Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Birth Story

At 11:30PM on Sunday evening July 26, 2013, I began experiencing mild contractions and felt what I thought was a slow leak in my water sack. After calling the hospital they asked me to come in to evaluate the fluids.  Chris and I are beyond excited to go start the laboring process. We loaded up the car with all of the bags and drove the back roads to the hospital during which we saw a baby deer, multiple does, a possum, A raccoon, two skunks, & two foxes. Upon arrival at the hospital they tested the fluid for its pH levels to see if it was amniotic fluid or not. However, after inconclusive lab test results, we were sent home. On the drive home we saw 10 skunks. We began referring to this test run as being "skunked."

I continued experiencing contractions throughout the night but nothing that took my breath away. The next morning the contractions had slowed to every half hour, so Chris went to work. I had lunch with Jessica Tunstill, her 1yr old daughter Willow and son Colton, during which I had contractions every 10 minutes. However after lunch they slowed to every half hour again. We stopped by Jessica's house to grab some raspberry tea (old wives tale) and brewed it at my house afterward. My mom offered to make dinner for Chris and I that evening and on the menu was beef stroganoff and a fresh salad. I had no idea this would be my last real meal before having my daughter. Throughout that evening the contractions were mild but steadily increasing, including one "take your breath away" contraction as I laid down for bed. Around 1:30 AM, I was awoken by the most painful contraction thus far. I got out of bed and began timing the next few contractions while practicing yoga positions (like cat and cow) and deep breathing. Around 3:30 AM the pain was immense enough that I woke Chris up to help me time them. They ranged in length from 11 seconds to 60 seconds and occurred anywhere from 3 to 7 times per hour. During the slow hours I did things like take showers and nibble on a banana, which was the only food I had that day. Finally at 9:51 A.M. after a 58 second contraction that came within 3 minutes of the previous one, Chris called the hospital and they suggested we come in. We loaded up the car with our overnight bags for the second day in a row (haha), and Chris made me smile as he opened the door for me to get in. I felt every single bump on that 15 minute ride to the hospital and was shaking like a leaf! I had three contractions in the truck, one on the walk through the front door of the hospital and one against the wall in the hallway to my labor room. Strangers asked if we needed help (which made me cry), a doctor (named Patella) held the elevator and got me a wheelchair.  I was met by a crew of nurses outside the doors to the birthing center.  I began to cry and they asked if it was the pain or the nerves. I said I didn't know, but I'm sure it was everything combined and the lack of food, too.  I was shaking like crazy, too. Chris signed us in at 10:40am.

They immediately dressed me in a gown and my nurse, Becky, did a check to verify that I was 100% effaced and 3 cm dilated. The lab tech drew my blood and my nurse inserted my IV. I requested an epidural and since it was during the day, the anesthesiologist was on duty and I received it within the hour.  It hurt a little bit and I felt some funny electricity in my right foot as he administered the drugs.

During that same hour my waters broke. Once the epidural kicked in, my nurse inserted a catheter and set me up with a pink peanut shaped yoga ball between my legs to help my cervix open further. I shifted from side to side and within an hour I had dilated to a five! Since I was feeling fine from the epideral, we invited Chris's family back to our labor room for a while and after they left my family came in as well, which was nice so they could experience what I was going through with me. They mainly watched the monitors go up and down and I joked, "Am I having a contraction?" My mom and sister got me a wet washcloth for my forehead and my sister stroked my hair. At some point during this time, the doctor on duty (Reardon) came in and ruptured a bubble in my water sack, as well as broke through some scar tissue on my cervix that was stopping it from dilating further. Within another hour or so I had dilated to an eight and the baby was at a plus one station. I was hoping to be able to deliver before 6 PM shift change, however the new doctor (Olhausen) did an exam and changed his reporting from dilated to a seven and a zero station. I felt very nauseous and even threw up. We had just sent our family back out to the waiting room expecting for me to begin pushing at 6 PM. I was pretty bummed as I had not dilated any further and from Dr. Ohlhausen's report I felt like I was moving backwards. It was at this time that I also met my new nurse Janet and I began feeling every contraction again. I guess when they changed out the bag of drugs in my line to my epidural they failed to restart the 15 minute drip. I had labored for twelve 15 minutes cycles without any pain meds. I began to push the button on the epidural for pain relief but could only get in two15 minute sessions before I got cut off so that I would be able to feel my pelvic floor (push) muscles.

Janet had me doing a few different poses as the doctor had said the baby was face up and she needed to turn in order to be delivered. Within two hours I was dilated to 10 cm and the baby had turned.

Around 8 PM I started to push. I had my legs in stirrups and my hands were gripping on these bars on the side of the bed to pull myself forward. My first few pushes revealed the baby's head, however once the doctor came in I was not making very much progress. We pushed for an hour and a half and eventually the doctor stepped out to go to the bathroom. My nurse Janet immediately took his position and begin coaching me on how to push towards her face. She also massaged my perineum. After five more contractions, she called in Dr. Olhausen. Within a few more contractions the baby's head came out and I was done pushing. Her body followed and Chris cut the cord.  Even though the doctor said, "Cut here, between this clamp and these hemostats," Chris had to repeat, "Here?"just to be sure. The total time for pushing was two hours.

Kaya Lynn Surber was born at 9:51 PM on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. She weighed 7 pounds and 13 ounces and measured 20 inches long. Her eyes were blue, as well as her wrinkly hands and feet. I was able to have her on my chest for about eight seconds before the nursery team whisked her away and began working on suctioning out her lungs, her nose, her mouth, and cleaning her up. Her breathing was pretty fast. They seemed pretty concerned but eventually let me have her back for some skin on skin time. During that first hour I also breast-fed with a nipple shield and around midnight we invited the family to come back and meet her.

The cameras were out in full force and the family got to witness her first bath.

So many people try to explain the miracle of becoming a parent as the greatest love you ever feel, but that is only beginning. There really are no words to justify the 40 weeks (and sometimes longer if you go past your due date) that you wait to meet the little person who has been growing inside of you, kicking you, giving you indigestion, hiccuping, making your hormones a roller coaster ride – sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much – and seemingly although you know it's a human being making those awkward little (and big) movements, you still wonder if it is an alien growing in there.

So when the time comes to go through the most painful contractions - to rise above them one by one - and to become a mother, it's almost like even though you know you're going to have a baby you still can't believe it until it actually happens. Once that little person appears in front of your eyes, it makes all that waiting, eating five times a day, crying over nothing meltdowns, an oddly shaped growing body that interrupts sleep and sex, the multitude of people asking you over and over "Is she here yet?" and the nesting - oh my goodness the nesting…the struggle is real! But once that little person appears and you see her for the first time - it's as if the world has changed forever, for better, for now this little human being depends a hundred percent on you and you couldn't be any happier.

Monday, September 8, 2014


There is a zen saying, "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water."

What’s the difference? The tasks are the same. The need is the same.

What about the frame of mind? Who is chopping? Who is carrying water?

When you labor, stay awake. Notice the frame of mind you bring to your work.

Do you approach your work as if it were a nuisance?

Do you remove your consciousness from work so that you are filled with resentment or worry?

What would you need to do to be more fully present in your work?

Practice mindfulness in work. It does little good to attain clarity of mind on your meditation cushion if you lose it as soon as you become active.

Start with simple activities like brushing your teeth, ironing clothes, or washing dishes. Be fully alert as you move.

Notice the position of your body in space. Notice the feelings in your body as you move. Pay attention to the thoughts that enter your mind when you do the task. See if you can let them go and just focus on the work itself.

If you are cleaning a countertop, feel the sponge in your hand. Feel the wetness. Feel the texture. Observe how the sponge moves in your hand from the sink to the counter. Sense your movements as you scrub. What do your eyes see? What do you hear as you work? Clean that countertop as if it were the most important thing you could do. Move with fluid motions. Waste no energy. Allow yourself the grace of economy of motion. Be grateful for the countertop, the sponge, the water, the soap. Be grateful for the hand, the arm, the whole body that can move a sponge. Be thankful for the floor you stand on and the roof that protects you. Without letting your mind wander too far, be grateful for all the circumstances that put you where you are at that moment with that sponge and that water and that countertop.

We travel to the ocean or to mountains, rivers and canyons, in part to escape the mundane world of work, but also to experience the awe that arises more spontaneously in nature’s magnificence.

We give ourselves an incredible gift when we can experience some of the same awe in the mundane world of our daily lives. :)

The weed that grows in the crack of a sidewalk is a phenomenon as miraculous as the redwood tree that towers into the sky.

The raindrops that streak the window are no less an occasion for awe than the spray that dampens our face at the waterfall.

The fingers that tap a keyboard are as worthy of praise as the feet of a ballet dancer.

When we open awareness to the tasks in our lives they become lighter.

When we are able to be in the moment, we no longer feel compelled to watch the clock.

Whatever your work might be, bring all of yourself to it.

When you are fully present, you may find that your labor is no longer a burden.

Wood is chopped. Water is carried. Life happens.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To: You

Call forth what you need.

If you need power, 
do not wrest it from another call it forth from within. 

It is there.

Do not seek money from the world, 
call forth your ability to share your gifts and find money flowing to you.

If you want love, 
do not seek others to give it to you. 

Call it forth from your heart and the world will respond.

Everything you need sleeps within the depths of your soul awaiting your call. 

This day, call forth what you desire.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Manda's Monday Meditation

The light
The creative energy
In you and me
Is something we see
When we meet
And believe
In what may be

The past me
The me of today
Met in the tank
Old thoughts floated away

The ideas in my mind
Shine down like golden light
Drenching me
Twinkling on the ceiling
As my shadow bounced above me

My breath slow and steady
Deep, long and neutral
My head, arms and legs outstretched 
the entire length of the pool
Tippy toes and finger tips touching the edges
I stretched and swayed side to side 
acknowledging my length, 
my body's reach
I felt whole in myself

Sufficiently me
I am happy
I have all that I need
The day awaits me and I breathe
Smiling and curious
Full and relaxed
Comfortable with whatever He brings.

I have achieved peace.


The words above came to me after floating in a pool of warm water and epsom salt for an hour.

This spa service is similar to the old style "deprivation tanks" and they are meant to isolate the senses and aid in meditation and relaxation.  

My first experience was quite different (you can read about it here) and feeling how much more inner peace I have now was refreshing.  

It is quite an experience and lovely if you enter with patience and are able to find deep relaxation.

I highly recommend to all, regardless of size, shape, age, religion, emotion, opinion, and hopeless abandon.

You will definitely find something in that tank that inspires you.

For me the biggest take away (which I tried to touch on in the words above) was the idea that we all have a glowing light that radiates from within and upon meeting someone for the first time, or seeing them after a long time, it is visible to our spirit and our senses.  

Our lights may dance and frolic and play, or they may be seen as a threat to a person's comfortable darkness.

Whatever the case, I feel it is important to always keep aware of our spiritual light dances with each other and to try to keep our personal energy moving so that our relationships, no matter new or old, will always blossom and grow.

I have found my energy again and I feed it by juicing and eating a healthy diet, exercising, spending quality time with family and friends, and thanking God for all that I am blessed with.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Leap of Faith

"If you bring forth what is within you,
what you bring forth will save you. 
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

-as attributed to Jesus Christ in The Gospel of Thomas


As I typed the email I felt completely at peace.

I was saying everything that I believed in my heart and knew that it must be shared to avoid miscommunication, hurt feelings, and more of the same mistakes.

I've been down this road many times and know how easily my compassionate human nature can trump the conscious voices of my past trials talking clearly in my head; the spiritually intuitive stabs at my stomach; the pain that creeps out and reminds me,

"Not like this, not again Amanda, you know better."

But, life is a series of tests. I must take the same one in different forms over and over until I finally pass. Then, I will get a shiny new test, designed just for me. It never ends and I am an eternal student.

Just as some of life's tests are really easy, others are equally hard, constantly tripping me up and holding me back until I finally accept the truth and see the hard-to-swallow answers.

Today I took a test.  I call it a leap of faith.

By trusting in the Lord, I composed a beautiful email, full of my thoughts and truths and written from a place of love.  It felt theraputic to put those feelings down into words and to read, and reread them until they completely captured the message I hoped to send.

I said a prayer, then I hit send. 

My heart began to beat out of my chest and fear fell all around me, like dark walls cutting off my oxygen supply.  My breathing sped up.  Did I made a mistake?  Where did my peace go?  Questions began popping in my head and I started to continuously check my email for a reply that never came.

Oh how I wished I had just wrote it all for myself and then talked about it instead, but I always seem to leave important things out when I try it this way.  And oddly enough, my deep compassion sometimes physically hinders my ability to say what I am truly feeling, for fear of hurting the feelings of the person on the receiving end.

But nevertheless, I am a writer, so instead I wrote.  And I sent. 

Eventually, I stop checking for the reply and start praying more instead, that the peace I felt was real and God's will should be done.  My peace returns.
Six hours later, I reflect on the fear and conclude it was my embodiment of doing something the wrong way for so long, that when I finally set myself free, the wrongness didn't want to be kicked out without making a mess first.  By letting go of old ways, and setting a new way into motion, I could see how those failed tests were all just big grumpy messes, holding on and clinging, not willing to go without a final rumble inside.

Unfortunately for the mess, I've decided to clean house and am now keeping my eyes (and heart) open for my new test.  The next level baby.  One that will allow me to grow into a happier, more peaceful, more loving human being. 

Today, a leap of faith taught me that God always has my back, as long as I listen and dedicate my days, experiences and relationships to Him.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Poetic Preaching

Recently, I have been going to a new church in San Diego called C3

 I really enjoy the modern atmosphere, club-like feel of the auditorium and the plethora of Australian accents!

What grabs my heart the most is the experience with God that I get every time I am there. 

I've been to many churches and none have grabbed me so intently and deeply as this. 

I feel like I have the Holy Spirit on tap and I drink til I am full every time I go. 

The pastor says some very thought provoking things and I catch myself taking notes every Sunday! 

When I look back at what I've written, it appears like poetry, which is why I've shared. 

Hope you enjoy!! 


Notes from 12/8/13 

Genesis 22 
Abraham offers his son Isaac to God

In the school of life 
God tests me 
To increase me 
To bless me 
And promote me 

It's not about what I possess 
It's what possesses me 

What I can't give 
I don't own 
It owns me 

What's the meaning of life? 
To give life meaning. 

Give till it hurts! 

Go into the market and create a harvest that will bless the kingdom of God. 

Deuteronomy 8:18 

Money is a wicked master 
But a wonderful servant 


What do you think? 


Monday, November 4, 2013

Be The Light

A lot of life is dictated by our self-made fears and uncanny ability to create the worst possible outcomes in situations, before we allow ourselves to experience them.
A while ago, I began researching fear and found some great content online at the Raptitude blog.
Fear vs Intent
In all things in the world and in life there is polarity.
Opposites. Dark and light, night and day, love and hate, yin and yang.
There are no absolutes and everything is merely a matter of degree.
You cannot hate someone completely without loving them even a tiny bit, whether you acknowledge it consciously or not. It is just a matter of degree.
The manner in which you proceed through life sits in between the poles of fear and intent.
Do you move positively towards the things you want or do you run from the things you dislike?
We all do both but you will tend more often to one side than the other. It may be to a large degree or a small degree.
Insecurity in relationships comes when you are living from fear rather than intent. Instead of the positive decision to have a happy stable relationship you are seeking to avoid an outcome you do not like. It may be the fear that she is cheating, the fear that you are not good enough for her or any other fear. The key is that fear dominates.
Happy successful relationships come about when people are operating with intent. They create the circumstances they want in life rather than avoiding those they do not like.
This is evident in more than just relationships. In fitness it is the difference between trying to avoid becoming fat vs intending to become fit and strong. In your career it is avoiding a boring job vs chasing the job of your dreams. In your finances it is avoiding poverty vs consciously attaining wealth.
It is hard to let go of fear when you have nothing to replace it with. But positive intent is an excellent replacement.
There is a good biblical saying that to light a room you do not need to shovel out the darkness, you just turn on the light. By adopting an intent based mindset you will automatically lose your fear.
I responded by writing a series of haiku poems:
Haiku vs Fear
Him and Them
They try to steal my joy
And I start to bend

But the One
Reminds me to trust
And I lift it all up above

Up To Him
Only Because of Him
Can I really, truly live.

Plan on it
Go write a dream list
And then do it

Before he or they
Make you forget
And dust cakes up on it

Do what you
Always wanted to do
And do it good.

My prayer for you today is that you are able to follow through all things with intent and love, remembering the beauty that you do not always see on the surface of a person's scowling face, but that exists in their heart.
Be the light in your world and do not let fear darken your flame!
Ms. Panda