Leaving for the hospital to have a baby for the very last time, how does one describe that feeling?
Mike and I spent the night in a hotel close to the hospital to make for an easier early morning. Cayman and Kobe were back home with grandparents.
Before getting out of bed I felt panic that I had carelessly forgotten something so important - finding that one verse to dwell on. I am a perpetual worrier and without solid words to ground me tendrils of fear will sweep me away.
For Cayman it was my life verse - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV). It's a declaration of trust in the Maker of an unforeseen future.
For Kobe's birth it was - "Don't be afraid," Jesus said. "Take courage. I am here!" - Matthew 14:27 (NLV) After experiencing a pregnancy and birth like I did with Cayman, I sat frozen in a boat of fears to ever have more children. Kobe's life from the moment of conception called to me to step out of that boat and walk in faith with my eyes on Him, the One that won't let me sink no matter what may come.
I did not want a buzzing brain on the day my last born would come to us. Worry robs joy and I knew for certain I did not want to look back and see the day through the haze of anxiety. I always get nervous for surgery and when it involves my baby I get real scared. I grieved for a time the way Cayman was born. Completely unaware of her first breath and what the room felt like when it filled with her cries.
Or did she cry?
I was there in body but the brain asleep. I missed the look on Mike's face when he saw his first born child for the first time. I didn't get to see that. Those things hurt. Not so much anymore though. As new moments of blessings came, filling up the photo album there was no room for sadness. Just overflowing gratitude.
Kobe's birth, so peaceful and surreal, it touched me. By the time baby number 2 was to be born I was no longer in a stiffened state of neediness as I was as a brand new mother. I had grown with perspective. Being the kind of high risk pregnancies I have made me deal with loosening my grip on things like control and decision making. Birth plan options were slim for me and it all came back to count blessings and trusting. I was spoiled when Kobe came into this world. The spinal block slipped in easily. The spinal anesthesia worked quickly. I got to stay awake, Mike by my side, and we experienced together that indescribable feeling of hearing and seeing your baby the minute they are born. It was amazing!!
Baby number 3, what would be her story? I knew before all events transpired that day, with faith the story, whatever might come, would be cherished.
I had made my requests to God on how I wanted it to go. Of course a healthy delivery and baby, but in the details I would be awake and all my senses alive to record the moment the clock stood still posting her entrance to this world.
This is the story of the day Cassady Ileen was born....
The morning light not yet seen over the horizon, I laid in the soft hotel bed face toward face with Mike. A shadow cast across his cheek from the only light in the hotel room coming from the bathroom. I looked at his sleeping face long, feeling great love for my man. He had fallen back to sleep after hitting snooze on the alarm. The gears of my mind had already began to turn and I was awake. Mike opened his eyes and his handsome voice greeted me, "Good morning, honey. How did you sleep?"
"Good. But now I keep thinking about things."
"Tell me about it." He invited me with that assertive love I adore him for to spill all those thoughts of mine onto his listening ears.
"Back home the house is spotless. There is not a trace of dirty laundry that can be found. Everything is done." my voice trailed off into sadness.
Mike stroked my head and tucked a piece of hair behind my ear, smiling meekly at me as I talked. I know that smile of his, the one that says more than words. He's listening to my heart and longing to know the right words that could make what feels shaky, stable. What's broken, fixed. What's unknown, assured.
"That sounds good though, right?" He searched to understand me.
"Yeah, it does. But now I lay here aching for the filled need to make this day restful in spirit. Clean laundry and a meticulous house is not going to give that to me during surgery nor when I am sitting on that table curled over this pregnant belly surrendering my spine to an enormous needle. I did not sit quietly with God's Word and find that specific verse I could carry with me today."
Without pause Mike spoke, "'Be still and know I am God'. That sure is a good one, don't you think?"
"Yes it is!" I smiled and leaned in kissing him on the lips, "Thanks, Mike!" and then I went to the bathroom for my shower.
Years of following Christ have counted up to numerous of ways He has always been with us. And it's in that a confidence comes and great meaning is felt in the words "I am God" and all vitals return to homeostasis, peace comes, and worry stills.
My mom met us at the hospital. I warmly and excitedly hugged her. My joy is made bigger to share these special moments with my mother, the woman that gave me life and has loved me my whole life.
The pre-op room was quiet. I was the first patient scheduled to deliver that morning. Nurses were not busied and the corridor was still. I appreciated the calm. Dr. Van de Ven came on site and things began to feel real fast.
"Let's have a baby today!" He said with joy. Such a proclamation is marked with greater amusement in a dutch accent. I smiled.
Mike and I departed with a kiss and my mom snapped pictures as the medical team pushed my hospital bed to the OR.
Inside the cold, sterile room I shifted my weight onto the operating table pleased to have safely arrived at 37 weeks gestation. When Kobe was born at 36 weeks the scar on my uterus had thinned to the point of transparency and the doctor could see Kobe's hair through it. The risk of the uterus being that thin is rupture. The recommendation was for the next baby to be taken even earlier - 34 or 35 weeks. It is a hard, hard conscious decision to deliberately eject a healthy baby from the womb before they may be ready. I begged Dr. Van de Ven to not only not deliver earlier but to deliver even later, at 37 weeks. Getting over that threshold of full term just feels good. He looked me squarely in the eye, compassion in his face not for the medical risks of such a decision but for my feelings. He didn't try to change my mind or pressure me to feel differently. What a rare experience that is these days in a world highly guarded to protect themselves from lawsuits. With affirmation in his question he said, "That makes you feel better, does it?"
"It really does." I said.
What a gift that was to me. He gave me the power of choice, a say in my birth plan, something so important to an expectant mother.
I went home giddy and with the promise to live the next weeks as closely to a bedridden life as possible not putting any strain on my abdomen which was not going to be an easy feat with two small children at home, plus we were packing to move into our new house.
Sitting on the operating table, a fully rounded belly with a little girl inside who had been given as much time as I could safely advocate for her, I trusted she would be ready. I curled my back stretching open my spine for the epidural needle. I hate that part so much!! Needles aren't my favorite but I can put mind over matter to overcome them as they enter a vein.
But the spine?? My body forgets voluntary breathing and I shiver like I've been hit by the winter cold. As a child I broke my back resulting in a spinal fusion and permanent nerve damage. I understand by experience the strength and fragility of the spine. The next 20 minutes was challenging. The anesthesiologists diligently worked and worked to get into my epidural space to no prevail. In and out they pulled the needle through layers of skin, muscle, and fibrous cartilage. Repeatedly injecting numbing medicine to relieve the pinching pain of the needle but that too was not successful. A new plan erected, to ditch the epidural catheter and go to administering the spinal block. The first plan was to have both. This being my 4th abdominal surgery the scar tissue was expected to be thicker and the double coverage of anesthesia would assure longer bathing for the nerves to remain numb. The spinal block went in and found its place comfortably past the epidural space and inside the spinal column. The medicine was injected and my weary body was laid down. A spinal typically takes effect within 10 minutes. We were going on 20 minutes and I was not yet fully numb. The surgical team was ready prepared to move at soonest notice as the window of numbing medicine was going to be short. When the doctor gave my belly a final test pinch with the large tongs I could still feel a dull pain.
The next thing that happened I can only explain by the intense love that grows out of places of deep care and consuming adoration for another human being...
I asked to remain awake for the surgery.
I was as scared as looking down a barrel of a gun. A part of me would have been relieved if the doctor would have said no, but the larger part would have grieved to release something I hold great value in.
Mike was summoned to join me in the OR. Thinking of my husband next to my side, experiencing me in great pain and shoved out of the OR if I needed to be put out quickly was an image that made me uncomfortable.
I made my request to stay awake with no hesitation but after the doctor granted my desire I began to think it through.
"I can wiggle my toes still. Is that ok?" I asked.
"It's not ideal." the doctor answered.
"What if the pain is too much?" I continued as reality took root of what was about to happen.
The doctor assured me all I needed to do was give the word or if my vitals became too stressed the anesthesiologist would have the gas ready and I would be asleep within seconds. Or if I could hang in there through the birth they could put me out for the closing up part.
"Let's do this!" I pulled in as much breath my lungs would allow and breathed out slowly.
"Be still and know I am God".
I could feel my heart beating in my chest. Then I saw Mike.
A feeling came over me and I knew I was strong enough for this. He would joke it was the Ohio State shirt.
Mike took a seat next to my head. He distracted me with amusing conversation and the video camera in hand recording ceaselessly.
"Birth attendance, are you ready?" Dr. Van de Van called out.
Mike stood up to peek over the blue surgical drape.
"Don't drop the camera..." I said.
"I won't." replied Mike.
"In my belly." I smiled.
The room laughed and the anticipation grew.
She wouldn't come out.
They pushed and pushed on my abdomen. A lot of pressure and pain, my voice quivered to talk through it, my eyes watered from discomfort.
And then that beautiful baby cry!
It was then joy that wet my eyes.
Oh she was perfect!
When she was placed on my chest I could feel nothing else but how much my heart beat with love for her.