Once in college, I had a professor that would take us through “free writing” excercises. Just write. Anything you want… don’t process or try and make it clever, just write. Streams of consciousness. I’m pretty sure that’s where this will end up so I’m going to start by justifying this dump of thoughts and emotions on the forefront.

My pregnancy with Judah was relatively easy until the last trimester. During the last trimester I developed a rash connected with my pregnancy that was beyond awful. It wasn’t really visible (the first round of steroids knocked that out) but it itched like nobody’s business and made my hands and feet swell horribly. It got to the point where the skin on the bottom of my feet actually burst. Not pretty, right? And I literally kept a bucket of ice water next to the bed so every couple hours when I woke myself up from the itching I could plop my hands and feet in the bucket and once they were thoroughly numb I would try and fall asleep before I regained feeling. It was awful, but I was so grateful that everything meant I was still pregnant. I had lost twins at ten weeks a few months before I got pregnant with Judah, and I don’t think I even breathed the first trimester of this pregnancy. I remember actually being thrilled when I was so sick for the first 4 months because it all meant I was still pregnant.

That being said, whenever the Lord wanted to bring this baby, I was ready to have him! I tried every little trick in the book to induce pregnancy and who knows if it worked or not, but I woke up on the morning of the 20th feeling my first contractions, 11 days before his due date. I had been experiencing back pain the night before and hadn’t slept well so I got up early to fix Trevor some breakfast. I tried to lay back down after he left, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I was suspicious that it might be the early stages of labor because it felt like menstral cramps and many of the blogs and posts I had read about early labor had women describing it like that. By 8:30 I knew I was having my first contractions. I called my mom, but didn’t call the doctor yet because they weren’t hard and were so sporadic… Anywhere from 15-35 minutes apart. I think my biggest fear was that they would stop altogether and I would have to wait another couple weeks.

These were taken the day before I went in to labor and Sweet Jesus, I look bloated.

I texted Trevor about what was going on, but told him not to come home because I didn’t think it was anywhere near “game time” yet, and we had a Doctor’s appointment that afternoon that he was going to come to anyway. I didn’t hear back from him and was slightly hurt that he wasn’t more excited until he called me at noon and said that he hadn’t got my texts. I asked him to come home a bit earlier to help me with some last minute prep and then I started cleaning like a woman possessed. I called all of our family members to keep them updated and ask them to pray. I had really wanted my mom to be with me through this, but I was still happy that Judah was coming early. Her flight wasn’t scheduled for another 5 days.

I remember taking a break to sit in the rocking chair my father-in-law bought for the nursery and just praying for our son. We had prayed over him this whole pregnancy and I just once again brought this day before the Lord. I read through the prayer journal my mom had bought for him and prayed into the things we felt like the Lord had layed on our heart for Judah. I prayed he would be strong in body and mind and grow to love the Lord with all his heart. I prayed for his future wife. I prayed many things but I also prayed that I would be calm. That Trevor and I would know how to handle questions and if something unexpected arose, that we would handle it in the correct way.  I talked to God about molding me as a mother. I felt overwhelmed with the knowledge that we are completely responsible for this little one. We will shape his world view and how he views God. I prayed and prayed throughout that day and the following night.

Trevor was able to come home around 1:30 and he got the camera down for me so I could charge the battery (which we never actually ended up using). My contractions were still irregular and we ate some lunch before we left for my Doctor’s appointment. We were both so excited. When Trevor gets excited he gets extra silly. We sat in the lobby and he kept making me laugh and giving me contractions with the stupid games he would come up with.

24 weeks (and yes, the only reason this made it in the post is so I feel better about the 38 week pics)

They finally called me back for the ultrasound and we chatted with the technician as she squirted that warmed jell on my belly. She assured us everything was looking great, but she couldn’t get us a 4D picture because little man had his hands up on his face. We said we didn’t mind because we expected to meet him soon anyway. She told us confidently that his weight was 7lbs even (ha!).

We didn’t wait long before we were called back for our appointment with my Doctor. The nurse took my blood pressure and weighed me. Ok, maybe by this point I’m already sounding exceptionally vain, but I made Trevor look away during that part. My husband is 6’1″ and has a very lean frame. Probably one of my most shallow fears has always been that I will weigh more than him (which definitely happened during this pregnancy). I just had these crazy images in my mind of rolling over and crushing him in his sleep. Ok… insane confession time over.

The week before (37 weeks) I had already dilated 3cm so I was hopeful that I would be a bit further along. She told me I was at 4cm and asked if I would like her to strip my membranes. Its about as fun as it sounds, but I told her yes. I was soo ready to have this baby! I remember gripping the sheet and the nurse told me to relax. “think of yourself on the beach”, she said. “what the heck are you doing to me on the beach, Dr. Donato?!” I asked, laughing. Once she finished up we headed home but my contractions were now coming every 5-10 minutes.

I got home and started baking cookies in between contractions for the nurses. I’m absolutely sure that they would have been just as lovely to me had they not been bribed with 3 dozen cookies, but I wasn’t taking any chances. We all know that they do most of the work anyway, and I wanted them to know that I appreciated them being part of this process. I loved later how they all gushed over Judah and cooed at him and told me he was perfect. I know they probably say that to everyone, but I don’t care… they made us feel special.

Then we just sat around talking and praying and watching some tv… we couldn’t concentrate on anything. From 6 PM on my contractions were every 5 minutes or less but I wanted to wait at home as long as possible so I could just be a bit more comfortable. I was also slightly worried that I would get there and they would send me back home. We finally headed to the hospital around 9 PM.  We tried to check in but they were backed up and we sat around the waiting room for an hour before I even got checked. By this time I was having contractions every 3-5 minutes. I saw two girls get sent home because they weren’t far enough along and you could tell they were upset (not just the “I’m really disappointed I’m not having this baby now” upset, but the “I’m going to cut you” upset).  I just prayed that I would be far enough along that they would keep me cause I was in quite a bit of pain at this point. Trevor and I continued to joke through the contractions… I zinged him at one point and then as I laughed went into a really hard contraction. Trevor was like, “haha! See? that’s what you get!”… then immediately schooled his features when he caught my expression. “too much?” he asked. I told him I wasn’t really feeling like joking anymore.

When we were finally called back it was such a relief. They wouldn’t let Trevor come back right away becuase they needed to ask me all these crazy questions like, “has your husband ever physically abused you?” Which I’m sorry, but is completely ridiculous… honestly, if he beat me do you think I’m going to wait till I’m in labor and then decide now is the moment to tell someone about it? After I assured them that my husband was, in fact a decent human being, he was able to come back and the nurse checked me. I was now at 5cm and I was told I would be staying the night. She said, “you can stay… you will be having a baby today or tomorrow!” It was all so exciting. They got me hooked up to an IV and the nurse asked me what level of pain I was at. She motioned at a pain chart with various degrees of emotioncons where I could select the stink face fase of pain I was now at on a scale from 1-10. “Are you serious?” I asked her, which was probably rude, but I thought it was pretty hilarious. I told her I was a 6.

something like this… but it was 1-10

She hooked my stomach up to a monitor and left us… by the time she came back 30 minutes later I was like, “9… its a 9!”. I remember I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands… they just kept clenching and unclenching on the sheet. I suddenly had flashbacks of this stupid movie, Major Pain, which was a junior high favorite of my brothers… and basically this guy is complaining and the Major asks him if he wants him to take his mind off of it and then breaks one of his fingers. It actually sounds much more horrible now that I’m typing it out. Its amazing what can come off as stupid humor when you put a stupid sound track to it. Anyway… all that to say all of a sudden I knew what that was all about. I just wanted to focus on anything other than my contractions. So I breathed, in and out, I clenched and unclenched my hands, I grabbed a little tube of something next to the bed and tried to sound out the long medical ingredients on the back… anything until my contraction was over. Sometimes I held Trevor’s hand but mostly when I’m in pain I don’t want to be touched. Trevor had a look of nervousness and excitement on his face. I’m sure it matched my own.

They had been a bit overbooked so once they got another woman moved to a different wing I was put in my own room around 11PM. I told them I wanted an epidural but I had to wait a while before the anesthesiologist was available. I started feeling super nauseous and the nurse gave me some alcohol swabs to smell. It didn’t work. Every time I threw up my contractions were super strong. They were one of top of another now and I couldn’t wait to get my epidural. Finally the anesthesiologist came in. I had to move to the edge of the bed. It hurt a bit going in, but compared to the contractions it was nothing. It took all of probably 5 minutes to kick in but it felt like much longer. The anesthesiologist was asking me several questions and it was starting to take effect. She asked me to open my mouth and I said, “ok, but just so you know, I threw up about 15 minutes ago, so… ” I felt my extremities slowly numb. It was amazing the relief that accompanied it. Trevor asked anxiously if I felt any different and I grinned up at him. “I guess so”, he said. I could see that he was relieved and he was able to leave to go out to the car to get our overnight bag and the cookies. I reached down and touched my limp legs in amazement. You know, pro “natural” childbirth or not… they do some amazing things in the field of medicine.

The nurse turned out the light and we were able to sleep for a few hours. between the pressure cuff on my arm that went off every few minutes and my excitement, I wasn’t able to sleep much but I was so relaxed, so ready for this baby. The nurse would come in every hour or so to check on me and I had to get over my modesty pretty quickly.

Disclaimer: Trevor was super helpful and thoughtful throughout this whole process, but it was a first for both of us and there were bound to be a few “deer in headlights” moments. Around 6Am they told me I was at 8 cm but my water still hadn’t broken. My epidural was wearing off and I was starting to be in a lot of pain again. I started to feel nauseous again and I knew I was going to throw up.  Trevor was still sleeping so I quickly pushed the nurse call button. I tried calling to trevor but he was pretty soundly asleep. I finally shouted at him and he looked up at me. “I’m going to throw up” I said. He just looked at me blankly. “uhh, ok”. *pause*  “No, I need you to get me something!”. He started looking around and found a jug and handed it to me. I was laying flat back at this point and I was having trouble sitting up because I couldn’t really use my stomach muscles. Obviously he didn’t know this, cause he’s not used to me being semi-paralized, but I was trying desperately to sit up and he’s just staring at me. Oh my god, I thought, I’m momma cass… I’m going to affixiate on my own vomit while he watches me. “I need you to help me!” I panted. He pulled on my arms and helped me sit up. I started being sick right as the nurses voice came over the speaker system. “can I help you?”… silence… “can I help you”. I look at Trevor all bug eyed and he’s just staring at me. “I need you to talk to her!” I gasp. “oh! uh… she’s throwing up again”. Its funny in retrospect, but at the time I was kind of peeved.

By 7Am I was complete but my water still hadn’t broken and I was off the wall in pain again. They gave me a tiny dose of more drugs through my epidural and that took the edge of the pain. My doctor, Dr. Donato didn’t come on call until 8 and they asked if I minded waiting for the shift change. I said I didn’t mind because I had been seeing her and I wanted her to deliver Judah. Dr. Donato came in all smiles at 8:15 to break my water, (Trev said this was one of the grossest parts, but I was blissfully unaware of anything). “I guess we are going to have a baby today!” she said. Today, I thought! I’m going to meet our son today!

She told me to start pushing and I did for about 15 minutes with her. Then she told the nurses to keep having me push and call her when they thought I was about 10 minutes away. That was one good thing about having the epidural wear off was that I was able to feel and push into the contractions. I pushed for another 30 minutes and then they called her back. I was told to stop pushing and that was soo hard. I was panting to try and stop myself but my body was taking over at this point. When I pushed it didn’t hurt so bad and it also felt like I was working towards something. Trevor told me later that it only took Dr. Donato 15 minutes to come back but I could have sworn it was the better part of an hour.

Once she got back, I started pushing, pushing, pushing. One of the nurses sweetly told me at one point that I wasn’t quite doing it right and I resisted the urge to sweetly high five her face. I was so hot and every muscle in my body ached, but I knew I was close. My hands gripped the backs of my legs – I would later find bruises where my nails dug into my skin. Trevor was on my right and encouraging me. “you’re doing so well, love” and “almost there honey”. I tried to look at him and tell him I loved him with my eyes… I probably just looked crazed and red, but that’s what I was thinking. I never cried out, but oh, it hurt. I felt like making noise would break my concentration. They said, “his head is right there” and I asked if he had hair and they told me he did.

“One more big push!” and then….

I cried out in shock and relief as he slipped from my body. I can’t even describe the relief. They held him up and I started sobbing. One of the nurses had put a cool cloth on my head and I pushed it out of my eyes. He was real. I couldn’t believe it, which I know sounds ridiculous, but that’s how I felt. A part of me really believed I would be pregnant forever. He was red and crying, and perfect.

these first shots are infinitely precious to me. Tears, sweat, washcloth and all.

They put Judah on my stomach and he locked eyes with me and I fell hard. I thought, this is agape… this is love. I was and am completely in awe of how the Lord does this. Its a miracle… not only the whole creation of the child and birth itself, but that instant, undeniable love. He was still whimpering and crying and Trevor and I cried too. “I know, I know” I told him. I held him and whispered, “happy birthday” and “we love you” over and over. He calmed down as soon as he heard my voice.

After a little while they took him to the side to finish cleaning him up and weigh him and he started crying again. Trevor went over and talked to him and he calmed down immediately at the sound of his daddy’s voice that he already knew so well.

They brought him back to me and asked if I would like to nurse and I said I would. It felt strange and foreign and wonderful. He smelled like heaven and he turned right in. “How does he know?” I asked in wonder. I was deliriously happy. Judah Avery Flynn was born at 9:38 on the 21st of July, 2011. He weighed 8lbs 80z and he was 21.5 inches long. His name means praise and we praise God for him! My cup overflows.

I feel like there’s so much more I could write, but this post is probably too long already and after all, this is just the beginning of his story.