Worth It All
Deciding to have a baby after Scott took a lot of prayer. And not a small amount of courage. With Scott, at 25 weeks I was placed on bedrest. By 28 weeks, I was in the hospital. At 30 weeks, he was in so much distress that he was born via emergency c-section. I was really sick. My blood pressure was so high that although Scott was born on a Monday, other than wheeling my bed by him so that I could officially meet him for a brief moment, I did not get to see him again until Wednesday.
I went to see a specialist after that. He took 8 vials of blood and ran test after test. When we went to meet with him and discuss the results, the news wasn’t encouraging. What happened to my body with Scott had not happened with Kaylee. That alone was odd. Despite finding nothing wrong with me that he could diagnose, his best guess was that it would happen again with almost certainty.
So, Gregg and I prayed. And talked. And prayed. We were good with going forward with another baby. Our family and friends were not. They couldn’t understand why we would risk my life, but we had peace with the decision.
When I got pregnant with Jeb, we had just recently celebrated Scott’s 1st birthday and were in a new state, which meant a new doctor. I found out I was pregnant and called my primary care physician, who immediately referred me to a high risk OB. The first time I saw him, I was barely 5 weeks pregnant. He was thrilled that we went to see him so early instead of waiting for a regular OB to refer us.
I saw him every 2 weeks for months, and when my blood pressure started creeping up, I saw him every week. I had an ultrasound every visit to make sure that Johnathan was never in any kind of distress. Around 13 weeks, the doctor started me on blood pressure medicine. Around 28 weeks, he put me on moderate bed rest. Gregg was working out of town and home on the weekends, Kaylee was in school all day, so my moderate bed rest was the best I could do with a 1-year-old. Around 33 weeks, he put me on serious bed rest and we had to call my mom to come help with kids.
He kept having to increase the dosage of my blood pressure medicine, but he knew that it was a losing battle. He told Gregg and me that he had the benefit of history on his side. He had the ability to be proactive, where my doctor in Florida could only be reactive. Because of this, he felt that he could get me to 36 weeks. And he did – to the day.
The day I hit 36 weeks, my blood pressure spiked and I could not get it down. I suffered all night long with a dibilitating migraine, not wanting to wake my doctor if I could wait until morning. By 6AM, I couldn’t take it anymore and called him. Thankfully, it was a Sunday morning, and that meant Gregg was home. The doctor told us to meet him at the hospital.
The nurse who checked us in went over my information and asked what kind of medicine I was on. I said, “Labetelol.”
She asked with her pen poised over her paper, “200mg?”
I didn’t understand her question. “Pills? I think so.”
She said, “No. How much a day?”
Oh. Well. I said, “No. 1400mg.”
I remember her shocked face. “1400? One thousand four hundred?”
“Yes. 600 in the morning, 800 at night.”
She had never heard of anyone on that high of a dose of blood pressure medicine. I just want to shout out now and say my doctor rocked the house. He kept Johnathan baking as long as he could, and boy did he need it.
I remember sitting in the operating room, bent over the arm of the nurse while the anesthesiologist prepped my back, thinking, “Oh Lord, what did I do? This wasn’t a good idea. I changed my mind! Run!”
But then I relaxed. I think it was just the needle about to go into my spine that made me re-think the whole getting pregnant again thing.
I don’t know what time Johnathan was born. Before 9AM, I think. He was 6lbs, 7oz, and 19 inches long. Those extra 6 weeks he got beefed him up compared to his brother’s 3-pounder birth. Like with Scott, I was too sick to see him after his birth, and he went straight to the NICU. When Gregg brought me pictures, I joked that his nickname didn’t need to be Jeb, it needed to be Biff, because he looked like a little football player.
He was still too early, though. His lungs weren’t fully developed, and when he took his first breath, the left one basically popped and collapsed. He spent the next 10 days in the NICU while his lung healed. I remember sitting in the NICU, rocking him and looking at a family with a tiny baby. And I remember being so overwhelmed with gratitude that God had led us to our doctor who never one time faltered in my care.
When Johnathan was about a week old, he was well enough to have the feeding tube removed. I tried to nurse him and he would not nurse. He also had a hard time sucking the bottle. The doctors did all sorts of reflex tests on him and determined that he was born without a sucking reflex. They said that if he did not nurse by his due date, he likely never would be able to. But they encouraged me to continue to pump and give him a bottle with the nipple that just about poured milk into his mouth, and to try to nurse him every day.
Jeb came home from the hospital on a Wednesday. Kaylee graduated from 5th grade that Friday. My dad came in town to pick up my mom, and Kaylee’s dad came in town to pick up Kaylee. That Sunday, after Gregg left to go back to work, it was just me and the boys. That night, I fell down the stairs and broke my tailbone.
Jeb started nursing on his due date. It was wonderful. Sitting was so hard, which made pumping agonizing, but I could sling him and walk around while he nursed.
His first year was stressful beyond measure. Scott didn’t sleep through the night. Some nights he woke up twice. Jeb was incredibly needy. The only nights he slept more than an hour or two were the nights I put him in bed with me. I caved in about once every two weeks and let him sleep with me just so I could get a few hours here and there. But I’m no a co-sleeping mom and had no desire to co-sleep, so I persisted in just dealing with the constant waking up.
I was in pain. Today is his 2nd birthday and I’m still in pain when I sit. Gregg was gone. His work kept him out of town until the Army kept him even further out of town. Things between us weren’t good.
And through it all, Jeb was just so needy. All he wanted was for me to hold him, nurse him, rock him, carry him. If I put him down, he cried. And since I had 2 other kids, I put him down all the time. And he cried. All the time. I thought once he got mobile, he might be less needy. But all that meant when he was mobile was that he could crawl behind me and cry.
Oh, but he is so full of love. He just exudes love. And when he’s in my arms or his daddy’s arms, he’s the happiest child on this planet and you can read it in every part of his face and being.
It took him about 18 months to not need so much of me. It’s still there, and some days it’s wearing, but he’s starting to get his feet under him.
He is amazing. He loves with every atom in his body. His grin will light up a room.
Today he turns 2. For 2 years now, God has given me this wonder. This little ball of love topped with red hair. And as I relive it all – the pregnancy, the fear, the pain, the exhaustion – typing this out, I know that I’d do it all again, without hesitation.
God has truly blessed us to trust us with such an amazing child. And I am so thankful to Him for it.
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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Happy Birthday Johnnie Gene!
What a journey! That little guy is a doll. Bless you for being so faithful. They are worth it – every minute.
Thank you for sharing your journey of faith.
Hallee-I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face!!! I am so blessed to have you and your family as friends. (truth be known I consider you family) Jeb is such a blessing and he does exude love with every ounce of his being!!! God has great plans for him, you do such a great job at being mom, wife, and friend. God bless you Jeb with many more birthdays and years filled with grace, wisdom, joy, peace, and love. I love you all Happy birthday Jeb!
I think I’ve been reading the first yr with my youngest…at least I know Im not alone and you had many more trials than i did. Happy birthday jeb!
What a wonderful story! Your little boy is a miracle! I wrote about our little boy’s miraculous story today too :) I hope your tailbone heals up soon (though I know they actually take years…if ever!!) I’ve broken mine twice and have since endured two very painful pregnancies!!! I feel for you!
Have a great day!
What a wonderful story. You are so blessed to have it turn out so well. Our babies were born at 28 weeks; they spent 3 months in the NICU. One year later we are so fortunate to have healthy babies. We are understandably gun-shy about risking getting pregnant again. Your story is great to hear! I think it is wonderful you don’t blame your body, as I tend to feel a lot of guilt for their suffering.