{Read the World Summer Book Club- Week 2} Bring the Rain: Africa!!

This was a really eye opening week for me and showed me some perspective on living conditions that I didn't think I needed but found it to be quite humbling. I walked away from this week feeling very blessed and content in my living conditions. This was supposed to be a book club for the kids and something for me to have readily available for the kids if I needed an activity for them, but I feel as if I am learning right along-side them! It has been really neat to read about other cultures and compare and contrast with the kids on how we do things similar and different here in the United States. Alivia was able to express more during this week but Nolan did ask some good questions about why some people live in remote villages, why some people don't have roofs over their heads, and why people in Africa eat certain foods. I think Alivia felt fortunate to live where we live and have the opportunities that we do here in the United States. She didn't realize that some people in this world don't have the opportunity to go to school or even the privilege to learn (some women in different tribes and cultures do not/did not allow girls to learn how to read or write).

We colored in the areas we read about

The book titles about Africa that we enjoyed 

This book was written from the perspective of a young girl who wished that the water would come to her instead of her and her mother having to walk to a river miles away. The young girls and women couldn't even drink the water when they finally reached the river because they had to sterilize it back at their home to make it safe. This is a true story of an African girl who had to make this trip daily with her mom to bring back water for her family and how she wished there was a water option closer. She grew up and has made it her mission to install water wells in African villages so she can help people to have a better quality life and safe drinking water without traveling for miles. Inspiring, adorable illustrations, and easy to connect with the main character's emotions!

These books are written about Wangari Maathai who was the founder of the green movement and nick named Mama Miti or Mother of the Trees. These books were inspiring because she fought to have an early education as an female and went on to get her doctorate degree. She struggled with seeing the trees in Kenya destroyed and that it caused water and food shortages. She decided to introduce the idea of re-planting trees and giving people seeds of hope and change by education Kenyan people to replant trees. Because of her ideas and efforts, she was the first African American woman and environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize. She seriously changed her environment by implementing this green movement. What an encouraging woman! 

This was a sweet book about a boy who saved his money to buy a bicycle to help his mom bring items to sell in the market. It showed and talked about African money and market life. It was also a great example of a child saving money for a goal, which we have been discussing this summer. 

Alivia and Nolan made the game Kigogo (or mancala) with an egg carton. Here's How to play if you are interesting in making one with your kids too. 

This movie was amazing! Alivia and Nolan soaked it up and enjoyed it (well Nolan made it 3/4ths of the way before needing a break. He is getting used to "real" movies, as Alivia calls them). I really enjoyed it and found it to be inspirational. It is about a young girl who lives with her poor family and earns money by selling items at the markets and in the streets. One day she stumbles upon a group playing chess and gets invited to join. This is a true story about her journey of living on the streets to becoming a chess queen. Her and her family had to endure so much in their living conditions and she has to believe in herself and listen to her support group to achieve the success she did. Here is some more information on the chess (and soccer club) and the people in the movie http://www.queenofkatwe.com/.

{Read the World Summer Book Club- Week 1} Just Like Me: Multicultural Week!!

I was on Facebook one evening and noticed a friend post a link for Read the World Summer Book Club and decided to look into it. After reading about the program, I thought this was a perfect way to include some structure for the summer but stay flexible about learning time too. I have loved researching and finding books for each of the continents. The lady/mama/blogger who came up with this online book club also wrote a book called Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time  and in this book she recommends children's books that reference different cultures and geography. I was able to check the books out at the library but think I will purchase it for future use because I have really loved the book recommendations!! Week one was all about multicultural books and I was able to find quite the selection of book ideas on Pinterest since I didn't have the book from the library yet. We also made a really neat craft that helped the kids to see how big the world is! They loved it!

This is such a fabulous resource for children's books and the author separates books by age group too! 
World Map colored by Alivia!

Some of the book titles during the Multicultural week
Some more book titles during Multicultural week

These are beautiful books and the kids loved looking at the pictures 

Another beautiful book the kids liked to look through

The craft we made to use as a visual aid to showcase how big the world is

3 Reasons Eliyanah is the Perfect Name!!

Eliyanah's name means "my God has answered"
... and here are 3 reasons why we think we chose the perfect name for her. 

1. Alivia prayed for a baby sister!

The day that I found out I was once again pregnant I couldn't wait to tell Ben, so I wrote a cute little note and placed it in a box along with the pregnancy test for him to open. He was happy about the news! The very next day we went to a baby shower for a friend. One of the ladies there was very pregnant and Alivia asked her if she knew if she was having a boy or girl. This started a conversation on whether or not we were going to have another baby. Alivia answered before I could reply myself saying, "Yes, she is having a baby girl". I was just a little bit shocked. I didn't know if she had heard us talking the night before! When asking her about it she told us that she had been praying every night (which I know she had been because she would pray it out loud for us to hear) and God told her we would have a baby girl. I was convinced throughout my entire pregnancy that it was a girl because of this story. Pretty amazing!

2. We prayed for guidance!

We had been praying throughout my pregnancy for God's guidance on if Eliyanah would be our last child. He answered us through my labor and birth and we are content with Eli being the baby of the family! 

3. Her nick-name is Eli!

We didn't have a boy name picked when I was pregnant with Graysen but we did have the name Ellie picked out if we had a girl. We named Graysen at the hospital and my girl name was no longer needed. Fast forward to being pregnant with Eliyanah and I brought up the name Ellie a couple of times and it just didn't feel right for Ben or myself. I loved the name still, clearly, as I kept bringing it up but something didn't feel right about it. I think it was because it was meant to be for our #3 if we had a girl instead of having Graysen. It was like we already used that name or something. It was pretty perfect when Ben said "how about Eliyanah" because the first thing I thought of was that her nick-name would be Eli (different spelling than Ellie). She is our sweet Eli girl and I love that I still have that name in our family and that if feels right now. There is a pretty even mix of calling her Eliyanah and Eli right now-- not sure if/when we will go to Eli all the time.

Eliyanah's Birth Story!!

Eliyanah's birth marks the conclusion to this season of my life; pregnancy and birth. Was it meant to be my end? I would not be able to say with certainty before my labor and delivery with her. Ben and I were quite confident that our #4 would be our last child, but I was not ready to commit to the idea that we were officially done.  The day that we had Eliyanah, God guided us to our answer in a rather bold approach. Here is my story of how Eliyanah Grace Spiers was born...

Thursday April 27, 2017
I was 1 week overdue with baby Spiers #4 and was headed into an appointment for a biophysical exam and ultrasound to make sure she was doing well. I was 2 weeks overdue with Graysen and did not have this done but my midwives were new to the practice so I chalked it up to different policies. I have never been so relieved that they mandated this exam and ultrasound at 41 weeks (in order to attempt going into labor naturally over an induction). I actually bypassed the biophysical exam because my ultrasound showed that my placenta was dying and I had 0% amniotic fluid. Baby Spiers #4 had some decreased movement but I thought that was because she had less space to move around in. I also felt like I had been leaking some fluid for the 2 previous days before the appointment, but I waited to say anything because it wasn't a ton and I knew I had an appointment coming up. In fact, I told Ben the night before my appointment that I felt like I was leaking fluid. The ultrasound tech looked over everything for about a minute and said "you're having a baby today!" I was then moved to another room to talk over details about how the day would go. I called Ben to tell him to forget going into work and to pack his bag because he had not done so yet. I called my mother-in-law to see if she could watch the kids next. My midwife, Megan, came in the room after my phone calls and told me she has only seen 1 other mama with 0% amniotic fluid and that I was in the 1% of this statically happening. 

My midwife instructed me to go home and finalize my my details with the kids, grab my hospital bags, and eat some nutritional food because I was on a time crunch. She wanted me at the hospital in 1 hour. I knew going into that appointment that there was a small chance that I would need to be induced that day but I really didn't think it was actually going to happen. 

We arrived at the hospital and there was a room already ready for me because my midwife called ahead and informed the nurses about my situation. I got hooked up to the screens since I would have to be continuously monitored for the duration of my labor due to my lack of amniotic fluid. My nurse on duty told us that our baby did not sound happy but that she was stable enough to go forward with the induction. 

I was dilated on my own to a 1 cm and started low dose pitocin. Ben and I chatted and day dreamed about our baby. I was struggling with having to be induced since I have never had to before and was pretty nervous about the contractions. I had heard plenty of stories about how different it is from going into labor naturally. The contractions were mild and manageable in the beginning but I knew that the pitocin was set pretty low. 

The nurse came back in and checked me and I had moved to 2 cm and was somewhat concerned because they were starting to hurt. She did increase the amount of pitocin I was receiving. I began to start having to work through my contractions that were becoming longer, stronger, and were close together. I unfortunately did not have the longer breaks in between contractions in early labor like I did in my other labors without induction. Contractions were coming every minute and they were becoming more painful, especially without the capability to move around and adjust to different positions. 

My contractions were still every minute and were quite painful and difficult to get through. Pitocin had been increased again and I started to talk to my nurse about an epidural. I went into this labor with a really open mind. {My birth plan was that if I had similar labors with the boys that I would get an epidural because I did not want to labor for a few days (yes this happened) and push for hours (yes this happened) but that if things looked different that I would attempt another natural birth} My nurse was pushing for me to wait until she saw more change in the cervix because I was only dilated to 4 cm. I was on the verge of crying when I heard her say that but another contraction hit and I had to focus all my energy on getting through it. My midwife walked in as I was having that long contraction and said "wow, it seems as though you are really having to work through these contractions. Do you want an epidural?" I could have hugged her right then and there but just said "YES" with a big smile until the next contraction started up again. I am so thankful Megan walked in at that time because my nurse really wanted me to wait until I was around 6 cm. 

During my laboring in those 2 hours, I told Ben I had a feeling that I was going to have a c-section that night. He stopped me from going on and said "don't say that!" This was the 2nd time I had this feeling. The first time was a few weeks before my version and I felt like God was telling me not to worry about this pregnancy but that I was going to have a c-section. At first, I decided not to go forward with the version because of this feeling and just to opt into having a c-section. I changed my mind because I wanted to see if it would work and ultimately I wanted to try it over having a repeat c-section.  In hindsight, I would have fully listened to the Holy Spirit and not done the version. I am thankful that God prepared me for this labor and delivery and prompted me with a second feeling so that I wasn't completely taken by surprise when the (below) unplanned events happened.

I received the epidural and was mighty thankful for modern medicine at that moment. I was over-joyed that I could get some rest before the pushing phase since the only memory on my mind was how I pushed for 3 hours with Graysen. My midwife placed internal monitoring in to have accurate readings. I also had to be placed on oxygen as my blood pressure dipped from the epidural. 

The nurse checked me again and I was now at 5-6 cm. I decided to take a nap because all the excitement of the day was overwhelming and tiring. Ben was able to leave to get some dinner at Jimmy Johns before things progressed any more.

THIS is where things change...

My nurse came in and asked me if I felt any change or pressure below because she had seen some good contractions and thought I was ready to push. After checking and confirming I was complete at 10 cm, she asked me to do a few practice pushes. I practiced a few times before my midwife came in to get everything ready for a baby. I was pushing really well- thankfully my 40 weeks of working out really paid off- but Megan could tell something was off. She checked and said that the baby, like the boys, was posterior and therefore not engaged. I was discouraged but not surprised. My babies like to be in one position in my body and she was in the same cozy spot the boys favored, so I had guessed that she was probably posterior after the version. I pushed for close to an hour and Megan tried to manually, internally turn her to an optimal position but it was not successful

My midwife asked me how I felt about just going in for a c-section or trying one more time to turn her. I wanted her to try one more time but as she was attempting it, I told her "I trust you. Whatever needs to be done to have this baby safely is most important." It was exactly at that time the baby's heartrate dropped and wasn't coming back up and that I started bleeding way more then the normal amount. It was as if saying "I trust you" to Megan was really meant for "I trust you" to God. I did trust God and I knew all along that I was going to have a c-section, but I just didn't want to be seen as weak or that I was giving in to a c-section without trying. I often have these strong feelings about things that come true, and I am starting to realize how important it is to trust God and not second guess myself that they are just day dreams or things that I make up because of my emotional state but it is the Holy Spirit guiding me and I need to listen and trust. 

I was seriously scared out of my mind because I have never been in such an intense situation before. Nurses were everywhere. Unknown faces staring at me and shouting out demands that needed to be done quickly, I was hysterically crying. Even though I knew this needed to happen this way, I was still emotional about the chaos and about my and my baby's health. 

I was rushed to the OR where Megan stayed by my side and assisted but a doctor on call did the emergency c-section. They didn't have time to adjust my epidural so the anesthesiologist put me to sleep for the procedure. 

The doctor was on call and in the hospital but happened to be right outside my door when my midwife made the call for an emergency c-section. He scrubbed in and was all ready before we even arrived to the OR. God handled the details so perfectly! Even though it was an emergency, everything was perfectly in place. Megan said that the standard care when a midwife or doctor calls an emergency c-section is 20 minutes from calling it to delivery. The nurses and doctor had everything set and completed the c-section in 4 minutes from entering the OR to delivery and 6 minutes from when Megan called it. I'm so glad Megan was my midwife that evening! She made the call at just the right time and knew when it was time to get my baby delivered. 

Delivered my baby!!

I woke up in a daze and honestly for a brief moment forgot why I was there until I saw my midwife's face and she said I had a healthy baby. I said "I had a baby" several times and asked her if it was a boy or girl. She knew that I wanted Ben to tell me so she asked if I was sure I wanted her to tell me. I'm glad I remembered that I wanted Ben to share the news with me because it was magical to find out from him. At first he told me we had a boy and I believed him because I was on a massive amount of drugs and I'm gullible. I was happy to have a healthy baby but was kind of sad not to have another girl. He started to laugh and said "maybe you should check and see yourself" and that is when I knew we had a girl. He officially told me he was teasing and said "It's a girl!" and I may have joyfully yelled "YEAH, I knew it!" As I was holding our baby girl and bonding with her, I overheard Ben talking to Megan about the c-section. It's at that time that I found out that I had a uterine rupture. She saw that I was listening and came closer to fill me in on the overall procedure but didn't go into a ton of details and I wasn't ready to ask a ton of questions. Around 1% of women have uterine ruptures and my chance of having one occur was even lower because I have had 2 successful vbacs. 

I am beyond thankful for God's provision and for the details he carved out for us even before we entered the hospital that day. I am beyond thankful for my care that I received from the nursing staff, my midwives, and the doctor who delivered our sweet girl because it really could have gone another way. I am alive today because my midwife made the right call, because the doctor was in the right spot at the right time, because it was not my time and I still have purpose on this earth. I am beyond thankful for my life. I am beyond thankful for my family. I am beyond thankful for my friends. I am beyond thankful for God's love for me and that he chose life for me and my precious #4. 

This is my final chapter in my birthing story and I am so blessed that God choose Eliyanah to be our sweet girl that completes the Spiers' family. Because it is rather dangerous for me to have another baby, we have our answer and are both confident that Eliyanah is our last child. I am thrilled to have our bookend, another girl. I always wanted a sister growing up and love that Alivia will be able to experience living life with her brothers and sister.