Monday, November 2, 2020. Dominic and Lucas running around in the backyard on a cool, crisp autumn evening; Dominic cuddling close to me while we worshiped together; journaling prayers; taking a nice, long soak in the tub; recording every movement of my belly because baby girl was all sorts of active that night. She was getting ready, I guess. November 2 would unknowingly be the last day we’d spend as a family of three. I say unknowingly, but I think something within us all knew baby sis would be coming the next day. We slowed down, we savored. I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried.
I didn’t think the little contractions I was having in the late evening on Monday would turn into anything. They did keep me up throughout the night, but they were not strong or consistent enough for me to track them. The next morning, they picked up, but I headed to work as normal and called my doctor on the way. I assumed labor was coming soon, but still having 10 days until my due date I figured I had at least a few more days to spare. Surprisingly, doctor suggested I come in, so as quickly as I arrived at work, I was leaving. They hooked me up to monitor contractions at the hospital and checked that I had dilated. Sure enough, I was in labor.
Side note: about halfway through my pregnancy, we made the decision to elect a cesarean birth. This was recommended to us by my OB due to the physical trauma that resulted from Dominic’s birth. It wasn’t a terribly hard decision, because I knew that reliving the physical pain of recovery from Dominic’s delivery would be unbearable to walk through again. Prior to Lou’s birth, the elective c-section was not disclosed to many people for fear of judgment. There are SO many unsolicited opinions involved in pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. I wanted to avoid that. If you’re wondering how I feel about my decision now, I have no regrets.
So, once it was determined that I was progressing and in labor, they began preparing for the c-section. It happened quick. Like, I was at school ready to teach at 8:00am and I was in the OR at 11:15am, quick. Delivery via c-section was challenging in its own ways. It wasn’t as physically taxing as a vaginal birth, but it was definitely a mental game — knowing what was happening to my body but not being able to feel or see it. And the OR was not the calm, dimly lit room like Grey’s Anatomy prepared me for. It was super bright with what felt like a million people staring at my numb, exposed body. I felt like I was going to pass out several times, but thankfully neither that nor any vomiting took place. Once I was good and paralyzed, I felt a couple intense tugs, then a couple seconds of my lungs being pressed into my throat, and then, those little cries. The ones that assured me I did it. We did it. She was here. On November 3rd at 11:43am. 6 pounds 13 ounces and 19 and 3/4 inches long. Our beautiful Louisa Lynn. Renowned warrior.
“She’s got red hair,” were the first words I heard as they readied her little body to be placed on mine. Neither Lucas nor I have red hair, so I didn’t even consider it a possibility that she would come out with a full head of lovely strawberry blonde locks. But we would soon learn that all of Louisa was everything we never knew we needed. Right from the start, she was peaceful and calm. After those first few gentle cries, she hardly made a peep. She kept her eyes open for a long time following her entrance into the world — taking it alllll in. When she did finally shut her eyes, they didn’t open for a while. Girl slept through the night on her first night of life.
Nursing was a beautiful experience this time around. Louisa was a natural. The Lord definitely used Louisa to redeem this gift of motherhood for me. Breastfeeding is tough work, but together, we did it. Our days in the hospital were spent staring at her, breathing her in, feeding her, recovering, eating what I thought was actually really yummy hospital food, and attempting to get some sleep. Due to Covid, we weren’t allowed to have any visitors at the hospital, not even Dominic. We had to wear masks whenever any of the nurses were in our room, and I had to get swabbed for Covid mid contraction. Yes, really. These were not things we would have chosen for our birth experience, but such are the times I suppose. Thankfully, my recovery was going well and Louisa was looking good, so we were discharged after only two nights in the hospital. We were more than ready to get home.
It was November 5, and we couldn’t wait for Louisa to meet her big brother. He woke up from his nap shortly after we arrived home, and their first moments together were just so sweet and special. He wanted us to put her down on the floor so they could play. He loved pointing out that she had a nose. And he told Lucas and I that he missed us. My heart. We missed him so much, and our hearts would break as the next few days would be so incredibly difficult for our little man. The transition from 1 to 2 kids, for everyone involved, is HARD.
Recovery from Louisa’s birth was night and day different from Dominic’s. The incision had its painful moments, but they never lasted very long. And after about a week postpartum, I was able to go for walks and resume most of my normal daily activities. Praise!
The days following our arrival back home, we had many family visitors come to meet our sweet girl, including a week-long stay from my mom. Having her was a huge help to us and a big blessing to Dominic. He needed special attention, and especially when my activity was limited due to recovery from surgery and nursing duties, it was important that he had someone’s undivided affection.
We prayed for our baby before she came to be, and through all the nine months I got to grow her inside me, we could hardly believe God answered our prayers with her life. She was and is my reminder that He is making all things new. Even in the heartbreak of secondary infertility, the chaos of a year marred by a pandemic, and so many other unspoken hurts, God was faithful in bringing redemption to us through our little girl. From her conception to her red hair, Louisa has been full of the unexpected. She entered in alongside the pain and confusion of the year, bringing peace to our turbulence and making everything a whole lot brighter. Our little butterfly. Welcome to the world, Louisa Lynn Johnson.