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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Our Miracle Ruby

Since the start of this pregnancy, I had a feeling it might end a bit dramatic. I mean, this entire experience has been hinged on one miracle after another, one leap of faith after another, more prayers then I can count and with so much on the line – my health, the baby’s health, trying to keep up with the needs of those all around me – I really felt some giant momentum that I’ve never experienced before with one enormous event after another happening around here. 

I have these memories etched on my mind the last few months and I can capture them in these photos.

God kept providing me the strength to move forward through the amazing experiences and the difficult ones. I have felt so much peace, no matter where I’ve been – whether it’s in the hospital pediatric ICU praying Canyon would survive yet another seizure, 

Chandler graduating 

and preparing to leave for two years to live in a foreign country as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

This is the last picture I took of him! I'm not sure when I've cried so hard.

When we received his mission call we could not pronounce the name of the town he would be serving (Cabanatuan Philippines) or the language he would be speaking (Tagalog), so there was that! And then finally, around 28 weeks pregnant seeing the beautiful face of my unborn daughter  in this ultrasound - she was perfect!

I’ve just about experience every emotion I can muster!

But with all these experiences I finally made it to the day my 7th child would be born and I was correct – it was not going to be like my other deliveries! Like every thing else going on around here, I was going to have to dig deep, toughen up and be stronger then ever before. 

I had an ultrasound Friday the 21st of September and according to her measurements, the baby weighed in at 9 pounds. I haven’t shared everything medical that’s going on, but I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes about 8 weeks prior. It’s a condition where my blood sugar was too high, so it transferred to the baby, which caused her to gain weight and possibly be born a bit disportionate (macrosomia), meaning her shoulders or stomach might be a bit bigger than the rest of her body. In addition, I had what’s called Polyhydramnios, in which my body made to much amniotic fluid. There are many risks associated with this condition including placenta rupture or umbilical cord prolapse (this is when the cord drops out of the mother during labor and the baby might die because the cord becomes cut off and the baby no longer has oxygen).  Too much amniotic fluid also can be a sign of abnormalities in the baby. It can affect her breathing once she’s born, her urinary tract and more. These two reasons are why I got so big – too much sugar in my blood and too much fluid. 

Three weeks before I had her.

I changed my diet, started on medication and even had to take insulin shots every night. Still, I had great faith this baby would be perfect. I’d had contractions for the last two weeks, strong contractions and I’d been in the hospital twice – once because the baby’s heartbeat was irregular (which later turned out fine) and another time because I thought I was in labor. Because I wasn’t 40 weeks (full-term), they sent me home. It’s a miracle my water didn’t break and that I didn’t go into labor because if I would have gone into labor on my own, my baby may have not made it.

I had an amazing 46th birthday on September 24th and wanted her to come on my birthday, but the day ended too quickly and I knew she would come on her own terms. The next day, Tuesday September 25th, my doctor called me at 8:30 in the morning and told me to come in to discuss induction. I had no idea, but as soon as I saw the doctor she said “We need to deliver this baby today.” She had reviewed the ultrasound from the Friday before and found Ruby’s stomach to be abnormally large and too big for me to deliver her naturally. My doctor said “I’m not going to tell you what to do, but in my professional opinion, we need to deliver your baby by c-section.” She knew I’d had big babies, but that was when I was younger, lighter in weight and I hadn’t had the gestational diabetes. She told me because of Ruby’s abnormal size stomach (which by the way would go down just a few days after birth and she would be fine) it was most likely she would become lodged in the birth canal and could die. I was shocked. Up until this point, we’d had no indication Ruby was disportionate. We knew she was big, but this was now a very real problem. At first I was stubborn. Honestly, having a c-section is one of my biggest fears in life. I never in a million years thought I’d be in this situation. I only gained about 30 pounds this pregnancy (20 of it was baby and amniotic fluid), so I thought everything was under control. I was no bigger then when I’d delivered Canyon, actually a few pounds lighter. I felt confident I could have her naturally, but my doctor sat down and said, “I know you think you can do this, and maybe you can, but Laura, I know how much you love your children and if anything happens to this baby I’m not sure I can live with myself. You need to understand it’s very likely she will get stuck. You’ll deliver her head and then the rest of her may not come easily. You have so much fluid, she’s not in position for birth, so the minute I break your water, she could become lodged. You need to understand she could die. As your doctor, I need to know you understand that.” I’m so stubborn! In my heart I thought, “Of course I can have her naturally.” I didn't share any of my thoughts with the doctor, but she must have sensed my hesitation because a third time again she said if the baby becomes stuck, she could try to break the baby’s shoulder or her arm to get her through, but there was no guarantee she would make it. Something happened in my heart, like a dial. It’s one thing to keep a positive attitude, but it’s another to understand the risks of the situation. I started to think about Ruby, not my own fears. Forget my fears, was I not hearing what the doctor was saying? My baby was in jeopardy and I had to make a decision. Did I really understand how serious the situation was? I finally opened my heart to what the doctor was saying. I called my husband and after we talked we agreed, a c-section it was. The peace I felt totally surprised me.

I had about two hours before I needed to be back at the hospital. On the drive home I was praying “Please let my baby be alright,” when I had the thought from the spirit “You are to go in prayer and ask God for a miracle.”  I knew if I asked God had a mighty miracle for me, that because I’d prayed for this baby and had great faith while carrying her, I could ask the Lord for this miracle right now. Hadn’t God already given me too many miracles to count? He certainly had one more. I came home and my dad gave me a beautiful blessing. He felt impressed to direct this miracle into my life. I had not told my dad my prompting from earlier, so it was very spiritual to have him feeling the same way I had. I’ve never heard my dad cry during a blessing, but he could barely get through it.

My mom drove me to the hospital (Derek was leaving work and would meet us there) and I couldn’t believe the peace I felt. I could do this. I would do this. Today was the day I’d been waiting for. I was prepared. I’d tried to be healthy, physically fit, emotionally strong, our home was in order, the kids were all prepared. It was time to finally have her. When I walked into the delivery room, my doctor said according to my size and amniotic fluid levels I was as big as a woman giving birth to full-term twins. I felt like I had a giant water balloon the size of a beach ball inside me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, if I should be given a prize or if I was in some sort of trouble, but yes, I was huge. I could barely walk anymore. Getting up and down was almost impossible. I was given spinal medication to numb me from the chest down. I was strapped on a table and a sheet was put up so I couldn’t see what they were doing. My heart rate went up and I think I was going into shock when Derek walked in. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Derek started to talk to me, but I couldn’t talk back. I stared into his eyes but couldn’t say anything. I was about to be cut open. This was just a bit too much for me. I started feeling a world of vulnerability, past emotions from sexual abuse started to surface, I was so exposed and I had no control over my body. I wasn’t going to be able to do this. My doctor encouraged me to breath, “Just breath,” she said and I felt the tears swell in my eyes. All I could do was stare into Derek’s eyes, find that comfort, seek that love, take his courage, feel his protection all around me, he was my husband and I knew he was there for me with everything he had, but I was still struggling. I was told if I didn’t start breathing normal they would need to sedate me. Suddenly, in my mind the words from my favorite childhood hymn hummed a melody for the song “There Is a Green Hill Far Away.”

Over and over again, I said these words and the comfort they brought me, thinking of my Savior on the cross, knowing that He knew exactly where I was, He understood the vulnerability, the fear, the physical pain – all of it spoke to me in those beautiful words.  There’s a part of the hymn that says ‘Oh, dearly dearly has He loved and we must love him too.” Those words just kept going through my mind. I didn’t feel any pain while they were working on me and in about 10 minutes my doctor just lifted the baby out of all that water. Looking back on it, it was very spiritual to have a baby, a queen, brought into this life just lifted out of water like that, like a baptism of sorts. Derek was right there and they handed her to him. I couldn’t speak. I just stared and tried to focus on breathing normal. The miracle of the entire experience was she did not have a large abdomen, her blood sugar was normal and she weighed less than my last baby. However, because of all the amniotic fluid, her cord had dropped and she did have umbilical cord prolapse. If my water would have broke on its own, the umbilical cord would have fallen out and she would have lost oxygen. Oh my goodness, this has about thrown me into a bit of a trauma, to think that my precious Ruby wouldn’t have made it at the last minute.  To consider this scenario was too much. I just couldn’t! She’d made it and that was the miracle I’d been promised.

Derek had her in his arms and I couldn’t get over her hair – she had a lot of it and it was dark brown, almost black. I’d never had a baby with so much dark hair. My baby’s are blondes, born with peach fuzz on top. She weighed in at 8 pounds 10 ounces, a very normal weight for a baby of mine. The nurse took Ruby’s blood sugar and it was totally within range. Ruby’s body was shaped perfect with no large abdomen. All the concerns we’d had before birth just melted away. She was perfect.

The first few hours after she was delivered the room wouldn’t stop spinning and if I opened my eyes I threw up . . . so, all I could do was have Ruby placed in my arms so I could kiss the top of her head. I stayed in the hospital for two days and felt ready to finally take the plunge, those first few moments home were wonderful, but then I had to get to work. Pain medication, propped pillows in bed, nursing, pumping – all on very little sleep, but day by day, every moment I felt a tiny bit better. There were a few set backs, but Ruby is an amazing sleeper so I started to get a few hours here and there. Vase after vase of beautiful pink roses were around my house, floral arrangements, pink outfits, booties, baby blankets, diapers, bottles, greeting cards, amazing food – it was all there waiting for us. I’ve had so much support and it’s meant everything to me and my family.

A few days after I came home, my neighbor Diane came over (with dinner, bless her heart) and she said her husband Frank was born with Cerebral palsy, which can be cause by a lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia) related to difficult labor and delivery. My doctor hadn’t even discussed this, but there are so many miracles that we received and I am so thankful for that darn c-section. It was more pain then I’d ever been in, but one thing I’ve learned about child birth is eventually, at some unknown moment in time, you will feel better. You will have a day where you think, “Wait, I actually feel a little bit like my old self.” And before you know it, you’re moving on to brighter days.  Knowing Ruby is my last is very comforting. I never have to do that again and I’m so happy about that. Ruby is the baby I’ve been dreaming of for all these years and it’s almost surreal now that she’s here.