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The Story of the Best Thing I Ever Did

"Hi this is the medical assistant from your OB/GYN's office. Do you have a few minutes to discuss your test results?" Fear immediately crept up my spine. Those were not words that I wanted to hear from the doctor's office who checked my baby's health during pregnancy. I'm sure I'm not the only one when I say that I was paranoid my whole pregnancy that something would go wrong and my baby would not make it here healthy and safe. It was my greatest fear and I was only at the beginning of my second trimester. "Placenta Previa," she said. Apparently something that could easily resolve itself and that I didn't need to worry about. I tried to calm myself and tell myself it would go away. I was determined to be an optimist.

A few weeks later, my doctor mentioned that I needed to schedule a c section in the upcoming weeks. I was stunned and shaken. My first baby? A c section? Was my baby in danger? "I thought that it was something that would resolve itself?" The doctor replied, "No, we initially thought that you had Low-lying Placenta, which often resolves itself, but now we're certain that you have Placenta Previa. At this point, and after we've checked it this many times, there is only about a 5% chance of it resolving itself. Your placenta is partially blocking your birth canal, which could be fatal to the baby or you in a normal birth, so that's why you need to prepare for a C-section. We will get her here safe and sound. The good news is that Placenta Previa is random and it's not necessarily going to happen with any future children you may have. And you are a good candidate for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section)." I was shocked. I didn't know how to process that and my first thoughts were in grief. I didn't want to be cut open and go through that different healing process after having a baby. After some pondering, though, I realized that anything would be fine with me as long as my baby got here "safe and sound" as the doctor said. So I researched, I talked to friends who had C-sections, and I prayed as I prepared for mine which was now scheduled on the calendar for the 12th of February.

As February arrived I went to the doctor for one last check on my baby girl and my Placenta Previa situation. I was now mentally as ready as possible to have a C-section and get my baby here in the next few weeks. I had been thinking about it for months and I was finally feeling at peace. The doctor came in after my ultrasound and with a surprised look on her face said, "Well it looks like your Placenta Previa seems to have resolved itself at the last possible moment! You can try a vaginal birth!" I was again shocked. I had spent so much time over the last months preparing myself for a C-section and now I didn't feel prepared for a vaginal birth. And why did she use the word "try"? 

"What do you mean I can try?" I asked. "Well your placenta is just out of the way enough for you to try, however, it's also close enough that you may end up going into labor, pushing for a while, and still need an emergency C-section." My mind was reeling. Now I was facing two birthing methods for one baby. "It's worth trying for the vaginal birth because if you are able to do it and avoid the C-section, you don't have to go through C-section recovery." I thought I was going to be sick as I thought about somehow bringing this baby into the world when I didn't know how it would happen or if I was strong enough to do it.

I went home, cried a little, and then reminded myself that as long as Little Muppet got here safely, then I would be happy. I now had only two weeks until my due date so I began to prepare for the unknown. I packed a hospital bag that had several days worth of supplies for me in case I did need a C-section, we installed the carseat, we cleaned our house top to bottom, and I prayed a lot.

On Thursday night (now 11 days away from my due date) Lance and I went out on a date. I knew it would probably be our last date night with just the two of us so I soaked it up. We window shopped, ate a yummy dinner, played games, and reminded each other of reasons why we love one another. Finally we headed to bed, but at that point in my pregnancy sleeping was really more of a lovely past memory. In other words, Lance went to sleep and I rolled around hoping for a miracle. Around 3 am, I began typing up a message for a friend of mine who had graciously agreed to be my back up photographer for a wedding that was only one day away just in case I went into labor before then. As I was finishing the message to save in my drafts, I suddenly felt a rush of water in my bed...

I realized immediately that my water had broken! I pressed send on the message that I had been typing to my back up photographer and pulled myself out of bed. The water was pooling on the tile beneath my feet as I shouted, "Lance! Wake up! It's time to go to the hospital!" A huge smile crept across my face as I said those words and I realized that I would be coming home with my daughter. Lance practically leaped out of bed and literally began running in circles... not joking. "What do we need? What do we pack? How long do we have?" he was frantically yelling back. I calmly said, "Honey, go feed the dogs and grab the camera. I'll get a towel to sit on and we'll go. We have already packed everything else." A look of confusion and then relief passed over Lance's face that his duties in this moment were quite simple. As Lance filled their food bowls, the dogs sniffed me and the liquid pouring down my legs. They could tell something strange was happening and I was excited again to bring my baby girl home to meet them.

After a few minutes, Lance helped me into the car and then asked (again frantically), "Do I have your permission to speed?" I tried not to laugh as I told him, "No, you have my permission to safely and lawfully get me to the hospital." On the way to the hospital I texted my whole family that my water had broken. Half an hour later we were in a hospital room where a nurse was monitoring my baby's heartbeat and drawing my blood. It's amazing how much people want your blood when you're pregnant. Good thing I don't have a fear of having needles put in me... oh wait. Yes I do! Lance was so loving and massaged my right foot as the nurse worked. I thought about what our little family would be like once Little Muppet arrived.

After a few hours of needles, monitoring, and painful contractions, the nurse said I was dilated to a 5 so they were moving me to a delivery room. When I got there, they hooked me up to an IV, a baby heart beat monitor, a contraction monitor, and a blood pressure monitor. There were wires everywhere! I worked my way through each contraction and waited for my baby to get to the point where she was ready to come. I kept thinking how terrified I was of tearing, but I told myself it would all be worth it.

Meanwhile my parents both got off from work and headed to the hospital and my best friend, Sam, headed over as well. My dad brought a little teddy bear for Little Muppet and chocolate for me which made me slightly frustrated since I hadn't eaten since dinner the night before and now I wasn't allowed to eat or drink. (I will be stuffing my face before we leave for the hospital with the next one.) They all took turns watching my contractions monitor and informing me when another one was coming on. The ridiculousness of this made me want to laugh through the excruciating pain because it wasn't as if I didn't know a contraction was coming on. I suppose it was entertaining for all of us.

After about nine hours of labor, I finally got an epidural. It was the strangest feeling I have ever had in my body. I think that's what made it awful to me, not that it was really painful but instead that it was strange and foreign. I don't think I could ever get used to feeling fluid rush through my spine. After a while though, I felt the pain of the contractions beginning to subside and my lower half became numb. They tilted me on my side to get more epidural to that side and then rolled me to the other side to even it out. At this point they also hooked me up to a catheter so that I really felt as though moving at all would result in me ripping at least one tube out of place since I was hooked up to so many. I also became very sick at this point because of the medicine and my empty stomach. Thus I spent some quality time vomiting the nothingness in my tummy. Lame.

My siblings finally got to the hospital after school was out and around the time I was feeling like I was ready to start pushing. They came in to give me hugs and wish me luck. Everyone was excited and they all took guesses about what time the baby would be born and how much she would weigh. My grandparents also came in to give me hugs and wish me the best. I smiled to myself, so happy to see so many people who loved my baby already.

  (My Mom, Sam, KineBritt, Mathea, and Jonas)

My siblings left and I told the nurse that I was ready to push, but that I had one small problem; I could feel the left half of my body again. I had been left leaned on one side for too long and I could feel the other side now. If I started pushing, I was going to feel it, at least half of it, if I tore. (my fear remember?) The nurse said she could put me on the other side to even it out so she did, but minutes after she left the room I knew that it was time to push, so we called her back. I was surprised that my dad stayed in the room even though he is so squeamish. He may not have loved it, but it meant a lot to me that he was there in a corner silently cheering me on.

Even though I could now feel half of my body, I knew it was time for me to do the thing that I had wondered for nine months if I could even do. I was terrified, but at the same time, something in my brain was overriding my fear and spurring me to action - love. The love for this unborn little girl was what penetrated my brain and told my body to do anything necessary to get her here. So I did.

I began to push as hard as I could and focused everything on getting my baby out. As the baby crowned the nurse said, "Wow she's got a great head of hair!" I heard my husband say, "Hey that was my job!" and I remembered that I had assigned him to tell me if she had hair or not. I laughed a little in between contractions. Then the doctor came in to help me finish delivering, but to my dismay she was a "drill sergeant" doctor. She proceeded to bark at me to push harder and keep pushing to the point that I was ready to get out of bed and deliver the baby myself. I suppose that tactic might work for other women, but I was on adrenaline and was pushing as hard and long as I could already. What I needed were kind words of encouragement, so I tuned out the doctor and listened to my husband and my mother whispering, "Good job!" and, "There's her head, we can see it!" and , "You're doing wonderful sweetheart!" After a half hour of pushing, I felt myself tear, but before I even had a chance to cry out from pain or be upset, I heard a cry. Immediately, the doctor placed a baby on my chest and in that moment my mind reeled. "Where am I? What's going on? Who's baby is that?" Even after I had done it, I still couldn't believe that I had. The baby who I had been calling Little Muppet for so long, was now lying on my chest.

I looked down at her as she cried frantically, in shock from this new environment, and I began to tell her how much she meant to me. To my surprise she stopped crying and began to open her eyes.
Emotions exploded through me as I realized that my daughter had recognized my voice in a room full of talking people.

I was in awe. Every tiny feature, every finger, every hair on her head was perfect. My girl. My Little Muppet. My Svea Elaine Baxter. Oh how deeply I fell in love with her in those moments. Nothing could've erased my physical pain and exhaustion except her. She was perfect.

Lance cut the cord and after about ten minutes or so, the nurse took Svea (svey- uh) over to be weighed, measured, and cleaned up a bit. She weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 20 3/4" long.

After she was wrapped up in a blanket, they gave her to Lance so that he could hold her for the first time. His eyes were already filled with tears, but I was so happy to see the husband I love, the man who I will spend forever with, holding our first child in his arms. He will be an amazing father.

Our family came in to meet her and my sister, Mathea, instantly burst into tears when she saw her very first niece.

 When my baby brother, Jonas, sat down to hold Svea, my eyes welled up with tears again. Ten years ago, I had been sitting in the hospital watching my mom give birth to him and holding him in my arms. Now he was sitting there holding my baby. I love him and my other three siblings so very much.

Other family who came to meet Svea included her Great Grandma and Grandpa Gardner, her Great Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, her Great Aunt Linda and family, her Great Aunt Kendelle and family, her adopted Grandma Mary and Grandpa Don (Sam's parents), and her Grandma and Grandpa Baxter (Lance's parents who were visiting).

(Great Grandma and Grandpa Gardner)

(Grandma and Grandpa Baxter came by later that evening)

Finally the nurse handed me back my baby to warm her up. She laid Svea on my chest and I held her and sat in amazement at this child. She was everything I had ever wanted.

That night the doctor moved us to a recovery room where I was happy to only have a catheter and an IV hanging out of me instead of ten other tubes. The nurse gave Svea her first bath and turns out Svea loves to have her hair brushed (she is her mother's daughter). We loved seeing her washed hair in all its muppety glory!

We stayed in the hospital for two nights so that the doctor could monitor my healing and the baby's weight gain and during that time my family and friends came to express their love. It meant so much to me to have their support throughout this experience.

And so, that is the story of the best thing I ever did - the bravest thing. I brought into this world the most beautiful thing I could comprehend. After the scare of my life wondering how she would come, 12 hours of labor, a day and a half worth of IV fluid bloating my body, tearing from pushing her out, and being hooked up to every machine possible, I gave birth to Svea Elaine. Each day since then, her sweet face has made me realize that every dang thing I went through was nothing compared to the joy she brings me. She is my world and I love being her mama. God is great and I am so thankful that He has blessed me with the gift of being a mother to this sweet girl.

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