These moments. The day was filled with them today.
They are what my heart longed for when a second child was just in our hopes and prayers.
Luke wouldn’t even stop talking to her long enough for me to snap a photo.
Last year, on Sunday, May 5th, I found out I was pregnant. Kind of. I mean, I took a few positive pregnancy tests, but it wasn’t until the next day and a total of 7 positive tests that I felt certain enough to tell Ian.
I consider both of my babies to be “surprise” babies, in the sense that they came into our lives at the most wonderful, unexpected times. With Luke, it was a phone call – “you’re parents!” and with Gracie, it was a positive pregnancy test. Or seven.
I remember the day so well – it was such a beautiful spring day; I read a book in my hammock seat while Luke napped. It wasn’t until during church that night that I realized something was amiss with my body. My monthly cycle was a week late, and I wondered – was it possible? Could I be pregnant? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind in so long. Or if it was a fleeting thought, my period would literally start within an hour of the thought crossing my mind.
But that didn’t happen. And when Ian went out for his guys’ night, I thought about having a little cinco de mayo beer while I crafted. But I couldn’t shake the thought that maybe something was up. So I hunted down some pregnancy tests that had come with the ovulation tests I had used way back in the day. All three of them came out positive. Like, really positive, but infertility can play tricks on your mind, so I was really hesitant to believe them. The expiration date was over 2 years old, so logically I blamed that. I decided to wait until the next day and pick up a couple tests at the dollar store.
Strangely, I was able to go about my night without going online to check out pregnancy symptoms or whatnot (if I had, I probably would have realized what was going on). Sure, it was on my mind, but I was so set on not being disappointed and getting my hopes up, that I really just tried to assume that I was not pregnant.
The next day was another gorgeous day. Luke and I stopped at the dollar store, where I picked up a couple more tests and some random item to make things less awkward at the checkout (right…). Then we headed off to my mama’s group. It was at a friend’s house, and the kiddos played in the yard while us mama’s hung out on the deck eating strawberries and chatting about summer plans. Occasionally my mind wandered to the pregnancy tests sitting in the trunk of my car. Maybe…
During Luke’s nap that afternoon, I took one more “expired” test and the two dollar store ones. All positive. I decided that after Luke’s nap we’d head to Rite Aid to buy a more expensive one. And if that one came back positive that evening, then maybe I really was pregnant. And if so, I should probably tell Ian at that point.
Sure enough – I really was pregnant. Ian and I were both so surprised and shocked, it took months for it to truly sink in. But really, I feel like I’ve just lived a whole year in wonder and awe and thankfulness at this gift we’ve been given. Like every single day.
The months prior to finding out about Gracie were so frustrating to me – we wanted to grow our family, but were having the hardest time sensing God’s direction as far as which adoption route to take. It was only during Lent that I finally took a break from trying to discern a direction and just wait. And then quietly and suddenly, our family grew.
And a year later, we have our Gracie Kate. Absolutely amazing.
Well, Gracie is just a month old and I finally managed to get her birth story written out, woot! I didn’t start this blog until a few months after Luke was born, so I never posted his birth story, so I thought I’d go ahead and post them both together. You’ll have to excuse the third person “mama and daddy” language – I write these for their baby books, so they’re written to them. Also, I omitted part of Luke’s story – his version includes more about our visit with his birth parents, but that’s not something we share with the whole world. I love my babies, and I love their birth stories – enjoy!
Luke’s Birth Story
Friday, June 10, 2011 started out as an ordinary day for mom and dad – we went to work as usual, completely unaware that our own little miracle had occurred at 3:09am that morning, when Ian Luke McFarlane entered the world. It was like most days – people asked mom and dad, “any news on your adoption?” and we would say that we were just waiting for God to bring the right baby into our family – we couldn’t wait to meet him or her!
At 2:56pm, mom was at work when her cell phone rang – the caller ID said it was Liane from Adoption Ministry of YWAM. Mom’s heart skipped a beat as she grabbed her phone and ran outside, wondering why Liane might be calling.
“Hi Sara, it’s Liane. I have some news for you – you and Ian are going to be parents! You have a healthy baby boy who was born early this morning.”
Mom started crying happy tears – the news was too good to be true! She learned that you were born at St. Joseph’s hospital in Tacoma, WA, and that she and dad would get to meet you the next day. As soon as they finished talking, mom called dad at his work to tell him the good news. When dad answered, mom started crying again, and it took a few tries for dad to understand what she was saying! Then he kept saying, “Wow!” over and over!
Mom and dad quickly finished up their work and headed home – we hugged each other and were so excited! We kept saying “I can’t believe this!” We had been waiting for you, and now we knew that you were here!
We were thankful that we had borrowed your cousins’ car seat a few weeks earlier – we knew you could safely come home with us. But you came as such as surprise that we didn’t have any clothes or blankets ready for you! Luckily, you already had friends who love you! Grant’s mom quickly put together a suitcase full of Grant’s baby clothes and blankets, and Isabella let you borrow her bassinet to sleep in. We packed up our own clothes, picked up your suitcase and bed, and headed south to Tacoma!
We couldn’t wait to meet you, but we knew that we wouldn’t get to see you until the next day. We stayed at a hotel in Tacoma so that we would be close by. We knew the nurses were taking good care of you and we just had to be patient a little while longer!
On Saturday we woke up so happy and excited! Today was the day we would become your parents!
That afternoon we got to meet your birth parents…. ….Our hearts have so much love for your birth parents, and we pray that as you grow up, you will understand how much they love you, and that you will always have a special place in your heart for them.
Finally it was time to meet you! You were waiting for us in the nursery, and the nurse told us we had to carefully wash our hands for three minutes before we could go see you. That was the longest three minutes of mama’s life! We could see you sleeping in your crib, and as soon as the nurse said we could go back, you were in mama’s arms seconds later! We stood there, taking turns holding you, smiling, crying happy tears, and looking at how perfect you were. We could not believe that God had blessed us with a son as wonderful as you!
This is our first family photo together, just minutes after we got to meet you!
We all spent the night in the hospital together. Mom and dad took turns holding you and calling all our friends and family to tell them all about you. You were so excited to be with us that you stayed up all night looking at us. You only cried when we changed your diaper. Your burps were so loud, we thought the whole hospital could hear them!
The next morning we found out that we could go home – we were so excited! Liane and Debi, our social workers, came back to cuddle with you and wait with us until it was time to go. The nurses said you were so handsome, and they were excited for us to take you home.
We finally left the hospital in the afternoon. We had a lot of driving ahead, but you slept through it all! Mom sat next to you and made sure you were comfortable.
We stopped by a few places so your extended family could meet you – everyone was so excited that you were here! They all wanted to hold you, and they thought you were just perfect!
When we got home that night, we found our house all decorated and stocked with baby supplies! Our friends from church had come over and gotten the house ready to welcome you home!
Mom and dad took turns feeding and holding you that night. When mom woke up the next morning, she wondered if it had all been a wonderful dream. Then she heard dad on the phone, setting up your first doctor’s appointment. It felt too good to be true – but there you were, sleeping in dad’s arms. You were the answer to our prayers and we loved you so much, right from the beginning!
Gracie’s Birth Story
Your birth story started on Sunday, May 5th, 2013, when mama found out she was pregnant with you. The news was so good and so surprising that she waited until the next day to tell daddy – just to make sure it wasn’t too good to be true! It was for real – much to our surprise, God had chosen to grow our family through pregnancy, and you were safely tucked away in mama’s belly, growing strong and healthy for the next 9 months.
Your due date was January 11, 2014. Everyone was excited for you to arrive. A week after your due date, you still weren’t here, and we were getting anxious to meet you! On Monday, January 20th, your big brother Luke went to spend the day and night with Opa and Oma. We spent the day trying to get mama into labor – we had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, and you still looked healthy and strong, you just weren’t in quite the right position to be born. So we spent the day trying to coax you into position – mama took some herbs, we ate spicy Thai food, we walked up a big hill – but nothing happened! Finally, later that night we met up with our childbirth class instructor, who used robozo sifting to try to get you into position. She and daddy took turns jiggling mama’s belly with a piece of fabric. After an hour, it didn’t look like much had happened – you were still in the same position.
But something had happened: all the jiggling started some contractions. It was 10pm when we headed home, and the contractions kept happening. We wondered if this was it – were you about to be born?
We figured it would take awhile, so dad helped mom take a bath and get ready for bed. Mom had to concentrate through her contractions, but they weren’t too bad.
After laying in bed for about an hour, the contractions started getting stronger. Mommy had to get up and move around because she wasn’t very comfortable. She decided to take another bath, and when dad heard the water running, he came to help.
The contractions were getting stronger and closer together, and mom needed dad’s help and encouragement to relax and breathe through each one. After the bath, we moved to the living room and put on The Cosby Show, hoping to distract us and help us relax. In just a couple episodes, the contractions continued to grow stronger and closer together, just a couple minutes apart, but the contractions only lasted 30-40 seconds.
We moved back to the bed, and at a little before 4am daddy decided it was time to call the midwife. Mommy was worried that she hadn’t labored long enough for her cervix to be dilated enough – she didn’t want to drive all the way to the birth center and be sent back home. But daddy wisely insisted that it was time to call.
The doctor wasn’t sure how far into labor mama was, since the contractions were short. But she heard mama working hard to breathe through them, and she wanted to check her out. So we agreed to meet at the birth center at 4:45am.
Mommy had been dreading the ride to the birth center – a 20 minute drive – but it wasn’t bad at all. We got there at the same time as Dr. Bauer, and she quickly got the room ready for us. It was a cozy room, and mama was happy to be inside since it was pretty cold outside.
Mama got on the bed and Dr. Bauer looked to see how far dilated she was. To everyone’s surprise, Dr. Bauer said, “Oh, honey! I need to call Dr. Lieb – you’re all the way there! You need to wait to push until Dr. Lieb gets here.”
We were so happy! We knew it was almost time to meet you! All along mama kept thinking that we had a long time to go, but now that she knew her body was ready, she kept saying, “I’m so happy! Praise the Lord!” Daddy was smiling from ear to ear.
It wasn’t long before Dr. Lieb walked in, and both doctors listened to your heart beat to make sure you were handling the labor okay (you were!) and then they took another look at mama. They decided it was time to push, so mama started pushing. It was a little tricky because mama had to quickly get in 2-3 pushes in her short 30-40 second contractions. Daddy kept encouraging mama and giving her sips of water in between contractions. At some point, Dr. Bauer decided to break the bag of waters, so there was a gush of water with one push – that helped you move down the birth canal easier. After about a half hour of pushing, mama could feel your head start to come out – and daddy could see your dark brown hair! Then you surprised the doctor by flying out one push earlier than she expected! You were born at 5:50am.
You were beautiful right from the beginning. The doctors laid you on mama’s chest, and your skin was so pink and healthy, and you had a full head of dark brown hair. You weren’t screaming, but you were squawking a little, and you had wide eyes, trying to take everything in. Mommy and daddy kissed you and kept telling you how much we loved you and how happy we were that you were finally here. Daddy was the first to call you by name – a sweet “Hi Gracie!” as you looked at him. We knew your name fit you perfectly. Daddy cut your cord, and we got you all dried off and warm.
While you snuggled cozily on mama’s chest, she began to have a few complications. The placenta that had protected and fed you so well throughout mama’s pregnancy started to fall apart. While mama was trying to deliver the placenta, the cord broke off of it and mama started to bleed. It was a scary situation, but mommy and daddy knew that God was there, taking care of us, and He gave us His peace. We prayed while the doctors worked to stop the bleeding and try to get all of the placenta out. An ambulance came, but by the time they came, the bleeding had been stopped. The doctors decided it was best for mama to go to the hospital anyways. After nursing you for the first time, you snuggled into daddy’s arms and stayed at the birth center while mama rode in the ambulance to the hospital. After Dr. Lieb checked you out – you weighed 7 lbs and were 20 3/4 inches long and were super healthy – you and daddy met mama at the hospital. Mama got some antibiotics, had an ultrasound to make sure all the placenta had come out, and had some stitches.
Mommy and daddy realized that no one even knew you were born! The labor happened so fast that we never had a chance to call any family or friends to tell them you were on the way! So the three of us settled into our hospital room and spent the day resting and letting people know that you had been born. At dinner time, Oma and Opa brought big brother Luke to meet you – he loved you right away. We spent one night in the hospital, and the next day we got to go home and begin our new life together as a family of four.
[For those who are interested in more details about what went on with the placenta – the short answer is that we don’t really know. My doctor noticed that the cord stopped pulsing really soon after Grace was born, so that was the first sign that something was awry. Then as she was helping me deliver the placenta, it just started falling apart. That’s when the cord broke off, causing me to hemorrhage. Thankfully, a shot of pitocin to my thigh and something else (I forget what) put in my rectum got the bleeding under control.
As blood was literally gushing out, I remember thinking “this is how women die in childbirth.” I didn’t think I was going to die, but it was just a stark reality of knowing I might have died in this situation earlier in history. It was kind of surreal – I understood the seriousness of the situation, but I also trusted that God was in control, and I knew he was protecting me. So with his peace, it was easy to stay calm – I had complete confidence in my midwives, and I knew that my job was just to stay calm and relaxed.
After the bleeding was stopped, Dr. Bauer tried to get all of the placenta out (she literally was up to her elbow trying to feel around for pieces in my uterus – kinda gross, I know – and that was why I got a round of antibiotics at the hospital). I later saw the placenta at the hospital – it was seriously messed up, and looked more like ground meat than all the beautiful placentas I’ve seen pictures of.
We don’t know why the placenta fell apart the way it did. Dr. Bauer might have felt an abnormality in my uterus – perhaps it is heart-shaped or something. The ultrasound didn’t really show anything, but at the same time, I have my suspicions. I always carried Grace on the same side, and she really did not move much at all. But who knows. I’m just thankful for such a healthy pregnancy and birth, praise the Lord.]
At 5:50am on January 21, 2014, we became a family of four.
Our sweet Grace Katherine entered the world.
Her birth was perfect. I had a few issues after she was safely in our arms, so we ended up spending a night in the hospital. It was cozy and peaceful, and soon enough we were headed home.
The next days included lots of cuddles and rest and gazing at our Gracie Kate.
Luke spent a few days with Opa and Oma, then came home to join us. I was amazed at his instant adoration and love for his baby sister. It feels like magic to watch them cuddle, and to constantly hear his little voice say, “hi little Gracie!”
Grace is quite adorable, I do believe.
She spends most of her time sleeping, as a new baby should.
I wasn’t sure what it would be like to have a baby in the winter, since Luke was a summer baby.
Turns out it is super adorable when they are all bundled up.
Grace is pretty easy-going thus far. She puts up with her older brother’s loud and invasive affection, as long as she gets lots of cuddles from mom and dad.
She unknowingly joined the 12th man mania.
We are adjusting to being a family of four. It feels like stretching – sometimes it feels just perfect, like when Luke wants to drink his bedtime milk next to Gracie. Other times it feels like a huge change that takes some getting used to. We are working it out, this little family of ours. Ian took some time off, and we are treasuring this time together. And we are thankful – we never expected to grow our family this way, and Gracie fits in just perfectly.
This morning, he woke up a little earlier than he should, so I sat on the bed and tried to get him settled back to sleep. In about two minutes, he rattled off the following conversation:
“Luke, do you want me to tuck you in?”
“I want daddy to tuck me in.”
“Daddy’s already at work.”
“Daddy’s at work? He’ll be back soon. Who’s coming over? Is opa coming? Opa will come back soon.”
“Opa’s coming next Tuesday.”
“Tuesday. Someday. Opa’s coming on Tuesday, and he’s going to play with me. He’s going to play with me. He’s going to play… barn! He’s going to play barn with me. With the horse and the sheep and the pig and the cows and the bull. The cows and the bull! The cows and the bull! What’s the bull doing? What’s the bull doing there? Oh, man. Opa’s going to come and play with me and the cows and the bull.
What’s that? Did someone toot? Mama, did you toot?”
“No, that was my stomach rumbling.”
“Rumbling? Rumble bumble jumble. Rumble bumble rumble bumble rumble bumble. Rumble bumble dumble. Dumble. Dumble. Dumbo. Dumbo! Dumbo! Dumbo is a BIG elephant! Dumbo!
I’m a baby! I’m a little baby, aaaww. Or am I a big boy? I’m a big boy baby. I’m going to play horses! Horses and elephant. Big elephant! You seen my big elephant? Please I get my elephant? I’m going to ask daddy, and daddy’s going to find it with me. Someday. My elephant book! Please I read my elephant book from the library?”
Around that point, I realized that this kid was not going back to sleep. Not only that, but he’d probably already spoken more words than I would in the next few hours. It’s so fun to hear what is going on in his world, but so crazy how much comes out of his little mouth!
Sigh. The day finally came when we decided to move Luke to his “big boy bed” (aka teeny toddler bed).
We had talked about doing it on a week when Ian was working an earlier shift, so we’d have a good amount of time for an extended bedtime routine if we encountered any difficulties. But when we looked at our calendar, we realized that most nights we had commitments that were going to push bedtime back anyways. So we made the switch kind of spur-of-the-moment on a Sunday morning. Which was for the best, since it didn’t leave me time to be overly sentimental about “his last night in his crib” and whatnot. Which I tend to do.
Anyways. We did it – Ian put together his toddler bed and we re-arranged all the furniture so that it fit. Luke and baby sister will be sharing a room, so we had to be creative about fitting everything in a small room. But it will be cozy and cute and Luke is really excited about sharing his room. Once we’ve settled everything in and decorated, I’ll share some photos. But don’t expect it before December!
I loved how Luke’s room was for the first couple years of his life. When he was born, we had a bare skeleton of a room – a crib with no mattress, and a couple dressers. Hey, when you have an adoption come through after the baby is already born, you don’t exactly have time to nest before bringing him home! So it took a couple months to come together, but it was a sweet room that worked well for us. And honestly, the style of the new shared room won’t be that much different. If there’s a theme to the room, it’s probably a woodland theme, which I still love. But I wanted to remember what Luke’s first room looked like.
I loved his little crib area. I designed his birth announcement, and my mom made it with her mad crewel embroidery skills (I’ve already given her baby girl’s design to work on!). My mother-in-law got those super cute animal prints from a local artist – Luke still loves to point out the animals and make up stories about them. The little collage area over his dresser is a modge podge of fun little crafted or thrifted goodies. Both the dresser and the lamp is from my childhood. The lamp also plays a lullaby and the crib figurine rocks when you wind it up (it totally freaks Ian out, but I love it).
This room gets some nice light, and it was nice to have his changing table under the window. The stork always looked great there – I’m excited to be adding a new heart to it soon! To the left of the window is a photo of Luke’s first father’s day (only a couple weeks old) and a bib that my oma made for one of my mom’s best friends when she had a baby boy. When I had Luke, she was so sweet to pass it on to me. I absolutely love it. I don’t have a full photo of it, but my mom made the Noah’s ark hanging above the closet. She made it for me before I was born, and it always hung in my room growing up. That’s probably Luke’s favorite art in the room since he’s obsessed with Noah’s ark.
This side of the room is fun – I made the trio of woodland animals before Luke was born. My BFFs made the little raccoons and twig tree for my baby shower. The good ol’ IKEA expedit has served us well, and will continue to do so!
So that’s the grand tour – I did say his room was small.
And here’s a photo of the big boy in his new bed. I made the quilt for him – my first since the lap quilt I made in high school home ec! It was actually a remarkably smooth process, and Luke loves it. Overall, he’s adjusted well to his new bed – bedtimes are great, naptimes are usually fine, though he definitely uses his freedom to get up and play for a few more minutes before settling down. We are thankful for a kiddo who generally likes to sleep, so we try not to get too worked up when we have a shorter or skipped nap day.
I’m excited to put together their new room… once that nesting instinct kicks in, I guess!