Monday, May 12, 2014

Baby Mustard Seed's Birth Story...

I took my ipad and keyboard to the hospital for Baby Mustard Seed's birth, because I fully intended on typing up Baby Mustard Seed's birth story.  You would think that spending four days in a hospital would give you several opportunities to blog, but during the moments that I wasn't trying to deal with pain or attempting to get some sleep, I was soaking in every single moment of being a mommy to this amazing baby girl that God so graciously has allowed to join our family.  I find myself staring at each of our kids' precious faces, and I'm just in awe of these three miracles...3 miracles that at many times in the journey, I had lost all hope of ever receiving...3 miracles that I don't deserve, but in God's kindness He saw fit to place in my arms...3 miracles that each hold their own special story of how they came to be.  And today, I'd like to share with you the story of Baby Mustard Seed... 

I've shared before how we have called this little girl "Baby mustard seed" because when we first found out that I was pregnant with her, we learned that she was the size of a mustard seed.  It was such a fitting name for her, because in the Bible, we read about having faith the size of a mustard seed:

Mathew 17:20
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.  NOTHING will be impossible for you."

Little did I know that her name would continue to "grow" in meaning to me though...

I've mentioned before that gardening is not my forte at all.  However, my mother loves to take care of plants and flowers, so I know it takes a lot of time for things to grow.  Some seeds take much longer than others to grow, but all of them require some amount of time to reach their ultimate potential; gardening requires patience. 


Do you almost start cringing at the mere sound of that word on your lips?  We so long to see the end result, but the process to get to that finish line isn't always quite so lovely.  In fact, it can be downright the moments before having Lucy and then again before having Gabriel that I would fall to my knees and cry so hard that I couldn't breathe from the realization that we once again were not pregnant.  I desired to be a momma more than anything I've ever desired.  I felt CALLED to be a momma...and yet there was nothing else in my power that I could do to make that happen.  But you know what?  Each of those tears I cried, my Heavenly Father was holding in His hands and pouring over me in unrecognized nourishment to me.  He was using them to prepare me.  Just as a gardener waters the unseen seeds in a row of dirt to prepare them to become what they were meant to be, God was preparing me for motherhood, and when it finally bloomed in my life, it was more beautiful than anything I ever hoped for or envisioned...  

What's even more interesting about plants is that many of them not only return to bloom each year, but many of them spread out more and more with time.  But me, not knowing much about plants and flowers, couldn't tell you which ones do that.  Well, Lucy was CONVINCED that our "garden" was not done growing!  She kept saying, "Mommy, you're going to have a baby in your belly and it's going to be my sissy that I'm praying for."  She specifically prayed for a brother AND a sister, and she just KNEW that God was going to give her a sister.  Me, on the other hand, had finally been able to lay that desire down.  My heart was so full at being blessed with two children when I didn't even know if we would be able to one, so I had laid down my desire and trusted God with forming our family, because after Gabriel came into our lives, I truly began to understand the beauty in allowing God to have control.  Yet The Lord was still watering away, and I just didn't know it...until we found out we were expecting.  

As I reflect back on all of this, I realize that God was once again teaching me beauty in patience.  Some things come about quickly, and other things take much longer, but EVERYthing that God grows comes out beautifully.  

The process of being pregnant had some not so beautiful moments.  I think I had the stomach bug 2-3 times during this pregnancy, on top of all day "morning" sickness for the entire 9+ months.  I say 9+ because, being my "patience baby," mustard seed obviously didn't arrive on time!  LOL;-)  Having had a c-section with Lucy, I didn't expect my doctor to let me go much past 39 weeks in this pregnancy trying for a VBAC, so the whole pregnancy I fully expected this baby to arrive well before her due date. We had guessed 4-4-14, but that came and went.  The next guess was 4-10-14, because that was DH's birthday and we thought it would be really special if she came then...but that date came and went as well.  So then we said 4-14-14.  You guessed it though--no mustard seed.  Seeing that she was due 4-23, and Easter was 4-20, we were VERY nervous that she would try to debut on Easter Sunday (which is probably a music minister's biggest Sunday of the year!)  But Easter, too, came and went, and still no sign of Baby Mustard Seed.  My desire for a VBAC was slipping further and further away.  I was having contractions but not progressing a single tiny bit. I was devastated about this at first, but after some wise words from my mentor, I was able to work through my emotions over the possibility of not having a vaginal delivery.  As I prayed about it, I really felt the Lord telling me that me not progressing was His way of protecting the baby and me from a potentially harmful delivery.  For whatever reason, I realized I was not meant to labor this baby, and He gave me a peace about that.  (This decision was not made easily--it was made with a lot of tears and anxiety--but I knew it was the right decision.)  So when we made it two days past my due date and my doctor told me, once again, I still had not progressed at all, we knew that it was time for Mustard Seed to enter this world--not in the way that I had initially intended or hoped for, but in a much better way, because it was HER own special way, and I knew her birth story would still be so very beautiful, because it was how it was meant to be.

My doctor happened to be on call all last weekend, and he suggested us coming in for the c-section on Saturday, since they don't schedule c-sections on the weekends, so it *should* be much easier to get into the OR rather than waiting until Monday.  I went for my pre-op at the hospital on Friday, the 25th, at 2pm.  We finished up all of the paperwork (the registration lady had me down for coming in on Sunday and I kind of freaked out a bit.  It was just a typo tho.) and then they had me answer several questions, sign several papers, do bloodwork, and give me instructions for the following morning.  I was to call the hospital at 9:30 to make sure they had a room for me (I think a part of me knew in the back of my mind that a potential issue might arise with that phone call...) and then we would arrive at the hospital by 10AM, get checked into a room, and Baby Mustard Seed would arrive at noon...And they all lived happily ever after, right?  ;-)  It didn't really go that way tho...  but Im getting ahead of myself.

I knew I would be pretty hungry having to wait for surgery until noon the next day, so DH wanted me to pick out my "last supper."  He suggested places like Olive Garden and Red Lobster, but you know what I ended up picking?  CHIKFILA!  haha:)  Maybe it's because chikfila is kind of where everything began (DH's and my very first date way back in the fall of 2000;-) but for whatever reason, that's where we went.  We stopped by the church on the way home for DH to finish up a few things, and then we stopped at Walgreen's and I found some new pink nail polish.  My Nonnie called me that evening and we had a nice conversation, and then the night ended with my precious mother in law massaging my feet!  (She had also been staying with us since the previous week to help out with things before the baby arrived--it was so precious of her to do that for us!)  Of course, sleep didn't come easily for me.  I think I grabbed an oreo around 1AM since I couldn't eat or drink anything past 4 AM (why I ate one oreo I really have no's not like that was going to tide me over!) and I finally dozed off around 2...and was up by 5:30 and pretty much dozed a bit here and there for the rest of the evening.  I was exhausted, but my baby would be here soon, right?

So, I get up the morning of April 26th, everyone got ready, my mom arrived, and I called the hospital
right at 9:30.  I could hear in the tone of the lady on the other end of the line that something was not right.  After being placed on hold for a few moments, she said, "I'm sorry, but we don't have any rooms available right now.  We had several stat sections come through.  If you don't hear back from us in an hour, call back and we'll see if a room is available."  My heart sank.  Part of me dealing with having to have a repeat c-section was me feeling like I didn't have a lot of control over the type of birth I desired, and here I was, once again, powerless over this situation.  I went to the kitchen where my mom and DH were.  Dh had just come in from loading the car and asked something along the lines of if we were ready to go, and I broke the news to him,  He started asking questions that I didn't know the answers to and then I just kind of freaked out and blew up on everyone.  So not my brightest moment by a LONG shot.  In fact, it was quite possibly one of my worst moments.  I was a nervous wreck about going in for surgery, I was HUNGRY, and I was exhausted...still not excuses for being ugly though, so I apologized, which was gaciously and lovingly accepted, and I waited...and called the hospital back exactly one hour later.  The pause in the lady's response was long enough for my heart to sink before she told me, "We still don't have a room, BUT, it looks like we might have one by noon, so call back in an hour to make sure."  I tried to lay down and get some rest during that time, but again, I was far too antsy for that.  I had been dreading this surgery so much, but at this point I was ready to BEG for it!  I called back at 11:30.  No pause from the lady this time.  "Yes, we have a room!  Start heading this way at noon and we'll get you checked in!"  I was so excited!  But I also had this feeling maybe we should have just gone ahead and headed to the hospital right at that moment.  However, I chose to follow the instructions they gave me, and DH and I headed to the hospital around noon. 

We both headed to the registration desk a bit nervously but also with excitement, knowing we would soon be meeting our baby girl...we were met with a confused look from the registration lady.  "I wish you would have called before you came up here--we don't have any rooms."  I responded, "But we DID call just 30 minutes ago and they told us to come here at noon."  Apparently, another stat section had come through between 11:30 and 12, and another girl had come in right before me.  So, they had us go sit in the lobby to wait.  At this point, I'm STARVING and having contractions (nothing to warrant needing to be admitted though, unfortunately!) and am totally unsure as to if we are even going to be able to be admitted that day.  DH asked if I just wanted to wait and come back the next day, but I had no desire to possibly go through the same thing all over again the following day!  So we waited, along with a very "interesting" group of people who were waiting to be admitted as well.  I got an earful of expletives and actually just glared at them at one point (9+ months pregnant and starving=no filter.) They were a bit more careful with their verbiage after that!:)  They ended up getting called back with a room (DH and I looked at each other, realizing that if we had left sooner, we would have gotten that room!)

I was feeling pretty antsy, and around this point my mother sent me this gorgeous poem she had just written. The words truly touched my anxious heart: 

Despite the uncomfortable waiting area and the uncertainty of the situation, I knew there was a reason and it just wasn't quite time for baby mustard to come.  And honestly, with as anxious as I had been about the whole thing, it was best that we had all of that time to wait, because then I was truly ready to go into surgery.  A nurse came down and explained what was going on (it wasn't actually a shortage of rooms but a shortage of NURSES.)  She said they were finishing up a c-section and should be able to get me to a room in about 30 minutes.  At this point, we knew we were going to be able to have her still that day and not get sent home.  But then 30 minutes came and went, and an hour came and went...And then another pregnant lady came in, obviously having contractions, and I started to freak out a little bit.  This lady was going to get my room probably!  But the lady at registration called us over and quickly got us into the system so we could go ahead and get into the room.  I was SO thankful and relieved and EXCITED as we took the elevator up to the 2nd floor and headed into room 3 at about 3:30.  Yes, you read that right--we waited in the lobby for almost 3 and a half HOURS!  They immediately got started prepping me for surgery.  It all went so quickly!  I started feeling a bit flustered, and then all of the uncomfortable stuff started happening so the IV.  She couldn't get it in the first time (holy cow that was painful!) and the next vein she tried kept rolling, but she was finally able to get it in.  Then my doctor came in and told me we would be headed back as soon as they finished everything up (you're usually in your room for about 2 hours or so, but we weren't in ours for even an hour probably.)  He also informed me that he would let me EAT immediately after surgery!  Oh happy day!!  My best friend since junior high had driven up and been killing time all afternoon waiting for me to get in a room and she sat with us and visited for awhile (so sweet of her to do and a special time.)  We called our moms and had them go ahead and head our way with the kids. By the time they got there, it was probably only 10 minutes before they came to take DH and me back to the OR. 
I hugged and kissed my babies and told them I loved them, and as we walked out the room, my sweet baby boy started yelling "WAIT!  WAIT!!"  Oh my WORD it just broke my heart!  But the waiting was over and it was time for Baby Mustard Seed to make her debut.

It was kind of weird to walk myself down the hall into the operating room.  It was a nurse, DH, and me. As we rounded the corner, we stopped by a bench outside the OR where DH was given some scrubs and told to wait while they prepped me for surgery.
 This is probably the part I hate the most--not having him with me every step of the way.  My husband knows how to comfrt me more than anyone else--he's my rock in so many ways--so it's just scary to walk into the OR without him.  As I took those last few steps from the hallway into the OR, that all too familiar feeling of dread kind of washed over me for a second.  I was immediately transported to 6 and a half years ago when I was wheeled into the OR in Springfield, IL for Lucy's c-section.  The difference this time though, is that once it washed over me, it was completely overturned with an overwhelming sense of peace.  The OR even had a peaceful feel to it...and of course the ever so lovely "surgical smell" and freezing temperature!  There was one nurse and the anesthesiologist in there getting things prepped and they said, "Don't worry--you'll be numb soon and the temperature won't matter!"  Ummm, not exactly completely comforting to me!  LOL:)  I glanced at the clock which read 4:30 34 seconds.  It had been a long day, but it had all led up to this. They had me get up on the table and Baby Mustard Seed was doing her typical dance moves. As the anesthesiologist got everything ready for my spinal, he noticed my tattoo and asked about it.  I said, "It's an icthus.  It's the symbol for Christianity."  He said, "I knew it was that symbol but what did you say it was called?"  He started asking me questions about it, like why the symbol for Christianity was a fish.  It was neat to be able to talk about how Jesus came to make "fishers of men" and what that meant, and it also helped distract me from getting the spinal.  I was reminded how we can turn any conversation towards Christ, and I was thankful for the opportunity to talk about Jesus, even in an operating room:)  (See, Mom--my tattoo isn't so bad after all!;-)  The spinal was painful, just as I remembered it being before (but this time I didn't break out into hysterical tears with a panic attack.)  What I had forgotten about, though, was how much it effected--basically my whole body was numb except for from my chest up.  It's such a strange feeling.  They had me lay down quickly, and before I went totally numb, baby girl was still doing her crazy white girl dance moves!  I then immediately started feeling very fuzzy and woozy...but they were right--I wasn't cold anymore at least!  Dr. Gordon came in and everyone continued talking very light-heartedly.  I remember asking when DH could come in (I was so afraid they were going to start before he got in there!) and they assured me it would be just a few minutes. Then Dr. Gordon asked if I had picked out my pandora station.  (He had told me at my appointment the day before that the only thing I needed to worry about was what kind of tunes I wanted playing in the OR;-)  I should interject here that I am THE most indecisive person, and even something as simple as this was hard for me to decide on.  DH and I had discussed it on the way to the hospital earlier that day, and he suggested Chris Tomlin.  The anesthesiologist typed in tomlin into a pandora search, and "How Great is Our God" started playing.  It was so calming to listen to those words and also to hear my doctor singing along to them.  The next song was Casting Crown's "Who Am I," which is when they let DH come in.  I seriously wanted to cry when I saw him enter the room.  He was pretty much covered from head to toe in his scrubs with the exception of his gorgeous eyes peeking through the mask.  His eyes immediately spoke love right to me, and I could tell he was smiling, even though I couldn't see anything but his eyes.  He sat down to my right and looked right at me and said, "You're my hero."  Ohhhh how I love that man!  We started talking a little bit, and Dr. Gordon and the nurse got started.  The song playing as our baby took her first breaths was "My Saviour, My God."  They got her head out pretty quickly and I think I remember them mentioning she had dark hair.  They let DH snap a quick picture and he showed it to me--it was so neat to be able to get my first glimpse of her before she was even fully out of my belly!  My first thoughts were how I thought she looked a lot like Gabriel actually!  (Funny thing is that when I told that to DH later, he said he had thought the exact same thing!)  They couldn't get the rest of her out quite yet though.  Dr. Gordon made a comment about how he had underestimated the size my incision needed to be.  We we would soon find out why.  As they pulled her out, you should have heard the nurse and Dr. Gordon!  They were saying "Wow!  She's so big!  Where were you hiding her?!"  I had expected her to be around 8 and a half pounds, maybe close to 9.  I remember crying when they said she was out, and I was just SO anxious to see her!  They were cleaning her off over to my right and I told DH to go over there to her.  I couldn't see her because of everyone standing around her, but I DID see the scale which read 9 lb 14 oz. 


I remember saying something like, "Is that right?! Is she really that big??"  Everyone in the OR was completely shocked--no one was expecting her to be almost 10 pounds!  My doctor said, "Consider this God's gift to you that you didn't try to labor this baby!"  The anesthesiologist then commented how it was no wonder I wasn't progressing any because she was just too big to be able to get down into the birth canal.  And even though I already had made peace that this was how she was supposed to enter the world, I felt like finding out a reason was God's gift to me.  I didn't necessarily NEED to know why I wasn't able to have her vaginally, but I realized more and more that God was protecting me and my baby.  Indeed, this was exactly how SHE was supposed to enter this world.  

Around this time, the song "Our God is Greater" started playing.  They finally got her wrapped up and we had our first few moments together.  I didn't get to hold her, but I touched her face and kissed her smooshy cheeks (which is the one thing I had been saying for several weeks that I couldn't wait to do!)  She was so pink and chubby and just BEAUTIFUL!  The anesthesiologist snapped a few photos of us and then it was time for her to go back to the nursery, so I sent DH off with our big sweet bundle while they finished sewing me up--but only after counting THREE TIMES to make sure they hadn't left anything iside of me;-)  This time, I didn't have to get re-opened and give birth to a sponge! (My c-section with Lucy was pretty traumatic.)

Right before they turned off Pandora, I got to hear the beginning of one more song.  I almost started crying as I listened to the words.  It was "Blessings" by Laura Story.  For those of you who have not ever heard it, it basically talks about how we pray for good things--for blessings--for ourselves, our family, and our friends, but what we often forget is that sometimes blessings come through trials and difficulties and storms.  I couldn't help but think of all that the Lord has brought us through as we have struggled to expand our family...How the road often seemed so long, but through it all, God was preparing us for His path for us, and He was teaching us how to praise Him through the stoms.  Each song that had played in the OR that day touched my heart so deeply--from the first song proclaiming how great our God is, to the next that talks about how God hears every single pain and hurt we feel and pour out to Him, to the next that says we can't always understand His ways but we can trust His character...our baby girl took her first breaths and spent her first moments of life hearing Truth proclaimed through song, many of those songs being ones she had heard her mommy and Daddy sing together while she was in my tummy.  It was such a beautiful moment, and even though there were several people in the room, it at times felt like it was just God and me in there.  He was reminding me of the journey that He had carried me through...

So what does one name a child who has been on that kind of journey?  Our baby had grown from the size of a mustard into a mound of faith (someone wrote that on my FB wall and I loved it!) which all started with the faithful prayers of a little girl.  And so, because this child was bathed in "prayer" from before we even knew she existed, and because she is truly an example of God pouring out His "favor and grace" to us, we gave our daughter the name Annie.  (which means "prayer, God's favor, and grace.)  And since each of our kids have some form of one of our names as their middle name, we also gave her the name Beth (which means "house of God.")  I'm sure you'll still hear us reference her as our Baby Mustard Seed though;-) 

It was several hours before I really got to hold my sweet Annie for the first time,
 but once again, I just had to be patient.  My recovery has had some very difficult moments, but for the most part it is going well thanks to all of the help from our church family and our moms.  We're having some pretty big difficulties with nursing, but once again, Annie is teaching me patience, so we are soldiering through it. I can already see how God has used this little girl to teach me the importance of finding joy through the journey of patience.  He's showing me how there is beauty in every step of the journey, and how the pain and heartache we endure along this way holds beauty and purpose within it.  What a gift, a miracle, a blessing, and an answer to prayer this precious babe is.  I am so in awe of how our Lord works and how He blesses His children.  I look into Annie's eyes and am so humbled that God has chosen me to be her mother and has loaned her to me.  She has found a perfect spot in our hearts and in our family--her big sister could not be prouder and is constantly saying, "She's such a gift! I can't believe I have a sister!" and her big brother is constantly peeking in on her and speaking so lovingly and gently to "baby sissy."  

Sweet Annie Beth--you are already so very loved!  We are so excited to watch you grow, and to see how our Heavenly Father continues to grow us in the process...


  1. What an amazing story. You have such a gift for writing. Love to see all of the pictures you post too. Have thought about you and your family many times since you moved from Virden. Blessings to all of you!

  2. Such a beautiful story, dear Paula-Beth! And yes, you certainly do have a gift for writing! I thought she looked a lot like Gabriel too. But there's some of Lucy there as well. Congratulations and love to all of you. (And I love the songs that God had playing for you on Pandora!!)

  3. That made me cry.