• Cristina

Maverick Lazarus McDonald 6/7/17-6/10/17

Updated: Jun 7

Warning: There’s not a lot that I left out of this story. It’s an emotionally transparent story and includes some graphic descriptions of my labor.

I decided to write out this story so that 1) I don’t forget all the reasons to be grateful 2) I don’t have to repeat the story over and over again to those who haven’t heard it or weren’t there 3) other people can be inspired by the story b/c so many people who have watched it play out have told us they were.


I wanted a natural birth

My due date was May 26. I had my heart set on a natural birth (vaginal, drug-free, minimal medical interventions). A lot of women I know had had natural births and all the reading I did about childbirth led me to want a natural birth. Here are some of those reasons:

I believed my body was designed for and prepared for childbirth;

i wanted to experience the birth rather than being too drugged up through it;

I wanted to avoid the experiences I had read and heard about that women referred to as “traumatic”

I’m an athlete, so the idea of the intense discomfort of birth seemed worthwhile just like the pain of workout is worthwhile (but different than childbirth, obviously)

I wanted to avoid any complications from interventions like: chronic back pain after labor from an epidural, slowing of labor because of an epidural, negative effects on the baby from narcotics or epidural

I didn’t want to be forced by doctors or nurses into a timetable for my birth, but rather to let my body take it’s natural course. I also didn’t want to be pressured into taking drugs.

I wanted both Maverick and I to receive the hormonal and bacterial benefits of a vaginal birth: I didn’t want pitocin, the drug that is used to induce labor and is a synthetic form of the natural hormone oxytocin, to prevent me from experiencing the benefits of oxytocin. I wanted Maverick to receive the benefits of the bacteria in the birth canal.

Up until June 7, I hated hospitals and was cautious of doctors--mostly because of the experiences I had with my father being in and out of hospitals the last 15 years of his life. The idea of giving birth at a clean, homey, birth center with mood lighting, big bath tubs, aromatherapy, and my own music playlist sounded way better than being poked, prodded, bossed around, and disrespected under florescent lights at a dirty hospital.

I wanted to be able to move around the room and into different positions during birth, rather than being restricted to the bed or my back because of being tethered to the bed by monitors or paralyzed the epidural. This sounded more comfortable to me and more productive for the birth than laying on my back for hours.

I was concerned about postpartum depression and bonding with my baby and I thought experiencing a natural birth would give me the best outcomes in these areas emotionally, hormonally, physically.

Choosing best start birth center

About two weeks before Steve left for deployment, we chose Best Start Birth Center as the location for Maverick’s birth and transitioned my pre-natal care from Balboa Naval hospital to Best Start. I knew several women who had had babies there; only one had a less than positive experience and everyone else I talked to said good things about the birth center, including the nurse midwife I had been seeing at Balboa. Steve and I visited other birth centers and hospitals that offered natural birth experiences and best start seemed like the best fit for us.

Cramming in other important decisions right before deployment

Leading up to deployment, Steve and I made a bunch of big financial decisions. In September, Steve bought me a 2004 Cadillac SRX, as we figured we would need a larger, more adult car now that we were starting a family. The month before Steve left, he traded in the 2006 Scion tC I had been driving since college for a 2010 Chevy Silverado. That month he also sold his 2002 Tundra that he had rolled earlier in the year and consequently converted into a monster truck (think half-Tundra, half-Jeep: no roof, no windows, just a windshield and frame). Right before Steve left, we also started the process to refinance our house to reach some of our long term financial goals.

I really liked the Cadillac, but because it was so old and had some quirks to it, I didn’t trust it very much. Two weeks into deployment, the Cadillac broke down on me. Thankfully, I wasn’t too far from home and broke down right in front of a AAA office. I walked into the office and told them I was highly considering becoming a member… It turns out the Cadillac needed a whole new motor and SRX motors run about $10K (more than twice Steve bought the SRX for). So, I drove the Silverado around until I got a new car. Praise God for my friend, Tiffany, who not only helped me find a car, but drove all the way to LA with me to inspect it for me and purchase it with me.

Around the same time that the Cadillac broke down, my former accountant was threatening to sue me for something he did wrong, and we were concerned our beloved dog might have cancer. It was a lot to hit me (and our bank accounts) all at once.

Stressors of deployment: communication with Steve, my mom, and finances

Steve left at the beginning of March for deployment. This 3rd deployment was very difficult for me. Steve and my’s communication took a hit during Steve’s first deployment and a series of events unique to this 3rd deployment had me waking up and falling asleep crying for at least a few days for fear my marriage would end up in the same type of shambles it was in after the first deployment. I’m not someone who is prone to crying at the drop of a hat, but between the hormones and the stress, crying was a regular thing for me during deployment. Thanks to the things we learned through those struggles (and to couples’ counseling) after our first deployment, Steve and I were able to communicate through it. I wasn’t happy about the outcome, but I accepted it and was moving forward with the new communication protocol for my marriage. Steve and I waited to have kids for lots of reasons, many of those reasons were fears of mine about having kids. One of my main fears was that I would basically be a single parent because of the demanding nature of, and need for travel with, Steve’s job. Part of me felt like these fears were coming true.

Another difficulty I faced this deployment was the decision to ask my mom not to to contact me until I knew it was emotionally safe to have a relationship with her. Her visit to San Diego in April was the last straw for a series of emotionally abusive events that compelled me to set this boundary. This was a very difficult decision to make, but such a relief once I made the decision. In retrospect, the fact that I made this decision in April was a huge blessing because my mom’s draining, negative presence would have made the situation with Maverick even more unbearable. Steve’s mom and sister were able to come to San Diego to meet Maverick, were there for his passing, and were at the memorial.

There were also some financial difficulties our family was facing that were completely outside of our control. In short, the Navy owed us a large amount of money and we weren’t sure when it would be paid. Unfortunately, this is pretty common in the military and just how it goes. Thankfully, we weren’t struggling to make ends meet, but the added unnecessary stressor was very frustrating.

But, life went on. I kept teaching fitness, working on my non-profit, hanging out with friends, and maintaining my spiritual life.

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Realistic, but hopeful about natural birth

I took birth classes at Best Start and they were very difficult for me to go to alone, as it stirred up my insecurities about being a “single parent”--though I was blessed to have a friend and my doula come with me to a few. One of the things I appreciated about the birth classes at best start were that they spent a whole class discussing medical interventions and how to make decisions if we ended up birthing at a hospital. The classes emphasised that our birth plan was more of a preference than a plan set in stone. I was also grateful for the advice a family friend gave me to not be disappointed in myself if my preferences didn’t go as expected. Going into the last few months of pregnancy, my attitude was “As long as we get a healthy kid out of it, I don’t care how the birth goes. I just hope Steve is there to coach me through the natural birth.”

Best Start also gives all their clients Dr. Lac Vu’s contact info and recommends clients have at least one appointment with him. He is the center’s “back-up doctor”--the doctor that Best Start recommends clients labor with if for some reason they are transferred from the birth center to the hospital. My plan was to ask to be transferred to Balboa if I had to be transferred to a hospital (in my head, I figured the only reason I would ever be transferred to a hospital was in the case of an emergency).

Steve gets home for paternity leave

In addition to the Navy owing my husband thousands of dollars, we were notified last minute that my husband would have to pay out of pocket for his flight home for paternity leave. In the long run, we were just grateful he had the opportunity to travel home for our son’s birth, but the surprise expense was another added frustration. Steve also accidentally missed one of his flights home and had to pay to get another one. I think he was more mad about that than I was: I was just glad he was coming home--and earlier than I had expected.

Steve arrived in San Diego around May 15. It was so relieving to have him home, as my main concern about Maverick’s birth was whether or not Steve would make it in time to be there.

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My due date came and went.

By the time Steve had gotten home, I had pretty much scaled back my schedule to teaching power yoga and body pump about 8 hours a week and trying to rest and relax in between. I kept teaching until the day after my due date.

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Steve and I are very active people and also very hard to entertain, so those last few weeks of my pregnancy were a challenge for us because we had nothing to do but watch Netflix and wait for a baby. Steve had gone from the tempo of deployment to the tempo of hanging out with a pregnant lady all day. All the things we’d usually do for fun were pretty much off the table. In retrospect, there are so many things to do in San Diego that we probably could have partaken in, but we felt like there was nothing to do. (I have since started making a list of fun things a pregnant lady can do in San Diego). When I was six days overdue, we spent half a day at Sea World. 📷

We would also go on long walks--one day we walked at least 3 miles around Otay Ranch. Steve was due to go back on deployment June 10th, so when I had my appointment at Best Start on my due date (May 26), starting labor was pretty urgent. There are 4 nurse midwives that work at best start, each sees patients on different days and the center tries to make sure clients get to meet each of the midwives before their due date so that they’re at least familiar with whoever is on call when they go into labor.

June 2 birth center visit (41 weeks)

Once you’re past your due date, the protocol at Best Start is to come in every 3 days until you go into labor, there are signs you should be medically induced, or you reach the 42 week mark. At this appointment, Joanna, the midwife who was working on June 2, conducted a membrane sweep on me to try to induce labor. She also tried THREE times to put a balloon inside me that’s supposed to induce labor. I was 0cm dilated, so all of the procedures were very physically unpleasant for me. I did OK for the first two attempts to place the foley balloon catheter, but wanted to cry the third time. I felt like Joanna was digging around inside me.

Joanna also gave us a list of natural ways to induce labor. The number one thing Joanna recommended to induce labor was drinking castor oil. I had heard learned about castor oil in the birth classes and remember writing in my class notes about it, “use it as a last resort due to diarrhea side effect,” so even though Joanna recommended it, I put it at the bottom of the list. I convinced Steve we would use it only as a last resort.

The birth center checked the fluid around the baby and the baby’s heart rate. The fluid looked good, but the baby’s heart rate was borderline (probably because it was a morning appointment and I had just had coffee [I kept up my 1 latte/day habit while I was pregnant, which is under the recommended dosage of caffeine for pregnant women]), so Joanna told us to visit Sharp Grossmont just in case.

We went to Sharp Grossmont to confirm that the baby’s heart rate was OK. Best Start had called ahead, so Grossmont was expecting us. We spent about 4 hours hooked up to the monitor in the triage room at the hospital, just hanging out waiting to hear that the baby’s heart rate was fine and then to be discharged. As we were finally leaving, Steve and I remarked to each other, “good thing we’re not laboring at a hospital. That took forever.” I was also grossed out at how the hospital felt dirty and how there was an unlabelled urine sample sitting on a table in the room we were in. In retrospect, I am grateful for all the times we had to visit Sharp Grossmont because when we ended up there for labor, it was familiar.

We went home and committed to trying every single method of natural induction on the list--and others that weren’t on the list. So many other women had told me stories of wanting a natural birth, trying “everything--really--everything!” to try to induce naturally and I admit that I was skeptical that those women had actually tried everything. Today, I am one of those women saying I tried EVERYTHING. Our attempts at inducing labor made me feel like part of a mad science experiment: my husband was giving me “potions” to drink, rubbing me with ointments, doing acupressure on me, making me eat labor-inducing foods, making me sit by the essential oil diffuser… It was extremely frustrating to have the start of labor be completely out of our control, but to have the deadline of Steve’s redeployment looming. Throughout it all, we tried to have the best attitude we could. I sent a photo to some of my friends of me on a big fitness ball hooked up to the breast pump with the title “PSA: this is what happens when you have sex.” It was a struggle, especially on top of the stressors on our marriage of deployment, reintegration, and the looming re-deployment.

On June 2nd, Steve also called Dr. Vu, Best Start’s back up doctor, and made an appointment for us to meet with him and discuss scheduling induction.

June 4 Mighty Maverick & Castor Oil

At this point I was so overwhelmed that it was hard for me to make it through church without crying. One song in particular, “Do it Again,” always got me. On June 4, I was excited that I had made it all the way through church without losing it. But then, during the portion of church where the pastor prompts everyone to introduce themselves to someone next to them, a woman we didn’t know started talking to my husband and me She asked if we were having a boy. We said yes. She responded that God had told her that we were having a boy and that he was going to be mighty. She also admonished us “to train our son up.” She asked if my husband was the boy’s dad. When we said yes, I remember she touched his chest and said something like “you’re very strong, too.”

I had been so frustrated at trying to get labor to start before our deployment deadline (on top of the other stressors on our marriage related to deployment and life in general), that this woman’s words made me cry almost the whole rest of the service. I admit that one of my first thoughts in response to this woman’s words were, “he can be mighty, but not have that long of a life,” and I instantly tried to put that thought out of my mind.

The night of June 4, none of the other induction magic had worked, so I finally surrendered to the idea of trying the castor oil. If you’re not familiar with it, the reasoning is basically that the castor oil makes you poop so bad that it induces labor. I had heard so many mixed reviews of castor oil from people and online. The nurses at Sharp Grossmont admonished against it, saying it wasn’t effective at anything but making you poop. Joanna at the birth center really suggested it. Steve and I were committed to trying everything, so I tried the castor oil Sunday night, June 4. The first dose wasn’t bad, just… “cleansing….” The second dose was pretty dramatic and very dehydrating, despite all the coconut water I was drinking.

June 5 birth center and doctor visits (41 weeks, 3 days)

At this appointment, one of the midwife assistants that was working with Sherry, a midwife, did a membrane sweep on me. Again. They estimated I was 70% effaced and 2-2.5cm dilated. The baby’s heart rate was fine, but the fluid in my uterus was borderline (probably because I was still suffering the effects of the castor oil), so they told us to visit Grossmont. We already had an appointment with Dr. Vu for later on that day, so we headed over to his office in La Mesa. I really liked Dr. Vu when I met him. He distracted me with discussion about yoga, Lulu lemon, and being cheap (some of my main interests), while he conducted what felt like a much more effective and faster membrane sweep than either of the two I’d had at Best Start. He estimated I was a tight 3cm dialated and 70% effaced. We scheduled an induction with him for Weds, June 7th at 6am in case I didn’t go into labor before that. Dr. Vu warned me I’d have some cramping for a few hours as a result of the membrane sweep, but he thought I’d go into labor before then. At this point, we were over trying all the hippie voodoo to get labor going and we surrendered to just relaxing and letting my body do what it needed to do.

Labor finally starts

The cramping from the membrane sweep continued and didn’t stop. I was finally in labor. I called the birth center in the middle of the night and talked to Sherry, who was on call. She said to try to stay hydrated, eat, and to call if my water broke or contractions got close enough to warrant coming in. Our plan had always been to labor at home as long as possible to avoid going to the birth center too early and wearing myself out. I labored mostly on the couch and in the bath tub. It didn’t make much sense for both of us not to sleep, so I told Steve to get some sleep. Though, I did wake him up in the middle of the night to ask him to run to Walmart for heating pads. I was able to sleep a little in between contractions, but by morning I was pretty tired. Around 10am we called the birth center and decided to go in because we thought my water had broke (in retrospect, it was probably just some bleeding. My water bag was still in tact when they did the emergency c-section). Joanna asked on the phone which birthing room we preferred of the three. We asked for the upstairs room (it’s the nicest!) and Joanna said she would start preparing it.

I had felt nauseous during most of the labor up to this point. I was carrying a puke bucket around the house with me in case, but hadn’t actually gotten sick until we were in the car on the way to the birth center. I threw up into my puke bucket within the first five minutes of our drive. I felt so bad that Steve had to drive the whole rest of the thirty minutes to the birth center with the smell of my vomit! Luckily in this case, Steve has sinus issues so he says he didn’t really notice!

Traumatic experience at Best Start Birth Center June 6

Steve dropped me off at the birth center and I made my way up the steps to the room we thought was being prepared for us while Steve was parking the car. Steve arrived with all of our stuff (we brought at least 3 bags with us) and we started settling in, but then the housekeeper told us we had to get out because there were plumbing issues in the room. So, we were shown downstairs to another room where Joanna and the midwife assistant were waiting for us. No one greeted us that I can remember, but rather, Joanna and the assistant started reaching right towards my body to conduct tests (vaginal exam, doppler baby HR monitor). I don’t remember anyone asking me how I felt, how I was doing, or what I wanted or needed. I had called my doula, Kate, in the middle of the night and she arrived at the birth center shortly after we were put in the downstairs room.

During the vaginal exam, Joanna asked me if I wanted her to do another membrane sweep (that would have been the FOURTH in 4 days). I said no.” She asked if I was sure and hesitated, with her hands inside me, as if she was going to do it anyway. I wanted to scream at her and kick her away from me, but instead I mustered all the patience and politeness I had in me and said curtly, “Get your hands out of my vagina!” and she did.

One of the first things I remember Joanna saying to me was that I wasn’t even 4 cm dilated and that my contractions didn’t even look that hard (my doula said the only way she was able to tell I was having a contraction at any time in the labor was because I wiggled my toes). She said that if my husband wasn’t about to deploy, she would send me home.

The midwife assistant went to put in my IV for the antibiotics (antibiotics were b/c of Strep B). She failed to put the IV in the first 3 times, so then Joanna tried. Joanna wasn’t very good at it either. By the time they finally got the IV in, it took both of them (and maybe another assistant that came into the room? I don’t remember--I was a little distracted by the contractions), to figure out how to unlock the IV for the fluid to flow. That really tested my patience and I kept looking to my husband and doula in disbelief and frustration.

I was still really dehydrated, so they also gave me IVs for hydration. By the time I left the birth center, I had had at least 2 bags of IV electrolytes and was still peeing neon orange. I remember being pissed off at Joanna for asking me to show her what color my pee was right before I left, even though I had just shown her 15 minutes before.

I labored for a few more hours at best start, but wasn’t making any progress. It was a terrible experience. I threw up or almost threw up after every contraction. I don’t think I ever put my pants on after I took them off for the first rapeing… I mean, exam. The room was hot and the only means of air conditioning was opening the windows or manual fanning. I was either sweating or freezing and Steve and my doula were sweating from fanning me and using the rebozo to help me through contractions. I felt like Joanna and the assistant were constantly hovering over me--they wouldn’t interject and ask for what they needed, but only stood and stared and me until I asked them what they wanted (usually to check the heart rate, which required getting very close to me while I was in the middle of a contraction). The bathtub in the room wasn’t an option because they said it could slow labor (in retrospect, I wish I would have insisted on the tub because maybe it could have relaxed me and thus sped up labor, but I was trusting my midwife). I don’t know where the essential oils were that we paid for… They took the birthing (fitness) ball out of the room because it was too short, but brought back one that was bigger, but more deflated, so just as short. I think my doula acquired a way to reinflate it, but I dunno if I ever used it again. I also felt like the birth assistant was trying to compete with my doula, which really annoyed me.

It was probably after an hour and a half that I told my husband I wanted to go to a hospital and get drugs, but everyone talked me out of it and reminded me of my birth plan.

One of the final straws was when Joanna asked me if I wanted to try the black and blue cohosh again to get labor going. I said “no.” She asked why not. I said I had tried all the holistic suggestions and none of them had been effective, so I was disillusioned by them. She said something like, “well, do you want to go into labor or not?” Kate stepped in and stood up for me saying, “I don’t think speaking to her that way is very helpful.” The last straw was when Joanna knocked over a iron end table because the room was so small and cramped, meanwhile I was hunched over the bed in a contraction. Incredibly annoyed, I announced “I want to go to a hospital.”

Finally, I was on the toilet with Steve holding the breast pump to me and the midwife assistant using the doppler on my belly while I was having contractions. Joanna said we could go home to try to labor there if we wanted. I looked at Steve like, “please, help me.” Steve told Joanna that my pain had turned into suffering and we were going to switch to a hospital. We considered going to Balboa, but when Steve reminded me it was a teaching hospital where even more people would probably be failing to put IVs in me, we decided Sharp Grossmont was the best bet. Steve knew that being poked and prodded was wearing on me.

Once we made that decision, I couldn’t wait to leave Best Start. Steve and Kate helped me put my clothes on and get our stuff together. I pulled my own IV out, grabbed all of my belongings I could, and hauled ass out of there. It was around 3pm when we made the commute from the birth center in hillcrest to Grossmont in La Mesa, so there was traffic. We drove past a policeman on a motorcycle and I considered rolling down the window to ask him if he’d escort us with lights and sirens to the hospital!

By the time we arrived at Grossmont and they did an exam, I was 8 cm dilated, so I probably hit the transition phase of labor (the hardest part), while I was in the car. Steve said later that he thought I was mad at him in the car b/c I was quiet while he was trying to make conversation, but really I was just bracing through the contractions. I think the relief of getting away from the terrible environment at best start and the hope of getting some relief of drugs sped up labor for me. As we were leaving best start, I joked to steve about how I was opting into all the things in my birth plan that I had planned not to do.

Sharp Grossmont: all the good things I wanted for labor, I got here

As soon as Grossmont got me checked into a room, my labor was instantly 1000% better than it had been up until that point. I was so relieved. My nurse, Betsy, was AMAZING. Her demeanor and intelligent approach to her job were outstanding. Like the girls at best start, she also had a hard time getting a line in for my IV (probably because I was STILL peeing neon orange), but rather than keep trying to force it, she called in an expert, who was able to do it on the first try. She quickly hooked me up with some fentanyl to help take the edge off the contractions. Steve said it very obviously helped me handle the contractions a lot better. I had been expecting to be loopy from the fentanyl, but I wasn’t. I could still feel the contractions, but they were more manageable. I think they hurt so bad because I was so dehydrated. Betsy gave me an IV for hydration, too (I had a lot more after that, but I think it took me at least a day after labor to finally pee a normal color).

Betsy also hooked me up to the baby heart monitor, too. Even though I was tethered to the bed via the monitor around my belly, I could still move around and the bed and nurses could monitor us from their station without having to even come into my room (nonetheless get in my face like the annoying assistant at best start).

Even the room and environment at Grossmont was FAR better than best start. It was a reasonable, comfortable temperature for one. It was at least twice the size of the room at best start. The lighting was low and the nurses apologized and warned me if they were going to need brighter lights for certain procedures (Joanna told me she didn’t need better light to find my vein for the IV when I suggested it to her, citing “we don’t need to see, we go by feel”). Nurses and staff only came in my room and bugged us when needed and were never hovering over me. I got to keep some of my dignity (Betsy gave me privacy when I changed into my gown, whereas Joanna and the assistant just stood there as I undressed within 5 minutes of seeing them, and they constantly encroached on my space). I got to sit comfortably in bed, not uncomfortably on a toilet, ball, the floor, or hunched over like at best start. Betsy genuinely cared about me and spoke to me with care and intelligence.

I continued to labor at Grossmont with the help of as much fentanyl as Betsy would give me. Betsy and Natalie, the nurse who relieved Betsy, helped me get into different positions on the bed (including a bed-supported squatting position that Maverick and I both appreciated). They had warned us when we checked in that the anesthesiologist was busy, so it would probably take a few hours before I could have an epidural. I had waited patiently for the anesthesiologist, but by 10pm I was pretty ready for the epidural. Usually I ask questions about procedures before they’re done on me, but at this point, I just blindly obeyed the doctor’s instructions for how to let him put the needle in my back.

Now that I was more comfortable, everyone was telling me to get some rest, but I wasn’t even tired! I felt like I had gotten a second wind. Steve and Kate were probably exhausted, but I was ready for social hour.

And then the unthinkable

Throughout the labor, Maverick’s heart rate kept dropping during contractions, but would bounce back up in between contractions. The nurses told us not to worry about how low it got, as long as it went back up. At one point it got low enough that it freaked Steve out. I wasn’t paying much attention to the monitor, but the fact that it worried Steve worried me.

Once I got the epidural, it slowed labor (one of the reasons I originally did not want an epidural). Contractions had gone from every 4 minutes to every 8 minutes again. At one point I did fall asleep for a little bit. Probably around 11, the nurse talked to Dr. Vu who said that it was probably coming time to use pitocin to speed things along. They had mentioned pitocin earlier, but I was resistant to the idea because I didn’t want the pitocin to block the oxytocin and asked if we could try moving me into different positions again. At this point, the nurse had me on oxygen and was insistent I kept it on. The nurse finally talked me through the decision to use pitocin and at at around 11:45pm I agreed that we would start the pitocin at midnight if nothing had changed.

Before we had a chance to start the pitocin, Maverick’s heart rate went down and then it didn’t come back up. Nurses started rushing in, a “code pink” alarm went off over the PA, and before I knew it, I was in an OR. The OR was frantic--doctors were barking orders at nurses and each other. I kept looking at the door to see a familiar face walk in, but I only knew a few nurses and Dr. Vu once he got there. At one point, Dr. Vu yelled at someone for not having something ready and the other doctor told him that everyone else was waiting for him to calm down. I heard the doctor that was opening me up ask for the vacuum and I tried to ask someone why he was asking for a vacuum if the procedure was a c-section (even at that point, I was trying to resist unnecessary intervention). No one answered me. Steve told me later that they considered trying to vacuum out Maverick since I was 10cm dilated at that point and a vacuum can be faster than a c-section, but since Maverick was at 0 station, they continued with the c-section. I was shivering from fear on the OR table (though, being basically naked in a cold room and the pain killers probably contributed) and my nurse leaned in to tell me that they were going to put me under. I said, “I think that’s a good idea.” Dr. Vu told me later that the other doctor opened me up, but Dr. Vu was the one who closed me. Dr. Vu was on-call at the time of the emergency and it took him 15 or 20 minutes to get to the hospital I think.

Steve said that when I woke up, I was asking to be put back under and was still shivering until they gave me more drugs. I don’t remember that. I remember a lot of nurses coming by and poking on my belly and them being frustrated that my abs were in the way. My belly was distended and they were concerned that my stomach was full of blood. They took me on a long journey through the hospital in the middle of the night to get me an Xray (I was bed ridden due to the epidural) to see why my stomach was distended. They hoisted me on and off of a bed for an x ray like I was a beached whale. It turns out it was just air and fluid in me, not blood. The doctor who had opened me up told the nurses that because it sounded hollow when he hit on my belly that it was clear it was air and not blood.

I knew that Maverick wasn’t doing well, but didn’t really know what was going on and was scared to think or ask about it. Somewhere around 6am we told my doula, Kate, that she could go home since she’d been with us all night. I think she and Steve barely got a few hours of sleep.

At some point in the middle of the night or early morning, the nurses went way out of their way to wheel me to see Maverick in the Grossmont NICU. That was so hard. Maverick looked so big and strong compared to the other babies in the room, but had tubes all over him. He had a whole team of experts around him when they wheeled me in (it was the Rady’s transfer team, dressed like ghost busters in jumpsuits--we found out later that many of Maverick’s nurses were friends of friends). Dr. Suri from the transfer team talked with us while the rest of the team was working on Mav. He spoke very bluntly about how sick Maverick was and did not mince his words. The way that he spoke so matter of factly strangely gave me peace of mind, but once the reality of his words hit and we got to be closer to Maverick, it was very difficult. We couldn’t hold Mav because of all the wires on him. Dr. Suri said Maverick had gone over 20 minutes without oxygen to his brain, but the delivery team resuscitated him with CPR and two doses of adrenaline, and that his outlook was very bleak. He explained that they were going to transfer him to the Mary Birch NICU and try a cooling procedure on Maverick in hopes that it would give his body enough rest for his brain to recover. The procedure consisted of putting Maverick on a cooling blanket. After a few days, they would stop the cooling process and see how he was doing.

The nurses in the NICU were all very nice. Some of them handed Steve and I some photos of Maverick. We talked with the team that was going to transfer Maverick to the Sharp Mary Birch NICU and I kept asking the one woman if she would touch him as much as possible during the trip since I couldn't. I figured she probably thought I was crazy, but I know loving personal touch can be so powerful.

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Cristina at Sharp Grossmont and Maverick at Sharp Mary Birch

I spent the next day recovering at Sharp Grossmont while Maverick was at Sharp Mary Birch. It was hard on Steve to have to go back and forth visiting me and Maverick. I was lucky to constantly have friends visiting me, so I pretty much was never alone in my hospital room. At some point, I made a joke to my friends that we should call Maverick “Maverick Lazarus” instead of “Maverick Archer” since he came back from the dead once and we were asking God to revive him again. I was only half serious, but after someone posted on social media a request for prayer for “Maverick Lazarus,” it had become his name! :) 📷Between Steve and me, we had both been updating friends and family on what was going on since the the beginning of my labor. One of our best friends, Sophia, was planning on flying in on Friday to relieve Steve when he had to go back on deployment, but when she heard what was going on, she hopped on an earlier flight and came right to us.

I’ll never forget Steve returning back to my hospital room after talking with Maverick’s doctors. My friends left the room so that Steve and I could talk. Steve started the conversation, “Maverick is not going to survive.” He explained to me what the doctors had explained to him. Maverick was born with an Apgar score of 1 (on a scale of 1-10). The reality was that Maverick’s brain had undergone irreversible damage from lack of oxygen: hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. There were issues with his body such as meconium in his lungs, but those things were all treatable, unlike the damage to his brain. The doctors were going to continue the cooling process and then use an MRI to determine the extent of the damage to his brain.

Steve and I talked about how God could do a miracle, how the doctors really seemed to be on top of things, but how the doctors aren’t God. I started to look up grief groups, but then decided to wait to cross that bridge. The lactation consultant came by my room and asked if I needed any help with breastfeeding and I said no because I thought I wasn’t going to have a baby to breast feed. Later, though, I changed my mind and decided to try to capture some colostrum to bring to Maverick in the NICU--it was one of the only things I could do for him. Steve and I struggled: what was worse--to accept “defeat” or to hold onto hope? By the next afternoon, we had decided that there was a third and better alternative--to surrender.

The next few days were a blur. Even as I’m writing this, time seems to be relative. I’m probably going to mess up some dates and times from this point on if I haven’t already because as this all was happening, I couldn’t tell you what day it was.

Steve and my’s first reaction to all of this was to blame ourselves: I thought about all the times I hated being pregnant and “home alone.” Steve thought maybe he had done something at work or with me to deserve this. Our second reaction was to want to blame other people or to try to figure out the exact moment where things went wrong: what if I would’ve agreed to get the pitocin earlier? What if we would’ve done a c-section earlier? As time goes on, I come up with more questions: Was Maverick too exhausted from the long, traumatizing early labor? Was Maverick too exhausted from all the drugs?

But, we had to and have to intentionally let go of those thoughts and not let them have room in our minds. Thankfully, we realized those thoughts were not productive--we don’t know that there was any sort of negligence or malpractice and it’s impossible to try to guess the butterfly effect of each little decision as tempting as it is to do in hindsight. And, even if we were able to pinpoint a person or point of blame, going after someone for it would only cause more stress and pain--it could never bring Maverick back. Because the staff at Grossmont was so kind to me, I believe they were doing their best. I don't think the staff will forget Maverick or what happened to him. Steve and I knew that no matter what, God was in charge and we made the mindful, active decision to trust Him. We agreed to pray for a miracle and genuinely believed that God could bring Maverick back to 110% health if He wanted to, but told God we would accept (with His help) whatever He wanted.

Meanwhile, our community group left their day jobs so they could pray in the lobby of the Mary Birch NICU.

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Comments on this fb post available here.

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Comments on this fb post available here.

Discharged from the hospital June 8th

The Sharp staff was really supportive about trying to get me discharged from Sharp Grossmont as soon as possible so that I could visit with Maverick at the Sharp Mary Birch NICU. My epidural had long worn off, I had taken a shower, and was ready (with the help of one of those belly braces) to move on. My friend, Cat, was nice enough to bring me a little care package at the hospital that included some “rock star hair powder,” that Sophia and I thought was similar enough to dry shampoo to put in my hair. But, it formed something more like a glue in my hair. When I tried to rinse it out in the shower, it seemed to just make the glue worse. Haha.

I also remember that Blake, Jill, and Steph Ewton were around to help us pack up our car to go to Mary Birch. The Warrs, Andrea, Tiffany, and Jeana visited me earlier that day, too. I think Vanessa and Travis Gibson where there that day, too, and facetimed in Pastor Miles who prayed with us. So many people visited us throughout Mav’s life, that I won’t be able to mention them all.

When I walked into the building of the NICU, it was great to see our group of friends that had taken over their own little section of the lobby. For the rest of Maverick’s life, he would have a whole party of people in the NICU eating, praying, and hanging out. There were consistently anywhere from 8-20 people for Maverick in the lobby of Mary Birch. For as much crying as we all did, there was at least just as much laughing and joking. This photo is from the day Maverick died, but it gives you a picture of how many people were always in the lobby. 📷

Sophia was a life-saver: we joked that she was our nurse, pharmacy/drug-dealer, chef because she helped us make sure we were taking our medicine, made sure we ate, made sure we were resting, etc. I had other friends who rubbed my gross, incredibly swollen feet in the lobby of the NICU.

As Steve and I were walking through the NICU I told Steve, “I wonder if people think we’re weird that we’re letting this play out so publicly by airing it on social media and having so many people around.” Steve’s response was, “I can’t imagine NOT.” I told him he was so right. I said I couldn’t imagine my hospital stay or the NICU experience without all the help of friends that we had. I was hardly ever alone for the month of June, but the times that I was alone were the times that my mind started to wander to dark places. Our friends’ loving presence and hilarious distractions were indispensable.

Seeing Maverick in the NICU

I was surprised when I saw Maverick in the NICU and the cooling blanket was more cool than cold. I was picturing some freezing procedure from the movie Demolition Man, but he was laying in a diaper on a water blanket that was just a little bit cooler than his body temp. He was attached to all kinds of monitors. By the time I arrived, Steve was pretty familiar with what the monitors did and explained them to me. The nurses Maverick had in the NICU were all amazing. The woman we met the first day was my favorite. At one point she shared with me that she was having a hard time keeping her composure and didn’t like that because she purposely tries not to be emotional at work. Steve said that same nurse had been cried crocodile tears over Maverick later. Steve taught me how to change MAverick’s diaper and we each got chances throughout his life to do so. Steve and I spent time praying over Maverick and crying. We went through (and still do) go through ups and downs with our emotions, and they would hit us at different times. We were most emotional and transparent when we were alone together with Maverick. At one point, as we were praying over Maverick, Steve thanked God for letting us bear this burden (per James 1.) I was so thankful for Steve’s leadership during the experience and the doctors were impressed at how quickly and easily he understood the medical stuff. I can’t imagine going through this with anyone else.

We just happened to run into Dr. Suri in the Mary Birch NICU and he emphasized again to us how sick Maverick was and how the question at that point was if it was more humane to let Maverick go or to keep him alive and risk him living with Cerebral Palsy. He shared his own story with us about how he lost a child. One of the nurses who overheard him talking to us said that she’s worked with him for years and has never heard that story. Throughout his entire life, Maverick had the ability to impact people and make them open up. So many people told us things like because of Maverick, “I’ve never prayed more fervently,” or “I woke up in the middle of the night praying for you” or, “I haven’t been able to stop crying.” There were guys deployed who hadn’t talked to God in years, but prayed together for Maverick.

Maverick never moved on his own. He never responded to stimuli. He never opened his eyes. I fantasized about what his eyes would’ve looked like. One of the doctors told us that when he was born, his eyes were dilated like that of a dead person. At one point, Steve and I did see Maverick arch his back and move his arms, but the doctors said it was involuntary. Steve and I were able to spend the night of June 8 at the NICU.

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Meeting with the doctors June 9

Maverick’s doctors and the hospital social worker sat us down in a small board room and went over the results of his MRI with us. (The MRI had been postponed at least once). Sophia was in the room with us during the meeting as our designated scribe. She had formerly worked as a nutritionist in a NICU, so was familiar with the medical terms. We also asked my cousin’s husband, a pediatric oncologist, to be on the phone during the meeting as well to help with communication. The doctors showed us the images and explained to us the damage to Maverick’s brain. Basically the question became if we wanted to continue the efforts to keep Maverick alive or allow nature to take it’s course. One doctor was very blunt about his opinion that it was unfair to continue Maverick’s life. He emphasized that if we chose to stop the life support, we could give him morphine. We were in this weird situation where the more Maverick recovered, the worse it was because Maverick’s brain would never recover. So, either Maverick would have that far to deteriorate if his life ended, or, his body would become strong enough to survive, but his brain would never recover.

My cousin asked if it was worth taking Maverick to Stanford or looking into any sort of experimental trial procedure as a last ditch effort. The doctors explained that they were happy to suggest some second opinions, but that they didn’t know of any trials that could possibly help.

Steve was amazing during the meeting (and throughout this whole difficult experience). Our decision was clear from the meeting. Steve told the doctors something like, “We’re Christians so we’re praying for a miracle that makes you all quit your jobs and become travelling missionaries, but we understand that may not happen. If that doesn’t happen, our decision is to discontinue life support.” We arbitrarily chose 4pm the next day as the time to do so.

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Emergency Worship Session

I had been having the urge to worship God with music and singing. I wanted to get the focus off of myself and my pain and to tell God how good He is and that I trusted Him. Obviously, I also wanted to plead to him for Maverick’s life. My friend, Catherine, was also amazing throughout the experience. She also felt this same urge. I asked her to get a hold of some of the members of our campus worship team to see if they would come lead worship at the hospital for us. I resent dry, lifeless, empty worship because I feel God deserves so much better. I loved the idea of Drew and Brenda leading us in live worship versus the idea of a dozen of us crouched around a speaker in the lobby singing songs along with youtube.

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Thankfully, they were available later that day and we were able to use the chapel in the hospital. The worship was so incredibly powerful and comforting. There was a woman who walked into the chapel that none of us knew. My husband noticed her and asked if we could pray for her. She seemed very relieved to have us pray for her father who was in the hospital.

I will NEVER forget my husband reading Jesus’ words about his own death aloud from the Gospel, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done," and asking God to take the cup of Maverick’s death from us. This experience has helped us understand a little bit deeper what a big deal it is that God gave up his one and only Son for us.

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Steve and I spent the rest of June 9 visiting with Maverick in the NICU and visiting with friends in the lobby. We were also allowed to bring friends back to see Maverick in the NICU a few at a time.

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Steve and I spent the night of June 9 at home. We had so many friends running back and forth between hospitals and our house, that we had given away all the copies of our house key and both of our garage door openers! We pulled into the driveway and realized we had no way to get into the house! Thankfully, Jeana lives in our neighborhood, so we were able to run over to her house to grab a key from her.

I fell asleep thinking about these verses from Daniel 3. Steve and I asked God to very clearly and obviously heal Maverick, bringing him back to 110% health so that he would be a boy who would run around and life a full life. But, we told Him we would trust Him if he didn’t, to help us make decisions about Mav’s care, and to give us the strength to do what He called us to. We were pleading with God to do what we wanted, but told Him we wouldn’t walk away from Him either way.

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The end of Maverick’s life June 10th

Steve and I were at home sleeping when we got a call from the NICU early June 10th. The nurse said Maverick wasn’t doing very well and that we should come in. It was that weird relief that he had taken a turn for the worse because it was confirmation that he would not survive on his own. We saw it as God’s grace on us to help us know we made the right decision to let Maverick go. In the car on the way to the NICU, we talked about Job and the relationship between him and God. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is from Job 38 where God basically talks crap to Job and puts him in his place, pointing out that it was He, God, who laid the foundations of the Earth and tells the oceans how far to go. But, Steve realized that morning that Job also speaks pretty bluntly and boldly to God, too, defending his position not to deny Him.

When we arrived at the NICU, the nurses explained that even with 100% oxygen, Maverick was unable to absorb enough oxygen with the help of the respirator. As soon as we realized the situation, we asked if we could remove life support as soon as possible instead of waiting for that afternoon. I think the nurses were a little caught off guard by our decision. I get the impression that most parents want to prolong or hold onto the life of their sick children, but once Steve and I realized Maverick was never going to thrive, we wanted it to be over as soon as possible--we couldn’t bear to see him struggle. I’ve never been as impatient as that one hour or 30 minutes or however long it took to get things ready for Maverick’s death. The nurses that I had been so appreciative of the last few days I all of a sudden wanted to yell at. Steve was equally as impatient and went to check on things. Eventually the room was finally ready and we and about ten other people (friends and family) piled into a room where Maverick would pass. The nurses put me in a wheelchair and let me hold Maverick. I had asked if there was some way that Steve and I could both hold him at the same time. There wasn’t really a way. The nurses said no one else had ever asked that. Once we were in the room, the nurses took all the tubes out of Maverick. I wanted to punch one nurse who recognized my impatience and explained to me, as if I didn’t already understand, that “it won’t happen right away” after the tubes are taken out of Maverick. One nurse helped me put Maverick on my chest underneath my shirt so we could be skin to skin. The nurses left to give us some privacy. It was amazing to be able to finally hold Maverick but every little gurgly breath felt like stab in the heart. I was balling my eyes out and probably making animal-like groans. I kept hoping every breath was his last, and it got harder and harder as his breaths became further and further apart. I asked where the doctor was who had been talking about morphine and Sophia went to get a nurse to ask for morphine. Cat was sitting next to me and asked if Steve and I wanted some privacy. I’m so grateful she asked because I was feeling that way but was unable to express it. Everyone else left the room so Steve and I could be alone with Maverick. The nurse gave some more morphine and after what may have been ten minutes but felt like years (I have no idea how long it was), Maverick was gone. Steve held him for a little bit and then we told our friends and family they could come back in. We sang a worship song and our campus pastor, Travis, prayed. We could feel the Holy Spirit.

People had been telling us how impressive our faith and bravery was. I’m not great at accepting compliments, but I could see where people were coming from when they said stuff like that. However, I’ve never felt more cowardly than during Maverick’s death. Every cell in my body wanted to run away and not have to face what I had to do. It was a heart wrenching experience. I’m tempted to say it was the worst thing I’ve ever been through, but really I think the hardship that my marriage went through after Steve’s first deployment is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through because it was isolating. And if it weren’t for how Steve and I fought for our marriage at that time, I wouldn’t have had an amazing partner with which to fight for my son.

There are photos of Maverick at various stages, but I can’t look at the ones from these moments yet.

After Mav passed, again, we went out into the lobby and were greeted by two dozen people. Pastor Miles prayed with us over facetime again. We spent some time visiting in the lobby and then moved the “party” to our house. I updated my facebook status once we got back home:

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Friends constantly at the house

The day that Maverick died, and for the whole next week, we had friends at our house constantly. Sophia was staying at our house and Mike and Maddie would drive down daily from where the live in Vista. In addition to Mike, Maddie, and Sophia’s constant presence, we had friends dropping by with food every day. When people weren’t able to stay to visit, they dropped food off in a cooler on our front door. We started calling it the “magic box.” It wasn’t until July that Steve and I actually had to cook for ourselves. At my baby shower, in response to one of the many “let me know what you need!” I asked some friends of mine to start a meal train for me in hopes that having visitors would help ward off postpartum depression. I had read that isolation can be a big contributor to PPD and that didn’t surprise me as the depression I experienced in my past was definitely rooted in isolation.

Again, in addition to all the tearfully sad moments, there was a lot of laughter. One highlight was when Sophia, our “slave,” as we were referring to her at that point because she was basically doing everything for us, mindlessly served Steve dinner (that had come out of the magic box!) in a dog bowl. It was hilarious. Another highlight is everyone making fun of me for buying toilet paper at the swap meet. I’m tempted to re-tell all the other funny things that happened, but you had to be there….

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Church on Sunday

Sophia put the word out through our command ombudsman that anyone was welcome to come to church with us on Sunday to support Steve and me. Maverick’s posse was like 3 rows deep at church. At the beginning of the service, Miles announced what had happened to Maverick and prayed that “joy would come in the morning” for us. Another friend that doesn’t attend the Rock also told me she was praying for “joy in the morning” for us. God definitely answered those prayers because I woke up Monday morning with the song, “Good Good Father” in my head.

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Sunday after church, at lunch with some friends and family, Steve and I gave Sophia a general idea of what we pictured for the funeral. I suggested having it on base since the Navy owns the best real estate in San Diego. Steve said he wanted a viking funeral that included an archer shooting no more than three flaming arrows from Rosecrans cemetery atop Point Loma at Maverick’s ashes on a raft in the ocean. We laughed and talked about how ridiculous a request it was, but Sophia said she would share it with the ladies that were helping plan the funeral.

Sophia and Maddie spent the rest of the week working their butts off to plan Maverick’s memorial alongside the ombudsman of Steve’s command, and the wife of the Commanding Officer of Steve’s command. We are so incredibly grateful for their help. Suzy and Julia even made home-made beignets for the memorial because they know I love them! I’m sure they spent hours perfecting the recipe!

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Comments on this fb post available here.

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Maverick’s Memorial

Photos from the memorial are available at: http://proofing.betterbusinessbabe.com/gallery/Maverick/. There’s some video from the memorial available at http://bit.ly/2v4Vd3T. Thanks to the ladies planning the memorial and to the North Island Base Fire Chief, Steve was able to have a very Viking-like funeral for Maverick. The fire chief went out of his way and even let us use his own boat for the test and actual ceremony so that we could light Mav’s ashes on fire out in the ocean. The fire chief wanted to show his gratitude for the team that had helped his team rescue an EPA worker a few years back--and they put it together at the memorial that it was Steve and his team who helped with that rescue!

Travis, our campus pastor, wasn’t able to officiate the memorial so Mike, another pastor from The Rock who had gone through training with Steve, officiated the memorial. It was a great fit. Brenda and Drew led worship again for us.

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Outpouring of love, support, and gifts

I have to say that I am most grateful for the friends who lived through this experience with us, the people who were in the “trenches” of the NICU with us fighting the battle of Maverick’s life alongside of us. I hate that it’s such a Christianese cliche, but our church refers to community as the people that you “do life with.” I love these friends that have been with us in celebratory moments and in the worst moments of our lives.

We’ve been supported in so many other ways as well. We felt like the “magic box” on the front porch would never run out of food. And now, even as I’m writing this (8/4/17), it seems like there will always be a sympathy card each time we get the mail. My husband’s command is plugged in with a private foundation that helps chip in to support military families where the government falls short, and we’ve been blessed with their support. We have amazing family support through the command. Natalie Warr took the most amazing professional photos at Mary Birch! My husband’s sister platoon gave my husband a gift certificate to get a Maverick memorial tattoo. Three friends gave me Maverick memorial necklaces. My husband rarely sits still and constantly needs a project: Nick and Mike spent hours with Steve constructing what we now call the “Maverick memorial sidewalk” on the side of our house--sometimes they stayed and worked on it even when Steve couldn’t be home to help! Steph and Corey named a star after Maverick. Ashley planted a tree in Tahoe in Maverick’s honor. Jill gave me a mother and child knick knack. Seth got us a weekend away in Sedona and my aunt Connie tacked on a few days in her Sedona timeshare. I’m sure I’m forgetting other gifts.

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Steve and I are pretty cheap (I mentioned buying toilet paper from the swap meet already, right?). And, we’re not too proud to accept help. So, we gladly let our friends pamper us in our grief. Literally, the week Maverick died, I got yelled at every time I got up because my friends insisted on babying me. At least twice I had to explain, “I’m just getting up to pee, guys! It’s OK! I can do it on my own!” It got to the point that even my cheapness was eventually taken over by a little bit of pride and I started to feel bad about everything everyone was doing for us. We were glad to be able to pay at least a little of it forward, asking people to show their generosity to the Rock.

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Figuring out the new normal

Everyone grieves differently. Though Maverick’s short life is over, our grief journey has just begun. I wish there was a grief bootcamp I could go to and just get all the grieving over with in one intense week and then have it behind me. Instead, grief sneaks up on me, uninvited, like a ninja when I least expect it. Ugh.

Our trip to Sedona was a great reset. It was good to reconnect with Steve since we hadn’t had much alone time since Mav was born. In Sedona, we hiked all but one of the days we were there, ate a lot, got to do yoga outside, slid down “Slide Rock,” jumped off some rocks into Slide Rock Creek, went on a helicopter tour, and almost bought a timeshare (sitting through the timeshare sales pitch was the payment for the helo tour!!)

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Steve and I are tapping into the resources we have available to us: we’re both seeing counselors together and separately and our counselors are god-sends. So far, one of my biggest struggles has been my body image: my grief is all wrapped together with how my body looks, and getting dressed to go out can be a big grief trigger for me. One night, Steve and I were an hour late to a friends’ house because I spent an hour crying like a baby in the closet while I was trying to get ready. I’m learning to practice self-acceptance, to practice patience (ughhhhh), celebrate what my body is capable of, appreciate the strength I’ve already gained back since surgery, and turn my frustration into productivity towards my goals.

We have our ups and downs. Like I said, Ninja Grief. I can honestly say that even in the crying moments, I very often have a tangible feeling of peace, though. I think it’s the “peace that passes all understanding” that the Bible talks about. I have times that I cry because I miss Maverick. I also have times that my eyes well up with tears of gratitude: for God’s unbelievable love that He is continually revealing to me, for Steve, for our support network, for San Diego and all the cool things we get to do here…

While Maverick was in the hospital, a lot of people quoted the verse to us, “God is close to the broken hearted.” I believe Steve and I are living that truth. I physically feel it. I also do not underestimate the power of everyone’s prayers for us. One of the verses on the program for Maverick’s memorial was about how we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. Thanks to Jesus, counseling, and community, we have hope.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve (healthy and unhealthy ways, maybe…). Grief is individual. But, Steve and I are coping very well considering the circumstances. We’ve both slowly started back to work (thank God Steve did not have to re-deploy, although he was torn because he wanted to) and we’re able to live our lives, to get out of the house. Pastor Miles says a lot that when you’re walking with God, your life will be unexplainable. I believe we’re living this, too. I’m not sure anyone would blame us for being completely wrecked right now. We have our moments, for sure, but we are not wrecked. Like the print above the TV in our great room says, “Faith makes things possible, not easy.”

I have to also give credit to the people I’ve seen live unexplainable, resilient lives. Anymore, I have so much respect for people who have been through a lot of crap and are not just still standing, but living thriving, inspiring lives. Their lives are not without challenges, but those challenges become purposeful. Those are the types of people I want to be around. I used to admire the people that looked like they had it all together. Since, I’ve realized that the perfect people don’t exist. Only us broken people.

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Moving Forward

Steve and I met with the midwife I did like at Best Start and very frankly shared our feedback. It was very hard, but we did it so that hopefully no one else has the same experience we did, and in order to get some closure for us. She listened and appreciated our feedback, took four pages of notes. She invited us to an upcoming open house. In our heads, Steve and I both thought, “Why the f*ck would we go to that?!” But, my wonderful husband, instead of saying that out loud, said, “I can’t promise we will be there…” very politely. That makes me laugh looking back at it!

Eventually we hope to have another child. We plan to schedule another c-section and skip the labor all together!

Mav’s room is still Mav’s room. Different friends have offered to pack up his stuff for us. But right now we think we’ll just keep it the way it is until we have another child.

Right now we’re trying to take care of ourselves and let grief take it’s course.

Resources

As I write this section (3/1/18), I’ve had a few friends ask me if I’m up for connecting, as someone who has been through it, with another woman who has recently lost a baby. I’ve declined those opportunities so far since I don’t feel ready. However, in addition to the resources I’ve mentioned up to this point (counseling, spiritual resources, community, etc.), the following resources have been helpful. They are resources not just for those experiencing the lost first hand, but also for those supporting someone in their grief. (4/29/18 update) Here is my “grief tool kit!” A lot of the books are great not just for those who have lost someone, but anyone experiencing any sort of grief or brokenness.

Option B- Book by Sheryl Sandberg

OptionB.org- The community focused on resilience

Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering- Book by Tim Keller

The Upside of Stress- Book Kelly McGonical. She also has a TED talk

1,000 Gifts- Book by Ann Voskamp. I gave my copy away, so bought the devotional version for myself (below).

The Way of Abundance- Devotional by Ann Voskamp

Jesus Calling- Devotional by Sarah Young

Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation- Book by Robert J. Morgan

Empty Cradle San Diego- Steve and I attended a few of the grief groups to help me find community when I felt faced with the isolation of being pregnant again after losing Maverick.

HopeMommies.org- a faith based resource for those who have lost a baby

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Epilogue

11/1/18- Wow. Steve and I did have another amazing, beautiful child, Malakai “Kai,” on 7/9/18. We found out on February 22, 2018 that he has spina bifida. The last year and a half has been an incredibly challenging journey. Our faith, marriage, relationships, and hope have been majorly tested. But, we’re still standing and have continue to let the challenges transform us instead of destroy us. It has been SO HARD. I’m writing Kai’s story and will share it after some editing and with my husband’s approval.

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