Throughout this entire ordeal Kevin and I could see God's mercy to us time after time in various ways. To point to Jesus and His love is the purpose of this birth story.
One of those mercies was the day of waiting before the C-section. It was a scary day for me, now knowing that my baby was deteriorating day by day. But it was still a merciful providence. We enjoyed the evening with our children. We had dinner together, ate the pie and had a time of prayer and thanksgiving, reassuring our children that all was in the Lord's hands and we were resigned to His will. Our young adults (ages 15-20) particularly needed this time. They needed to see us trusting that "underneath are the everlasting arms." One of our most fervent prayers was for our young adults, that this would be an opportunity for them to grow in faith.
That evening I sent out some more emails to friends that I knew would pray. I asked them to petition the Lord specifically for:
Knowledgeable and compassionate nurses,
That if there was a problem with the baby's health when she was born, Kevin and I would make wise decisions for her,
That I would be steadfast in faith, and a good example of trust and peace to my family.
There were some tears from my little ones that Mama would be away from home for a few days.
My sister-in-law texted me around 9:30 and said she was praying I would sleep. I did. For two hours.
At midnight I was awake and never went back to sleep. I waited on the baby to move time and again, I made sandwiches to take to the hospital, I read and prayed, I watched you-tube videos of C-sections (gulp). It was a night I will never forget. I thought hard on how my life was about to drastically change, especially the next several weeks. I knew God would sustain me.
I read the Psalms all the way to the hospital the next morning.
When we arrived, the first thing to happen was an answer to prayer. The nurse assigned to me was an older nurse with decades of experience under her belt. No matter how much you trust your doctor or midwife, the nurses can make or break the experience in a hospital. God's kindness to me was given in a nurse that I felt I could trust.
She hooked me up to the fetal monitor and the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having the last few days immediately showed on the monitor. Some were pretty strong. It was still a few hours until the surgery.
During some of the stronger Braxton Hicks, our baby began to have decels, an indication that she was not tolerating the false contractions well. Our nurse said, "I don't know what's going on with her...but it's a good thing she's coming out." Once again I began to question just what we were going to discover when she was born. Clearly she never would have been able to tolerate labor. And once again, I remembered the dilemma of several months ago, choosing hospital over birth center and how the Lord had mercifully led us to this point.
The morning was spent waiting and chatting easily with my mom, Kevin and a few other visitors like my wonderful in-laws who came in with hugs and sweet smiles. I was told that all our children were in the waiting room now. My doctor came in and thoroughly explained every move that would be made during the surgery and that extra nursery personnel were there for the baby's sake. My midwife came in too and the three of us chatted. One sweet memory (remember, I am writing this for myself too :)) is how our doctor made mention of how many children we had. She said, "We all talk about you guys. We love your fertility. Its odd and wonderful to see a happy couple bringing children into the world that they love." (Did I mention how much I loved this doctor? I don't think anyone has ever loved our fertility before, lol)
Finally my turn in the OR came. Kevin put on the mask and other garb but he was told he had to wait until the surgery was started before they would let him into the O.R. Being wheeled away from him, on my own now, I got emotional and started to shake. I could not stop shaking. Then I wondered how I would hold still for the epidural, shaking like that. Surely this would end in paralysis or some such catastrophe. So that made me shake worse. It crossed my mind that if I didn't hold it together they would knock me out and I wouldn't see my baby for hours and who knew what could happen during that time. It felt like a tidal wave was just about to wash over me and there was no way I could pull out of it. a panic attack was on the horizon.
But that sweet nurse spoke love and compassion to me. "This is all fine. You are fine. We do this every day. You are going to be fine." She gave me a few pats on the shoulder. She said they were in no rush, they would wait on my shakes.
Doesn't seem like much, but it was enough for me to breathe again.
I repeated Psalms in my head, I couldn't think of references but many short phrases. And I felt the prayers of all the ones praying for me. I knew there were people praying. And what a mercy is that? To know other people love and care for you and will bring your name before the Throne of Grace at your weakest moment, is such a gift. And God hears the prayers of His people!
The epidural was done without a problem, I was completely numb. The anesthesiologist cracked some joke about how many kids I had and I thought, "Seriously. Dude. Is this really the time for that?" Everyone else was the picture of professionalism.
Finally Kevin was beside me again. Within just a few minutes I felt that creepy sensation of tugging and pulling and they had Sharlotte out. She didn't cry. I was beside myself asking Kevin, "How does she look? How does she look?" He said, "She looks fine" but I could tell he hadn't had a really long look at her yet and couldn't tell. Some long seconds passed and we finally heard her cry. I was asking my doctor and midwife questions, "What do ya'll think? What do ya'll think? WILL SOMEONE TELL ME SOMETHING."
"Placenta looks okay," I heard them say.
I sent Kevin to look at the baby and bring me a picture from his phone. He came back reporting she did look good and not all that small and looked healthy and was pinking up. 6 pounds, 3 ounces.
Within five minutes of being born the nursery nurse brought me the baby. She unwrapped her and laid her on my bare skin. I was not expecting this. Although I was glad, I was afraid because I couldn't hold onto her. But she gave Kevin instructions on how to hold Sharlotte still right there and told him it was important that the baby be skin-to-skin with me. This was all a happy surprise to me, that they would be so concerned about the bonding aspect.
They left her on me like that until I was wheeled into a recovery room and she was immediately put back onto my bare skin there. She did not have any interest in nursing, though I tried. That was a first, as my other babies rooted and nursed immediately after birth. I still wasn't able to see much of her because of all the equipment my arms were hooked up to. I could only see how tiny she was. My relief came a few hours later when Kevin and I looked her over so well and she finally nursed a little.
Doctor said the reason for the IUGR was a true knot in the cord. Like a water hose that gets knotted has a decreased output, the nourishment just wasn't making it to my baby. A true knot occurs is 0.3% to 2% of births and it can end in still birth or an emergency in labor. Additionally, the cord was wrapped around Sharlott'es neck tightly three times, which would have complicated things further if I had gone into labor with her.
Throughout our stay at the hospital we were told often by different staff, "Do you know how lucky you are?" They told us stories of births that ended in tragedy. We were quick to give all glory to our Lord and Savior for His sustaining of Sharlotte Hosanna. There was no luck in this situation. All was His merciful intervening on our behalf.
We give God praise for His love and kindness in the midst of a storm. Sharlotte has continued to give us cause to pray often and depend on the Lord's grace as we have kept a close eye on her growth. But the last two weeks she has seemed to "turn a corner" and has started a good growth pattern.
Thank you all for reading and for the many comments and emails. I know I will not be able to respond to them all, but please know I have treasured each one. I have not been sorry that I shared this with ya'll. I hope that it has encouraged some of you Mamas. There is a lot of "trust your body" and "trust the process of birth" that goes on in our culture. I encourage you to only trust in Jesus. He is the only One who is trustworthy. He is an anchor in the storm of childbirth whether it goes according to your plan, whether it is at home, a birth center or a hospital and whether it is medicated or unmedicated. All praise to Him for all things, in every place, for every thing.