Miracle Letters: Your Birth Story

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Josie girl:

You’re here. In fact, you are bundled up just one foot in front of me with your hands resting on your cheeks. Your little head is covered in fine light brown hairs making your perfectly round head so soft it feels like I’m touching nothing at all when I cup your scalp with my hand and pull you close to me. You make it hard to do anything but stare at you. It’s your perfectly rounded cheeks, beautiful skin, tiny nose and lips, almond-shaped eyes, long feet, long legs, and long fingers that keep us entranced.

As of yesterday, you are one week old, our Thanksgiving baby. It was sweet of you to arrive right on your due date. Because we waited so long to have you, it seemed all too perfect that you were due Thanksgiving Day. And then sure enough, you helped us remember just how thankful we are for you, our precious gift from heaven. Heaven and Earth collided when you were born; however, there were moments in the 36 hours preceding your birth that made me question whether or not you would ever come. Here’s the story of how you came to be Thanksgiving Day of 2016:

Tuesday, November 22

10 p.m. – After a long and uncomfortable three-hour class, I drove home looking forward to sleep. I was wandering around the apartment picking up clutter when I felt something unusual. I didn’t think much of it and went to bed.

Wednesday, November 23

12 a.m. – I awoke to tightening and cramping shortly after I drifted to sleep. The pain was mild, more annoying than anything because I wanted desperately to sleep, but couldn’t. I woke up every half hour to more cramping and wondered, is this it? Is this how it begins?

5 a.m. – Your dad wakes up and gets dressed for work in the pitch black. He asks if I’ll be OK on my own. I say I’ll be fine. The cramping episodes aren’t close together and I’m still in denial that this is it. False labor is a thing, or so I’ve heard. I lay in bed most of the morning feeling exhausted. I finally start to fade and take back the shut eye robbed of me the night before.

12 p.m. –  Your dad is home! Work let him come home early because it’s the day before Thanksgiving. At this point, I’m still looking forward to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, sweet potatoes, and a house full of family. Your sweet dad encourages me to rest and we realize we should probably get our hospital bags completely packed instead of lying open in the corner containing nothing more than trail mix and a nursing bra.

3:45 p.m. – It’s time for our 40-week doctor’s appointment. I have a contraction walking up the stairs to Dr. Smith’s office and stop to breathe. I have another contraction right before climbing onto the the crunchy doctor’s office paper. I hear your heartbeat again, but it’s a little slower this time. It’s more sure sounding than ever. The doctor comes in and gloves his hand. He tells me I’m a 3+ and he won’t be surprised if you make your arrival by Saturday at the latest. He “strips the membrane” like he did last week and assures me your head is down and you’re ready to go.

4:30 p.m. – I desperately want a Caribbean Passion Jamba Juice. Little did I know this smoothie would be my only sustenance for 14 hours. I contracted every handful of minutes sitting on the tall plastic stool waiting for my blended concoction. It hurt. I was getting in the car when I had the worst contraction yet.

5 p.m. – Upon arriving home, we immediately started timing contractions. I was floating around the apartment one minute picking up shoes and throwing them in the closet, rinsing the few dishes in the sink and putting them in the dishwasher. The next minute I was doubled over breathing through the discomfort, bouncing on the yoga ball, asking your dad to punch me in the lower back.

6: 30 p.m. – Fat snowflakes are falling diagonally onto the roadways and I’m tolerating contractions while sitting in the front seat of the RAV4.  Your dad is driving cautiously, but assertively. We can’t believe we are driving to the hospital. It’s a moment we had played out in our heads for months … years. Actually, our entire lives. And there we were. Driving.

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7 p.m. – The nurse instructs me to take laps around the labor and delivery floor for an hour to help labor progress a little more. She said I was in “gray area” as far as being admitted goes, but she wouldn’t send me home because it was snowing and I would be on my way back to the hospital as soon as I got home. In my starchy hospital gown, I paced the long hallways, stopping every few minutes to clutch the railings and hug your dad. We looked at newborn photos on the walls. Then my college roommate May Bo found her way onto the floor with her camera at the ready. May Bo stayed with us from the moment we arrived at the hospital until the moment you were born. It was so special to have her there.

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7:30 p.m. – I’m admitted. I’m peeing myself, shaking violently, groaning. I’m in my head. It’s worse than I imagined.  We watch the movie Elf because it’s supposed to keep my mind off of the pain. We listen to The Weepies, Ben Howard, and Dave Matthews Band. I drink a lot of apple juice. I go through hours of this without progressing.

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11 p.m. – Dr. Smith comes into the room wearing Jordans and basketball shorts to break my water. There is a lot more “water” than I realized. The pain is excruciating now.I throw up. I shake even more violently. I’m on the verge of tears with each contraction and your dad looks increasingly concerned. He whispers words of encouragement and pushes even harder on my hips and back. With every contraction, I become increasingly afraid of the next contraction. I go through another two hours of this without progressing.

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1:30 a.m – I get the epidural and I don’t feel bad about it. I just want you here. It has been a long, painful 24 hours. I want to be present when you arrive. I want to be happy. The prick in my back feels pleasant compared to the pain in my pelvis. As my body relaxes, I immediately begin to dilate. I can still move my legs to a degree, I know when I’m having contractions, but I can’t feel any pain. Your dad can finally breathe deeply and he falls asleep on the couch for a few hours. I doze in and out, awakened every 30 minutes or so by the blood pressure cuff tightening around my bicep. CNN is playing in the background because nothing else is on.

6:15 a.m. – The night seemed to pass by in an instant. A nurse came in to check me and told me it was time to push. Dr. Smith was on the way. I pushed once and your dad caught a glimpse of your head. I wasn’t sure how hard to push, so I just pushed until my face turned red. I don’t need to see those photos. I was surprised that your dad watched the entire thing. The doctor walked in with his hair disheveled, one side of his face still compressed from his pillow. I looked at your dad and his face was discolored. He said he hadn’t eaten enough, but I think it was low blood sugar mixed with a spectrum of emotions that was making his face gray.

6:50 a.m. – I only pushed through four contractions and you were here. Suddenly your little, warm, squishy body was resting on my chest. You immediately started crying. Those little wails were a sweet symphony to my ears. My sobs were charged with every emotion. Disbelief. Joy. Relief. Love. Goodness you were so perfect in that moment. You still are. I rubbed the pale skin on your back and your wrinkled hands and feet. Your dad cried looking at us. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever seen him cry. He fell in love with you instantly. I looked down at you and then back up at your dad and he had an oxygen mask on. Like I said, he was dealing with a spectrum of emotions that were difficult to digest all at once. Your presence filled the room.

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The aftermathI’ll try to keep this short. Episiotomy = stitches. Inverted uterus = pain. Without the epidural I would have been taken to operating to fix said “inversion.” The anesthesiologist assured me I made a good choice by going with the epidural so that this complication could be quickly fixed. You had many visitors in the hospital who stared at you in wonder. At home, I delivered my placental membrane in the bathroom. This unwelcome experience made it to the Top 5 most unsettling things that have ever happened to me. Birth is, well, messy.  I went to class five days after you were born and it sucked. I watched the clock and thought of you, my head in a complete haze. A week later, I got a breast infection. Let’s just say it’s all uphill from here!

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You are the best thing. Everything that was going on our lives prior to your birth pales in comparison to staring at your face. You really do have the cutest face.

Miracle Letters: Week 39 & 5 days

View More: http://kyleemariephotography.pass.us/catherine-and-dalton-maternity

Hello little miss:

If you come on your due date or even a day or two after your due date, I will be thrilled to death. I’ll also be shocked. I think I’m setting myself up to not pace or tap my fingers in anticipation of you arriving because I hate when the clock hands move in slow motion. I assume you are happy where you are and I’ll have to be induced a week or more after your due date, but please don’t do that to me! But, of course, you will, because we’ve waited three years for you, why wouldn’t we be stretched to wait just a little longer? I hear it’s character building.

I captured a video of your sweet little footprint trying to bust its way out right under my left rib cage. I’m entirely used to it, but I showed it to a few people and they freaked. Uncle Tyler showed the 10-second clip to his college buddies, Aunt Lindsay called you an alien, and Great-uncle Blake recommended taking a ride on a John Deere tractor to try to rattle you out. He says if I give birth on a tractor, John Deere might give me some free merchandise.

Sleeping is a chore these days. I finally fall asleep around 11 p.m. with raging acid reflux and a dull headache, then wake up around 4 a.m. and fiddle around until I realize I was not done sleeping and easily fall asleep again from 7-9 a.m. It’s nice to have the flexibility to do this since I’m done working for a little while. What have I been doing with myself for the past week if I haven’t been working, you ask? Where to begin …

I’ve organized and re-organized drawers, dropped a few loads of junk off at Savers, stayed up until 2 a.m. making freezer meals, completed my homework and final presentations without stress, fulfilled my church duties without stress, ran 1,000 errands, and started Christmas shopping. I’ve walked and walked and walked and walked. Lots of walking. Yesterday, I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes and almost face-planted when you shifted to a position that pinched a handful of nerves in my hip.

I’m begging you. Please come be with us for Thanksgiving, please. Please? Or you just do your thing. Either one. Just know I’m ready when you are. Really ready.

Love,

Your Mom

Miracle Letters: Week 38

View More: http://kyleemariephotography.pass.us/catherine-and-dalton-maternity

My sweet girl:

Waking up around 2-3 a.m. to stare at the ceiling or do the dishes or read my professional writing theories textbook is routine. It’s not that your constant moving wakes me or that I’m uncomfortable, I just jolt awake as if an alarm went off. This morning at about 1:30 a.m. I woke up to the muffled buzz of my phone under a pair of your dad’s sweatpants I had worn to bed, but had at some point in the night taken off and dropped on the floor. The buzz was alerting me that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. This wasn’t shocking to me because he had a considerable lead when I decided to call it a night. I voted this year, but for a third-party candidate that had no shot of winning. I just couldn’t bring myself to choose between the two individuals running. The election outcome would be dissatisfying no matter what. I’m far from the only one who felt this way, but you won’t have to worry about any of this for a while. Just be little.

This news alert made me think about you (I’m always thinking about you.) My mothering wings fanned out and swaddled my round stomach. The full reality of my job as your mother came flooding over me. Yes, I will feed you and clothe you and be your personal chauffeur, but I will also have the privilege of helping you realize how incredibly valuable you are as a woman, even though you are coming into a somewhat sadistic and ruthless world. You will learn that a lot of miserable people live in this world, but those miserable people are balanced by the big-hearted ones. You are powerful. Women are powerful. Don’t allow anyone, no matter how much perceived power they have, lead you to believe that you cannot be intelligent and strong and witty and opinionated and deep. Even more importantly, don’t think for one second that the miraculous shell you are born into has any effect whatsoever on who you are or what you are capable of.

“She slept with wolves without fear, for the wolves knew a lion was among them.”

– R.M. Drake

Miracle Letters: Week 35

My girl:

10/21/16

It’s 3:38 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom for the third time and then found myself digging through the fridge. I ate a bushel of purple grapes in bed and listened to your dad’s sleep sighs. Heartburn kicked in. Then the twitchy legs. Then you decided it was time for a dance party. That’s about when I gave up on sleep and started watching Halloween Baking Championship and catching up on Words with Friends. Perhaps this is good training.

10/22/16

It’s 4:36 a.m. I’ve showered, answered emails, and eaten a bowl of cinnamon Life cereal. I think you are attempting to make snow angels. My Bump app tell me you are the size of a pineapple. A pineapple! Are you kidding me? I get comments that I don’t look very big for 35 weeks, but you are incredibly compacted in there. I feel every little twitch and hiccup. I teared up the other night as you tested the elasticity of my stomach with your tiny hands and feet. I couldn’t believe my fingers were a layer of skin away from holding yours.

As of now, doc says you are measuring a bit small, but we’ll see if that lasts. I’m going to weekly doctor’s appointment and we’ve completed three of four Lamaze classes. I guess you can say things are getting pretty serious, like we might actually become parents. Parents?  What are those? Can’t we just cuddle you and put you in cute clothes and show you off to all of our friends? No? Okay.

Your dad and I are taking a day off today to enjoy doing normal things, just the two of us. By normal things, I mean errands and wandering and possibly grabbing lunch. You are due on Thanksgiving Day, which will actually be eight years from the day your dad and I started dating. Eight years! I could not be more grateful for those eight years. I can’t comprehend adding even more love and adventure to my current family of two. I also can’t comprehend having another life in our house that’s distracting from our attention to each other. It’s going to be strange and beautiful and challenging and indescribable.

We love  you. I love you. Counting down to the moment I get to feel and kiss your fingers skin to skin. Really hoping I can pull off the mom thing.

 

Miracle Letters: Week 31

My girl:

And just like that, 12 weeks flashed by and you’ll be here in a short two months. What happened? I already feel so proud of you. I’m so excited and terrified at the same time to raise a strong, smart girl in the world’s exponentially increasing chaos and confusion.

My favorite parts of the day are 3 a.m., 9 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11 p.m., roughly. You seem to wake and sleep on a schedule already. Your movements are assertive, to say the least. You’re big enough now that me and your dad can detect what body parts you are jabbing me with. You’ve just recently started climbing up into my rib cage for fun. It kind of hurts, so try not to do that.

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This summer was a little different than the one before. I didn’t climb as many mountains or sleep on the ground as much. Turns out your dad doesn’t like my adventurous side as much when I’m pregnant. I’m already looking forward to carrying you up many mountains next summer. Right after we discovered you are a girl, we slept in a tent for five nights. We caught fish in the Cub River and jostled you around on long ATV rides from Willow Flat to Bear Lake. I read books laying in the grass by the creek that ran through our campground and occasionally looked up to watched the cotton float off the trees overhead. I felt you move for the first time at that campground while lying on our partially inflated air mattress. Some people told me your first movements would feel like popcorn popping or a butterfly. This seemed all too magical to comprehend, so it was to my surprise when a sweeping feeling coursed through my stomach like a gas bubble.

A month later, your dad and I left Draper in my silver 2004 Camry—a used car we bought together just before we got married. We drove to Reno to visit your grandma and grandpa for a night before we headed to the ocean. We had so much fun running through Spotify playlists, munching on junk, and talking about whatever popped into our heads. Desert to pine forests to  fields of orange trees all within four hours. Our first stop? The Jelly Belly Factory, of course, where we ate way too much sugar and ordered a bean-shaped burger because that’s just what you do on road trips. I took your dad’s photo next to a giant portrait of John Wayne made entirely of jelly beans.

I could go on and on about our week-long road trip—the many variations of fried seafood by the ocean, my need to eat sour gummy candy, the room that felt like a double-wide trailer where we watched VHS tapes, your dad’s inability to find a shower that agreed with his height, the mansion tours, the ugly seals and the cute seals, the golf courses that made your dad’s jaw drop, the zoo, the aquarium, the expansive views, the quiet. And you were with us the entire time. It’s customary that every night as we drift to sleep we put our hands on my stomach to feel your wriggling, punching, pattering movements.

We were hit by reality when we came home. The days were full and still are. It is commonplace that we get up at 5:30 a.m. and run, run, run, then come home around 9 p.m. and try to find something in the fridge that resembles dinner. The last two weekends some really wonderful people planned baby showers for us! These people love you to pieces already. Thanks to those showers, our second bedroom looks like it was struck by the baby fairy. You have so many things right now, but no where to put them. Don’t worry, we’ll get on that.

School and work and my church calling are keeping me plenty busy. Luckily, I have the kindest professor who completely understands when I spring to my feet and rush toward the door in the middle of a discussion because you seat-dropped on my bladder. Though my to-do list is long, I did manage to sign me and your dad up for a Lamaze class. Did I mention I’m going to attempt to bring you into this world naturally? I’m sure I’ll regret this later.

This week, my work team is in Vienna and I’m not. I did all of my normal preparations for the yearly event, but this time I’m watching it unfold from afar. I hope to show you the world one day and discover new parts with you. You will be here before we know it. We love you, we know that, but we can’t quite grasp the magnitude. I’m sure we will very soon.

Miracle Letters: Week 19

 

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My little love:

In about 24 hours, I’ll be able to call you my little boy or girl. Your dad first thought he wanted a boy, because, well, he is a boy and understands boys best, but just last week he told me he thought you were a girl. It seems the unanimous vote among those we’ve asked is that you’re a girl, but either way, we couldn’t be luckier to have you, and I couldn’t be luckier to provide the tiny home you’re going to continue growing into for the next 4-5 months. I wish I could check on you in there. Are you comfy? How does amniotic fluid taste? Wait, don’t tell me. What do you hear? Are you warm? Were you still warm when I jumped off a rock into Lake Tahoe on an overcast day? Your dad got mad at me for that.

Don’t worry, I haven’t been sick too often the past five or so weeks. Meat is suddenly really difficult to digest and makes me feel a little queasy still. On Father’s Day I ate some pot roast that didn’t sit well with me and I puked into a fountain drink cup in the car on the way home from your grandma and grandpa’s house. And because you’ve decided to start poking out quite a bit more the past few weeks, I’m officially already wearing maternity clothes. I figured there was no reason to continue feeling uncomfortable in my old pants and some of my shirts and dresses, so I’m accumulating a few things a little at a time. Our first trip to buy maternity clothes was emotional for me. Of course, I knew I was going to outgrow my clothes, but my body has changed so much in the past few months, I think all of the change finally hit me! I got all teary-eyed in the mall and your dad first thought I was crazy, then tried to be understanding. I mean, he’s pretty nice to be willing to spend our date night waiting outside of the Motherhood Maternity dressing room. You are going to love him so, so much.

Since I’ve started feeling better, I’ve taken you on lots of adventures. And I promise the adventures will never stop. We went camping near Pineview Reservoir, backpacking in Capitol Reef, hiking to Mt. Olympus, and swimming in Lake Tahoe. We played in a few basketball games, watched a REAL soccer game, went to an art festival, started and finished a digital image editing class in grad school, read a few good books, and lots more. I’ve noticed that you really are stealing quite a bit of my brain power. I’m not a forgetful person normally, but little things here and there have slipped my mind completely. I hope you’re reaping major rewards from what brain juice I have. With a combination of Dalton’s genes and my family’s genes, you’ll be a regular Einstein. You’ll also be a solid 6.5 feet tall by the time you’re finished growing.

And here’s a little bit more about how you’ve totally changed my life the past four months:

Total weight gain: 10 lbs.
Maternity clothes? Two pairs of pants, a few tunics, two T-shirts, and a stripey dress
Sleep: I sleep like the dead and my dreams are strange and vivid to say the least. I used to function on six hours of sleep. Now I need nine.
Best moment this week: Embracing maternity clothes, finishing a class, realizing our big ultrasound is right around the corner.
Movement: I’ve wondered a few times, but nothing definite.
Food cravings: Smoothies, grapes, cherries, beans & rice, potatoes
Anything making you queasy or sick? Onion, garlic, bacon, barbecue sauce
Have you started to show yet? That would be a yes, but a lot of people say they can hardly tell. I think they’re just being nice.

We are counting down the hours and minutes until we get to see you on Tuesday morning! Right after that we head straight to Idaho for a long camping trip. For your sake and mine, I’ve purchased an air mattress for the occasion. Hoping you are a good luck charm when I’m fishing on the river.

 

Miracle Letters: Week 14

My little love:

I saw your sweet little toes and fingers and nose last week. You seem happy where you are. I know I love you, but I can hardly comprehend that love. Quite honestly, I still can’t believe you’re really in there. I can’t feel you move yet and my tiny tummy bump is only visible to me and your dad. Even though I’ve seen you a few times, the concept of your existence is still so foreign and strange.

So much has happened in the past seven weeks. I told your Dad about you. I saw his heart melt all over the couch when I sat him down and told him. You’ll quickly find out about his deep love for the 49ers, so naturally, I got him a 49ers onesie and told him he’d need it next football season. It’s all recorded on the GoPro, so I’ll show it to you someday. Just two weeks ago we told your grandparents. We even got Grandma and Grandpa Bennett’s reaction on camera. Everyone was so surprised. There were tears and gasps and hugs all around. You have no idea how much joy you are bringing to this family.

This is just one of the many reactionshttps://youtu.be/M192IVzZchg

I’ve been incredibly sick the past six to seven weeks. It’s amazing to me that I finished out my first semester of grad school with solid A’s. The sickness hits the minute I wake up and lingers until about 3 p.m. It goes away for a few hours and then hits again until I fall asleep. Mornings at work seemed impossible some days. I just wanted to go back to bed and the nausea was overwhelming and distracting. I couldn’t be too frustrated though, because I knew that you were there growing and causing my body to change.

All the foods I used to love sound repulsive, and all the foods I never thought about are always on my mind. Absolutely nothing has helped the nausea and puking. I’ve felt more like myself this past week than I have since I found out I was pregnant. My energy is coming back and I’m visiting the bathroom less often.

Things that always sound good:

Jolly ranchers
Smoothies/Slurpees
Ice cream
Potatoes
Pretzels
Pickle juice
Grapes
Green apples
Plain noodles

Things I can’t stomach:

Chicken
Avocado
Eggs
Most vegetables
Mayonnaise
Garlic
Most herbs/spices

Things that make me gag:

The refrigerator
The garbage disposal/dishes
The meat aisle
Bad breath
Garlic
Coffee
Burnt anything

I might actually start going to the gym again this week! It’s about time I started to feel better because I want to make sure I’m strong when you’re born. I love you, I love you. Keep on growing.