M and i were sitting on the couch, pinching each other to see if it had all been real (meeting Elder Cook, that is). the girls were playing with Gammy (my mom) outside. and all was calm. it was a idyllic moment.
then my phone rang.
it was my OB, Dr. Wells, calling me from his cell phone, on a Sunday evening. weird, right? well, he began the conversation by telling me he'd been thinking about my labor and delivery all weekend (how thoughtful of you, Dr. Wells, i thought). he said that he had been playing it over and over again in his mind and couldn't help but be concerned about breaking my water. he said that with the immense amount of fluid that i had, he was afraid that when he'd try to break my water slowly, the pressure would be far too great and would rush anyway -- which would most likely then cause the placenta to tare and would then cause Max's heart rate to plummet, which would then mean an emergency C-section. he commented that he'd be wheeling me into that O.R. with the thought in his mind, "could i have done anything to prevent this C-Section from happening?" and he would be able to answer "yes, we could have done an amniocentisis." he then added, "and i just don't want to have any regrets going into tomorrow, so i am recommending you come in tonight for an amnio to draw out some of that fluid to reduce the potential pressure when i eventually break your water."
it was a total curve-ball, but we took Dr. Wells' recommendation -- i felt impressed that evening that Dr. Wells was inspired to call me. but it wasn't until the next afternoon that it became extremely clear that his phone call was a direct result from Elder Cook's blessing..... (things he said in his blessing were in direct correlation to things Dr. Wells communicated with me) and i am confident that Max eventually survived childbirth because of this procedure. in short, i know that Elder Cook's blessing saved Max's life - or more plainly put: gave him his life. how incredible is that? so, so neat.
so we went in for the amnio that Sunday evening at 6 pm. they began the procedure by sticking a needle with suction in my tummy/uterus. they then started drawing the fluid out -- liter by liter. at first it was no big deal. but then it caused some pretty intense contractions to start ... the needle began bending sideways as i contracted, and so they'd have to bend it straight to keep the flow going. it was excruciatingly painful. i did NOT like that one bit. over about 2 hours, they ended up drawing out almost 4 liters of fluid, and estimated that there was at least that much left inside of me (crazy!)...and some pretty intense labor had started. (translation: i was swearing VERY loudly in my brain). they weren't ready for Max to come quite yet, so they gave me all kinds of meds to stop the contractions....and told me i needed to stay the night (which i wasn't prepared for since they told me i'd be going home that night and coming back in the morning ... ) at that point, i was truthfully grateful to stay since i was kind of freaked out by all of that fluid, and all of the crazy-swearing-worthy-pain i'd been having.
after they settled my contractions down, the rest of the evening was a special one. we had some unique time with Dr Wells that was very touching. he talked to us about life and death - and commented "how wonderful it is that we know what we know -- that this life isn't it." we aren't members of the same church, and yet we are connected in the belief of life after death - and that was so comforting to me. it was also so comforting to hear him give us advice about hospitals and decisions we'd make about our baby. he was so empathetic and compassionate -- a side many people don't get to see in their physicians, and i appreciated it so very much.
once i was pretty stable, M decided to leave to go home and get some toiletries and a change of clothes. i was there all alone, feeling Max move (which i miss, oh so much), and hearing the machines beep and buzz. i was so tired, but i couldn't sleep. it's hard for me to articulate exactly what i felt in that moment -- but it wasn't fear or anxiety. i felt skinny! losing 4 liters of fluid was brilliant. and mostly i felt relief and excitement. this painful, uncertain experience was coming to an end and arriving to a new beginning. i felt him so close to me that night -- in a way different than inside of me -- more like him sitting by me, and holding my hand. i loved that i could feel his Mighty spirit there comforting his poor ole mama. what a handsome soul. in short: i just couldn't wait to meet him.
the next morning came quickly. and before i knew it, dozens of people were in and out of my hospital room. they started me on the pitocin. i got the epidural (woop woop!). then Dr. Wells broke my water slowly -- and we waited and waited and waited.
more people came. my dad. M's mom. my mom.
and then, all of a sudden, i felt extreme pressure. they had just checked me and i was like a 6. but i was sure there was a baby there ... and so my nurse checked again ... and immediately got on her phone to call my Doctor. Max was coming.
about a gazillion people flooded in the room at that point. Neo-natologists, neo-natal nurses, my perinatologist, and several other people who were complete strangers to me (but wore scrubs so i assumed earned their way there ?? ). and the room was spiritually charged, too. i'm not saying i had visions or anything like that. but you could feel heaven near, almost so close you could touch it.
i only pushed three times -- and then he came, along with a sense of relief like i'd never felt. there was certainly a LOT of fluid still left, which was probably the source of some of the relief ... but it was also a sense of relief, like my body was being released from that part of its role and calling in this process. i'm crying writing about that. i think that's because carrying Max really did feel similar to a calling. it was a sacrifice, and a blessing, just like any pregnancy is. and when he was born, it felt like i was released from that calling, in the same bittersweet way it feels to be released from any calling. the hardest / best calling i've ever had.
initially when Max was born, he didn't breathe...he didn't cry. the girls had both been the loudest cries of the day, so it was a little bit alarming -- but somehow i felt calm. i remember the crowd of neo-natal people working away on little Max. it was tense. and quiet. time felt frozen. they couldn't intabate him because his little jaw was contracted so tightly ... and just when it felt like it had just been too long, i heard a little whimpering cry -- and the tension in the room eased up. Max was breathing on his own -- it was truly a miracle.
i remember crying in that moment. and feeling overwhelmed with joy that he got to breathe - that he got to live. i couldn't see him, but i couldn't stop looking over at all the commotion with the hope that i might get a glimpse.
M and his dad then were able to give him a blessing. i couldn't hear the blessing, but i could feel it. and because of it, i knew Max was going to be ok that day.
and then, after the blessing, the Neo-Natologist wrapped Max up, not connected to anything yet, and let me hold him. i was the only one who got to hold him that day and i was instantaneously overwhelmed with love. my perception of perfection was changed forever -- because in spite of his malformed hands and limbs, he was the most perfect baby i'd ever held with the most pure spirit i'd ever felt. heaven was in my arms, and it was so very sweet. i wish i could relive that moment over and over again. it's one of my very favorite moments of my whole life.
that day then moved into fast-forward with many tests, assessments, transfers, and yadda yadda yadda (translation: i'll go into all of that later). looking back on it now, i'm so grateful for all of our family members and friends who were there for us that day. it was so special having both of my parents there, and both of M's parents and brother there as well...and our girls who came in the room very soon after Max was born. i am so grateful for all of the love and support we felt when he was born, and when he survived. it's like i could feel you all celebrating with us, and that meant so much, and continues to mean so much to me. it was a miraculous day - one that i feel so privileged to have been part of.