Ever since I can remember I've always wanted to be a mama. When we found out this Summer that God gave us the desire of our hearts to be parents our hearts soared! All babies are so wonderful and amazing but being pregnant took our awe to a whole new level. Each week we read how our sweet girl was developing. How amazing is our great God?! He formed this precious child day-by-day, minute-by-minute over 10 months.
The first time we saw her on an ultrasound (and every time, actually) my eyes swelled with tears. There is no better way to describe it other than- amazing! From as early as 12 weeks she looked like a teeny tiny person. We even joked that she had her daddy's personality because when we went to capture a picture of her on the ultrasound she quickly flipped over and 'hid.' Each check up was the highlight of my month or week as we got closer. We recorded the sound of her heartbeat and framed pictures of her ultrasounds. We prayed for her health and safe arrival. We loved this sweet baby girl from the minute we discovered she existed.
We were blessed immeasurably with a very smooth and mostly easy pregnancy. Baby girl gave us a few scares but every time she was perfectly well. My only real anxiety was over delivery. I was worried about being strong enough. As our due date drew closer my fears and anxiety heightened. I remember the night we walked out of our last birth class. I held it together long enough to get into the car and then completely fell apart. I sobbed realizing that this was it- everything was completed in anticipation of sweet Macie. The nursery was decorated and furnished, baby clothes were washed, and the birth class was complete. Anxiety rushed over me as I fearfully thought about labor and delivery. I wanted so much to do what was right for the baby and for myself. I've never had a strong pain tolerance and I really wasn't sure I was up for natural birth but I wanted to try. I prayed through my tears that night asking God for help. I needed help with my fear. I needed help to handle contractions. I needed help to deliver our baby.
Each morning as I drove to school I asked for grace in labor and delivery. I pleaded for strength both physically and emotionally. For a pregnant mama I had the perfect job. I helped teach a Kindergarten class and I worked with the most amazing and thoughtful teacher. She has a 3 year old little girl and was so great to give insight and consolation for my pregnancy adventures and fears. When my colleagues asked about my plans for maternity leave in jest I would say I planned to teach through contractions all day then go home and have the baby. Who would've thought that could actually happen?
On Valentine's day I went to my 8:30 doctor's appointment for a scheduled ultrasound. We were concerned about Macie's size since her daddy weighed close to 10 pounds and I was a bouncy 7 pounds and 14 ounces. My mama in love, or as we affectionately call her now, Lollie, came with me. It was pure joy to get to share the ultrasound with her. That morning, according to measurements on the ultrasound, Macie weighed 7 pounds and 11 ounces. We were in pretty good shape since we only had 10 days until the due date. All morning I was having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions. I asked the doctor about it and he nonchalantly replied that I should "just keep an eye on them." He went on to suggest scheduling an induction for the following week. I sheepishly declined on account of my fear but mainly because I needed to pray about it and talk it over with Joshua. After leaving the office, again, the tears ensued. I couldn't believe her arrival was so immanent. Little did I know those weren't Braxton Hicks I was feeling, labor had begun.
...The ultrasound almost exactly 24 hours before she was born...
At that point I knew something was happening. The contractions were consistent and getting more difficult. I went straight to Joshua's parent's home because I knew my mama-in-love and the sisters would be home. I wasn't positive I was in labor but I didn't want to be home alone. I thought for sure if I laid down and relaxed the contractions would stop. However, after some rest and continued symptoms of labor, I knew I needed to call the doctor before the office closed. The nurse very adamantly insisted that I needed to head down to the hospital. I was in shock. I was just in the doctor's office that morning, how in the world could it be time? I fell apart and again, tears. (Have you noticed a pattern yet?) I called J and let him know what was happening. He left work and headed for the hospital as Lollie and I were on our way. Still in denial, I walked into triage and joked with the ladies in reception saying, "Do I look a woman in labor? I'm perfectly fine. This isn't happening yet." After being checked out they determined that I was in early labor and not active labor yet. I was sent home. (See, I knew I was fine!)
After what felt like the most uncomfortable and bouncy ride back to my in-laws we enjoyed a lovely valentine's evening meal of Chick-fil-a courtesy of my sweet mama-in-love! The conractions continued and were getting intense. At one point I had a very strong contraction and I panicked thinking, "I can't do it. I can't. I need help." I was then I knew I was going to have to have an epidural. Then, it dawned on me that, Hello!! It's Valentine's day and maybe my sweet in-laws would like to enjoy the evening! What were we doing at their house?! Joshua and I left and came back to our house. My contractions were getting more painful and at this point I was still dressed up in my school clothes. I changed and tried to relax. I recalled all the relaxation techniques from our birth class and none of them seemed to help. It was just painful! I went into our room, prayed, and tried to rest- again, I thought if I laid down it would stop. (Seriously, I know you're thinking I'm crazy right now, but it really never set in that this was it.) We timed the contractions for an hour. They were about a minute in length and 2-3 minutes apart. A little after 10:00 Joshua made the executive decision to head to the hospital.
Again, the ride was very uncomfortable but thankfully this time I had a lot more room and a shoulder to hold onto. My beloved in-laws offered to take us. Joshua's sweet dad drove us as J and I sat in the back and managed through contractions. His kind mama followed us in our car so we'd have a car at the hospital to come back home in. Upon arrival I wanted to walk up to the birth center, but I was coerced into a wheelchair by the energetic security guard. He ran as he pushed me up to triage. Maybe he thought I was about to push the baby out?! The guys parked the cars and sweet Lollie jogged behind me up to triage. This time I wasn't so jovial. I felt embarrassed that I was back because I just knew the nurse was going to send me back home. Much to my surprise, the nurse checked me and announced I headed to the birth center to be admitted. My head reeled, I was thinking, "what? I made it? it really is time? oh no! I didn't finish packing the hospital bag! I was going to do that tomorrow on my day off school!"
...around 2 am I figured I better let friends/family know this is happening- so I texted... :)
They transferred me back into the wheelchair and pushed me down to the birth center. I climbed into bed and the process began. I got my IV and they asked it I would like an epidural. Of course, I said yes. I couldn't handle the pain and I knew it was about to get exponentially more difficult. Joshua stood by my side the entire time. He encouraged me, held my hand, brushed my hair back. I adored him then more than ever. When the funny anesthesiologist came in he quibbed about his expertise. He asked if I knew any pregnant friends to which I replied, "yes." He told me, "Tell your pregnant friends don't come on week night. Come Monday morning- you get real doctor. On week night you get Indians!" We laughed so much! He continued to make silly jokes as he began to set up my epidural. He was great. My eyes stayed fixed on Joshua and the picture of sweet Macie's ultrasound he was holding. Before I knew it the epidural was over. It didn't feel good but it was honestly not that bad. The anesthesiologist was an excellent doctor. After about 10 minutes or so I felt nothing. Crazy! I relaxed and couldn't believe it. The girls had arrived at the hospital and were so sweet to come back and see me. They didn't stay long but long enough to give me courage and make me feel so loved. Our precious family camped out in the waiting room for the night. (I can't begin to tell how much I love my family!)
...best cheerleaders a girl could ask for...
I knew I was going to have a big workout ahead of me with labor and delivery so I decided to try to rest. I wasn't sure how long it was going to be until it was time to push since I couldn't feel anything. J stayed up through the whole night but I was laying in the bed snoring! Yes! Snoring through labor. We joke that I got better sleep the night I was in labor than I had in the last 9 months! I woke up around 3 and asked J if I was still having contractions because I felt nothing. I was so afraid that the contractions would stop and we'd need a section. He smiled and said, "nope, you're actually having a pretty big one right now." I looked at the monitor and was astonished! I was really moving along!
I went back to sleep and I don't remember when it was but after a little while I began to feel sensation and contraction pain on my right side. The nurses thought this would be a relatively easy fix. I had been laying on my left side so I just needed to flip over to the right. They moved me over and I fell back asleep. I don't know how long it was but I remember being woken up to several nurses around me checking my blood pressure, putting oxygen on me, and rolling me back over. In the process of moving me my water finally broke. Apparently, being on my right side made my blood pressure drop and Macie's heart rate slow down. I didn't understand what was going on all I knew is that I wasn't hearing her heart beat on the monitor any more. Thankfully, the panic didn't last long and after repositioning the monitor they found Macie again and her heart was going strong!
Around 8:00am one of my nurses came in and asked if I was ready to push. I had been fully effaced and was 10 centimeters dilated for a while. My body was ready to go. J took one side and the nurse the other and I began the most exhausting work out of my life! I pushed with her for about 40 minutes and then the doctor arrived. They got everyone and everything into place. I felt unbelievable peace. It was time and I was ready only by the all sufficient grace of God. I pushed for a little over 30 minutes. The nurses counted and Joshua's words of encouragement gave me courage. He was my rock through it all. He was right beside me, literally holding me the entire time. Just as I felt I had given it all I could, God gave strength for one last powerful push and she was here! At 9:33am we met our precious, Macie Jane. It was the most incredible moment of my life. She came right to my chest. She was warm and squishy and slippery but most of all she was the most beautiful creation I have ever seen. She was perfect! I cried and I held her and I looked at her. I looked at my beloved husband as he gazed at our sweet girl- I've never felt so full of love. As I held her, Joshua leaned in close and prayed. He thanked God for his incredible grace, for our healthy girl, and for such a smooth delivery. She was here and He answered every single one of our prayers.
After snuggling our baby for a little bit and getting the go ahead from the nurses our family could finally come back! This time I wasn't the only one in tears! Our immediate family was there right away to meet her and Aunt Deb came down too! Our precious little sweetheart was so loved- while we stayed at the hospital almost every single family member and a few friends made it out to the hospital to meet her. Over the two days we stayed our nurses took such great care of us. They were so friendly and helpful. I asked about five million questions most of which received the same response, "that's normal- all babies do it." If I thought I was bad as a first-time-pregnant mama I'm much worse as a first-time mama of a newborn!
It was a snowy Saturday in downtown Columbia and we snuggled up in our cozy room together as a family. We eagerly watched the hours pass on as we were excited to get home. Finally, the time came a little after noon on Sunday and we were released to head home. I sat in the wheelchair holding sweet baby Macie as they pushed me out of the postpartum wing, into the elevator, and out of the hospital. As we traveled across the bridge in the bright, sunshine my eyes swelled with tears again. I was holding our beautiful gift, God gave incredible grace to deliver, and we were embarking a new chapter in life. We made it- by God's grace alone. He is good all the time but we enjoyed the richness of His goodness in an amazing new light. For the whole ride home tears of joy fell. My heart has truly never felt so absolutely full. We came in on a chilly, dark night two days ago and on that crisp, clear blue-sky day we left with the most beautiful baby girl this world has ever known.
I've always wanted to be a mama and on Friday morning, February 15th 2013 my dream came true!
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6