MG’s birth story

MG’s Birth Story: In Conclusion

In conclusion, this story looked far different than we ever imagined.

And although I love the ending of our story I do have some things that I would consider changing for next time:

Not be induced!!:  not that you always have a choice, but if I can avoid this one next time, I definitely will at all costs.  Spending the night before labor in the hospital was torturous.  I slept horribly as my emotions were all over the place.  Not to mention being hooked up to monitors and just when you got comfortable, the nurse would come in to readjust you because they had lost the baby’s signal.  Also, the tipping point in my labor was the moment that I mentally gave up: when I found out I had been at a 6 for 6 hours.  Had I not been induced, I would have arrived at the hospital much later in the game.  If I had then been told I was at a 6 I wouldn’t have known how long I had been there and I probably would have been rejoicing!  Sometimes knowing too much can be a bad thing.

Not have a baby near a holiday: Once again, not always something you can control but I do know that c-section rates go up a lot more just prior to holidays.  They were eager, very eager to induce me.  Related to this?  Not sure, but it definitely ups the ante.

-Search for a hospital that has an optional birthing tub: this could have been a game-changer with the back labor.  Next time I definitely will consider it.

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We lost our first pregnancy,
But God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl in His timing.

We never went into labor on our own,
But we still had the natural birth we desired.

We labored far harder and pushed far longer than we ever thought possible,
But even when my strength resolved, the LORD kept watch over us and breathed new strength into me.

I believe all of these things came together beautifully just the way God intended for us.

If it hadn’t been for our doula, we probably would have induced at first mention because the “doctor told us too.” We would have had Dr. Induction deliver or possibly c-section out our baby the day after Thanksgiving.

If it hadn’t been for the perfect timing of doctors and nurses, I would have immediately been put on Pitocin rather than trying a less medicated plan.  I would have gotten the epidural that I had originally not desired.  It just so happened that my doctor  was able to hold me off hour after hour until my body was ready to work with the baby (and he was probably the only one with enough gumption to do that out of all of the doctors in the practice) .

If I had gotten the epidural I had begged for in the throes of labor, it possibly could have been the beginning of the end of my “desired birth” leading into an emergency C-section. Later, Julie explained that the baby had been face-up, which would explain why it took so long to push her out. She said that other than being breech (which they don’t let you do anyway), this is the hardest way to push out a baby.  Remember how I made the most progress when I pushed on my hands and knees?  Not to mention the squats and walking the hallways at 8-9 centimeters.  Odds are, had I had the epidural, there is a very good chance this would have ended in a C-section.

If these things hadn’t come together, we may have walked away from this with regrets.

And that is something I am proud to say that I don’t have.

Even though I begged the LORD for different outcomes at times, He saw fit to give me what He knew was best.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Sometimes I still think about our first baby.  If I’d had that baby, I wouldn’t have my MG.  And if I had never gotten pregnant unexpectedly, then we wouldn’t have entered this journey as soon as we did.  Wow.  I cannot imagine life without that sweet little girl.  God is truly amazing to care for us so much!  After writing our story, all I can say is that His timing was and is completely perfect.

{the end}

P.S. Next week starts my October series.  The theme I have settled on is “Little Things that Make Me Happy.”  More to come next week!

MG’s Birth Story: She arrives!

After the doctor left the room, Julie said that we needed to get radical.  She wanted me to walk the halls.  I thought she was crazy.  The last thing I wanted to do was go for a walk, but nothing seemed to be helping with the pain and at least this had a guarantee of getting the baby out sooner.  So we did it.  I don’t remember much of this, but N said that it was extremely slow.  All I know is that I kept my eyes closed the entire time and let N guide me.  When a contraction would hit, I would stop (just like you see in the movies) and Julie would gently direct me to keep walking.   I would put all of my weight on N and take the slowest steps possible.  Someone passed us in the halls and Julie said, “Pretty impressive, she’s walking at an 8, huh?”  The person seemed a little bewildered and all I could think was, “Grrrrr.  If you are trying to encourage me, it’s not working.”  (I later apologized for my behavior :)…through this experience I have come to realize that my default mechanism for painful/stressful situations is negative thoughts towards people….sorry, Julie!)

I was still keeping track of the time.  As promised, an hour later, the doctor came back to check on me.  9!  Still not good enough for me.  But the contractions had taken a turn.  They were still extremely intense, but there wasn’t a fiery, searing pain going up my spine during each one.  We were in the home stretch and there was no way they were going to let me have an epidural now.  I focused on managing my pain. I couldn’t talk. or communicate.  I was also a sweaty mess.  They kept turning the heat down for me until it reached the minimum 60 degrees.  I tried to wipe my forehead with my gown, but it was so soaked with sweat that it was completely ineffective.

Finally that hour passed.  It had now been 3 total since I had begged for the epidural.  The doctor came in and said  9+.   “Just give me one more hour.” Julie had me continue squats with N.  I began pushing against the contractions.

At 11:30pm, the doctor came back in to check me and said I was good to go!

I opened my eyes for the first time in a long time.  I felt like I had woken up from a dream.  I even felt like talking.  N and I looked at the clock and realized we only had 29 minutes left in November 29.  We both seemed to be thinking the same thing, “Do you think there’s any way she’ll be born today?” N verbalized for me.  The doctor had me give a practice push to see how effective I would be.  It became very clear to everyone in the room that we could rule out the 29th.

Pushing felt very awkward.  I thought I would be relieved to get to this stage and that the pain would be less intense.  Nope.  Julie and the doctor showed me how to focus my breath and work the baby out.  Convinced he had time to kill, the doctor left the room and occasionally peeked back in on me.

Julie pointed out the baby’s head to N.  He was so excited he could see it.  I asked if she had hair.  He said, “Yes!”  I asked what color.  They couldn’t tell, but said it was kind of dark.  It was the motivation I needed to continue.

After an hour, the doctor came back in and  asked the nurse if I had made any real progress.  I was so discouraged when she said, “No.”  I thought this was supposed to be the easy part!  He worked with me on my pushes for about 10 minutes.  N started to get really excited about how much of the head he could see.  Every time I said I needed to push, he would grab my leg and yell, “Yeah!”.  Julie pulled out a big mirror on a stand in an effort to show me the progress and encourage me.  I couldn’t see anything.  I was even more discouraged.  This was so hard!
In between pushes, I kept watching the time.  Another hour passed.  I was soaked in sweat, in pain, stretched to the max, and so ready to be done.  I wasn’t even feeling any excitement about the moment.    Julie convinced me to flip over on my hands and knees to push.  I pushed as hard as I knew how.
The doctor came back and said that we had made some real progress!  Finally!  He stayed with me for the entire final hour.  Now even I could start to see the head .   My contractions started slowing down to give my body the rest it needed.  At some point, there was close to an 8 minute delay between contractions.  The doctor (who is old and kind of a wise guy) said, “What the hell is going on up there, Mama?  Are you on vacation or something?”  Gradually, I started to feel myself turn the corner.  I began opening my eyes.  I told N “Something just feels different.”  My adrenaline began to kick in.

The doctor left to get his supplies and put up “the goalposts of life” (as he called them).  Julie tried to encourage me.  “Look what the doctor is doing.  This means your baby is coming soon.”  With each push, it looked like her head was going to come out…but it just wouldn’t.  The doctor encouraged me, N texted my Mom and said, “Should be soon!”.   He then said to me, “I’m going to call my parents real quick”  I emphatically said, “NO!”  In order to do this, he would have to leave the room and I was afraid he wouldn’t be there to hold my leg for the next contraction.  He texted my mom and asked her to call his parents and let them know.

Finally, I gave the push I had been waiting for the entire time.  As soon as her head was out, she began to cry.  They sucked out her mouth and the doctor ordered me to give little grunty pushes as he sneaked out her body.  Then he said, “Okay you are going to feel a big relief” and he pulled her out!
Welcome to the world, MG!

It was amazing!  They placed her on my chest and I just stared into her eyes.  She seemed mad.  Mad that we would push her out of her perfect environment into this freezing cold room.  And I was mad (okay, not really mad) but upset with her for making me wait so, so long and then putting me through the worst labor possible (not really, but I think I earned the right to be a little melodramatic with her, no? :)).  Our first mother-daughter stand-off. But, of course it didn’t take long for us to make up!

The doctor cleaned everything up and then shook my hand, “Congratulations, K, you are no longer pregnant.”  And I replied, “Praise the LORD!”  And I meant it.  This had been a long, long 48 hours.  We had finally made it and we had done it according to plan.

We were given an hour together.  Our first hour as a family of three.  MG practiced nursing and N and I marveled over her.  Later they would take her away to be cleaned and weighed.  To pass time earlier in the day, we each took a guess at her birth stats and time.  I won both as I had guessed the latest time and the largest weight.  Still, even I was surprised to hear that she was a very respectable 8 pounds, 11 ounces, 21 inches long.  And absolutely perfect.

Not too long later, the room was emptied.  N traveled with MG to receive her first bath, Julie went home, and  I was left alone.  That was when it truly sunk in that something incredible had just happened.  I was now a Mama to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.  The timing was perfect. She would never have to worry about having a Thanksgiving birthday.  My parents, who had purchased their tickets months in advance, would be there in 3 days.  We had the perfect nurses, the perfect timing of doctors and the wonderful help of a doula.  I didn’t have to use medication and save for the Cervadil and breaking my water , my birth plan had been followed perfectly.  Even though it looked much different than we had ever imagined, the LORD had answered our prayers.

To be continued and concluded tomorrow,

 

part IV

MG’s Birth Story: The Labor

We arrived at the hospital around 5:30pm.

My spirits were instantly lifted when I saw the doctor on duty happened to be the one that I had met with the most during my pregnancy (i.e. NOT Dr. Induction).  All along I had been searching for a reason why things were turning out this way and I thought, “This is it.  She’s going to deliver my baby.  That is the reason God had us wait until today.

We checked into our room and the medicine was delivered.  I was given strict orders not to eat or drink anything but ice-chips after 12am and N foraged us a little meal of chicken noodle soup, crackers and yogurt.  We watched Planet Earth and at some point I looked at him and said, “This is kinda fun!”  And it was.  We were in our little “hotel room”, gorging ourselves on hospital food and tv and the entire time in the background we could hear the beating heart of our baby. She was okay and I was going to be okay.  We were going to do this together.

We attempted to go to bed early (around 9pm).  Nate ordered me to wake him up whenever I had to use the bathroom because I was hooked up to monitors and he could help me out by carrying the cords.  I don’t think he realized what he signed up for, because at this stage in the pregnancy, I was waking up about every 2 hours.  Around 4am, I woke up for good.  He woke up around 6:30, completely exhausted.  He said, “I’m not used to being pregnant.”  All I could think was, “This is my last day to be pregnant! Hurray!”

The doctor was planning to come back around 7am to check on me.  Nate foraged up more ‘ice-chip flavored’ turkey sandwiches and I snuck into the bathroom to eat them.  All day long, Nate covertly kept me hydrated and fed, and it was a good thing too; because I was about to run a marathon.

When she came back to our room, she checked me and said the medicine had done its job.  My body was progressing!  I made a last-ditch effort to avoid the pitocin and asked her if she could instead break my water and give me time to get labor started on its own.  She said, “Sure!” which was a huge relief as Dr. Induction had already told me that was NOT an option.  So at 7:30am, she broke my water and labor officially began.

Unofficially, I still wasn’t feeling a single contraction, so we had to get moving in order for them to start.  If I did not go into labor on my own before noon, Pitocin would be administered.  I was officially on the clock.

We (N, Julie and I) started walking the hallways, which were a short (and very boring) loop.  At some point, another family was congregated in the hallway.  They were watching their newest family member receiving his first bath.  N and Julie wanted to stop and watch, but I was over it.  I was ready for it to be my turn!  We walked and we walked very quickly.  Every time we came to a bench seat, N made me do “sit-downs” (which were oddly similar to squats).  His coaching duties had begun 🙂

During this time, Julie kept asking me if I was feeling contractions; she wanted to time them.  I wasn’t sure.  Every once in a while, I would feel something, so I would tell her, but  I really had to concentrate to feel it.  This certainly wasn’t moving as fast as I had hoped.     Around noon, we went in the lounge to sit down for a minute.  I remember N and Julie started talking about the Kardashians because the tv was on and they were being featured on The View.  I didn’t hear a single word of their conversation.  As soon as we sat down, I settled into a deep, tired haze.  I asked Julie if it would be counter-productive for me to go back and nap for a little while.  All of the emotional exhaustion and lack of sleep had suddenly hit me.  She thought maybe relaxing for a little while could be helpful.

My haze quickly turned to sleep and I felt amazing.  Unfortunately, it only lasted for about 30 minutes.  At 12:30pm, the doctor came back in to see if my body was responding to the exercise. I had reached 5-6 centimeters!  She asked me if I was feeling regular contractions and I had to admit, not really.  She asked if I would like Pitocin or if I would like to continue what I was doing to see if the contractions would pick up.  I told her I would continue.  As soon as she exited the room, the three of us looked at each other.  We were running out of time, it was time to really  get this labor going.

We’d had enough of the L&D unit, so we snuck off the floor and took ourselves on a tour of the rest of the hospital.  We did stairs, we did lunges, and we did more “sit-downs”.  Finally, I started to feel something worthy of note, and they seemed to be concentrating in my back.

Around 2pm, we went back to the room to be on the monitors for a little while.  The baby seemed to be doing well.  Julie did pressure points to help stimulate stronger contractions.  I told N my pain was at about a 6 or 7…very manageable, but very there.

I started rocking on the exercise ball. Someone dimmed the lights.  N put in the mixed cd I had made.  (Yep, we were that couple).  The contractions immediately became more intense.  I leaned over, laid my head on the bed and started crying.  But these weren’t the same tears I had cried the week before, these were very happy tears.  This labor was finally going and there was no turning back.  I was going to be meeting my baby soon!

Around 6pm, my regular doctor entered the room.  He was now on call!  He checked me and said…………………… I was at 6cm.  My emotions took a nosedive.  I couldn’t believe it!  In fact, I didn’t really believe him when he told me.  I had been at 6 for the last 6 hours!  My pain had completely ratcheted up and I had no progress to show for it!  As soon as he left the room, I told N.  “I can’t do this!”.  He and Julie talked me down.  Julie explained that my body was catching up with my cervix.  She also said this baby may be in a funny position which would explain the back labor.  But they both had faith I could continue.

At this point, I could hardly feel any contractions in my stomach, they were completely in my back.  To describe back labor, it felt as though someone where taking a mallet to my tailbone.  With each blow, the pain would circulate up my spine and down to my toes.  In fact, I don’t even really remember the pain in the front. Nate was putting counter-pressure on my lower back with his fists, which would help up until a certain point.  Then his pressure would add to my pain and I would push his hand away, unable to communicate in any other way to him.  Later, he told me that when he was pushing on my back, he was pushing against what he thought to be the baby’s skull.

Julie had me try different positions in attempt to shift the baby.  I got on my hands and knees.  I rolled on the ball.  They applied heat to my back.  She had me do squats as soon as a contraction would start, putting all of my weight on N.  To say I did all of the work for this birth would be a lie.  Julie instructed and N worked right along side of me, guiding and bearing weight.  About 40 minutes into it, I remember saying, “I’m feeling a lot of pressure, like I could just push this baby out!”  Julie was concerned I had taken a sharp turn, so she called the doctor back in.  He checked me.  And….I was at a…………….

six! (still)

Mentally, I lost it.  I thought, if this is what a 6 is like, and I have been here for 6 hours, how in the world am I going to make it to 10!  As soon as the doctor left, I told them, “I want an epidural!”
N was mad (not at me).  He didn’t want to see me give up.  Julie  encouraged me.  “You haven’t tried the shower yet.”  So I got in the shower.  N tried spraying the water on my back.  I couldn’t find any comfortable position.  Ultimately, I would end up on the shower floor, writhing in pain.  I told him.  “I want an epidural!”  And I meant it.  I was emotionally spent. I was physically spent.  I thought, if I can just get the epidural in me,  I can go to bed for a few hours and then wake up and push out my baby.  N didn’t know what to do.  He called in reinforcements.  Julie said, “I’m sure you are closer than you think.  Let’s see what the doctor says.”

The doctor came back in with a sympathetic face.  He asked how I was doing and I told him I wanted an epidural.  He countered.  He told me he hated to see me give up after coming so far.  “The baby must be in an unusual position and needs to turn the corner.  Give me one more hour and we’ll see how much progress you’ve made. ”

I don’t know if it was because he was an authority figure, it was the competitor in me, or it was just my people-pleasing nature that agreed.  But I did.  And I was keeping track.  About every 15 minutes, I asked N how long it had been.  Julie dimmed the lights even more and started reading aloud from the book Psalms.  I cried out like David in a very real way for the LORD to have mercy on me.

As promised, the doctor returned an hour later.  I was 7-8.  I had turned the corner, but in my opinion, it still wasn’t enough.  N and Julie were rejoicing, I was completely stoic.  He said, “Okay, look how much progress you made in one hour…how about another one?”  I don’t know what was in me that agreed, but I did.  The sweet nurse that was with us hooked me up to an IV to get some fluids in me.  Just in case I demanded an epidural, I would already have that out of the way.
But I had reached the point of no return.  The only thing I can compare it to in my life is running a long-distance race.  You reach the point where your brain stops wandering where you are and how much further you have.  All of the training and innate instinct your body has goes into overdrive.  You turn inward and block everything out and somehow you hope you find yourself at the finish line at a decent time.

To be continued….{tomorrow}

 

part VIII

MG’s Birth Story: D-Day

Well D-Day rolled around, and of course it was very anti-climatic. But I wasn’t surprised in the least.  Although the doctor had spun a paper wheel to determine my due date to be November 18, I knew it should more realistically be later than that.  I had set my sights specifically on November 20.  It was the seven year anniversary of our “dating life” and it was a nice, round number.  It was soon enough before Thanksgiving that she would never have to share her birthday with a holiday.   And it fell on a Saturday.  Less time off of work now, meant more time off later for Daddy.

I was also 100% convinced that I would go into labor in the middle of the night.  This theory wasn’t totally unfounded as most first-time moms start this way and I hoped to follow in the foot-steps of my mother.  Wake up at 4am, shower, have baby by 8am.  Sounded easy enough, right?

Well things were progressing  just as they should.  MG had “dropped”  a few weeks prior, the doctor told me I was dilating and thinning, I’d had my membranes stripped  (twice) and labor signs were aplenty.  I had not, however, felt a single contraction.  Not even a Braxton Hicks.  I checked my stomach constantly to see if it was hardening.  Every time the baby moved, I tried to imagine it was contracting. During a low point, I even googled, “what does a contraction feel like”.  Nothing.

I went to the office on my due date to check my progress.  Throughout the pregnancy, I met with all 4 of the doctors in the practice.  However, there were two doctors that I saw the most: my regular doctor and another female doctor.  During this particular visit,  I met with a doctor that I had very little experience with.  Frustrating enough, it had been a week and nothing had changed.  The doctor made a negative comment about this and I said something about,  ‘I  just hope she comes before Thanksgiving’.  The doctor looked at me very seriously and said, “Well, we can help you out with that!”  She meant an induction.   Instantly my heart filled with dread because I knew if  I was going to have a natural birth, an induction would make that extremely difficult.  The goal was to go into labor on my own.

I told her I would rather wait until it was absolutely necessary and she agreed.  I wrote it off because I just KNEW this baby was going to come soon.

Well the days ticked by and still no sign of baby.

On the 20th, I woke up very disappointed that my “perfect labor vision” had not yet come true.  All day long, I consoled myself by thinking, “I still have time.”  I convinced N to go to the mall with me to do some early Christmas shopping and thought all of the walking would start some phantom contractions at least.  We did some jewelry shopping for our mothers and the saleslady asked me when I was due.  “Today.” I said.  “You’d better get to the hospital!” she said, panicked, as if my water was going to break right there.  If only I could have gone back the following Saturday and said, “I’m still here“.

We became desperate.  All week, we had been doing things to help stimulate contractions.  He massaged pressure points in my legs.  We went for long walks every night.  Our walks turned to skips and jumps. We drove over train tracks and speed bumps.  We went swinging.   I googled, “Natural ways to induce labor.”    We tried all of them except castor oil and herbs.  There was a full moon on the night of the 20th and I thought, “Surely this will do it”.  But it didn’t. All around me, people were giving me suggestions that were “guaranteed to put you into labor”.  I wanted so badly for each one to work so that I could tell a very pregnant woman someday  what worked for me.  Each morning, I woke up really, really disappointed.

Tuesday the 23rd rolled around.  We were 5 days overdue.  I thought, “This is it”.  N would have off from Wednesday to Sunday for Thanksgiving.  He wouldn’t have to use his paternity days and could take days off  later if he wanted to.   Nothing.  We continued our rigorous exercise.  Not a single contraction.  I read birth stories to help me visualize labor.  People around me, some who weren’t due for weeks, started going into labor.  Every other day the doula called to say that she was at the hospital with someone who had unexpectedly gone into labor and she would call when they were through.  And that to me was always a sign that it wasn’t going to be that day.  Because we weren’t planning on doing this without her.

I went back to the doctor (the same one I’d had the previous time).  Nothing had changed.  She sentenced me to an induction.  I stalled,  “How long will you give me?”  “Friday is the absolute latest.”  I left the office and called N.  I broke down over the phone.  They wanted us to come in Thursday night (Thanksgiving) and start Cervadil.  The next day (Friday), they would hook me up to Pitocin and start contractions.  I called Julie (the doula).  I told her I was ready to take her magical concoction of herbs.  On the way back from the doctor, I stopped at a Patchouli-scented store and filled my cart with Black and Blue Cohosh.  I stopped at the drugstore and guiltily purchased castor oil. Of course I had to ask the lady at the front where it was and of course she had to page a manager because she didn’t know.  I felt like I had to rationalize my decision to everyone, “I promise I’m only buying this because I’m almost a week overdue and they want to induce!!”

Julie told me I could fight the doctor’s decision if I wanted to.  I was not even a week overdue yet and according to my early ultrasounds, I was right on track.
I didn’t want to call the doctor’s office myself because I was an emotional wreck.  N was so sweet; he volunteered to do it for me.  Thanks to his charming ways, on the Friday we had planned to induce, they agreed instead to do a Non-Stress Test and possibly an ultrasound to make sure the baby was doing okay.  If things looked bad, they would take me in right away, but if they were good we had bought ourselves a little more time.

I was so relieved.  My resolve to take the herbs faded.  I just kept thinking there had to be a reason why labor hadn’t started yet. N and I wrestled over whether a natural induction was any better than a medical induction.  Maybe they are equal.   Were we taking things into our own hands and not trusting God?  Or was giving my body a push part of His plan?

On Thursday I woke up with a little hope.  Maybe this would be a Thanksgiving baby after all.  We were a week over-due.  My early ultrasounds had predicted this would be the day.  My Mom had set her sights on the 25th.  My sister had come up to share Thanksgiving dinner with us and N’s family.  But as the day wore on, my emotional strength faded.   I hit a very low point.  All I wanted was to hold that long-awaited baby in my arms.  I felt like I had “served my time” and I just kept praying contractions would start. Plus, wouldn’t it be wonderful if my sister was there when we gave birth?  Surely that’s what God had kept us waiting for……………….or not.

Thursday came and went.  Friday I woke up (from yet another sleep-deprived night), again in tears.  My sister and N were so sweet.  They tried to distract me, they tried to cheer me up, and when things got really bad, they prayed over me.  M offered to take the castor oil with me…um…”I don’t think you want to do that!”

We had our NST and of course, the baby looked great.  I was having contractions but couldn’t feel a single one. The doctor (the same one I had seen the last 2 times) called me later and said “Monday”.  There would be no more negotiating.

We were still (somewhat) hopeful that I would go into labor on my own before Sunday night.  But each day that passed seemed like a year.  On Saturday, I made a last ditch effort and attempted the castor oil (I chickened out on the herbs).  N mixed me up a nice, greasy glass of 2oz plus 7up.  It condensed and globbed up all over the top. I couldn’t drink it.  I started crying.  He drove me to Wendy’s and bought a Frosty.  In it, we mixed 2 more oz of castor oil.  I drank the whole thing and let it take it’s awful effect on me, praying that it would be enough to do the trick.  At some point that afternoon, Julie called to see how I was holding up.  I told her about my last resort.  She asked me how much castor oil I had taken.  “2 ounces”  She told me that I didn’t take nearly enough to do anything.  If I wanted it to work, I would have to keep going.

But  I couldn’t do it.  I was at the end of my rope emotionally.  And now physically,  I was completely exhausted.

And then it was Sunday. D-Day. We were now 10 days overdue. That night we would go in to begin Cervadil (a cervix-ripening medicine).    All day long, I felt like there was a death sentence hanging over me.  We went to church and then went forward after the service to have the elders pray for us.  One was a doctor and he tried to comfort me that God had a perfect timing for us.  I tried to believe him.  But I questioned why God would have us wait.  We had passed over so many “perfect opportunities” already.  All we wanted was an unmedicated natural birth, was it too much to ask?  Instead of enjoying our “last day” as a family of two, I was emotionally and physically depressed.

I took my usual Sunday nap that afternoon, but the difference between this Sunday and last was that we didn’t do anything to try and start contractions.  No more speed bumps, no more castor oil, no more pressure points.  We resolved ourselves that God did have a plan for us and nothing we could do would affect it.  I tried to eat a snack before we left, but I started crying.  N came over and prayed with me.  I cried through that.  We said goodbye to our cat and I really cried through that.  I cried the whole way to the hospital.  N kept saying, “Just think.  The next time we are in this car we will be with our baby.”

To be continued {tomorrow}….

 

part VII

MG’s Birth Stoy: The Pregnancy

My pregnancy with MG was very routine, and for that I am grateful.

I battled nausea, vomiting, food aversions/cravings the first trimester.  And I learned that something the size of a blueberry can make an indelible impact on your life.  Up until the pregnancy (and especially the 6 months prior), I had eaten very healthfully, completely sworn off gluten, had little need for medicine, and maintained a strong pride in my active lifestyle.  Then along came the beautiful pink lines and all of a sudden I was unrecognizable.  Thank goodness for the meds that kept me from vomiting hour after hour.  Thank goodness for the hot dogs that I allowed myself when literally nothing else sounded palatable.  Thank goodness for the Saltines (filled with gluten) that sometimes substituted as dinner. Thank goodness that God began humbling me through a tiny, unknown creature.

The second trimester was blissful.  Gone were the sleepless nights and the odd food relationship.  I gained back my lost first trimester pounds with joy + more.  We found out we were having a girl.  That’s when the fun truly began.

Because that little tiny creature began to take shape as a real human being.  A girl.  Our daughter.

Oh what a novel thought.

Day and night I was consumed with thoughts about her.  Her flutters in my belly brought flutters to my heart.  I dreamt about her, talked about her, prayed for her, shopped for her, could not wait to meet her.

I woke up every morning with a smile on my face and a round belly to keep me company.  I quizzed friends over must-haves, reveled in baby shower bliss, and took pictures and notes to document every bit of this incredible journey.

 {guessing game over the size of my ginormous belly at a shower}
But right along with all of the joy, happiness and bliss came something very dark as well: anxiety.  I’ve always been very careful and controlled, but that control took a turn for the worse during one of the happiest times of my life.  I wrestled with vivid nightmares, new fears, and even concerned myself to the point of tears over whether or not to take a prescribed medication to heal up an infection.  I partially blame the miscarriage for putting a dark cloud over my joy, but I also know that it is partially my nature too.  Unfortunately, this anxiety did not disappear after she was born, it only intensified.  And I found myself seeking out advice from many other seasoned moms and a counselor in order not to spiral.  That, along with a lovely little book, “The Power of a Praying Mom” by Stormie O’Maritan, helped me to realize that my fears were completely out of my control (scary, but true).  And that God loved my MG even more than I did and was watching over her even when I could not.  So I rested in that, even when I found myself not believing it.  And today I am at a much healthier place with all of it.
That being said, during the third trimester, my mind was all over the place.   Often between great joy, day dreaming about the future, and sometimes playing the fearful game of “what if?”  And in some ways, I attempted to gain control by preparing everything I could possibly think of in advance.  We built her crib, readied her room, took Lamaze class, finished up our meetings with Julie, stocked our pantry and made freezer meals, and I nested the house within an inch of it’s life.  And then I waited.

N would be up and out of the house before my feet hit the floor every morning and I would come downstairs to find my daily “to-do” list in my planner had some added items.  Laundry, Gro store, clean carpets, CONTRACT.  He was as ready as I was to meet MG.

There is, however, nothing like getting the stomach flu at 39 weeks to take your mind off of everything.  And so that’s where I found myself at the end of my pregnancy.   The doctor very chipperly told me, “Well sometimes vomiting will induce labor!”  And I found myself praying that the first chapter of my birth story would not begin with me in the fetal position on the bathroom floor.  Do I regret praying that?  Sometimes.  Because that began what would be the longest wait of our lives.  Waiting for labor to begin.

And since turnabout’s fair play, I’m going to keep you waiting to find out what happens next.

Until then,

 

part VI

MG’s birth story: The Day “It” became She

On any given day prior to June 29, 2010, we were absolutely convinced we were having a boy.

It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted a boy over a girl, it’s just that there were multiple experiences to make me think this babe was coming out blue.  It seemed like (or maybe I was just hearing) everyone was saying, “Boy, boy, boy”.  When Daddy was asked what he wanted, instead of saying the typical, “I don’t care as long as it’s healthy..blah, blah, blah”, he chose a side….boy.  We called her by her boy name.  We prayed for her by her boy name.  And there were several other convincing factors that are more of an “in person type of story” that led us to believe that we would have a son joining our family that November.

I even bought 2 whole bags of boy clothes.  And zero girl clothes.  Yes, I do realize there is always a 50/50 chance.   But the odds didn’t concern me.  I relied on my intuition. I just knew I was having a boy.

We went into the gender ultrasound with lots of nervous excitement.  Would he look okay?  Would they see anything suspicious?  Would they finally relieve the stress and tell us it’s a boy?

The ultrasound tech, the same one I’d had for my first two ultrasounds, is a bit of an ice queen. N tried to warm her up by asking her (before the appointment even started), “So what do you think?  Boy or girl?”  She gave a stilted, and I do mean stilted laugh and said, “No one’s ever asked me that at the beginning before.”  She did a once-over on my belly and pronounced, “Boy.”  Knew it.

I climbed up on the table and the lights were dimmed.  We watched our little baby, who was thankfully, much more baby-like this time, pop up on the screen.  Four limbs were counted hastily.  The heartbeat was confirmed.  Ah, I felt like I can breathe again.

“I believe it’s a girl”.  Said the Queen, with much less conviction than I would hope for when you are handing me my eternal fate.

Was that it?  No build-up.  No, “Are you ready to find out what you’re having?!?“.  No excited trills or proclamations?

N and I both looked at each other.  “I mean, are you sure?”

“Well, the legs are crossed right now.  Let, me just see….”  And she proceeded to mash and prod my belly with the warm laser.  I mentally willed those little legs to move.

“Okay, yep, definitely a girl.  See right here?”  Those little legs were doing the amniotic splits.  There was nothing to see there.

N didn’t say anything.  I said meekly, “I always wanted a little girl.”  But I knew it wasn’t convincing.  He was in shock, I was in shock.  But I wasn’t about to let the Ice Queen think we were disappointed.  So I kept trying to cover for us.

She must have sensed our confusion because she quickly changed the topic to the recent episode of the Bachelorette and how she thought I resembled Ali.  I wasn’t sure if I was relieved for a change of topic, worried that she thought we hated our outcome, or annoyed that we spent more time talking about the B than our baby.

We even have this {now} hilarious video of our “recovery”  in the waiting room.  When asked my first thought upon hearing girl I said, “Now I’ll have to return all those clothes I bought.”  N’s?  “How am I going to pay for a wedding?”  When asked our biggest fears about a pink baby, N: “I hope she looks like you”.  Me: “I hope she…is a girl when she comes out”.  Clearly I hadn’t been converted yet.

While we waited for the doctor to see us, I cornered N.  “Are you disappointed?”

“No, no.  Not disappointed. {and he would have told me}  I just don’t know how to do girls.”  He had that deer-in-headlights look and I totally got it.  He grew up in a boy-dominated house.  His family spent the summer camping.  He dug snakes and crawfish out of the creek in his backyard and kept them as pets.  He had mastered 13 distinct gun noises by the time he was 7.

Little did he know, one of the things I had always said to be true about him long before babies were a thought in our minds: he will be such a good dad of girls.  And he is.  Encouraging, funny, sensitive, compassionate, persistent.  Embarrassing…but in that “protective sort of way”.  He will always pursue our girl and make her feel special and loved.  Just as he did her Mama.

After the appointment, the very first place I went was………Old Navy.  Why?  Well remember those bags of boy clothes?  They were running a special that was ending that day so I wanted to exchange the clothes and hopefully find some good bargains on girl clothes.

   (side note: It was on this day that I purchased one of my very favorite outfits for baby MG, pictured here.  Maybe one of the reasons I loved it so much is because the day I bought it  was the first time I emotionally bonded with her?)      

Girl clothes.  As I perused the aforementioned neglected-by-myself girl section, I felt so lost.  I felt so out of place.  I had to completely re-align my thinking with reality.   My alliance had been to the boys for so long, that I felt guilty and confused buying for a girl.  What are these lace leggings for?  Do I even like lace?  Is it okay to not dress your daughter in head-to-toe pink?  How do I feel about jellies?  Somebody take me to the bows…stat.    

I had an almost uncontrollable urge to run over to every mother-daughter pair and interrogate them.  “What do you think of having a girl?  What should I buy?  Where should I begin?” In fact, one of my reoccurring nightmares was that the doctors had been wrong and this baby would come out a boy.  Silly, I know.  But that thought had been there for so long, that it was incredibly hard to rethink.

When I brought home my new pink and lavender purchases and showed them to Daddy (who, by the way, still hadn’t lost that deer-in-headlights-look), we both had a moment of, “Wow.  This is it.  We are going to be buying pink clothes for the rest of our lives!”  And so be it.

My dear, darling MG,

Ever since we found out you were a little girl, that’s all you’ve ever been to us.  Our little girl. We loved you from the moment we found out you were joining our family.  But this new knowledge made our hearts swell with even more love for you.  Because now you were a person, an identity.  You had a name.  You had a form.  You had a future.  You were changing our family.  And for the better.

In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted a little girl.  Someday.  I never wanted to be the solo female in a male-dominated house.  Thank you for single-handedly getting me out of that!  I’ve never been good at dinosaurs or war games, but I can throw a heck of a tea party!  Plus, I was nervous that I would never have a little girl to pass on my dearly loved baby dolls  and to wear my old gently loved baby clothes that your Granny lovingly saved for you.  I have so many vivid memories of my childhood: of slumber parties, and life-changing books, and  doll-houses, and kittens and ponies, and childhood fantasies.  I absolutely cannot wait to pass these memories and experiences on to you.  Tell me, how would I do that with a little boy?

In fact, finding out you were a girl was a wonderful surprise because I was actually SURPRISED….and for a planner like me, sometimes surprises come in the best forms…just like a little pink you.

I love you, my little girl.

“I’ll love you forever and like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my little girl you’ll always be.”

 

part IV

MG’s Birth Story: The Day She Entered our World

March 11, 2010:  A day I’ll never forget. It was the first day we lived knowing that MG was coming into our life….And yet….we still had so much learning to do.

Once again, this pregnancy started like the last one.  I had symptoms nearly immediately, but wouldn’t let myself believe I was pregnant until I had proof.  I woke up early that morning after a restless night of sleep.  The very first thing on my mind was that I had a doctor’s appointment that day.  Since I suspected pregnancy, I wanted to have something firm to tell him so that he could give me advice.  I decided just to take the test, even though I knew it was early.  At least if it was negative, he might be able to give me hope.

After waiting the required five minutes, I stared at the test.  I tilted and turned it looking at it from every angle. Two lines stared back at me.  One dark, bold one next to a ghostly faint one.  Was this it?

N agreed to examine it with me.

He wasn’t convinced. Neither was I.  Deep down, I ached for it to be true.  But everything was different now.  There would be no tears of joy, no joyful celebrations until we heard with our own ears that tiny, beating heart.  The miscarriage had tainted everything.

I found I was even nervous to bring it up to the doctor that day.  I was too scared to admit it might be true.  He wasn’t scared for me.  He clapped my back and shook my hand and said, “Let’s check your blood work!”

We waited and waited for that phone call.

I’ll always remember where I was when I saw his number on my cell phone.  It was during the school day, but mercifully, I didn’t have any students at the time.  And he spoke those wonderful words, “You’re pregnant!  But just barely.  Come back in on Monday and we’ll test again to make sure your levels have raised.”

I couldn’t wait to tell N.  We celebrated, cautiously. On Monday, my levels had in fact risen and we scheduled an ultrasound.

We prayed and prayed over this new life that was forming in me.  Time c r a w l e d until that first ultrasound and every time I had to use the bathroom, my stomach knotted up wondering what I would find.  Each time there wasn’t blood, my heart did a little victory dance.

We were so “young” then.  We knew what we wanted, but we didn’t really know.  We knew that we loved this baby forming in my body, but we didn’t really know how much more we would grow to love her.  We knew we were ready to be Mama and Daddy, but we didn’t really know how much of us those roles would require.

Thankfully, God gave us MG anyway.

 “To know that I was known by a new living being, who had not existed until she was made in my body by my desire and brought forth into the world by my pain and strength – that changed me….I would feel milk and love flowing from me to her as once it had flowed to me. It emptied me. As the baby fed, I seemed slowly to grow empty of myself, as if in the presence of that long flow of love even grief could not stand.”   Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

 

part III

MG’s Birth Story (the miscarriage)

Our story of MG’s birth ends well.  It ends with a healthy and beautiful baby girl.  More perfect than we could ever could have imagined.  But it doesn’t start that way.  It started with one of the most painful events of our married lives.

But there is, as they say, beauty in pain.

“There is always some shame and fear in this, I think, shame for the terrible selfishness and loneliness of grief, and fear of the difference between your grief and anybody else’s.  And yet comfort somehow gets passed around…Once in a while we hear it sung out in a hymn, when every throat seems suddenly widened with love and a common longing: In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”  Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

In September of 2009, I had been having a lot of “weird symptoms”.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was off: I was feeling nauseated, exhausted (but having trouble sleeping), and restless.  When I couldn’t shake these feelings, I turned, as usual, to my outlet of choice: the Internet.  Immediately, all the signs pointed to pregnancy.  I freaked.  This was not our plan.  We still had a lot of “living” left to do.

I shared my newfound computer knowledge with N.  He wasn’t fazed and told me there was a simple solution: just take a pregnancy test.  Negative.  So I tried to put it out of my mind for a couple of days. But deep down, I knew…I KNEW what my body was telling me.

On September 22, I woke up early (again) after a restless night of sleep (again). The pregnancy tests came in a pack of 3.  I decided it was time to seal my fate with a second attempt.

I didn’t have to wait the full 3 minutes before I began to see two blue lines appear.  Proof.  I was pregnant.  Though I was staring at reality, I couldn’t hardly believe it.  I never thought it would happen this way…unplanned, uncomplicated, unemotional. I felt as though I had just sampled from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Our youth was gone.  Our future was determined.  Our eyes were now open to a new and permanent reality.

I had to tell N immediately.  I let him sleep until his alarm went off, but I knew the second I heard him stirring, I would not be able to hold back our news.  There would be no cutesy banners or gift-wrapped onesies announcing our future. Just two sleepy, bed-headed sojourners at five in the morning.

He saw the light on in the guest bedroom and came padding in to find me reading. “Didn’t sleep well?”.

“Nope.” pause. Pregnant pause. I could find no good delivery.

“I took a pregnancy test this morning.”  He waited patiently.

“And?”

“Well, you’re going to be a father.”  (just a lot sooner than you envisioned.  I hope you’re okay with that.  I’m sorry that I’m going to be a wreck for the next nine months.)

I think I’m going to be sick” he said, and ran to the bathroom.

I couldn’t help but laugh at what I encountered when I found him there.  He was lying on the floor, broken out in a sweat, eyes closed, with a smile on his face.

“Did you throw up?”

“No.  I just feel like I could faint.” Oh boy.  I laid right down there on the floor next to him. My husband.  The father of my baby.  While I’d had some time to prepare for this and an hour or so to compose myself, he had just let himself believe it for the first time.

And he was smiling. This was a crazy journey we were on, but he was happy to be on it.  And suddenly, so was I.

After work that day, N brought home a cookie cake (my favorite) that said “My Baby’s having my baby”. It was a sweet gesture on his part, but I think it was also because N hates to keep secrets.  And he needed to tell someone, ANYONE, the biggest news of his year.  He did make the baker promise not to tell anyone.  And we let ourselves celebrate this new and overwhelming journey we had begun. It was our little secret, between just the 2(.5) of us (+the baker & the receptionist at the doctor’s office) eating cake and laughing in the face of our future.

We had let this baby into our hearts.  We had just begun to love it and think of it as our own. We had grown giddy with excitement over its growth. So who would have predicted that it would end so soon?  Why would God surprise us with new life and then just as quickly take it away?

Exactly one week later on September 29, I woke up to a card at my breakfast spot.  It said something sweet about the pregnancy and N proclaimed a new tradition to give me a card every week of the pregnancy.  (Secretly-I think he felt bad for his initial reaction, so he was trying to show me that he was truly glad we were pregnant).  It was a wonderful way to start the day, but when I arrived at work, things began spiraling.

I had arrived early to set up my supplies and get my room ready for the students.  Soon after, I discovered some alarming bleeding.  I called N right away and he talked me through it and we started praying.
The doctor’s office wouldn’t open for another hour and a half and thankfully my two morning classes were a good distraction from my frantic mind.  Much to my heavy heart’s dismay, the bleeding worsened.  Finally the doctor gave us the okay to come in to his office.  Before I left, another teacher pulled me aside and asked me what was going on.  I told her that I just needed to leave, that something was up, and asked if she could cover for me.  God bless her heart.  She must have known but she never said it.  She walked me to my car and alerted my boss.

N and I had carpooled that day and thankfully his office wasn’t at all far from the doctor’s.  I picked him up. We didn’t talk.  There was nothing to be said.

In the doctor’s office, we must have made quite the pair. I was the only one in the waiting room crying.  Nate tried to comfort me.  I’m sure some women were there waiting for the happy news they were pregnant or to find out the gender of their baby.  We most certainly tempered the mood.

The doctor examined me. He told me I was still pregnant, but often, the bleeding will lead to loss.  But then he gave me some hopeful news. He told me that he had seen miracles before.  I held on tightly to that word.

We weren’t yet ready to go home.  It was too late to return to work.  So we drove to lunch and in the car we talked about it for the first time. N had lost all hope.  He tried not to show me, but I knew.  “We can still have a miracle.” I said thinly. But I knew he didn’t believe that this would end well.
It felt really weird to sit there and eat our lunch, silently begging God for the life of this child that we had only known for about a week.  Just a little over a month ago, pregnancy had been the furthest thing from my mind.  Now I was consumed with thoughts about saving my baby.                                                                                                                                                       The rest of the afternoon, I fielded curious texts from co-workers and lay on the couch watching episode after episode of Laguna Beach.  It felt good to escape to the land of high school where the biggest problem was making sure you had a good date to the senior prom. I prayed and prayed and asked God for a miracle.

The next day, I didn’t know what else to do but get up and go back to work.  The bleeding had continued, but not enough to let me know if anything had happened one way or the other.  My boss confronted me;  I told him the truth and that we were still in limbo.  He was so kind.  Later that day, he emailed me a prayer he had written for our baby. The big and small and kind gestures of others is truly something I will never forget during this time.

I asked him if I could leave as soon as my classes were finished to go home and rest.  He told me not to worry and leave whenever I needed.  That was good because around 10am, the cramping began.  At first, I was able to walk it off, but they soon became stronger and I didn’t know how I could continue to teach the final two hours before lunch.  I told the neighboring teacher that I had to leave immediately. When she looked concerned, I started crying.

I don’t know how I made it home that day.  The pain was so intense that I thought several times I was going to throw-up.  I knew I was losing the baby.  Nate came as soon as he could.  He held me while I cried.  He didn’t cry much because he had already mourned the loss.  He had already known.  Up until that very point, I had held on to the thought that somehow I could save this baby.  What else can a Mother do?  I finally allowed myself to grieve its loss.

The doctor had asked me to come in the next day and he confirmed what I suspected.  The life within me, the great surprise of our year, had passed.  Thankfully, my body had emptied itself and no surgeries would be necessary.

He told me to wait at least 3 months before becoming pregnant again and most importantly that this was not my fault.  Even though I knew this was true, I kept finding different ways to blame myself.  I wondered if God was punishing me for something. I wondered if I had not loved or wanted the baby enough and that’s why it was taken away.  I wondered if I had not taken care of myself and all of the running I had done had provoked its demise.

I had only been given a few weeks as a Mother and already I had failed at my number one job: protecting my baby.

When those terrible thoughts resurfaced, I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.  Over and over and over.

It’s funny how things can so quickly change.  A month prior to this, I had never noticed all of the pregnant women around me.  Now, during these 3 months of wait, it seemed like every where I turned, there were round bellies and news of expectation.  I avoided Facebook for a while because every time someone complained (probably legitimately) about their children or their pregnancy aches and pains all I could think about was how I would gladly trade places with them.  My grief was consuming at times and next to non-existent at others.
In hindsight, those three months turned out to be a wonderful time for us and our marriage.  It gave us time to step away from the emotions and consider if having a child now was something we really wanted.  It taught us to have patience and rely on God’s timing and not our own.  It allowed my body to heal.  And it gave us a true, longing, all-consuming desire to become parents.

And as you already know, this story ends well.

There is pain in beauty and beauty in pain.

Sometimes I still think about our first little baby.  The little one whom we never knew nor held on earth.  The longer we remain on earth, the more we come to realize that Heaven is slowly being filled with people that we have known well or have longed to know.  This has only increased our ache for it.  Someday we will kiss the face of our unknown little one.

But had it not been for the life OR death of this child, we would not have our MG.  This tiniest of tiny human beings began one of the most important chapters in the story of our lives.

Such is the miracle of life.

 

part II