1. Please excuse the crazy hair/face and focus on how natural I look as a mama holding her baby. Wendy just sent me this photo a couple days ago, she took it with her phone and it's one of my favorites.
2. Aren't they all your favorite, you ask? Why yes, so what if they are ALL my favorite?
3. I was probably trying to convince Dave that Sammy's feet were mini versions of his.
4. It also painfully obvious in this photo that Sammy got my simultaneously nubby and nonexistent chin(s)...good thing he's a baby, he could pull it off.
Apparently someone went on a Starbucks run and returned right about the time we were ready to get started. So there I lay, literally with my legs up in stirrups, the doctor and Anne were getting everything ready and my mom handed Dave his iced-whatever across my chest as she sips her iced-whatever. I definitely commented on this. I mean, they both had a long hard day of dealing with me but seriously. It’s now been 24 hours since anything but water stayed in my system and they are floating iced coffee above my head. I’m not bitter (maybe a little).
I pushed for only 20 minutes. I mean it felt like forever but compared to others I know 20 minutes isn't bad. The people waiting outside the door heard laughter a couple times during the process. One time someone asked the doctor if he could see any hair, he thought they asked about "hearing" so he was answering some crazy answer about how it would take a couple days and some kind of ear canal trauma from birth blah blah blah, finally someone figured out there was a miscommunication and everyone laughed. He couldn’t see any hair at that point. Another time my mom stopped counting!! She was the counter and while I was in mid push she quit! Of course I focused on how she quit counting, not finishing the count myself. LOL - that got everyone laughing too. As soon as I took my next breath I was fussin' at her for not counting.
Turns out she was probably distracted by all the work the doctor was doing to get Sammy out. We didn’t know until he was all the way out what a big boy he was. Wendy thinks his shoulders got stuck and coupled with his head not being able to stretch everything else out appropriately it caused him to get stuck. I could feel Sammy squirming between contractions. I thank God we were able to get him out without having to go to a c-section. I had no idea what was going of course. I was just pushing and not feeling a thing.
Finally Sammy was born, the doctor looked at me and said “I’m so sorry” as Anne placed Sammy on my tummy. I assumed that to mean he was born still (later my mom mentioned he was probably apologizing for the damage that was done). I had my own moment of assessment, realized he was still, and then I started going on and on about how big he was! He had little baby boobies and ROLLS. Rubber band wrists and thighs. I couldn't believe it. And I LOVE it. He had red hair! Another shocker. We knew it was possible; my mom and Grandma have red hair, I had red hair as a child and Dave's mom and Grandma have red hair but I am still just in awe.
Sammy was born at 9:47pm, weighed 8 1/2 lbs and was 20 inches long. Thank God we choose to go ahead with October 7th, I can't imagine how much more he would have weighed by the 11th and how much more damage he could have done. We are happy to have avoided a c-section. And even though no one will really tell me what was going on during all the pushing I get the impression that without an epidural I might be stuck away in a psych ward somewhere. I am super grateful for my own openness to changing the plan during labor (mmm, humble? not so much) and Wendy's flexibility and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit (yes, I am giving the Lord credit for the epidural).
His size was a shock for a couple reasons. One being that all through the pregnancy doctors told me that babies like Sammy are "generally" smaller. I don’t know that I have actually read a story about an anencephalic baby that was over 8 lbs. I also had my mom telling me all week that there was no way he was a big baby. I was too small, there wasn’t enough room in there for a big baby. Ha. Love my mom, but she was also convinced Sammy was a girl until ultrasound confirmed otherwise.
I don’t know how long we fawned over Sammy before I asked why no one else had come in to see him...yeah…my mom gently reminded me with a giggle that I was not fit for guests yet as the doctor was still stitching me up. Right. I just wanted to share my sweet baby with everyone.
Everybody came in and it’s kind of a whirlwind after that. Sammy was passed around and everyone got a chance to hold him. I couldn’t wait to get him bathed and dressed! Someone (Anne I assume) brought in a little pink plastic tub and my mom and Dave gave Sammy a bath on the bed. My mom held up one little outfit – no way was it going to fit. Thank goodness I bought a layette, it was premie sized but we were able to squeeze him into it.
Sometime before the bath Sara (NILMDTS photographer) had to leave unexpectedly. Dave had planned a little bit better than I had asked a friend from church if she would be the back-up photog in the event we needed one. Sure enough, at 11pm someone called Brenna, got her out of bed and she trekked back up to the hospital (she had visited earlier) to take pictures. (1 million thanks to both of these ladies!)
My next time marker is at 1am (the 8th) when Anne came in to tell us that because of his size and age, Sammy could donate his heart valves! We had hoped initially for that opportunity but were told by 2 out of 3 doctors that donation was not a possibility. So we quit pursuing it but it found us. Our first question was when would they need Sammy and they told us 6am. It gave us a few more hours with him so we decided to do it.
We spent the night with him cuddling and memorizing his little body. I tried to chap his cheeks lavishing them with kisses. There are pictures of me poking them too, I couldn't stop. I am so in love with how chunky and squishy he was!
Giving him his last kiss was incredibly hard. I appreciate the hospital staff so much for all of their understanding. It was the only time Anne saw tears (or heard sobs) from us, and she apologized for having to take him. A few minutes later she rushed in with a tissue in her hand. She hadn’t realized that he had hair and somehow didn’t see where we had already cut a bunch off (don't worry, it wasn't a hack job, Wendy did a wonderfully tasteful newborn haircut). Anne was apologizing for not noticing earlier, but as she adjusted his hat after leaving the room she saw his hair and brought us a snippet wrapped up in tissue. After all my fussing in June/July it turns out our hospital was fantastic.
I thank God for the peace and joy that filled the hospital room from the moment I entered until we had to hand Sammy over. People seemed shocked at the joy in the room as we all loved on Sammy. It was an answer to my prayers and the prayers of hundreds of others that held us up.
I love that I could fully experience labor and birth for what it was and didn’t spend all day worrying. I love that in spite of Sammy being stillborn everyone could spend time getting to know his big little self and be taken in by the wonder that was our little baby, a pretty perfect combination of Lucido/Scrabeck (if I do say so myself).
I remember sitting in our big brown chair one evening in February and wondering how a woman could allow herself to become pregnant more than once (my all day sickness/nausea was no joke).
I remember the adventure of never knowing what food was going to decide to come back up until well into June.
I remember needing 5 pillows to “sleep comfortably” – ha ha - the last three weeks.
I remember the 21 weeks of knowing my baby had a slim chance at living and trying to fill each one of those moments to the fullest.
I remember *kinda but not really* the pain of contractions.
I am still shocked when I can breath and touch my feet at the same time. *smile*
And I would do it all over again – every single moment - if it meant feeling Sammy’s movements and getting to spend those 8 hours with him.
Two weeks later I am in wonder at how my body is healing and showing that it was made to do this. Yet two weeks later my shattered heart has moments of doubt that I can survive this.
I am convinced it’s gonna take a lotta love to get through this...love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.