What grace, what utter joy to get to write Eli's birth story! This is all about the pregnancy and safe arrival of our rainbow baby boy.
In the late summer 2010 we both felt like we were ready to think about and love another baby. Before then we honestly didn't want another baby, we just wanted Maelee. We knew that we were still grieving and we never wanted to feel like a new baby could or would replace her... but we opened up to the idea that perhaps we would get to be parents on earth.
I went to the doctor the beginning of September to get a mole removed and to have the doctor check out my big toe for some dry skin (glamorous, eh?). The doctor wanted to prescribe a steroid cream for my toe. I knew that steroids would be very bad for a baby so I mentioned that there was the tiniest possibility I could be pregnant. I thought .2% chance. They had me do a urine test and the results came back "inconclusive." ?! They took some blood and said they would call me back the next day.
Later that night Greg and I were just finishing supper. My phone rang and I answered it, standing on the other side of our sink looking at Greg sitting at the table. The sweet doctor called and said "Congratulations! You're pregnant!" I was stunned. Greg knew right away because of my face. I think I said "really?" and then said thank you and hung up. We were both shocked and happy and scared and humbled. But I'm really glad this is how we found out because we found out when Greg and I were together, at the same time!
After a few minutes of the initial exciting happiness, the fear came rolling in. And the rest of the 8 months was a continual battle of succumbing to the fear and trusting the Lord. Our daily prayer was "please, please let us bring this baby home healthy and alive." Healthy and alive went hand-in-hand every single day as we hoped whatever happened to Maelee would not happen to this baby. I can't explain adequately how stressful it was and how hard it was to learn the lesson of giving up control, giving up your child, giving up expectations. We did not have a guarantee that things would be different this time. Oh but we hoped, we sure did hope.
We began the long road of this miracle pregnancy by just focusing on getting through each upcoming hurdle. I already had a new doctor that I found that summer (my awesome high-risk doctor preformed a mini surgery to fix where I had healed wrong from delivering Maelee). I called them the next morning and they got me started on daily lovenox shots that day. Then we had to focus on making sure baby was in the right place (and not be another ectopic). Thankfully our early ultrasound showed baby in the uterus. And we even learned that my right fallopian tube was the one used (the right tube was where the ectopic was in '08). That in itself was a miracle - showing that it was good they didn't take out my almost-burst tube and amazing that scar tissue didn't prevent Eli from making it through!
We had plenty of ultrasounds. On December 16th, we went it for our 18 week ultrasound. Baby was healthy, everything was measuring normal, and we found out that baby was indeed a BOY.
I exercised quite often this go round and I think that helped the pregnancy overall. I didn't get sick very often and I didn't gain excessive weight (like I did with Maelee). The daily shots were not pleasant and were rough towards the end when there wasn't non-bruised skin to stick... but so worth it! We had many appointments and ultrasounds and calls to the doctor's office in the next months. And I had a friend pregnant with her rainbow baby boy who was 10 weeks behind me... together we battled! I blogged some of what I was going through, very helpful. And we had a host of people loving and praying and hoping with us, their support was so needed and appreciated.
One of the hardest times was the first week in April which marked a year since Maelee died. Besides the grief of aching for her to be here turning one, we had the fear of losing another baby again. Graciously, we and baby made it through. And we thought up many ways we can honor Maelee as a family for the rest of our time on earth.
For his name, Greg came home one day and said he really liked the name Eli because of it's meaning and how it sounded in Hebrew (which he was studying at the time). We had Joseph for the middle name, it's Daddy and Grandpa's middle name. Together Eli Joseph means "My God increases." (Eli [אלי] means "my God" and
Joseph [יספ]means "increases."). We weren't sure if we would ever get to have a baby on earth. But our God increased! And the way Eli pronounced
in Hebrew sounds like "Maelee" without the "M" (though we pronounce it the English way).
But what really sealed the deal for Eli being our numero uno name choice: I was in Maelee's room, looking at her blocks and out popped his name: maeleE LInn. It's right there in her name! We wanted to honor her somehow and we are so glad her brother's name does just that. We were set on a name and had plans to tell our moms when they arrived in April and then follow by telling everyone else the week before Eli was born.
That ended up happening sooner than we had hoped. I was supposed to be induced on Monday, May 2. Our moms went with me to my Tuesday (April 26) morning check-up. My platelets were doing weird things, just like they had with Maelee. Our doctor got upset with me because I was taking my lovenox shot too late in the morning (9am... he thinks "morning" is 6am!) and you need to wait 24 hours after taking the shot to induce labor. He made the choice to admit me to the hospital to monitor us overnight, then induce that Wednesday.
The moms and I went home to pack, all the while trying to contact Greg who had just gone into a meeting. A co-worker finally got him out of that meeting so I could tell him we were hospital-bound! Not as glamorous as the water-breaking hollywood stuff... but looking back, it was exciting to have a little bit of rush-rush (albeit stressful).
Honestly at this point, I couldn't care how things went down. I just wanted to have my baby in my arms. Whatever they needed me to do to make that happen, I was game. All my hopes for a normal birth are not the reality now. And as long as we get to bring a crying baby home, that's okay!
I was focusing on laboring (much more motivation to push this time) so I didn't notice that the cord was indeed wrapped around Eli's neck as he came out. Thankfully our doctor is a pro and got that remedied before I even noticed (only Greg saw). All I wanted was to hear him cry... and the little stinker didn't cry right away. Finally, it seemed way too long but was probably ten seconds, he started to wail. Oh what a sweet, sweet sound! I kept thinking "it's happening, it's happening, it's happening like it's supposed to!" And I got to hold him. My living, breathing baby boy.
Eli Joseph was born at 1:14pm on Wednesday, April 27 to a host of really grateful people around the world.
Looking back, I definitely was in happy shock. Opposite from grief shock. If my heart could speak, it would have been saying "thank you" in a constant praise. Then relief. Such a wave of relief. Greg was more emotional than me at that moment as I had to focus on finishing labor and he brought Eli across the room to do the tests. The nurses said they were going to call the NICU nurses in because they were worried about his color, he seemed too white. I was so grateful he was alive and they said he was doing fine minus color, so I wasn't too worried. When the NICU staff came in, they checked him for a minute then just looked up and said "Um, look at his parents. He's just really white."
Hilarious. Really, quite funny. We knew he was our very white-skinned, red-headed boy from his first moments!
Then we marveled. Yes, marveled. Saying his name, holding him close. Beaming. Marveling at this creation, this being God created and was allowing us to have. I had great hopes to get a photo of Eli out to the world within a few minutes of birth... but we became selfish parents and just had this time for us. This time, a family of three on earth, time for us to bond. It was so calm and precious and content. And of course, he was really cute almost right away. Like seriously cute!
The next days were a blissful, exhausted blur. Bringing Eli home from the hospital, into his room alive and healthy, this moment will forever be etched into this mama's heart. There were, and continue to be, times of aching for these things with Maelee, a better understanding for all that we never had with her. At the same time, there was, and continues to be, much healing for getting to experience being parents to a live baby.
Eli got jaundice and we had to spend his first weekend at the children's hospital. Once breastfeeding got rolling and he wasn't dehydrated, he started to gain weight and get rid of jaundice quickly. Our family was here for a few weeks and we had a wonderful time learning what life is like with a baby!
We are beyond grateful that we were blessed with Eli so quickly after Maelee. This was an act of God's grace. We couldn't be happier to have Eli Joseph as our rainbow baby. He is one loved little man!
And that, my friends, is the story of Eli's birth!