It would be impossible to tell the story of when we finally met our precious girl without telling of the week leading up to her arrival. We had a doctor appointment on Tuesday morning, and Ayden’s heart was still beating strong. Dr. Calvert was once again amazed at how well Ayden was holding on, and how active she was. We did another ultrasound, they printed more pictures for us, and we listened to her heartbeat. I was already 3cm dilated and 100% effaced, so we knew that her arrival was very close. Nathan and I had both originally planned on working all week, but both decided to take the week off. This was mostly Nathan’s doing…I didn’t see a purpose behind not working while I could, but my husband is oh so wise, and talked some sense into me. For this I will be forever grateful. And yes, I even told him that. Having the week off together meant just simply being, as a family, and treasuring every possible moment. We did our best to make final preparations for her arrival, and spent a lot of time around family and friends.
There were multiple points during the week where we thought we were going to go in to the hospital. Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, I was having contractions 5 minutes apart for over an hour. We called the hospital, they said we could wait a bit to come in, or come in then. We decided to wait a bit before heading in, and the contractions just stopped. We went back to bed, woke up the next day, and no contractions. This happened on and off all week. At this point I was sleeping on the couch, because of how uncomfortable laying down was, and how often I needed to get up and move around. This meant very little sleep for Nathan and myself all week, but we were managing. On our due date, Saturday the 21st, we really expected Ayden to be born. But, our Little Fire once again had to demonstrate that we had absolutely no control, and I had absolutely zero signs of going into labor. So what did we do?
We went bowling.
Yes, bowling. I was getting so bored. I’d been home all week. Nathan was getting bored. Nathan had been taking such good care of us, and he was so worried about us. At one point, I was sitting on the couch reading, looked over, and he was just staring at me. For. So. Long. Finally I said something along the lines of “this can’t continue” and he stopped. At one point I stood up to go to the bathroom and he asked me where I was going and what I was doing. I absolutely love and appreciate his love and concern, and how close of an eye he was keeping on me and little Ayden. But. We needed to get out of the house. Nathan looked at me and said “you probably can’t bowl, can you?” Challenge accepted. “Um, why wouldn’t I be able to bowl right now?” I asked, with what could be considered a very stubborn look on my face. So I put on my shoes, and said “let’s go!” We invited a few friends to join us. When we got to the bowling alley they looked at me and laughed, and asked if I should be bowling.
Challenge even more accepted.
We got ourselves situated in the bowling alley, and I’m not going to lie, people were staring, and I don’t even blame them. I was 9 months pregnant, with what looked like quadruplets. I probably shouldn’t have been bowling. But I was so bored. I was the last in our group to bowl, and I slowly but proudly, without waddling, walked up to the lane, and threw the bowling ball down the lane.
No joke. I may have slightly freaked out. Nathan and our friends Jake and Blake were more than slightly baffled. The people in the lane next to us started cheering and clapping.
Preggers for the win. That’s right. Insert awkward 9 months pregnant victory dance here.
It was a very proud moment. And, it may have went downhill from there, but I’m just going to focus on the fact that my first try was a strike. Okay, I’m also going to focus on the fact that I demolished Nathan three games in a row. And I should have beat him on our fourth game. I only needed two points to beat him. But I got cocky. Shocker, I know. And then I got two gutter balls. Shame. Defeat. Sorrow. Shame.
Nathan was very gracious about his win and my loss. Mostly because he is still convinced I let him win (I assure you, I’m not that nice of a person). It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Well, other than the creepy lady who cornered me in the bathroom, started walking towards me with her hands aimed at my belly, asking “holy moly, can I touch your belly?” “Sorry, no” and I darted into the bathroom stall. Seriously people. Keep it together. Isn’t one of the first things parents teach their children “keep your hands to yourself”? When did that no longer become a thing?
After bowling, we went home, grabbed some dinner, then headed over to our friends’ house to watch a movie. We stayed out as late as possible, to make ourselves as tired as possible, so that we could sleep as much as possible. We slept…as much as possible.
Sunday morning I woke up with, once again, no signs of labor. This is when I started breaking down. We had been told that the longer we go past our due date, the more likely she will pass before labor starts. This means considering induction, in order to give her the highest chance of being born alive. We didn’t think we would ever have to consider this, because I was such a high risk for early labor at 32 weeks. The problem with induction, is that according to all the research I’d done, the more intervention you use at birth, the more likely the baby will pass before birth. I’d been offered induction weeks ago, due to my crazy high fluid levels, but I had no interest. I’d be uncomfortable, and she would come when she was ready. But what if she wasn’t ever ready? What if it came down to the decision of choosing to induce, and what if she passed away before she was born? I couldn’t make those decisions. I just couldn’t. Nathan and I were both getting pretty worried, and not wanting to admit it. I was sitting on the couch, and Nathan was still sleeping. I was having a meltdown. I felt like God wasn’t listening anymore, and I was trying to have faith that His timing is perfect at the same time. It would be so much easier if He would just listen to me, and my timing, and change plans accordingly. I didn’t have peace. I felt like He was just being silent. I yelled at God in my head for a little while, got it out of my system, told Him I trust Him even though I’m pissed that nothing is happening. When I was finished with my meltdown/fit, and dried my tears, I texted Larry Meade. If you don’t know Larry, go meet Larry. He is the pastor at New Beginnings Community Church in Salkum, owner of Fresh Start Counseling and Nana and Papa’s place (a coffee shop, soon to be ice cream as well), but most importantly, he has been a lifeline, support system, friend, mentor, creator of any crazy Young Life prop I need (he’s never said no, and I come up with some pretty ridiculous requests), the person I call when I break a Young Life kid (I haven’t killed anyone yet, I promise), believer in our crazy methods of showing Jesus to kids, and did I mention, lifeline? I always tell people that Larry is our friend. Even when we’ve done something really, really stupid, Larry is our friend. Go meet Larry. Anyways, my fit was over, and I texted Larry. I sent him a fairly long text at 7:53am, explaining my fit. He texted me back at 7:57am, a man of few words, “Our prayers will be for birth today. God bless.” I felt in that moment that I’d done all I could do, so I stopped freaking out. No more fit, no more meltdown. So I started to write a blog post.
Here’s what I wrote:
“How do you prepare yourself to say goodbye, when you have not yet said hello? Today is one day past little Ayden’s due date. No one thought we would make it this far, ourselves included. This week has been a waiting game, one that provides no strategy to win, any rules, or any end in sight. It isn’t a fun game. It isn’t a fair game. It is a game that I wish would end, yet at the same time go on forever. Ending this game of waiting means Ayden will be born. Ending this game of waiting means saying goodbye. How do you fully prepare for the end? Is it even possible?
This week has been beautiful, to be quite honest. Nathan and I both stayed home from work all week. We’ve been enjoying time together as a family, we’ve spent time with friends, and we’ve spent a lot of time wondering about how things will go once Ayden decides to make her appearance. Prior to this week, there were still so many things that were up in their air, things we still needed to take care of, things that made us feel very unprepared for her birth. We’ve had so many miracles this week – so many things fall into place that we did not really expect to happen. The biggest miracle being Ayden making it full term. The second and equally as big of miracle, Nathan and I, with so much help from Ayden’s Auntie Shandeigh, have been researching organ donation, for research and/or for transplant. Due to Ayden’s condition, there was a lot of red tape. Also due to the fact that she is an infant, there was even more red tape. There aren’t a lot of neonatal organ donors, and there are even fewer neonatal organ donors for research. Because circumstances like ours are so rare, there aren’t many organizations that work with people in our situation, and there is just a lot of unknown. We were amazingly blessed to be put in touch with exactly the right people, who fought for weeks to create circumstances for us that would allow Ayden to be used to help others. Friday, May 20th, the day before her due date, we finally finalized arrangements for her body to be donated to research. This research project will be training medical professionals for neonatal and pediatric emergencies. Because you can’t practice procedures on infants (for obvious ethical reasons), there are numerous emergency procedures that medical professionals simply do not know how to do, because they have never had to do them before. One of these procedures is intubation – very few medical professionals have had to intubate an infant. Ayden is going to allow a series of training videos to be created on how to intubate infants, and these training videos are going to be distributed worldwide. There is also a piece of medical equipment that is used in emergent circumstances when IVs cannot be placed in a vein. This piece of equipment essentially drills straight into the bone, administering necessary fluids and medications even more efficiently than if an IV were placed. This piece of equipment has not yet gotten FDA approval, because they have not had enough test subjects in order to demonstrate the necessary success (I believe it is approved for adults, just not infants). Ayden will be able to help them get this FDA approval. Both of these things could potentially save countless lives. We are so grateful, feel so blessed, and are so proud that our baby girl will be able to participate in this. This all literally came together the day before her due date. We are finding miracles in so many ways, even if we aren’t getting the one we want most desperately.
There were several other things we had been trying to accomplish before Ayden’s arrival, and all of the sudden there are no more things on our list. We have nothing left to do. On paper, we are officially ready to meet her. There is no more red tape, there are no more questions, there are no more tasks, everything has been done. We have protocol for contacting family and friends. Everyone has cleared their schedules to come meet Ayden when she is born. Our bags are packed, and loaded in the car. All of the details have been thought through, we feel…‘prepared’.”
That’s as far as I got in writing the post, and then Nathan woke up. We ate breakfast, and my parents texted asking if they could come over after church. They came over around 10:30, stayed for a little while, then took us to lunch. Right after we decided on where to go for lunch, I started having a few mild contractions. I didn’t even bother timing them, assuming they would be just one more false alarm. Within 30 minutes, on our way to Casa Ramos for lunch, I debated telling my parents to turn around and take me back to my house. The contractions were between 3-7 minutes apart, and getting pretty strong. Meh, I was hungry. Lunch won. I didn’t say anything to them or Nathan, but Nathan noticed me timing them on my app at the restaurant. We got back to our house, my parents hung out for a little while longer, then headed over to my brother’s house to hang out with their two week old baby boy. As soon as they were gone, Nathan asked me “Okay, how bad are they?” I told him they were definitely getting stronger, but I didn’t think it was “go time.” They were averaging 5 minutes apart, so I told him we should sit tight for another thirty minutes, then call the hospital and see if they wanted me to come in. Literally the next contraction came and I said “Okay we are going right now.” We called to let them know we were on our way in, texted family, and headed up to St. Pete’s. It was a very, very quick drive.
And for the record, bumpy roads, plus being in labor – not cool.