I just sat down for the first time today. It really feels like it’s the first time I’ve done much of any sitting for two weeks, but I’ve never been more over the moon to be so tired. Today Joshua is two weeks old, and it seems like a good day to capture the moments that tell the story of his birth.
There was great doubt at some point that Joshua was ever going to try to make his debut. In fact, he didn’t make his debut until forced out – or evicted as my doctor’s nurse teased. We had been trying to get me on the schedule to be induced for almost two weeks, but wouldn’t you know a Super Moon would come along and have every baby in the Kansas City area rushing to be born. Well, every baby except Joshua!
The reason we were looking at trying to get me induced was because there was no doubt that he was going to be a big guy, but there was doubt that I would be able to birth him the way I wanted if he got much bigger. At my last appointment, my belly measured almost 42 weeks and I wouldn’t be 40 weeks until Sunday. My appointment was on a Wednesday. It was the first appointment I cried at because I had really terrible insomnia and hadn’t been able to sleep more than two hours a night for 12 days. This isn’t sustainable. No one can go on chasing an almost five year old and two and a half year old who never stop moving while growing a person and not sleeping. My doctor hugged me and let me cry. She also wrote me a safe prescription for a sleep aid & life was so much better. After just one night of actual sleep, I felt like a person again – well, more than I had in a while. I knew I could stay pregnant as long as was safe for both of us if I could just sleep.
I think of a scene from Gilmore girls where Sookie is convinced she’s never going to go into labor. She says, “The ship’s too big and the bottle’s too small!” That’s really how I felt and that was the real risk at this point. I was bounced around on the induction schedule and left to hold my breath hoping for a spot until my doctor called in to be sure I was still at the list and that Monday would be the day. I can’t express how much I love Dr. Wittek. It was such a scary thing to have a new doctor when I had such an amazing one before, but God heard my prayers and blessed me so well with her. Her heart was so for me and Joshua. She was in this with us the whole way through – loving us both.
As emotions wound down over the weekend, Monday morning came with a phone call that said it was my turn! I was already up praying and getting dressed – hair fixed and some make-up so I could look the best I could to meet my new little guy. I had to be in early to be induced so Rob stayed at home with the kids, and I drove to the hospital. Well, before I did, I wanted to do what I could on our last car ride with Joshua in my tummy to bless those who would be taking care of us so soon so we took a detour through Krispy Kreme. I really believe that if you have a chance to bless others in any way, even something as small as donuts, you should do it!
As we arrived and got checked in, I sat in a waiting room and watched two older parents talking nervously. A man came out of the patient area and sat down looking utterly exhausted. As their conversation continued, I learned that his wife had been laboring for 18 hours and the doctors were getting ready to do a C-section if nothing changed within the hour. As the mom noticed the bag of donuts she began visiting with me. She asked if I was nervous and I said no because this was baby number three so I had an idea of what to expect. The dad looked worried. He just asked her husband to tell her that he loved her so much as he got choked up at the very thought of her struggling. This daddy loved his baby girl. The mom asked how my other two deliveries went and I shared, and the husband looked at me and said he was glad they went well because it had been so hard to watch his wife struggle. I told him that his wife’s doctors would only do what’s best for her and their baby, and that trusting him meant getting to breathe and know that having a C-section would be more than fine. He thanked me, and as they called me back, I prayed for them. I prayed that she would be able to trust what was going to be her best option and that her and the baby and her family would be guarded by peace.
As I walked up to the registration desk, I met Jayne. Jayne was going to be my nurse and her warm smile made me immediately like her and put me at ease. We walked to my room, and on the way, I saw my doctor at the nurse’s station. As soon as she saw me she said, “Oh thank God, today is the day!” She hugged me as I handed donuts off to the nurses and told them to enjoy breakfast! Jayne took me in and got me all hooked up and settled in.
Next, we waited. We waited and talked. We talked as contractions ebbed and flowed and grew.
We were so blessed to have our friend Brianna come and hang with our kids for the day. It was such a relief to know they would be so well cared for by someone who loves them. Rob tagged her in as the contractions were growing, and he headed to the hospital.
As he walked in the room, they had me up and ready to get my epidural. It was different than the two I had before. It didn’t ever make me numb, and it had a control button that I could click up to once every ten minutes to administer the medicine. I was not good at remembering to push until the contractions really started rolling in.
One really funny thing that happened showcased Joshua’s personality. He kept kicking the heart monitor off. They had to keep adjusting it so Jayne just went ahead and did an internal one which was clipped to his hair. They aren’t supposed to be able to remove them, but after about two hours, Joshua somehow managed to get it completely unclipped! Jayne went back and did it again all while calling him Baby Houdini.
Things really picked up from there. Since we’re in a bigger city, things work differently here. You aren’t guaranteed to get your OB for delivery. If you have your baby out of office hours, you get whoever is on call. When Jayne came in and told me another doctor would probably be delivering Joshua, I looked at Rob and cried a little. Within five minutes, Dr. Wittek, my doctor, walked in. Jayne was just as surprised to see her as we were, and she said, “There’s no way I’m not delivering this baby!” I can’t express how much that meant. Having her in the room after walking through a whole difficult pregnancy just felt incredibly right. She was the only person I would have wanted to catch Joshua, and her being there was such a comfort and encouragement to me.
We got to work from there! Twenty-five minutes of work to be exact. Through playing tug of war with Rob to focus my pushes down to feeling the pressure build as I was cheered on through each push by a great team, we moved closer to Joshua being born. Rob kept kissing the top of my head and telling me he was proud of me. In the final moments, they called for extra help because it didn’t look like something was going to go right with his shoulders, and he got a little twisted in the umbilical cord right as he was coming out. The room FILLED with nurses, and then one last big push brought him safely into the world.
The second she held him up, he let out a beautiful cry. He then popped out his bottom lip in the cutest pout that illicited a room filled with laugher and smiles. He then peed on me! Dr. Wittek tried to get his heart monitor off, but he had such a tight grip on the string she finally said, “Ok fine! You just keep that then!”
Then the moment I waited for happened. She handed him to me. She gave me my son, and my first words to him were, “Joshua, I love you. The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).” I didn’t pray it seamlessly because I cried and had to stop because I was completely overcome with gratitude and love for Joshua.
It was then my honor to hand him to my husband and to see him look at our son with such adoration and love while he looked back at me in the same way. I got to hold him again for a minute before they took him to weigh him and get his vitals and everything. They initially recorded his weight as 8 pounds 7 ounces, but later had to correct it to 8 pounds 12 ounces. He was 20 inches long, and so incredibly gorgeous. When they let me have him back, the sound of my voice calmed him as he snuggled into me for some skin to skin time. We just got to look at each other while he lay there on my chest. It was one of the most special moments of my whole life.
After Rob got to help him get his first bath and I got to watch. Dr. Wittek gave me a hug and told me she was proud of me. Jayne was also due for a shift change but stayed an hour after to get everything done for me. She gave me a hug and I thanked her and told her I couldn’t have done it without her.
After Rob went and grabbed dinner for me. I got to have Chick-fil-A, and then they moved me to another room while he went to get our “bigs” – brother and sister. As soon as Lauren walked in the room she asked, “Where’s my Baby Buddy?” She’s always called Ethan “Buddy” and when we found out we were having a boy she started calling the baby “Baby Buddy.” The sweetness in that warms my heart so much. Then she said, “I need to hold him. I love him!” Oh how blessed we are and how blessed those boys are to have Lauren as a big sister.
As Rob helped Lauren get situated on the couch to hold Joshua, Ethan ran and climbed up next to me and held me so tigh. With Lauren going to school in the afternoon, he is so used to getting to have adventures with just the two of us that he never really has to miss me. I love that, but it was also a blessing to know that when I’m not there, he really does notice and as he gave me a big kiss and held my hand, I knew without a doubt that my guy missed his momma. He just sat and let me hold him. This never happens. He always is moving. That night, he just wanted me to hold him.
After a good visit, Rob and the kids headed home to get some good rest. It was just Joshua and me those first two nights, and I knew so quickly that he was going to be such a good baby. I just watched him sleep in the dimmed lights with the sound of the playlist I made for birthing on quietly as we both rested. Everyone who came in loved the vibe of our room.
Joshua has this really calm and easy temperament. He’s just very content, and that has some sweetness in it that just looks like he’s always covered in peace. I’m not surprised. I have been praying that blesssing over him that I did the moment I held him from the first time I knew he was alive in my body. His few weeks of life have already been marked by this peace given by God.
As we loaded up to head home, all five of us, I felt nothing but gratitude and love. I am grateful that we have been able to have these beautiful, healthy babies. I am thankful that we have been able to grow God’s kingdom. I am grateful that we are a family.
I know so much of the world today has opinions about people having larger families. I think so much of the time people aren’t as pro-life as they think they are. Life makes noise in restaurants, life needs to be fed in public, and life looks like real babies that do real baby things – not just the idea of a “cute” baby. I could hear that and see that clearly when people couldn’t understand us having a third baby when we had the coveted “one of each.” I hear it now when people say things like, “Three kids? You are going to have your hands full.” Rob sees it when he’s out and people look so confused to see him alone with 1-3 of our kids. They ask him if he’s babysitting or if he’s ready for me to get back from where I am.
Joshua isn’t just something else to balance or an inconvenience. He’s a person who makes our family better. He’s a person who has been loved since before we knew he existed, and the best part of his birth story is that he is part of God’s story for us and our family. Unique him. A him no one else could ever be. A gift and a blessing and a joy.
I am tired. I am exhausted, and I couldn’t think of a better reason to be than serving in the most important mission field I will ever have – our home. My goodness, I love Joshua and now I already can’t imagine or remember what our family was like without him.
Joshua, I will love you. I will always be on your side – even when it doesn’t feel like I am. I will always defend and love you fiercely. I will always cherish you at each phase. I will support you and your dreams. I will be in your corner cheering you on as you pursue whatever passsions God has for you. I will always be here. I will always love you, no matter what!