adoption finalization – five years later

Around 2am this morning, Luke called for me, as he does most nights. He wanted to move to “daddy’s bed” – weeks where Ian works the late shift make this boy crave extra time with his daddy. So I settled him with Ian and crept off to the guest room to get more sleep.

As I lay awake in the middle of the night, I thought back to this day five years ago: Luke’s adoption finalization. I was up at the same time, feeding Luke a bottle. After he finished, I jumped in the shower and got ready for the day. Luke was born a few hours south of here, so that was where we had to go to finalize his adoption. It was an early morning for sure, but an exciting one.

I remember being nervous about how Luke would do – putting him in the car so early, and having to stop on the way for another feeding. We pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot and fed him in the car. He was so super smiley and happy – it’s one of those moments that I’ve tucked away in my heart for forever. I remember his soft jammies and his fuzzy bib. His gurgly smile and bright eyes. I remember thinking that no matter if he screamed in the courtroom, this was our happy boy, giving us the gift of a perfect family moment.

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Now that baby is five. I was never sure how or if we would celebrate his finalization anniversary each year. We have always been open with Luke about his adoption, but thus far he hasn’t been super interested. And that’s fine. We’ll keep bringing it up now and then, so if/when he is ready to explore that part of his story, he’ll know that he can ask us.

So today I remembered that special day on my own, and thought about how far we have come. How we know our boy so much better than we did back then, and how we’ve grown into parenthood with him. Often friends or family say something like “God knew you were the just the right parents for him.” So often I feel unsure of how to parent our bright, spirited boy that their statement feels untrue. But I do trust that God wanted to call us to grow into the parents that Luke and Gracie need us to be. The promises that we made in the courtroom five years were just the beginning of this calling, but it was a day that will always be tucked away in my heart.

 

 

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april

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Every April I get all the feelings.

In April 2011, our adoption homestudy was completed and we were officially “waiting” for a baby. I started readying my heart and home for a baby – it was such a unique season of anticipating and waiting with such uncertainty as to when we would become parents. I made this adorable little stork for our future baby’s bedroom.

Every April, I revisit those feelings and stand in awe at all that has happened since then. That April, I didn’t know that we would have a son two months later. And that two years after that, I’d be longing for another baby – not yet knowing that I was newly pregnant.

And this year? These two are no longer babies, but we are in a sweet season. They are best friends, and my heart is so full.

 

Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy: Our Story So Far – Part 3

It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!

To read Part One, click here.
To read Part Two, click here.

Part Three: The Complete Surprise of Pregnancy

Still can't believe I carried a baby in my belly.

Still can’t believe I carried a baby in my belly.

Earlier I wrote about the day I found out I was pregnant. Seriously, my baby is now 10 months old (today!) and it STILL seems unreal. In a way, being pregnant was the strangest thing because I truly never expected it to happen. I am grateful that God protected my heart so well during that time. We had no idea how the pregnancy would go, and I know so many people (the majority of my mom-friends, actually) that have had pregnancy losses. And while as far as we know, we never conceived prior to Gracie, there was definitely some distrust in my body after the whole infertility deal. When I first told Ian that I was pregnant, our initial conversation had a lot of “so IF we have this baby…” talk, and I recognized it and called it out. I knew that we needed to be thankful for every day that I got to carry this baby, but we needed to talk with “when” and not “if” language, and trust God to hold our hearts as we walked in such strange new territory. And God was so gracious to us.

Honestly, pregnancy was awesome for me. I loved being pregnant. I know many friends that have seriously rough or scary pregnancies, so I recognize the gift of an easy pregnancy! Sure, the first trimester I was suuuuper exhausted and nauseous every day. But other than that, it was great. And the birth went awesome too. Seriously, I’d give birth to Gracie again tomorrow if I could (yeah, I’m weird like that).

It’s funny to be given a gift that for a time you so desperately wanted, but have grieved over and accepted as not happening. It’s kind of freeing, actually. I know that it helped give me better perspective on what is really important. We took a Bradley Method natural childbirth class (which was awesome!), and it was interesting to see what was  important to the other couples (who, of course, were all first-time parents). Sure, we wanted a natural birth, but if we ended up with a c-section or whatever, we’d still get to be present at the birth, something we didn’t get with Luke! Other parents were concerned about medical staff interfering with their desire for delayed cord clamping, rubbing the vernix into the skin, etc – all things that were so, so secondary to us.

The day before my due date.

The day before my due date.

The emotions of it all were kind of all over the place. At the beginning of my pregnancy, there was mostly shock, awe, and some guilt (why me out of all my friends struggling with infertility?). That progressed into a very sweet time of content anticipation – I loved being pregnant with such a sweet gift, and I treasured the time I got to carry her. I never reached the point of feeling “so done,” though my excitement in getting to meet her steadily grew.

When Grace was born, everything just seemed so right – our little family expanding with just the right little person. The strangest emotions came awhile after she was born: I missed being pregnant, yet I was obviously so in love with her. I think with Luke, it was awesome because it was ALL the excitement at once: BOOM! With Gracie, there was such a long period of anticipation – and I’m a person that really thrives on anticipation, so it’s hard to come down from, in a weird way. But the emotions of meeting my kids, through adoption or birth? The same: heaven-meets-earth awesome.

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Gracie, just a few hours old.

When we were waiting to adopt, we had one boy name and one girl name picked out. Grace Katherine seemed so right for a child that would join our family through the amazing gift of adoption. Yet when we found out we were expecting a girl through pregnancy, it also seemed perfect for such a surprise gift. Every child is a gift from God, and after experiencing infertility, we were keenly aware of that. Our aching desire to have a family was fulfilled not once, but twice, with two precious gifts from the giver of all good things.

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

-Grace, U2

I get asked about the difference between having kids through adoption vs. birth sometimes. It’s a hard question to answer, because there are just so many layers to separate, it’s almost impossible. Both experiences were so amazing, and different yet the same… I imagine might be similar to comparing any siblings’ births. I was a different person when Grace was born – I was already a mom, so that made a big difference. I think one of my favorite things about our story is that we got the bonus excitement of getting to have the first-time experience of becoming parents with Luke, and then getting the first-time experience of birth with Gracie. It was probably more relaxing to go through pregnancy for the first time while already knowing what it’s like to be parents. Although I do admit that I had fleeting daydreams of getting to just sit and do nothing (or sleep!) during my first trimester, or the chance to recover from my first birth (hello, third-degree tears) without parenting a toddler. But overwhelmingly I have just felt grateful for the family we have been given, and especially for the unique ways that Luke and Grace joined our family. My heart is full.

IMG_8415So that’s where our story ends so far. It remains to be seen if our family continues to grow, and if so, which way it will happen.  I love our story; the ups and downs seem almost surreal when I write them out, but it’s a true story. I hope that hearing how God has grown our family has been encouraging to you as well – thanks for listening!

 

 

Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy: Our Story So Far – Part 2

It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!

To read Part One, click here.

Part Two: The Absolute Joy of Adoption

Just minutes after meeting our son!

Just minutes after meeting our son!

Sometimes when I tell people our adoption story, I feel almost guilty for how quickly we seemed to move from despair to hope. Silly, I know – it’s just that many people have stories that involve years of disappointment and loss and indecision related to their infertility. For us, it was pretty straightforward – which is definitely a reflection of our personalities. While we were heartbroken to discover that we probably wouldn’t get pregnant, it didn’t change our desire to have a family. We agreed that IVF was not something we wanted to try, so adoption was the next thing for us to consider. Again, we were so blessed to have close friends that were just finishing the adoption process – in fact, their daughter’s adoption came through just weeks after we made the decision to adopt! Her arrival not only solidified our decision to adopt, but she was such a joy and encouragement to us, like a bonus gift from God affirming our journey towards parenthood.

Now, I’ve always loved adoption – one of my best friends was adopted, and it always just seemed like a cool part of who she was. I also had this idea that maybe her parents loved her a bit more than most parents, since they went out and found her, she didn’t just “happen” to join their family. However, never did it seriously cross my mind to actually be an adoptive parent – that seemed like something that was for “kid people,” and I definitely did not consider myself to be a kid person. I mean, I think kids and babies are great, but my personality is to relate to them in the same way that I do adults – I have a closer circle that I enjoy investing time and relational energy in, but I’m not crazy about getting to talk with, play with or cuddle every kid I come across. Some people are just natural “baby whisperers” or have personalities that attract kiddos to them – but that’s not me. So my initial – and maybe only – hesitation with adoption was, “really, God, me? Are you sure I’m the right person to adopt?”

Once we started the adoption process – the application, the fingerprints, the homestudy application, the classes, the homestudy visits, the profile book – it was exciting. Sure, it took time and sometimes the paperwork was tedious, but it was all a step closer to growing our family. I still remember exactly how I felt and what we did on the day of our first homestudy visit – such anticipation! It’s interesting to look back and see what happened emotionally over just a short time: from grief over our infertility – some days I felt like I could barely catch my breath from the pain – to an almost giddy, joyful anticipation.

When I think about this time, the word that comes to mind is elpis, a Greek word that is most often translated as “hope” in the New Testament. The word is so much richer than the wishful use of “hope” that we often use today – elpis is a confident expectation of things to come. I was confident that God was at work growing our family, and that made it easier – even exciting – to trust him through all the unknowns. Was it still hard when it seemed like everyone I  knew was getting pregnant? Sure. But it helped so much to be moving forward in a direction – I could still feel the grief (and jealousy, let’s be honest) but I had a solid place of hope to land on, not a bottomless pit of despair.

We were able to complete all our requirements and be officially approved and ready to adopt about nine months after we started the process. While it was super exciting to reach that point, we knew that we could be in the next phase indefinitely, just waiting for a birth mother to choose us to parent her child. This, in my opinion, is the hardest part of the adoption process. All those supportive people in your life? Suddenly they are asking you questions all the time: “any news? baby on the way?” It’s completely out of love and support, but it does get tiring – having to think of a response, and having to hear the questions on days when you are discouraged or are trying not to think about how long you will wait.

Waiting for an adoption is tricky - how much do you prepare? How much can your heart take? This was Luke's room one month before he joined our family - we had a carseat, a crib, and one newborn-sized onesie I had hand-stamped.

Waiting for an adoption is tricky – how much do you prepare? How much can your heart take? This was Luke’s room one month before he joined our family – we had a carseat, a crib, and one newborn-sized onesie I had hand-stamped.

To our complete surprise, we became parents only a couple months after completing our requirements! I will never forget receiving the phone call from our social worker.

I have never felt so incredibly elated, shocked, and overwhelmed with gratitude. It was like getting the news of a positive pregnancy test and having the baby within 30 seconds – if that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is! You can read more about Luke’s birth story and adoption finalization if you want to relive the awesomeness.

I’m pretty sure I stayed high on that mountaintop of love and joy and excitement for at least a year. One of the things I had worried about with adoption is that I wouldn’t get the postpartum hormones that help you bond with your child. That turned out to be a ridiculous fear, because holy moly, I was in love and the hormones showed up even though I didn’t give birth to him. There was never a moment of question; we were his parents and it was just meant to be.

Now Luke is three. Three! Most days go by without his adoption crossing my mind (although I think about adoption in general all the time – praying for friends who are still in the process and dreaming/scheming about adopting again someday). I’ll be reminded of how he joined our family when a stranger asks “where did he get his curly hair?!” or when he talks about how Gracie grew in my tummy. I don’t think he fully understands his story yet, and it’s just not a priority in his little world just yet. But we’ll keep telling him the amazing story of how he joined our family, and it will be a part of who he is.

Trusting God with my heart’s hopes and desires is a challenge – I like to hold on tight to my plans. I do hope that my ability to trust him continues to grow as he proves himself faithful over and over and over again. There are so many stories in my life of God’s abundant faithfulness – times where I didn’t get what I wanted; instead he gave me something much richer and deeper. And this – the story of how our firstborn son joined our family – is one of my favorite stories so far.

So in love with my little man.

So in love with my little man.

 

Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy: Our Story So Far – Part 1

It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!

Part One: Joining the Infertility Club

Celebrating our 3rd anniversary on Orcas Island.

Celebrating our 3rd anniversary on Orcas Island.

A few months before our 3-year anniversary, Ian and I decided that we were ready to add a little one to our family. We eased into it – not particularly “trying” to get pregnant, but leaving ourselves open to it happening. Around six months or so of that, we started being a little more intentional (ovulation charts, anyone?). When we still hadn’t gotten pregnant after about a year of that, we decided to do some testing to see what was up. Even though we really wanted to be pregnant, we were pretty chill about the whole thing, and were surprised that the doctor immediately gave us the label of having “infertility issues” simply because we’d gone a whole year without conceiving.

After a series of tests for both of us, they gave us our results, and they weren’t super promising – their recommendation was for us to pursue in vitro fertilization, and the most aggressive approach of IVF at that. They said it was highly unlikely that we’d  get pregnant with anything less than that procedure.

At this point, let me just say that while I don’t wish infertility on anyone, I have been immensely thankful that we have been able to have multiple friends with infertility challenges. Without those relationships, I think I would have felt so alone. And even at the very beginning of this journey, while I didn’t understand all the emotions that it would bring, at the very least I knew we weren’t alone, and that made a huge difference when hearing our diagnosis. (So if you are experiencing infertility – reach out to someone you know – it helps SO MUCH. Heck, email me if you think you don’t know anyone that’s walked down this road).

I’m not sure what other fertility clinics are like, but our experience was so bizarre. The doctor delivered this heavy news to us, then we were immediately ushered into another office to meet with someone about scheduling and financing an IVF procedure. No joke, she pulled out a calendar and rattled off the next few potential dates and what that would look like for us as far as injections, timing, etc. And of course the $15k+ financing options were discussed too. And everywhere you looked in this clinic, there were photos of happy babies – success stories. It was so strange! Luckily Ian and I were on the same page and walked out of there with a simple “yeah, we’ll think about it.”

While I wasn’t super emotional during that appointment (shock, I suppose), that evening I pretty much fell apart. It felt like my heart had been shattered, and I continued to feel intensely hurt for the next few weeks. I definitely questioned God’s goodness, and whether he even cared about the details of my life. Yet, even in the midst of sorrow, I was able to see glimpses of his grace – particularly his gentleness to my delicate heart. There were many ways that we could have discovered our infertility diagnosis, but the way it came about – sometimes phone calls from doctors that were slightly out of order, or premature – I felt like God gently eased us into hearing the news. For that, I felt extremely grateful – like I just barely survived emotionally because of his gentleness to me.

Nevertheless, infertility is a huge shock. I know there are some people that grow up knowing that they have infertility challenges due to a medical condition or some other known reason, etc. But for the majority of infertile couples, it comes as a complete shock. Having kids is just something you expect to happen – it’s perfectly natural for people to ask, “when will you start having kids?” because for most people, you just decide to go for it and it happens not too long down the road. Even more, infertility and pregnancy loss are still not talked about very openly, so even though lots of people experience struggles, it’s not always out in the open.

Even for us – personally knowing other couples that couldn’t get pregnant – it was a shock. Sure, it happened to them, but we had no reason to suspect that we would have any trouble conceiving. So it took time to adjust to this news that seemed so big and daunting. Again, I am SO thankful for our friends who have walked with us. This was a dark and difficult time in our journey of growing a family, but thankfully it was only part of the journey…

Celebrating our 4th anniversary

Celebrating our 4th anniversary, about a month before learning of our infertility challenges.

luke and gracie’s birth stories

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!

Just minutes after meeting our son!

Our family!

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.

IMG_7559We were so happy to welcome you into our family. Your birth was perfect, and we praise God for protecting you and mama all throughout the pregnancy and birth.

[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.]

a glimpse into our home: may 13, 2012

This scene fills my heart with such joy.

Yes, I loved the flowers and succulent garden and waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream – Ian and Luke are giving me a great first mothers day!

But it’s seeing toys scattered on the floor, wiping yams off of chubby fingers, holding a sleepy baby a little longer than he needs and washing diapers that my heart longed for over the past few years.

I am so blessed and so thankful. Most days I think my heart might burst from the joy of it all, and today I feel it even more. Last year on mothers day I trusted and waited in hopeful anticipation for the day I would become a mom – I had no idea it would happen a month later!

Baby boo, thank you for making motherhood such a joy. You are a perfect fit for me and bring so much light and laughter into my life. You have helped me learn to love better, to seek grace in all things, to trust more and fear less, and to enjoy life more fully. I love you always and forever, your mama.