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Her story

girlBeatrix is one week old today. She is a soft rumpled crescent in her daddy’s arms—a little lavender moon in her floral sleeper, our new baby girl.

She is here early, but right on time. She is small, but bursting our seams in every way. Here is how she made her journey into her jammies, our arms, our hearts.

On Wednesday, September 6th I had an appointment that was eerily similar to the previous week when we needed additional monitoring. The NST test and AFI results were not encouraging. The doctor sent my husband, our two littlest boys, and I to get lunch in an attempt to perk up the baby. I was to go back after lunch for another try. We went to Red Robin where we attempted to remember the last time we said “party of four” at a restaurant. After lunch my husband took the boys home, and I went back to the doctor. She determined I needed more monitoring at L&D. The baby got very rowdy, which eased concerns. I was sent on my way after a couple of hours, but not before being told I was to make another appointment for Friday morning at the doctor’s office.

Thursday, September 7th was the day of our tenth anniversary. We celebrated by going to Curriculum Night at our children’s school. Sitting side-by-side in first-grade-sized chairs can be very romantic, especially when meaningful glances are stolen during the talk on spelling practice. We held hands tightly during the portion explaining the new math curriculum (Math is Fun!). He valiantly saved a seat for me in the gym when I had to go potty during teacher introductions. I know I promised to write about our tenth anniversary, but that entire day I found myself more interested in dusting the blinds and doing laundry than anything else.

Friday morning arrived. I went to my appointment, alone. My husband stayed with the two little guys. Our three older kids were at school. The baby looked relatively spunky during the NST. Her heartrate showed good variability and she kicked a few times. The ultrasound, however, painted a different picture. The doctor searched the corners and nooks for pockets of fluid, but was hard-pressed to find much. She did a couple of measurement and came up with the number 4. It’s a great number in most circumstances, a very bad number to have when measuring amnionic fluid. It wasn’t enough to stay pregnant.

I walked to L&D after calling my husband to tell him the scramble was on. Pack my bag! Get childcare! Get here! We’re having a baby! Today! Today? Wow. today…

Room #5 had a striking view of the Rocky Mountains to the west. Long’s Peak, housed in Rocky Mountain National Park, was grey and looked cold. Clouds rolled over the range and the room darkened early in the afternoon. It took several hours for everything to fall into place before my husband could come. In the meantime I was gowned, IV’ed, monitored, and given the lowest dose of Pitocin. I had been contracting on my own regularly, but they were mild. The Pitocin helped make the contractions a little stronger, but still bearable. I knew we were on our way. Finally, I was dilated enough to break what little water I had left.

Shortly after the rupture of my membranes, it was noticed that the baby’s heartrate was decelerating during contractions. It never dipped below normal heartrate levels and it still showed good variability. They had me move from side to side, which helped. I began getting tired. Watching the digital numbers on the computer rise and fall was hypnotic. I listened to music on my iPod and began feeling uneasy about what I was seeing. If the baby was having decels when I was only a few centimeters dilated, what would happen when I got to seven or eight? How would the baby handle that?

Just then the nurse came in the room and said if I wanted, the anesthesiologist was nearby and could do an epidural. Before I could really think about it, I found myself telling her to bring him in—something seemed very off to me. I’ve done childbirth with and without drugs. This was by far the earliest into labor I had ever agreed to getting an epidural. I was still at the point where the epidural hurts more than the contractions.

After a bit of crackling, pushing, bruising, it was placed. The Pitocin was increased by one mere tick. The baby wasn’t very happy. The oxygen mask was introduced. I was rotated from side-to-side, again. I made jokes about being Rotisserie Gretchen, never realizing how close I was to being Done.

An internal pressure monitor and amnio infusion were put into place in an attempt to get a better gauge on my contractions and to cushion the umbilicial cord so it wouldn’t be squeezed—the source of the decels it was rightly determined. The infusion seemed to help for awhile and I tried to rest. Soon it was 9pm, so we put on the local news on the TV. I was dilating so slowly I began to think we would have a September 9th baby. The monitors continued to draw me in. I watched the decels get worse. I saw them dip deeper. I saw them go below 100 bpm. The doctor came in the room and said she wanted to put a monitor on the baby’s scalp.

I glanced at the TV screen. A reporter stood at the summit of Loveland Pass. It was snowing, hard. Even in Colorado, snow in early September is big news. Time suddenly seemed mixed-up. Snow in summer, unexpected. Baby, unexpected. The news from the doctor, unexpected. She reached in to place the scalp monitor. I thought she’d say I wasn’t progressing. She said “the cord is prolapsed, do you know what that means?” I said yes, that the baby had to come now, and I knew I’d have a c-section. She picked up her phone and said “prolapse in five.”

Within seconds, the room was filled with people, all rushing. I was shot with Terbutaline to stop the contractions, given an anti-nausea via IV, told to drink an extremely nasty antacid. My thankfully in-place epidural was boosted. I signed papers and listened to the doctor rattle off risks. I asked if my husband could be there. They said he could as long as I didn’t end up needing general anesthesia. Someone tossed a surgical jumpsuit, hat, and booties to him. They told him they’d be back to get him when I was prepped and fully drugged. Then they ran my bed out the door, down the hall, and into the OR.

My arms were strapped down, monitors were taped on my chest, the epidural was jacked up to beached blue whale levels, and my husband was brought in to sit by my head.

“Can you feel this?” the doctor asked.

Can I feel it? No.

Could I feel it? Yes. Not in a painful way. I don’t think there has been a moment in my life when I felt more. From the moment I heard the word “prolapse” a peacefulness washed over me and I was serene. It was going to be okay. I knew it. I was experiencing the legendary and sometimes elusive Peace That Surpasses Understanding. In that peace I could feel all the prayers, the mighty protection, the impending joy, the God who was standing by to blow breath into lungs, unfurling them in a small squawk.

“It’s a girl!”

Tears. Oh. My. She cried and cried. We had been warned of oxygen and the special care nursery but she was fine and healthy. The new daddy of two daughters watched the nurses towel her off and took pictures. They wrapped her and he brought her to me. I couldn’t hold her in my arms. My eyes had to do at that moment. So I held her in my gaze. Beautiful. Safe.

Snow fell softly on the night of Beatrix Violet’s summer birth.

Not so odd.

39 comments to Her story

  • What a wonderfully told birth story! Philippians 4:4-8 is my favorite Bible verse. I’m glad that kind of peace found you in those particular circumstances.

    Beatrix is too cute for words!

  • Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. PRaise the Lord, the Author of Peace.

  • Yvonne

    Congratulations Gretchen, your baby is beautiful.

  • She is so beautiful. To God be the glory. Thank you for sharing your birth story.

  • Wonderful story. Congrats and hugs.

    Mary, mom to many

  • What a precious picture. Your entire post, though I’m sure not entirely peaceful in its process, comes across with an expression of that peace that passes understanding.

    Thank you for sharing. Beatrix is absolutely precious in her jammies and booties. 🙂

  • Tracy (tjly)

    Thank you for sharing Beatrix’s story Gretchen. You moved me to tears. She is absolutely gorgeous.

  • You are a gifted writer who told a beautiful story. Congratulations on the birth of your sweet daughter.

  • What a beautiful LD story. Sounds wonderful. I know what it’s like to have to be told you are having a c-section. My very first baby, I went into labor and it stopped progressing…his heart rate was dropping and he had to come now. Come to find out he was to big (now, I am a small frame, 5ft 7in and 135 prepregnancy) and he was born at a whopping 9lb 14oz.

    I know the feeling. It kind of hurt my heart to have that c-section, for my first child, knowing that in my state all my other children will now be required to come into the world the same way.

    But I am very thankful to the Lord he is safe, he is now one year old!

  • Gretchen, this is the loveliest thing you’ve ever written–and that’s saying something! God bless you and that precious family of yours.

  • The other Gretchen

    I am so glad that you were able to be at peace with the process of bringing your daughter into the world. It makes it so much easier to enjoy her in your arms now. She is just beautiful. Congratulations again!

  • Mel

    Congratulations on her birth!

    You wrote about it so beautifully.

  • Welcome to the world to your beautiful daughter. You have written a beautiful story.

  • JoAnn

    WOW! Your story telling is amazing. I could actually feel your words. I’m all teared up.

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful moment of your life Gretchen.

    Beatrix is a beauty.



  • My first daughter was born seven years ago by emergency c-section, and your labor story touched my heart. My second daughter, I labored 31 hours before succumbing to another c-section. My third daughter was another section, since I had a crushed pelvis (that’s a whole other story. I thought, at one time, that I wanted all boys. God can read my mind, you know, and had a great laugh. Then, God gave me exactly what I needed: three daughters that are exactly like me – fiery and determined!

    Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life.

  • Ditto on the loveliest thing you’ve ever written. Makes me excited to experience this again in January. 🙂

  • Oh what a lovely story! Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad she made it here healthy and strong! I’m so glad you shared the day with us!

  • Beatrix’s story is as beautiful as she. How precious!

  • Oh, she’s wonderful! So glad to hear that she arrived safely! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story – His peace permeated it.


  • You certainly have a way with words. So glad Beatrix is well.

  • Oh Gretchen, that was wonderful. She is a beauty already.

  • What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad that God granted you peace during what could have been an incredibly scary ordeal.

    Many blessings on you and your beautiful baby girl.

  • Your story is so well-written. Thank you for sharing it with us. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl.

  • I am so happy for you, and I so admire you too. What a wonderful day. I am looking forward to more pictures, especially of Aiden with her little sis!

  • Beautiful! Both the baby and the story!

  • Wow, what a beautiful pink bundle! So glad to hear everything worked out so well, and that you had such peace AND a healthy little girl. Congrats again, and thanks for sharing your birth experience.

  • edj

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. It’s wonderful how everything truly did work out for your good and His glory (Rom 8:28). Be sure to give that cutie an extra-cuddle from all her cyber-aunties! I love how tiny and perfect she is! Congrats to you all.

  • Thank you for sharing this story. It was like reading my own only more eloquent. She is beautiful and I am so happy for you all.

  • What a story! I’m so glad Beatrix arrived safe and sound on a beautiful snowy night. Congrats! She is a beauty.

  • Lovely, Gretchen! My heart is full reading about your little girl’s arrival! Still keeping you and your family in my prayers…

  • What a beautiful story and a beautiful little girl! Congratulations! I have been reading for a while and just wanted to let you know my thoughts and prayers have been with you, your pregnancy and now your new baby!

    You are an amazing woman!

  • This was so wonderful to read. So glad everything ended up being just right. Just wonderful. she is gorgeous. I’m so happy for you

  • Dawn

    She is so precious!!!

    How sweet.

  • Julana

    Thank you for sharing that.

  • beautifully written …and as a midwife from denver- I especially enjoyed the description of the mountains…could picture it all. She is a doll.

  • Such a beautiful birth story! Congratulations again.

  • Beautifully told.

    Beautiful name.

    Beautiful baby!!


  • Hooray for you all! I mean, ya’ll. She’s precious. I’m sure she’s been receiving lots o’lovin’. Congratulations.

  • nan

    Beautiful. Hard to believe the baby birthing chapter of my life is over… my last just turned one this week.
    You just won yourself one more regular reader. You are a wonderful writer.

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