I can't start writing about B's birth story without first prefacing the title...I choose the word redemptive because if you know anything about the birth of our first son, Emmett, you would know that Caleb and I's recollection of it is with the deepest fear-filled memories that bring tears of pain back to us in an instant. We have spent the last 19 months of Emmett's life looking back at the day he came into the world, and recognizing the miracle that his little life is and we don't take it for granted for one second. He is a gift that we feel so incredibly grateful to have, hold, love and nurture every single day. To catch you up if you never had the chance to read Emmett's birth story, he was two weeks late. I had originally wanted and prayed for a natural birth center delivery and it was the exact opposite of everything I had dreamed of when thinking about how I wanted m baby to be born.. I was induced, labored for 24 hours, and pushed for nearly 4 hours before finally bringing him into the world...blue and completely unresponsive. They whisked him away from my chest after all those grueling hours of labor before I could hardly even get a look at his precious face. He was all but alive in that moment when I held him for the first time. He was silent. He didn't cry or wail like mamas imagine and dream of when they finally get to meet their baby. The nurses called a code blue in the delivery room, and the entire NICU team to Vanderbilt Hospital rushed into the room in a matter of split seconds to save his life. The details of these memories remain blurry to me, except for the sound of my screaming and hysteria mixed with the audible prayers of every single person in the room begging on our behalf for a miracle of the Divine that Emmett would breathe. After nearly 5 minutes of silence from my blue and lifeless baby across the room, he let out a whimper that pierced through every other noise in the room. He was alive. My entire family witnessed both the most euphoric and horrific moment of Caleb and I's lives. The lack of oxygen could've caused brain damage, developmental delays and so many other residual issues for our boy, and instead we've witnessed the opposite. He is a walking, breathing, burning with fire passionate little boy who will leave the world a better place than he found it someday. We watch him, his everyday little tendencies and quirks with the utmost awe, taking in every new discovery he finds, learns and experiences with a gratitude in our hearts we can't describe. Watching him thrive gives us life.
But his birth story still remains painful for us to even talk about. We have been to counseling to deal with the trauma of it all and to try and work through the impact the memory has on our hearts and minds. When we found out we were pregnant again before Emmett was even a year old, we were of course elated and so blessed for the prospect of another little life to raise and love, but we couldn't escape the fact that after 9 months, we would have to live through the experience of going to the hospital, laboring, and delivering the baby into the world, and that caused us anxiety from the very beginning. We trusted that this experience would be different than the first. We hoped for it. But we also feared the entire idea so deeply and couldn't fathom going through the trauma of a baby coming out blue or not breathing again. So we prayed. And we talked about it. Over and over. We had our friends and family praying my entire pregnancy for a completely different delivery experience...one of peace and calm, where we could experience the presence of the Divine in the midst of the birth, instead of simply struggling to survive those first few sacred moments of the baby being born. But I would be lying if I said we weren't riddled with fear every time we talked about that day coming. And we knew it would.
I went to the doctor at 35 weeks pregnant and she checked me to see if my body was starting to prepare itself for labor this time around (which it never did with Emmett). She told me that I was already dilated nearly 4cm and that she believed I wouldn't even make it to my due date with little Beckett, which would've been July 27th, 2018. I cried on the table in disbelief that my body was showing signs that it knew what to do this time around. Maybe I would get to experience what natural labor felt like. Could it be? I was so excited, I can't describe to you the encouragement I felt leaving the doctor's office that day. We felt like the baby was going to come any minute after that. He didn't come right away but we started to prepare for it if he did. I packed my hospital bag, and a bag for Emmett to stay at Yaya and Papi's (my parents) if the baby decided to actually come on his own. For the next couple weeks I waited--some days patiently, some days not so much. The closer I got to my due date, the more anxiety I could feel welling up inside me. Shouldn't I have had the baby by now? I was walking around at 4cm dilated for two weeks...how was he not here yet?? Did I get my hopes up? I laid awake in bed at night assessing every Braxton Hicks contraction (I had lots this pregnancy) wondering and praying that maybe this time, this contraction would be a real one. But it wasn't.
Not until the night of the 17th. Caleb and I had been watching a series on Netflix we were super into and we were debating whether or not to try and squeeze in one more episode before we went to bed that night. We decided that maybe we were too tired and should just go to bed (ah, how times have changed from deciding what plans to make or where to go at 10pm...the days before kids :)) We went to bed. 1:30 in the morning...I woke up having a big contraction. I figured it was because my bladder was full and I just needed to pee. I got up and went to the restroom and climbed back in bed with only a tiny piece of me wondering if maybe that was a real contraction...since it was the first one I'd ever had that was mildly painful instead of just uncomfortable as Braxton Hicks normally are. I laid awake. Jittery. Couldn't slow my mind down. Would I have another one? Probably not. Don't get your hopes up, Kels. 20 minutes later, I had another one. Again, fairly painful compared to the ones I'd been having all the weeks leading up to my delivery. Then another 8 minutes later. In true millennial fashion, I downloaded an app on my phone to start timing the contractions to see if they were actually going to keep happening. I didn't even wake Caleb at this point because I didn't want to get him excited or concerned if I wasn't 100% positive I was even in labor yet. I tracked my contractions for the next hour or so. They were about 7-8 minutes apart, but not really getting more intense which was my understanding of true labor. At this point after just over an hour of somewhat consistent contractions, I rolled over and just whispered to Caleb that I thought I was in labor. He perked up and said, "Are you serious?! What do we do? Do we need to go to the hospital?" My response, "I have no idea...I've never done this before!" lol I explained that I thought we didn't have to rush to the hospital until the contractions were closer to 5 minutes apart. At this point I told him to go back to sleep and that I was going to get in the bathtub for awhile and try to relax. I did and for about another hour or so I labored in the tub alone, with the reality hitting me that I WAS actually in labor...with each contraction now 5 minutes apart, I was such a mixture of excitement, nerves and yet such disbelief that my body was doing labor on its own. They became more intense. I called the hospital and talked to a nurse, told her I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and asked if we should go in at that point. She said we definitely could but also said if I wanted to wait and labor a little longer in the comfort of my house I could. So I waited. A few more minutes in the tub. They became increasingly stronger where I couldn't focus on anything except breathing through each contraction. I decided maybe it was time to wake Caleb again. I called my mom and told her that my contractions were 5 minutes apart and getting really intense. She and my dad left for my house immediately. It was about 4:30 in the morning by this point. I got out of the tub and immediately my contractions became fierce and incredibly painful. I was doubled over breathing through each one, Caleb was up and feverishly rushing around to pack his hospital bag. The car seat still wasn't even installed in the car yet because honestly in my heart of hearts, I didn't see myself going into labor on my own. So he ran downstairs, installed the car seat. My parents got to our house about 30 minutes later and I was in full on labor. The contractions were about 3 minutes apart and I felt like I was barely getting through each one. Could they get worse? Oh they would get worse. Caleb, myself and my mom jumped in the car and headed to the hospital. My dad stayed at our house to be here when Emmett woke up.
The car ride was intense. I remember wishing we could teleport to the hospital. How did that 20 minutes in the car feel like 20 hours?! Caleb, GO FASTER. Mom sat behind me and massaged my shoulders and neck the entire way through each contraction, which became about 2 minutes apart. We arrived at the hospital and made our way to Labor & Delivery. They took us to a room and asked if I wanted an epidural right then. I turned it down saying I wanted to wait until I couldn't stand it anymore. The nurse checked my progress upon arriving and told me I was at about 5cm but dilating quickly. By the time they moved me from triage to an actual delivery room, I was contracting so hard, I felt like I was going to come off the rails with each one. With each contraction I told them I wanted an epidural, and then when it would calm down, I would change my mind and think I could handle the next one. Then with each contraction I was begging for the drugs again! Haha
Finally, I told them I was serious and this time I really did want the epidural. They told me it would take about a half hour to get them there to administer it and then another 10-15 minutes for it to kick in. By the time I actually got the epidural, I had dilated to 8cm on my own. When the epidural kicked in, I felt like I was able to take in the moments and process what was actually happening. We spoke with our birth photographer who was on her way to the hospital and I was already dilated to nearly 10cm and not far from pushing time. Once she arrived, the nurses broke my water to help move things along more quickly. About an hour later, I was ready to push. We couldn't believe how quickly it had all happened and yet how much we were able to enjoy and take in every moment (especially after the epidural kicked in and I could focus on something other than surviving every contraction). A few minutes later, the delivery nurses and my doctor showed up to the room. Our nurse Amanda, knowing our birth story with Emmett told me it was time to push this sweet baby out, and how about we do it in less than 3.5 hours this time...we were so excited. And so scared. With my mom on the right side of the hospital bed, and Caleb on my left, we took the moments right before pushing to stop and pray for the next few moments where we were going to bring Beckett in the world. We prayed for peace...for a pink, screaming baby upon coming out. We cried at the thought of it all. We took a couple deep breaths and the nurse said, "Okay Kelsey, let's meet your baby now". I pushed through 2 contractions and then before the next one she asked, "Kelsey, are you ready to meet this sweet boy? Because you're going to get to hold him on this next push..." I instantly sobbed. I couldn't believe it. 3 pushes??? Instead of 3 hours of pushing?! It can't be real. I asked mom and Caleb to pray one more time. I could feel the fear rising again. Would he come out breathing? He had to, because I couldn't live through another instance where my baby didn't breathe. But would he? The nurse's words, "Okay Kelsey, let's meet this baby" still ring in my ears. I pushed one more time and Beckett emerged with a giant wail and they placed his tiny, pink little body on my chest and as he screamed, we all sobbed with joy. He was perfect. He was beautiful. He was very much alive and well and there was no mistaking that by the wailing he let out...the most beautiful sound in the world. They wrapped him up for me and we all just took in the moments simply of his aliveness those next several minutes.
I cry a different kind of tears this time when I talk about Beckett's birth story because it was so full of peace and calm and everything we hoped and prayed for leading up to it. Both birth stories of my boys were Divine for different reasons...and I'm infinitely grateful for both experiences, but this one we needed. It was redemptive in every sense of the word, and we were even let out of the hospital a day early because everything with both me and baby was great and we were ready to go home and be a family of 4. I am so grateful for every step of this birth and what it did for my heart and the way it gave me hope that every birth is different. But most of all, I am grateful for two precious baby boys to love, cherish, teach and invest in for the rest of their lives. I am grateful for the name they will call me, and the weight of its meaning, mama. I don't take my job of raising them lightly, and I pray that I do it with grace, courage, and wisdom and that every single day I recognize the privilege it is to be their mama, even on the difficult and trying days. I am so grateful to get to share this redemptive story with you, most of whom I've never even met, but you've been with us during this pregnancy and process. Thank you for that. What an incredible community we've been given.
Beckett Wade, you are everything and more that we hoped you'd be. Your little life has already changed ours in ways we can't describe. And as I said at the end of Emmett's birth story, we love you boys with the fire of a million suns and are so grateful to be your parents. We will love you until the end of time.
Thank you to you beautiful people for coming alongside us on this journey of parenthood, even from afar. You're wonderful souls and we're so grateful.
All my love and light,
All my thanks to our birth photographer, Hayley Collins Ryan for freezing these moment in time for us.