Every night before going to bed, I close my eyes and replay how it all happened. And every morning I awake with a happy heart knowing she’s ours — finally here, healthy, and the most beautiful little doll I could’ve ever imagined.
I guess the best place to start is a few days prior to her arrival. It was a sunny afternoon, Thursday March 26th. We had been busy all morning making something (can’t remember what, exactly – oh yes, I know! It was the Easter meringues). The boys were playing in the backyard while I finished cleaning up. I decided we’d eat outdoors for lunch to avoid “messing-up” the kitchen again. Besides, sunshine is always a good place to dine. So there we were, outside enjoying our lunch and into our backyard comes the landscaper. His face said it all; he was looking for us and had something he needed to say. We greeted each other with hellos and a bit of small talk. And then he sat down and got comfortable. He was about to unload a story I wasn’t prepared to hear. He started with, “You’re almost due, right?” I was thinking we’d discuss lawn or shrubbery… but babies? We hadn’t talked much about personal stuff in the past… where was this all leading? I replied, “Yes, actually due tomorrow, in fact. But most likely I’ll have to be induced. I was induced with both of my boys. My babies just don’t like to come on their own.” He looked startled, “Really? Are you scared about all that? Being induced, I mean.” “Not really. It’s kind of nice knowing when and how it’ll all happen.” And then opened the flood gates — a story of how his son was born… 30 hours of labor, the trauma, the horrible care they received, graphic details, the sad ending of it all. I found myself stunned. Shocked. Dare I ask the doctor’s name? Before I could debate it out with myself, I blurted, “How long ago was this? Who was your doctor, if you don’t mind me asking?” His response was almost as shocking as the birth story — a doctor who belonged to the practice where I was receiving my prenatal care. Granted, I had never met that particular doctor; but I had had my doubts over the past nine months about the whole practice, in general. In actuality, there was only one doctor I felt completely comfortable with. But even then, that was no guarantee she’d be the one to deliver my baby.
So there I was, caught in a moment somewhere between, I can’t believe I’m hearing this; and, you have to do something about it, like now! Change doctors today. Clearly, this isn’t by chance. None of it. It’s divine intervention and you better listen to it or something might go horribly wrong!
I told him the same things; and how grateful I was that he had shared his experience with me. He said he just felt like he needed to talk to me about it. He left (again, with no mention of anything horticulture related) and I went back inside completely bewildered. The questions swirled, How on earth am I going to switch doctors? Who do I switch to? What if I go into labor today, then what? Will insurance even let us switch doctors the day before my due date? This is insane!
I felt panicked and an urgency to get things settled immediately. I called Ryan and told him what had happened. And immediately following called my mom to see if she had any ideas of how to get good references for a new doctor. We both prayed for help; and the thought entered her mind of a neonatal nurse who goes to church with us (who ironically also happened to be pregnant). I texted the nurse and she immediately replied back with recommendations and some sound advice for making the switch. One of the doctors she named, rang familiar — when we moved last summer, this was the doctor I had originally made my appointment with but for whatever reason had ended up canceling. If God wasn’t trying to show me the right path back then, He was making it crystal clear now.
4:45 pm — I got on the phone and made the call to the prospective new doctor. The office manager answered and reluctantly I told her, “Um, so, I’m not exactly sure how to say this, but I’m looking to switch my prenatal care to your practice and I’m due tomorrow!” Not shocked in the least, but with the kindest concern, she told me to get in the car, bring my insurance, and she’d start working on the rest. I hung up the phone and burst into tears — tears of gratitude that confirmed heaven was directing all of this. I could feel God’s individual love for me and for my baby girl. I knew He cared. That He was with us every step of the way, protecting us.
By the time I got to the office, my medical records had already been transferred and I was all set to see the midwife (being past 5:00 my doctor had already gone home for the day). I felt flush with bewilderment. I couldn’t believe this was all happening to me. Here I was on the eve of my due date spilling my past labor stories, medical history, with all new people. I left the office with an appointment to return the next day to have my membranes stripped in efforts to prepare my body for labor.
The next day, Friday the 27th was like every other day that week — very uncomfortable physically; but leisurely spent with the boys… just taking it easy and enjoying each other. Noon rolled around and it was time for my appointment. With deep breaths and 30 minutes of uncomfortable prodding, it was done. I was told to expect spotting, possible contractions a few hours later, and hopefully a baby by the end of the weekend! Not one for getting my hopes up, we scheduled a tentative induction date for April 2nd… you know, just in case baby girl decided to stay cozy.
And with that, I was on my way back home just in time to take a nap with the boys. I snuggled up with Beckam (big belly and all) on his little twin bed; just twirling his hair and tickling his face until we both fell asleep. About an hour later, I woke up to some sharp pains below my belly. I didn’t think much of it. Regular contractions had been a daily thing for the past four months. Surely this wasn’t anything different. After a few more, and more of the foreign sharp pain, I realized these contractions WERE different. They hurt lower, sharper, and made it hard to breathe. I tried to fall back asleep but I just couldn’t get comfortable. I texted Ryan just to be on the safe side and ensure he was on his way home. Thankfully he was. When the contractions didn’t subside, I called my mom to be ready to come and watch the boys. I down-played it all; I didn’t want to get everyone all ruffled if it wasn’t really going to happen. After all, I didn’t even know exactly what REAL labor even felt like. By the time Ryan got home, everything had stopped — yep, a false alarm. So we all jumped in the car to deliver the Easter meringues and then head to dinner, as a family. Not being one to turn down a chocolate malt (EVER), we headed to Smash Burger at the request of all the boys. A few bumps here and there would set off a contraction; but nothing abnormal. Once home, with jammies on, teeth brushed, boys in bed, it was like any other stay-at-home Friday night. We (more like Ryan) watched basketball and I fell asleep on the couch. Being too tired to wash my face, I just crawled into bed. Before rolling over to my side of the bed, we talked about plans for Saturday: they’d golf, I’d go do some errands, maybe out to lunch altogether and an early movie just the two of us.
Plans changed at 1:00 am Saturday morning. The sharp pains were back with avengance. I tried going back to bed — surely, it was just the same thing that happened the afternoon before. By 1:30 I wasn’t able to endure the pain without crying out! While gripping the bedpost hunched over hurting, I woke up Ryan. “Pretty sure this is it, Hon. We better get our stuff together.” And then another contraction after another; it seemed like as if there was hardly anytime in between. I told Ryan to start timing. I thought he must be half asleep when he said three minutes apart. That’s too close. I role-played the hypothetical of not making it to the hospital in time. But quickly reassured myself that only a half hour of labor wouldn’t be enough time for anything to progress too quickly.
I called my parents who were ecstatic to be getting the “it’s time” phone call. And then called the after hours line for my doctor. “I think I’m in labor. But I’m not sure. I’ve never gone into labor naturally.” He explained that the doctor would be notified, would make her way to the hospital, and that we should do the same.
The time that passed between my parents coming and driving to the hospital was something out of the movies. Ryan was hilarious! Running this way and that… half asleep half stressed and completely unable to function. I proceeded to give orders like a well-rehearsed military marm, “Ryan! Get dressed. Your pajamas don’t go on the floor, babe. Did you get the camera? Why is your side of the bathroom a mess? Do you want a hat to wear? No… Not that one, it doesn’t look good with that hoodie. Forget the hat! We need to get out of here. Like now!” Making my way to the garage, I braced myself against anything that was within arms reach: a dresser, doorways, walls, anything that would help me endure the oncoming contractions. They were getting stronger; and I was getting more vocal. I couldn’t believe I was “one of those women” who was moaning and groaning, clenched teeth, head down, begging my husband to throw his fist into my lower back to relieve some of the pressure. Why did it feel so differently this time? So much worse! With our bag ready, a water bottle in hand for sipping on the ride to the hospital, and my parents ready to take over… we got into the car. My dad on one arm and Ryan on the other, they hoisted me into the passenger seat. “You know how to get the hospital, right Ryan?” Of course, he didn’t. But I reassured my dad I could manage giving him directions. My mom yelled something to Ryan about avoiding bumps and wishing us good luck! And with that, we pulled out of the driveway and were on our way! I couldn’t believe it was actually happening… our third child’s birth story writing itself with every passing minute.
In between contractions I started to second-guess myself aloud, “Maybe it’s all going to stop. Maybe we should’ve waited longer at home. I don’t want to get there and this whole thing be a waste.” But then another contraction would come and my reservations turned into, “Babe! Hurry! What if we don’t make it in time for an epidural! Go!” Polar opposite emotions, found us laughing together uncontrollably. I was undoubtedly in labor. We called the doctor’s line again to see if they could have the anesthesiologist ready to go when we arrived at the hospital. I knew my body was rapidly progressing; but all they could promise was, “The doctor should be there when you arrive and will be able to take care of that for you.”
As soon as we got to the hospital, we pulled into the circular ER entrance so we could get some extra help and a wheelchair to take me up to labor and delivery. Even getting out of the car was a challenge. The pressure felt like the baby was going to fall out into the seat before I even had the chance to sit down! A nurse rushed me up to the third floor. In the elevator she asked if this was my first child. I was so proud to respond, “I have two boys at home and this time we’re getting a … Ughhh-ahhh (another contraction) … little girl!”
Out of my mind in pain, it was 2:30 am when we checked into the desk. Several nurses were ready and waiting for me. A bubbly brunette with a bright smile took the lead, “Hi, I’m Kendra! I’ll be your head nurse. I’m bringing my team along with me so we can get everything in order, just in case. Let’s get you changed into a gown and ready to go!”
Mouth-yelling to Ryan, I prompted, “ANETHESIOLOGIST!” He asked, “Um… Is the doctor here? How soon can we get the anesthesiologist, up here? She needs an epidural. She’s close!” Both he and I know all too well what happens when you wait too long for an anesthesiologist. You don’t get the epidural. That’s what. And we weren’t about to let that happen again. The nurse reassured us that the doctor was on her way; but even if she didn’t make it in time, that they knew how to deliver a baby.
Sensing I was knee-deep in heavy labor, everything seemed to move on fast forward. One nurse shoved a clipboard in my lap and told me to sign this and that and who knows whatever else. At the same time, another poking, proding, and drawing blood. And a few others wheeling in delivery equipment “just to be safe…” and “just in case” they kept saying…
All I knew was that I needed to lay down and have someone see how far along I was. Not being in any state to change my clothes, my arm flung around the nurse nearest me to help me into the bed. Kendra did a quick check and I was already seven and a half centimeters! An hour of labor and I was already at a seven? At this rate, she was coming soon.
With bands on my belly, the monitor tracking each contraction, begging for an epidural between breaths, dizzy from expelling and taking in so much air … I was scared. Really scared. The pain was so intense I almost felt myself slipping out of consciousness. I closed my eyes to try to concentrate and calm myself. But I just couldn’t get it in control, “I need some repreve! This is too intense!” It felt as if a knife was being stabbed into my lower abdomen and then drug across the entire width of my body. That, and the suffocating pressure in my lower back; which past experience said baby girl was likely posterior. I yelled out, “I can’t do this for much longer!”
Kendra tried to reassure me I was doing so well and validated my concern, “Your utereus definitely wants to have this baby! And fast! Do you see this, Ryan?” They joked with sarcasam and muttered something about my contraction line flying off the charts. With eyes glued to the monitor, they both tried to encourage me and let me know when I had reached the peak and when each contraction was about to subside.
Seconds, not minutes, would pass between contractions and I could feel my entire body convulse with the tension – toes twitching, hands clinging to the bedrails … hanging on for dear life. Where on earth was the doctor? I could feel my stomach bear down and push involuntarily. I had no control over it.
I knew with each minute, the odds were increasing against getting an epidural. “Please, can you call the anesthesiologist? She needs an epidural. The pain is too much. I can tell.” Ryan said. “We can’t call him until we get her blood results back. Don’t worry, the doctor will be here soon.”
Within a few minutes, the privacy curtain swished open. It was the doctor rushing in still knotting the strings on her scrubs. She reached out her hand and placed it on top of mine that was still clinging to the bed rails, “Hi. I’m Karen. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Ironically this was our first introduction; but she knew all the background story. She continued, “You’re going to do this sweetie. And I’m going to help you through it all. Just listen to me carefully, and do what I say. Try to keep in control and everything will work out, just right.”
Another contraction came. Panicking I held my breath… I just didn’t know what else to do! With the doctor by my side she gently rubbed my forehead, “Relax your face. Release your shoulders. Inhale through your nose. You’re so strong … You’re so strong.” I listened to her soft calming voice, almost hypnotizing calm. It was all I could hold onto for help.
Ryan came to my side with tears in his eyes, “Missy, are you ok?” Voice shaking I was barely able to mutter, “I don’t think I can do this.” More tears came streaming from his face, “I love you so much. Stay with me, babe.” I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on being strong through the relentless contractions.
In came the anesthesiologist. The doctor gave him a brief update, “She’s too close for an epidural. I think our best bet is a spinal. I’m not even sure it’ll take since there’s no down time between contractions.” They swung my legs over to one side of the bed, prepping for the anesthesiologist. I was told I’d need to scoot to the top and do my best to hold extremely still. As I tried to stand up, the most intense contraction yet, hit. My stomach bore down and pushed against my will, trying to squeeze the baby out! The pressure and urge to push, quickly followed. “Oh my gosh, she’s coming! I feel like I need to push!” The doctor instructed, “Ok, lay her back down and I’ll check her.” But before they could proceed, I interrupted, “I think I can try to do this. I can hold still.” I wanted the drugs. I needed the relief. And so I carefully sat on the edge of the bed, back curled, head resting against Kendra’s empathetic shoulder, and prayed. Heavenly Father; help us. We need this to take. I’m at my breaking point.
Breaking as if being torn in two — one-part a lion of courage … one-part a sheepish coward, wanting to give up. Even having gone through a car accident and both of the boys’ births; this level of pain was uncharted territory. The word pain, doesn’t even adequately describe the sensation. It’s more like a feeling of power mixed with utter vulnerability. No one can take it away. No amount of pleading for help can allow someone else to share in the load. You’re alone in a sphere of strength. And the only thing you can do is surrender to all of it. Accept it, pray, and dig deep into your role as mother. For, therein lies the power that only a woman holds — the power to bring about new life.
My inner dialogue was interrupted, “This will feel like a bee sting and then you should feel the pain weaken with each contraction.” He said as the needle was inserted into my lower back.
Like a racing train without breaks, the contractions continued on top of each other. The much anticipated relief failed to come. I was in distress, “It’s not working! I need something to take the edge off. Please! Help me!” An angel must have whispered to Kendra suggesting to administer a pain med through my IV. Both the doctor and anesthesiologist agreed it could help me until the spinal block took into affect. I laid waiting, and wishing, and hoping, and praying for relief. A rush from the IV made my head spin and I exhaled.
Eyes closed and ready for it all to be over, the doctor instructed the nurse and Ryan to grab my legs. My body wasn’t going to be patient any longer. “It’s time. Push down hard, sweetie. You’re strong. She’ll be here soon. Push! Keep pushing! You’re doing it.” The burning sensation that followed was maddening. I was delivering naturally. And there was no turning back. “One more; that’s it! She’s coming down!” I opened my eyes for just a brief moment to see Ryan’s face of wonder. The face of a soon to be father of three — ready to meet his sweet baby girl.
The doctor was silent for a moment and Kendra rushed to my belly to adjust the bands. They couldn’t hear a heart beat. Another nurse came to my side and put an oxygen mask to my face. What’s happening?! Please say the baby is ok!
And then, “Another contraction is coming. I’m ready to push, again!” “Okay, go for it; but listen to my instructions and do exactly as I tell you.” I gave it my all until, “That’s it! Whoa. Stop! She’s almost here. Let your body do the rest for you.” The burn was a raging surge of fire. And then in an instant, I felt a blubbery twist as her tiny body turned on her way out. At the sound of a new cry, there are no words strong enough to describe when heaven and earth collide, “Missy, open your eyes! She’s here! Look at her!” Ryan said.
4:02 am — lips quivering, arms flailing and legs stiff, Kendra placed her little body on my chest. “She did a full blown flip with one arm raised as she came out! You’ve got yourself a little cheerleader! Congratulations” Her little cry immediately stopped as she curled up into a little ball of radiant heat against my chest. The feeling of her warm body against mine made it all worth it. Having done it together — a mother and daughter, I was transformed forever.
Nothing in the world can narrate the feelings of my heart full of gratitude and love for what had just happened. A miracle. I looked at my doctor with tears in my eyes, “Thank you. Truly. You were a godsend; I needed you so much.” She responded, “You were so strong. That was not an easy labor and you did it well.” Kendra followed, “No really. This is my life and I see hundreds of deliveries. It happened so fast and was incredibly intense. You were amazing!” The room filled with chatter reliving the rough parts, guesses of her stats, and my husband making it known he was equally impressed by my hidden superhuman strength. That, and his asking the doctor medical questions about the uterus, placenta, and heaven knows what else; he’s cute like that.
The doctor suggested I have a cold glass of sparkling cranberry juice. “It’s always my favorite. And after what you just went through, it’ll taste amazing. We’ll all be back in a bit. Enjoy this moment.”
The room was dim. Quiet. Peaceful. Just me and the love of my life, starring in awe at our precious baby girl. With her birth, it was all over and a new beginning was born again, for a third time — once more on a road of wonder, hope and dreams of the possibilities of life with another cherished blessing.