Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A cheesy but heartfelt thank you!

I have everything I have ever wanted.
I always wanted a dream husband who made me laugh, who gave me butterflies, who I would miss when he was away, who I looked up to, and who was my best friend. CHECK!
I have always wanted to be a mom, I wanted to hold my child in my arms and feel as though my heart is outside of my chest because it is with my children. CHECK CHECK CHECK
I wanted to kiss tiny newborn cheeks, calm a baby's cry, cuddle, sing, rock, teach, play, and know that I am trying my very best from day one to be the best mom I can be. CHECK and HAPPILY IN PROGRESS.
I have always loved, wanted, and needed good friends. Wanted to have people who I would do anything for and who are there for me in good times and bad. CHECK

 I am happier every day than I was the day before, and I am happier than I have ever been.

I miss Molly and Kellen just like always, but I can miss them now from a place that is less lonely. Graham looks so much like them that I almost feel like I can hold all three of my babies when I hold him. He also has a look all his own, and I can stare at his perfect face for hours (and do).

I don't know how I got to be so lucky. I almost feel guilty posting about how wonderful and complete I feel, because not everyone is so lucky. However, I would be ungrateful not to thank all who have been such a large part of our journey.

Thank you to everyone who sent prayers to heaven for us and for our babies.
Thank you to everyone who gave us gifts filled with love, your time, and your support.
Thank you for the meals, flowers, and cards.
Thank you for every kind message you have sent, every email, facebook comment, blog comment, "like" etc. (we read every single comment and appreciate each one!)
Thank you for every thought, worry, and happiness you have felt for us.
Thank you for remembering our babies.
Thank you for checking back to see how we are doing.
THank you for sharing in our sorrow and today in our joy!

I have been so affected and touched by your love, and I really feel that the prayers of so many of you are part of what gave us our miracle and have brought us such happiness. I feel like he is a prayer baby, he is a blessing and a gift and he made it here thanks to the prayers of many. One of our greatest gifts is also all of you wonderful friends, some we know personally and others who heard our story and support us constantly.
((( Consider yourself hugged!)))

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Graham's Birthday

After watching the long anticipated 36 week mark come and go, then waiting for our little guy’s lungs to develop day after day, it became hard to believe that the moment we would meet our son would ever arrive.  Logically we knew that I would not be pregnant forever, but the reality of getting to bring him home couldn’t feel real.  It began to seem certain that we were going to always just come close to getting our children, but would be constantly forced to wait. We would spend a lifetime waiting.

So when Wednesday night came, I lay in bed too excited to fall asleep.  I sent a text message to my mom: “I’m sooooooo excited!!!!!!!!!”
Mom: “I know, me too! I’m supposed to be asleep so I can get up for seminary, but who can sleep at a time like this?”
Me: “Seriously! It’s pointless to try. I prefer to lay here and just smile until my face hurts”

I text her and stared at the ceiling trying to imagine where I would be in 24 short hours, my mind always jumping to the moment when Lucas would see our baby and finally get to hold him. I looked forward to seeing Lucas hold the baby just as much or more than I looked forward to holding him myself. When I finally fell asleep it was with sore cheeks and a wet pillow. My daydreams often make me cry because just imagining seeing my baby open his eyes was enough to get the water flowing.

Unfortunately, Lucas had to work on Thursday morning tying up some loose ends for some services he is arranging. So, we got up, he got ready for work, and I ate a small breakfast. I was surprised how very normal the day felt even though I knew this was the day we had waited for so long. I have been pregnant for over 24 months in the last three years and this was the day that I would finally get to hold my baby and not have to say ‘Goodbye’. It still was so unreal, so we just went about the morning as we would have any other day.

While Lucas was at work, I cleaned the apartment a little more, re-packed our hospital bags, took Moose to my in-laws to be babysat while we are at the hospital, surfed the internet, and called our realtor. In the middle of all of this baby craziness, our lease ended on our condo and our landlord basically told us we need to buy it or move. I do not intend on moving, and since we love our condo we decided to buy it. So when Lucas got home around lunchtime we had a quick second to make sure for a final time that we had everything we needed and Lucas loaded the car.

Our realtor showed up and went over a bunch of contracts with us and we submitted an offer on the condo. After she left, we grabbed our phones and keys, locked the door, and headed to the hospital. I took this extremely unflattering picture because I knew it was important but it felt too normal to be this huge moment. I was pretty darn excited though, guarded but excited.

It was pouring rain for days and the 12th was no exception. Many of the cities around us were flooded, there was damage from flooding through much of Denver. We drove carefully through the rain into the city to get to the hospital.  We talked a little bit, and I would go through cycles of giggling and yelling “I’m SO EXCITED!” and then five minutes later I would realize how scared I was for the baby’s lungs and that something would go wrong and I would stare out the window and hold Lucas’ equally nervous hand.  

We arrived at the hospital at 2:30, walked through the parking garage, ran through the rain into the hospital, and waited to meet up with one of my best friends, Kristen, who we were going to try to get into the operating room to photograph it.  We had to be to Labor and Delivery by 3:00. Kristen arrived just a minute after us, and we walked from the emergency room waiting area, down a couple hallways and up an elevator to get to check-in.

I gave my sister permission to update my facebook and let people know that the baby was expected at 5:00pm and keep people updated. I hadn’t realized that when I told people the 12th, they would start watching their clocks at about 7:00 am and hitting refresh on my blog and facebook just waiting for an announcement.  I failed to post the time of the scheduled surgery.  All day people were sending us such kind messages and wishing us good luck and love.

After a little while a nurse came back to get us and take us back to get hooked up to a monitor, check both my vitals and the baby’s vitals, get me into a hospital robe, fill out more paperwork, meet the nurses and anesthesiologists, get hooked up to an IV, and wait. Our doctor, Dr. Larma, was driving to the hospital from a clinic across town and was going to have to battle the flooding and resulting traffic, so we worried he might not make it.

A couple weeks earlier, Lucas and I had toured the hospital with a nurse named Ilze (ELSA) and she was the same nurse that hooked us up and went over the plan with us. We talked to her for quite a while as she hooked us up to a heart monitor. We spent the time between getting put in the prep room and going to surgery listening to the steady swish of our baby’s heart for the last time.

Since I had fasted all day for surgery I was pretty dehydrated, so the monitor also showed that I was having contractions at about every 4-6 minutes.  They were beginning to become painful, but nothing like I imagine labor contractions probably are. After they had the IV put awkwardly on my wrist bone and taped in the weirdest way possible, they began pumping fluids into me and the contractions slowed a little bit. 

Lucas sat in the chair next to me and Kristen sat in a chair against the same wall. I explained to the nurse that our doctor was okay with her coming in to take pictures, but that we were hoping to talk to the anesthesiologist before surgery to see if he would be okay with her coming in too. She gave us a familiar response of doubting it would be allowed, but told us we could talk to him when he came in to get  some forms signed and walk me through the procedure and possible side effects.

Soon nurse Ilze brought Lucas in some scrubs and told him that soon he would need to put them on, he would be covered from head to toe. I had another robe to put on backwards, hiding my exposed backside for our walk to the OR, and a blue cap to cover my hair in the OR. They didn’t bring anything for Kristen, and I got really bummed.

Months ago I decided that I wanted to have the delivery photographed. I have waited for this day and I wanted it documented. I would also give anything to have the moment we meet our baby preserved for us to remember and see again after I’m not drugged and high on emotion, possibly clouding my memory. I wanted to remember Lucas’ face and joy when he sees our baby. So I was ready to fight for this. I emailed our surgeon months in advance and he told me he was cool with her being in the OR but that he was just one person out of a whole team of people who would need to approve.

So, when they didn’t bring Kristen scrubs it hit me that it was really hard to get visitors brought it for such a serious surgery, and I was pretty bummed.  When I wasn’t paying attention Ilze left the room and was gone for a while, left us waiting in anticipation to meet more people. Ilze came back in the room with something in her hands and said, “I made your case to the anesthesiologists and everyone has agreed to let Kristen come take pictures! They all understood your story and knew this was a special situation.” She handed Kristen some scrubs. I was beyond thrilled and started to tear up again. I loved Ilze in that moment.

After more waiting, our families started to show up. In the next half hour or so our tiny prep room was filled with Sarah and Nathan with their baby Shelby, Hayley and her fiancé, Ian, My parents, Lucas’ parents, Emily, Jonni, Kristen, Lucas, and me and soon everybody got shooed out so nurses could come get me to finish prepping.

In a few minutes our surgeon, having safely arrived, peeked his head into the prep room and said hello. He was so excited for us and said something like, “We made it here guys!” We talked a bit, thanked him for helping us get to this point, and then he went to go scrub in. We were minutes away from our scheduled 5:00 delivery.  I was getting increasingly anxious, and Lucas was so nervous it was hard for him to be excited. He was feeling shaky and lightheaded and had some of our family go get him some food. He told me that he was so nervous that our boy would not be okay and he was scared for him. He said he knew he wouldn’t be able to relax until he heard him cry.

When our nurse came back in I thought she was going to tell us it was time to walk to the OR, but instead she said, “Looks like we’re still waiting.” I was confused but our Dr. came in and said, “Looks like another baby is in distress and we got bumped from the OR. We will have to wait until the team is free again. Sorry!” So even though they had unhooked the monitors, they hooked me back up and I got comfy in the prep room again. Waiting again. Always more waiting. Our patience was going to be tested to the last second.

We visited with our families for another 45 minutes to an hour and then finally I saw Lucas walk by the room towards someone in the family and saying, “It’s go time!” Some people cheered, but my heart about stopped. I froze and couldn’t even smile. I was suddenly super nervous about getting cut open and being awake for it. I have never been awake for an entire c-section, and my only memory I have of the surgery is from Molly’s when they started cutting me open with no medication because it was such an emergency to get her out. At this point, I was simultaneously terrified and overjoyed. 

Our family gathered out into the hallway, and Lucas and I walked back to the OR with Kristen following behind. I lost track of where she was for a while. Before the OR section doors closed I said to my family, “I’ll see you when I have a baby!” and heard someone say, “YAY!”

In the operating room a team of people in surgical masks and blue from head to toe greeted us. The anesthesiologist had Lucas wait in a seat where he couldn’t see me while they gave me the spinal. They didn’t want him to pass out from watching the needle going into my spine.  Meanwhile they walked me around the operating table and had me sit on the side of it with my back exposed. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but after rubbing something on my back then injecting some numbing stuff into the area, which burned like the dickens, they gave me a spinal.

Only seconds after they finished, the tops of my legs and my bum started tingling and going numb so the team helped me to lay down and get situated on the table. A towel and sheet were hung up in front of me and I could feel them beginning to prep for the surgery, putting things on and around my belly. The anesthesiologist would take a cold swab and rub in on my shoulder, then my upper belly, then my lower belly and then my upper thigh and say, “Cold or Pressure?” and I would tell him which I felt.

He did it a few times until all I could feel was pressure. They checked that I couldn’t wiggle my toes, and then I believe they started rubbing sanitizing stuff on my belly and starting the procedure.

Lucas was sitting at my head, and I kept looking at him. It was so amazing to finally have him in the room for this. When I pictured the actual procedure, I remembered the giant circular lights on swinging arms above the operating table.  The lights were so huge and make you feel tiny and fragile beneath them. As I looked at the lights, I suddenly started to panic. I was no longer here, about to deliver our third baby.

I began to panic because I was back on the operating table in Rexburg, Idaho. All the emotions of being alone and being terrified and feeling like my baby was dying inside of me were coming back. Even though I could not feel the operation starting behind the giant sheet, my body felt the panic as if I was about to feel a blade slice me open. I began to cry, I thought I was going to explode and I could no longer handle the fear.  It was almost an out of body panic that I was feeling. I knew that I was okay. I knew that our baby was in no known danger, but emotionally I was on the operating table re-living the worst moments of my life. 

I looked at Lucas and he immediately noticed the fear in my eyes. Lucas told me that he knew that only he could tell how I was feeling right then. He said there was pure terror in my eyes and he could tell that I was so on the border of losing control of myself and of the moment from fear. He was worried I was going to lose it. He tried to re-focus me and get me back.  With one hand he stroked my face trying to calm me.

I looked into Lucas’ face and felt his gentle touch. I used his face, remembering that he couldn’t be there before and this was a different, happier time. I stared at him until I felt my heart slow down and I was able to calm back down and remember that we were about to meet our baby. I thought of Lucas’ hand in mine, and hearing that beautiful baby cry until I was no longer afraid.  Just as I calmed down, Lucas got scared because it felt like they were taking forever.

Through the surgery we kept hearing Dr. Larma saying things like “cut here through this scar tissue” “Remove this section of scar tissue” “Hold this.” “Pull here.” It was crazy to not be able to feel anything but to feel pressure where they worked with no pain. At one point I thought I couldn’t breath and they did something with the medicine and that feeling went away. At another point I got really cold, and they did something and I felt warm again.

Lucas and I kept looking at each other and saying, “He’s almost here! He’s almost here!” Finally Dr. Larma said, “Lucas, if you stand up you can see him coming!” Lucas stood up, and I stared up at his face, watching for the moment he saw our baby.

Finally, I see tears fill Lucas’ eyes and he gasps, a second later I hear the most beautiful sound in the world, the perfect cry of our baby.

I have never felt a joy so great! I didn’t know happiness like that was possible.  Lucas said, “Oh babe, he’s so cute!” I could see the relief in Lucas’ face as he heard that sweet cry. He had been terrified that when the baby was born something would be wrong with his lungs and he would be rushed away to the NICU. But when the baby started to cry a steady, loud, and beautiful cry, he finally felt relief. He cried tears of joy! They told me to look to the left and then the surgeon held up a squirmy perfect little baby for me to see. He was beautiful, a perfect little boy.

I cried so hard. I remember saying, “He’s here! He’s here! He made it!”

The joy didn’t go away as people rushed about and the baby cried and cried, it grew and grew. Lucas had tears soaking his mask, and I was crying the happiest of tears.

The baby was taken over to a little warming bed where a small group of people from the NICU dried him off and tried to “pink him up”. They said he looked good though, but didn’t pink up quite as fast as they would like. Dr. Larma leaned around the sheet by my head and said, “Those don’t sound like immature Lungs to me!”

 Lucas stood by them and watched them with him. He heard me ask, “Where is the baby? Can I see him?” and he stepped back over to me and said, “We are just waiting for him to get a little more pink and we’ll bring him over!”  I could tell by the look on his face that the baby looked great and Lucas was so happy. 

A moment later one of the NICU nurses walked over and brought our bundled little boy over to me. They handed him to me. I finally held my baby. I don’t really remember crying, I don’t remember anything but complete joy, a rush of relief, and the heaviness of grief lightened and my previous emptiness being suddenly full of immense love.  

I looked into our sweet boy’s face as I held him, and he opened his eyes as he cried. I never saw my other babies’ eyes, and I was overwhelmed. I think I was saying things, maybe even praying out ‘thank yous’’, but I honestly can’t remember what was said by anyone. I was in my own world with my small family, all of us finally together and happy.

After my arms got tired from holding him up they handed him to Lucas. I was amazed to feel my level of joy increase even more as I watched the man I love holding our baby for the first time. Lucas was crying, his face mask getting soaked. He stared into the face of our perfect baby, and held his tiny head in his hands. Watching them was the best feeling.

We took turns holding him and talking about how happy we were for about 40 or so more minutes while they stitched me up. At one point the Dr. had Kristen take a picture of my uterus to show me that it is in fact heart-shaped, which explains baby always being on the same side.


Once I was all stitched up the sheet was taken down and the team of people helped to slide me over to another hospital bed. Once secure there, they put baby back in my arms and wheeled us all over to the recovery area.

Once we were in the recover room, Lucas went to talk to our families.  He walked down the hall and into the waiting area. As soon as they saw him enter the room they all started to cheer and clap for him. He said he just stood there smiling, our families were crying and celebrating. Later he said that was one of his favorite parts of the day. He told them that the baby was perfectly healthy and would not need any time in the NICU. He was breathing with strong lungs and both mom and baby were healthy and happy.

My mom and sister have since told me that when Lucas came into the room he was shining with happiness. They said it was like the room was dimly lit and he came in with the hugest smile on his face, and he was so happy it was like he literally lit the room up. My mom said his joy was one of the sweetest things she has ever seen.

Two by two, our family came to meet the baby, each of them getting time to meet him and hold him. They hugged us and talked with us. At some points the nurses came to push on my belly and check my incision.  Mostly the time was spent with our loved ones celebrating that our baby finally made it into our arms.

After a couple of hours, they wheeled my bed over to the Mom /Baby area and gave us a huge room where we got settled. Families said goodbye and headed home.

Later during our stay at the hospital one of the nurses said this to me, “Everyone keeps calling you ‘The Happiest Mom’. We have never seen anyone so happy! I’m pretty sure that your family had every person in that operating room crying!”

Then Dr. Larma came to see us and said, “Last night my wife wanted to go out and I told her that I just couldn’t do it because I was emotionally exhausted. I told her that your delivery was the most touching delivery of my entire career. It was a pleasure to be a part of it. We were all in tears. That was the reason that I do this job.” He teared up as he spoke.

On Friday my brother Steven and his family drove from Utah and came to meet us at the hospital. They brought balloons and took turns holding the baby. We are so thankful that both Steven and Sarah and their families drove to be with us. 

We named our son Graham Matthew Taylor the next day.  Matthew means “Gift From God”, and we know that he is the best gift we’ll ever know. His healthy lungs were a miracle. His making it to us is a gift of God. We feel like the luckiest people in the world to be blessed to have him.

Graham was born at 7:02 pm on September 12, 2013. He weighed 7lbs 2 oz and was 19’’ long. He looks a lot like both of his siblings, but we think he looks more like Molly. He also looks a lot like Lucas’ baby pictures, but with my eyes.

We are so happy in love.

**All pictures taken by Kristen Pierson**