Monday, December 4, 2017


This has been a season of growth for me- of wrestling and searching and a working through of many things. I am so thankful for my Somali friends who have become my teachers, imparting their wisdom in a variety of ways these past few months (years?).

Sometimes I receive messages thanking me (and Mark) for our work for refugees here in Bangkok. And sometimes I can feel in myself this need to be recognized, or rewarded (or at least respected) for my advocacy efforts in this crazy city. It’s true the work is hard and it’s nice to be appreciated. But it’s also true, unfortunately so, that I realized several years ago that if I’m not careful I have a bit of a hero complex.

But friends, I so don’t want you to miss who the hero is in this story- in all these stories that have intersected with mine. I, I am confident, am just the narrator- the teller (and the keeper) of these stories. I have been honored and touched and changed (and rocked to the core) by the knowing of these stories and these people- and they- these strong, brave, intelligent, persevering young men and women- they are the heroes.

A few weeks ago a sweet family sat with us as we asked their opinion about one of our videos for Zaki’s gofundme. They were away from their home for the day because immigration was raiding their apartment complex and they were hoping to avoid arrest. They cried when we all discussed the video- silently let their tears fall. And I have been thinking about things like collective/historical trauma since then. But also- I have wondered at their capacity to  mourn for their friend when their reality is so similar. I am so thankful for them and how they are teaching me about how to grieve and how to hope, anyways.

Last week I went to visit a young woman and her 9 month old baby in the IDC. The husband/father met me outside the IDC to pass me a few articles of clothing and a letter to give to his wife. He peppered me with questions I should ask his wife- about the baby and how they were both doing. He probably told me a dozen times that I should be strong- and remind her that she is strong too. While we were waiting for the visitor requests to be processed we sat chatting over coffee. We’d observed several of the large, caged vans pulling out of the parking lot earlier and so remarked that it seemed more raids were planned. I said something like, “these people are horrible” or a similar sentiment. And my friend, who has been unable to eat or sleep for worry of his wife and daughter said, “people are different- some of them are good”. And then he told me about some of his positive experiences with immigration officers. And so I am thankful for my friend who didn’t mind to reprimand me, who wouldn’t allow me to make a generalization about a large group of people. I am thankful that even though he has every reason to allow hate to rule his heart- he chooses to look for the good. Man- I want to be like that.

Earlier this week we shared a meal with another refugee friend. He told us that this month he hasn’t had many expenses and he wants to contribute to Zaki’s gofundme. He gets about $150/month and he gave half of it away. I am not sure if I’ve ever been more humbled than to accept a gift from this sweet teenaged kid who despite all the shit he has gone through still wants to do and be good. I am so thankful to know him- am so thankful for the way he has challenged me to reflect on my “generosity”, on what I sacrifice to love others.

How enriched and full and fun (and funny) my life has become because I have learned from my Somali friends. To all of you Somalis out there who have crossed paths with me- I am so thankful for the ways you have taught me, put up with me, and allowed me to be (in some small ways) a part of your story. I am better because of it. And you guys (and girls) are all my heroes!

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Tis the season to count your blessings, and I have been faced once again with the exorbitant amount of privilege I possess.

I am thankful for my passport- which allows me easy entry to most every country in the world.
I am thankful for my freedom- for my every day walking around and doing what I want because I come from a place that people respect, have a skin color that people don’t question, and have the financial means to legally stay in or move to most any country in the world I desire.

I am thankful for my education- for the power I feel over my future because I have had far more than most the privilege to spend time learning.

I am thankful for my family- for the countless meals and traditions and laughs and guidance they have shared with me- for how they are the reason I can feel deep down within myself that I am safe and known and loved.

I am thankful for that sense of worth I have known my whole life- because I have always had my family to fall back on I have explored, taken risks. I have failed and not faded away. I have succeeded and been celebrated wildly.

I have been acutely aware the last several weeks of how “blessed” my life is, how “untouchable” I can feel, sometimes, from so many disasters that so many face. And I have lamented my privilege even while I have enjoyed it.

This week I stood with laced fingers through that awful fence again asking a young woman far braver, brighter, and beautiful than I could ever hope to be how she was. “I’m fantastic”, she laughed. I cannot fathom why she should be detained, she so much does not belong there.

Outside I comforted a family friend as he silently wept, telling me how his 8 month old daughter clung to him and cried when the officers took her and his wife away. And I can feel the weight of my own daughter in my arms and see the pain of my husband as he talks- were such a thing to be our reality too.

Then I listened to a kid who I have always wanted so badly to love as my own explain why he can’t keep up at the international school he miraculously (and independently) got a scholarship to attend. Between the hours long bus rides to  and from the school, his responsibilities to cook and clean in the studio he shares with other teenagers -he can’t complete his homework. If only, he said, someone could cook for him, or wash his clothes, or take his responsibilities that enable him to earn enough money to pay his rent- if then he could concentrate on school like any other student. And I can’t help but think- this kid is amazing- look at all that he has done without any help. And think of all the more he could do if he got a break every once in awhile.

Then we shared Thanksgiving with some lovely friends and a young man freed from arbitrary detainment. And when I looked at him from across the table, where he shyly smiled time to time I was so angry at all the meals lost to him- very suddenly acutely aware that once his world was family and meals and traditions and celebrations until it wasn’t that anymore and then he was suddenly thrust into another culture, and then again a prison, and now here he is- hopeful but heavy laden with so very much trauma from his last several years of life.

And then today I went to survey an apartment option for our temporary house guest. I’ve seen dozens of studios of various sizes and a wide range of cleanliness over the years. Though this one was fairly large and fairly clean my heart still sank. I talked with three former clients of mine who were happily prepared to welcome in a fourth roommate to their studio apartment not quite the size of my living room. Three different guys whom I had last seen some 18 months ago and for which not one damn thing had changed. Still waiting for status (what the heck UNHCR?!), one of them still literal skin and bones so obviously not receiving the medical attention he needs, still looking for jobs and trying to go to school and eeking out a living while they hideaway afraid of immigration. It was … heart- breaking and infuriating and I just can’t help but think- CAN WE NOT DO BETTER THAN THIS? Two of these guys were 15 when I met them. 15. What a shame. What a waste.

And so my gratitude has looked like angry hot tears at so much injustice I can hardly breathe, the reality that I see myself in so many of these fine young people, the confusing noun “privilege” which I have barely been able to wrap my head around, and a broken little heart that in feeble, probably misguided ways, wants to love hard enough to bring about some sort of redemption or hope anyway but which fears no amount of loving will ever see redemption for so many sweet kids.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What I'm Going to Say

Do you think babies/kids can sense things? Are more attuned than the average person? J has been out of whack all day today and I’ve been complaining and appeasing and disciplining and hugging and she is just- an emotional mess.

It’s 8:10 pm and I’ve just sat down and my heart is racing and I honest to goodness have small tremors in my hands and my stomach is twisted up into knots and I’m already crying. And, duh, I’m always the last to know, but I’ve been at a 10 all day- just busy, frantic, making myself crazy trying to fill my time and I finally figured it out- I’m avoiding. My poor girl had a bad day because I am an emotional mess.

I keep trying to picture what it’s going to be- to stand across this young man who has become like my own. Some strange mix of brother, son, friend and certainly family. What will I say? What can I possibly say?

Nothing I can say will make it okay that he’s been locked up.
There’s no certainty about his future, so I can’t make any promises.
I know that if I say I’m sorry he will say that it’s okay. And then I’ll say no, it’s not. We’ve done that song and dance a time or two before.

I know that we didn’t realize how much he’d knit himself into the fabric of our lives until he was gone, absent, snatched up.
We hadn’t realized that we often see him several times a week. That he is the person most often and most regularly invited into our daily life and our family time.
We hadn’t reflected often enough about how beautiful and heart-warming it is in this place so far from our other extended family to watch someone else spoil and love and dote on our daughter with as much love for her as we have.
We hadn’t noticed that slowly over the last year and a half all pretense had faded- we just got to be ourselves and he got to be himself- however ugly or beautiful we all were in that moment.

We just hadn’t realized. And now there are things that we do and say and routines in place that all came to be because of him and I’m so sad. Sad about all the memories we’re not going to get to make.Sad about all the things he’s going to miss out on here. Immensely sad about all the things he’s going to miss out on in his own life. Immensely sad about the realities he is currently facing.

Am I to dream up the beauty of freedom and justice- hugs and laughter and our families dining together, sharing old stories? I can spin a story we can all hold on to for hope.

But, is it right to?

Do I say, oh so very tentatively, that prospects are grim- the wait will be long and hard, and we may discover we've waited away the better years of your life in vain?

I just don’t know what I’m going to say.

In search of strength,


Friday, October 20, 2017

The Things We're Missing Out on Here

Or, the thing we have missed out on all along. 

Several days ago contracts got sent out at Mark's work- we need to decide if we're staying or leaving. Well, we know we are staying- but we haven't decided if we will sign on for another two years, or just one (and then play it by ear). 

And- there's lots to be said about all of that (and rest assured I've probably said it all to Mark about 5,000 times). There are hundreds of ways that living here is such a blessing, I honestly think that if we were to make a pros/ cons list that the pros would far outweigh the cons. But today, I had this memory of this experience we had in Burma a few Christmas' ago (another pro- getting to travel!) and it reminds me of something we are missing here.

 I'd never done any multi-day hikes, so we signed up for a trek from Kalaw (a small wonderful village) down to Inle Lake. It was a three day, two night endeavor, and it is hands down my favorite thing we've ever done. Our whole holiday in Burma was perfect, and the trek was just icing on the cake.

Travelling in Burma (at least 4 years ago) required more planning than travel elsewhere in this region. I'd poured over guidebooks and blogs and it all said pretty much the same thing- tourism is relatively new, so book in advance as it's not uncommon to show up in a town and find every hotel fully booked. There was (is?) also really specific rules about money- what kinds of bills that were accepted (US dollars), what condition the bills were in (pristine- we're talking no folds or creases) and certain dates of currency were deemed unusable. I'm not going to lie, planning the trip was kind of intense and definitely brought out my worst anxiety-ridden, anal planning side. 

But- I guess this is the beginning of when you could say I started to chill out about travel, because I'd read somewhere that the best trekking company couldn't be booked ahead of time, and it was best to just walk into "such and such" restaurant and ask for "such and such" person and try to get in on the next trek. I was incredibly tickled when it turned out to be just as easy as that. We found ourselves (freezing cold) at the local restaurant signing up for a trek to leave the next day. We made some friends while we sat and chatted and we all agreed to sign on for the same trek. 
The next morning when we left there were 6 of us tourists (us, the two guys we'd met the day before, and an older married Israeli couple). Our guide was named Zaw and he had the biggest smile, whitest teeth, lightest laugh, biggest skip in his step of anyone you ever met. His joy and delight and wonder still cause me to pause. 

He literally laughed and sang and ran and jumped and talked and joked us over the hills and through the villages for hours upon hours. I instantly adored him. 

Often while we walked he would point things out to us- what crop/plant/flower was growing. He chatted about Burmese culture and politics, he talked of his family and ambitions. 

He stopped at one point to show us a spider's web. We sat and stared at it for minutes. I honestly have never done that before. He gingerly took the spider from the web and asked us to pull the webbing from it. He quizzed us, wanting to know if we knew how long the webbing is. By this point in the trip we had long learned that these hills were Zaw's backyard- that he was the teacher and we were the pupils-so we waited for him to tell us. I can still hear his delighted, laughter-filled exclamation- "I already spent an entire day pulling it and it NEVER ends". 

Maybe you had to be there. Or maybe it's really not that momentous. But he totally meant it when he said he sat with a spider held delicately in his hand while he curiously pulled out the webbing. for an entire day. You could just see it, because he spoke of the crops and the flowers and the seasons and the people and the animals with the same kind of reverent knowledge. Because he walked through the land with an authority and a respect that made me wonder if maybe I'd gotten it all wrong and maybe we should leave it all and move to one of those village towns. 

And days like today, when I'm wondering how long it is we might stay in this concrete jungle, I hear the call of Zaw and those villages and all the different spiders of which I've never learned of their webs. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Hey friends,

There’s this song I like from this band I sometimes listen to, called “I Don’t Want to Pray”.

Some of the lyrics are here:

I don't wanna pray to my maker
I just wanna be feelin' free
Not like in a book, or the leaves of trees that shook
From a word that means only not a thing
Pardon god and mom, what I'm sayin' isn't fair
See I'm looking to become, not the prayer but the prayer
And now I don't want to pray
I don't wanna pray
I don't wanna pray
Who don't wanna pray

Not much good to talk, better to walk it
Not much good to take, better to give
We are gone forgiven and forgotten of our sins
And I promise you my friend all that dies will live again
Pardon god and mom, what I'm sayin' isn't fair
See I'm looking to become, not the prayer but the prayer
now I don't want to pray

Prayer has been a tricky thing for me lately. Mostly I wonder what the point is, if I’m being honest. I think that’s why I like some of these lyrics so much- they call for action. It’s one thing to pray God’s Kingdom come (food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, a friend for the loner) and then it’s actually (in my opinion) God’s intention when we (as followers of Jesus) take action to answer that prayer, BE that prayer.
But- I think there is something flawed, something incomplete in my theology. I’m sifting through some things- I’m in the midst of figuring out (a whole lotta) things. So- bear with me and say a prayer (as a pray-er or a prayer! Ha!).
On August 8th a meeting will be convened that will decide the future of someone who has come to be family to me, Mark, and Jubes. There have been similarly life altering type meetings for this individual before, and I didn’t know what to pray. I knew what had been done was done. I remember standing in the door way of our bedroom angry and teary, scoffing at the idea of prayers cast too late, even scoffing that the only thing left to pray was reminiscent of Aladdin, with God cast as a Genie of sorts.
Well, this time I have felt compelled several times to invite you to pray with and for us and our friend. We believe that God made and knows our friend- and we believe God has a plan for his life. We would like to ask you all to pray for favor and acceptance- so that he may begin to actually live his life- a life free and safe and full of many good things- a hope finally realized. We also ask for prayer for wisdom, direction, and strength regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting. Your prayers can commence henceforth, but uh, ramp ‘em up next Tuesday, please. =)

With thanks, in intercession,

The Coops

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer in Europe - Part 1 - History and Culture

Our two week trip to Europe this summer afforded us the opportunity to see some truly bucket list-worthy sights.  For the sake of better preserving the memories, here are some highlights.


Having taught British literature for a few years, some of London's literary and artistic landmarks were at the top of my list here.

The "Treasures" collection at the British Library - complete with originally penned works by the likes of Keats, Tolstoy, Byron, Shelley, and Shakespeare.

The gallery of artwork by William Blake, one of my favorites, at the Tate Britain museum.  Some highlights were engravings from Songs of Innocence and The Ghost of a Flea.

Van Gogh's Sunflowers and the unexpected surprises of Sir John Everett Millais's Ophelia and John William Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot at the National Gallery.

The immensely famous Westminister Abbey.  I was particularly excited to see the resting places of some famous writers at "Poet's Corner."  In a single picture, you can see markers for Tennyson, T.S. Eliot, Hopkins, Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Lewis Carroll, and Byron.

Shakespeare's Globe - the modern reconstructed replica of the fabled playwright's performance center.

The George Pub - the oldest pub in London, frequented by the likes of Dickens and Shakespeare.


We stayed in a small town outside of Geneva, right on the lake, with relatives of our good friend Junita.  

The market in the town Morges, about 15 minutes from our house.

The Chateaux de Chillon, a beautiful ancient castle on the shores of Lake Geneva, which I found out later is actually the most visited historic monument in all of Switzerland.  It also boasted literary intrigue for its self-carved name of Lord Byron in the dungoen, who was inspired by a prisoner of the castle to write "The Prisoner of Chillon."

The United Nations and the UNHCR in Geneva.

The Red Cross Museum, which featured both an inspiring tour of the history of the organization and some highlights global human rights efforts in general, including the original Geneva Convention and names of the millions of holocaust victims whom the IRC attempted to locate and re-connect with family members.


We spent a few packed-full days in Paris living out of a tiny AirBNB apartment in the central 1st Arrondissement.  It did not disappoint on any front.

We spent a Sunday morning popping into famous historical churches that included...

Sainte Chapelle, which contains one of the most impressive stained-glass displays I've ever seen

Notre Dame, which houses some famous Catholic relics that included Christ's purported Crown of Thorns

Some smaller, but equally impressive churches in the Latin Quarter - St. Julien le Pauvre, St. Severin Church, and Saint Germain des Pres. 

As for paintings, we skipped the Louvre and went to the Musée d'Orsay, which displayed such gems as Van Gogh's Sower with Setting Sun, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and some of Monet's Water Lilies.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer in Europe - Part 2 - Adventures in Food

Anyone who knows me knows that I get as excited about new food when I travel as I do about anything else.  Needless to say, I was super excited to eat our way across Europe.  We of course tried to have some of the iconic fare from each of the three countries we visited, along with some unexpected surprises.  There was so much good stuff, I had to write it all down!


 In London, we had classics like fish 'n' chips, steak and ale pie, and British ales in some local pubs.  We also tried Ian and Junita's favorite local spot for Indian food, where we ate four plates of amazing curried rack of lamb.  Alissa was also on a mission to find scones and clotted cream, which I managed to procure on our very last day.


Some highlights here included some moules marinières (mussles) at a cafe right on Lake Geneva and lots and lots of cheese.  Real Gruyère was no joke.

The highlight, though, was Junita's uncle Edwin's offer to share a raclette of cheese with us - which he insisted is far more pure and superior in comparison to fondue.   This ridiculous cheese and method of eating cheese involved heating a huge half-wheel with a specially designed heating element and scraping off globs of melted cheese to eat with potatoes and other things.  And yes, it was as amazing as it looks.


I actually had a list of specific foods I wanted to have in Paris - most of which I'd never had before -  and I think I got to all of them.  This list included foie gras, steak tartare, escargot, duck breast.  All were amazing, and the French more than lived up to their food-glorifying reputation.   I read in a book during our time here that UNESCO has even declared French cuisine a "world intangible heritage."

And of course, we couldn't leave Paris without having lots of pastries - every morning, mind you - and baguette sandwiches.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jubilee's Birth Story (mama's perspective)

I can’t think about the day you came without thinking about all the days that led to your arrival. Like I owe them their due respect, must take them into account, pronounce how it’s all linked together. And, of course, it is, physically, biologically. And then of course, it is, mentally and emotionally.
We had dreamt of you for awhile. We had just really reached the point of fear, of thinking maybe we wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally, when I took the test and the two lines appeared.
The next day I managed to sneak away and buy something to surprise your dad with. When I came home with a bib that says “I love daddy” it took him a few to get it. But when he did… I’ll always cherish that moment.
In our lives at that time we were starting year 2 in Thailand. Dad was just beginning his master’s classes and I was JUST promoted to project director at BCP. We had never both been so committed and so busy in our respective careers. We had never both been so passionate about and felt so called to loving well the teens God had placed in our lives.
Oh the fear I felt when I knew I was carrying you. I knew I needed to get my stress under control. And I often think God blessed me with the deepest, purest form of exhaustion those first 9 weeks, so that I would physically not be able to care so much. That exhaustion allowed me to turn off my mind and sleep through the night (for the first time in over a year!) and it gave me some distance emotionally, which I’m so glad for. But man, that exhaustion was also killer. I remember my head bent and eyes closed on the back of the motorcycle. Sleeping on the bus ride to work. Wondering why an email was taking me 45 minutes to write when it should only be taking 5. Resting my head on my desk and trying to keep from being sick/falling asleep. We wanted to wait to let others know about you (we told @ 19weeks), so I did my best to hide my exhaustion, but those were some long and tough days. (also, please note dear child, your mama did without her regular cup(s) of joe for the whole first trimester). (And then I caved and started drinking ½-1 cup a day. Don’t judge me you judgymcjudgertons, I knew no other way!).

When the second trimester hit it was like suddenly a fog had lifted. It was as if I had been running on 10% capacity and then suddenly I was back. It was like magic-out of thin air. Life went on as normal, except weekends were devoted to preparing for you- lists of what we needed, plans and plans and plans about possible timelines/ passport applications and flights. You know me. =) When I started to feel you in my tummy it was like magic. Brief little kicks or somersaults, but stronger all the time. You loved to play at night once mommy was laying in bed. Clients often asked me if you were moving or sleeping and loved to hear my answer as they surveyed my growing belly.  I consumed watermelon at an alarming rate, but otherwise ate pretty much the exact way I had done before- just more. =)  Before I knew it I was in the final weeks of pregnancy. Your dad and I wisely chose to have a short “staycation” at a nice hotel in downtown BKK, so we could escape our to-do lists and focus on you. It was wonderful and I’m so glad we did. But otherwise, Dad was working really hard to finish his masters classes ahead of schedule, and I was working hard to … oh so very many things. My last few weeks at work were insane. My last day I packed up my things. I threw myself a party and took about a hundred pictures with my clients- all big bellied and tired eyes, but huge smile. Our staff went out to dinner and… that was it. Except, actually it wasn’t- because I still had a few client files to update and my JRS exit interview document to write up. And so Saturday and Sunday I finished those things. At 9 months pregnant I was still slowly heaving myself atop the motorcycles to get around.. I’m pretty sure I took one last pregnant ride that weekend- much to the amusement of the Thai’s in my neighborhood, I’m sure.   Monday I slept all day and pittered around the house. And Tuesday- you began to make your entrance.

I woke up in the early hours of the morning with some small bursts of pain, and I wondered if maybe they weren’t contractions or Braxton hicks, but only momentarily- I was only 37 weeks along. All morning the small twinges of pain continued. After dad left for work I thought I better download some sort of Contractions app- to help me time and to try to keep track of what was going on with my body. I sent this email to dad at 8:30 am:
According to my contraction app I'm averaging one every ten minutes since you left for work.... Don't tell anyone or freak out cause I don't know if it will continue to increase, but fyi..  =)”

He of course called me right away! =) The contractions continued slow and steady all day. I did some laundry and cleaned the house. I made dinner and baked some cookies. I watched tv shows on Netflix and tried to rest. After dad came home the contractions were closer together, so around 6:00pm we called the hospital to ask whether or not we should come in. When they heard it was our first baby, and that I had been having contractions for 12 hours, they advised that I come in to be checked. We didn’t rush to the hospital- I took a shower and we had dinner. I hadn’t packed a hospital bag yet so I did that.  Around 8:00pm we taxied to the hospital. Dad was hysterical getting the cab- oh that man gets excited! Our taxi driver drove as fast as he could while I laughed in the back seat- we were definitely not in emergency mode but he didn’t want any surprises! When we neared the hospital he flagged down a police officer to help stop traffic so we could cross an intersection faster. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed for all the hoopla and laughed and waved from the back seat. I was in some discomfort, but didn’t feel too close. We went in to the OBGYN area and they wheel chaired me to labor and delivery. I thought it was silly that they insist I sit in the wheel chair and dad thought I was silly for being so stubborn about being taken care of.  When the nurses checked me they said I was less than a CM dilated, but the baby would probably come in the next day or so.

I had been calm all day- at peace with the process, trusting my body. I had been completely serene about the whole thing (which, by the way, is very not me). But when we got in the taxi to go back home and were stuck in stand still traffic on Sukhumvit- I was immediately uneasy. It seemed like labor immediately got more intense and my anxiety began to grow. We had meant to look into nearby hotels since we lived a ways away from the hospital and BKK traffic is so unpredictable…but we hadn’t done that, and by the time we were in the taxi I just desperately wanted to get out of the taxi and into bed as quickly as possible. Once we were home I immediately laid down. Contractions felt more intense but I tried to sleep between them. Around 10pm out of nowhere- my water broke! I immediately jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom- yelling at mark to grab something to clean up the mess. Now, I laugh, because your dad came back with two squares of toilet paper, at the time… I yelled “towels, TOWELS” (the “you fool” implied by the tone). As soon as my water broke the pain became incredibly intense. As I retell your birth story, we sound a bit under prepared- and perhaps we were. We remembered something in our birthing class about certain color of water to be good and others to be very bad but of course couldn’t remember what was what. Mark called our doctor and all was normal. We grabbed a taxi and off we rushed to the hospital.

I was very happy I thought to bring a towel in the taxi, because with every contraction there was more water. That was something that I … did not know would happen. We arrived to the hospital- this time to the “emergency” wing. I was very thankful for the wheel chair that awaited me. As they rolled me down the hall I laughingly asked Mark if there was a trail of water flowing behind me. I arrived at the hospital at 5 cm. Lucky for us, the AMAZING birth room was available so in we went. I bounced on the birthing ball and tried a few other things, but pretty quickly decided to try the tub to try to relieve some of my back pain (I had back contractions the whole labor… I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it was pretty rough). The tub relieved the back pain but it also completely zapped me. After a bit I got out and they checked me again. I was at an 8, but I also felt completely drained. I had wanted to labor standing up for the long haul, but no amount of convincing could get me to my feet. I had to lay. For the next few hours I laid on the bed- in a sort of half-conscious state. Mark was always by my side- offering me sips of water or Gatorade or food if I wanted (which I very much didn’t). Over the Rhine- the soundtrack to almost every meaningful moment since Mark and I met, played in the background and I focused on just getting through one lyrical line at a time. One angelic nurse applied counterpressure to my back pretty much the whole night. She was amazing. I adored her. If she left I immediately asked for her. A few times I told Mark that if it wasn’t soon I didn’t think I would have the energy to do it- but even as I said it, I felt some relief- everything I had read said that right when you want to give up is when the transition is happening and it’s almost over. I clung to that pretty tightly. A few times I confidently told the nurses that I was ready to push. They would call my doctor in and she would check, and always say no, not yet. Finally it got to the point where I felt like it took so much of my concentration and energy NOT to push. The nurses asked me to use the restroom and after that- it was go time- time to push! I went through my whole labor almost never opening my eyes- seriously. We wanted the lights off and a peaceful atmosphere and we definitely had what we wanted. But when it became push time, the lights went on and the room got busier. I didn’t mind- I was completely in the zone and so so ready to meet you! The first contraction I pushed. I had no idea what I was doing and how to work with my body. My dr. advised not to waste energy by making noise-which was spot on and I immediately listened. Mark counted to ten during each contraction-urging me to push for the full ten seconds. He was the BEST. During the labor part I mostly went inward. He was right beside me the whole time, and thanks to him, I stayed hydrated, but I didn’t want to talk or be talked to. But during the delivery part- he was VITAL! He urged me to push and counted aloud so I could have a goal to push for. He was encouraging and excited and I can’t imagine having done that last bit without him. I only “pushed” for about ten minutes and, you were here. You didn't cry right away and I remember that that alarmed your dad, which alarmed me- but you were just fine. This dark skinned, dark haired baby that they quickly laid on my chest. Daddy hadn’t planned to, but after waiting for a bit, he cut the cord. You were beautiful and a miracle and there was so very much happening all at the same time that I could scarcely comprehend it all. After you were weighed and measured and I was taken care of (I had a bit of the shakes and needed some warm blankets) they laid you back on my chest. I remembered reading/watching a TED talk or something about how newborn babies instinctually move to their mothers breast- I think it’s called the “breast crawl”. I somehow had the mindfulness to test it out and I was utterly amazed to see you- this tiny little thing- crawl and flop your way right to my breast. How incredibly miraculous, beautiful, amazing! The connection between mother and child is so …instinctual.

And that, little Love bug, is how you came into this world. We snuggled you and wondered at you and whispered a secret prayer into your ear so that we could confidently know the first things you heard and then pretty quickly skype called our families who were so very eager to meet you and hear your name. 

Then we laid together and you nursed like a champ (though, from birth you most definitely preferred one side to the other- I found that hilarious). 

One of my favorite memories to reflect on and laugh about is that shortly after you were born we needed to move rooms. You went first and daddy followed you. I was somewhat dressed and began gathering our bags. When the nurses came for me, I started walking out holding our several bags. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady. They had most definitely brought a bed for me to be rolled in and there I was carrying all our bags and ready to tackle the stairs to the other part of the hospital. This makes me roll with laughter. 1. Our bodies are amazing. 2. The bed was the best choice for traversing one hour post partum. 3. No one there knew what to do with me.