A week ago today, I arrived at 1:30 pm for my 35 week appointment at my regular OB practice. The doctor pulled out the Doppler, and then I planned to be on my way to get John and take him to one of his doctor’s appointments. I’ll be honest, with high risk OB visits every couple of weeks throughout my entire pregnancy with the full-fledge high tech ultrasounds, I don’t get too worked up over the Doppler… especially when I feel the baby kicking and know all is well. However, this time, the doctor had a difficult time picking up a consistent heartbeat and then, when she did, it was a little lower than the normal range. As she went into the hallway, I heard her order an “emergency ultrasound,” and I was quickly escorted across the hall with not a minute’s wait in the waiting room. The baby’s heartbeat was still a little low, but then came up, then decelerated again, but then remained in the normal range the rest of the time. But I was told to waddle as quickly as I could to the hospital portion of the medical campus to see my perinatologist for another ultrasound. There, the baby’s heartbeat was normal the entire time. Huge relief!
And yet… my doctor told me they wanted me to stay overnight for heart rate monitoring in the hospital. I figured something else was up (and had even asked about the umbilical cord), but it wasn’t until I was admitted to the hospital that I was informed the cord was wrapped twice around our baby boy’s neck. My main doctor (not either of the ones I had seen that day) called and told me the baby would most likely be delivered the next day, if not before, depending on how the night went.
Here I am, finding myself in a hospital bed hooked up to monitors, without a hospital bag carefully packed, without my husband (who I asked to still take John to his doctor’s appointment… yes, I’m a little nuts), without coming home to my boys as I promised, preparing to deliver a baby who would only be 35 weeks 3 days on the next day, which also happened to be September 11th. And my parents were supposed to be heading out of town on the 12th for a week. I had planned to have another VBAC. Our cord blood kit from Duke wasn’t supposed to arrive for another week. I was also supposed to be getting blood from the Red Cross that was a match for me (I have a lot of antibodies and a health condition making for a rare cross match) to have on hand for whenever I went into labor. I thought we had another month, not being due until October 13th.
Honestly, most of the important things at the house and with my children were in good shape. And who needs a legit “hospital bag” anyway? We were able to procure a different bank’s cord blood kit at the hospital, and who cares about what many might consider an unfortunate birthday (9-11)? Mostly, I was concerned about the baby’s health, knowing after months on bed rest with the twins how important each additional day and week is within the womb. I was grateful knowing lung development is typically complete by 32 weeks. However, I was still concerned about respiratory and feeding issues and possible NICU time. I just didn't feel we could handle more NICU time after John’s 3-month stay and of course never getting to bring Warren home from the hospital.
The tears flowed as all of these questions were raised and discussed among our doctors and family. Simultaneously, I couldn’t deny the excitement rising up in my chest… would I meet my newest little boy tonight or tomorrow? The Lord truly provided in these moments despite the fear and anxiety I must truthfully acknowledge. Dear friends stopped by on Thursday and Friday to visit and pray with us and simply distract us with their love and personal updates. Additionally, my cousin and his wife were in the hospital having just welcomed their precious little girl the day before. I was able to visit with them along with my aunt and uncle. I also felt comforted knowing that many were praying for us.
I cannot stress how crucial it is to have a body of believers you can count on to intercede for you, especially after life’s crises and tragedies have come your way. In these tenuous moments, it can be downright hard to lean into the Lord’s arms, to trust, and to assume the best. Sometimes, I simply cannot go there. But I trust that others are going there on our behalf.
Back to this wild week… we wondered if it would be worth it to simply remain in the hospital a few more days while monitored so baby boy could cook a little longer. My doctor convinced me that even that approach was risky, and that we had a healthy baby in there and felt it best to “win while we could win.” This was further confirmed Friday morning with another ultrasound, now showing the cord wrapped around the baby’s neck THREE times. By this point, I definitely had a peace about a C-section that day. And I wasn’t even disappointed about not getting to attempt another VBAC. That was why we attempted it with Daniel and Andrew and were grateful to be successful in that… so we wouldn’t have to end up with too many C-sections and that, if and when the time came to need another C-section, we wouldn’t need to count them on two hands. What's more, the blood I would need in case of an emergency came in before the procedure... another blessing.
So this is the story how our fifth beloved son entered the world, Michael Chester Stone, on September 11th, 2015 at 5:55 pm via C-section with my doctor at the helm, assisted by one of his partners who was on call that day. Dream team for sure. Meade and I truly felt at peace and were overjoyed when we heard our baby boy cry out as he was brought into the world. He weighed in at 4 pounds 15 ounces, measuring 18 and 1/8 inches long. Beyond grateful that the cord issues was caught exactly when it was!
Despite some grunting/minor breathing issues for a couple of hours, Michael received great Apgar scores and was healthy and strong overall. He never required intervention or intermediate or NICU care. And he was able to come home with us on Monday. Praise the Lord! We are in love! Thank you for continuing to pray, especially as the early newborn days can bring anxiety triggers and bittersweet memories and emotions. Pray we will fight fear with faith and embrace joy despite mourning. Trusting God in both life and loss, as this blog is all about – that He indeed is making all things new!
A few more tidbits or feel free to skip to the additional pictures at the end…
Michael’s name: It took us longer this time around to come up with a name. For one, we’ve already given out 8 boy names. Secondly, the pressure kind of builds with each additional boy name as you want them to go together and love each name as much as the one before! Michael completely fits this little fellow, and we love the significance behind both of his names. Michael is one of Jesus’ mighty, warrior archangels in the Bible, the protector of Israel. Additionally, Michael means “defender of God’s people” and “who is like God.” What’s not to love?
Chester is my father’s middle name, a man I greatly admire in every way! He is one of the most godly, devoted, caring, disciplined, wise men I know – full of integrity and character, traits we pray over Michael’s life. Chester is also my brother William and grandfather’s middle name, also wonderful men who we admire and love dearly! So glad Michael can share a name with all three of them! Our first-born and John’s twin, William “Warren” Stone, was also named for my dad. I love that Michael Chester shares a name with the same men for whom his older brother in heaven was named. Very special for us! Grateful for all five of our sons.
Birthday significance of September 11: Michael actually shares a birthday with my awesome sister-in-law, Monica, along with a couple of other dear friends, and it is also the wedding anniversary of another treasured friend. Additionally, September 11th is the anniversary of John’s last seizure… this year marked 6 years! It is a day we celebrate and, now, we have another extra special reason to rejoice on what has become a patriotic day and symbol of strength for our country.
A significant passage of Scripture that has been on our hearts during this pregnancy… very representative of God’s redemptive work in our family and the joy Michael brings to us:
Psalm 126 (The Message):
1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.
And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
NIV Verses 5-6 (LOVE this section from the NIV)
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
|Aunt Monica, the birthday girl, Uncle William, Honey and B. |
Uncle Cole, Maddie and Poppy will be meeting baby Michael soon!