It has taken me 9 months to share this story, though it is perfectly ingrained in my mind. For so long, it has still been too much; too overwhelming to relive in detail and in word…too raw, too
intimate. But today, today feels like the day because you looked at me and said “mama”. At 9 months, my tiny wonder has all but caught up, and my heart can finally forgive myself and my body for its misgivings. And so, here is the story of the grand arrival of one tiny wonder.
(first, a little back story…)
My husband and I were told we would have a long and difficult road ahead of us to have
children. I have a chronic disorder, which impacted our chances. We had gone through all of the genetic testing, talked to my team of specialists, and had been TTC for nearly a year. All signs pointed to 3 years, lots of tears, and lots of treatments and interventions. We were prepared for that. It was a difficult road, but we were mentally ready to take those steps to start our family. Until, we didn’t have to… and those 2 little pink lines.. followed by 2 more little pink lines (just to be sure!) showed up and changed our course in the best way imaginable. The pregnancy itself was pretty straightforward, and we had no real issues until week 29 when I received the unfortunate news that I had gestational diabetes, and would need to take 4 shots of insulin each day… and give up the waffles and nutella for breakfast. (In retrospect, I probably should have given those up, regardless!) Still- no real concerns, which made everything that follows, all that more surprising.
On Friday, July 25th, 2014, we drove up to my in-law’s house. My husband and I were so excited because the next day was our baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of our baby boy that was due in September. My sister in law, Paige, was having the party at her house.
Saturday arrived and it was party time! So many people came to shower us with love. “Aunt D” even brought brand new baby Vera. Paige had decorated beautifully- fresh flowers, pom-poms, paper lanterns, and stars…even a special banner with rocket ships to match Henry’s room. It was so pretty and so special. She even pulled out my mother’s rocking chair as the seat of honor. (A huge deal, since my mother passed away several years ago) My mother in law made an incredible diaper cake, and we had a photographer there to capture all of the
moments. (Little did I know how thankful I would be for those shots!) That night, we came back to my in-law’s to relax. When we went to bed, everything was normal. I woke up at
about 1:30am with a coughing fit, and we moved to the bedroom upstairs. I was a tiny bit uncomfortable, but just figured that the baby was in a funny spot, so back to bed I went!
When I woke up at 5:30am, I knew something was off. There was a bit more pain, and a bit of pink sent me tailspinning with near hysteria. I was so scared that my peanut was in trouble and not okay. DH was a rock star- he called my OB and we decided we should go to the hospital just to be safe. I cried and prated the whole way there; prayed my baby would be alright, and that Jesus would hold us safely in his hands.
When we got to the Reading Hospital, we were whisked into a room to get checked out. “Breathe” I remember telling myself. “It’s probably nothing… just first time mom jitters.”
WRONG- THIS WAS MAJOR!!!
We got checked out and I heard the terrifying words, “You are at 4cm and are contracting. This is active labor- you’re going upstairs to delivery.”
I’d like to say that I had an eloquent moment of grace and serenity upon hearing these words and accepting my reality, however, it wasn’t quite so serene. As it turns out, my first words in
response were “oh, shit!” followed by a flood of tears. That’s more my style in moments of extremely scary and surprising news. Anyway, there were lots of tears. Tears because it was too soon, tears because neither of us could possibly be ready for this, and tears because my sweet baby was so small and so fragile. I was terrified that we would lose him, despite every monitor showing that he was perfectly fine and not in any distress.
Once more, we were whisked to another room, and I was given LOTS of medication to help thing and to try and slow things down. I refused an epidural. That first hour or so is a bit of a blur, but family arrived and we met with more of the doctors. By that time, I had progressed to 7cm. Not good. We thought for sure that our little one was determined to arrive that morning, but
everything finally slowed down a bit, and I was able to breathe for the first time all morning. That is, until they told us that we wouldn’t be leaving without a baby…however long that might be.
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were a waiting game. Our peanut would decide it was time to arrive, and then would change his mind. I would have about an hour or two of strong, active contractions that would then fade out to nothing. I was on bed rest, and for the first 36 hours, wasn’t allowed to eat. It wasn’t very pleasant. My room was a revolving door of doctors, nurses, social workers, visitors, and NICU staff that tried to prepare us for the worst…while showing as much optimism as they could muster. I prayed for my sweet boy constantly. I prayed he;d be okay, that he would be big and strong, and that we wouldn’t lose him. I prayed that he’d come out breathing and crying. I prayed that I’d be strong enough to face whatever challenges were ahead of us.
Finally on Tuesday evening, I was allowed to shower, and well, that set things quickly into motion. I would have one contraction that wouldn’t be so bad, and then it would be followed by others that would make me want to cry. Sometimes one would come on so strong that they would stress out the baby. One in particular was horrific and caused his heart rate to drop. All at once, 10 people flooded the room, rolled me over, gave me oxygen, and began to prep a table full of equipment. It was completely terrifying, but short-lived. Still, I refused the epidural. “I got this far without it- I don’t want it.”… DH took my hand and asked why I was refusing. “I’m afraid of what it could possibly do to him”, I confessed. “He’s just so little… I don’t want to hurt him.” And that was the end of the discussion. No epidural.
Around 9am, it was about time to get ready for the big arrival. I was scared. Dr. Yerram (not my doctor or even CLOSE to my favorite person) broke the last of my water and had me do a
practice push. I had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t been to classes yet, I’d never done this
before, and everything just seemed foreign. It was discouraging, and the doctor’s approach made me feel weak, incompetent, and like I was failing as a mother already. It is hard to push when you don’t know how- it is even harder when you are afraid of what it could do. I was afraid it would hurt my tiny baby if I pushed too hard. What if I pushed and dislocated his tiny arm or shoulder? What if I pushed and broke his nose? What if he went into distress and was stuck and we couldn’t get him out in time? My mind was racing.
Somehow it finally all blurred together…her nagging, the nurses, the 10 other people in the room, my fears… everything blurred until all I could hear were the words of encouragement from my husband, the pounding of my heart, and one clear thought: “Get my baby boy here.”
Out he came at 10:55am on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014. They brought him to me for a brief
moment before rushing him off to the NICU, and he was absolutely perfect. 4 pounds, 8 ounces of pure miracle. He wailed right away (much to my relief) and opened one tiny eye to peek at me. And in that moment when his tiny face met mine, I knew life would never be the same ever again. He was here, he was mine, he was perfect, and he was okay. He was okay. Thank God, he was okay.
I didn’t get to hold my tiny wonder until the next day, which was extremely hard to wait for. I needed him with me- needed his little heart by mine, so he’d know that I was his momma and that he was safe for now and for always. Sue, (one of our amazing NICU nurses) handed him to me for the very first time, and he cuddled right on in. It was as though his little body said “oh, there you are…I’ve been expecting you.” And it was love…big, fat, miraculous love.