Sunday, March 6, 2016

dear sweet baby shane {a birth story letter}

Dear sweet baby Shane,

I met you as an outside baby on November 8th, 2015, at 11:37am. In that moment, I felt like I had known and loved you for forever. But at the same time, I knew nothing about you, and it was a little scary! It's funny how two polar opposite feelings can consume you at the same time. I felt excited at the prospect of being a student of yours and getting to know every single detail about who you were.

As seemed to be my normal, I struggled greatly throughout my pregnancy with you. My pregnancies with your two big brothers were just so hard on my body, and my time with you was no different. I struggled to eat. I struggle to keep what I ate, down. I struggled with intense pain that made doing normal things like walking using the bathroom, and getting out of bed, completely unbearable. I cried often and stressed much. But you were worth every single second of pain and discomfort, and I knew that from the start!!

You were different in some ways, though, from your brothers, in that you hardly moved at all. You scared me several times during the pregnancy, the first being at 16 weeks. I felt you move enough before then that it made nervous come 16 weeks when I hadn't felt you at all in a long time. I knew it was likely fine, but I needed reassurance. My midwife, Jenny, welcomed me to her home, and she checked for your heartbeat. After a few intense minutes of quiet searching, some of the longest minutes of my life... there it was... strong and steady. Deep sigh of relief.

We continued on, taking it day by day. 20 weeks came, and we found out you were a boy, our third. Some people seemed to feel sad for us that you weren't a girl, but your papa and I were thrilled. We felt like we had waited SO LONG for you and we were so happy you were with us... we were perfectly content with who God had made you to be.

33 weeks and a couple days came. We were sitting in church, and I was feeling so many contractions! Braxton Hicks had started around 19 weeks, but these just felt different to me. Even still, I willed away the urge to time them, telling myself that it was probably nothing and to just listen to the sermon. After church, we headed to my sister's house for my niece's birthday party. On the way there, and the entire time while there, the contractions were coming about 3 to 4 minutes apart. They weren't overly strong, but they were annoying enough that it concerned me this early in the game. After resting and drinking some water,  we called my midwife to let her know what was going on. After some conversation, we decided to swing by her house on the way home to pick up some pre-term labor prevention herbs that I could take in order to hopefully stop the contractions. After a bath and some doses of the herbs, they had not yet stopped... so we called Jenny again and together we made potential plans for the evening, if my contractions had not stopped by a certain point. We talked about which hospital we’d meet at, who we would ask to watch the boys, what would likely happen once we got to the hospital... all the things you talk about at the prenatal appointments but hope you never have to follow through with. We hung up the phone, and I cried. I was afraid. Your papa prayed.

Thankfully, the contractions stopped their consistent streak with a large dose of the herbs, and went back to how infrequent they were before the scare. I continued taking the herbal supplements and we planned on having me take it until 36 weeks at least, for precautionary measures.

Then, at 35 weeks, it happened again. I was already taking the pre term prevention supplements regularly, but some very large doses of it were able to stop the close consistency of the contractions yet again, which was relieving. You were still safe inside, right where you were supposed to be.

The next few weeks trickled by slowly. I was trying to manage day to day life with your big brothers, but it was a struggle physically. I've said this before during my pregnancies with your brothers, and it rang true for my time with you, as well: it was a very, very hard experience... but God doused me in grace, and showed me time and time again how much He loved me and was carrying me through this time. I knew His grace would be enough.

My pregnancies with your brothers lasted past their "estimated due dates." Im all for babies choosing their own birthdays, but lets be honest, sometimes not waiting a super long time is kinda nice. My pregnancy with you, Shane, was the first time that I was completely, utterly, and totally at peace for whenever you would decide to come. I had no anxiety about it whatsoever. My estimated due date was November 14th, but what I told myself and focused on was that November was your birth month. I was ready. The diapers and your clothes were washed, folded, organized... and reorganized... ready to be worn by you. But I was content. "However long you need, I will wait for you." So waiting, we did! Your brothers and I spent much time prepping freezer meals and watching water birth videos on You Tube. They were so excited to meet you and be a part of everything! Ryan specifically asked if he could hold you in the big tub after you were born. 

I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant. It was a Saturday, and by then we had finished most the things we had wanted to accomplish before your arrival, including setting up the "birth area." We filled the pool walls with air and I hung the birth affirmations that I had made on the wall. I noticed more contractions than my recent normal had been, but didn’t want to get too excited about anything. I figured I still had 3 weeks to go, and I was perfectly content with that, although I was beyond over being in a constant state of pain and nausea.

Your papa and I had wanted to run some errands, but for some reason, I didn't want to be too far away. I just wanted to hunker down and enjoy a Saturday at home. So that's what we did... until your papa decided that afternoon that we absolutely needed to get out of the house because he was feeling stir crazy, "plus there were a couple things we needed at the hardware store," he said. I was fine with just running into town, which is three or four miles away, but that was as far as I wanted to go. I just didn't feel like being in the car for too long! I used the bathroom before we left, and that's when I noticed the red when I wiped. It totally caught me off guard, because I've never really had that before... at least, not with a spontaneous labor.

Your papa had already gotten your brothers into the van and was waiting for me to come out of the house... as I stepped into the garage I told him, "I have bloody show." He replied, "What? Are you serious? Should we stay home?" And I said, "Nah, let's go... you've already got the boys in the van." He convinced me to call Jenny to give her an update because this was new to us. I updated her, and she asked me to time my contractions just to give her an idea of what was going on. I told her I would when we got home, and explained that we were out running a few errands.

We got to the hardware store, and your papa had a hard time finding what he was looking for. So in between my "please hurry up" stares, he asked an employee for help. It felt like it took forever! Finally he found what he was looking for, and after hearing the day to day chit chat between your papa and the employee, I mustered up as much as gentleness that my heart could manage and said sweetly with forced smile, "Jake, we really need to go... now." I was just uncomfortable. I wanted to be home. I was tired of two little boys, who are simply being two little boys, in a hardware store... they wanted to test out EVERYTHING and it seemed to be beyond my capability to handle graciously right then.

At the checkout, your brothers found some really neat toy cars that they wanted to play with for a few minutes. They laid on the rug right in the entryway and tested out a few of them while your papa paid. I felt like I needed to sit down, because I was so tired, so I excused myself to the car. Not long later my three guys came out, I helped buckle Lukas in, and then we were off to the grocery store. Jenny recommend stocking up on a few things. I wanted ice, because I could only drink ice cold water, and we got some fruit to make smoothies. We wandered around a little bit because we didn't really know what we needed. I think we got talked into some ice cream by your brothers. But finally we were back in the van and on our way home.

On the ride home, I sent a text to my midwife and ask her if I should be the concerned with the lack of your movement at this point, since I was having so many contractions and it had been so long since I had felt you last... it had been well over 24 hours. I told her the contractions were slightly uncomfortable but really bearable, that I was mostly just tired. She replied that sometimes babies move less when contractions are happening. She mentioned she was going to pack up her car, just in case things picked up overnight.

Once we arrived home, I settled in on the couch with a big glass of water and tried to relax. I was hoping to feel you move since I was sitting down and focusing just on you. My midwife texted again, asking for an update. I was having short contractions ranging from 2 to 7 minutes apart, so I wasn't really sure what to do. She asked if I had felt you move yet, but no, I had not. So then she recommended I sit down with a snack or some juice to give my blood sugar a nudge and see if I felt you then. She said if I didn't feel you move after that, that she'd like to come check up on all of us.

So I got back to the couch with some juice, and waited and prayed and talked to you, hoping that you would move and that everything was okay. There were so many times I genuinely questioned whether you were still alive and well within me, and that fear really took hold of me at that point... but I tried to release those feelings to the Lord and trust that his hand was in all of this. Half an hour later, I had not felt you move, so my midwife said she would come over to check on us and see how things were going. Again, I was scared, and again, your papa prayed.

The first thing we did when Jenny arrived, was to check your heartbeat. That was probably one of the longest waits of my life. It wasn't easy to find, as seem to be the trend with you, but we finally heard it. My blood pressure was surprisingly fine, also, considering you were causing me such stress!

Jenny asked if I wanted her to check me for dilation. I had no intention on doing so this early in pregnancy or possibly even at all unless absolutely necessary, but I was curious with all that was going on. I was 4 centimeters, stretchy and soft. You were still only at a -2 station, though, so I remained with content with that news and continued assuming that it could be a while. I remember telling myself that you could be here tomorrow... or in two weeks. Little did I know...!

We made a game plan for the night: relax and sleep. Jenny and I decided to touch base in the morning. We asked what she thought about us going to church in the morning, and she said it was totally up to us. I was thinking that I still could very well be pregnant for a while yet and thought that we might want to go. I said that we would make the decision in the morning based on how well I slept.

But, I didn't sleep all that night, at least, from 2 a.m. on. I was woken a couple times to some strong contractions, and just had a hard time sleeping in general. I did get enough sleep to feel like I was rested, but it could have definitely been better. We woke early and made the decision to stay home from church because I was tired. I made pancakes for breakfast, washed the dishes, folded some laundry, just some normal day to day stuff.

Around 9:45 a.m., I texted Jenny to give her an update of the night. I told her I hadn't slept well, that the contractions were about seven and a half minutes apart and quite strong, about a minute long. I mentioned that I was trying to get something to eat but I didn't have much of an appetite. She called back, since she she was driving on her way to church, and we chatted for a bit. She was more than willing to come to our house right then, but I still felt like it was WAY too early. At that point, I kind of realized it that wouldn't be weeks until we met you... but I still didn't think it would be that day. So I told her that we were fine, that she should go to church, and that I'd text her if anything changed.

At 10 a.m., I felt like I wanted to do my nails, so I got out my Jamberry stuff and decided which cute print I wanted to use. In between putting the wraps on my nails, I was having contractions that were somewhat intense, but I was still very much in denial that you were on your way.

10:15 a.m. came, and your papa decided he should start filling up the birth pool. I got pretty irritated with him, because I was convinced that it was too early. Our water heater was small and I didn't want to have to potentially waste any hot water
 He started to fill it anyway. "Whatever, babe," I said.

At 10:30 a.m., he "irritated" me further by insisting that I text Jenny and ask her to come. I grudgingly complied, but made sure to state that it was HIM who asked her to come! We exchanged a few other texts, and then she was able to sneak out of church and she left around 10:45 a.m.

I sent a text to my friend, Hilary, who was going to be the birth photographer. She was in church not far away, and I told her that we likely weren't ready for her yet but to keep her phone on her... I was just afraid everyone was going to show up and that we were going to be end up sitting around all day or longer! She asked if I was sure, and wasn't 100%, but I felt bad asking her to leave church in the middle of the service, so I said that she could just head over here afterward. She later said she felt like she should come anyway, so she did, and she sat in the driveway in her car, awaiting the word to come in. I also sent a text to our friend, Kim, who we had asked to come be with your brothers during the birth, knowing that she had a decent amount to drive before she got here.

I was still doing really well with the contractions. I put a mix of JJ Heller, the Fray, and Adele on the Pandora station on my phone and shared my earbuds with your brothers, because they thought they were so cool. We hung out in the living room for the next 15 minutes, then I decided to go to the bathroom to change my clothes. I brushed my hair and put it up, brush my teeth, put on some makeup (?!), and took a final belly picture. Back in the living room, Ryan insisted on rubbing my back.

Then around 11 a.m., I had one really hard contraction, and it hurt a lot... much more than the others. It took me very much by surprise. I called out to your papa and ask him to call Jenny and tell her to "NOT take her time." At that point, I actually thought she might not make it. The next few contractions weren't as bad, and I changed from my clothes to my swimsuit top and bathrobe because I thought I was going to have a water birth. Then I went back to the bathroom to use the toilet and remained there until the birth team arrived. It just felt the most comfortable for me to sit there.

Rachel, the student midwife, arrived at 11:10 a.m., just a little bit before the rest of the team, and quickly got to work setting things up. Jenny, and Danielle, who was the assistant, arrived at 11:20 and also started setting things up. Jenny asked me if I'd like to get into the birth tub, and that's when Rachel informed her that there was not enough water in it for me to get in. Not gonna lie, I swore. Suddenly I was extremely irritable and pretty nervous, because this was not how it was supposed to go! I was supposed to give birth to you in the water! I tried to convince myself that maybe you'd hold off long enough to let them fill the pool the rest of the way. HA.

Jenny asked Rachel to check on your heart tones, so she came into the bathroom and tried her best not to interrupt me as I was having contractions. It was too tricky to get a good reading on you while I was sitting, so she asked me to go lay down on the bed in my room.

I made my way to the bedroom, and put my hands down on the side of the bed, swaying through a contraction. I was breathing through them pretty well, but boy were they strong! I laid down my right side, on the bed, and Rachel attempted to check your heart rate again. She wasn't able to get a good reading again because I was having too many contractions and needed to move, so Jenny took over and attempted to get the reading. She asked me if I wanted to put on the birth stool after she was able to check your heart tones and I said sure. Your papa was laying next to me, being his strong and calming self, and I told him, "I'm scared." I didn't want to do this not in the water! The mess, the pain! Your papa told me that I was doing great and that you would be here soon.

During a hard contraction, at 11:31 a.m., my water broke with the huge gush. My first thought that I vocalized: "OHHH, that felt really good!!" Second, that I kept to myself: "SHOOT, the carpet!!" I was sure that I had to have covered with Jenny and Rachel, as well as the wall and floor, with the fluids, because of the force of my water breaking. It was such a relieving feeling, though.

Jenny asked again if I wanted to go to the birthing stool, but I don't remember answering her. I do remember putting my hands down to do counter pressure as I was slightly bearing down. Rachel later said that she had initially thought that I was reaching out to her for her to help me get up and go to the stool, but she was surprised to see that I was doing counter pressure myself. It just felt so instinctual to do.

Then... IT happened. and it happened quickly. But I didn't realize HOW quickly it happened until I was looking back over the birth notes that were in my file... it writes:

11:36:57 - head visible
11:36:58 - crown
11:36:59 -head
11:37:00 - crown to body, all at once

Wow. If that isn't fast, I don't know what is! There you were, on the outside! I could not believe how fast it happened and that you're actually here. "Glad you guys made it!" I said to the birth team. Ryan and Lukas came into our room at this point. Ryan was far more interested in watching Donald Duck on papa’s phone instead of meeting you. I don't think he really realized that you were here! At some point, our photographer friend made it inside, because in in intense few last moments, I had left my phone in the other room. She got some photos of us just minutes after your birth.

The next few minutes or even more of a blur and quite intense feeling. They were wiping your face, and stimulating your feet and back, and you were coughing. Your Apgar score at one minute was only a 7, and you got passed up to me. I remember talking to you, but it was not long later that Jenny had to take you back because she was noticing some difficulties you're having while breathing. Your body was pink, but your extremities were slightly blueish, and you were having retractions and flaring your nostrils. For what felt like forever, Jenny was holding the oxygen and a bag valve mask over your face while you laid on me. She was trying to help you cough up all the mucus that was in your lungs and giving you a hard time breathing properly.

I felt nervous seeing you that way, but I also felt pretty confident in my midwife and her team and felt reassured by their calmness. Then you were ok enough to lay on my chest and after a while, Jenny was able to turn off the oxygen. Lukas made a remark about how small your toes were and we all laughed.

A little after 12 p.m., the placenta was delivered. I was given some herbs because there was a little too much bleeding. Then at 12:08 p.m., your physical tie with me was severed, and your cord was cut by your papa.

After that, we snuggled into bed and got to work on nursing. It was a little tricky, but we figured it out. I felt relieved... and hoped that it would be an easy experience for us, unlike the beginning I had with both of your brothers.

Then, the midwives did our exams. You seemed so little to me, but your stats were actually pretty close to what your brothers were. You were 8lbs, 1oz, and 22" long, and healthy!

Then the birth team packed up their things, gave us our postpartum instructions, and was out the door before 3 p.m. Then it was just me, you, and your papa all snuggled into bed. Ryan and Lukas were still playing with Kim and she graciously offered to stick around for a little while. My parents stopped by on their way somewhere else for a quick peek, and a promise to visit the next day. They seemed as in love with you as instantly as we were.

Sweet boy, before you existed in our lives, you were so wanted, so longed for, and so prayed for. Then you were graciously given to us! The 39 weeks and 3 days but I held you inside of me, under my heart, were hard, but treasure days. I'm so thankful that God gave me the grace and during the contentedness to wait for as long as you needed. You are such a joy, and I'm thrilled to call you my son. I pray that God will use you to do great things, and that you will seek Him with all of your heart.

Your mama

Want to see more birth pictures? Click here.

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