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Let’s start all the way back at 32 weeks. It was July 5th and I woke up thinking I was having some contractions. I got up, went to the bathroom, drank a whole bottle of water and went back to bed. I had my contraction app open and was getting a little nervous with how often they were occurring. I woke Jon up and called the doctor. She suggested I keep counting contractions and if they don't stop in an hour, then go ahead into the hospital. An hour came and went and contractions were still happening; nothing strong, but they were constant. So with much hesitation we went into the hospital; we were convinced they were going to send us right back home and we would feel ridiculous for going in. However, once we got there they checked us into triage and got a urine sample. They told us they were going to check for a specific protein, and if it was present I had a 50/50 chance of having Teddy in the next 2 weeks. We sat in triage for about an hour before the nurse came back and told us the protein was in fact present and she needed to check my cervix. To everyones’ surprise I was dilating. At this point Jon and I both panicked a little. Around 6am my doctor arrived and checked my cervix again and I was still dilating and at this point everything was kind of a whirlwind. The doctor ordered a ultrasound and I was put on Magnesium to hopefully stop contractions. I was admitted and placed in a room. Over the next 8 hours they upped my magnesium 3 times to the max amount and contractions were still coming. Also, let me just add that magnesium is HORRIBLE; it is a muscle relaxer and relaxes ALL the muscles, including your EYE muscles! It was horrible. Anyways, after about 24 hours they were able to stop contractions. I was able to get the double dose of steroid shots to help lung development and was moved to mother and baby to be observed for the next 24 hours to make sure my body didn't kick back into labor after coming off magnesium. Over the next 24 hours Jon and I were convinced the baby was coming. I had horrible pain in my side and ended up getting another ultrasound and more pain medication. Honestly, that 24 hours is kind of a blur. But after 2.5 days in the hospital we didn’t have a baby and we were ordered to be on bed rest and released to go home.

At that point, Jon and I were shocked we didn't leave that day with a baby in our arms. We were both glad he stayed in to cook a bit longer, and nervous that we could end up back in the hospital literally any time because I still had the 50/50 chance of going back into labor in the next 2 weeks due to the protein being present. So over the next few weeks all we could think about was making it to the 36 week mark to have a “full term baby”. I was going to the OB every week for checkups, and was doing a lot of nothing trying to keep baby in the belly. Finally we made it to 36 weeks and bed rest orders were lifted.

We felt so good; Teddy had stayed inside despite that 50/50 chance of labor. On Thursday, July 27th, I had an OB appointment; she checked my cervix and there had been no change from the last few weeks. She informed me she was going out of town on Saturday for a week and that next week I would be seeing a different doctor. At that point, Jon and I looked at each other; our doctor was going to be out of town and so were our best friends. In our gut I think we both knew that the baby was going to come while they were all out of town. And we didn't have to wait very long to see that we were right.

On July 29 at 10pm, Jon and I headed to bed. We had spent most of the day chasing around our dog who had been throwing up all day. I was leaning over the bed trying to keep Bilbo from going under the bed. I finally felt like he was settled in his bed so I turned off my light ad rolled over in bed and all the sudden I felt wet. I rolled on to my back and waited a minute, and then I felt more wet. I sat up and said

“Jon, I think my water just broke.”.

And Jon responded, “Are you kidding me!”

To which I replied, “I mean it could just be pee… Maybe.”

I went to the bathroom, mostly because I didn't know what to do and did not want to get everything wet. I called the doctor and she confirmed that my water probably did break and I needed to make my way to the hospital. While I was doing this, Jon was getting the last few things for our hospital bag. We packed everything up and stood in the kitchen and prayed, knowing our whole life was about to change!

On the way to the hospital I was able to get a hold of my mom and dad and my brother. We mostly called to figure out if someone could come let the dog out but also just to tell them we were on our way. We got to the hospital and they checked us into triage. They had to do a test to check to be sure my water broke and the test came back positive. They then checked my cervix and I was about 3.5 centimeters dilated. They gave a little run down of what would come next and then we waited about an hour before being checkws in and given a room. During the waiting time my brother Ryan showed up and waited with us in triage. At around 1am we were moved into a Labor & Delivery room, and it just so happened to be the same room we went into at 32 weeks to stop labor. Once into the room we signed all our paperwork, got my IV ( which was a long process - I am a hard stick and it took 3 tries and 3 different people to get the IV in. They even had to use a vein finder machine which was kind of crazy). Then we waited.

At 5am the nurse came in and checked me again. I was at about 5 centimeters now; I was not in a lot of pain yet, but could definitely feel the contractions when they were happening. I was started on Pitocin to help progress my labor and no joke the second that stuff started things began to move quickly!

Since I had been in the bed for a while, I decided to move to the medicine ball. Contractions were getting more intense and I wanted to relieve some pressure on my back. I spent the majority of my labor on the ball. From about 5:30 A.M till 7:30 A.M I sat on the ball bouncing and rolling forward and backwards. As I sat on the ball, contractions continued to get stronger and more frequent. At several point my contractions were so intense they caused me to vomit. At shift change at 7AM, the nurse came in and introduced herself. She told me that whenever i felt like i needed to poop to have Jon go get her because at that point I would need to move back into the bed and get a cervical check. By 7:30 Jon had gotten the nurse and we were moving me back into the bed. It took several minutes for me to get back into the bed because I would need to stop moving during each contraction. At that point, the nurse checked me again and I was at 8 centimeters. She told me it could still be a little while and to get her once I felt the uncontrollable urge to push. She had not been out the door one minute before I told Jon to go get her again because I was pushing. He asked if I was sure and I very confidently said “YES!”

The nurse came back in and checked again. She called the front and told them to call in the doctor, and she began to get everything ready with another nurse. At this point contractions were right on top of eachother and on a scale of 0-10 my pain was just about a 10. After everything was in place the nurse checked my cervix again. She then called the nurses station and asked how far out the doctor was... still 15 minutes away! At this point the nurses quieted down, but i could hear them call for the house doctor. At that point we knew, this baby was coming fast! They also called some NICU staff because I was delivering before 37 weeks. A few minutes later the hospital doctor came in followed by the NICU staff, and the nurses prepared me to push. I began pushing around 8:05am. Around 8:10 my doctor got there and she took over from the nurses.

I don’t remember much from my time pushing, I just remember it hurt, I screamed (a lot) and it was hard. However after about 20 minutes of pushing I heard the sound I had been dying to hear. On July 30th at 8:31 am I heard the cry of my son. I remember looking over at Jon and with tears in his eyes he looked at me and said “You did it.” They handed me Teddy and I just could not believe it, I was just in shock that he was here, he was mine and I had just had a baby. I remember just saying thank you over and over again to the nurses and the doctor. After the doctor was done the nurses took Teddy and took his vitals. Teddy appeared healthy and strong so the NICU team was sent away. We were able to hold Teddy, and he was able to nurse. Shortly thereafter, we were moved to the mother and baby section of the hospital.

However, upon getting to mother and baby things quickly became a blur. A nurse came in and asked if she could do her check of Teddy. She worked on him for a few minutes and then told us she could not get a good O2 reading and was going to need to take him to the nursery. She took Teddy, and a little while later the nurse came back in and told us that they had a pediatrician look over Teddy and his O2 levels were still low, so they were going to take him over to the NICU to hook him up to oxygen and do a chest scan to look at his lungs. Talk about a whirlwind. They wheeled Teddy in and he was already hooked up to several machines and I was able to see him and tell him I loved him and they let us know that once he got settled in the NICU they would come get us and we would be able to go over and see him. A few hours later they came over and told us he was doing well and we would be able to go see him. Jon went over to see him and was able to hold him and talk to him, and take some pictures to show me. They informed us that Teddy had a pretty severe case of Respiratory Distress Syndrome and time was the only thing he needed to get better. But there was no way to tell how much time.

Teddy was in the NICU for 10 days. He was on the C-Pap for 5 days and on and off oxygen for the next 4 days. Those were some of the hardest days of my life. We would leave the hospital and Teddy would not be connected to oxygen support only to come back a few hours later to find him back on oxygen. We would get told one day we might be able to leave in 48 hours only to have the date pushed back. It felt like every time we took a step forward we went 2 steps back. I had multiple panic attacks and one night I was so anxious I physically could not leave the hospital and slept in this crappy NICU chair. I remember the day I was released and we left the hospital without Teddy, gosh that was hard. I remember crying the whole way home, sitting on the couch talking to my mom on the phone just bawling and telling Jon we had to go back to the hospital. Over those 10 days we fell into a new normal; get up, go to the hospital for a few hours, leave for lunch, go back to the hospital in the evening for dinner and stay till the 11pm feeding, go home and sleep and wake up and do it all again the next day.

However, it was in those moments that I was reminded that God was in control and had been in control of Teddy’s life since before he was even here. The Lord was so faithful and gracious to Jon and I and provided us with incredible NICU staff and doctors. He gave us hope when we desperately needed it, strength when we had none and healing when anxiety was so strong I felt like I was dying (like literally I thought I was having a heart attack). I would never wish a NICU stay on anyone but for us it was God’s plan, but that didn’t make it any easier. I remember being mad; I felt like I was being robbed of time with my baby I would never get back, I wanted to be woken up by his cries at night, I wanted to rock him in his nursery and I wanted that moment of my family meeting him for the first time, but we didn’t have that. My family met him in the NICU were they could not even hold him. We came home for the hospital for 8 days without a baby and someone else was caring for him during the night while we tried to get some sleep. Fear, anger, sadness all found a home in my heart but we had to rely on God’s grace at every turn and in the midst of some of the hardest days of our lives the Lord was never far from us. I never knew 10 days could feel so long, that I could cry so much or that I could love so deeply. But those 10 days helped change my perspective on Teddy’s life.

Teddy’s life is a gift, his health is a blessing and that fact that we get to parent him this side of heaven is true grace.

Theodore Alan, we love you, we love you, we love you.

First time Jon was able to see Teddy in the NICU

For the first several days Teddy was on the c-pap and used a feeding tube.

This was the first time since delivery (about 4 days) we saw Teddy's whole face. It was the first time of the C-Pap

This was one of the times we left Teddy when he was off Oxygen and came back to the Hospital to him back on Oxygen.

One week Old

This was taken right after the oxygen was removed for what would be the last time!

First family picture, the day we got to go home!

Headed home with our baby!

peace out NICU!!!

We were only in the NICU for 10 days and acknowledge fully that there are many more babies who are there for much longer. Please pray for those families and babies, it is an incredibly difficult things to have a baby in the NICU for any period of time. Pray for healing for the babies, strength for the families and peace for the innumerable unknowns that families face.

** Note almost all these pictures were taken on our phones. We were so overwhelmed and distracted my camera never actually made it into the hospital.

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