The Miracle of Mary Frances…
In early spring of 2012, we learned that God had blessed us, yet again, with His generosity; baby #7; a very biblical number in our Christian faith and I knew this one would be special. I had no idea the life lessons this little one would bring and the impact she would make.
The first trimester looked very similar to my first trimester for Libby, our only girl thus far. I was extremely nauseated and thought we might be having a little girl. After talking with other moms, I learned that nausea is not only for little girl pregnancies and that there really is no way of really knowing until baby is born. As usual, my body continued to change (and grow) and I tried to remember to thank God for allowing me to help Him in a miracle, in lieu of complaining as the numbers on the scale continued to get bigger.
This was the first time in six pregnancies we agreed that we would not find out gender in the ultrasound. I had no idea how this simple decision would change a pregnancy. I always figured, “How could pregnancy be improved with a surprise, the whole process is such a miracle, filled with joy?" I was mistaken. Even on the day of her birth, I had no idea which we were going to welcome into our lives, and I loved it. It brought even more magic into an already magical time.
Being in my 40’s, there is inherent risk in choosing to have children and as a result, I was lucky enough to have an ultrasound with each of the final appointments, in order to keep track of baby (growth, amniotic fluid levels, heart function, breathing practice, activity level, etc).
The baby had not shown much growth in the last couple of weeks and when I went in for a checkup and ultrasound on January 2nd (38 weeks and 5 days gestation), the baby’s weight was 6 pounds, amniotic fluid level was low, and I had progressed from 80% effaced, dilated to 1.8 to 90% and 3. The amniotic fluid levels were not at the critical level (5 or below), but significantly below normal. Our Doctor, being I was v-bac, did not want to take any risks and said ”Let’s have a baby today.” I was overjoyed… and ready! This decision saved Mary Frances’ life (and possibly mine too).
They broke my water at noon, and I did not make much progress and thus, pitocin, delivered intravenously, was added to the picture to help increase strength and frequency of contractions. Then things, as usual, began to pick up. I was in true labor by 1PM and they were getting stronger and closer together, slowly. By 5:00, the contractions were substantial and both Nate and I were getting excited. I figured baby would be here before 6:00 PM.
Before this pregnancy, I had delivered all of our children, with the exception of 1 cesarean, without the benefits of pain intervention, also called a natural birth. I know it is painful, but the recovery is fantastic and the labor and delivery, though painful, had traditionally been fast, with few pushes, and zero stitches.
Just before 6:00PM, the final stage of labor had commenced and I was progressing very quickly. I had one contraction that was more painful than I had ever felt, ever. I could not breathe and fainted. When I woke, both Nate and the nurse were looking at me, concerned. The look of joyful anticipation had gone from Nate's face, as it was not easy for them to help me regain consciousness.
During that painful contraction, the baby’s vitals dropped off and when I regained consciousness, the contractions were different than I had ever experienced. As it turns out, my placenta (baby’s source for life through food and oxygen) had detached from my uterus… thus severing baby’s source for life (a placental abruption). The pain was in a different location than in past labor, the contractions were more acute, and the pain was constant.
In the meantime, they could not attach a monitor to baby’s head and were unable to find my cervix to ascertain the progress of my labor. Three different members of the staff attempted to attach the monitor and assess progress, to no avail. The pain was so acute, such that, though I was present, physically, I was also quite absent… I called out the Holy Name of Jesus a couple of times, asked them to deliver cesarean, and mentioned that I was in a lot of pain.
I could feel, externally with my hands, that the baby had shifted such that he/she no longer protruded out from my belly, but seemed to actually be resting low, within my organs, hard to explain, but the baby did not stick “out” any more.
When they were unable to find my cervix and monitor baby, the doctor called an emergency cesarean section (c-section). From the time they chose to proceed with a c-section, until the time our baby was born, 2 ½ minutes had elapsed. Nate watched, in disbelief, unable to join me in the OR, as the capable surgical, nurse, OB, NICU, and anesthesia teams assembled. He later lauded the entire staff for the herculean effort.
When our baby was born, her vitals were at 60 (130 – 180 is normal), she was blue, and unresponsive. The nurses gave her oxygen and, by the grace of God, regained her color and she reanimated… a miracle, on top of miracles.
When I regained consciousness in the OR, the first thing I asked was how Nate was doing, then baby. Nate was with our baby and it was then that I learned God gave us a baby girl, and she was doing just fine. Joy Joy Joy.
The goal of this post is to remind us all to be grateful for each gift God gives us and to take nothing for granted. Little Mary Frances helped us all to take a step back and just be grateful that day, and those that followed.
My friend, and nurse that assisted in the "stat" nature of my labor/delivery, Jodi, just cared. She knew how worried Nate was and went out of her way to ensure he was doing okay, as did the other 2 nurses; everybody throughout the entire process gave 100% of themselves, for the lives of others. Thus, we are abundantly grateful... to God, to each other, and to the staff that allowed God to work through them to bring our baby safely into this world and care for me as well.
We firmly believe that God guided the decisions and hands throughout the day on January 2nd. What if Dr. Cooley had sent me home? What if I labored at home and endured a placental abruption 20 minutes from the hospital? What if Dr. Cooley had not directed for c-section when she did? What if, what if, what if? The outcome would have been altogether different. The right information was given from above, and the right people were in place to act. God is so good!
Thank you God, thank you Ridgeview Medical Center, Waconia OB, nursing, anesthesia, the NICU (Newborn Infant Care Unit) staff, and surgical staff; Dr. Cooley, Jodi Zellman, Charge Nurse Shelby, Karen Paul, Pat Wanchena, and Jon, the student Doctor who shadowed Cooley for the day, and the rest of the Ridgeview team. Though I always admired and respected the gifts you give to the world, through your vocations, we have experienced, first-hand, your true life-saving contributions and love.
We are also firm believers in prayer. When I spoke with a nurse who helped deliver Mary Frances, she said "Your husband was very calm, as though he was in prayer or contemplation." He had been praying, along with many of our home school, Mother's Group, Church, family and friends, as well as many of our Facebook friends. Your prayers stormed heaven, and heaven, with infinite love and faithfulness, answered you. Thank you!
Nathan & Kristen Soley
Andrew, William, Libby, Charlie, Thomas, Patrick, and of course Baby Mary Frances