The picture is blurry and out-of-focus (a sweet nurse took it, bless her, she is not a photographer for a reason), but it's the first moment Josh and I laid eyes on our daughter. This moment, just like the one I had with my son, is the greatest feeling ever. It is what makes every pregnancy and labor pain worth it. The blessing of a child.
But first, let me back up a little bit. Because the journey it took for us to get to this moment is worth telling.
When I was only 15 weeks pregnant with Hannah, we were told that she had two soft markers for Downs Syndrome. I was completely blindsided by the news, but also trusting that God had a perfect plan and purpose for our child. She may have been a surprise blessing for us, but she was specifically created by God for this time.
After several ultrasounds and a blood test, we were told that there was a very low chance of Hannah having any genetic defects! It was comforting to hear. But of course I knew even with all the technology we have today, we would never know for certain until Hannah was actually born.
Fast-forward to my 35 week doctor check-up. We went in not expecting the news we received - I was already 1cm dilated and her head was really low! In my mind I still had over a month left to prepare. Josh and I laughed walking out of there, because we were so not ready at that point.
After that check-up, things started progressing weekly. I began having some painful contractions here and there, along with back cramps that woke me up in the middle of the night. Every week I went to the doctor, I was dilated another centimeter. And every week, they told me that it could be "any time now." This is when patience really became a virtue.
At my 38 week appointment, I was 5 centimeters, 90% effaced, and baby's head was at -1 station. If you haven't been pregnant before, that's code for... I should have been in labor. That week I walked and walked and then slept, because I was too exhausted to walk anymore and obviously that wasn't working.
I was told by the doctors that they would induce me at 39 weeks if I didn't go into labor on my own before then. Because my labor was only 5 hours with my first and I had already progressed so much, they didn't want to risk me having an even faster second labor and delivering at home. I didn't want that either, but I also didn't want to be induced again. I prayed continuously that God would allow my body to go into labor on it's own.
Last Thursday, I went into my 39 week appointment and left with the papers for an induction at 7am the next morning.
I walked out with mixed emotions. Relieved that we would FINALLY be meeting our little girl, but also a little convicted that I may not be making the right decision in going along with an induction. I didn't want to rush something that wasn't ready.
But after that appointment, I began having painful cramps. She told me to expect a little of that because she had tried to "move things along" during my exam, so I tried not to get my hopes up too much. But all night the cramps continued to come, until finally around 11pm I knew I needed to get some rest. I had an induction scheduled in the morning after all, I needed to conserve some energy for labor!
I slept for a whole... two hours. At 1am I awoke suddenly with stronger, painful cramps. I noticed those cramps started coming and going in intervals, so I began timing them. They were about 10 minutes apart. I knew they needed to be 5 minutes apart for me to go to the hospital, so I tried to sleep. I laid there, basically - eyes wide, curled up in the fetal position, trying to handle the pains.
At 3:30am, I was moaning through the contractions. I knew I couldn't wait any longer. I woke up Josh. It took one contraction to hit for him to be convinced I was in labor and he was up and getting ready. I called the hospital to let them know I was coming early. And then I took a shower. I thought it may help ease the pain and the contractions were still coming 5-7 minutes apart, so I figured I had a little bit of time.
I tried blow-drying my hair, but quickly gave up after having to stop several times to grab the counter and wince through the pain. I put my hair in a frazzled braid and we headed out the door to leave. Thanks to having an induction scheduled, we already had everything we needed in the car.
The car ride was... bumpy. And painful. But even through the pain, I was thankful. I told Josh over and over, "I'm so glad God answered our prayers! And now... owwwww... I'm in labor!" :)
We got to the hospital around 5am, and they all found it funny that I was scheduled for an induction two hours later. The same midwife I had seen just 12 hours earlier for my checkup walked in our hospital room and said, "So you just wanted to come see me early, huh?!" She checked me and I was 6cm. I told the nurses I would be needing that epidural ASAP. Josh stayed close to me the whole time and held my hand. Going through labor, twice now, has helped me learn how I handle pain. I like to be touched. There is something amazing in the contrast of a loving stroke of the arm and a painful contraction. It was such natural pain medicine, that I almost regretted getting the epidural... almost. :)
After the epidural (in which I sat there smiling and laughing with the nurses and Josh because I was finally PAIN FREE!) I dilated to 10cm pretty quickly and was ready to push. This was the hardest part with Micah and I was not looking forward to it. But thankfully, this time was a breeze! 20 minutes later and she was in my arms.
This perfect, beautiful miracle was born at sunrise weighing 8lbs 5oz and 20.25 inches long. I remember being surprised at how big she was and how much she looked like her brother. :)
After checking her over and cleaning her up, they noticed she was having some labored breathing and wanted to keep her in the nursery for a couple hours to monitor her. I was sad, because I was looking forward to holding and snuggling with her some more.
But almost as soon as they took her away, I started having painful cramping and heavy bleeding. I remembered that some of that was normal after just delivering a baby, but this seemed... extreme. The nurses kept checking on me every half hour, and would end up needing to clean me up because I was covered in blood. I began to worry when, after a few hours, the pain didn't go away but almost intensified to the feeling of being in labor again!
It finally got to the point where I felt extreme pressure and the urge to push. I was screaming in pain and tons of nurses ran into the room and began pushing on my abdomen. I had hemorrhaged.
This was probably one of the scariest moments of my life. I remember feeling like I was going to die.
Thankfully, the nurses were able to hook me up to IV's and give me some medicine to slow down the bleeding. Once they had everything under control on my end, we got word that Hannah's breathing had normalized and she was ready to come back to our room! It was 2:30pm by this time. Six hours after the birth of our daughter, we were finally together as a family.
When I look at the story of our Hannah, from conception to delivery, there were worries. We have had to lean on God in every moment of this journey. But our faith and love has increased.
One of the nurses made a comment to me quietly after Hannah was born. She had read our chart and saw that she had soft markers for Downs Syndrome and was high risk for a heart defect because of her brother. She asked me when it was that we found out about her "soft markers." I told her at 15 weeks at our anatomy scan. She looked down at Hannah with tears in her eyes and said, "How crazy is it that some people choose to abort because of things like that, and here you are with a perfectly healthy baby?"
I had never even thought about that.
But I will forever share her story, because I believe it was all part of God's plan. He wants to show that ultimately He is the one in control. He is above any medical diagnosis. And every baby has a purpose.