Monday, December 14, 2015

the day we met Walter Thomas

On June 17, 2015 at 10:22 in the morning we laid our eyes on you for the very first time. You are, just as your older brother, a good and undeserved gift from God, our Father. But your story starts much earlier than that rainy day in June...

Your Daddy and I dream of having a home full of children, a quiver full! So after your older brother Owen was born we were hopeful to conceive again with no trouble. Time passed and month after month we were eager to know if we would be given another child. Month after month we were dissapointed. This waiting was something we did not experience with Owen and proved to be a test of trusting the Lord. 

Each month I would battle with numbers in my head...

How many months have we been trying?
We won't have a baby by that holiday. 
Owen will be this old before he has a sibling.
They will have this many months between them.

Some months we were just sure it would happen. We had confidence in ourselves.
For 10 months we were taught the hard lesson that God's plans are not our own.
His timing is perfect, His plan is good.

On October 5th we found out about you! God had heard our prayers! From the beginning, this pregnancy was harder than my first but I'm positive it was because your older brother wasn't giving me a moment's rest. At 15 weeks (my first appointment) the ultrasound tech was able to tell us you were a boy, from that moment on you've been called Walter. 

From early on in this pregnancy I was plagued with fear. A hard 36 hour labor with your brother who weighed in at 11.1 lbs left me anxious as to how you would come + how big you would be when you did. Humanly speaking, I did everything I could to keep you from growing too large. Coffee stunts growth they say, so I steared clear of it with Owen, but was sure to have a cup every morning with you. Excercise? I can count on one hand how many times I did anything of the sort while pregnant the first time, but I made it a priority this time around, even if it just meant a sweaty dance party with your brother in the living room. I did not have Gestational Diabeties in either pregnancy, though that is the first question I'm always asked when they hear those big birthweights.

Beyond all of those things, we prayed! I remember praying the day of the positive pregnancy test that you would be smaller. But I did it for the wrong reasons. I was concerned for my pride. I wanted to prove that under average circumstances I could do a drug free birth-I could be that strong. It took 30 hours of intense labor to reach 8 cm with Owen before I got on pitocin + subsequently got an epidural. Turns out, he was just huge and that's why he was taking so long to descend and depleting me of all energy to go on naturally. But maybe, just maybe, his size was a fluke? 

So while I feared you would be too big, my fear was fueled by pride. Track with me as I try to explain- we prepared for a natural birth with Owen to the max. We read every book on drug free birth-everything by Ina May, Penny Simkin, Bradley Method-the whole nine yards. I labored at home for 19 hours before going to the hospital where I labored another 11 hours unmedicated, making it to 8 cm but was physically completely spent. Without an ounce of energy left to muster we tearfully decided to start pitocin accompanied by an epidural to get Owen to move down the birth canal. And I bawled. I felt like a failure. Another two hours of labor, 25 minutes of pushing and he was in my arms and all those thougths of failure were the furthest thing from my mind. He was here and nothing else mattered. But fast forward eighteen months later, looking at that positve pregnancy test, all those stupid thoughts came rushing towards me again. Was Owen's size a fluke? Would you be smaller so I could prove I could do it?

The fear stayed with me through most of the pregnancy. Some nights I would toss and turn with anxiousness. We prayed. My close friends were praing also; "Lord, let him be smaller, let him come early, with a smooth delivery." Near the end, God graciously made fearful thoughts less frequent and paralyzing. 

At 38 weeks a doctor at the practice thought you might be breech + scheduled an ultrasound to find out. Here we heard you were an estimated 9 lbs and measuring off the charts, similar to 42 weeks gestation. But in His kindness, God kept me from panic. I was dilated to between 4-5 cm at this point, I thought you were coming soon. That Saturday night, May 30th, I woke up to consistent painful contractions, lost some mucas on a trip to the bathroom + my body started shaking. This was identical to the beginning of Owen's labor. I called out to Jonny, "I think were going to have a baby in May."


Almost every night for the next two weeks I had strong contractions that would cease in the morning. My heart grew weary of all the false labor. I grew ancious-wanting to hold you, wanting to know when my last moments with Owen as my only would be. Your due date came and went (I actually went on a hike, dragging your brother up and down hills on your due date!). I had my membranes stripped after 39 weeks and one other time on June 16th. Dr. Evans was shocked I still had not delivered and I really was too. At that Tuesday afternoon appointment we set an induction date for Friday the 19th, 40 weeks 6 days (same as Owen's gestation, figuring you didn't need more time to grow than him!). But as I left her office I started to realize that an induction wouldn't be needed.

The day labor began.
That afternoon (June 16) Owen and I walked around the mall waiting for your Daddy to get off work. I felt very crampy and moved at a snail's pace. Jonny wanted to order dinner from Simply Thai- pad thai, spice level 4 to get things moving, and I complied, though I normally woundn't get hotter than a 3. We sat at the dinner table that night, eating while I bounced on the birthing ball through strong contractions, undeniably different than any contractions I'd had for the last few weeks. I'd been on the ball for about an hour and didn't want to stop for fear the contractions would quit and labor would stall again. It came time for Owen to go to bed so I got up and rocked my sweet boy for the last time as my only baby. I savored it because I knew.  

Once he was asleep, your Dad and I started walking laps of our apartment complex parking lot to get things going again and oh boy did it work! The contractions were so strong, starting 2-3 minutes apart, but soon they were every minute. The sky was a dark purple + a storm cloud was coming in the west, the air smelled so intensely like rain. I made your dad carry an umbrella for the first lap but it only ever sprinkled on us so we ditched that quickly. We were so unsure of what to do. The doctor had told us to come to the hospital as soon as I had consistent painful contractions, thinking you would come quickly being my second big baby. But the weeks of false labor kept us guessing when they would stop. For an hour and a half we walked, stopping for every contraction that took over my whole body. But it's so much nicer to labor outside, it just feels right. A contraction comes like a burst of wind-violently shaking the leaves of a tree, but in a moment it stops and all is calm again. We kept mentioning going to the hospital but we'd talk ourselves into walking a bit more. Finally, around 10 pm we came back to our apartment to grab our things. A friend of ours was staying with Owen until my parents arrived, who had preemptively started their 9 hour journey to Louisville that morning. 

As I feared, contractions stopped once we were in the car. We kept going though, thinking that if they started back up as strong as they had been, we'd want to be there. My doctor had said to me the entire pregnancy, literally at every appointment, "You have a proven pelvis, when it happens, it will be quick." So we got to triage and I felt really silly because I didn't feel like I was in labor anymore. Dr. Evans was on duty and checked me in at 6.5 cm dilated. Unlike with Owen, I was positive for Group B and per standard, was to be given two rounds of antibiotics before delivery. Dr. Evans thought it best if I stay and get the antibiotics since I was so dilated. She was confident that labor would pick back up and we'd "have a baby by 4 in the morning" she kept saying.

The nurses were coming in and out, prepping me and setting up my IV port. Before I knew it we were walking the all too familiar halls of labor and delivery. They are etched in my mind. Your father and I walked hand in hand, round and round the nurses station wanting desperately for your brother to decend. Now I was there again, wondering how you would come. So many unknowns would be answered as the night/morning preceeded.

We came to our room, I was pleased to find it had windows! Seeing the sky really gives you bearings on the whole experience. There were no windows in my room for Owen's labor- it was fancy, with a tub and lots of space, but I'd pick a room with windows any day. I really was so pleased with the room. The nurse came in with the first round of antibiotics around 11:30 pm. Jonny got comfy on the couch and I sat there in bed, head buzzing about the possibility of meeting you soon. The nurse had heard me say I wasn't having contractions so she looked surprised when the monitor showed I was having one. "So you don't feel that contraction?" To which I replied, "I'm having one?" "Uh ya, a pretty big one" she said. I had no epidural at this point so I don't really have an explantion for that.

Four and half hours passed just like that, I didn't sleep, though I know I should have, but how do you calm down enough to sleep when you know you're meeting your child for the first time? Really, how? The nurse came in with word from Dr. Evans to start pitocin. We weren't taken by surprise by this, she had mentioned in my last few appointments, suspecting you were similar in size to Owen, that pitocin would be helpful in bringing you down the canal. Knowing I would prefer less inteverntions, she made it clear she did not think I would need it for long, just long enough to move you down a bit. So at 4:30 am pitocin started. There is a crazy difference between natural and augmented contractions. They literally do feel so very unnaturally painful. Shockingly painful. They kept building in strength and intensity. Your father stayed by my side, breathing with me through them, shaking my legs and hips and lower back through each one. That brought the most relief. I breathed into my lavendar washcloth and exhaled like a horse, flapping my lips, Ina may would have been so proud. But after 3 hours of feeling like each contraction was literally going to rip me in half and split me open, I was done. I was 8 cm and asked for the epidural. But the greatest part about it wasn't knowing that soon the crazy pain would be over, the greatest part was the complete peace I had about it. There was no shame like I had experienced the first time. And in an instant all those fears for my pride were exposed as the silly, God dishonoring thoughts that they were. He banished the fears and the peace I felt was a perfect example of His kindness that leads to repentence!

The epidural was effectively relieving pain by 8 am. Dr. Evans had to leave at 7 and introduced us to Dr. Dutton who was now on duty. She was a very sweet lady, very petite. "I hear you have big babies" she said. I remember thinking "One, I've had just one baby." She relayed that Dr. Evans thought you would be just as big but stressed again I "have a proven pelvis." She left with a smile letting me know she'd pop in again to check on me. From 8 to 9 am I dilated to 9.5 cm, and wouldn 't you know that's when I finally fell asleep! Between bouts of shut eye (I could still feel contractions which kept me from deep sleep) we called my parents to check in on Owen and let them know it should be soon! Another hour passed and at 10 am, I was at 10 cm.

The room started buzzing as nurses came in and out preparing to receive you. I noticed everything with such detail-I looked at Jonny with the realization that in moments we would have two boys to hold and love, protect and train. A few years ago we were just kids who met and fell hard in love + now we were raising kids, kids (plural)! I was a little nervous but mostly just really excited to see you finally. Dr. Dutton came in smiling. She asked about Owen and what he was like...little did he know his world was about to be rocked!

The nurse asked if I'd like a mirror and I said no, I find them a bit distracting. She and the doctor tried to convince me otherwise. I don't actually remember changing my mind but the mirror was put in place despite my hesitation. Before I knew it we were talking about pushing with the next contraction. It was 10:10 am, I'd been in the hospital for 12 hours, and in labor for about 22 hours.

Dr. Dutton was so peaceful and calming. After fighting fear for most of the pregnancy you'd think this moment would be the height of it, but fear was far from me, praise be to God!

Pushing with each of the next three contractions, we were able to see your head, with one more push your head was completely out. I continued to push as coached but soon the Dr. fell silent and whispered something to the nurse that started with "Go..." Her face that had been so pleasant all morning was struck with terror. In seconds the number of people in the room more than doubled and I was laid flat on my back. No one was talking to us and we didn't ask any questions. My nurse was back at my side, along with three others. She pushed hard on my abdomen while the two others pushed my pelvic bones. Your Daddy's face was directly above me, he was staring at the doctor with what looked like a million fears in his eyes, I'll never forget his face, the most scared I've ever seen him. He looked down at me and I'm sure I told him, but without a word, that I was scared and didn't know what to do. With his next breath he spoke out our only hope, "Please God." I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed the same. More than a minute passed in slow motion and I noticed the deepening concern on everyone's faces. My nurse told Jonny to lift my head up and push on my shoulders and told me to continue pushing "with all you've got!" How many times I pushed with all of my strength I can't be certain, but it felt like forever. In reality 2 minutes had gone by. The two most terrifying minutes of our lives. Suddenly, Dr. Dutton's eyes gave me a glimmer of hope. She had managed to hook her fingers around your armpits and bring you out. 

You were a deep purple, your face was swollen and bruised. I heard no crying as you were quickly put on the baby bed and the other doctor in the room examined you. So many thoughts were ringing in my ears, questions, concerns, things seemed to still be in slow motion. I was holding my breath until I built up the courage to ask if you were okay. The pediatric doctor with you looked up and right at me and said "He's okay." Tears poured out of my eyes. Every fear I had was let loose in a flood and replaced with sobering relief. I didn't stop crying for the rest of the day. Dr. Dutton was busy dealing with some excessive bleeding from the traumatic delivery. Afterwards, she came to hold my hand and tell me that I remarkably only had a second degree tear but I would likely experience PTSD. I'm sure my crying had something to do with it but she just kept apologizing over and over again. When I could control the crying enough to speak I tried to convey how grateful I was that you were here and alive. The doctor and nurses were checking your vitals and making sure your shoulder or collar bone were not broken. Once they determined you were okay, they put you on the scale. Your Daddy was holding my hand, so torn between comforting me and checking on you, standing between me and the scale. I heard a nurse say "11.15"

Bigger. Bigger than your brother. It didn't register to me just then, that you were nearly a pound bigger! I was in shock, but I heard you crying and that was the sweetest sound to my ears. You were brought to me and laid on my chest. God had heard our prayers, you were safe and I wept with thankfulness.

Click here to read the birth story of our first son, Owen. 

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