Tuesday, March 28, 2017
I unearthed a smattering of photos from last month that I haven't gotten around to posting. These were all taken the weeks before Serene and Valor became Serene, Valor, and Reverie. I was feeling sentimental and so privileged to be able to witness every one of our children's milestones. Pregnancy hormones probably had a lot to do with it, but I got misty-eyed as I watched Valor string his first beads proudly, as they built train tracks together in a fit of giggles, as Serene "read" (from memory) the library books piled in our living room, as Valor's vocabulary grew and his comprehension leaped even more, as Serene prayed and thanked God for Jesus dying on the cross for our sins so we can be in heaven with him, as Valor's preferences for meat and veggies continue to complement Serene's inclination towards carbs, as they romped around gleefully at the park, as Valor smiled proudly while his big sister does ballet, as they quickly forgive and love us and one another, and more. So thankful our kids have one another, then as two and now as three.
Monday, March 27, 2017
One week ago on Monday, March 20, 2017, I woke up to the kids chattering in their room. I had been feeling overwhelmingly pregnant and tired the last few weeks - the pelvic pain, the heaviness, the carpal tunnel, the swollenness (which surfaced in the last couple of weeks). I was so anxious and ready to meet our newest baby. About two weeks prior at my 36 week appointment, my doctor confirmed I was 3.5 cm dilated. I told her I had been having pretty consistent Braxton Hicks contractions. However, they weren't strong enough or closer than 5 minutes apart to convince me I was in active labor. This seemed to go on for weeks, which, in a pregnant woman's case, is synonymous with eternity. My doctor predicted a week later at my 37 week appointment that I'd deliver that week, and that I wouldn't make it to my 38 week appointment.
Yet I woke up on Monday, March 20th to get ready for my 38 week doctor's appointment. I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant, and I had been feeling strangely sick since the night before. As I got dressed, I felt an unfamiliar sensation at 8:34am. I froze. "My love!" I called as I checked to make sure I didn't pee on myself. "I think my water broke." Alex rushed into the room. "What does that mean?" he asked. My water never broke with Serene or Valor, so this was brand new to us. "I think we have to go to the hospital," I replied. "But I don't have strong contractions yet. I think we have time." Alex finished getting the kids ready as I tossed last minute items into our hospital bag. He left to load the kids and our stuff into the car while I lingered behind to pack snacks for the kids. As I filled their water bottles, a fierce wave of nausea hit. I began forcefully throwing up what I had eaten the night before. I stood heaving over the kitchen sink, vomiting every remnant of the Chipotle chicken salad bowl that was last night's dinner. Once my stomach emptied, I grabbed the diaper backpack and gingerly made my way out to the car. We dropped the kids off with Alex's mom and brother at 9:15am and got to the hospital at 9:30am. "Are you okay?" Alex kept asking me, holding my hand protectively as we walked to Labor & Delivery. "Are you having contractions?" "I'm okay," I kept repeating. "They're not strong enough yet. But I'm really thirsty. I forgot to drink water after I threw up this morning."
We checked into Labor & Delivery, where I finally felt aware of a legit contraction. "My contractions are real now," I told Alex. They brought me to triage, where they confirmed my water had indeed broken. They began timing my contractions, which were occurring every 5-6 minutes for about a minute each. They whisked me off to a delivery room, and began standard procedures to hook me up to an IV, get me settled in, and prepare me to deliver the baby. The contractions were growing stronger and closer together. I held Alex's hand tightly as I breathed through the contractions. "Are you in pain?" the midwife asked. "Do you want an epidural?" "The pain is not that bad yet," I told her. "But sure. I'll take it!" "Okay," she laughed. "We'll get it ready for you. This is your third baby, so you may not have much time."
Getting me settled in seemed to take forever as my contractions intensified. They inserted the epidural at 11:15am, but it didn't kick in until after noon. I was insanely thirsty and sucked on ice chips in between contractions since I wasn't allowed to drink water. I breathed deeply through the contractions as they hit, and by the time the epidural kicked in at 12:20pm, I was 7 cm dilated. I felt the familiar numbing sensation take over the lower part of my body and smiled in relief. Alex took a nap on the couch as I attempted to rest. After almost an hour at 1:15pm, the nurse confirmed my body had been contracting every minute. The baby would be here soon. At 1:25pm, I started shivering uncontrollably. We weren't sure why, but I couldn't stop shaking. At 1:40pm, I felt a vehement wave of nausea. "I need to throw up," I said suddenly. The nurse passed a bag to me just in time as I vomited whatever was left in my stomach. The nurses took away my ice chips and said I couldn't have anything in the event I'd throw up again. I was still incredibly thirsty. At 2:00pm, I felt rather drowsy and warm. They checked my temperature and announced that I had a 102.5 degree fever. I had never thrown up or gotten a fever while in labor before, so this baby's impending arrival has had a few surprises thus far.
I felt the familiar urge to push, but the nurse hadn't returned from her lunch break. Once she got back, I told her I had been feeling the pressure to push. They prepped me at 2:10pm, then told me at 2:11pm to push. I pushed a few times, and after a minute, Reverie Hope Hong entered the world at 2:12pm, weighing 7 lbs 9 oz and measuring 19 inches long. She gave a hearty wail, and then was at peace as they placed her on my chest for immediate skin-to-skin bonding. My eyes welled up and my heart grew an all consuming love for our newest babe, a precious gift from the Lord. "Hi, my sweet baby," I whispered to her as I wrapped my arms around her teeny body, marveling at her beautiful features and her littleness. "We're so happy you're finally here, our Reverie Hope."
The first hours with Reverie were dreamy. She seemed to be such a sweet and content baby already. She latched on well, nursed well, and slept well. I battled an energy-depleting fever all night, which thankfully broke before dawn. Alex and I were so excited for Serene and Valor to meet Reverie the morning after her birth. The kids had been waiting forever to finally meet their baby sister. Serene had been praying the past few weeks for her mei mei ("little sister" in Chinese) to come out soon, while Valor patted my belly and exclaimed "baby!" every chance he got. Alex brought them into the hospital room, and Serene ran to my bedside with the biggest smile on her face. "Mommy!" Valor exclaimed when he saw me. "Hi kids!" I smiled. "Are you ready to meet your baby sister?" "Yeah!" Serene replied, peering at the little baby in my arms. "Oh, she's so cute!" "Baby!" Valor kept repeating, pointing to Reverie. Serene asked to hold Reverie right away and would not let her go the whole morning. The kids planted kiss after kiss on their little sister, squealing at her tiny hands, and hugging her little body. It was so overwhelmingly endearing. Alex and I can't believe how undeserving yet blessed we are, for we are now a family of five.
Many thanks to dear Ruby who took the pictures above of us with Reverie the morning following her birth. She also took pictures the mornings after Serene's and Valor's births. We are so thankful for these precious memories.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Just a few photos from Reverie's first day home a couple of days ago with her siblings. Serene and Valor are absolutely smitten with their new baby sister. Our hearts melt every time they look for the baby, ask about her, or try to be helpful with her. Serene keeps saying how cute Reverie is, and wants to hold her any chance she gets. Valor hugs Reverie and repeats "baby!" with a silly grin on his face. Reverie just stares at them, wide-eyed. I can't wait to see how their relationship develops.
Yesterday night, after putting Serene and Valor to bed for the night and while nursing Reverie, Alex and I realized we have three kids. Three beautiful gifts from the Lord. We are so undeserving but we are thankful we get to steward these souls. Our hearts are pressed with the weighty task of discipling their hearts and loving them well. Lord, grant us abundant grace!