 2 pm, on my way to the bathroom after a contraction, another one hit. I had to brace myself in the doorway. It was strong and sudden. By the time I walked 5 steps to the bathroom, another one just like it hit. And then another one... the tide turned, and I was finally in transition. From that point on, I labored mostly on our bed, trying to find comfortable positions to labor in. I’m not sure what time everything happened after that. I remember Frank lying next to me telling me I was “doing good” the whole time. I remember my water bottle constantly being held up to my mouth (thank God for Camelbaks!). I remember one of the midwives rubbing my feet through contractions, which felt so good!

I know at one point, they decided to break my water. Right after that, I heard Carol say, “I think this baby is trying to turn on us.” I looked down at my belly, where she was looking and saw a huge slope to the left. The baby looked like it had bunched up on my right side. Carol was calm and confident as she explained to me what I had to do. She had me turn onto my left side, and lift my right leg as high up and close to my chest as I possibly could. I labored in that position for what felt like forever. The contractions felt 5 times stronger. Every 20 minutes Julia dropped little herbs that tasted like sugar under my tongue.

I had snacks when I felt hungry during labor. I rested when I felt like I needed it. I drank a lot of water. Sometimes I felt nauseous, but I never puked. I stood and “danced” with Frank through contractions at one point. Sometimes I just pushed all my weight into him as I waited for the contraction to stop. He held me through the whole process. Frank was an amazing birth partner and I felt so blessed to have him in the room with me almost the entire time. (He had to eat once in a while!)

Finally, around 9 pm, the pushing started. I was on my knees at the foot of our bed, on the floor. Shortly after I started pushing, Carol had me lift a knee and put my foot on the ground, so I was in a half squat position. That was much more comfortable. I had my arms wrapped around Frank’s shoulders. Julia and Carol were beside & behind me, my mom was on stand by, next to Frank. Carol switched places with Frank, so he could catch the baby with Julia. Then Carol needed to monitor the baby’s heart rate, so my mom stepped in. She and I each wrapped an arm around the foot of our bed, and wrapped our other arms around each other as I pushed through each contraction. At some point in this process I thought to myself, "I would take drugs now!" (It would have been too late.) I also thought, "I can’t do this any more!" I declared that thought out loud at one point after a painful push. I remember reading that specific phrase signaled the third stage in emotional labor, and that it usually meant the baby was almost here. But in the moment, after almost 30 hours of labor, I was pretty sure that baby was not coming out! And then, all of a sudden, after another painful, hard push, I felt the best, most amazing and relieving feeling of my life! The next thing I knew, a dark red, slimy, crying little baby was in my arms, and everything in the world changed.

“Oh honey, oh honey!” was all that could come out of my mouth as I held this squirming, crying little person. Frank and I just stared at our baby, in total shock. I have no idea what else was going on in the room. And then a voice came from over my shoulder, “Is it a boy or a girl?!” In all of our commotion of delivering the baby, Frank and I didn’t even think to check the gender. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I just couldn’t stop staring at this little being that had just come out of me! We then discovered she was a little girl, and I said, “It’s Eva! Hi Eva!” It was wonderful to meet my daughter for the first time.

We moved from the floor to the bed, where I held Eva as Frank cut the cord, and we enjoyed our first moments together as a family. I was exhausted and elated all at the same time. It was the hardest and most beautiful experience of my life. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions about our experience or natural childbirth/home birth, please feel free to ask me! Below are some of our favorite pictures from the birth. Enjoy!

Much Love,
Frank & Alita

Eva Luree Batham. April 24,2013. 9 pounds, 4 ounces. 21 1/2 inches.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Unemployment, Starbucks & Mr. Chambers

Unemployment and lots of time at Starbucks waiting for the hubby to get off of work are good for the blog.

Unemployment and Starbucks typically don’t go together, but hubby got paid today (YAY!), and I have a lot of internet stuff to do, along with other errands in the big city (of Corvallis) so I’m nursing a tall Americano for all the free wi-fi I can get! (Another YAY!)

One thing I am loving about our new life in Oregon is my occasional morning car rides into Corvallis with my man. While we were packing in Austin we unearthed our audio books, a wedding gift from Eric, in New York. This large collection includes one of my favorites, “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers, read by Michael Card. This morning we were reminded (read: convicted) that the main reason we don’t experience spiritual growth is because we don’t deal with the conflicts that are blocking us from God. Whether we don’t take time to spend in the Word, or we have unresolved conflict in relationships, we simply cannot grow without confronting these things. Simple, yet utterly difficult to conquer sometimes.

Frank thought it wasn’t very nice to be that convicted on his birthday. ;)

In other news, I thought it would be important to let the “world” know that I have a job interview a week from today with the Kidco Headstart in Lebanon, Oregon. They need an Administrative Specialist & a Family Advocate, and I have applied for both. Prayers gladly appreciated. We also have about two weeks remaining before we get to move into our new house, which is actually a very old house, built by my Great grandfather in 1919. If I could make our enthusiasm jump off the page, it still might not be enough to explain to you how excited we are to get into that house and make it a home for our family! I also can’t wait to take photos and start the decorating/renovating process, and sharing that here!

Happy, Happy Friday everyone!

Much Love…
the Bathams

This goofy photo was taken almost exactly 2 years ago, on my first visit to Texas after we started dating.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Texas, New York, Oregon

Sorry to disappoint any of our beloved fans (I know you’re out there!), but the end of April didn’t prove to be a good time to write a blog… apparently the end of May or June didn’t either. But JULY! July is a different story! Let’s catch up on the buzz of the next 3 months and MAYBE next time I’ll be a little more quick on the blogging uptake… maybe… we’ll see… ;)

If any of you have ever lost a close family member or friend, you will know why the end of April didn’t give me a chance to write a blog. On April 24th, we lost a very good family friend, which resulted in an emergency trip for myself to Oregon for about 10 days to be with my surrogate family, the Brocketts, during their (our) time of mourning and loss of our dear, dear, Cody.

The world will never be complete again without Cody Brockett. We do have the hope of seeing him again, for all eternity. And its that hope that keeps his family and friends going these days.

Have you ever had to jump from a time of mourning to a time of rejoicing very quickly? A week after coming home from Oregon, Frank and I flew from Austin to NYC to celebrate our first anniversary with family and friends on Long Island and Manhattan. It’s weird how life goes on. And it’s even more strange to me how quickly we can adapt from tragedy to celebration. My heart still ached while we were on vacation, but I must admit we had an absolute blast together, visiting with Frank’s cousins on Long Island, seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, eating cannolis and pizza, laughing and resting. It was glorious. On Manhattan, we reveled in true NYC glory, staying on the Upper West Side (I feel slightly cooler not only saying that, but knowing exactly what that means) with Brandon (Corey) & Bess Knox in their cute apartment with a killer view, experiencing what it’s like to order breakfast to the front door, walk to the subway to get anywhere we wanted to be and basically, partying like rock stars. ;) Corey & Bess were excellent hosts! Absolutely cannot wait to visit them again, and be able to return the favor ourselves someday!

Dinner in Little Italy with Corey & Bess.

No sooner had we returned from the big city, when we were faced with some big decisions to make. Frank was applying for manager jobs with FedEx all over the country, but he also found a job posting in Corvallis, Oregon. It was a part time courier position, but with more guaranteed hours per week than he was getting in Austin. And it was in Oregon. And it was in the part of Oregon that we had been praying about living in. And he won the bid for the job. He won the bid. I was in shock (and perhaps, still am a little bit). After a year of trying to get better positions in Austin, he put in for a job in Oregon and POOF! Got it, like magic. We waiting a week or so to hear back on some manager jobs and then realized, this is it. Some manager jobs fell through. One never has replied to his resume. The door was wide open in Corvallis, so we put our little trailer up for sale, packed up a Penske with our meager possessions, hitched up the Katie car and headed to the great Pacific Northwest. (It sounds a lot easier now than it felt over the last few weeks!)

Needless to say, the last 3 months have been a whirlwind for these Bathams. A great loss, a wonderful celebration, (can you believe its been over a year now since we said “we will”?!) and a huge move. Life is rarely comfortable, but thankfully it is tremendously exciting. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be comfortable: money in the bank, a beautiful home, two nice cars, no death, no debt and then I think, I would probably be bored to death! ;) I’ll take my transition, my parents’ RV as a roof over our heads (for a couple more weeks), a dented up car that needs her oil changed, and broke as a joke! After all, Life is Good & God is even Greater, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

What’s going on with you? What challenges and joys have you experienced these last few months?

Much Love,
Frank & Alita

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Catch UP!

What have the Bathams been up to?! Our blog certainly hasn’t been “buzzing” lately… for over 6 months, actually! But this is not representation about what we’ve really been up to. Truth is, we are actually buzzing so much we haven’t had time to stop and buzz about it!

So, just in case y’all are curious, I thought I’d break down our buzz by months, since I don’t really feel like writing a bazillion blogs to catch up. Here are the briefs instead:

October 2011 was when all the craziness started happening! Frank went to Oregon for a week to go to deer camp with the Tombleson family. Frank had a blast road tripping from California to Southern Oregon with my brother, Adam. They didn’t get even see a deer, but they did see a bear, which thrilled Frank to death. Another huge highlight was having my best friend, Talla coming for a visit from Portland! We tried to show her the best of Central Texas, which included hot tubbing, a coffee shop hop around Austin, shopping, and a tour of the capitol as well as downtown Austin. On Frank’s day off, we went down to San Antonio, which was a first for us to Oregon gals. We toured the Alamo & went on the River Walk on a beautiful, sunny, warm Fall day. It was truly glorious!

November 2011 was an interesting month of transition for us yet again, as I decided that working at the Boys & Girls Club was not my cup of tea. The compensation wasn’t worth the drive, nor the headache of the job, so after six weeks of working there, I resigned and came to work at the RV park as a work camper, meaning, I work 12 hours a week in the park office and our rent is paid! This job also provides very flexible hours, so I was free to make a trip out West to visit friends and family and launch my Mary Kay business! I had my first party at Shawn Waite’s home, where I did 10 facials and sold a LOT of product! I truly love Mary Kay and the opportunities that I have received as a part of this awesome company. I love that I can travel for my job, I love that I can work anywhere and with anyone, and I love the products themselves, and how beneficial they are to all women. (If you are curious about this career opportunity or in using Mary Kay’s awesome products, no matter where you live, please contact me!!) We capped off November with a Thanksgiving celebration at the Batham homestead with the family & Frank’s best, Corey & his wife Bess and Corey’s family. Great eats, amazing food & lots of memories made. <3

In December, we were very excited to celebrate our first Christmas together. Frank worked a lot, delivering joy & happiness all over Austin, while I settled into my job at the RV park. For Christmas, we got each other small gifts to fit in our stockings. On Christmas Eve, we had a fondue dinner (a tradition I started with my family a few years ago) and then opened our stockings on Christmas morning, before going out to Frank’s parents for the rest of the day. I absolutely love spending time with my husband, and Christmas was no exception. He is an excellent gift giver. I am definitely going to have to up my game this next year! ;)
We rung 2012 in out at the Batham homestead. We shared a sweet New Year’s kiss as the ball dropped on the television, along with Mom & Dad, Tim & Vet, and Michael & Harmony. After a rousing evening of snacks and Settlers of Catan, we drove all the way home, exhausted & excited about what the new year could hold for us. Considering what the last year and a half had been like, we really couldn’t wait to live another year together.
The last week of January, we got to make the long awaited trip to Oregon & California for our “Tombleson family Christmas.” Our tour included stops in Salem, Prineville & Modesto, California, visiting friends & family, eating lots of yummy meals, and building a fence for Adam & Becca’s back yard! All in all, it was a successful trip, although it didn’t really feel like “Christmas”- we made the best of it!

February… February… what happened in February?! Pretty uneventful, I suppose! And this blog is already long enough, so I won’t keep you much longer! ;)

March 2012! I do not understand how time can literally move so quickly sometimes, but March this year was one of those months that flew by hardly without notice. Honestly, the most important thing that happened this month was that we started eating differently and working out regularly, a pattern we hope to continue for the rest of our lives. I mean it. We cut calories & fat, started walking and doing strength training. I have already lost a size, along with 10 pounds and Frank is looking good too (if I do say so myself!). Most importantly, we FEEL better, which speaks for itself! In addition to that excitement, four babies were born into our lives this month as well! My best friend Jenn, in New Zealand and her twin sister in Seattle both gave birth to baby boys on March 1st. My brother’s wife, Becca, gave birth to Audrey Kate on March 4th, and Frank’s brother Michael & his wife, Harmony gave birth to Ivy Celeste on March 15th! Hard not to want to have a little bundle of our own with all these little ones around us, but I think we can manage for now! ;)

And now it’s April 18th! Can you believe it?! I have two weeks to write another blog…stay tuned! Hopefully the buzz will continue in a timelier manner! ;)

Much Love,
Alita & Frank

Monday, October 31, 2011

monday morning madness

Written at 10:11 this morning.

Today is normally Frank’s day off, but as usual, they asked him to come in. No problem for us, we love the automatic time and a half for every hour he gets on these days. However, yesterday started earlier than normal and was busy as usual, and I would have enjoyed cuddling with my sweet man for one morning this week, but nonetheless, duty calls and we answer! (Actually, the alarm goes off at 5 am and he gets up and goes to work…) I wake up at 7 and its cold in our little home. I know the furnace was set to come on, but clearly it did not. It surely is not 73 degrees anywhere in our 31 foot length of living space and I search for slippers and pad down to the commode. I race back to the warm quilt in my empty bed and attempt to nestle into a slumber to no avail. At 7:30 I call Frank. “Honeeeeeeeeey!” Click. I really hate AT&T and their awful, call dropping service. I call back and we check in about the furnace and work for the day. Sounds like he may get some good hours. After we hang up, I get distracted by face book for a minute (or ten) until I can’t take it anymore and decide since the furnace isn’t coming on, I may as well just be cold outside, taking a walk.

It’s a beautiful Texan morning, albeit colder than most mornings I’ve experienced here so far. (And by far, much warmer than it is back home in Prineville this morning!) Speaking of home, I decide to text my father, who I believe can fix anything, about this annoying furnace situation. He starts firing back a few questions like, do you have propane? (haha! We do-- but still, good question!) Hungry, and in an effort to keep the healthy kick going this morning, I start some oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. I decide to cook my oatmeal in the microwave because it will be faster, so I follow the directions and start trying to find the owners manual for our trailer on the laptop, in hope that some more light will be shed on the furnace situation. After a few minutes, I got up to retrieve my oatmeal and discovered an oaty, goopy mess all over the microwave. Great. The paper towel is literally cooked onto the rim of the bowl. Awesome. Guess I will be cooking the old fashioned oats the old fashioned way after all!

The owners manual won’t open on the computer because the file “may be in use in another location or is corrupted.” Again, awesome. The oats are simmering as dad calls to do some more “hands on” trouble shooting. I start fiddling with the fuses, noticing there’s a read light on next to one of them. As I try to pull the fuse out, the red light turns off and the furnace turns on. I touch the fuse again and the red light comes on and the furnace turns off. Hmmmm… After a few more minutes of searching for a pair of pliers, taking a bite of oatmeal, then hunting down a screw driver, grabbing another bit of oatmeal, then fetching the flashlight, another bite of quickly cooling oats, the furnace starts working correctly. Dad encouraged us to have our batteries tested anyway, just to make sure there isn’t anything wrong with them. We hang up, I finish my oatmeal, and sit down and decide to write about it. My morning now seems a bit silly to write about after having done so, but I think there is something comforting in knowing that we are not alone in our Monday morning madness. I have no idea why Mondays need to be difficult for most of us, but they live up to their reputation all to often, don’t they?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

fall photo shoot

We had a little fun on Sunday with the iphone. I realize we haven't posted many pics lately, so we played catch up for ya... ;)

Happy Fall from Texas!

Much Love,
Frank & Alita

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Exciting News!

The Bathams are a buzzin! Some crazy transition has come up in the last week, and we’d love to share it with you. We are both so excited about what this buzz means, and before you go there-- no, we’re NOT pregnant! ;)

As you probably know, Alita was hired to work at the Boys and Girls Club at the beginning of September. To say the least, the last month has been difficult as we strived to transition to a new schedule of Frank working at 6 am and Alita working all afternoon, as late as 8 pm. The club Alita was hired to work at is about a 30 minute drive from home, without traffic. Combine that with the low pay and stressful environment, and the transition that was exciting at first spun into a difficult, profitless venture for this newly married couple.

We talked a lot about our options, weighed the pros and cons, and consulted with God about our difficult decision. Alita struggled most with starting a job and quitting it so soon, especially after three months of trying so hard to find a job! But it didn’t take long to see a better opportunity presenting itself in a two-fold plan.

Part one: throughout the month of August, Alita worked at the office for the RV park a couple hours a day which resulted in only paying for our electricity at the end of the month. (MAJOR blessing!) Alita spoke with MJ, the park manager and she agreed that having Alita around 10 hours a week would be a good thing. Rent paid. Sigh of relief.

Part two: the same week Alita accepted the job at the Boys & Girls Club, she also signed an agreement to become a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. She thought she could do both jobs part time and make a pretty good income. But the hours and stress of the BGC didn’t allow for much time or mental energy to focus on Mary Kay. After comparing the jobs side by side, Alita & Frank knew that Mary Kay would prove to be a much more profitable business over time. In addition, Mary Kay allows the flexibility that seems so imperative to our schedule right now. Mary Kay is a job Alita can take anywhere the we end up. And the income potential is exponentially higher than just about anything else she is qualified for.

Needless to say, Frank and Alita are extremely excited about the potential this endeavor holds and your support would be much appreciated! Alita’s Mary Kay website is: www.marykay.com/alitab.

Much Love,
Frank & Alita

PS- To receive an email outlining more details about this job opportunity, please email Alita at alita.batham@gmail.com.