January 24, 2016

My newborn and his backstory


Thomas Emil
10lbs 7oz
19.5" long
December 29th

If you follow me on Instagram or my blog's Facebook page then you've already met our new son, but here he is for the blogging world: Thomas Emil. 

Thomas, who I will now refer to as Tee on the blog, was born via a scheduled c-section the day before our 9th wedding anniversary. 

Travis chose his first name in honor of Thomas Aquinas. Honestly, the only thing I know about Aquinas is that he was a great deal smarter than I am so, while I will make attempts to learn more about the saint so I can instill a devotion in my son, I'm letting the bulk of that work fall to Travis. 

I chose the middle name Emil in honor of Fr. Emil Kapaun. I am still learning about Fr. Kapaun, whose cause is open for canonization, but the more I learn the more inspired I am. There are certain saints who seem to reach out to us at different times in our lives and Fr. Kapuan is definitely one of those cases. If you're not familiar with him, please take a minute to watch (or even just listen) to this video:


You can also learn more about him here.


But now back to Tee.

Look at those toes!

Tee's pregnancy was a surprise and one that sorta knocked us off our feet for a moment, while still making me really happy. And then, shortly after we announced the pregnancy, something happened. I mentioned it, but I am ready to tell the whole story now because of a comment our parish priest made to me last weekend. His words knocked me off my feet again, in a completely different way, and I felt like the story - which had been so painful and personal - should be told from this perspective that is filled with light. 

 One evening about half way through the pregnancy I started to feel a little ill so I went to bed early. In the middle of the night I woke up in pain - it felt like I was having a long, strong contraction. It didn't stop.

My womb, which reached the top of my belly button, was incredibly tender and tight. The contraction would increase in intensity, making me cry and feel nauseous, and because nothing made it improve and the contractions were time-able Travis took me to the hospital.

I was taken to labor and delivery and my midwife's ob happened to be the one who saw me. He had no idea what was going on. The high risk doctor came to see me and he had no idea what was going on. I was having contractions, it hurt like hell any time anyone touched any part of the lower half of my belly, and we didn't know why.

They started me on antibiotics and gave me and morphine for the pain, and the ob explained that they believed there was an infection in my womb, causing the pain and my low fever. Because of the infection they didn't know if they would be able to stop labor but even if labor stopped they didn't know how the infection would effect the baby. The doctor explained this and left. The nurse remained.

I asked her if my baby was going to die. She looked at me and told me that they believed I was in labor and had an infection in my womb. If the baby was born he would not be viable because of his gestational age. If the baby was not born the baby would probably still not survive because of the infection and the baby's gestational age.

She left the room and Travis and I called our parish to let them know that I was in the hospital and things were not looking good for our unborn child.

I began to drift to sleep because of the morphine and Travis left to find some coffee. The next thing I knew there were two nurses standing by me. They were talking over me, thinking I was still asleep and so I closed my eyes. My nurse said to the other, "I am having a hard time placing the monitor to find the fetal heartbeat. But really it doesn't even matter, you know." I opened my eyes just enough to see the other nurse nod and say, "Because of ... yeah." "We shouldn't even have to because it doesn't matter," my nurse said. She sounded annoyed.

And I knew what they meant. It didn't matter if they did fetal monitoring because the baby was going to die one way or the other. The morphine made me drift back off to sleep.

The next time I woke up Travis was in the room and I told him what had happened with the nurses. A sonogram and amnio had been ordered and so we decided to learn the sex of the baby so we could pick out a name in the time we had left. I sat and started to plan out the funeral in my head.

Shortly after our priest, Fr. W, arrived with the Eucharist. We explained the situation to him and he prayed over me and took the Eucharist out, held Him over my womb, made the sign of the cross, and then gave me and Travis Holy Communion.

The sonographer came and everything looked fine - our little boy (boy!) was kicking happily. They looked at my ovaries, appendix, and the whole of my womb - everything looked fine. The high risk doctor took a sample of the amneotic fluid (amnios hurt, fyi) and said the color looked good. Over the next 24 hours every single test came back normal, my contractions stopped, and the tenderness went away. They never figured out what was going on exactly but then it cleared up and I was discharged.

At home we quickly learned that if I did too much my contractions would kick in again so I was put on temporary bed rest and after almost two weeks of letting my body rest everything was back to normal. Travis and I just went on thinking it was this weird fluke. We were grateful that the baby was alive and well and we just fell back into the normal rhythm of life.

Tee was born (I'll tell that story another day) and, honestly, I didn't think of the illness and how we almost lost him except for one passing thought when he was a week old. But then last week, when Tee was two weeks old I saw Fr. W and he looked at my son and asked how he was doing.

"He's fine. A good sleeper and a really sweet baby," I said.

"You see," he said, "that's the power of the Sacraments! It's a miracle. The Eucharist did it. We thought he was in trouble but he's fine. It's the power of the Sacraments - and our faith!"

And I felt like an ass. A complete and utter ass. How had I missed that? How had I just assumed it was a fluke? My baby was likely going to die, but then my baby and my body were blessed by our Eucharistic Lord, and my baby lived.
 

Glory to God in the highest - my son lived. 



55 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story, Bonnie! So glad this little man is here safe and sound in your loving arms!

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  2. beautiful, miraculous children you've been given, Bonnie. Praising God for sweet Thomas!

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    1. and on a much shallower note, you look amazing in that picture and I love your glasses.

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    2. Ha. Thanks, ladies. You know how to make a girl feel a bit better about her postpartum self.

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  3. So beautiful! This made me tear up. I am so glad you have your precious son in your arms!

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  4. okay I am crying. Miracles always do that to me.

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  5. Wow! So beautiful. You are so blessed, and he is adorable :) God is so good!!!

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  6. Love. Love. Love. Love this story. Love that adorable boy. Love you. Love Jesus. That is all.

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  7. Girl. I'ma tell you something. I used to be a nurse on a women's and children's unit. I saw a woman with an infection in her womb. It did start her labor. They were able to stop the labor and send her home (she was 28 weeks). But they told her the baby would die when it was born. The infection had damaged his lungs irreparably and he would never be able to breathe outside the womb. As long as he was inside her, he was fine. But he would not survive once he was born. She came back weeks later in labor, and her baby died very soon after birth. You have a miracle indeed. Look at that baby. You not only gave birth to a healthy baby, you gave birth to a 3 month old. ;) Smooch that big boy for me!

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    1. Wow. thank you for sharing that, Mel. That even further helps to put things into perspective.

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  8. What a beautiful story! I'm so happy to finally see his little face (and toes!) after praying for you both all this time.

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    1. And THANK YOU for all the prayers, Abbey!

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  9. What a Big Beautiful Boy! God bless you all!

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  10. Such a beautiful story and beautiful boy. Fr. Kapaun is the patron of the confirmation class I teach, and he is so inspiring.

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  11. Tears! Thank you Jesus for this miracle of life! May God continue to bless you all.

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  12. So glad you shared this Bonnie! What a beautiful and miraculous story.

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  13. Another miracle!!! Praise God!! He has special things in mind for those Engstroms. ;-)

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  14. Another miracle!!! Praise God!! He has special things in mind for those Engstroms. ;-)

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  15. My sister had a miracle baby exactly one week before you - the 22nd - named Paul Terrance. And after he was born I was thinking of you because of James. (Paul was born with no heartbeat or color or breath and he was clearly miraculously assisted in making a full recovery within the first hours of his life and continued to prove all concerns wrong throughout his NICU stay for a week!) God is certainly capable of these awesome acts that reveal His sovereignty and the power of Faith, Prayer, the Sacraments - all I could say was He is the Author of Life and each of us depends on Him for each breath! I never learned it so well as Paul's birthday! The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and blessed be the name of the Lord. So cool and so glad Thomas is a-ok. What a rough patch to go through though - glad you are ok too! :) Grateful for you, your blog, family and witness - God bless Bonnie!!!

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  16. So beautiful and a great testimony to the Real Presence. Also, fun fact, did you know Dec 29th is the feast of St Thomas Becket? Congratulations!

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  17. Such a beautiful story! Love his squishy little face. Also great Saints' names. We already have an Aquinas as a middle name and Emil is one of my favorites on my future list. =)

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    1. I wondered if you figured out that the name when I shared the video on FB awhile back. :)

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  18. What a beautiful story! Your family has two miracle babies....God must have big plans for those boys!!

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  19. Oh wow, Bonnie, what a story/scare! Thank you for sharing. Thank you, Lord, for protecting Bonnie and Thomas!

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  20. WOw Bonnie, I had no idea...so glad you both are okay! LOVE that video, every time I watch itI tear up

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  21. So beautiful. Your baby, you, your story, your gratitude. All of it is so beautiful.

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  22. This is so great, what an emotional rollercoaster you were on! Now I'm ready for that birth story :)

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  23. Awesome story, and your priest, too. I can't imagine many priests blessing a womb with the Eucharist. Love the name(s) and the history of Fr. Emil; I'd heard of him but not the story. I'm so happy your big boy is here safely!

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  24. Wow, that is an amazing story. Thanks be to God!

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  25. Wow, what an amazing story Bonnie. I'm so happy he's here and safe and healthy and that you're safe and healthy. Praise God!

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  26. Bonnie,
    I'm so glad you shared this story. We can often look back and see the miraculous power of prayer, the sacraments and God's real presence, even if we don't credit Him at the time. God healed your body and saved your son! Awesome!

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  27. Thank u for sharing this with the world! I am crying, this is so beautiful. Our God is a Awesome God!

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  28. Oh my goodness, that story. Coupled with that adorable baby face! Topped off with one of my favorite names (we have a Thomas, too, although more for St. Thomas the Apostle - but I tell him he gets to claim all the Thomas saints as his!). Blessings on you and your whole family. Thank you for sharing this - it gave me peace where I am in my own pregnancy today, too,

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  29. I'm all teary-eyed now! What a beautiful story! There is so much power in the Eucharist. I know I take it for granted. Prayers for continued health for sweet Tee!

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  30. Wow ... thank you for sharing such a beautiful story!! (And I really, really can't believe those nurses said that. I mean, I understand they thought you were asleep and all ... but how horrible. :( )

    Praise God!

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  31. Wow Bonnie!! Praise God, the Eucharist is so powerful!!

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  32. What an amazing miracle- such a good reminder to me of the power of the sacraments.

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  33. I knew you were due in January but it's been a hectic month for me so I didn't even think to check to see if your kiddo was here yet. I am so happy to read that he is here and he is beautiful. Having had a bad pregnancy, I am always delighted to see stories like yours of God working and kids being OK.

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  34. That is AWESOME. And why after two miscarriages I made sure to receive the Eucharist often in my rainbow pregnancy, for the benefit of both baby and me. I did receive with my loss pregnancies, so I'm not saying it is a magic fix or anything, but thinking of the Eucharist 'feeding' baby too was a great comfort to me when kneeling to pray after receiving each time.

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    1. I gave birth to my almost 10lbs daughter Dec 5th so...I'm feeling your life right now. Kinda :)

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  35. What a beautiful story! I am so happy for you all and so happy to see him, so healthy and perfect! What a miracle! <3

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  36. Maybe Fr. Kapaun knows that yours is a family that will get things done for his cause... you choose Thomas Emil in the hospital, right? So glad to see an update - I was wondering how things were going.

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  37. So beautiful, Bonnie. What a precious little life, and what a testimony to the Eucharist.

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  38. Wow, this is awesome! I'm certain you're not the only one who would have missed that "duh moment" in all the haze that is gestating/birthing a baby. It sure is nice to look back on it and "get it" now, though! Congratulations!

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  39. Congratulations! He is adorable! I can't imagine how hard it must have been to think you were going to lose him. How wonderful that you all are well!

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  40. Praise God! Thank you for sharing!

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  41. Thanks for sharing Tee's story and his name--we love Fr. Emil around here. Your reaction to Fr. W made me laugh--my kids enjoy hearing when the Holy Spirit has to whack me with a 2x4 for me to get it, so I can relate to that feeling of, "Of course God did that!"

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  42. Wow, the power of the Eucharist indeed! God is good. Congratulations on your new little son.

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  43. <3 What a little cutie pants! <3

    Congratulations and a million blessings! So glad that the Lord took care of everything and all is well.

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