Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wonder of Wonders

It’s 4am on July 21, 2016, my due date with my 6th child! I’m so tired but I can’t sleep and I feel like I want to write.

As I have approached my due date I’ve been thinking about the births of each of my children. I remember thinking only a few hours after Lily was born, “That was easy! I want to do it again, I want a sister for this child!” (She was born via c-section and my morphine hadn’t yet worn off). I was young, 19 years old, and although I was thrilled to have a baby, I took the miracle of conception and birth and the sacredness of it all for granted. It was fun and exciting and I loved Lily to bits but I didn’t and couldn’t have grasped the miraculous event that I had just taken part in. As I have watched her grow and mature over the last 10 years, I am in awe of the wonderful blessing she is in my life. She has brought me an insurmountable amount of joy and is already an example to me of goodness and love. It's hard to believe that this all started with her. My first tiny baby.

Kaylee was born 17.5 very short months after Lily. Back then that year and a half was practically forever; looking back I seem to have blinked and the wait seems to have not existed at all. I had been determined to try for a VBAC with her. My doctor told me after Lily was born that I could never have a vaginal birth; it was too risky. I remember feeling disappointed and angry that he had been so quick to cut me open, potentially altering the course of my life. I had always known that I wanted a lot of children and did NOT want any kind of limit on how many I could have. I was crushed when he told me I could never give birth naturally and I decided to do my own research. I read books, researched articles and statistics, prayed, and determined that I was a great candidate for VBAC. We had moved out to California and though I didn’t have a doctor that I saw regularly (I went to a low income clinic and never saw the same person twice), I was told that if I had my baby at the UCLA Medical Center on Olive View, I could attempt a VBAC. The location was quite convenient as we were living with my grandpa and the hospital is right down the street, minutes away. I labored for 6-7 hours with her and wanted an epidural desperately. Because of the circumstances I was never able to get one. In fact, they brought the anesthetist in and as soon as he walked through the door I had to start pushing! They turned him away telling me it was too late and I was terrified! I had to push a baby out with no pain medication! To my surprise, the contractions were less painful as I pushed through them. Kaylee was born within minutes and I. Felt. Like. Superwoman. I did it! My VBAC was a success! I had defied my silly doctor and without pain meds to boot. I was beside myself with astonishment and I felt proud and was THRILLED with my new baby girl. Throughout my pregnancy they were either reluctant to reveal the gender or just were unable to tell, but I KNEW she was a girl. I was so, SO incredibly happy to have a sister for Lily and I knew that they’d be best friends. They kept me in the hospital for a loooong time after she was born, I’m not sure why, I think they forgot about me! But it gave Kaylee and I lots of snuggle and bonding time. How I adored that new tiny baby.

17.5 months after that found us in Rexburg, ID and this time it was Riley’s turn to join our family. I was a little older, if only slightly, and just the teensiest bit wiser and the blessing and wonder of bringing a child into the world meant more to me than ever. My labor with her was about an hour, a little longer, I think. This time Michael and I were alone; my mom had been present for both Lily’s and Kaylee’s births. Riley was born very early in the morning and afterwards it was just Michael and me and our newest precious baby. The room was so peaceful and quiet and the spirit was tangible. Later in the day we had LOTS of visitors! We were so lucky to live in Rexburg and be surrounded by family. My cousins all came to visit, Geri was there, and my grandpa was even in town; I think it was the only time he came to Rexburg while we lived there. Riley was surrounded by people who loved her and were so happy about her entrance into the world. It was such a fun and special time for our whole family and I will cherish the memory of being in the hospital surrounded by our most favorite people forever.

Nearly 3 years later (what a gap!) it was time for Mallory to make her debut! I had discovered I was 5-6 cm dilated and in labor at my doctor appointment that day. We met the doctor at the hospital a little while later and since I'd had two successful and unmedicated VBAC’s I was unconcerned about doing it for a 3rd time. I let him break my water AND I opted for an epidural. I would not do either again. When he broke my water her heart rate dropped to 60 bpm. It scared the life out of me but we were able to bring it back up quickly with some repositioning. I had an epidural and while it was perfectly lovely to birth a baby with absolutely no pain, I was sore at the injection site and have since learned that epidurals can be scary and that I’d rather birth naturally since it’s tolerable for me and I know I can do it. My mom was there again for this delivery and I adored my nurse who took such good care of me. Mallory was born and bringing a baby into the world seemed more miraculous and spectacular than ever! I can’t begin to describe the joy and peace that I felt. It was so fun and special to have her siblings come in and meet her. It was incredible to look around the room and see how my family had expanded.

2 years later we welcomed little Matt Boy. Oh, that boy! To tell the very honest truth, I had hoped for another girl. I was surprised when they told me he was a boy and didn’t really know what to do with one. But I was excited to meet him. When he was born they put him in my arms and the word “smitten” or the phrase “love at first site” can’t even begin to describe the emotion I felt in that moment. We were meant to be together. My soul had been waiting for his and we belonged to each other. I remember telling him I was his mommy over and over and studying his sweet face and newborn movements, grunts, yawns, oohing and awing over his first sneeze. A newborn baby had never been more miraculous to me than it was right then. Grandma Jan and Michael brought the girls over in the morning and I was amazed that I had FIVE kids. There was so much love, joy, happiness and I knew that it must be what Heaven is like. I absolutely adored watching my girls meet their baby brother. Our family was somehow all crowded around us on top of our little hospital bed and we laughed and giggled at this cute new baby and life was perfect; there was never so much joy in a room.

That last experience was a little over 2.5 years ago and now that I’m about to have another baby the feeling is more surreal than ever! When I found out I was expecting her I wanted to do a monthly photoshoot with my kids holding something that was the same size as she was as she grew in my belly. I’m so terribly unfocused when it comes to that kind of thing that I only ever took one picture. I put a sesame seed on Matthew’s face and snapped a photo. That was in November! Eight months ago, this baby was the size of a sesame seed! Now she is a 7-8 lb baby! If that’s not miraculous, then nothing is. There is a God and He is a God of miracles. Each person walking on this earth is a living, breathing miracle. What a better world this would be if we could all understand that. 

One might think that after being pregnant and giving birth 5 times, it would be no big deal and nothing out of the ordinary for me to have another one, but nothing could be further from the truth! It is still unreal to me that there is a child inside of me wiggling and waiting to be born. She is a fully developed newborn baby and ready to come into the world. How is that possible??? With each baby, the process of conceiving, growing, and birthing a baby becomes more astonishing and more miraculous to me. Everything is more special. The love that I have for my family and my children grows exponentially. I have a deeper love and a greater bond with my dear husband; we did this together! My love for God and my gratitude for Jesus grow, and grow, and grow. Families are miracles. They are special and sacred and they are of God. I am beginning to understand that concept more fully. I am ever grateful for my calling as a mother. I love these kids and being their mom more than I can even begin to express. I wish that I was more eloquent with my words so that I could properly shout out my feelings and have everyone feel what I feel. God has surely blessed me and I don’t know what I have done to deserve it, or if I even deserve the abounding blessings I have at all. I don't. But I praise Him and give Him my thanks for all I have. Everything I have and you have and we have comes from Him and I will never stop giving Him my praise and thanks.

I can’t wait to meet this girl. I can’t wait for her to be a part of our family and for her siblings to meet her and hold her and love her. I’m so thankful for her and for each one of my children. What a joy and a comfort it is to know that we belong to each other forever. Because of Heavenly Father’s plan, every family can be together forever. What a blessing.

 See the sesame seed?

Thanks to my lovely sister Rachel for this artsy photo!

And this one because I can't make this post without a photo of all my babies.