My bedroom is dimly lit. The windows are open and the ceiling fan circulates the cool June breeze. It’s 4 a.m. and I’m listening to an audiobook while sitting on the big gray chair in my bedroom feeding Amber. I can see John peacefully asleep in our bed. My parents are asleep in the bedroom next door. They arrived late last night, and I know my kids will be eager to see them in the morning when they wake up. For right now, the house is totally still, and the kiddos are all sleeping peacefully.
While I’m going on nearly six weeks of interrupted-newborn-mom-sleep (and sometimes that’s really hard for me), I’m so grateful for these simple moments. I’m grateful I’m alive and physically able to care for my newborn baby. I’m grateful she’s alive and weaving herself deeper into our family tapestry as each day goes by. I’m grateful for our home and that’s there’s food in the pantry and refrigerator downstairs. I grateful for simple moments that I often take for granted, and I’m grateful this newborn-mom-life forces me to slow down and take in these quiet, simple moments that I know will pass quickly in retrospect.
We recently welcomed baby #4 to our family. Baby Amber has evened the score – we now have two boys and two girls.
I developed high blood pressure during this pregnancy (something that had not happened in any of my prior pregnancies). This meant that I was induced at 37 weeks just in case the high blood pressure turned into something more severe.
Because of how quickly Drew was born, I was actually very thankful to be induced. My prayer this pregnancy had been that we’d make it to the hospital in time for the baby to be born. We live 45 minutes from the hospital and Drew had been born just minutes after we arrived. So, in an odd way, I was thankful for the high blood pressure since it provided an opportunity for an induction.
Because my previous labors had gone so quickly, I figured this one would too. But I was wrong. This little girl took her sweet time. The nurse put me on Pitocin around 9 a.m. John and I watched a movie and I finished a book I had been reading. The medical staff increased the Pitocin amount many times (all the way up to a 20) before I started feeling contractions. Once I started feeling some contractions, I asked for an epidural and life was good. I wasn’t in pain and the doctor decided around 4 p.m. to break my water to hopefully speed things up.
Shortly after breaking my water, Amber’s heart rate dropped. The nurses said sometimes a baby’s heart rate drops as they go down the birth canal. However, this was not the case with Amber. When the nurse came to check how far dilated I was, she realized that Amber had a prolapsed cord, which meant we needed to have an emergency c-section. I could tell the situation was not good because the senior nurse who had been so calm and relaxed all day was stuttering as she called out orders to the other nurses.
Poor John had gone to the restroom (which was in our labor and delivery room) right before the nurses came to check my status. When he came out of the restroom, I was being whisked away, and he was quickly briefed on the situation and then left alone not knowing exactly what was going on and if I or Amber were in danger.
Thankfully my epidural was still functioning, which meant they didn’t have to put me under fully for the surgery, and I was able to remain awake for Amber’s birth. John was permitted in the operating room, which wouldn’t have been the case if they put me fully under (I’m not sure why that’s the policy). Right as Amber was being pulled out, a nurse escorted John into the room. Thankfully, Amber let out a big wail of a cry when she was born and she was healthy. Amber was my tiniest baby, weighing 5 pounds 13 ounces.
The doctors and nurses who helped with the c-section were all amazing. One nurse took our camera and snapped pictures of Amber after she was born. My anesthesiologist was so kind, calm, and engaging. He talked to me the whole time. One challenge I faced during surgery was feeling like I couldn’t take a deep breath. Apparently my epidural had been placed a bit high and created the sensation of feeling like I could not breathe easily, even though my oxygen levels were totally normal. This sensation was probably the hardest part physically of the c-section experience for me. The anesthesiologist talked me through it and I was so thankful for him.
For the first hour of Amber’s life, she bonded with John while I was in the operating room. It was such a welcomed sight to see them together when I was wheeled into recovery.
This experience was so different than my previous three deliveries. The hospital experience started out in a very boring fashion since it took hours for my contractions to kick in. And the day ended very dramatically with a distressed baby and emergency operation.
Even though things did not go as anticipated, I saw God’s hand in so many different ways that day (like being able to remain awake for Amber’s birth).
The recovery has been much longer and harder than any of my previous births. I just recently received the all clear to be able to pick up Drew. I was not supposed to pick up anything heavier than Amber as I recovered. Thankfully my mother-in-law stayed with us for over three weeks after Amber’s birth.
Life with four kids has been an adventure. This past week our whole family except Amber came down with a virus that wiped most of us out for days. Thankfully we’re all feeling much better.
So far Amber has been an angel baby. She sleeps and eats like a champ. She doesn’t cry very often and when she does, she is calmed fairly easily. We are all so grateful she’s here!