Last Thursday began pretty similar to any other day.  My parents were in town for business so my mom and I spent the day together.  We ate a tasty lunch at Jason's Deli and went antique shopping that afternoon.  I scored two great bookshelves and only paid $60 for both.  We came home and all ate salad and spaghetti at the dinner table as a family.  Little did I know that in less than 12 hours I would be in labor delivering our precious baby girls at 27 weeks.

Friday morning began in fear and uncertainty.  The doctor told us to watch my cramps over the next hour and if we had more than four then we needed to go to the hospital.  He advised me to drink fluids and take a warm bath to relax.  As I laid in the tub trying not to cry, I had no idea that would be the last time I would see my pregnant tummy sticking out from the water.  As the hour closed, I had at least seven cramps (now I know that they were contractions!) and we rushed to the hospital. Before long, I was in a hospital gown fully dilated and found out that today would be the day I would go into delivery.  I had no bags packed, no car seats hooked up, and no time to think about any of those things.  The only thing that I could think about was THIS IS TOO EARLY.  IT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY.  I got scared and I was in pain. 

When the nurses wheeled me into the operating room, I was surrounded by busy activity.  Nurses, techs, and doctors were scurrying around getting me ready for delivery.  Our wonderful doctor, Matt Phillips, advised us to do a C-section because Maralee was laying across my stomach.  I quickly agreed with the decision and he took time to pray with me before we began.  To start things off, I dangled my legs over the table and received a spinal shot.  Raleigh wasn't allowed to be in the room at that point so I made the nurse hold my hand.  Quickly my legs starting twitching and soon my lower body became completely numb as they swung me around to the delivery position.  As I lay on the table, all I saw were bright lights and lots of people.  It started to feel like the Peanut Festival on opening night and I became panicked drawing in quick short breaths.  So, I closed my eyes to block out the confusion.

With my eyes closed, I did the only thing I knew I could do at this point.  PRAY.  I prayed for the doctors, I prayed for the nurses, I prayed, prayed, prayed, for the safety and health of my little girls, and I prayed for my fear of the delivery process.  By that point, I felt a familiar hand grasp mine, and I knew my husband was by my side.  He rubbed my hair, kissed my forehead, and gave me the earthly encouragement that I needed.  I kept my eyes closed throughout the whole delivery and just continued to pray the same prayer over and over:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Soon enough the procedure was over and Dr. Phillips said that I had courage.  That made me feel good because just this week I was reading about how courage helps to define your character.  I had crossed over the bridge and now officially joined the team of motherhood.  All in all, it wasn't as bad as I had feared and I thank God that He created smart people to engineer medicine drugs that take the bullet for you. :)
After that, I was wheeled into the recovery room.  My legs began to tingle as they slowly woke up from sleep and that was when we first met Dr. Millage from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). He spoke honestly and told us that our babies were doing well but not great.  His eyes didn't quite meet ours and that made me realize that he really meant what he was saying.  As he left, he assured us that the situation could be a lot worse and that there was hope for them to feeling great.   That was really hard to digest at that moment but it gave me the confidence that I needed so I wouldn't begin to worry.
Over the next couple of days, I recovered in room 248.  The nurses took excellent care of me and I learned how to breast pump from a woman named Psyche.  They were awesome and I can not say thank you enough to the nurses at Baptist East.  THANK YOU!!!  
Quickly my days were filled with visits from family and friends.  Even though I didn't always feel great, it was really great to see everyone.  Their visits kept me smiling and upbeat and I really felt assured that our babies were doing well.  My mom was AWESOME at taking care of me and my sweet husband never left my side.  Both of our families came to our rescue over the weekend.  When they weren't at the hospital, they were cleaning, organizing, and taking care of the daily needs of our home and puppies.  We are beyond grateful for them giving so much of themselves during our desperate time of need.  Now, more than ever, I really appreciate our families and am so THANKFUL that they can get along and be apart of our team.  Mr. and Mrs. Price, Gunter, KB, Mom, Dad, & Courts.....WE LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!
During my stay in the hospital; physically I was in recovery from pain and emotionally I was doing well under the circumstances. The NICU kept us informed and it was comforting to know that Adeline and Maralee were right down the hall.  On Tuesday, Dr. Phillips made his rounds and asked me if I was experiencing any post-par tum depression and I assured him that I was okay.  It really helped me to talk to my friend Katie because she and her husband were at the tail-end of their son's stay in the NICU.  Seeing them go through their experience gave us the assurance that tons of babies are delivered premature yet they grow up into healthy, strong babies just like the full-term ones. 
After Dr. Phillips left my room quoting scripture, I sat in my hospital bed absorbing our conversation.  Tuesday was my last day in the hospital, and I began to feel homesick from room 248.  I had not been outside since Friday morning and my brain started to digest the fact that the real world was right outside of those sliding glass doors.  As much as I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed with my husband, and seeing my puppy dogs, I started to miss my little square inch room.  I started to miss the girls being right down the hall.  That day, I realized all of the things that I missed.  I missed picking out cute pajamas to wear in the hospital.  I missed packing my bags and having them on stand-by.  I missed being in the "rapid growth stage" of my final months of pregnancy.  I missed being able to wear those cute maternity clothes while eating petit fours at my baby shower that was supposed to be on Sunday.  I missed hearing my babies cry as they entered into the world.  They couldn't cry because their lungs weren't fully developed yet.  I missed taking the picture of mom looking gross yet so beautiful as she held her precious newborn for the very first time.  On Tuesday, as I waited for Raleigh to pull the truck around to the entry of the hospital, I became well aware that I was leaving the hospital without our babies. As we exited onto I-85, the tears started flowing.

That was the first time I had cried since they were delivered.  I needed to cry and it was overall a happy cry twinged with sadness.  It is just hard to absorb all of those little things.  We all "think" we know how things are going to happen but once again God showed me that it was His timing, not mine.  He knew the babies would be entering this world on April 30, 2010, before He even created me twenty-five years ago.  He is teaching me with this experience that once again I am not in control of my life.  I have given my life to Him, and now I have to trust His guidance.  As Raleigh and I talked, I began to really see how God had planned for them to born on that day.  If they had been born on Saturday, Raleigh would have missed their births because he was supposed to go on a rafting trip that weekend.  If I had continued to work, I would have had those babies on the Relay For Life track that night.  On their birthday, Raleigh got a message that the babies furniture had arrived.  My dad's business seminar just "happened" to be in Prattville on Thursday and Friday.  I didn't get freaked out when I saw our babies for the first time all wrapped in wires and tubes because my job in Birmingham required me to be around sick cancer patients every single day.

Friends, these things are not coincidence.  God is SO in control of our lives.  Wiping away my tears, I stopped comparing my pregnancy to what I missed.  I started to think about what I have been given.  Things like....

I got to touch Adeline's little bitty knee

The nurse let me change Maralee's diaper for the first time
The other night, Adeline held my finger in her delicate hands
 
Yesterday, I finally saw Maralee's face for the very first time

I love these little girls so much.  We are taking baby steps but they are steps that are in the right direction.  Thank you friends for your prayers and love.  We really need it right now.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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