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**


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog right after you lost your sweet Molly. I have been reading your blog since and I can't say how happy I am you finally got a healthy baby. I cried through this whole post. So so happy for your family.

Brandilyn said...

You look so full of life and love in these pictures! I just sat here and read and cried and cried because I knew the story had a happy ending. I have never seen a more lovely mother. These pictures are stunning and
capture your joy so beautifully. What a handsome little brother Graham is! Congratulations again to your whole family!

Carrie Lynn said...

I didn't think for one second that you would look any less happy! You are one of the happiest people I know, and I am so grateful I can feel your joy pour through this post. Thank you for sharing it! How amazing that you got these beautiful pictures?! I, like everyone else reading this, bawled. Mostly at the ones of you holding Graham. And a lot every time I saw Lucas's face. I love you guys so much that I'm rambling in this comment.
One more thing- Imma be honest when I say I was full of jealousy at all of the pictures of your family holding Graham. I want to snuggle him so bad!

Jana said...

Such a beautiful and miraculous birth story - you have been in my prayers for years - I'm so glad this was such a happy happy birthday for Mr. Graham. Congratulations!

Amanda Oakes said...

I am another person who has happened upon your blog. I am beyond happy for you and your family. Seeing the joy in your eyes is the sweetest thing. I am so grateful for your example of love, enduring trials, and patients. Thank you for sharing all of this on your blog, you have touched my life more than you know though your example. I know that Heavenly Father will continue to bless you! You have endured so much and he always rewards that with blessings! Congratulations, he is beautiful and I wish you all the happiness in the world!

Kelsey Eaton said...

I kept crying and crying happy tears for you. You wrote this so beautifully. I am so happy for you!

Shiloh said...

I cannot imagine a more perfect birth story :) Your family is such an inspiration to so many others. It is truly beautiful. When you are rejoined with your two other precious angels, you will rejoice as a family knowing how many people you have inspired and helped through your experiences. Kiss that boy's sweet cheeks for me. And squish him real good! :)

Anna said...

So many tears of joy for you guys! What a blessing to have your special moments photographed.
(and nice manicure, by the way!)

erin d. said...

"And they all lived happily ever after." Is all that is missing from this story.

What a beautiful touching story, thank you for sharing such personal moments, trials, and triumphs with us.


Sarah said...

Amber, I am SO HAPPY for you guys! These pictures are so beautiful, and he is an adorable, precious little baby! Thank you for sharing your story--your faith throughout everything has impressed me so much and been such an example!

Eric & Crystal Marshall said...

What amazing pictures and a perfect time to document so you can look back on them for the rest of your life. I have no doubt you touched every person in that room, just as you have touched every person who has heard your story. When I saw those first pictures I remember thinking - man he looks like Molly to me! What a handsome little man who will be truly treasured and adored, not only in this world, but from the next as well. What a gem! Love to you all!

BestSundayDress said...

the deepest congratulations on your dream come true. i agree this was amazing to read. xoxo

Stephanie said...

Your Joy even radiates through the computer screen! Kristen is definitely great at capturing moments, I'm so glad she got to be with you guys through the whole process!
And I think its pretty cool you got a token photo of your uterus. Just sayin.
Love you guys! And can not express our JOY for you! Welcome to the world Graham Matthew! You are one truly extremely loved little dude!

Karen said...

Amber, this post was beautiful. I cried, as it sounds like everyone else did as well, happy tears of course for you and Lucas. What a wonderful and blessed birth story. Enjoy Graham; he is absolutely adorable!

Jackie said...

Crying again!! Thank you for sharing with us. You look so very happy and Graham looks wonderful! Take care and REST now! Let your family look after you while you heal. Best wishes.

Valerie said...

Congratulations. I don't know you in person, but stop by this blog occasionally, and I am so happy for you (but not like a creep, even though I don't know you).

Jacob and Kimberly Palmer said...

One of my friends shared your blog with me today. I haven't gone back through to read more of your story yet, but I wanted to comment. I gave birth to my rainbow in May- I lost twins two years ago this November ( emergency c/s with them and a repeat c/s with Owen). Your post brought back so many of my own emotions the day Owen was born. Until the moment he was out and screaming, I honestly didn't expect him to make it. The image of him in those first moments are etched in my mind as the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Thank you for sharing your experiences. A rainbow baby is such an amazing gift. Soak up the moments with your precious boy <3

Christy said...

Best blog post ever. Im in tears for you and Ive never met you. Congrats Amber and Lucas. Many prayers for a lifetime of happiness with your miracle.

Hadlocks said...
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Hadlocks said...

I am sooo incredibly happy for you and Lucas! It is awesome to see yours and your family's reactions seeing Graham for the first time. Kristin if you ever read this, you did a great job. It was so fun to read this, I looked at every picture so many times! I can't wait to see more pictures as he grows up!

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog many months ago, and have been reading since. I just read this blog post before I leaving work and am now sitting at my desk crying :) So happy for you! And all of those pictures are priceless.

The Mommy said...

I can feel your joy jumping from the page. You have a talent for writing from the heart.

Thank you for sharing your story and photos.

AB said...

I came across your blog a couple of years ago and have been anxiously waiting for your little boy to come. Thank you for sharing your birth story and those precious pictures!! I have cried tears of complete happiness for you and am so excited and happy for you. Congratulations!!!!

Anna Harrison said...

You are both so strong and you deserve this more than anyone. Thank you for showing the world that miracles still happen and that angels are real.

Evan and Savannah McBride said...

Amber, I am just bawling. So happy for you, and that after the storms you have endured, you finally have your sweet rainbow baby. I just know that Molly and Kellen were overjoyed to see you with Graham. Many happy tears have been shed on both sides of the veil. Much love to you and your family.

Audra Jackson said...

Many tears of joy were shed as I read this! I am so happy for you!

Harlowe said...

I'm sitting here crying tears of joy for you two. Congratulations, from the bottom of my heart.

Anonymous said...

I can't stop crying. I'm so happy for you. Graham is strong and will be strong in the gospel too, I can already see it in his beautiful eyes. Well done mom and dad. <3

Hansen's said...

It's true. I was one of those page refreshers...:) Found your blog through Crystal Marshall's awhile ago. I cried reading your story when I was pregnant with my daughter, prayed for you and others who struggled with infertility or losses after I had her...and cried again (happy tears) for you reading about Graham's birth. Such a beatiful family for a child to come in to. So happy for you! And I officially feel a little silly for commenting on someones blog I have never met before. I couldn't help it though!:)

sam&charlie said...

congratulations! i can't even begin to put into words how ecstatic i am for you and your precious little family! i've been thinking and praying for your family for months.
Graham is SUCH a beautiful newborn!
thank you so much for sharing one of the most touching stories i will ever come across.

Heather & Chris said...

Oh I'm so happy for you and your little family!! It brought tears to my eyes reading this post!

Anonymous said...

Amber, I echo the words some of your previous anonymous posters. I've been reading your blog since you lost Molly. I have been keeping up with you at random times since then and found that you had also lost Kellen. I loved reading this post! I am so so so happy for you and Lucas.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Graham is a beautiful baby boy!

Sarah said...

I've been reading your blog for years. And this...this moved me to a whole new level. Thank you for sharing. My throat is tight and the tears are falling steadily by reading of your joy. Such a beautiful Mama, Daddy, and Babies. Congrats!

elain said...
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elain said...

I stumbled onto your post by chance maybe a year or more ago...and i am just so happy for you guys enjoy your little man. After everything that you guys have gone though i just wish you both all the best xx

elain said...

I stumbled onto your post by chance maybe a year or more ago...and i am just so happy for you guys enjoy your little man. After everything that you guys have gone though i just wish you both all the best xx

elain said...
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elain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.