Wesley's Birth Story

In honor of Wesley's 4-month-birthday day, here is the story of his entrance into the world and into our family.

In the evening on November 22, I texted a few good friends to ask for special prayer. I was struggling to trust God with the timing of Wesley's birth. In my head, I knew I couldn't control it anyway, and that God is good and trustworthy and wise. But in my heart I was so done with pregnancy. And not because I sweetly was that anxious to meet my son. Nope. It was super selfish - I was so unbelievably uncomfortable. I'd gained 50 pounds and was crazyswollen. I was waking up about every hour at night from bad hip pain, and switching sides was such a production between my size and my pillows, so I was sleep deprived. And I had this awful inner-hip pain when I would shift my weight onto one leg. My frame was not designed to carry around that much weight; I'm convinced. Anyway. I was getting quite discouraged.

My dear friends were so encouraging, and their prayers were very effective - my water broke at 3:45 a.m. (just about six hours after the text)! I was performing my switching-sides-production, felt a weird sensation, and proceeded to roll straight out of bed, shouting, "I think my water's breaking!" Daniel was super excited, leaped out of bed, and said, "Really?!" I waddled over to the bathroom, where my water broke some more, and said, "Yep, my water's definitely breaking." Daniel called the hospital for us, while I started getting myself ready. Since my contractions hadn't started, they told us that we didn't need to rush in, but to get ready and eat something first. We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, despite doing as much packing as possible ahead of time. A little after 4 a.m. my contractions started, and Daniel began tracking them in his phone. We arrived at Labor & Delivery at 5:35 a.m.

By the time we were all settled into our room and hooked up to the monitors and everything, my contractions were regular, strong, and relatively close together. The only relatively comfortable position was sitting on my exercise ball, and I was surprised how much I wanted Daniel to use the heat pack on my lower back. By around 9 a.m., I was starting to really lose my cool about the pain, so we tried the shower. The hot water on my back felt nice, but I was in too much pain to be standing, and the hard seat was not a viable option for me. So as it got close to 10, Daniel began asking more frequently whether I was ready for the epidural. Turns out I'm real indecisive when I'm trying to cope with pain. It's like the pain just pushes out all intelligible thoughts, and I'm just in a haze of pain-induced-delirium. So Daniel made the decisive move and stuck his head out into the hallway, declaring, "My wife would like an epidural now, please!" to no one in particular. He is my hero.

I had wanted the epidural, but I also wanted to wait until I was well into active labor to get it, because I feared having it slow labor down too much. Because of my water being broken, I had not been checked for progress, so I was relieved to hear that I was over 5 cm dilated just before getting my epidural around 10 a.m. Getting the epidural was awful. I had to sit still through 2 big, painful, 2-minute-long contractions, and I also felt the huge "needle" go in TWICE. After giving more local anesthetic (twice), the anesthesiologist finally administered it successfully.

Or so we thought.

After about 30 minutes of lying on the bed thinking, "Okay, so this is what they mean by feeling-the-pressure-but-not-the-pain," while Daniel snagged a quick nap, my pain started to really ramp up. I again needed his full support through every contraction. My epidural had stopped working. From that time until Wesley's arrival, Daniel did not leave the side of my bed, except to get me my Vitamin Water. He is the best supporter and encourager. Labor is a good word for it - hard, exhausting, physical work. And I was wholly unprepared to tackle it without medication. It's nearly impossible to express with words the arresting nature of labor pains, and the way they overtake both your body and mind.

Sometime in there I felt faint/nauseous, and I'm told that all the color drained from my face. I'm guessing that I was in transition at that point (around 8 cm). Thankfully, Daniel and the nurse helped me through it, and I didn't lost the PB&J I'd eaten early that morning.

Around noon (about 9 cm), we could hear that our monitors were beeping differently. They had lost a good read on Wesley's heart. A flurry of hospital personnel swarmed my room. Nurses helped me move into different positions to try to get a better read. No such luck. A scalp monitor was inserted. I was put on oxygen for Wesley. His heart continued to drop significantly with the contractions, which were 1-2 minutes each, 2-3 minutes apart. He just wasn't getting enough rest. C-sections, forceps, and vacuum suction were briefly discussed (thanks, Daniel, for advocating for me).

At 12:45 I was at 10 cm, but he hadn't dropped enough to start pushing (0-position). And, don't forget, although I was completely unprepared for a natural labor, my epidural was not working. Again the nurses helped me move positions. Just fifteen minutes later (1 p.m.), he had dropped, and I was ready to push.

But Wesley wasn't.

The OB said that, if we wanted to try to avoid a C-section, I would have to wait to push until his heart rate stabilized.

Sure, no problem.

Oh, man, was it awful. Breathing through the urge to push for a full hour, UN-medicated, still stuck in a certain position for Wesley's heart and comfort, with an oxygen mask was the worst. The. Worst.

But, praise God, Wesley was ready for pushing at 2 p.m. Again, there was a flood of hospital personnel (since Wesley had had some complications, there was also a whole group of pediatric personnel, in addition to the regular OB-assisted-delivery crew). Still experiencing a sort of delirium from the pain, I really don't remember much, but within a few minutes I was in a totally different position, with people stationed at the ready around me. Around 2:15, I started to push.

I have learned that I require A HUGE AMOUNT of encouragement at this stage of the game. Not only because I, stereotypically, was completely convinced at a few points that I literally could not do what I needed to do, but also because I assumed that I must not be pushing effectively or correctly, or else there would be more positive, encouraging cheer-leading going on. More, "great job!"s and, "you're doing great!"s, and less, "come on!"s and, "more-more-more!"s. It turns out I was pushing quite well, though, because I only pushed for an eternity 45 minutes! (Average for a first-time-birth is around 2 hours, especially with an epidural. But wait, oh yeah, I didn't really have one of those!) With one, final, completely animalistic, out-of-body-experience push, I yelled at the absolute top of my lungs, and pushed Wesley all the way out (head and shoulders) at once. Daniel tells me I curled up smaller than he thought humanly possible. I had no awareness of curling up, and did not choose to yell - my body completely took over for my brain. Wesley was born at 3:01 p.m.

As the most amazing wave of I'm-so-glad-that's-over-relief rushed over me, I was completely unaware as Daniel cut the cord, Wesley and I were both tidied up, and I was repositioned. Then sweet, little Wesley, with nothing on but a hat on his head and a towel across his back, was laid on my chest.

And I said, "Hey, munchkin." =)

He and I were both totally healthy and complication-free, which was a particular blessing in light of how things had progressed earlier. Because of how poorly (in my opinion) I coped with the pain, I was not even cognizant of the seriousness of the situation earlier. I hindsight, I think that might be a good thing, because I didn't stress about it at all at the time.

At any rate, we got to just bask in the beauty of our new baby for about an hour before we started gathering our things and our selves to head over to recovery. It was lovely. Recovery at the hospital was not awesome, not worth blogging about, and not terribly long-lived. Hallelujah. We were discharged around 8 p.m. on the 24th.

Fun fact: my friend Ruth was in the same hospital laboring at the same time as me! Her son arrived just a few hours after we were discharged. So Ruth and her husband, Steve, were the first people to meet Wesley in person, outside of us and the hospital staff.


I got this from my sister-in-law =)

–What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
I went on a vacation to Houston, TX with my hubby, and went out on a limb and auditioned for a Christian dance company while I was there.

– Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't remember making one last year, and I have made one for this year - I want to read one fiction book per month. I usually read plenty of nonfiction, but I love good fiction! I need to make time to read it.

– Did anyone close to you give birth?
Sheesh - who DIDN'T?? =P Congratulations to: Mary and Craig, Heather and Sam, Ashley and Jeff (I guess that was actually early 2011), Kat and Josh, Beth and Justin and several more that I am not exactly close to, but I know and stalk on Facebook. =P Also, congratulations to the excpecting: Melissa M, Johnna, Jodi, Melissa B and more!

– What countries did you visit?
None this year, but we started planning a backpacking trip around Europe!

– What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

– What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The days spent in Houston, days spent in Indiana with my brother and sister-in-law (especially our trip to the Children's Museum!), the day that Daniel's MD teacher certification process fell through and we started to seriously think about moving back to CA (this one just happened in early December!)

– What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Maintaining a mostly positive, resilient spirit in the midst of disappointment after disappointment vocationally - though I cannot take credit for that at all. It's only by the grace of God. =)

– What was the best thing you bought?
An iPod shuffle for Daniel for Christmas =)

– Whose behavior merited celebration?
Daniel's - he is the most gentle, patient, hilarious man in the world.

– What song will always remind you of 2010?
– What do you wish you’d done more of?
Read good fiction! And take Jack on walks.

– What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being irritable, wasting time.

– How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas morning at home with my hubby over g-free cinnamon rolls that were a minor disappointment. Daniel gave me the most thoughtful, loving gifts! Then we went over to my parents where my mom's family was gathered for lunch and more partying =) I love Christmas.

– Did you fall in love in 2010?
More and more, every year (thank You, Jesus!)

– What was your favorite TV program?
So You Think You Can Dance, House, Lie to Me, (the Office... I'm an addict, but it's really getting worse every year now).

– What was the best book you read?
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards - Hands down! Read it, if you haven't already!

– What was your greatest musical discovery?
Amos Lee - I learned a short dance to his "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight," when I was in Houston. SOO GOOD!!! Also Andrew Belle - He opened for Tyrone Wells, and he was AMAZING!

– What did you want and get?
Just another day in paradise... =)

– What did you want and not get?
A good job.

– What was your favorite film of this year?
It's Kind of Funny Story - not widely marketed or distributed, but WONDERFUL! See it!!

– What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 24 on April 13th =)

– How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Hating the 80's comeback. Seriously, people?

– What kept you sane?
My husband. (Amen, Lauren.)

– Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Steve Carrell.

– What political issue stirred you the most?
"Teachers for Question A" - what a load of crap! Thanks a lot, vague signs on every corner that won us slots in our county.

– Who did you miss?
My sister-in-law, all my friends in California and scattered in other states around the country.

– Who was the best new person you met?
Sam, my cousin Brooke's best friend/maid of honor. She is super fun to be around, and I was so glad to get to know her a little better this year.

– Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
God sees. God hears. God is concerned. And God loves to provide. - The Land Between by Jeff Manion (God used this book in a huge way in my life, particularly in getting me to what I mentioned above as my "greatest achievement" of the year.)

– Quote a song that sums up your year:
"It's okay. It's so nice. It's just another day in paradise. There's no place that I'd rather be. Two hearts. One dream. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I ask the Lord every night for just another day in paradise." -Phil Vassar


Mr. & Mrs. Smith

No, not the movie.

My cousin Brooke got married to Jay on October 2nd! I got to be one of the lucky bridesmaids (matron just doesn't have the same ring...). Here are some highlights from the shower, rehearsal and finally the big day =)

This is the beautiful France-themed bridal shower. Complete with a crepe bar =) Anyway, I didn't take my camera, so I don't have many pictures of the day. But this picture gives you a little snippet. I love the white lights in the fireplace! And there were those gorgeous red roses everywhere.

My sister-in-law and me at the rehearsal... accidentally matching =)

The bride and groom, sneaking a little sugar at the castle.

Speaking of the castle - check that out!!! This was probably the most beautiful setting for a wedding that I've ever been to.

My cousin, Beau, and me, at the rehearsal dinner.

The big day! I got to walk with my cousin, Chris, the bride's brother.

Here comes the elegant bride!!!

The perfect day for an outdoor wedding. Wow.

My hunny & me... =)

My eyes look real wide... thanks, eyeliner. Haha! Anywho, this is Daniel and me with my brother and sister-in-law. We had SO much fun at the reception! Great music, lots of dancing =)



i love the office.

i just keep watching seasons 1-5 over and over. once i finish the last episode, i start over with the pilot. i like to have the TV on when i'm at home by myself, even if i'm not really watching it. anyway, daniel is away on a school field trip, so there's been a whole lot of the office going on here =)

and i love it.


Picture Post - Third Installment

At the beginning of the summer, Daniel and I went to the US Botanic Garden in D.C. with our friends Mary and Craig and their brother, Eric. My new main photo of Daniel and me on my blog is from that day.

Daniel and I made a stop on our way from our parking spot to the Garden for this lovely photo op:

Walking past the Capitol Building...

The Fadels and the Clarks, taking a load off.

So fun!

At the end of June, we headed up to Michigan for a family reunion of my dad's side of the family. Daniel got to meet a few relatives for the first time, which was great. Now he's met them all on that side =) And it only took two and half years. I also got to cook paella for 18 people! Quite a feat (though I had plenty of help)!

On our way north, we made a pitstop on our roadtrip in this BEAUTIFUL little town on the Great Lakes. I can't remember the name of it, but we loved it!

Oddly enough, there were these little statues of dogs wearing costumes all over the town... strange, but somewhat endearing.


More of the cousins... (plus "Silly Uncle Scott")

Even more of the cousins...

SO many wonderful games of CARDS!! We are a bit fanatical.

It's official: "Onken Family Reunion - Lounge"

A rare non-card game...

Already completely in sync with the family, Daniel instituted the first ever Onkens' Got Talent show. It was a blast. Here's one of my cousins, rapping about our family, with her mom beat-boxing in the background. I still think she should've won...

Before heading home, we drove west to say "hi" to a friend from college who we hadn't seen since our wedding! He happened to be home from CA at the same time that found ourselves in the midwest.

And NOW I am caught up on pictures I've been meaning to post, at long last! =) Hope you've enjoyed seeing them as much as I've enjoyed sharing them!


Picture Post - Second Installment

While we were visiting Jeff and Lauren over Easter Break, we made the two hour trip up to Chicago - my favorite U.S. city - for a day. Daniel had never been, and I had a great time showing him around, to the best of my limited abilities (I'd only been there once before, for a week).

What a view! You can't see it here, but the lake is just off to the left of the frame.

It was a sunny, but CHILLY day in Chicago.

There was a big film production going on. Pretty cool =)

Because of that, the space around "The Bean" was completely open and cleared of pedestrians. Made for a great picture, by Daniel.

We said "hi" to our friend Craig's favorite building, the John Hancock building, for him.

One of the things I enjoy most about Chicago is seeing the old buildings juxtaposed against the new ones. Love. It.

We were SPENT after walking around all day. Thankfully, there was Gino's East Pizza to revive our weary souls.

See this??? Best. Pizza. Ever.

There was writing COVERING the walls!

We wrote on top of some white paint-marker, so that it would show up. See it?

"H + D '10"

And, finally, we found a Caribou Coffee. We love Caribou, and when I was in Chicago before, they seemed to be on every corner. Of course I told Daniel this, and he was very excited. But we didn't see one ALL DAY! At last, we found one on our way back to our car =) We were very happy to have Caribou for the ride home.

One more installment to come! Hope you're having as much fun catching up as I am =)


Picture Post - First Installment

Let's start with some LONG overdue pictures of our Easter in Indiana with my brother and my sister-in-law!

We dyed some eggs...

And Lauren made me an awesome, gluten-free Easter basket =)

We went to the Children's Museum in Indianapolis one day. This is a blown-glass sculpture that was several stories high!

There was a fabulous dinosaur exhibit (above), and a sweet Star Wars movie exhibit (below). Mmm. It's fun being kiddos at heart. =)

I have a crush on him. And it looks like the feeling is mutual...

Just a couple of couch potatoes in the nutrition exhibit.

An Indy 500 car! Daniel is psyched!

And the REAL reason we went to the Children's Museum... drum roll... the BARBIE exhibit! Yup, that's right.

Goofin' in the Egypt exhibit...

Most mornings, Daniel and I had coffee at this awesome find in the little historic downtown district.

If you're gonna be a rocket scientist, why not go to school where Neil Armstrong went to school, right?

Lauren, following in Neil Armstrong's footsteps...

Neil & Daniel. Two peas in a pod.

And, of course, plenty of Chipotle.