So here we go - Part 3. The very best part of the story of course. I had finally gone back to sleep, and the doctor had said she would check me at 6. So she and the nurse came back, I woke up, and was pleasantly surprised to find that while I still couldn't really move my legs, I did have some sensation in them...so I could at least feel that they were there! Kevin stood next to me, exhausted as ever, and the doctor checked me. Brace yourselves...
9 cm and complete!!!! Are you kidding me?! This was amazing moment number one. The doctor said so nonchalantly that we would start pushing in an hour. We were going to have a baby!!! I cannot even tell you the smiles that were on our faces. You can imagine, after the two days we'd just had, that the joy was for real. This next hour was FUNNY. I was suddenly in the best mood of my life. I couldn't feel the pain of my contractions, and I wasn't as freaked out by my numbness. I started thinking about how I needed to get ready for this baby's arrival! I asked Holly if she could please get me a cold washcloth and my makeup. I mean, I knew this would be a highly photographed event, and I'd been crying my eyes out, on top of no sleeping. I thought a little prep wouldn't hurt. I mean, I was about to meet my baby!!! Kevin decided to take a shower and change. Yes, this was all so hilarious.
We called our families, telling them to come to the hospital right away, and we called our amazing photographer. We were all smiles and excited nerves. Kevin started taking a couple pictures, and the birth team came in, prepping the warming bed/table thing for the baby - it was all just so neat. It was the first time since we'd been there that the looming reality of becoming a mom for the first time actually felt like it was going to happen. We were certainly praising God for His faithfulness...and I was SO excited I was actually going to get to try and push this baby out!
At this point our nurse was Rose, who was the sweetest, most adorable and helpful lady. She had been a nurse for a long time, so she knew what she was doing. Our sweet nurse Jessie didn't want to miss it after all that had happened, so she even stayed past her shift! My mom came in, looking as nervous and excited as could be, having never seen a baby being born before. We DEFINITELY did not know what we were in for.
7:00 came quickly, and the doctor checked me again. Okay - I now know that 10 cm is completely undeniable. I felt like a bowling ball was about to fall out of me, and if I looked under the blanket I would surely see the baby's head! (Sorry for being graphic, just don't know how else to describe that!) Of course it's not quite that easy...just such a weird sensation. So Jessie sat at my feet, I asked for a mirror, (graphic and crazy, but I HIGHLY recommend this. AMAZING), and she had me start pushing. This felt a little counterproductive to me, as the epidural was continually backing off, but I still didn't have any sensation of pushing. I felt like I was just scrunching up my face, holding my breath, and waiting until they got to 10. Ha. It was weird. But she kept saying good job and that it was going well. The doctor would step in every once in a while to have me push and gauge how we were progressing. We did this for over 2 hours. The fastest 2 hours of my entire life. I've always heard about people pushing for lots of hours, but I never could have imagined how fast the time goes. But it is EXHAUSTING. So many things were happening to me, internally and externally. I started throwing up, which they said was normal, and actually would help get the baby out. I also felt like I was having FUN. Isn't that crazy! Seriously, though, it was so amazing and I felt like I was living a dream. Up until this point, I had no idea how strong having a baby this way was a desire of my heart. I am so thankful God graciously was letting me have the experience - because I loved it. It was also interesting how I could tell when a contraction was coming, although I didn't have pain from them...but this helped me know when to push. By the end of the two hours I felt more in control of my pushing, which I was hoping would help, but the doctor said the baby would start to descend then go right back up. My little one was quite cozy apparently! Everyone also knew my mom's history of not being able to birth a baby, and I think the doctor even mentioned it, knowing that's what I was afraid of for myself. So she became very sensitive to being aware of my fears, and communicating that she wanted to get me there.
We also knew, from our doctor and this one, that they wouldn't let me push more than 3 hours. Apparently they feel like that's not good for mom or baby. So I felt like we were racing the clock, and I was giving it everything I had, Kevin and I both cheering for that baby, and praying he or she would come. Dr. Evans kept saying things to the nurse like it was really tight and the baby wasn't coming down, etc. I was trying not to get discouraged. Around 9:00 she suggested that we try one more thing. Since I had gone from 51/2 or 6 to 9 cm so quickly in those couple hours, she said we would have everyone leave the room, I would lay there and relax for a half hour, and the nurses would flip me over every 15 min., to encourage the baby's descent.
I call this the hour of intercession.
We had come so far, had endured so much, and believed so fully that the presence of God had carried us through it. So we called on him now, more than ever, to complete this amazing process he started. I asked Kevin to play the song "Waiting Here For You," by Christy Nockels on the Passion 2011 cd. I LOVE that song, and it's all about waiting in expectation for God to come.
"If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move; we come with expectation, waiting here for you, waiting here for you. You're the Lord of all creation, and still you know my heart; the Author of salvation, you've loved us from the start...waiting here for you. With our hands lifted high in praise, and it's you we adore, singing hallelujah.
You are everything you promised, your faithfulness is true; we're desperate for your presence, all we need is you; waiting her for you."
Believe me when I say we had our hands lifted in that hospital room desperately pleading for him. Kevin prayed out loud next to my bed, and I laid there with tears running down my face, my hands on my belly, praying like I never had. I have tears as I write this because it was powerful. What's awesome is that I could feel that sweet baby so very low, and with every contraction I was willing him or her to move down. There is no experience of my life that comes close to the magnitude of those moments.
9:30 came, and it was time to push again...if the baby was coming, this was going to be it. The doctor played a little bit to my competitive side, saying she had tools to help if she needed them, (forceps, etc.), but knew I didn't want that, so I needed to push with everything to get this baby out. I am SO thankful that the epidural had worn off like it had, because while I couldn't feel pain from the contractions, I felt like I had control over my pushing, and I could sense how hard I was trying. So I gave it everything I had, started throwing up again, which I believe with all my heart totally helped this baby come, because it helped me involuntarilly push several times with pretty good strength. The doctor was completely patient with this. Holly and Kevin kept wiping my face, Kevin would hold the little bag, and he just kept saying he loved me, was so proud of me, and that I was doing great. He and I both, at different times would say, "Come on baby!" We were sure we could convince him/her to come out.
I will never forget the moment I saw that little head of hair. In that moment I truly believed I was going to have that baby. There is just no better motivation than seeing your little one and desperately wanting to meet that sweet face. I also was a little freaked out about the baby being stuck there or something. Ha. I remember Rose and Dr. Evans saying, "Look at that beautiful hair!" I looked at that hair and seriously tried to decide whether that was a little boy's head or a little girl's head. I was aching to find out! Everyone was cheering for me, and I remember Dr. Evans saying, "You're going to have this baby!" I can't tell you the feeling in my heart once I knew the baby was actually coming and this was how it was going to happen. I looked at my mom, and said, "Are you ready?" She said, "Oh, I'm ready." Everything happened so quickly, and as I'm pushing with all my might during every back to back contractions, Dr. Evans said to everyone, "Remember, they want to find out what it is themselves!"
At 9:45 Kevin's staff was having a prayer meeting and praying for us.
At 9:47, our precious baby was born. I was laying flat on my back, so I had my head lifted up as far as I could. Once I gave that final push, the baby came out so fast, and it was amazing how the doctor pulled her out and turned her right around and upright. I saw it all happen, and I loved every second. She lifted the baby up for Kevin to see, and he said, "It's a girl!" I was so afraid, after all this time, of committing in my heart to what this baby was...so I kept saying, "It's a girl? Is it a girl??" The doctor laid her on my chest and I put my hands on her and held her so close, kissing her little head and telling her I loved her. I started balling. It was amazing. More than I could have ever imagined. Her little body was so tiny, and her eyes were wide open, looking right at me. The Kevin cut the cord. It was just so, so awesome. I remember the nurse saying, "Oh, watch your hand, she just pooed all over you." I thought it was the sweetest thing to hold this naked little brand new life. Wow. I could re-live that moment over and over.
They took her to weigh and measure her - 7lbs 4oz, 20 1/2 inches long. Then they wrapped her tight and gave her to Kevin, while they took care of me and were doing all kinds of things I don't remember. I just kept looking at him and saying, "Can I have the baby back?" Ha. It's funny how clear that is in my mind.
It was so, so fun. Once the doctors and nurses had everything cleaned up they all left, and Kevin went to get our family. It turns out my older brother, who I'm very close to, hadn't wanted to be as far away as the waiting room, so he had been sitting in the little room between the delivery room and the hallway the entire time, listening to everything. And weeping. I had no idea he was out there. He said it was so amazing to hear the process of this beautiful baby coming into the world. At this point my mom (and Darin) were the only ones who knew it was a girl, and no one knew the name. So he drew the curtain closed, went out to get his parents and brother, and they stood at the door waiting. Needless to say, both of our families had been waiting anxiously and excitedly waiting for her arrival for 2 days. Once they were all there Kevin said, "It's a..," pulled back the curtain and together we said, "Girl!!" I announced her name - "Selah Page." Everyone came close to see her, gathered around my bed, and Kevin prayed the most beautiful prayer for her, and praising God for her arrival. It has been such a powerful experience to feel and know both of our family's joy for the pregnancy and birth of our first child, since the beginning. My mom has been beside herself with joy for me, seeing her own daughter now become a mom to a daughter of my own. And she was certainly changed forever by seeing Selah being born.
That was the beginning of the privilege of being parents to our amazing little daughter. The whole time I've been writing this she's been in my lap napping...and I still marvel at every intricate little detail God chose to create her with. I have a feeling I'll never stop. I remember looking at everyone of her features those next couple days in the hospital and thinking about how I'd prayed for each specific one. It's such a fascinating experience to meet this new little life and see this new little face and have to learn and memorize the details...though it feels like you should know them already.
Once everyone left the room and it was just the 3 of us, we had such peace in the midst of total and complete exhaustion. Selah laid skin to skin on my chest, I tried to eat a little something, but couldn't keep it down. So between letting friends know she had come, and sharing some details, we simply rested. It was so sweet. Worth every last second of the process of getting her here.
We were in the hospital until Saturday night, a total of a little over 4 days. Our time there was so special. I particularly loved the three full meals a day, and when it was quiet and just us. I didn't particularly like when they would take her. Rip my new mommy heart out! On Friday night Kevin was resting on the couch and she was in the nursery for some tests. I thought it was weird that I'd never seen this nursery, so I decided to go find it and maybe take a photo. Keep in mind, I hadn't been out of bed for a few days. So I slowly made my way down the hall, and what did I see through the window? A nurse pricking her little heels and making her bleed! Not sure that was a good choice on my part. :) Then I got her and started pushing her little bassinet down the hallway. With every step I felt worse. By the time I got to the room I said to Kevin, "I don't feel good at all," and I started crying while he hugged me. It's so crazy what your body goes through, and I felt so weird, physically and emotionally. He told me I shouldn't have escaped while he was sleeping. Ha.
While we spent those first 48 - 72 hrs. getting to know her, Kevin and I would take turns breaking down in tears and saying, "I just love her so much." Kevin kept looking at her and saying, "You're my daughter. I'm your dad." And it was truly so hard for me to grasp that I had my very own daughter. That God had entrusted us with this life. Those were the most emotionally overwhelming days ever. Between the physical fatigue and tough recovery, the shift in hormones, and now having this vulnerable little baby now outside my body, it was a lot to take in. For many days after as well. Apparently I get overwhelmed really easily, because in the rare moments when it was just Selah and me in the that hospital room, I would just hold her close and let the tears fall. Those were precious, priceless moments. I didn't want to sleep and miss any of it. Though on two occasions while we were there and the nurses had her for tests/procedures, I took half a percocet and slept well for a couple hours.
On Thursday night, after family had left, we sat on the couch/bed and read to her, "On the Night You Were Born." It was so fun saying her name out loud, and now having a face to go with it. One morning while Kevin went to get something to eat, I listened to our labor playlist, singing to her and couldn't help but cry thinking of all the years I had dreamed of her, and dreaming of all the years ahead of us. Another morning Kevin had his quiet time and was reading the bible to her. So sweet. It was all just so emotional, and I was so very thankful. From those very first days Kevin starting telling her our story and teaching her of God's faithfulness throughout. Even when we struggled with being faithful ourselves. She often had her eyes open, and rarely cried those first sleepy days. (Unless she was dirty or Daddy was changing her, which he pretty much did the whole time we were in the hospital!) OR unless the lactation consultant was teaching me how to breastfeed. Neither one of us really enjoyed that. Ha. It is fascinating, as I'm telling this story, how I start to leave out details like the pain of recovery, the weird and CRAZY 80 yr. old type of problems from 3 hrs. of pushing, (that I still kind of have), the pain of learning to feed my new baby, the world of ice diapers and sitz baths, the random bouts of crying, and the fatigue of it all. Amazing how that fades.
We had sweet friends and family visit during those couple days, anxious to meet this little life they had prayed so often for. It was neat to introduce her to all these people who had each loved us in some way during the last crazy 10 months of being nomads, pregnant, homeless, and carless at times!! Our gratitude is greater than we could ever communicate in words. What an incredible season of life. All I know is that God redeemed those long months of waiting with a beautiful, amazing outcome. I simply adore having a daughter, and being a mom is an absolute dream come true.
The beginning of our little girl's life was a crazy, lesson-filled time in the story of our lives. I could have never in a million years predicted that it would be written like that. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Because that is the start of our sweet Selah's story.
Thanks for sharing our joy...and for reading this, especially if you made it all the way through! We are so, so thankful and we give God the glory for it all!!