The Vanderhorst Family

The Vanderhorst Family

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hailey's Birth Story

Going into this pregnancy, I was really determined to go naturally, and was really hoping that I could avoid pitocin at all costs. Those of you who've been on pitocin can understand why--the contractions are always super close together (even during early labor), so you don't really get a chance to recover in between contractions when they get more intense. 
However, I wasn't anticipating all the complications that came along with this pregnancy. The many labor scares that we had started to take an emotional toll on me, especially because Grant was always at work when they happened, so I usually had to go to the hospital by myself. That, along with the side effects of the progesterone shots made me very anxious to be done with this pregnancy. 
At first, my plan was to wait 10 days past my due-date to be induced, just to see if things would start naturally. Around 37 weeks though, I hadn't felt Hailey move around for a few hours, so I went to the hospital to see what was going on. She was fine, but after doing an ultrasound, the doctors saw that the chord was wrapped around her neck. She was already head-down, but the doctors thought they knew which direction to turn her to get the cord unwrapped (especially since it was only wrapped once). They determined that they would try to turn her around 360 degrees and see if they could unwrap it. If not, we needed to start thinking about the possibility of doing a C-section, especially since she hadn't moved for a while. They really didn't want to do this, especially since I was 37 weeks and they were wanting me to go to 39 weeks if at all possible. After having 2 grown-men resident doctors pushing with all of their force on my stomach, and with the guidance of my OBGYN looking at the ultrasound while they were pushing her around, they were able to get the cord unwrapped. While relieved, that was also the straw that broke the camel's back. Emotionally, I couldn't handle the scares anymore, and just wanted to be done with this pregnancy and have Hailey here. I asked the doctor's when we could schedule an induction, and they said at 39 weeks, so we set it for that Wednesday. After setting it up, my doctor said that all of her patients that have had progesterone shots have always made it to their due-date, but they have all had to have scheduled c-sections. I was the first of her patients to not have a scheduled c-section, but she said her guess was I'd probably go past my due date, and end up having to be induced anyways. Part of me thought it'd be cool to make history with her and see when my body would go into labor on it's own, but with pitocin sounding like the inevitable, I decided to just go at 39 weeks instead. There were also lots of small reasons why we decided to schedule Hailey's birth: being far from family, setting up childcare for Andrew, Grant's hour-long commute from work, and all the pregnancy scares we had leading up to her birth, we thought it was best for our family to have a not-so-dramatic labor.

On Tuesday night, the 15th, Grant and I went into the hospital. We were going to spend the night there as they put some medicine on my cervix to try to dilate and efface it before we started on pitocin. They also started me on the antibiotics for group B strep. At this point, I was dilated to a 1, 50% effaced, and Hailey was at a -3 (still way up in the birth canal). I was able to sleep most of the night, except for when they gave me the antibiotics for the group B strep. They put it through the IV every 4 hours, and it stung SO bad! To be honest, up until the end of my labor, this was the worst part about labor. I dreaded getting those antibiotics because it hurt my arm SO BAD! I was always so relieved when it would be over. Anywho, sorry for the digression.

Wednesday morning at 8 am they checked me again...and nothing changed! I was a little discouraged, but still confident that I could do this naturally--even with pitocin. My labor with Andrew was really fast because I was on pitocin with him, so I figured that this would be fast as well. 

By Noon, my contractions were still very managable, and I was only dilated to a 2, still 50% effaced, but Hailey was now at a -1, so at least she was moving down the canal. At this point, they decided to rupture my membranes, and this is when the fun really started. By 1 pm, my contractions were active labor contractions and were starting to get uncomfortable. By 3 pm, I was dying. My doctor came in around 3:30 pm and said she wanted to check me. Keep in mind, we didn't get to bed until like 1 am, and being interrupted all the time in the middle of the night made it so we didn't get much sleep. I was so tired and so hungry, and all I wanted to do was take a nap and eat jello. I looked up at Grant and just said "If I'm not dilated to a 5, I'm getting the epidural." After going 7.5 hours on pitocin and feeling like nothing was happening, I was kind of done. My doctor checked me, and I was at a 4, dilated 60%, and Hailey was at a 0 position. I just said "OK, I want the epidural." At about 4:15 pm (45 minutes later), the epidural was placed, and I had dilated to a 5. It was the kind where you could still move your legs, and they said it would take about 15-30 minutes to kick in. 
I knew I could handle that, but the downside was I couldn't get out of bed and be in a position where I could best handle the contractions. At this point, I seriously thought I was going to die. With each contraction, I remember looking up at Grant with tears in my eyes and just asking "Why hasn't the epidural kicked in yet?" I was so frustrated because my epidural with Andrew kicked in immediately, and I was just tired and hungry. What made it even more frustrating was the nurse kept asking me with each contraction what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10. She probably thought I was being super dramatic because I told her that the pain was actually getting worse! She just kept saying "You've handled the contractions this far, you can keep doing it." I kept thinking to myself "How is the pain getting worse?! When is this stupid epidural going to kick in?! I'm telling you, these contractions are bad! I can't do this!" Looking back, I felt kind of like a crazy person. I wasn't trying to be dramatic, but I couldn't lie either and say that the epidural was kicking in because it wasn't! I was starting to get frustrated and lose focus.
They called in the anesthesiologist to see what they could do. With each contraction they asked me if I was still in pain, which I screamed yes! Around 4:50 pm, they finally gave me a huge dose of the epidural medicine, and right after I just looked up at Grant and said "I really feel like I need to push." I could feel the nurse behind me just roll her eyes and she said "We just checked you a half hour ago and you were at a 5." I again said that I needed to push, so they checked me, and with astonishment said "You're dilated to a 10 and Hailey is at a +1." I think everyone then realized why I was in so much pain. I had just gone from a 5 to a 10 in 45 minutes, and with an epidural that takes 15-30 minutes to kick in, no wonder I kept saying the pain was getting worse! I felt much more validated :) Also, my lower back was starting to hurt a ton, so they knew that she was really coming down. I think since things were going so fast that the epidural had a hard time keeping up. So at this point, I was complete and could start pushing. The only problem was, my epidural had kicked in, and since they gave me an extra big dose, my legs felt really heavy. I just laughed to myself, and thought "Well, by the books I got an epidural, but that was the most intense, painful 45 minutes of my life. I don't think want to experience 'natural' childbirth." 
Right after they said she was at a +1, I felt Hailey come barreling down the birth canal. I let out a huge grunt and said "Uh, I really need to push. She's coming." The residents told me to not push yet because my doctor was on her way and they didn't want to catch Hailey. They checked me and said "oh, ya she's at a +3 now." 

We started pushing around 5:15 after my doctor got in the room. We tried for about 10 minutes with me laying on my back, but not much was happening. My doctor came in and felt that Hailey's face was up and to the right, so we needed to try to turn her around to have her face-down. I pushed for a few minutes laying on both my left and right side, and then she was finally face-down. With a few more pushes, Hailey's head started to come out. My doctor said the head was half-way out and said "Do you want to feel her head?" I reached down and felt a little head with a LOT of hair! Grant and I just looked at each other and smiled. A few minutes later (at 6:17 pm), our sweet girl was out! Grant and I just looked at each other, both of us with tears in our eyes, as we heard Hailey start crying. They gave her to me directly, and Grant got to cut the umbilical cord. It was so wonderful to be able to do skin-to-skin with her immediately. 
I need to give props to Grant. You know, I didn't think it was possible to love this man more than the day I married him, but then we had Andrew. And then I thought "ok, no way could I love Grant more than I do now." And then we had Hailey. The longer I'm married to him and the more we go through together, the more my love grows for him. Grant was a huge support and cheerleader during labor, and I know that I wouldn't have been able to get through those last 45 intense minutes without him by my side. He encouraged me, supported me, and was just there for me. While I was in the hospital, he took care of everything at home, and took wonderful care of Andrew. I came home from the hospital on Friday night to a clean apartment (even vacuumed!). And on top of all this, Grant took care of finding us a new car this week because our old car almost died a couple days before Hailey was born, but through many prayers has gotten us through this week. Grant is my rock and my best friend, and I'm so grateful I married him.

The next couple days were really difficult for me because it was just Hailey and I in the hospital, and Grant and Andrew at home. Of course they would come visit, but it was hard to not be together as a family. Now that we are home though things feel so right! We are all adjusting to having another little one around. Andrew always smiles at Hailey, but has also been acting incredibly weird towards me. He doesn't like to be around me much anymore, and prefers Grant. I don't know if it's because Grant has been his sole care-taker the past couple days, or if Andrew is mad that I'm taking care of another kid. He's also sick and teething, so that has something to do with it I'm sure. I know things will get in a good routine in a couple months. I'm so grateful for my dear, sweet little kids.

I've had a couple people ask what I'll do in the future with my labor and deliveries. Knowing that with each pregnancy I'll have to get progesterone shots, I'll most likely have to be induced every labor as well. I told Grant that with the rest, I will just get the epidural the same time they start the pitocin, so that way we'll have PLENTY of time for it to kick in :) And I'll just relax, take a nap, and eat as much jello as I want.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Being a Mormon doesn't equal blind obedience: Setting the record straight

I've been keeping my mouth shut about everything that has been going on with recent excommunications from the LDS church. I don't feel like someone else's excommunication is any of my business. I respect anyone's desire to find answers to questions (because I've had to do the same thing in my own life), while also disagreeing with their approach in finding those answers.

But that's not what this blog post is about (so please, let's not make it about that). 

What has been bothering me are some of the comments that have come from supporters of these excommunicated members (such as Kate Kelly), that in a nutshell say that those members who stay in the church are unquestioning, blind followers of the LDS Church leaders. Essentially, we have no brains and cannot think for ourselves. Below is just an example of a comment (one of many, unfortunately) that I recently saw on an article:

"The Mormon Church is losing members at a historically high rate (LDS Church leader Marlin Jensen), and that rate is increasing. This is being referred to as the 'great Mormon brain drain', as the thoughtful, tech savvy, critical thinkers in the church are those leaving in the highest numbers, leaving the unquestioning, faithful followers behind. While many outside the church may view this as a negative trend, it is highly likely that Mormon church leaders sees this as a positive demographic change, leaving them with a much more unquestioning and obedient group of followers."




Here are my 2 main issues with this line of thinking: 

1) It's a low blow and a slap in the face to insult someone's intelligence, simply because they hold true to what they've been taught, and I find it highly unlikely that the leaders of the church fear intelligence and simply want "brain drained" followers.

2) Just because someone is still active in their religion doesn't mean that they haven't had to wrestle with questions, search long and hard to find answers, and in all honesty, still might have unanswered questions.

Let me address this first point:

In Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19 it states: "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." God is encouraging us to gain intelligence of all forms, not just spiritual intelligence. He rejoices when we excel in secular understanding and seek to further our minds. 

In this sense, I do not believe that the LDS Church leaders are thrilled that members are leaving the church--in fact I know that they are deeply saddened and hope for those members to return. I do not believe they want their members to be blind followers either, and they are lovers of intelligence. Look at the occupations of the apostles before their call: We have a renowned physician, a VP and treasurer in major companies, a Utah Supreme Court member, successful businessmen (a couple of which graduated from ivy-league schools), a nuclear engineer, a couple former presidents of a university, a couple lawyers...need I say more? I think they understand the value and importance of intelligence, both secular and spiritual, and absolutely are NOT threatened by it. They have no reason to be.

Just from my own personal experience, I have always found myself surrounded by intelligent people in the church--whether it was growing up in Colorado, going to school in Utah, or living on the East Coast. Currently in my ward, I am surrounded by a bunch of lawyers, accountants, politicians (in both parties, mind you), physicians, etc. Oh ya, and before you think that's just the men in my ward, think again. There are women in my ward who work as accountants, lawyers, one works for the national board of education, one graduated from Oxford with a PHD in Biochemistry...and no, they aren't the minority either. We actually have a lot of women in my ward who work (and guess what, no one judges them either! And they don't judge us stay-at-home moms! I know, it's pretty great) I have genuinely found that my gospel discussions with these people have strengthened my testimony. I look forward to church every week because these hard-working, successful people, look at the gospel in a way that I wouldn't think of. I don't believe you have to be a working professional to have a great mind either. I have enjoyed discussions (gospel or otherwise) with many women in my ward, and really value their opinions and voices. I love going to play-group and talking with the other moms there, and they always have sage wisdom and advice for whatever I'm dealing with at that time, be it mommy issues or anything else. 

I have found being around intelligent people to enhance my testimony and understanding of the gospel.

This leads me to my second point: 

Everyone in the church has questions that they try to find answers to. EVERYONE. EVERYONE! No one is an exception to this. EVERYONE at some point or another will have questions about some gospel principle, something that happened in church history, something about the LDS temple ceremony, something. And guess what--that's ok! Questions are encouraged! 

Personally, I had a few questions about the temple ceremony after I received my endowments a few years ago. That doesn't mean I was doubting my testimony, but I remember having countless conversations with my family, my husband, other women in my ward, saying countless prayers, and reading a lot about the temple. I became a temple worker about 6 months after Grant and I were married, and I really took advantage of that opportunity to be able to ask the temple president questions, other temple workers questions, and gain more understanding for myself. I went through this process for about 2 years. My answers to questions never came as one great big revelation, but I began to see piece by piece. It really was like the scripture 2 Nephi 28:30 "I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." I'm not saying I have a thorough knowledge of the temple ceremony and everything that goes on in the temple (far from it). I learn something new every single time I go to the temple. 

But isn't that how you gain knowledge in any subject? As a math teacher, I would never expect my students to understand everything there is to know about math all at once. Or if a kid came and said "I want you to tell me right now everything there is to know about math" that would be impossible! Likewise, I can't expect to know everything about the gospel all at once. It takes time. A lifetime in fact. A lifetime of asking questions, of pondering, of reading the scriptures, having gospel discussions, etc. 

This came as a shock to some of my math students, but I remember the very first day of class I said "Even though I'm a math teacher and am prepared to teach you what you need to know, you should know that I'm not perfect, I don't know or understand everything about math, and you will most likely teach me a few things about math that I didn't know." And boy did that come true! I was amazed to see my students think about math in a way that I never had before, and I have a 4 year degree! I got to the point in my mathematics understanding that I have a limited understanding, and that I will never ever understand everything in math (at least not in this life). But that doesn't stop me from asking questions, seeking to gain answers, and moving forward in my understand. Ya, it's a little frustrating when I come upon a concept that I know I'll never understand, but I hold to the knowledge that I DO have. 

And that's ok! Isn't that what the plan of salvation is about? This earth-life is just a snippit of our journey back to Heavenly Father, and we will continue learning in the life after this. But we can't gain understanding unless we ask questions and then do the nitty-gritty to seek answers, and those answers may take a lifetime to come. 

I will respect the decisions of those who decide to leave the church because that is a very personal decision and none of my business, but please return the respect. Just because someone stays active in the church does NOT mean they haven't asked their own questions, gone through their own struggles, are not intelligent, and are following blindly. It's ok to ask questions, it's encouraged to ask questions, and while I'm sad that members are leaving the church, I don't feel like the church is left with a bunch of blind followers and unquestioning minions.