I'm sitting here in bed, in the dark, it's after midnight. You are laying here next to me, still so tiny at six weeks old. I'm imagining you all grown up reading this story. I hope it helps you remember that God is aware of you and that He has been protecting and loving you from the very beginning.
A week before you were born I decided to pop into a doctor's office to visit a dear friend of mine who is an ultrasound technician. I had suspicions that you were going to be small and I wanted to get an idea of exactly how small. She agreed to take a peek and get some measurements. What she found was worrying to say the least. You were so tiny that you were almost off the charts. It raised concerns about there being something serious going wrong with the pregnancy. I went home a little stunned and prepared to take my clinical skills exam (i.e. biggest exam of my life) in Gainesville the next morning. I made it through the exam and my second to last day of school before deciding to head back to Orlando to investigate further. Your papa pulled some strings and got me an appointment right away to be scanned by a maternal fetal medicine specialist. They confirmed the earlier findings and added more bleak news....my placenta was aging too quickly and you were starting to show signs of slight resistance in your umbilical cord. With all of those things going on we decided that a hospital induction with pitocin would probably put you into distress so I went home try to get myself into labor using some midwife tricks.
The next few days were such a rollercoaster. I'm sure you felt it, too. I would pray and feel so much peace like everything was going to be just fine and I should continue to plan a home birth. Then the next minute I would be bowled over by these fears of something going wrong...all of the complications I've seen and learned about would flood my mind and I would start mentally preparing to go to the hospital. Then I would pray again, feel the peace return and roll my eyes at myself for abandoning faith so quickly. We had so many people praying for us, I got a priesthood blessing, I used every quiet moment to listen to and study my scriptures...praying all the while for answers, feelings, specific guidance as to what we should do.
Thursday was the "deadline" we had all agreed upon. If I didn't have a baby by Thursday I agreed to go into the hospital to be induced, come what may. Thursday came and no baby. I was emotionally wrecked. I dreaded a hospital birth. I imagined fetal scalp electrodes and bright lights and strangers in sterile garb. I imagined them sweeping you off to the NICU and spinal taps and incubators. I felt so much unrest, like a big mama bear anticipating harm to her baby. I just wanted to be home holding you skin to skin and never letting you leave my arms. As your dad and I drove to the office to get another ultrasound I repeated a simple prayer in my mind, "Please tell me what to do. Give me a feeling and I will follow it, all pride and fear aside."
I laid down on the exam table, exposed my bare belly and winced a bit, bracing myself for bad news. As soon as you appeared up on the screen I immediately had an overwhelming feeling that you were going to be ok. I knew that we weren't going to need any help from the hospital and that all would be well. I can't tell you how I knew it, just a feeling that I was absolutely sure of. I raced out of there and called my midwife to give her the update: everything is going to be ok. I don't know how, but it is. Now let's figure out how to have this baby today.
We stopped at NE and papa's house to pick Maggie up and said a prayer all together. We knelt in a circle and each took turns praying, expressing concerns, giving thanks and pleading for more guidance and safety. As we prayed I felt it again. You were going to be ok and we weren't going to need any help from the hospital. Your dad and I headed up to the birth center to have the midwife break my water. It was a last ditch effort to get my body into labor naturally and even after all of that reassurance I was still a little nervous that it wasn't going to work. Kaleen, Rhonda and Shannon were working that day and they all put their arms around me and assured me that you were going to be fine and I was going to be fine. Everything was going to be fine. Kaleen broke my water and Shannon and Rhonda gave me what I'll call the "herbs from hell". Cotton root bark tincture...a liquid that you hold under your tongue until it feels as though the skin under there has been scalded with a hot iron and shredded with a cheese grater. I walked around the neighborhood surrounding the birth center for an hour trying to get some contractions coming. It was a gorgeous day, the wind was blowing the moss in the trees, the sun was bright and the sidewalks were empty. I talked to you and then I talked to God and before I knew it my uterus was contracting. By the time I made it back to the birth center they were coming every 10 minutes consistently. Kaleen checked me again and said that things were changing, you were moving down and my cervix was opening. Time to head home.
On our way home we stopped to pick Stella up from school. I was having contractions but everything seemed very nonchalant. Like pick the kid up from school, eat some Tijuana Flats, have a baby, no big deal. When we got home your dad got busy laying Maggie down for a nap and getting the sheets and waterproof cover on the bed. I got busy rocking away in the green rocking chair upstairs, listening to your little heartbeat with a doppler during contractions and sending updates to Diane and to your papa. Things intensified quickly. I had your dad call NE and tell her to bring her oils and come on over. Things intensified even more and I yelled to your daddy to fill up the bathtub. I hoped laying in there would slow things down a bit and give everyone a chance to get here. I stood up to walk to the bathroom and had one really hard, two minute long contraction. I was leaning on your daddy, moaning a bit. He started getting the deer-in-the-headlights look. I made it to the bathtub just as Stella wandered in and asked to get in there with me. She poured water over my belly and sang you a song about sisters and birthdays and we didn't get to hear the end of it before I could feel another contraction coming. I asked Stella, do you want to sing "Oh's" with me? And she said, what's "oh's"? And I started moaning oooooohhhhhhhhh. She joined in, smiling at first, oooohhhhh. Then I moaned louder as the contraction peaked, OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH. Her smile faded into a slightly terrified look. On the next "oh" I felt a spontaneous urge to push. Stella heard it and immediately jumped out of the tub and ran downstairs to hide, stark naked.
NE walked through the bathroom door just as I was starting to bark out instructions. Call Diane and put her on speaker phone! Get the hemorrhage meds out of the bag on my desk! As your dad ran around filling orders another contraction came. OHHHHHHH GET SOME TOOOOWELS! (grunty push noises) AND MY STETHO- (more grunts) SCOPE! NEVER MIND (big grunt) GET IN HERE NOOOW!
While we waited for the next contraction to come I had a moment of lucidity, listen, when the head comes out there is going to be a cord around the neck (they had seen a nuchal cord on one of the ultrasounds). You need to hook it with your finger and gently pull it over the head. If it's too tight to pull you're going to have to- (LOUD GRUNTY PUSHING) Diane took over on speaker phone talking him through reducing the cord and delivering the head.
Head is out! Head is out! Holy crap. Ok. (starts trying to feel for the cord around the forehead)
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THE NECK, NATHAN. THE NECK! (I reach down and push his hands out of the way. I feel your cord and try to slip it over your head). IT'S TOO SHORT- (big push with eyes closed)
IS IT OUT YET?!
Yes!!! Wait......! No! The legs are still in!
THEN PULL THEM OUT, YOOOOU IDIOT! (ok, maybe I just thought the you idiot part)
He pulled you out, untangled your cord and lifted you onto my chest. My first thought was that you were the tiniest baby I had ever seen. Like the size of a small chicken. Or a large squirrel. You looked up at me with big, startled eyes and didn't cry right away. I reached down to feel your cord to check heart rate. You took several quiet breaths and then started to wail. We covered you up with a towel and then just sat there for a second like, whoa. I could hear Diane on speaker phone calling out time, telling us when one minute had passed, asking for vital signs. I started having some separation bleeding and she reminded me to drain the tub. As it was draining I tried to see over my knees to estimate the amount of blood loss. Your dad gave me the hemorrhage medication- better safe than sorry- and he and NE helped me into bed.
After I was settled and stable your dad went downstairs to find Stella. She was hiding under a blanket behind her puppet theater, still naked. He got her dressed and woke Maggie up. NE got the camera rolling and on a count of three we all looked under your towel to see if you were a girl or a boy.
Another girl! Stella ran around the room squealing. We all climbed into bed and snuggled under the covers and stared at your tiny face peeking out from the towel. Your dad and I locked eyes and squeezed each other's hands and looked heavenward and mouthed, thank you. You were skin to skin in my arms, safe and sound. What a miracle.
*STATS* (for my birthy friends): born 11/19 at 4:25pm after AROM at 12:30pm, 5lbs 5oz, 18.5 inches, nuchal cord x 1 and a tight, true knot in the cord, grade 3 placenta that was delivered spontaneously 2 hours postpartum after many much medication was administered and after I pushed my BRAINS out. The diagnosis after the fact was IUGR. No decelerations in the heart rate throughout the entire labor. (WHAT! Miracles!!)
*FUN FACTS* Current stats: 6 weeks old, 8lbs 8oz and 21 inches
Number of times she is kissed per day: 3000
Number of those kisses from Stella and Maggie: 2999
Number of times she's up to eat at night: 2-4
Number of times I fell asleep while writing this post: 12 :)