Saturday, February 11, 2012

Elizabeth's Birth Story

I’ve been gathering up my thoughts and my courage to write about our time with Elizabeth Grace. I plan to do so in a series of posts. I want to share the details because I feel like so many of you have been so invested in our story. The sheer amount of facebook messages I’ve received in my inbox from people I’ve never met are a testament to that. To those who have been praying so very faithfully for us and who have invited others to do so, Onan and I simply can’t tell you how much that has meant. How much we have felt those prayers. And how I know that’s part of the reason we’re still standing right now. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Thursday February 2nd, the second night I went in to induce labor, was the right night. God’s timing is always prefect. It was calm, quiet and we were immediately given a room at the end of the hall. My nurses were incredible. My night nurse for both Friday and Saturday only works weekends and I would not have had her if I’d given birth to Elizabeth on Wednesday. And, as it turned out, I needed her—which of course, God knew. It was the same situation for my day nurse that was on for both Saturday and Sunday. I cannot overstate the immense gratitude I have for these ladies and how much they came to mean to me during our hospital stay. My labor and delivery nurses were exceptional as well. Everyone was so kind and empathetic. More answered prayers.

At 8:30pm I was given a drug called cytotec to help soften my cervix and get contractions going. It's administered every four hours and up to four doses are allowed to be given. By my fourth dose around 9am the next day, I was eight centimeters dilated, totally thinned out and in desperate need of the epidural! I received it at 10:30 and by 1:00 pm, it was time to push.

I prayed for peace and it was poured out on me. After only three pushes, Elizabeth was actually born in her bag of waters. One of my birth plan requests was that my water not be broken, if at all possible. From the research I’d done, it was clear that babies with anencephaly have a better chance of surviving delivery if this is the case. It wasn’t broken until she was safely out and I have no doubt that this helped ease the stress of delivery on Elizabeth greatly. It was 1:27 pm.

She was immediately placed on my chest. She was squirming, kicking and making little squeaking noises as she was cleaned up. She needed minimal suctioning and began breathing on her own right from the start. This was a huge answer to prayer. From the time we’d been given Elizabeth’s diagnosis, I’d been praying that she would make it through delivery and that we’d be able to spend some time with her. And here she was, pink and breathing, moving and alert. Five pounds and thirteen ounces of perfection.

We weren’t sure how much time we’d have with her, but we had this. These sweet moments where Onan got to stand with her and hold her little hand as she was dressed and swaddled. We had this. The priceless opportunity to introduce her to her big brother and big sisters and all of her grandparents and her aunt and cousin and so many friends.

The photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep had been waiting with our family while I delivered. He came in and captured all of these moments for us. I cannot wait to receive his pictures. As he left, he told me the count was "about three million" and I don’t think he was exaggerating all that much! I’m so thankful for the many pictures that were taken to document our time with Elizabeth and to help us remember. Until we receice the professional pictures, here are some of the "amateur" ones that were taken.

Thursday night, ready to begin the induction


Keeping a Labor Log on Friday Morning


She's here! Friday, February 3rd, 1:27 pm. 5lbs, 13 oz. 17 and a half in.


First Diaper Change, by Daddy


Totally in love...


Family of Six

27 comments:

  1. I am Weeping at the goodness of our Lord and Savior.
    HE directed your paths each and every step of the way. Praise God!

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  2. So so so amazing!! God's goodness is so amazing and has doubled me over in joy through your journey. These counts of His faithfulness are such a testimony to his living, active, loving presence in our lives!!! Thanks Leah for sharing this. I look forward to the next. She's beautiful!

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  3. What a beautiful picture of God's grace!! He delievers and answers prayer. Thank you for sharing your story with us. God is going to use your story to touch so many more lives. Elisabeth is a precious angel!

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  4. Thank you for sharing so many priceless memories! As soon as your induction was delayed I wondered who God needed be part of this story. I am confident that there are eternal decisions that have and will be made as a result of Elizabeth Grace and your incredible testimony. Scott and I continue to pray for you all!

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  5. What a wonderful testimony of God's love even in the darkest hour, that He filled it with such sweet peace of mind and joy. And what a precious blessing that your moments with Elizabeth Grace were so well numbered by the Father. Praying for you all, daily.

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  6. Julie and Ricky (Amy's neighbors)February 12, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful baby girl with us and your beautiful story. We love you all and are continuing to pray for you always! We hope to see you soon!

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    1. The above should read Amys neighbors instead of having symbols above.

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  7. Elizabeth Grace is so beautiful and so lucky to have you and Onan as her parents. She was born an angel.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful baby, Elizabeth Grace with so many.

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  9. I've been thinking of you all week. Thank you for sharing the pictures, Melanie Lyons of NJ

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  10. i just love the last picture, thanks so much for sharing your story with so many. we love you. i can't wait to see the rest of the photos.

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  11. Leah, my name is Abi and I have followed your story through my sister Kayla Whittinghill's facebook as well as my sweet friends Elisabeth Reed and Rebecca Floresta. I have prayed earnestly for your family this whole time and wept with you for your loss. Elizabeth is truly loved and her story has touched so many. All glory to Jesus' name!! Will continue to pray for your precious family.

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  12. she is so beautiful!!! i first heard of your story from Mindy and have been praying since she emailed and still are continuing to pray for your beautiful family. I wish God would have granted more time with her, but her birth and the time on earth was God's plan.. And what a great plan. Her so small has touched so many hearts. Thank you for your willingness to share your story! prayers and hugs! Jamie Franklin

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  13. I want to reach out and hug you for the brave journey you have taken. Elizabeth is such a LUCKY girl to have parents who have loved her so faithfully. You have given us all the grace to again gripe tight the belief that each day is an absolute GIFT from God, and I thank you. May the Lord Bless you and Keep You All and for Elizabeth Grace, your an angel whose eternal life has just begun.

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  14. Melanie and Reg CookFebruary 12, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    My precious Leah. I remember the day you were born. Just a beautifully perfect little baby girl. Elizabeth was equally as beautiful and perfect. Your faith is an inspiration to so many. You and you family are in our continued prayers honey. We love you
    Melanie and Reg.

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  15. So wonderful to read your story and hear the details. Thank you for trusting us all with the joy of your delivery and moments with precious Elizabeth. What special times. I love seeing the pictures too. We are praying for you often. I am sure life has been a whirlwind these days. Thank you for sharing with us all. You are loved dearly!

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  16. Thank you for sharing this with us, Leah. We love you all and continue to pray.

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  17. God is so wonderful to us. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing so many to be blessed by your strong faith and love for the Savior. You all are in our continued thoughts and prayers.

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  18. What a gift. You are clearly an amazing family ... sending love and light to you. Thank you for sharing this precious time with us.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your precious and private moments with us Leah. You & Onan are in our thoughts and prayers...

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  20. I have been following your story through facebook friends. You and your family are so brave and strong. What a beautiful little girl and now a very special angel.

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  21. Thank you for sharing. I am Aimee Henderson's aunt in CO and have been thinking of you and praying for you.

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  22. Hi, my name is Angie and I have been able to follow your journey through my daughter Katye who is a student in your mothers classroom. Everytime your Mom updated the kids, my daughter would come home and fill me in. She was able to remember this site that your Mother has used in class to show the kids. Her last update to me was that her teacher had returned to school and talked beautifully of her little angel. My daughter got teary eyed when your mom showed them a couple pictures, and spoke of the baby's last moments. I am so glad that the good Lord granted your family these precious moments. I pray he continues to bless your family in every way possible. God is good and Elizabeth was very lucky to have had you as her Mother. God bless

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  23. Here from LFCA. Praying for you and your family. May God continue to give you comfort.

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  24. At Elizabeth Grace's Memorial Service that Tuesday evening, I held Charlotte on my lap as we watched the 4 minute Powerpoint of her baby sister. Charlie looked up at me & said "This is making me sad" and I said "me too, me too". Our hearts are still broken, but our faith is still strong in a God who makes no mistakes. Love, Mom

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  25. You have used this beyond heartbreaking milestone in your lives to proclaim the name of Jesus and bring Him glory in a way that many others would not. For as long as I live, I will never forget your perspective of Elizabeth's miraculous healing - miraculous if she lived, miraculous if her heavenly Father took her home. I've watched close friends go through the loss of a baby and I have an idea of the overwhelming, soul crushing grief that follows. There's a time to mourn, and a time to dance; right now is the time to mourn the loss of your baby girl, but there is a joyful time of dancing to come when you're reunited with her in heaven.

    Isaiah 65 talks about the new heaven and new earth that is to come. Verse 20 says "never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days". There is a beautiful day coming when no one will ever suffer again the loss and grief you're enduring now, and I'm confident that the sorrow you have will be long forgotten, replaced by pure joy.

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