I’ve been gathering my thoughts about Thatcher’s Birthday. Hard to even put words down really, but here we go..this is a picture heavy post, but I’m so proud of them I don’t even care. Katie took all of the birth pictures and I’m so thankful for them, I don’t think she’ll ever know how much I treasure them. The whole day was a perfect storm of tender mercies and just thinking about it makes me a weepy mess.
Wednesday, September 14th. I hardly slept the night before, I was just so excited and nervous and anxious. It felt like the ultimate Christmas morning. The Christmas morning to beat all other Christmas mornings. It was a normal morning- we got up together, made breakfast and packed a lunch for Isabelle. Jazz ran the kids to school while I gathered the last few things and blow dried my hair. At 9 we drove Bitzer over to my moms and dropped off three bags of stuff she would need to take care of our kids for the next few days. And then we were off.
Driving to the hospital was surreal. The same parking lot. The same entrance. Carrying a small bag of stuff. All those memories from Max’s birth were running through my mind. This will be different, I kept telling myself. We rode the elevator to the labor and delivery floor. We walked hand in hand down the hall, past the NICU where our little Max died. We got to the nurses station to deliver our cinnamon rolls and check in. Hi! We are here to have a baby! Immediately a few familiar faces came out to give us hugs and kind words. Those nurses are so special! Marcela was our nurse- she was around for our experience with Max. She made sure I had a different color gown, that Jazz had scrubs, that our pre-op room was different than before. So sensitive to our situation.
We sat in triage together, nervous and excited and ready to meet our baby.
Katie showed up. Katie is my dear friend of twenty years, who has taken a lot of family photos for us. I got special permission to have her in the OR to capture our first moments with our new baby. I had been feeling so nervous about getting enough pictures and documenting everything- mostly because that is all we got with Max. Katie came with her shining face and bright smile and took away a lot of my nerves. We laughed about the giant white suit she had to wear. We took some selfies. As we got closer to surgery time, she stepped out and me and Jazz had a few minutes alone. I think he was probably more nervous than me, but he didn’t show it. He held my hand and we talked about Max and about the new baby and about our kids at home.
A little after noon, the surgery nurse came and got me. She said, “Okay, how do you want this to go, what do you want. Let’s make it happen!” We walked together down the hall to the OR- I kissed Jazz, and I walked into the room where my baby would be born. The same room little room where Max lived his short life. It seemed so much smaller than I remember. I was feeling so nervous I know I started crying a little bit. Heart pounding, palms sweaty, mouth dry. I knew Max was near, I felt his presence, I knew he was close by as we were about to welcome his little brother into our family. Sitting there waiting for the spinal, Can’t Stop the Feeling was piped into the room. I don’t know who turned that on or why, but it has been our summer JAM. My kids have been obsessed with that song- we have danced to that for months and instantly I started laughing. A tender mercy, a silly reminder of my happy little family.
Soon I hunched over for the spinal, bless that anesthesiologist, he was really good. Same doctor I had with Maxwell’s birth. I laid down on the cold table, feeling the baby move inside of my body, my feet getting tingly and numb. This is it, I said to myself, there is no going back now. I can do hard things! We are here, we are gonna have this baby today. The next time I stand up, I won’t be pregnant. The medicine started to take effect, the numbing sensation creeping up my body. It’s a weird feeling, one I don’t particularly enjoy. My OB and the assisting OB came in and gowned up. Jazz came in and I was so happy to see his face. I was feeling ALL the feelings. So nervous, anxious, thankful. Also nauseous and numb. Everything was ready. Dr. Kang paused for a minute, and she reverently prayed for us. For a strong healthy baby and for my recovery, for our family and gave thanks for this experience. AMEN we all said. Ugh I’m so thankful for that woman and the whole team that took care of us.
Incision was made, and they went to work. I kept asking Jazz to distract me and tell me a story. I can’t remember what he said- I think we talked about when we got married and then our honeymoon. It felt like it was taking forever to get to the baby and it made me even more nervous. Dr. Kang told me they were being careful and taking their time but all was well. We waited and waited, then I heard my water break and someone said “Uterus”- a nurse gently took down the drape in front of my face. Before I knew it, a slippery baby was placed on my abdomen and the we heard the sweetest sound of that frantic newborn cry. The baby stayed on me while they cleaned him up, I got to lift my head and see him. I said, “Oh he’s so small! He is so cute!” He looked so petite compared to the Maxwell’s chunk. At this point I was just sobbing- SUCH RELIEF. He was here! And breathing! And pink and so cute and everything was going so well. Tears poured down my cheeks and I kept asking Jazz to wipe my face… My nose was so stuffed that the little oxygen prongs were doing nothing so finally I just took them off.
Baby was assessed and dried off, I could hear him crying and I was so thankful for his loud healthy cry. He was weighed- 7 pounds 15 ounces- Jazz definitely won our bet, I thought he would be right around nine pounds. They joked that if he hadn’t peed, he would have been over 8 pounds. Jazz got to cut the cord. I even got to see my placenta, which was both weird and also really awesome. The nurse brought that baby over to me and put him right by my face. I could feel his skin and he was so warm and pink! She lifted my gown, and plopped him right down skin to skin. I kissed his face and felt his soft little hair and just cried- so much had been building up to this moment and I was so happy…so relieved…so thankful! I looked at his little fingers and toes and my hands were free so I could hold him. I will forever think of that moment, such healing, redemption, my sweet little baby here at last. It was better than I ever hoped or expected, I don’t think I am describing it very well. Total happiness.
As tradition, I started to sing Happy Birthday. And the nurses and doctors and techs all joined in and we alllll sang happy birthday to our new little boy. It was such a happy birthday. I don’t think I could finish the song I was just so immensely overcome with gratitude. The whole pregnancy I had been praying for many things, something specific was that the baby would be born with healthy lungs so he could stay with us in the OR. Answered prayers! Healthy lungs, pink healthy baby. I am so thankful for that time- maybe 45 minutes- that I got to spend with Thatcher right away after birth. After a long time, the nurse came and took him to get the rest of his measurements and get some gunk out of his lungs. The anesthesiologist was so kind and moved the drape so I could see to the side- I got to watch everything they were doing. People are so good! Baby came back to me for a few more minutes, and then Jazz and Thatcher went to the recovery room while I was being sewn up.
This was the same room that we held Max after he died. I have tender memories of my parents coming through those doors, of the nurse wheeling in Max in his little bassinet. I thought it would be so difficult to be there again- relive those difficult moments. But it wasn’t. I wasn’t sad for Max, I was happy for Thatcher. No baby will ever replace Max! I was so overcome with gratitude and relief that there wasn’t very much room for my grief, and for that I am so thankful. This was a birthday, after all, and we were celebrating. It was the same room, but it was totally different.
Jazz and I took turns holding our new and still unnamed baby. He looked so much like Lincoln! Little chin, little face, but he had blonde fluffy hair around the back of his head. I saw his fuzzy blonde hair on his little back and shoulders- so so soft. He was also given a bath right there in the room with us- something I’ve never been able to experience. Fresh and clean, all wrapped up- we held and enjoyed our little baby for a few hours.
His breathing was a little bit labored and he was retracting a little bit in his chest, so they decided to take him to the NICU for observation and a little bit of oxygen. We had spent so much time together and we were so happy, having him go to the NICU wasn’t disappointing to me at all. We wanted a healthy baby- going to the NICU for awhile was going to be the best thing, I know it’s really common for c-section babies. Jazz went with him to the NICU, right across the space where they had worked so hard to revive Max. I’m sure that was really difficult for him to be back there again. I stayed in the post op room and Katie kept me company, which was so nice. I didn’t know I wanted or needed a friend there until she was there, and we were laughing and smiling and talking about the beautiful experience we just had. I felt great. High as kite on those post-delivery endorphins. And also, morphine.
Jazz came back in from the NICU after a few minutes to give us a little update. When he walked in, he looked at me and said, “I hate to admit it, but I think he looks like a Thatcher.” YES! I was thinking the same thing, and it made my heart explode to know he agreed with me without even discussing it. We had several names floating around and Thatcher had not been Jazz’s favorite, not by a long shot. But when you know, you know. Within a few minutes, it was official. We texted our friends and family and rested until I was moved to my recovery room, where we would spend three glorious days getting to know our fresh little heavenly baby.