Monday, July 29, 2013

Birth Story, Gifts Given, and Lessons Learned

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future."

I'd been repeating this verses to myself for several weeks. Continually reminding myself that God knows what will be next and no matter what there is hope.  I can't tell you how many times I prayed for, begged really, God to break my water and start my labor in those last three weeks or so until my due date. And, then, my due date came and went. Under normal circumstances it is so disappointing to pass that date and not have a baby, but this time it seemed almost cruel. At one point there was a whisper in my head that God wasn't listening, and another time I asked Him why on earth would he make me continue to deal with the mental strain of having this baby inside when he was perfectly "cooked". Still the days ticked slowly by with me waiting for any sign that labor was actually starting. For weeks, I'd had every textbook sign that labor was coming and even a few times of casually watching the clock, but no real commitments from baby or my body that this was ever going to end. To say it was long and agonizing is a severe understatement.  The fears my mind would come up weighed me down and the constant battle of trying to push them aside was fatiguing. I just kept praying, "Please, God, let me keep this one. Let him be healthy."

On July 11, I went to the dr, who said there was progress from the visit before, we scheduled another appointment for the following Monday to set up an induction. I think at that point I pretty much gave up ever doing it on my own. Funny enough, even though it was frustrating it was also calming.  It is exhausting being on edge every second waiting for something to happen. 

July 15, a Monday, I kept waking up with contractions. I would fall right back to sleep but they were strong enough to disturb me each time. Finally, after about an hour and half of that I got up to see if changing positions would make a difference. From 5 am until 8 am I kept an eye on the clock and was starting to think this really could be it. Contractions were moving closer together, from every 12 minutes to every 8, and getting slightly stronger. I wasn't ready to fly off to the hospital yet but I was going to tell hubby not to leave for work just yet. Then, they stopped.  REALLY!?  At that point I felt my body had been changing and the baby had dropped. Sent hubby to work but made sure he would check his phone often. I thought for sure that afternoon or maybe overnight the real thing would happen.

I had a dr appointment that afternoon at 2 so hubby came home early to go with me. My mom had conveniently called up that morning and asked if I needed any help that day so I was able to leave all the kids at home.  Dr came in, measured my belly and said it was smaller....baby had dropped. Then she did the internal exam and was quite surprised to find I was dilated to 5 cm.  She said she was afraid to send me home like that being it was my 6th delivery and I was already half way there with no real labor.  She feared I would give birth in the car on the way to the hospital once things got started. So, she made arrangements to send me up to the hospital saying breaking my water and a little Pitocin and I'd deliver "like a bat out of hell". 

We quick ran home and grabbed my bags and headed to the hospital. Pretty convenient to have a baby sitter already in place!  We arrived around 4 and spent the next hour and half checking in, getting into a gown, peeing into cups, and getting IV's.  They started me on a slow drip of pictocin around 5:30.  When I say slow, I mean I got bored waiting for it to drip slow.  Well, it didn't really do anything. I had a few contractions here and there but I'd been doing that for weeks anyway.  They slowly turned it up, still nothing.  Just after 8:30 the dr came in to break my water and check my progress. Still at a 5...bummer.  She breaks the water and I decided to go ahead and get an epidural while I was still feeling pretty good....seriously, why be in pain if you don't have to?  They called the anesthesiologist and turned up my saline drip. I had to finish that bag before they'd put in the epidural. Well, it wasn't long and I was watching that bag, willing it to drain faster. Contractions coming every 2 minutes maybe (wasn't really thinking about timing them any more!) and turning painful quick. I was happy they weren't lasting long so it was still doable. I only had a handful of those and I was able to get the epidural. Putting that in only took 5-10 minutes and besides that first shot to numb you was nearly painless.  The anesthesiologist  asked if I was still feeling pain and I told her that the pain in  my belly and back was gone but there was a very sharp pain with a lot of pressure. The Dr was waiting in the hall so they had her come in to do a quick check. She lifts up the sheet and says, "Oh! I see the head!" Ryan, who was standing more towards the end of the bed trying to stay out of way said he saw the head too. I was pretty surprised. It had only been maybe 20 minutes since they broke my water and although I had been having more painful contractions there hadn't been that many and they hadn't been that bad. I do remember that I was feeling slightly dizzy and shaking with those last few contractions though, pretty sure I was going hitting transition then.  I told the Dr I didn't want any stitches so she said we'd just push nice and slow.  She said to give a little push and baby's head popped out half way. I got a "Whoa! We're having a baby!  That's enough pushing!"  The dr and nurses began quickly setting up for delivery. Not many minutes and only a few easy pushes later baby begins to yell before he is even fully delivered and then he's on my chest.  It's so hard to describe that moment. I don't think I completely realized how much I did not let myself hope to actually have a live baby. I didn't know that there would be shock similar to losing a baby. It just didn't seem real and several times through the night I would ask God to "Please don't let this be a dream."  I wasn't anticipating shock being my response. I had pictured joy, relief, even grief over never having had that moment with Landyn...but not shock. 

Baby was weighed (8lbs 12 oz!) and measured (20 inches) and finally wrapped up like a baby burrito and brought back to me.  The nurses and drs eventually trickled out and it was just me, hubby, and our little Ian.  I just looked at him for a moment and then I put my face against his and just sobbed. I don't even know what the tears were for...perhaps just a joint release of everything. I only allowed myself a few seconds of this and since then have had many similar small moments....15 months of build up to this delivery will not be able to be mentally sorted out all at once!  My parents and grandma came by a short time later even though it was now quite late, they stayed long enough to love on Ian for a couple minutes each. After that the nurse took Ian for his bath. I was surprised I was able to let him go without much thought. She came back to get me up for the bathroom. I'm pretty sure I probably shouldn't have been up yet as I wobbled to the bathroom and had a tiny bit of dizziness.  After that I was plopped in a wheelchair and moved to a "mother/baby" room. It was about 12:30 am at this point and baby was expected to be back from the nursery around 1 so I opted to just stay awake and wait for him. Ryan set up the chair-bed thingy and instantly fell asleep....labor must have worn him out. =P  When baby came back I had the nurse help me to the bathroom again, the previous nurse warned me not to get up alone since I had been a little unsteady before. This time went much better, though, and I even refused anything for pain as I wasn't really having any. Nurse left and I scooped up Ian. I just sat there, holding him, watching him breathe and sleep for the next three hours. It was quiet, it was just me and him; and I just soaked in every second of what I had waited and waited and waited for.

I prayed unceasingly that I would have a baby that was alive and God graciously answered. Ian means "God is gracious", Joseph means "God will add" and I knew whether my baby was alive or not both of those things would remain true but how happy we are that God answered in a way that makes our hearts rejoice. Funny enough, that was my single prayer through the pregnancy but God gave me so much more. My total labor time was 45 minutes and my delivery was very easy and I felt great after. There were no complications for either of us in the labor or delivery. My dr was smart enough to send me to the hospital instead of home. My water didn't break at home like with my 4 previous full term deliveries, that definitely would have added major drama! My hospital stay was not filled with flashbacks or grief. I was able to focus on what I had been given, not what I had lost. I have always wanted a thumb sucker and within minutes Ian had two little fingers in his mouth. Even though Ian's being here feels like I'm entering a new chapter in this grief process he has not in anyway filled Landyn's spot, even though he's here to hold my arms still ache for her...maybe it doesn't make sense but I'm glad the two events are separate. There are a bunch of other little things that were just added blessings....just because God could. Somehow those types of things always surprise me and this time is quite overwhelming.  I feel like my brain cant quite wrap around everything I've been given and somehow just being thankful doesn't seem enough. So many things I didn't even think to ask for myself....

Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

And so, I'm greatly relieved to be done with that pregnancy. I am very ready to move on to this new chapter of my life. I don't think I so much learned something new as was strongly reminded how much I'm loved by my heavenly Father.  My mind feels clearer, my burden lighter, my heart full of love for this new person. Still one step at a time and sometimes going backwards instead of forward, but learning with each new day. God is good.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Fears

"Why are you STILL here?!"  This exasperated question comes from my 8 year old son first thing one morning.  Apparently his first stop in the  morning is to peak into my room to see if I've gone to have the baby yet.  My due date was two days ago so baby could....pleeeeeeease....come any second now. My children have been quite intrigued by this whole growing a human process. It's been 3 1/2 years since we've had a baby in the house so they don't really remember much of that and Landyn's pregnancy didn't really seem to register with them as I was just starting to really show when she died.  All of the kids call the baby by name and all like to feel and watch him bump around in there.  They've had a great time helping to set up and using dolls to try out the swing and car seat and other various baby gear.  They ask me daily, multiple times, when he is going to come.  They are eager to meet our new baby and love him already. I look at them and my heart just squeezes painfully as I ask God to please, please not hurt their little hearts by asking them to say goodbye to this baby they anticipate so much.  I've asked for myself and I fear my own pain in that circumstance but oh how I want to spare my kids.  This would be so much different for them than Landyn's death was. Last time their pain seemed to stem more from the family disturbance and my hurt, then from their own sense of loss. Then there wasn't a baby for them to feel move, they didn't see their mom growing bigger and bigger.  I want so much to guarantee for them that they will have this little baby to carry around and hug and eventually get annoyed with.  Life now is not what it ever has been in the past, I see everything through a different filter. These are not doubts in God's will but a very been there kind of understanding in what could happen.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Friday, July 5, 2013

What's Next?

Four days from now is my due date. This baby could literally be asked to be born any second now. I am very, very anxious for that moment and yet scared to death also. You see, even though I knew that people lost pregnancies, that they buried babies, I didn't really KNOW until I said goodbye to my own tiny, little angel. I am afraid of starting out this whole, horrible journey all over again, only this time magnified by twice the loss.  People say things like, "Well, everything is fine right?" and "Just trust God."  I'd like to tell those people that everything was perfect with Landyn, there were no warning signs. One appointment I heard her heart and the next I was told she had died. Life can be gone in a moment. There is no reason for me to think something will go wrong this time, but there is also no reason for me not to think that something COULD go wrong.  And as for the trusting part, well, no one can know how much I am trusting or not except myself. I happen to have full confidence that God will get me through anything....but that does not mean life will be all puppies and rainbows. Anyone who even suggests to me, or believes themselves, that trusting God means you'll skip through life without a tear is a shamefully ignorant person.  My fears do not lie with Ian's life, they lie with the deep, aching, unbearable pain that will follow loss for days and months and years. Once you've experienced it you certainly have no desire to start over.  I know he'll be fine no matter the outcome....but until I'm called home I have to deal with what I'm handed here. My anxiousness right now comes from wanting this baby out NOW. Being pregnant doesn't feel safe any more. It used to feel like the womb was the safest place but now I know that things can happen in there I can't see coming and I can't stop. I know God protects no matter the place but for my human sake I just want this baby out where I can hear him cry and feel his warm little body.  But I'm also scared, scared that I've made it this far and something will go wrong still. He's been an active little guy and I fear cord accidents, that one will happen before or even during birth. I almost hear the people questioning this but you have to understand that I have talked to hundreds of angel moms over the last few months and I have a very "eyes wide open" understanding of the things that happen.  I find myself fearing dumb things that have never crossed my mind before...having him out of my sight, going to sleep and not watching him, someone dropping him. It's silly I suppose but I can't help it, I just do my best to talk myself through it.  I haven't been excited, I won't let myself. I was surprised the other day to feel myself think, "Huh, I really might have a baby to take care of soon. Maybe I should be getting things ready."  That's not normal. Normal people at 4 days before their due date do not wonder if they will have a baby to put in those clothes, diapers, and various baby gear.  I really don't know which way my life will go from here.  But God has been reminding me that NO ONE does. There is no guarantee for anything on earth. Life is fragile. I'm working on the fear, I certainly don't enjoy it. But maybe knowing that things can go wrong and knowing my plans mean nothing is a good thing. I don't like not knowing what may come around the next corner but I know I can trust in Someone who does. As I find myself increasingly annoyed with people and careless comments of how I should feel or think, perhaps I should consider myself lucky in the lessons I've learned.  So, for know, I find myself waiting for what comes next. Will I have a little one to bring home and hug or will I be buying the headstone I've already designed in my mind?  I do know that I'm ready for THIS part to be over. I've been pregnant (with the exception of those few weeks in between) for over 14 months. Physically, my body is tired. Emotionally, I've never done anything this difficult, grieving one child while desperately hoping to get to keep this next one has not been a fun journey. I'm ready to move forward, to whatever is next. Praying God will answer my prayers MY way then immediately asking for peace no matter what He sends. " For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"