It's hard to believe we brought Madeline home exactly two weeks ago today! These past 2 1/2 weeks have been a mix of emotions, but most of all, we have been filled with a joy that is beyond comprehension. Madeline's due date was June 18th (Father's Day), and we were almost sure she would be born that Sunday. Needless to say, she surprised everyone when she was born one week early!
The fact that Madeline arrived one week early wasn't the only surprise that we encountered with her arrival. In fact, much like the rest of her story, her birth story was anything but average or normal. Yet, through all of the ups and downs, God has been so very faithful, and in the end He continues to receive all the glory!
The Labor I Never Expected
Madeline's birth story began on Friday June 9th at about 10 pm, which was when I felt my first contraction. After a while I started to realize that they were coming about every 10 minutes, which was when I started to suspect that I may be in early labor. Being a former Labor and Delivery nurse, I knew this could potentially last anywhere from 24-48 hours; So, I decided to go back to sleep and see how things were progressing in the morning.
I woke up again at about 3:30 am from the contractions, which were still about ten minutes apart. A few minutes later I felt a gush of fluid, and I thought for sure that my water had broke. I went to the bathroom to see what was going on, and was shocked to see that I was bleeding pretty heavily. I knew this wasn't normal, and if anything, I knew it could be potentially very serious.
I woke Sean up in a state of panic, and he instantly reassured me not to fear saying, "Before we do anything else, let's pray!" I was so thankful for his state of calm in the midst of the sudden storm, and the way that he so clearly navigated the next few decisions with peace and confidence that God would see us through.
We called our doctor and he instructed us to head to the hospital immediately, so we took off at 4 am to the hospital, which was about an hour away! Thankfully it was early in the morning and there wasn't anyone one the road, so we were able to make it to the hospital in about 45 minutes.
Choosing Faith Over Fear
On the way to the hospital, we played worship music and prayed together the entire time. We also called my family and a few prayer warriors that have been praying with us from the very beginning of my pregnancy. Within a matter of minutes, we could feel our fear and dread turn to peace as we were surrounded with prayer and the presence of God.
My sister Emily also sent us this image of Hebrews 10:23, which was a promise that I clung to from the very beginning. This promise reminded me of the faithfulness of God. I knew that God had seen us through the entire process of this pregnancy from the beginning, and that He would be faithful to complete the good work He had begun in us up until the very end.
I also clung to the passage that God gave me early on for Madeline during my pregnancy, which is Psalm 71. I wrote a scripture based prayer for her using this passage, and it was a promise I clung to during my labor.
God the Rock of Madeline’s Salvation
In You, O Lord, Madeline puts her trust; she will never be put to shame. Be her strong refuge, which she runs to constantly; For You are her rock and her fortress.
You are Madeline’s hope, O Lord; She will trust you from her youth. You have been with her from her birth; from my womb you have cared for her.
Madeline’s life will be an example to many, because you are her strength and protection. Let her mouth be filled with praise. She will hope in You continually, and will praise you more and more.
She will walk in the strength of the Lord. She will tell everyone of His righteousness. You have taught Madeline from her earliest childhood; And everyday she will declare Your wondrous works.
Madeline will declare Your strength to her generation, And speak of your power to everyone who is to come. You shall increase Madeline’s greatness, and comfort her on every side.
Madeline’s lips shall greatly rejoice when she sings to You, and her soul praises you, which You have redeemed. - Psalm 71
The Diagnosis: Partial Placenta Abruption
When I got checked into the hospital, I was so thankful when they placed the heart rate monitor on my belly to see that Madeline's heart rate was stable. That was such a relief, because up until that point, we were unsure as to how she was doing.
From there, they started an IV on me, and checked me to try and figure out where the bleeding was coming from. They found that the bleeding was coming from my placenta, which had partially torn away from my uterus. This is what is referred to as a partial placenta abruption, which can be a medical emergency, depending on how much of the placenta tears away. There was no real way of knowing how much had torn away, or what the cause was, so they decided to check me into the labor and delivery unit to monitor my condition and watch the baby.
Thankfully I was 39 weeks at this point, which meant that if anything were to take a turn for the worse, they would be able to do an emergency C-section and she would be at a point where she could survive because she was full term.
The Waiting Game
After being checked into the L&D unit, I was put on bedrest where they monitored my bleeding and the baby very closely. I continued to have some contractions, but they were too spaced out and irregular to send my body into active labor, so at that point we were unsure of the plan.
A few hours later my doctor came in and talked to us about the possible options for delivery. He started by telling us that most doctors at this point would automatically perform a C-section, as they would be unwilling to take the risk of a natural delivery with a placenta abruption.
Although the plan of action was still unknown, (depending on how things progressed), he assured us that he wasn't going to jump to a C-section just yet. He proceeded to tell us that he was willing to let me try for a natural delivery as long as my bleeding didn't get any worse, and as long as both mine and Madeline's vitals remained stable.
He proceeded to give us both the worst and best case scenario for delivery. He explained that with a partial placenta abruption, there is no way to predict if the placenta would continue to tear away or not. If it did, there was a possibility of me hemorrhaging (which means I would start bleeding uncontrollably), in which case I would need an emergency C-section and blood transfusion. He was honest when he told us that there was no way of knowing how things would play out at that point, but he assured us that he would monitor things very closely. The plan at that point was that as long as we both continued to remain stable, was that he would use pitocin to induce my labor the following day.
The rest of Friday was an emotional waiting game for Sean and I, as we waited to see how my condition progressed, and continued to see how Madeline tolerated the bleeding. During that time we had our pastor, and a very close friend and pastor (Pastor Chris Palmer and Pastor Amira Russo) came to pray with us at the hospital. Almost immediately afterward, Sean and I had such a peace come over us.
We knew at that moment that what the enemy meant for harm, God would turn into something good, and that our little girl's delivery would be a continuation of the beautiful story God was writing for her life. At that point we didn't see things change from an outward perspective, but we had a peace on the inside, knowing that God's good and perfect will would prevail, and that He would get the glory from her birth.
At midnight on Saturday night my doctor gave our nurse the green light to start to induce labor. I was given a drug called misoprostol, which is given to soften your cervix, but we prayed that it would send my body into active labor, and praise the Lord, it did just that!
Within a matter of hours my body was contracting every 5-6 minutes, at which point my doctor started pitocin on me to progress my labor even more. (Although I was in active labor at that point, my doctor decided that he didn't want to let labor go on longer than it had to considering that I was still bleeding at that point.)
The pitocin was started at 6 am, and I started having more intense and frequent contractions almost immediately. With the induction I noticed that my body started to clench up during each contraction. My personality (even in labor) is to set goals for myself, so I made it my goal to make it until 10 am without an epidural, and if I needed one at that point, I would request one.
My nurse told me that by clenching down, I was actually fighting against my contractions and could possibly be hindering my cervix from dilating. She kept reminding me how important it was to relax, but anyone who has ever had an induction knows how hard that can be with contractions that are so intense and close together!
I looked at the clock and at exactly 10 am, I asked for an epidural. My doctor broke my water at that point I was only 2 cm dilated. I was discouraged to hear I wasn't further along, because I felt like I had already labored for eternity at that point! My nurse assured me that my body would most likely dilate much quicker with an epidural, because it was now able to relax. Sure enough, within a few hours my body started to shake and I felt as though I may be sick, so my doctor checked me and I was thrilled to hear I was already 8 cm dilated!
Madeline Joy is Born!
When my doctor told me that he predicted Madeline's birth to be only a few hours away, I looked at Sean and we both started crying. Not only were we beyond excited to finally meet our little girl, but it was at that point that we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would have the delivery that my heart so desperately desired, and we were so thankful that God had kept Madeline and I safe all the way through!
Just before my doctor stepped out of the room, he told us to take a moment and focus on each other, for it would be the last time that we would be a family of two! We held each others hands and talked about the past eight years of marriage, and some of our favorite memories together. We then cried some more as we talked about our long journey to get pregnant about the goodness of God as we were just moments away from meeting our daughter!
Around 4:30 pm I felt like I had to push and my doctor confirmed that I was fully dilated. I pushed for exactly 23 minutes, and at 4:53, Madeline was born! She was 7 lbs 3 oz, and 19.5 inches long! When they told me she was just over 7 lbs, I was surprised she weighed as much as she did considering that she was a week early, and how petite I am! I was also surprised by how much dark hair she had! Who would have ever though I would have such a dark haired little baby!?! :)
I will never forget the moment they placed her on my chest. It was as if everyone in the room except for Sean and our daughter disappeared. I looked at her, and then I looked at Sean; Both of us shaking and crying, simply in awe that this precious gift was entrusted to us!
We did skin to skin and she started nursing right away. I was so thankful that God answered yet another prayer, which was that she would be a good nurser. Sure enough, she did great, (and has continued to feed wonderfully), from the moment she was born!
While I was pushing I did have to get an episiotomy, so while my doctor did some repairs, Sean got to do skin to skin with Madeline as well! When I suggested it, my doctor said, "I love that idea!" So often I think the dads get left out of the bonding process, but it is just as important for them as well considering they don't get the bonding that comes with nursing the baby. Sean continued to cry as he held her on his chest; thanking God for this good and perfect gift!
After about an hour after her birth our family members came in to meet her for the first time. There wasn't a dry eye in the room as everyone looked at her, and everyone discussed how thankful that we were that she was born healthy and safe!
Sean's parents remarked how she looked a lot like Sean when he was a baby, and my parents said she looked so much like me when I was born...So I think it's safe to say that we all agree that she is a total mix of Sean and myself, (although we know that this could all change as she grows!)
Sean's parents became first time grandparents, so this was a special day for them!
And my parents became first time grandparents to a baby girl, so of course it was a special day for them as well!
We feel so grateful that there are so many people in her life to love on her!
That evening they moved us over to the mother baby unit, and the rest of the night felt like a dream as the exhaustion from the past 48 hours started to sink in.
The next day (her first full day of life) was quite exciting because reality had set in that she was finally here, and we were officially a family of three! We spent the first part of the day just looking at her, taking in all the smiles, smells, and details of our sweet baby.
That afternoon my sisters came to visit with my nephews to meet their new cousin!
There was nothing sweeter than Gabriel (1 1/2 years) meeting her for the first time! He played with her fingers, said "baby", kissed her on the forehead, and he even stole her pacifier which had us all cracking up!
Easton is still pretty young (6 months) so he didn't respond much to her, although I look forward to seeing these two grow up together in the future!
This moment of all of us being together with our babies made me realize all over again what a gift it is that my sisters (and best friends) get to raise our little ones together!
After my family went home for the evening, I really got to take in what an amazing father Sean was to our daughter. Just as I imagined, it really did make me fall in love with him in a whole new way!
Seeing Sean take on the role of a father made me see a protective, sweet, and sensitive side come out of him that I had never seen before! He was all of these things as a husband, (and even when I was pregnant)...but the moment he became a dad, I saw a whole new side of him that really was something special!
One thing is for sure, this little girl is incredibly blessed to have a daddy that adores her the way that he does; And something tells me she will be a daddy's girl! ;) Another thing that I am sure of is that Sean's love will have a profound impact on Madeline's understanding of God's love to her, which I am incredibly grateful for!
As far as becoming a mother, it really has surprised me how effortless the transition has been for me. To be honest, I had some fears about becoming a mom, (as i'm sure every first time mom does), mainly because it was uncharted territory; But I have to say, God has given me everything I need to care for her, and when I don't know what to do, (which is more often than not), I go to Him for wisdom, grace, and strength.
Sure, there are hard moments, days, and certainly hard nights...but in the midst of the hard moments, there are baby snuggles, adorable noises, and the sweetest little feet, hands, and smiles that trump it all! In addition, there is the incredible responsibility of knowing that God has entrusted this life to us, and that He has equipped us with everything we need to raise her!
One of the greatest challenges for me being a new mom has been trying to savor every moment. I hear just about every person telling me to cherish every moment because they grow up so fast, and now that she is 2 1/2 weeks old, I can already see how true that is! I feel like it was yesterday that she was born!
So, for now we are taking our time to soak up every sweet kiss...
Savor every delicate detail...
And enjoy every precious moment of being her parents; Knowing that she is in our care for a short while, and our purpose is ultimately to send her out to be a light in this world!
The next morning we were discharged from the hospital, and Madeline and I were given a perfect bill of health! We dressed her in her very first outfit, which was the onesie I used to tell Sean I was pregnant with her!
We were so thankful to be going home, and to officially start our lives as a family of three!
On our ride home I began to recount all of the obstacles we have been through from getting pregnant with her, to staying pregnant (despite various miscarriage threats early on in the pregnancy), and then the dangerous scenario that led up to her delivery, we can safely say that God has His hand on her life! We now call our little girl, "Miracle Maddie" because she truly is a miracle, and a testimony of God's goodness and never ending love!
That just about sums up the labor, delivery, and first days of life of our sweet Madeline Joy my friends! Thank you for joining in on this journey with us! xo Katie