WHOLEHEARTED | LINEN JAMES – OUR BIRTH STORY
July 21st, 2020.
John and I woke up at 6AM with such quiet, prayerful spirits. We had to check in at the hospital by 7:30AM for our scheduled C-section at 9:30AM, so we wanted to enjoy one last, early morning together before our lives would forever change. I expected to feel to heavy that morning after tossing and turning most of the night, but instead, I felt such peace. The last ten years of our life together, every month of trying to have a baby, every prayer, every negative pregnancy test, every tear, and the last 273 days of carrying her led us to that morning. All I felt was assurance. Assurance that I was right where I was supposed to be. So confident that I was strong enough for this. For an anxious person like myself, there’s no doubt in my mind that was a gift from God. Even with all of the preparation and thoughtfulness that went into planning for this day, somehow I knew nothing could prepare me for what my heart was about to feel.
As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, we took a couple of minutes to just be present with each other. We knew the moment we walked through those doors that we would be bombarded with questions, nurses + doctors, and a plan for what the next few hours would look like. We made the time to remind each other of our vows. Reassuring one another that our relationship is the priority and even though we knew our hearts were about to explode with a love like we’d never known, we promised to always put each other first. To be patient, to be understanding, to always be kind. To check-in on each other, to not lose ourselves when life feels overwhelming, and to show her what genuine love looks like through our actions. A tearful few minutes that was worth every second. It set the tone for the entire day and allowed us to walk through those doors with such unity.
We were right. The moment we entered the hospital, the wristbands were on, the check-in was complete, and the gown was laying on the hospital bed just waiting on me. The nurses introduced themselves as they laid out the plan for the day and gave me my IV. They were both absolute angels – another thing God knew my heart needed in that moment. They were calm, communicative, and most of all – motherly. I’ll never forget their faces for as long as I live. In that moment, when everything could’ve felt tense, they made us both feel so at ease. They assured me they would both be with me from the moment I got into the hospital bed, through delivery, and then into recovery. With J’s hand in mine for every poke and prod, I felt like I had a team of people on my side. We spoke with anesthesia, met countless nurses who would be assisting with the surgery, and within a few minutes, we were just waiting on our doctor for the green light. While waiting, the staff pulled the curtain and gave J and I a little time to ourselves. Those minutes felt like hours, as we anxiously awaited them to tell us it was time at any moment, but as always, J kept things lighthearted. No one in the world makes me laugh like he does and that has never been more true than in that hospital room. The minute I would start to feel heavy or worried, we just found ourselves shaking with laughter – the kind where you can’t breathe and tears are streaming down your cheeks. After hearing the commotion we were trying to hold in, the nurse even checked on us to make sure we were okay. Once she noticed we were laughing, she looked pleasantly shocked. Probably not what most couples are doing in that moment, but leave it to J RUN. I think that will always be one of my favorite memories when thinking about the day we welcomed Linen into the world – even in a moment of worry and waiting on what’s next, we were just happy. We made the best of it. It was our saving grace that day and for the last 10 years, that’s been our story.
After an hour and a half, it was finally time. They told us that John and I would be separated for about 15 minutes while I was rolled to the operating room and prepped for surgery. I was lifted from one bed to another and suddenly 10 different people surrounded me. Each with their own checklist, each with their own job. I was most anxious about the spinal that was about to take place and before I knew it, one of my sweet nurses grabbed my hands. She told me to get in position, squeeze her hands and lay my head on her chest. In that moment, that woman might as well have been my own mother. Not being able to have my own mother there was something I was somewhat grieving in that moment and it was like she knew exactly what I needed. I hung onto her words and did exactly as she told me to. First was the numbing medication, second was a lot of pressure, then the anesthesia. I closed my eyes, squeezed her hands, and took a few deep breaths. Within seconds, they were spinning me around to lay back on the operating table. Although multiple people were checking on me every few seconds. that’s when I truly felt the weight of what they were preparing my body for. The anesthesiologist behind my head said “Megan, we’re all set. In about 3 minutes your whole life is going to change.” With wide eyes, I looked to my left and as the sliding doors opened, there was J. Dressed for the sterile environment and back by my side. The curtain was pulled to where I could no longer see anything (although J could and watched the entire surgery) and our doctor checked in with each nurse around the table, confirming everyone was ready. Her next words were “Linen James, let’s get you out of there, baby girl.”
The next few minutes were intensely wonderful. I remember squeezing J’s hands with all of my might and feeling a ton of pressure. It felt like every single one of those women around the table were pushing on my stomach with their hands clenched into fists. It wasn’t painful, but between the pressure and the fear of the unknown, I felt more and more short of breath with every kneading motion. I remember looking around the room – it was so bright and there were so many voices all running together. All I could focus on was breathing through it. Within minutes, I heard a tiny cry like I’d never heard before. Our sweet doctor only needed one hand to hold our little 6 pound, 13 ounce Linen up and said “You did it, mama – happy birthday, Linen!” The moment I laid my eyes on her, it changed my whole world. I still couldn’t breathe and tears of absolute joy ran down my face. I couldn’t believe that was our baby. The one I’d carried for all those months and grew inside of me. She had ten fingers and ten toes, the most petite little nose and big, blue eyes. She was perfect. More than perfect. I turned to J as his head lifted from kissing my forehead and the nurse handed Linen to him. Seeing him hold her in that moment – I just knew that he immediately had such confidence that he was meant to be her dad. All I could do was cry as I looked at the two of them, knowing that they gave me such identity. A wife, a mother – a family. It suddenly didn’t matter who else was in the room or how they were putting my body back together behind that curtain. I’ve never felt so sure of own existence in that moment – this is what and who I was made for.
J took Linen back to our recovery room as the doctor finished my stitches and moved me back onto the bed I’d come in on. It had only been about an hour from start to finish and I couldn’t believe I was coming out of that room with our baby. I was so numb and I remember feeling so physically heavy. Like dead weight that couldn’t move, no matter how hard I tried. All I could do was take in everything that was happening around me as they wheeled me back to recovery. I saw J, still in his blue scrubs and cap, standing in the window with her – a complete wreck. He’d gotten to spend a few minutes alone with her, seconds after her coming out of me, and it broke his heart in the best possible way. The nurses locked my bed in place and John laid her on my bare chest. We were both sobbing, both out of breath, yet Linen was so content. She wasn’t crying or squirming, she just stared at us with those big, beautiful eyes. I’ve never felt so complete in my life. I was beyond weak and exhausted physically, yet I felt so strong and so capable. J and I looked at each other, knowing no words needed to be said. Our tears were endless and our hearts were so full.
We did it. We took each moment as it came, listened intently, and followed the direction of our doctor. Within a couple of hours, we were in our room, just the three of us. We didn’t know what was to come and it didn’t matter. All we could focus on was this life we created together. This perfect baby we just brought into the world and how she made us a family. The next three days were a blur as J took care of both of us. Both of us learning her and what she needs, all while healing + recovering from my c-section. With everything that’s going on, the hospital was eerie quiet. When we first learned that we wouldn’t be able to have friends + family with us, we were so disappointed. However, we quickly realized that we needed that time, just the three of us, so much. The lack of guests + people filling the hallways really allowed us to focus on each other and rest while we had the assistance of the nurses + doctors to check on us. It was like we were living in our own little dream world of a bubble and we loved every second of it. Throughout those three days, every time we looked at her sweet face, we couldn’t believe she was ours. Still can’t, actually. From the moment I laid my eyes on her, I immediately understood a different type of love – a fierce love that only a mother feels to their core. It’s a love I’ve felt from my own mother, and heard others describe so eloquently, but something I never had the capacity to give until now. And since that moment, I’ve learned that it’s that love that gets you through the next few weeks. The learning process, the sleepless nights, navigating the hormones, the tears of both baby + mama, feeding her from my body, and so much more. It’s that immense love that keeps you going. It influences every decision you make going forward and pushes you to be the best version of yourself.
Linen James – you are one month old today! I hope by the time you’re able to read this that we’ve already told you this story a million times. So much so that I hope you’re tired of hearing it. One day, when you experience it for yourself, you’ll understand why it was the most beautiful day of our lives. From July 21st, 2020 to whatever day it is currently, I hope you’ve felt an overwhelming amount of love. Your dad and I are so proud to be your parents. We always will be. You are perfect in every way – so fearfully and wonderfully made. I promise, I’ll remind you of that every day for as long as I live. Thank you for making me a mother. Thank you for giving me a new and deeper love for your dad – I didn’t even think that was possible. You are all the best parts of us and we will love you forever, baby girl.
I cannot believe it’s been four weeks since these photos were taken and our Linen made her way into the world, Over the last month, we’ve had a few long days and even longer nights, but I can honestly say they have been the most meaningful days of my life. Brutal, but so, so beautiful. Thank you for all of your love + support these last few weeks. Some days I feel very present, other days it’s 6PM and I still have my pajamas on, still trying to get that MORNIN’ post up. Either way, y’all love me through it and I’m forever grateful. I waited a long time to experience this moment, write this post, and share it with you and I’m so happy to do so today, with my little one-month old in my arms. Thank you for loving all three of us! We love you.