Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Will Praise You In This Storm

A lot of people have expressed to me their fears that I may become angry with God if I have not already done so. Several mommies have told me about how they turned their backs on God after their tiny babies went night-night. I'm not mad at God. God didn't want my babies to go to sleep. He knew that was going to hurt us very badly. He knew because He had to watch his son die, too.

Yes, God knew what was going to happen to my babies. He has always known, even before he knit them together in my womb. It is easy to wonder, "If He knew, why didn't he do anything about it?" I don't know, but like I told Gabriel, God has to make some babies angels. I just didn't know it was going to be my babies.

So, I will praise Him in this storm. How can I not praise Him for my children? Do I hurt more now than I did before I had either of them? NO. Not having them, not knowing if I ever would have them, was way worse. It was hopeless. Would I hurt less if I would have never gotten pregnant with Tater Tot in the first place? NO. Tater Tot spent the six months prior to his/her conception giving me a reason to live and his/her 11 weeks in my womb making my heart beat again.

Thank you, God, for sending Gabriel Nicolas to me, for he made me a mommy.
Thank you, God, for sending Tater Tot to me, for she healed my broken heart.
Thank you, God, for sending my next baby to me . . . healthy, for he will give rest to my outstretched arms.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Damsel in Distress

Yesterday, Phat Skinny’s BBQ catered a wedding, or more accurately, Mrs. Skinny catered a wedding. Phat Skinny had to work, so I had to do everything by myself. I was stressin’.

I prepped the pork at 5:30 AM before work on Thursday (three days ago) thinking that Skyler would put it on the smoker since it was his day off. Of course, I never told him I wanted him to do that, nor did he ever say he would. You’d think I’d just met the guy or something, considering that this scenario sounds nothing like anything he’d ever do, and he has never been one to complete honey-do lists.

The pork did get smoked and pulled on Friday by Skyler’s brother while we were both at work. I chose not to mess with any of the food preparations on Friday night because I wanted to have the night off to relax. Plus, we lack the refrigerator space necessary to store large quantities of prepped food. Thus, I was up early Saturday morning making the final preparations.

On Saturday, I lit the smoker (okay, I made Skyler’s brother get up to do it), prepped and smoked the barbeque beans and reheated the pulled pork on the smoker. I sliced onions and got the pickles and bread ready to go. I also had to clean out the car in order to make this delivery because Skyler put wood in the trunk the weekend of the Fall Fun Fest, and it was a mess.

While the food was on the smoker, I went to town to run a few errands (the bank, the car wash, etc.). On my way back home, I was surprised to look at the clock and see that it was already 1:00 PM! The food was still on the smoker, the pork was not yet sauced, and I was expected to have it in Newburgh, IN, a 30 minute drive, by 2:30 PM. I knew I wasn’t going to make it, especially since Skyler insisted that I stop and pick up chafing dishes and sternos to keep the food warm.

I backed the car up to the smoker, popped the trunk, and brought the scale outside to weigh out the correct amount of beans and pork that we had promised. I added the final ingredients to the smoked beans, weighed and wrapped them, and placed them in the trunk. I then got out the barbeque sauce, stirred it into the meat, weighed and wrapped it, and set it into the trunk, as well. After loading the car with the bread, pickles, onions, potato salad, and macaroni salad, I just had one more thing to do before I was off – find out how to get there!

I finally took off at 1:45 PM (yeah, I said it takes 30 minutes to get there AND I had to make a stop, too). I called Skyler at work, in tears, telling him that I wasn’t going to make it in time if I had to go pick up the extra equipment. He called Gordon Food Services and asked them to have my order ready for pick-up. (I wanted him to say, “Just don’t worry about getting it,” but I knew he wouldn’t.)

The MOG (mother-of-the-groom) asked me to have the food there at 2:30 PM. I pulled up at about 2:33 PM. There were about 30 guests already there, but thankfully the wedding party was not! Breathlessly, and with the help of a few guests who took pity on me, I set up 40 pounds of pulled pork, 27 pounds of beans, a gallon of pickles, a large tray of sliced red onions, 15 pounds of potato salad, 10 pounds of macaroni salad (the potato salad and macaroni salad were a donation from us because it was leftover from the Fall Fun Fest), 80 buns, and six loaves of rye bread.

It was a huge relief when it was done. I heard everyone loved it, and I walked away tired and with the [well-deserved] cash. ;)

Below, you’ll find something that I thought I’d never let anyone see: my secret bean recipe. Now, if you live in the Tri-state, I don’t expect you to actually use this. Just call us or shoot me an e-mail, and we’ll cater your event for you so you can have your beans made by Mrs. Skinny herself!

2 cans (6 lb institutional size) Show Boat Pork N Beans (well drained)
2 cups of sweet BBQ sauce
4 cups brown sugar
5 TBSP + 1 tsp yellow mustard
½ cup pancake syrup
1 cup finely minced onion
3 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp black pepper

***Smoke on a wood smoker (not too close to the fire) with no lid/cover in a doubled foil pan (two together) or in a shallow cast iron pan for 2 ½ hours at 325 degrees. Then stir together and add to the smoked beans:
¾ cup sweet BBQ sauce
½ cup pancake syrup
3 cups brown sugar
2 cups pulled pork/pork fat

*** Pic #1 - the beans getting prepped
*** Pic #2 - the beans with all the yummy ingredients added, ready for the smoker
*** Pics #3 and #4 - the beans, smoked and ready to be devoured - Oh, yeah!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dilation & Curettage

It’s a fancy name for something so brutal . . .

It felt like being called a liar, or more accurately – crazy. “You’re not having a baby,” I heard. In a moment, the image of last September’s blood flashed in my mind. I’ve been here. I know this feeling. I just want to grab someone and shake them and make them believe me – “I really am pregnant!”

“No. Your baby has been dead for weeks.”

How could I not know this? What kind of a mother am I? There was actually a moment in time when my child’s heart stopped beating, and I was too busy to notice. What could have been more important than my child’s heart?

Within just minutes of finding out my second child had died, I was asked to start making big decisions.

“When your first child died,” the doctor said, “it was like, ‘Okay. That’s just something that happened.’ Now, we’ve had another unexpected loss, so we need to get some answers.” She seemed to be saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

The only way to have a chance at finding out what caused Tater Tot’s demise was to do a D&C. Lab tests would be done on his/her remains. I wanted to keep my baby with me one more day, so I requested that the surgery be performed on Friday (this was Wednesday). You have to understand that, for me, holding a dead baby is better than holding no baby at all. I knew that once the surgery was over and my baby had been scraped out of me, he/she would be gone forever – just like Gaby was gone forever once I laid him in the ground. I have had dreams/nightmares about digging him back up and running away with him – far, far away so that no one could take him from me. I didn’t care that he was dead; I just wanted to hold him again. Thinking back to those dreams, I was in no hurry to hand over my baby.

I carried Tater Tot with me the next day and said my good-byes. Mostly, I told my sleeping baby that I was sorry. Before his/her conception, I thought there was no way that I could ever have it in me to take my child for granted after what happened with Gabriel, but I did. I let myself get upset. I let myself get so caught up in the woes of this world that, at times, I actually spent more time crying and worrying about life’s troubles than rejoicing over my miracle.

“I did this to you, my baby, and Mommy’s sorry, so sorry. I’m glad you get to go to Heaven and be with Gaby Baby, though. He loves you, and I know you two are gonna have so much fun.”

Skyler and I arrived at the hospital at 5:15 AM for the 7:15 AM surgery. Just to give me peace of mind, another ultrasound was performed. We saw our precious baby lying so still. We heard the silence inside my womb where his/her heartbeat should have been. At 11 weeks 2 days pregnant, our baby measured only eight weeks growth. How is that even possible? At Tater Tot’s eight week ultrasound, he/she looked completely perfect – perfect heartbeat, amazing movements, a tiny little spine forming. The baby’s yolk sac was visible at this ultrasound as a tiny little circle that appeared to be positioned above the baby.

“It looks like a tiny halo,” one nurse commented.

“It just proves the baby really is an angel,” the other nurse replied.

I wanted to set her straight. “My baby is NOT an angel!” I wanted to say. But, of course, I didn’t. She didn’t know any better. She didn’t know I already had an angel and didn’t want another one.

Just days later, Tater Tot flew away.

I cried as I lay down on the operating table. I remember the nurse laying warm blankets over me and drying my tears. I remember her prepping both my arms with IVs. I remember the anesthesiologist saying, “I’ve just put some medicine into your IVs.” I remember . . .

Waking up. Crying. Realizing what just happened. Crying and begging the nurses to get Dr. Leinenbach. “Where is she? I need her!” I cried. I remember that I thought I had something important to tell her, but I know what I wanted to tell her because I couldn’t quit telling the nurses. “I miss my babies. I miss them, and I want them back!”

I begged God for my children. I know God made them for me. I love them very much, and I am very thankful for them. But, what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to feel? I laid my newborn son in the ground eight months ago, and now I just had my second baby scraped out of me.

Dear Lord, what do you have for me now?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can I Hold Your Baby?

That was the theme of the 2010 Fairfield Fall Fun Fest – at least for me, anyway. Ever since I found out Gabriel was going to pass away, I have longed to hold a baby in my arms, especially a baby boy. Whenever I see a woman holding a baby I always ask her (in my mind), “Can I hold your baby?” I never really ask, though. Who wants to let a crazy woman hold her baby and pretend he/she is her own? I just stare at them jealously and then go home and cry my eyes out to Gabriel in one of my many never-to-be-sent letters to him.

I told Gabriel in one of my letters:

“They think seeing a baby or holding a baby will cause me pain or worsen my pain, that avoiding babies will keep me from hurting as much, but they don’t realize the longing that I have - how unnatural it is to have empty arms after having a full womb.

I thought about why I would like to hold a baby boy even though I would be trading just moments of relief only to relinquish it for the aching in my heart that would surely double after just a taste of what I’m missing:

It’s like I’m suffocating, and if another mommy would just let me hold her baby boy it would be like letting me breathe her air.

It’s like I’ve had outstretched arms waiting for you to fall into them, but you don’t, and if another mommy would just let me hold her baby boy, it would be like offering respite to my quivering arms.

It’s like when your heart stopped beating, Gabriel, my heart stopped beating, too, and if another mommy would just let me hold her baby boy, it would be like lending me her heartbeat.”

So, this weekend I didn't hold back. I took full advantage of every mommy's sorry heart for me and asked to “borrow” their babies for just a few minutes. They gladly obliged. I wish I would have known it was that easy six months ago.

I held all these babies in between sprints of making a few hundred BBQ Nachos at a time. Fairfield is addicted to them . . . tortilla chips, pulled pork, nacho cheese, pickles, red onions, black olives, jalepenos, and sour cream. Oh, my gosh. It is sooooo good. We also sold pulled pork sandwiches, baby back ribs (they sold out quick!) and, of course, Mrs. Skinny's Lemon Shake-Ups. We were so busy, and now we are so tired.

***A pic of all our Fall Fun Fest cash!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bees and Babies

Today is day two of the 2010 Fairfield Fall Fun Fest. This is Phat Skinny's BBQ's third year at the FFF as I like to call it. This year's festival was full of two things that left Mrs. Skinny dangling on the edge of an emotional breakdown:


There were bees everywhere! Mrs. Skinny's Lemon Shake-ups (apparently a.k.a. Nector of the Gods by the Queen Bee) was a serious attraction for the flying pests. All day we battled the creatures in vain. We used a battery operated bug zapper/badminton racket to turn many of them into crispy critters. I sprayed them with bleach (I actually felt bad about this, though.). We swatted them with a spatula (It always attracts customers when they see you swatting at insects with your cooking utensils.). There was no way to discourage the thirsty, sugar-sucking monsters. I just wanted to scream at them and throw a tantrum and cry and beg them to leave us alone!


Wouldn't you know it? The Fall Fun Fest was full of babies. I don't just mean babies in strollers. I mean babies in bellies. I'm pretty sure almost every woman between the ages of 30-35 was expecting. Well, okay, maybe it just felt that way to me, but there was most definitely an ironically high number of pregnant bellies - beautiful, precious, pregnant bellies.


I have told many people that I learned from my experience with Gabriel not to ask why - not to ask why bad things happen to good people, not to ask, "Why me?" But tonight I'm really tired, and I don't have the strength or self-control to prevent myself from asking such a dangerous, self-destructive question. So, I'll take the bait that has been dangling in front of me all day.......WHY??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why can't I be one of the pregnant bellies?

Why can't I be a part of the joyous conversations about due dates, gender, morning sickness, baby showers, and the excitement of an upcoming miracle?

Why do I have to work my butt off selling barbeque nachos and standing on my feet all day long when I should be sitting up on a pedestal right now because I am way too busy with the most important job in the world?

Why can't people look at me and ache to have something that I have instead of just gazing at me with pity in their eyes.

Why?! Why?! Why?! Why?! Why can't I just have my baby back?!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Carrying an Angel . . . Again?

After viewing out sweet little baby at our eight week ultrasound, it seemed like nothing could touch us. I even posted on Facebook, “Look at our HEALTHY baby.” Presumptuous? Maybe. I know from experience that a good looking eight week ultrasound with a perfect heart beat is no indication of whether or not you'll bring that baby home.

We named our little one Tater Tot after hearing a character on General Hospital (our favorite show) refer to baby Josslyn Jax as “Carly and Jax's little tater tot.” I am really glad that we gave our baby this special name. It helped me make a distinction between the new baby and Gabriel, as we never referred to Gabriel as our tater tot. It was hard for me to separate the two, partly because I told myself I couldn't make the distinction, and partly because Gabriel was inside of me such a short time ago that I felt like he was right back with me. There were a few times when I even caught myself talking about Tater Tot in my mind, and I accidentally called him Gaby. That's okay, though, isn't it? Doesn't every mother mix up her kids' names?

We loved Tater Tot. We talked to Tater Tot. We set our hopes and dreams on Tater Tot. I told him/her every day that I couldn't wait to hold him and kiss him and nurse him. I was never going to let him/her go. I wouldn't have to. No one was going to come and get him and take him away from me and say I could never see him ever, ever again like they did with Gabriel.

This pregnancy was perfect, perfect that is until I just smiled a few too many times. I couldn't have been more excited to go to our 11 week ultrasound. We were going just for fun, just because the nurse practitioner said she would schedule an ultrasound if I wanted her to. “Okay!” I said.

We showed Judy, Gaby Baby's favorite sonographer, Tater Tot's eight week ultrasound photo that was taken at the fertility clinic and told her all about his/her dancing and arm waving. She wanted to see for herself, so she inserted the probe to do a vaginal scan because we weren't quite far enough along yet for a belly ultrasound. It took a few seconds to adjust the image on the screen, then it took a few more seconds to adjust the image so that we could really believe what we were seeing – Tater Tot just lying there, completely lifeless with no heartbeat, no dancing or arm waving. Judy hung her head sadly.

“No!” I jerked away from her and away from the probe that was telling the lie about my baby.

“Guys,” Judy shook her head. “There's no heartbeat.”

“Judy,” I protested. “I am fine! I am fine. There is nothing wrong with me.”

“I'm going to go get the doctor and have her come and look. Would that help?” she asked.

“I know what I see. I'm not stupid,” I retaliated again to a woman who couldn't be any nicer to us but was always in the unfortunate position of telling us the worst news of our lives.

When Dr. Leinenbach walked in the room, I began to try to convince her that I was fine, tried to get her on my side, as if that could change the unavoidable truth. Judy inserted the probe again for Dr. Leinenbach to see. The doctor asked me if I saw a difference from my last ultrasound. I could tell she thought I was going off the deep end. I told her I could see the problem was that there was no difference. My baby was the same size as he/she was three weeks ago but this time with no heartbeat and no movement. I couldn't help myself, though. I kept telling her that I was fine, that I really was pregnant. If my baby was dead, I would know about it.

I got dressed and went into her office. A year ago Skyler and I sat in her office and cried because she told us she suspected our baby had a lethal chromosomal anomaly - something that was “incompatible with life.” Today, we listened while she told us that we needed to find out if a chromosome defect was why this baby had already left us. The only way to do that was to perform a D&C (Dilation & Curettage.). This would allow her to get the baby's remains to pathology and hopefully find some answers. Besides, eventually I would start miscarrying on my own and likely require a D&C anyway.

“But this is Gaby's baby!” I buried my head in my hands and cried as the awful realization of the day hit me. My miracle is gone. Gabriel's brother or sister is gone. The little person that I have been desperate for for months is gone. My reason for not giving up is gone. My chance to have a part of Gaby Baby back in my arms is gone.

*** Top pic is Mommy and Tater Tot 10 weeks pregnant. Bottom pic is Tater Tot's 11 week ultrasound picture. "Night-night, Tater Tot."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

God Resurrects Dreams

During the difficult months following Gabriel's birth, there has been one thing that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other, besides my promise to him that I would – my hope for another pregnancy. When Gabe died, I had made peace with that in the weeks prior to his birth. I did not, however, have closure on the loss of the pregnancy. It was simply ripped away from me without any warning.

Despite my unbearable longing to have a full womb after it lay empty and aching for months, it wasn't easy to make the decision to seek another pregnancy. It wasn't easy, that is, until the day came when I was allowed to try again. Then, we just couldn't get there fast enough! I really didn't feel scared that anything would go wrong again, and I knew in my heart that I would conceive.

With my desire to become pregnant with one child (though my doctor liked to tease me that he knew I wanted twins), the doctor prescribed the exact same protocol that led to my pregnancy with Gabriel – an HSG to flush out my tubes and 125 IU daily of Follistim, which helped me produce two follicles during that cycle. I was completely shocked when the nurse scanned my ovaries this time and found that I produced three follicles! There was actually a chance, though very slight, that I could conceive triplets. There was a decent chance that I would conceive twins. There was little doubt that I would become pregnant with at least one baby.

The day of the procedure, the nurse gave me a lab slip for a blood pregnancy test dated July 20, 2010. I knew then that I would become pregnant. July 20, 2009 was the date on my lab slip for the blood pregnancy test that proved I was pregnant with Gabriel. By July 20, my period was already two days late. The test came back positive for pregnancy. Skyler and I celebrated by going to Garvin Park in Evansville where we celebrated Gabriel's conception one year ago. We were overflowing with hope and joy, something that was not coming easily to me in those days. We were also very anxious, for we knew what I was potentially carrying – or how much I was carrying I should say! It could be twins or triplets! What are we gonna do?

Skyler and I intended to keep this news a secret, at least until we had the opportunity to tell our families. We went to church that night, though, and we couldn't help ourselves. Our mouths practically burst open with the news of our miracle baby! We couldn’t help it. How do you hold in news that fabulous? Stuff like this just doesn’t come along often enough in life. Everyone was beyond excited to hear about this precious gift from God.

I was beyond excited. Ever since I said good-bye to Gabriel, I thought I might never make it to this point. It has been an uphill battle. I promised my son I wouldn't give up. So, when I grew tired and could no longer make the climb, I got down on my knees and crawled.

August 4, 2010 was our first ultrasound at six weeks gestation. I was worried sick that we were going to see more than one sac. I was really, really worried that we would see more than two sacs. The potential for three was lessening the blow for the possibility of twins. The probe was inserted, the screen came on, and we saw one beautiful amniotic sac and one very tiny fluttering heartbeat!

After our big lead up telling everybody that we had the potential of a triplet pregnancy, I suppose it was a bit of a let down for everyone to hear we were only having one baby – not for me, though. I knew we could handle one baby. I knew we could spoil one baby. I knew I would be able to nurse one baby and satisfy that intense craving that left me going crazy after Gabriel's birth. I also knew that, with one baby, I would never have to put him/her down. I was never going to let this baby go. I would be holding that child as much as I wanted. I would be kissing my baby as much as I wanted. I would be gazing at my baby with starry-eyed love as much as I wanted. Oh my gosh! I can't wait!

At eight weeks gestation, we had another ultrasound. We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw our tiny baby on the screen. Its heart was beating perfectly, and he/she was dancing! Gabriel wasn't able to dance at eight weeks, but we didn't know any better. This little tater tot was waving and kicking its arms and legs. It was unbelievable. Even the nurses were impressed. One of them said that all of this embryonic movement was an indication that the baby's neurological system was developing normally. Is there anything more wonderful than a perfectly formed neurological system? Not to me.

The future is looking brighter. I'm smiling and genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. Everyone says I'm glowing. The story of this child's miraculous conception gives listeners goosebumps every time. I cannot wait to grow with this baby and get to know him/her. I can't wait to feel the baby moving inside of me and to fall in love all over again. God is bringing everything back to me full circle. The pregnancy test was on the one year anniversary of Gaby's pregnancy test. The baby's due date is only one week after Gabriel's (March 30, 2011). My pregnancy time-line is the same. This last March, Skyler gave me a promise ring with an aquamarine – the March birthstone. It was a symbol that we would one day have what we thought we were going to have, and here I am carrying a child whose birthstone will be aquamarine. God loves me so much. This baby is a keeper.

***Pictured above is 6 week ultrasound and 8 week ultrasound***

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saving Myself

My time since Gabriel's birth has been more difficult than I imagine anyone really knows. I'm very good at smiling through the pain, especially through the pain of death, but I don't know why. I've always been that way, at least since a few years ago when Death dealt its first excruciating blow. My mom died in 2005. I didn't shed a tear at her funeral. I smiled and wore a perfect face. In 2006, Death struck again. My dad died, but all that was seen from me was a sparkling smile and perfectly painted lips. So this year, as I laid my newborn son to rest, I stood at the front of the line beaming with pride, comforting the sobbing friends and family who came to pay their respects.

How could I manage that disposition? How did I carry my child in my womb knowing that any day I could wake up to find that he had fallen asleep? How did I put him in the ground just days after he was full of life inside of me? How did I continue living when my reason to live was gone?

Believe it or not, it wasn't that difficult when my baby was inside of me. I loved him too much to be sorry for who he was – or who he wasn't. I was so proud of him that I wanted him to hear me telling the world what a special boy I had. I wanted him to hear me thank God for him. There was no time to be angry with the Lord, as I only had a short time to teach my son about Jesus. Yes, I bawled and grieved for my baby's impending death – in secret. Mostly, though, my grief was secondary to letting my little boy know that everything would be alright. Everything would be just as it should be.

When you leave your house one day with a full belly and come back the next with a confused body and empty, aching arms, it isn't as easy to convince yourself to carry on for the sake of your child. Most days I told myself there was a chance he could still hear me where he was. There was a chance he was listening to how I talked about him. Maybe he was watching to see if I was right, if things were really okay, if Mommy was really okay.

Mommy wasn't okay. Mommy didn't want anything to do with anyone or anything. Mommy only wanted to be close to one person, but he was too far out of reach – so far out of reach that I thought about getting myself to him in the most unthinkable way, in a way that would never really land me in the same place as an angel. So, I did the only thing I could do to get close to my baby. I began to write letters to him.

At first, I wrote my letters in a notebook that I intended to be a keepsake. Rather than talk to my baby about my grief, I wanted to talk to him about his life. So, I started my letters telling him about the joy of his conception (in baby terms, of course). Then, I went on in my letters to tell Gabriel how very happy I was to be pregnant with him and how I looked forward to every moment of it. The time came in my letters, of course, to tell him what the doctors saw on his ultrasound – wings. I wouldn't get to keep him, afterall. I had to tell my little boy that he was going to Heaven soon. I had to let him know that Mommy was so okay with this that I would personally hand him over to Jesus when the time came.

Every night, writing these letters to my baby kept him close to me. It satisfied just an inkling of my longing for him. They kept me busy reliving his life, busy with a project that was all about him. Eventually I realized that I had more than a journal. Gabriel was giving me a special gift, making one of my lifelong dreams come true. I was well on my way to writing a book – a book about our incredible story of loving and mercifully letting go of Gabriel Nicolas.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gabriel's Amazing Birth Story

We went to the doctor for an ultrasound on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Everything looked great. The doctor didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t carry Gabriel another two months. The next afternoon I lost my mucus plug (but wasn’t completely sure that was it) but felt perfect, so I was just going to call the doctor the next day to tell her about it. In my mind, I thought I might just run over after work on Thursday to get checked out. As I left the house at 7:00 AM to go to work on Thursday morning, I felt only a very little pressure, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t felt occasionally anyway. I told Skyler on my way out that I would just take a half day and we’d go to the doc when I got home. I went to get my purse off the kitchen counter and had to sit down for about 30 seconds until a new wave of pressure subsided. So, I walked right back into the bedroom to inform him that I was just going to run over to the school to get things settled “just in case” and I’d be right back to go to the doctor.

When I got home at 7:45 AM, he was doing laundry (this takes him a while because he doesn’t have much practice. ha! I tried to wait for him. The pressure was getting closer together and more intense, which I thought was weird because I knew they weren’t contractions, (What did I know? It was my first baby!) and I knew he wasn’t in the birth canal (wrong!) because the sonogram two days earlier showed his little legs just kicking away.

Anyway, I finally got to the point where I said I couldn’t wait any longer. Skyler wanted to time the contractions on the way over. I didn’t want him to know how close they were, so after he got the time on the first one, I breathed very quietly to hide the next one from him. We got over to my doctor’s office at St. Mary’s at 10:30 (I packed a bag just in case, but I told Skyler I felt stupid doing so because I thought I was making the whole thing up). She wanted to check for a heartbeat, but I couldn’t sit still through the pain long enough, so she checked me and I was fully dilated and she could feel my baby's feet! He could have fallen out in the car! I was supposed to deliver at Deaconess because of insurance, but at that point, it was too late to drive over there, so I stayed at St. Mary’s.

I went upstairs and I was in a lot of pain every two minutes, but they were still able to give me an epidural. Then, the doctor felt his legs in the birth canal. I wanted to wait to give birth, though, because nobody was there except for Skyler and me. My sister was three hours away. I waited for her. The doctor said it depended on how much pain I could stand. I lied and said I was fine. When she walked into the room at 2:15 PM, it was one of those unforgettable moments in life. I told them I was ready, and Gabriel was born in less than 10 minutes. . . . .alive, tossed up on my belly in that amazing birth moment every mommy dreams about.

Gabriel made precious little cries, stuck out his tongue, wrapped his tiny hand around Daddy’s big thumb, and made funny faces. It was the most precious time of our lives. He did all this for about 45 minutes. Then, he started to fall asleep as his heart rate dropped. It was okay, though. Very peaceful. He took his first and his last breath in my arms. I got to keep him with me and hold him all night long. I even got up, walked the floor with him, and sang to him at midnight for our first and our last time. It was all so precious and we are so thankful to God for every big and little miracle that was brought to us through our little Gabriel Nicolas.