We are also Christians. We believe God has a plan and purpose for our life. Which means, sometimes our plans, preferences, and time lines are thrown out the window. We're ok with that because we know He will guide us through whatever journey, adventure or adversity we face along the way.
In February 2004, we decided to start trying for a family. We anticipated and prepared for it to take six months to a year to get pregnant. Two months later, six weeks before I graduated college and began my first post-degree full-time job, I was pregnant with S-O.
In April 2007, we decided S-O needed a sibling. Four weeks later, after ONE real attempt at 'trying', BAM! Rae was born nine months later.
Given our track record, when we decided to start trying for #3 last June, we assumed we'd be pregnant in one or two months. God had other plans.
Sunday, July 4th
1a.m. WOZERS! A really strong contraction woke me from a solid sleep. I changed positions and tried to go back to sleep. About thirty minutes later, another one woke me up. I decided to get out of bed and walk around to see if they would go away. They didn't. They were about 30 minutes apart and uncomfortable enough to keep me awake. I was exhausted, so around 4a.m. I finally fell back to sleep.
We went to church that morning and by noon the contractions were becoming more steady at about 10-15minutes apart. We called our friend Candi to stay with The Girls while we went on to the hospital to have me checked.
Here's a pic I took on the way out the door:
TOLD YOU I was HUGE!!!
They checked me and I WAS STILL ONLY 3cm!!! (I'd been 3cm for about two weeks.) Lovely. Since I had planned a natural birth, sans pain meds or labor augmenting drugs like Pitocin, they gave me the option to go home. I did. I would much rather labor in the comforts of my home than in the hospital. The plan would be to go back to the hospital when my contractions were 5min apart for an hour or so intense that I couldn't talk/walk through them. Ok, fine. Good plan.
We picked up The Girls and came home to freshen up before evening church services. Although I was contracting, they were manageable, and, like before, I wanted to get out of the house so I wouldn't obsess over timing them.
The minute we walked into the church building the contractions became closer together. Like 6-8min apart closer. I kept track of them with my phone. I know the family sitting behind us thought I was texting all throughout church. Hahahaha!
Anyway, I toughed it out until after service, but we, well John, decided we should go on home instead of staying for the fellowship meal. SNAP! I drooled over the HUGE tubs of homemade ice cream set out on the serving tables as we walked out the back door.
We went ahead and called my inlaws in KY and asked them to begin the 4hr trip because even if Baby Girl wasn't born tonight, I KNEW it would be within the next day or so.
I laid down and the contractions tapered to every 30min. I went to bed at 9pm and slept until about 1a.m.
Monday, July 5th
1 a.m.-5 a.m I couldn't sleep. The contractions ranged from 10-30 minutes apart. Some of them pretty intense. My mind wondered into a million different places. I ate a snack. Powdered Donuts and Cheetos. I got on the computer and wrote this. I tried to go back to sleep.
6a.m.-11a.m. Contractions were 8-15 minutes apart. I did laundry, watered my plants, double checked my hospital bag check list, walked around the house, helped the girls get dressed, hung out with the inlaws, and pretty much labored at home, like planned. It wasn't too bad. Every now and then I had to stop what I was doing to concentrate through the contractions, but the pain was manageable. John was very attentive and kept asking if I needed him to do anything. Occasionally, I needed counter pressure on my lower back, but other than that, it was business as usual around the house.
11:30 a.m. I had a phone conversation with my sister-in-law. We laughed and chatted about labor and contractions. She suggested we go for a walk at the mall. I thought it was a good idea and said we may do that. We were talking about the weather when IT hit me.
A very. strong. take-my-breath-away. contraction.
I handed the phone to John mid-sentence and he told her we'd call her back later. I had to REALLY concentrate through that one
11:45a.m.- I told John that we'd probably need to head to the hospital in the next hour or so since my contractions were getting stronger and closer together, 7-10 minutes apart.
11:57a.m.- I told John we needed to leave for the hospital, RIGHT NOW!!!
It took them about 30 minutes to check us in and usher us to a birthing room. My nurse, Nurse Sarah, checked me to see if this was the real deal. It was! I was dilated 6cm!!! Woo Hoo!
Yesterday's false alarm really disappointed us.
But not today. THIS was the real deal.
As Nurse Short-Hair (sorry, I forgot her name) moved the wireless monitor (two discs strapped to my belly meant to read E-M's heartbeat while giving me freedom of movement without wires or cords), she asked, "So, why did you choose to go with natural childbirth?"
I held my breath and starred at the screen. Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.
"There she is!" she exclaimed, as she found her mark and I found my peace. "I just like to ask because I'm curious. That, and I wished I had tried to go natural with at least one of my boys, but things don't always go as planned."
"It was mostly a personal decision," I said as I looked at John. He winked and gave my left hand a squeeze.
Things don't always go as planned. But sometimes, they do.
2 p.m. After the initial 'setup' was complete and the 1000 questions were answered and entered into the computer, Nurse Sarah left us alone, to labor in peace.
That was my mantra for most of my labor.
No screaming. No yelling. Just calm breathing and meditating.
I walked. I stretched my legs. I leaned against a chair.
John was my rock.
He rubbed my back. He rubbed my legs. He told me I was beautiful.
He looked me square in the eyes and told me he loved me.
Those moments were some of the most intimate, special, moments of my life.
3 p.m. John and I worked through the contractions. They hurt. But, I realized if I tensed up they were worse. Ironically, the only time I felt relief from the pain was when I sat, completely limp and relaxed, on the toilet.
Nurse Sarah was SUPER nice. She worked really hard to make sure she and the hospital complied with everything on my birth plan. She didn't flinch when I requested a HEP lock IV port, rather than the standard IV drip. She didn't look at me cross when I said I wanted to wear my own clothes rather than a yucky tie-back hospital gown. Those things really helped make labor more comfortable. As comfortable as labor can be.
The contractions were becoming more intense and I felt lots of pressure.
Nurse Sarah checked me and I was dilated to 8cm. I went back to my 'comfy spot' on the toilet and I heard John greet the on call doc (mine was on vacation in Atlanta). She said I'd probably be pushing soon.
Throughout this pregnancy, I have felt tremendous gratitude to God for giving me another chance at creating life. Even during the bouts of asthma, pre-term labor contractions, and hugeness that was my belly, I never stopped feeling grateful. I never stopped praising Him for every day I had with her in my womb. Every kick. Every stretch mark. Ok maybe not the stretch marks, but you get the picture.
Life doesn't always go as WE plan. Sometimes HIS plan takes us on a journey we never expected. Sometimes while on that journey we learn things about ourselves, about life, that we otherwise wouldn't have learned.
WE wanted to be pregnant last July. WE wanted the chemical pregnancy last August to be real. WE wanted the baby we conceived last September to stick and grow into a beautiful, living, breathing, child that would one day run and play with it's sisters. WE wanted those things.
Since then, we have leaned on the faith that His plan is perfect, and beautiful, and designed to glorify Him. Not us. Not our plans
It wasn't until I gave up on being in control that divine providence took over. And then, great, GREAT things began to happen
aprox. 3:15 p.m
I never once looked at the clock. Time stood still.
I never doubted my body's ability to do what it was designed to do.
I never let my mind think about the 'what if's'.
But I did cry. I cried because I was ready for her to be here.
With closed eyes, I dug deep into the depths of my soul for the faith that everything would be ok.
With opened eyes, I clung to the neck of the man I love. His piercing green eyes calmed my spirit and carried me through the familiar stabbing pain.
My arms wrapped tightly around his neck, I realized this was it.
THIS was the moment we had been waiting for.
THIS was the moment to let go of the pain.
THIS was the moment of spiritual growth.
THIS was the moment to PUSH!!!
I was done. But I wasn't done.
I'd had enough.
I asked to go home.
Then, like my sister, who delivered 2 of her six children without drugs, and my Mom who delivered one of my sisters that way too, had described, I was entering the 'ring of fire' phase of labor.
Through watering eyes, John yelled, "We can't go home now. You're doing it. Right now. She's coming. She's here!"
Suddenly, the pain stopped and tears of Joy began to flow.
She was laid on my chest.
Her umbilical cord pulsated and was left uncut until it became still.
She nursed right away.
All three of us cried.
Sometimes things don't go as planned. But sometimes, they do.
John and I spent the next hour and a half loving our new baby girl and each other. When we were ready, we called our parents and made plans for The Girls to meet their Baby Sister.
I felt great. I was up and walking around almost immediately.
John stayed with the baby in the nursery while I washed up and changed clothes.
I walked to the nursery.
I gave our sweet baby girl her first bath.
I dressed her in a pink sleeper with flowers and put a hot pink polka dot bow in her hair.
Ella-Marie Joy is finally here. She is healthy and perfect in every way.
Here's our first family photo as a Party of Five.