We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to announce the arrival of our third granddaughter, Gwendolyn Elise. She was born this last Tuesday, March 25 to our younger daughter, her husband, and Gwen’s big sister Willow. As grandma, I’m totally stoked. Whoo hoo!!!!
Gwen’s arrival, besides being an occasion of great joy, was the culmination of months of waiting, praying, giving up, letting go and letting God—and being reminded that God does not disappoint.
It all started with Willow’s birth, almost two years ago. She decided to show up in early May, five weeks before her mid-June due date. Our daughter got to see her first child for mere seconds before she was whisked off to the NICU, where she spent the next three weeks growing to newborn size. All the dreams of a birth-center birth, minimal intervention, and extending bonding time gave way to hospital schedules, monitors, and a feeding tube. Willow is fine now—a delightful, giggling bundle of toddler-ness, but a premature birth is not the best possible start.
When they discovered they were expecting another baby, our daughter and husband asked us to please pray for a full-term pregnancy. Once again they signed up at the birthing center, hoping this time for the experience they missed previously. Given the cause of Willow’s early arrival, a full term pregnancy was unlikely. The midwives agreed that getting to 37 weeks would be iffy—and our daughter had to be at least 37 weeks pregnant to give birth at the center. So, we prayed.
With extra monitoring, the pregnancy proceeded normally until about 35 weeks. That’s when our daughter started having contractions. She wasn’t in labor, but they were strong enough to make her pause, sit down, and concentrate on breathing through them. She described them as somewhere between uncomfortable and painful.
We prayed more. Her sister had experienced something similar right before going into active labor, and we were all concerned that these were a precursor as well. Our daughter’s midwife ordered her to rest, relax, take warm baths, and drink a lot of water. She obeyed, the contractions eased for a bit, but then picked up again, day after day, night after night, on and on. For weeks. Yet, she was still pregnant.
At 37 weeks, we had a mini celebration. Finally, she was qualified for the birth center! We all expected the delivery at any moment, and Pete and I made plans to travel to Washington (where they live) to help.
Then, at our daughter’s next midwife appointment, she got the unsettling news—that rounded hard lump at the top of our daughter’s baby bump wasn’t the baby’s bottom, as everyone had thought. It was her head. She was breech.
This wasn’t entirely unexpected—women with our daughter’s medical history are at a higher risk for breech babies. Still, we’d all thought she was head-down, so it was a major disappointment.
Several efforts were made to turn the baby, but she’d only rotate until she was sideways, and then slowly slide back into her head-at-ten o’clock, bottom-at-four position. For a number of reasons, a breech delivery was ruled out. Our daughter would have to have a caesarean.
We were all sad. Our daughter had to grieve the loss of her hopes and expectations, let go, and remind herself that God loves her, her family, her baby. A c-section wasn’t what she wanted, but it seemed to be what God was offering. Finally, she made her peace and told God, “Not my will, but yours.”
That’s exactly what God was waiting to hear. He got busy and starting proving once again how much he cares about every detail of our lives.
Our daughter had not picked out an O.B.—she had expected to be attended by her midwife. Now she had to find someone on short notice. Being fairly new to town (they moved to the Seattle area about two years ago), she asked her friends for recommendations. One doctor was mentioned over and over. “He’s the best!” “You’ll love him, I promise!” “He’s in high demand, though—I doubt that he’s taking new patients.”
At her next midwife appointment, she asked who she should call to arrange the surgery. “Oh, we take care of that for you!” the midwife exclaimed. “You have enough to do. We have doctors we like to work with, and we’ll call you when we have someone lined up.” What a relief! And when the midwife called a few hours later, guess who she had managed to schedule for the c-section? Yup! It turned out that this doctor is so popular, he’s scheduled out for months in advance. But… he “just happened” to have one appointment slot open (perfect for the pre-op appointment), and one surgery slot open—on the optimal day (exactly one week before her due date). Pretty amazing!
If anyone had harbored doubts about God knowing what He was doing, this pretty much convinced us that He had matters well in hand.
It got even better. In spite of the surgery, our daughter and her husband were able to hold Gwen right away, and she stayed within arm’s reach the entire two days they were in the hospital.
We don’t know why God decreed that Gwen be born by c-section. Maybe there’s a nurse our daughter needed to meet. Maybe it’s the perversity of the fallen universe. Maybe we just needed more practice in trusting God. We may never know—and that’s all right.
Happy birthday, little Gwen. May you quickly come to know the God who already has you in the palm of His hand!