Every Momma loves to tell a good birthing story and this Momma is no exception. This one is a little different because I had a difficult pregnancy and the birth was imperfect, as well. But still … it’s just another opportunity to tell you that He is a faithful God, and therefore, there is a reason to find thankfulness. I’m going to apologize in advance here, because it’s a long one. 😊
It was a day full of emotion. Anticipation, joy, excitement, nervousness, fear … yes … fear of the unknown because I knew God had him in his hands. I was afraid of childbirth!! I mean … really! I was 20-years-old and had never had a child, or major surgery before. So yes. There was lots of anxiety and fear over the actual pain. Haha!
I’ve been revealing my personal testimony of how God showed up for me during one of the most difficult trials in my life. The months leading up to Joshua’s birth and after were heart-wrenching, almost on a daily basis. I’m telling you the story of my firstborn son, Joshua Caleb. If you haven’t read any of it, I would encourage you to check out the rest of my story here.
Friday, November 20, 1992
That Friday started out just like any other. I had been on bedrest for about 11 weeks by this point so life was really quite boring. I filled my days with reading the multitude of pregnancy books including “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (I mean is there anyone that hasn’t read that one?), watching tv, doing crossword-fill-ins, planning Joshua’s nursery, making all the “baby supply” and “what to take to the hospital” checklists, flipping through home catalogs, and whatever else I could think of doing while laying on my left side. Totally monotonous.
There was still so much to do because I wasn’t supposed to DO anything!! I was in the beginning of week 27 of pregnancy. I promise you I started that day the same way I started any other day back then, by eating breakfast and watching tv. Really. I did! But then …
I became overwhelmed.
By 10:30 in the morning, I began feeling overwhelmed that we still had so much to do. I could see the baby bed leaning against the wall, still in pieces because my husband hadn’t had time to put it together yet. It was practically right in my face! I mean … it wasn’t really. I was in the living room on the couch and the nursery was through the hall, but I could see a part of it through the doorway. So clearly, it needed to be dealt with. I couldn’t just leave it there … leaning against the wall … in pieces … with 3 months remaining in my pregnancy.
Do you see my dilemma?
I thought long and hard for about … 10 minutes. I wondered if I could put that baby bed together in a very low-key-bed-resty-kind-a-way. My answer? Yes! Yes, I could! The pieces were very lightweight. I just leaned them up against the wall for support and bolted it together one piece at a time … ALMOST effortlessly! By 1pm, I was done. I did it! See? And I was all good, as I sat down on the couch with my celebratory sandwich for lunch.
I felt good.
I was good. Joshua was good. The baby bed is together. I checked something off the list of still-to-do’s and now I would rest. TV time.
About 1:25, I had a contraction. Hmm. It’s okay. Nothing to be alarmed about. Braxton Hicks are normal. After all, I had been having those mock contractions for many, many weeks at this point.
Another one came 5 minutes later. Then another 12 minutes later. Then another 2 minutes later. Okay. So they were quite uncomfortable, but not consistent. So they are erratic. We all know that consistency is the key so … Not real labor.
I just stretched out on my left side and watched the time. More came, but still weren’t consistent. Then I realized my back started hurting, and I suddenly got very cold. So I went and got in my bed and it hit me that I couldn’t get warm and I was so uncomfortable from the back pain that I couldn’t rest. About 3:15, my husband came home. Worried about me, he called my Mom and told her I was having chills and couldn’t get warm. She told him that I was probably just coming down with a cold or something. He added that I was experiencing a great deal of backpain and had a few contractions.
Mom exclaims, “CALL THE DOCTOR!”
That still makes me giggle to think about that. I mean … Duh!
The Doctor’s office told us to observe contractions for an hour and if they get closer together, consistently, then call back and we will need to go to the hospital at that point. An hour later, we had definitely determined that contractions were consistent and less than 5 minutes apart so we needed to go to the hospital.
BUT … I need a shower!
Yes. I did! Haha! Doctor’s office said I could take a quick one that I had time since my water had not broken. By the time we finally arrived at the hospital it was 6pm! Now my contractions were on average about 2 minutes apart and much more painful. My husband dropped me off (with my Momma) at the door (while he went to park the car). I was trying to give admin my name but was having a contraction so thank goodness my momma was there to help me out! Only she couldn’t remember my last name!! ??? Haha! Oh yeah … I was married now!
As soon as they determined who I was, I was immediately escorted to a room and given all the hook-up treatment to monitors and such. After some time passed, the nurses came in with the painful Terbutaline shots in the hopes that my contractions (and labor) would be stopped. After a few doses and little to no change, they added Magnesium Sulfate (the wonder drug, as they called it) through an IV.
My contractions did significantly slow down for a few hours, very late in the evening. I was only dilated to 2 cm, so by midnight, my OB decided it was safe enough for her to go home and rest for a bit. It looked like the drugs were working and my labor was coming to an end.
But then everything changed.
By 3:30am, my contractions were back in full force and my water broke. As soon as my water broke, I was dilated 8cm. My OB was summoned immediately. By 4:30am, my doctor was there and I was ready to push. There was a problem though. I wasn’t supposed to be delivering naturally. It was decided early on that I would have a C-Section so that the doctors could get to Joshua as fast as possible.
My doctor asked if the OR was ready and if everyone was in place because they needed to move me now. It wasn’t. They weren’t ready. You could see her agonize in those seconds trying to make the best decision possible to give both of us the best shot possible. She gave them 5 minutes to get everybody in place, and the OR set-up. I just remember their conversation in the middle of my pain and contractions. I remember the tension in the room between my doctor and the nursing staff that early morning.
Remember, I was needing to push, and was fully dilated by this point. She could see his bottom (yes, he was breech) and so she made the split-second decision to hold Joshua inside of me. I can’t imagine her thought process. When she started feeling like too much time was passing, she decided to deliver. At the last minute, a nurse ran in and told her they were ready in the OR. They threw up the end of the bed and off we ran.
There was no time for my husband to change clothes. No time for anything. The anesthesiologist was in place to put me to sleep as soon as they stopped the bed in place. I was out.
At some point, I heard my doctor’s voice and woke up enough to scan the room, looking for Joshua, and then I heard the anesthesiologist comment he was upping the dosage a bit. Then I was out for real.
I woke up in recovery some time later. On Saturday morning at 5:42am, we welcomed Joshua Caleb into this world. I was told that Joshua was born alive and weighed a whopping 3 pounds and 6 ounces. Much bigger than they expected, although he did ingest some fluid during the C-Section so that accounts for some of the weight. He was 13 inches long, about the size of a porcelain doll. So much for intra-uterine-growth retardation that they had told us about. His lungs were significantly under-developed due to his gestational age, so he was put on a ventilator and oxygen. He had all of his fingers and toes, and there were not any physical deformities. There were not any spinal deformations and his kidneys functioned normally.
His heart condition was exactly as they suspected, a rare defect called transposition of the great arteries, where essentially, the 2 main arteries are reversed so blood flow is backwards. This results in a lack of oxygenated blood flow. We were told that usually, in these heart baby cases, a surgeon would need to operate immediately to place a hole so that oxygen-rich blood may flow. Well, not in Joshua’s case. He was born with that hole in place.
Now we prayed, watched and waited on the Lord. Not my will, but His will for Joshua’s life. It’s tough to pray that. Knowing all the while, I don’t know what that means. It just means I am open to the fact that God has the big picture and I have no control.
I got to see him that first morning, for a few minutes. Literally. Not hold him, not hear his cry. I got to see him. They wheeled him in to my room in an incubator, with all of the wires and IV’s. I touched his teeny-tiny hand and told him I loved him. Then they whisked him away in a Neonatal Emergency Transport they called Angel II, to a pediatric hospital in Atlanta, Henrietta Egleston, 45 minutes away.
While miracles had most certainly happened, Joshua was very sick because he was very early. It was definitely not all good news that day. What I didn’t know at the time, was that the doctors had pulled my husband and mom aside to tell them that they were very concerned for Joshua and didn’t expect him to make the ride to Egleston. They didn’t need to tell me that but they needed to prepare themselves for that. Oh gosh! The weight of those words. I can’t imagine knowing that. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t know that at the time.
The good news is that he did make it to Egleston. They got him settled in and he became more stable as the day wore on.
Storms will come but my anchor holds firm in Him because he is always faithful.
The next day was a day full of unseasonable long-range tornados across many states. Georgia had 10 recorded that day, including an F4 that tracked 20 miles through multiple metro Atlanta cities with 6 lives lost that day. I woke up that morning to a phone call from Joshua’s cardiologist telling me that they need to do a surgery to make the hole in his heart just a little tiny bit larger. Okay. We pray and wait for the phone calls giving progress and surgery completion.
But wait, we were now under a tornado watch and so the staff was wanting to move everyone to the hallway for safety. I refused. LOL! I guess I gave them a run for their money that day because I won. I stayed in my room and they just rolled my bed close to the door as possible with the phone extended.
Are you kidding me? My one-day-old preemie son is in surgery at another hospital. Do you really think I am leaving this phone? No. I stayed in my room, glued to my phone and prayed for the people being impacted by these horrible storms. Stupid tornado weather.
The call finally came and he made it through surgery fine. Now it was just time to wait for him to get stronger and gain weight for the big surgery where they would fix the transversal.
Just a little something to ponder …
I know this was an incredibly long post. I know this is an incredibly long story to tell … and even to read, if you are reading it as I’m writing it out and posting each piece. But … every piece is meaningful. When I reflect back on this part of Joshua’s story, it wasn’t the peaceful, exciting birth story that I so longed to have. There was certainly excitement and joy, but it is an example of what a loving God I serve that even in the middle of worry and pain, He is an ever-present, faithful God who still does miracles.
Remember when I told you in previous posts what the doctors had anticipated? Not compatible with life, miscarriage, stillbirth, physical deformities, spina bifida, possible downs syndrome, non-functioning kidneys and the list goes on. None of which happened. None. Joshua was born alive with none of these present. God still does miracles.
As hard as it is sometimes to see where He is working in my life, I must take a minute and acknowledge where I KNOW He has worked.
Make a list of the times in your life that you saw God move. Keep it as a running list. A gratitude journal, or thankfulness journal, (there are a few affiliate links below to a few really cool journals I found) or keep a note in your phone app. Refer to your God experiences when you are down. Refer to them when life is really hard. Refer to them when you feel hopeless. Refer to them when your day is going bad. Then actively give the worry or hurt to Him and pray. Have a conversation with Him. He’s always there waiting on us.
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