I gathered my things and I was out the door. There were several people expecting up to the minute details via text, so I started them bright and early. While I was texting, I couldn't help but think how truly blessed I am to have a group of girlfriends that share the exciting times in my life, but most importantly I know I have a group of girlfriends that I can call on at anytime to be prayer warriors. I knew that the day that was ahead would not be an easy one, but I knew that with the prayers and support that God would once again get the glory. I had a very long conversation with my friend Jill on the way to the hospital. She and I both were talking about how we knew just how excited and nervous Amanda must be that morning. Before we hung up she told me she'd be praying, and would be waiting patiently for updates.
I arrived at the hospital shortly after 7a.m. Amanda was already dressed in her lovely birthing attire, and the show was getting on the road. Her mom, Marsha, was already there. I was trying my very best to control the excitement within me. I didn't want to be the chatty cathy that I've been known to be when I get nervous or extremely excited. My dear friend sat there looking just beautiful. She had a glow about her. Her husband, Justin, was doing what most men do... relaxing, and eating his breakfast that I brought to him. Amanda was chipper, smiling, and ready to meet her sweet boy. Nene, Amanda's mom, was as excited as I was and she and I just couldn't wait.
After getting her i.v. started, the dreaded "Pit" was added to the mix. Pitocin is a drug that helps with contractions. It'll jump start anyone looking to have their baby! :) I've had pitocin with both of my labors and it can get ugly, in my opinion anyways. The pitocin started doing its thing and it wasn't long until we started seeing Amanda's face twinge a little. They, the contractions, weren't bad right away but you could tell they were letting her know they were there. She was still smiling, and we were having a good time. Around 9ish sometime her cousin Trisha arrived and she helped keep the mood light. She and I were trying to answer any questions that Amanda had, and may have even told her some stuff that she'd rather not known.
Almost noon, her contractions were really starting to pick up. She was getting to the point of closing her eyes and not talking through them very much anymore. Her nurse, Norma, came in and suggested she get the epidural. By this time it was around 12:30 p.m., so we all decided to head out for some lunch and let her try and get some rest. Trish and I had lunch with Justin and his mom. The thoughts of when I was in labor with Carter and Tucker played vividly through my mind on that day.
We made it back to the hospital to find Amanda doing much better. It's amazing how that epidural can put a smile back on moms face! It's 1:30 in the afternoon and she has progressed to 4cm. Earlier that morning we had written down approximately what time we thought Brayden would make his debut. Little did we know none of us would come close. 5:00 rolled around, 5cm. 6:00 p.m., 6cm. The pattern seemed to be 1 cm. per hour. Around 8:00 p.m, we had to ask that family and friends leave the room because she was starting to feel a lot of pain. Her mom and I looked at each other, nervous but anxious that this might be it. We just might see baby Brayden soon. The nurse checked her and she was only at 6.5-7cm. The nurse recommended that she have the doctor come back in and check her epidural. They ended up upping her epidural and her pitocin, in hopes of bringing this little boy into the world before midnight.
I watched as she tried her best to get comfortable. It's a feeling of helplessness. You try to be supportive, you reassure her that everything will be okay, the pain will stop but to a laboring mother those words at that moment are just words. I was sending out those promised texts, and making a few phone calls. I was texting and calling those close friends and asking them for prayers. At this point she had been at it for more then 12 hours. She was exhausted and ready for it to be over. The nurse dimmed the lights and suggested she try her best to get some rest. Getting rest is almost impossible for a mom that is laboring. Your mind is like a roller coaster that just will not come to a stop or even remotely slow down.
Around 10-10:30 p.m., the pain came back full speed ahead. Again her mother and I looked at each other silently thinking this could be it. The nurse said she was still only 8-9cm. Granted, that is great progress and the end is so clear insight but for the mother doing all the work, it's a bit disheartening to know that you've still got more work to do. I stood by her bedside and with each contraction she would grip my hand, and Justin's. Her mom watched from the end of the bed. As Marsha watched her, I thought how awesome our God is. Parents love their children, but there is something about the love a mother has for her child. She wants with everything within her to take pain away from her children. Marsha wanted nothing less then to take all of Amanda's hurt away. I reminded Amanda that God was with her. I reminded her of how lucky we are that He allows women to be a part of such a miraculous thing in life. But then I couldn't help but think how His mother watched as her son was nailed to the cross at Calvary. So many times that evening I thought of my relationship with God. I stood quietly in the corner, or behind the curtain, or in the hallway crying out to Him to give my friend a renewed strength, give her peace to get through the final stages, to hear her cry for help. I had texted my sister and she replied back saying that she had stopped her homework to go to her room and pray for Amanda, Brayden and the doctors. She referred back to a song by "Praise you in this storm" by Casting Crowns. The lyrics say,
"And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm"
11:00 p.m., she's still experiencing intense pain. The nurse checks her again and she is 9cm! The end is truly insight. Would it be minutes, or would we wait several more hours to meet Brayden. That was the question everyone was wanting answered. Amanda had become very quiet, she needed rest, she was hungry, and she kept asking how much longer. She would ask the nurse if she was making progress. I remember asking that same question with Carter. I felt as if I was never going to give birth. The nurse had the anesthesiologist come back in and he did something with her epidural again. This gave her enough relief that she did rest just for a bit. Justin sat quietly in the stool beside her bed. He held her hand and watched the monitor closely. Her mom took a seat on the couch, and I found myself in the rocker. We were all tired, but I had no place to complain... she was the one doing all the work.
I looked up at the clock and it was 12:34. The room was silent. The only thing we heard was the beat of Brayden's heartbeat on the monitor and the tick of the clock above me. As we sat quietly, each of us trying to stay awake, I once again found myself in prayer asking God to let her deliver safely, with no complications and soon. I sat there thinking how truly, truly blessed I was to be a part of a day that would forever be so special in their lives. There is nothing sweeter then the birth of a child. The room fills with excitement, tears, joy, and happiness that will do nothing but build in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. The door cracked open and in came the nurse. She asked, "doing okay?" Justin replied to her, "well we didn't have a baby while you were gone." It was funny. I have to give him major kudos. He never left her side. He encouraged her, and you could tell that he was in this with all of his heart. I told his mother, and Marsha that they should both be very proud.
2:00 a.m. she started to push. The exhaustion that was in the room was now overcome by adrenaline. It wouldn't be long now. The moment we all had waited for would be here at any moment. Camera in hand I found my place in the corner. Justin on the left side of her bed, her mom on the right. Everyone in the room giving her those words of encouragement, and she was giving it her all. The doctor came in just before Brayden was born, as they all do and with a few good pushes Brayden found himself in the arms of his mother. The moment was one that I can't explain. It was if I was reliving the moment of holding my sweet babies for the first time. Your heart is overjoyed, your cup runneth over. Justin's face was filled with every emotion possible. He was proud, he was in love, and he had the biggest smile you've ever seen. Marsha was sobbing, and relieved that her baby was now out of pain, and her baby girl now knew the meaning of love. I stood to the side watching all of this unfold and immediately thanked God for His mercy, grace, and perfect blessings that day.
Brayden shocked us all. He was a big boy!! He weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces. We teased Amanda that he was going to give her a run for her money. He was perfect in every way. He laid in the warmer as the nurses checked him over, and I thought how amazing that he was just inside his mother, and now here he is for all of us to see. God is so good.
I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. If you have never witnessed a birth first hand, you don't know the feeling. It's a feeling that I can't explain. I want too, but I just don't feel I can even remotely come close to what it's really like. All I can say is I watched a miracle. The sweet cry he made when he took his first breath, the color of his skin, the perfection of his ten tiny fingers and toes. The ability that God gives to women, the strength we didn't know we had. The love that we never thought we could feel. It's all there in that room. Tell me there's not a God and I'll have to tell you your wrong.
By this time it was now almost 4:30 a.m. I had officially been up for 24 hours. I said my farewells and headed home, in hopes of getting some much needed rest before my little guys would wake up at 7:00. On the ride home I just replayed all of the days moments again, and again in my head. I couldn't help but think about how Amanda will relive this day again and again in her own head. She'll look at that sweet baby lying in her arms and be amazed. She'll watch him grow, and learn and still be amazed. She'll thank God countless times for allowing her to be this child's mother. As the little song Carter sings, "my God is so good, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do!!" How true is that? Just before I turned on the final stretch to my house the radio started playing, "Praise you in this storm". The tears began to flow and I thanked God for watching over my dear friend during that stormy part of her life as she welcomed her sweet baby into this world. I prayed that he would watch over Brayden as he grows, and watch over their family. It is my prayer that the love they felt on that early February morning will do nothing but grow stronger each and every day... I'm sure it will.
Mom and baby are doing great. They came home Saturday afternoon and are adjusting just fine to their new way of life! Thank you to all of you that sent me emails, comments, and prayers. You don't know how much they mean. THANK YOU!!!!
Amanda & Justin,
Thank you. I hope that the pictures I took for you will be something you will treasure always. The two of you are going to be wonderful parents, and I am so proud of you. Brayden is absolutely perfect, beautiful, and I just love him. I want you to know that God allowed the birth of your son to remind me of how truly blessed I am to be a mother, to have healthy children, and to be able to experience such a joy in life. I pray that Brayden brings that same joy and happiness into your homes. From what I saw yesterday, he's already doing a wonderful job!!!! Many years of love, peace, happiness, good health and precious memories to you all!!!