So Rach has been in "pre-term labor" for weeks really. The day the kids and I arrived in Little Rock for our summer visit, July 11, she was put on bed rest because she had already started to progress and she was having regular contractions. So the next week she did "bed rest", followed by the next week on "house rest" and the next week on "mild activity rest."
Nora's due date wasn't until August 18, so we were trying to keep her put as long as possible.
I had not-so-secretly hoped Nora would be born the last week we were home, but no such luck. We drove back to Pennsylvania on August 1 and I really was super upset about thinking of missing her sweet arrival. I was planning to come early September to meet the baby love, and I thought that would hold me over.
That was until my mom called me on Sunday (August 10). We had had a normal Sunday: church, church picnic, rest time and the kids were outside playing when I answered the phone to a excited mom saying "well, I'm jumping in the shower because Rachel says we're having a baby today!"
I couldn't even get excited (totally unlike me) I was just immediately devastated of the realization I was going to miss my niece being born!!
I texted Aaron who was downstairs on the couch (is that weird? I hope not. We constantly text each other when we're on other sides of the house. Oops).
Me: Rachel's is labor.
Me: For reals.
He eventually came upstairs where I was laying in my bed moping, perhaps mildly dramatic. I kinda cried talking about hating being so far away from my family and about missing this huge event. I just really wasn't prepared for it to be so hard!
He went back downstairs and I followed a few minutes later.
We were both sitting on the couch when the following conversation ensued:
AB: "So, how long would it take you to get ready?"
Me: "(sniff, sniff) Oh, probably ten minutes."
AB: "Well, you have eight. Your flight leaves in less than an hour."
I bawled and squawled and squealed and I threw the most random things in a bag. He was following me around my room saying "I don't think you understand how serious I was when I said 'eight minutes!" as I was trying to throw jewelry in a bag. I mean ... Bangles are up there with my toothbrush when it comes to packing, y'all. Duh.
He handed me my boarding passes and I flew out the door, grabbing babies faces for smooches as I ran to my car. I literally left them all wide eyed in the drive way asking "where is mommy going?" Not gonna lie, I felt pretty bad about that. But I sped on.
I called my Aunt Tamra on the way to the airport to see if she could secretly pick me up from the airport and she of course said she absolutely would. I flew out of Elmira at 5:10pm (after getting there at 4:59) and arrived in Little Rock at 10:30pm ... Craziness.
I still can't believe I made it! They stopped boarding at 5:02 and I rolled up to the gate at 4:59 where they rushed up to me asking, "Boone? Are you Boone?"
Y'all, I had seriously rolled out of my pity-party bed where I'd been napping! Look at me ... Bahaha. I crack up every time I see this pic! Totally humbling myself to post it ... but I think it shows that there was not a minute to spare!!
I was talking to Mom and SB during my layover for details on Rach (pretending to be at home!) but PRAYING this was the real deal and that I didn't just jet-set to Little Rock for false labor.
Rachel had gone in at 4am Sunday with contractions and several "labor signs" however the hospital wouldn't admit her until her contractions were less than 5 minutes apart (hers were more like 10-12) or until she had progressed a little further. So she went back to labor at home.
She was in a lot of pain and the contractions were getting closer together as the afternoon dragged on. By 8:30 that night her contractions were about 6 minutes apart and she was in even more pain. So they went back to the hospital again. She still wasn't as progressed as they wanted her even though the contractions were now 3-4 minutes apart and so they watched her for a couple hours but WOULD NOT ADMIT HER!! That's right, at 10:30 (right after Aunt Tamra and Asa picked me up from the airport) she texted that they were sending the girl home. We could. not. believe. it!!
I went ahead and called Mom and Sarah Baker telling them I was in town because I thought I was going to need to go to Mom's to spend the night. The conversations filling them in were so fun and exciting and hilarious. My favorite part was calling SB and talking about them sending her home before I finally said, "well, I have a little surprise." And she said, "what?" And I said, "I'm in Aunt Tamra's car (crickets). With Asa and Aunt Tamra (more crickets)." I'm in Little Rock!"
SB: "Whatttttt?!?! I was sitting here trying to figure out why Aunt Tamra's car was in Pennsylvania!" God bless her.
We were waiting to hear Ben and Rachel's latest update ... Then we got a text: they had stopped to get something to eat from the food court and Rachel said they were backing out of the parking deck when she started praying out loud, "Lord, will you please just let my water break if I'm supposed to stay here? I do not feel good about going home, and I'm hurting and ... " POP, her water broke!!!
Ben screeched back into their parking spot, flying past his parents who were so confused, and they high-tailed it back inside.
It was pretty rough the first few hours. Rachel was in a lot of pain; she was really upset and exhausted from laboring since 4 am (now 11pm).
Mom and Sarah Baker picked me up at Aunt Tamra's; Asa jumped in with Dad and Emerson with Mimi and Grandaddy following behind and we rushed up to UAMS.
When we got to the hospital everyone was in the waiting room but no one had gone back to see Rach. She was not in good shape. The anesthesiologist was no where to be found and the girl NEEDED an epidural. She was in such a pain-coma that she didn't even RECOGNIZE me! Dead serious. She thought I was Mom! About five minutes later (through gritted teeth) she looked at me and said "what the heck are you doing here?!?!" But, I couldn't even laugh because I knew she was hurting so much!
FINALLY she was able to get an epidural and get some relief, but she still felt awful and continued to have a pretty rough night. I'll say this: After having three babies, I feel like her birth process could have possibly been worse than all three of mine combined. It was just that bad.
They never put her on Pitocin (a drug that helps to speed up labor) and so it really moved pretty slowly. Nora's heart rate dropped a couple times extremely low and it was just constantly eventful to say the least.
Around four Monday morning she was getting extra sleepy (poor thing) and so Mom, SB and I went back into the room with her. We all kinda snuggled into the big chairs and couches and zonked out for about an hour. Then a little after 5:30am a CREW of doctors and nurses came in and were breaking apart the bed, flipping on the "showtime" lights and saying "it's time to push!" Rachel and Ben had asked Mom, Sarah Baker and I to stay in there while she had the baby! (I cry every time I think about it. It is still the biggest honor that she wanted us in there!)
So, Sarah Baker and I each were helping by holding a leg; Ben stood up by her face coaching her on and Mom was practically praying in tongues between us.
Oh, and because UAMS is a teaching hospital there were about 20 med students, etc in there too. Not awkward at all ... Um, yeah right.
(Rachel had thyroid cancer in high school and so saw a high-risk doctor throughout her pregnancy. Because of that she delivered at UAMS because that's where he delivers ... Not gonna lie, it was a pretty different experience from delivering at Baptist Hospital like Sarah Baker and I did. Yikes.)
She pushed for about twenty minutes before they decided she needed to wait a little longer. The nurses propped her bed up in a way to see if gravity would pull the baby down a little before trying to push again.
We waited about 30 more minutes before they came back in and Rachel started again. It was really agonizing. She was not feeling well for a million reasons,one being they really had over-medicated her so she could barely keep her eyes open (not to MENTION the child had been awake for about 27 hours) and it's just a highly intense and stressful situation. We were all coaching her on when she was frustrated and not sure she could do it!
"You can so do this!
You are doing so great!"
"Look Rachel, the baby warmer is turned on, because she's almost here!
We just need you to push!
We're ready to put a bow in her hair!!" and other highly normal forms of encouragement.
And then, FINALLY, at 7:06am Nora Catherine Haynes arrived!
It was the most amazing moment ever. Really. I'm covered in goosebumps even typing about it. Rachel did so great and Nora Cate is so perfect and I just could NOT be more proud or even more HUMBLED and BLESSED that I got to be there for such a special moment. It was seriously just precious and I don't think I could ever forget it. Praising Jesus for a husband that made it possible for me to be there ... I literally cried about it for days. For reals.
Around noon we finally went back to Mom's to take showers and nap for a couple hours. Mom and I ended up going to dinner before going back to the hospital.
I am just so, so, so happy when I'm back in Little Rock and with my people. I am happy, content and feel very loved in Pennsylvania, but home is just ... Home. And I miss it.
Mmm ... Can't you just smell her? There is NOTHING like a new baby. And this new baby is extra special. Also, how stinkin' sweet is it that she looks just like her mommy?! Those lips? So Rachel!!
Nora Cate and her parents were discharged the next morning so we went up to help them get packed up and leave.
She wore this little gown I got her home from the hospital. Oh, she's just the sweetest thing!!!
I just can't handle her sweetness!!!! Agh!!!! My arms are literally aching to hold her right this minute!
Nora's nursery was all ready for her arrival and she was quite happy in it.
See! She just loves her new home!
Her cousins, Noah and Hallie Grace, came by to meet her. Noah was the funniest thing- such a big boy!
"Mommy, her head is vewwwy soft."
Hallie Grace was not sure what to think about this new tiny child taking center stage so she decided to start taking steps to regain the spotlight- it worked!
I could just eat her up.
Nora continued to get cuter and cuter over the next couple days ...
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end ... and Wednesday morning I had to leave Miss Nora Cate and the rest of the fam. Ben was a little concerned about not having me there to do the swaddles so he made me unwrap her and re-swaddle so he could video- so funny.
I really, really don't think it's ever been harder to leave Arkansas than it was this time. I literally cried all day. I just miss my people so much and these babies make it SO much harder. The thought that in a few months she'll be a totally different baby is just gut-wrenching (yep, crying again).
THANKFULLY, text messaging and FaceTime lets me see her sweet face daily ... so I don't have to miss things like her first doctors appointment/outing ...
Or just updates of when Rachel wants to send me a "Can you handle this cuteness, because I can't." text. Which hopefully is at LEAST hourly (hint-hint, Rachel).
And p.s. the answer is No, no I can NOT handle this cuteness. And I'm counting down to when I can hold her sweet self again.
We truly felt like the Lord went before and after us with Nora's arrival ... it was just a HOLY time! We were thankful for "little" things that were huge to us, like my dad being in town when he was leaving for a week the next day. He'd almost canceled his trip twice scared he'd miss the big day! To me getting to fly in and MAKE it ... oh my goodness. Also, allowing Rachel's water to break while still AT the hospital ... craziness. AMAZING nurses that we had been praying over for months, a natural birth, no petocin, and just all being able to be together and praying over Rachel for hours on end. It was just so special and so sacred and something that God made so perfect. We were so blessed and thankful for the gracious and GOOD work He did on August 11. We will be ETERNALLY thankful for every moment.
Dearest NORA CATE,
I'm SO happy I got to be there your first few days. You are SO special to me!!!
I will love you for always and can't wait to be in your life on a day-to-day basis.
You are just perfect in every way and I will be forever praying for your
sweet, darling self.
Aunt Bekah (or as Noah calls me UncaBekah)