Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Celebrating Lyla

The contractions were coming right on top of each other and my epidural was only slightly successful at mediating their intensity. Lyla's heartbeat was dropping fast and she wasn't making any progress toward the outside world.

Childbirth had always been the easy part of pregnancy for me. As I carried each of my babies, I became far too familiar with the smell of my toilet bowl, dehydration, and hardened veins from all the IVs. This last pregnancy was the worst of all of them, perhaps because of my age, or the fact that my body had gone through such extreme sickness so many times already. Probably it had something to do with both.

But that last nine months had also been sweetened by an outpouring of compassionate service from friends and neighbors. As I lay on the couch, half-aware from all the medications, the women from church made sure my family continued to eat. They brought meals 3-4 times a week, making sure there were enough leftovers to get us through. My children had play dates and rides to and from school. I had rides to and from the hospital twice a week. And more than a few times, someone showed up on my doorstep with rubber gloves and scrub brushes. Yes, I even had clean toilets to throw up in.

We will ever be grateful for the sacrifice and loving watch-care of so many good, good people.

We were taken care of.

And then there was no heartbeat. Another contraction. Still no heartbeat. No stranger to delivery room dynamics, I immediately recognized the change of atmosphere. My doctor's smile faded into pure concentration. The NICU team arrived. And the cheerleading efforts of one or two encouraging nurses expanded into an entire squad of scrubs and white coats, focused only on the very clear instructions given when something is wrong.

The thought that I might not get to meet this one gripped me, became tangible. I felt desperately powerless. 

So I prayed. I mean EVERYTHING in me prayed. Because at that point it was the ONLY thing I could do.

I heard the doctor call for forceps, then felt my baby being yanked out of my body. 

The unwinding began. Her umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck, then around her waist, and her feet, and then her neck again. With each contraction as Lyla had descended out of my pelvis, the cord that had once sustained her was pulling tighter and tighter around her tiny six-pound body.

Up, Over, Around. Up, Over, Around. The doctor and nurses worked quickly to free my baby from her full-body noose.

Tears streamed down my face as Lyla took her first breaths.

Adoring smiles returned to the faces around me. Everything was right again. Peaceful.

Once again able to turn his attention to me, my doctor confessed, "In all my years of delivering babies, I've never seen an umbilical cord nearly that long."

But I was only half-listening. Now looking deeply into those precious little black eyes, I thanked my Heavenly Father for the chance to feel Lyla's chest rise and fall against my own. 

And as we celebrated her third birthday today, I thanked him again.

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