Hannah’s Birth Story

My first induced baby

 

Samson’s birth started at a birthing center with a midwife. But because of complications, we had to transfer to a hospital for an epidural. A whopping 52-hours later, Samson was born. I delivered Esther naturally, because we arrived to the hospital too late. GREAT BALLS OF FIRE THAT HURT.

But Hannah? She was a week late so we decided to try an induced delivery.

First of all, it is the WEIRDEST THING IN THE WORLD to schedule the day your baby will be born.

When I came home after my final OBGYN appointment, I slowly circled August 13 on my calendar with a red sharpie. I called Dave on the phone, “Honey, so if I don’t go into labor on my own, the baby will be born next Thursday.”

Dave, “Well, ok then. How do you feel about that?”

Me, “GREAT. I cannot wait to not be pregnant and sick!!!” (I threw up every week until the day Hannah was born. A scheduled induction, though new, was heaven to me.)

The days marched on and Hannah did not come on her own, So, the day before the induction, things got real, y’all. I felt like a cosmetologist fairy was whispering in my ear in a wispy Parisian accent, “Madame Spina, please, prepare yourself at ‘de spa for the wee babe. Shave ‘de legs. Wash ‘de hairs. Prepare your toiletries, Madame.” IT WAS SO WEIRD TO HAVE TIME TO SLOWLY PREPARE, instead of the wild, painful onset of contractions on the way to the hospital. (Those hair-raising stories are in my book, but suffice to say I sounded like a dying coyote and was so rude Dave quit talking to me.)

David’s kind father offered to spend the night with Samson and Esther at our house the night of the induction, so Dave could go to the hospital to support me. “Well,” I sheepishly offered to Dave. “Want to go on one last dinner date before the baby comes?” So, we went to Southlake Town Center and ordered dinner at TruFire. I was past my due date, so naturally I told our server we were going to the hospital that night to have the baby. (I mean, c’mon. I didn’t want her to think I was that big and only six-months along, or something). Word spread and soon the manager, bar tender and hostess all stopped by to ask if I was really going to the hospital that night, and why in the world was I so calm about it.

Soon, it was time. Dave and I pulled out of our driveway at 8:30pm. I turned to him as we drove away from our house, “Honey, can you believe we are going to bring back a baby?!?!?”

We had gone through tremendous effort and planning to allow David to spend the night with me at the hospital. But we both felt him being present for my support was important. I felt so bad for him, though, when we arrived at the hospital room. His chair only pulled out a short distance, so it was more of an uncomfortable plastic chaise lounge than a bed. He good-naturedly pulled his baseball cap over his eyes and tried to relax, propped up by a hospital pillow.

They got me hooked up to an IV to start the induction. Then we doused the lights and tried to rest. I tried not to bother Dave at all, but finally around 3am I needed another pillow. “Dave!” I hissed.

No response from The Baseball Cap.

“HONEY! I NEED YOU!”

Nothing. Finally, I rolled my eyes and pushed the button for the nurse.

The next morning, he woke up. “Seriously, Spina?” I laughed. “The whole purpose of you spending the night here was for you to support me, and the one time I needed you, you were out.”

Dave, “Honey, I seriously have no recollection of that conversation.”

But I soon felt sorry FOR HIM. His back hurt from being upright on his chaise lounge hospital chair. But then a busybody day shift nurse caught a glimpse of the chair and chided, “Oh, you just didn’t pull it out all the way.” Then she yanked it into a FULL-SIZED TWIN BED. AT 9 am. Poor Dave. The look on his face at what he could have had for the past 12 hours.

The contractions started rolling one on top of the other. Y’all. It was the WEIRDEST THING IN THE WORLD to see these gigantic roller-coaster painful contractions on the monitor, and not feel a thing. My mom had just arrived and we chatted merrily about her recent travels while the baby started to move into position.

“Mom,” I confided. “If this is a girl, what do you think about the name Hannah Faith – named after Faith?” (My sister). My mom looked at me over her turquoise reading glasses, “Well, that’s a pretty name, but I just know it’s a boy so it doesn’t really matter. And honey, when it’s time to push, don’t let me do the counting during the contractions. I usually cry too hard with happiness so I can’t count.”

I. LOVE. MY. MOM.

The doctor came in and said I was close, but if my pushing was ineffective, it might be “a few more hours.” I WAS READY for the baby, and to end this horrible, eternal morning sickness. So when it was time to push, I had the eye of a tiger. I almost passed out holding my breath and pushing with all my might.

As the baby started to emerge, my doctor gasped, “Whoa. This is a big baby! I think it looks like it’s going to be nine pounds.” After only three pushes, a gigantic baby emerged with black hair. The pediatric nurse called from the other side of the room, “Uh, I think that baby is bigger than nine pounds, doctor.”

Like my other two babies, I was so exhausted I did not want to do the skin-to-skin contact. So the shocked nurses again handed the new baby to Dave’s bare chest. (What an appalling mother, I know. Hmmm, you are so caring, Mother Leah. You should write a book about enjoying your children. BUT WHEN YOUR BABIES ARE BORN, HAND THEM TO DAD.)

I do remember, trying to catch my breath after the baby was born, and my mom getting two-inches from my face chanting, “YOU JUST DELIVERED AN ALMOST 10 POUND BABY! YOU JUST DELIVERED AN ALMOST 10 POUND BABY!”

Thanks for that, mom. 😉 (She was apparently exactly nine pounds, 10 ounces.)

Dave brought Hannah over for me to see, all swaddled up like a burrito in a hospital blanket. Personally, I was ECSTATIC to have another girl – two sisters close in age! Two girls to be my friends for life! But then I looked up at my man’s man hunter Dave, and thought about him. “Honey,” I honestly asked, with big eyes. “I know it’s not a boy. And now you have two girls. Are you ok???”

Dave looked down at his second daughter, paused, and then looked up at me again. “Well, the way I look at it is this. You let me hang my dead animals all over your house, so the least I can do is give you two daughters.”

I laughed, “Deal, Spina. Deal.”

SAMSON AND ESTHER MEET HANNAH

When Samson and Esther met baby Hannah in the hospital, I was unprepared for Samson’s response when he learned it was a girl, not a boy.

Dave and I had been talking with the kids for months how the baby could be a boy or a girl, and how much fun either would be. We’d had lots of fun conversations about it. (The day before the baby arrived, Samson told me, “Mom, prolly it will be a boy because the last one was a girl”.)

But apparently, my five-year-old Samboy had his heart set on a little brother all along.

When the kids entered the hospital room to meet the baby – as we filmed their reaction with video and photos snapping – they approached the swaddled baby with big smiles. Dave announced, “Here’s the baby, guys! And it’s ….a….GIRL!” Esther chanted, “Baby! Baby!”

But Samson’s face fell and he started sobbing. I was on hormone high and I started crying, too! Poor Samson!!! I had no idea he wanted a little brother so badly!

Dave turned off the video camera and swept crying Samson up in his arms. He assured our firstborn that he was going to be very important as the only boy of the family, protecting his mom and two sisters, that they would have lots of special guy time, etc.
Within a very few minutes, Samson calmed down and held the baby proudly with a smile. We gave the kids their gifts from the baby – Legos for Samson, Frozen princesses for Esther.

Samson now tells everyone about his “baby sister Hannah” with pride, but I will never forget his reaction. Even though I have really tough pregnancies, it made me want to go through it all again to give my Samboy a brother.

But then I remembered something I believe with all my heart: the gender and birth order of my children is so much bigger than me planning a “perfect family” or control. It is God orchestrating His perfect plan and how we are all a part of it. It is not by chance or coincidence that God gave us a boy then two girls. It’s about God’s vision for my kids – their future roles, ministry, even future spouses and time in history. Who knows His purpose in Samson having two little sisters – it is going to be so exciting as time goes on to see His plan unfold.

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THE LABOR AND DELIVERY WARD

The labor and delivery ward of a hospital has to be one of the happiest places on earth. Most of the rest of the hospital is rife with sickness, tragedy, emergency, life-threatening surgeries and even death – few people want to be there. But there sits the smiling labor and delivery ward. It’s a sea of happiness:

– we all want to be there! Beaming parents, elated grandparents, waiting future siblings!

– we are all celebrating LIFE and BABIES sent from above!

– you hear new baby cries, like angry kittens caught in a tree, spilling from nearby rooms

– post-partum moms, like me, waddle down the hallways in our matching pale blue “moo moo” gowns, covering our still-bloated uterus. We all cannot wipe the sheepish grin of our “secret” (we just had a new baby!!!) off our swollen, make-up free faces and each stranger we pass smiles back, echoing beaming bliss.

– it’s like that delicious scene from Disney’s animated Dumbo where the storks deliver the animal moms their animal babies (I am such a sap – I cry at that part every time)

– rooms are decorated with “ITS A GIRL!” or “ITS A BOY!” signs, wreaths, balloons and floral bouquets

– each routine nurse or doctor checkup concludes with a smiley, “And congratulations on your new baby!”

– And, truly, is there nothing more exciting than when the doctor delivers that magical phrase: “Its time to push, Leah”, and a Baby Delivery Army of nurses files in to prepare the room?!?! My heart starts racing in anticipation, especially when they start preparing that tiny heated baby bed that’s been waiting silently in the dark corner of the room. I love this place!

And yet I never forget friends that have had to kiss their babies goodbye too soon. Maybe in a labor and delivery ward like this. Your stories make me all the more grateful for moments like these. The gift of a healthy, living baby, like my Hannah Faith, is something I can never take for granted. Oh no, it is a blessed, unmerited miracle sent from above to be savored each day.

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Want more like this? Order Leah’s new Amazon Best-Seller book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on her site here.

Little People Social Skills – IT’S IMPORTANT!

When Samson was two-years-old, we had a problem. Every time we took him to visit his great-grandmother, he would wilt behind our legs. He would not give her a hug. He would not even say “Hi!”

David and I finally had a talk about Samson’s social skills. We did not want to excuse his rude behavior saying he was “shy” or “embarrassed.” It was time to start teaching our toddler social skills. Hurrah!

MANNERS MATTER

Have you ever stopped to think about how important social skills and manners are for your child? I believe it is one of the most important things we do as parents. It is one of the greatest life skills we can gift our child. Why?

It helps them spiritually. If we are raising our children to be bold for Christ, they need to be able to communicate well and show LOVE to a lost world! (i.e. manners show love to others, even when you don’t feel like it, and even when others don’t deserve it.)

It helps them succeed. Did you know the people that are paid the most money in their field are NOT necessary the best? The highest paid individuals are the ones that get along with people the best. Even in fields you think social skills are unimportant like architecture, accounting, etc. Excellent social skills will help your child excel in any profession. The better your children get along with others, the more opportunities they will have in life.

It helps them relationally. Their marriages will be stronger, their parenting will be stronger, and their friendships will be stronger. For example, they will be better at marriage conflict resolution. They will be kinder during stressful parenting situations, because they were trained to be kind. Hurrah!

START A POSITIVE CYCLE!

The beautiful thing about training children to have good manners is that it creates a wonderful cycle. You teach them good manners, they demonstrate good manners in public, and the public praises their good manners. Their good behavior is reinforced. What a golden cycle! You just need to get that snowball rolling down the hill. It will pick up speed and gain momentum.

Each day we are training our children, whether we realize it or not. We are demonstrating how to act and respond to people and circumstances. Ladies and gentlemen, it all starts NOW, when they are young.

Do little people have the right feelings behind manners? No. Absolutely not. They do not understand what they are saying or why they are doing it. Two-year-olds could care less about being kind or thankful. BUT when they hit age five or six, they will begin to start understanding MORALITY. (Right now they are little robots repeating what mom makes them say and do.) BUT if we are training them in the way they should go right now, when they grow older it will be their default to do what is right instead of what is wrong.IMG_0004

EASY WAYS TO TEACH SOCIAL SKILLS

POLITE PHRASES. It’s a great life season to teach polite phrases because little people need help all day long! Ha! “Mom, can I have milk?” “Mom, can you wipe my BOTTOM?” (Let’s keep it real.) I feel like I remind my little darlings to say “Please” or “Thank you” or “Excuse me” or “Your welcome” 50,000 times a day. Whew! But suddenly, one glorious day, your little one will pipe a polite phrase on their own. You may fall over from shock. Peel yourself up from the ground and rejoice!

THANKING OTHERS. Have you ever met an entitled child, teenager or adult? Ungrateful children or teenagers is not a pretty sight. How can we help our little ones to grow up grateful? (Someday I want my five-year-old Samson to thank his future wife for his clean laundry – it starts now when he thanks his Grandma for a lollypop!)

Every time your child is given something, help them say “Thank you!” (I have one friend that has her child, after they open each birthday gift, STOP and walk over to the giver to thank them and give them a hug. So sweet!) AND make them look the giver in the eye when speaking. Looking an adult in the eye makes your child so confident!

Practice “Thank you!” to your child’s Sunday School teacher after class, sports coach after practice, teacher after school, etc. “Thank you for teaching me!” Saying “thank you” knocks your child out of that selfish, everything-in-the-world revolves around me mindset. It helps them realize, “Hey, my soccer coach took time out of her day to teach me.”

INTRODUCTIONS. When I introduce my two-year-old Esther to adults, I have her say, “Hello! I’m Esther!” She’s probably said that 100 times. Make your children introduce themselves over and over to friends, young and old. Sometimes I stand by them to help them orchestrate primitive small talk follow-up questions like, “How old are you? What is your favorite color? Do you like Elsa?” I have a friend that teaches her son to shake hands each time he is introduced. I love it!

MEALTIME CONVERSATION. Family mealtimes with multiple young children can be chaotic and stressful. But we do try to ask two simple questions at dinner time. “What was the best part of your day?” and “How is your day going?” I often have Samson and Esther ask these questions to their grandparents or friends. Because we practice these questions daily, it is easy for them to use them.

PREP TALKS. Try a little social skills prep talk in your car on the drive over to an event or in the parking lot before you go in. I call them my “minivan prep talk”. I’ll turn around to the car seats and say, “Guys, when you walk in the FIRST THING I want you to walk over to Grandma (their great-grandma) and give her a hug and say, ‘Hello, Grandma!’ Remember, it’s very difficult for her to go anywhere so it brings her joy when you show her love and greet her. So what are you going to say when you see her?”

Or maybe it’s a birthday party. “Guys, what can you say to John when you see him today? Right! ‘Happy birthday, John!’ Thank you for inviting us to your party!” And you better believe I drag those cupcake-stained little faces over to John’s mom when we’re leaving to thank her for having us.

If we proactively prepare children for social situations, they don’t have the chance to be shy. They don’t have the chance to be embarrassed. Good manners becomes their natural default.

BIG PICTURE

We only have a certain number of years with our children in our homes before we send them off to conquer the world and be all that God is calling them to be. Let’s prepare and train them to succeed.

And, just between you and me, it’s nice to be appreciated as mom. For example, when I make scrambled eggs for the 40-millionth time I chirp, “Here’s your plates, kids. Please sit down in your chair and say, ‘THANK YOU, MOM, FOR THIS DELICIOUS FOOD!!!!

Like trained robots, Samson and Esther drone in a monotone response, “Thank-you-Mom-for this-delicious-food.” YES! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Breakfast social skills training for the future leaders of America.

Keep up that social skills training, mama. It’s one of the biggest life skills you can give your child!

Want more like this? Order Leah’s new Amazon Best-Seller book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on her site here.