Recently, I attended a friend’s baby shower. Yay babies! Momma to be was glowing and with every teeny little outfit and tube of butt paste opened, the room filled with “oohs” and “awes.” I, on the other hand, felt angry, sad, burdened and troubled during the event.
It’s not that I wasn’t happy for my friend. I was more than ecstatic for her new precious boy joining their family in a few short weeks. I wasn’t pained by struggles of longing for a baby I couldn’t have- I walked that road for a length of time and God healed and answered my prayers. I had a growing, healthy 6 month old waiting for me to pick her up from the sitter’s home. So why did my heart hurt? Why did I leave feeling bitter?
I was bubbly, happy, and ready to celebrate with mom-to-be until one particular comment sent my emotions into a spiral.
“That will be a cute outfit for baby to go home in.”
It was harmless, really, but I couldn’t shake it. You see, the birth of my daughter didn’t go the way I planned. 6 months later, I am haunted by the events. I saved conversations I had through text updating family and friends of the progress throughout my labor. I review these once a week, at least.
My daughter was due on July 24. Six days later, the day before my induction, my water broke at 12:45 PM as I was unloading our dishwasher. My husband was at work and I was home by myself, waiting for our baby to show us she was ready to meet us. I sent him a quick text telling him that I thought my water had broken and that I was calling the doctor and waiting for the contractions to start. I played phone tag with the doctor for the next 6 hours and finally, I went to the hospital. They confirmed my water had broken, told me I hadn’t started dilating and began me on Pitocin. They also explained that she was face up and would rotate me often to get her to turn. Easy-peazy.
My contractions increased with intensity, duration and frequency. I reached a dilation of 8 cm around 4 AM and they began preparing for the delivery. I was surprised at how smooth everything was going. We would be able to hold our little princess before we knew it. Hours went by and my pain increased while progress did not. I remained at the 8 cm mark for the next 14 or so hours. I was tired, I was impatient and I was ready.
Our baby was still face up. I began to feel ill and spiked a fever of 104 degrees due to developing an infection in my uterus during the long labor. The infection also added stress to my body and caused my own heart rate to spike. They could no longer risk the health of me or my baby and began prepping me for a C Section, something I absolutely did not want to do. I was extremely exhausted and just didn’t have the energy to go any longer. I scribbled my signature on the paper granting permission to be cut open and that I was aware of the risk. I became relaxed with the numbing medication and emotional. I wanted so bad to be awake to enjoy and experience my daughter’s birth. Even writing this now, I’m an emotional wreck.
I was wheeled into the OR room. My husband, my rock, whispered how great I was doing many times and I fought with everything in me to stay awake.
“She’s almost here! You will see her soon! Stay awake, I have to stay awake,” I continued to tell myself. I felt a relief of pressure and shouts of “she’s out! She’s out”. I attempted to use the remaining energy I had to smile and I waited.
“Stay awake, they are going to hold her up so you can see her. Stay awake, keep your eyes open so you can see her when they show her to you.” I continued to chant myself on.
I waited and I fought hard to stay awake. I heard her cough and then, I woke up. I was confused and still exhausted.
“Where am I? Where is she? Where is my husband?” I had a million and one questions. I wanted to meet my baby.
On July 30, 2015 at 8:48 PM, Nora Abigail was born. My heart rate spiked and I was fully put under to help me relax. They never held her up for me to see. I met my daughter after she was a few hours old. They placed her on my chest and I slept. I couldn’t kiss her, couldn’t tell her how much she was loved and how I prayed for her. I couldn’t tell her that I have been waiting to be her mommy for years. I couldn’t do anything, but sleep. I was sick and still under the anesthesia from the surgery.
Each time she cried, my husband jumped up to tend to her. I was hooked up to machines and unable to make a quick move to be with her when she needed me. My bloodwork continued to have some concern and my heart rate remained extremely elevated. They wanted to keep me longer to get the infection under control and give me potassium and magnesium to help my heart. In order to do this, they needed to move me to another wing of the hospital to monitor my heart- this place, was not safe for my new baby because of germs and the illnesses of other patients. I was to stay another night, maybe two, and my baby was able to go home with her father. My heart broke into a million pieces. I was not able to be with my new baby during her first night home. I changed her into her outfit to go home in. It was pink shorts with tiny black polka dots and a white tank top. The tank top had a picture of a watermelon on it and it read “pink makes me happy”. She was so tiny that it hung off of her. I remember picking this outfit out and imagining our first ride home together. I would click her into her car seat and worry that I didn’t do it right, even though I’ve installed car seats more times than I can count being a CPST. A team came to the door to transport me just as I was putting on her 2nd sock. I was told that it was time to go and was given only a few seconds to say “goodbye” to my new baby. Maybe they gave me a few minutes, but to me, it wasn’t nearly enough. I kissed her through sobs and handed her to her dad. He kissed my forehead and assured me that he would follow me down while our baby stayed in the nursery until he could return.
That night, I felt myself slip into a state of depression, maybe it was what I needed. I did everything I could to ensure I was home as soon as I could be. I fought intense pain to take a walk down the hall of the hospital. I pumped so that I wouldn’t lose my milk supply- although, nothing was coming out yet, I pumped anyways. I called and texted my husband many times to see how they were. “Is she sleeping? Did you put her PJs on? Send me a picture.” I was missing her first day home. I felt angry and like I had failed. I was disappointed because this was not how I pictured her birth and the first days of her life to go. Did I mention that I was angry?
It happened and here I am, 6 months later, still bitter. I guess this is why I struggle the way I do from day to day. My husband tells me I worry too much about things that shouldn’t matter. While I see his perspective, I want to so bad for him to see mine.
“Did she look cute in her outfit this morning?” What I really mean is, “This is another moment I’m missing. I can’t stand to miss another one.”
“Was she happy? Did you have to wake her up?” What I need to say instead is, “will she always be happy? I want every single detail! I want to see her in every moment of her life.”
I believe God is working on me in this heartbreak. I hear stories of momma’s who didn’t make it or babies who were taken from this earth before their moms even got to touch them. My heart is so heavy for those people. I pray for God to be near and comfort them. My baby is healthy! I’m now healthy and able to be the mom that I’ve always wanted to be. I know I need to keep this perspective and remember the blessing in this story, but I also believe that God wants me to feel this pain. Not because he wants me to hurt- God didn’t make me sick and he doesn’t cause us despair- that was the enemy and I want to make that clear! What I’m trying to say is that God wants me to be real with myself and with him on how I feel. There is grace in the moments we go to God in complete honesty, stripped away of the mask we use from day to day that says “I’m okay. I’m blessed. There’s a reason for everything.” When I’m able to go to him with my emotions completely open and raw, he heals me and teaches me that he is a constant, unchanging and a loving father who cares about me so much that I will never be able to comprehend the depth. He cares because we care and he takes our mess and turns it into something more beautiful than we imagined. He is a good, good God.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NASB)
About the Author
Hello! My name is Stephanie Wheeler and I am from a small town in Ohio. I am married to my best friend and I am the blessed mother of my 8 year-old step-son and 6 month old daughter. I love to read and encourage others of the boundless love that Christ has for every single one of us. I believe that Our God is greater than every single circumstance and has complete authority over all things.