Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Violet's Birth Story Part 2

DThe night would continue with nurses flipping me, trying to find a spot that Violet would respond to, administering oxygen to help her dropping heart rate, and comforting my increasing nerves. I would shake uncontrollably at times. Partly from the nerves and partly from the epidural. I kept trying to pray, trying to calm my mind. The only thing that distracted me was sweet Melissa, the nurse who didn't leave my side as we shared stories of anything and everything. She could sense my nerves and she asked if she could pray for me. There in the middle of the night, my husband and Nurse Melissa gathered around me and put hands on my belly and prayed. What a sweet moment that was. I knew no matter what, the Lord was with me and He had His hand on my baby too. I couldn't do anything else but trust Him to hold her one more night until she would finally be in my arms. Yes, you guessed it. This lesson has been on repeat not just during my pregnancy but throughout the miscarriage, the adoption, and so many other life experiences. 

By 1:30 am I was being checked for progress. We had reached the halfway mark - Kindof - but each contraction was still proving problematic for my sweet baby. The process would continue as stated above and I would try to sleep only to have my blood pressure alarm wake me up almost every 15 minutes. 

By 8 am shift change I begged Melissa to find me a replacement nurse who would be as wonderful as she. Stephenie proved to be yet another godly Christian caretaker who would be by my side with an added level of determination that would prove more than necessary in the coming hours. The doctor came in and said he'd reviewed my contractions and wanted to prepare me for what looked like a necessary c-section. I still felt we had time, thinking I would be able to labor throughout the day and decide later in the afternoon. According to him, though, we would know within the hour. "Why so soon?" He explained labor was simply not agreeing with our baby. She was under too much stress at this point and he doubted strongly she would be able to handle the stress of delivery. He left the room and I lost it.

This wasn't my plan. This wasn't supposed to happen. How could we have come this far only to end up in surgery? How could this be happening? I was upset. Devastated. A thousand thoughts and even more fears racing through my mind. The nurses came in as they were prepping for an imminent c-section. I needed assurance. "Is this absolutely necessary? Is this because I got the epidural?" The nurse who had been with me when I first arrived the day before was now back on duty and explained this was most likely inevitable from the beginning. They assured me it wasn't because of anything I did or didn't do. But I felt like I had failed my little girl. I felt as if my body, which was designed for this, was failing to do its job. Now I would be facing surgery, a completely different delivery and recovery, something I hadn't emotionally prepared for at all. 

My husband held me as I cried. I was heart broken, scared, filled with concern. He prayed over me, over our baby, and I slowly came to terms with this new reality as the nurses were quickly putting this plan into motion. They wasted no time to get everything set and shortly after 11 I was being wheeled into the surgery room. The doctor had an emergency c-section just before mine so as he came in and asked if I was ready, I jokingly asked him was he ready. He laughed and said he had a full night's rest and was ready to go. I was embracing it. I had to. There was nothing else I could do. What had been an 18 hour stretched out ordeal was now becoming a whirlwind of activity.

Our dear friend Dianne had come on shift in the NICU that morning so as soon as I knew we were headed for surgery I asked them to call and see if she could be in there with us. Of course God divinely orchestrated this detail for her to be in the delivery room and be the one to take care of Violet as soon as she entered the world. 

As they prepped me for surgery and the medicine began taking over my body, I started to shake uncontrollably. They explained it was from the medicine and I felt certain it was coupled with my nerves. I was complete numb from the chest down. They raised the curtain near my head but I could see a slight reflection of my belly in the lreflective light above me. Thoughts were racing through my mind. Michael was not yet in there while they had him change into scrubs and the surgical team continued their prep. I needed something to hold onto. "Lord, be with me. Be with us. Protect my baby girl." I prayed to myself. All I could think of was in a few minutes we would meet our daughter. Violet Hope. "May the God of HOPE fill you with all PEACE and JOY as you trust in Him." It was the verse for her namesake and I clung to it. Over and over I repeated it in my mind. 

Finally my husband came in. "Calm me down," I asked him, "I can't stop shaking." This man...he proved to be my ROCK. I cannot express how thankful I am for him and his calm and steady presence, his spirit in tune with the Lord, his desire to love and take care of me. I never knew how much I could love someone until walking through this with him. He put his head near mine and caressed my face. He told me everything would be fine. He reminded me of our daughter we would soon meet.

And just like that they had begun. I'll spare you some of the memories I have of the surgery. I didn't feel anything but I chose when to divert my eyes and when to look at that small reflection in the overhead light. The anasteologist got Michael's attention, "It's time to meet your daughter." He looked up above the curtain and saw our baby girl now removed from my body. I looked into the epreflection desperate for a glimpse. All I could see was a very twisted umbilical cord. But that's when I heard it. The immediate cry of my daughter being pulled from my womb and now entering the world. 

"11:53" I heard someone say. She was here! She was crying. She was alive. She was ours. She was immediately passed to Dianne and I told Michael to go be with her. He was torn between comforting me and being with her. He came back a few moments later to show me her pictures. I couldn't stop the tears. "Please wipe my eyes," I asked. Just a few more moments and they were putting her beside me, then on my chest. I could barely move my arms and I was so overwhelmed with emotion but I clung to her the best I could and kept repeating "She's beautiful. She perfect. She's here." 

While I was being sewn up, Michael went with our baby girl back to the labor and delivery room.  Nana and Papa were there waiting to catch a glimpse of her. Within 20-30 minutes I was wheeled into the room and reunited with my husband and baby girl. The nurse asked if I wanted her bathed and as I watched her get her bath and heard the nurse exclaim "She's pooping!" As I was slowly regaining feeling, I was then able to have my baby girl placed on my chest. Finally. Reunited. Skin to skin. Me and my baby. The one I felt move and kick and hiccup inside me all those months. The one I carried with me every hour, every minute, now finally in my arms. 

This is her story. I couldn't have planned or predicted it when I was writing and wondering about the circumstances and timing of her birth just a few weeks ago. Now here we stand one week after her birth and I am in awe of God and how He prepared everything. But mostly how He's blessed us with this picture of His grace and love and goodness. We've missed her face with thousands of kisses. We've unapologetically snapped hundreds of photos. Make no mistake - this is our miracle. The life we now hold in our arms is the culmination of years of prayers and a masterpiece in the making that neither Michael nor I could have ever seen in the midst of our valleys years ago. She is the picture of God's poured out blessings upon His children who wait and trust Him. It is not how He answers every prayer but we look upon our sweet Violet Hope and know this is how He answered us.

So many of you have shared in our journey. You cried with us over the baby we lost. You've rejoiced with us over this tiny miracle we now hold. You've prayed for our family, for our sweet Eli, and prayed us through so many other trials. So we share her birth story with you to share one thing: this happened so that many would give Praise and Thanks to the Lord. He is good. His mercies are abundant. His love is lavished on us. And in this little bundle of joy we've seen Him manifest Himself to us in tangible ways. Thank you for sharing in this journey, and enduring all the pictures we post! Today we celebrate Violet's  first week of life and we ask you to join with us in giving thanks where thanks is due. 

...But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God... On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:9-11

Monday, November 16, 2015

His Nature

I've covered your face with a thousand kisses already. My most favorite thing to do is cradle you in my arms and watch your peaceful sleep. I won't listen to anyone who says I shouldn't spoil you by holding you all the time. There's no such thing in my mind. You were a part of me, in me, and I long to still hold you and sustain you. If I don't want to be a part from you, I can only imagine how you must feel since I was the only home you've known for all these months.

When you cry, I will comfort you. When you're hungry, I will feed you. When you're lonely, I will be right there. I will do anything for you, baby girl, because I gave you life and I want to make sure your life is full and filled with joy and love. Isn't that just like God? He's reminding me of my need for Him, my life-sustaining source He is to be. 

I will mess up. Oh surely I will fail you, fail as a parent, fail as a person. But God gives grace for those times. He covers us and redeems us because He loves us. We are never too far out of His reach. 

There's only one thing I want for you and that is to know how much you're loved, not just by your family, but by the God who created you. You see, I was the heartbeat you heard. I was the warmth you felt. I was providing the La Caretta that maybe gave you hiccups. But I was not the hands fashioning you. No, those were God's. Now that I look upon your face I don't have to wonder what you'll look like any longer. Now I can gaze at you as the single most creative masterpiece God has made for me. He looks upon each of us as His own, His child created in His image. We are His. We belong. We are loved. 

You were crying so I laid you on my chest and turned on our Praise Baby music. I started to sing to you and you just nuzzled into me, eyes wide open but almost in a daze. I couldn't hold back my tears. The many days I waited for these moments. The repetitive prayers I uttered to the Lord. The answer culminated in this little 8 pound miracle I'm holding. What a picture of God's goodness, His infinite love for us. How many times did I curl up on His chest and need to be consoled as I was longing, hurting, needing comfort. How many times He just held me, loved on me, sang over me and gave me the comfort my soul needed. 

I'm reminded once again how He sees me, knows me, loves me, would do anything for me. He wants to provide for my every need. He wants me to find comfort resting in Him. He wants to be all I need. Here I am learning all over again about His nature, this time through the life of a 4 day old baby. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Violet's Birth Story Part 1

Disclaimer: This is Part 1 of the 2 day/part account of Violet Hope's entrance into the world. It will not be filled with gory details and it will be long, just like her delivery.

We had an 8 am ultra sound one week ago today, Wednesday, 11/11. I kept thinking how cool it would be if we went in to find out labor was on its way. I admit I was hopeful for progress but not expecting full blown labor. I had some contractions 11 minutes a part for almost two hours very early that morning. The ultra sound showed our baby girl, squishy chubby cheeks and all. The tech guessed she was 8 pounds 10 ounces but also said there was a lot of fluid so that guess could be off. It may have been about this time when "Don't Stop Believing" came on the radio in the room and my Journey-loving husband got a big grin on his face and said he knew it was a sign we were going to have her that day. 

We headed to meet with the doctor and it was explained we needed to talk about induction. "When?" I naively asked. "Today," she responded. My eyes must have gotten huge. I wasn't planning on a baby by induction that day. (Or at all.) But given the abundant fluid and her large size, it was more than recommended for her safety and mine. During this visit I also learned I had not progressed any from the .5 cm and 20% I had been for three solid weeks. 

We went home to gather our bags and we stopped at Subway for what I knew would be my "last supper" for a long time. They had prepared us for a long process. I read. I had studied. I knew. I hated the process and what it could mean but I also didn't want my own body to give out on my baby.

We got checked in at exactly 11:11 am and they were waiting for us. I was immediately taken to a labor and delivery room and checked. I had remarkably made progress! 1.5 cm and 50% effaced!! I would take it because that was progress in just a few hours and it was an answer to prayer. By 1 pm I was given a pill to help dilation and effacement. Of course there were talks of pitocin and the unfolding expected induction process. But for now we would wait to see what happened on its own and I kept praying.

Contractions were coming steady and consistently. 7-10 minutes at first then a few hours later we were at 4-6 minutes. I was dilated 2 to 3 cm and at 6:30 pm I felt it. "Call the nurse! My water just broke!" There I was in my hospital bed and my water had broken on its own! This was a huge accomplishment. My body was doing what it was supposed to do without induction.

Never mind they had said I had an "unfavorable cervix." Never mind I was only making slow progress. I was making progress. They had prepared me for a "flood" and that was an understatement. I would learn from several nurses my fluid level was at 42 and should have only been 15-20. No one really explained until later the dangers of this. When I wanted to get up and walk around, I was bed ridden because of the risks of a prolapsed cord or the baby turning. 

Contractions turned fierce and quick after my water broke. 2-3 minutes then 1.5-2.5 minutes a part. I found ways to breathe, ways to power through the pain. Michael could read the monitor and anticipate them as I was feeling the spikes and often the plateaus of them not stopping. The pain in me was proving to put pressure on the baby. Nurses were coming in frequently to flip me into different positions due to my "baby misbehaving." Her heart rate was dropping with intense contractions. They didn't tell me all of it at the time. By 9 pm they checked me again and I felt certain we would be close. 3 cm and 70%. I admit disappointment that I wasn't further along, especially given the extreme contractions. 

Within the hour, several nurses prepared me for the long haul, helping me realize we would probably be laboring through the night and into tomorrow. No one ever forced me, but it was asked if I wanted to consider the epidural. I had read and studied that process too and I knew I couldn't continue on in this intensity for another 12-18 hours. By 10:30 pm I was being prepped for an epidural. (No judgment or opinions please. This was my decision after 9+ hours on my own.)

I asked them to turn the epidural down and not have it on full strength so I could still move my legs somewhat and feel the pressure of my contractions. I had the most amazing nurse, Melissa, who stayed with me almost the entire night. I asked Michael to sleep knowing I would need him by my side the next day during intense labor. Melissa was a God-send. She prayed with me, we shared stories of our salvation. She kept my mind busy when I was filled with worry and fear. You see, my baby was still "misbehaving" and under stress. And so was I. 

It began at 8 am and I had no idea what kind of night or next day we would be in for. At one point I remember one of the nurses saying God must be trying to teach me I am not in control. My endearing husband laughed and agreed this was an on going lesson for me. I couldn't argue. It seems to be my anthem. Why would this be any different? There I was, laid in a bed, unable to move, unable to control what my body would or wouldn't do, unable to do anything for my unborn baby, waiting and unknowingly anticipating the details of her arrival. This was day 1. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Today is the day. Before you get too excited, it's not the actual day. But it is the date on the calendar we've been looking forward to for 9 months. It's November 8, 2015, and so many months ago it became the date etched in our minds that we would look forward to, pray over and anticipate the arrival of our baby. Of course from the beginning we've known this day, this specific date on the calendar, was simply an estimate. It's not a movie premiere or a definitive holiday. No, it was simply a calculated guess to give us some sort of timeline of when we could expect our baby's arrival. 

As the day draws to a close, it has become more than evident she isn't making her appearance on her due date. (Most babies don't.) It does mark the day of a full 40 weeks of pregnancy and a miracle still in the making. It gives me such encouragement and joy to know this day has come, knowing full well the Lord has been fashioning and forming her for the past 280 days, even before we knew about her. It is a day to celebrate, no doubt, for the sheer fact that He has faithfully brought us full term to this point. 

I remember waiting the longest minutes of my life wondering if the test would show positive. Only God knew. Then there was the wait to get past the first trimester. We didn't wait to tell people but we held onto hope and prayed for God to protect this pregnancy. With anticipation we waited for the 20 week anatomy scan. I wanted to know everything was healthy and forming the way it should. God alone was in control of shaping her unformed body. Then of course there was the gender reveal. Until that point only He knew if our baby was a boy or girl. So many milestones. So many reasons to give thanks.

There's a big question mark standing over the actual day of her birth. We can wonder and guess and even make plans but her entire birth story has already been written by God alone. If I can't find comfort and peace in that then I might as well throw all faith out the window! In fact, it took this reminder to help me understand this isn't just my story. The very day she will come into this world has already been planned by Creator God as He began fashioning her in my womb. This is the story He's begun writing for Violet and all I truly want for her is to be safe, healthy and to grow up to love and glorify Him. So with that hope for her, I must also pray for the circumstances surrounding her birth and delivery to bring Him glory. 

I've been praying for the labor and delivery nurses. For the doctor who will deliver. For my husband who will be my support and coach. For me as I prepare mentally, emotionally and physically for this process. For Violet as she breathes her first breath in this world. For those who join us as we celebrate her birth. I don't know the day. I can't even begin to guess a date. But none of that matters. Today we celebrate November 8, not as her birthdate but as the date God has given us as a reminder of the work He began and how faithful He is to complete it. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Plan

Life doesn't always go as planned and yesterday morning was a complete and total reminder of just how loose my grip must be on that which I cannot control.

I didn't plan to get hit from behind. I didn't plan to miss breakfast with friends. I didn't plan to be sent home from the doctor with the report there were no signs of labor. I didn't plan to have a complete and total meltdown after such an emotionally trying morning. None of it was part of my plan but all of it was out of my control. Yet in each and every detail He showed Himself mighty and evident, working in my circumstances.

In a complete act of protection, He had His hand on Violet and me when we were unexpectedly hit. Just when I needed it, He provided friends on the side of the road to comfort and stay with me while I was in sheer panic mode worried about the impact the accident may have had on the baby. While I had hoped to hear a report that would be labor would be imminent, I was truly thankful just to learn that my baby was fine. She was moving, heartbeat was good and she proved to be more than snug in my belly. (As Eli would later explain, "Your big belly is super soft for her so it must have protected her." No doubt, son!)

Overcome with emotion, I sobbed uncontrollable tears sitting on my back porch. I just had to stop and thank Him for Who He is in my life. I watched the unseasonable warm breeze take the colored leaves from the trees and gently carry them to the ground. Just as He had carried me through the morning.
He reminded me I am His child, His creation. His love for me is infinite, everlasting, immeasurable. It's not a gift I can earn or something I can lose. It is freely given and in this particular day, His love was not only lavished on me, it was wrapped in abundant grace. His Presence was with me. His protection and provision was abounding. Being anxious in these moments was a natural human reaction but recounting the multitude of blessings caused me to stop and only give thanks.

Life doesn't always go as planned but sometimes in the interruptions, even the difficulties, in the inconveniences, we find an overwhelming sense of His Presence and Sovereignty at work in our lives. I'm thankful for these reminders. Despite the not knowing, the wondering, the waiting, I'm fine to take my rightful place recognizing His plan is so much better than mine. Understanding that He is watching out for me and working out His plan to completion and perfection - according to His purpose and not my own. It's often frustrating, sometimes devastating, but it can also be freeing when I release my expectation and desire and look solely to Him as my hope. Yesterday God reminded me of the very verse for which we've given our daughter her middle name:

May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope as you trust in Him. Romans 15:13

Overflowing hope, joy and peace is mine to claim if I will simply trust in Him. It's so much easier said than done but these are the moments that bring me to the point of realizing all I can do is place my trust in an all-knowing Sovereign God as I thank Him for always being at work in my life. Even when I can't see. Even when I don't understand. Even when life doesn't go as planned.