I suppose it is time to write down my story of Marie’s birth. Enough time has passed that I begin to worry that I will forget bits and pieces of the story, which I don’t want to do! It was such an amazing, awesome and unrepeatable night for me.
The moment that comes back to me over and over was after Bill pulled the car over, got out and came around to find me and a brand new baby in the back seat of the car. Neither Bill nor I knew what to do next, but in that moment, all was beautiful. Mother, father and baby, and God looking out for us, taking care of us, very close to us indeed. I could feel His presence and comfort.
The Thursday Marie was born was nearly four weeks before our due date. Monday night of that week I had just returned from a trip to South Bend to visit my sister who had just had her first baby. On the day of Marie’s birth, Bill and I had planned to go on a date, but I was feeling lousy. Our babysitter was sick anyway, so all was well. I spent the evening relaxing, trying to ease what I thought were chronic Braxton-Hicks contractions. Turns out they were the real deal. After Bill got the kids to bed, we discussed if we should go in soon, do we get his parents to come over, wake the kids up and bring them to their house, or do we get someone else who could help us? What do we need to pack? We did not realize that the baby wanted out so quickly!
When we finally had our bags packed, and grandma and grandpa were on the way over, my pain level went way up from somewhat manageable to chronic contractions. As we were leaving the house, I knew this baby was coming soon! Bill and Lisa (our neighbor) helped me lie in the back seat of the car with towels and pillows to provide a little more comfort and we took off for the hospital.
At 11:10 pm, five minutes into the ride, my water broke and in the next contraction, Marie came into the world! As I said, it was amazing. It was also very scary and surreal. After four other babies, I knew what it felt like to give birth, so that part was not too bad. It was pain with a purpose. What was so odd is that I knew this was NOT the way it should be. People do not give birth in moving vehicles! But here we were in a moving vehicle giving birth. There was a definite clarity that God graced me with at that moment. I knew that we would be fine, even in the midst of feeling very much out of control. In the moments after her birth, I enjoyed her even as we were fumbling around for the phone to call the hospital and figuring out what to do in our predicament.
The first thing we noticed in admiring her in the ambulance was that our baby’s hair was bright red. What a promise fulfilled by my Father in Heaven. I had asked for a red-head and here she was. So, when she had her red hair, I remembered again that God is faithful and knows the desires of our heart. Later on while we were at the hospital and the doctors were scaring us with phrases like “chromosomal abnormalities, low muscle tone, Down Syndrome,” I kept reflecting on her red hair and I knew that God gave that to her in part as a consolation to me.
Shortly after we got to the hospital via ambulance earlier that night, the pediatrician looked at Marie carefully and explained that she noticed signs of Down Syndrome. Everything immediately went black and fuzzy for me. I remember the feeling of leaving my body and looking down at myself on the bed. Who was I anymore and where was my perfect family? How could this happen when we were all doing just fine, moving along and living life? What now? I didn’t sleep that night. I was numb. I tried to feed Marie, but she was too tired. The nurses said that Down Syndrome babies sometimes don’t nurse well, due to their low muscle tone. I couldn’t cry either. I wasn’t sure how to react. How do you react? I was excited—I just had my fifth baby, a red headed girl, in the car… how cool is that!? But she has this problem…
Time heals wounds. Blessedly, Marie stayed three extra days in the level two nursery, so she and I had lots of time together. She had time to get her jaundice counts down, and I had time to cry, pray and feed her. I realized over and over that she is a baby. Babies need love, they need acceptance, they need to be fed, bathed and clothed. Our family came and visited and thought she was simply perfect, which she was.
Fast forward 12 months to today. Marie is a happy, healthy girl. She crawls, sits, rolls, eats, plays with toys. She knows her family and loves them. Others who meet her are delighted by her. Bill and I have begun to understand more how it doesn’t matter what you do that makes each one of us valuable in the world, it is who we are—God’s beloved children.
I am reminded again that God is faithful. I also know that God has taken care of us in the past, is doing so in the present, so why would he not in the future? “Consider the lilies of the field, they neither sow nor do they spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”
So Happy Birthday, little sweet Marie Louisa! We are so proud of you and delighted by you!
Many thanks to Carolyn Reinhardt for sharing Marie’s birth story with us. This story first appeared on Carolyn’s site Reinhardt Blog.
Would you like to share your birth story? We’d love to hear it! Take a look at our “What’s Your Story?” post to find inspiration and direction.