Monday, May 20, 2013

Sawyer Keith: A Birth Story (4 years later)

Lucky for this wee boy, 4 years is a lot closer to now than 7 so hopefully I will be able to recall a little more about that amazing time in our lives. When Carter was about three years old, Dan was ready to start trying for another. I on the other hand, was a little apprehensive. I was fresh out of college, teaching preschool with no benefits or salary and a super high student loan payment. I was dragging my feet on deciding to have another one, but after a whole lot of convincing, I decided that there would never be a "right" time to start trying and I didn't want to be stuck trying to have a baby in the middle of a school year with no paid time off, so I agreed that we could start trying that summer.

My pregnancy seemed to go a lot smoother and a whole lot quicker than the last. I was never sick. I didn't have carpal tunnel or ridiculous feelings that I wouldn't love this baby. It was glorious. We chose to wait to tell our family until about the 12 week mark. A few months before we found out we were expecting, my brother and his then fiance had gotten engaged and soon found out they were pregnant. Unfortunately, the joy of finding out I was going to be an aunt was premature upon hearing the news that my soon to be sister in law had lost the baby and had to have a D&C. I'll never forget sitting next to her in her hospital bed as she realized she would never get to meet this little one. It was heart wrenching.

Not long after, very close to when we found out, they told us they were expecting again! We were all cautiously optimistic and excitedly awaiting her arrival as we planned and prepared for Casey and Amy's wedding. I really didn't want to rain on her parade, and we decided that it would be best to wait for the wedding to be over before we let out the good news. It was so hard to keep that information top secret!! However, one of my favorite memories would have to be at Casey and Amy's wedding. Our good friends, Joe and Melissa, were the only ones there that knew we were expecting, and keeping this information a secret was going to be tricky.....especially because margaritas were going to be involved. I remember filling in the bartender and asking her very politely if there was a way she could give me a virgin margarita anytime I would order one. Now, my mother doesn't drink much, if ever. She's been known to sip on a wine cooler and put half of it in the fridge for another night. So when I held on to my "margarita" during the dance and my mom took it out of my hand to have a sip, I about died. I will never forget the look on her face all scrunched up like she had just bitten into a lemon. "Oh my word, Mandi. That's so strong." That's my mom for ya!

As we continued on our little pregnancy train, 3 more ladies hopped on board and now every single one of my sisters-in-law were pregnant, as well as my best friend. I was elated. It wasn't until after Sawyer was born that I realized how little you get to love up other babies when you are trying to love up your own, but now that they are all older, I wouldn't have traded having them all grow up together for the world!

When we were close to the half way point, Dan and I began having very serious conversations about my career and where I wanted to be. I loved the kids I taught in preschool, but I just knew in my heart that I belonged with older kids. So we made the very difficult decision to leave the preschool at the end of the year and substitute teach the following year so I could get my foot in the door. Not having a job and having a new baby at the same time was a terrifying experience. I didn't know what would happen, but  I knew God would provide.

I wrapped up my final year of  preschool and a few days later, I was back in the hospital, waiting to meet my second son. I remember having far less jitters and anxiety as I had had the first time. The anxiety of loving this one the same never crossed my mind. I was in a familiar place, with familiar people. In that room were all the people I had trusted to take care of all my babies and myself during my pregnancies, labors, deliveries and after they were born. They all hold such a special place in my heart. Belinda, my midwife- Binky as we called her, has been my rock throughout all my pregnancies. Knowing she isn't there anymore has pretty much sealed the deal that I am done having children. I absolutely love her. Joining her in the room were my surgeon, Dr. Steltzer, my pediatrician, Dr. Jongewaard, my anesthesiologist, my mom, Dan, and many more doctors and nurses.
Ready to roll!

The OR no longer felt like a foreign or scary place. Were c-sections the way I pictured welcoming my babies into the world? Absolutely not. I know there are risks. I know there are more things that could go wrong, but I trusted this team with my life and that of my son's, and I couldn't have been happier to have them in the room with me. Going to Sioux Falls to have a VBack just wasn't an option. I was elated that there were mere moments before I was going to kiss my baby boy's face and welcome him into the world, telling him "Happy Birthday beautiful baby. Everyone is here for you!"

He was absolutely perfect. Sawyer Keith Wolfswinkel. He was the spitting image of his brother. Same weight and length and his features mirrored Carter's at birth almost to a tee. I felt like I had been transported to that same OR, 3 years before, welcoming his brother into the world. And yet, he was different. He was his own person. I knew that God was going to do big things with him and in him. In those moments I looked into his deep blue eyes and imagined what his personality would be like. How would he be like his siblings or his dad or me? What things would be completely his own?

But again, they gently pulled him away from my grip and wrapped him up into a warm blanket to get all his stats. They wheeled me into recovery and I remember thinking how blessed we were. Three healthy deliveries. Three healthy babies. I know not everyone is so lucky to be able to hold their babies in their arms right after they are born, so I didn't complain about the 30 minutes that I had to wait to hold him in my arms again. It gave me ample time to sit with my mom and gush over his little fingers and toes and his beautiful blue eyes.

We spent the next four days in the hospital drinking in his magical baby scent. It brought me to tears to watch Jaedyn and Carter proudly hold him in their arms. Jaedyn seemed so much older this time. Three years had past, and to me it felt like she was growing right before my very eyes. I watched her hold his head up and lay her finger in his because she knew he would close his tiny hand around it. When she thought no one was looking, she too inhaled his baby magic and whispered big sister secrets in his ear. They were such proud siblings!

It's crazy to me that when you welcome a new baby into your family, it's as if they'd been there all along. He just fits so perfectly into our little family. He was the missing piece that we had waited nine long months to welcome into our home. His personality complements everyone elses. He's our stubborn, independent child. He likes doing things his way and on his timeline. While there are moments I wish that he would let me zip his jacket or pour his milk or put his clothes on, I know that those are the makings of someone who will stand on his own two feet. I pray that these traits will help him to be a leader and take a stand for what he knows is right. I'm praying that this personality that can seem very exhausting to us at times will allow him not to be swayed by peer pressure as a teenager. For now, we are enjoying every single moment of this "last" baby.

I put that in quotes because I know that I'm not in control of that. While Dan and I finally feel very much at peace with our family of five, we know that God's plans don't always align with ours. So for now, we are going to savor every last moment he brings. I loved every stage of my kids growing up. I was always excited for them to start new things. I never cried when they went to school or stayed dry through the night for the first time. I didn't shed a tear for their first sleepover or the first time they could tie their shoes without my help. I was always so excited for them because they were so excited. And while I'm still excited to watch Sawyer grow up, I'm increasingly more aware that this time is fleeting. I don't get to do it again. So I welcome every cuddle, hug, and kiss. Every single moment that makes him who he is right now at this very moment. I drink it up. I do the same with Carter and Jaedyn too. I'm realizing that time is going by way too fast for my liking. I'm not ready for Jaedyn to be in double digits, and yet it will be here in 3 short months.

God is good. He continues to bless us. He continues to provide. I'm so excited to see what He has in store for my kids. I'm so blessed to be able to help guide them. What an honor it is to be given such an amazing mission.....their MAMA. Happy Birthday sweet baby boy. We love you to the moon and back.

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