Introducing: Stephen Paul Born Easter Tuesday, April 23rd at 2:59pm 7lbs 15.2oz 20.5″ long
When we learned that we were pregnant for the ninth time Travis and I were happy. We laughed with joy. We texted friends. We hugged and laughed and said, "EIGHT kids!" We were so excited to meet our newest little one.
While we were filled with wide-eyed excitement for the new little life growing inside of me, at times his pregnancy wasn’t easy. He moved around so much that it was often hard to find his heartbeat with a doppler – sending me into regular panics. Then, towards the end, my gestational diabetes numbers could not be controlled and I was carrying a “severe” amount of extra amniotic fluid, both of which led to worries of pre-term labor leading to umbilical cord prolapse and / or uterine rupture.
But I loved feeling him move inside me and watching him kick and punch. Tee would put his hand on my belly and say, “Baby kicking?” and MJ would shout with gleeful surprise when she watched my belly rise and bump. Resa sighed about how long it was taking for “that newborn baby to be born” and all the kids fought over if the baby was a boy or girl. It was the best.
The full eight months were spent discussing names. The boy name didn’t come until the very end, while the girl name came more quickly. After a short time dabbling with Alice Elizabeth we settled on Elizabeth Victoria. Elizabeth would be to honor my confirmation saint, Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, and Victoria would be in honor of Our Lady of Victory.
An incredible amount of boy names were rejected over the months. Henry, John, and George were all discussed but in the end we chose Stephen for the deacon and first martyr of the Church. Paul was chosen to honor his godfather, who has the same middle name, and St. Paul, patron saint of run on sentences. (That’s my title for him.) However, we didn’t settle on the name until after I was prepped for the c-section (but before they took me to the OR).
Stephen’s due date was May 13th, the Feast of our Lady of Fatima. But with my growing list of complications the due date was moved up again and again. Finally, the c-section was scheduled for 37 weeks and 1 day, on Easter Tuesday, the Feast of St. George.
This was my third, scheduled c-section. Travis and I knew the plan and while I hate getting spinals I don’t mind the rest so much. In the past I’ve chatted with the nurses and doctors, even cracking a joke or two while the surgery is underway. I wasn’t looking forward to a third c-section, but I wasn’t as afraid as I had been in the past and felt rather confident that once the spinal was done everything would be fine.
Plus, I was so eager to meet my baby. I had been waiting for 35 weeks to have Travis look at our newborn child and tell me the gender. I couldn’t wait to hold my baby for the first time there in the OR. Travis and I smiled every time we talked about it.
The c-section, however, did not go well. The spinal didn’t take like it had with my previous c-sections and as the nurses and anesthesiologist did their poke test I insisted that once they got above my belly button I felt more than just pressure. Everyone insisted that I felt only pressure, no pain, and they decided to go ahead and begin the surgery.
Meanwhile, Travis was waiting to be escorted to the OR and growing increasingly worried as more and more time went by. When a nurse finally arrived she told him that I was unconscious and intubated and he would not be allowed to see me. Fearing the worst, he demanded to see me, at which point another nurse arrived. She brought him back to the OR where I was awake but worried and already cut open.
I felt nothing during the incision but as they began pulling and tugging I felt pain and yelled out. I knew it was different than what I’d experienced before but everyone continued to insist, “It’s just pressure.” The anesthesiologist then said that I was too anxious and he was going to give me medicine.
Travis told me that the medicine made me loopy and sluggish. I don’t remember anything that happened once the medicine was given so Travis had to describe things to me.
When our baby was born, Travis told me his name. I didn’t smile. I didn’t say anything.
Our son wasn’t breathing well and Travis was nervous, but I didn’t notice and couldn’t care. The doctor gave him oxygen and Travis was able to cut the umbilical cord but I don’t remember any of it.
The next thing I do remember is waking up on the operating table with Travis, my baby, and all but a few nurses gone. I asked where my husband was. I asked about my baby – girl? boy? healthy? where are they? I tried to stop my quivering chin, not wanting to cry in front of the nurses and I wondered if I was beginning to cry because the drugs were making me crazy or if something bad really had happened.
In the recovery room Travis came to me and told me about our son and his birth. And when I cried Travis told me I had every right to cry because I had something very real to mourn.
Eventually I was taken to the nursery and allowed to hold him. So sweet, so snuggly, just perfect.
For the next five days Stephen had breathing issues and we had to keep a careful eye on his glucose and bilirubin levels. He loved skin-to-skin and we sat together often, me resting and healing and him resting and healing, and both of us needing one another to improve.
On Divine Mercy Sunday we came home from the hospital. In the two weeks since we’ve struggled with nursing and weight loss but supplementing is helping and he’s finally getting bigger.
Stephen’s an incredibly sweet baby. He’s so handsome and snuggly and I find such comfort in holding him. We sit and watch the birds and squirrels in the morning and Parks and Rec in the afternoon and The Crown late at night. I stare at him and hold his hands and stroke his cheek. And while he does sleep well in his crib (3 hour stretches with a few 4 hour ones over the last few weeks!) his favorite place to sleep seems to be nestled on my chest.
His birth is not what I hoped for, but he’s here and he’s healthy and we love him so much. I think the sweetness of his snuggles are meant to make up for all the worries and tears and really I shouldn’t complain because, in the end, we have a beautiful family and God has been very generous.
Travis and I still look at each other and say, “EIGHT kids!” and we wouldn’t have it any other way.