Family PIc April 2015

Family PIc April 2015

Friday, December 13, 2013


Every mother has a story to tell.

The story of when she first met her child face-to-face. 

Whether she is describing giving physical birth to a biological child...

Or laying her eyes, for the first time, on the child she will one day adopt...

She has become a mother.

And she has a miracle to share.

I've experienced 9 such miracles...all very different...all etched in my memory like so many beautiful, priceless pearls.

Today, I share my most recent miracle story...

The birth of my son, John Abram.

John - meaning "God has been gracious"
Abram - meaning "Father is exalted"

Like many mothers, I had been waiting - not so patiently - for the pending arrival of this newest little bundle.  Restless nights and a waddling gait indicated that it really couldn't be much longer...

On the evening of December 3rd, I found myself more restless than usual.  Although I had apparently stopped my "nesting" tendencies a few weeks prior, that night I felt a need to stay up late and finish a few projects.

I found myself finishing a sewing project just after midnight...and I was tired, but my mind didn't want to sleep.  The house was that all-too-rare quiet and calm, and I sensed a need to relish it. 

I then found myself on the computer, catching up with long-overdue replies to messages and emails, and even perusing several blogs and Facebook.

I distinctly remember thinking to myself, around 2 am, "I really need to get in bed!  Here I am, staying up late, and now I'll probably go into labor exhausted.  What am I thinking?!?!" 

So, I went to bed...And, still, I lay in bed with my mind very much awake.  I counted kicks of my tiny unborn child until I finally fell asleep.  I saw 2:39 on the clock...then was up just after 3:30...and again at 4:30ish.  I didn't know why...just restless...a need to use the bathroom - AGAIN - I guessed.

At the 4:30ish mark I noticed contractions. This was nothing new - I'd had so many Braxton Hicks contractions up to this point in my pregnancy, I was sure I'd miss them like an old friend after Baby was born.  But, I timed them anyway. 

They were 6 minutes apart.

At around 5:00am, one of the contractions felt different...and then a crippling cramp in my abdomen grabbed my attention for good.  As the cramp subsided, I felt that familiar "Oh my goodness!  I think I might actually be in labor!!"

A perfect mixture of excitement and sheer terror.

By this time, Gregg had awakened and was timing along with me.  Still, roughly every 6 minutes...45-90 seconds in length. 

For any normal was time to start seeking labor/delivery assistance. 

But, I'm not normal. 

So, I lay there saying things like "they (the contractions) don't really hurt that bad", "maybe I should drink more water", "should I call Susan?", "one more contraction and we'll call"....

I called my midwife, Susan, at 6:30am.  She answered with "Hey, Olivia.  Is it time?"...and I could hear her smile on the other end of the line.

And, just like that...HERE WE GO!! 


Obviously, early labor...what a lovely last pregnancy pic
 but, sadly, it didn't occur to me to take more pics at the time,
so it's the only one I have. :(
I felt a little like I was in a daze. 
Gregg was getting breakfast and getting the older kids prepared for their school day.  And shortly afterward, he had enlisted help from our very eager younger children to fill the birthing tub.
The assistant midwife, Rhonda, arrived in what felt like minutes (but was really about an hour later).  She listened to Baby's heartbeat and checked my vitals, then immediately and quietly busied herself with setting up everything as it needed to be for a home delivery.  We decided to wait until Susan arrived to check for dilation.
Susan arrived shortly after (she had further to drive) - with sweet words of excitement and reassurance.  I was dilated 4-5 cm...which, essentially, for me, means NOTHING besides the fact that I'm dilated 4-5 cm.  
We had  originally decided to arrange the birthing tub in our sunroom, but in the last week decided on something completely different from our normal Christmas decoration set up.  We decided to move furniture and put our Christmas tree in the alcove of what is normally our dining room.  We planned to place the birthing tub at the base of the Christmas tree in the glow of its twinkling lights.  It was Gregg's idea...and I LOVED it.
So, when Susan walked in and saw the new arrangement - with the little ones filling the tub in front of the Christmas tree - her face lit up and she said, "How neat!  HOW NEAT! I don't think I've ever delivered a baby under a Christmas tree before!"  It made me smile... 
And what was I doing while all this was going on? 

Me...I was trying to take it all in, but also doubting myself.  I even said, "What if I eat breakfast and the contractions STOP?"  I wasn't experiencing any real pain - just some discomfort.  I knew, from my personal experience, that hard labor could begin at any minute...but WHEN?  I still wasn't completely convinced that I was truly in labor. I had taken a shower, dressed comfortably, eaten a small breakfast, cancelled 2 appointments we had for later that day, and I had also made phone calls to my mother and my dear friend (who is very much like a mother to me).  They both planned to arrive in time to hear Baby's first cry.  What if I called them and it was FALSE LABOR?  I was intent on listening, the best I could, to the rhythms of my body. 
It was around 8:30am, I think.
And here's where things get pretty boring...contractions were still just six minutes apart (sometimes a little closer or further apart, but about the same)...for HOURS.
Gregg and I decided to take a walk together.  It was a misty, dreary, cool December morning and we walked the road just outside our home.  Hand in hand, I will remember this time with just the two of us fondly.  I needed to get out of the house...I needed to breathe.  I needed to be alone with my husband.
Still, 6 minutes apart...
My "adoptive mother" arrived from her 3+ hour drive, and I called my mother to tell her to stay at work.  Nothing happening...
Susan and Rhonda left for a couple hours (but stayed close by) to give us some private time and to grab a bite for lunch. 
Gregg and I walked some more...Susan and Rhonda were finished schoolwork...more walking.
At 3:00pm...we were just coming in from walking and still not much was changing.  I thought, "I'm not even going to have this baby today.  Poor Susan and Rhonda...they will be exhausted!" 
Still dilated about 5 cm. 
I felt frustrated, and Susan sensed this.  Baby was still not very "low" so Susan had suggested several exercises and position changes to try to position Baby better.  Some had seemed to help bring stronger, more consistent contractions.  At around 3:15 or 3:30, Susan suggested we try a few other natural techniques to help me relax and help facilitate labor. 
Was I uptight??  Uhhh...apparently...because with these suggested techniques, it was like my body just switched into high gear.
At just after 4:00pm, there was an audible "pop" and Baby's position had definitely changed.  My water had broken...and just like that, contractions were coming much quicker and much stronger. 
Still about 5 cm dilated...which, for my body, really meant nothing...
Gregg called my mother and told her to head this way quickly as things were definitely "picking up". 
Obviously, I was no longer in doubt that this was the real deal. 

Time to focus...time to get serious with the work at hand...
With about the next 3-4 contractions or so, I remember Susan and Rhonda checking Baby's heartbeat, checking my vitals, and helping me get ready to get into the birthing tub.  I also began to feel nauseated.  I always feel nauseated when I reach the part of labor referred to as I knew that I must be suddenly, but surely, nearing full dilation.

By my best recollection, and based on the timing of some of the photos we took, I was able to get into the birthing tub just after 4:30pm.

A small CD player nearby was playing Casting Crowns' "Peace On Earth" Christmas album.

A dreary afternoon accented the white Christmas lights and candles on the mantle and piano...and the colored lights of the Christmas tree. 

I made a point to try to capture the picture in my mind so it would stay with me for the rest of my life. I will never listen to Casting Crowns' Christmas CD without recollecting the birth of John. 

Upon entering the warm water of the tub, I felt relief and comfort. 

Not much longer now.

Rhonda added a little cool water to the tub, and then a contraction hit me hard.  I remember Gregg and Eva snapping some pictures, and I sent for everyone to come, because I knew it could only be a matter of minutes.

Things seemed to be moving in a sudden rush.  I was self-absorbed, teetering between "I can't do this!" and "I HAVE to do this!" 

Susan and Rhonda were getting ready to check vitals and check for dilation when I felt, quite certainly, Baby was coming.

Not everyone was with me...the kids were in the back of the mother had not arrived...but there was no waiting...

Susan was trying to get her water birth gloves on when the contraction I was having told EVERY. FIBER. OF. MY. BODY. to push this precious baby out.  (I think I had 2 contractions after entering the tub.  Maybe 3.)

So, with adrenaline coursing through my veins, and an insatiable desire to meet my little one...I pushed with all my might...

And, with that, Susan turned and saw Baby's head, and immediately did all the necessary things a competent midwife does to insure Mom and Baby's health.

Underneath the water, I saw my baby's tiny head covered with fine, dark hair...another push...another never-again-seen moment in time...tiny shoulders emerged...a final thrust...Baby's full body emerged into the calming, warm water...

I looked around me to see my children wide-eyed with wonder...they had made it - just in time.

Susan deftly picked up my little treasure from the depths of the water...and laid him on my chest.

Sheer relief mingled with unspeakable joy and wonder...face-to-face...


Following was a flurry of emotion and activity...
First order of business - Is it a boy or a girl?
It's a BOY!  And the kids want to know, "What is his name?"  (Gregg and I had decided to keep it a surprise for everyone.)  Gregg announces "His name is JOHN" - and everyone seems delighted.

Lots of snapshots and congratulations.  Snacks were eaten, dinner was being prepared...
Placenta was delivered,
Baby John was nursing like a little champ, 
I was relaxing - watching all the rounds of John's admirers grinning as they held him and listened to the click of the camera's shutter release.  


Susan's tender hands went over every inch of John's little body, and she spoke quietly and comfortingly about each detail.  Rhonda took notes on her iPad as Susan dictated.
John was weighed - 8 lb. 8 oz. (That was Mommy's guess!)

Head measurement - 14.5"   Length - 20.5"

Susan explaining all the little details

Gregg administering the Vitamin K injection
Me...I couldn't take my eyes off my little priceless treasure.  I couldn't get over his tiny fingers, his perfect nose, his beautiful little lips, his tender cry. 
More pictures...a meal eaten...bedtime routines...
Nanma holds John for the first time

Isaiah admiring John up close
 It didn't take long for Eva to earn the nickname "BH" - Baby Hog. 
She wants to hold him constantly.  :)
 John was cozy on his little heating pad...being examined
 Holding Daddy's hand
 Hand-in-hand with our lil' man
 Mommy and John
Susan has delivered 2 of our children -
Kedesh and John
 Beautiful are the hands and feet that serve...
Susan and John
Taken about 3 hours after John was born...
Susan and I pause to get a picture together with our
"Merry Christmas Gift"
 Rhonda, the assistant midwife, played a tremendous role
as she quietly served our family throughout labor and delivery
 Sam-I-Am couldn't wait to hold John "another time"
"Grand D" holding John and talking sweetly to him
"Eva, can I please hold my baby now?" :) 
Then, over and over in my head, I replayed the wonderment of the day's events...and that defining point in time when John was laid upon my chest for the first time...


  1. Absolutely beautiful.... brought tears to my eyes.

    Courtney ... your old pal from SC

    1. Courtney, I MISS YOU!! I remember talking to you about homebirth when it was little more than a longing in my and Brian were a big part of the reason Gregg was willing to consider the we wouldn't have it any other way!! :)

  2. Congratulations on a beautiful new addition! Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming recollection of his birth!

    1. Thank you, Stacey! :) Thank you for taking the time read my blog and to celebrate John's birth with us. :)