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.