Click HERE to see the letters I wrote to Becks before she was born
I have written and re-written Becks' birth story in my head so many times since her birth four and a half weeks ago. And now that I am finally sitting down to actually type it out, I am at a loss for where to begin. How does one capture the beautiful, chaotic, exhausting whirlwind that is childbirth? How does one describe the moment that moves from painful to sacred, when your child is laid upon your chest?
|my first snuggles|
My pregnancy was, all things considered, pretty great. I definitely felt more pregnant sooner this go round, and had more aches and discomforts than last time, but it was pretty smooth sailing. I enjoyed being pregnant. And then the last couple of weeks hit. I made three trips to labor and delivery, knowing I wasn't in labor. The first time I was cramping badly, and nauseous, and thought it may turn into labor. My doctor had said to come in for anything like that, since I went so quickly last time, but alas…it was nothing. Well, sort of nothing. It was most likely the start of what would bring me back two more times: kidney stones. Yuck. But I made it through, and Becks was healthy. After that entire episode, I was ready to meet her and put pregnancy behind me. I told her that. And less than a week later, she made it known it was time.
The week of her arrival, I was sure I'd go past my due date, which was Saturday, May 3rd. I tried to make the most of the days I had left as just a mother of one. I sat outside and read during Blythe's naps, I cleaned, I slept blissfully through the night, and I held Blythe tighter and tighter as I made peace with saying farewell to our family of three.
Thursday rolled around, and there were no signs that Becks was going to make her debut any time soon. Brent had a softball game that night, and he had to work an hour later than usual, which meant an extra long day with just Blythe. I even joked with Brent that I would probably go into labor, since he would be gone and my parents and our other call-to-keep-Blythe friends were out of town for the evening. Planning for a long day with her, I figured we could watch a movie together in the evening, so that morning we kept the tv off and played and played. We had a tea party, we colored, we played with some play-doh, we danced in tutus, we read books, and we played with her dollhouse. At one point the "baby" was crying, so she picked her up [the tiny dollhouse baby that is about 4 inches big], and she held her to her chest and sang Rock-a-bye baby.
While we ate supper quickly with Brent before he had to leave, we decided to make plans for Friday evening. We knew time was dwindling before Becks arrived, and we decided that Friday we would go out to eat as a family, then rent a movie to watch after we put Blythe to bed. He left for the game, I cleaned up supper, and then Blythe and I settled in to watch Despicable Me before bed. Normally Brent puts her to bed, but since he was gone we snuggled up and read her bible story, then another couple books, and then she requested Amazing Grace while I scratched her back. It was difficult to hold her on my lap, with my protruding belly and kicking baby, but I relished in it. My little Blythe had become this huge two year old, who was about to become a big sister. And I kissed her and kissed her before I tucked her in. We had shared a beautifully exhausting day together, just the two of us. As I made my way back to the living room and waited for Brent to come home, I remember thinking, This would be a good last-day-with-just-Blythe to end on.
Brent came home and told me about the game. I told him Becks had been moving like crazy--that she was actually hurting me. It was a twitchy kind of movement, coupled with hard jabs. I was pretty pooped from the day and we crawled in bed a little early, but Becks just kept moving and moving. I told Brent it was painful, and just kind of different. "Maybe this is it?" I joked.
We turned off the lights at about 10:00, and I couldn't get comfortable yet tried to lay as still as I could and be as "in tune" with my body as I could be. If this really was something, I wanted to know as soon as possible so we could get to the hospital ASAP. I had two goals at this point: don't have the baby in the car, and get an epidural. By 11:30/midnight, I knew I was feeling some contractions. By 12:30 I thought I should time them. By 1:00 their intensity was already crazy high, though they were still about 10 minutes or more apart, but I already couldn't really talk through them. By 1:30 I woke up Brent and said, "Yeah, I think we should at least head in to town," and I called my parents to come stay with Blythe.
|my handy contraction app I used this time|
My parents came, bleary-eyed yet anxious for us. "I think this will be it, Kels," my mom said as she carried her pillow in. It was the exact thing she told me last time, and I believed her. I made a piece of toast, not sure how long I would have to go without eating, and Brent loaded our hospital bags for what we hoped would be the last time. I went in to kiss Blythe, and choked back so many emotions when I saw her laying there. I swallowed a lump and blinked back my tears, knowing our just-the-two-of-us days were over. I knew I was going to be having a baby.
On the way to town my contractions were still all over the place, but the intensity was not dropping any. I still couldn't talk through them and was now gripping the door handle as they came and went. They were lasting nearly a minute too. We pulled into the hospital at about 3:00 AM. Once I knew we were there, and that I would at least have a doctor present for the birth, I felt like I could relax a bit. My doctor had told me not to worry about the timing of contractions, and to come in when I was having them consistently at all, but I still felt like I should wait a little bit before we checked in. Obviously very little was open at that time, and we didn't want to venture too far from the hospital, so we headed to Hy-Vee which was just a mile or two up the road.
|I snapped this in the HyVee bathroom, thinking it would probably be my last pregnant "selfie"|
As we walked down each aisle, and talked about the people who were actually shopping at such an ungodly hour, and Brent was craving every candy and chocolate we saw, I would pause for each contraction. Sometimes they were three minutes apart, sometimes they were 11 minutes apart, other times seven. But always they were fierce, forcing me to stop conversation and double over a bit. By the time we made it to the back of the store [by the Shatto milk that Brent was trying to convince me to purchase… root-beer milk at four in the morning while contracting? Thanks, but no, thanks], I thought we should maybe head back to the hospital. Mainly I wanted to sit back down. We piled back in the van, drove around just a bit, and decided to get gas so we wouldn't have to fill up when we were bringing home the baby.
I was a little…umm…emotional…at this point. It wasn't that I couldn't handle the pain-- it hurt, obviously, but I was managing fine. I was just frustrated that I didn't know what to do, and I was crippled by making a decision. I knew if we checked in and they sent me home I would be upset [I knew it was happening], and I didn't want to be that lady who was at the hospital so much with no baby [remember I'd been there three times in the last two weeks]. However, I also knew we couldn't go home. I was also pretty tired at this point. Poor Brent. I was trying to get him to make the decision and he said, "Kels, I really can't. It has to be your call." As he pumped gas in the car I shut my eyes and prayed, "God, you're in control. Make it obvious if I need to check in." We drove back and sat in the parking lot again. Brent crawled in the back seat to try and get a little shut eye until I said, "It's go time!" I tried to rest, but that wasn't going to happen.
As I sat in the glow of streetlights, feeling my abdomen tighten and pulse and pull, I realized I would be giving birth soon. I'm not sure, but I think that any woman would say that no matter how "prepared" you are, and no matter how high your pain tolerance, and no matter how many babies you've had before, and no matter the mental knowledge that "yes, I can do this," it's not something you really look forward to. I picked my phone up and opened my C.S. Lewis quote of the day:
No matter how I felt, it made no difference to what I had to do. I was going to be giving birth. I was going to be meeting my daughter. And then I realized God had answered my prayer when I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes had passed since my last contraction. Twenty minutes. That's a decent chunk of time. I called our family friend, Kelly, who lives three or four miles from the hospital [and here I must say that I had FOUR other friends who had let me know I could call them for this reason too. What a blessing.], and she said she'd unlock the door and a bed would be waiting for us. It was a little after five when we got to her house. We climbed right in bed, Brent immediately fell asleep, and I tried to get comfortable and rest the best I could. My contractions slowed down to 20-45 minutes apart and I was able to sleep between them.
Until about 7:00 when they jumped back to ten minutes apart. I knew my sister would be awake by this time and sent her a text to fill her in. She said, "For whatever it's worth, I think intensity is more important than frequency." And man-oh-man where they still super intense. I rolled over and told Brent my sister's sage wisdom. He watched me handle another contraction. They were about six minutes apart. He said we were going to the hospital to check in. I was okay with that at this point. It was about 8:00. I stood up. Immediately things started happening faster and faster. From the time I stood up, my contractions were three minutes apart or less. We gathered the few things we'd brought in, I went to the bathroom, and then we told Kelly we were headed out. She asked if I wanted to eat something first: "I can fry up an egg for ya!" Nope. I needed to get to the hospital! I knew it very clearly at this point.
On our short drive I had four or five more contractions, and told Brent they better check me in right away so we didn't have to go through what we did last time. "Pray I'm at least at a four!" I said.
At 8:30 I was standing on a scale, having a contraction, while Brent answered their questions and I nodded that his information was correct. I was directed to the, what I like to call, "we're-gonna-make-sure-you're-really-having-a-baby" room [the same one where I almost delivered Blythe]. Luckily a lady named Doris was our nurse, and she had already seen me once so she knew my history of a fast delivery and she was moving super quickly. It was reassuring. She quickly entered my information and checked me. What she said next was music to my ears, "You're at a five. Let's get you to a room." Before I knew it I was plopping in a wheelchair and being whisked away.
|Brent took some pictures to show perspective of how tiny she was|
And then things got a little crazy…and I guess this time I can say this was "per usual." Doris got me hooked up to the monitors and finished all the admittance stuff [that I didn't get to do last time], while my labor and delivery nurse began searching for a vein for my IV. At some point during this time she asked if I would like pain medication, and I told her I absolutely wanted an epidural this time, since I didn't get one last time. She said she would hurry my blood work so that the anesthesiologist could come as soon as possible since I was, once again, progressing rapidly. Apparently my only "good" vein had been used when I was at the hospital a week and a half earlier, and she couldn't use that spot. She searched and searched, stuck me once, but it was a no go, and searched some more. She kept apologizing because I was contracting so frequently and she had to keep messing with me, but I assured her I hardly noticed what she was doing. She stuck me again and was afraid it wasn't going to work, but Doris came over and together they kind of wiggled the vein and needle around and voila! We were in business!
By this point Brent's mom had arrived. A few other nurses were trickling in and out getting things prepped and ready. Two different nurses at separate times stopped what they were doing and watched me have a contraction. They both said, "You have great control." Whatever that meant. I just remember thinking there was so much purpose in the pain. I was really able to focus, breathe, pray, and work through each contraction. There was an outlet in the wall across from the foot of my bed. When I felt a contraction coming on, I looked at that shiny piece of metal, then closed my eyes as the pain shot up. I had chosen two verses to focus on: "Stay your mind on Him." [Isaiah 26:3] and "The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still." [Exodus 14:14]. The second one was on repeat with each contraction. As soon as I closed my eyes, I gripped Brent's hand, breathed, and repeated the verse over and over in my mind. As the contraction tapered, I would open my eyes back up, still focused on that little outlet. I was able to stay calm this way, and knew God was in control. Brent let me grip his hand and reminded me we'd have a baby soon, that there was purpose in this compared to kidney stones, and that I was doing a good job [I had told him he could say the kidney stone thing if he didn't know what to say :)].
The little warmer was over in the corner of the room. The doctor's supplies were standing at ready. It was about to get real. I didn't realize how quickly though.
I'm not sure what the time frame was on all of this, but I know it all happened within about an hour. The nurse kept coming back in and saying she was really pushing for the anesthesiologist and trying to get me that epidural. I could handle the contractions, I just wanted to know what it felt like to give birth with an epidural! She said he was placing one for someone else, and then I was next. She asked if I was having back labor, and with the next contraction the answer was, yes, definitely. I asked Brent to text my friend, Brandon, who is an anesthesiologist, and walk me through the epidural just so I could be prepared.
And from that point on, things were kind of nonstop. Contractions were doubling up on each other, breathing through them was getting more and more difficult, and I remembered the feeling-- it was transition.
Some time shortly after 10:00 the anesthesiologist came in. He watched me for a second, and said he didn't think I'd even notice the effects of the epidural in time, but we could try if I wanted. My nurse said she would check me, since we hadn't had time, or reason, to do that since I'd been in the room. She didn't want to break my water so she was careful, but said I was pretty much fully dilated. I knew as well as everyone in that room that there wasn't time for an epidural. He needed to know my decision, and for some reason even in the midst of my contractions I said, "I don't have maternity coverage; I'm out-of-pocket." That's what popped into my head to tell him?! And he said quickly, "We're definitely not doing it. We will save you a couple thousand." And with that he wheeled his cart out and the door shut behind him. We were too late again.
My nurse apologized, as if it were her fault my labors were super fast, and said she was going to step out for just a minute, but to call for her if I felt the need to push. I don't even know if the door was latched when my next contraction about bowled me over. And something happened and I thought my water broke. And I felt the need to push. I immediately pushed the call button and the nurse came right back in. I told her I thought my water broke or that I had wet the bed or something. She looked and said it was tinged with a little blood and it was probably that my water had broken. I had another contraction and felt like I couldn't not push. I told her. She called my doctor and left a message. Then she paged the on call doctor.
|with Nana and Papa|
I distinctly remember how calm the room was at this point. I felt like it should have been striking up the band, but there we were just sitting in a quiet room with the morning sun coming in the window. The I-NEED-TO-PUSH contractions were not letting up and I knew Becks was coming. My nurse sat at the foot of my bed and touched my leg in a moment of comfort, and said with a smile on her face, "I can deliver this baby if I need to, but I don't really want to be your doctor." Sitting there she made another phone call to my doctor, and assured me someone was coming. Brent quietly asked his mom to step out of the room, as we just wanted it to be us for the actual delivery. It was go time. And then there were nurses coming in, lights being dropped from the ceiling, trays with medical instruments being wheeled over, stirrups being brought up.
Even in the chaos of that moment, I remember thinking very clearly how much less frantic everyone seemed compared to last time. I realized this was a bit more normal, even though I'd progressed very quickly.
And then my doctor whirled into the room.
|Great Grandma Hazel and Grandpa Jay|
|Great Grandma Ann and Grandpa AJ|
Not pushing was all I could focus on at this point. Brent was telling me I was doing great and reminding me we were almost there. The nurse asked my doctor is she had run over, and my wonderful doctor smiled and said, "Yes! That's why I have to stay in shape!" She had literally ran from her office in the building next door to be able to get there in time. I was so grateful. And then I saw her putting her scrub cap on, and then slipping into her gloves. And in that moment, without words or to any one else's knowledge, I thought to myself, "Nope. I'm not going to do this. I don't want to do this." It wasn't a panicked thought, but in that moment, in that pain, thinking about pushing [which, ironically, I so desperately wanted to do] it was, to me, a very rational and calm thought.
But just like that my doctor sat down and grabbed my ankles in comfort and, looking me directly in the eyes, began calmly telling me step by step what I was going to do. Going to do. "I can see her head and she has lots of black hair." And my momentary "No" thought became acutely different: I'm ready to meet this girl. You got this, Kels. And even though I knew the answer, and even though I'd asked the exact same question last time, I asked if I could just go ahead and push without waiting for a contraction. Of course, I couldn't.
She said she was going to break my water, and the nurse informed her it at already broken. "No, that was her cervix," she said. What the heck?! I'd never heard of someone transitioning fast enough that the cervix doesn't have time to dilate and just pops or something?! I forgot to ask her what she meant by that later. She broke my water, told me to grab the backs of my knees, and with the next contraction to pull back, breathe out, and push for the full ten seconds while my nurse counted.
At this point I was feeling so much pressure and pain and, though the word agony may seem a bit strong, agony could describe this point. Because of this, I couldn't actually tell when I was having a contraction, because the agony was continuous. My doctor said, "Okay, push," and I asked, "Am I having a contraction?" Like I doubted her judgement!
My nurse was counting to my left, my doctor was encouraging at my feet, and Brent was "pushing with me" on my right. Everything zeroed in on that moment. I was determined. And in my weakness I felt so very strong.
My nurse got to ten and I was told I had to stop pushing. This is the one point during the entire labor that I let out, what I could best describe, as a bit of a guttural cry. It wasn't a scream, but it was animal-like and I didn't even realize it was happening. Brent said that was the worst moment for him, as I hadn't really made any noise, but had just calmly breathed through everything up to that point. The good news was, our baby girl was pretty much here. "I want you to barely, just barely, push with the next contraction," my doctor said. I followed her instructions.
And they laid my second, beautiful daughter on my chest.
|my first moments with Becks|
|my wonderful doctor who delivered both my babies|
and high five to her for running in order to make it this time!
It was a flash though. A nurse was right there and was searching my doctor's face, and in seconds my doctor said, "Yes, let's get her some suction." I saw, though her eyes were wide open, Becks was a bit purply all over. My doctor clipped the cord quickly and the nurse took her over to the warmer where they began suctioning her. I motioned for Brent to step over there with her, that I was fine, though my heart was racing.
It was probably less than 30 seconds before I heard her cry, but in those long silences I learned that this little baby I had carried for nine months, that I knew intimately yet didn't know at all, was already entrenched deeply in my heart.
And then there was her cry. I kept looking over at Brent, then at my doctor, asking over and over, "She's okay? Right? She's okay?" And once they confirmed it, and the room was all smiling, I breathed deeply. My doctor was still working on some "stuff" on me, and they were making sure our baby girl was good, and I said to my doctor, "Well, I'm probably not going to make that 1:00 appointment today, just so you know." I remember being goofy and "high" right after delivery with Blythe too, and this time I even looked over at Brent and said, "Hey! I still met my goal to not miss a meal!" The staff laughed with us and congratulated us, and even though I hadn't really snuggled my daughter yet, she was here. We had done it.
|Great Nini Pat and PopPop Beck, her namesake|
They weighed her and then reported her weight to us: 5 pounds, 12 ounces. I repeated it back to them, incredulous. Were they sure? I was certain she was bigger than Blythe had been [6 lbs 5 oz], but they were correct. She was a tiny, tiny little thing. Very soon Brent brought her over to me. I nuzzled into her. I breathed her in. This tiny, beautiful, breath taking baby was mine. I'd been waiting all along just for her.
All along when I'd dreamt as a little girl about my future family-- it was her.
All along when Brent and I were dating, engaged, and first married and we talked about our future children-- it was her.
It was her.
I was so enamored by her that I didn't hear them asking us for her name, but I heard Brent spout it off: Becks Lynae. I spelled it for them, just to be safe, then returned to gazing at my little beauty.
In the quiet of that moment, my first chance to be alone with her, the first thing I thought to say was, "Jesus loves you so much, baby girl." And I kissed her little face.
Becks had made me a new and different kind of mother, and Brent a new and different kind of father. And she had made Blythe a big sister forever.
|the first look|
I mentioned my fast delivery to one of our night nurses, and kind of dismissed it, as I've grown accustomed to doing because I know of others who have endured hours and hours of pushing, let alone labor. But that nurse said to me, "Oh, it's not nothing-- you felt all the pain and everything just squished into a shorter period of time." And I did feel that way this time: that the intensity of a 20 hour labor was jammed--desperately, tremendously, markedly, deeply, profoundly, exceedingly, and quite thoroughly jammed-- into those two hours.
Those two hours had a lot of pain, emotions, and moments of fear squeezed into them, yes. But they also had a great big moment of beauty; a great big moment of being reminded of how big and wonderful and capable and strong and steadfast is our God.
|the first night, parents of TWO!|
|an email I received from a friend the day I had Becks. God is faithful|
And as we look at our tiny Becks, we are so grateful she is the one who has made us a family of four. Our laps are now full. Our hearts? Our hearts are beyond full-- they are bursting.
|before we left the hospital [one of the few times Becks was fussy while we were there!]|
We are falling in love with you more every moment, Becks -- we are so thankful it was you all along, and we are so thankful you are here.
|it was the most perfect day outside when we brought Becks home|
|at about 4 weeks|
|We love our girls! Here's to figuring out how to be a family of four!|