April 11, 2012

Levi's entrance into the world...

Little Levi is 7 weeks old today! He is starting to wake up to the world and we are getting a glimpse of his personality and who this little guy just may be.

Looking back over the past few months, I see the hand of God so clearly it's as if he smacked me in the face. And, just as He promises, His hand usually touches us during times of trials, difficulty, and not-so-easy circumstances. Circumstances that we, of course, would never choose for ourselves when left to our own deciding, but when they happen by the Providence of God, and are accepted with our own free will, can result in the most amazing graces imaginable.

When I was about 36 weeks pregnant I was suddenly struck with the most excruciating back pain I had ever experienced. I went from an hour a day at the gym to barely being able to walk. I Googled (what every pregnant woman does) and called my former birthing teacher. Come to find out, Levi was turned posterior (hands and feet to the front) and his spine was pressed against mine. In addition to the pain (to the point I put myself on bed rest) I just knew something was not right. Of course Levi could turn anytime between then and labor, but again, my mommy instincts told me to get this figured out. I was in pain, he was uncomfortable. His movements didn't make sense - it felt as if he was fighting me to get into position. To make a loooong 3-week story short, I spent hours on my hands and knees and sitting forward on a birthing ball to get him to turn. What finally did the trick was seeing a chiropractor that specializes in pregnant women. After 3 weeks of treatment, I walked (a step up from the hobbling I was doing) out of the clinic and Levi finally dropped. Everything just felt lighter. And, best of all, Levi quieted down during the days that followed. He seemed settled and finally at peace.

In addition to the back pain, my braxton-hicks contractions were so intense that I would have sworn on my life Levi was going to come early. They would be anywhere from 2-10 minutes apart for hours on end, with very little relief. It would get to the point I thought we should go to the hospital and they would stop. This happened everyday for 3 weeks before Levi actually came. Normally I welcome early contractions as they prepare everything for the big show, but these ones were so painful (b/c of the back pain) and unproductive (I didn't want Levi to descend facing front) that the emotional toll began to outweigh the physical one. I remember days and nights of being so physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted that I honestly felt I didn't have anything more to give. We even had a false-alarm trip to the hospital just days before Levi was actually born.

And adding on top of this was the intense desire that I had for our baby to be born on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, Feb 11th. Granted, Levis' due date wasn't until the 25th, but Max was almost 2 weeks early and I thought it could be a possibility. Our Lady's title under Our Lady of Lourdes has so much meaning and significance to me - especially in regards to me being able to have children - that I wanted to honor Mary by having a baby born on this special day. Well, that day came and went (not without many false-labor contractions, however) and although I knew God had a plan for little Levi's birth, I must admit I was a bit let down.

Because I was super active and healthy during this pregnancy, I just assumed that labor and such would be a breeze. God was trying to tell me something different: that just because we do everything "right" doesn't mean everything will turn out like we plan. But he does promise this: that if we keep the faith and have hope, it may just turn out better than we plan...

God also reminded me that I hadn't been praying a lot for Levi - at least not as much as the others. I was too focused on the external - eating right, taking care of myself, getting rest, etc - that I forgot about what was really important: the eternal. So my prayer turned from "Lord, take away my pain and make everything work out like I have in my head..." to "Lord, I pray for a safe and holy delivery and for our child to be formed according to Your Will."

Once I let go, I felt my body, my mind, my spirit relax. And after a few days of this immense peace (and a glass of champagne and some dark chocolate) Levi decided it was time.

My contractions began at home, around 9pm and around 10min. apart. By midnight they were 4 min. apart. At 1:30am I called Michael (he was asleep) from the laundry room and told him, we have to go to the hospital, now! I spent the next little while standing, hunched over the counter, with contractions 2 min apart. Michael's mom came to watch the kids and we headed to the hospital. Once in the ER parking lot, I had just seconds between contractions. A break hit and I literally ran into the ER lobby, only to find a bench and hunker down for the next contraction. I freaked out a security guard who thought I was going to give birth right there! We were taken to labor and delivery around 2:30am. Bracing for disappointment (as I DO NOT dilate fast) we were taken aback when the nurse told us I was 7cm. Rock on! I was put in a wheelchair to go from triage to our room, and this is where Our Lord really stepped in...

I spent the next hour or so in the wheelchair, going through transition with contractions back to back, and I was smiling. No, it didn't feel good, but I let my body relax, I let my mind relax, and I offered each contraction for the intentions of those we love: our family, our friends, those who asked us to pray for them. And, as a result, the Holy Spirit touched me in a special way - reminding me that the past few weeks of pain and suffering were worth it. I felt the urge to push, got into bed, and Levi was born a few contractions later, at 4:41am.

On Ash Wednesday.

Talk about God answering prayer...

For some reason, the day our children are born is really important to me. Avila was born on Laetare Sunday, the "joyful" Sunday of Lent, the color being pink. =) Maximilian was born the day before Divine Mercy Sunday. And Levi was born on Ash Wednesday - marking the start of a Lent I will never forget. My prayers for a safe and holy delivery were answered and God told me, once again, that He may bring us through great trials but it is nothing compared to the glory we will experience if we keep on the right path. I felt ashamed at the moments of doubt and anger I expressed towards God, and put this experience in the forefront of my mind to reference the next time(s) I go through something really hard.

Again, I am so amazed at how the Lord works. I am awestruck at how much He loves us that He allows the bad to make way for the oh. so. good. I am grateful that things didn't turn out like I had planned in my mind. I am humbled that, despite my failings, He chose to give me such a great gift in Levi's entrance into this world. And I only hope that I can continue to trust in the Lord's great goodness each and every moment of my life.

Know that I have been offering not only Levi's birth, but also the sleepless nights, the trials with a newborn, the transition to a family of 5, for you: our family and friends that we love so dearly. You make it worth it to be up 4 times at night and deal with a screaming baby (more on this later...) during the day. I offer it up for you and for your intentions and this had made my Lent more fruitful than any other. Thank you.

And for now, I shall end here. There is more to tell of God's great goodness over the past 7 weeks, but it's time to go snuggle with Levi and listen to baby-snoring goodness. Happy Easter Wednesday!


BRIDGET said...

Happy Easter Wednesday... thank you for sharing your faith and your journey... you spread the light of Christ!
May your family be blessed!

Mary said...

Great post Kris! Thank you for sharing so much of you, even the downs. It makes your story and journey that much more powerful and relatable (that's not even a word). :)

You are such a strong woman in so many ways! Your family is blessed to have you apart of it!

Miss you!