Farrow's Daughter

"Where the walker runs down to the Carson Valley Plain/ There lived a maiden, Darcy Farrow was her name/ Her voice was as sweet as the sugar candy/ Her touch was as soft as a bed of goose down/ She was courted by Young Vandamere/ A fine lad was he as I am to hear/At dusky sundown to her name they drink a round/ And to young Vandy whose love was true" -from "Darcy Farrow" by John Denver (words and music by Gillette and Campbell)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Message in a Mason Jar

In case you haven't heard yet...I'm blogging at Message in a Mason Jar these days. I'd love for you to click over and join me in finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Farah's Arrival- Another Beautiful Birth

NOTE: Men and those with weak stomachs or a low tolerance for TMI may want to skip this entry as it includes a detailed account of labor and delivery. :)

Four days past my due date at four in the morning, I woke up, not to use the restroom like was usually the case, but because of a rumbling that told me I might just be having a baby that day. It felt like Christmas morning as I quietly turned the doorknob, snuck out of my room and headed down the stairs. I opened the fridge, grabbed the dewy milk jug and poured myself a bowl of cereal. I knew I’d need the energy for the work ahead. This was just the way that it had happened when Elliot was making his way out more than two years earlier. The pains were sporadic, but I felt certain they would organize themselves soon.

I went back upstairs to put my head on my pillow for a bit, hoping to steal a few more moments of rest. I laid in bed for a few hours, quietly breathing out the pains but letting my husband sleep. Eventually, I nodded off and when I woke again, the pains were gone. Craig decided not to go into work that morning and we walked the Monon Trail down to Bub’s Cafe to encourage the contractions to come back. I savored every bite of the pumpkin pancakes, knowing that once I got to the hospital there would be nothing but ice chips for my palate. It was a cold morning, but in my excitement I forgot my jacket, so I ended up with tensed up shoulders and a case of the shivers on our walk. All day, I waited. Okay, so this was nothing like labor with Elliot with my contractions starting in the middle of the night and continuing all the way until he was born.

We decided to go ahead with our plans to visit our friend’s small group that night. We would meet my parents at Logan’s for dinner and then they would take Elliot to play at their house while we were at small group. On the way to dinner, around 5:30, the rumblings returned. I called Katy, my doula, to let her know she was probably not going to get a full night’s rest that night. All through dinner, the contractions continued about twenty minutes apart, but still a bit sporadic. I hoped these would start to fall in line and get more frequent. I was comfortable enough to eat up my lemon butter salmon and talk with my dad about his new job opportunity, even if I did have to scrunch up my face every once in a while. Small group was pretty much out of the question.

By around 8 pm, the contractions were about 15 minutes apart. It was looking like our little chick was just about ready to hatch. If I were smart, I would’ve just gone home and got in bed to rest up, but instead we went to hang out at my parents’ house for a while. And with family, “a while” always turns into “way too long”. By the time we got home, put Elliot in bed and got ourselves ready for bed, it was midnight. As soon as I laid my head on the pillow, the contractions started coming 10 minutes apart and there was no rest in sight for me.

I continued to quietly breath out the pains while Craig slept. I thought at least one of us should have a little energy for the toughest parts that were still to come. I continued to time the contractions and from 3 to 4 am they came and knocked me down on all fours every five minutes and lasted at least 45 seconds a piece. It was time to call Katy again. She had me contact the doctor on call.

When my cell rang, the on-call doctor’s voice was groggy. “We’ll have you go to the hospital where they can let you know if it’s real labor.” What?!! If that wasn’t real labor, I didn’t know what was. Craig was up by then, packing his hospital bag at the last minute even though I had encouraged (nagged) him to pack it weeks earlier. I looked at the clock and decided I could wait a little bit to call Craig’s parents to come over. I thought 5 am would look a little better to weary eyes than 4 something. Sometime between 5 and 6 am, they came to our place and camped out to wait for Elliot to awake. I showed them his suitcase all packed for that next night when he would stay with them. And I pointed them to his big brother gift that he could unwrap as soon as his little sister arrived. Then, we were out the door.

We checked in at the hospital sometime between 6 and 6:30 in the morning and I felt like I did as a college student when I pulled an all-nighter to get a project done. I was shaky and nauseous and couldn’t tell what was from labor and what was from lack of sleep, as in ZERO hours. The chipper nurse checked me and I was 3 cm and 90% dilated. Woo hoo! That was way better than the 1 cm that I measured when I came in after hours and hours of contractions with my firstborn, Elliot!

We moved into my room and set up the computer so I could listen to my labor playlist. I’m usually a full album kind of girl, like when I listened to Sarah Groves “Add to the Beauty” in its entirety for Elliot’s birth. But this time, I felt like having a sampling of songs that sounded soothing or encouraging to me. First though, I showed Katy Kelley the video from Elliot’s birth since she had never seen it. As I listened to my voice from two and a quarter years earlier, I remembered feeling so empowered when the first LONG stage of labor was over and I was finally allowed to push my baby boy out into the world. I remembered the nurses flooding in and cheering me on with my mom and Katy at my sides holding my legs back and encouraging me to push with all my might. I remembered the total shock of hearing Craig say Elliot was crowning and then how quickly they put Elliot’s floppy baby body onto my chest. I heard myself talking several octaves above my normal voice, saying “I can’t believe...”, “My baby”, and “I love you” over and over again.

As they watched the video, my mom asked me if it scared me that I’d have to do all that again that day. I knew it did no good to be fearful- I was going to birth a baby that day whether I was scared or not. So, I decided not to really think about it, but to just deal with each type of pain as it came. And once again, I had my natural labor dream team there to help.

This time, unlike my labor with Elliot when I had back labor, I was able to lay down without excruciating pain. I also rocked on the exercise ball and leaned over the side of the hospital bed to get through contractions. At one point when I was laying down, I remember telling Katy that for no apparent reason I felt the urge to cry. She said it was a part of the process sometimes and that it meant I was progressing. I put my hands over my face and wept, unable to keep it back. A few minutes later, as I was standing and leaning over the end of the hospital bed, the doula director, Carol, came in to check on me. She brought with her a tote of aromatherapy oils and asked if I’d be interested in trying some. I was willing to try anything as the labor got more and more intense. She asked me some questions and hummed Rich Mullins’ “Hold Me Jesus” along with the music coming from my playlist as I told her I had slept zero hours the previous night and was still feeling nauseous.

I sat back down on the exercise ball and bounced up again as it was not a pleasant feeling. Clearly Farah was making her way down. What had been a help a few minutes earlier was no longer bearable. Carol poured some rose oil on a piece of cotton as I leaned over the end of the hospital bed. I put the rose oil under my nose and breathed in as I listened to the music coming from my computer. Some old-school Twila Paris kept me on track and I was singing along, “The joy of the Lord / will be my strength / I will not waver / walking by faith / He will be strong to deliver me safe / and the joy of the Lord is my strength”. And then Nicole Nordeman’s words resonated with me: “Praise Father God, giver of life / Power and might, goodness and light / Ruler of all. Praise to the Son, the living Christ / Body and blood, mercy and love / Sweet sacrifice. Praise Holy Ghost, voice in the dark / Healer and friend, fire and wind / Lord of our hearts”. I thought of how God created the little person now preparing to make her exit from my womb. I thought of the horrific pain that Jesus had to go through to give me my very own birth into new life. I thought of the Holy Spirit whose quiet voice would lead me through the darkest parts of labor when no amount of counterpressure or distraction would be able to mask the pain of contractions rolling over one another. I looked into Craig’s eyes and calmly sang the ethereal melody as tears trickled.

Soon enough, I found myself on my side in the hospital bed unable to get a word out of my mouth. I let out incessant groans as my whole body quaked. There was no relief. I put down the rose oil. It was no help now. Katy placed a cool cloth on my forehead and reminded me that the Lord was there with me. Soon that famous signal to call the doctor was upon me-- I had to hold my back side in order to avoid pushing. “Dr. Kerlin is now on campus”, I heard them say. She had a feeling I was going to be having my baby that week. She even postponed a trip to Chicago in order to be in town for the delivery. It felt so good to know my doctor and friend and sister-in-Christ was on her way to see me through the last stage. Unlike my first labor when I had been stuck at 1 cm, 3 cm, and 7 cm, this second labor had gone so smoothly. But now, I was hanging out at 9.5 cm with a major desire to push. I continued to breath out the urges, but they were getting more intense.

Katy saw me tensing up to try and hold the baby back. We talked for a minute about the possibility of bearing down until I got to 10 cm. She took the idea to Dr. Kerlin who was suiting up for delivery. It was a yes. The next contraction welled up and Dr. Kerlin checked me while I bore down. It was just what we needed to get that last bit out of the way to clear a path for my baby girl to come into the world.

Just like last time, I asked my mom and Katy to stand alongside me to hold onto my legs and to offer support during the pushing stage, which from experience I knew to be the best part. But this time, the pushing stage took me by surprise.

I pushed through some contractions and then...the floodgates broke loose. My water broke as Farah neared the end of the tunnel and I screamed my head off like I was in some horror movie. I have NEVER screamed like that before, not even on a roller coaster. My voice sounded like it was coming from somewhere outside of me. I knew I was screaming and that I was making a terrible face, but I had no power to reign in the voice or change my expression. I was at the mercy of my body’s guttural response. I screamed my head off again as Farah crowned. Then, something strange happened. It was like the calm spot in the middle of a tornado. I sat there. I stayed still with my eyes closed for three minutes.

My nurses and doctor and doula and husband and mom were all puzzled. They had never seen anyone just sit there so quietly at that point in delivery. I did not want to feel the baby’s head. I did not even want to know if she had any hair. I was just gathering all of my strength together for the final bit of work. Then, finally, a contraction began and gave me the guts to push again. A mere 12 minutes after the pushing stage began and after another big scream from me, Dr. Kerlin plopped my baby on my chest. “My baby girl. Are you here? Are you here? Ohhhhhh! I can’t believe it again. You come here to me. Ohhhh. I love you so much.” Farah was slippery with curds of vernix all over her. She had fat rolls on the sides of her head, a fat roll on the bridge of her nose, and creases up and down her arms. Thin wispy waves of dark hair shown through the mess. She was beautiful.

Like when Elliot was born, I couldn’t stop babbling, “Sweet baby girl. I can’t wait for your big brother to meet you. Oh my goodness. Sweet girl. Oh Farah, welcome! Ohhhh.” Craig stood by us to cut the umbilical cord. Then he rubbed my shoulder and stared at Farah along with me as I babbled some more. “You are your own separate person now! You are your own separate person. I’m so happy you’re out. You were so good to me. Oh, sweetheart. Let me see you. I have a baby girl now! We have waited so long for you. Open your eyes. Come here, sweetheart.”

Everyone in the room started making guesses about her birthweight. They were all guessing near nine pounds. Could it be that this girl whom I carried so petitely could be anywhere close to Elliot’s birthweight? Sure enough she was 9 pounds 5 ounces, a mere one ounce lighter than her big brother was. After they got her crying for a bit, she settled in and nursed for entire hour, a sweet gentle girl who didn’t see the need to open her eyes.

I am so grateful to have a husband, mother, doula and doctor that allowed me the privilege of being utterly aware and able to experience each twist and turn without numbness as I twice sojourned in the land of unmedicated labor. As my friend Sarah wrote, “While pain brings discomfort and fear, I think my greater fear was always missing the opportunity to feel this amazing rite of passage. To be fully immersed in the moment that my children entered the world. To understand what it is that women all over the world and through the ages have experienced.” Facing labor with all of my senses intact has been revealing. I know myself better by seeing how I respond to hardship and intense pain. I feel my husband’s tenderness as he locks in his gaze and communes with me in labor’s ebb and flow. I further bond with my mother as she offers a soft touch and kind words to her needy daughter. In a forced humility, I let others see me completely undignified and submit to allow them to care for me in my most vulnerable state. Facing labor in its fullness forces me to admit that if I am to persevere, I do so with help.

Natural labor has also allowed me the emotional awareness to feel empathy for my children. I press on with the knowledge that I am not the only one experiencing discomfort as we are both working through the process that will end in us meeting face to face. All of that anxious longing and suffering through hours of labor finally brings the glory of the revealing of my children (Romans 8:18-25). As I watch my delivery videos and think back on the notable points in the whole process, it seems to me that the hard work of labor and delivery made the joy of receiving my children into my arms that much more intense. There’s just no comparing the suffering of the wait with the bliss of the reveal.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

C is for Craig. D is for Darcy. E is for Elliot. F is for Farah.
Introducing Farah Jean Wiley
born Thursday, October 8 at 11:54 am
9 pounds, 5 ounces
21 inches long
Pure joy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Firstborn's Retrospective

As we prepare our own firstborn for becoming a big brother in a matter of weeks, I am reminded of my experience thirty years ago as I, the firstborn, awaited the birth of my little sister. Thankfully, Elliot isn't quite as difficult as I was. Here's a view into my 2 1/2 year old mind from a retrospective that I wrote for a creative writing class back in college.

I’m sitting between Aunt Cathy and Uncle Wallace and they’re both telling me about what a big day this is. It makes my nose tickle to sit by Uncle Wallace. He smells like broccoli and coffee, sort of like my grandpa’s house. Uncle Wallace asks me to say his name as usual.

I want to take off my shoes. My socks are bunched up like the ball of paper that was hiding in the toe of my shoes when they were still in the box at the store. I don’t like these shoes anyway. I wanted the ones with the buckles, not the laces.
Uncle Wallace says again, “Darcy, say Uncle Wallace.” I wish he wouldn’t ask me that anymore. I say, “I can’t say Uncle Wallace,” and he laughs and so does Aunt Cathy and so does some very, very tall lady who is wearing nothing but white and has eyes like a baby mouse. The lady walks down the hall away from me and I watch her until she gets really small and starts to look like the white wall and ceiling and floor and door. Everything is white, everywhere, but not like clouds or marshmallows, more like the color of a bare light bulb shining in my eyes.

This bench is too hard and there’s nothing to lean back on except for the wall behind me and it’s as cold as an ice pack after an ouchy. I wish my feet could touch the floor like Aunt Cathy’s do.

“Darcy, you’re going to get your very own little sister today,” Aunt Cathy tells me. She talks funny, sort of slow but pretty like Polly from my very favorite cartoon, Underdog. “You’ll get to meet her very soon. Your mommy and daddy named her Amanda, but you’ll get to call her Mandy.”

“But I don’t want a little baby sister.” They won’t stop bugging me about this.

When I lean my head on the wall and push my ear against it really hard, I can hear all the sounds from the whole entire hospital all mixed together. I hear lots of stuff like some beeps echoing and pieces of metal hitting together and it sounds like there’s an animal inside the wall.

Now I see another lady dressed in all white. She has a balloon stomach like my mom, but this lady’s face and arms and legs are more puffy than my mom’s.

She keeps walking, getting closer and closer and I see her carrying a pink ball of fur that looks like a bear I have at home. I want to touch it, but she probably won’t let me.

When she gets right next to us, Aunt Cathy and Uncle Wallace grab me by the hands and take me down the same hallway as the lady with the pink fur ball. I lift my legs off of the ground for a 1,2,3, jump, but they must not know that game. I look way ahead and see the lady with the pink fur ball turning the corner. I break free and run. I run so fast that everything is a blur. I hear Aunt Cathy. “Darcy Lee, your shoe is untied.” But before I can look down or back, I see my mom through a doorway. My dad is standing next to the bed she’s laying in.

I run in and shout, “Where’s my Mandy?!!” At that very same time, I see the lady with the pink fur ball. She gives it right to my mom. Maybe I will get to touch it. Then, with a voice that my mom uses only to talk to my cat, she opens up the ball of pink fur and says, “Here’s your Mandy.”

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Elliot's 2nd Year

When my little Elliot turned one, he was basically bald and barely walking, but babbling with a big vocab for his age. A year later, he is majorly in need of his first haircut (finally!), is strutting his stuff and is still a little wordsmith expressing himself in full sentences stuffed with all kinds of descriptors. I never have to wonder what Elliot is thinking! At around 18 months, I had to stop keeping track of his vocabulary because it was multiplying so quickly with words and phrases involving all kinds of animals, shapes, colors, letters, numbers, etc. He has memorized lines from his favorite books and often “reads” while he’s waiting for us in the morning or after nap time. He has a deep husky voice except when he is talking sweetly to Hoover. He greets strangers everywhere we go and makes it so easy to get to know new people. He’ll take any chance he can get to hug someone he knows. He says “amen” when we’re done praying and once after learning that God made trees, sky and people, figured out on his own that “God made toots!” He often says, “I wanna go church...sing about God.” He loves to play percussion (and can do two separate beats with his right and left hands), strum the guitar, bang on the piano and sing parts of songs like “Jesus Loves Me”. And, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, he enjoys naming the instruments he hears in a recorded song. He likes to work in the garden with me and enjoys sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, helping with laundry and stacking clean dishes. He loves ticklefests with his Daddy- I can’t get him laughing nearly as hard as Craig can. He is a bit accident prone and had to have a few rounds of X-rays after a leg injury, got three stitches after busting his head open and has had more than his share of nasty scrapes this year. He loves getting drenched in cold water at the splash park or in the bath tub. He is a basketball fan (and is pretty fond of other sports too) and for awhile chose to sleep next to a basketball rather than a stuffed animal when heading to bed. He now sleeps like a rock both night and day in his big boy bed. He is still a night owl. He has started the whole potty thing (although successful trips to the toilet are not as frequent as I had hoped!) and likes to get on his step stool and turn on the water to wash his hands and brush his teeth. He loves sweets (but what toddler doesn’t?) and will even ask specifically for his particular favorites like “Abuelo’s mints”. He is excited about having a new little sister on the way and often asks to hear her heartbeat. He feels around for her and talks to her through my belly and along with saying “Mommy belly too big”, he also talks to his sister saying, “Come out. I want to see you.” I think he may even be realizing that soon he won’t be the only one we will be cuddling with- he has been reaching for me and hanging on me more lately as if he’s savoring his last couple of months as an only child. And as I look at the year in pictures and think about how he has transformed from one to two, I don’t mind the clinginess so much. I’ve got to hold onto “two” before it sneaks away!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time to Get a Little Dirt Under the Fingernails

I am a pro at killing plants. When it was super hot outside last week, I left the poor bushes, flowers, strawberry plants and watermelon plants to fend for themselves. I'm afraid the flowers and watermelon plants didn't make it. But Elliot and I got out there today to give some TLC to our strawberry plants in hopes of a harvest here in another month. I just love the sight of the dirt under those fingernails...until it's time for lunch.