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The Birth of Samuel Grey

The night Sam was born is a story that honestly, is rather short and simple. We were blessed with a very smooth and uneventful birth. But I feel like in order to properly tell his story, I must go back to the beginning, to when we knew that our family was not yet complete. Over the months of my pregnancy with him, the Lord was constantly pouring out endless grace over our lives in times of great fatigue, illness, exhaustion, fear, anxiety, and worry. Oh and a pandemic, can’t leave that one out. His story certainly wouldn’t be complete without all the details leading up to his birth and how sufficient God’s grace was throughout the process.

On the morning of August 10, 2019, we loaded up our crew and headed to Louisiana. We had plans to drop our big three off at my parents as we had a full day of plans to celebrate 8 years of marriage tromping through nature trails in the Louisiana heat. I was so anxious the entire drive because I knew there were things we needed to discuss while it was just the two of us. We were coming up on the 1st birthday of our third baby and if you know anything about our timelines, it meant that if we were going for number 4 - it was time. I had known all along that our family was not yet complete and that we’d have more children. My husband on the other hand, did not share that same vision. Over the past several months we hadn’t really discussed it much because I knew that we weren’t on the same page and that honestly, the Lord would have to be the one to change his heart on the issue. I felt like today was the day that I should approach the topic with him, but was worried it could be a day ruiner if the conversation didn’t go well. So there I sat, on the Mandeville Lakefront, picking over my salad and trying to find the words to start. I couldn’t wait another minute and finally just ripped the bandaid off- “I think we should talk about something….”. The look on his face was equally nervous and shocked. I immediately went into my spill starting with how I truly felt that the Lord wasn’t finished growing our family, to the practicals about how adding one more at this point likely wouldn’t change up too much in our lives (it’s already chaos, right?). His response was not at all what I expected- he just laughed and said “okay!”. I honestly was shocked. He was just saying “yes”? No pushback, no questions, no “what if’s”? Then he shared with me why it was such an easy “yes” and to this day, it still gives me chills. Apparently, that very morning at 3 am, he’d found himself not being able to sleep at all. He knew it’d be a long day and that if he was going to get any quiet time in, he should take the opportunity now while things were calm. He had been going through this really neat prayer guide (see link for those interested!). The guide walks you through a full hour of focusing on different aspects of prayer- one of them is “listening”. This portion of the prayer encourages you to take some time to just be silent and available to hear God speak. He’d done this a few times already over the past week. Sometimes he came away not having heard anything, but he was learning the art of simply being still and listening. But on this particular morning the message was so clear - listen to her. Over and over he felt the Lord urging him to focus his day on listening to me. We always laugh about his listening skills because I feel they could use some practice, but this message was no joke. He came out of this prayer time knowing that for some reason, intentionally listening to whatever words I’d share with him was of utmost importance. So all morning, as I sat anxiously in the front seat of our van waiting to bring up this conversation, I had no idea that he was waiting anxiously to hear whatever it was the Lord was trying to share with him. It’s amazing how God works. He is always doing something- even when we don’t see it. Nearly a month and a half later, it was confirmed- our family was growing again!

This pregnancy kicked itself off with a bang of nausea and fatigue like I’d never experienced in my others. I only thought I knew being nauseated before this one. It was rough, but we made it thanks to God’s grace and the release of Disney Plus. (Our screen time rates skyrocketed between the months of October and January, but still- no regrets. We were in pure survival mode.) By the beginning of February I had finally turned a corner and was feeling mostly human again. Such relief! I was ready to actually begin thinking about preparing for another baby. By baby number 4, there honestly isn’t much to do or buy, or maybe there is but you’re just much more relaxed about it all. The one thing I wanted to prepare for was the birth. I knew this baby would likely be my final time on this side of birth. If you have followed my previous birth stories, you know that baby 2 & 3 both had a difficult time transitioning after birth and ended up needing additional care that required some separation for us. In the grand scheme of things, I know that even in their births and complications, I’ve been blessed beyond measure and have much to be grateful for. But in my job, I get to witness the magical moments following a birth. Mom has worked so hard for this moment, there’s sweat, tears, groans, grunts, smells, fluids, etc and then in a single moment it all just seems to stop. This baby she has envisioned for months is finally on her chest, the noise settles, the room clears and she just stares in wonder at this wrinkly little babe who will always be a part of her. I love witnessing this moment and all its glory. But over the last couple of years doing birth work, there is always a part of me that silently grieves in this moment. It’s a moment I wanted so badly, but for unforeseen reasons my last two babies were handed to me briefly and then whisked away for additional support. Those still, quiet moments were instead spent with just my husband and me, wondering what was next and when we’d get to be with our baby. With this being our last, I so desperately wanted that moment to be different this time. I spent the next few months of pregnancy deep diving into research, studies, podcasts, etc determined to learn something new. Something that would fix it. Something that if I just put in my birth plan would prevent that from happening again. Even though I know that’s not true and we as humans do not hold that type of power no matter how many studies we read or how much we prepare, part of me was still operating under the assumption this time was going to be different BECAUSE of the prep. I was operating as if myself and even my Dr had some sort of ultimate control over this area of my birth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for birth education and preparation, but I think a big part of planning is knowing that these things don’t necessarily guarantee a specific outcome simply because it’s written on a piece of paper, but they do help you to be educated and informed of your options. The more time went on in the planning process the more I began to realize that I did not have the power to control these things. The need to control this process was honestly only adding to my anxiety. You’ll notice a theme throughout this experience and it’s that God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). I sat down with my OB one day and we began talking through all of my concerns, what I’d been reading, what I’d like to do differently, etc. She was so respectful and heard me out in every word. But sitting there that day, the more I heard myself ramble through everything, the Lord just began revealing to me how much I was beginning to rely on myself in this whole process. He was graciously reminding me that it could never work that way. Relying on myself, research, and man alone would fail me every time. His grace in this process was the only sure thing I could cling to. From then on I made it a point to move on from my planning and simply just pray for his grace over every aspect of this birth. It wasn’t until then that for the first time I was finally able to relax some.

And then, Covid was thrown into the mix and I knew my last birth would look even more different than I’d hoped. My favorite pregnancy exercise class was cancelled and I knew I wouldn’t get the chance to go again. It was looking more and more likely that my mom and photographer wouldn’t be attending the birth with us. I felt like I was truly grieving these things. None of this was what I envisioned for so many “lasts” in my motherhood journey. I know, I know- why not home? I think homebirth is a fantastic option and had it been earlier in my pregnancy I may have considered different options. But for us we didn’t feel it was an option at this point in my pregnancy and we have truly had fantastic hospital births so we felt this was still the appropriate choice for our family. Finally, May rolls around- I’m 35 weeks, covid isn’t going anywhere and yet again we’re reminded that His grace would be sufficient over all circumstances regarding my birth. I was finally at peace with giving birth during covid, getting creative with my birth team and how they could still be involved, etc. I finally felt ready! 🙌🏼

Monday night, June 8, I was 39+4. I had a feeling this was the night. I woke up around 2 am, had 2 promising contractions and then the next thing I knew was waking up to the sound of chattering kids and zero contractions. Turns out, that hadn’t been the night. I did, however, lose my mucus plug that morning so I knew that labor could be soon (and by “soon” I mean tomorrow, 3 days, or even next week). I was set to see my OB at 9 that morning and it was pretty obvious I’d be making that appointment, but was still hopeful there was a chance I could have a baby while she was in the clinic that day. By the time I got ready for the appt I was feeling pretty certain this was actually the day. Not because I was having lots of contractions or anything, but mainly because I just felt so “labory” as I like to call it. When I left her office we both laughed and said we hoped we’d see each other again in a few hours. I went on and spent the rest of the day like normal hanging out on the back porch, soaking up vitamin D and watching the kids play. The day was pretty uneventful labor wise and I didn’t really begin to notice consistent contractions till around 6. By 6:30 the contractions I was having were bringing back flooding memories of what was to come. We put the kids down early, my mom and photographer showed up and I was finally starting to accept this was truly it and I was having a baby soon. Labor was pretty normal except for the fact that I wasn’t interested in anything other than standing and leaning over a chair. My husband (who should have his honorary doula certification by now) kept offering all the things- hip squeezes, counter pressure, birth ball, peanut ball- you name it and he knew to offer it. But I said no to everything. I’m pretty sure my main response to everything was “I just want to have a baby. That’s it.” So there I am standing in a room with 3 others who have seen me labor before and know that things likely wouldn’t take too much longer. They asked me about going to the hospital and in my mind it was just hard to believe that we were at that point. I felt like labor had just started. But I’m fortunate to have a fantastic hospital and knew that everything I was doing here, I could do there. So as with every labor, I reluctantly got into the van and complained the entire 2 minute drive that I knew I’d go in and be barely in labor and they’d send me home. (Side note- I do not know why this is something I always think is going to happen. It’s literally never happened before. I’m normally not far from pushing once we arrive.) We made it in and were greeted with so many smiling faces I’ve missed! (thanks to covid I haven’t been able to attend births at my hospital 😕) I told them I was probably only 4 cm, but here we were. We got to our room to hear I was actually 8 cm and seemed to have a small fluid leak. I was so relieved to find I was closer than I thought and knew it wouldn’t be too much longer. So for the next hour labor continued as normal, I stood and leaned (and asked how much longer a few times 😂), my husband made jokes, my nurse took pictures 🙌🏼, and we listened to worship music. Things were truly going as well as they could, but I told you- I was done and just ready to have a baby. Before I knew it I was asking something that I never in a million years thought I’d ask- I looked at my nurse and I said “just be honest, if we break my water do you think the baby will come fast?”. I was already pretty sure of the answer before I asked, but I’ve never asked for any type of intervention whatsoever in labor and just wanted the reassurance from someone I trusted. We decided to do one more check before making the decision. She agreed that the baby would likely come pretty quickly if we ruptured the membranes, so as nervous as I was to do something new, I was equally ready to be done. I knew I could go on a little longer and my water would break naturally and we’d have a baby or I could just fast forward a tad and hold my baby. The rest of the story is pretty simple- he broke the water and I felt the urge to push on the next contraction. I flipped around on my knees in the bed and in just a couple contractions (I was determined to make it as few as possible 😂) HE was in my arms! Our third boy! Not knowing the gender of the baby is truly one of the most exciting moments for us. Our Samuel Grey was here and the BEST part- the Lord heard our prayers and His grace proved yet again sufficient- he was healthy and stayed on my chest with ZERO interruptions. The room was filled with sweet new baby sounds, laughter, and “Graves into Gardens.” Everything we had hoped for, prayed for, and envisioned for this birth played out absolutely perfect. I couldn’t be more grateful for my support team who encouraged me, my friends who prayed over me, my photographer and nurse who worked together to make sure not a single shot was missed, and my mom for taking such great care of my big three. Last but certainly not least, my husband. He has supported me endlessly, listened to my constant birth babble, he has doula-ed me, he knows how to use a rebozo and spin babies. He has prayed with and for me every step of the way. He is a true gem.

We are one week in and thriving (sometimes just surviving) as a family of SIX. Our big three love and adore baby Sam...a little too much sometimes. He is the perfect addition to our family and we cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for his life!