In honor of Laurelyn’s first birthday today, I wanted to share the story of her birth.
Just as I predicted, Baby was late. My due date came on a Sunday, and we spent it in the company of friends watching a Packer game. I tempted fate and even went to the grocery store by myself that morning to get ingredients for the nachos I made for the game. But no such luck–labor never started nor did my water break. With every hour that passed, my scheduled induction for the following day became engraved in stone as a certainty instead of just the backup plan.
Knowing that it was going to be one of the last times I would get the chance, I took a nap with the girls after the game. I showered that night and my sister curled my hair so it would look nice the next day for pictures. When it was time to go to bed, Tyler and I suddenly found ourselves anxious. It’s strange to go into a day knowing that it was the day your baby was going to be born. Even though we had gotten everything set up and ready, we suddenly felt completely unprepared. It was similar to the anxious feeling that consumes you before a blind date that you’re really excited for. You desperately wanted the day to come, but once it’s before you, you suddenly get nervous. Your mind races through all the possibilities and you want to make the hours turn into seconds so you can just get it over and done with. It’s the same feeling an actor gets while waiting in the wings for their first entrance on opening night. Terrified that the moment you walk on stage that you will forget every line, yet so excited to get out there because it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for and working towards for so long. We both ended up having to take medicine to help us sleep. Then we laid in bed and talked about everything on our hearts, and before long I felt calm again and fell asleep.
Unfortunately, sleep was not the peaceful getaway I was hoping for. I had a string of nightmares ranging from Tyler divorcing me to family members dying to having fall-out fights with loved ones. I was actually happy to be woken up by my alarm at 7:30. In an attempt to calm myself after the stressful wave of nightmares, I opened my ‘Verse of the Day’ email like I do every morning. But it only aggravated me even more:
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
I genuinely got frustrated with God. He’s supposed to say that everything was going to be ok, yet I felt as though He was preparing me for more attacks. I didn’t need that on this day, of all days!
I made the choice to shrug off my morning and focus on the fact that I was going to meet our baby that day. I was only able to eat a piece of toast and a cup of peppermint tea because my stomach fluttered with anticipation. We got ready and checked into Labor and Delivery at 9:30.
I had tested positive for Group B Strep (a bacteria infection that usually has no symptoms for the mom, but can cause breathing/stomach/kidney problems in newborns if passed to them during birth), so was going to need a round of Penicillin. I have a needle phobia, so anytime I have to get blood work or an IV I have to struggle to not pass out. Blood doesn’t bother me; just something about someone digging around inside me with a needle that irks me. Unfortunately my veins were being difficult this day. It took them 3 trys before they got an IV started. Something about my veins being full of valves. They were really digging around in there, and left me sporting nasty bruised lumps in my arms. Not the best way to start my delivery.
Around 11 my doctor came in and checked my cervix. I was dilated to 4 cm and 80% effaced thanks to the 2 months of practice contractions. I’m always joking about my water bags being built like tanks because they’ve never broken on their own. With our second baby, I was ready to push and the stupid water was still in tact! True to my word, when the doctor went to break it this time, she ended up having to break it layer by layer because it wasn’t rupturing with the first couple firm jabs. “Wow, you weren’t kidding that was pretty tough!” my doctor said. Once the water was broken, I threw a pad on and started walking the halls to try to help the labor along. An hour and a half in though and I still wasn’t having any contractions. So even though I had hoped to avoid it, we decided to start Pitocin. It took another hour, but finally we started getting regular contractions! I had to be induced with our first baby as well and the Pitocin had made the pain come on very strong from the start. It was still strong this time, but it wasn’t as unrelenting as the first time. Around 3 o’clock I asked to be checked again. When the nurse said I was at 7 cm, I promptly requested my epidural. I had already signed the papers for it and the anesthesiologist was next door setting someone else’s epidural, so it didn’t take long for her to get there. Our first 2 kids were born in California hospitals, and they always made Tyler leave the room for the epidural part. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t do well with needles. I’ve always wanted him to be there for that part to help calm me down, but both hospitals were very strict about the rule. This hospital not only allowed Tyler to stay with me, but also let my sister and mother-in-law stay as well! It was so calming to have them with me. Their presence instantly removed the sterile, operating-room feeling that usually comes with getting an epidural and replaced it with the comforting feeling of support.
I had such a great experience at this hospital. The whole Labor and Delivery Unit consists of 3 delivery rooms and 5 recovery rooms, so it’s very small. But it has a homey feel to it. The nurses were all genuinely nice. I never got the feeling that they were trying to rush me to get to another patient. They were always willing to help me with anything and even stayed in the room long enough to chat and get to know us a bit. I loved everything about my experience there. The nurses even gave both of our older girls “Big Sister Gifts”: cute patterned bags, each with a book inside.
The epidural didn’t take the pain away entirely this time. I still felt the top of my uterus tighten with each contraction, but without the pain. Which I actually kind of preferred because I felt like I was more in control. I didn’t need to rely on the monitor to tell me when I was having a contraction or when things were progressing more, because I could feel it. Around 5 my doctor came in to check me and said that I was around 8-9 cm. She said that my cervix was soft enough that I could start pushing, but that it would probably be best to wait another 20 minutes to allow my body to get all the way to 10. In the interest of not tearing up my who-haw, I agreed with her. About 15 minutes later I felt intense rectal pressure, and knew it was time. We kicked the extended family out with the big sisters, and my doctor and nurse set up the room for delivery.
The two other times I had given birth, this had entailed a huge orchestration of converting the comfortable labor room into something resembling an operating room. The bottom half of the bed was put down, scary looking metal stirrups were lifted into the air, nurses and doctors were gowned and gloved with their hair covered, and plastic and absorbant pads were put in place. This time my doctor threw a gown on over her office clothes, put gloves on, placed a plastic absorbant pad underneath me, sat on the edge of the bed, had the nurse hold one leg and had Tyler hold the other. Since I could feel the contractions, she told me to push when I felt like it. My doctor had such a non-nonchalant way about her that was so relaxing. I felt like we were sitting down to have coffee together.
The first time I pushed, a river of pee came out. The epidural had numbed the sensation and they hadn’t placed a catheter, so I had no idea that I needed to pee. It was a bit embarrassing, but we just laughed it off. After all, I couldn’t help it! I pushed again, and could feel the baby slowly making it’s way out. I never felt anything more than a bit of pressure with our first two because the epidurals had been so strong. Let me tell you–having a baby come out of your who-haw is HORRIBLY uncomfortable. I don’t even want to imagine the pain of it without the medicine taking the edge off. Once the baby was crowning, I wanted nothing more than to get it out as fast as possible. So I pushed hard, only breaking in between pushes long enough to take another breath. 5 minutes later, the baby was out, and we found ourselves with another girl!
I truly had no gut feelings as to the sex of the baby the whole time I was pregnant. All three of my pregnancies have been completely different. Turns out that they are all just very unique and different little girls. I was surprised to discover that she was a girl, but I would have been just as surprised if she had been a boy. But I instantly loved her with my whole heart.
She measured 20 1/2 inches long and 8 pounds, 12 ounces; 7 ounces heavier than our second baby! I judged correctly when I nicknamed her ‘Adipose’ while pregnant. To our absolute shock, she came out with blonde hair and blue eyes. It seems that all of our children have a knack for beating genetic odds, as I was sure that my brown eyes and both of our brown locks would beat out the odd recessive genes swimming about from grandparents and great-grandparents. But our first two have my mom’s curly hair (despite my own being straight), our second has my husband’s grandpa’s blue eyes, and now Laurelyn has that same grandpa’s blue eyes and blonde hair. To me, this is further proof that God is the Giver of Life, for only He can beat scientific odds such as these.
After spending some time with her, Tyler went to go get our older girls. Our oldest one came literally bouncing into the room, with the biggest of smiles on her face. “Where’s the baby? Where’s the baby?” she demanded. The nurse was cleaning her off and wrapping her up in a blanket. She handed the baby to me, and Eowyn jumped in bed with me. “I want to hold her!”, she exclaimed. I passed her her new little sister, and it was love at first sight.
Arya had been napping when Tyler went to get them, so she was grumpy and a bit stand off-ish with her new sister. But once she woke up, she too was in love.
Tyler came up with the idea to use my ‘expecting toes’ as an announcement on Facebook:
After I was transferred to a recovery room, we ate some Arby’s. I was so hungry that I scarfed down half a sandwich before realizing that I had grabbed my sister’s, which had cheese (I have a dairy allergy). She hadn’t eaten the other sandwich yet, and was nice enough to give me the non cheese one, even though she was only getting half of hers back. I felt so stupid. Nothing a Benedryl couldn’t fix though.
Once we were all done eating, everyone left. My sister took Eowyn and Arya so that Tyler could stay at the hospital with me and the baby. I wasn’t sure if that was the best idea, because it was going to be a huge change for them to not have either mom or dad at home with them. But Tyler insisted on staying and my sister didn’t mind taking care of them.
We didn’t have any names picked out ahead of time; we find it to be too difficult to think of names for someone we’ve never met. We did the same thing for our first two, and their names came to us rather quickly. This little one had us stumped though. Eowyn said she wanted to name her ‘Emma’. I actually like that name and was really surprised to hear that come out of her mouth (while I was pregnant she kept making up names like, ‘Memobah’). I’m really into the meaning of a name though, because a name is the beginning of that person’s destiny. Upon Googling ‘Emma’ I learned that it meant, “Whole; universal”. What the heck is that supposed to mean? We promptly scratched that one off the non-existent list.
Since our first two girls are named after fantasy characters (Eowyn from Lord of the Rings and Arya from Game of Thrones), we thought it would be neat to continue in that theme. So Tyler went to work researching female characters from Lord of the Rings. We both pretty much instantly fell in love with the name ‘Laurelin’. Technically speaking, Laurelin is not a character; it is the name of a tree in Middle-earth. Tyler explained the meaning and our process of how we chose this name perfectly in a post on Facebook with this picture:
“Amanda and I are extremely proud to introduce you all to Laurelyn Amarië Jonsson.
It is pronounced ‘Laurel-in’ ‘Uh-Mar-EE-AA’
In the genesis of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, there is a tree named “Laurelin” which means “Song of Gold” – it bore a fruit that ultimately became the sun.
As both of our other daughter’s have beautiful sounding Y’s in their name, we felt that changing the ‘I’ to a ‘Y’ was appropriate.
Amarië is another (relatively obscure) character of Tolkien’s that translates to “Unfading Flower” in Old Greek, which Tolkien drew much inspiration from.
So we’re translating her name to mean:
‘Song of the Gold and Unfading Flower’
We chose this not only because it sounds beautiful, but also because of her incredibly fair features that reminded us of the sun and nature. Her bright blue eyes and her fine, fair hair seemed to call out to us that this was what we were to name her.
We love you, our sweet Golden, Unfading Flower!
Welcome to the world, Laurelyn Amarië!”
While he was posting that, I felt a rather large blood clot pass. So I excused myself to the bathroom to get cleaned up. As I was using the toilet, the world started spinning around me and everything went black. I grabbed the railing on the wall to keep from collapsing on the floor and yelled for Tyler, who then yelled for the nurse. Within 30 seconds, there were 3 nurses in my room slapping my face and asking me questions to keep me conscious. They put me in a wheelchair and put me back in bed, putting the head of the bed at a severe slant to help the blood get back to my head.
Everything happened very quickly after that.
I bled. I bled a lot. There was so much blood that I could feel it gushing out in waves. When it was all said and done, I lost one and a half liters of blood.
The nurses never left me alone from the moment they collected me off of the toilet until I was stable again, which took what felt to me like forever. There was a shift change in the middle of it all, but my day nurse refused to leave. She wanted to see me through it, even though I was actively bleeding out on the bed. Dying. I was dying. But she wouldn’t leave me.
There were 3 shots and 3 enemas and 3 more attempts to get an IV started, because they had taken the other one out after the birth. But the bleeding wouldn’t stop.
Then my throat started to close and I felt like I was choking. I was having an allergic reaction to one of the drugs that they had given me. We’ll never know which one because I was given 4 different ones at the same time. So they pushed Benedryl through my IV which opened my throat back up, but left my mouth feeling like it was full of cotton.
Then the on call doctor put my feet in stirups and asked for forceps. She dug around while I screamed from the pain, looking for the source of bleeding. Was it a tear? Was there a piece of placenta that got left behind? She couldn’t see anything because of all the blood, and I was begging her to stop. “If we don’t find it here, I’ll have to take you to the OR”, she said. So I swallowed hard, nodded my head, and let her continue.
There was no tear, nor was there any placenta pieces. What happened to me was called by the nurses, ‘lazy uterus’, and is the #1 complication of birth. After Laurelyn was born, my uterus checked out and stopped contracting. I had noticed the lack of contractions, but everything felt nice and firm every time the nurses checked me, and my bleeding had been normal, so we shrugged it off to my body just knowing the drill with this being the third time around. But since my uterus stopped contracting, it didn’t clot on the inside. My uterus was filling with blood in the hours after the birth, until it came gushing out in a tidal wave. Thank God the medical staff at the hospital moved so quickly and immediately started pushing drugs to get the bleeding to stop. Because even though they moved so fast, I still almost died. If they had wasted even half an hour, this story could have ended very differently.
I was told later that after it was all over, I looked like a corpse. I certainly felt like one.
The nurses suggested that we let them take Laurelyn to the nursery for the night. I absolutely hated the idea; I had never been separated from my children so soon after birth. But I couldn’t even turn over onto my side on my own because I was so weak. So even though it absolutely broke my heart, we agreed and let them take our hours old newborn away. I felt like I was failing her already.
The next day my doctor decided to give me two units of blood to help me bounce back a bit quicker. The day after I received the transfusions, I felt significantly better, so I went home.
This birth experience definitely put the whole birthing process into perspective for us. This bringing life into the world is serious business. I very easily could have died this time. Luckily, God’s still got work for me to do here.
But if I had died bringing Laurelyn into the world, she would have been worth it. For she has the sweetest little spirit. We didn’t realize it until she was born, but there was a hole in our family, and Laurelyn fills it in perfectly. She has been such an easy going, happy baby. Even while I was bleeding out, she slept peacefully through it, waiting patiently for me. Though she has not slept through the night since that first one, but I will allow her that one vice. I am honored that I get to be her mother, for I get the front row seat to watch her shine her brilliant light of love into the world and watch it touch people.
Laurelyn Amarië, God has very special plans for you. I am so proud of the person you are becoming, and I can’t wait to watch you grow this next year. Mommy loves you, my golden unfading flower.