I sit here at my computer almost speechless. Where do I begin? Snuggled up on my chest sleeping is the most beautiful, sweet, precious baby girl I could have imagined. She’s perfect. Happy. Content. Delicious.
But the journey to this moment has been long and painful. From the first days and weeks when I realized that I was pregnant and knowing the sickness that lay ahead, to these last weeks and days when my body was so exhausted, depleted and crippled that I didn’t know how I could go another day. It is finally finished. One would think that after 7 babies, my body would have this whole pregnancy thing down pat. But it doesn’t. I’ve wondered if the added stresses this time around were factors in this being my most difficult, sickly, challenging pregnancy ever. Selling Eric’s practice. Our marriage tested, moving 2000 miles across the US. A new life. Leaving my home and all my furniture behind in Oregon as we wait for our house to sell. This is just the start of the list that goes on and on. Plans that were made that turned out not to be anywhere close to what we were thinking.
And in all this I have struggled. Wondering and questioning… why a baby this year? Why God? Why when I didn’t have any extra to give to a life growing inside of me. Why when I am needed in so many different directions by so many people in my life. Why, when I didn’t have time to be sick or was unable to perform some of the simplest tasks.
And now I look down and breath in the smell of new baby. Her skin, her breath, her hair. I hear her little coos and whimpers as she sleeps on me. I watch her little mouth twitch and smile and frown. And I know that I’m her favorite person in the whole wide world. And my heart melts. And I fall in love…
This last week has felt like minutes and yet at the same time like an eternity. Tuesday was my regular visit with my midwife. She graciously accepted me during my 6th month of pregnancy when I showed up here in Texas. We were instant friends and my prenatal visits were more like girlfriend time chatting and visiting. We knew that I was anemic from labs done around 6 months and were checking my blood counts to monitor it. About a month before my due date, my levels dropped again. At this point, I changed my diet. Green Smoothie for breakfast, hamburger for lunch and steak for dinner…every day. I took iron supplements along with other supplements to boost my platelets and iron. The next test showed my numbers had come up drastically and we were back in the “safe” zone again for another home birth.
Then Tuesday came. My prenatal appointment just 2 days shy of 40 weeks. My midwife thought it was a good idea to test my blood one more time, “just to make sure”. I agreed, as we both seemed to be sure we would only see an improvement from the last lab results. I left my appointment wondering if I would be back the following week, overdue.
She texted me the next evening. “Is Eric there?” I texted back he wasn’t and wouldn’t be home until around 10pm. She asked that we call her when he got home. I knew at that moment that something was wrong. I knew the labs were bad. Again. What I didn’t know or even expect were how bad they were. My platelets had dropped from 137 to 93. As we talked with her and went over all the options to avoid an induction at the hospital, it became obvious that there were no options if we wanted to ensure that this would be a safe delivery. There was a high risk of hemorrhaging. That my blood would not clot and I would need a blood transfusion after the delivery. I had gone from a low risk, have my baby at home with my midwife and husband to a high risk need to be induced immediately at the hospital just overnight. I was devastated. I had swore after I was induced with Michael (our third) that I would never be induced again and if I ever did I would get an epidural. I have loved my last three births at home and had not even thought about going to the hospital this time.
After Eric and I hung up with my midwife, we talked about what to do. I cried. He held me and told me how having me alive was far more important than my desire to birth at home. We live 15-30 min from the nearest hospital that could give a blood transfusion depending on traffic. At with me at 40 weeks, the likelihood of me going into labor on my own was high. My last few babies have come fast and there wouldn’t be time to transport me to a hospital before the baby was born. If there was no hemorrhaging all would be well, but if there was, every minuet would be a matter of life and death for me. We prayed. I cried some more. We decided to trust that if all would go well, that I would naturally go into labor during the night, and if not, we would head to the hospital early the next morning.
Which is exactly what we did. I hardly slept at all that night. Every little contraction (I only had a few) I would be wide awake. So I grabbed my colorful Vera Bradly bag, and just threw things in there. I haven’t packed a hospital bag in almost 10 years. What did I need? I couldn’t even remember. Clothes for baby. Camera. Toothbrush. Flip Flops. Surely I was forgetting things. We met up with my midwife who transferred my care over to the OB clinic that would do my hospital delivery. From there we were sent over to the hospital to be admitted. They drew my blood to get a match and put a stint in for the transfusion if it was needed. I think I had more hospital/ID bracelets on my arm than I have ever had in my whole life. Around noon they broke my water. We all had thought that labor would start immediately. But it didn’t. We walked the halls for hours. We ate Chick-Fil-A for lunch. We walked some more. Occasionally someone would come in and check my progress. Nothing. So around 6pm they started the pitocin. A low dose. Nothing. Over the next four hours, they increased the dose hourly. I had swore with my last induction that I would get an epidural if I ever did it again. But, with the high risk of internal bleeding, no epidural for me. Around 10pm my contractions finally started picking up. Another back labor. For the next three hours, I labored through horrible back pain and with the help of Eric and my midwife (who stuck by my side through the whole ordeal). I somehow survived. And at 12:45am on Friday morning, I gave birth to our 8th child.
Caroline Grace. She weighed 8 lb and 15 oz and was 20 inches long. My biggest baby. My hardest pregnancy. My most complicated labor and delivery. But it was all over at that moment. I didn’t have any complications with bleeding. In fact, my blood loss was on the low end of normal. Maybe my body knew it couldn’t lose that blood. Or maybe the hundreds of people who were praying for me had their prayers answered and my life was not lost to the birth of a child. I don’t have any answers. We still don’t know why my platelets dropped so low. We had Caroline’s blood work done while we were in the hospital, and she was as healthy as could be.
So I’m home now. We are learning a new normal. It’s been four and a half years since I’ve had a new baby. Some things feel natural and other things feel so foreign. I can’t get enough of her tiny little body. Her hands. Her feet. Her nose and ears. I’m memorized. I’m falling in love with the little girl who has spent the last nine months growing inside of me. I already can’t imagine my life without her here. She’s the perfect little one to join our family. I’m beyond thankful that she is laying on my chest sleeping peacefully and I’m no longer pregnant. I’m thankful that season of my life is over. I’m thankful for modern medicine and a midwife that was attentive to my well being and safety. That she was able to see the potential danger that I had ahead of me and was willing to transfer my care to someone who was more highly trained to deal with high risk deliveries. I’m thankful for the hospital that had everything I needed if things had gone wrong. I’m thankful for my husband who supported me though this entire journey. All the way to the end, when I ended up in a hospital being induced. I’m thankful for a God that is so much bigger than I could ever imagine. That even when I feel like there is no hope, or that my life is in complete despair, He has a blessing awaiting me at the end of a very long hard journey.