“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” – John Green
When Judah was born, I remember sitting down with my journal to write down every detail that I never wanted to forget about the day that he came into our lives. I’m so glad that I did. Every detail of the days that our children have been born have been the most special days of my life. This post is probably going to be less edited and include far too many details, but honestly… I just don’t care. I want to remember every texture of my children’s stories; what they smelled like, sounded like, and how wonderfully soft their skin was.
If you have visited this blog before or are my friend on facebook, You probably know that I had placenta previa with my pregnancy with Eleanor. If you don’t know what that is, the simplified explanation is that the placenta is where the baby gets all their oxygen and blood from the mother. With placenta previa the placenta is in the wrong place and its pretty much impossible to deliver normally and not have massive trauma to the baby or momma. Because of this, we knew that unless it shifted, that I would have to deliver via cesarean. I was really upset when they told me this because I had loved the process of having Judah naturally and I knew that the recovery for a cesarean was a much more lengthy process. I had carefully written out my birth plan, created a “before the baby is born” board on pinterest and suddenly all my plans of how I was going to labor and the amazing process it would be went out the window.
Because I had started bleeding at 31 weeks (another side affect of the previa) I was put on bedrest and my wonderful sister came to stay with us to help out with Judah. It was so amazing having her here, and I think she was nearly as anxious as we were to meet little Ella.
Trevor and I weren’t sure what we were going to use as her middle name until a couple days before her delivery. Because we knew for sure what her due date was going to be, and being that it was before Christmas we finally arrived on Noëlle. I love the sound of Eleanor Noëlle and lovingly traced that name out on notepads and whispered it to Judah, savoring the sound. I would have been thrilled if we were having a boy, but to know we had a beautiful son and now were getting a girl… It was so special, and we were so excited.
Her c-section was scheduled for Wednesday, the 19th of December and the whole week before I had been so aware that this was my last week with only Judah. Oh, I was so excited to meet her, but I spent every opportunity relishing my last days with Judah being my only child and enjoying things that I can normally lose patience over far to quickly: the repetition of stacking blocks, reading books and doing silly things together. Taking time to act surprised over and over again when we were playing together. Just trying to communicate to his toddler mind that he is so loved and valued. And even though I know he wasn’t aware of the impending change, that those aspects of our relationship with him would remain unshaken. We were SO excited to meet Eleanor though… Every day we would countdown the days to each other as though it was new information… “I can’t believe its only 5 days now!” “Only 4 days!” etc.
We decided that Trevor and I would have a final date night two nights before the c-section. We had gone out to dinner and had an wonderful time… dreaming about the future, laughing, talking about the kids… how fun it was to use the plural (“kids”, not “kid”) and how we couldn’t believe how blessed we were. Oh, how I love that man. We had decided to do some window shopping after our meal, a luxury that is so much easier without a toddler in hand but our plans quickly changed when I realized I was bleeding again. I had been dreading this happening since I had spent a week in the hospital, but I was so grateful that I had made it to 37 weeks. We left the restaurant immediately and drove home. I was crying a little bit… mostly out of selfishness that I had planned on one more day to get things ready before I had to go to the hospital. I even tried to talk trevor into letting me stay home since it wasn’t very much blood, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “You promised the doctor that you would go back if there was even a little spotting.” he reminded me. “I just said that so they would let me go home!” I moaned. But he was right, and we were headed to the hospital as soon as I had changed out of my date clothes and grabbed the hospital bag. What a different experience that was! I was rushing around shoving things in the bag that I had waited to pack till the last minute.
We prayed together on the drive to the hospital and it calmed me down so much. When I had Judah, I was just so excited, I don’t think it truly ever entered my mind that something could go wrong. But the idea of a cesarean felt so much more invasive for me for some reason. I know that’s kind of silly when you think of how many people are in and out of a delivery room in the hospital seeing you in all of your… eh… glory; but given the fact that she was being delivered 3 weeks early, before she had sent signals to my body saying, “I’m ready to be born”, scared me. Even the lights and environment of the operating room weren’t welcome sights in my mind after having watched far too many documentaries advocating natural birth.
We checked into the hospital and it was such a different experience from Judah’s birth. There were no contractions… just us hanging out and joking about how Trevor was going to walk into surgery in his scrubs and ask for a scalpel. Possibly slap up a picture of a baby on the wall and announce, “this is what we will be looking for people!”.
I was missing my little boy so badly, and we watched a video that Trevor’s brother had sent us of him “juggling” over and over again. Eventually we were checked in and moved to a room. My doctor came in to tell us that they were going to move up my c-section to the following day. It was all happening now and felt so surreal. Silly things, like how I had planned on having another shower and shaving my legs kept popping into my mind. We called our relatives and kept them updated on the progress. We prayed together for our Children, for a safe delivery, for Judah’s well being and acceptance of Ella and just in general that we would know how to steward this amazing gift that we are fully aware we don’t deserve from the Lord.
We slept fitfully that night. Well, at least I did. I’m not sure that Trevor has ever had a bad night of sleep in his life. For me, it was impossible to really relax knowing that we were so close to meeting our little girl.
Finally it was time to be wheeled down the corridors and into the operating room. Trevor was asked to stay outside while they did my spinal block. I think the anesthesiologist said something about it becoming the hospital policy after several dad’s had passed out. They had me straddle the operating table and hug a pillow as he inserted the needle. He had to stop and start several times before because I kept arching my back unintentionally as he inserted the needle. He would stop and say, “ok, you really need to stay still right now”. I was like, “I swear, I’m trying!”… Finally I felt the little pop that meant the needle had gone in and within a few minutes the nurses pinches felt like something scraping up against my skin, but my skin no longer felt like skin and instead had turned into a thick hide that no longer gave me sensation and instead just a vague pressure.
Trevor was beside me at this point, and they raised up the curtain separating us and started the operation within minutes. It took longer than I thought it would. They fitted an oxygen mask on me and it was just the sound of my breath, vague beeps from the monitors and Trevor telling me sweet things like, “You are doing so good”… even though I wasn’t doing anything, really. As soon as the drugs really kicked in I was so, so tired. I just wanted to close my eyes and fall asleep but I fought it so hard. I kept thinking, “she will be here soon, she will be here soon, you can’t miss this!”. It was so hard to breath and there was such a pressure; it felt like there was someone sitting on my chest. I didn’t want to say anything out of fear they might completely put me under.
I asked if I could see the birth, and the anesthesiologist told me that she didn’t even think a doctor should watch their own c-section. I didn’t argue the point, but I wish I could have seen it. Trevor grinned at me and cheekily put our camera to the side of the sheet and snapped some contraband shots of the operation. There was a LOT of blood. They had to cut through the placenta to finally get Eleanor out and I was very close to needing a transfusion. Then the voices grew more excited from the other side of the curtain and my Doctor told me that it wouldn’t be very long now. More movement, then a huge amount of pressure, and then… she was here.
Ella started screaming immediately and I sobbed as soon as I heard the sound. I don’t know why it was such a shock, after waiting 9 months for this moment, but with both of my kids… those first few moments, hearing the sounds of their screams I have felt like I was in a state between wakefulness and dream. I couldn’t believe after waiting and waiting that they were actually real. Ella was screaming and so beautiful. My tears dripped down my face into my ears and I told trevor to please go be with her. I will never understand how the Lord does it… that instant, blinding love.
I had asked the doctor before the c-section how soon I could hold her, but at this moment I was grateful they didn’t try and hand her to me because I don’t know if I had ever felt so weak or tired before. Trevor held her face up next to mine though and I was able to do all the things a momma wants to do. I whispered that I loved her, I told her, “happy birthday darling” and that we had waited so long to meet her. Then I closed my eyes for a few minutes with her cheek next to mine. I had stayed awake for what was important.
They never took her away from us. I loved our hospital and my doctor who told the nurses clearly, “keep the baby with the momma”. I was able to nurse her as soon as they finished sewing me up and took me to recovery. I’m filled with wonder how a baby just knows how to turn in and nurse. And its so bonding, so strange, so wonderful.
Oh baby girl… we made a wish
And you came true.
Eleanor has been such a joy already. She is so relaxed and laid back. Judah has been amazing with her. Knowing how close they would be in age I prayed and prayed that they would love each other from the beginning. That there wouldn’t be jealousy or anger from Judah towards her. The Lord is so good to us and Judah has been so gentle and affectionate with his sister from the moment he met her. He loves to hold her and kiss her. If she starts fussing he comes running with a passy to soothe her… I could not be more proud or grateful.
This is a beautiful video my husband made of our first few moments and days with Eleanor.