Emilia's Birth Story

Friday, October 23, 2020

In November of last year, I wrote a blog titled "Missed Hope."  I had no idea at the time when I posted that blog, that the next month, we would find out we were pregnant with what would be our second sweet girl.

Starting off our 2020 year with this news was such a blessing and little did we know how much hope, light, and joy, she would bring in this crazy year.

My pregnancy was more difficult than it was with Eleanor but overall I cannot complain. Each visit was pretty uneventful. At our 20 week ultrasound, she measured about 5-10% bigger then her sister Eleanor did at that time. 

If I'm being honest, with my first pregnancy (and I'm sure for any Mom this would be any pregnancy), you want everything to be okay, but I didn't really have a lot of anxiety about when she was coming/things being okay. Knowing she was breech from the beginning, there was conversation early on about having a C-section if this did not change. And so as planned, at 39 weeks and 0 days, I did have Eleanor via C-section. Early on in this second pregnancy, I kept having fears/feelings that I wouldn't make it to the end. Many conversations I would tell my Mom that. That being said, I am type A, and with Covid, working from home for about 8 weeks, maybe it was the "control" I longed for in having everything ready by 35-36 weeks was my goal. 

Around 32 weeks, an ultrasound was done to check how the baby was doing. She at this time, measured in the 17th percentile. I knew it was lower than the 20 week ultrasound, so I questioned if this was a problem. I was told they monitor the size and it really only becomes concerning if it is under 10%. At this time it was decided at my 36 week apt, we would look at her on an ultrasound again.

Throughout COVID, sometimes Andrew was able to come and other times their policy did not allow anyone else to come with me. For my 36 week visit, it was open to one person, and Andrew was working so I was so thankful my Mom was able to join me. During the ultrasound, the tech kindly explained what she was looking at and was so gracious in answering my questions. I knew shortly into this, by her comments, and then the length of this ultrasound that it wasn't just "ok" how the others had been. She then explained that the baby measured in the 7th percentile. My mind started racing to all the questions: "What does the doctor do with this?" "Would I be having a baby today?" "Is it something I did?" 

My Mom and I thanked her for her time, took the pictures that we had of my sweet baby girl, and headed back into the waiting room waiting for them to call me for my apt. I will never forget this moment. As we sat in the waiting room, masked, and more then 6 ft away from everyone else, I had a huge knot in my throat that I couldn't hold in anymore, the tears started flowing, and my Mom was so supportive, loving, and just the presence I needed in that moment. 

As we met with the Doctor, he told me he wanted me to go see the fetal medicine doctor, this was on a Tuesday and he told me he wanted me seen by Thursday or Friday that week and if they could not get me in I would come back there on Friday for a stress test to check on things. I was informed I would be seen twice weekly at that point until I delivered. He seemed confident the baby was just small because I am, and tried to reassure me. I went home and looked up "IUGR"- Intrauterine Growth Restriction, and maybe this was not the best thing. Clearly its helpful to be informed, to know what questions to ask, but some of the potential causes for this made my anxiety worse in the waiting. 

I had been praying for this baby all along, but I began pleading with the Lord to protect her, keep her safe, and admitting my fears, and where they were coming from. Trying to remember, that He loved/loves her more then I do. 

Last bump picture taken, 37 weeks and 4 day

The specialist was not able to see me until the following Tuesday. I made my way back to the regular OB office that Friday for a stress test. Everything checked okay based on that and I was instructed when to report to the hospital, and that they would see me next week.

My specialist apt was scheduled for the following Tuesday. I worked around the house over the weekend to get my loose ends completed as my anxiety was raging, and honestly, cleaning up my house felt like the only thing I could control. Andrew got off work to come with me Tuesday to this apt, even though no one was allowed to come in with me, I needed the support and presence, even if it meant knowing he was out in the car.

Monday night, I went to bed, praying I was going to sleep good, well as good as you can 9 months pregnant. My bag had already been packed, as I previously said, I wanted to be ready at 35-36 weeks. Each time I would go to my apt, I put my bag in the car...again, another form of control. Can I get an amen from my type A friends?

We made our way to Melbourne as this apt was in a building just across from the hospital. We stopped for coffee, and made our way there. I hugged Andrew, and went in. The staff was so kind. I have to be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to make it to this apt. At about midnight the night before I started to feel cramps, similar to what I had the day I went into labor/had Eleanor. I was never in full blown labor, but the day I had my scheduled C-section I was having contractions when I arrived. 

I ended up on the couch during that night, and I was timing these, they were sporadic and by the early morning hours they had stopped. I wasn't sure if they were actual contractions or maybe I was just crazy at that point. At the apt I was sure to tell them how my night went.

The ultrasound took place, and I asked questions, but to be honest, I don't even feel like I heard anything she said as my nerves were shot. The MD I was supposed to see, was in an accident so the covering provider was out of Texas and I was going to be doing a face time visit. I was ready to be done with this just to "know" what was going on. My facetime visit started and the MD was so kind. Asked me a lot of questions about my previous pregnancy and my family history. She went on to say she reviewed the scan and at this apt the baby was now measuring in the 6%, meaning lower then the previous week, I was taken back as I had gained 1 lb myself and I thought for sure she was growing. She also informed me that my fluid levels were low. At this point at 37 weeks, which is considered full term, she told me it was best to deliver her today because regardless of WHY she was no longer growing, there was confidence in knowing if they got her out, we could give her all she needed when she was out. She told me she would call my physician and let them know I was going to the hospital and that I should head right over there. I asked her how much she thought she would weigh. Her guess, 5 lbs  8 ounces. 

I'm not sure when it came over me, but at some point in that visit, peace swept over me. I knew I wasn't going home. Clearly, I did have some racing thoughts, and trying to grasp that this was it. I wasn't going into work that afternoon etc. 

I came down the elevator. Walked outside, text Andrew I was done and he came to pick me up. I opened the door and simply said "we're having a baby today." It was very unlike me. I didn't panic. I didn't cry. Just very  matter of fact about it. Looking back he even told me, I knew there was something different about you that day because I thought for sure you were going to tell me that we were going to just monitor everything and come back the following week. 

We sat in the parking lot of the hospital, took a deep breath and both of us made some phone calls handling the things we needed to. Made sure Eleanor was all set, the dog was taken care of, work was informed I would not be coming in, and we called our parents.

Prior to this delivery, I really struggled with my thoughts/feelings on doing a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) Vs. a repeat C-section. My Mom had threatened me within an inch of my life at the beginning. I know there are risks, and horror stories in relation to VBACs but I also know of those who have done this with great success. I felt torn the entire time. I prayed so much about this, praying that I would know what I should do. I did not want to be selfish in my choice, just to "say I did something" but also didn't want to go through another major surgery if I really was a good candidate. In most cases, the fear and or taking the "risk" or the "chance" is not usually the way I choose. I had decided at about 32 weeks, that I was going to go middle of the road. I felt confident after praying that I would do this: If I went into labor on my own and they thought I was a good candidate, I would then consider in that moment going for the VBAC but if I had not gone into labor, at 39 weeks, then Sept 14th was going to be her birthday and the C-section was scheduled.

So, being confident in this plan, after much prayer, going to he hospital because of what I was just told did not fit into my "thoughts and plans." We got to the hospital and I have to admit it felt weird. The waiting room was empty. I was considered a direct admit. I had no idea of the 5 MDs who was on call, but low and behold, my prayer was answered, it was in fact the Physician who delivered Eleanor and the one I prayed would be the one to deliver this baby. 

I got situated in the labor and delivery room, and it all just felt so surreal. It was happening so fast. No family/friends could come visit and prior to this, I have to say I feel the Lord really prepared me for this moment. The doctor came in, and asked me "so what are we doing? Are we going to VBAC this?" I felt nervous in this moment but asked him to look at the Ultrasound/and all that we had just been told and tell me what he thought was best. He went and reviewed everything, did a physical exam, I was 4 cm dilated at this point just coming in. In his words "Not to put pressure on you but it would be a shame not to try a VBAC." At that point, I felt like I needed to trust his wisdom and experience and I said okay. 

My nurse was amazing, and Andrew was so supportive. I got an epidural as the contractions got worse. I was only on low dose of Pitocin and by 4 hours in, I was 10 cm dilated. I pushed for 1 hr and 5 minutes, and she was here. Her birth literally could not have gone any smoother.

It was so surreal. Right before she came out, the nurse told me, "get ready Mom you're about to meet your baby." It didn't click until that moment that no one was taking her from me, like it was with Eleanor in a C-section, they were actually going to give her right to me. 
She came into this world quickly, and I am so incredibly thankful for the incredible doctor and nurses who took care of me to make this moment possible. This experience was a gift and the Lord was gracious giving me the desire of my heart. In every fine detail of this moment. As soon as she came out, I asked "is she okay?" and I was told "She's perfect." 

I think I was more concerned with how big she was and or how much she weighed because of all that took place. She must have been okay, because it was almost 2 hours before they measured and weighed her. 

6 lbs on the dot. 18.5 inches long, and a head full of dark hair. She was beautiful. She was healthy. She was here.

Yes, I did push this baby out with a mask on my face.

I'm not sure I ever sighed so big with a feeling of such relief to know she was safe, and here in one piece. This recovery was a breeze compared to my C-section. I was amazed that I could get up and walk a few hours later, and was capable of taking care of her much more easily then I was Eleanor. 

It was such a sweet/unique time at the hospital, just the three of us. Thanks to COVID there were some major disappointments along the way in some of our immediate family getting to meet her, but once again, God prepared and gave strength to get through these moments, where in my humanness, I did feel disappointed. 

We could not wait to be home for our family to feel complete. I dreamed of the moment Eleanor would meet her sister, and I have to say, the actual moment could not have been sweeter. 

Emilia Anne- 

Your life is a gift and you are precious. The timing of your birth, in the middle of a pandemic, with fear, chaos, and so much raging in the world around us, is a sweet reminder that God is always good. You came into this world tiny, but I have no doubt that the Lord has incredible plans for your life sweet girl and I can't wait to see the big things he does in and through you. Your sister adores you, and while there are times we already hear from her how she does not want to share her toys/room with you, she is the first to make sure that we are not leaving you anywhere and that you are always with us/her. I look forward to the day that I can share how God answered very specific prayers regarding your life/birth/entrance into the world. His protection and provision have been on your life from the start. 

We love you Emilia Anne and we cannot imagine our family without you.

His Provision

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I have been preparing to write this for the past year.
I knew I would have a story to tell.

I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge the hesitancy in which I found myself 'trying' to trust this last year. Continually playing 'what ifs' and mapping out 'my plans' wondering just how all of this would fit on paper.

But that's just it, none of it fit on my paper. My checklist or budget.
Each time I think about how this piece will turn out, I'm not sure my words will do justice in expressing the journey, but I pray I can express, in raw words, all this past year was in trusting God for His provision.

I have previously written about our journey in Andrew getting into Nursing School. The closed doors that lead us here, and the truth, that this was not at all what I prayed would be the answer.

Truth is, he finished this accelerated nursing program 2 weeks ago, in the middle of a pandemic (more to come on these details in another blog), and is currently preparing to sit for his Boards. What a ride! It's crazy to think this thing is over. I think it's taken me some time to take all of it in, to look back, and honestly I'm just trying to grasp how much the Lord has provided for us over the past year.

Despite my fear. Despite my doubts. Despite my internal struggle and wrestling. 
I'd like to think that I just said I trusted Him at the beginning of this thing, and that each day I lived that out like I believed it. That's far from the truth.

Lets rewind a bit.
When Andrew got accepted into the Accelerated Nursing Program, we were told it was 1 year, and that classes were mainly online- taking up about 1 day weekly. We knew there would be times he would have to go in person to take tests, sometimes for lab days, and then clinical rotations, knowing at the end it may require more then one day a week, but to our understanding, it would mainly be one day weekly. He talked this over with his boss before starting the program and they agreed to this to help him further his education.

When we took out a loan for this program, we based our finances on him missing one day a week. 
Not ideal, but doable.

It wasn't long before he was into this program, sitting in the orientation, getting more information that we soon realized, one day a week was not the whole truth. There were multiple weeks he would be missing 2 days weekly. Going to Orlando for tests meant missing at least a half day of work sometimes 2 days. Getting a badge for each hospital clinical rotation- another half day or more missed. For the girl who budgets, and has things planned, this made me feel as though I was going to panic. And yet there was no way to know it all at this point. Each semester came with changes. Even changes at the last minute. (Did I mention I hate change?) His last semester- we found out he would only have 5 weeks to complete 12, 12 hour shifts with a preceptor whenever they worked.
I'm just trying to paint this picture the best I can for you to set the stage of the unknowns,  the changes, and the inability to control this situation. In some ways I felt that the information in his orientation was misleading.

I had even questioned in my own heart - Had we known all this prior to now, would we have stepped out in faith at God's open door? Would the fear of our financial situation have stopped us? I wrestled these thoughts. Not always, but often quietly, I spent hours worrying about this. 

Standing on the other side of this mountain, I can honestly say, this is not a journey I would choose if given the option, but what a lesson it has been for me.

I want to give some (just SOME) of the ways in which the Lord provided. There is no way other than His provision, that we have gotten through this past year like we have. I'm not sure from a financial standpoint, I have ever been in this position where relying on Him was not an option. Again not my choice, but oh what refining it has done in my heart.

Side note: we have tried to be diligent with our budgeting for about the last year and a half and specifically prior to starting this season of his schooling we knew we had to buckle down. We know how much comes in and where it needs to go in order for us to make ends meet.

Here are some practical ways in which the Lord provided. Ways that couldn't have been planned, known or in my budget. 

One Month, we were almost $300 short from being able to make ends meet. That week we got a card from someone who felt like they needed to give us $500. Not only did it cover what we were short, it helped set us up the next month to get ahead.

One week, I was trying to juggle money to find the best way to pay for what I needed to get Eleanor from the store- diapers, soap etc. I came across a gift card I forgot I had that had $50 on it, and it paid for what was needed.

Two times a year, we get paid 3 times in a month instead of two and this year, when it fell to be the third pay, it couldn't have come at a much more needed time. No way I would have known 6 months prior, all that we would need that week. But God did.

A friend who has knowledge with cars, was able to replace a fan in my car, not charging me a dime, when it would most likely cost me a few hundred dollars we didn't have.

Family members who have loved and supported us in this season, took the weight off of us in being generous in areas they never needed or had to to be. This was a lesson for my pride to say the least, but more and more I realized it was God in His provision. Showing me what it means to have to rely on Him. To get over myself, my pride, and my control. 

When our loan money ran out that we took out to help us get through this year of schooling- the extra that was left, that we used when short or needing to make ends meet, two day ays after this zeroed out  (I felt like I was in a panic at this point), we got back our tax return money.  To this day this was  most we had ever received in a tax return. This got us through the remainder of his schooling.

In recent days, I had been given $50 in a card back before January. I thought I had used this, but knew I didn't think I misplaced it, but kept wondering if I would ever come across this. I kept praying I didn't lose it. I finally gave up on finding it. Two weeks ago, while walking to my night stand to pick something up and leave, after just shelling out $800 unexpectedly on our car, the card and money I had been looking for, since before January, was sitting face up on my nightstand right there for me. There was the $50. While this didn't cover the $800 I reluctantly shelled out, it was a reminder that He's in control.

As I said there will be more to come on Andrews schooling journey and how this finished out, but the pandemic happening (long story short) came at a really brutal time in his schooling. He had just started his 120 clinical hours left in Orlando (remember the 12 hour shifts I mentioned in 5 weeks), He had 100 hours left,  and due to the pandemic and previous hours completed, the school made this assignment complete without having to do these hours. This saved hours, days off work, and gas to Orlando.

In the middle of all of this, Andrew's work hours got cut in half due to the pandemic. This was another time of trial for me, wrestling with how we would make ends meet as this almost felt like more pressure then his schooling. But God. Is all I can say.

Friends/Family have have stepped up to help us with Eleanor (and are still helping) so we can keep her safe, lessening our load financially in not paying for her school. This amount, made up for all not coming in like normal. I cannot thank my village enough for all the help during this time. 

I honestly feel like I could keep going with the fine details of just how God provided tangibly in the last year. For someone like me, who needs to 'see' it, this lesson has been changing my heart.
It wasn't just the support I needed from a spiritual or emotional support that things would be 'ok' it was God, in His Provision, tangibly and practically showing up. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. As we have completed this journey.

I said it at the beginning, I so wish I could say I just did this all with ease. That I took Him at His word, that I didn't question it, but I did. I wrestled. But in my wrestling He met me exactly where I was, proving over and over how faithful He is.

I could go on and on, and to be honest, this is longer then I imagined, but my heart is thankful. So thankful. That even in my prayers being answered the exact opposite of what I hoped and prayed, it was exactly what I needed. 

I am so happy, and excited for Andrew as he has completed such an incredible journey. Challenging on all sides- juggling full time work life, school, and life at home being both Husband/Dad, with a second little girl on the way. I so appreciate his work ethic. I appreciate his faith, and his unwavering spirit when it comes to trusting the Lord and His provision (something he does way better then I do). 
I am hopeful and excited to see what door the Lord opens next for him.

I pray, as I read back and look back on this experience, that I will be reminded of His continual provision and the way He showed me He had not forgotten me, each step of the way.

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