Well it's been a year and a half. Our sweet Claire Marie is a year and a half old. I didn't mean to go this long without writing down her birth story. And I know it's not a necessity. But as our next little girl can come any moment, the births of our other girls have been all over my mind. And for me, writing it down is a marker, a testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness. I'm not comparing our girls or trying to make it seem like one story is better than the other. The Lord has worked through both of their lives and has revealed Himself in very personal ways through them. The stories of the way they came into our family and grew our hearts and home are different, but they are both important and needed. Just as I shared the story of Katherine in order to help and encourage anyone that might walk through something similar, I want to share Claire’s story to provide encouragement and hope as well.
Even the day of her birth, I said Claire spoke to us of God’s kindness and grace, just as Katherine spoke to us of God’s goodness and faithfulness. He sustained us in, what was to us, a traumatic and hard birth and then in the painful, dark valleys of learning to trust Him when I walked through postpartum depression; and He sweetly allowed us to experience a completely different journey with Claire. He didn't have to, and it all could have been a different story. But it was beautifully redemptive and I continue to be grateful for His very personal kindness.
I held so much anxiety and fear from that positive pregnancy test on to bringing Claire home. There was deep emotional pain from before that was still heavy on me, that still weighed on my heart. I knew some of the depths of what could be, I didn't know the joys.
We were past our due date and the doctor asked about induction, and just hearing those words made me break down. I cried in the doctor's office without any ability to stop the tears; and I was thankful for a doctor that was compassionate and understanding and a husband that was comforting and supportive. We left the office, me in tears and us without a plan. As we drove home we were able to talk through things. And I called later in the day to schedule the induction for the following Wednesday. Each day continued to go by and she wasn't here. Spencer kept teaching and we just planned that we'd walk through induction again.
Tuesday night I never fell asleep. There was a mixture of prayers and anxiety. And then pain. I didn't know what it felt like to be in labor on my own, so I didn't think much about it. But as the pain continued, I woke Spencer up around midnight and said I thought it might be happening. He got up and wrote out lessons plans and emailed the people at work he needed to. We called his aunt who lives nearby and had offered to come be with Katherine. And around 3:30am we headed to the hospital. I had no doubt we would be staying, especially since we were overdue, the induction was scheduled for the next day anyway, and I was in pretty consistent pain. We texted family. We knew Spencer's parents would head our way as soon as they could and my parents were trying to get on an earlier flight and would make it in when they could.
It was so strange being in the hospital, a totally different experience than before. It was a mixture of adrenaline and exhaustion, fear and excitement. Since it was the late night hospital hours, we went in a side entrance, saw the on-call doctor, got strapped up to the iv and monitors, and learned I was 5cm dilated and contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart. Then they asked about the epidural. I had such fears and questions surrounding it. But ultimately, I knew I needed to say yes.
By 6:30 we were in a room and I had gotten an epidural. The girls who did it did an incredible job and were very helpful with it all. They explained everything and were gentle. We were so thankful for a positive experience to start it off with. And as it kicked in, there was such a relief from pain. I didn't even know it was possible even with an epidural to experience a birth with a respite from pain. There wasn't a category in my mind for it, so it was very much welcomed.
An hour later I was at a 7. And since my water hadn't broken yet, they went ahead and did that. Then around 9:00 contractions had slowed to 6-7 minutes apart. So I got started on Pitocin. That made me quite nervous, but we trusted our doctor and knew it would still be different than before. At 9:30 I was at an 8 and fully effaced, and the epidural was still in full effect. We were exhausted, but overall everything had been a good experience so far. At 9:45 I was at a 9. And I wouldn't have been able to tell you that because I was feeling pretty good. Not too long after that the nurse came back to check on us. She checked me and exclaimed, "Oh! This baby is coming!" And she went to call the doctor. Our doctor came in and got all set up. I had an episiotomy and then a couple pushes later we met our Claire Marie. Our doctor held Claire up for me and Spencer to see and then she got weighed and measured and placed in our arms.
Claire was born at 11:01am on September 13th weighing 6 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 20 inches. She was wonderfully healthy and I was actually coherent. I can remember seeing her and holding her, having conversations with Spencer and with the nurses and doctor, all things I don't remember with Katherine. I can remember happy tears and being overcome with gratitude to the Lord. I can remember a sweet joy.
We had time in the room to calm down from all the emotions and commotion, to breathe and be together. And then Katherine and other family came in to meet Claire. It was good and sweet and special.
There were so many factors that played into Claire's birth being a completely different story than Katherine's. A few things we had control over, but most things we didn't. And for us, modern medicine was such a gift. Of course there were tears at times, hard moments, feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, and even a stomach bug that hit Spencer. But our labor and birth experience with Claire was ultimately good and positive and, like every birth, miraculous.
I know every pregnancy is different, every baby is different, every parent's convictions are different, and every experience is different. But I also know God works in all of them for His glory and our good. And no matter how the story unfolds, God's goodness is sure and His love is steadfast. And all I can do with our story, with our stories, is be grateful, speak of the grace we've seen, and share hope.
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.