Saturday, January 14, 2012

(Not My) Birth Story

I have a story to tell you.  It's not actually my story, so I won't give ALL the details, but I do want to talk about what happened this past Tuesday evening, January 10th. 

Let me preface... 

Our sweet friends, Holly & Eric, were expecting.  Expecting twins, to be exact.  A little boy and a little girl.  Graham & Evie Claire.  How much more perfect could it get? 

Holly's pregnancy had been a pretty smooth one.  The babies were doing great and I don't think she could have asked for a much better "twin" pregnancy.  Graham was being a bit stubborn and had decided to turn himself around backwards - feet first - so Holly's doctor (my doctor, too!) had scheduled a C-section on January 25th, just in case Graham decided not to flip back around.

Holly had asked me if I wanted to take photos during her birth and I happily accepted.  Nothing was set in stone yet, but that was the "loose" plan, if you will.  Now, we get to the 10th.  I get a phone call around lunch time from Holly.  She'd been to the doctor and the doctor had decided to take the babies THAT NIGHT due to Holly's high blood pressure.  She was understandably unnerved and also did not know for sure if I would be able to take pictures or if she even wanted anyone in the room besides Eric.  I just told her to let me know what she wanted me to do and I would be there. 

Later in the afternoon, I get a text from Eric letting me know that I would be allowed to take pictures and I should get there about half an hour before the scheduled C-section at 6:00.  He also told me that I could even come into the operating room and take photos during the birth.  I was thrilled!  I had never witnessed a birth.  I mean, yes, I've had two kids, but giving birth and watching a birth are two totally different things.  Could I even compare it to, say, being up to bat versus watching from the stands?  Not really, but you get the idea. 

5:30 could not come fast enough.  I got to the hospital and all of Holly & Eric's family and friends were there waiting.  I got into Holly's labor room and we all waited for the doctor - Dr. Collins - to arrive.  Finally, Dr. Collins came in to let Holly know it was time to get the show on the road.  I think Holly was relieved actually.  She was very uncomfortable by this point, although I think she had been uncomfortable for the past six months, in all actuality.  :)

Holly walked to the operating room and Eric and I "suited up" in our fashionable hospital garb - hair net, blue paper booties, H1N1 face mask and some type of beekeeper's outfit with a zipper up the front.  We looked good!  We stood in that hallway FOREVER.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  We danced for all the family and friends in the waiting room when the doors would open.  More waiting.  We prayed together while we waited.  It was a wonderful moment.  Then, it was show time.

A nurse, or somebody else (I don't even remember if it was a man or woman at this point) brought us into the operating room.  (I would shorten it to OR, but I don't want to sound like I stepped out of Grey's Anatomy.)  There was Holly, with her lovely hair net on might I add, ready to bring her babies into the world.  They sat Eric and me down on little stools next to Holly.  I was bordering on the edge of the curtain, which hides all of the "goings on" and was trying to make sure I did not peek around it for fear of getting kicked out.  It was very laid back in that room, which was not something I was used to.  I had an emergency C-section with Alex and this was the total and complete opposite of that.  I can say that, if there were elevator music playing in that room, it would have seemed appropriate. 

Then, out came Evie Claire.  And she was beautiful.  And so little.  And so perfect.  One minute later, Graham came into the world.  He was Holly's dad, Butch, made over.  What a blessing to have that.  Holly lost her dad to cancer almost four years ago and to have her son look so much like her dad...she couldn't have asked for a better gift from God. 

The room came alive after that.  Lots of babies crying and nurses shuffling and weighing and patting and checking and yelling out stats and laughing.  There was lots and lots of joy in that room. 

Eric and I just stood there.  Amazed.  His babies were in front of him now and what a miracle they were.  He touched Evie Claire's little hand and she grabbed his finger.  She was laid back and relaxed.  So beautiful and pink.  Lovely.  I was taking pictures like a crazy person.  Graham was crying and the nurses told Eric he was jealous because he hadn't paid him any attention yet.  Eric moved over to Graham and he stopped crying and calmed down.  More pictures. 

The nurses laid the babies next to each other and I took pictures of them.  Brother and sister.  Minutes old. 

Then it was time for Eric to hold both of them together - or so he was told by one of the nurses.  We went back over to Holly's side and the nurse handed Eric his children.  They were now a family of four.  I took their first "family photo" and, oh, what a moment it was!

I held Graham while he put Evie Claire up to Holly's face so they could meet for the first time and feel each other's skin.  Then I held Graham up to her for his introductions.  There is something Heavenly about a mother meeting her children for the first time.  How did I get so lucky to witness it? 

Then, it was time to take the babies out to the nursery.  That waiting room was probably about to combust at this point.  I couldn't go into the nursery with Eric, so I was going to run out into the waiting room, beat Eric to the nursery, and yell to everyone that he was coming with the babies.  My plan would have gone down flawlessly if whoever at the nurses' station that was supposed to be opening the automatic doors to enter into the waiting room was paying attention.  I was running towards those open doors to go into that waiting room and they, ever so slowly, shut in my face while the family and friends are looking at me.  Anyway...the doors FINALLY open and I run out in time to answer the question, "Where are they?!!" with, "They're coming!!" and pointing towards the nursery.

Everyone crowded around the nursery windows to see those babies and the tears flowed.  And flowed.  It was so beautiful.  People hugging each other.  Holding each others' hands.  Lots of tears and lots of joy and laughter.  I will never forget it. 

Now, my story ends there.  I know Holly & Eric will each have their own stories, if they want to share them.  I just wanted to share mine for them, so they will know just how much I appreciated them allowing me to be there for the birth of Graham & Evie Claire.  It was something that I will never, ever forget as long as I live.  I love them and I was honored to take those pictures.  I know they will always cherish them.  The same way I will always cherish seeing both of those babies come into this world.  What a blessing.

Thank you so much, Holly & Eric.  I love you all.

Holly, Evie Claire & I (Not pictured - Eric & Graham)

Friday, January 6, 2012

We Live

To piggyback off of my post from yesterday, I found a song that I thought was fitting...

I hope you listen to the words and enjoy it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who's Afraid of Death?

Don't let the post title mislead you.  I am not asking in a macho way by any means: "Who's afraid of death? NOT ME!"  If you took that way, I guess I mislead you.

I am asking as in, who ELSE is afraid of death?  Something you may not know about me is that I am someone who IS afraid of death.  In a big way.  I have anxiety about it.  I fear it - when it will strike, but more importantly, who it may strike.  I am afraid for my husband to die.  I am afraid for my kids to die.  I shudder at the thought of it.  What would I do?  How would I handle it? 

Now, I know I sound a bit morbid, but I don't even like to talk about life insurance and everything that entails, much less the subject of death.  So why am I bringing it up then?  I guess, like in therapy, we need to talk about the things that bother us.  For some reason, I felt like I needed to talk about death. 

I had never had to deal with death of someone close to me - really close to me - until the year before last.  My grandmother died in May of 2010.  Now, I know you hear about someone's grandparent passing away and you normally just don't get as sad for them as you would if, say, it was their parent or child that had passed away, right?  I mean, not that you don't feel for them, but for most people, grandparent relationships are usually not as close as parent/child relationships.  But, my relationship with my grandmother was different.  I had grown up and lived with she and my grandfather for most of my life.  My mother and brother, too - all of us together.  My grandparents adopted me and my grandmother, literally, was my second mother.  I could talk to her about anything and she was like a best friend to me.  She loved Jesus and she made sure that we all went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.  She also loved every person she met and she gave anyone a chance.  She genuinely cared and she showed it.  She would cook meals for the needy and take me with her to deliver them.  She was the kindest and smartest person that I have ever known in my life.  And her was contagious.

She died because she smoked cigarettes.  Over the years, the COPD slowly stole the air from her lungs.  It wasn't an unexpected death, but I was still in denial until I got the phone call from my brother early one morning telling me that she was gone.  I can hear his voice like it was yesterday. 

I had been to see her several days before she died.  I just sat with her in her room and watched her sleep.  I looked through old photo albums and remembered all of the times from the past.  I touched her hair and face and held her hands.  I told her over and over that I loved her.  The last words she spoke to me were, "I love you, too, Jillbo.  Very much.  I love you just as much as I could have loved anybody.  Don't you ever forget it."  I have never forgotten and I never will. 

So, when I start to worry about death, I think of her and how she would have told me not to worry.  How she would have told me that I shouldn't have to worry because Jesus is there for us.  Even in death.  I wish my kids could have known her better, but I know she is watching over them.  Watching over all of us.  And, knowing that she is up there makes me feel just a little bit better about the whole concept of death.

I guess my whole point in writing this post is to let you know that you should not live afraid of what is to come, such as death, but live in the moment and be thankful for today.  It sounds so cliche, but it's true.  This is going to be my New Year's resolution - for this year and the years to come. 

And, every night, while I am rocking Mallory before bed I tell her, "I love you, Mallory.  Very much."  I'm not going to ever let her forget it.  I won't let any of them forget it. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve With Kids

So, here is all that's left from our New Year's Eve celebration...

We were invited over to a neighbor's house for the evening, kids and all.  There were lots of other neighbors and friends there with kids and it was a beautiful time.  But, I just knew from the beginning that we would NOT be staying until midnight because I knew my two couldn't possibly stay up that late.  If you know me, you know I am pretty uptight, especially when it comes to my kids.  We try to stick to the same nap times and bed times.  Bed time in our house is around 8:30, which is obviously nowhere near midnight.  Anyhow...the night wore on and the kids played and played and played.  They - along with the hubby and I - were having a great time!  There were a few times when I told Chuck we were going to have to head out because Mallory was going downhill, but then she would perk back up and we continued to stay. 

And then, before I knew it, it was down to the very last minute of 2011.  We grabbed the kids, dragged them in front of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, handed out shot glasses filled with orange juice (kid friendly, of course) and started to count down from 10. 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2...ONE!!!!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

The kids absolutely loved it!  They drank their OJ and toasted with each other and the grown ups and said "Cheers!"  It was a magical thing. 

Do I feel guilty about keeping my kids up until after midnight?  A little.  Am I glad that I did?  Very much so.  This was something that I had never experienced with my kids and I am so glad that we did not head home those few times I thought we needed to and put them in the bed.  I am glad they got to take part in something as special as transitioning - literally - from one year to the next. 

Who knows? Maybe we will we do it all over again with them next year.

Maybe.  :)