Grace's Birth Story

Monday, June 8, 2015


I need to rewind a little bit to start Grace's birth story, back to when I was 25 weeks pregnant and was rushed to the hospital the terrifying night we found out I had placenta previa and thought we'd lost our little girl. That night I spent in labor and delivery turned out to be very special... I happily listened to her heartbeat every hour the nurses came in to check on her and I, so content with her kicking inside. I kept thinking she is purely the result of God's grace. His amazing, amazing grace. Cam and I had loved the name Emina Grace (after my Mama) years before she was even a glimmer in our eyes, but I'd been praying throughout my pregnancy for wisdom in choosing her name. From that night on, I quietly knew that was it.

Fast forward about ten weeks of bed rest to her birth...

Cam left for Zagreb to house hunt for us and to start setting things up with the Embassy and the University in preparation for our move. That was on Friday May 15, and he was set to come back late on Wednesday May 20th, which turned out to be Grace's day of birth. Nana Beth, Cam's Mom, flew in from Colorado to help me with John Shea while he was gone since I couldn't be on my feet. Nana was in place both times -- when I was hospitalized at 25 weeks and again for her birth -- none of us knowing at the time that either of those events were going to take place. She stepped in and took care of John Shea and everything at home for me. She was the definition of a God-send. Her being with us added to the feel of calm around Grace's birth that I'd been praying for. (My amazing parents, Gramppio George and Grandma Emina had flights to be here for her scheduled birth, so they're here with us as I type this out!)


Cam got so much done by Monday afternoon and we missed each other that he changed his flight to return a day early. I picked him up around midnight that Tuesday night and we went to sleep saying how excited we were to sleep in the next morning and spend the next day relaxing. Five hours later, Cam was rushing me to the hospital again.

As soon as my doctor got in, he came into triage and with a smile asked me, "so, you ready to have a baby today?" I assumed I'd just be kept on bed rest in the hospital until my c-section date or atleast to get further than 36 weeks, but he was certain it was time. Actually, at one of my appointments a week or two before, another of his patients also with previa had her placenta rupture, she lost her baby, was internally hemorrhaging and he left our appointment to go save her life. He saw the tears coming to my eyes and assured me that we had a good strong baby in there, and from his 40 years experience and that it could potentially be fatal if we waited any longer. He said the c-section was on and I had a bit of time to let it soak in. As soon as he and the nurse left, I turned to Cam and cried. Hello hormones, and it's a little overwhelming to be told a month before your due date and weeks before your c-section date that you're about to have your baby! We were so excited to meet her, but I was also terrified for the surgery and the spinal. Cam and I prayed together and he reminded me again how the Lord had totally provided and taken care of her and I my whole pregnancy and that we were going to meet our baby girl in just hours! And how much we love and trust my doctor, he's the best of the best. And.. we were together!! Cam listened to the tugging on his heart in Zagreb to leave early and had miraculously gotten back to me just in time. I was so thankful I cried all over again. Just before it was time, my friend Lindsay came in (with peonies and TJ's peanut butter cups no less) and as soon as I had texted Ahn that morning, she got in her car and drove the two hours from Oakland to be there for Grace's birth.


This man is my rock. He had to stay out of the Operating Room while I got wheeled in for my spinal and I was shaking I was so nervous. I'm not sure why, but seeing the huge lights on the ceiling and the operating bed in the middle of the room terrified me. The anesthesiologist though was so kind and talked me through the whole thing. One of the nurses had me put my head on her shoulder in an embrace since I was shaking so badly while I sat and leaned forward for the spinal. Once I was all ready to go, Cam came in and stayed by my side. He did such a great job of keeping his face neutral. He's fascinated by anatomy and surgeries and has both been medically trained and has witnessed more than you could imagine in war, so he was totally calm watching the whole surgery while holding my hand. I asked him not to give me any play-by-plays, I didn't want to know anything until after it was all done and I had Grace in my arms. I did ask him though if they started and he was like, OHH YEAH. And something about just the first layer of three. Guh. I tried not to think about it and instead concentrate on the fact that our little girl was about to be born.

This was it!

I heard my doctor say, "Oh! She's beautiful!" and the nurse say how cute she was. Cam's face had heaven all over it. I held my breath during the moments waiting to hear her, and then, that beautiful, glorious cry. I lost it and started sobbing, the most joyful cry. Cam went to her while they weighed her and checked her. It felt like forever while I waited, but those moments were a rush of relief and pure joy. Cam brought her over to me. She had to be taken right away to the NICU, but Cam put her precious face to mine so I could kiss her and feel her. I'm crying all over again re-living that moment. She was perfect. So tiny and precious and so perfect. Our darling Grace, how we love you.

When Cam brought Grace to me in the recovery room, I finally got to hold her and really look at her beautiful face. Oh, she could not be more angelic or sweet. Our precious baby was now physically revealed. Her beautiful face so perfectly matched her beautiful soul I had known and loved in the womb.


My doctor told me this after: As he was nearing the end of the surgery he checked as he always does to see if I was dilated, and I was. Substantially. As it turned out, I had been in active labor without even knowing it. Grace was on her way that day. Had my doctor not gone with his gut instinct to do the section right away, the labor could have easily caused my placenta to rupture and I can't even think about what would have happened to our darling girl. Again, I am blown away by God's providence and care.


The rest of that day is already somewhat of a happy blur to me, but one of the NICU nurses came in to get Grace and then informed us that her breathing was labored while she tried to get the excess fluid out of her lungs and that they were going to have to put her on pressurized air and then likely an IV and oxygen. We knew exactly where this was heading after our experience with John Shea. I told her I really wanted to speak with the NICU doctor, who was fantastic. He came in and said the same even after I asked him to let me hold her and see her first. He said he really felt like that was the best plan for her but I put my foot down and strongly disagreed. I told him I needed to see her and I knew she needed me and that I wanted to hold her and do skin to skin again first before they started any of that. He obliged. The nurses were wonderful and wheeled my bed to the NICU since I couldn't walk yet, until finally I was reunited with my Gracie. We only had maybe ten minutes together but in that short time, she completely turned around. Her breathing and all of her vitals regulated and by that night she was able to work out the excess fluid on her own. The staff in the NICU did everything they could to get her and I released as soon as possible. For the rest of the day, they brought her to me every three hours to nurse, and by the next day, she was rooming with us. Those were such sweet days, that we absolutely treasured, staring at her, snuggling her, breathing her in. There were also a few nurses I loved so much I wanted to take home with us! John Shea had his eyes on one, that he literally pulled out his break dancing moves for and had us on the floor laughing. After three days, we were both released to go home.


As I was being wheeled out, we passed the entrance to the Emergency Room. I immediately thought back to that painful afternoon last August, coming out of those doors, sobbing uncontrollably after miscarrying and walking into the parking lot, feeling so sad and broken. But now, I was struck in that present, joyous moment by my handsome husband beaming back at me as he proudly carried our sweet Grace, and how in less than a year God had restored us in ways so good that only He can; that Grace's birth story goes so far beyond her or us... her story, in every way, is truly a story of God's unending love and grace.

49 comments:

  1. Oh goodness, ALL the tears. Congratulations and welcome to your sweet, sweet baby girl.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jillian!!

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  2. I am so very happy for you and that she has arrived safely! Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Alyssa! We are too!! Praise God.

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  3. ugly cries right here (of joy!) God is just so, so good!!!!! I could not be happier for your little family :)

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    1. Sooo good! Thank you sweet friend!!!

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  4. Congratulations!!! She is so beautiful! :)

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  5. She's perfect! Congratulations!

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  6. I'm bawling. Sitting at my desk bawling. Everything about this is so beautiful and full of so much love. God is SO GOOD!! Blessings to all of you!! XOXOXOXOXOXO

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    1. Aww thank you so much, Nicholle!!!!!

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  7. Oh this story! I was teary the whole way through...thank you for sharing. I'm remembering the birth of our daughter (my water broke at 35 weeks) and the very same feelings of God-given peace in the midst of the overwhelming reality that your baby is coming before you were "ready". I'm so thrilled for your family and the newest addition! (Also, we just spent the last week in Croatia and it was DIVINE. Can't wait to live vicariously through you as you make the transition over!)

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    1. Ahhhh I keep checking to see if you posted photos! :) We leave in a couple of weeks and could not be more excited!! Also, thank you so much.

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  8. Everything about this is just so well written! Ugh, I don't even have children and you're making me tear up!!! God works in the most wonderful and mysterious way!!! I'm so so so happy for you and Cam!!!!!!!!!! xoxoxo

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    1. Thanks, Jordan!! Can't wait to see you over there soon! :)

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  9. This is so wonderful!!! I'm in tears. I'm 38 weeks with my first, (a boy!) and I'm so full of anticipation. God is so good!

    www.laviedehart.blogspot.com

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    1. Ah congratulations!!! By now, I'm guessing you had him? Or are about to?

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  10. Absolutely beautiful! Crying over here ;) <3

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  11. so, so beautiful! the pictures, the story...everything! Congratulations once again!

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  12. don't mind me, just over here with tears in my eyes! She is stunning and you are so strong. I'm also so glad you had amazing doctors and nurses. What a beautiful thing it is to give life :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Allie!! Such a kind comment.

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  13. wow, so incredible, every God-written detail!!! and she is beautiful, as are YOU!!! i hope you're healing up well and getting so many snuggles!!!

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    1. Thanks, Britt!! I'm so excited for YOU! Its almost time!! Yippee!

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  14. Yes, all the comments above took the words out of my mouth!! So happy she's home with the family and healthy!! ;)

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  15. Congrats Amanda! This story had me in tears, you have such a gift for putting an experience into words! Grace is absolutely perfect, I am so happy for you and your family :) What an amazing testimony to God's faithfulness!

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    1. Aw thank you, Jane! So kind of you to say. He is SO faithful. So, so faithful.

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  16. Oh my! What a wonderful and miraculous story! Praise the Lord for His provision, love and grace. What a wonderful, beautiful girl you have, Amanda! I am in awe of everything you've been through and what place you are in now. Lots of love from oh so far away. xx

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    1. Yes, Praise God! Thank you SO much!!

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  17. Wow. Your beautiful story gave me goose bumps. I love how you can see the beauty and have such strong faith in an experience that was also so scary. I have always admired that about you and your writing. I am so glad yall are now home and starting your new life as a super cute family of 4.

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    1. Thank you so much, Colleen. That is incredibly kind!

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  18. Very emotional, lovely story. Welcome baby Grace!

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  19. I have read this story several times this morning and each time have tears. I am so thankful that you took the time to share it with us. What stands out to me is how the Lord uniquely has His hand on the seemingly small and unseen details of our lives. What a beautiful reminder this morning! Thanking the Lord for a healthy baby girl and praying that you are recovering quickly!! Welcome beautiful baby Grace!!
    With Love, Rebecca :)

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    1. Awww thank you soo much my friend!!! You are amazing.

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  20. Such a beautiful story Amanda! I'm curious, if you didn't have to have the c section would you have wanted another natural birth?

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    1. Thanks, Kaysie! Yes... even after how awful it was, if you can believe it!

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  21. Well I am now a puddle of tears! This is the MOSt beautiful story my dearest friend! Every part of the story I remember all the texts you sent to me, and the way you trusted God is such amazing ways!! She is absolutely beautiful and perfect and I can't wait to meet her!!! xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much for praying with us through all of it. You are incredible!

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  22. Happy tears! What an awesome story...God is SO in every piece of Miss Grace and her delivery! Congrats again to you all!

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  23. Tears on tears on tears! What a beauty your little Grace is. So happy for all of you :)

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  24. Well of course I am bawling!! I love seeing how God's hand worked through your family's life throughout this time. So many incredible moments! Thank you for sharing this story with us. Emina Grace, you are beautiful!

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  25. What a beautiful birth story! She's so precious, and I just love the way God's timing always works out. Congratulations again :)

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  26. Me again, the random stranger snooping through your blog, finally worked my way back this far - WOW! What an amazing birth story! God is so amazing, so gracious, so wonderful. How awesome - the way He laid it on your husband's heart to come home early, the way He led your doctor to proceed with the C-section without knowing you were already in active labor...!! "Grace" is so perfect! It amazes me how often that happens...at least to us, where the name fits the pregnancy/delivery or the baby SO well. We were discussing the name "Grace" for my Grace, now 5...on Christmas Day of 2010 I was a few days from my due date and we were staying at my parents' for Christmas, and had a lot of snow (which is basically unheard of that time of year in our part of the U.S.). I was praying she wouldn't come during a snowstorm. My water broke that night. Because of the snow, we called an ambulance, even though I felt like I was hours away from anything really progressing. Got to the hospital in record time, and promptly found out I was fully-dilated and about to deliver and she was double footling breech. My OB does breech deliveries, and arrived just before they got me prepped for a C-section. He said that wasn't necessary, and 15 minutes she was born safe and sound and beautiful. But had we not gone in the ambulance, she would have come in the car, breech!! And then my most recent one, with bed rest, we had already planned to name "Faith," and that fit the whole pregnancy SO well, but this comment's already waaaay long so I'll just leave it there, haha! Sorry to keep writing books!! ;)

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