Monday, June 2, 2014

A Year Gone By: From Loss to Life!

So much can happen in a year.  Today marks one year since we discovered that we were losing the baby that was in my womb.  I was almost 12 weeks along, but that day one year ago, I found out with certainty that what I somehow already knew in my heart was true.  Wheeled into a cold, sterile room, I stared at the screen during the ultrasound, hoping to see the familiar flutter of a little heartbeat.  Instead, I saw a still little form, arms floating out to the sides, little legs still, no pulsing little heart.  My baby was gone.  Forever in the arms of Jesus.  In the sadness that followed that week, I knew that God was holding me and that my baby was with Him.  I was so thankful for the beautiful ways that the Lord revealed Himself to me and my family during that time of loss. You can read more here:
Of course, time goes on as it will.  God blessed us with another pregnancy just one month after the miscarriage.  What a joy!  I blogged only a couple of times during my pregnancy.  Life was so full, and everything was moving along so quickly.  We had joined an academic co-op which was keeping us on track with school, but which also was taking most of my time due to having to prepare and keep the children going with their studies.  It was very good for our family.  The blog posts I wrote during my pregnancy focused on my desires to have a home birth with baby #11 (10th living).  I was so upset at first, but after a couple of months, I felt such a peace about delivering again at the hospital.  I looked for a doula, and I found out that a friend of mine from a few years back is a doula.  All the pieces were falling into place!  God was definitely directing us that we should deliver our newest blessing at the hospital.  I knew He had His reasons, but of course, we can't predict what will happen.  I thought maybe the Lord was humbling me and reminding me that I always must follow His direction, even when it goes against what I desire for my life.

Our very active little baby was growing fast and keeping me aware of his presence by constantly kicking me, and turning somersaults in my belly.  I even nicknamed him "squirmy" because of his nonstop activity.  Towards the end, he still moved around a LOT.  I felt that I was carrying him higher than most of my previous babies, but I knew God was in control.  My due date approached.  Then it came. Then it went.  How frustrating!  My mother arrived, and we waited for a week past my due date.  FINALLY, we had some action, and I began having contractions.  Things were happening! We were finally going to get to meet our newest baby!  Over that weekend and in the hours when I was in the early stages of labor, several friends texted or emailed me to tell me that God had laid me on their hearts to pray for...  Interesting,  I thought.  I felt that something was going to happen.  I was not worried because I knew that the Lord had wanted us to be at the hospital.  I felt that there was a reason.

 On Tuesday, April 22nd, my contractions picked up a bit.  My doula has a friend who is a midwife who lives near me.  She came over to check me in the afternoon, and I was already about 5-6 cm dilated.  She thought that once I had a few strong contractions, we should head to the hospital.  She did mention that the baby's head seemed to be a little cocked to the side.  Neither one of us thought much of this.  After all, this was to be my 10th birth.  A couple of hours later, I had a few good contractions within an hour, but still nothing regular.  I called my doula, and she decided to come over before traffic hit.  While she was here, I did have some stronger contractions, so we headed to the hospital.  Todd met us there.  I was excited, and all of us thought we would be meeting our baby in just a couple of hours.  All of my labors had been under 5 hours once things got going, and I was already 6 cm dilated.  But the hours dragged on.  I labored all night, taking turns relaxing in the deep bathtub filled with warm water, and getting up to the bed to have the baby's heart rate checked.  I was having a lot of pain on the right side of my body.  I felt like I was in a time warp--like things were taking forever, but also that hardly any time had gone by.  Was it really almost 6am??  We had arrived at the hospital at 6:30 the night before.  I had been certain I would have been holding a new baby in my arms by midnight!

FINALLY, around 6:30am, the nurse checked, and I was complete!  Strangely, I didn't really feel the urge to push.  Usually I feel that urge before I am even completely dilated.  My water hadn't broken, so I thought maybe that was why.  Everyone got set up, and I was ready.  But nothing happened.  No contractions.  No overwhelming urge to push.  We all sat there.  The doctor checked and then decided I wasn't really fully dilated.  I was so discouraged!!  We thought it might be a good idea to break my water so I would most likely dilate fully very quickly and deliver the baby.  The baby was still pretty high.  The doctor left the room, but they told me she would be right outside because they thought things would go very fast.  Well, that wasn't to be. Another hour passed, and I began to feel such intense pain on the right side of my body, my back and my lower abdomen.  It was nearly unbearable, not to mention I was so discouraged because things weren't happening the way they should! The doctor had me push a little to see if the cervix would melt away.  I felt the baby was pushing on my ribs and not moving down as I pushed. The doctors changed call shifts, and my own OB arrived. When she checked me, she thought my cervix was beginning to swell on the right side. Also, the baby's heart rate began to dip alarmingly low with every contraction. I asked for an epidural, thinking that maybe I was too tense from the intense pain on my right side.  I thought that if I could relax it might help.  The anesthesiologist was reluctant because everyone thought that I would be having the baby at any minute.  But I insisted it would help.  I got a 1-hour epidural.  I was able to relax and rest, and my swelling went down, thankfully.  I was complete and the doctor wanted me to push.  But the epidural had worn off, and that horrible pain on my right side was returning.  We tried several different positions to try to bring the baby down as he was still so high up.  Nothing seemed to work and by this time the baby's heart rate was dropping into the 30's and 40's with every contraction and every push.  They put an oxygen mask over my face to supply more oxygen for the baby. I was pushing with every ounce of strength I had, and I felt the baby was just lodged in my ribs and that his body was over to the right side.  He just wasn't lined up right, and I was getting very worried about his heart rate.

My doctor really didn't want to say the word "c-section," but by this time it was about 10:00am!  I had labored naturally for over 12 hours, pushed for more than 2 hours, and the baby was not descending.  We had even tried the squat that had helped with baby Hezekiah during his birth.  Nothing seemed to help.  I pushed a few more times, really giving it all I had.  Baby's heart rate was in the 30's and everyone looked worried to me, though they were reassuring me that the heart rate was coming back up between contractions.  I knew in my heart that I should have had the baby long before if I were going to be able to do it.  It seemed unreal, but necessary for me to have a c-section.  The doctor really didn't want to do it.  She offered for me to try for another 30-45 minutes.  I was worried we would try and end up with an emergency c-section anyway if the baby's heart rate stayed too low.  I felt disappointed but at peace about our decision.  Everything was calm and there was no panic.  I was wheeled into the room where the c-section would take place, and everyone was helping me remain calm as by that time the pain was so excruciating.  Todd was with me.  Within a few minutes, I was ready, and completely numb from the ribs down.  I had such a caring nurse anesthetist who stayed by me and talked me through everything.  I was able to have my hands free, and to be awake and aware of everything.  The moment the baby was born, I was able to hear his little cry, hear my husband exclaim, "It's a BOY!" They wrapped him and brought him right over to my face where I could see him up close and kiss his precious, soft little face.  It was not the way I wanted it to happen, but it was still such a profoundly beautiful moment.  I sobbed with tears of relief and joy!  Our GOD is so GOOD!

My two oldest daughters were so sweet, and stayed through the labor.  My second oldest was there through the entire night, waiting for her sibling to be born.  She was the only one still there when the baby was born via c-section, and when they brought him back to the room, even before I was there (I was still being put back together), she was the first sibling to get to hold her new brother.  It was sweet for her to get to bond with him in that way.

We had two lists of names: a boy list and a girl list.  None of the names on the boy list seemed to be just the perfect name.  It took us almost 2 days to figure out the right name.  We found the name Toviel which means "my God is goodness."  The middle name is Zechariah, which is Hebrew for "the Lord remembers."  How GOOD is our God, who remembers us in every moment and circumstance in our lives, especially when we need Him most.  I am confident that had we been at home for this birth, my wonderful midwife would have transferred me, as it seems that was what would have been necessary.  So things would have most likely been just fine, too.  But we were right where we needed to be--no rushing to the hospital, no panicked feelings.  My nurses were all wonderful and very supportive of my natural laboring, and my desire for no interventions.  My OB was also so wonderful, trying as hard as she could to allow me to have the delivery I was wanting and working so hard to achieve.  She never pressured us to have the c-section.  When it was time, we just knew.  The nurse anesthetist was so kind--I would have been a wreck had it not been for his calm presence, and his words talking me through everything step by step.  How GOOD of the Lord to lead us to deliver in this hospital in the first place.  For those of you who have read my previous blog posts, you know that I was longing for a home birth or birth center birth.  The Lord said NO.  Now I know why.  Toviel was meant to be born just where he was born, in just the way he was born.  I still do wish I had been able to deliver him naturally.  We did everything to make that happen, but the Lord knew his story from the beginning of time.  This is little Tovi's testimony, and part of mine, too.

Now, exactly one year to the day that I found out that our little one had gone to be with Jesus, I am holding another precious little one.  Another reminder of the GOODNESS of our God!  I am overwhelmed with thankfulness, and so hopeful for the future.  This year has been full of times that have built up my faith and drawn me closer to the Lord, to Todd, and to all of my children.  I am at peace.  And I know with confidence that the Lord will continue to walk with us and guide us through this life.  I'm filled with joy and peace.  Next year, on this date, what will I look back and see?

"O taste and see that the LORD is good; How 
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" Psalm 34:8

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