Thursday, February 21, 2008

Emma's Birth Story

Morning sickness was long gone, but my back ached and I was so tired of pregnancy. We were expecting our baby to come around the end of December, but by the middle of November I had a strong feeling she would come early.

My pregnancy, Emma’s birth and her life so far have taught us a new level of faith and hope, and revealed to us the love of our friends and God’s blessing and healing power in our lives.

Not long before the events I'm talking about Bill and I married blending our family with two sweet daughters. This was our first baby together and early on in my pregnancy I knew that she was different from my first. I could sense something fragile about her and I could not shake the feeling that she would come early and that there would be something significant about her birth. I dreamed about it and the feeling turned into more of a premonition, and on a Monday morning late in November, after two days of being seriously sick with the flu I felt the contractions start.

The sickness was the worst I had ever experienced. I could not keep anything down, even a drink of water. I was violently throwing up anything I would try to eat and then nothing at all. I could not sleep, I could not find even a moment of comfort and when I coughed I felt my whole belly quiver and burn. We went into the hospital and they stopped the contractions by giving me fluids. The contractions were gone but I was still sick and two days later I was back more. Again the contractions stopped but I still did not feel relief.

On Thursday I woke up and I felt different. The contractions were lower in my abdomen and instead of the sharp tightening of Braxton Hicks, they were deep and dull. I remembered my dreams and waited for Bill to get home from work.

We checked in to the Birth Center, of which we'd already become pretty familiar, and once again I was hooked up to the IV for more fluids. They checked me and I was dilated between 5 and 6 cm. The nurse left the room after telling me that they’d be discussing ways to stop labor and fear rose up in my gut because I knew my baby needed to be born. Minutes later she came back and told me it was too late, I was too dilated.
Bill and I looked at each other, both realizing what was really happening and instantly our fears were replaced with anticipation to what was coming next. We had no idea about the challenges we would face later and in the days ahead. As I lay there in the hospital bed relief came to me for the first time in days.

Unlike my first baby for which I filled out a birth plan with “whatever” as the most common request, I decided I was going to take charge this time, not allowing continuous monitoring or pain medication. When my doctor came in at 4:30 p.m. she thought I looked a little too comfortable and almost went home for dinner. At 4:50 she thought she should check my cervix before taking off and despite my smiles and conversation I was almost 9 cm. dilated. “Never mind,” she laughed, “Let’s break your water, this baby is coming.” She ruptured my membranes and the contractions came instantly, hard, fast and about twenty seconds apart.

Earlier in the afternoon a massage therapist had come to offer a massage which I so gratefully accepted because of my continuous back pain. She showed Bill a couple of techniques using application of pressure to relieve pain. I sat on an exercie ball while he applied pressure to my lower back as I took relaxing deep breaths. Soon I felt the need to, well, either push or pee. I got up to go to the bathroom just to be safe but I soon realized that I was wrong and with the contractions coming so fast I found myself stuck on the toilet. Bill quickly came to my rescue and helped me into the bed.

Emma Joy came at 5:25 p.m. after four pushes. The doctor laid her on my chest and I stared in amazement at this little baby who I already felt I knew. Her head was full of thick black hair and her skin was purplish brown. Bill cut the umbilical cord and I had my only moment with her before the nurse took her to clean and weigh. Even though she was a month early she weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and was 19 inches long.

After the pediatrician came the voices on the other side of the room grew hushed and serious. I wanted to hold my baby but they explained that her abdomen was distended and they quickly needed to figure out why.
We were confused and exhausted and only wanted to have our baby in our arms. I wanted to breastfeed and Bill wanted to know that she was safe, but neither of us would get what we wanted that night or in the days immediately following.

While Bill drove home to get some things that we had not thought to pack, the doctors came to me with the news they were going to transport Emma to Children’s Hospital in Seattle, about an hours drive on a cold and icy night in November. The thought of my baby in an ambulance on the icy freeway filled my heart with worry. I called Bill and told him that she was leaving without me. All that was happening was so surreal and I didn’t recognize the anxiety growing in my husband’s voice.

After Bill had returned and in the final moments before she left we circled around our baby in the hospital nursery. My parents came and were shocked to see their new granddaughter with tubes in her mouth and nose and monitors on her chest, hands and feet. Her belly was very swollen and she looked so fragile and small. I didn’t know how I could touch her without disturbing any of the monitors and suddenly this life I knew so well within me seemed foreign and so far from me.

We all prayed for her safety and healing and then she was gone, and Bill was gone and I was alone in my room. I could not sleep and so I called my friend Heather from church. She promised to pray and also pass along the prayer request to the church body. After talking and crying to Heather, I hung up feeling comforted and soon sleep found me and I rested better than I had in weeks. Many people were praying for our family that night.

Meanwhile at Children’s Hospital Bill waited with family members until 3:00 a.m. for the doctors to talk to him and make a decision about whether or not to take action that night. They decided to wait and monitor her closely. Bill was exhausted and tried to get some rest to no avail.
On Friday morning I met him at the hospital and was so relieved to see Emma safe and looking comfortable in the NICU. Bill had been with her, holding her tiny fingers and singing to her throughout the morning.
When I saw her I felt like I was meeting my daughter for the first time. I felt unsure but soon my maternal heart started to open again.

The tube was in her nose and the monitors were on her chest with readings of her heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen on a screen nearby. There was a tube going down her throat pulling fluid from her stomach. An IV was bandaged to her tiny hand and a heated lamp hovered over her little plastic cradle. They had put a hat on her head and swaddled her in a thermal blanket. Every once in awhile she would stir and sometimes cry out but most of the time she slept as if she hadn’t left the comfort of my womb.

Later that day they did a tap, sticking a long needle into her abdomen from which they hoped to extract whatever was causing the swelling. Dr. Kyle, Emma’s doctor in the NICU came to us shortly before it was our time to leave. They had pulled blood from her abdomen. Fresh blood indicating that she was bleeding from one of her internal organs. They were going to continue watching her throughout the night and decide the next morning whether they would need to operate. If her condition worsened during the night they would have to do something then. Then they sent us home with a pager in case the worse came to be.

I decided to stay at my friend Megan’s house near the hospital so that I wouldn’t be too far from my baby. Bill planned to drive home and get some much needed rest, which still would prove unattainable.

In Megan’s driveway Bill and I sat and pondered the possibility that our baby girl might not make it through the night. We closed our eyes, held hands and prayed together for the first time in our marriage, besides mealtimes and church. Bill, with such determined faith, prayed for God to heal our little Emma and thanked God for his faithfulness in our lives. Traces of doubt tried to creep in but I would not let them stay. If my husband had such faith in God’s healing power I felt that was reason enough for my own faith to be strong. Again I felt peace and slept well until the morning.

God was faithful. When we walked into the NICU the next morning Dr. Kyle told us that overnight the bleeding had stopped. The nurses were giving her nourishment through an IV and there was no need to operate. Later that day they performed an ultrasound and were confused. All of her organs were perfect, no rips, no tears, no scarring. The doctors couldn’t understand what had happened but we knew and our faith grew stronger.

She was lethargic because they had given her a little too much morphine for her tiny body but we had seen God’s healing power and we knew He would continue to heal her.

Over the next few days we spent every minute possible with Emma. Finally on the day before Thanksgiving they let me nurse her. She latched on right away and I stayed with her overnight to feed and weigh her every three hours.

After that day I went down during the day and had to go home at night. Nothing can describe how difficult it was to leave her there, but I prayed for God to keep her asleep until I could be with her and when I was not with her I pictured Jesus holding her in His arms.

Finally after she had been in the hospital for ten days her jaundice was under control and she was finally gaining weight and we were able to being her home.

Words cannot describe how wonderful it was; to be home, to be a family and to live with all that had been given to us; our healthy baby, a new faith, and a new love for each other.

Emma is four years old and between her humorous personality, sweet laugh and continuous health you would never guess what she went through those first few days after birth. We discovered the name Emma means “ancestrious” or “to bond a family together”. God’s plan was more than we could have expected and we are so thankful.

Something I know to be true is that when we face difficult circumstances

in our lives, God always provides us with the strength, the faith, the peace and the love to make it though.

And we know that God works all things out for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Romans 8:28

We can also trust in God’s plan knowing that He looks at us like a father looking in amazement at his newborn baby, amazed at how he could have created something so beautiful and so perfect and knowing that we have a purpose and His glory will shine brilliantly throughout our days.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Best Place to Be

How is it that sometimes we feel as if we’re in the worst possible place, emotionally, financially, mentally or physically, but at the same time something inside tells us that we’re at the best possible place? Does it make any sense?
I’m not talking about a drug addict hitting rock bottom although that is an extreme example of how it is possible to carry on in life until suddenly things come crashing down to wake us up. No, I’m talking about how we can live our lives doing what is right and feeling pretty good about it; with a little bit of pride developing along the way that tells us that we really have a handle on things. Then something happens; we receive a letter in the mail or a phone call. Something that we had planned doesn’t work out and the realization hits that we do not have as much under our control as we thought. We feel like we failed and memories of other failures quickly resurface. Upon losing our sense of control fear sets in, fear of what can happen, fear of what we do not know. We realize we’re once again down in the valley fighting the notion to give up even though we sense that something better does lie ahead. But to get there we will have to travel through someplace we have never been before.
On Sunday the pastor said (not in these words exactly) that when the giants look the biggest we are that much closer to the Promised Land. Isn’t that what made the Israelites turn away only to die in the desert? Instead of giving up like they did I want to learn from them and trust God to fight these giants so to speak. On her show recently Joyce Meyer said “Do what is possible and then have faith that God will do the impossible.”
On the other hand, what about these feelings of fear? After all, when we start to face the inevitable what is kept under our polite guise seems to turn into somewhat of a monster. If that stops us and we turn away from what God is trying to teach us we will probably end up in this place again, but the day when we do come into the abundant life God has for us will be no closer until we take these steps, learn and grow.
The Lord says “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” So let us enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. He is our Father and his house is filled with good things.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Creative Writers' Group

Thursday was the first meeting of our writer's group and it went well. I thought the best part was being able to share ideas.

Jenny told us about where you can enter weekly contests and have an opportunity to be published in their quarterly books. To be published isn't the only benefit of this website, because you will also be able to practice topic writing and meeting deadlines.

Every good writer knows that reading is a must, especially literature, particularly classic literature. Nicole told us about Project Gutenberg, a website that publishes books older than 100 years which you can download and read on your computer. Find out more at

I gave information on the upcoming Northwest Christian Writers Conference, taking place May 2 – 3rd at Northwest Baptist Church. I attended the conference last year and it was definitely worth the time and money. Tickets are $139 before March 15th and $159 after. Go to for more information.

Next month you have the option to bring a piece of writing to share with the group. If you’d like some peer critique bring several copies and make sure the piece is double spaced. This is a good opportunity if you have an article that you’re thinking about submitting to a magazine or newsletter, or if you’ve been working on a book. If you need an idea you can choose one of the following topics:
Topic One: Something you had to overcome
Topic Two: The funniest part about being a mom

The objective is to receive constructive criticism to help make your writing better, but even so I know it can be scary to put your writing out there like that. I think that if you take the risk you'll learn it was well worth it. I will say that it is optional though and if you don't have a piece of writing to share don't let that stop you from coming.

I really want this group to be one that we encourage each other to use our gifts of writing. See you March 6th at 7:00 p.m. And again if you know of anyone else who might be interested pass along the info.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Creative Writers Wanted

Are you a woman with a passion for writing? I am starting a creative writer's group with the purpose of encouraging each other to grow as writers. We'll meet one evening a month to share our writing, have an opportunity for peer critique, and openly share our struggles and successes. Here's the details:
Creative Writer's Group
Where: Jewel's House
When: Thursday, February 7th
Time: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Email me at if you want more information.


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