My sweet Declan, this is the story of how you came into this world.
In order to begin your story, we have to go back to your big brother's birth. You see, Asher came a little bit earlier than he should have. And because of that, doctors thought that you would do the same. They said I needed to be on a medication, that I needed to get progesterone shots every week and even with those treatments, you could still come early.
But your dad and I had a feeling about you. From the moment we knew you were growing in me, we knew your story would be different. And so we fought for this story. And we prayed for it. And we believed in it.
Everything was going according to plan. My pregnancy with you was so easy (well, as easy as pregnancy can be!). When you were 12 weeks along in my belly, your dad, Asher and I ran a half marathon together. I couldn't believe how good I felt with you. We were a team that day and you continued to grow with no complications. That is, until 34 weeks...
We were in and out of the hospital twice that week because I was getting a lot of contractions. It was scary to think of you coming even earlier than Asher. So, to the hospital we went. After being at the hospital, "laboring" for hours, we were told it wasn't "real" labor. The doctors gave me a medicine to stop the contractions and sent us home. It was so exhausting, frustrating and confusing. I didn't know why my body did that. Or what it meant. But, we were relieved to know that you were safe and that you could continue to grow.
Each day after that I felt like you could come at any moment. I was already dilating and my body felt so ready to give birth to you. Thanksgiving was just around the corner and we wondered if you would share a birthday with Ash or Drew. I bought a banner that said "THANKFUL" and each time I saw it hanging on our mantle, I pictured myself hanging it up at the birth center. You see, we had to get past 37 weeks in order to give birth to you there. So that's that I imagined: giving birth to a healthy baby, with thankful hearts.
Well, my sweet boy, you did just that.
At 39 weeks and 2 days, you decided it was time. I woke up at 3am to a contraction that felt different than my usual Braxton Hicks contractions. More...intense. More...purposeful. I timed them and realized that they had no consistency. I was so annoyed that these contractions seemed to just get more and more intense with each passing day.
In the morning, I cried as your dad left for work. I told him I couldn't watch Ash while I had these sporadic + intense contractions. They had me bent over and breathing heavy. So, he called grandma to see if she could spend the day with us.
Grandma came to our rescue and let me rest while she played with Ash. In the afternoon we walked to the park and back. She kept telling me to time the contractions but they were still inconsistent. I knew it wasn't active labor. So I thought it wasn't labor at all. In fact, I tried to convince grandma to head home to beat rush hour traffic. But, she said she would stay and make us dinner (and you know that I never turn down a yummy meal ;).
That stir fry she made hit my spot and I fell asleep for almost an hour until a huge contraction woke me up. And that's when I felt it. It was as if a rubber band snapped somewhere deep inside of me. I was barely able to get the words out as I told grandma, "My water just broke!" She jumped to her feet, and went to the other room to tell Drew the news. "WHAT?! Are you serious?! Are you sure!?" was his response. After seeing me, he knew it was true.
WE WERE SO HAPPY. I was laughing in excitement. We knew: this wasn't a false alarm. You were coming for reals this time! It was such a relief.
After calling my midwife, we were told to head into the birth center within the next hour or so. She didn't think we would have the baby soon because I was able to talk and because the contractions were still spread apart. So, we took our time, I gave your sweet brother some hugs and kisses and we were out the door.
Your dad and I were giddy as we drove off. I was texting some friends saying, "MY WATER BROKE!!!!!" because I couldn't contain my excitement for meeting you. It felt like Christmas morning. But then I got a contraction that rocked my world and I looked at Drew and said, "It's a good thing we are going now. That one was no joke."
As we pulled up to the birth center our sweet doula, Nicole met us in the parking lot. Her reassuring hand on my shoulder took away all the tension in my body. I walked in the doors and heard a midwife say, "Hey, mama. We have your birth room all set up for you. The birthing tub is full and warm if you're wanting to get in." It was like I was going to the spa or something. Everyone talked in low, calm, soothing voices. Their hands held kindness and comfort and they continually extended that to me.
Once we got settled into our room, the midwife checked me. I was hoping she would say I was 4 or 5cm dilated. Instead, she said I WAS AN EIGHT. Whaaaa?! Your dad and I laughed in shock and high fived each other. We knew you would be coming in no time at all!
Through each contraction I had your dad and Nicole by my side. They let me squeeze the life out of their hand. They rubbed my back. And they encouraged me. Once the contraction let up, your dad and I were going back and forth joking with one another. I'm not sure why, but we seem to do this when I'm in labor. Maybe it's my way of coping...I don't know. But it made for some really funny moments. I love that about your dad. He can always make me laugh. And it set such a light, peaceful mood in the room.
When I felt like you were going to come soon, I got into the birthing tub. It was the BEST bath of my life. The warm water felt like someone wrapped a warm blanket around me. It was so wonderful...until I got the next contraction. Things really ramped up. And the joking was replaced with moaning and silence. I knew exactly what was happening. I was so intently aware of you and I in that moment. I felt your every move. It was so powerful. So other worldly. We were one and yet we were working to become two.
My midwives kept telling me to listen to my body. To do what felt right. I am SO very thankful for those words they spoke to me. Because you and I knew what to do. Without words, you and I were communicating.
Just two hours after my water broke, the time came. I heard the words, "Reach down and grab your baby!" I brought you out of the water and remember exclaiming, "Declan!" As if I had been looking for you. As if we had known each other my whole life. You took a little while to breathe and your dad started worrying. I laughed and held you close, knowing that all was well. You soon let out a little cry and everyone in the room laughed and sighed.
Declan, you are just absolutely perfect. Your warm, pink skin was the softest thing I'd ever felt. Your long, curly hair was such a fun surprise. Every little bit of you was a delight. You nursed right way - like you didn't need any help, you just knew what to do. Despite being moved around and prodded during your newborn test, you didn't make a sound. Your eyes were wide open, taking in this new world.
It's truly a miracle. YOU are a miracle. And God is so so so good. We continue to thank God every day for you and for your beautiful, healthy birth.
We pray that the meaning of your name, Declan David, will be true of who you are: a man of prayer, full of goodness and man after God's heart. We have, and always will, love you til the end of time.
Maternity pictures by Kenzie Achterhoff. Birth photography by Capturing Joy Birth Services.