Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Birth Story--the extended version

On July 11 we walked across the street to send off the Guatemala Team leaving for their two week mission trip. As I gave Miriam Hofer a hug she said, "Now don't go having that baby while I'm gone!" I just laughed, because we both knew it was a ridiculous possibility. I mean, our baby wasn't due for more than a month.

The following week I got a little crazy working on projects. Poor Lee, he was so busy and I wanted (and needed) his help for so many things. I decided to give the guy a break right before he left for church camp, I mean, after all, we would have plenty of time before the baby arrived after he returned a week later.

So Sunday, July 18, I walked across the street again to the church. This time it was to send off my husband and all of his junior high students to summer church camp for a week. Someone asked if I would be fine with Lee away. Of course I would, I had plenty of homework and housework projects to get done to get ready for this baby. Loraine Schellenberg said. "Oh yeah, you're far enough out nothing is going to happen." I honestly and whole heartedly agreed with her.

Vince Balakian advised Lee to gather all of the emergency numbers and give them to me. He thought we should be prepared in case I went into labor. We agreed. Yet, we failed to complete the task. Oops.

So after sending Lee of on Sunday I did the following:
-Primered the nursery to get it ready for Lee to paint it :)
-Then my feet throbbed so bad I could hardly stand it (in fact I wrote a post about it all) I was desperate to complete tasks, bizarrely motivated.... hmmmm, nesting?
-Worked on homework
-Suffered from some braxton hicks contractions (false labor contractions) Who knows if they were false now?

Monday I completed an entire weeks worth of homework and started the next week's. (Thank you God for that!) Then I went and hung out with Kathleen Bergen.

It was all just a normal day.

I came home & proceeded to work on more projects, suffer through more "false" contractions, and then finally hit the hay around mindnight.

At 3 am I woke up quickly and assumed it was because I needed to pee (as usual for a pregnant woman, especially at 35 1/2 weeks pregnant). But then I had that cramping feeling again. Those darn Braxton Hicks! I went pee and while peeing (sorry for details folks) I heard a "pop" and I thought to myself, "Gosh, pregnancy is so weird. Now I make sounds when I pee. Gross."

Wanting to get back to my precious sleeping I laid back down. But no way! I felt stabbing pains in my lower back when I laid down so I ruled out sleeping as an option. I went through the advised steps for getting rid of BH contractions: juice, a snack, and walking around, but to no avail. So I grabbed my text books. I guess I would do some homework if I wasn't going to get to sleep.

So there I am, sitting indian style on the bed reading a book when, hello! I think I've peed myself, depsite the fact that I had peed 3 times since waking up 10 minutes prior. Of course the thought crossed my mind that my water could have just broken, but felt a little embarrassed for even thinking so because we weren't even near my due date and I didn't want to be dramatic. I jumped up ticked that I had lost bladder control and ripped the sheets off the bed to wash them. However, even after I took a bath, had changed the sheets and my pajamas I kept 'leaking' and had to sit on a towel. So I googled on my phone how to know if your water broke. (oh modern times)

The two signs that stood out to me:
-some women hear a popping sound when their water breaks
-a consistent leaking feeling

Oh brother.
Still, I remained in denial.
I did start making notes in my phones to keep track of my "braxton hicks" and how long they were. I still have the note, it makes me laugh to look at. By 4am my contractions were 6 to 7 minutes apart and I was in a lot of pain. So I took another bath and continued to text my sister Jennifer in Kansas. I needed to talk this through with someone. I was, afterall, home alone and had no present voice of reason to snap me out of my denial.

In the bath tub for the second time I continued to time my contractions. At 5am I thought for sure I wasn't recognizing the contractions or timing them accurately, because surely they were not occuring on the dot every 4 minutes. So at about 5:15am I called Jennifer knowing it would be 7:15 in KS and I would catch her awake. I did. She hadn't got any of my blackberry messages yet. I started telling her what had happened so far when I had another contraction. I guess by the change in my voice and breathing she knew I was in real labor. She told me to get off the phone and find a neighbor or call someone (in the same state as me) to take me to the hospital.

It's almost 5:30am in California at this point so I was not surprised that my first attempt received no answer. But The Lord had it worked out. Stephanie Warkentin had been at my house the evening before to drop off a package for her daughter and son. (Oh yeah, because I was planning to drive up the mountain and spend the day with campers on Tuesday). So I called her and she called me right back and hit the road to come get me.

I headed out the door to the hospital in pajama pants, a tank top, and a t-shirt (no undergarments because I rolled out of the tub in lots and lots of labor pain and just grabbed what I could once I realized I was heading out the door to the hospital. I did grab my purse, but there was nothing in it that I needed once arriving at the hospital: no camera, no insurance card (that was in Lee's wallet), and no cell phone. I had dropped the cell phone in the front yard on my way to Stephanie's car. Bummer! Not that I would have time for phone calls because it felt like I was constantly contracting, but still!

Once in Steph's car I apologized in advance in case this was a false labor thing. Ha! Who knew I was so good at the denial game. On the way to the hospital Steph began working her magic to get a hold of Lee and telling me random stories to distract me from the intense pain I was in. I only cried once on the way to the hospital and it wasn't because of the pain. It was because I was slowly moving from denial and realizing my husband didn't even know what was going on and we couldn't reach him because cell phones don't get reception up at Hartland in the mountains.

I remained surprisingly calm all morning while laboring alone and even when we reached the hospital. We walked up to the counter and Steph started to tell them what was going on. They acted really non-chalant I think they were assuming since I was a first time mom and still almost 5 weeks from my due date that I was probably not in real labor. But of course I had a contraction while they asked me endless questions and had to squat down by the counter, "Oh don't squat here hon." They told me as if I had some kind of choice since they weren't putting me in a room.

Steph kept urging them to check me while she talked with the director of the camp about what was going on. It was a God thing that Steph would be able to get a hold of the director of the camp so quickly! The nurse tried to tell her not to have the dad drive down just yet until we checked her. But since he had a 1hr 15 min drive AT THE LEAST, Steph told the director to get him down here. It was a good thing, because when the nurse did check me she said, "Oh! About 9cm!"

It was go time. Which really, even I, Miss Denial, could have told them at that point. Yet, the big "9 cm" definitely snapped me into reality!

The next 2 hours were spent wondering if Lee was going to make it. None of the nurses thought he would. It was close to 6 when they told me I was at 9cm and Dr. Cano was on call, but Julie would be on at 7am. Julie is the midwife I REALLY wanted to do my delivery, so I knew we were at least making it to 7. :) Julie showed up and she didn't rush me. My body was pushing on its own, but I didn't feel the urge to push yet despite everyone reminding me not to wait for Lee to push. My lamazze teacher/doula said I was probably waiting for him subconsciously because my body wanted him there so it just waited. She says she has seen that a lot in women's labors.

I was practically sitting up and leaning to the side during labor. And my midwife Julie Medina was awesome and just let me labor the way my body wanted to. She was so encouraging and calm.

When things got in to full swing after the nurse checked me I was in sound mind to rattle off the things I wanted "No pain medication and delayed chord cutting. Oh, and I haven't had my strep B test yet." You see, it was Tuesday and on Wednesday I was supposed to have my 36 week appointment, get my strep B test, pre-register at the birthing center so I wouldn't have to register while in labor, and finish my 'birth plan'. Isn't God funny with his timing?

Due to this change-up in the order of things I had nurses asking me all sorts of questions "height, weight, what I brought with me, et cetera et cetera". And they wanted me to sign all sorts of things. Let's keep in mind this is in the MIDDLE of the most intense pain I have ever felt at this point in my life. So Steph would put the pen in my hand and rest my hand on the line that needed my signature or my initials. Thank God I didn't sign my baby away, because let's be honest, I wasn't comprehending much of anything they were saying to me.

A nurse asked if the bed needed broke down, but Julie said, "Nah. She'll probably deliver just like that." I was so relieved because moving brought excruciating pain. Which is funny, because I had been so worried the nurses and doctors wouldn't give me the freedom to walk and move around during labor. But then again, I did that part of labor at home alone and had all the freedom I wanted to pace around my house, which I did. :)

Lee called Stephanie's phone when the got far enough down the mountain to have reception. She held the phone up to my ear and he told me he loved me and was on his way and that I was doing great. I couldn't really respond but I gasped out an "I love you, too." Surely he would make it. I just knew that he would make it.

Some time after 7am I hit the wall they had told us about in Lamazze class. Everything 'down there' felt like it might explode and I suddenly panicked thinking "I can't do this." I literally ran straight in to this towering wall of "I Can't." Lee wasn't there yet and this was too hard. But then a comforting voice from within said the most empowering and terrifying thing I had ever heard, "But you are the only person who can do this. No one else can do it for you." I said a quick prayer, okay, I prayed through my whole labor, but The Lord reminded me in that moment that I was able, because He made me able, and He made my body to be able. So I told myself "I am the only person who can push this baby out. I HAVE to do this. I CAN do this."

So I started pushing.

Around 7:30am I heard some nurses shout in the hall, "Are you Lee!?" Moments later he came running into the room--complete in Dodger shirt and hat. :) He traded places with faithful Stephanie who had stood by my side and held my hand the whole time. That last stretch was the hardest. Every time I pushed I thought certainly that her head was out, but it wasn't yet. "I see lots of dark hair," Julie told us--and this was a surprise to me. Because of how I was sitting I was able to see the back of her head when it came out and Lee was able to comfort me and see his baby girl enter the world. At 7:49am Julie said, "reach down and deliver your baby." I got to help scoop her up and place her on my tummy. There she was, she finally made her debut. HER debut. Remember, we didn't know the gender yet. So Julie let Lee announce it, but Lee was so speechless and in awe that it took him a little while to say it.

I just held her close to me and laughed and cried at the same time and told her everything was okay and that I loved her. About 15 minutes later she nursed for the first time. It was incredible how instinctual that was for her. Isn't God amazing?! Then Lee gave her the first bath and fed her a glucose bottle to get her sugars up. They were pretty low from being premature. But she was a plump 6lb 5oz for her 18 inches length and she was perfect in every way.

"Do we have a name?" Julie asked, and I panicked and said, "No, not yet!" Though we had talked frequently about Lydia Jane and loved it all the way through, I was still so startled by her early arrival and my unpreparedness that I didn't feel ready to solidify her name. It didn't take us long though & we went with what had been so beautiful to us all along. And every single day the name is more perfect for her. And my incredible love for her has only made me more aware of my mother's incredible love for me, God's incredible love for his son that He watched suffer for our sake, and God's incredible love for us.

My little Lydia Jane, you have changed my life forever.


  1. I loved this story. Made me teary. Much love to you all! Can't wait to meet Lydia

  2. oh Sara Jo, I loved reading this! brought tears to my eyes too, especially at that part where Lee was so speechless and in awe that it took him awhile to announce her. i am so very proud of you, you are truly an inspiration to me!

  3. i'm such a sap, and getting all emotional. gosh darn it sara jo i just put eyeliner on!

  4. Precious! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Loved reading the story juat as much as when I heard you tell it at the baby shower. What a precious gift you have been given. Congratulations Sara Jo!

  6. beautiful! i am so proud of you. what an amazing story.

  7. Sara Jo,
    Somehow I came across your blog (I don't remember now how) and I think your story of the birth is so awesome! Congratulations on your baby girl and thanks for sharing!
    -Jill (Crawford) Larson

  8. beautiful story! After having worked at Hartland for a summer it was a pure God thing someone was in the office that early! It's a wonderful story and made me tear up.

  9. Thank you!
    Oh Melissa, no one was in the office! haha. We called the director on his home phone. It was a pure God thing we got the number so quickly. :)